Wednesday, February 29, 2012 – Week of 1 Lent
John Cassian, Abbot at Marseilles, 433
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 953)
Psalms 119:49-72 (morning) 49,  (evening)
1 Corinthians 2:1-13
In Mark’s Gospel today we see a snapshot of a day in the ministry of Jesus. It begins on Saturday, the Sabbath, when Jesus and the disciples attend worship and teaching at the synagogue in Capernaum. They come to Peter’s home, where Peter’s mother is ill. Jesus heals her and she serves them. (The Greek word for serve, “diakonein,” is the root of our term “deacon.”) When the Sabbath ends at sundown Jesus begins his work.
The ministry of Jesus is characterized by healing and teaching. His power is particularly manifest in the casting out of demons. People who are broken or suffering, people who have lost their center or their congruity — find that in his presence they experience wholeness and health, meaning, congruity and centeredness.
In the morning, Jesus withdraws for his own intimate prayer with God. He is renewed in his centeredness upon God. He continues to move from place to place, even though there are more people who need his healing in Capernaum. He goes to the neighboring towns, he says, “so that I may proclaim the message there also.” Healing and teaching.
The center of the teaching-message that he proclaims is the Kingdom of God, the near and inbreaking reign of God. It is a message that is threatening to the established authorities. It is threatening to the religious authorities because Jesus teaches that there is no external mediator between God and us. The gifts of blessing, forgiveness and divine presence are ours without need of recourse to the Temple or priests or other authorities. The Kingdom of God is among you. His message is threatening to the political authorities because it imagines the world as it would be if God were Emperor, not Caesar. He teaches of a society, culture and economy motivated by the virtues of compassion, love, generosity and equality — a society that overturns all of the power and authority of the established orders. It is the kind of message that can get somebody in trouble with the established orders.
Teaching and healing. Word and sacrament. Religious/political discourse and hands-on service to the needs of others. Walking the talk.
That is the calling that we are invited to enter into as the church, the community of Jesus. We are to continue his message of forgiveness and freedom. And we are to continue to reach out in concrete and real ways to respond to the brokenness and need of our neighbors. Talking is not enough. Doing good without challenging the power and principalities is not enough.
In our reading from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we hear him speak of the spirit that empowers his ministry of healing and teaching. He has embraced the cross. He has died into Christ’s death and been raised in a new life in the Spirit. This new life makes him bold to do and to teach. His orientation is no longer toward “a wisdom of this age or the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish,” but God’s wisdom. God’s very Spirit is now present in and through him — motivating him to follow in the way Jesus has shown: to heal and bring wholeness and congruity to all human brokenness, and to proclaim a new Kingdom ruled by the virtues of compassion, love, generosity and equality.
That is our calling today. Religious/political discourse and hands-on service to the needs of others.