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Gospel for Sunday, February 7: Mark 1: 29-39

Mark 1: 29-39

29And, leaving the synagogue, they immediately went to the house of Simon and Andrew, in the company of James and John. 30Simone’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever and they immediately told him about her. 31He approached and lifted her up, taking her by the hand; her fever left her and she began to serve them. 32When evening came, after the sun set, they brought him all the sick and possessed. 33The whole city was gathered in front of the door. 34He healed many who were afflicted with various diseases and cast out many demons; but he did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew him.  35In the morning he got up while it was still dark and, leaving the house, he withdrew to a deserted place and prayed there. 36But Simone and those who were with him set out on his trail 37and, having found him, they said to him: “Everyone is looking for you!”. 38He said to them: “Let’s go elsewhere to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too; for this in fact I came!”. 39And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Mark 1: 29-39

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law and many others (1.29-34)

(see Mt 8,14-17; Luke 4,38-41)

Jesus exorcist, Jesus healer. Jesus who comes close to the poor.

When Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, there is a triple miracle because:

  1. Jesus gets close to a woman: in Judaism women had very little social relevance.
  2. He drives away fever from her, that is, a manifestation of evil. What does Jesus say to this mother-in-law? “Eghèiro!”, “Get up!”: It is the same verb as the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus makes us resurrect: attached with Baptism to his death we participate in his resurrection, we rise (Rm 6,3-11).
  3. Jesus carries out a revolutionary action for his time: he is the only rabbi who is known to have accepted the service of women, he is the only rabbi of antiquity who was accompanied by a female following: and here accepting to be served from Pietro’s mother-in-law.

This woman, in Simone’s house, was healed (“the fever left her”) and she began to serve them.

Peter’s house is the Church: the community recognizes itself in Peter’s mother-in-law who, healed by Jesus, immediately puts herself at her service. To the extent that we welcome Jesus as Savior, to the same extent we serve him.

She is with Jesus to go and serve. And “he served them”: a verb in the imperfect, which therefore indicates a continuous action. There is always a double movement: freed from the spirit of evil, being with Jesus, reconciled internally, reunited internally from our schizophrenia, freed from our anxieties, from our anxieties, we must become servants. The evangelical perspective is that of service: Jesus himself will serve at the table and wash the disciples’ feet, like the master in the parable “serves the servants” in Luke 12.37.

“They brought him all the sick, but he did not allow the demons to speak because they knew him” (v. 32): the miracle for Jesus is never a propaganda gesture. Jesus never performs miracles to demonstrate that he is the Son of God. Jesus performs miracles because he shares the suffering of the sick person, and wants to remove the evil from him. Every time Jesus heals someone, he recommends not telling anyone: it is the so-called “messianic secret”. In fact, he feared that they would frame him in a triumphalistic and glorious vision: his way was instead that of the Cross, he was the Messiah who had to die. For Jesus, therefore, the miracle is not propaganda, it is not a means of being seen, but a loving participation of the sufferer.

Jesus withdraws in prayer (1.35-39)

These verses are loaded with messages for us.

After a tiring day, Jesus finds time to pray: he reflects and, while listening to the Father, tries to understand his historical mission and the project for its implementation.

  1. Always pray: Paul confirms this (Eph 6.18; 1 Thess 5.17), on the word of Jesus (Lk 21.36). Jesus says to always pray, even if you are tired. Jesus himself prayed, and he was exhausted because all day long he preached and healed the sick, but he always found time to pray.
  2. Jesus got up when it was dark and went into the desert to pray. Here is the whole theology of prayer: it is in silence that the Word of God is heard. I cannot pray with the television on: I need to find that moment, those minutes in my day, in the week, in which I close myself in room, and I remain in silence listening to God speak. If Jesus, who was the Son of God, used these devices, how much more must we who are poor sinners do so.
  3. Primacy of prayer over action. It is not we who save the world: it is God who saved it once and for all in Jesus Christ. So praying is precisely putting yourself aside, recognizing the Lordship of God, recognizing that it is God who works and it is God who converts. Praying is drawing light and strength for practice. How many times do we instead use the excuse of verse 37. The disciples go to Jesus and say to him: “Everyone is looking for you, there are many sick people to heal, there are many people to convert”: but Jesus was praying. How many times do we, in the Apostolate or in Volunteering, say that we cannot pray because we have too much to do. How many times do mothers say: “How can I pray? I have children to follow, to take and pick up from school.” Fathers: “How can I pray? I work all day, I’m busy.” But  prayer is a fundamental element of the Christian life. This is how Cardinal Angelo Comastri recounts his meeting with Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “She looked at me with two clear and penetrating eyes. Then she asked me: “How many hours do you pray every day?”. I was surprised by such a question and tried to defend myself by saying: «Mother, I expected from you a call to charity, an invitation to love the poor more. Why do you ask me how many hours I pray? Mother Teresa took my hands and squeezed them between hers as if to convey to me what she had in her heart; then she confided to me: «My son, without God we are too poor to be able to help the poor! Remember: I am just a poor woman who prays. By praying, God puts His Love in my heart and so I can love the poor. Praying!’”.
  4. Finally, true prayer is always for the mission. Prayer is not to save your soul: prayer is to go to your brothers, to chase away demons, prayer is to then throw yourself back into society to create concrete signs of the Kingdom of God.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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