Good afternoon! I hope you’ve found a moment to slip away from your desk and the busyness of the day to step outside and enjoy the beautiful weather on this first day of March! If you haven’t… consider this your homework. J In preparation for your excursion, take a moment and read the very profound and thoughtful devotional that’s been prepared for you today.
Today’s devotional comes to us from Patricia Duncan. Patricia is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion here at TCU. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to connect with Patricia a few times in our work here, and I’m always grateful for her calm and inviting presence, as well as her keen insight. I think you’ll find both of those qualities present in her words for us today. I invite you to take a moment, absorb the message she is offering us, and step outside to the beauty of this day – open your heart and receive what God is offering you in this moment on your Lenten journey. Blessings to you…
March 1, 2016 By: Patricia Duncan
When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and [Jesus] was alone on the land. When he saw that [the disciples] were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:47-52)
The spare style of the Gospel of Mark discloses Jesus to us as a powerful and enigmatic figure. His closest followers are frequently confounded by his actions, and sometimes they are simply terrified. When, almost by accident, they witness Jesus walking across the Sea of Galilee one morning in the grey of dawn, they are struck with fear by his ghost-like presence. Naturally, they have no words when the wind suddenly ceases and this mysterious Jesus climbs into the boat with them. And yet, perhaps the strangest part of this astonishing little story is the remark that the narrator makes to us readers at the end. Why were the disciples of Jesus astounded by this series of uncanny events? Because they did not understand about the bread (literally, “the loaves”).
I love this unobtrusive little comment in the Gospel of Mark, because it is as if the narrator suddenly turns to us and gives us a little shake. Have you been paying attention, dear reader? Do you understand about the bread?
The comment is surely intended first and foremost to direct our attention back to the preceding episode in the Gospel of Mark, searching for what it was that we missed in the story about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. It reminds us that, in this gospel narrative, bread is not merely bread. We must pay attention if we want to comprehend and experience the deeper significance of things. This goes for our reading, but it surely applies to our everyday existence, as well. How often are our own hearts hardened to the sacred mystery that lurks hidden in even the most ordinary of moments—in our casual conversations, in a meal with friends or family, in the warmth of the sun on our skin. Are you, dear reader, paying attention to the “bread” of life?
Gracious God, open our eyes to your presence around and within us.