Mark 11:26

But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your offenses.


conditional forgiveness
a circular firing squad
sees all the world
limited to its own image

unspoken
underlying assumptions
subvert any good
inherent in a best intention

literal words
removed from view
hover in the background
exerting inappropriate blame


Even though we’ve just been through a series of witherings and disruptions, these are not direct and literal outgrowths of an awareness of belovedness.

Here we follow Sabin’s emphasis upon reading Mark as a midrash and a larger frame of good news for fig trees (either Israeli or Roman) and Temple is an eventual restoration. This expectation of intentional and universal renewal places any actions to cut off offending limbs, pluck out eyes, wither trees, and disrupt temples within Edwin Markham’s wonderful little mantra:

He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

This larger setting doesn’t change a blocking wall through force. There is no compulsion here, even when a smaller circle goes awry in some way similar to what we know about cells that have gone off script and fall within our overly-large category of cancer.

This little verse, omitted in the best of the early documents, does connect with other stories being told about Jesus. It seems likely Matthew 6:15 was copied and pasted into Mark. In Matthew it is the first extension or interpretation of what we know as a tradition of “The Lord’s Prayer”. Because Mark does not have an equivalent prayer, it appears that a scribe or two inserted this reference into Mark. [See other insertions at 7:16, 9:44, 9:46, and 15.28.]

Still finding older texts to work from—the most recent versions of the Bible are based on the earliest documents—gives ever more opportunity to make more informed decisions about Mark’s writing. Since we are not likely to ever find a first edition of Mark, we can use the omitted verses to pause and reflect. Have we noticed any changed behavior since we slowed down to a verse at a time?

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