‘Mass’ appeal not some ‘fringe’ teaching – Monday, 5th week in ordinary time – Mk 6:53-56
Jesus has fed the five thousand in Capernaum which became his de facto headquarters for ministry and then to the surprise of His disciples walked on water. Unfortunately, after these miraculous displays of His power, the disciples still do not get it. We are told in scripture, 6:52 that, “they did not understand about the loaves, their hearts were hardened.”
What the disciples did not get, the people of Gennesaret understood. Gennesaret which is situated south of Capernaum also lends its name to Lake Galilee which among others is also called Lake Gennesaret or Lake Tiberius. Gennesaret translates as ‘princely garden’. The soil of Gennesaret was known for its amazing fertility and hence the famed gardens of the city. The Bible tells us that the Lake of Gennesaret is where Jesus walked, preached, calmed the storm, and granted miraculous catches of fish, and where Peter walked, at least until he took his eyes off Jesus.
But it is the people of this city whom the Bible focuses its attention on today. We are told that the people recognized Him even though the Bible does not indicate that Jesus walked this city before. Good news they say, travels fast and the poor and those in need are the best carriers of good news for they know where to go to in hard times and willingly share this with others like themselves.
The people of Gennesaret recognize Jesus and waste no time for they “rushed to bring their sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.” The beauty is that Jesus never disappointed those in need. No city, village or farm that He visited in Gennesaret was left without the loving aid of the Lord.
Such was their faith in Jesus that we are told they desired to just touch the fringe of His cloak in order to be healed. The ‘tzitzit’ or fringe was the tassels worn on the four corners of a Jewish man’s garments. The command to wear these fringes came from God and is outlined in Numbers 15. These tassels were there to remind each Jew of his responsibility to fulfil God’s commandments. Earlier in Mark’s Gospel we were told that the people desired to touch Him, now even the fringe of His cloak was faith enough for them.
Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the sick. The Gospel is a reminder to us that Jesus walks into our cities and our lives to make himself accessible to Him so that we may be healed. We do not have to go in search for Him, for our God chose to be ‘Emmanuel’, God with us. He desires our healing, first from sin and iniquity and then the rest follows.
Spend sometime today in silent prayer for the sick in the world and for your own personal healing.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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