Tuesday 16 February 2021

Dumbfounded afresh


The disciples had forgotten to take any food and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Then he gave them this warning, ‘Keep your eyes open; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.’ And they said to one another, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ And Jesus knew it, and he said to them, ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you not yet understand? Have you no perception? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear? Or do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ They answered, ‘Twelve.’ ‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ And they answered, ‘Seven.’ Then he said to them, ‘Are you still without perception?’

Mark 8:14-21


It happens to every preacher. You think you have a great illustration to lead you into a gospel message, and which is so relative to people’s lives, so familiar to them, that you’ll have the congregation in the palm of your hand before you take them on a more profound journey into the gospel. It could be a TV programme or an amusing anecdote from your own life or something from the news. And then, afterwards, someone will approach you to talk about your homily. Yes, you’ve inspired them! Until you realise that they simply like the same TV programme too! Well, if you’re a preacher, it’s happened to better people before us, and it certainly happened to Jesus. The apostles are worrying about lunch, and so he uses the image of bread to teach them some truths. But they just don’t get it. In true comic style, they ask each other, “Is it because we have no bread?” They can’t see the wood for the trees. It’s so easy to miss the point, to be distracted by and dwell on ordinary things and miss the extraordinariness before our eyes. In his poem, Fulbright Scholars, Ted Hughes writes, “It was the first peach I had ever tasted. | I could hardly believe how delicious. | At twenty-five I was dumfounded afresh | By my ignorance of the simplest things.” Perhaps, today, we can look at the world with more open eyes of faith, dumfounded afresh by our ignorance of the simplest things, open to truths just waiting to be discovered.


God our Father, open our eyes to see you, our ears to hear you, our hearts to love you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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