Monday, January 21, 2013 — Week of 2 Epiphany (Year One)
Agnes, Martyr at Rome, 304
[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 944)
Psalms 25 (morning) // 9, 15 (evening)
Isaiah 44:6-8, 21-23
At some point Jesus’ ministry became too big for him to handle alone. The signs of stress appear often in Mark’s Gospel. Toward the end of the first chapter, the entire village of Capernaum is surrounding him, bringing “all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door.” (1:32f) Early the next morning Jesus got up before the others and found a deserted place where he could pray. Even there his disciples found him and urged him to get back to work. He chose to move on to the next town in order to spread the message.
When he returned to Capernaum the demands surrounded him again. Four ingenious friends managed to get their paralyzed companion through the crowd to Jesus by cutting their way through the roof.
It might not have been so hard but for the beginning of conflict and opposition. Some took offense at the generous way he regarded forgiveness. Others were scandalized by his association with people who made no effort to practice ethical religion. When Jesus challenged the conventional interpretation of the 6th Commandment to honor the Sabbath, it was obvious to some powerful people that he was a threat to piety.
Yet the crowds kept coming, and demanding. We read today, “Jesus left with his disciples and went to the lake. A large crowd followed him because they heard what he was doing.” (3:7, CEB) His reputation was spreading far beyond Galilee. Someone had to make advance provision for a boat so that the people, desperate to be cured, would not crush him.
The scenario sounds overwhelming. It is more than one person can handle. Reading these accounts, it is easy to imagine the intensity and the pressure that surrounded Jesus.
Today we read of Jesus’s strategy to deal with the growth of a ministry that has become too big for one person. “Jesus went up on a mountain and called those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve and called them to be apostles. He appointed them to be with him, and to be sent out to preach, and to have authority to throw out demons.” (3:13-14)
Jesus needed help. So he empowered and delegated tasks and authority to others. Note this detail — in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’s identity as the Son of God is most clearly manifested by the demons who recognize him and who witness to his power. The divine power of Jesus is most clearly displayed in Mark’s Gospel when Jesus casts out demons. This is the power he gives to his apostles. Jesus gives them the same power and authority that he has. That truth has been treasured by the church ever since.
I imagine Jesus had the same concerns as anyone who delegates. Will they do their work well? Will they understand the message underneath the work? Will they persevere? Will they cause more problems than they solve?
It seems an expression of mutual trust how Jesus entrusted so much to his apostles and how they trusted him as they carried out his mission in his name. We inherit that same trust. Jesus has given to us the mission he gave his disciples. Jesus asks us to trust him fully, and to multiply the work of entrusting and delegating.