August 1, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
Mark brings us the good news today in 1:32-34.
When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.
The day was drawing to a close, the first day of Jesus’ public ministry. What a full day from teaching in the synagogue to healing and expelling demons into the night. Word of his actions had spread quickly through Capernaum. People came, not to hear his message but to be healed of their diseases and internal demons.
Jesus was canny. He realized that in order to bring the good news to as many as possible he needed to attract them first with something dramatic, exciting. Then word of these miracles would quickly pass from household to household. They would come to see for themselves and perhaps to be healed as well. That’s when he could proclaim the message of God’s love, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy — the good news. Obviously, his plan worked as we will read.
I am like these villagers, too, in some ways. I was first drawn to God when crisis in my life, my mother’s suicide, left a gaping, weeping hole in my heart. I needed and wanted to be healed. It didn’t happen right away, though, because I wasn’t very open at first to be healed. I am an observer and a student. I have to figure things out, know as much as I can about something before taking a step into the unfamiliar. I was a prideful agnostic as a teen and young adult. I didn’t need anyone let alone a distant, capricious deity which was the image of God that I had grown up with.
That was the image that the Jews of Jesus’ time had as well. These villagers were willing to take that first step to approach Jesus, to be open to his healing, and then to be open to his message and to his role as messiah, the anointed one of God. Mark says that all who were ill or possessed came to him. Matthew and Luke tells us that many, not all come. I’m glad to know that because I’m one of those who probably wouldn’t have and not because I wasn’t sick or possessed. I would have waited to see what this man was all about first.
I’ve learned from the gospels that God always takes the first step, but He expects me to respond by taking a step toward Him as well. He always invites me, but He doesn’t force me. He doesn’t want me to be the observer; He wants me to jump in, take a chance. That seems to be what Jesus was asking people to do during his ministry — “Take a chance on me. You won’t be disappointed and you won’t regret it. I will heal you of your diseases and possession by your internal demons. I will show you how much your Father in heaven loves you, cares about you, and provides for your needs. Trust me.” That’s what I’m trying to do — trusting and taking a step toward the kingdom of God. Jesus is at the door to welcome me and to heal me if I will but come.