Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity 30.9.12 Mark 9.38-end

23 09 2012

Salted with Fire

This passage seems to be driven by the disciples’ concern to draw boundaries in the right place. Jesus is less worried about this, ‘whoever is not against us is with us’.  But he does have sparky things to say about the distinctive holiness of disciples. The challenge is not to work out how to exclude but to be sure that we ourselves are fully alive – salted by fire –  in our participation.

Mark 9.38-end

John said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ 39But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

42 ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

49 ‘For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’

Reflections and Questions

‘demons’ v 38

John knew what he meant. Jesus knew what he meant. But we don’t use this word like this anymore. We could say that a demon is  a form of ‘personal problem’. Yet that does not get to the heart of it. A demon is a negative  and destructive force from outside the self which has lodged inside the self

What examples can you suggest of ‘demons’?

‘stumble’  v43, 45

Jesus turns the argument round and the question becomes… might a disciple, a member, an insider actually be the problem, the cause of the stumbling of another.  Clearly they might. But the consequences are bad. This is the spiritual message for the insider: don’t get in the way of grace.

When did you last see someone stumble on the journey of faith? What was the cause?

‘salted’ and ‘salt’ v49.50

We can’t help remembering the effect of salt on our tongue when we read or hear this. Potato crisps and sea water spring to mind for me.

How do we manage both to be salty – and to be at peace with one another?