Posted on Wed, Feb 11, 2015
February 8, 2015
5th Sunday in Epiphany
Gospel text: Mark 1:29-39
Jesus Heals Many at Simon’s House
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31 He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34 And he cured 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. 35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ 38 He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Last week, through the scripture, we witnessed Jesus meeting a man in the synagogue who was possessed by many demons. When we hear that Jesus exorcised demons from a person, our minds can imagine all kinds of crazy scenes as is from a movie. But how many times have we heard about troubled people nowadays, having “their own kinds of demons?” Don’t over imagine what the scene would have looked like, we all have our “demons,” those things we cannot get out of our head, or experiences or feelings we must face daily. Our demons we must constantly battle, or just endure, oftentimes, seemingly, on our own. It could be your workplace, school, home, or even in your own heart and mind. We all have our ‘demons.’ Jesus knows. No one is immune, and that is why Christian Caregiving is such an important ministry in our church. There are countless forms of Christian Caregiving, but the central gift of Christian Caregiving is that the caregiver can become Jesus to a person who is hurting and/or burdened with many “demons,” and the caregiver’s presence can help us to understand that we never have to battle our demons alone.
We look at Jesus, for his occupation and a way to earn money he is trained as a carpenter, a respected profession that should provide enough income for himself and his household; but is that what he is called to do? Was the “authentic” Jesus meant to remain a carpenter?
In the Crossways Bible Study, the emphasis on Jesus’ calling is that Jesus is referred to as a “Servant King.” He Is King, Jesus IS the Messiah, Jesus is the Savior of the Cosmos, yet for Jesus to be who he was born to be, he HAD to serve the very people who “had demons,” or rebelled against our Faithful God. Jesus was born to be our savior.
Paul refers to this duality in his first letter to the Corinthians found in today’s epistle 1 Corinthians 9:19, “For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all…” Paul’s words are echoed in the opening lines of Luther’s “Freedom of the Christian,” “A Christian is free lord over all things and subject to no one. A Christian is a servant of all things and subject to everyone.”
Therefore we see God’s true glory in the servant nature of Jesus, and especially in the ultimate servant nature in giving his life for this ‘stiff-necked’ and ‘rebellious people.’
So, for Jesus to be authentic to himself and God’s mission, he leaves his vocation of carpentry in order to Bring Good News to the poor, sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed. Exorcising the personal demons from people is one of the greatest forms of making people free from their bondage! He had no choice in what he was to do…
In Capernaum, Peter’s mother-in-law’s house was just a block or two from the synagogue we read about last week. Going back to the 5th century, the Byzantines built an octagonal church right over what is celebrated as Peter’s mother’s house, or the ‘sacra insula’ or the sacred block of homes around a courtyard.” http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/capernaum
It was a very short walk from the synagogue to Simon’s (Peter) mother-in-law’s house. It is very possible that Jesus and his disciples were staying in the houses that belonged to Simon/Peter’s family. After Sunset, according to Sabbath Law, and upon hearing about Peter’s Mother-in-Law, they immediately went to her bedside. Looking just like one of our Stephen Minister diagrams, Jesus reaches out his hand and as soon as they touch, she is immediately healed.
Now, some people get a little ticked at this text because as soon as she was healed, rather than the men telling her to rest for awhile and WE WILL serve dinner, she gets up and immediately serves the men and the household. When Lazarus was healed, he didn't serve anyone, that responsibility still went to Mary and Martha… What’s up with this scene?
We can sit up rather piously and judge the actions of the characters in the text with the eyes of people living in the year 2015, and I could stand up and justify the apparent lack of sensitivity of the men and the hardship of the women… which of course WE see as people living in 2015 often do, but for her and HER household, it appears 1) she doesn't require any rest because she is COMPLETELY HEALED by the touch of Jesus; She doesn't require any rest, she is IMMEDIATELY healed. 2) She is responsible to feed her guests. To not do so, would bring dishonor and shame to the household. And 3) After knowing she was on her death bed until Jesus CAME TO HER, the natural reaction after being healed was to serve Jesus our of pure thanksgiving to him. Jesus had many choices as to where he should go next, but upon hearing about her illness, Jesus immediately chose to use his gift of healing for her sake and everyone who would witness Jesus’ mercy.
How many of use have walked by a homeless person, justifying our reason not to stop and share a word, a meal or some change? How many times have we chosen not to get involved the injustices to the poor going on within our own island and in front of our eyes? 20% of our neighbors on the island now depend on the Hawaii Foodbank for basic nutrition, and in order for us to fulfill our mission to feed the hungry the population of our island we have to be aware of the problem and choose to respond to the needs of our neighbors. Do we choose to get involved, do we choose to educate ourselves to the needs of those we see or choose not to see everyday? Do we respond as Christ responded, or choose to not respond? Do we choose to listen to the news about the hardships many of our neighbors must endure everyday? Do we choose to get educated or open our eyes to the reality of our world and needs of our neighbors?
As Paul and James wrote in the scripture, and I paraphrase, if we don’t apply our hands, feet, muscle, mouths, minds and hearts to actions of faith and justice, IN ACTS OF THANKSGIVING to what God has done for us through Jesus Christ our Lord, than our faith means very little and we lack authenticity as the Body of Christ.
An organization our church helps support is FACE, Faith Action Community for Equity, and through our support of FACE we are choosing to be active and at least put forth credible ideas to help the homeless move from tents into some kind of structure. http://www.civilbeat.com/2015/02/shipping-container-shows-housing-possibility/
The story was featured on KITV news and Civil Beat and reads: Faith Action for Community Equity, or FACE, has set up a 20-foot-by-8-foot shipping container on the grounds of Honolulu Hale that can house a family of five. The dwelling was built for about $11,000 and features four beds, a desk and is wired for electricity.
“It doesn’t have any bathrooms or kitchen, but it’s better than a tent or a family living in their car,” said Catherine Graham, co-chair of FACE’s Housing Task Force.
Honolulu City Councilman Ron Menor has authored a resolution (15-17) that calls on Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell to investigate the possible use of shipping containers as dwellings, and says the demonstration project by FACE shows what’s possible. …
What I am most thankful for this faith-based group is that they are choosing to apply their many talents and scarce resources to tackle a need that Jesus brings to our attention over and over again through the scriptures. Caring for the sick, like in today’s Gospel, Healing and welcoming the outcast like the man possessed by demons or the woman at the well, the educating yet still lost and searching for meaning like Nicodemus, illuminating and confronting the injustices of the religious leaders like when Jesus “cleanses” or thrashes the money changers out of the temple.
We have gathered in this holy place as a broken people, much like Peter’s mother-in-law, or like the man we heard about last week filled with “demons, and Jesus has chosen to come to this place and hear our confession and prayers. In response to our brokenness, doubts, fears and pains, Jesus says, do not be afraid, I am with you, you are forgiven and you are mine.
How do we respond in thanksgiving? Look at your neighbor. They too are the object of God’s unconditional love and grace… imagine the people we will immediately see when we go out into the streets, the rich the poor, and all we will meet, they too are the object of God’s love. Jesus goes to each of them in their broken humanity as well through us! Through OUR hands and feet. Who do we see, when we look at our neighbors? Have you met the people who live under the bridge going into Hawaii Kai, or the Pu’u’ikena Park right next door?
I would say, rejoice, be glad, and let the grace that surpasses all understanding flow through you and make you a vessel of God’s grace. Amen.