The ferocity of a recent spring storm toppled two of the four chairs on our deck. Twenty-four hours later, the duo remained askew—prompting Gerri to observe that her dear husband must have absolutely zero interest in home improvement.
“But two of the chairs remain upright,” I protested. “So that’s about right…I’m at least half-way concerned…”
You’d be correct in assuming the Missus did not find my attempt at humor particularly amusing—and the offending chairs were restored to their upright-and-locked position forthwith. (In my defense, it can also be noted that the sliding-door blinds had been drawn for most of the preceding 24 hours…so it was not really obvious that the patio furniture needed some attention.)
All this week, we’ve been hearing stories from the eighth and ninth chapters of the Gospel of Mark that remind me a bit of the deck-chair incident at our house.
On Monday, the disciples had a peck of trouble figuring out how to cast out a demon.
On Tuesday, they were at their thick-headed best, arguing amongst themselves about which of them was the greatest.
On Wednesday, we heard how they managed to bollix things up yet again:
John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.”
Truth be told, I can empathize with the disciples’ apparent ineptitude. Imagine, for example, trying to digest this little nugget from the lips of the Savior:
Jesus and his disciples…began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”
But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.
So: It turns out that it’s no simple matter to follow Jesus faithfully.
It’s not like re-setting deck chairs after a storm. Rather, the evangelist’s recurring theme seems to be right on the mark: A healthy relationship with the Lord is more a matter of confidence than competence.
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.