We adults may forget at times that children might be watching us and listening to us. So, what are they seeing and hearing as they run around in our midst? What message is being conveyed? What stumbling blocks are being placed in their way?
As we work our way through this section of the Gospel of Mark we’ve heard Jesus give the call to discipleship, while also revealing that the path he has chosen leads not to glory but the cross. We’ve heard Jesus tell us that to be his disciples can be rather challenging. So, offering prayers to a cuddly Jesus might be a bit out of place! Of course, Jesus’ disciples didn’t quite understand his message. They kept thinking in terms of grandeur not suffering. They preferred Palm Sunday to Good Friday. They even argued among themselves about who was the greatest.
This morning we’ve heard two healing stories, both of which take place in Gentile regions, and it seems that Jesus needed to learn a lesson that would help define his ministry and ours. While I believe that Jesus’ message was one of grace, love, and inclusion, perhaps even Jesus needed to learn to value people who didn’t share his religious and ethnic background.
When we think about family, is the church family? After all, Jesus said of his followers: “here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:34-35). If we’re part of Jesus’ family then does this family help form our identities?
The core biblical story is about salvation, and one way of thinking about salvation is to use the word liberation, a word that fits with the message of Jesus, which we’ve heard proclaimed by Luke. Gustavo Gutierrez is a Peruvian theologian who became dismayed with the church he served that always seemed to side with the powerful people in society rather than standing with the poor and the oppressed, which was what he believed Jesus would do. So when he read the Exodus story and the Gospels, what he found was a word of liberation. He discovered a very profound truth, which is that “salvation is not something other worldly, in regard to which the present life is only a test” [A Theology of Liberation, p. 151].