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Sunday, February 4, 2018

A Homily – Mark 1:29 – 39 ©

The Gospel According to Mark – 2018.02.04

The Beginning

In Mark’s Gospel the mission of Jesus, its purpose is often treated as a mystery, not a total mystery, but an open secret.

This is evidenced by the claim that Jesus cast out devils, curing those who were afflicted by them, but forbade them from speaking about him or his works. They knew who he was, the Christ the Messiah, but he did not want them to spread the news, not then, not at that point in time.

This concern is evident throughout Mark’s Gospel. It is often treated as a matter of cosmic significance, as if keeping the secret until the exact right moment mattered in some way to Jesus’ mission, for the salvation of the world and the ultimate triumph of good or evil, of God’s victory over the Devil.

This reading is too grandiose, it is a later interpolation, placed into the narrative as a means of explaining to the audience that Jesus, who the Church taught was not only the Son of God, but was in fact God’s own self, knew everything that was about to transpire between the beginning of his mission, through the crucifixion and the subsequent resurrection, and he did not broadcast it because it was all a part of a divine plan.

Set this aside, it is fantasy.

What the gospel tells us is this, from the beginning of his mission Jesus was concerned with healing, the cure of souls, and service to his neighbors.

To be saved is to be made well, that is the literal meaning of the word salvation. There is no cosmic conflict, there is only the resolution of ordinary suffering.

Casting out demons, is alternately depicted as curing illness, and quieting dissent. Jesus taught the way, and the way was liberation, and he did not want the powerful factions in Jerusalem, in the temple or the synagogue, the power of the royal family, or the power of Rome to come down on him or his followers. The way he preached was a way of peace and perseverance, communitarianism and service. 

Let Us Go Out

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. 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.
That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, 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.
In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time