By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“The time has come, and the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the good news.” — Mark 1:14-15
Knowledge of the social and cultural environment
Now, as we read and study the processes and interactions and relations that Jesus has with his disciples, we discover his depth of understanding and grasp of the social and cultural environment of his followers. Jesus Christ our Lord achieves this by living with the people he wants to lead. He believes that in sharing their lives he could serve them well. Through this process of integration, Jesus learns to appreciate his core group’s socio-cultural backgrounds.
Mark’s Gospel reflects the extent of Jesus’ integration with the people and his familiarity with their socio-cultural environment. He is one with the people he wishes to be identified with and whom he tries to organize for the cause of God’s Kingdom. As a child and as a young person, he grew up imbibing much of the values and practices of the people and communities he became part of. Growing up in Nazareth among relatives and friends, as a carpenter’s son and as a carpenter himself, Jesus Christ our Lord shows familiarity with the people’s way of life, their attitudes and behaviours. He is likewise familiar with the socio-cultural and religious context of rural and urban Palestine.
Jesus’ knowledge is not confined to general and broad terms. There are evidences of his first-hand knowledge and first-name basis acquaintance with many of the Gospel characters. His socio-cultural knowledge and understanding help him discern the essential elements and salient aspects of the relationships and interactions among people.
The socio-cultural data that Jesus obtains include such aspects as the local people’s values, customs, and practices. He likewise examines the other facets of community life, such as kinship patterns and relationships, religious and folk practices, economic and political systems and structures.
Grasp of the geographical terrain
Now, in Mark’s Gospel, we become aware that Jesus Christ our Lord has a mastery of the terrain where he conducts his mission work. A reading of the Gospel account reveals Jesus’ familiarity and knowledge of various places. A simple listing of names and description of the places provide evidence of Jesus’ extensive activity and mobility. It gives us a clue as well to the nature of the terrain and the character of the territory.
The movements of Jesus to various places are related to his organizing work. He seeks people and similarly people look for him wherever he goes. It does not matter even if it were in isolated and far places. He familiarizes himself with the geography in order to know where the people are and share them his message, teach them about God’s Kingdom, and minister to their needs.
Jesus Christ our Lord knows the right place for a specific occasion in mind and for a particular purpose. Also, he has working knowledge of the big city as well as the recesses of the town centres. Synagogues and temples are not mere public places, but these are accessible to him, and he understands their significance. For Jesus, even the desert and the wilderness are not strange places for him. There is always a place to go whenever he needs a place to be with his disciples or when he wants to be alone.
As he moves along the shore of Lake Galilee and among fields, villages and streets, Jesus Christ our Lord is always in a familiar and well-known territory. He knows places suitable for large meetings or for small group gatherings where a more intimate and private discussions with his disciples is possible.
Jesus’ working knowledge of the geographical terrain is helpful as it facilitates organizing work. His needs are numerous and these include his search for recruits for his core group of disciples (cf. Mk. 1:16, 19). Jesus also requires a place for prayer (cf. Mk. 1:35) and for rest and renewal (cf. Mk. 6:31). The familiarity of Jesus with the terrain also comes in handy when he wants a location for special meetings and private meetings as when he has to select his disciples (cf. Mk. 3:13) or when he has to celebrate the Passover meal with his disciples (cf. Mk. 14:12-25).
As related in various accounts in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus Christ our Lord makes use of commonly available means of transportation. He walks extensively (cf. Mk. 1:16). He criss-crosses the lake riding on a boat (cf. Mk. 4:1). He rides on a donkey (cf. Mk. 11:7). # nordis.net