Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Baruch 4 – What God has given to the people, the commandments of the Law, a knowledge of “what pleases God” will stand forever, Baruch tells us. “Turn back, Jacob, seize her, in her radiance make your way to light” (4:2-4). He urges them to “take courage,” for “I have put my hope in the Everlasting to save you, and joy has come to me from the Holy One, because of the mercy that will soon come to you from your everlasting savior” (4:23). “Look toward the east, O Jerusalem, and see the joy that is coming to you from God” (4:36).
Baruch 5 – “Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow and distress, put on the beauty of the glory of God for ever, wrap the cloak of God’s integrity around you” (5:1-2). God will bring you back in glory. “For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God” (5:7). Isaiah 40:4 is echoed here.
The use of gender pronouns in Scripture is very interesting to me. Here, in Baruch, the “wisdom” tradition appears in his use of the feminine to describe the “radiant” light of God embedded in the cosmos AND in the “Law” given through Moses to God’s people. It is to this that we are invited to join ourselves.
Mark 3:1-19 – Another healing, this one on the Sabbath. Jesus asks the Pharisees if it is wrong to do good on the Sabbath. He is annoyed with them for not answering him spontaneously, from what they know would be God’s intent. Instead they are mentally involved in just trying to “catch” him doing something unlawful. He heals the man with the withered hand, and this impels them to seek his ruin (3:6).
Again, great multitudes follow him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea and in the region around Tyre and Sidon (this covers the entire country from just west of the Dead Sea to all the way up the coast to the north). He even worries about being “crushed” by the crowds (3:9). Unclean spirits continue to recognize him. He calls his followers up the mountain where he appoints the twelve apostles (3:14). They will “be sent out to proclaim the message, and [will] have authority to cast out demons” (3:14-15): Peter, James and John (sons of Zebedee), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot.