February 4, 2024 St Agnes Catholic Church in Naples, FL
Job 7:1-4, 6-7 + Psalm 147 + 1 Corinthians 9: 16-19 + Mark 1: 29-39
We need to be clear in our thinking about these healing stories that will be told to us all through the first half of Mark’s Gospel. These are not told to provide the divinity and power of Christ. When proclaimed in this Sacred Liturgy, God is speaking to us about one person doing whatever is in their power to ease the suffering of another human being. We do not need to be told about the power and divinity of God’s only Son. We do need to be reminded about the suffering and the needs of others and our power and resources to help them.
Perhaps to make that point more clearly, Mark moves Jesus around in this first Chapter. That first miracle happened in the synagogue. The second happen in someone’s home. Jesus is not just present with his healing power in a place of prayer. He is just as merciful and attentive in the place where we live. To make the universality of his mercy even more clear, after a man is healed, a woman is healed. There is not distinction when it comes to God’s mercy.
I am always struck, and I hope you are too, by the simplicity of this scene. Jesus says nothing. There are no commands. There is no great sweeping gesture. He simply takes her by the hand. To me, it is the simple gesture of friendship, holding hands. He helped her up. That’s all. Jesus did not do this to enhance his attractiveness to people. He did not do this out of duty. He did it because he was interested in people who needed help.
This story and others like it are kept alive for us as they were for countless others before us to awaken faith and trust in the Word of God, to restore in humankind “God’s vision of a world united as brothers and sisters under God’s providing love. “This is why I came” says Jesus. This kind of human compassion put in us by God breaks down stereotypes and defenses that divide, segregate, and marginalize people. The ministry of Jesus is not to restore bodies to health but to restore spirits to wholeness.
We must come here seeking that miracle for ourselves ready to reach out and take a hand, lift someone up, and bring to life the kind of compassion that belongs in real children of God. Only when we want to and decide to share the suffering of another seeking to understand and hear about whatever has pushed them down can we truly experience the power of God that has been entrusted to those of us who eat his flesh and drink his blood. There is someone somewhere down waiting for us to take their hand. There will be more miracles like this one in Peter’s home when friendship and compassion overcome a self-centered, individualistic hearts that look at others as foreigners and outsiders, rather than as brothers and sisters waiting for a hand to touch them.