My question as you go out into the world this week is, what can you do? What can you say? Who can you be with? That will make earth a little bit more like heaven.
In the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Please sit.
As we continue our gospel teaching of the models and the stories of Jesus teaching across Galilee, across Jerusalem, and what we have is a model, as we’ve already talked about, of Jesus being very different to all of the other teachers at the time, the way that he called his disciples, the way that he taught not just with words, but with signs.
He was something very different. And people could see this. And people reacted to this in my sermon not that long ago on the feeding of the 5000, I told you that the first miracle in that gospel wasn’t that Jesus had multiplied the loaves of bread and the fish. The first miracle was the fact that there were so many people there waiting to hear what this man had to say. And we are getting the hints of that now here in Mark, the coming of the crowds, the coming of the people when they hear about this teacher who teaches not just in words, but in deeds, who teaches with authority, who teaches with love, who cast out devils, who heals the sick in body and mind.
And so people start to gather to hear him speak and not just in the synagogues, but in the town squares. And even when it might be reasonable to say, well, you know what, Jesus you are, you are human as well as fully divine. You’ve done your you’ve done your hard work today. Go home now. Go home and rest. Even when Jesus goes home, even his closest friends, the disciples say to him, Jesus, I know you’ve had a really hard day, but my mother in law is poorly in bed.
Will you come and see her, please? Jesus doesn’t complain. He doesn’t say there’s lots of examples of Jesus snapping at his disciples throughout the Gospels, but not here, not here Jesus goes and he cures he cures the mother in law. Actually, there is a whole sermon in the way that the mother in law then reacts to having being healed by Jesus her reaction is not to say, right, I feel better now. I’m going to take some rest and build my strength up.
Her reaction when she is healed is to immediately serve Jesus Christ. So he heals the mother in law, he comes back downstairs, now he can have his rest. Well, no, he can’t because people crowded around the door where he was to be healed. Once again, Jesus does not complain. He doesn’t send them away. He doesn’t say come to come to church on Sunday, go to the synagogue. None of that. He heals people there and then.
And he’s not doing this. He’s not doing this healing in order to boast or to show off or to get more followers. I mean, Mark tells us that he tells the devils not to say who he is. He wants to teach people he wants to heal people he wants to open up a relationship with God in every single one of those people, and he is relentless, absolutely relentless in that task. He never draws breath. I’m exhausted just reading the gospel.
But then the penny drops. Jesus is exhausted, Jesus is tired, he has given of himself so much and he has given so much of God’s power that he must have felt tired, he must have felt tired in body, but he must have felt spiritually tired as well. He must have felt worn out. He must have felt thin. And I feel for him in these moments when I read the Gospel because I feel thin at times. Sometimes it’s really hard to come in and say morning prayer.
Sometimes it’s really hard to come in for mass. Sometimes it’s really hard. When I put my feet on the floor in the morning to say in my head, the Lord’s Prayer, I feel thin I feel tired. I feel exhausted. I hear the news and I feel even more exhausted. I read the paper and I feel even more dejected and fed up. And I wonder when all of this is going to end. But today’s gospel, today’s gospel gives us a model, gives us a suggestion of what we can do when we feel tired, when we feel spiritually thin. Jesus gets up before dawn.
I’m not suggesting you get up before dawn. Jesus gets up before dawn and he takes himself somewhere quiet and he prays to God, his father. The only way to heal yourself from being spiritually thin, from being spiritually worn out. Is to speak to God, your father, to call him in those quiet moments, and I’ve talked before about that special time before dawn and I talked about that time when you wake up at 3:00, 4:00 in the morning.
And admittedly, it’s because I normally need a wee but three or four o’clock in the morning, those little niggles worry those little things come to us in those quiet, small hours. That’s where we have our doubts. It’s when we’re at our thinest, it’s when we’re at our weakest, both in body and mind, and it’s in those small hours, it’s most important to call out to God our father. And it’s the same in our day to day life when we are thin, when we are exhausted, when we are upset, when we are sad, they are the most important times to pray to God, our father in the quiet time on our own, and there’s always time to offer that prayer.
You don’t have to get up before dawn, you don’t have to do anything special. It can just be those quiet moments when you’re walking to the shops. When you are sitting on the bus. When you notice in yourself that you are tired, pray. Ask for strength. God will send somebody to help. In the case of the gospel, God sent the disciples to find Jesus, are you alright?
Yeah, I’m OK. And you know what, let’s carry on, let’s go to the small towns, let’s go to the country towns around Galilee, and that’s preach the good news because that’s what I’m here for. The mother in law, when she is healed, immediately serves God. Jesus when he has prayed to God, his father immediately sets out to preach the good news. That must be our motto. We must be accessible everywhere to anybody who ever has a question of Jesus whoever has a question about God to be able to answer them.
We won’t choose those moments, just as Jesus didn’t choose them, choose the moments, but we must be always ready to answer those questions. So why then why was Jesus able to speak about God in such a compelling way? What was it that connected with people? We’ve talked about the authority, we’ve talked about the sings, but Jesus was teaching something new, something different,
Jesus never, ever separated words and actions. When Jesus said something, he did something, when Jesus talked about the healing love of God, he healed people.
Words and actions together it’s at the heart of who we are at Saint Anselm, because Jesus is at the heart of who we are. We don’t just preach. We do. We don’t just say help the poor, help the needy, help the broken in Spirit we do it.
Jesus never separated the soul and the body. The’re one, it’s tempting sometimes to fall into a spiritual life where prayer is everything, we’re going off into the quiet spaces is everything, and that anything to do with the body is wrong and icky and should be ignored.
But to take that approach is to ignore who Jesus was. Sometimes you can be so consumed by the body that you forget about the soul, and if we’re honest, that’s probably the thing that most of us fall into. We care far more about our body than we do about our soul. Just imagine the change in the world there would be if as many people who were obsessed with going to the gym and doing sit ups every morning came to morning prayer and mass. You need to feed both the body and the soul, just as Jesus did.
Jesus never separated earth and heaven. Earth and heaven. Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Jesus never separated them, Jesus wanted us to behave on Earth as we will in heaven, Jesus wanted the gifts that we will receive in heaven to be there, for us to taste, for us to experience, now, this is why he was so compelling. This is why he was such this is why he drew those crowds.
So my my question for you this week, my question as you go out into the world this week is what can you do? What can you say? Who can you be with? That will make Earth a little bit more like heaven. What’s your path? In your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. What’s your role in the awesome story of God’s revelation to us?
Pray about it. But then go and do it.