Jesus sent forward two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and there a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you; follow him;
like last time
you two go forth
since you like signs
here’s one for you
a hunk of a guy
doing woman’s work
yes look for
try to remember
then follow (follow)
follow his lead
to a landowner’s house
Mark likes to work in doubles and triples. Sending two disciples for a task echoes disciples going forth two-by-two as well as two going to find a colt by which Jesus will enter Jerusalem.
In each of these sendings there is an underlying understanding that hospitality will be the background against which the disciples will know they are on the right track. Look for a hospitable moment and enter where it leads.
When we can not only put together instances where two are together, but the context which defines their presence, we begin to see a larger picture and how it is that good news and belovedness rise in the midst of every day.
There is also an opportunity here to parallel an anonymous woman and her flask of perfume with an anonymous man with his jar of water. One comes toward Jesus bringing a sign of anointing, Messiah-being, and one leads on to where baptismal waters find their meaning, a wilderness where community is critical in the face of accusation, threat, suffering, and even death. To receive such an anointing or follow such a baptism is the stuff of life.
At some point a comment is in order regarding the way in which a man is doing a woman’s work of carrying water, presumably for a household. It is difficult to get around a release from cultural norms when Jesus is around. We can hearken back through Mark’s story to remember other moments when we were surprised. The rich don’t have an advantage in arriving in whatever heaven means. Foreign women can be heard and prevail. The sick and unclean can assertively reach out to touch or call out to be touched. Hungry crowds need not be left on their own but available resources shared. Family and work are not bound by traditional forms.