Sunday 4th February

Mark 1: 29 – 39

‘Everyone is looking for you Jesus’.  Everyone wants to be healed! Of course they do!

For years, the problems the NHS faces in meeting the enormous demands upon it, have been an almost daily part of the diet of news stories in Britain.  More than ever, so many news stories refer to how stretched the NHS is; how full the beds are; how tired staff are; how little frontline staff earn; how people leave due to exhaustion and stress; how many of them work on, and then leave wards short staffed.  And the knock-on effects are apparent within every sphere of the treatments we rely on to maintain our health and well-being.

The NHS we have treasured for almost 76 years, is struggling to cope, and the available resources – both financial and in personnel – are not meeting the demand.

2,000 years ago, in a time without any kind of health service (least of all a service that’s free at the point of delivery) a healer turns up.   He doesn’t charge, he doesn’t create barriers, he heals all comers without needing to refer to any specialist.  And as soon as word gets out, everyone beats a track to his door.

One morning, Jesus healed a man by casting out a demon, and by that same evening, everyone was at the door. There was a huge appetite for health and wellbeing then, just as there is as now.

Then, if you didn’t have your health, you probably couldn’t work, and if you couldn’t work you couldn’t provide for yourself – let alone your family – and you were probably an outcast from society.  Now, just as then good health is necessary to enable us to function well in our families and in society.

And there’s a sense in today’s Gospel snippet that Jesus’ healing is a complete healing.  Simon’s mother-in-law isn’t just made better, but well enough to function at home and in the community and to serve others.  She’s not only just well enough to sit back with a cup of tea to recuperate for a while, but gets up and serves her guests.  Her healing is total giving her life and energy enough to spring into action.  She wasn’t just ‘well’ but ‘fighting fit’.

But, of course, she’s been touched by the healing that brings life in abundance, touched by Jesus and received the life-giving well-being only he can give.

Looking after people, listening to them and caring for them can be very tiring, let alone healing people in the way Jesus did.  No wonder then that Jesus wanted a bit of time and space to himself.  But this ‘time’ wasn’t just for himself – he needed time with God, his Father.

So, in the morning, Jesus went away to pray.  Not only for some quiet time, but to discern, with God, the direction for his ministry from that point on – what would be next for Jesus and his disciples, who, by the way, until this point. hadn’t had to go far or leave much at all to ‘follow’ Jesus.

Of course, we all need to find time to rest and be refreshed.  We need to take time out from the busyness of life to find peace and perspective, balance and direction for life.  So, Jesus set a pattern for us to follow, to finding peace and refreshment and direction in prayer.

So, spend time with God in whatever way works best for you.  Find the peace and purpose that can be found in God’s presence.

Jesus discerns that his ministry, mission and healing gifts are not to become ‘institutionalised’ in Capernaum.  What Jesus will offer, is a gift for everyone.

Healing is both a symbol of the ‘good news’ that brings ‘spiritual’ as well as ‘physical’ health, and is also an ‘embodiment’ of God’s good news. This health is what God wants for all humankind.  Healing of mind, body and spirit can restore us fully into community living and participation, and to serving others.  For Jesus, such healing and restoration seems to be part of proclaiming the Gospel.

So, Jesus and the disciples must move on to proclaim the Gospel (the Good News) in other towns.  It’s now that the adventure will start and the disciples will leave all that once mattered most!

Rev. Janine