Sometimes We Miss The Extraordinary

The Gospel of Mark uses short stories, almost like snapshots, to show Jesus’ actions. And it moves quickly from scene to scene. If you blink, you miss something.

Where I am teaching, Jesus goes into Gentile territory. The story is filled with things anathema to Jewish people. It doesn’t seem to bother him. He cures a man with many demons. It’s a totally unclean place.

He gets into a boat and immediately (Mark’s favorite word, I think) goes to a Jewish town. Crowds press around. A leading citizen who is named asks for healing for his daughter, but Jesus feels power released. “Who touched me?” His friends say something like “Duh, everyone is touching you. It’s a crowd.”

But a woman comes forward and confesses. She touched him believing she would be healed from a disease that makes her unclean, outcast from the community. Touching Jesus makes him unclean. He doesn’t care. He calls her Daughter meaning she’s accepted back into the family. Tells her she’s healed.

Without doing any purification ritual from the Gentiles to the woman, he proceeds to restore the leader’s daughter to life.

We attended a Dayton Pops Orchestra performance of Rogers and Hammerstein music. The program was constructed and moderated by the grandson of Oscar Hammerstein. He pointed out that, as much as we love the music, we might miss the fact that Hammerstein wrote on many themes long before they were accepted by American society. He put black people and white people on stage together in somewhat equal roles (Carousel); he wrote a play about black people starring black people (Carmen Jones); about how ranchers and farmers (all us people) need to get along together to build a great state (Oklahoma); about speaking up to authority (The King and I); and sticking it to the Nazis (The Sound of Music).

We live in a time of deep divisions, not only America but everywhere. What are we all doing to bring people together and move society into a more compassionate place? How are we crossing boundaries to bring healing?

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