The Gospel of Mark – Chapter 7

This week we are looking at Mark 7-8. In preparation for this week, pay special attention to the literary structure of these chapters. As we looked at last week, Mark 5 concerns Jesus’ interaction with the unclean of society – a possessed Gentile living in a graveyard with pigs, a hemorrhagic woman, and a dead child. And Mark 6 gives us the calling of the disciples and the feeding of the 5,000.

Mark 7 begins with the Pharisees complaining that Jesus’s disciples (and presumably the 5,000) ate without washing their hands as required under the written and oral Law (Ex. 30:17-21).  Jesus accuses the Pharisees of holding on to traditions that contradict the Law, specifically a tradition that allows children to evade their responsibilities to their parents.  Jesus then builds on this teaching to say that even the black-letter rules of the Law, specifically those concerning external cleanliness such as keeping kosher (Lev. 11:1-47), must give way to the underlying purpose of the Law which is a cleanliness of heart. To follow-up on this teaching, Mark gives us the account of Jesus’ healing of the Syrophenician (pagan/Gentile) Woman and his discussions with her.  Think about why Mark would arrange his gospel to the early church in this manner.

Despite these teachings and events, and even after Jesus feeds the 4,00 in chapter 8, the disciples remain ignorant and Jesus quotes them (again) Isaiah 6:9 (or Jer. 5:21) that they hear but don’t understand and see but don’t perceive. Mark bookends this teaching on the disciples’ ignorance with the healing of the deaf man in 7:32-34 and the healing of the blind man in 8:22-25.  Pay particular attention to the healing of the blind man in that his sight was not completely restored at first, but Jesus had to go back to him again.  It is only now (Mark 8:31), after the ears are unstopped and the eyes opened, does Jesus begin to teach about the cross.    

Fr. Gabriel hopefully will be back with us this week. Dinner is at 6. The menu is tacos. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:8-10.

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