There’s a gap in our reading from the gospel according to Mark 6:30-34,53-56 today that is unfortunate but understandable. The lectionary, the 3 year cycle of readings we hear on Sunday mornings, skips Mark’s version of the Feeding of the Five Thousand and Jesus’ walking on water. The lectionary does this, I think, for two reasons. One, we hear a version of these stories in Matthew and Luke so the lectionary doesn’t feel like we need to repeat it. Two, starting next week, we’ll hear John’s version of these two stories. The lectionary made a choice to keep some versions of Jesus’ stories in our worship and to move others to the side. But these kinds of choices are artificial. We made them. The author of Mark and the Holy Spirit wanted these stories to be together. When we see Jesus’ compassion because the crowd “was like sheep without a shepherd,” we need to know that Jesus is going to do more than teach. He’s also going to feed, confront their fears, and heal everyone. Jesus (and his disciples)make people whole.
This Wholeness, however, does not mean being comfortable. Last week’s reading showed us what the apostles were doing and teaching. They traveled into villages, casted out demons, and told everyone to repent. They invited everyone (poor, rich, and powerful) to reorient their lives towards God. This reorientation is more than a change of beliefs. This reorientation is a change in priorities. And this is scary. It scared the people who heard it. It also scared King Herod. The words reminded him of what John the Baptist told him and he imagined Jesus to be John the Baptist back from the dead. The reorientation of our life will break down our prior assumptions, priorities, and way of life. It pushes us away from what we think makes us whole and instead compels us towards the Jesus who makes a whole.
This wholeness isn’t riches or wealth or being so healthy that people assume we do CrossFit everyday. The wholeness Jesus offers is the wholeness the apostles model. They do not always understand what God is up to. They make mistakes. And they have their doubts, concerns, and fears. Yet they do what Jesus did: teach, feed, and heal by connecting people to each other and to their God. Jesus knows he will never get perfect disciples. But he knows that his imperfect disciples can always love.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 9th Sunday after Pentecost, 7/22/2018.