Jesus Won’t Scratch Your Itch to Know

The following is a homily that I preached at our Province MidChapter Mass, which coincided with the Saint Augustine High School San Diego Weekly Mass. The following homily is based on the readings of the day, particularly the Gospel Mark 4:1-20.

Has anybody talked to Siri today? Has anybody ran a google search this morning? Has anybody ran a google search, or talked to Siri in the past 24 hours? What for? Because there was pressing information? You were curious? You had a lot of homework and, therefore, it was very urgent you run a web search for that Sweet Brown Auto-Tune?

Our answers arrive instantaneously. If the web is slow, or we can’t have a connection, we probably gloss over it quickly and move to the next thing with a little gnawing questioning voice that desires the possession of data in the palms of our hands. I want to know it! I want to look at it in the palms of my hand! I want it now! And were we to know it, were Siri to give us the response we thought we needed, were Google to give us a satisfying list of websites, we will quickly move onto the next thing, with a little gnawing questioning voice looking for another data to possess in the palms of our hands. So, perhaps, we watch a couple more recommended videos on Youtube, we follow some more tags on tumblr and twitter, we stalk someone else’s Instagram stream, and we realize we are cuddled in our bed with our smartphone and its 1am and you have class tomorrow! What just happened?

We have access to answers that arrive instantaneously, but some of the things that stick with us for life are the ones that we wrestle with, that we struggle to arrive at answers. Meaningful Wisdom doesn’t come instantly. Meaningful Insights are not in a Google Search, do not come from Siri. Some of the insights and pieces of wisdom that are the most meaningful are the ones that we arrive at after wrestling and struggling and grasping for answers. The Wisdom that inspires us is not the kind of curious data we fix upon to scratch our itch to know.

The People at Galilee had an itch to know what was with this Jesus of Nazareth. They couldn’t skim their eyes on a list of websites in a Google Search. They couldn’t ask Siri. They couldn’t stalk him on tumblr, or Twitter or Instagram. They had an itch to know about this Jesus of Nazareth. A large crowd gathered, we heard in the Gospel. Jesus sat on a boat so that many people can here him.

The disciples pressed Jesus. Jesus did not scratch their itch to know. They wanted Jesus to deliver answers instantaneously.

Jesus does indeed explain the meaning of the Parable of the seeds. Some seed was snatched away by the Satan. Some could not let God’s Word take root. some are lured away by anxiety or riches or craving. Some, bore fruit, as much as fifty, sixty, and a hundredfold!

If we are like the disciples, our itch is not scratched. If we are like the crowds that gathered, perhaps we are troubled by the enigmatic and almost exclusive way in which the Word of God seems to favor some. Jesus himself says strongly that some look and not perceive, some hear but not understand… The Parable is not a sentimental story with a happy ending. They Parable is disturbing. This one, like many others does not settle the issue entirely, and so we are unsettled. The Parable does not try to scratch our itch, it does not try to satisfy the curious, instead it disturbs, and troubles, and unsettles. It hovers before us, dangling, waiting, anticipating us to arrive not at an answer for us, but to arrive at a response, to arrive at a resolution.

Were it instead simple, straightforward, with a response and resolution clearly spelled out by Jesus, perhaps it would unmercifully compel those who have not arrived at a meaningful insight. Perhaps Jesus can compel and pressure us with easy answers. Perhaps if Jesus supplied easy and simple answers with clarity, we would not have time to allow God to journey with us, to reveal his Wisdom in a way that is appropriate for us, appropriate to his ways, and his times.

For us, like the Disciples, following the Gentle and Good Shepherd, are eager for answers. The answers have a high cost. The answers press us to change. They trouble us, they unsettle us. They drive us to refuse to let our attention to the Word be snatched up by temptation, to subside to anxiety or greed or sin. They drive us to let God’s Word take deep root in us. They drive us so that the Wisdom can be personally significant. That the insights that God reveals to us, in the mystery of his ways, may have lasting meaning for us. They drive us so that we can respond in the way God calls each of us in Christ. They drive us to listen, to pay attention, to the time when the word will come to complete fruition, when the Word in us will bear fruit, fifty, sixty, or even a hundredfold. They drive us to resolve to be the person that God wants to inspire us to be.

I concluded the homily with the recitation of a verse from a song of my upcoming album, which will not be available in public here until the album release.


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