Reflection for Tuesday, May 17, 2005: 7th week in Ordinary Time.

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Bannantine, Tom, S.J.
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Most of us find it difficult and frustrating when we attempt to explain something to others and they fail to understand what we mean. The more we try to explain something and the clearer we try to be, the more frustrating it is for us when those to whom we are speaking fail to understand our meaning. I think Jesus must have felt that kind of frustration in today's gospel reading. I find that when I try to understand the frustration of Jesus in this story, I must pay attention to the context in which it occurs. The journey through Galilee mentioned here by Mark took place toward the end of the public life of Jesus on earth. The apostles and other close disciples had been following Jesus for several years. During this time he had been teaching and instructing them, and repeating the lessons over and over. Very soon he would begin his final journey to Judea and his passion and death. And yet even after all this time, Mark tells us that the disciples still did not understand the meaning of what Jesus was telling them. How frustrating that must have been for Jesus. And to make matters worse, the disciples were afraid to ask questions and admit that they didn't understand. |Here I am reminded of my own school days when teachers would often tell my classmates and I to ask questions if we did not understand something. But, like the disciples, we often failed to do that. Our teachers sometimes became frustrated with us just as I think Jesus sometimes became frustrated with the disciples. Earlier in Mark's gospel, in chapter 8, vs. 14-21, we have another account of the frustration that Jesus sometimes felt. Jesus was in a boat with his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee, and he told them to be on guard against the Pharisees and Herod. They did not understand, and the story ends with the plaintive words of Jesus: "Do you still not understand?" There is something very human in the frustration of Jesus. We can relate very easily to his frustration because we have experienced it ourselves and know what it is like to be frustrated.|But Jesus also shows us how to overcome frustration. He did not give in to his frustration, but rather continued to patiently instruct the disciples and continued to repeat his teaching over and over. He continued to do the work that his heavenly father had given him to do here on earth. And as we know, the disciples did come to understand the teaching of Jesus. Finally it all became clear to them. And then they went out far and wide through the civilized world and instructed others about Jesus and his teaching just as he had instructed them. They fulfilled the mission entrusted to them by Jesus and established his church here on earth.|Jesus gives us a great example here. He shows us that patience and perseverance can overcome frustration and bring about the goals that we seek. But Jesus also asks us to follow his example just as the disciples did. Jesus asks you and I to persevere with patience in listening to him and following his teaching. And when we are frustrated by our failures to do so, he encourages us to overcome those failures by coming to him in prayer and the sacraments. He encourages us to follow his example and that of the disciples. Just as Jesus helped Peter and the other disciples to overcome their failures during the time of his passion and death, so he can and will help us to overcome our failures to follow him as closely as he asks. In the future when we experience frustration, perhaps we can look to Jesus as our role model in overcoming frustration.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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