The Cross of Confusion

Mark’s Gospel describes the growing numbers following Jesus in Galilee as he begins his ministry, listening to him and amazed at the works he does. But there are also growing numbers who find him hard to understand, the gospel says.

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The scribes come from Jerusalem and say he has a demon, the Pharisees begin to plot with the Herodians, the followers of Herod Antipas about putting him to death. When they hear about him in Nazareth, his relatives say, “No, he doesn’t have a demon. He may be out of his mind,” and they come to bring him home.

Besides the leading elite and people from his hometown, ordinary people begin to distance themselves. They seem to be the people in Mark’s Gospel today who question him “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (Mark 2, 18-22) Not only Jewish leaders and scholars, not only his own family and his hometown, but many ordinary people of Galilee found him too much for them.

Jesus brought change, radical change, and change can be hard to accept. Many who heard him weren’t ready for new wine, they preferred the old.

Commentators describe Mark’s gospel as a Passion Narrative with a prelude. In other words, the early stories in Mark’s gospel announce the last story of his Passion and Death and Resurrection. Jesus dies alone, forsaken by many ordinary people who flocked to him at first.

Commentators also see Mark’s gospel written to help the Christians of Rome who suffered a brutal, surprising persecution by Nero in the mid 60s. Rome usually singled out Christian leaders in times of persecution, but this persecution seemed to strike at ordinary Christians as well. The senseless, arbitrary persecution left Rome’s Christians confused and wondering what this all meant. Mark’s account reminds them that all who follow Jesus must follow him, without always understanding.

Confusion and lack of understanding are part of our world today, aren’t they? We are living in a time of rapid changes. For many, the old wine, the “old days” are better.

The Cross of Jesus may not come as hard wood and nails. As in Mark’s Gospel, it can come in the form confusion and lack of understanding. A Cross hard to bear.

4 thoughts on “The Cross of Confusion

  1. Gloria

    Thank you for your wonderful background on Mark’s gospel. Unless someone like you, good preacher and writer that you are, explains in words and in writing what’s going in the Scripture passages, we can miss out on a
    lot because of familiarity due to hearing the readings for so many years
    and because everyday readers and listeners are not Scripture scholars.

    Like

  2. fdan

    Dear Father Victor, thank you for enlightening us. Sometimes, the Cross of Confusion may lie more in our minds than in our hearts. …Heart of Mary, fastened to the cross with Jesus Crucified, Pray for us…. May the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in our hearts.

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  3. fdan

    Our uncertainty is the doorway into mystery, the doorway into surrender, the path to God that Jesus called “faith.”

    —from The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder
    by Richard Rohr, OFM

    Like

  4. vhoagland Post author

    I agree “Sometimes, the Cross of Confusion may lie more in our minds than our hearts.” Good observation.

    Like

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