This passage is a summary from Mark on the healing ministry of Jesus. The venue mentioned is Gennesaret, but it may very well have been Dalmanutha or Bethsaida or Capernaum, all small townships on the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee, the focus of Jesus’s early ministry. Word about his healing powers has spread like wildfire. Jesus cannot move about incognito any more. He is immediately recognized by the crowds. Wherever he goes, farmsteads, villages or towns, they lay the sick in the marketplaces and beg him to let them simply touch the edge of his cloak. He is constantly besieged by people asking to be healed. Perhaps it’s natural. Illness is so much part of our daily experience, we make a beeline to any skilled and compassionate medical practitioner, one who possesses the ‘healing touch’. But there’s also an element of self-centredness too, as patients strive to outdo each other in their clamour for the Lord’s attention. Which makes one ask: were there really so many sick people in Jesus’s day ? The answer is, yes, there were. More than we like to think. And illness continues to afflict us today as a sign of our frailty and mortality. All of us crave wholeness and abundance in life; and at the same time, most of us realize how very rarely we achieve this. Illness remains our primary anxiety, even more than poverty; and nothing so upsets our sense of ourselves, our self-possession, than becoming prey to illness. This is why the first task of Jesus - as the Gospels present it - is to bring about a right relationship to our bodies and to society. When one is restored to health, one can praise God and listen to his word, one can accept the good news of the kingdom and live accordingly. To listen to God’s word without distraction implies that we are in harmony, within and without.
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