Ever been in a conversation with someone – usually not an easy conversation – when the other person, exasperated with you, the conversation, or whatever just blurts out, “You just don’t get it, do you?” ….and there it is… the end of the conversation. Just a few words, well delivered that can kill conversations or end relationships.
I suspect that along with exasperation, it can often be delivered with the characteristics that St. Paul warns us about: “all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, reviling [and] malice must be removed from you.” We might well add to his list: “You just don’t get it, do you?” None of the above fulfills the proposal to “be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.”
You can word-search an online bible for “You just don’t get it, do you?” It is not part of Jesus’ vocabulary of phrases. Although I wouldn’t blame him if it was.
In John 3, Jesus could have said to Nicodemus, “No, I’m not talking about being born again from your mother’s womb. I’m talking about spiritual rebirth.” “You just don’t get it, do you?”
In chapter 4 He could have said it to the woman at the well. “No, I’m not talking about a drink of water from this deep, dark well. I’m talking about my presence that fills a thirst no earthly water can quench.” “You just don’t get it, do you?”
He could have said it to the man by the pool of Siloam in chapter 5. “No, healing doesn’t come from bubbling water stirred up by an angel. It comes from me, and I’m standing right here next to you.” “You just don’t get it, do you?”
Here in today’s Gospel He could have said it a bunch of times when all the murmuring starts. After all, these people have been stalking Jesus, following him all over Galilee. They’ve seen miracles, healings, demons cast out, and nature obey his command. They are getting the top-shelf display of divine power. It has been one sign after another that he, Jesus, is the long awaited Messiah. Now He is promising them eternal life — and they have the blank, open-mouth, “what…..????” stare. How frustrating must that have been?
How many times have each one of us been there? We have done everything just so, we’ve explained, we’ve demonstrated it, we’ve proved, we’ve presented it…. and we are rewarded with that blank stare. This is when we need to recall St. Paul’s admonition: “all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, reviling [and] malice must be removed from you.” “be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.” On our best days, right? But today…. so who can blame Jesus if the dialogue went as follows:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.…. You just don’t get it, do you?”
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die..….You just don’t get it, do you?”
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world……. You just don’t get it, do you?”
But Jesus does not kill the conversation. There is no huff, fury, anger, shouting or malice. There is just kindness, compassion, patience and forgiveness. Jesus remains present to them, ever willing to be in and to continue the relationship. He remained present to Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the man by the pool, and now the crowds.
He remains present to you so that you can be born again and renewed in the waters of Baptism and the Sacraments, drink deeply of the Living Waters of the Word of God, and know the fullness of Jesus in the living bread of the Eucharist. So that you can understand what all these things can mean in your life. So that you can come to Eucharist and give your “Amen,” getting the fullness of the grace; grace that you might not yet fully understand.
But ever present to us is this question: “Do I get it?” Me…Yes….. mostly….. some days better than others …. Do I get it sufficiently that it makes a difference in my life – that bitterness, fury, anger and malice set aside – and only kindness, compassion and forgiveness are present? Yes…. mostly …. some days better than others. OK, I am still a work-in-progress…
My life may have lots of “mostly” maybe some “not at all” but here is what I do get, here is what I trust – here is what I can return to on a “mostly” or a “not at all” day – that God loves us so much that he sent his only begotten Son. Who is like us in all things except sin. Who gave his life that we might have eternal life.
Jesus, the One who does not say “You just don’t get it, do you?”
Who – even when we stopped talking to Him – has never ended the conversation.
Who – even when we turned away – has never rejected the relationship with us.
Who – even when we desire so many things not of God – always desires that we be saved
And on the days I don’t get much else, that can always be the point to which I return and begin again because …. That is what love does. That’s what God does.
I get that.