Here it is again – (euthus – immediately) – Immediately they left the synagogue, and go to Simon and Andrew’s home, where Simon’s mother in law is sick with a fever. Jesus heals her and then heals many who are brought to the house.
So – all this happens on the same day. A healing in the synagogue, a very personal healing in the home, and then the healing of a whole crowd of people. And it’s the sabbath.
So is it significant that the large crowd only come to the house ‘after sunset’ ? That is, when the sabbath is over.
Jesus sabbath activity would quickly become a cause for conflict between himself and the religious leaders. We have the seeds of that conflict already, and in those two words ‘after sunset’, an idea of how much influence the religious laws had on the people, so that they wait until the sabbath is over and it is safe to come to Jesus.
As I ask how this gospel might speak into situations of oppression, it makes me think of situations where there are obstacles that prevent people from accessing health care, and other basic necessities.
For Palestinians, the many regulations and checkpoints mean that people cannot live normal lives. Every morning from 3 am, hundreds of Palestinian men will come to the Gilo checkpoint in Bethlehem to go through to work in Jerusalem. They have to arrive this early to be sure of getting work. They leave their homes while their families are asleep, and arrive back when they are once more asleep. The checkpoints open at dawn, and they must wait in line, directed to move by red and green lights. They can be turned back after waiting several hours even though they have been security checked. It is a life without dignity and respect.
Next week, Pope Benedict will visit Jerusalem. He will pass through the same checkpoint. But he will arrive at 8 am, when the authorities have dictated that he will arrive, and it will be quiet.
So I have two pictures in my mind. The first is a crowd of people in Capernaum, waiting for sunset, when it will be safe to come to Jesus.
The second is a crowd of people in Bethlehem waiting for sunrise, and eventually passing through to work, and an hour or so later the Pope arriving.
For the story that inspired this post, see: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/what-the-pope-wont-see-1679011.html