Who Deserves to Be Healed?
#WhoDeservestoBeHealed is the podcast for February 4, 2017 . Who deserves to be healed? Who comes to get healed? What does evening have to do with healing on the Sabbath? Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Mark1#GospelofMark #5Ordinary #Sick #Unclean #Possessed #Gift #Healing #JesusPopularity #Prayer
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For The Church of Saint Raphael the Archangel, Munster, IN and My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 2/4/2018 The 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 1:29-45.
Good morning! We celebrate morning because in our mind the day begins with the morning. It wasn’t and isn’t that way with the Jews. If you just listen to Genesis you can hear it, “There was evening and morning, the first day.” The day begins at sundown for the Jews. That is because the day began out of darkness. This is why we can have Saturday evening Masses in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions and it is understood to be a Sunday observance. It is also why the main celebration of Easter begins at sundown on Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil.
It is also the significance of a small little phrase in the Gospel of Mark for the 5th Sunday of Ordinary time: “That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.” So let me connect the dots for this seemingly insignificant passage.
First, “that evening” is from last week’s Gospel reading. If you recall, last week’s reading recounts how Jesus was teaching in the Synagogue of Capernaum, casting out at least one demon, and healing people. He was in the synagogue because it was the Sabbath.
Second, there is a law against traveling on the Sabbath. Traveling outside of walking to the synagogue was forbidden. Yet, between that morning in the synagogue and that evening at Simon Peter’s house word travelled on the Sabbath. Yes, word of Jesus’ authority and healing traveled very fast on that Sabbath. It traveled so fast that we come to the next point.
Third, after the sun went down on the Sabbath, it was no longer the Sabbath. Therefore, people could travel. When the sun went down, everyone who was sick was either carried or made their way to Jesus to be healed. Simon Peter and his wife had no idea who was coming for dinner!
Jesus had become very popular, very quickly. His fame will be connected to his ability to heal, which people have no idea is connected to their faith and believing in him. When the going gets tough, when their trust in him starts to be chipped away at by the Jewish authorities, the healings will decline and the people will turn on him. Yet, we can learn something about faith from this first stage of Jesus’ ministry: it is OK and good to be excited about our new found faith, or the renewal of our faith.
When we first discover a book, a recipe, a positive life change, it is not uncommon for us to share it. Why not? It is something that benefitted us and we, in our joy, want others to get the same joy we have. Joy increases joy; misery increases misery. I would encourage all of us, when we have moments of joy in our faith, that we go to people who need faith in their lives and share our joy.
It seems to me that it is no mistake that in the sundown of peoples’ lives, they come and are brought to Jesus Christ for healing. Often times, it is the healing of knowing that God is not holding against us what we think he is holding against us. We dwell on our sins, but he is not dwelling on our sins. He is dwelling on caring for us, driving out our demons, and making us whole. He is trying to lead us to a better path, a path of restoration and wholeness.
The Gospel message includes the idea that Jesus is here to heal us; no wait, the entire Gospel message is that Jesus is here to heal us. “Salvation” comes from the word “salve” which has as its root the idea of healing. To be saved and transformed by the Gospel is a restoration of who we were in the Garden of Eden, and then some.
The promise is not just for when we die, but it is also for today. It is a message we should hear, fill our cup with, soak it in, and enjoy. In Jeremiah 31:3, when the people are returning from exile, feeling the joy of not being lost anymore and remembered by God, he comes to the people through the prophet and says,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
The aim of the Gospel, and of Jesus Christ, is to heal all our illnesses. It is to drive out the demons of our lives that constantly haunt us and torment us. The Lord Jesus comes to us and doesn’t make a big show of it for his fame. He just heals us. He talks to us in the silence of our prayers to say, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
In fact, Jesus doesn’t make plans to have bigger rallies or bigger events, he goes away and prays. He remembers from where his authority and power comes. We, too, should take note and do likewise. We, too, should break away from the phones, the computers, the TVs, radios, the noise, and renew ourselves in the Lord. We should take a break from the relationships that weary us, confuse us, aggravate us, and go to the one who loves us with “an everlasting love.”
I would like to point out the obvious at this point: those who come to Jesus are sick, tormented and considered “unclean.” There is a humility and lack of pretense in all of this. While the leaders of the Jews are parading around in their robes with long tassels, phylacteries on their heads, displaying their holiness, Jesus is out doing the hard work of making holy those things that are not holy: our lives.
I remember being interviewed by a local newspaper columnist. We were having lunch and I said, “I want the people who have been hurt by the world to come to our church. I want the “misfit toys” to be in our parish.” He stoped, put his sandwich down, raised his eyebrows, and said, “You want those kind of people?” Yes, we do. We want the people who are considered ‘unclean’ by the world. We want them, and the people who carry them on their mats, literally and proverbially.
This past summer, I was involved in a ministry in our local park on Sunday mornings. I was able to minister to the people who were not in church. It was amazing at how surprised they were that I would be out ministering to them. That is a sad state of affairs if our rules of “being church” do not include making time and architectural accommodations for being with and inviting those who are sick, tormented, and considered “unclean”.
So, the teaser in my emails about this podcast [homily] asks “Who deserves to be healed?” The answer is, “no one.” No one deserves it. We all deserve the consequences of our actions and no more. Yet, that is not what the Gospel is about. The Gospel is about restoring humanity to what they need to be, should be. It is Jesus healing us. It is his gift, not ours, to give. It is a gift, not just desserts. He is giving it to all, even those we would never consider worthy to be healed or forgiven. As he said, “Let us go to the neighboring towns, for this is the reason I came.”
Come. Bring the sick. Bring the tormented. Bring those the world considers “unclean”. Bring yourself. All are welcome. All are invited. All may be healed. It is why he came. Amen.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian