Tuesday, January 13, 2015

In Every Way

Therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people.  Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.  Hebrews 2:17-18

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.  Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.  They immediately told him about her.  He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.  Then the fever left her and she waited on them.  Mark 1:29-

Let’s get to work!

Coming out of the Christmas season, you probably had a recent chance to re-read or re-hear the familiar words of Clement C. Moore’s immortal poem, “A Visit from St. Nick.”  The poem is a short, ideal Golden Book length of 54 child-friendly, bedtime-ready lines.  After a 46-line build-up, the visitor finally goes about his business.  “He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work.”  

Ironically, we are 85 percent finished with the poem at this point.  Maybe St. Nick has not spoken a word, but the narrator has spent more than 460 of the poem’s 540 words by the time the visitor gets to work.  Nick’s immediate mission accomplished, he departs to perform his acts of charity in the next house and the next and the next.

There is no overblown buildup in Mark’s Gospel.  There is no long genealogy that you find in Matthew.  No opening poetry delivered like John.  An already adult Jesus is baptized, driven to the desert and begins his public ministry by the fourteenth verse.  Moore’s narrator – just aroused -- is still gazing out his window at the light reflecting off the snow.  “The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow/Gave a lustre of midday to objects below…”

Every opportunity Jesus meets is a chance for Mark to fill the narrative with purpose.  Curing the demoniac, Simon Peter’s mother-in-law and other healings.  Then, it is on to the whole of Galilee. 

The prophet writing in Hebrews predicts this work-a-holic messiah.  Jesus knows our troubles and he knows he has a small window of opportunity to get things right.  He does not have an eternity.  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Because Jesus is one of us, he knows the very medicine that must be administered.  “Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people.” (Hebrews 5:1-3)

How is that resolution coming?  Have you made it yet?  Have you begun working on it yet?  Or are you someone who prefers to mark the New Year after the Super Bowl ends so all the parties for college and professional football games don’t interfere with your planned diet?  Does your exercise program wait until spring – so the crocuses are pushing through as you are getting off the couch?

This ordinary time, let the frenetic pace of Mark’s gospel be your inspiration to start.  Let’s get to work!  

No comments: