Fifth Sunday After Epiphany + February 7, 2021
Prayer Of The Day
God Whose very breath is life, you are compassion and consolation to all who suffer. Bless us with your healing and wholeness, empowering us to be witnesses of your good news to all Creation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
A Reading From The Book Of The Prophet Isaiah 10:21-31
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
WE PRAY PSALM 147:1-11, 20 C
Hallelujah! How good it is to sing praises to our God! How pleasant it is to honor God with praise! The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem, and gathers the exiles of Israel. The LORD heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. The LORD counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names. Great is our LORD and mighty in power; there is no limit to God’s wisdom. The LORD lifts up the lowly, but casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music upon the harp to our God, who covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth, making grass to grow upon the mountains. God provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they cry. God is not impressed by the might of a horse, and has no pleasure in the speed of a runner, but finds pleasure in those who fear the LORD, in those who await God’s steadfast love. Hallelujah!
A READING FROM PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 9:16-23
If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
THE HOLY GOSPEL, ACCORDING TO ST. MARK 1:29-39
As soon as Jesus and the disciples left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Can you remember the first film or TV special you saw about Jesus? Usually they emerge around Lent and Easter, or Advent and Christmas, and usually they are a wonderful opportunity to visualize what the four Gospel writers are trying to convey about this Jesus, who they present to us as our Lord and Savior. They can be very moving and leave a profound impression on mind and heart and spirit. Most folks would agree that among the most powerful scenes are the miracles. Besides special effects and amazing results, the expression on the faces of those whom Jesus has healed, invariably affects the human heart. Even the less spectacular ones, such as Mark recounts for us today, focuses us on an aspect of Jesus: his compassion, empathy, tenderness, and most of all, yet least discussed, his determination to set us free! In each story, in every miracle, we find Jesus missional intention to remove every obstacle that binds or prevents a person from fulfilling God’s vision for their lives, and their role in the Kingdom of God’s dream. But the miracle, whether a simple and less astounding one, such as relieving Peter’s mother in law of her fever, or as magnificent as restoring sight or raising the dead, can so capture our imagination, and so amaze and enthrall us, as to miss this determined and intentional motivation of Jesus: to free us, and restore us to our dignity and destiny as God’s beloved. As we move through the many accounts of miracles that Mark has preserved for us, and perhaps even view one or more film accounts of the life of Jesus, I pray you will both marvel at the miracle itself, as a witness to the power of the Love of God, and also take some quiet time to ponder what a miracle really is: that same power of Love, that will not tolerate anything that threatens to divide any person from God’s desire for their fulfillment as persons, being loved into existence every moment of every day; each one of us indispensable to God’s dream for all Creation redeemed, restored and glorified. Amen