In the interest of full disclosure I’ll note at the outset that I am married to a federal government employee. The idiotic faux crisis of the sequester, like its recent precedents, is personal in our household. I read the end of the gospel passage for this week and think, “hell, they’ve put plenty of manure around this fig tree of Washington politics and it hasn’t produced fruit for years. Let’s cut the damned thing down.”
When presented with the choice of curling up on the couch with my beloved and our two still-at-home kids to watch Robin Hood or going off alone to watch the presidential debate on-line, it was a no-brainer. Truth be told, I would have taken a far lesser offer. Maybe even a trip to the dentist….
By the time preachers in America address their congregations this Sunday, the nation’s Supreme Court will have ruled on the health insurance reform act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in March of 2010. The coincidence of this much-anticipated ruling and a quirky Jesus healing story is irresistible!
The life of the good shepherd, the assurance of the psalmist, the acts of the apostles and the ethical injunction of 1st John all point toward an alternative source of power and, therefore, to an alternative economic and politic possibility: the possibility that “we do not have to live as if we are alone.”
In an age when nothing is sacred nothing is more difficult to understand than violations of sacred space. Yet that’s precisely what Mark demands of us in his account of Jesus’ first public action, an exorcism in the synagogue.
From the moment Jesus sets foot in the religious and political center of Capernaum, he is engaged in a contest with the scribes over authority concerning that space itself and all that it represents. It’s clear from the beginning that his audacious move catches the attention of everyone. The people notice: “They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (1:22).