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2/8/2009 - The Rev. Caron A. Gwynn - The Fifth Sunday of Epiphany

posted May 21, 2010, 6:19 PM by Unknown user   [ updated May 21, 2010, 6:20 PM by Terry Brady ]
God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. The Lord lifts up the lowly,but casts the wicked to the ground. (Psalm 147:3,6, NRSV) Jesus came and took her and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. And Jesus cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons;…(Mark 1:31,34)

Lord let the words of our mouths and the mediation of our hearts be pleasing unto you. Amen.

Mark’s Gospel does not begin with any genealogical background outlining Jesus’family lineage and it does not give a birth narrative of Christ. This gospel of Mark, written prior to the synoptic gospels, begins unfolding the events that comprised the public ministry of Jesus. In the gospel last week, we heard the powerful, authoritative teaching and exorcism in the Capernaum synagogue. The teaching and actions of Jesus reaching out in need demonstrates how close God truly is and Mark tells us that, “the kingdom of God has come near.” (1:15)

We are called to remember the powerful nature of God’s presence in our lives. God is present and close not just during the happy times but also during our struggles as well. Many of us are feeling the strain of a declining economy. Some are wrestling with the chronic health conditions of loved ones and friends, or uncertain employment. Our youths also battle with a number of unprecedented social and community issues.

As frustrating as it all seems - as angry as we may be – as consumed with doubt as we may be - it is in these very times that we are called to hold onto the faithfulness and assurances of the healing power of Christ. The healing power of Christ can free us (or however you want to say that) from depression, illness, fear, guilt, and more. And when we heal, we can help others to heal.

Jesus exhibited love and compassion each time he reached out to heal someone. We see this in our narrative today. Simon most likely informs Jesus of his mother in law’s illness after witnessing Jesus performing an exorcism in the Capernaum synagogue. Simon’s initiative on faith opened the window of opportunity for the healing of his mother-in-law. Simon faithfully placed her in the hands of God through Jesus. Jesus clearly goes against the culture by touching a woman. Touching a woman was unorthodox but Christ gently “took her by the hand and lifted her up.” Her fever vanished and she was restored to health - signaling that the presence of God was with her.

One of my former professors shared a story with the class from his travels to India to work with Mother Teresa. One day at the clinic, Mother Teresa gave him some bandages and ointment. He was surprised and puzzled and he asked Mother Teresa what he was supposed to do with them. Mother Teresa turned him around and told him to go and dress the open sores of the people who were waiting to be treated. The thought of touching these sick people scared him. However, he regained his composure and proceeded to do as he was instructed. He was, nevertheless, very uncomfortable at the onset. However, by the time he finished, he had become a witness to the healing power of touch. He felt the presence of God while bandaging the wounds of the injured patients. strangers.

Significantly, we are reminded that Jesus came into this world, “not to be served but to serve” [Mark 10:45]. Simon’s mother-in-law following her healing* began to serve the* guests and relatives in her home.

Our own healing and restoration can lead us on a mission to love and serve others by offering prayers and a healing touch. As a faith community, we are interconnected through the body of Christ as individuals and corporately bound by our mutual love of Christ. Frederick Boehner says that:

“Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows in to wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for us. To see reality—not as we expect it to be but as it is---is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only when there really is, in just this sense, love.” (Synethesis, 2000)

We are called to reach out with compassion to touch those in need in our homes, schools, and worksites. We are called to remember the loving kindness of Christ who heals us, pardons our sins, and renews our lives by lifting us up by the grace of God. We are called to be the healing hands in the world for Christ. Amen.