Mark 7:17

When Jesus went indoors, away from the crowd, his disciples began questioning him about this saying.

asking about a koan
counter-productive behavior
worthy of a dope-slap
silence and confusion
excuse our monkey-mind

looking for clues to a riddle
delay our ears from listening
beyond denotations
skating on surfaces
enthralled by assumptions

claiming a perquisite
ripened on our tree of desire
short-cut privileges
automatically lead us a long way
out of our way

While, “a house doesn’t a home make”, it is no stretch to read that Jesus entered his home. For Mark there is not a clear distinction between Jesus at any house or on a prayer retreat in the wilderness where such is not his home place. This gives background to his expansive and expanding understanding of purity laws.

As this is being written some 40 years after Jesus walked and talked his way from Egypt (Matthew) to, through, and beyond Israel’s boundaries, this honorable dispute within Judaism hardened after the Roman destruction of the Temple and became a mark of identity between the Jewish sect following Jesus and the sect of the Pharisees who remained after the failure of Sadducean and Zealot responses to Rome.

Regarding the “riddle” or parable, Myer81 pushes it toward an analogy as he, “characterizes this saying as a parable, in which the physical body is a metaphor of the body politic (7:17).” We’ll find out more about that in the next verses.

For now it may be enough to use this special transition as an opportunity to look back at the previous verses and raise your own question about the purity codes of the present and how it is we set limits of who is in and who is out. This moment of reflection will carry us into Mark’s next wink and nod at his readers who feel ever so much more insightful than the disciples who they can’t believe are so dense. The reality seems to be that every generation has its blind spot when it comes to ritual and ranking. If it is not Valley Girl speak or conspicuous consumption, it is a surety of one’s own spiritual insight being ever so much brighter and better than any other. Our very advancement in technology shields us from one another.

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