sabato 3 febbraio 2018

«Omnes quaerunt te!»

Last Sunday we said that Mark, at the beginning of his gospel, portrays a typical day in the life of Jesus. A week ago, we heard the account of Jesus’s visit to the synagogue of Capernaum on the sabbath. In today’s gospel we read the continuation of that story. Once the service was over, Jesus, who was accompanied by the four disciples he had just called to follow him, went to the house of Simon and Andrew for lunch. It was a holiday; so, it was a good opportunity to stay together and have a good time. Maybe, since Jesus had just called his disciples, these invited him, so that he might meet their families. As we enter the house of Simon, we discover that he was married. Unfortunately, on that day, his mother-in-law was in bed with a fever. The disciples had just witnessed the cure of a demoniac in the synagogue; so, they told Jesus of the sick woman, hopeful that their master could do something for her. Jesus did not disappoint their expectations; he healed the woman suddenly and completely, so much so that she began to serve them. 

Evidently, the rumor that there was a man able to cure the demoniac and heal the sick spread through the village; and after sunset (before it was not possible, because it was the sabbath), “they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.” The gospel points out that “the whole town was gathered at the door” of the house of Simon. The beginning of Jesus’s ministry would seem very successful indeed! Even in this case, Jesus did not disappoint the expectations of the crowd: “He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and drove out many demons.” The healing of these people is a sign that the kingdom of God has arrived. The kingdom of God is not a matter of words; it transforms the reality. In the synagogue, the people asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority.” Jesus does not limit himself to comfort those suffering; he heals them. That is exactly the kingdom of God.

Once again, Mark points out that Jesus did not permit demons to speak because they knew him. This insistence of Jesus on keeping his identity secret can be explained with the fact that it was not convenient, for the moment, to reveal who he really was, because there were too many wrong ideas going around about the Messiah. 

So, Jesus ends his day doing good. Since he is a true man, he needs some rest. The evangelist does not tell us where Jesus slept; but he says that he got up “very early before dawn” and went off to a lonely place to pray. The previous day he had gone to the synagogue for the communal prayer; but that was not enough for him. He needed some time for personal prayer, in which he could meet the Father face to face. Since his days were usually very busy, he devoted himself to prayer during the night or early in the morning. 

But his disciples did not leave him in peace even at those moments: “Everyone is looking for you (Omnes quaerunt te!)” Maybe, having seen his success on the previous day, they feared he could miss a great opportunity. But Jesus did not care about success; he had come to preach everywhere. So, he left Capernaum to go to the nearby villages to preach in their synagogues and drive out demons throughout the whole of Galilee. 

The same zeal we find in Saint Paul. Preaching the gospel, for him, is not a boast, but a duty: “Woe to me, if I do not preach the gospel … I have become all things to all, to save at least some.” Shall we have the same eagerness to testify the gospel?