“He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign?:’” -Mark 8:12
There are four thousand hungry people who had come to a deserted place to hear Jesus. They came hungry to hear what Jesus had to say. But their bodies caught up to their souls and they soon were just plain hungry for food. The disciples start to worry. You can imagine the quickly escalating conversation. “There are so many of them.” “We can’t even send them back to where they came from because they won’t make it because they are so hungry.” “They’ll collapse.” “They’ll die of starvation on the way.” “What are we going to do?”
Jesus simply asks them what they have, he blesses it and it is enough. More than enough. The disciples get in the boat to go with Jesus. They have seen and they follow.
The Pharisees have a distorted world view. They look but they don’t see. Jesus has fulfilled the signs by doing what Moses did in feeding the hungry in the desert. This act itself signifies that he is the New Moses. And still the Pharisees ask for a sign. Jesus’s reply, “Amen, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.” (Mark 8:12)
The lens through which the Pharisees viewed the world held a certain world order. If keeping the law was good, then their scrupulous adherence to the law had to be better. They saw themselves as the chosen ones of the chosen people. It was them and the rest of the world. As happens every time we humans start to see ourselves as separate from the rest of humanity, what divides us becomes more important that what unites us. Their own adherence to seeing themselves as better, more faithful, set apart prevented them from seeing the miracles happening all around them.
I have to think that when Jesus sees us start to think in terms of “us” and “them”, he still sighs from the depth of his spirit. At times it feels like everything in our culture is geared towards creating a sense of us and them. The false dichotomies abound on social media. Are you A, meaning you are with my group and we are happy to have you 100% along, or are you B and against my group, meaning it is okay to completely discount you. As soon as we begin to think in terms of divisions, we are adopting the lens of the Pharisees.
Keeping this reading in context, we can’t totally let the disciples off the hook either. One chapter later in Mark, John sees someone driving out demons in Jesus’s name and forbids them because they are not one of us. “Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.” (Mark 9:39) Jesus is teaching us to see that what unites us is more than what divides us.
The signs are there. They are all around us. We have blessings upon blessings. Do we have eyes to see? Jesus took what the disciples had, blessed it and it was enough, more than enough. In this crazy time in which we live, don’t let the constant clammer to divide us from one another keep you from seeing the signs all around us. When we offer to Jesus all that we have, he will bless it and it will be enough, not just to care for our own needs but all those around us.
Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.