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Move over Shades of Gray*

February 8, 2015

because there’s a much better, uplifting book……..

I preached this homily 3 years ago, but I’ve not published it before. These are my notes.

If you want to compare my notes with how it came out in church, the audio recording is at http://www.deaconphilip.podbean.com

Notes on Mark 1: 29-39

Today’s Gospel is often called “The eventful day in Capernaum.”

Jesus teaches and heals in Capernaum. Then he visits Peter’s home. That’s a busy day!

Capernaum was the largest city on the Sea of Galilee, the centre of the fishing industry, and an international trade crossroads.

MARK’S GOSPEL WAS A BESTSELLER, A PAGE TURNER….. It’s a gallop of an story, and this section of Mark’s gospel – the first gospel to be written down, says a lot about Jesus’ disciples:

James and John – Fishermen, brothers, cousins of Jesus.

Simon and Andrew – brothers from Bethsaida, a bit further round the shore. Re-located to Capernaum for business reasons no doubt.

Fishing was big business – these 4 guys are sophisticated, intelligent businessmen – not small scale fishermen.

And all these men were were observant Jews – they went to their local synagogue.

Note that – down to earth, street wise, intelligent men OF FAITH. Faith and reason.

They were not at the mercy of their feelings and emotions, this obsession with emotion and feelings is part of our crazy 21st century culture. Because we believe in God does not mean, as the atheists would have people believe, it does not mean we are irrational, stupid, gullible fools. Quite the opposite.

The site of the synagogue in today’s gospel is known. I have visited to the site in Capernaum, where there is now a 4th Century synagogue that was itself built on the foundations of the synagogue Jesus visited. It’s not very big – oblong, 50 x 60ft, about the length of this church, the width of the sanctuary.

And very close by – a modern, 1960s Catholic church has been built over Peter’s house! Beneath the sanctuary, made of glass, you can see the archaeological excavations of a fifth century Byzantine octagonal church which in turn encompasses a first and second century AD Christian house church – it’s the Church of the House of Peter at Capernaum.

We also learn from the gospel that Peter lived with his mother-in-law.

TWO points:

  1. So Saint Peter, the first Pope, was married (also mentioned in 1 Cor 9:5 – his wife was a believer and went with him on missionary trips.)
  2. Peter looked after his mother-in-law (c.f. Jesus and Mary at the crucifixion).

Why was Jesus invited to dinner?

“Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway.”

Straightaway, immediately – one of Mark’s favourite words!

You see, they knew He could cure illness. And Peter’s mother-in-law had a fever (St Luke calls it a high fever). She was very ill. Dangerously ill – remember, until vaccinations and antibiotics were discovered, people died of fevers. The cause and the cure was unknown until 150 years ago.

Jesus was invited to dinner to cure Peter’s mother-in-law.

NB Miraculous healing – “And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.”

The word was on the street:

“That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils.”

Why ‘after sunset’? Couldn’t do work, carrying people on the Sabbath.

And then Jesus prayed. First thing in the morning.

“In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.” Jesus gets his strength through prayer. He communes with God. That’s important for us too. We must pray, following his example.

Key messages for us in this gospel –

  1. We must not only believe in Jesus, we must have faith in Jesus – We must invite him into our homes.
  2. Prayer – tell Jesus what you want. He will answer. Not necessarily as we want or expect, but in a way that is for our own good or the good of those we pray for.
  3. Tell people about Jesus – they will flock to hear the Good News if you invite them.
  1. We must not only believe in Jesus, we must have faith in Jesus – We must invite him into our homes.
  2. Prayer – tell Jesus what you want. He will answer. Not necessarily as we want or expect, but in a way that is for our own good or the good of those we pray for.
  3. Tell people about Jesus – they will flock to hear the Good News if you invite them.
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