With one hand God “builds up Jerusalem” and with the other “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:2-3). While structures must change for people to find healing, individuals must give up their sinful ways and turn to God to redeem their nations.
Jesus’ healing stories highlighted in this month’s lections form neither the alpha nor the omega of his ministry. In their larger context, these healings follow his proclamation of the coming reign of God and precede his journey toward the cross and resurrection. Healing is the byproduct of lives that are deeply touched by love and liberation, whether that liberation is from brutal oppression or one’s own sinfulness.
Jesus’ ministry takes place under Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, a protectorate of the Roman Empire. The healing power of compassion and sacrifice faces the triumphal power of systems striving for hegemony.
Any parallels with our search for healing and salvation—as persons and as a people—in our time and place? Is Get Rich or Die Tryin’ just a current movie or is it also a national mantra? In our pursuit of wealth and power, it is easy to overlook our own health and, intentionally or not, stand in the way of wholeness for countless others.
In the weeks ahead, the prophet and the Savior respond to the great good news of ascension, healing, and transfiguration with “keep silent,” “say nothing to anyone,” and “tell no one.” What’s up with that?
Robert Roth is a writer and social activist in East Lansing, Michigan.
Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11, 20; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39