Epiphany 5B

Thoughts on Today’s Lessons for Feb. 8, 2015

Jesus heals Simon's mother-in-law. Orthodox icon.

Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law. Orthodox icon.

First Reading: Isaiah 40:21-31

God is very large. We are very small. God is very powerful. We are very weak. In striking poetic language that likens us to grasshoppers and our earthly rulers to dandelion puffs blown apart in the wind, Isaiah portrays a transcendent God who is far beyond our imagining. And yet, ultimately, this mighty, eternal and all-powerful God lifts us up on eagle’s wings and gives us the power and the strength to wait for God and to follow God’s ways.

Psalm: Psalm 147:1-12, 21c

Echoing Isaiah’s message in one of the six exultant hymns of praise that conclude the Psalms, the Psalmist celebrates the glory of the powerful, all-knowing God who counts and names even the stars of heaven, and who has guided the people home from exile and bound their wounds. God is unimpressed by the powerful and the strong. but God cares for the weak and lowly; God gently tends the broken and the brokenhearted.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-23

What is Paul saying here? Be “all things to all people” to proclaim the Gospel? Even in a good cause, it seems hypocritical to pretend to be something that you’re not. But that’s not really Paul’s message. As in last week’s advice not to be a stumbling block to others, Paul urges the people of Corinth to love one another and work together to spread the good news. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Jewish, Gentile, strong or weak: Honor each other in your differences. Then unite to share the good news of the Gospel.

Gospel: Mark 1:29-39

Jesus goes from the synagogue at Capernaum to his friends Simon and Andrew’s home, where he cures Simon’s mother-in-law’s fever. Healed of her weakness, she gets up to serve them. But note well that Mark’s Greek word for “serve” is “διηκόνει,” the same word that describes those who came forward to support the Apostles as they spread the Gospel; the same word from which we get our modern “deacon.” Just as Jesus cared for Simon’s mother-in-law and all who came for exorcism or healing, deacons vow to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely.

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