They Need an "Aha" Moment
"How do you yet not understand."
Lately it seems that I have been posting about Scripture. Trust me when I tell you I am no scholar on the subject. This post, like the others, is merely my own reflection on a passage or part of a passage that has spoken to me in some way. So here is my reflection on Mark 8:14-21; today's Gospel reading for Mass.
This is another one of those passages that makes me laugh a little. You may find that an odd reaction to this particular passage. I mean no disrespect toward our Lord or the Apostles for that matter. There is much to this passage and different parts of it have struck a chord within me at different times. What got my attention today was our Lord as teacher and the Apostles as students. Jesus seems to be somewhat frustrated with his students today. If you put this passage with yesterday's Gospel, we hear Jesus "sigh from the depth of his spirit". (Mark 8:12) Today he asks them, "do you yet not understand?" (Mark 8:21) As a teacher myself I can relate to Jesus' frustration. In my profession I am trying to impart some aspect of academics to my students. I know what it feels like to see that blank stare as their eyes begin to glaze over, or ask about something I have just spent a half hour explaining in great detail. I too want to exclaim, (and on occasion have) "Don't you get it yet?" Jesus is trying to teach something far more important than mere academics; he is teaching Himself. He is hoping, and I am sure, praying that in the time these men spend speaking with him, listening to him and witnessing his miracles that they will learn trust and come to a deeper faith in God. So Jesus' "Don't you get it?" carries far more urgency than does mine. The Apostles haven't quite made the connection that when Jesus is around, a few loaves and fish can be multiplied to feed thousands, raging winds and seas can be calmed, illnesses can be cured, and the dead can be raised. He is with them; all will be well. As with most students, their great "aha" moment hadn't happened right away.
Jesus went off into the desert and he would often go in search of some solitude to pray. Sometimes I think he simply needed a break from those 12 wacky friends of his! But seriously, and in all humility, I probably would have been right where the Apostles were- eyes glazed over and my head spinning- were it not for the 2,000 plus years of Christianity to help me understand and deepen my faith. Even with all of those years, I still find myself where they were. Perhaps that is what makes me laugh a bit- I see myself in the actions and reactions of the Apostles.
So the next time one of my students brings me to the brink of frustration, I will try to remember the patience of Jesus. The patience he had with his Apostles on this occasion as well as many others and the patience he continues to have with me. It is a patience born of love and of seeing the potential in his Apostles and the potential he sees in me.
After all that is what a good teacher does and our Lord is the best role model a teacher could have.