Weekly Bible Reflection
Mark's Alternative Economy
Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity
Text: Mark 10. 2-16 "Two, very different Kingdoms "
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Reflect quietly for a few moments on the nature of the world as a young child sees it. Recall how young children relate to each other and how play together. Remind yourself about the questions they ask adults, and how they respond to new experiences. Picture your children or grandchildren just being themselves, in an 'unguarded' moment.
Then share your perceptions among the group
A Window on the Text
It is worth beginning this reading at verse 1 because that sets the whole passage in context.
Jesus has left Capernaum and moved to the south east, across the Samarian hills, down into the Jordan Valley and across the river to the east bank. Crowds have come to hear him and to be taught by him. But we are told nothing of what was said, nothing about what he was teaching. All that Mark remembers of the day are two incidental events; the Pharisee hecklers, and people bringing their children to Jesus. Might it be that these two cameos portray the two extreme examples of what Jesus taught that day?
Cameo 1: The Hecklers
The location is important; Jesus is teaching in the kingdom of Herod Antipas. Consequently, the Pharisees' question, spoken in this place, has a particular significance. Herod imprisoned and executed John the Baptist for criticising his marriage to Bathsheba. Would Jesus do the same? If he did, perhaps Herod would remove this troublesome teacher for the Pharisees. But Jesus is much more subtle. He reminds the Pharisee that, in God's design for creation, man and woman are complementary parts of a whole, intended to be live together as a unity for life. Divorce was made acceptable by later interpretation of the law of Moses to accommodate human weakness, but the God's design criteria remain in place.
Cameo 2: The Children
When people brought their children to Jesus for a blessing the disciples tried to stop them. We might guess that they thought Jesus' time and teaching was too precious to waste on children. But Jesus is clear about his priorities. The kingdom of God belongs to children; it is tailor-made for them. And adults will have to become child-like to enter that kingdom and to become a part of its life.
So Mark's memory of the day spent with Jesus is all about contrasting kingdoms
- The corrupt adult kingdom of Herod Antipas in which power is abused, the power which comes from wealth, position, male dominance, etc. A kingdom in which opposition and criticism brings imprisonment or execution. A kingdom in which the religious leaders have condoned the corruption.
- The kingdom of God, designed to belong to children and the child-like; a kingdom of equals, where trust rules and no one holds power, where fun and laughter are the order of the day, where curiosity enquiry and wonder guide practice and where mutual care and concern are exercised.
If an 'educated guess' can be an acceptable part of Bible reflection, then it would be reasonable to assume the the dominant theme of Jesus teaching that day was "The kingdom of God". And Mark has remembered two little events within the day which seemed to 'say it all'.
Responding as a community
Think about the life of your Christian community and note where its corporate life reflects the behaviour of a worldly, adult kingdom and where it reflects the behaviour of a child-friendly Godly kingdom.
In what ways might it be encouraged to move from the adult-worldly to a child-Godly model of kingdom.
Pray the Lord's Prayer together, but pause at 'thy kingdom come" to add into the prayer some of the things you have discussed. Complete the prayer.
If you have decided on some course of action as a result of the discussion, you could commit yourselves in prayer and ask God's blessing on the endeavour.
Mark's Alternative Economy - Discussion