Reflection on this Sunday’s Readings
by John G Gibbs, PhD
Among the insights of texts for Epiphany 5 & 6 in Year B for 2009 these stand out for me in today’s situation: Prophetic action works within suffering creation against death, disease, and demonic power. The apostolic tradition “frees” the Church to do “all for the sake of the gospel,” thereby bringing boundary-breaking “blessings” to “all people.” “A deserted place” can be made, as Jesus made it, a home for prayer. Runners in the race of life focus, aim, exercise “self-control in all things,” but the “imperishable prize” comes as unearned gift.
Reflection on Mark 1:29-39
by the Rev Wanda Copeland
I recently read a quick summary of the New Testament that said Jesus’ purpose was largely to remind people of the true nature of God. Jesus did this through teaching, healing and sharing of the gospel message (the good news). This Gospel passage is filled with the healing character of Jesus. Jesus’ healing seemed so often to be focused only on the physical and spiritual healing of people, and was in sharp contrast to the rifts caused among groups of people resulting from the words Jesus spoke. However, Jesus’ power of healing extended beyond just humans. It was intended for all creation. In this Jubilee year of 2000, it is a timely reminder that Jesus’ acts of mercy and reconciliation were in context of the larger world in which Jesus found himself. When Jesus needed rejuvenation and solace he went to deserted places where the healing power of God’s creation could replenish him. Creation’s healing power can work for us also. We can be fed from its riches, filled with its power, and humbled again by its invitation to come and commune. Healing has many faces. This winter season may be a time of discovering which places feed you.
God is transcendent over creation as well as being present and ceaselessly at work within it, sovereign over the history of the world, its rulers, and his people who wait for him (Isaiah 40:21-31, Psalm 147:1-11). Jesus’ ministry of healing and exorcism may be seen as a healing of creation (Mark 1:29-34). He also set a pattern followed by many of his people since, of seeking his Father’s face in a ‘deserted place’, untrammelled by human development (Mark 1:35-39).
This Creator creates anew in Jesus, but “new creation” doesn’t end there. Again in the present time, it is the hope of the church who in Jesus’ name would similarly seek to liberate the peoples of the earth and the earth itself from their destructive alienation, that the power of this God will manifest itself yet again and again. Thus with Psalm 147 we praise this Creator with present tense, as one who heals the present world and is the origin of all that is and will be. Yes, Yahweh “heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds,” and yet also “determines the number of the stars”; and “gives to all of them their names” (147:4). In Christ, we are privileged to participate in the new work of this God.