Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’ Mark 14:9
What she has done will be told; but not who she was. Because however important this act might have been, Mark didn’t consider it worth even recording the name of woman who did it.
As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes … They devour widows’ houses …’ He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury … A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny … ‘she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’ fragments of Mark 12:38-44
Is Jesus praising the widow, as we always seem to read this passage? Or, in the light of his condemnation of the scribes just before and the prophecy of the destruction of the Temple just after, could he be condemning the system which had the poor giving to support the luxury of the rich? Is the widow an example to us, or a victim of the corruption Jesus had just described?
But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Mark 9:32
Here’s the downside of Jesus speaking in parables – when he starts talking plainly to his disciples, they don’t understand.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the good news.’ Mark 1:14-15
I’ve often spoken about this text, and the idea of “at hand” – meaning something you can reach out and take hold of.
The other day I used that image with a bunch of eight and nine year old kids, and one of them said that to him, “at hand” sounded like something you were always reaching for, but was just out of your grasp, and so you keep moving towards it and it keeps moving away, leading you forwards. He acted this out, rather than putting it into words, so the language is mine, but the image is his. And I will now be rewriting my stock sermon in the light of this insight….
When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. Mark 5:39-43
We read this story last night with the kids. J’s immediate response at the end of the story – “I think Jesus wasn’t really meant to bring people back to life. That’s why he didn’t want anyone to know about it. Maybe God didn’t want him to bring the girl back, because she was with God in heaven…”
I was happy. Wherever I was… I was happy… at peace. I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time… didn’t mean anything. Nothing had form. But I was still me, you know? And I was warm. And I was loved. And I was finished. Complete. I – I don’t understand theology or dimensions, any of it really… but I think I was in heaven. And now I’m not.Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “After Life”