Faith Daily | 13 January 2021
PRAYER of the WEEK Baptism of the Lord
who anointed Jesus at his baptism with the Holy Spirit
and revealed him as your beloved Son:
inspire us, your children,
who are born again of water and the Spirit,
to surrender our lives to your service,
that we may rejoice to be called your children;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL for the Day: Mark 1: 29-39
29As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
32That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And 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. 35In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38He 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.” 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by Rachel McFadyen
Jesus returned north to Galilee after John the Baptist was arrested, and began his ministry there. Galilee was a rich and prosperous region, with the freshwater Sea of Galilee on its eastern boundary, 600 m below sea level in the Jordan rift valley, with a climate noticeably warmer than in the hills around. The western shores of the sea were lined with little towns and villages, including Magdala, Genessaret and Capernaum, where fishing, and the associated industries of fish-curing and boat-building, were important.
Jesus made Capernaum his base; Simon and his brother Andrew lived there with Simon’s family and Jesus stayed with them. An older woman normally lived with one of her sons, so Simon’s mother-in-law presumably had no living sons. Simon had taken her into his household; she showed her gratitude for being healed by immediately serving their meal. It was still the Sabbath; Jesus did not hesitate to heal someone on the Sabbath, but the crowds came only when the Sabbath ended at sunset. Mark says “the whole town was gathered around the door” – Simon and Andrew must have wondered what on earth they had got into!
In the morning, to get some time alone to pray, Jesus got up very early and went out to a deserted place. You can imagine the consternation when Simon found his honoured guest was nowhere to be found, and the search that resulted! But Jesus said his ministry was for all Galilee, not just Capernaum, and “he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues.”
What is the take-home message for us? For me, this passage primarily sets the scene for much of Jesus’ preaching and miracles, which take place in the villages and towns around the Sea of Galilee. But it is also a warning: if you let Jesus into your life, you never know what may come next! Simon’s house was frequently invaded by the crowds seeking Jesus, even to the point of breaking open the roof to let their sick friend into the main room (Mark 2: 1-4). I wonder what Simon’s wife and children made of it all – Jesus had certainly turned their life upside down, and this was only the start. And he will change our lives too if we let him; our “roofs” may suffer but our lives will be eternally enriched. As in this poem by Saint Radbod, Bishop of Utrecht, 850 – 917, translated by Helen Waddell:
Hunger and thirst, O Christ, for sight of Thee
Came between me and all the feasts of earth.
Give thou thyself the bread, thyself the wine,
Thou, sole provision for the unknown way.
Long hunger wasted the world wanderer;
With sight of thee may he be satisfied.