‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you not yet understand? Have you no perception? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear? Or do you not remember?’ – Mark 8:17,18

Human Annoyance
One of the most annoying thing you will ever experience is giving instructions or offering advice to your students, your child(ren), your spouse, colleagues, siblings or subordinates and have them do something completely different. The frustration you will feel cannot be put into words. Today’s gospel passage points out that hardness of heart is a part of humanity’s sinful condition. We are slow to listen and understand, our minds are dull and we struggle to perceive the truth. This explains our laziness towards prayer and scripture reading, infrequent reception of the sacraments, our intolerance of others and impatience with ourselves. We offend others just as much as they offend us. Nothing short of divine intervention can cure us of all these ills.
Open Your Mind
Our cure begins with our awareness of the problem. You have to be willing to open your mind and heart to God. You have to come to terms with the fact that the world does not revolve aroud you or your ideas. You are a relational being and you are bound to relate with others. To cut yourself from everyone else will only cause you more frustration. But there is a twist to this point: although you don’t live for other people’s approval, you need them. You need wisdom to know the difference. The same wisdom is needed to understand that you don’t have to build your life around chasing after material things even if you need some things to survive.
Peace For All
We all need to open our minds and listen to Christ and what he expects us to know about ourselves and about our relationship with God and the world. You are created for nothing short of union with God. Worldly pursuits should not derail journey towards union with God. This is what Jesus was trying to warn his disciples about. When you become preoccupied with the yeast of worldly ambition, the quest for wealth, power and fame, you rob yourself of peace. The more time you spend taking care of your mind, body and soul, and serving others, you will find the peace that continues to elude you. Pass some moments during the day in silence, in awareness of God’s presence in and around you. The realisation that God dwells in you will aid you in your relationship with others, even complete strangers. Others desire the same peace which you crave. Use your skill or position to make life a little more comfortable for others. This means that we turn away from other forms of open-mindedness: pride, obstinacy (stubbornness) in sin, lustful desires, wilful distraction, inordinate use of products of technology and desire for company which leads us to sin and drains us of grace. In most of these cases, we allow ourselves to be tempted by our evil desires. Evil will never be good and good will never be evil. Train your mind to desire good and to see evil for what it truly is.
Prayer
Lord, help me to truly listen to you with my heart, my mind  and my soul.
Today’s Readings
James 1:12-18; Ps 94:12-15,18-19; Mk 8:14-21