Speaking truth to power – Thursday, 2nd week in ordinary time- Mark 3:7-12
There is a stark contrast among the Jewish leadership and the Jewish people towards Jesus. The last section ended with the Pharisees and the friends and supporters of Herod Antipas plotting to destroy Him. The people on the other hand love Him. But St Mark will also bring out the fickleness of humankind who blow as the wind does; one day it’s “Hosanna” and the other it is “crucify Him”.
Mark develops this fickleness in 3:7 to 6:6. At first the people in general flock to Him in droves. From these He chooses the twelve that ‘He wanted’ and calls them apostles (one who is sent) But then the opposition to Jesus’ ministry comes sift and fast and from all quarters; His family, the scribes and finally He is rejected by the people of His own hometown, Galilee.
Today’s reading focuses on the wave of an overwhelming positive response shown to Jesus. He has moved from Capernaum to some site near the Sea of Galilee. Those who flock to meet Jesus are people from every corner. Idumea, Tyre and Sidon, mentioned in the Gospel today, are places that were situated outside the lands of Israel. These however had a sizeable Jewish population who having heard of Jesus flock to hear and touch Him, so much so he takes refuge on a boat.
St Mark mentions that Jesus healed “many”. The Greek translation (pollou) interprets this word as, he healed “some but not all”. This led some in the early Church to interpret the word to suggest that Jesus could not heal all because of some personal deficiency and was corrected by Matthew when he wrote his Gospel, changing ‘pollous’ to ‘pantas’ meaning “all”.
In narrating the rejection of Jesus, Mark drives home a point to the Christian reader of the first century and to us. Where ever the Good News is preached there are those who are bound to oppose it, often violently. The Good News does not contain revolutionary or subversive teachings but its message of love upsets the apple cart of power, position and pride. The Good News calls for a radical new way of dealing with hate, anger and jealousy. It makes those who are powerless in the eyes of the world, now powerful in God’s eyes and a threat to those who use power to bully others. It teaches one to speak truth to power, gently yet effectively.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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