Majesty and mercy

Mountains of the Olympic Peninsula 2Watching for the morning of February 8

Year B

The Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

Majesty and mercy echo through the readings for this Sunday. Jesus leaves the synagogue for Peter’s home (across the street) where he brings God’s healing to Peter’s mother-in-law. When evening comes and Sabbath is over, the town brings all their sick and troubled to Jesus and they are healed.

Such authority to heal and renew belongs to God of course, and of this power and grace the prophet and the psalmist sing. With memorable poetry, Isaiah declares to the exiles in Babylon that God is creator and lord over all creation and will bring deliverance to the people. And in one of the five ‘Hallel’ psalms that conclude the psalter – psalms beginning with Hallelujah, “Praise the Lord” – the poet sings of God’s majesty and mercy: gathering the exiles, rebuilding Jerusalem, and reigning over all creation and every heavenly power.

Majesty and mercy, power and grace, Lord of all and tender healer of the brokenhearted, God knows every star by name – and the name of each one of us.

The people of Capernaum would like to keep such a wonder-worker close at hand, but there is a mission to be fulfilled in the world.

The Prayer for February 8, 2015

Almighty God, healer of all our sorrows,
grant that we might not seek to possess you for ourselves,
but joyfully bear your word and grace to all people;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Texts for February 8, 2015

First Reading: Isaiah 40:21-31
“Those 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 faint.” – The prophet addresses the exiles with a promise that the God who laid the foundations of the earth has not forgotten this people but will restore them:

Psalmody: Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
“Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God.”
– A psalm of praise proclaiming God’s power and grace as revealed in God’s work of creation and in his mercy to Israel.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
“I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.” – In the middle of Paul’s response to the question whether believers can partake of meat that has been offered in sacrifice to other gods – a response that begins with the necessity of not acting in a way that derails another person’s faith – Paul offers himself as an example of serving others in love.

Gospel: Mark 1:29-39
“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.”
– Having summoned Simon, Andrew, James and John, and astounded the crowds in Capernaum with his teaching and authority over the unclean spirits, Jesus dispenses the gifts of God, healing Peter’s mother-in-law and many others in the community. The next morning he announces that they must take this message and ministry to all the towns and villages in Israel.

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