February 7, Epiphany 5B (Mark 1:29-39)
Mark's Gospel provides tantalizing hints about Peter’s unnamed mother-in-law.
Mark wastes no time in his Gospel on niceties like the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke or the highly nuanced hymn in John. Mark’s Jesus has been on the move with alacrity since verse 14 of this first chapter. This is no gradual or tentative inching into ministry but a leap into the fray. In Mark’s characteristic eagerness to get on with the Good News, he punctuates the onset of this ministry with an adverbial “and immediately” eight times in this chapter and twice in our little story alone. Jesus’ teaching with authority and his control over demons have led the locals to talk, and by verses 27–28, his fame as teacher and healer has begun to precede him.
I suspect that, given our experiences with COVID-19 over these last several months, we all have a lot more interest in health, as well as a longing to regain a kind of normalcy and a sense of community that simply cannot be satisfied by virtual gatherings. Our shared calling to serve others has been, if not halted entirely, hampered by restrictions on gathering.
Jesus is renowned, in all of the Gospels, as a healer extraordinaire. When he cures someone from disease, he always restores them—not only to health, but also to hearth. So the several folk in this chapter and beyond, possessed by demons or spirits or otherwise indisposed, will return to their families and neighbors whole and sane, but they will also be enabled to pick up their lives and practice again as full members of their communities.