We are born homeless. We are also born in need of a home. Families, cultures, and communities meet our need for a home. But they cannot take away that existential homelessness.
“A leper came to him”. He is doubly oppressed, firstly by his illness and secondly by his culture – a religious culture. It is tempting to blame the culture, as if we have progressed beyond such things and we are now too sophisticated to do that sort of thing. Really?
Mark asks: Which world do you want to inhabit? The “world” of Jesus is on offer. All you have to do, is say, “Yes!”. It is free!
Today’s Gospel – Mark 1:21-28 – gives us one of a number of instances in which Jesus encounters the mystery of evil. Clearly we are not witnessing two equal forces – good versus evil – contending for ascendancy. In none of the Gospel passages is such a scenario suggested. Evil and its agencies do not stand a chance …
But Mark has given us the key to the true significance of his message in the very first words of his Gospel: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”. The “good news” is Jesus himself!
The disciple comes to “see” the truth of Jesus, the truth of himself or herself and the truth of the world, by “staying” with him.
The primary thing about Jesus is not ethics or law or doctrine. These are necessary, and each of these will emerge as a consequence – and ongoing challenge – of our identifying with him. First and foremost, Jesus invites us into a life-transforming intimacy with him.
Our experiences of being perplexed, troubled, disturbed, or startled – whatever seems to be the cause – are growing pains. They are potentially moments of learning, purification, and transformation. Like the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis or the seed breaking through the soil, so we come to birth daily. We are always be-coming and be-longing.
As we hear those words from John – “a man sent by God” – we are reminded of the Prophet Isaiah: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7-8). John’s words are beautiful words. They speak to our hearts about who and what we are. They remind us not only of why we exist but of why anything exists at all.
So, we – especially as we enter the Christmas season – must distinguish between the “good news” proclaimed, on the one hand, as “vacation” and “commercial opportunity” and, on the other hand, the “good news” of the kingdom of God.