Bob Cornner

Bob Cornner
Visting St. Andrew's Torrance

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Did Jesus Come Out or Was He Outed?


A REFLECTION ON THE EPIPHANY MOMENTS IN MARK'S GOSPEL

Did Jesus Come Out or Was he "Outed"? By asking this question, I am inviting each of us to consider the drama of the exchanges between Jesus, the people, and the demons in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel.

Jesus’ life is a series of coming outs. These are epiphany moments when we learn more about who Jesus is. We also learn about how we respond to the presence of God in our midst by observing the reaction of others in the Gospel and by allowing ourselves to become part of the action.

Jesus comes out from heaven as the only begotten Son of God.

Jesus comes out from his mother Mary’s womb as fully, truly, and completely human.

Jesus comes out of his family in Nazareth and out of the traditional faith and culture of Israel to follow where the Holy Spirit, his Mother leads him.

Jesus comes out from the Jordon River after his baptism where he sees the Holy Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him and he hears the soft and loving voice of God saying: “This is my son, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus comes out from the wilderness after undergoing the raw temptations of power, envy, and rivalry over against the God whose love and acceptance of Jesus was unqualified.

Jesus comes out from the synagogue at Capernaum after casting out the unclean spirit that had possessed a man and dispossessed him of a place in his own religious community.

Jesus comes out from the house of Simon and Andrew after healing Peter’s mother-in-law and spending the night healing the sick and demon-possessed that surrounded the door of Peter’s house and he goes into the wilderness to pray.

When the crowds and his disciples search for him, he says that he must keep moving because he has “come out” to proclaim the message in other places and to other people. Every time Jesus comes out, his disciples follow him and through Mark’s Gospel, we are able to come out with Jesus too.

We are able to experience epiphany upon epiphany about Jesus and about ourselves as individuals and a community of faith.When Jesus comes out, God comes out and interacts with us. When Jesus comes out, the demons that reside and hold power in our institutions come out and Jesus silences them.

Jesus comes out to proclaim a new message of hope and redemptive love that will never destroy any person in order to save them or the rest of humanity. The demons seek to “out” Jesus as just one more High Priest who will sacrifice others to save himself and the good people of the world.

Religion that claims the right to kill, abuse, or exclude people based upon God’s will miss the point of Jesus’ first encounter with the demon who sought to “out” him in the synagogue at Capernaum. The demon seeks to co-opt Jesus into the world of sacred violence by calling him “God’s Holy One” and asking if Jesus had come to destroy him. This man and many others in our world today are held hostage by the demon that seeks to seduce the rest of us into believing that the final solution to evil is the destruction of the one who is being held hostage.

The old time religion of our world, whether it masquerades as Christian, Jewish, Islam, Buddhist, Hindu or any secular “ism” would destroy the hostage in order to destroy the demon. In Jesus’ heart and soul, such a strategy was the very thing he had “come out” to show as a lie.

He does not take the bait dangled by the demon. Rather than destroying the man, he silences the demon whose only future lies in the destruction of the possessed man. As we go through Mark’s Gospel this year, listen carefully for the ways that Jesus “comes out,” and the ways others try to “out” him.

In our own lives, we need to be alert for ways to come out with Jesus into the freedom of the Gospel. The cross is the final coming out of Jesus and it coincides with his outing by the secular and religious high priests who follow the predictable rubrics of that old time religion of sacred violence: “It is better that this one man die, than the whole nation perish.” Mark 1:29-39

Jesus left the synagogue at Capernaum, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

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