Depending on the Bible you have, todays gospel lesson may contain a couple of jarring section headings. Mine says, “Coming Persecutions” and “Whom to fear.” These instructions that Jesus gives as he sends out his first apostles are nothing short of harrowing. They are not just warning of things that may happen, but rather foreknowledge of what will happen. They are honest and direct ways of describing what it is that the apostles would very soon face. James and John whom we remember today did indeed drink the cup of suffering for the gospel, and the faithful of every generation have found these warnings an apt description of their own experience when they were sent.
The followers of Christ in every age have had to contend with their own most pressing issues. Loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves have never been without challenge. There have often been warring political factions that demand utmost purity and allegiance. Our skin, our bodies, our place in society, have often been the battlegrounds of human conflict. Today they have their own particular slogans, banners, and champions.
Hosea 14:1-9; Mark 12:28-34
“After that no one dared ask him any questions.”
I’m not sure why. Jesus was simply agreeing with the man: to love God and neighbor is better than burning animals. Why would they dare not ask questions?
I don’t know. But I’ve got plenty of questions for the next time I see Jesus. What were you doing before the Big Bang? How did you come up with the design of the atom? Can you explain quantum mechanics? How long will I live? Why do you allow so much suffering in this world? Can’t you do more? I’d like to think I would dare ask questions.