Everyone is looking: questions

Jesus_healing_Peter_inlawIt is very easy to simply note that Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law, be swept along in Mark’s breathless pace, and wonder if there is more to the story. Ched Myers (Binding the Strong Man: A Political reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus, 141) raises this question at the beginning of his comments on Mark 1:21-39:

These “miracle” stories raise important issues of interpretation. Is Jesus simply “curing” the physically sick and the mentally disturbed? If so, why would such a ministry of compassion raise the ire of the local authorities? Continue reading

Everyone is looking: context

Jesus_healing_Peter_inlaw29 On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. 31 He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. 32 When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. 33 The whole town was gathered at the door. 34 He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. 35 Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and those who were with him pursued him 37 and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” 39 So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

The narrative move quite quickly in the Gospel according to Mark. The narrative’s pace and immediacy is one of the most notable attributes of the writing. Lest one think that Mark is simply concatenating stories without a larger vision in mind, it is always good to “step back” and see the larger framework in which the Gospel account exists. Continue reading

Powerful Words

The children’s rhyme insists that “sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Yet anyone who has comforted a teased child knows the emptiness of the adage. We all know from experience that the sharp, cold edge of the sword of a single word can cut to the quick, leaving wounds of a lifetime. Indeed, sticks and stone can break bones, but words… words have their own power. Continue reading

Something to consider…

The Franciscan friars of Holy Name Province have served at Sacred Heart in Tampa since 2005. The friars assumed pastoral leadership from the Jesuits of the Southern Province who had well served the people since 1882. The Jesuits and their tradition continue for the citizenry of Tampa through their ministry at Jesuit High School. The Jesuits have left their mark in downtown by the amazing edifice that is our church. Their legacy also is appropriately displayed in their motto, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, “to the greater glory of God,” which adorns the arch over the transept/sanctuary. Continue reading

Authority: response

Jesus-in-Capernaum-SynagogueDemonic Knowledge. That the demonic powers possess a certain knowledge of Jesus’ identity is clear from the cry of recognition, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” This formula of recognition, however, does not stand alone. It is part of a larger complex of material exhibiting a striking difference between the forms of address employed by the demoniacs and the titles used by ordinary sick individuals. The latter group appeal to Jesus as “Lord” (7:8), “Teacher” (9:17), “Son of David” (10:47–48) or “Master” (10:51). The demoniacs, however, address Jesus as “the Holy One of God” (1:24), “the Son of God” (3:11) or “the Son of the Most High God” (5:7), formulations which identify Jesus as the divine Son of God. The contrast in address is an important characteristic distinguishing ordinary sickness from demonic possession, and reflects the superior knowledge of the demons. Some scholars make the distinction that the recognition-formula is not a confession, but a defensive attempt to gain control of Jesus in accordance with the common concept of that day, that the use of the precise name of an individual or spirit would secure mastery over him. Continue reading

Authority: something new

Jesus-in-Capernaum-SynagogueThe word kainos is not restricted as a reference something that did not exist before, e.g., the new teaching was something unheard of before. It can also refer to something that is “fresh”. Brian Stoffregen recounts this gem: “A Treasury of Jewish Folklore: Stories, Traditions, Legends, Humor, Wisdom and Folk Songs of the Jewish People, Edited by Nathan Ausubel, contains this wonderful story (51):  Continue reading

Authority: in teaching

Jesus-in-Capernaum-SynagogueMark 1:21–34 appear to be intended by Mark to represent the activity of a single day, or of two days if judged by the Jewish perspective that a new day begins with sunset. Jesus’ sabbath activity includes teaching, exorcism and healing. In comprehensive fashion the acts of God are initiated by Jesus, restoring men to wholeness, but in a manner which occasions both excitement and alarm. The continuation of the four fishermen with Jesus is indicated by the plural form “they came to Capernaum.” This is confirmed by Mark 1:29 where Jesus and the four enter the house of Simon and Andrew; it is probable that Capernaum was the town in which all four fishermen lived. Continue reading

Authority: context

Jesus-in-Capernaum-Synagogue21 Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. 22 The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. 23 In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; 24 he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” 26 The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. 27 All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” 28 His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee. Continue reading