February 5, 2006 - Year B - Epiphany 5

Mark 1:29-39

 29 On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the home of Simon and Andrew with James and John. 30 As Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with fever, they immediately told him about her. 31 Jesus went to her and taking her by the hand, raised her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. 32 That evening at sundown, people brought to Jesus all the sick and those who had evil spirits: 33 the whole town was pressing around the door. 34 Jesus healed many who had various diseases, and drove out many demons; but he did not let them speak, for they knew who he was.

 35 Very early in the morning, before daylight, Jesus went off to a lonely place where he prayed. 36 Simon and the others went out, too, searching for him; 37 and when they found him they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Let’s go to the nearby villages so that I may preach there too; for that is why I came.”

39 So Jesus set out to preach in all the synagogues throughout Galilee; he also cast out demons.

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Notes from [The Community Christian Bible

• 29. Peter’s simple faith is manifested. Jesus enters the house, bringing with him peace and health. Jesus shows us how to visit the sick. What a natural thing to do when Mass ends – to go see the sick. The care and love of our Christian sisters and brothers attracts God’s favors upon them.

As soon as it was sundown. Let us not forget that it is the Sabbath, the weekly day of rest. For the Jews days are counted from the time of sunset and night precedes day as shown in Genesis 1:5. Everyone observes the Sabbath, just as Jesus does and there is such haste to bring the sick to him that they begin to do so in the evening as soon as the Sabbath is over.

• 35. The apostles knew God since childhood through the Bible’s teachings; perhaps they had not discovered God within their own lives but prayed to God as to a distant stranger. When they joined Jesus, they immediately understood that there was something extraordinary about him. They were especially taken with his apparent intimacy with God. The most extraordinary thing they noted in his manner and actions was his intimate and faithful union with his Father.

Living with Jesus, they begin to desire to know the Father more fully, something like Jesus knows him (Lk 11:1; Jn 14:8; 15:15).

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Comments by Wesley

1.  Provoking the Gospel of Mark by Richard W. Swanson notes Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel's insight regarding the term describing Simon's mother-in-law after her healing - she "serves". When "Diakoneo" is used of women it is translated "serve" and when used of men is translated "deacon".  The New Interpreter's Bible notes: "One must beware of any tendency to reduce the importance of the mother-in-law's action because she is a woman; she acts toward Jesus and the others as the angels earlier acted toward Jesus in the wilderness."

It is such subtle changes in language that our biases are revealed. Have you listened to yourself recently regarding the language of privilege for yourself?

2. A second insight by Swanson is that this diaconal work takes place before the Sabbath is over. Jesus is not the only one who challenges the accumulated traditions of Sabbath based on an experience of life. Not only does Jesus' fame begin to spread, but his sensibility that no rule, even Sabbath, takes precedence over healing, service, and community building.

Swanson also raises the question: "So why does the community keep Sabbath more carefully than Jesus does? [or Peter's mother-in-law?] What assumption are you keeping alive more carefully than Jesus would?

3. If actions speak louder than words, why would the demons be silenced? Wouldn't the healings speak on their behalf?

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