Category Archives: Mark

Sick

When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” Mark 2:16-17


I wonder whether there’s a bit of irony in Jesus’s words to the Pharisees. They see themselves as righteous, but of course their lofty self-regard means that they are as much in need of repentance as those they call sinners. Seeing the world in polarities (good and bad, righteous and sinner) is a symptom of spiritual illness, or at least a sign that one has room to grow.

When Jesus says, “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners,” is he saying, “the righteous won’t even hear my call, but the sinners will, because they admit their failings”? The sinners aren’t  following the world’s rules, perhaps because they cannot. It may be their sins that make them vulnerable enough to hear the call to repentance. But when we’re full of a sense of our own goodness and rightness, we cannot hear the call to something greater.

Faith & Doubt

For months now, I’ve been visited by a small, quiet urge to sit in the mornings with scripture and reflect. Partly I am inspired by this guy. So, this week, I decided to respond to that urge and see where it leads.


When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he said to the paralytic– “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”  Mark 2: 1-12


Seamus Heaney (1939–2013)

Miracle

Not the one who takes up his bed and walks
But the ones who have known him all along
And carry him in —

Their shoulders numb, the ache and stoop deeplocked
In their backs, the stretcher handles
Slippery with sweat. And no let up

Until he’s strapped on tight, made tiltable
and raised to the tiled roof, then lowered for healing.
Be mindful of them as they stand and wait

For the burn of the paid out ropes to cool,
Their slight lightheadedness and incredulity
To pass, those who had known him all along.


Even in the presence of a miracle, there are doubters. Those who have elected themselves rule enforcers. Rather than meditate on the love that fuels the miracle, they worry about authority. Licenses. Permission. Property lines.

And there are those who keep finding a way, focused on the task. Not stopped by the crowds, nor even the house itself. Carried by faith rather than carrying doubt.