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?
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Sometimes I imagine Jesus and the disciples like a sitcom—we sit watching honestly funny stories unfold. Just think of the exasperated expression on Jesus’ face as the disciples mix up the message. Imagine Jesus hitting his palm on his forward and looking up to the sky thinking, “After all this time, they still don’t get it?”
Christ clearly has a great deal of compassion and patience for us. But perhaps we also need patience with God. Jesus consistently communicates via parables. He is not exactly a straightforward fellow. Prayer may often feel the same way. We look and search for God, for answers, for help, and for love.
I sometimes find God’s response quizzical, roundabout or confusing, especially when I’m rushing prayer. In today’s Gospel, Jesus responds to their misunderstanding by asking more questions, trying to lead them to comprehension. Thankfully, they had the rest of the boat ride to pray over his response.
Prayer and discernment often function similarly—God asks leading questions. I sometimes find God’s method frustrating. Moreover, I can become frustrated with myself. I ask, “Are there things I’m missing? Why don’t I understand this? Is this totally beyond me?” Today’s Gospel gives us great (and somewhat hidden) tips for prayer and discernment: Be patient with God. Be patient with yourself. Let God be patient with you. Ask to see situations as God sees them. Let God take the lead. And give yourself and God adequate time for direction.
—Ken Homan, S.J. is a Jesuit brother from the Wisconsin Province. He is currently studying history and theology at Fordham University, New York.
Lord, too often we forget your faithfulness. We become so impatient for your intercession that we overlook your constancy throughout our life. We embrace your patience for our doubt, and we recommit our confidence in your abiding love.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team