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Old Testament:                 Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm                                  147
Epistle:                               1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Gospel:                               Mark 1:29-39

Hello friends, my name is Dr. Mark Hobson, and welcome to this homily on the readings for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany. In the Episcopal Church, Epiphany, a word meaning manifestation, is the season after Christmas and before Lent. Each week of the season in the Gospel, we see another manifestation of who Jesus is for our world. The title of this teaching is “Everyone is Searching for Jesus.” We begin our video teaching today with the proclamation of the Gospel.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark + (May the Word of the Lord be in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart).

After Jesus and his 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 sundown, 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.

The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Christ!

In our first reading today from the Prophet Isaiah, the writing is a celebration of the Divine work of God in creation that displays God’s majesty. God stretched out the heavens and created the foundations of the earth. God is great in strength and mighty in power. Isaiah proclaims “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.” Further, those who follow God, 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 grow faint.” Isaiah tells us we may lean into God and draw our strength from Him.

Psalm 147 continues with these themes of dominion, power, and wisdom of our God, and God gladly shares this spiritual power with believers. “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; there is no limit to his wisdom.”  And more, “the Lord has pleasure in those who fear him, in those who await his gracious favor.” The ancient authors of the Hebrew Scriptures tell us we must and should rely upon the Lord for His word is trustworthy, His strength is limitless, and God loves His people with an everlasting love.

In Saint Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth, we read that Paul is obligated to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will listen. Due to his own salvation, Saint Paul says, “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.” Paul has willingly given over his will in gratitude for his own salvation from sin and death to share this good news with others. Paul also knows that in sharing the good news, he is blessed by God. He feels the love and companionship of God in fellow believers. Salvation is a free gift of God to those who listen and believe in Jesus.

Now we turn our attention to Mark’s Gospel, as again this week we read from chapter one. After the first miracle of Jesus, the healing of a man with an unclean spirit, Mark brings us to the house of Simon Peter where his mother-in-law is stick with a fever. Jeus quietly and quickly goes to heal her instantly in a very intimate and private scene. She takes the hand of Jesus, and she is healed. We contrast to this healing to the first miracle of Jesus where “his fame began to spread.”

We learned last week that Mark’s Gospel is the first writing of the “good news,” a Greek term described by “euangelion” or the root word of evangelization that means “joyful tidings.” We also know many of the first-hand accounts of the works and words of Jesus in this Gospel are shared from Saint Peter, as Mark is his protégé and companion. That same evening, people from all around the region were brought to Jesus and he healed them. In Mark’s telling from Peter, it seemed that the whole city was outside his home. Due to the authority of Jesus, His purpose as Messiah, the demons were not allowed to speak because they knew the identity of Jesus. Again, Jesus healed all those who came to Him. Yet in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus apparently got up to pray, by Himself, in a deserted place, and the disciples, led by Peter, “hunted for him” until they found Him. And they said, “Everyone is searching for you.”  Indeed, everyone is searching for the healing love of Jesus Christ in their lives. Once we have touched the Holy One, we want Him forever.

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus will identify Himself at the crucifixion and even then, many will not understand for they have a skewed view of the Messiah. Jesus is not a king of this world. His dignity and strength are found in His Divine passion and human “weakness” as One willing to suffer and die to carry out the Father’s plan of salvation.  Mark reflects the Suffering Servant message of the prophet Isaiah from the Old Testament. The ministry of Jesus is to the sinful, the sick and suffering of this world, to the lowly and marginalized. When we consider our own lives, we are searching for this Jesus, the One who understands our weaknesses, our humanity, yet loves us so deeply that He would sacrifice His own life so we may live forever.

In closing, we see in Mark, that Jesus understands that His time has come. He tells the disciples; we must go now to neighboring towns so I may proclaim the message of good news for that is My mission. And He goes, preaching, teaching, and healing to all who will accept Him.

Mark’s Gospel is the good news for us today. Jesus came to be our companion on our earthly journey. He came to teach us and to heal us because He loves us. We are called to have a personal relationship with Jesus and to share that relationship with others. Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior, and the Savior of the world that He created. Jesus celebrates us. He delights in us. We are the apple of His eye. Jesus is our strength, and when we wait upon Him, He gives us His grace and favor in this life and the world to come. Take the hand of Jesus and be healed. Amen.

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