Good Shepherd, Marietta, OK and Holy Cross, Madill, OK
Job 7, 1-4, 6-7 + Psalm 147 + 1 Corinthians 9, 16-19, 22-23 + Mark 1, 29-39
There is an important change of location in this first Chapter of Mark’s Gospel. The first miracle that Jesus performs takes place in the Synagogue. The second miracle takes place in the home of Peter. Our Gospel today begins with words that draw our attention to this shift: “Upon leaving the synagogue…..” Details like this are always significant, and in themselves, there is a message. Four words that point to something new.
For the Jewish people the Synagogue was the center of life and faith. It was there that they prayed, studied, and heard God’s Word. Now suddenly there is a change, something completely new. While Jesus began his ministry in the synagogue, he moves on and he moves out. Mark takes us to Peter’s home. The second miracle in the ministry of Jesus is then outside the synagogue in a home. While the ministry of Jesus begins in a place of prayer and worship, it continues and is completed outside in the world, in the home of Peter. This is important for us to see and understand.
Jesus goes out to meet the lepers, the possessed, the sick, the blind and the lame. He does not wait nor expect them to come to him in the synagogue. The work he came to accomplish is done outside in the world, on the roads, in homes, in market places, in offices, and in classrooms. Mark has no intention of suggesting that what we do here in this church is not part of the work nor important for the work. It is here that we are formed, taught, fed, encouraged, and sent. Here in the Eucharist we become the community in which Christ is found; and filled with the Holy Spirit we are sent out to do the work of Christ, a work of healing and forgiving, feeding and calling the lost to find their way.
This is the beginning in here. Out there is the mission where the reign of God grows. The Gospel does no good if it is read like a story book, carried around in churches, and studied like a text book. The Gospel is power and mission, vision, and the reason for our very lives. There are still sick and lonely people, lame, blind, deaf and broken who wait out there for us to come and treat them with respect, listen to their pain, and show them the face of Christ. There are people possessed by loneliness and fear. There are still people treated like lepers who are ignored and shut out of life and happiness because of the way they look, where they live, or where they work. Their only hope is you and me.
This Gospel begins in a synagogue and notice that it ends in a synagogue because a life of prayer and worship with others gives direction and purpose to what we do during the week. This is the beginning and the end. What we do in the middle in between is what gives purpose and witness to the faith we celebrate here and live out there. In just a few minutes, you will hear familiar words: “Go and Glorify God with your lives, the Mass is ended.” Think of that today and every day you come to this holy place, and what you do until you come back will take on new meaning, bring the Gospel to life, and fulfill our calling as a Holy People and Disciples of Jesus Christ.