There will be debate in the blogosphere, and out of it, over whether the Occupy Wall Street movement is Christian or not. I’ve tried to argue in this blog for what I call Christian economics, and it is not complicated. Perhaps the policies that might implement it can be complicated, but the principle is simple: Individuals, communities, and societies are called to favor, in behavior and in organization, the poor and the marginalized, in the ways that God and Christ favored them in the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospels. Arguments for and against government involvement ought to be arguments for how to help the poor and the marginalized, not whether to help them. In that same vein, I present another argument from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5.
The writer of Mark favors what are called sandwich stories, A-B-A’ constructions, where B as the central point in the story, says something crucial about A and A’. Have a look:
A. 21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.
B. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
A’. 35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
In the two stories above, an elite (ruler of the synagogue, male, house owner) comes to Jesus asking for him to heal his daughter and save her from imminent death. But Jesus, on the way to the ruler’s house, pauses for a disenfranchised woman with an impure discharge who has no money. He pauses, because this woman touched his garment to be made well. And Jesus calls her, Daughter, not by mistake, but most likely in the presence of Jairus. This girl too is a daughter. Then Jesus continues and heals the daughter of Jairus.
In this story, Mark wonderfully juxtaposes the poor and the elite, and shows the priority of the Divine Dominion is for the poor and marginalized first, and then to the elites. But not only that, but by calling her daughter, Jesus somehow connects the two daughters, perhaps calling Jairus, and other elites, to look upon this woman as a daughter as well.
The radical Judeanism of Jesus, calls his followers to occupy the kingdoms, the empires, the dominions of this world, in order to show God’s favor to the poor and the marginalized. There is no hatred for elites (at least in this story), but simply a priority shown towards the disenfranchised. Does the Occupy Wall Street movement do this?