They Were Afraid to Ask

I’ve been teaching for eighteen years. Not a year has gone by where I haven’t had a student say to me something like, “I was afraid to ask this question in class because it is such a stupid question.” Not a year has gone by when I haven’t told my students they should always talk to me when they have questions. Yet I know they often don’t, that there are students who remain in their confusion rather than asking me a question.

In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, Jesus is clearly trying to convey something to his disciples he wants them to understand. “Pay attention to what I am telling you,” he tells them. Then he reveals that the “Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”

The disciples, however, did not understand what Jesus meant. Yet, “they were afraid to ask him about this saying.”

Every time I read or hear this passage proclaimed, I have the same reaction of frustration toward the disciples. Why didn’t you ask, I think to myself. If you didn’t understand what He was saying, why didn’t you say so? What were you afraid of asking this Jesus, who so often told you not to be afraid?

And I find myself asking similar questions to people who tell me they are having some area of confusion with God, dealing with something involving God that they do not understand. “Did you talk to God about that?” or “Why don’t you ask God about it?” I advise.

I think sometimes people are afraid to go to God with their questions. Perhaps they think it is a question they shouldn’t have. Or they may be afraid of the answer they might receive.

But there is nothing we can’t bring before God. No question we can’t ask, no hesitation we can’t raise. God wants always to draw closer and closer to us. And if there are things we fear to ask, places we are afraid to go with God, we keep God at a distance.

We never need to be afraid to ask.

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