Something very strange happens at the end of Mark’s second chapter. Jesus breaks the Law. Right from the beginning of Mark’s Gospel we get a sense that this Messiah is not like we expected. He does not come toting guns and overthrowing the Romans like people were wanting. He comes teaching people a new way to interpret the Law and look at one another in love.
As Jesus’ disciples began picking some grain out of the field, people started asking, “Why are your disciples doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” At worst they were stealing. At best they were breaking the Sabbath laws by working in the fields on God’s Holy Day. And how does Jesus respond? “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?”
Jesus thinks the daily needs of the hungry and oppressed are of utmost importance. He is being a good Rabbi and showing that, in his mind, a true reading of the Law means something different (that it was a greater sin to allow a poor person to go hungry). And furthermore, this “responding to the hungry and needy” is not just something he is involved in, but he encourages his disciples to do they same, get their hands dirty, and get on with the business of loving one another.
We might do well to think about this story in our current volatile political climate. On one hand, I have never been so happy about a “do nothing Congress.” On the other hand, healthcare needs to be fixed. Obamacare was supposed to be step one. Where is step two? Where is step three which would be a Single Payer System like the industrialized nations that have good healthcare.
As the politicians fight and do absolutely nothing in D.C., we may want to remember that we have a completely different agenda as Christians. We don’t dance to the tunes of the Democrats or the Republicans. We dance to the tune of Jesus Christ, who came preaching a new way of being and doing for others. At first it sounded like he was just breaking the Law, but under the surface was a torrent of love for others. He draws us into the Greatest Commandment: to love God, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
By loving others we come to understand how to love God. That means something very different than political gain. It means self-sacrifice and emptying of ourselves, so God can get through.