The Gospel for Sunday comes from Mark, the first chapter, verses 29-39: As soon as they [Jesus and his disciples] left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." He answered, "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." And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. (NRSV)
I read something from John Hougen of Pennsylvania about this reading that stuck with me. He writes that included in these verses are a strategy for helping others. Six of them follow:
- Surround yourself with trusted companions (Jesus called disciples).
- Respond to the needs close at hand (Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law).
- Provide those you help with what they need to be able to serve others (Jesus restored her completely so that she could share her gifts with others).
- Expand your efforts of helping people beyond those close at hand (Jesus then healed those in the community).
- Practice self-care - tend to our own physical and spiritual well-being (Jesus went to a deserted place to pray).
- Find peace with the fact that we cannot help everyone - be all things to all people (Jesus knew his mission was to spread the news beyond the needs of just those people in that place).