Today’s Gospel: Mark 16:9-15
Jesus “rebuked” the Apostles for not having believed Mary Magdalene and the two disciples on the way to Emmaus when they told them that they had seen the Risen Christ. The word “rebuke” stops me in my tracks. St. Mark could have chosen any number of words to describe the correction our Lord gave to the Eleven for their disbelief.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines rebuke as to criticize sharply or reprimand. Ouch. Imagine how that was for the Apostles. Their friend and teacher had been condemned, tortured, and crucified. The Man they’d loved and followed earnestly for three years had been cruelly taken from them, and now they were seeing him again – alive – for the first time since they’d buried his tattered body. And Jesus’ response? Sharp words admonishing them for not having believed the impossible stories of the others.
Jesus attributes the Apostles’ unbelief to their hardness of heart. A heart that is hardened and skeptical cannot open itself to grace and, through grace, to faith. The Eleven had tossed aside all that Jesus had taught them, all that he had predicted to them, in favor of their own faulty human reason. It didn’t matter what Jesus had said; they knew better.
We often think like the Apostles in this Gospel. We think we know better than God and so we can know exactly how things are (or how they should be). We harden our hearts and slip into unbelief because we don’t see how things could happen any other way. We discount the effect of God’s grace, mercy, and power and close ourselves to the miracles he has in store for us.
If I were to meet Jesus face to face right now, would he rebuke my hardened heart and unbelief? What keeps my heart hard and my unbelief strong?
Jesus, come sit with me. Open my heart to your grace, mercy, and power. Help my unbelief.
Copyright 2014 Marge Fenelon