Fifth Sunday of Epiphany

& archive, Year B.

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus,
You  call us to come
To be with you.
By your Spirit help me
To see you
To know you
To follow you.  Amen

Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

This week our lectionary guide bids us linger in Capernaum on the Sabbath. We find ourselves leaving the synagogue where Jesus has just healed a man who was harassed by an evil spirit, and now we are walking to the house of Simon Peter. The hubbub of voices fades as we enter the door. But just then Jesus is confronted with the news that Peter’s mother-in-law is in bed with a fever. With the same calm and authority, Jesus takes her by the hand, and lifts her up in the bed. The fever and weakness leave her body, and with renewed strength and health, she engages in serving a meal.

The Jewish Sabbath ends at 6.00 o’clock in the evening of the Sabbath, and at sunset on this Sabbath evening, a host of persons from the city crowd around the door of Simon’s house, asking for healing from various diseases, and release from demonic oppression. Again Jesus responds, curing those in need.

Finally, all is still. Sleep settles upon the house. But at sunrise the crowd is back at Simon’s door, looking for Jesus, wanting him to tend and to heal. However, Jesus is nowhere to be found.

Our lectionary guide has awoken us in the dark hour before dawn, and called us to follow Jesus as he gets up and leaves the house, walking up into the low mountains behind Capernaum. There in the silence of this deserted place—away from the crowd, away from the many voices who clamor for his care, away from the brilliant possibilities of ministry success there in Capernaum, he enters into conversation with Abba. He listens for guidance, reflects once again on Abba’s call and the Spirit’s anointing on his life and ministry.

While we wait in the silence of early dawn on the mountainside, the voices of Simon and others of Jesus’ followers sound on the mountain path. They are hunting for Jesus.   Their voices invade the solitude and shatter the silence of Jesus’ prayerful listening.  “Everyone is searching for you,” they rush to explain.

But Jesus has been listening to Abba’s voice; the guidance of the Spirit. Freed from the insistent tug of the crowd and their needs, their requests, the voices of his followers, Jesus responds,

“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.”

In the silence and solitude of the mountain, he has received renewed clarity about his call. He is called to travel, to announce the good news:  the kingdom of heaven has come close; turn away from the path you are traveling, and follow me. Learn from me, learn the gracious ways of God’s rule.

Ministry engagement draws us into a multitude of needs among a multitude of people. As one person described it:  to be a minister is like being a lone dog at a whistlers’ convention. All desire our attention; all ask for our help and counsel. This gospel narrative invites us to be with Jesus – as he listens and responds, and as he leaves the house to be alone in prayerful solitude with Abba. It is in such times apart that the busy clamor which invades and occupies our mind and being, begins to lose its hold. And in the quiet we begin to hear another voice:  the voice of God.

Again, we are called to discern, to pay attention to the voices which dominate our life and ministry. As we take time to follow Jesus into solitude, our sense of what dominates becomes clearer, and the power of needing to please, of fear, of the compulsive need to say “yes” to all-comers loses its grip. Like Jesus, we receive clarity and direction for life and for ministry engagement.

For Reflection

Whose voice(s) seem to dominate your life?

In what ways do such voices control and push your life and ministry practice?

As you enter the lectionary narrative, and follow Jesus into the solitude and

silence of the mountainside, what do you notice?

In what way are you becoming aware of God’s voice?  God’s guidance?

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,
You come to us.
You are God
Showing up among us
With us.
By your Spirit
Help me to see you
To know your voice
Among the many voices
To hear you
As you see and hear the deepest
Desires of my soul.

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

  •  1/30      Monday:  Mark 1:29-34
  • 1/31 Tuesday:  Mark 1:35-39
  • 2/1      Wednesday:  147:1-11, 20c
  • 2/2     Thursday:  Isaiah 40:21-31
  • 2/3     Friday: 1 Corinthians 9:36-23
  • 2/4      Saturday: Mark 1:29-34
  • 2/5     Sunday:  Mark 1:35-39