January 18, 2017
by Chas Kestermeier, S.J.
Creighton University's English Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 313

Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17
Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4
Mark 3:1-6

Praying Ordinary Time

I believe that everyone would agree that we situate ourselves in reality primarily by means of our senses: just imagine who we would be and what we could accomplish if we could see or hear or taste nothing, if we could smell nothing, and if we had no sensation in our fingers or anywhere else on the surface of our skin.  We would never develop any sort of mind and would never manage to do even the simplest tasks.

I rather think that the same sort of thing is true in the spiritual life as regards our emotions: paying attention to what we feel internally about what is happening in our lives tells us a great deal about who we are, especially at that moment, and even gives us some insight into our relations with other people.  We in the West have always been somewhat suspicious of emotions, though, and I suspect that the reason is that what emotions convey is not easily and clearly subject to logical analysis.  But emotions are real, and we do need to take what we emotionally feel and sense into account. 

Why do I mention all this?  Because today's gospel offers a good example of Jesus having some very strong feelings, and we have become thoroughly used to ignoring such emotional things as having little importance or significance.  If we look at these early chapters of Mark, though, we sometimes see Jesus as being very moved; today has “He looked around at them angrily, for he was deeply grieved that they had closed their minds against him.”  Other such clear texts at the beginning of Mark are 1:25; 1:41, 43; 6:6; 7:17-18; 8:12; and 8:17-18, but if we read Mark prayerfully with attention to all of the moods and reactions which Jesus shows, even the less obvious, we will see a different Jesus, a man not only of truth and goodness but a man quite passionate about the people he worked with and the situations he faced. 

It would be good to savor these individual instances of Jesus' emotions, for this can lead us as individuals and as a Church to rethink some of our basic assumptions about what is “right”: Jesus is angry?  But isn't anger always bad?  How do we converse with God and hear what he is nudging us toward beyond relating to God merely on the basis of a primarily intellectual truth?  What the results of such a reading might be will differ for each of us, but if we trust the Spirit we will find a much closer and more personal relationship to Jesus. 

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