Wednesday’s Readings (Ed. Note: In the lectionary today, we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. Fr. Buby’s reflection, below, uses different readings.)
Scripture: Lectionary 320 II Samuel 7:18-19. 24-29. Psalm 132:1-2.3-5. 11.12.13-14. Mark 4:21-25
Rudolf Bultmann, the great German exegete who used the Form Critical Method in his analysis of the Gospels and especially that of St. John said that the preacher should have the Bible in one hand and the daily newspaper in the other! We do that when we carefully apply the text to our personal situation in the journey with Jesus and to our concern about today’s issues in the world. Almost everyone who is able to read and hear the news is thinking about the global crisis in economy. We all are struggling to find a way to solve it whether we be Greek, American, Japanese or Chinese.
Can the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading from Mark give us any hope in this global area of concern? His words are not about economy but the newspapers give us quite a bit of information on it. So we have the left hand on our newspaper and perhaps the words found in Mark on the other hand as Bultmann suggested. We struggle with both and probably conclude there is no relationship in this passage to our issues and concerns about the economic downfall all over the globe.
Jesus’ words do contain the light of truth in the image of the lamp that is lit and the salt image for keeping our discipleship alive to the signs of the times. So there may be some hope for a solution in our problems with the economy in the hope and inventiveness of these words of Jesus about salt and light.
The rich are under scrutiny, the not so rich are struggling to keep afloat in their financial concerns and those of the global market, and the poor are always there as the Lord Jesus says. All of us, no matter which category we belong to, are called by Jesus to listen and to learn. His expression let him who has ears to hear, listen. Jesus message is universal and is meant for everyone not just those who believe in him as the Son of God and as the Messiah. He is according to his own words the light and life of the world. He is the truth for each one who takes the time to listen to him and to hear and then to learn. His image of salt and light are aids for our reflection on the common plight of all of us. Being aware of the needs of others is an important step in today’s message. Doing something, however little it may be, is another step in making this world better. We all have the ability to listen and to learn and then to put our listening and learning into concrete deeds as Jesus suggests. Jesus repeats the message, “Listen carefully to what you hear. In the measure you give you shall receive, and more besides.” (Mark 4:24-25). These are the truthful words of the Lord and the divinely inspired Mark who remembered them. We are called to light up the world and to nourish it with a salt savor. The words must enter our hearts and then be put into action for others. Self-giving is very important for a disciple of Jesus. To hear without responding with will and obedience is to lose what you hear—to gain nothing from it. Only those who are ready to give selflessly—to give effort and willingness will retain what he or she is given by others. Amen.