“…they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.” (Mark 1:32, NRSV)
I love this early part of the Gospel according to Mark. The story of Jesus gathering his disciples, performing signs, and proclaiming the Good News, all happens in rapid succession. With this Gospel, we need to sit with the words for a bit and let them sink in because the narrative is spare, and each word or phrase carries so much weight.
So this Sunday, we get to hear some early stories of Jesus healing and casting out demons. Word spread quite fast so that all who were sick or possessed were brought to him. I have always found it curious that the Gospel says they brought all and that Jesus healed many. I don’t think there’s any way to have an encounter with Jesus and not be radically changed. It may not look like a miraculous healing of disease or immediate freedom from some inner turmoil. Too often, we come to Jesus with our agenda of what needs to change in us and our world. We come to him sometimes so insistent on that agenda that we make the mistaken assumption that Jesus doesn’t care or doesn’t listen.
What we hear clearly in the opening stories in the Gospel according to Mark is that everyone who encountered Jesus wanted more of him, yet the Gospel also notes the opposition and confusion from those who seemed to only want what they wanted and seemed to be closed off to the wide and wild possibilities that come from an open and vulnerable encounter with God in Christ.
I wonder what might be different if, when we came to God in prayer, we looked less for a particular outcome or visible result and instead adopted a disposition of openness to whatever transforming, healing, renewing work God works within us.