Healer and Miracle Worker

Scripture Reading

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing, 
a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, 
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, 
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, 
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him 
and shout, “You are the Son of God.”
He warned them sternly not to make him known.
(Mark 3:7-12)

 

Scripture Study

3:7–8 This passage stands in sharp contrast to the previous, where the only recorded reaction to Jesus’ act of healing is the smoldering fury of his opponents. Here his popularity among ordinary people skyrockets. Mark stresses the fact that people are flocking to Jesus from every corner, not only from Jewish lands but from among the Gentiles as well.

Aware that violent plans are fermenting, Jesus withdraws toward the sea. The verb withdrew suggests a desire for seclusion in areas removed from human activity (as in 1:35; 3:13; 6:31–32). Perhaps Jesus sought some time for prayer or for privately instructing his disciples. But as usual, just the opposite occurs. His fame as a healer and exorcist has spread far beyond the bounds of his home region. Crowds come from Judea, the area south of Galilee and Samaria, including Jerusalem the capital city. Beyond these predominantly Jewish regions, Mark lists foreign areas in a geographic circle (see map, p. 348). People come from Idumea more than one hundred miles to the south (in present-day southern Israel and the West Bank), from the eastern regions beyond the Jordan River (in present-day Jordan and Syria), and from the area of Tyre and Sidon on the Mediterranean coast to the northwest (in present-day Lebanon). The reader of the Gospel begins to get the impression that the whole world is coming to Jesus.

3:9–10 The frailty of Jesus’ human nature stands out in ironic contrast to his mighty works. Although he cures the infirmities of others by a mere touch, his own body is at risk of being crushed by the crowds mobbing him. He tells his disciples to have a boat ready so that, if necessary, he can put out a bit from the shore and continue to minister to the sick without being trampled (see 4:1). The crowds seem to be less interested in Jesus himself than in what he can do for them. They come in their desperation, some having endured years of debilitating illness and perhaps having given up hope of health and vitality. From their native places far away they have heard rumors of the wonder worker from Nazareth who just might be able to provide the wholeness for which they long. He cured many (“many” signifies a large number and does not imply that some were left uncured; see Matt 8:16), so that the afflicted were pressing upon him (literally, “falling on him”) to touch him. Jesus does not reprimand them but simply allows the physical contact with himself that makes the sick well (Mark 5:27–31; 6:56).

3:11–12 Some of the afflictions involve possession by unclean spirits. Unlike either the religious authorities or the crowds, these supernatural beings have clear and certain knowledge of who Jesus is. He sternly forbids the demons to publicize their superhuman knowledge.[1]

Scripture Reflection

In today’s Gospel we read about crowds coming to Jesus for healing and deliverance from unclean spirits. We hear that people brought the sick from all over the region, as well as those troubled by unclean spirits—and all of them were cured.

Now I realize that we today might be a bit skeptical of such miraculous healings. But it’s hard to deny that Jesus was known as a healer and a miracle worker. And there is abundant evidence that the performance of miracles was a major reason why the first preachers were taken seriously.

Have there been miracle workers and miraculous places up and down the centuries? Yes indeed. But the Church has customarily done this work through its hospitals and clinics, through figures such as John of God, Catherine of Siena, and Teresa of Calcutta. But the Church also serves through its sacraments, which heal sin-sick souls. This is the apostolic dimension of the Church’s life, and without it, it would no longer be the Church. Parishes, parish priests, missionaries, servants of the poor and sick—the whole apostolic life of the Church is represented here.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

[1]  Mary Healy, The Gospel of Mark, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 70.