Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, Vol. 1 by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis

Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, Vol. 1 by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis

Author:Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis [Leiva-Merikakis, Erasmo]
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Tags: Religion, Catholicism, Bible Commentary, Christianity
ISBN: 9780898705584
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Published: 2012-06-04T04:00:00+00:00


Healing of a Paralytic (9:1-8)

9:1 ἐμβὰς εἰς πλοῖον


getting into a boat

he went across [the water]

DEMONS GO INTO SWINE, the spirit of rejection enters the townspeople, Jesus embarks on a boat. Each vessel merits its occupant, and the humility of an empty skiff bobbing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee receives the Savior expelled from the territory of the Gadarenes. But there is also here a less obvious act of containment: Jesus himself becomes a vessel for his disciples. Throughout the previous episode, the disciples’ silent presence is both discreet and overwhelming, so keenly in contrast to the noisy tumult of the crowd of Gadarenes. The more these voice their refusal to let Jesus enter their town—the denser the mass they gain, that is, as an opposing force over against Jesus—the more the disciples seem to have disappeared into Jesus. While during the crossing over to the eastern shore of the lake, it was precisely the opposition between Jesus and his disciples that was emphasized, now on crossing back to the western side, the disciples are not even mentioned, and yet we know they have been following their Master the entire time (cf. 8:23).

The journey of initiation on which Jesus has taken them has produced its effect: the intensified assimilation of disciple and Lord. Indeed, the present episode, which at its center has the question of Jesus’ authority to forgive sin, also bears the character of a further step in mystagogical initiation, for Jesus’ divine authority is here demonstrated only in order to be conferred on his disciples later on (16:19; 18:18). If the Savior is little by little revealing to his followers who he is and what he can do, this is not meant to be idle knowledge. The dynamism of Jesus’ self-revelation requires that those who have embraced the light streaming from God’s Son themselves become luminous.

The true disciple’s sole concern is furthering the work of his Master. Jesus alone is explicitly said to step into the boat because, for the moment at least, his disciples have become invisible to the evangelist as separate realities. They have become one with Jesus as a result of the experience of the storm, the exorcism, and the Gadarenes’ rejection of Jesus—all of these events have galvanized a loose group of followers into the Body of Christ.

As the disciples return to the more familiar shore, we have the impression that Jesus had consciously undertaken the east-bound crossing with the express purpose of showing them the horrors that can inhabit the human body, heart, will, and psyche. And they have been made strong by the spectacle only because they first had to face inconstancy in themselves and because this journey through a landscape of evil took place in the company of Jesus and following his command.

They return to Jesus’ “own city”, which means Capharnaum, the town of Peter and Andrew, from which they had come. How differently the disciples now consider the very waves under the boat, touched as these had been


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