Paul Brian Campbell, S.J.
Yesterday we witnessed Jesus healing a man possessed by an evil spirit in the synagogue. He now goes straight to Peter’s house. Because it was the Sabbath, Jesus couldn’t move around or do any major activity.
Peter’s mother-in-law was in the grip of a fever and the disciples begged Jesus to do something for her. [Let’s note that the first pope was married!] Jesus stood over her and, with a word, cured her. Immediately she got up and began to serve Jesus and his group.
The message here is that health and healing aren’t just for the individual. Her healing immediately restored her to the community and the duty of serving that community. As long as we are healthy, our energies are meant to be directed to the building up of the community and not simply for our personal enjoyment.
The mention of “At sunset” reminds us again that it had been the Sabbath. According to the traditions, Jews could not travel more than two-thirds of a mile or carry any load. Only after sunset could the sick be brought to Jesus.
As soon as the day was over, large numbers brought their sick to him. He laid his hands on all of them and healed them. Just as Jesus had announced in the synagogue at Nazareth, the Kingdom of God had arrived and was entering the lives of people, bringing them health and wholeness.
Many were also freed from the power of evil spirits. These spirits shouted at Jesus “You are the Son of God.” By using Jesus’ title, they hoped to exert control over him. It didn’t work, of course. Clearly the presence of the Kingdom is being felt.
Jesus worked the whole night for the people and at daybreak he went off to a quiet place. The desert is a place where God can be found and very likely, as Mark tells us, Jesus went there to pray and to be alone…but the people who had seen what he did for them and whose attitude is in marked contrast to the people of Nazareth, wanted him to stay with them..
But he said, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God” and he went off to preach in the synagogues of Judea – which was in the south of the country, although the term may simply refer to the whole of Jewish territory.
No single place could have a monopoly of his presence. Although we need to keep close to Jesus, we must never do so in a way that prevents others from experiencing his healing touch. On the contrary, it is our task as disciples to see that as many as possible come to know and experience the love, compassion and healing of Jesus.