Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Torn Priorities

- Polychromed reredos behind the altar in St. Mary's Chapel at the Washington National Cathedral - Wikipedia

I listened to a sermon today by Marilyn McCord Adams given at Washington National Cathedral on Feb 2012. You can read the text here and on that page there's also a link to the mp3 audio file of the sermon. Her sermon was about Jesus' two priorities - effecting regime change and personal change - and how compassion guided his choices. Here's just a bit of it ....

Torn Priorities
- The Rev. Dr. Marilyn McCord Adams

[...] Mark’s Jesus is no mere word-smith. Mark does not spare space for Sermon-on-the-Mount summaries of Jesus’ teachings. No! Standing in the tradition of biblical prophecy, Jesus “acts out” his message with exorcisms and healings wherever he goes. In Mark’s mythic cosmology, God’s Kingdom is coming to reclaim turf taken over by enemy forces. Demons are the esprit de corps of merely human social institutions. Demon-possession and harrassment are the causes of mental illness, physical dysfunctions, and disease. Wherever Jesus goes, demons protest Kingdom-coming, grab for control by first-naming him. Jesus’ commanding word or healing touch sends them packing. Exorcisms and healings expose, challenge, and overturn the status quo. Exorcisms and healings are not only signs, they are “moments in the Kingdom,” sites where the Reign of God is already being restored. As such, they are attention-getting media of Jesus’ regime-change message.

Yet, this way of putting it is grossly insensitive, because it abstracts from the people who were possessed and harrassed by those demons. Crowds did not flock to Jesus seeking relief from the common cold or even of the stomach flu! They brought people who were trapped in misery then beyond merely human remedy—paralysis, blindness, deaf-muteness, epilepsy, leprosy. They were physically and mentally disabled in ways that kept them from being contributing members of their communities. Their individual needs were desperate and immediate. Their minds were not on politics and power, or even repentance and reform. Their conditions were too wretched for that.

Almost immediately, as soon as Jesus began to exorcize and heal, his appearances threatened to be mobbed by people begging for cures. In one case, they went so far as “breaking and entering,” taking the roof off his house to let down the paralytic on a stretcher in front of Jesus’ nose! Even out on backroads, in foreign villages, Jesus would be recognized and beleagured with people wanting him to speak the word, find his way blocked by a forest of outstretched arms grabbing at the hem of his garment.

The trouble is that Jesus Christ, in his human nature, is a finite person ....


Anonymous Craig P. said...

Do you really believe Christ's human nature is finite?

He is in Heaven now with his glorified body, still both human and divine.

Could you expound on that a little?

4:38 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


That's a quote from Marilyn McCord Adams' sermon. I think she meant to say that while Jesus was here in his human form, he was limited by the human-ness of that form in that he couldn't be everywhere at once and help everyone who needed healing.

1:52 PM  

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