Gospel Reflection Questions

February 8, 2015 - Reflection Questions 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 12:02:00 AM

February 8, 2015

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 1:29-39


29 On leaving the synagogue he [Jesus] entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. 30 Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. 31 He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.


32 When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. 33 The whole town was gathered at the door. 34 He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.


35 Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and those who were with him pursued him 37 and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you." 38 He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come." 39 So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.



Last Sunday, the Gospel described Jesus’ arrival in Capernaum, and on the Sabbath going to the synagogue. On that Sabbath Jesus took his turn to teach, and also cast an unclean spirit out of a man. Those who witnessed the event were amazed and remarked that Jesus was teaching with a new kind of authority. (Luke 1:27) The text for last week ended, “His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.” (Luke 1:28)


The text for this week follows immediately after last week’s Gospel, and it is composed of three separate events. Like last week, the events are told with sparse detail: Jesus cures Simon’s mother in law, Jesus cures those who are brought to him from the town, and finally Jesus seeks out a place of solitude to pray. 


After Jesus leaves the synagogue, which suggests that it is still the Sabbath, he enters the house of Simon. They tell Jesus about Simon’s mother-in-law, but he goes to her, touches her, and restores her to health. Illness was associated with the power that death had over a person. The word used to describe the healing is “ederiro” which means “raised up,” an expression that is typically used in accounts of the resurrection. She then begins to wait on them, and the word here is “diagoneo” which is not the word that would describe the typical service roles of women of the day. Rather, the term denotes “service within the community.” As was the case last week, Jesus has once again broken the Sabbath tradition, and he has demonstrated power over an evil that threatens life.  Peter’s mother-in-law is freed to minister to the community.


In the second scenario, Mark describes the result of the spread of Jesus’ reputation throughout the area. The crowds wait until after the sun has set and the Sabbath has ended. Travel is now permitted, and they come with the sick to be cured. 


Jesus needs to flee to a place of solitude in order to pray.  The verbs carry the connotation that his intention is an “extended time away.” Simon and the others go looking for him, and their statement, “everyone is looking for you,” (verse 37) suggests that they think he should return to those who are seeking him. Jesus responds by saying he intends to go to other villages to preach. The text ends with a statement summing up Jesus’ ministry in the area as preaching and driving out demons (verse 39).


Last week the gospel brought to light a contrast between the evil spirits, who knew who Jesus was, and the crowd and disciples who were all left asking, “what is this?” (Mark 1: 27) This week, the contrast is between the disciples, who think that Jesus should respond to crowd who have come seeking him, and Jesus, who knows that he must get away from that crowd in order to pray and then move on to other villages and minister to those who need to hear his message.


Reflection Questions:

1.      What is your typical reaction to people who seem to be sick and perhaps contagious?

2.      What are some of the consequences for you when you are sick and unable to carry out your responsibilities?

3.      Have you ever been quarantined because of some illness?

4.      What happens within you when you are able to return to normal activities?

5.      What might be some of the reasons Jesus does not keep the Sabbath traditions that were so important to religious leaders of the day? Why do you think Jesus’ practice does not seem to bother those who come to him?

6.      Using this text, what are some of the values that seem to matter the most to Jesus? What are some of the things that seem to matter to Simon? What matters the most to the crowds?

7.      How do you think Simon and the others felt when Jesus rejected their suggestion that they return to those who were looking for him?

8.      Have you ever felt like you needed to abandon something that you were successful at in order to do what you felt was the right thing to do, or even what God was calling you to do?

9.      Jesus seems to have walked away from curing people who were coming to him back in Capernaum, in order to peach to others. If this reveals God’s priorities, what does that say to you about God’s desire for you?

10.  Do you ever feel too busy to pray? What would you like to tell Jesus about his ability to say no to Simon and to all those who were coming to him?

11.  What does it say to you about Jesus’ freedom, that he is able to set aside the Sabbath restrictions of the day and/or the suggestions of his disciples?



On Wednesday of each week, the Gospel for the upcoming Sunday is posted at the following link: http://www.il-ritiro.org/gospel-reflections.aspx


Reflection questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM.

They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Joe Thiel.

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A Spanish translation of the reflection questions is made possible by Fernando Alessandrini.


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