St. Irenaeus, Bishop & Martyr
Genesis 18:16-33 + Matthew 8:18-22
June 28, 2021
… He gave orders to cross to the other shore.
Several times during His public ministry, Jesus acts in a way that might be called “anti-social”. This would be a mistaken perception, of course, but we still might wonder why Jesus acts as He does in these cases.
In today’s brief Gospel passage, when “Jesus saw a crowd around him, He gave orders to cross to the other shore.” This prefaces the interaction between Jesus and two disciples. We might be tempted to wonder whether this scene took place on a Monday morning. The scribe sounds like an idealistic young person, while Jesus seems to splash cold water on his enthusiasm. The other disciple expresses concern for a deceased loved one, a concern which Jesus seems to dismiss.
Have you ever felt that your enthusiasm for God has gone unmet? To your desire for a deep spiritual life, have you perceived a sort of shrug on God’s part, if not a rebuke? If so, you are in good company. The story is told that Saint Teresa of Avila, suffering persecution because of her reform of the Carmelite order, complained to God about the hostility and gossip she faced. Jesus told her, “Teresa, that’s how I treat my friends.” She responded, “No wonder you have so few.”
It’s not a good idea to banter with God as Teresa did without possessing her degree of holiness. Still, we might be tempted to agree with her. More importantly, however, we need to agree with the Lord.
We can speculate that there are two reasons for the distance that Jesus creates between Himself and others during His public ministry. One is that “distance makes the heart grow fonder”. The other is more practical: Jesus doesn’t want to give others more than they can chew. In other words, we often aren’t ready for what God has to give us. Even during Holy Week, after three years with Jesus, all but one of His apostles fled from the Cross. When we agree with the Lord that His Will—even His Cross—is what’s best for us, the distance between ourselves and God will diminish.