The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. When he became aware of this he said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They answered him, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”( Mark 8:14-21
Did you sense frustration in Jesus’ words today?
The disciples seemed to have forgotten all they had seen and experienced with the Lord. They had seen him quiet storms; raise Jairus’s daughter; heal lepers, the blind, and the deaf; and cast out demons as well as feeding thousands with virtually nothing. They had heard his teaching, and he had explained it to them. Nevertheless, they failed to see and hear as Jesus does.
Doesn’t that happen to us?
In our own lives, we can forget all that God has done to protect and guide us, we can forget all he has given us and how he has healed us. We can forget the ways in which we have seen him work in the lives of others.
How easily we can become focused on our material concerns and our practical understanding and forget to try to see a situation through God’s eyes. We can struggle with a particular teaching of Christianity and rather than make the effort to form our conscience according to the teaching through study, prayer, spiritual direction, and resolve, we simply say that we disagree and leave it at that. We can fail to trust God, and our hearts become hardened into a particular expectation of how a problem should be solved.
We then wander in a spiritual desert of our lives which we have made.
We forget the most important reality of all – God’s abiding presence with us!
His abiding presence with us requires a receptive mind and a firm resolve.
A receptive mind reads the Gospel and listens to the Word of God as it speaks to as a word to be done, as an imperative to be understood. St. James calls us not to be merely idle listeners but “doers” of the Word. To be a member of Jesus’ family, Jesus said elsewhere, we must do the will of the Father in heaven. This is the type of attentive listening to the Word that is required. Listening in order to act.
The” firm resolve” lies in being determined to follow the words of God in our lives. Hearing the word of God must change our life and make it more loving. That’s what we see happened with the Jews who “understood” the words of the Lord: it spurred them to charity.
When the people of Israel wandered in the desert homeless and helpless for forty years, God was with them every step of the way. And he provided for them shelter, food, water, and provision, as long as they trusted in him. Each day he gave them just what they needed.
The apostle James wrote that the Word of God is like a mirror, and when the Israelites looked at the Mirror of God’s word, they saw who they were supposed to be and who they in fact were and it brought them to tears. They bowed down and prostrated themselves before the Lord, their faces to the ground. Likewise, the Word of God is meant to bring us to conversion, to change our ways, so that we may conform ourselves to what God is telling us through his Word.
There is no desert when a Christian takes the word of God and lives that word. He/she walks with all those who try every day to bring His words to life through their actions. The desert sands drift away for another reason . . . through the actions of our lives that imitate Christ, we bring others alive . . . alive to walk with him and provide comfort for us.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, it is so easy for me to think of my faith as private, just between the two of us. But that’s not true, is it? My faith either builds up or tears down the faith of others. It matters that I strive to know and live all that the Church teaches because it is really you teaching through your Church. It matters that I live with faith, hope, and love and so leaven my life with your grace. That way I can bring your light and love to others. Lord, only through your presence in my life, only through your Holy Spirit, do I have the strength to be your witness in the world. I thank you for your sacraments that strengthen me, and for your holy word that lets me encounter you in all you did and said in your life on earth. Lord, help me be good leaven in today’s world.”
The same Jesus who entered his hometown Synagogue on the Sabbath speaks to us to live as the Gospel is read. He comes to teach us, to heal us, to console us, to be with us, to strengthen us and to send us out. But for that transformation to occur, we first must accept him, let his word enter, take on our flesh, and dwell within us. He wants us to receive him and his word on good soil and bear abundant fruit. He wants us to respond not like the majority of Nazarenes, but as Mary of Nazareth, saying, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” He wants to help us realize that his words are our “spirit and life,” that he speaks the “words of eternal life,” and that, as we prayed in the Psalm, his teaching is perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, wise, right, joyful, enlightening, pure, enduring, true, and just.