Mark details in his account that many from all over the region came to Jesus to be healed. Among the crowd, unclean spirits threw those they possessed down before Jesus. This did not slow the gathering of people who pressed in on Jesus, just to touch him. The crowd grew to a point that it was getting out of control so Jesus “told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him” (Mk 3:9).
People wanted to be healed, to be cured, to be exorcised, and brought others to experience the same. Yet they were missing the deeper point of who Jesus is. He was not just a miracle worker, not just someone that brought about physical healing. Healing accounts were heard and known about in the ancient world.  The unclean spirits got it, they recognized Jesus before the people did, “for, whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God'” (Mk 3:11).
Throughout the Gospel of Mark, we will read about how the crowds, disciples, and even the apostles, all struggle to understand who Jesus is. The people closed in on Jesus seeking to be healed, but missing the deeper hunger within their souls that St Augustine, the fourth-century bishop of Hippo, so eloquently described on the first page of his autobiography: “[Y]ou have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in you” (Augustine 1963, 17). Jesus is the Son of God, not just a miracle worker, but God Incarnate.
The only way we will be fully satisfied, find fulfillment, find meaning, and be at peace within our own skin, is by developing an ongoing and deepening relationship and communion with our Creator. God is infinite and cannot be exhausted. We as finite beings are left wanting even when we have the best of material things. We always hunger and want for more, because in the depths of our very being, whether we recognize it or not, we want God.
Making time each day to discern which experiences leave us feeling flat, let down, or deflated is a worthwhile pursuit. We can also continue to look at what experiences open us up to joy, ways in which we feel inspired, empowered, where we encounter a foretaste of heaven, the divine in our midst. When we slow down and make the time to see where we do not, and do, experience God in our everyday experience, we can better choose actions that will support a deeper relationship, deeper intimacy, and union that we all hunger and thirst for.
Jesus offers us today his good news: Christianity is not just a philosophy or even a theology, we are not just a people of the Book. Christianity is an encounter with the living God who has opened up heaven for us in the humanity he has assumed. Jesus conquered death and freed us to abide in an authentic love expressed at a deeper, more intimate level than we can ever imagine. Jesus satisfies our deepest hunger as he invites us to be drawn into his grace-filled embrace so as to be healed, renewed, shaped, and conformed to his heart, mind, and will. When we come to this place of encounter, reconciliation, and relationship, we come to know our mission and in serving through that mission, we come to know who we are.
Drawing by: Jesus and the Lamb by Katherine F. Brown
St Augustine. The Confessions of St Augustine. Translated by Rex Warner. New York: New American Library, 1963.
Link for the Mass reading for Thursday, January 20, 2022

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