Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year B

Inspired by Mark 1:29-39

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘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.’” Mark 1:35-38 (NRSV)

Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God, cured the sick and the lame, and cast out many demons. His fame spread far and wide, and people sought him out to heal their afflictions.

But Jesus did not come to heal physical afflictions; he came to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. Curing the sick and casting out demons demonstrated the power of his message in a very real and tangible way, but his message was his primary mission.

There are many needs in our own day that Christians are called to address. We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, care for the sick, etc. But all these things are to be done as evidence of the kingdom of God come near, as real and tangible examples of how the power of God can make a difference in people’s lives. The needs are so many, and the workers so few, that we can lose sight of the life-changing and life-giving proclamation if we focus all our efforts on merely easing physical suffering.

The kingdom of God has come near; that is a real event with real power, which we should be willing to demonstrate with our actions. But Jesus was careful not to get so caught up healing people that he failed to proclaim the good news. We too must see our good works as ways to show the power of the message, without losing sight of our primary mission of proclaiming that message.

Let us pray. Compassionate Lord, your kingdom has come near, and you have commissioned us to proclaim your good news. Empower us to demonstrate your love with actions while speaking your words, that all may know your power and your grace. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.