"He sighed from the depth of his spirit." Mk 8:12
Most of us recognize Jesus' agonized sighing as something that comes over all of us from time to time. Though we explain ourselves clearly and carefully, a colleague, a friend or a family member misunderstands or misinterprets our intent. We explain again, even more slowly. Still, some claim not to understand us. Only when we realize and accept that some are resistive to our message, do we begin to have some peace! More, when we are deeply honest, we admit that we do the same thing to others.
Jesus has tried hard to assure his hearers that he is an observant Jew, a believer, but many, troubled by the power of his words and deeds, insist they do not understand him. He sighs out of frustration, and no doubt realizes that he is in a deadly arm wrestling match with the leaders of the Jewish community. Though he will continue to assure the Pharisees and scribes that he wants to work with them for the reform and renewal of the Jewish community, he knows that his efforts are fruitless. Nevertheless, Jesus continues to dialogue with the Jewish leaders, not because he expects them to change, but because it is the right thing to do.
We have the same obligation as believers. Without arrogance or resistance, we must listen to those who challenge our beliefs or seek to undermine our religious convictions. If we intend to follow Jesus' example, we have no other choice. Though we may doubt ourselves at times, we can be sure that the gospel message is too difficult for many to hear. Nevertheless, we must continue to announce God's Good News.
In today's gospel Jesus does the smart thing. He leaves his antagonists for a while and goes to the "other shore," allowing himself to cool off and his opponents to think again about their own behavior. Sometimes walking away from another argument is the best and most effective strategy to live the gospel.
Today, ask yourself if you are resisting hearing someone with whom you disagree.