Isaiah 40: 20 -31; Ps 147: 1 - 11, 20c; 1 Cor 9: 16 - 23; Mark 1: 29 - 39 Oremus Bible Browser

Two weeks ago Mark told us that after John the Baptist’s arrest, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is come near. Repent and believe in the good news’. ‘The time is fulfilled’ - we’re still in chapter 1 of Mark, so we’re still in the very early parts of the gospel. Subsequent to having said that, that the time is fulfilled, Mark in the narratives and the story that he unfolds, tries to show us what the gospel and what the time of fulfilment is all about and therefore what it means to us. Mark is already writing for a people who believe in and who have faith in Christ, so he’s actually not writing to necessarily win people over, but rather to unpack, to unfold that which they have seen, that which they have glimpsed. And maybe in our listening Sunday by Sunday we can discover what that gospel message entails, what it means for us to be disciples, to be Christlike, to be the Church, to be the Body of Christ.

Last week we heard that right after Jesus had made his initial proclamation he went to the synagogue in Capernaum and there he taught with an authority and it was a new teaching, something that had not been heard before and as a sign of that authority he drove out unclean spirits. Today we have Jesus raising Simon’s mother-in-law - ‘he came, he took her by the hand and lifted her up’. Having done that, he goes and cures all who were ill or possessed by demons; having done that, he goes off to pray by himself. As he does that, he gets interrupted - that must be a new experience! - by Simon; and then he picks up his preaching ministry and his healing ministry. All of that occurs in one day: this is sort of Mark saying ‘ a day in the life of Jesus’, the first day after that realisation that the time is fulfilled. One might say that in Christ the time is full-filled. In this one day of activity perhaps we’re meant to glimpse what it’s like, that time of fulfilment. We’re watching the gospel take flesh, being lived out, and so what does that then mean for us, who also have glimpsed that the time is fulfilled?

It’s worth noting in the gospel that the story takes place, as it does so much of Mark’s gospel, not in a formal religious setting, not in a place of worship, but rather in the everyday, and it gives us an opportunity, or maybe just raises the question for us to consider, what we do here, what is the place and the purpose of being here? Do we come to listen, do we come to know and to feel that which we so easily and so readily miss when we’re not here. Do we come to receive - from the Divine and from each other? Do we come to give - to the Divine and to each other?

‘As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.’ Simon and Andrew invite Jesus into their home, they invite him into the everyday, into their lives. Simon’s mother-in-law is sick, and I think the reason we have this focus on Simon’s mother-in-law and the fact that once not sick she immediately gets up and serves, is to show that Simon and Andrew invited Jesus into the everyday and into a family that is not fully functioning, for the host, the giver of hospitality in that family was sick, was unable to give and to provide hospitality. And can we not then translate this story into our everyday, as we live in a family, a community, a nation and a world, that also is not functioning fully, that is not yet fulfilled?

It’s good to hear in the gospel today that the realisation of fulfilment is in the everyday. The busyness that we find in Mark’s gospel in that day in the life of Jesus, can so look like the busyness of our lives in the modern world and it’s in that same busyness that we hear in verse 35, that Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place and there he prayed. And I wonder if that’s what we seek and that’s what we do in being here today. Our lives are often filled fully, but are we not called to realise another world, a new reality, a time and a place of fulfilment?

The Lord be with you.

Peter Humphris

Textweek Epiphany 5