This morning at 7am we gathered again at St. Stephens for morning prayers and reading from the Gospel. Today we read sections in Mark and Luke, and followed Our Lord’s earthly ministry from right around His healing of the Centurion’s daughter through the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and ended at the questioning of Jesus by the Pharisees – the section that was read at last night’s Matins service.
As a theme this year, we’ve been focusing on watching Our Lord as He goes through Passion Week – how he responds and deals with those around Him – and what this tells us about how we are to live, but also about how He regards us. This “watching Jesus” is also applicable, of course, to the entire Gospel. Today what was striking was to watch how patient Jesus is with those around Him. Whether it is those who come to Him for healing, those who come to ask the way into the Kingdom, or those who are among His closest followers – time and again, Our Lord shows great patience with their lack of understanding, and even wavering faith.
In the Gospel readings today, this point was made very strikingly when the disciples, having just recently seen not one but two miraculous feedings – the multiplication of the fishes and loaves on two occasions – they still worry about having enough bread as they set off. This lack of faith, and quick forgetfulness of what God had just done in front of their eyes is met not with an angry dismissal or even degrading insult — but rather correction and re-focusing by Our Lord to show them that the bread of life was indeed with them, and that they need not be anxious for things.
Our Lord’s patience with those around Him can be a great comfort to us, who also often show lack of faith and forgetfulness of God’s goodness and provision to us. It is delusional to read the stories in the Gospels, or even about the wavering faith of the children of Israel of old and think that we somehow would have “done better”. When we say this we need to ask ourselves, have I been anxious about money, or the future, or my circumstances? If I have, then I am no better than them. But, take hope! Our Lord does not abandon them, and He does not abandon us! Let us hope in His mercy and His patience with us as we strive to increase our faith in Him.