Does anyone else feel as if life is moving too quickly? Perhaps this is an odd question to ask in the middle of a pandemic, when we are physically restricted not just to where we can go, but how quickly we can accomplish things.
In addition to processing decisions to perform daily tasks, we’re thinking about managing risks to our health and that of others. We’re thinking about the state of our society and politics. We’re thinking about the need for racial justice, gender equity, inclusion of all sexual orientations, and the broken relationships and suffering associated with inequality.
Our thoughts and emotions suggest life is moving at a frenetic pace—so much so, it’s overwhelming.
The 2021 lectionary features Mark’s Gospel, which is known for its truncated narrative. This style lends to a sense that we’re being rushed through the Jesus story. There’s no birth story, no mention of Jesus’ childhood nor lengthy sermons on mountaintops. We get a Jesus who arrives on the scene and is immediately baptized by John. He’s then driven into the wilderness and resists Satan’s temptation, starts calling his disciples, takes on demons and casts them out, and heals the sick. This all happens in the first chapter!
Mark is a Gospel for those of us living in chaotic times and for those whose spirits are neglected because of that. It gives us the essentials of who Jesus is—a healer, liberator and savior.
As a former college wrestler, I was taught the saying “Slow is fast.” The concept behind it is that slowing down and focusing on what is essential allows one to perform better in competition. This saying has carried me through life and faith. When life’s pace seems overwhelming, I slow myself down to focus on what is essential and, as a result, I respond to life’s trials in a more whole and authentic way.
Mark is a Gospel for those of us living in chaotic times and for those whose spirits are neglected because of that. It gives us the essentials of who Jesus is—a healer, liberator and savior. It also assures us of what Jesus does for us.
Sometimes I think it’s better for me to know what Jesus does for me rather than to reflect too much on what I should accomplish. I don’t need to think about what it takes to be a good disciple. I just need to respond to Jesus’ command: “Follow me and I will make you fish for people” (Mark 1:17). I don’t need to figure out how to overcome my inner demons. I can draw strength from Jesus’ words: “Be silent and come out of him!” (Mark 1:25). I don’t need to push myself to be healed or forgiven in a particular way. I just need to hear Jesus say: “Be made clean!” (Mark 1:41).
When we consider our lives in this time, perhaps Jesus’ essential words from Mark slow us down and, strengthened by these assurances, help us respond better to life’s challenges.