Picture the beautiful and nourishing gifts you have deceived from a garden. Ask the Holy Spirit for a gardener’s heart, ready for deep spade work and responsive to God’s seasons.
In recent years we have seen consumerism gathering momentum even in traditional societies in Asia and Africa. Massive strikes in South Africa, democratic movements in the Islamic world, and riots across England are expressions of growing dissatisfaction with insidious authoritarianism, and an aspiration for a better way of life. Following Jesus in the maelstrom of social restlessness is as challenging now as it was for the disciples when Jesus opposed the corruption of first-century Palestine.
In today’s passage, Jesus deals skilfully, as once before, with the detractors, the officials of civic power in Jesrusalem. He dispatches their attention-seeking opportunism by addressing his teaching to a larger audience, but his focus is still a public expose of the morally bankrupt and economically unjust purity code in the temple sacrificial system. Is it the fearsome implications of Jesus open challenge to the politics and economies of the society he lived in that blade and deafen the disciples to Jesus message, so that Jesus has to spell it out? Mark flags up the significance: Jesus has now dared to declare both outcasts and all foods to be touchable and clean.
As ever, Jesus goes further, showing that the roots of evil system rise out of rebellious, self-grounded human hearts. The things we hate most bout injustice in our societies can be projections of our own deepest flaws. Jesus reminds us, as do the Ten commandments, that we are the societies we long to see transformed.
We will emulate Jesus way of subverting morally bankrupt powers only when Jesus gardens our innermost hearts, as he guides his church and society towards his harvest of justice and peace.