Sunday, February 08, 2009
Our celebrant this morning was explaining why Mark is her favorite Gospel. "It's the most troubling Gospel," she said. Most scholars believe it is the earliest Gospel, that the other three base most of their stories on what Mark had to report.
She said, "We've grown up with these stories, so we can explain them away. But in Mark, there is no explanation." She went on to say that today, the trendy way to view Mark's writings is from the context of empire... these are all empire stories that the people of that time already knew. Much as we associate politicians on the back of a train with Roosevelt and that earlier time when life was simpler and values were solid, the people in Mark's generation would have understood these stories by making the association between Jesus and Moses. Jesus comes up out of the water at his baptism... Moses was drawn from the water. Jesus journeys, incessantly. Moses journeyed (incessantly) with the children of Israel through the desert.
In the brief part we read in today's Gospel, Jesus has just called a few followers and they have gone to the house of Peter and Andrew. But his call to his followers is not what it seems. These men had families, they weren't young bachelors with nothing better to do. Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law of a fever, not a lightweight illness in that time. Then... a host of neighbors with all their sick relatives descends, and he heals them too. What must they have thought? Hallelujah? He's come to make our lives better?
Then... he disappears in the middle of the night. They have to go searching for him, and when they finally find him, and want to bring him home, (to do it all over again tomorrow morning,) he says No. I'm leaving. That was when it probably sunk in... just what "Follow Me." was going to be about.
Our celebrant asked "What about those who were left behind?" She was thinking of the ones that Jesus had touched and had probably changed their lives forever. What would they do with this new concept of love and justice and possibility? Especially now that the source had packed up and left them to figure it out alone? But my thoughts went to the ones left behind that were too late for the healings. They didn't get the memo the night before, but they were probably standing in line early that next morning, outside the door to Peter's house.
Where's the healer? When is he coming back?
Oh, you missed him.
He's gone on down the road to spread the good news to somebody else.
Too bad. You missed him.