The Gospel of Mark begins with the preaching of John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus, followed by the temptations in the desert. Jesus left the desert and began his ministry in Galilee by calling the first disciples; Simon and his brother Andrew, and James and his brother John. They journey to Capernaum where he taught in the synagogue and cast out an unclean spirit. Afterwards Simon took Jesus to his home to meet his mother-in-law who was sick. Simon may have been counting on Jesus to heal his mother-in-law. Jesus does not disappoint. Her healing was immediate and complete, and she got up to prepare a meal for them and wait on them.
The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law was not something that could be kept secret and word quickly spread. We are told that the whole town came to see Jesus. He was a people person who welcomed the crowds, understood their needs and ministered to them. His compassion towards people and the miracles worked by him can be seen as an example of the humanity and divinity of Jesus brightly shining from him. This light of Christ shone upon the town as he healed the sick and drove out demons. Those whom he ministered to and those whom witnessed theses miracles spread the word even more.
The Scriptures don’t mention whether or not Jesus was tempted to remain in Capernaum, but we are told that early the next morning he went off alone to a deserted place to pray. Simon and the others searched for him and when they found him said; “Everyone is looking for you.” It was an invitation to return and stay in Capernaum. Jesus’ responded: “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” He made it quite clear that he knows his mission, and it wasn’t to remain in one place, but rather to proclaim the Kingdom through words and miracles wherever the Spirit would lead him.
Jesus was born into the world for each one of us and he suffered and died because of our sins and for our redemption. He Rose from the dead show us the way to the Father. Jesus is present to us and his presence should give us the same excitement and joy that the people of Capernaum experienced two thousand years ago.
A year ago we never imagined the situation we would be in today. We never dreamt of the challenges, struggles and anxieties that we are facing today. Now is a time when we would benefit from that rich long-lasting joy of welcoming the Lord into our lives to heal our infirmities, fears and anxieties. Jesus is present to us today most perfectly in the Eucharist that many cannot yet safely attend, and also in our prayers, in the least of our brothers and sisters, and where two or three gather in his name. Recognize the presence of Jesus in whatever situation you are in and allow him to minister to you.
His presence allows us to echo the Prayer of Mary and proclaim the Greatness of the Lord and rejoice in God my Savior. It gives us the Faith in the midst of struggles within and around us we do not get pulled down and deprived of joy. It gives us the Hope when we are at prayer to recognize the joy of being ministered to by God himself. It gives us the love found when we gather for the Eucharist, with family and friends, that unites us and lifts us up as joyful members of the body of Christ. Christ is present to us even during our unexpected, difficult times, let us call upon him to hear our prayers.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Photo: Kim Metzgar