Today’s Gospel reading shows us two sides of Jesus’ mission. When he arrives at the house of Simon and Andrew, and hears that Simon’s mother in law is sick with fever, he goes straight to her and cures her. Thanks to the healing touch of Jesus, she can resume her role in the family. Later in the evening, all the sick and troubled people of the town are brought to Jesus, and he reaches out to them with compassion. No one is turned away. This is Jesus the healer.
But the dawn finds Jesus alone, away from the crowds. In order to carry out his mission, Jesus needs to spend time in prayer, alone with God his Father. By this time of prayer, he ‘recharges his batteries’ and gains strength for his ministry among the people.
When Jesus’ disciples come looking for him, he tells them that he has come to preach. This is the other side of his mission. Mark tells us that Jesus went all through Galilee, preaching the Good News and casting out the devils that tormented them. Preaching and healing go together; one is incomplete without the other. As his disciples, Jesus calls us to follow in his footsteps: to reach out to our neighbours with compassion, and to bring them the Good News that they need to hear.