Reflections on the Gospels from a Justice Perspective written for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church by members of the congregation

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mark 5:21-43

This week's Gospel tells two stories of healing: the young daughter of Jairus, a leader in the synagogue and obviously an important man in the community, and a desperate, nameless woman who is so worn down with years of suffering that she doesn't dare ask Jesus to heal her but just reaches out in the crowd to touch his clothing. The structure of the passage, with one healing story sandwiched inside the other, makes us read them together. So we notice that Jesus lets himself be interrupted by the less important petitioner; indeed, he stops in his tracks, insists on hearing her story, and reassures her about the reason for her healing before he resumes his urgent errand on behalf of the important man and his daughter.

If we are in the habit of looking for political or economic messages in the Gospels, we might want to read this lesson as another expression of God's special care for the poor and downtrodden. But in fact Mark doesn't suggest that Jesus cares more for the destitute woman than for Jairus and his daughter. Jesus speaks tenderly to the daughter and performs an even greater healing in her case. So there are no losers in this pair of stories—only winners, all beneficiaries of God's enormous, overflowing mercy and love.

How can Christians in today's society bear witness to the endlessly loving, merciful nature of our God?  Last week's media provided some powerful examples from the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, where the congregation reopened its doors to strangers after the shootings and grieving family members of the victims offered forgiveness to the killer. On Sunday at least one African-American church here in Madison followed suit. At Christ the Solid Rock, candles were lighted and prayers were offered by name for each of the nine shooting victims and also for the shooter and his family. Pastor Everett Mitchell reminded the congregation that God sends down the blessing of rain on both the just and the unjust, and that we are called not to judge one another, but to love every person as God does.

Monday, June 1, 2015

7 June 2015 Mark 3:20-35

7 June 2015  Mark 3:20-35

In the history of human culture, self-identified communities formed first around family, then clan, then tribe, eventually growing to cities, city-states and nations.  But much of human behavior is still driven by those early roots of family, clan and tribe.  Those ties have a great deal to do with our religious, social and political thinking:  Without always realizing the pattern, we seek to defend and protect those closest to us, those most like us.

In today's gospel, Jesus says "Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."  That makes relationships very fluid!  Jesus is saying that every person in the world is our family.

Cities and nations are more diverse than ever before, and we don't always understand the religious, social or political thinking of others.  A failure to seek common ground inevitably leads to broken communities.  We needn't agree on everything to be able to join together on whatever common ground we can find -- but that takes effort, a willingness to extend ourselves to our brothers, our sisters, to listen to them.  Then to care for them as beloved family members.