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20.02.2020 — The Way of Jesus

Posted under Reflections on February 19th, 2020 by

Week 6 of Ordinary Time, Thursday – 20th February — Gospel: Mark 8,27-33

The Way of Jesus

Peter’s confession of faith is the turning point in the Gospel, which is signified by a geographical turn. Up to this point, Jesus has been teaching and healing throughout Galilee and the surrounding areas. But now he begins a journey to Jerusalem that he knows will lead to the culminating events of his life. Mark highlights Jesus’ travelogue with a great theme “on the way”. Beginning with this verse, “on the way” occurs nine times in chapters 8-12 (8,27; 9,33-34; 10,17.32.52; 12,14). This phrase designates that the “way of the Lord” proclaimed by John the Baptist at the outset of the Gospel (1,2-3) is being fulfilled in Jesus’ going to Jerusalem. “On the way” Jesus asks for a judgement from the disciples. By questioning them about what people thought about him, Jesus opened up a way to teach them the true nature of his mission (8,31). With the theme of “the way”, Mark once again evokes the Old Testament as the backdrop that illuminates the meaning of Jesus’ actions. God had led his people on “the way” out of Egypt into the promised land (Ex 13,21-22). Later, during the Babylonian exile, Isaiah prophesied that God would prepare a “way” for his people to return home to Zion (Jerusalem) with great joy (Is 35,8-10; 40,3-5; 62,10-12). Similarly, in this journey to Jerusalem, the disciples learn that the way to sharing in Jesus’ glory is by first following him on the way of the cross, i.e., in his passion, death and resurrection. As they continue to follow Jesus on the way to Jerusalem, the disciples also learn about “the way” of Christian discipleship. For the early church this theme of the Christian life as a journey, or pilgrimage, was so central that “the way” became the first name for Christianity (Acts 9,2; 18,25-26).

19.02.2020 — Being led by His hand

Posted under Reflections on February 18th, 2020 by

Week 6 of Ordinary Time, Wednesday – 19th February — Gospel: Mark 8,22-26

Being led by His hand

As often happens, Jesus establishes a personal contact with the blind man by taking him by the hand and laying his hands on him. Again for the second time he lays his hands on him and now the healing is complete. This shows that Jesus will not leave the man with only a partial restoration. The distinctive mark of this story lies in the repeated reference to touch and laying hands on the person. This personal gesture of Jesus recalls the Old Testament theme that God himself leads his people by the hand (Is 41,13; Jer 31,32). Particularly in Mark, where there are more references to laying on of hands than in any other Gospel, all but this instance occur in the context of healings. In some instances the infirm and troubled seek to touch Jesus (3,10; 5,27-31; 6,56), and in others Jesus extends a healing touch to them (1,41; 7,33; 8,22). Sometimes healing is accompanied by the actual laying on of Jesus’ (5,23; 7,32; 8,23 &25) or the disciples’ hands (6,5; 16,18). The only instance of laying on of hands as a blessing is the blessing of the children in 10,13. Whether Jesus takes over the laying on of hands from the OT is unclear, for he lays on hands for different purposes than for those prescribed in the OT, i.e. to transfer the profane to the sacred by consecrating them to God. However, when he lays his hands on, he bestows God’s holy and healing presence on ordinary, common, and even sinful people, in this way Jesus brings the sacred to the profane.

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