Three little notes:
1) Actually, this isn’t so little. In the first three chapters of Mark’s telling of the story of Jesus, watch how this plays out. Earlier, in 1:17, Jesus tells his first followers (Peter, Andrew, James and John, all fishermen), “Let me show you how to catch people instead of fish.” Mark says a couple times that Jesus taught and preached, but he doesn’t relay any of the content of that teaching at first.
So how does he “catch people”? He makes them whole. He returns people ensnared by demons to themselves. He heals people of their sicknesses. He attracts enormous crowds of outcasts who want that wholeness; in one story, the crowd fills a house so fully that some guys open a hole in the roof to lower a paralyzed friend down to him, because that’s the only way they can get close. And Jesus makes him whole, not by enabling him to walk (that comes later), but by telling him to forget all the stuff he’s messed up, because God has already forgiven it. He parties with the no-shame sellouts, and when the respectable people upbraid him for it, he says “I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.”
If you want to catch people the way Jesus did, don’t tell them how screwed up they already know they are. Return them to wholeness, to community, to love. Like Mark, they won’t remember anything else you say until they embrace that return.
2) 3:5 – “Jesus was angry as he looked around at them, but at the same time he felt sorry for them, because they were so stubborn and wrong.” I *LOVE* that phrasing. I get it. I have been that angry/pitying, and I have been that stubborn and wrong, too.
3) Two of the most poignant snippets of the Gospel are in these two short chapters. One is obvious – Mark 3 ends with Jesus’ family standing outside the house as he tells the people inside that *they*, the followers, are his *real* family. Ouch.
The other is maybe only poignant to me. In 2:18-20, people give Jesus a hard time because he doesn’t fast, and he says that when the wedding party is in the house, you celebrate; there will be time to fast later, when the bride and groom aren’t around.
I have referenced that so many times. It is probably the biggest reason I weigh more than I’d like. As much as it’s important to be responsible, there are so many times that April and I look at each other and say, look, the smart thing to do would be to skip dessert or go to bed early or stay home and put the vacation money into the 401k…but tomorrow isn’t promised.
I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great people, but my heart breaks for the ones who put off living until they retired, and then never got the chance. We know, we all should know, that there will be a time to fast and a time to mourn.
If it’s joy and not trial that’s in your house today, I say take the trip, savor dessert, and build up the reserve of memories from a fully-lived life.
(But at least get the full employer match on the 401k; you can savor the trip without staying in the Ritz.)
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