Healer and preacher Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Mk 1:29-39
29 Jesus and his disciples, including James and John, left the synagogue and went straight to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever, and as soon as Jesus arrived, he was told about her. 31 He went to her, took her by the hand, and helped her up. The fever left her, and she began to wait on them. 32 After the sun had set and evening had come, people brought to Jesus all the sick and those who had demons. 33 All the people of the town gathered in front of the house. 34 Jesus healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases and drove out many demons. He would not let the demons say anything, because they knew who he was. 35 Very early the next morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and left the house. He went out of town to a lonely place, where he prayed. 36 But Simon and his companions went out searching for him, 37 and when they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 But Jesus answered, “We must go on to the other villages around here. I have to preach in them also, because that is why
I came.” 39 So he travelled all over Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and driving out demons.
Today’s Gospel reading continues the story where we left it last week. After his authoritative preaching and the dramatic deliverance of a man with an evil spirit (Mark 1:21-28), Jesus went with his disciples to Simon Peter’s house. We are not told much about Peter’s family but learn he is married because he has a mother-in-law. She is in bed with a fever. When Jesus is told this he takes her hand, helps her up and she is instantly healed.
News about what happened at the synagogue in the morning, and this healing, appears to have electrified the whole town. Imagine the excitement and impatience as people have to wait until evening, when the Sabbath rest ends. But as soon as they can, the whole town gathers in front of Peter’s house. They bring with them all the sick and those who have demons. It must have been an incredible evening. Many people were healed and many set free from demons. Jesus stayed the night in Peter’s home.
In the morning, while everybody was still asleep, Jesus left the house and went “to a lonely place” to pray. Eventually Peter and his friends found him and told him that everyone was looking for him. But instead of returning, Jesus insisted they move on to other towns and villages so that he could preach to them too.
Why was it so important for Jesus to get alone to pray? What can we learn from Jesus’s example about the priority he places on spending time alone with God?
Peter wanted Jesus to capitalise on the “success” of his ministry in Capernaum. But God had other plans. How can we ensure we please God rather than others, however well meaning they may be?
Read Psalm 147 aloud as a prayer, alone or with friends. It sums up many of the good things about Jesus which we find in today’s Gospel reading. It also reminds us that Jesus is the Lord.
Ask God to help you give the same priority to spending time with him as Jesus did.
The liturgy tries to capture some of the suffering of sick people in the first reading, Job 7:1-4, 6-7. Jesus’s healing of the sick shows that God is not insensitive to their suffering. Jesus’s mission to preach the Gospel is echoed in 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23 by the Apostle Paul, where he speaks of his duty to keep preaching so that as many people as possible might be saved.
Lectio Divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word
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