Jesus’ ministry in Galilee after his baptism and temptation in the desert begins in Mark’s gospel with a remarkable day, a “paradigmatic day,” a day you can see everything you need to know about Jesus. Our readings at Mass this week from Monday to Wednesday describe that day, appropriately a Sabbath day.
Passing along the Sea of Galilee Jesus calls Simon and his brother Andrew, then James and his brother John. “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They accompany him.
Then, they enter the synagogue in Capernaum on the Sabbath Day and Jesus begins to teach. The people are amazed; no one has taught like him before.
Then, as it happens through his life, evil appears. A man with an unclean spirit cries out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said,“’Quiet! Come out of him!’
“The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.’”
Leaving the synagogue, the people tell everybody they meet. News spreads quickly from Capernaum, a trading center, and the day is still not over.
From the synagogue Jesus enters Peter and Andrew’s house in Capernaum where Peter’s mother in law is ill. “He grasped her by the hand, and helped her up and the fever left her. Immediately she began to wait on them.” “Again, the news spreads. “After sunset, as evening drew on, they brought all who were ill and those possessed by demons. Before long, the whole town was gathered outside the door. He cured many who were variously afflicted.”
Truth and life came to that town, and from that town Jesus goes to other towns as well: “ I must proclaim the good news to them too,” he says.
He confronts evil wherever he goes. Jewish leaders from Jerusalem question his authority to cure on the Sabbath, his own disciples and his own family do not understand him. The towns that welcomed him, reject him. Still, he announces the good news.
To appreciate Mark’s remarkable day in perspective, try reading the gospels of these three days all a once. You can see Mark at his best, describing God’s beloved Son announcing the good news to the towns of Galilee and to the world as well.