Rejection: context

Jesus-who-is-this1 He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 3 Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” 5 So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mark 6:1-6)
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Grace and welcoming

Mark-5-two-miraclesDo you ever get stuck on an image, a word, a moment in time, and continue to return to it – take it into prayer, reflection, and consideration? Sometimes it is a haunting thought – why didn’t I understand, why didn’t I say something, why couldn’t I have helped. Sometimes it is a instinct to find deeper understanding. It can be lots of things. I find that I return to the events of June 17th when good, grace-filled people died at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston. It was an evening when grace and welcome abounded. Imagine being there at the Bible Study when someone, who looked completely different from you – perhaps triggering their instincts of danger – walks in and joins the study of God’s word. It would have been one thing for Dylan Roof to walk in guns blazing and be done with the terrible deed – but he was welcomed without condition or reservation, sat down, received their peace, and then an hour later unleashed his misguided hate, taking nine lives. Continue reading

Crossing over: a reflection

Mark-5-two-miraclesPerkins [590-91], as usual, offers a very interesting reflection on the passage.

The story of a nameless woman who has exhausted her resources seeking medical treatment for a chronic condition strikes a responsive chord with many older adults today. When they were younger, doctors seemed able to provide cures. Now these persons seem to have an ever-expanding list of medical complaints. As one man in his seventies put it, “After a certain age, you are never really well. Just less sick.” The financial drain and emotional difficulty of dealing with the bureaucratic, impersonal, and compartmentalized medical establishment compound the difficulty. Continue reading

Change – can do

Rosie-the-RiveterI suspect our attitude towards change is like our attitude towards death and taxes — it should be postponed as long as possible. But change is inevitable, natural, and part of the fabric of our lives, our families, and our parish community. Change can be exciting, thrilling, sad, and more – all at the same time. Sometimes change brings about the experience of an appreciation of what was, once the change has occurred. That too is probably inevitable, but, it seems to me, even more sad. Hopefully we are mindful and appreciative of what is “now,” and the good that lies ahead. Continue reading

Cross over: one alive

Mark-5-two-miraclesThe Raising of Jairus’ Daughter: the Subduing of Death. While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

The interruption of attending to the hemorrhaging women creates a time delay in the narrative, providing space for the girl to die, messengers to report to the father, and mourners to gather at the house (vv. 35, 38). The messengers present an obstacle to the healing by advising the father to leave Jesus alone, since the girl has died. Jesus takes the initiative by telling Jairus to have faith (v. 36). The reference to faith picks up the conclusion to the healing of the woman. Continue reading

Crossing over: one healed

Mark-5-two-miraclesFear and Peace. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

Why would the woman approach in “fear and trembling?” Perkins [588] provides a wonderful explanation that I will simply offer in whole: Continue reading

Crossing over: the healer

Mark-5-two-miraclesThe Healer. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”

In the controversy stories, Jesus shows himself aware of the inner thoughts and motives of his opponents, yet in the very same moment of healing, Jesus realized that “power had gone out from him” and seems unaware of the woman at all. This is an unusual expression which occurs only in Mark’s Gospel. We are perhaps surprised that Jesus seems to be caught unaware and that this power is not under his conscious control. The idea of dynamis (power) is intrinsic and constitutional in the biblical concept of the personal God. As Lane [192-3] notes: “Jesus possesses the power of God as the representative of the Father. Nevertheless, the Father remains in control of his own power. The healing of the woman occurred through God’s free and gracious decision to bestow upon her the power which was active in Jesus. By an act of sovereign will God determined to honor the woman’s faith in spite of the fact that it was tinged with ideas which bordered on magic.” Continue reading

Crossing over: encounters

Mark-5-two-miraclesThe Plea of Jairus.When Jesus had crossed again (in the boat) to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him…”

Jesus is returning from his experience in Gentile territory and the casting out of a demon from a man in the Gerasene district. The transition to our text is simple and stated in one verse. Jesus returned to the western shore of the lake, perhaps to Capernaum and a multitude gathered around him, immediately upon his arrival, so it seems. No indication is given whether the crowd came together as soon as he arrived or after an extended period of time; it is simply the first fact that Mark records, offering a contrast to Jesus’ experience on the eastern shore where the inhabitants urged him to depart. Continue reading

Crossing over: context

Mark-5-two-miraclesThe Daughter of Jairus and the Woman with the Hemorrhage (5:21-43)

21 When Jesus had crossed again (in the boat) to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. 22 One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet 23 and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” 24 He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. Continue reading

In the boat

LJA130270What’s as tall as a small office building, snaps large vessels in half and inspires a small tribe of surfers to launch themselves into an unholy maelstrom? Giant waves. The bigger the better — or worse — depending on who’s talking; better for extreme surfers, worse for seafarers. Until very recently giant waves lived only as lore. There was the story of the Tlingit Indian woman who returned from berry picking to find her entire village disappeared. The polar explorer Ernest Shackleton once reported narrowly surviving “a mighty upheaval of the ocean,” the biggest wave he’d seen in 26 years of seafaring. But witnesses of a 100-foot wave at close range rarely lived to tell, and experts dismissed stories about these waves because they seemingly violated basic principles of ocean physics. Continue reading