Day 35 – Stranger Love

Mark 4:35-5:1

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.

Jesus and his disciples voyage from Capernaum to “the other side”–the region of the Gerasenes.  Gerasa was part of an area known as Decapolis, 10 cities that had been taken away from the Jewish people by the Romans and resettled.  In order words, Jesus not only crosses the Sea of Galilee, but crosses the border between Jew and Gentile.  And he went there on purpose.  It is not the only time that Jesus crossed over into Gentile territories by sea or by land.  And each time he crossed the border, he brought blessing: A man is delivered from “Legion”, 4000 are fed bread and fish, and a Greek woman’s daughter is healed.

Ched Myers interprets these crossings as Jesus demonstrating his determination “to bring liberation to those on the ‘other side’ despite their cultural and political differences.” (Our God is Undocumented p. 126)  In crossing borders, Jesus affirms that the Kingdom of Heaven is a multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural phenomena and that entrance into the kingdom is not limited to an elite few.

Questions for Reflection

How do you think the disciples felt about crossing to the other side–knowing where they would land?

Have you ever felt uncomfortable with how “inclusive” Jesus is?  If so, why?

Ched Myers interprets the “great windstorm” as the cosmic forces of evil that want to throw Jesus off course, so that the dividing lines of hostility will be maintained.  Jesus rebukes the wind and the waves and continues his mission to unite Jews and Gentiles in the Kingdom of heaven.  What do you think of his interpretation?

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2 comments

  1. Isaiah 56:6-7 – Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

    “And the foreigners who join themselves to Adonai
    to serve him, to love the name of Adonai,
    and to be his workers,
    all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it,
    and hold fast to my covenant,
    I will bring them to my holy mountain
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
    their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
    for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all peoples.”
    Adonai Elohim says,
    he who gathers Isra’el’s exiles:
    “There are yet others I will gather,
    besides those gathered already.”

    Luke 19:45-47 Modern English Version (MEV)

    “Then [Jesus] entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and bought in it, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it ‘a den of thieves.’”
    He taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people tried to kill Him. Yet they could not find a way to do it, for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.”

    Reflections
    What “temple” of our time is under the domination of thieves?

    I immediately think of the power of industrial capitalism that has spread across the entire earth in my lifetime, once the former Soviet Union and its allies collapsed in the 1990s. Its economic power dominates the earth to such an extent that most of us feel powerless to end the destruction of the ecosystems of the world as the insane quest for endless profits demands constant extraction of fossil fuels and destruction of the environmental balance necessary to sustain a healthy world for all living beings.

    The Greek root of “ecology” is “oikos” which literally means “house.” In the fourth gospel Jesus teaches us that the divine spirit does not live in houses made with human hands. What more wonderful “house” has ever been created than the house of our beautiful blue planet itself? What holy temple has ever more desperately needed a cleansing rebellion against the Powers That Be?

    In Jesus, we see the rebel leader who calls us to universal values, not market profits – to love for the poor, the neighbor, for our selves, – to love even towards the Enemy! – and above all love for the divine source of all life itself. The arrival of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus announces repeatedly is a perfected universal society, a New Jerusalem, a Glorious City emerging from the Source of Life and Love – from the collective actions of the children of love – and wiping away all the tears of human suffering.

    May it be so!

    Prayer
    Our Universal Mother and Father from whom we have life itself,
    May we elevate our consciousness ever more fully towards the universal truth of Justice and Love that is infinitely above our finite needs and will.
    Nothing less than a perfect realization of that Justice and Love on earth could truly fulfill the Divine Will.
    Forgive us when we fail to be faithful, may we forgive others when they too fail.
    May we renew our hearts daily to take up again the mission of Jesus and the perfection of love and wisdom that our suffering world so desperately needs.

    Amen.

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