Mark 6:45-52 Hardened Hearts
It is all too common for someone who has experienced a spiritual awakening or after a spiritual “high” to come tumbling or crashing down to earth - back to reality. The same holds true of friends. Today I have them, tomorrow who knows? How true it is what is said in Jewish circles, “If you find a friend, you found a treasure.” But I prefer Fr. Jerome Cummings saying, it is much more provocative, “A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway.”
Why were the hearts of the Apostles hardened? What did the Lord do to them? He had just performed the miracle of the multiplication of bread and fish. He had just feed the packed and hungry crowd. So why were their hearts hardened? The clue rests with the final verse in today’s Gospel: “They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.” Why? The Apostles had not yet received the gift of knowledge; of wisdom. They had not received the Holy Spirit. The Lord had yet to write his law in their hearts. They did not know that the Holy Spirit could only be given once the Lord had left them - ascended back to heaven. The Eucharist and the Holy Spirit are not possible without the Lord back home. The Apostles were not prepared in going alone.
There will be moments when the crowd is fed and when the crowd is in fear. There will be times of grace and times of grief. Heaven has come down to earth, but not yet, not fully. We are in a long period of transition. And for this reason, we experience moments of shell-shock! How on earth can I be happy at one moment and sad the next? “How on earth” explains it all!
It is true, not all have been redeemed. Not all have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. But if we want to be really be honest, then we need to be honest with ourselves; we must admit that at times I do not live my life as a Christian. I do not live a life as one who has been blessed with the knowledge of God and with the gift of the Holy Spirit. It isn’t so much us versus them; it is more like us vs. God, or even better – more personal: me vs. God.
The Apostles were in the presence of the Almighty God, who became man and lived a humble life. No castles, no titles, no kingdoms except for the one in Heaven. The Lord truly lived a great life - a simple life, a life of prayer, of overcoming challenges and obstacles, in making a difference in the lives of others, one soul at a time. It is remarkable what the Lord did in only three years. This should give us so much hope! The Lord has truly blessed us! By being so simple he is so accessible.
Lord, every nation on earth will adore you! (Ps 72:11)
Let us take the time today to talk or walk across the sea and reach out to those in fear. Let us pray for loved ones who suffer persecution and distress. The channel of love is made easy by the words of the Lord, “They will know that you belong to me by the way you love one another.” Let us not fool ourselves to think there is any other way in reaching our final destination. We must be vigilant to not allow anyone or anything to harden our hearts.