February 15, 2015

A Bold One

I'm sort of hyp-mo-tized by the man in today's gospel from Mark. 

There's a shamelessness about him, perhaps born of desperation due to his leprosy.   He violates the rules by coming up to Jesus instead of walking ten paces behind.  He doesn't worry if he might infect Jesus, either due to self-interest or a potent faith. 

This "shamelessness" is heartily approved by Christ, at least until (the same?) shamelessness leads him to cavalierly disregard our Lord's warning not to tell anyone.   I wonder if you get the one without the other in a purely human way, i.e. the faith without a certain presumption? 

Bible scholar Henry Wansbrough certainly has a creative take on why Jesus angrily (the text says 'sternly' but the original Greek is harsher) sent the man away:

"It is possible that the anger is directed at the leprosy, considered as an exterior invasion, so 'sent it [the leprosy] away'. At least Jesus' whole-hearted emotional involvement with the sufferer is palpable." 

Our pastor mentioned that there was a role-reversal after:  the leprotic man could now be an open part of the community while Jesus now had to stay hidden and on the margins, lest the crowds overwhelm. 

There's an unfortunate irony in this story given how we in this day and age are told to evangelize widely and strongly but usually do not, and how this man in the gospel, told to keep quiet, did not.  What I take from this Gospel is that it's better to error on the side of shamelessness...he came for the sick, not the well.  

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