WelCom February 2018:
Gospel, Mark 1:29-39
29 And at once on leaving the synagogue, he went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed and feverish, and at once they told him about her. 31 He went in to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to serve them.
32 That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. 33 The whole town came crowding round the door, 34 and he cured many who were sick with diseases of one kind or another; he also drove out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.
35 In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. 36 Simon and his companions set out in search of him, 37 and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ 38 He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can proclaim the message there too, because that is why I came.’ 39 And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out devils.
Jesus in Action
Mark’s gospel sees Jesus in action again today. Last Sunday he cured a demon-possessed man with just a single word. Today, at the home of Peter and Andrew, he cures Peter’s ailing mother-in-law with a touch. News of Jesus’ actions of healing and exorcisms spread like wildfire. No texts or emails needed. This stands out in today’s gospel as people flocked to him. ‘They brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town crowded round the door.’ (Mk 1:32-33).
How would I have reacted in this situation? Would Mark have held my interest if I witnessed the healing Jesus does, or would I be more interested to learn that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the chosen one of God?
Jesus cured everyone who came to him regardless of what ailed them. Oh, for such a gifted GP today. Does how followers of Jesus acted then, apply to me today? Mark’s gospel wants readers to be involved in a dynamic faith-encounter with a living, risen Lord of which this interlude was just an introduction.
It follows the human Jesus was unhappy with this situation. We are told early next morning he rose before dawn and left the house and went out to a lonely place to pray. I found during my working life there was no better time to pray than before sunrise, at morning milking in the cowshed.
Jesus, after praying to his Father, was able to convince Simon and his companions, that there was more to his mission than healing enthusiastic local patients. He reminded his apostles, his mission was to spread the message, at that time, ‘to the neighbouring country towns.’ (Mk 1:38). And that was what Jesus and his apostles continued to do. This was his real purpose even though the people he ministered to seemed to be happy with only his healing powers. If he lacked contentment in himself, it may have been for the reason he felt misunderstood.
Over the past few weeks, our society has been in a ‘relaxation’ mode. Is it because of our religious beliefs that we have endeavoured to make Christmas time a family time? Have we forgotten the purpose of why Christ came on earth? We celebrate Christmas because this marks the birth of our Saviour. Does this ‘public holiday’ see us refreshed and invigorated for the purpose of implementing a New Year resolution that promotes evangelisation and helps our neighbours in need? Or has our secular desire led us to use the season instead to merely eat, drink and be merry without acknowledgement of any spiritual purpose? Have we ignored Mark’s early advice from Jesus saying ‘This is the time of fulfilment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.’ (Mk 1:15).
Tom Gibson is a retired dairy farmer of Taranaki and is a parishioner at the Immaculate Conception in Stratford.