When my mother notices that I’m trying to hide something from her or that I’m trying, good-naturedly, to tease her, she always reminds me quite colorfully that she is the one who made me! She knows me so well that she perceives my mood from the tone of my voice.
However, unfortunately, those who know us the best tend not to be surprised by us and our relationships can be taken for granted.
“We become deaf to the voice of our mind when we are unaware of our prejudices.”
– A. De Melo
It can happen in married life when spouses begin to consider each other predictable. Every attempt at originality is seen with certain suspicion; an unexpected bouquet of flowers is perceived as an attempt to smooth over some undiscovered wrongdoing.
It can also happen in religious life. The spiritual guide who has known his or her brethren since their novitiate risks always seeing them as eternal novices that will never grow, even as adults.
Those who have known us since childhood, our childish ways and our ungainly attempts to grow, have difficulty appreciating what we have done with ourselves.
It seems that, upon His return to Galilee, Jesus has a similar experience: He is seen as nothing more than the carpenter’s son; His family ties are well known. How then can He be so pretentious as to teach something new?
We ought to think about the ideas that we have about God. It’s a familiar idea that we don’t want to give up. God becomes a God-taken-for-granted and, because of that, we don’t allow God to surprise us. Paradoxically, the more we become “experts” on God, the more difficult it is to free ourselves from our own prejudices about Him.
We expect God to be where we’ve always found Him, but at some point, we may come to realize that we are contemplating an empty container. In the meantime, God is revealing Himself elsewhere.
And so, like Jesus’ fellow citizens, we prevent God from working in our lives.
For Jesus, these first verses of Mark’s sixth chapter inaugurate what exegetes call “the Galilean crisis.” Jesus is misunderstood; His efforts to communicate haven’t worked. His message has been misinterpreted or distorted.
This passage of the Gospel also gives us an opportunity to ask ourselves: what has happened to the message that we wanted to transmit? This goes for those of us who are preachers, pastors, and teachers, but also for everyone in general: what has happened to the message that I had wanted to communicate with my life?
Jesus has the courage to take note of His apostolic failings and request a confirmation, accepting the time of verification. We generally plow forward without examining our responsibilities. History moves forward and we cover over past failings with new initiatives.
Mark helps us recognize that failure can have a positive impact on life. The way to do it is not in silence; we must confront it by seeking out the reasons that have brought it about.
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