November 6, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
The good news today is from the end of Mark chapter 6 verses 53-56.
After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Whatever villages or town or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.
This passage contrasts sharply with what we have just read about the disciples’ fear and inability to understand just who Jesus is. It seems that the more familiar we become with someone the less we hold them in awe. Jesus’ disciples clearly saw how popular Jesus was and witnessed the extraordinary power he had to heal, to exorcise demons, to perform miracles of many kinds. Yet they still questioned him and even argued with him because they didn’t understand that he was more than a healer and wonderworker. How could they, really? The son of God? They had no context in which they could be easily led to that conclusion. God come down from heaven in the form of a man, a poor, itinerate preacher from Galilee with no formal religious training? They could see that he derived his power and authority from God, but to be God’s son? That had to be almost impossible to understand let alone accept.
All these people bringing the sick to Jesus weren’t encumbered with all these questions. They simply knew by word of mouth that Jesus had the power to heal. They didn’t need to know any more than that; they just wanted their hopes fulfilled. It seems that Mark is making the point that the more I know Jesus, the more I’m exposed to him, the more questions I’m going to have and the more I have to grapple with understanding and accepting his identity. Faith isn’t an easy, simple matter — at least not for me. It is something that I am continually growing into. It has so many aspects — seeking answers to questions, surrendering to God, resting trustfully in HIs love for me, following Jesus’ example of loving others, and the list goes on. It is a full-time way of being and living for me. That gives me some inkling of what it was like for the disciples to live with Jesus day in and day out. It wasn’t easy; it was a struggle and it was all-consuming. I have a lot of empathy for them. It would have been much easier to be one of those who simply wanted to touch the tassel of Jesus’ cloak, be healed, and resume life as it was freed of whatever illness or disability they suffered, grateful for God’s blessing. God wants much more of me than that, though. He wants me to consume and be consumed. That’s what the Eucharist is all about, it seems to me.