Sunday Readings

Readings Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Andrea Mardegan comments on the readings of the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Andrea Mardegan-January 31, 2021-Reading time: 2 minutes

The Gospel of Mark is, according to the most widespread opinion today, the first to have been written, and, according to Bishop Papias of Hierapolis (70-130 A.D.) in his work Explanations of the Sayings of the Lord, it derives from the preaching of Peter in Rome. In one of the few fragments that remain, it says that Mark was Peter's interpreter and that he was his disciple, and that he writes what he remembered of what Peter related of the facts and sayings of the Lord.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202 A.D.), years later, added that Mark wrote it in Rome, after the death of Peter. We think of this tradition when we notice in Mark some particulars that seem to be "visual" memories. For example, the frequent recourse to the adverb "immediately" (in Greek euzús). In the first two verses of today's Gospel, he uses it twice: "Jesus, leaving the synagogue, euzús went with James and John to the house of Simon and Andrew" and "Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and immediately (euzús) spoke to him about her".

In his Gospel 42 times he says "immediately", while this adverb is used 18 times in Matthew, 7 in Luke and 6 in John. Mark is very attentive to the visual description of the action and the rapidity of the events. He describes Jesus, who after having expelled the demon from the man who had suddenly (euzus) insulted him in the synagogue, "immediately" takes care of the fever of Peter's mother-in-law. He takes her by the hand, without saying a word: the power of the touch of the Son of God, who, together with his whole body, will often be the vehicle of his healing power. In the evening, they can start moving again, free from the Sabbath rest, and they bring the sick to him. Jesus heals and frees from evil personally, one by one, but his action is directed to all.

Mark underlines many times this universal destination of Jesus' attention: "all the sick", "the whole city", "he cured all those who were afflicted with various diseases and cast out many demons", and Simon, who tells him "everyone is looking for you!", and Jesus replies: "Let us go somewhere else, to the nearby villages" and he will go to "all Galilee". The totality of the horizon of Jesus' heart is greater than that of Simon, who has in mind only the inhabitants of his city. Mark gives us the synthesis of Jesus' journey and his actions: he preaches, he heals, he prays. Jesus manages to be there for everyone, and at the same time not to be dependent on the crowd and its demands, and reserves time for himself to be with the Father. He leaves early in the morning, before everyone else, and goes to a solitary place to pray. He likes to pray in nature and in solitude. In this way he educates those who follow him. And us.

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