The 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 7 February 2021
Lectionary Readings: Job7: 1-4, 6-7; Ps 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23; Mk 1:29-39
Theme: A day in the life of Jesus
Jesus is busy. Right after his “inaugural” proclamation of the coming of the Kingdom of G-d in verses 15-16, he calls his first companions (vv. 16-20) and then gets to work. This Sunday’s Gospel reading and last Sunday’s reading form what commentators call “a day in the life of Jesus.” This Sunday, we read the continuation of his activity, one after the other. After leaving the synagogue on that same Sabbath, he heals Simon’s mother-in-law; the sick were healed; and demons silenced and cast out. The text is rich and bears several points worth noticing.
One point of reflection can be the way Jesus went about his day. In typical Marcan fashion, the words kai “and” kai euthus, “and immediately” appear frequently in the ten verses of this reading. It might point to Jesus’s sense of urgency in his work of proclaiming the Kingdom. To read the words “and immediately…and…and immediately…” almost one after another gives the impression that he is on the move, never wasting time. This is punctuated by being interrupted in his prayer early in the morning and moving on to the next agenda: to go to other towns and preach the Kingdom there. A second point we can highlight is the way the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law took place. Harrington mentions that the detail, “she served them” after being healed, “is to demonstrate the suddenness and completeness of the cure.” When Jesus heals, he heals completely.
The third point for reflection is the direction of his actions. We can trace his actions as moving from one place to the other: from Capernaum, the synagogue, to Simon and Andrew’s house, to a deserted place, and on to all of Galilee. We can notice how Jesus’s healing and preaching broaden and widen in scope. Added to this, is the growing number of people who witnessed and experienced the wonders of Jesus’ works growing in number: from individuals to groups of people, Simon’s mother-in-law and the man possessed with an unclean spirit, to the people in the village at the door of their house who are sick and, to the people of Galilee.
What is unusual about this text is Jesus’s only dialogue: “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out. (Italics mine)” It is unusual because certainly, in this text, Jesus was not described as preaching. Yes, he did many things: he left and entered places; took people by the hand; lifted people up; healed people; cast out demons, and forbade them to speak. Certainly, preaching was not one of them. This, however, makes sense if we consider the purpose of his actions: to preach or proclaim (kērüxō) the kingdom of G-d. It stresses that Jesus’ work of proclaiming the Kingdom of G-d was not limited to speaking alone but was accompanied by works that brought about the salvation of the Kingdom. This is manifest in the double action of healing and expelling demons, restoring the good, and expelling what is evil.
Looking at the three points, we can say that Jesus in today’s Gospel, acts immediately, heals completely, moves toward a greater scope, and affects an increasing number of people, to proclaim not only in words but in actions, the healing and restoring power of G-d. Such actions echo loudly the response in the Psalms, “Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.” Jesus’ actions in the Gospel are G-d offering a soothing balm to Job’s lament and ours in these trying times, “when shall I arise?”
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. How have we experienced G-d’s healing during these times? 2. How can we respond to the invitation to “move to other places” to proclaim the Kingdom there by our actions?
Bibliography: Harrington, Daniel J., ”Mark” in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Raymond E. Brown, S.S., Joseph A Fitzmyer, SJ, Roland E Murphy, OCarm., eds., (New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 1990).
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
John Paul A. Bolano, Philippines, Bat Kol Alumnus 2017