Sunday, 5 July 2015

All talk, no action

Sunday Gospel - Mark 6:1-6
Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

In Mark's gospel this is Jesus' first return home. We don't have the first experience of Jesus opening the words of Isiaiah's prophecy and the wondering that followed. Jesus had left Nazareth as a son of a carpenter with a trade to 'trade'. But tales travel by many roads and the news of Jesus' healings, teachings and exorcisms must have created a community filled with anticipation to see their local hero. So then, what was the problem?

Perhaps, there in the synagogue, this time hearing the words of Isaiah brought to life there is a sense of discomfort. The scriptures, repeated over and over, discussed and argued over and over, have rarely, until now, been put into action. The rumours are proved true. The Good News is here. The son of a carpenter has set God's plan in motion. 

And now, discomforted and challenged, what is the community to do? Sell what they own and follow him? Feed the hungry and clothe the naked? Step out of their comfort zone and into the kingdom building that calls for repentance - for a change of heart? And how hard is that going to be?

Easier to play Jesus as a fool and turn their heads.

Their faith fails, not in Jesus, but in themselves. 



Barbara In Caneyhead said...

And oh, so sadly, we see this repeated so often today. No one wants to repent. No one wants to see that some of the things they like the most are sins in God's eyes. Much easier, for now, to think him mean and cruel, to mock him and turn their backs then to come to Him confessing and know real forgiveness and love deeper than any ocean.
Life & Faith in Caneyhead

Lynda said...

This is certainly what is happening today with the concerns that Pope Francis has emphasized in Laudato Si'. We are all aware of what is happening to our planet and how this affects the lives of the marginalized. Will we heed the call of Christ to make changes in our lives?

Thanks for this reflection - it is good to have you back!! Blessings.

Gelli Ma said...

Thanks both for your insights and kind comments. The Gospel is, fortunately/unfortunately, never behind the times :)

David Roemer said...

Reasons to Believe in Jesus

Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

by David Roemer