Deuteronomy 6:4-13; M atthew17:14-20
Today’s Gospel shows the human nature of Jesus – an aspect that is often challenging for us humans. In the Gospel, Jesus demonstrates the most human of traits, a lack of patience. The disciples attempted to cure the boy but failed. In modern parlance we’d say that the boy’s father went "over their heads" and took the boy to Jesus directly. Jesus then expresses impatience with the earthly world even going so far as to wonder how long he has to "endure" it. Then when the disciples ask him what went wrong he says with uncommon bluntness that they lacked the faith to cure the child.
Of course, this reminds us of many parent-child interactions. In fact, for those of us who are parents, it may remind us of interactions with our children where, with the benefit of hindsight, we wish we’d shown a little more patience, let the child work through the problem himself and then tried to teach the lesson a little more gently.
But, of course, Jesus was human as well as divine. When I was a child, I used to think of Jesus as being "perfect" in a human way. He must’ve been the smartest in his class, the best at sports and so on. But that childish view of him misses the most important aspect of him to us, which is that he really was human and had to suffer with many of the things that we do. He got hungry and thirsty, caught colds and even lost his patience occasionally.
One of the anchors of my faith as an adult has always been that in order for him to have been truly divine he had to triumph over his human death. Some skeptics might say that Jesus' resurrection was only a "resurrection" in the sense that some truly remarkable human beings – say, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa – continue to "be" with us through their works even after their death. Deep in my heart I know that what happened on that cross must have been far more powerful than that. It must have involved a real and true resurrection and not simply a powerful memory continued on in the minds of friends.
By Patrick J. Borchers