Monday 6 February 2023
Ss Paul Miki and companions
Genesis 1:1-19. May the Lord be glad in his works – Psalm 103(104):1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 24, 35. Mark 6:53-56.
All those who touched him were cured
The land of Gennesaret lay on the north-western coast of the sea of Galilee. First century Jewish historian Josephus describes the area as being a three-mile stretch of exceedingly pleasant and fertile coast between Capernaum and Tiberias. According to John’s Gospel, Jesus was looking for a quiet place to rest before facing up to the inevitable crowds that awaited in Capernaum.
The night before had been stormy. The disciples had been rowing in the middle of the lake, and Jesus walked out in the wind and waves to meet them. Beginning a time of quiet reflection by performing one of the most astounding supernatural feats in human history may not be particularly self-serving. Needless to say, Gennesaret isn’t the tranquil refuge the disciples are planning. Crowds flock to Jesus, bringing the sick that had probably gathered to use the hot springs in Tiberias, famed for their healing qualities. And Jesus begins healing en masse.
Standing on the Gennesaret shore, Jesus would have been able to see Tiberias, the capital of Herod Antipas, the local ruler in Galilee. I wonder whether Tiberias, with its 17-or-so healing hot springs, factored into Jesus’ decision to embark on something of a healing frenzy in the villages right outside city limits. Was this a not-so-subtle gesture as to who held the real sovereignty? Meanwhile, what were the disciples thinking, having seen their friend walk on waves only hours earlier? The robes being grasped by the sick multitudes were probably still damp.