|Frank Wesley's Indian Style Painting: Jesus Heals the Sick|
Before leaving chapter six of Saint Mark's Gospel there are a final four verses which we shouldn't ignored:
So they finished the crossing and came to land at Gennesaret, where they made fast. When they came ashore, he was immediately recognized and the people scoured that whole country-side and brought the sick on stretchers to any place where he was reported to be. Wherever he went, to farmsteads, villages, or towns, they laid out the sick in the market-places and begged him to let them simply touch the edge of his cloak; and all who touched him were cured. Mark 6: 53-56
The verses here come after two very big and detailed miracles which have been reflected upon in separate posts over the past few weeks: The Feeding of Five Thousand and Jesus Walking on the Stormy Sea.
In the stormy sea miracle the disciples thought Jesus was a ghost, but not here at Gennesaret. Here they have no fear, but full of brokenness, sickness and despair, they flock to Jesus. What a scene!
The two previous miracles are so specific, Mark even tells us how the men were arranged in groups on the ground and gives number details about the food itself. But in these verses Mark creates the gospel image with broad generalizations. Maybe he doesn't have the miracle-details as he did with the previous accounts, but he wants everything about Jesus to be remembered and recognized, even if his information or memory are sketchy.
In this scene at Gennesaret the people love, embrace and welcome Jesus. But soon we'll see this love contrasted with the hatred some religious leaders feel for him. Maybe Mark presents the contrast so his readers (including us) will know they have a choice. You can't stay neutral with Jesus - you've got to choose.
These verses mark the first time the tassels or fringes are mentioned that observant Jewish men wore (and sometimes still do) on their clothing. Jesus was an observant Jew. Remember the hemorrhaging woman in the crowd who said, "If only I can touch his cloak," (Mark 5:21-43). It sounds a little magical perhaps, but there's faith in that touch. But the contrast is established when in another place (Matthew 23:5) Jesus refers to the Pharisees whose religion is showy, who lengthen their tassels or widen the borders of their clothing to enhance their prestige.
It's hard to believe this kind of thing could exist today in a world of naked poverty, but there's a retro thing going on among some clergy - the priests (even young ones who should know better) all decorated in high clerical couture: buttons, colored fabrics, sashes, hats and capes. Pope Francis has called them out, referring to them as peacocks and princes. Jesus will have none of it.
Bottom line. We might read these few verses again and just feel the excitement. The words hold and carry us in a wave of enthusiasm for Jesus. The first thing to characterize a believer, a pastor, a parish, the Church itself, must be an active delight in and enthusiasm for Jesus in himself.