St. Mark has a “Μυστήριον/mystery of Jesus,” section. “The Sacrament is the μυστήριον,” relates how “Μυστήριον” was a jargon word in the early church pointing to the sacraments. The Gospel Reading for the Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time relates, “When Jesus disembarked he saw the crowd; his heart was moved with pity for them; they were like sheep without a shepherd.” It is important to note that this begins the move to the great climax of this section, Mark 8:22-26.
The beginning of this section is, “Mark 1:4,” the teaching of John the Baptist. St. Matthew more fully relates the preaching of John the Baptist. “Do not presume to tell yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you, God can raise children to Abraham from these stones. The ax lies at the root of the trees. Every tree not bearing beautiful fruit will be axed, literally, and thrown into the fire.”
Note the end of the section, Mark 8:22-26. As in “Mark 1:4,” the discussion is about trees. The article, “The rich young man and the paralytic/us,” relates how the Hebrew word for “Tree,” and the Hebrew word for “Counselor is the same.” As in the reading for the Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, the discussion is about secular, political, and religious leadership, our shepherds. The first time Jesus heals the blind man, he sees the counselors as walking trees, something, not someone. When Jesus heals the blind man again, he sees people in their full humanity.
A chapter earlier, relates the healing of the deaf mute. “The man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly…” Jesus touches the man’s ears and his tongue. The two are related. In order to speak clearly, we must hear.
The people are as sheep without a shepherd. The feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand follows. The shepherd/leader is to help his sheep find the best grazing land. This is leadership, the proper role of secular, political, and religious government. Some political parties teach otherwise. They need to read Psalm 72, “The end of the psalms of David, son of Jesse.” It begins, “To Solomon.” This is a psalm by King David to his son about the proper role of government. The advice says:
God, give your judgment מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ to the king; your justice צִדְקָתְךָ to the king’s son; that he may govern יָדִין your people with justice, בְצֶדֶק your oppressed with correct judicial precedent, “בְמִשְׁפָּט.” In Hebrew, “צִדְקָ” “Justice,” and “Charity” are the same word. “Your lip,” “מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ” and “Your Justice,” are the same word. Judgments coming from the leadership are as though they came from God himself at Sinai. As the leaders speak, they represent God before the people. God holds them accountable for how they represent him.
“May he judge the poor of the people, and save the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor.” “Let the “צִדְקָ/just/charitable” flourish, and find abundance of peace, till the moon is no more.” “Kings, will prostrate themselves before him; all nations will serve him.” “He will deliver the needy when he cries; the poor also, those with no helper.” “He will pity the poor and needy, and the animate beings of the needy he will save.” “He will redeem their animate being from oppression and violence, and precious will their blood be in his sight.”
There is a role for political leadership in running secular government/private enterprise. Psalm 82 continues,” Elohim stands in the congregation of El; in the midst of the Elohim he judges/מִשְׁפָּטֶ.” “How long will you judge תִּשְׁפְּטוּ unjustly, and respect those who think themselves first/רְשָׁעִים. Judge/give your lips /מִשְׁפָּטֶ to the poor and fatherless; Make justice “צִדְקָ” to the afflicted, the destitute.” Rescue the poor and needy; deliver them from the hand of those who think themselves first/רְשָׁעִים.” “You are Elohim, all of you sons of the Most High.”
They cannot be gods. There is one God. As judges they stand in the place of God and represent God. In that sense, they are Elohim. When the political leadership does not fulfill the role of representing God properly, “they die like men, and fall as the princes.” There is a role political government for controlling the way the rich and powerful behave. Any political party saying otherwise is in mortal error and anyone voting for that leadership stands outside of grace.
This is the great mystery of St Mark and his Gospel. As leaders, we must open our eyes to the humanity inside of all, to the cry of the less fortunate so, when we speak we can speak clearly. When we attend Mass, we undergo transformational processes. St. Cyril of Jerusalem speaks of this transformational process in this Catechetical Lectures.
We also have the writing of St. Augustine, “So how can bread be his body? And what about the cup? How can it (or what it contains) be his blood?” My friends, these realities are called sacraments because in them one thing is seen, while another is grasped.” ” If you want to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle Paul speaking to the faithful: “You are the body of Christ, member for member.” [1 Cor. 12.27] If you, therefore, are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table!” “What is seen is a mere physical likeness; what is grasped bears spiritual fruit.” That spiritual fruit is leadership that feeds the flock of Christ and the whole human race, with food spiritual and physical.
There is a role for the religious and political leadership in the running of secular/private enterprise.