At Once


Mark 1

File:Athos-Evangeliar Heilung der Schwiegermutter.jpg

Healing Peter’s Mother-in-law, from a 13th century manuscript from the Athos monasteries

30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

“They told him about her at once.” The word translated ‘at once’ is commonly translated ‘immediately’. It is used 11 times in this opening chapter of Mark’s gospel: Immediately, as Jesus comes up from the water of his baptism, the heaven’s open. Immediately, the Spirit drives him out into the wilderness. Immediately, Simon and Andrew leave their nets to follow Jesus. Immediately, Jesus calls James and John and they leave their father. Jesus even enters the synagogue immediately on the Sabbath – and, immediately, the unclean Spirit cries out against him.

There is an urgency in Mark’s Gospel, a breathlessness, a story the evangelist cannot wait to tell – a story of God’s invasion of the world, God’s dawning reign, God’s victory over evil, God’s dramatic deliverance from the ills that debilitate us.

So leaving the synagogue after driving out the demon, they cross the street to Peter’s house and, immediately, the family tells Jesus that Peter’s mother-in-law is sick.

We don’t generally have that sense of urgency about bringing the distressed to Jesus’ door. We don’t even want to acknowledge that we are sick or in need. Have we lost faith that Jesus is present to make lives whole? Or do we simply not recognize that the Christ who heals is present to others through us? We don’t have to be faith healers to be Christ’s healing presence: listening works wonders.

Healing in the scripture is not primarily about the wondrous reversal of physical conditions; it is about the wondrous reversal of lives: finding meaning, gaining community, healing the spirit.

Compassion. Service. Advocacy. Help. Kindness. God’s healing presence is manifested in myriad ways.  This is the work of Christ in us.


By Anonymous ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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