Reflection on Mark 12.35-37

The large crowd was listening to him with delight.

Do you have an entertainer who gives you particular pleasure when you hear him or her perform? Have you ever attended a live performance given by that artiste? Did the experience of a live performance see your pleasure brought to new heights? Alternatively, has an entertainer you once admired ever left you feeling let down when their ‘saint-like’ persona has been revealed as a sham?

In today’s reading we hear of large crowds gathering around the Jesus who was renowned for his teaching, his healing and his miraculous signs. Earlier in Mark’s gospel we hear of the large crowds that hailed Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Soon we will be reading of the large crowds that screamed for his execution.

Large crowds are fickle as they sway in the breeze of public opinion. The large crowds that gather in adulation can, so quickly, become the large crowds that condemn. As followers of Christ we are called to stand firm, and not to allow ourselves to be blown along by the ebb and flow of ill-informed and spiteful public opinion.

In our reading we hear of those who are wrestling with the minutiae that is often used by those who cannot accept the grand scale of God’s purpose for humanity. Rather than responding to Christ’s teaching with humility and obedience, the scribes tried to outwit Jesus with word games. But, we know that Jesus is so much greater than we are able to imagine. God himself came into the human condition in order that he might bring reconciliation and redemption. The One who was at the creation of all things stepped from his heavenly realm into the time-restricted confines of the mortal world. Then, through their study of scripture, the scribes attempted to disprove Jesus’ rightful place in the divine plan by the use of imperfect and imprecise human language. Then, we are told, the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

Where do we place ourselves in today’s reading? Are we with the scribes, revelling in finding the killer loophole that will undermine and disprove Jesus’ words and actions? Are we within the large crowd that gathers around Jesus, just as large crowds gather to catch a glimpse of a film star, a sports personality or some other celebrity? Wherever we might place ourselves in today’s reading, we are all being challenged to stand firm in our faith, to set aside the superficial and to delight in the fact that we have come to know something of the true God, the One who passes all understanding. We are also challenged to take our faith and use it … in the name of the Lord, the One who sits at the right hand of the Father.