These United States we live in today are not the same as they were with the country was first formed. The brilliance of the Constitution we are supposed to live by is that through the two-hundred-thirty-seven years we have grown from two-million Europeans counted to over three-hundred-thirteen-million people of all races and religions from around the world. In addition, through all of this change, Christianity remains the dominant religion of more than one-hundred seventy-three million of us. Yet, in spite of these statistics, we remain divided on simple practices that have allowed a people to keep themselves consecrated to the Lord so much so that it is routine to break the Law than to keep it.
The Gospel of Mark is thought to be the first written (Senior, D. The Catholic Study Bible. NT p. 67). As such it is a simple and direct recollection of some of the works and comments of Jesus. The purpose here is to review at only two common practices of our contemporary society and how Jesus, according to Mark, ties into themes that are more ancient and challenges us to continue to fulfill the Law.
“Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord (Exodus 20:8).” Mosaic Law was strict, so strict in fact, it prohibited even the making of fires in one’s house on the Sabbath to stay warm. Jesus was challenged by the authorities of his day over his and his disciples’ efforts on the Sabbath. Mark tells us of the disciples walking through grain fields and eating the raw grain in (Mark 2:23 – 28) and of Jesus healing a man’s withered hand in the synagogue (Mark 3:1-5). Mark sums up Jesus’ response to the authorities. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Certainly, a people must eat on Sunday and no one should be kept suffering for a lack of medical care. Yet, the occasion for the withered hand occurred in the synagogue, indicating Jesus and his disciples were attending to joining with the community to praise God and renewing their commitment to His law. “…the percentage of Americans attending church on any given weekend keeps declining. In 1990, it was 20.4 percent. In 2000, it was 18.7. In 2007, it was 17 (MacDonald, J. The Winston-Salem Journal. Feb 28, 2009).” One must ask why it is acceptable to spend time “sharpening the saw” for business (Covey, S.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. p 287) but not doing the same for the Lord?
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination (Leviticus 18:22).” Our sexuality is the source of our creativity as humans. It has been both a gift and a curse from the Garden of Eden. It can be so wonderful and yet it is the source of so much torment. Jesus, according to Mark, makes it clear for us it is not Mosaic Law that must be followed but God’s Law. “But from the beginning God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate (Mark10:6 – 9).”
Clearly, Jesus is recalled as supporting marriage between a man and a woman and the need to honor this strictly. Mark is raising this point in a discussion about divorce. Moreover, how prominently have we in our society permitted divorce to be decreed? Sixty-four thousand people got married in the State of Ohio in 2009. Thirty-six thousand got divorced. (U.S. Census Bureau). We do not honor marriage in our country, not in Ohio and not nation-wide. Since we do not honor marriage, it follows that we will not continue to honor “between a man and a woman” either. Failure in one area of morality leads to failure in another.
Perhaps it is the proliferation of books and media has brought us to a permissive state as a people, so many ideas come into our minds we are unable to select those that should stick with us. Constant bombardments of the ideas other people think are important become the guiding principles of our lives instead of the Word of our God in scripture. One book used to be in every library of every family in our country and for a couple of centuries is the book most of us used to learn to read by. If you read only one book this week, or next, let it be the Gospel of Mark, and look at the many ideas God has for blessing you in your life.
Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Divorces. The 2012 Statistical Abstract. U. S. Census Bureau. Table 133. U. S. Department of Commerce. www.census.gov/compendia/statab Web
Covey, S. The 7Habits of Highly Effective People. Fireside. 1990. New York. Print
MacDonald, J. The Winston-Salem Journal. www.journalnow.com. December12, 2009. Web.
Senior, D. General Editor. The Catholic Study Bible. Oxford University Press. 1990. New York.