Readings & Meditation
Sunday (February 5):
"They brought to Jesus all who were sick or possessed with demons"
GOSPEL - Scripture: Mark 1:29-39
And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
Now Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her.
And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.
And the whole city was gathered together about the door.
And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.
And Simon and those who were with him pursued him,
and they found him and said to him, "Every one is searching for you."
And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out."
And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Who do you take your troubles to? Jesus' disciples freely brought their troubles to him because they found him ready and able to deal with any difficulty, affliction, or sickness which they encountered. When Simon brought Jesus to his home, his mother-in-law was instantly healed because Jesus heard Simon's prayer. Do you allow Jesus to be the Lord and Healer in your life, family, and community? Approach him with expectant faith. God's healing power restores us not only to health but to active service and care of others. There is no trouble he does not want to help us with and there is no bondage he can't set us free from. Do you take your troubles to him with expectant faith that he will help you?
Jerome, a 3rd century church father, applies the lesson of the healing of Simon's mother in law to us:
"Can you imagine Jesus standing before your bed and you continue sleeping? It is absurd that you would remain in bed in his presence. Where is Jesus? He is already here offering himself to us. 'In the middle, ' he says, 'among you he stands, whom you do not recognize' (cf. John 1:26). 'The kingdom of God is in your midst' (Mark 1:15). Faith beholds Jesus among us. If we are unable to seize his hand, let us prostrate ourselves at his feet. If we are unable to reach his head, let us wash his feet with our tears (cf. Luke 7:38). Our repentance is the perfume of the Savior. See how costly is the compassion of the Savior. Our sins give off a terrible odor; they are rottenness. Nevertheless, if we repent of our sins, they will be transformed into perfume by the Lord. Therefore, let us ask the Lord to grasp our hand. 'And at once,' he says, 'the fever left her.' Immediately as her hand is grasped, the fever flees."
The mighty works and signs which Jesus did demonstrate that the kingdom of God is present in him. These signs attest that the Father has sent him as the promised Messiah. They invite belief in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world. The coming of God's kingdom means defeat of Satan's kingdom. Jesus' exorcisms anticipate his great victory over "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31). What do we know about Satan and the evil spirits or demons? We know that the ancient serpent who seduced our first parents (Genesis 3:1-5) is called "Satan" or the "devil" (Revelation 12:9). The devil and the other demons were created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing (2 Peter 2:4). They irrevocably rejected God and his reign. Milton in his great poem, Paradise Lost, describes Satan's defiance: "Better to reign in hell than to serve God." John Damascene, an 8th century church father said: "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death." While Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and may cause grave injuries of a spiritual nature,and indirectly even of a physical nature, his power is nonetheless limited and permitted by divine providence (Romans 8:28). Jesus offers freedom from bondage to sin and Satan. There is no affliction he cannot deliver us from. Do you make full use of the protection and help he offers to those who seek him with faith and trust in his mercy?
"Lord Jesus Christ, you have all power to heal and to deliver. There is no trouble nor bondage you cannot overcome. Set me free to serve you joyfully and to love and serve others with a generous heart. May nothing hinder me from giving myself wholly to you and to your service."
1 Praise the LORD! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the downtrodden; he casts the wicked to the ground.