Weekly Bible Reflection
Mark's Alternative Economy
Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
Text: Mark 10.35-45 "Power Games "
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Recall an occasion when the leader of a group or work team, of which you were a member, announced that they were going to leave, or left suddenly.
- What effect did this have on the group?
- Did someone make a bid for power?
- Was the group disabled by the lack of a defined leader?
A Window on the Text
This is the third occasion when Jesus warns his followers of his impending death. Each has surprising results:
- On the first (Mark 8:31), Peter went into denial mode;
- The second (9:31) led to a discussion about who was the greatest;
- The third (10:33,34) was followed by James and John seeking special favours.
All three are closely linked to stories of children:
- (9.14) The healing of a boy with an evil spirit;
- (9.36) ‘He (Jesus) took a little child …’;
- (10.13) ‘People were bringing little children to Jesus …’.
These accounts seem to be more about power within the disciple community, than they are about Jesus’ death. Deepak Chopra begins his book The Third Jesus by reflecting on the challenging nature of Jesus’ teaching and the inability of Christians, down the ages, to live it out. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, “love your neighbour as yourself” and “love your enemies”, all define a pattern of relationship which defies normal human behaviour. And Chopra notes that within institutional religion the Golden Rule has become the Gilded Rule, “Pick the easiest people and treat them nicely, just as you’d like to be treated”.
Jesus’ disciples, and the young Christian communities to whom Mark is writing his gospel, need to grasp this too. We see him using the disciples ‘normal’ patterns of human behaviour to teach them nothing less than a completely new way of being human – a way that will lead to a renewing of society and creation – the Kingdom of God.
In short, loving neighbour and enemy as oneself is about being the servant and slave of everybody. It is about being child-like in one’s dealing with each other. This was a hard lesson for Jesus to teach and a crucial one for his disciples to learn. And it is no less vital for us as well.
- When Peter denies the possibility of Jesus being killed and wants to fight back, Jesus shows him another way: “He who loses his life will save it”.
- When the disciples argue about who is the greatest, Jesus teaches about being the servant of them all.
- When James and John want special favours, Jesus points out that that’s the way of the world’s rulers, but not for his followers.
Responding as a community
- What would it mean to each of you to bring into the group an ‘enemy’, or someone whom you find hard to love?
- What might this do to the life of the group, to the quality and breadth of discussion?
- What might it say to the wider community if your group were known as a place where the ‘un-alike’ could meet, and where enemies became friends?
With some candles to hand on a table in the middle of the group,
- reflect in silence on someone you find hard to love, someone who has become an enemy, or someone who is hard to perceive as an equal. Pray for that person then light a candle for them;
- reflect in silence on your own personality, and why you find that person difficult. Pray for yourself and for the strength and will to see them in a new light. Light a candle for yourself.
Now take each of the group’s personal candles and arrange them in a circle. Then place into the middle of that circle all the candles which represent the ‘enemies’.
Share the Peace with each other, than stand for a moment alone and in silence and imagine sharing the Peace with your ‘enemy’, too.
End by saying the Grace together.
The Third Jesus: the Christ we cannot ignore, by Deepak Chopra, published by Ryder in 2008, ISBN 978-1-84-604112-9.
Mark's Alternative Economy - Discussion