Mark 4.21-23

And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; not is anything secret, except to come to light. If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.

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  1. (Yes, posting this shows unseemly haste, but to “carry on the discussion”, on my part, required more fuel.)Here’s a passage where being literal brings one into direct conflict with Matthew’s “Let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” and so forth (Matthew 6.1-6.)If we exhibit our good works and prayers as our own, we fool ourselves and discredit the good we intended. But if we hide our good works and spiritual practices (especially in this age, that holds them in contempt) we miss the mark in an opposite direction–like the timid servant in the parable of the talents.So we are being told to manifest God at work, through whatever goodness, piety, or insight we are given.Some here disagree, but I do want to know whether Jesus actually spoke any particular words attributed to him, and what he meant by them. Of course there are uncertainties, and people find new truths in scripture, even in misunderstandings of scripture. But there’s more to this process than finding pictures in clouds and fireplaces; there’s a real shape behind the sayings, and it matters.In this saying, what would Jesus want to bring to light? The Reign of God, including his own part in it. Politically, any good Jew was in a bind between God and Caesar’s claims to rule Israel. For a Jew to acknowledge anyone as Messiah, or for Jesus to act as Messiah, was to deny the legitimacy of Caesar’s power–in a land ruled brutally by Caesar’s clients, dominated and often occupied by Caesar’s troops. For God to openly rule Israel, allegiance to his Kingdom could not remain covert forever. What was being whispered in secret was going to have to be proclaimed from the rooftops.But what about “the gospel,” that “secret”/”mysterium” we were just discussing? There’s more to this than putting some person named “Jesus” on a throne in Jerusalem.True, Jesus was working to bring that about, because such was his office and task. But he had that task, and knew it was his, through his own sense of God at work.That sense is a mystery. How can we trust an Invisible Means of Support, without falling prey to some personal imagination? We can do this only because, only so far as, what is at work in us really is God.And how can we know this? By a trick of theology, by faith in some good tradition? Those are crutches. God has kindly provided these, but the final appeal has to be Truth itself, which we know through God in and around us.Any attempt to waffle about this, putting our faith in a book or a priest or any idea, “proving” what we know by some lesser thing… is to take the lamp off the stand and hide it under the bed.This is a secret to most of us, at present. “But there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest.”May our eyes and ears be opened, and soon.

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