The Gospel According to Mark – 2018.07.15
Ethics and Ethos
The Gospel for today tell us about the ethos and ethics of the early church. It weaves a little bit of mythology into the narrative, and the Gospel writers use that mythology to bolster their claim to an authority over the church which they were desperate to bolster.
At the time Mark’s gospel was written the church had recently been dealt a serious blow, with the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem and the forced exile of the people.
Because of this we understand the motivation to claim an authority that was not their due. It was a movement toward consolidation born from a desire to protect the institution they were building.
Therefore, if people would not listen, shake the dust off your sandals at their doorstep and move along, simple.
We understand the desire to wrap the deeds of the disciples with a cloak of mystery and miracle. In this way the narrative extends the theme of miracle working that they applied to Jesus, to his closest followers, establishing a continuity of supernatural power, nevermind the fact that it was not true.
God, the creator of the universe, is a god of law and order, not a God of miracles, magic, and wonder.
Pay attention to the concrete thing in the reading for today. The Followers of Christ, they are to embrace poverty, they are ordered to take nothing with them on their journey, no money, not a thing that they do not need.
Their mission is to preach the gospel. They are not to profit from it.
‘Take Nothing With You’
Jesus made a tour round the villages, teaching. Then he summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’ So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time