Daily Readings Reflection for 2/10/11

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Scripture: Lectionary 332: Genesis 2:18-25. Psalm 106:3-4.35-36.37.40. Mark
7:24-30

Today’s Readings

Scripture scholars are sometimes asked whether Jesus smiled? Did he joke?
Was he emotional like we are sometimes? There is a word for laughing and
another for smiling but they are not found in the canonical gospels,
however, in one or the other of the apocryphal gospels (those mostly
dependent on the canonical ones but culturally and theologically different)
he does laugh to the chagrin of his slow to understand disciples. But we
can infer from the parables that he tells and from the incident in today’s
reading that Jesus had a great sense of humor and thus had to smile and
laugh. After all, one of Thomas Aquinas’ insights into what it takes to be
human he said one has to be a risible sentient being, that is, one who can
laugh! Sometimes it seems that Jesus had to shake up the concepts of
holiness and righteousness that others inflicted upon him, including his
own band of twelve apostles/disciples.

One of the musicals picked this quality of Jesus as a feature of his
attractiveness and had the parables presented by the one acting for Jesus
making them very funny for those listening to Jesus. This happens in the
parables presented in the musical Godspell.

There is however a way of understanding the texts of the Gospels and
especially that of Mark that helps us to see the total commitment Jesus has
and possesses in his humanity. This includes his breakout emotions as well
as his ability to enjoy a funny quip from someone and do something with it
because he was intellectually and emotionally moved to heal. The woman in
the Gospel is called not by her personal name but as the Syro-Phoenician
woman indicating she was not one of the elect people of God as was Jesus
and his twelve disciples. Yet, she by carefully listening to and following
Jesus does not miss the chance of pulling one over on him with her
perceptive remark, “Ah, yes, Sir, but little dogs under the table eat the
scraps from the children.” Jesus has to reply for “Saying this you may go
home happy; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

Jesus as a Jewish teenager certainly read or heard the Book of Proverbs
which contains some of the funniest lines in the Bible peppered with sharp
and insightful wisdom behind them. One can find the description of a person
who has taken too much wine perfectly described in his behavior, his bravdo
words, and his imagination. The selection is priceless and Jesus would
have laughed at it. Another one of the Proverbs speaks about the
comparison of a lazy person rolling over in bed from time to time sounding
like a rusty hinge on a door!

Mark has also shown us some strong descriptions of Jesus’ emotions in the
way he feels about the people who are like sheep without a shepherd. The
word used here means to feel it deep in one’s bowels such is the compassion
of Jesus for those who are wandering and straying without a shepherd. He
then teaches them. At other times the same feelings are there when he
senses they are without food. Mark also displays Jesus anger when he
curses the fig tree. He shows Jesus is frustrated by the many piercing and
sacrcastic questions he asks his disciples who do not understand the
miracles of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. Jesus is trying to
make them think.

We should not be shocked by these incidents that show us Jesus’ behavior
was so much like ours. Some of us would rather have just the Son of God
image of Jesus, but others would be content intellectually with just the
Son of Man (child of humanity) image of Him. We however believe that Jesus
was both human thoroughly in all things except sin, and divine in union
with God through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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