[Excerpted from the January/February 2018 issue of Emmanuel. Blessed Sacrament Father Paul J. Bernier served for many years as the editor of Emmanuel. He is a popular writer, preacher, and director of retreats. Among his many published works is Ministry in the Church: A Historical and Pastoral Approach, Second Edition, published by Orbis Books in 2015.]
Today’s readings focus on the sufferings of the human condition and how Jesus touches us with his compassion as we journey through life. Last week’s gospel passage presented the cure of the paralytic. In today’s cure of Simon’s mother-in-law and all who came to his door, we are invited to see Jesus again proclaim his authority and his ability to communicate the fullness of life to those who believe in him. These initial acts of healing are key to understanding Jesus and lead up to the ultimate healing when even death itself is overcome.
Once again, Jesus silences the demons. The famous “messianic secret” that runs through Mark’s Gospel, whereby Jesus enjoins people not to reveal his identity, is most probably tied to the nature of true belief in Christ. Demons might utter all the right words and expressions, but if they really understood and believed them, their lives would be changed and they would give Jesus their complete allegiance. Anything else falls short of the truth and is not Gospel.