But have you ever just gotten over the flu or an illness and you feel empowered; you feel like you have to go and do something? It’s the story of so many of the people whom Jesus heals -- they run off telling all who will listen that Jesus has healed them, even when he has specifically told them not to tell a soul. They are filled with new energy; they have been given a new life.
I think it is interesting to note that in the Greek text of today’s Gospel story of the healing of the Peter’s mother-in-law, it says “and coming near, he raised her, holding the hand, and left her the fever, instantly. And she served them.” In the Greek the word that is used for “raised” is the exact same word that is used at the empty tomb when the angel speaks about Jesus being “raised” from the dead. Scripture scholars have noted that the author could have used other words but chose to use the same word later used for Jesus’ resurrection. Surely not lost on the first hearers of the Gospel of Mark.
In a very real way, the healings Jesus performs are often very truly a form of resurrection as the healed person is not just returned to health but they are returned to family and society, often having been social outcasts because of their disease or illness.
The healing allows them to rejoin society, and rebuild their human relationships that had been broken by their illness. Several healings appear in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, and Jesus’ fame is beginning to spread as we hear that. People start to gather at Peter’s house bringing the sick and the lame for Jesus to heal.
And the next day, Jesus says he and the disciples must move on to the next village. He pushes on because he feels the pull of his mission to proclaim the bursting forth of the Reign of God!
He feels the pull of the preaching of the Good News of God! It is that mission that Jesus gave to his disciples -- to preach the Good News -- even unto the ends of the earth!
One of our Spiritan theologians, Rev. Tony Gittins, C.S.Sp., used to say that “the church doesn’t have a mission so much as the mission has a church”! The church exists for the sake of the mission Jesus gave to his disciples. And it is that mission that drives the church and shapes its direction. It should be that mission that drives all Jesus’ disciples!
This is part and parcel of what, I believe, Pope Francis is trying to get across to the church today, attempting to help us understand that we are called to live the Gospel in and through our words and actions “in the world,” in and through our daily lives.
Evangelization is not a thing we do that is separate from the rest of our daily lives. It is lived out by how we inhabit our daily lives. The preaching of the Gospel -- the Good News of Jesus Christ -- is a way of being in the world. It is proclaimed through our relationships with our families and friends, with our classmates and coworkers, with our neighbors and with the strangers whose paths we cross each day.
We proclaim the Gospel in small acts of kindness as well as in profound acts of peace making and justice building. We proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ by showing our love of the other -- the one who is different from me, the one who is made outcast, who is discriminated against, and by seeing the one who has been made invisible and unheard and looked down upon as a human being.
By seeing them, acknowledging them, raising them up, we proclaim the core message of the Gospel: that God made you, sees you, knows you and deeply and passionately loves you, just as you are!