Mk. 9: 30 -37
He knew he was in trouble, but he did not understand why. His lack of understanding led to a mistake that had cost his company a key customer they had fought hard to acquire. That was serous enough but there was more, his lack of knowledge had caused damage to a major piece of equipment and if it were not repaired quickly other customer deliveries would be impacted.
He sat in front of his boss and the only question posed to him was why he didn’t ask after all these years his knowledge of what was required was so deficient. The question haunted him? He searched for the right responses to try to save his job, but he knew the reason. He had been there a long time and he was supposed to know. He was embarrassed to say he missed the point during his training.
He is not the only one who thinks like that. How many times does a student’s eyes go to the floor when the teacher asks a question? If I do not look at the teacher perhaps I can avoid being called on. If I am not called on, then I can avoid being embarrassed because I don’t know the answer when we have been going over this for the past week. How many times do our children ask questions we do not know the answers to so we doge the question – we are adults – we are supposed to know. How many times do we as adults fail to tell someone we do not understand something about our faith that we should know?
Our failure to understand the plan of God for our lives happens all the time and we fail to seek the answers we need because we have this belief we should know, or like the Pharisees we feel we do know how God expects us to act, worship and live. But, we are often like these disciples who lack understanding, but we do not ask because after years our faith formation we should know.
Today we hear that the disciples listening to Jesus talking about his impending crucifixion and resurrection. The scriptures tell us that they did not understand but they were afraid to question him. Why? They are disciples of Jesus, they have eaten with him, slept with him, constantly in his company and still they did not understand what he was saying was recorded in the prophesies. Perhaps because it was because Jesus rebuked Peter over this concept of him being killed by the spiritual leaders and rising to life after three days. They did not want to be chastised by Jesus for their failure to understand – better to remain silent and confused.
But, they should be understanding it by this time shouldn’t they. They had witnessed miracle after miracle. They had seen hopeless people totally changed – the blind, lepers and sinners no one would touch healed and changed by his words and his touch. They had heard him preach and rebuke the Pharisees. Peter and Andrew both have verbally proclaimed him to be the Messiah. They have seen him transfigured, walk on water, raise Lazarus from the dead, they should have known by now. Just as we should know what we believe and hold as truth. They should have known but they failed to understand.
The book of Wisdom foretold that Jesus would be set upon by the spiritual leaders because he had become obnoxious to them. The day he was crucified the religious leaders of Jesus’ day should have been the ones to recognize him in this prophesy, but they do not. They were fixed in their opinion of what the Messiah would be like and do. In spite of their knowledge of the law and the prophets they failed to respond to him because they had perverted the law for their own benefit. They by the time Jesus shows up were holding to a form of religion that did not conform to God’s desire.
They, like Peter, had a different kind of Messiah in mind and Jesus did not fit that concept. Yet it was not just that they failed to understand God’s plan they had heaped heavy burdens on the people while they twisted the laws to suit their own needs. Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy and as the Words of the Book of Wisdom predicted they would put him to death. Why?
Their knowledge blinded them to the promise of God before them. They would rather protect their position rather than ask the right question – are you the one spoken about. He pointed out their failings, their weaknesses, their complacency and the fact that they should have been the ones embracing him. Instead their failure could not be discovered so this virtuous man must die because he threatens their existence. Now we see the disciples even though they were not concerned about their position were making the same mistake of not believing God’s plan for salvation involved Jesus dying for our sins.
What they fail to see or even understand from the scriptures is God truly knows our hearts. He knows our intellect will override our ability to trust in his plan for us. This understanding we are to find out from Jesus himself comes from his promise to send us the Spirit who will reveal all things to us. Peter and the disciples we will see in the scriptures get this understanding on Pentecost. God promises us our own Pentecost when all will be clear, and we will understand his plan for our life is complete when we embrace the gift of salvation offered us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.