Woman with tissue and hot drinkWe continue the day in the life of Jesus that the Gospel of Mark famously opens with. The four new disciples of Jesus travel with him as he leaves the synagogue and the now freed formerly possessed person and goes to the house of Simon and Andrew, where they find Simon’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a fever. Going against ordinary social convention, which is especially important in the case of a Rabbi and teacher like Jesus, he goes into her room, takes her by the hand, and assists her to get up. This action is enough to allow her to be freed from her sickness, and she immediately adopts the action of a disciple by serving the small community gathered around Jesus. The people who heard Jesus teach in the synagogue follow him to the house once the evening falls and the sabbath day is over. It is significant that the ministry of Jesus continues into the new day – the first day of the week, or Sunday. After Jesus has freed the people from disease and possession, he takes the opportunity to escape into a quiet place where he can be alone with the Father in prayer. However the clueless Simon and his companions (note they are not yet described as disciples) come hunting for him. Unlike his mother-in-law, Simon has not yet learnt that the first act of a disciple is service; rather than trying to help the people himself, he simply goes in pursuit of a solution which he perhaps hopes (rather than believes) may be found in Jesus.

At this stage, we might presume that Jesus would simply then set about healing all those still in need of a miracle – but he doesn’t. He announces that he needs to keep moving on. Even though he is famous here and people are clamouring to be entertained by his signs and wonders, this is not enough to keep Jesus in his home town. Others also need to hear the kingdom of heaven proclaimed, so he moves on. Redemption is so much more than what the people of Capernaum were looking for. A powerful lesson for the contemporary church?

Play MP3

Sunday 05, Year B. Mark 1:29-39