We Mean Well… (01.21.2017)

Scripture Readings

Today’s Gospel is one of the shorter readings upon which we reflect.  It is a mere two verses.  Though these two verses contain a fascinating scene.  Jesus’ relatives deem him insane and seek to seize him.  Whoa, what is going on here?  I think it is a case of meaning well but having no idea.

Seizing a family member that you have collectively diagnosed as unstable might not sound like the definition of ‘meaning well’ but we should consider the circumstances.  Jesus is a Jew in Roman occupied Palestine.  He is contending with the Sadducees.  He is parrying the Pharisees.  And from the Roman’s perspective, He is amassing large followings with all of His “kingdom” talk.  He hasn’t gone out of his way to ensure that He has a stamp of approval from the establishment.  Then He shows up near home and His crowd is so massive that the people in the house can’t even eat.  To His relatives this might look like the work of a man who is trying to get Himself killed.  In turn, seizing Him might just be a way to keep Him safe.

However, I don’t think they get it.  They don’t get that He is doing ministry with the cross in mind.  He is radically available and so attractive to those in need because He is coming to them with one eye on His own hour of abject need.  All of His ministry is done under the shadow of the cross.  Not in the sense that His ministry has some defeatist attitude to it.  Rather, it is done in the freedom of His complete self-emptying.

The catch for us, the difficult catch, is that He calls us to that as well.  He calls us to live from the cross.  St. Paul in his letter to the Romans reminds us that in our baptism we were baptized into His death.  That we may rise with Him, yes, but we are already dead.  Jesus calls us to something similar with His words, “Whoever saves His life will lose it and whoever loses His life will save it.”  Christ has called us all to live under the freedom that flows from His cross.  The freedom that “cleanse[s] our consciences from dead works to worship the living God” as the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us.

However sometimes we don’t get it.  Sometimes, we think Jesus might be going just a little too far.  And we seize Him and put Him away for a little while.  I think we mean well.  It’s just what He is suggesting sounds ludicrous.  He must be insane, right?

Today, be open to letting go of Jesus in an area of your life where you thought He was just a little too insane for what you were ready for.  Don’t seize Him.  Instead, let Him seize you.

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Radical

Scripture Readings for January 23, 2016

Today’s gospel passage captures one third of something called Lewis’ Trilemma.  Here is how Lewis describes it:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. … Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.  (Mere Christianity 56)

This is commonly represented as “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord.”  The goal today is not to discuss all of the flaws or merits of his argument, but to draw from it the startling connection in Mark today.  Continue reading “Radical”

Just Trying to Help

Today’s Readings

Somedays I’m 100% on board with God’s plan to bring us all into communion. And then there are the other days.  Those are the times that I question whether God is much smarter than the person who invented the college dormitory (seriously who thought that was a good idea?  Giving young people an overdose of freedom while supervised by their peers.  Yikes!).  The worst rough days are when I hear phrases like “He was just trying to help.”  That phrase is uttered when he not only failed, he actually hindered everything I wanted to do.  And the worst part is that he didn’t mean it.  It is precisely the well intentioned bumble that Jesus was trying to prevent in today’s Gospel. Continue reading “Just Trying to Help”

Shackles & Chains

Last time when we reflected upon Mark 5:1-20 we stayed in the beginning.  Primarily we reflected on the fact that the man Christ met was possessed.  That reflection can be found in this post.  Our previous reflection took us through Mark 5:1 & 2.  Now we’ll continue on to verses 3-6.  Here is 3-5 in full: Continue reading “Shackles & Chains”

Who Does Christ Meet First?

Sin is the ultimate illusion.  So often we can think a sinful thought or action will take us one direction and before we know it we are being led another.  Sin’s capacity to hoodwink us is showcased in Mark 5:1-20.  I want to take this passage in segments, so I’ll quote a brief section, offer a brief reflection and then next time move further into the passage.  I want to look at this passage allegorically.  This doesn’t mean that I’m dismissing the literal.  I believe one of Christ’s ministries was and still is deliverer and exorcist, but I want to look beyond that into some of the deeper meanings found within these events.  Specifically, I want to talk about the illusion of sin, the sleight of hand it does with freedom, and Christ’s ability to dispense with all these smoke and mirrors. Continue reading “Who Does Christ Meet First?”