1st Week of Ordinary Time (16th January, 2019)
First Reading: Heb 2:14-18
Gospel: Mk 1:29-39
During the ministry of Jesus, there existed always some misunderstanding or other about the nature and purpose of his ministry. Only a very few like St. Peter or Nathaniel who came to seek Jesus at night or ironically even evil spirits who recognized his divinity. For instance, we see in Mk 1:24 where the man possessed by evil spirit cries, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God” (Mk 1:24)) What marvels us is that the disciples who were called to be with him and heard his preaching and witnessed his ministries etc. could not in fact understand Him properly. An instance these misunderstandings are given in today’s Gospel.
What we see in the gospels is that although the disciples were taught His power, witnessed His miracles and saw that He could do anything like calming the tempest wind (Mk 4:35-41), feeding the five thousand (Mt 14:13-21) etc., they only stopped with this knowledge and did not go beyond what they saw. In other words, they failed to understand that His words and deeds indicated the love God and were signs of the Kingdom of God.
In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus inviting them to the proper understanding to the nature of His ministry and purpose of His birth on this earth. They were very eager to see him perform more and more miracles and hear all the wonderful words coming out of Him but Jesus corrects them saying, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for this is why I came out”.
Gospels in several places mention of the character and purpose of his ministry such as “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:26) and then he says, “I came so that all may have life and life in abundance” (Jn 10:10). In another place St. John makes mention about the purpose of Jesus’ coming as to witness to the truth of God’s love. In other words, in reply to the question of Pilate, Jesus says, “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this reason I came into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. (Jn 18:37-38). In another place we find the purpose of Jesus’ coming in the Gospel of Mark who says, “For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many” (Mk 10:45).
Thus, these sayings make us realize that Jesus Christ came to save us from our sinful nature to walk in the path of humility, love and forgiveness. His preaching and acts of healing were really expressions of those purposes embedded in them. May our understanding too may not remain only in the knowledge level but go beyond to experience His love and forgiveness and share it with others in humility. Amen.