Mark 1:21-22, 29-39
In today’s reading, Mark describes a day in the life of Jesus. In Judaism, the day begins at sunset. And so, at sunset, Jesus goes to the local synagogue as a visiting rabbi to give the message for the day. In the course of his message at the synagogue, he is confronted by a person, possessed by demons, perhaps some form of mental illness, and cures him of his ailment, and then gets back to teaching.
Following the synagogue services, he does something I have been accorded as a visiting preacher over the years. He goes to supper at a church member’s home. And finds himself mixing business with pleasure. Peter’s mother in law has a fever and can’t welcome them. Note an interesting factoid: Peter has a mother-in-law; thus, Peter is married, and the first Bishop of Roman was not celibate!
Peter’s mother is no doubt beside herself. Have you ever had a special event – guests for dinner, a night on the town, a wedding, – and then got sick? A fever is not just a fever when you have important plans. It’s a matter of fulfilling your dreams and living out your vocation. As mother in law, she is the alpha female. In that society, her vocation is to provide hospitality to guests and now she can’t do it.
Recognizing her situation, Jesus comes to the rescue. He takes her hand, lifts, her up, and she is restored to health. Now, she can welcome the teacher, ensuring a good meal, fulfilling her vocation to provide hospitality to a beloved guest.
Jesus knows that no healing is too small. God wants us to have abundant life, and anything that stands in the way of God’s vision for you needs to be challenged, whether it involves your physical health, relational wellbeing, or status in the community. God is concerned about the small as well as large details of your life. You can always take it to God in prayer.
Well, nothing succeeds like success. Word of Jesus’ healing power spreads across the village. People line up to receive the touch of the Master’s hand. Recognizing his role as God’s healing messenger, Jesus works well into the night, healing cells as well as souls.
Finally, Jesus has a chance to lay down his weary head. But, in just a few hours, he’s up and at prayer. Jesus goes to a deserted place, far from crowds and obligations, to pray. There are times we need solitude, a quiet place to rest our spirits, to draw on the wellsprings of divine wisdom. Each day we need to set apart a few minutes to “be still and know that God is.
In silence, we find guidance. In stillness, we receive direction. In contemplation, we gain perspective on life’s crises – whether they involve the pandemic, politics, daily interactions, or personal relationships. In times of prayer and meditation, we reorient our spiritual GPS. We discover what’s really important and receive guidance for the next steps of our journey.
But Jesus’ silence, like our own, doesn’t last long. The phone rings, a text chimes, a child calls out to us, a job must be completed. Jesus’ followers hunt him down, anxiously needing his attention, wondering what he will do next. In response to his followers, Jesus reveals his mission. He can’t stay still. He can’t be the local rabbi, despite the attraction of a settled ministry with hearth and home. “I must go to other places, because that is my purpose.”
That’s the point. Finding your purpose. The purpose of the moment. The purpose of a task that lies ahead. The purpose of this season of life. When we take time for solitude. When we pause a while, we gain perspective. We discern the difference between the essential and optional. We get a sense of God’s vision for our life. We recalibrate our Spiritual GPS and can now move forward.
We are in an interesting time. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines and herd immunity lie ahead, and yet we are concerned about new strains of the Covid virus, civil unrest and the growing attraction of conspiracy theories and false facts among national leaders..
We need perspective and wisdom for the conduct of our daily life as persons of faith and citizens. So, in the days ahead, take time for stillness. Make a commitment to prayer and meditation. Ask for God’s guidance for the next steps of your journey and for your responsibility to the larger world. Let God be your guide as you go forth – like Jesus – on the road of life.