Saturday, January 21, 2017


What is it about this word that bothers us so much? We get offended if someone calls us ignorant. And yet, unless we know everything, we are all ignorant about something. We are all ignorant about many things.

In today's gospels we hear that:

When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Actually, the translations vary. Some say "family", or "friends." The core of the Greek word means close/near. The point in Mark's gospel is that it was those closest to Jesus who thought he was insane. The recent film Now You See Me captures the problem in a single line, when one of the magicians tells a crowd, "The closer you are, the less you see."

There are times when close is good, but there also times when we need distance to see fully. Sometimes we need spatial distance to see the big picture, and sometimes the distance we need is across time. We need time to pass for us to understand the larger meaning of an event. We need historical perspective.

Theology is precisely the Church's fuller understanding of God's revelation as it develops over time. As Catholics we believe that the Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church in this process.

God does not change. The Truth does not change. But our understanding does.

This is why humility is an essential virtue for any Christian. Humility allows to embrace our ignorance, to say the words, "I don't know." For it is only when I embrace my ignorance that I am truly able to learn.

Jesus relatives thought that mere proximity gave them knowledge, like Christians who attend church Sunday after Sunday. But proximity without openness can teach us nothing. Let us all step back from our certainty, acknowledge how little we know, only then we can truly be lifelong disciples, students of the one Teacher.