Greetings in the Name of Our Risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
Before I began to write this message for May I browsed through the list of feasts and commemorations for the month of May. Many of them remind us of important events that took place in the history of the Church. The Feast of St. James reminds us of the severe persecution of the Church in her nascent stage. St. Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, reminds us of the controversy as a result of the teaching of a priest named Arius. There was Gregory Dix, a priest, monk and scholar, who contributed much to the development of our Anglican Liturgy. The Feast of Ascension falls on the 14th May, making the end of Eastertide. The Feast of Matthias the Apostle is transferred from the 14th to Monday 15t May. The Feast of St. Helena, protector of the Holy Place falls on 21st May. Whit Sunday falls on 24th May. This is followed by by the commemoration of the Venerable Bede, monk, scholar, historian; Augustine, archbishop, the first official missionary sent from Rome to England. The last day of May is Trinity Sunday when the Church celebrates the Triune God. In our spiritual journey in the contemporary situation there is so much that we can learn from the experience of these prominent figures in the Church. Their contributions to the development of the historic Church are invaluable. Much as I want to write briefly on each one of them, I am constraint by space. I wish, however, to continue with my brief reflection on the Gospel of St. Mark.
In Chapter 6 of the Gospel according to St. mark there are four main divisions: the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth, the mission of the Twelve Disciples, the demise or beheading of John the Baptist, and the three miracles of feeding, walking, and healing.
After the healing of the woman with haemorrhage and raising of Jairus’ daughter from death Jesus went to Nazareth. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue and as his custom was, he taught the people there. People were amazed at the way he taught. One would have thought that the people would accept a person who taught with authority but instead amazingly they rejected him in unbelief. This resulted in Jesus saying a very famous phrase “Prophets are not without honour, except in their own hometown, and among their own kin, in their own house.” (vs.4). So Jesus did not perform many miracles there. After this Jesus sent his Twelve disciples out two by two for mission. There were given authority to proclaim “that all should repent”, “cast out demon, “anointed with oil the sick and cured them.” (vs.13).
The story about Jesus and his disciples and the work that Jesus did was interspersed by the account on the death of John the Baptist. King Herod heard about Jesus and he thought that Jesus was John the Baptist whom his soldier had beheaded in prison to fulfil his promise to his daughter that he would give anything for the beautiful dance that she had performed in front of his guests. On one hand people would say, “What a terrible thing to do”, while on the other, people may say, “What a man of principle Herod was!” Obviously Herod feared more for the loss of his position; he loved his worldly position and earthly kingdom and authority than God.
After the disciples returned from their mission, they met with Jesus again. Many people came to see them that they did not have time for themselves. So Jesus decided to take them away to be alone for a while to have a rest. So they started out in a boat by themselves. They were out in the Sea of Galilee; obviously people could see where they were going. The story goes to tell us that many people followed them and in fact went ahead of them. When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the large crowd and his heart was filled with pity for them, and he began to teach “them many things.” (vs. 34). For it was getting late in the evening that his disciples were anxious about the welfare of the people that they suggested that Jesus should tell them to go back or else they would be famished, but Jesus told the disciples to feed them before they went back home. How to feed so many people in the countryside with nothing much? The disciples only had “Five loaves and two fish.” (vs. 38). For he was concerned for their welfare Jesus performed that miracle of feeding the five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fish.
Two other miracles recorded in this chapter were the miracle of Walking on the water and the healing of the sick in Gennesaret. Again the disciples were in a boat going to Bethsaida, on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was not with them but instead he went to “a hill to pray.” (vs. 46). In the middle of the Sea the disciples were straining at the oars, at that moment Jesus appeared to them walking on the water. When they saw Jesus they were terrified and thought that he was a Ghost. “It is I,” Jesus said, and he got into the boat. The wind died down and the disciples were “completely amazed.” They were in fact at that moment still trying to understand the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.
When they finally came to the other side of the Sea and landed at Gennersaret, people brought to them the sick. Everywhere Jesus went people would take the sick to him and begged him to let the sick at least touch the fringe of his cloak. And all who touched it were made well.” (vs. 56). May we too be healed from all forms of sickness as we seek out to know Jesus more clearly day by day.
May Peace be with you
The Very Rev’d Michael Buma Galami
DEAN OF KUCHING
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