The Rev. Jodi L. Baron – July 19, 2015 – Proper 11, Year B: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
“Wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about sandwiches this week.
I love a good sandwich.
Right now, my favorite has been smoked turkey with avocado, lettuce, tomato, a little aioli on multi-grain bread.
The kind of bread that has flecks of seeds and grains embedded right into every bite.
The kind of bread that makes you hungry smelling it bake.
Judging by its central role in our sacrament of Communion, I think Jesus must have liked bread a lot too.
There are two parts about this mornings text that have to do with bread.
One part is the giant void of one of the greatest stories in Mark (the feeding of the 5,000) that we didn’t read (verses 35-44). The one where his disciples beg him to dismiss the people so they can go get something to eat and he says to them, “You feed them!” (I love that part)
So they manage to gather up 5 loaves and 2 fish and Jesus turned that into enough to feed all who were gathered, so much so that there were 12 baskets of leftovers.
I bet that bread tasted amazing to those folks gathered on that hillside to hear Jesus teach.
I bet their tummies rumbled in anticipation when they heard Jesus give God thanks.
Then there’s the other part about bread. It’s not actually in the text but more about the text.
Mark is well known for his literary style of “sandwich” stories. We heard one a few weeks ago with the Temple Leader and the Hemorrhaging Woman.
Today’s reading is also one of those sandwich stories. Only without the turkey and avocado and all the fixin’s.
Today’s story was just the bread of the sandwich.
I like to look at in context of what is coming down the pike in our lectionary over the next 5 weeks.
You see, after today we’re taking a little break from Mark. Well, not really a break…more of a zooming in on the contents between the pieces of hearty bread.
Over the next few weeks our lectionary will move us into John where we will hear about the feeding of the 5,000 and the walking on water by Jesus, but told for the community that were a part of John.
And, oddly enough, Mark’s version of these two miracles doesn’t actually get read when we’re together on Sunday. Not once in all three years.
I invite you, therefore, good Gracians, to take up your bibles at home and read verses 35-52 about these two miracles and then come back and see if you notice anything when it’s read from the Gospel according to John.
But back to today’s daily bread.
There is a lot in these two pieces of bread, even without the fixin’s.
Take, for example, the two words that leaped from the page for me;
Compassion and Touch.
Compassion he showed first to his disciples in seeing their need for refueling and second on the massive crowds that continued to swarm them desperate for healing.
Touch recalling the same desperation and faith of those reaching their hands toward Jesus as the woman who was hemorrhaging in the story we heard a few weeks ago.
The text tells us that Jesus had invited his disciples to “Come away” for a while to a deserted place so they could rest. Catch their breath. Maybe even catch a few fish.
But they couldn’t. As soon as they got on the boat, we read that they were “recognized” and the crowds hurried on foot to meet them.
Word was spreading about Jesus and his disciples. People were hearing what he was doing; touching people and allowing them to touch him.
They figured they could use some healing too.
In fact, in this story, the people seemed to be so determined to meet him that they forgot to bring any food with them, and they stayed there all day long, so long that the markets had closed.
But Jesus, seeing the great crowd had compassion for them.
It means sympathy, charity, fellow feeling, or commiseration.
This is the introduction we are invited into to prepare our hearts for the miracles about to take place.
And then the begging comes in. The masses keep bringing their sick on mats to wherever he was so that they might just touch “even the fringe of his cloak” and be healed.
“Just a touch, Jesus.” A father says. “I’m not asking you to come with me to where my daughter lies. I’ll carry her to you because I recognize you! You’re the one who heals people even if they only touch the hem of your clothing. I know that if my daughter touches just the hem, she will be made well.”
What strength these people showed!
“And all who touched (the fringe of his cloak) were healed.”
The God of all of creation, became vulnerable to take on our flesh, so that we might touch the hem of the clothes that he wore and experience healing.
The kind of healing that no human can provide.
The kind of wholeness that only comes from a relationship with God and in community.
The kind of healing that comes from showing up and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through your brothers and sisters so that together we can heal the world.
May we be those places where the crowds can bring their wounds to be healed by the balm of Jesus. In the breaking of the bread, in the sipping of the wine, in the prayers of our people.
May we have the strength and courage to bring our own wounds and fears and hopes and dreams to the God who has compassion on his creation.