Our reading from Isaiah is one of my personal favorite passages from the Bible. In it, the prophet captures the immensity of creation and God’s majestic rule over it. We are small and vulnerable, and yet God knows us each by name and gives us the power and strength we need to soar and to keep moving forward. We are freed from the constraints of history and our physical limitations, and we are freed for the purpose of doing God’s will.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he explains that he was freed from his role as persecutor of Christians and pride of place among Jews for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel to all. Paul writes that he is free in regard to all, but has made himself a slave to all—in order to make the “gospel free of charge.” Proclaiming the gospel, he explains, is an obligation laid on all who have received God’s grace. Paul concludes, “I do all for the sake of the gospel, in order that I may share its blessings.”
In Mark’s gospel, we continue to witness Jesus’ ministry of healing and teaching in Galilee. This week he comes to the house of his disciples Simon and Andrew and finds Simon’s mother-in-law suffering from a fever. Her illness has been an impediment to her free exercise of her vocation of hospitality and her claim to honor as “woman of the house.” Jesus frees her from her isolation and sense of uselessness for a life of joyful service. Many others crowd around the door in order to be cured and have demons cast out. Finally, Jesus withdraws to a quiet and deserted place to pray and regain his strength. He refuses to “set up shop” as a local healer and authority because, he says, that is not his mission: “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”
What have you been freed for? What calls to you right now in your life? Who needs you, or whom can you help? Remember that in responding to those calls, you are living the life God freed you for and proclaiming Christ’s gospel of love.