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Mark 1:29-39

The Word of God

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Mark 1:29-39
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Jesus spent a lot of time with the sick, and it took a lot out of him. Once he said he felt power going out of him. Anyone sick arrived, hoping to be cured, like a modern day Accident and Emergency Department. He cured many but not all; that’s a bit of mystery. Some had faith and were cured; some were cured by others’ faith, and all were treated with care and love. He wants to cure, and sometimes does. Why one and not another? Still an unknown. What he gives is always love; he will sit forever like a parent with a child and console. That quality, that heartfelt love, that great care was noticed and spoken about everywhere. That was the miracle for us all.
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    • Jesus’ whirlwind first day of ministry in Galilee continues! Note the use of the term ‘at once’ which indicates the urgency Jesus felt to share the Good News of God’s love, presence and power, he preaches it and practises it. Jesus’ first healing in Mark is of a woman. He overrides the purity laws by touching her, a woman, who was perhaps not far from death--corpses were judged unclean. As health returns to her, she chooses to serve Jesus and his group by cooking up a meal. Simple service characterises the true disciple.
    • Because it is the sabbath, the city has to wait until sunset to bring the sick to Jesus. Is he exhausted by now, or does compassion and love overcome tiredness? It was said of St Francis of Assisi that when he saw a crowd, he saw the image of God multiplied but not monotonous. I ask for that when I see crowds.
    • Perhaps I sit near him as he gets a few hours’ sleep. I reflect that I have never met anyone like him; he is so enlivening. Gratitude wells up in me and a humble prayer for energy and spirit to keep up with him.
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    • A delightful domestic scene! After the Sabbath service in the synagogue, Jesus and his four new local fishermen disciples turn in to Simon Peter’s family home for breakfast. I hear the excited chatter of the children of the household as Jesus raises their grandmother from her sick bed. That evening big crowds of local people gathered round the house, bringing those who were in a bad way to be cured by Jesus.
    • Before dawn Jesus felt the need to pray alone. Did he foresee Simon Peter urging him to make Capernaum his centre of operations, when he wanted to proclaim the Good News in the other towns?
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • A delightful domestic scene! After the Sabbath service in the synagogue where Jesus had healed the man with the unclean spirit, his four local fishermen disciples turn into Simon Peter’s home for breakfast. I hear the excited chatter of the children of the household as Jesus raises their grandmother from her sick bed.
    • At the end of the Sabbath that evening, big crowds of local people gather round the house bringing those who were in a bad way to be cured by Jesus.
    • Before dawn, Jesus felt the need to pray alone. Did he foresee Peter urging him to make Capernaum his centre of operations when he needed to proclaim the Good News in the other towns?
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • In the short space of these Gospel verses, we see the preaching and healing power of Jesus radiate outwards – from the single figure of Peter’s mother-in-law; to “the whole city…gathered about the door”; to “the neighbouring towns…throughout all Galilee”.
    • And the cure of the sick is twice linked to the expulsion of a demon – indeed, the whole ministry of Jesus is summed up in preaching the word of God and casting out demons (who belong to the domain of sin, sickness, death).
    • Jesus rises early and finds time to go out to a lonely place to pray. When dealing with the demons, (“they knew him”), he was encountering the powers of darkness. And in prayer, he was communing with his Father. So this first chapter of Mark’s gospel sounds the keynote for the whole mission of Jesus: the kingdom of light is in hand-to-hand combat with the kingdom of evil.
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    • It is intriguing to think of Saint Peter as married, giving a home to his wife’s mother, and probably (according to an early tradition), the father of children. After this incident, the gospel makes no further reference to Peter’s wife, children or other relations; but the story gives us a fresh perspective on the first leader of the church.
    • /Very early, while it was still night, Jesus went to a lonely place and prayed./ Lord, no matter how pressing the demands of other people, you needed to refresh yourself in communion with the Father. Give me the same taste for prayer, for recovering my strength by turning to God.
    • There is a lovely moment where Jesus touched the hand of Simon's mother-in-law and she is healed of fever - maybe a malaria type illness or influenza. Behind the gesture there is more than healing - there is calling. She then ministered to them - the word is the word for the work of a deacon in the early church. From the beginning Jesus is doing something new - involving women intimately in his ministry as he would always do. Boundaries of gender didn't exist for Jesus. All are equal in dignity, all are called to serve. Have you ever been surprised by the person who ministered the grace of God to you? Are you surprised that Jesus takes you, weakness and all, by the hand and calls you to service?
    • In your prayer you might watch Jesus lifting up Simon's unnamed mother-in-law. She is the representative of every man and woman who came into Jesus' life.
    • Jesus' word and healing power lifts us up, even to resurrection and in death. Daily prayer is when we ‘lift up' our bodies and hearts to God. It is by his strength that we can do even this. Prayer is love between God and us.
    • Daily prayer in the early morning was part of Jewish piety. Jesus gets up and goes to a place to be by himself to pray, to commune with his Father. However, he is not left alone for long. Simon Peter and his companions come looking for him. "Everybody is searching for you", they say. The disciples' pursuit of Jesus probably stemmed from the conviction that Jesus was missing a great opportunity for performing more miracles in Capernaum!
    • I may wonder whether I spend too much time expecting Jesus to do miracles on my behalf.
    • I do what Jesus did: I take time to be with God. Jesus did not spend time in prayer despite the busyness of life but because of it. The more people wanted from him, the more he was drawn to confirm what it was that his father asked.
    • Jesus did not stay where he was popular, where there was work to be done. His vision had a wider breadth than was evident to the disciples. In prayer, I can discern where my mission might lie.