Homily for January 11th, 2017. Mark 1:29-39.
In Jesus’ world there were no blood tests, X-rays, or microscopes. People thought that illness of various kinds was due to possession by demons. Today’s gospel portrays Jesus as one who has power over these supernatural forces of evil. Jesus comes from the supernatural world. As God’s Son, Jesus has power over the evil forces in that supernatural world. That is why Mark, the gospel writer, tells us that Jesus would not permit these supernatural forces of evil to speak, “because they knew him.” Jesus did not want to acquire the reputation of a sensational wonder-worker. He was that, yes; but he was so much more.
He banishes the life-threatening fever which has laid Peter’s mother-in-law low. And he drives out the demons in the many people who are brought to him for healing. Mark’s language shows that he is describing what we today call “exorcisms.” Freed from demonic possession, these people are healed at once. There is no period of convalescence. Peter’s mother-in-law, we heard, “got up immediately and waited on them.”
Especially significant is the information that at daybreak, “Jesus went off to a lonely place in the desert.” Why? He needed to be alone with his heavenly Father. It was in such times of silence and solitude that Jesus acquired the spiritual power to heal; and to say to rough working men, “Follow me,” – and have them obey him on the spot. And if Jesus, whose inner resources were incomparably greater than ours, needed those times alone with the Lord, we are fools, and guilty fools, if we think we can make it in reliance on our own resources alone. That’s why we are here. To receive all the goodness, love, purity, and power of Jesus – our elder brother, our lover, and our best friend; but also our divine Savior and Redeemer.
And friends, when we have him, Jesus, we have everything.