Healing for the broken-hearted

5th Sunday, Year B, 7 February 2021

This year, Year B of the Church’s three-year liturgical cycle, we focus on the gospel of Mark. the earliest and the shortest of the four gospels. Today’s reading comes from the introduction to Mark’s gospel. It tells of Jesus’ miracles at the start of his public ministry.

Last week we had the story of the Jesus’s first miracle, according to Mark: Jesus, after teaching with authority in the synagogue, heals a man who is possessed of an evil spirit, casting out the devil that afflicts the man.

Today we have the story of a second miracle, later that same day in Mark’s account, this time in the home of Simon and Andrew, where Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law who was sick. Mark’s story of Jesus’ two miracles on that one day in Capernaum exemplify the pattern of Jesus’ ministry and teaching. They throw into sharp relief the nature of his mission and the authority with which he conducts himself. In these few verses from Mark’s gospel, we also see the hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry. He does not confine himself to the synagogue and Temple but goes out and into the places where the people live and work. He meets them where they are and he responds to their needs.

We see his boundless compassion for those who are suffering. We also see his unfailing hospitality. Mark tells us that, later that evening on that same day, the crowds flocked to Jesus, bringing him all who were sick or possessed, and that he cured many!  No one was turned away or barred from his presence.

All who would listen and believe in his preaching, teaching, and in his miracles are welcome in his presence. It is no surprise that the suffering flocked to him. Suffering is one of the great challenges of our lives. It comes to each one of us, custom-made, be it in the death of loved ones, broken or damaged relationships, the dashing of our hopes and plans, or the loss of what is precious to us.

It is never easy. In today’s first reading from the Scriptures we are reminded of the suffering of Job – and of the reality of suffering in our own lives. Now Job, though a good and upright man, experienced great – and entirely undeserved – suffering, losing all that was precious to him, his children, his possessions, his health. Like us, when faced with suffering, he questioned why innocent people suffer, why bad things happen to good people, while wicked people prosper, and the injustice of it all.

By way of response, Mark’s account of Jesus’ miracles highlights God’s steadfast love and compassion, especially for those who are suffering. And today’s reading from the Psalms offers us some of the most consoling words of all: God heals the broken hearted. So, have faith! Hold on in times of trial! God does not desert us. God’s delays are not God’s denials.

Anne Hunt

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