Friday of Epiphany V – Mark 1:29-39

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed 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.

35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Peter awoke early in the morning. He was weary from the day before, but he could not sleep. They were already gathering outside the door. He peeked out the window and saw the crowd. He walked across the atrium to the room where the master had collapsed, exhausted after the labor of healing and exorcisms of the prior night. The master was not there. Here was the mat and the blanket folded neatly, but the master was gone. Where is he? Peter searched the house. He was not there. He and Andrew left the house, the crowd eagerly surging up when the door opened, disappointment was evident when they saw it was not the master coming out.

They searched the village. No one had seen him. People were starting to get anxious. He recruited James and John and the search spread. It was Andrew who finally found him, kneeling in prayer on an empty hill, east of town. The four of them confronted him. There were people waiting for him back in the village. They were asking and getting a little impatient.

“Let us go on to the next town,” he said.

Peter had in mind to establish a hospital in Capernaum. Would he have called it “Immanuel”? That means “God with us.” But Jesus would not be constrained by the limited imagination of his disciples. He had come to preach and so he went to the villages next door and beyond. Eventually he even came to my ancestors and yours. In Baptism he came to you and he came to me. Jesus will not be constrained by the limited imagination of this generation of disciples either. He will break out of the bounds we might try to establish for him, unwilling only to be heard within the walls of our churches. He loves all people. He would preach to that other village too.

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