The hand of God is with those on the frontline of care
Today’s Gospel focuses on Jesus’ public ministry as it unfolds in Mark. The Gospel highlights Jesus’ interest and ability to heal, and it reminds us of the importance of care, especially for the sick and vulnerable.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases. (Mk 1:34)
What can you do to provide healing in your family and community?
Do you ask for help and healing when needed?
Are you intentional about seeking personal time for prayer?
After calling his first followers and healing a man with an unclean spirit, Jesus performs additional private and public healings. With four of his disciples, Jesus visits Simon’s mother-in-law who is sick with a fever. “He grasped her hand, helped her up, and the fever left her.” The act of taking the infirmed woman’s hand reveals a gentleness in care. Jesus repeats this gesture when healing sick children later in the Gospel, restoring the lives of a young girl and boy by taking hold of their hands and lifting them up (Mk 5:39-42, 9:25-27).
Jesus performs a variety of types of healing in Mark, but in these three instances, an older woman and two young children receive a personal touch to facilitate their recovery. The texts are reminders of the need to offer loving care to one another. For people who work in health and wellness, the Gospel reminds us that their essential healing work enables people to recover, and their care for others emulates Jesus by helping the sick to be healed.
After Jesus touches the woman, she is healed and is able to serve the group as a sign of gratitude and as evidence of her recovery. Jesus continues his ministry by healing people with a variety of ailments. The next day Jesus intentionally distances himself in order to pray, an example of Jesus taking personal time to rest, center himself and give thanks for his ability to heal. The disciples say that people are searching for him, likely in hopes of additional healings, and Jesus’ response is very telling about how he views his work. “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”
At this early point in Mark, we have not heard much of Jesus’ preaching. He taught with authority in the synagogue (Mk 1:21-22), although Mark does not include the content of that teaching. Yet, by saying that he has more preaching to do, right after performing many healings, Jesus reveals that his healing power is an integral part of his message and ministry. A foundational way that Jesus proclaims the message of the Gospel is through his acts of healing.
For nearly a year, we have endured Covid-19 and its global effects. Today’s Gospel prompts us to honor, appreciate and thank the many people who have been healers in our midst, putting themselves in harm’s way to lift up people who are ill. Unfortunately, over one million people globally have succumbed to the virus. But we must also recognize the tens of millions of people who have recovered, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of medical professionals.