bible blog 958

There are all sorts of Christian blogs. This one takes the view that Christianity is not really a religion; and that much of what’s wrong with it comes from those who think it is. Each daily blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news, which is there to remind the author that he doesn’t live in a religious cocoon.

China announces ambitious plan for greater equality

Chinese leaders

Chinese leaders

Mark 8:11-26

The Demand for a Sign

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him.12And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.’13And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.

The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod

14 Now the disciples* had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.15And he cautioned them, saying, ‘Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.’*16They said to one another, ‘It is because we have no bread.’17And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?18Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember?19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?’ They said to him, ‘Twelve.’20‘And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?’ And they said to him, ‘Seven.’21Then he said to them, ‘Do you not yet understand?’

Jesus Cures a Blind Man at Bethsaida

22 They came to Bethsaida. Some people* brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him.23He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, ‘Can you see anything?’24And the man* looked up and said, ‘I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.’25Then Jesus* laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.26Then he sent him away to his home, saying, ‘Do not even go into the village.’*

blindThis is not an easy story for the modern reader. We’re not sure what Jesus is on about. For Mark, however, all is clear. He thinks that the miraculous feedings of 5000 and 4000 people on separate occasions are signs that Jesus is the true king who feeds his people, both the 12 tribes of Israel (12 baskets) and the 7 nations of the Gentiles (7 baskets). He warns his disciples against the poisonous “yeast” (religious and political corruption) with which the Pharisees and King Herod would adulterate the food of the people. Jesus is God’s true Messiah, the one who establishes God’s rule in the world.

The disciples can’t see this truth for the moment. They are like the blind man who is being healed but can only see dim shapes. They, like the blind man, will have their eyes opened by Jesus.

The dangers of corrupt politics and religion are present in our world. I was listening yesterday on the radio to the harrowing story told by an old Irish woman who had been as a teenager in one of the dreadful “laundry-orphanages” run with Government approval by the Catholic Church, in which girls and young women were abused by sadistic nuns. Silvio Berlusconi, a man accused of many corrupt practices is again gathering support in Italy. The ruling party in Spain, the PP, stands accused of wholesale corruption. British churches are tying themselves in knots over the issue of same-sex marriage while a right-wing government increases the misery of the poor. The “yeast” of the Pharisees and King Herod is still alive and active in our social nourishment today.

Mark tells his readers that their eyes can be opened to the truth by the story of Jesus life and death and resurrection, which invites not just understanding, but also commitment. Of course other teachers have helped people towards truth-the founders of world religions for example; along with true scholars, artists and truth-tellers in every time and place. Mark would say however that only the Jesus story leaves no room at all for the religious and political self-interest that poisons society.

The Magdalen Laudries-where girls and women were abused

The Magdalen Laudries-where girls and women were abused

The journey of Christian faith through Lent to Easter is precisely a focus on the downward mobility of the Son of God, to the point of apparent extinction; it can expose the lies of power and tear the veil from the holy place, allowing us to see the terrible mystery of true kingship.


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