- Fr. John Jennings
Our Sacred Stories: Living as Disciples in Our World
Even a brief glance around our world reveals that it is damaged and broken. It cries out for healing and restoration. Sometimes it can be a natural disaster or threat such as hurricanes, wildfires or pandemics and disease. Other times, we face the challenge of our own human disruptions, war, violence, inequities and injustices. We are disciples of Jesus in the midst of this world. It is here that as disciples we are to reveal the message and mission of Jesus in our own lives. That message and mission is to be our message and mission.
It is possible to see the fundamental message and mission of Jesus. All creation is a result of God’s love and as such God’s plan for it is ever good. The wounds, the weakness, the pain, the suffering, that appears in creation is not God’s dream for us. Jesus the Christ is God’s outreach to us. His message and mission present the dream or plan of God. Healing and reconciliation, wholeness and peace are the dream. If we regard Jesus as savior, it is because he brings the dream to fruition and fulness in both word and action. In him creation is made whole, restored and renewed.
Gospel writers, like Mark presents tell the stories of this good news. One such story is of Jesus healing a man who was deaf and had an impediment of his speech (Mk.7:31-37). Often when Jesus did such healing actions, the crowds were astounded, seeing it as an amazing wonder. As always, like the disciples in the Gospel we are challenged to read such actions as something more amazing – signs of the presence of God’s reign active among us in Jesus the Christ.
The story in Mark leads us to a reflection of how as disciples or followers of Jesus, we bring his Spirit to life in our world. It is a little manual of discipleship for us. Jesus shows us the way to bring God’s dream to our world.
Jesus begins by going beyond his comfort zone. He takes a risk to reach to the Decapolis, a Greek and Gentile area, outside of his familiar space of synagogue and Jewish communities. Living our discipleship will often be going beyond our normal.
As he reaches out, Jesus encounters a crowd who are expecting a miracle, a wonder to astound them. But Jesus, respecting the man takes him apart, in private, to allow him to receive a cure from within. The disciple will often be “the unsung hero”. God’s dream takes root within a relationship.
Jesus puts his fingers into the ears of the man, taking him further from the outside world and leading him inward to his heart. To do so is to respect the inward strength and dignity of the man himself. Jesus then spat and touched the man`s tongue. He conveyed something of his own heart, his own Spirit to the heart of the man.
Then, Jesus speaks in very simple terms: Be opened. ``Immediately the man`s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.” The man hears and speaks. He is no longer cut off from his world. Receiving the gift of God`s Spirit from Jesus he lives in wholeness, a sign of God`s reign in all its fullness.
Mark’s story of Jesus is the story of every disciple who brings Jesus’ Spirit into the world, respecting the other and conveying something of the Spirit within us to the other. It is how each of us lives as a disciple and a sign of the presence of God’s dream for all. To follow this path is to bring healing, wholeness and reconciliation to a wounded, fractured and divided world.