Thursday, August 2, 2012

When We Don’t Understand

Thursday: 2 August, 2012 –– 17th Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 18:1–6 / Matthew 13:47–53
When We Don’t Understand

“Do you understand all these things?”  They answered, “Yes.”
Haven’t we all been in situations where someone asks us if we understand.... and we say “yes” (because we know they so want us to understand, or simply because we don’t want to look stupid), but we know we don’t understand?!
I think the disciples did this here. Again and again they proved they did not understand.  Sometimes they would be honest and ask. Other times they simply showed their lack of understanding by their attitudes and responses, such as Jesus foretelling his passion and their essential reply of  “No way!”
It is human nature to want to understand. Seeking understanding has driven the disciplines of philosophy and science, just to name two major contexts. We live in a time where knowledge has increased exponentially; we hear the term “Information Age.”  We get impatient when answers do not come quickly.  There is often an attitude that any source of information that is not modern is suspect, as if the people from centuries ago –– or even a couple of generations –– have little to offer us.
But if we are honest, we know there are some things we do not understand. In spite of our modern “advances” (and perhaps sometimes because of them!) we can find ourselves up against circumstances and issues that leave us asking Why?  We do not understand.
The prophet Jeremiah gives us one answer, but it’s one that modern ears, coupled with sinful human nature, does not want to hear.  When hard things come.... when ultimate questions are thrust upon us, and when intricacies are too complex, we need to take refuge in what God tells Jeremiah:  I am the potter and you are the clay....
Then we need to trust.  In our relationship with God, trust always trumps understanding –– especially when we don’t understand.

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