Memorial of Saint John Bosco, Priest

Lectionary: 325

He was amazed at their lack of faith.


Saint Mark concludes his story of Jesus' return home with the remark, "He was amazed at their lack of faith." There are several stories in the gospels about Jesus' amazement. Usually they are happier stories:

  • He was amazed at the centurion's faith. "I have never seen such faith in Israel!" he exclaimed. 
  • "I saw Satan fall like lightning!" he said as his disciples described their recent successful mission of curing the sick and announcing the Kingdom. 
  • He was deeply impressed by the widow who placed "all she had" -- a few copper coins -- in the temple treasury.
  • He expressed amazement -- though it may have been feigned -- at Nicodemus' lack of insight: "You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?" 

Despite his innate wisdom, Jesus was not so superior as to never be astonished by things he saw and heard. Sometimes he was very pleased; on the occasion of returning to his own family and village, he was disappointed.
It is "snapshots" like this that help us to recognize the Lord as one of our own brothers. We have come to know and admire this man; we have been eager to tell others about him, and to know him better by sharing our common experience of faith. 
But we have also known his disappointment as so many are not delighted with him; they do not recognize in him anything particular or special. Or, worse, they misunderstand him and his mission so badly that we cannot share fellowship with them. 
Hearing this gospel we can read his disappointment on his face and feel it within ourselves. How is that they have not eagerly welcomed the Holy Spirit which heals, reconciles, reassures, consoles, instructs and guides? Why do they prefer their habitual discontent to the wakeful eagerness with which we greet each day? 
Being alert to wonder we are subject to occasional disappointment. It comes with the full dimension of human nature which the Lord enjoyed, which he has given to us by the Holy Spirit. 
But this I will call to mind;
therefore I will hope:
The LORD’s acts of mercy are not exhausted,
his compassion is not spent;
They are renewed each morning—
great is your faithfulness!
The LORD is my portion, I tell myself,
therefore I will hope in him

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

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