Let us go elsewhere

The first day, as Mark records it, of Jesus’ ministry ends in triumph. ‘The whole town came crowding round the door.’ He was instantly famous and the disciples knew it and bathed in his reflected glory. They wanted more. ‘Everyone is looking for you’, they said and they expected him to go on building up his reputation.


He could be ‘The Prophet of Capernaum’. He could build a following. There could be a little ‘contribution’ for each healing. The money would roll in. No need for that laborious fishing all night in the dark, in the cold, in the wet. He could build a stadium, an amphitheatre, like the Romans did. And he could build a palace nearby. It would be great and we would get our share. 

But, no. He said, ‘Let us go elsewhere’. He was not at all happy. They had completely misunderstood what he was doing. They delighted in the healing but he had not come just to work wonders, to enjoy status. He wanted to heal them in their deepest selves. He knew it would cost them a lot. And it would cost him a lot to show them the way. It would require them to change. That would be painful. But the result would be deep peace, happiness.

We have just emerged from 40 days of Christmas. The child in the arms of Simeon in the temple closes the infancy introduction of the Messiah. ‘This child is for the rise of many’ – if they get the message. If they changed their way of thinking. But there would be opposition – from vested interests. 

Some understood. Slowly, they got the message. ‘Here is something new.’ They found joy in their new life. And this was what Jesus wanted. He did not want fame or fuss. He just wanted people to get in touch with the core of their being. To move from the tyranny of the immediate concerns of family, work, relationships – important as they are. He wanted them to ‘go elsewhere’, to go deeper, to begin to sense they are made to share in the divine life. 

‘You believe just because I said I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than that!’ Nathaniel went ‘elsewhere’ with Jesus. He saw immediately he was the Messiah. He came to grasp he had to go beyond his Jewish traditions. He had to change. To grow. It was a tough journey, following Jesus. But he got the point. And the early Christians did too. And the Church was born. It still struggles with people misunderstanding. It always will – until the end.

4 February 2024 Sunday 5 B   Job 7:1-7 1 Cor 9:16…23 Mk 1:29-39

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