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The Only Context

No prophet is without honor except in his native place, among his own kindred, and in his own house
Mark 6:1-6

Sermon Topic Adaptability

Sermon Week Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mark 6:4


The Oxford English Dictionary, the largest dictionary in the English language, devotes 10,000 words toward defining the word "think" in its various contexts. The word "strike" means one thing on the sports' page and another thing on the business page. "Dribble" means one thing to a basketball player and another thing to the mother of an infant. "Battery means one thing to an automobile repairman, another thing to an artillery officer; one thing to a baseball player, another thing to a policeman. Everything derives its meaning from what precedes, what follows and what surrounds it, that is to say, from its context. Nothing under the sun exists entirely unto itself. "No man is an island," the poet John Donne wrote. Only by seeing ourselves in the full context of that which preceded us, that which surrounds us, and that which is to follow, can we come to grips with our own meaning and purpose as human beings.

We know that we cannot physically survive outside the context of the air we breathe. In the context of the moon's airlessness and level of gravity, astronauts require special breathing equipment to survive and special weights to keep from bouncing around uncontrollably. On the planet, Jupiter, an astronaut not only would require artificial breathing apparatus but also special machinery to help him lift his legs off the surface.

The eminent biologist, Julian Huxley, said that man is the most adaptable of all living creatures. Man has fought extinction, survived and developed by adapting to a steadily changing natural environment: from the ocean, to the shores, to the land proper, to the trees, and back to the land. But these adaptations to changing contexts over the course of millions of years are no more astonishing than the development of each person's individual life. For example, in the brief span from conception to birth we move through many different contexts. In the ocean-like conditions of our mother's womb, while our lungs and digestive systems are developing, we depend upon the umbilical cord for nourishment. Within months, our systems make a dramatic adjustment, and the mother's [...]

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