The imposition of silence in St. Mark

first_imgLocalNews The imposition of silence in St. Mark by: – February 11, 2012 22 Views   no discussions Photo credit: measureofdoubt.blogspot.comThe healing of leprosy in the Gospels focuses on two things: a command to inform the authorities and make the appropriate offering for the cure; secondly, a command to keep it otherwise to yourself. In Mark, the first feature seems not nearly as urgent as the second.Apart from fulfilling the ritual requirement, the leper (or the recipient of the miracle generally) is put under a strict obligation to keep the whole thing quiet.Why did Jesus issue such a command as the latter ? He must have known that human nature being what it is, people healed of very disabling sickness would talk about it – which is what they all did, and to all and sundry.There have been a couple of reasons historically given for Jesus’ action. One influential reason is that he knew he had to counteract the prevailing notions of the function of the Messiah, and that miraculous performances would fuel the wrong sort of expectation. There’s something to this view, I think. There was a sharp contrast between prevailing view of the character of the Messiah (which the disciples also shared) and Jesus’ own view. We should remember, for instance, that even after the resurrection, when the disciples (should have and) seemed to have gone beyond their former understanding, Peter still asked Jesus: Are you now going to establish the kingdom? By kingdom he meant the concrete political kingdom of Judah, of course. So the old convictions hadn’t yet died despite everything. For Peter it effectively died only with his own crucifixion.The interpretation I prefer has to do with another choice Jesus made, not so much in keeping with his view of the Messiah, as opposed to his countrymen’s, but his choice for the importance of faith over miracle. The great mystics have always known that one of the greatest challenges to faith is the miraculous. This is why they never paid unusual attention to things like levitation, locutions, and visions. They did not deny that sometimes these manifestations are divine gifts, but they insisted on two things, first that authenticity of any gift is shown by the fruits the gift produces. Does it increase the pride of the recipient, and the feeling that one belongs to God’s chosen; or does it effect an increase in humility and service. Overall they wrote that we should pay attention more to faith, to “dark faith,” as St. John of the Cross described it, than to what provokes the wonder of our senses.Walking by faith, however, not by sight, as St. Paul recommended, is not always simple or easy. The road along which we walk is not always smooth; nor do we always proceed with easy step and lightness of heart. It’s not just a winding road, but one that sometimes loses all its contours in mist and fog.That is why Jesus preferred it, I think. It demands more heroism. It the reason why he would not turn stones into bread. That way he would certainly have won many followers. But that would not have been a free faith but one won at the price of the miracle. That faith Jesus did not want. He preferred our free, uncompelled allegiance, that we should adhere to him drawn by the spell of his character and testimony of his words.The Church has in several ways continued this way indicated by Jesus. It certainly does not belittle the reality of the miraculous. How could it, while it serves the most awesome miracle of all, God in the flesh. But it does not make miracles, e.g., the miracles of Lourdes and Fatima, articles of faith, and it always advises us not to prefer the significance of the former over the reality of the latter. In the Gospel of John, the perspective is different from Mark’s. The Jesus of John’s Gospel is more deliberately not the human but the divine Jesus. Miracles are signs of his identity and his origin. So also are the great “I am” statements. In the world of Mark, on the other hand, we are in the theological world of the deliberately human Jesus. There’s no contradiction, of course, between the two. Mark and John are two disciples, two theologians, giving differently valid takes on how the divine is manifested in our midst.By: Father Henry Charles PhD Tweet Sharing is caring!center_img Share Share Sharelast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*