Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves - Otherwise we harden

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Gospel text (Mk 8:14-21): The disciples had forgotten to bring more bread and had only one loaf with them in the boat. Then Jesus warned them, «Keep your eyes open and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod». And they said to one another, «He saw that we have no bread». Aware of this, Jesus asked them, «Why are you talking about the loaves you are short of? Do you not see or under­stand? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that don't see and ears that don't hear? And do you not remem­ber when I broke the five loaves among five thousand? How many baskets full of leftovers did you collect?». They answered, «Twelve». «And having seven loaves for the four thousand, how many wicker baskets of leftovers did you collect?». They answered, «Seven». Then Jesus said to them, «Do you still not understand?».

Today, —once again— we can see the wisdom of our Lord Jesus. His behavior is amazing. Jesus warns the disciples “watch out to guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” But they misunderstood these words to mean they had forgotten to bring bread (leaven) with them as they had when Jesus miraculously multiplied the food for the crowd in the desert. But here Jesus was challenging them at an even deeper level; he was calling them not to be like the Pharisees who misunderstood him. The truth is that it is already too late – the disciples really do not understand the man they had been called to follow.

Where is the good news in that for them or for us? Jesus is clearly not happy with how obtuse his close friends are and he goes after them with seven very abrupt and searing questions that had to have gotten their attention even if they didn’t know how to respond.

For us there is a hidden consolation in acknowledging that even his closest companions did not hear his message very clearly so as to understand what he was ultimately about. We can be deceived into thinking that the friends of Jesus have the advantage in seeing him, in hearing his words, and in personally watching him as he dealt with them with the crowds and with the situations they encountered together.

But despite that closeness to Jesus they were fallible human beings just like us who struggle in faith, hope and love so as to grow in our understanding of and, more importantly, in our intimate relationship and union with Christ. We see how we misunderstand his message and are slow to respond with open hearts to the situations and to the people around us. In this we are not that different from the close friends of Jesus who walked with him and grew in their relationship with him. Can we open ourselves to the vastness of God’s love for us in Jesus? If we allow ourselves to be enlightened and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, alerted and led by the good Shepherds, stimulated by all the faithful Christians, we shall believe what we ought to believe and we shall do what we ought to do. First, though, we must have the “desire” to see: «The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us» (Jn 1:14), visible, palpable; and the “desire” to listen: it was the Virgin Mary who was “the bait” that made Jesus say: «blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it» (Lk 11:28).

Our Lord never misses an opportunity to teach and, today, He keeps on doing it: «We must free ourselves from the false idea that faith has nothing to say to today’s Men» (Benedict XVI).

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