February: Allowing Jesus to work in us

February: Allowing Jesus to work in us

Epiphany 5

Sunday 4 February 2024

Mark 1:29-39

We are told that Jesus’ fame has begun to spread throughout the region (v 28) and this is based on healing one man in the synagogue. The word must have spread quickly because now the whole city was gathered around the door. The healings continue – first Peter’s mother-in-law is healed, then ‘many who were sick with various diseases.’

I imagine people are flocking to him in the hope of a life-changing cure from the new wonder-working physician in town. I wonder what celebrity status looked like in Jesus’ time? We recognise it now – lots of media coverage, maybe a TV show, millions of followers on social media. In Jesus’ time it was literally spread by word of mouth only. But Jesus, instead of basking in his fame, ‘would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him’.

Known as the Messianic secret, it continues to be a mystery as to why Jesus wants to keep quiet about who he is.

How is it that the demons recognise him but the disciples and the crowd are slow to perceive who is in their midst?

Perhaps if we have heard Jesus’ story week in and week out all our lives – we become immune to its transforming power.

Lord, as this new year begins to unfold, break in afresh in our lives and challenge and remake us in your image!


Sunday 11 February 2024

Mark 9:2-9

On the Mount of Transfiguration, God speaks clearly to the disciples. Jesus is transformed before their eyes, and they are overwhelmed by the experience. So much so that they want to hold on to it. Peter, and the others were terrified and hence did not know what he was saying when he proposed a building programme on the mountain. This is the original “mountaintop experience”! But what happens when they come down from the mountain (14-29)? The disciples see God at work when Jesus cures the epileptic boy at the plain.

The two experiences belong together in the story – ecstasy on the mountain and epilepsy on the plain. God speaks through them both. But while they are unsure how to respond on the mountain, they are quite clear what they should do on the plain. And because of their inability to act, they feel their failure more keenly.

Sometimes at our “religious” moments, when we feel close to God, we are confident in what we believe God is calling us to do. The real test is whether we are prepared to hear God’s call in the midst of the ordinary. Can we find God in what is mundane, the things that we daily encounter? Mother Teresa used to say that she found God in two places each day: in the broken bread of the communion and in the faces of the dying destitute whom she served.

Lent 1

Sunday 18 February 2024

Mark 1: 9-15

This reading contains Mark’s understanding of the gospel in a nutshell: ‘The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.’ For Simon, Andrew, James, and John, turning to follow this truth in Jesus meant turning from everything they had known – these fishers dropped their nets and left their families.

We often think of the word repent as meaning ‘seek forgiveness.’ The root of the word, though, means ‘to turn around, to change direction.’ Sometimes turning around involves seeking forgiveness from God or a neighbour, but it can mean much more. Turning around may be as dramatic as leaving boats and nets behind to become fishers of people.

• How have you heard and understood the word “repent” over the years? In what ways has that meaning evolved or changed?

• The reading is a call to a community to repent. How might your church or community indicate that it had repented, that it was turning around? What did it turn from? What did it turn to?

God’s call can turn a person around and move her or his life in a different direction. In our own lives, what are we being called to turn away from in order to follow Christ? What are we being called to turn toward?

Lent 2

Sunday 25 February 2024

Mark 8: 31-38

Sometimes the lectionary breaks up a passage, so we don’t get all the context. Our reading this week follows on from Jesus asking ‘Who do you say that I am?’ and Peter making his famous declaration ‘You are the Messiah!’ Peter’s impressive answer gets an “A” for Theories in Christology 101. But within a few verses, he has shown that he did not understand the implications of his claim.

But turning and looking at the disciples he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ (Mark 8:33 NRSV).

There is always the danger that our words do not measure up when we try to talk about Jesus. St Francis (1182 –1286) said on one occasion, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless we preach as we walk.”

So who do you say I am? Isn’t it usually the case that the longer we live a Christian life the more we discover that we can make less and less definitive claims about Jesus?

In some ways it becomes harder to speak about what we know. Jesus’ question to Peter ought to be a reminder to approach with caution our task of speaking about our Lord.

Nonetheless, when we have the courage to say something about Jesus, we run the risk, like Peter of getting it right! The point is to always be open to allowing Jesus to work in us, refining our original answer.

These reflections were prepared by Rev. Dr Katalina Tahaafe-Williams


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