THE GOSPEL OF MARK
Lesson 3: Chapters 2-3
Jesus' Galilean Ministry Continues

Most Holy Lord,
You came in the flesh to heal and restore the Old Covenant people of God and to transform them into the faithful remnant of the new Israel of the universal Church. We know that through the miracle of the Eucharist You continue come to us, that You continue to heal Your people from the ravages of sin and to restore Your Church in Your image and likeness. We pray that You will give each of us the spiritual strength we need so that we might be empowered to carry Your Gospel message of salvation to our families, our neighbors, and the world. Send Your Holy Spirit to guide us as we study about the unveiling of the mystery of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and may we see the truth of Jesus' teachings as clearly as the men and women who came to believe in Him so long ago. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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For you are a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in distress ... Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.
Isaiah 25:4 and 35:4-6, 8th century BC

True death is neither a result of hunger for bread nor a result of thirst for this tangible water, but as a result of a hunger for hearing the word of the Lord. True death arises in the souls of those who do not hear. For one does "not live by bread alone, but by every word coming out through the mouth of God." This is why ... the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast as long as the bridegroom is with them.
St. Basil the Great (330-379)

Chapter 2: Jesus' Fame Spreads

Chapter two marks a turning point in Jesus' ministry. Up to this point, Jesus has been traveling throughout the Galilee. He has been preaching the "good news" of the Kingdom, He has been healing people of their spiritual and physical illnesses, and He has been casting out demons according to the prophecies of the prophets (Is 25:4, 9; 35:4-6; 40:9; 42:6-7; 61:1-2). Multitudes of hopeful people have been coming to be healed and to hear Him preach. But, beginning with His healing of the paralytic at Capernaum, the religious authorities start to raise objections to Jesus as He encounters their disapproval and suspicion. Pharisees raise objections to Jesus' teachings, His actions and the actions of His disciples that are contrary to their interpretation of doctrine and ritual observances. The healing of the paralytic at Capernaum is the first in a series of five conflict stories in which Jesus' miracles and His "new teaching with authority" (Mk 1:27) is enthusiastically embraced by the crowds but also in which He faces increasing resistance from the religious leadership which will culminate in a plot to kill Him (Mk 3:6). Mark continues to express the urgency of embracing the Gospel message by using the key word that can be translated as "immediately, at once, or instantly" in 2:2, 8, and 12.

The five conflict stories:

  1. Jesus is charged with blasphemy for forgiving a man's sins (Mk 2:1-12).
  2. Jesus attends a banquet and is accused of eating with sinners (Mk 2:13-17).
  3. Jesus and His disciples are criticized for failing to fast (Mk 2:18-22).
  4. Jesus is criticized for allowing His disciples to violate the Sabbath restriction by picking grain (Mk 2:23-28).
  5. Jesus is criticized for healing on the Sabbath (Mk 3:1-6).

Mark 2:1-12 ~ Healing of a Paralytic at Capernaum and the Opposition of the Scribes
1 When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. 2 [And at once = kai euthus] Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Child, your sins are forgiven." 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, 7 "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?" 8 Jesus immediately [euthus] knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk'?" 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth,"11 he said to the paralytic, "I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home." 12 He rose, picked up his mat at once [euthus], and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."

Question: What was it about the friends of the paralyzed man that impressed Jesus?
Answer: They were so determined to get Jesus' help for their friend that they removed the roof of Peter's house to lower his mat down into the room where Jesus was staying. They had faith that Jesus could heal their friend.

Question: What is the significance of Jesus' statement concerning the faith of the man's friends: When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Child, your sins are forgiven."
Answer: It wasn't the paralytic's faith that generated the healing; it was the faith of his friends. We should never take for granted the power of our petitions made on behalf of someone else.

In the Church we call prayers on behalf of others "prayers of intercession." Intercessory prayer is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did during His earthly ministry. And He continues to be the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men and women, especially sinners (Rom 8:34; 1 Tim 2:5-8; 1 Jn 2:1). "He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.' The Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us ... and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.'" (CCC 2634-36, 2647; also see Heb 7:25; Rom 8:26-27). So important is the Church's example of intercessory prayer as a community that it is part of the celebration of the Mass.

Question: Where is the first intercessory prayer found in the Old Testament? See Genesis 18:22-32.
Answer: It is the intercessory prayer Abraham made on behalf of the people of Sodom.

Notice that in 2:5 that Jesus linked the man's condition to his sins. Jesus may have been remarking on the cultural assumption that there was a link between sin and sickness (Jn 9:2), but it is more likely that He is demonstrating His authority to heal body and soul.

Question: Why do some of the scribes, who are also teachers of the Law, accuse Jesus of blasphemy in verse 7? Hint: the Law defined blasphemy as consisting in misusing the Divine Name Yahweh. See Lev 24:15-16 where the penalty for blasphemy against the Divine Name was death and Num 15:30 where the penalty for persistent sin was excommunication.
Answer: The scribes believe Jesus has usurped God's divine prerogative by declaring the man's sins are forgiven.

Question: The miracle story of the paraplegic and his friends reveals what other power Jesus possesses in addition to healing the sick, His power over nature, and His authority to forgive sins? See Ps 7:10/9; 2 Chr 6:30.
Answer: His power to read minds and hearts (intentions); it is a divine power attributed only to God.

Among the Dead Sea Scrolls was a passage from the Book of Jeremiah that was missing from our Biblical text of the book: Jeremiah 11:20 ~ Yahweh Sabaoth, whose judgment is upright, tester of motives and thoughts, I shall see your vengeance on them, for I have revealed my cause to you.

Jesus refers to Himself as "Son of Man" in verse 10; it is Jesus' favorite title for Himself. Jesus frequently refers to himself as "Son of Man" in the Gospels, but outside of the Gospels this title is only found in the New Testament in three other places:

The point is that each of these passages refers to the resurrected, divine Jesus Christ.

In Aramaic (common language of Jesus' time), bar'nishah "son of man" meant "a human being" or "one descended from Adam." But the use of "Son of Man" in this passage is meant not only to identify Jesus in His humanity but to recall the vison of the Divine Messianic King witnessed by the prophet Daniel: I was gazing into the visions of the night when I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, as it were a Son of Man. He came to the One most venerable and was led into His presence. On Him was conferred rule, honor, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed (Dan 7:13-14). Besides the Daniel passage where the "Son of Man" title refers to the divine Messiah who looks like a man, the expression is only found in the Old Testament for a human man in the book of Ezekiel where God addressed Ezekiel as "son of man" 93 times beginning in Ezekiel 2:1 and one other time in the book of Daniel where God calls Daniel "son of man" in Daniel 8:17 ~ "Son of man, He said to me, understand this: the vision shows the time of the End." For Jesus the title acknowledges His humanity, but in a unique way apart of other men since He is both fully man and fully God.

Mark 2:13-17 ~ Jesus Calls Levi to Discipleship
2:13 Once again he went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. 14 As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. 15 While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. 16 Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 17 Jesus heard this and said to them that, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

The publican (tax official) named Levi in this passage and in Luke 5:27-28, is called "Matthew," his Greek name, in the same encounter with Christ in Matthew 9:9. He is also called Matthew in all the lists of the twelve Apostles (Mt 10:3 where he is identified as a tax-collector and in Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15 and Acts 1:13). Just as St. Mark was known by two names, his Hebrew name and his Gentile name, St. Matthew was known by a Hebrew and a Gentile name. According to tradition, his Hebrew name "Levi" identifies him as a lesser ministry of the Levites which could mean that he was also trained as a Scribe and could have recorded Jesus' homilies and sayings in the scribal shorthand that all scribes were taught called tachygraphos.

It was common for the Romans to assign educated men to the task of collecting Roman taxes. St. Matthew, as was the duty of all tax collectors (telonai), was sitting at his customs post (telonion) as Jesus passed by. It was probably a tollbooth at which fees were collected on goods (especially barrels of salted fish) as they were transported out of the tetrarchy of the Galilee to other parts of the Roman provinces. Like the other Apostles called by Jesus to "Follow me," St. Matthew left his profession and his comfortable life to follow Jesus. In verse 13 we are told that Matthew invited his friends to a banquet in which Jesus is the guest of honor.

Question: Matthew's banquet is reminiscent of what similar act by an Old Testament man called to discipleship? See 1 Kng 19:21.
Answer: It appears that Matthew, like Elisha who was called to be a disciple of the prophet Elijah (1 Kng 19:21), is saying goodbye to his old life and sharing his decision to follow Jesus with his friends, exposing them to what could be a life altering experience in sharing a meal with the Messiah and His disciples

16 Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 17 Jesus heard this and said to them that, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."
This is the second conflict story. Since the Pharisees are observing the banquet, it may be that they had stationed themselves where they could see the arriving guests, or the banquet may have been held in an open courtyard. The second scenario seems more likely since Jesus "heard" their criticism. The Pharisees are voicing these criticisms because they are trying to discredit Jesus as a spiritual teacher.
Question: Why did the scribes and Pharisees rank the tax collectors with sinners?
Answer: Tax collectors were ranked with sinners because they were suspected of overcharging the taxes collected from the common people for the hated Romans. It was a sin to take advantage of one's fellow covenant member. Their sin was regarded as theft.

Provincial tax officials collected taxes for the Roman government and were allowed to keep whatever they could collect above the required minimum. Sinners were those who, because of their profession, life-style or actions failed to meet the standards of righteousness under the Law. Since the practices of the tax collectors encouraged corruption, the terms "sinners" and "tax collectors" was synonymous. St. Mark's addition "for there were many who followed him" (2:15) suggests that many of the other men at the banquet were also repentant sinners who were either disciples or supporters of Jesus' ministry.

Question: How does Jesus rebuke the Pharisees who were not invited but who considered themselves to be above reproach in their obedience to the Law and in living righteous lives? What comparison does He make using what was probably a well-known proverb of the times?
Answer: He make a comparison between the sick and the healthy. The sick need a physician to heal them physically just as the sinners need Jesus to heal them spiritually. The righteous are already on the path to salvation.

Jesus's response to the Pharisees recalls a passage from the book of the Old Testament prophet Hosea: For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts?(Hos 6:6) And David's prayer in Psalm 51: For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart (Ps 51:17-19).
Question: What is it that God desires of us in the Old Covenant and in the New?
Answer: Instead of only external performance or ritual in obedience to the Law, which seems to be the preoccupation of the scribes and Pharisees, God prefers the inward quality of genuine humility, love, and contrition. This is the kind of personal sacrifice that is pleasing to God above the material sacrifice of whole burnt offerings or empty ritual in which the true meaning of the observance is lost.

Jesus identifies Himself as the physician who has come to heal not only physical ailments but also the sickness of the human spirit that is caused by sin, referring in this case to the tax collectors and sinners at the banquet. He is again subtly identifying Himself as the Divine Son because God is the great physician who heals sinners (Ex 15:26; Sir 38:1-15).

Mark 2:18-22 ~ Jesus is questioned about Fasting
18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to him and objected, "Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" 19 Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshruken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. 22 Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins, otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins."

This is the third conflict story. The discipline of fasting was one of the three basic virtues of Old Covenant piety: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (Tob 12:8-9; Sir 3:29/30; 29:8-13). These same three acts of interior penance were also preached by Jesus as part of the New Covenant obligation of His disciples since these three virtues express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others (see Mt 6:1-18, CCC 1434 and 1969). The Law of the Sinai Covenant only required fasting once a year on the Feast of Atonement (Lev 16:29). However, the Pharisees, who considered themselves as especially pious observers of the Law, fasted twice a week on Mondays and Tuesdays as a sign of their piety (Lk 18:12; also see the Didache 8.1).

The Pharisees' criticism of Jesus may have prompted the people to question Jesus on the different rules of fasting observed by His disciples as opposed to John's disciples and the Pharisees. Evidently John the Baptist's disciples fasted frequently in imitation of John's ascetic lifestyle and as a sign of repentance (Joel 2:12-13).

19 Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
The bridal metaphor is used in Old Testament Scripture to express the loving covenant relationship between God and His covenant people (see Is 54:5; Ez 16:6-14; Jer 3:20; Hos 2:4-7, 20). Now Jesus uses the same imagery when He answers their question with a rhetorical question. It is a strategy He will often use to bring His listeners to a deeper understanding. He also reveals something new about His identity.

Question: Who is the "bridegroom" and who are the "wedding guests" in the short parable?
Answer: Jesus is the bridegroom and the wedding guests are those who have come to embrace His Gospel message of salvation, like those men at the banquet He attended.

Jesus' point is that mourning rituals are not appropriate to a joyful wedding celebration. Jesus is comparing a joyful wedding celebration to the joy of God the Son's visitation to mankind.
Question: When will the "bridegroom" will be "taken away" and when will the wedding guests fast and mourn?
Answer: When Jesus suffers His Passion.

With Jesus' Passion and death, it will become appropriate for His disciples to fast and mourn. In this exchange we get the sense of the urgency of Jesus' mission. In using the wedding imagery and applying it to Himself and His relationship with Israel, He is again announcing His divinity. He is Israel's divine Bridegroom. Marriage imagery was one of the four reoccurring images the Old Testament prophets used to describe Israel relationship or lack of relationship with God. Jesus, as God's supreme prophet will use all four symbolic examples during His ministry (see "Symbolic Images of the Old Testament Prophets"). In the New Covenant, this marital imagery is transferred to Christ as the divine Spouse of the Church (Mt 25:1-13; Eph 5:25; CCC 796).

21 No one sews a piece of unshruken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. 22 Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins, otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins."
Then Jesus tells a short, two-part parable, offering the comparison between old and new cloth and old and new wineskins in verses 21-22. A parable is short story based on a familiar life experience and is used to teach a spiritual lesson. The Old Testament prophets told parables when the civil and religious leadership failed to listen to the voice of God through His prophet. Jesus is God's supreme prophet and the resistance of the religious leaders to His message now leads Him to speak in parables (see Ps 78:2; Mt 13:10-15; Mk 4:12).

Question: What do the old cloak that cannot be patched with a new piece of cloth and the old wineskin that cannot hold new wine refer to? See Heb 8:7-8, 13.
Answer: In both cases the comparison is to the Old and New Covenants. The Old Covenant must be fulfilled and transformed into the New Covenant. The Old Covenant in its present form is not capable of holding all the blessings and glory that is the New Covenant in Christ Jesus.

Old versus New Cloth and Wineskins Old Covenant versus New Covenant
Old cloth cannot be patched with new cloth. The new cloth will no longer fit properly when the garment is washed and the new cloth shrinks. The Old Covenant was necessary for its time to cover the covenant people in righteousness, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a new garment that cannot become a patch for the Old Covenant.

 

Old wineskins have already stretched to capacity with the fermentation of the wine. If new wine is poured into old skins, the fermenting wine will expand and burst the skins and both the wineskin and the wine will be destroyed. The eternal gifts of the New Covenant cannot be contained within the limits of the Old Covenant. The eternal gifts of God's grace that fill the children of God in the New Covenant must fulfill and transform the Old Covenant.

Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2014

The Old Sinai Covenant was good for its time. It was a tutor and a guide for the children of God, and it was the first stage of revealed Law, but it had to make way for the New because it could not provide the path to eternal salvation nor could it give the gift of God the Holy Spirit (CCC 1962-70).

Mark 2:23-28 ~ Authority over the Sabbath
23 As he was passing through a field of grain on the Sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. 24 At this the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" 25 He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? 26 How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?" 27 Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 29 That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."

Together with the sacred meeting place between man and God (the desert Tabernacle and later the Jerusalem Temple), the Sabbath obligation was one of the two signs of the Sinai Covenant. It was a covenant that was continued in sacred time in a sacred place (see the Chart on "Yahweh's Eight Covenants"). God's one holy altar of sacrifice in the desert Sanctuary and later in the Jerusalem Temple and the holy Sabbath day separated the Israelites from the pagan communities who worshipped at many shrines and did not enter into God's "rest" on a special day set aside from all the other days of the week (Ex 20:8; 31:12-17; 35:1-3). The Sabbath was meant to raise God's people above the routine of earthly human labor and to elevate them to the unique spiritual privilege of fellowship and communion with the One True God. The Sabbath (seventh day) was first declared holy on the seventh day of Creation when God "rested" from the work of creation (Gen 2:1-3), but it did not become a covenant obligation until the ratification of the Sinai Covenant (Ex 20:8-11; 31:12-17; 34:21; 35:1-3; Dt 5:12-15).

23 As he was passing through a field of grain on the Sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. 24 At this the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"
This is the fourth conflict story and it also, in a way, is concerned with a meal. It was not unlawful for the hungry to pick and eat some grain from a farmer's field while traveling (Dt 23:26). The problem, as the Pharisees saw it, was that Jesus and His disciples were in violation of the prohibition against working on the Sabbath (Ex 20:8-11; 31:12-17; 34:21; 35:1-3; Dt 5:12-15).

Question: What example of lawful work associated with what is holy does Jesus give them from the history and traditions of the covenant people? See 1 Sam 21:2-7. And what other exception to the Sabbath law concerning work does Matthew give in Matthew 12:5? See Lev 6:1-6; Num 28:9-10.
Answer:

  1. When David was hungry and in need, he was allowed to eat the sacred "bread of the presence (of God)" from the table in the Holy Place of the Sanctuary.
  2. In their ministerial service in the Temple, the priests "work" in making offerings and sacrifices in the Temple even on the Sabbath.

Jesus' point is that the incident with David set the precedent that when mercy is a necessity it outweighs the letter of the Law. In the second example, Jesus points out that the priests at the Temple technically violate the letter of the Law by working on the Sabbath by serving God in the Temple, but the necessity of their ministry outweighs the violation. Jesus' disciples were hungry and He allowed them to pick grain and eat on the Sabbath so that they might continue their ministry in serving God by proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom. Jesus is not abrogating the Sabbath laws of the covenant; rather He is asserting the authority that belongs to God in the interpretation of the Sabbath laws since He is the author of the Sabbath, another reference to His divinity.

One addition to Mark's story that is not present in the same story in Matthew 12:1-8 or Luke 6:1-5 is that Jesus says, when speaking of David eating the Bread of the Presence at the Sanctuary, that this took place when Abiathar was high priest. Some Bible scholars point to this addition as an error in Mark's Gospel since in the same incident recorded in 1 Samuel 21:2-7 the priest who was the head priest of God's Sanctuary at Nob was not Abiathar but his father Ahimelech (1 Sam 21:2). Abiathar did not become high priest until David was King of Israel. But perhaps Jesus is making a very subtle point to the religious leaders who are beginning to oppose Him. Abiathar faithfully served King David, but when David's son and designated heir, Solomon, was about to succeed his father, Abiathar took a stand in opposition to Solomon son of David. When Solomon son of David became king, he dismissed Abiathar from his priestly duties and gave the high priesthood to a man who supported him.

Question: What was perhaps the subtle message to the scribes and Pharisees who were the religious leaders of Jesus' day? Did Jesus' warning come to pass?
Answer: The religious leaders served God the Father, but if they refused to serve God the Son they too will lose their positions of authority as leaders of the religious community like Abiathar, and that position of authority will be given to others. This is, of course, exactly what happened when the hierarchy of the Church passed from the Old Covenant leadership to the New Covenant leadership of God the Son's Vicar (Peter) and Jesus' Apostles and disciples.

When the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed in AD 70, it was the end of the Old Covenant priesthood. There is no ordained priesthood that maintains the Old Covenant sacrifices and rituals. There is no Old Covenant Temple altar of sacrifice and there is no sacred incense or wine libation or sacred Bread of the Presence except in the liturgical worship of the new Israel that is the Catholic Church where all these elements are present (the "Bread of the Presence" is another name for the Eucharist).

27 Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 29 That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."
Jesus concludes this part of the confrontation with the Pharisees with the statement "... the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." Jesus' rebuke of the Pharisees is stronger in Mark than in the other Gospels. "Son of Man" is Jesus' favorite title for Himself. He uses this title for Himself 30 times in the Gospel of Matthew and 14 times in the Gospel of Mark. It is a title that not only refers to His perfect humanity but also to His identity as the divine Messiah. Later, in His trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin, Jesus will identify Himself as the "Son of Man" from Daniel's vision of the divine Messiah in Daniel 7:13-14 (Mk 14:62; Mt 24:30; 26:64).

Question: What claim is Jesus making in these statements concerning the Sabbath?
Answer: God created the seventh day Sabbath as a day set aside for fellowship between man and God. Any interpretation of the law that rejects mercy over ritual observance is a hindrance to that desired fellowship. Jesus is again revealing His identity as the divine Messiah who has the authority to interpret the Law, even the Law associated with keeping the Sabbath.

Jesus is also saying that His mission is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant Sabbath. What this means will be revealed in the fifth and final conflict story in chapter 3.

In chapters 1 and 2 we can see that interest in Jesus and belief that He is the Messiah is rapidly growing as the mystery of the Kingdom begins to unfold. We also see opposition to Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees.
Question: What are the four criticisms the scribes and Pharisees raise against Jesus and His disciples in chapter 2? See Mk 2:7, 16, 18 and 24.
Answer:

  1. He claims the authority to forgive sins which is blasphemy.
  2. He associates with sinners.
  3. He fails to fast nor does He encourage His disciples to fast.
  4. He fails to observe the Sabbath "rest."

In Mark's narrative, we discover how the Jews and others will come to slowly discover the mystery of Jesus' true identity. But, as you have seen, St. Mark makes Jesus' identity clear to the reader from the very beginning, and he reveals that everything that will happen in the unfolding events in the life and death and resurrection of God the Son are determined by God's divine will (Mark 1:11).

Chapter 3

You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, least they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted and I heal them.
Isaiah 6:9-10 LXX (quoted as a fulfillment statement in Mt 13:14-15)

In chapter 2, St. Mark began to present opposition to Jesus' mission. In a series of four confrontations, the Pharisees and others accuse Jesus of blaspheming by forgiving sins, of the ritually unclean practice of mingling with sinners, of breaking the Sabbath obligation to "rest" and to do no work on the Sabbath, and of failing to show piety by fasting. The fifth confrontation with the Pharisees occurs when Jesus heals a man with a withered hand and uses the miracle to try once again to teach the religious leaders and the people about the true meaning of displaying piety on the Sabbath. St. Mark begins to show the reader that following Jesus isn't a matter of following Him with one's feet but in following Him with one's heart despite opposition from the world. The healing of the man with a withered hand is the fifth confrontation with the religious leaders and the climax in the series of teaching examples that Jesus' has given to show that He is Lord of the Sabbath. The episode will end with Jesus' opposition declaring their intention to kill Him. Mark uses the key word meaning "immediately, at once, instantly" in 3:6.

Mark 3:1-6 ~ The Man with a Withered Hand
1 Again he entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. 2 They watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse him. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up here before us." 4 Then he said to them, "Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" But they remained silent. 5 Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

Jesus knows the Pharisees are watching Him closely and hope to lay a trap for Him so they can discredit Him by bringing a legal charge against Him for violating the Law on the Sabbath. He takes up the challenge by calling a man with a withered hand to come up in view of the congregation and asks the question whether or not it is lawful to do righteous deeds on the Sabbath rather than evil deeds. The "they" and "them" in verses 2 and 4 are the Pharisees who criticized Jesus of doing that which is unlawful on the Sabbath in 2:24. The man's hand is probably atrophied from an injury or perhaps from birth. Either way, such a healing would be dramatic and beyond the gifts of an ordinary healer.

Question: Why are the Pharisees silent?
Answer: The Pharisees intend to trap Jesus, but if they answer that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath then they cannot criticize Jesus for doing good on the Sabbath by healing the man. If they say "no" then they will show their heartlessness, lack of mercy, and union with the "evil one" rather than with God. They intended to trap Jesus but He has turned the trap on them.

In the strict interpretation of the Pharisees, unless there was a life-threatening condition, medical treatment was considered as "work" on the Sabbath and was forbidden (see Lk 13:14 and the compendium of oral law that expresses this doctrine in the Mishnah:Shabbat 14:3-4 section of Talmud). Jesus has already taught them that mercy outweighs rigid adherence to the Law in the two examples He gave in the fourth confrontation in 2:23-28. In addition, at the time of the Maccabean revolt (2nd century BC) it was decided by the religious authorities that it was permissible to defend one's life on the Sabbath, which technically is doing "work" (1 Mac 2:41). For the Pharisees it is all about power in conforming God's Law to their interpretation, for which Jesus will harshly condemn them on Wednesday of His last week in Jerusalem (Mt 23).

5a Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart ...
Question: Why is Jesus both angered and grieved at the Pharisees who failed to answer His question?
Answer: They are demonstrating their hypocrisy. They know it is God's will for the covenant people to do good always, but they would rather find fault with Jesus than acknowledge His act of mercy.

To have "hardness of heart" or to be "stiff-necked" is a condition condemned by God in Scripture. It is a demonstration of the stubborn refusal to be open to God and His divine plan (Ex 7:22; 8:15; 32:9; Dt 31:27; Prov 28:15; Ez 3:7; Mk 6:52; 8:17; Eph 4:18). But Jesus' "anger" or "wrath" is more than a human response. It is a word used to describe God's holy indignation at human evil. For example:

But the threat of God's righteous anger does not preclude the hope of conversion and salvation: Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law; seek justice, seek humility; perhaps you may be sheltered on the day of the LORD's anger (Zeph 2:3). Jesus has come to seek out the humble of the earth that are obedient to God's commands to save them from the wrath of the LORD on the final day of divine judgment.

5b he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out and his hand was restored [egerio]. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
Jesus then healed the man in full view of the people and the Pharisees. It is interesting that St. Mark often uses the verb egerio in his healing stories, as he did in the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, in the healing of the paralytic, and in this story. It is a verb that can be translation "come up" or "rise up" and suggests that Jesus' miracle goes beyond physical healing and that His healing is also a spiritual restoration to the fullness of life (see Mk 1:31; 2:9-2; 10:49).

Question: Ironically, how do the Pharisees answer Jesus question in verse 4 and show the condition of their hearts?
Answer: They do evil on the Sabbath by immediately conspiring to kill Jesus.

The Pharisees and Herodians are unlikely allies. The Pharisees, according to the priest/historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) who identified himself as a Pharisee, were the religious/political group that was most influential with the people. They were known for their scrupulous observance of Jewish religious practices and their authoritative interpretations of Jewish law (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.5.9, 10.6; Life 38). The Pharisees were not enamored with Roman rule and as a group had refused to take the oaths of allegiance to Rome and to King Herod (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 17.2.4). The Herodians, on the other hand, were Greek culture Jews who cooperated with and even admired the Romans. They were not known as faithful observers of the Law.

The Pharisees conspire with the Herodians, the Greek culture Jews who are supporters or perhaps officials in the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas (Mk 12:13). The Pharisees are going through official channels since Jesus, as a resident of the Galilee, is under the authority of Herod Antipas. In this political move, Jesus' fate is now tied to John the Baptist who has been arrested by Herod Antipas.

Question: What common theme do you notice about many of Jesus' healings in the Gospels? See Mt 12:1, 8-14; Mk 1:21, 29-31; 3:1-5; Lk 13:10-17; 14:1-4; Jn 5:1-9; 9:1-14.
Answer: Many of His healings took place on the Sabbath.

Question: Why did Jesus deliberately continue to heal on the Sabbath when He knew that His actions would provoke the religious authorities?
Answer: As Jesus explained in Mark 2:28, He is Lord of the Sabbath. In healing physically and spiritually on the Sabbath, He is bringing humanity back into communion with God thereby defining and fulfilling the original purpose of the Sabbath.

Mark 3:7-12 ~ News of Jesus' Miracles Draws Large Crowds
7 Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. 8 Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. 9 He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. 10 He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. 11 And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, "You are the Son of God." 12 He warned them sternly not to make him known.

When the Pharisees and Herodians began to plot his death (3:6), Jesus withdrew toward the countryside near the sea. He will now avoid staying in the towns around the Sea of Galilee. He will travel back and forth across the sea, often at night, and He will continue His ministry of proclaiming the Kingdom through healing, teaching and exorcisms as He begins to establish a new Israel and a new covenant family. The first stage of His ministry brought a revelation of His true identity, but now He will begin to define the identity of the community of the Messiah.

Question: From how many different regions or cities did people come to hear Jesus preach and to be healed? Consult a map of the Levant in the 1st century AD and identify the different regions and the names of their modern nations.
Answer: They came from seven different regions or cities:

  1. They came from across the Galilee (Israel)
  2. They came from the province of Judea to the south (Israel)
  3. They came from Jerusalem, the capital of Judea (Israel)
  4. They came from Idumea, located south of Judea (Israel)
  5. They came from provinces on the east side of the Jordan River (Jordan)
  6. They came from the west from the Mediterranean port city of Tyre (Lebanon)
  7. They also came from the Mediterranean port city of Sidon (Lebanon)

In fulfillment of the prophecies of the Prophet Ezekiel, God Himself has come to heal and to gather back into one family the scattered children of Israel: For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I will lead them out from among the peoples and gather them from the foreign lands ... (Ez 34:11-13a).

9 He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. 10 He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.
Notice that for the first time the "crowd" is presented in a negative light. There were so many people pressing in on Jesus that they could "crush him." This is Mark's subtle foreshadowing of the danger Jesus will experience from the "crowd" in the climax of His last week in Jerusalem

11 And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, "You are the Son of God." 12 He warned them sternly not to make him known.

Again demons testify to His true identity and are subject to His authority.
Question: Is the demons' profession of Jesus' true identity a sign of belief? See Mk 5:6-7 and Jam 2:19.
Answer: No. The demon's profession is not a sign of belief but is instead an acknowledgement of Jesus' divine authority which the demons fear and do not have the power to resist.

After the Fall of Adam, Satan became the "prince of the world" (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Jesus' conquest of the kingdom of Satan began in His defeat of Satan in the testing of His temptation. He cannot be stopped by the forces of evil and He openly commands the demons to cease announcing their superhuman knowledge of Him.

The Beginning of the New Israel

The number 12 has a symbolic significance in the Bible. It is one of the so-called "perfect numbers" (3, 7, 10, 12) and signifies the perfection of divine government. The children of the Old Israel were the descendants of twelve physical fathers who were the sons of Jacob/Israel. Now Jesus will inaugurate a new Israel through twelve men who will become the spiritual fathers of the New Israel of the universal Church.

Mark 3:13-19 ~ Jesus Choses the Twelve Apostles
13 He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve whom he also named apostles that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: 16 he appointed the twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; 17 James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and 19 Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Jesus climbs up a mountain and then summons His disciples (see Mt 5:1; Lk 6:12-16). Mountains are where revelations of God occur in the Bible (see the chart: "Holy Mountains of God"). Jesus deliberately separates out twelve men from the seventy disciples who have become His community of believers (Lk 10:1). Just as God created a hierarchy for the Old Covenant Church that was composed of the descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel at Mt. Sinai with Moses, Aaron and his two elder sons and the seventy elders of Israel (Ex 24:1, 9-11), Jesus will establish the hierarchy of the new Israel of the Kingdom of God beginning with the twelve Apostles, their spiritual children who follow Jesus, and Jesus' seventy disciples. The Greek word "apostolos" means "one sent out" or an emissary, as is suggested in verse 14: that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons (emphasis added).

In the lists of the Apostles in the Gospels, Simon/Peter is always named first and Judas Iscariot is named last; otherwise the lists of names in the Gospels are all in a different order. That Simon is always named first and that Jesus renamed him, giving him the name "Peter" or Kepha in Aramaic, meaning "rock," signifies his role as the chief Apostle, spokesman for the group, and the "rock"/solid foundation upon whom Jesus will build His Church (see Mk 8:29; 10:28; 14:37; 16:7).

Question: When someone's name is changed in the Bible, what does it signify? Give some examples. See Gen 17:5, 15; 32:29; Num 13:16.
Answer: A name change in the Bible always signifies a divine act that indicates a change in destiny and a decisive role in God's plan of salvation. Abram was renamed Abraham, Sarai was renamed Sarah, Jacob became Israel, and Hosea was renamed Joshua.

Notice that Mark includes that Jesus affectionately nicknames James and John Zebedee "sons of thunder," using the Aramaic word Boangeres. It is a name that may reflect their fiery enthusiasm for His mission (see Mk 9:38; 10:35; Lk 9:54). The first three Apostles, named first in Mark's list and to whom Jesus gave new names (Peter, James, and John), will be selected to participate in special events the others do not witness (see Mk 5:37; 9:2; 14:35). It is not a question of favoritism; it is a hierarchy within the Twelve. That the hierarchy of the leadership of the Church was meant to continue beyond the original Twelve Apostles is confirmed by the Apostles' selection of the disciple Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot in Acts 1:15-26

In Pope Benedict XVI's homily on Mark 3:13-16 he said: "I now reread the central passage: He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: He appointed the twelve (Mark 3:13-16; cf. Matthew 10:1-4; Luke 6:12-16). In the place of the revelation, 'the mountain,' with an initiative that manifests absolute awareness and determination, Jesus constitutes the twelve so that they might be witnesses and heralds with him of the arrival of the Kingdom of God. There is no room for doubt concerning the historical character of this call, not only because of the antiquity and multiplicity of testimonies but also because of the simple fact that the name of the apostle Judas, the traitor, appears despite the difficulties that including his name could imply for the incipient community. The number 12, which evidently refers to the 12 tribes of Israel, reveals the meaning of the prophetic-symbolic action implied in the new initiative of founding the holy people again. After the downfall of the system of the 12 tribes, Israel awaited the reconstruction of this system as a sign of the arrival of the eschatological time (this can be read in the conclusion of the Book of Ezekiel 37:15-19; 39:23-29; 40-48). By choosing the twelve, introducing them into a communion of life with him and making them sharers in the same mission of announcing the Kingdom with words and deeds (cf. Mark 6:7-13; Matthew 10:5-8; Luke 9:1-6; 6:13), Jesus wants to say that the definitive time has arrived; the time for rebuilding God's people, the people of the 12 tribes, which is now converted into a universal people, his Church" (from Pope Benedict XVI's Wednesday homily at the Vatican, March 15th, 2006).

Mark 3:20-22 ~ The Concern of Jesus' Family and the Blasphemy of the Scribes
20 He came home. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. 21 When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, "He is out of his mind." 22 The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "By the prince of demons he drives out demons."

Within the narrative St. Mark inserts a story of Jesus' family between the arrivals of religious officials from Jerusalem. This "sandwiching" of stories appears several times in Mark's narrative.

Question: Where is the "home" where Jesus is returning? See Mk 2:1.
Answer: "Home" is Peter's house in Capernaum.

Once again Mark mentions the personal cost of Jesus' successful ministry, not only for Him but the His Apostles; there are so many people waiting to see Jesus that they cannot even take a meal (verse 20b). Jesus' family, His mother Mary and his brothers, come from Nazareth to bring Him home (see verse 31). In the culture of Jesus' time, "brothers" referred to all kinship relationships including half-brothers, step-brothers, cousins, uncles and countrymen and women. That His kinsmen feel they have authority over Him suggests that they are older cousins and uncles. In the customs of Jesus' time and in Middle Eastern countries today, sons are under the authority of their fathers and elder brothers or relations. Since it is assumed that Joseph, Jesus' foster father, has died at this time, Jesus' older male relatives would assume this responsibility. According to Church dogma, Mary remained a virgin all her life and therefore Jesus, Mary's first born son (Lk 2:7) had no younger brothers or sisters from Mary. Ancient documents like the Protoevangelium of St. James claim that Joseph had children from a previous marriage and was an elderly widower when Mary was put under his protection in marriage. See CCC 500, 2780 and the document "Did Jesus Have Brothers and Sisters".

The "this" that His relatives heard in verse 21 is that the crowds now pose a threat to Him (mentioned in verse 20b), and they intend to rescue Him. That they say "He is out of his mind" does not necessarily mean they disagree with His ministry; it only means they think He is "out of his mind" to put Himself in such danger. Jesus' mother knows His true identity (Lk 1:31-33), but his kinsmen do not understand at this point in Jesus' ministry, as St. John will record (Jn 7:5), but they will believe after the Resurrection. Jesus' kinsmen will be among those disciples mentioned praying in the Upper Room with the Virgin Mary at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Jesus' kinsmen St. James and St. Simon will become the first two Christian bishops of Jerusalem and will be martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ.

22 The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "By the prince of demons he drives out demons."
News of this Galilean rabbi and miracle worker has spread to Jerusalem, and it is probably that the Great Sanhedrin (supreme Law court) has sent teachers of the law to investigate. Such men were also sent from Jerusalem to investigate St. John the Baptist when he began his ministry of baptism and repentance along the east bank of the Jordan River (Jn 1:19).
Question: What are the two accusations that religious authorities from Jerusalem make against Jesus?
Answer:

  1. They accuse Him of being possessed by Beelzebul.
  2. His success in driving out demons is not of God but by the power of Beelzebul the prince of demons.

This spiteful accusation, generated by their jealousy of Jesus' influence with the people, foreshadows the growing opposition to Jesus. Beelzebul is another name for Satan that is probably derived from a title for the chief god in the Canaanite pantheon, "Baal the Lord/Prince." Some ancient manuscripts of Mark read "Beelzebub" which is similar to the mocking derision of Baal's name in 2 Kings 1:3, 6, which means "Lord of the Flies." It is remarkable that Jesus responds with such patience. What does a prophet of God do when faced with opposition by the civil or religious authorities? Like the prophets of old, He speaks in parables. Jesus will use two parables to refute the absurdity of their accusations step by step.

Mark 3:23-30 ~ Parable of the "Strong Man" and The Unpardonable Sin
23 Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, "How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. 27 But no one can enter a strong man's house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. 28 Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin." 30 For they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

Notice that it is Jesus who summons His accusers. Jesus uses two arguments to refute the claim that He exorcises demons by the power of Beelzebul/Satan.
Question: What is the first argument Jesus uses to reveal the senselessness of their claim?
Answer: Their accusation is not reasonable. Jesus is casting out demons, an act that is opposing Satan and not advancing Satan's power over the earth. Why, Jesus asks the rhetorical question, would Satan give Jesus the power to weaken Satan's hold over men and to threaten Satan's kingdom?

In His second line of defense Jesus uses a short parable: 27 But no one can enter a strong man's house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.
Question: Who is the "strong man," what is his "house," and what is his "property"? How is Jesus "tying up the strong man"? See Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11.
Answer: The strong man is Satan ("the prince/ruler of this world"), his house is the earth, and his property consists of those who are not the children of God. By casting out demons, Jesus is tying up the "strong man's (Satan) power and plundering his "house."

Parable of the Strong Man (Mk 3:25-27)
Whoever sins belongs to the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil. 1 Jn 3:8
Strong man Satan
Strong man's house the earth
Strong man's property all those "children of Adam" who do not belong to God
The one who "ties up"/overpowers the Strong man Jesus Christ

28 Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin." 30 For they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."
In the Gospel of Matthew the statement is a bit stronger: And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (Mt 12:32).
This passage speaks of the one unpardonable sin: the sin against the Holy Spirit. See Mt 12:31-32; 3:29; Lk 12:10; CCC 679 and 1864. Jesus says that all sins can be forgiven and even all blasphemies, which are sins committed against God Himself by insulting or abusing God's Divine Name. In his encyclical on the Holy Spirit, Pope John Paul II explained that blaspheming against the Holy Spirit "does not properly consist in offending against the Holy Spirit in words; it consists rather in the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers to man through the Holy Spirit, working through the power of the Cross." He continued that it is "the sin committed by the person who claims to have a right' to persist in evil, in any sin at all, and who thus rejects Redemption" (Dominum et vivificatem, 46).

Citation of CCC 1864 adds: "There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss."

God places no limits upon His mercy in the offering of His gift of salvation by the Holy Spirit through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. The Church teaches that every human sin, no matter how heinous, can be repented and forgiven with one exception: anyone who deliberately and repeatedly, in his hardness of heart, refuses to recognize God's action and even attributes that action to evil, and rejects God's mercy and the gift of eternal life offered by the Holy Spirit up to the moment he takes his last breath in death, commits the final sin that is past pardoning and that person condemns himself to the loss of eternal life.

Jesus is not necessarily saying that the Scribes have committed the unpardonable sin, but He is warning them that in calling the good works of God the Son generated through the power of the Holy Spirit evil that they are in grave peril, and they must open their hearts and repent before it is too late.

Mark 3:31-35 ~ Jesus Defines His Family
31 His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. 32 A crowd seated around him told him, "Your mother and your brothers [and your sisters] are outside asking for you." 33 But he said to them in reply, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" 34 And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. 35 For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

St. Mark now resumes the story about Jesus' family that he started in verse 31. This time Jesus' mother and brothers are mentioned. Some manuscripts include "sisters." The crowd around Jesus is so densely packed that they cannot get near enough to speak to Him, so they send a message through the crowd that they are outside. Notice that Mark uses the word "outside" twice.

Jesus' reply is to ask a rhetorical question: "Who are my mother and my brothers?" 34 And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. 35 For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
Jesus is not rejecting His human family, but He is redefining the meaning of "family" in the context of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ that is stronger than any blood relationship.
Question: How is "family" now defined in the context of the covenant family of the new Israel?
Answer: Those who do the will of God in accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior and submitting in faith to the Sacrament of Baptism are members of His New Covenant family. They are brothers and sisters in the family of God and co-heirs of Christ in the promise of eternal salvation

This is not to say that Jesus' Nazareth family is to be excluded, but they will need to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in order to be included in the family of the Gospel Kingdom of the New Covenant Church. Even Mary, who was given the revelation of the angel Gabriel, will need to accept Jesus beyond the limits of a human son. She and Jesus' kinsmen will all accept Jesus as both Lord and Savior as St. Luke records in Acts 1:14 ~ All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers as they awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Question for reflection or group discussion:
As a discipline of faith, fasting was a common practice under the Old Covenant. In His discussion with the Pharisees, Jesus did not condemn fasting; He simply told them it was not appropriate to fast while He, the divine Bridegroom, was with them. Why do Catholic Christians fast prior to receiving the Eucharist? At what other times does a Catholic demonstrate fasting and/or abstinence as an appropriate discipline in the exercise of his/her Catholic faith? See CCC 1387, 1434, 1438, 1967 and 2043.

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2014 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Catechism references:

Scripture

Catechism references chapter 2

Mk 2:1-12

CCC 1421

Mk 2:5-12

CCC 1502, 1503

Mk 2:5

CCC 1441, 1484, 2616

Mk 2:7

CCC 430, 574, 589, 1441

Mk 2:8

CCC 473

Mk 2:10

CCC 1441

Mk 2:14-17

CCC 574

Mk 2:17

CCC 545, 1484, 1503

Mk 2:19

CCC 796

Mk 2:23-27

CCC 581

Mk 2:23-26

CCC 544

Mk 2:25-27

CCC 582

Mk 2:27-28

CCC 2167

Mk 2:27

CCC 2173

Mk 2:28

CCC 2173

Jn 3:3-5

CCC 782

Scripture

Catechism references chapter 3

Mk 3:6

CCC 574, 591

Mk 3:10

CCC 1504

Mk 3:13-19

CCC 551, 787

Mk 13-14

CCC 858

Mk 3:14-19

CCC 1577

Mk 3:14-15

CCC 765

Mk 3:15

CCC 1673

Mk 3:16

CCC 552

Mk 3:22

CCC 548, 574

Mk 3:27

CCC 539

Mk 3:29

CCC 1864

Mk 3:31-35

CCC 500