Monday, June 11, 2018

Pentecost 3B

Mark 3:20-35

20and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind." 22And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons."

23And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

28"Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"— 30for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

31Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you." 33And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" 34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

Today the Church's year of grace continues in Ordinary Time, the structured, organized, green and growing Season of the Spirit as we count Sundays after the Day of Pentecost. Although ordinary refers to organization rather than mundane or commonplace, we still hold these Sundays together in common with each other and with the rest of the ecumenical church catholic.

The Revised Common Lectionary that provides our scripture readings (except for those rare times the pastor decides to go off-lectionary, or when we study different scriptures as we did for Earth Day 2018), continues with gospel readings from the gospel according to Mark. Mark is the earliest and shortest of the four canonical gospels. Each gospel has a distinctive style and approach. Mark's is particularly apocalyptic. Apocalyptic means revealing, uncovering, in a similar sense as epiphany. Mark's apocalypticism brings us the inbreaking rule or reign of God—the end of the world as we've known it. Apocalyptic typically uses many signs and symbols. Sometimes a symbol has a discernible meaning; at other times it's best to do our best to comprehend the meaning of an entire passage rather than analyze each word or phrase.

Just as in Luke, in Mark Jesus' journey to the cross is incessant and highly intentional. Mark uniquely has the "Messianic Secret" with Jesus doing something or saying something and then telling everyone to keep quiet about it, not to reveal it to anyone. Mark finally reveals the secret at the crucifixion when the Roman centurion who's not a Jesus-follower insider declares, "truly this was a Son of God." [Mark 15:39] In short, the cross it the ultimate revelation of Jesus, the cross is the proper time to reveal the secret. Outsiders in Mark often have insight into Jesus' actions and identity.

We're currently in chapter 3, not far from the start of Mark's gospel. Today's lection begins with a crowd, Jesus' family of origin, and scribes or religious leaders from Jerusalem. Verse 23 tells us Jesus spoke in parables, a style of story that prompts us to listen on a deeper level than what's immediately obvious. As I mentioned, signs and symbols sometimes have a particular meaning; at other times it's best to consider them as part of a larger narrative.

Verse 35: Jesus doesn't negate the nuclear biological family, but expands the family of God to include everyone who follows him, keeps the commandments, does justice and mercy.

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