Mark 8:21

“Don’t you understand now?” he repeated. 


not understanding
is no block
for continuing

an on-ongoing understanding
of not understanding
is a standard operating situation

and SOP is not an SOS
no emergency protocol
need be engaged

all the response needed
is a simple yep
still connecting

turn down the sensitivity
to innate failure
accept the journey to date


With this question, LaVerdiere220 ends volume one of his two volume commentary on Mark. All the teachings and healings to this point are but an introduction to the crux or consequence of having begun a gospel of good news within a divided religious tradition occupied for what seems like the umpteenth time—“To understand, the disciples have to follow him on the way to Jerusalem, to his passion and resurrection.”

A number of commentators see this as a place where Mark changes images from the “sea” to “the way”.

Do note that this question remains unanswered here. There is not even the inkling of a response. Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, in her chapter on Narrative Criticism in Anderson44, writes: “The sea scene ends [with this question]. No character answers this question. It is forwarded to the implied reader….” We will find this same inconclusiveness when Mark finally ends his beginning of good news with silence.

For a moment it would be helpful to intentionally take your role as an “implied reader” and spend some time with this question in regard to your own life. This is an opportunity to take stock of what you do and do not understand about your life at this point, taking particular notice of what glimpse you have of that mysterious realm of what you do not understand and where you have relied on trust, habit, and ritual to comfort yourself in the midst of afflictions and addictions.

It would be helpful to learn a bit more about an Ignatian Examen. In particular: recall the leftovers of a presence of abundance you have picked up along the way; be thankful for these blessings; see how they have affected your behavior today; see where changed living is needed; and choose a hopeful recommitment to generosity.

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