‘He cured many who were suffering from diseases’

Fifth Sunday of the Year B

In this week’s reading, Mark sets before us a typical day’s ministry of Jesus in Capernaum. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.

Mark 1:29-39

29 On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. 31 He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her, and she began to wait on them.
32 That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. 33 The whole town came crowding round the door, 34 and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.
35 In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. 36 Simon and his companions set out in search of him, 37 and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ 38 He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ 39 And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

Other readings: Job 7:1-4,6-7 Psalm 146 (147) I Corinthians 9:16-19,22-23


As he begins the story of the ministry of Jesus, Mark sets before us a typical day’s ministry of Jesus in Capernaum. It begins with the healing of the sick man in the synagogue, which we read last week. There are many others who also need Jesus’ help.

Jesus is still accompanied by the four disciples, the first ones to be called. The evangelist tells us how he heals the mother-in-law of Simon Peter. While our translation says that he ‘helped her up’, the Greek original is, literally, ‘he raised her up’. This is the term used for the resurrection of Jesus. The miracles of Jesus are signs of the kingdom, and point to the resurrection. He has come to raise up to new life those who welcome his help.

At sunset, once the sabbath has ended, the townspeople begin to bring their sick to Jesus. Mark stresses the impact of Jesus’ healing work by speaking of the gathering of the ‘whole town’. There is another reference to those who are possessed, those who in the contemporary view were victims of Satan. Jesus commands them not to make him known. He is constantly concerned to avoid any misunderstanding of his mission and purpose.

The evangelist brings the day to a conclusion by speaking of Jesus at prayer before the night ends.

How do I experience the new life and healing Jesus brings?

Do I allow time for quiet prayer in my daily life?

Let us pray for those who struggle with debilitating sickness of body or spirit.

Let us pray for those who care for sick and elderly family members.

INT-IMG_5349 Fr Adrian Graffy (3)Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.

Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”

He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”

Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).

Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy