The English word ‘sincere’ comes from two Latin words : ‘sin-e’ and ‘cere’.
‘Sin-e’ means: without
‘Cere’ means: wax
So ‘sin’e’ + ‘cere’ means “without wax”
Sincere, therefore, literally means, being “without wax”
In ancient Greek, when art flourished, it was a common practice to repair with “invisible wax”, any vase or statue that had, as a result of carelessness, been damaged.
Sometimes while chiselling the bust in marble, if the chisel slipped out the Sculptor’s hand, some edge of the statue would be chipped off.
Rather than taking the trouble of making a new bust, the sculptor would repair the features with “wax” so that the flaw could not be detected, unless by very close scrutiny.
However, if the client happened to be a knowledgeable person, he would carry the finished statue into the open before paying for it, and examine it carefully in the sunlight!
If the statue was “sincere” i.e. “without wax” – it would remain firm; else some parts of it would drop down!
“Sincerity” of the statue was thus examined in the presence of sunlight!
Am I a “sincere” person… “without the wax” of deceit, malice, corruption or guile?
• I need to come into the presence of the Sunlight – Jesus – to be examined!
The Gospel of the day presents an incident where the “insincerity” of a certain group of people was exposed in the warming and bright presence of Jesus, the Light of the world.
Some of the Scribes and the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you” ( Mt 12: 38)
Through St Paul, we get to know that it was, probably, a characteristic of the Jews to ‘demand signs’.
“For Jews demand signs, and Greeks look for wisdom” (1 Cor 1: 22)
When we scan through the pages of the Bible, we also see God Himself giving many signs to His people…
God put a mark on Cain, after he had killed Abel, so that no one should kill him at sight (Gen 4: 15)
God gave the sign of the ‘rainbow’, as a sign of the covenant, so that the waters would never become a flood, to destroy all mortal beings (Gen 9: 13-15)
God empowered Moses with many signs, when Moses had to present himself before Pharaoh, in a bid to ask him “to let go” of the Israelites ( Ex 3: 12)
Two hundred and fifty men were consumed, by a fire from the Lord, after they had unworthily offered incense to God (Num 16: 35)
God gave a sign to Gideon, when he asked for it, humbly, as a confirmation in his entrusted task (Judg 6: 17)
God gave a sign at King Saul’s anointing (1 Sam 10: 1-13)
However, in today’s Gospel, we find that when the Pharisees and the Scribes, demand a sign, Jesus doesn’t yield to it!
What was the reason?
The demand of the Pharisees and Scribes was a demand for a sign “not in humility” or “to really cast off any doubt”
• Rather, this was a demand for a sign that exposed their obstinacy to remain in unbelief!
In fact, Jesus sees through their “insincerity”
He sees through the fact, that they were “with wax” – the wax of deceit, falsity and deception!
• And this their “wax” of trickery, began to melt in the presence of Jesus, the Powerful Light!
Therefore Jesus comes down heavily on them and says, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign…” (Mt 12: 39)
Note the two strong words that Jesus uses…
Evil: pointing to a wicked heart that sought destruction and spoiling the lives of others
Adulterous: pointing to an unfaithful heart that reduced relations to a mere pragmatic nature, and was characterised by cheating and disloyalty.
Is my life also characterised by constantly wanting “only” signs from God…
• I expect immediate answers to all my prayers, in the way I want
• I always want some miracles, as I choose, to keep the light of my faith burning
• I get depressed and feel totally lost when I do not get the signs that I expected in life
• I witness a lot of wondrous deeds around me, but still I remain obstinate in my unbelief
Is my Christian life only a sign-seeking one…
Or is my Christian life, rather, a Saviour-seeking one?
Do I be obsessed with wanting only miracles…
Or am I, rather, passionate and zealous about the Master?
Jesus invites us to be “sincere” – “without wax”.
• In His bright presence, all “wax” of duplicity and hypocrisy will melt
• In His glowing light, all “wax” of dishonesty and deception will dissolve
May we be closer to Jesus, the Great ‘Sun’ and live our Christian Lives, in “sincerity”, in zealousness and with deeper passion for the ‘Son’ of God!
God Bless! Live Jesus!