Sometimes I imagine Jesus and the disciples like a sitcom—we sit watching honestly funny stories unfold. Just think of the exasperated expression on Jesus’ face as the disciples mix up the message. Imagine Jesus hitting his palm on his forward and looking up to the sky thinking, “After all this time, they still don’t get it?”
Christ clearly has a great deal of compassion and patience for us. But perhaps we also need patience with God. Jesus consistently communicates via parables. He is not exactly a straightforward fellow. Prayer may often feel the same way. We look and search for God, for answers, for help, and for love.
I sometimes find God’s response quizzical, roundabout or confusing, especially when I’m rushing prayer. In today’s Gospel, Jesus responds to their misunderstanding by asking more questions, trying to lead them to comprehension. Thankfully, they had the rest of the boat ride to pray over his response.
Prayer and discernment often function similarly—God asks leading questions. I sometimes find God’s method frustrating. Moreover, I can become frustrated with myself. I ask, “Are there things I’m missing? Why don’t I understand this? Is this totally beyond me?” Today’s Gospel gives us great (and somewhat hidden) tips for prayer and discernment: Be patient with God. Be patient with yourself. Let God be patient with you. Ask to see situations as God sees them. Let God take the lead. And give yourself and God adequate time for direction.
—Ken Homan, S.J. is a Jesuit brother from the Wisconsin Province. He is currently studying history and theology at Fordham University, New York.