Several things catch my attention about today's gospel reading. The first is that this reading begins by recounting the crossing of the Lake of Galilee by Jesus and his disciples. There is nothing particularly noteworthy about that. Jesus and his disciples often crossed the lake during their travels. What struck me on reading this gospel for today's reflection is just that fact. How often Jesus and his disciples traveled around and across the Lake of Galilee. The lake was not very big, but it played an important part in the daily life of the people of Galilee, and they used it all the time. Crossing the lake by boat between different towns was a good way to travel because it saved time as compared to going on foot around the lake shore. It also had the advantage for boat passengers of being a more comfortable way to travel than walking was. And Jesus was usually able to find a boat since a number of the apostles were fishermen. The lake was obviously well stocked with fish, and a number of people like the apostles made their living as commercial fishermen. In addition to this the Lake of Galilee provided income for many others who built the fishing boats, made the nets, and provided other fishing equipment. Jesus and his disciples were very familiar with the lake and used it often in their travels. Some of the most descriptive passages in the gospels recount events that took place on the lake of Galilee.
Another thing that struck me in this gospel reading was the last sentence of the reading. St. Mark says: "and as many as touched it were healed." The fame of Jesus in Galilee, even early in his public life, was such that when people heard he was coming they hurried to gather together their sick in hopes for a cure. On this day Jesus was recognized as soon as he came ashore at Gennesaret. And the townspeople rushed in a great frenzy to gather together their sick. They placed them on mats in the marketplace where they hoped to touch the cloak of Jesus as he passed by. When Jesus arrived he was not in a great hurry. He probably moved slowly through the town so as to give as many as possible the opportunity to reach up and touch him. There must have been great crowds in each town that Jesus passed through. And so there were probably a great many healings that day.In some of the miracles mentioned in the gospels the evangelists give many details about the persons healed and about the words and actions of Jesus. In the healings in today's gospel no details at all are given. We don't know the names of those who were healed. We don't know their illnesses. We don't know what Jesus said or did as he passed through their towns. But we do know the most important thing about this day. We know that many sick people were healed. We know that on this day Jesus was doing the work that he was sent to do. Through these miraculous healings he was teaching all the people in those towns to believe in him. He was giving them the gift of faith. And I think that the important thing for us today is the gift of faith. The details of these healings are not as important as what they represen: The faith in Jesus that we share with all of those he heals.
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