Today we are presented with some rather hectic scenes of clamoring crowds and cures. Jesus’ fame and reputation had surely spread around after his preaching with authority in the synagogue and his expelling the unclean spirit. When he entered Simon’s house they were quick to tell him about Simon’s mother-in-law, ill with a fever. He approached her, grasped her by the hand and helped her up. Renewed by his energy, she set about serving. There is no doubt that the news of her healing ran wild in the neighborhood. So much did this news “go viral” that the whole town was gathered at the door that evening, bringing their sick, their demons, and their many needs.
These were some of the reasons why people flocked to Jesus. Most of them were driven by the hope that their needs would be satisfied. They turned up again very early in the morning when he had withdrawn for some moments of prayer. Peter spoke on their behalf and most likely on his own behalf also. “Everyone is looking for you!” However, Jesus had a rather unexpected reaction. Most people would be very flattered to learn that the crowds were looking for them. Performers always keep the encore act for that very purpose, in order not to disappoint the crowd, as well as to boost their popularity.
Jesus knew what he was about, and it was not popularity. He had a message to preach. He had come for that purpose. The message of the reign of God could not be preached among others if he were to stay in Capernaum working miracles. It is possible that his preaching there was the means through which so many found healing for their various illnesses of body and spirit.
Jesus was compelled to preach the reign of God. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul, a disciple, expressed his need to preach the Gospel because an obligation had been placed on him. Dominic was compelled to preach the Gospel’s truth in the face of a theology that was binding the human spirit. As followers of Dominic, we have the obligation to preach the truth of the Gospel, the message of the reign of God, in the face of the political, economic, social and ecclesial systems that ensnare and imprison our earth and humanity with physical and spiritual chains.
Yes, but what words have we to say that won’t fall flat unless we too are one with the clamoring crowd, seeking the healing of oppressive systems, naming the unclean spirits of greed, and offering the alternative lifestyle of the reign of God.
Elizabeth Ferguson, OP