Details in Mark

Yesterday’s Gospel was St. Mark’s account of Jesus’ healing of the leper, a passage I mentioned in my post on Friday in connection with a Huff Post piece.

One of my really great Christmas gifts from my husband was Feasting on the Word, which contains essays on the Sunday Mass readings – four for each of the biblical texts for each week (First Reading, Psalm, Second reading and Gospel). For each of the four texts, there are four essays: one offering a theological perspective, one a pastoral perspective, one an exegetial perspective and one a homiletical perspective.

Although I can’t say it do it every Sunday, I do like to take some time on Sunday to read the essays for that day (if not all of them, at least the Gospel ones).

What I read this week made me think about the fact that there are details we (or at least me, and I’m guessing one or two others), don’t always notice. The detail in this case is this:

The story of the healing of the leper is the third of three healings recounted in the 45 verses of the first chapter of Mark. (I say third recounted, since there is also a reference in that chapter to other healings.) What the homiletical essay observed is something I have never focused on: the difference in locations of the healings. The first takes place in the synagogue (the man with the evil spirit), the second in a home (Simon’s mother-in-law) an the third in an open field.

The essay written from a theological perspective observed that “Mark has steadily moved us from the religious space through the house/private space to the public space, strongly illustrating the overwhelming power of God’s kingdom in all human spaces.”

As interesting as I find the particular observation, my dominant thought was: gosh, how many other details have I overlooked in reading the Gospels? Mark was clearly very intentional in his recounting of these healings; he had a point to make. One I had not gotten until now.

For me this experience was an invitation to reflect on the Gospels with more care to see what else I might find.

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