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“Love lift us up where we belong….”

I am out on the road this week and unable to produce a podcast, but here is a summary of three points I wanted to make about the gospel reading (Mark 1:29-39) for this Sunday (Epiphany 5/Ordinary Sunday 5 in Year B).
1. Jesus’ preaching tour in Galilee continues with further demonstrations of God’s healing presence, embodying the approaching Kingdom. Healing remains an integral part of the Church’s ongoing proclamation in our broken world.
2. The healing of Simon’s mother in law from her fever is a presented as a “lifting up’, echoing the Lesson (Isaiah 40: especially 29-31) and Psalm (147: especially 6, 10-11). God’s people need deliverance not only from their external oppressors, signalled by the ongoing exorcisms Jesus performs, but also from illnesses that arise from simply becoming weary in God’s service. She is restored to full health and energy and her service of God’s people continues. Ministries of restoration are needed no less today within the Church’s life and mission.
3. Jesus is not trying to establish a healing cult, let alone settle down to build a healing centre capitalising on his sudden popularity. His vision remains centred on his task of proclaiming God’s reign, not only throughout Galilee, but ultimately in Jerusalem where his decisive confrontation with God’s opponents will take place. Maintaining the purity of his vision requires constant prayerfulness lest he be distracted by the expectations of others. If Jesus needed this inner discipline, how much more do we!
I hope that provides a lead or two….

Howard Pilgrim

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