From Jesus the carpenter to Jesus the Christ.
We all have a perspective. Essentially the way in which we view events and people derives from the standpoint of that perspective, and of what informs it. It is how we build up our image of the world. As both individuals and as a community, our perspective has at its heart the Christian values which the gospel teaches us and these values guide our minds and thus our outlook. But it isn’t just the values of the gospel, important as they are, which matter. There also has to be a desire to make them work, to see them being put into practice in a way which enables us to experience them. This gives our perspective a context and a framework in which it operates to the benefit and well being of others.
When we hear Jesus talking to us about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, of visiting the sick and those in prison, we instinctively know that the point he is making derives both from its context within the gospel account, and from the perspective of living out the call we each received at our baptism. Just as important is the fact that we know that this context and this perspective is exactly the way Jesus understood and considered that the coming of the kingdom would take effect. It wasn’t going to happen with a sudden sweeping away of all that was current and well established. It was only going to happen when people began to experience a change of heart or a conversion of mind. There was not going to be any lordly overthrow of the current order, even if that is what they had expected. Hence the rather underwhelming response which Jesus received from his own townsfolk when he returned to Nazareth. His status in their eyes was that he was the former village builder and that was the context and perspective in which they saw him. How then did things change?
Mark’s Gospel (with a little help from John) will, over the next few weeks and months, take us on a journey of discovery which will facilitate that change or conversion of heart in each of us. The journey will show us why and how the perspective and context changed. Changed from the context and perspective we detect in the Nazarene kinsman that we hear in today’s gospel, to the context and perspective of the disciple. It becomes a journey from ‘This is the carpenter surely, the son of Mary’ to a very different terminus which will climax in Peter exclaiming in front of the others: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of God’ .
And of course it won’t stop there. Ultimately it is the context and perspective of Jesus’ own life in the light of his death and resurrection that will bring Peter to make this bold statement, but it won’t be until Peter himself begins to live out that context and perspective in his life, that he will finally understand what his revelation truly means. Jesus will warn the apostles of the nature of the task ahead of them and of the conversion and change of heart and mind that is inherent in it. Our faith is this journey. An on going and constant movement from the standpoint of a Nazarean-like unwillingness to believe, towards a disciple-like assertion of truth which is the epitome of Christian context and perspective. Between the two there will be many hurdles to overcome, as the world throws its various spanners in the works, as the turbulent events of this last week have shown. We will thus shift between unwillingness and assertion for sure, because we are human, but have no doubt, the kingdom will come, on earth as in heaven, through the context and perspective of Jesus the carpenter, son of Mary as revealed to us through Jesus the Christ, Son of God.