Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time February 8th 2015

Reflections for February are by Bishop Jason Gordon, Bishop of Bridgetown, Barbados and Kingstown, St. Vincent

gordonGospel - Mark 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. 30. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told Him about her straightaway. 31. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on 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 suffering from diseases of one kind or another; He also cast 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.’ He answered, 38. ’Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ 39. And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

READING THE TEXT

Our text this Sunday is divided into three sections. (1) The healing (2) Fruitful ministry ?; (3) Communion. Each it would seem with its own dynamic. The overall concern is about discipleship and Service. As you read the text reflect upon Jesus’ sense of purpose. Why He came.

DISCIPLESHIP

In this tender scene, Simon’s mother in-law is healed. All the text says is -”she began to wait on them”. It is interesting that the response to healing is service. This is a very important connection very early in the Gospel. Jesus comes as one who serves. He will instruct the disciples on leadership and service (Mk9:33-37). The twelve will not understand this central point on service. He instructs them, “on the road” and still they see leadership as power and the Messiah as a king. This woman is challenging all disciples by her response to healing. Today her challenge is to the disciple reader of the text. Are you willing to serve?

So often people receive a healing but seem unsatisfied and go in search of other healers expecting more healing. The proper response to healing is to serve. In serving, as a response to God’s generosity, we align our wills with God’s will. In this way we receive the deepest healing we could ever want or wish for. This is a central theme of discipleship introduced early by Mark - Discipleship as service.

SUCCESS AND FAILURE

In the text V. 34 the theme of identity emerges. Jesus would not allow the devils to say who He was. They knew His identity but the crowd did not.

The healing of the Simon’s mother-in-law brings an unexpected reaction—everyone with an ailment now comes—“The whole town came crowding round the door”. Today we would see this as success and immediately establish a church there to reap the benefits of this success. Jesus does not do this.

COMMUNION

Here is an unexpected turn. In the face of success, Jesus leaves early to pray. Here we have a glimpse into the inner life of Jesus. He is in communion with His father, alone, in a lonely place. This is also a question to the disciple reader; do you go off to a lonely place early in the morning to commune with your Father?

In this scene the tension is between the crowd, who is looking for Jesus and His sense of purpose. Here in the face of success, Jesus leaves the crowd with all their needs. He simply says: 38 ’Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ The question to the disciple reader: do we take our direction from the needs of the crowd or from God’s purpose for our lives? This is a central teaching. Discipleship is not about success, it is obedience to God. It will be impossible to be obedient to God unless we make time to commune with Him.

Immediacy and time for Jesus is always about what God is asking! This question is being asked of the reader disciple: How do we use time? Are you responding to the needs of the crowd? Or are you responding to God’s call on your life - responding to your vocation? This is the dynamic in this text. It is the haunting question to the disciple reader.

PRAYER

Bend my heart to your will Oh Lord! Teach me to listen to you in the still voice of Conscience, in the Word and in every interaction of my day. Most of all, teach me to be still and know that you are God. Teach me to pray, to commune with you, to surrender my will to your will. Again I pray; Bend my heart to your will Oh Lord!