Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jesus In His Sea-side Pulpit

Willaerts ~ Jesus Preaching by the Sea of Galilee

Jesus now retired to the lake-side with his disciples. A huge crowd of people followed him, not only from Galilee, but from Judaea, Jerusalem and Idumaea, some from the district beyond the Jordan and from the neighbourhood of Tyre and Sidon. This vast crowd came to him because they had heard about the sort of things he was dong. So Jesus told his disciples to have a small boat kept in readiness for him, in case the people should crowd him too closely. For he healed so many people that all those who were in pain kept pressing forward to touch him with their hands. Evil spirits, as soon as they saw him, acknowledged his authority and screamed, "You are the Son of God!" But he warned them repeatedly that they must not make him known. (J.B. Philips translation ~ Mark 3: 7-12).

 "I heard it through the grapevine," we say and that's exactly what has happened here. People are coming from beyond the beyond to see and hear and even touch Jesus. The message of Jesus is becoming universal, and somehow in the long human story the message has come down to you and to me!

And here, contrasted with the little crowd of religious men, whispering behind their hands as to how to be done with Jesus, there is this crowd of people who are tripping over themselves to be near him in love.

But the energy of an eager crowd can be unnerving, and so Jesus has the little boat at hand so he can push off from shore and the boat will become his pulpit and the surrounding water will carry his voice effectively to his hearers - an ancient microphone. Clever Jesus!

I like this gospel translation because it reads: "For he healed so many people that all those who were in pain kept pressing forward." Not just people with physical sickness but all those in pain. Perhaps spiritual pain, the pain of mourning, emotional pain, those in pained relationships. 

And the demons are overwhelmed with the realization that Jesus is a superior spiritual authority, falling down and blurting out: "You are the Son of God." But we must not admire them and their pronouncement because the devil is a spoiler and we should imagine that even in their seeming faith announcement there is a trick.

What's the devil up to here, blurting out a holy truth that the humans haven't spoken yet? Did they choke on the words, or feel resentment while speaking them? Professor Gerald Sloyan of Catholic University calls the demons "blabbermouths". They say too much.

Where there are many words, sin cannot be avoided, my Eastern Orthodox priest-friend says. A family, a whole parish can get off message with too many words. Indeed the whole Church!

The rectory table
The Pastoral Council
The family in the car or at breakfast after Sunday Mass
The clergy convocation
The Knitting Circle
The Religious Ed office
The Scripture Study Group
The Parochial School faculty room
The church ladies ~ the ushers
The prayer-chain folks

Like the blabbermouth demon: "Where there are many words, sin cannot be avoided."  If someone among the readership here thinks this is overstated or simply not true, remember that soon after his election, Pope Francis gave permission to the Swiss Guard to interrupt chattering (rumoring/gossiping) Cardinals, Bishops, and Monsignori, telling them to "Cut it out." 


  1. Boy! This is a right on entry for me. For years I have been attracted to the Matthew 5:37 verse to say nothing beyond yes, yes or no, no, for anything more than that comes from evil or the evil one. Daily I fail to be awake sufficiently to have any control over my tongue. Any advice or experience to share as to how to fulfill this command of Jesus's?

  2. My mother (like many others) used to say, "Think before you speak." Of course, that sound advice often remained unheeded. But there it is. Thinking needs to be cultivated like any other good thing. But we also need to ask ourselves why do I talk so much? Perhaps I'm anxious. But about what? That if I stop talking I won't be acknowledged, I'll be forgotten, I'll be considered dull. As a culture we learn to be active participants - as if there is something wrong or deficient in being an observer. In any behavior we might care to change the remedy is not some new outer technique, but within.

    1. Bless you and bless your beloved mother.

  3. I have to say this is one of your more powerful Posts. Much can be learned on how to present ourselves in a more pleasing way to Jesus. The painting is so real. Oh to have been there in all the excitement.

  4. Each post like this teaches me something about how to get closer to Jesus. Talk less, listen more and pray to be nearer to Jesus in unconditional love. Thank you for your guidance Father.