Friday, February 10, 2012

Jesus Brings Back the Beauty of God to the World

Reading through the Gospel according to Mark in the Sunday and Daily Eucharistic Lectionaries, I'm struck by Mark's vision of a world enslaved to the powers of darkness, disease, demons, and death. Jesus shows up in this world proclaiming the good news that God's kingdom has come near. But Jesus doesn't just deliver a sermon. He demonstrates by word and deed the truth of that message by directly confronting and defeating the powers that enslave people.

It happened again in the Gospel reading assigned for today's Eucharist:

Then Jesus returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’ (Mark 7:31-37)

In this instance, I'm struck by the intimacy of Jesus' encounter with the deaf-mute and by how, respecting this man's dignity, he leads him away from the crowd into a private place for healing. Jesus will not put on a show for the crowd's pleasure, and certainly not at this poor man's expense!

In The Gospel of Mark, William Barclay makes an observation about the end of this passage that's worth quoting:

When [the healing of the deaf-mute] was completed the people declared that he had done all things well. That is none other than the verdict of God upon his own creation (Genesis 1:31). When Jesus came, bringing healing to men's bodies and salvation to their souls, he had begun the work of creation all over again. In the beginning everything had been good; man's sin had spoiled it all; and now Jesus was bringing back the beauty of God to the world which man's sin had rendered ugly.

Jesus brings back the beauty of God to the world rendered ugly by human sin. Jesus brings back the health and wholeness of God to the world rendered sick and broken by human sin. Jesus brings back the love of God to the world filled with malice and hatred by human sin. Jesus brings back the justice of God to the world that favors the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable.

There are many different angles of approach and emphasis, but it's all Good News. And it takes concrete embodiment in the Person and Work of Jesus.


The Underground Pewster said...

If that ain't Good News, then nuthin is!

Bryan Owen said...

Amen, Underground Pewster!