Reading for Tuesday, Oct 9: Mark 2
In Jesus’ day, there were myriad opinions on how the people of God were to live in anticipation of the coming Kingdom. The Zealots sought revolution through anarchy; the Sadduccees were notorious for compromise; the Pharisees preached cultural separation and purity; and the Essenes ran out in the desert as a means of completely withdrawing from society. Jesus basically refuses to walk in any of these paths, choosing instead the path of radical love and solidarity with the suffering.
Jesus demonstrates this radical love and identification with the sinner at every turn in chapter 2. He raises more than a few eyebrows by forgiving the sins of the paralytic before healing him physically. He dares to recline at the table of Matthew, surrounding himself with “pagans” and “public sinners” despite the pious judgment of the Pharisees: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And He willfully flaunts Pharisaical interpretations of Sabbath observance in light of the “new wine” of his Kingdom. In all of this, Jesus opposes the judgmental haughtiness of the “spiritual” leaders of Israel, instead siding with the common man, the sinner, the sick, the impaired, the lame, and all who have been oppressed by extraneous religious scaffolding — which the Pharisees perfected.
Solidarity with the suffering today takes many forms. Try living on less than $2 a day; literally billions of your fellow residents of the planet will do so today. Many of us take for granted that we will be able to eat anything we want whenever we want it. Solidarity insists that the reality is less abundant for our neighbors around the globe. Many of us take for granted our closets full of clothes and shoes as we enjoy the luxury of wardrobe options. Many in the world do not experience this excess. Solidarity seeks to wear the same article for several days in a row as a tangible reminder of the least of these.
In all of this, we find the thread of radical love and solidarity with the suffering alive among the followers of Jesus today.