February 18, 2020 (Tuesday) - Do You Not Yet Understand? - A Reflection on Mark 8:14-21

Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

I often talk about faith, and one of the common themes when I speak on the subject is how those with faith should not worry. If we believe that God, who is creator and master of the universe, is our Father. If we believe that Jesus, savior and redeemer of the world is our brother, and if we believe that the Holy Spirit, who breathed life into everything, has made our bodies his temple, how can we worry.

I reinforce these teachings with the words of Paul to the Philippians where he says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

After a teaching that sometimes lasts for about an hour, someone will come up to me and say, “Brother, I am so worried about my son/daughter/career/health/pimple on my nose/whatever; please pray for me.” And, although I tell the person I most certainly will pray for them — what else can I do? — in my head I am thinking: “Do you not yet understand?”

These people are in good company. The apostles didn’t understand either and it is an indication of Jesus’ patience and persistence that he didn’t give up on them, repeating lessons over and over again until they got it. But it was only when the Holy Spirit descended upon them on the day of Pentecost that they REALLY got it, because now the Spirit of God would help them to understand the things of God.

We also need the Holy Spirit to help us to “get it”, which is why we need to ask God for the spiritual gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and piety, especially the gift of wisdom. Scripture constantly encourages us to ask for this gift, because the others almost automatically flow from this one. And then we won’t have to worry about not understanding the things Jesus says.

Let us pray for these gifts right now.