Listening and Leadership

Today’s readings include a first reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. I am writing this on a Sunday afternoon, and it is hard not to think about the events of January 6th at the Capitol when the halls of Congress were invaded by a mob who had been encouraged by the President. The news channels are today filled with talk of a second impeachment. And the words from the author or Hebrews linger like an echo.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
“Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
in the day of testing in the desert,
where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works for forty years.
Because of this I was provoked with that generation
and I said, ‘They have always been of erring heart,
and they do not know my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter into my rest.’” (3:7-11; referencing Ps 95:7-11)

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Secrets

Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” (Mark 1:41-44; from today’s gospel)

Over the many years of leading Bible studies, I have often been asked why Jesus would perform a miracle and then command the person healed and the bystanders not to tell anyone? It is a regular feature in Mark’s gospel – and it never works out. “The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad” (Mark 1:45)

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