HOMILY & IDEAS

Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147:1-6; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39.

Turning Over Stones

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and and Andrew with James and John.

The Gospel this week begins where the Gospel last week ends. Jesus has just finished teaching with authority in the synagogue in Capernaum and has cast out an unclean spirit of a man who was present.

Where?

As mentioned last week, Capernaum was a town in the time of Jesus located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee -- actually a freshwater lake some 13 miles long, 8.5 miles wide, with a maximum depth of 150 feet. The lake is surrounded by mountains 1,200-1,500 feet high and one can look across it from any direction. Capernaum was a small port on the Sea of Galilee mostly serving fisherman and the fishing industry. It is thought to be the town where Jesus resided during his public life, the town from which Peter operated his fishing business, the town in which the mother-in-law of Peter lived (and was healed by Jesus), and the town in which Jesus called Matthew -- and perhaps some of the other twelve -- to discipleship.

Today the ruins of Capernaum can be viewed and walked through. The excavation site is about the size of three city blocks and at the center of the site stand the remnants of a 4th century synagogue, 65 feet in length, constructed from lightly colored limestone. Although these ruins are not that of the synagogue mentioned in the Gospel, one will note that the ruins sit upon a sturdy and sizable foundation of black basalt stone which is very likely the original foundation of the original synagogue.

Further, the ruins of the house which is thought to be that of Peter, Andrew and the mother-in-law of Peter is marked and stands only a hundred feet from the synagogue.

When?

The unfolding of these events occur on the Sabbath early on in the Gospel of Mark. The Sabbath was observed from sundown on Friday until nightfall on Saturday.

The purpose of taking a short walk to the house of Peter was most likely to partake in the main Sabbath meal which usually followed the synagogue service -- at around 12 noon. Perhaps after teaching and casting out an unclean spirit Jesus would have desired some rest; however we see that Jesus is moved to once again exert his power.

The mother-in-law of Simon lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

This action of Jesus tells us something about him. Jesus did not need a crowd in order to exert his power; nor did he only exert his power when faced with possessed individuals, paralyzed individuals, blind individuals, those suffering from leprosy, or even the dead! We hear today that Jesus heals an ordinary woman from an ordinary fever. The purpose of miracles was not to increase the fame of Jesus; rather they were simply to heal individuals from their sufferings.

HOMILY: Do we ever refrain from praying to Jesus for healing in our ordinary lives and for our ordinary sicknesses? Do we ever feel unworthy to be healed? Do we feel that we are not important enough to be considered a candidate for the healing power of Jesus? Let us look at the Gospel today and identify with the mother-in-law of Peter and ask for the ordinary things we need in our own ordinary lives.

What can we learn from the Mother-in-law of Peter? Her response is immediate, and it is that of service -- of gratitude.

HOMILY: When we are healed what is our immediate response? Do we remember to thank Jesus for his goodness, mercy, and compassion? Do we respond with service to others -- service to Jesus?

We also can learn something from the disciples. They trusted in the power of Jesus and they led him to the house of Peter for rest, for hospitality; but for a healing also.

HOMILY: Do we know someone who needs to be visited by Jesus? Someone who needs to be healed; but is not approaching or can not approach Jesus? Can we be like the disciples and bring the healing power and love of Jesus to them trusting in the power of Jesus to heal just as the disciples trusted?

When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town 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.

Not wanting to break the Sabbath by carrying the lame and the sick to Jesus, the townspeople of Capernaum wait until after sunset -- after the Sabbath is over -- to bring the infirm to him. Jesus continues to exert his power.

Is it any wonder after the kind of Saturday that Jesus had that he now wishes to get away to pray?

HOMILY: Are we, like Jesus, aware of our need to retreat -- to get away in order to pray and be rejuvenated by the love of God?

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said -- Everyone is looking for you. He told them -- Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come. So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

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