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Jesus' Mighty Deeds View Comments
By John R. Barker, OFM

THERE IS NOTHING more fundamental to the Christian faith than the belief that God heals. Whether it is through the grace of conversion, the soothing of grief or even the deliverance from death through resurrection, Christians have always placed their faith in a God who, through Jesus, has compassion on his people and works to bring them healing and wholeness.

The Gospel of Mark, which we will be hearing on Sundays this year, is full of stories about Jesus healing people. He gives sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. He casts out demons that torment innocent children. He heals a woman with a hemorrhage and a man from his paralysis. In all, Mark features more than a dozen of these “mighty deeds” of Jesus—about one fourth of his Gospel is about them.

That such stories should fill so much space in the shortest of the four Gospels can only mean that Mark considered them very significant. This may seem obvious. Clearly, we might say, they are important because they demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah who has power to heal and cast out demons. It’s true—this is part of the reason Mark includes such stories in his Gospel. But if that were the whole point of the stories, one or two of them would undoubtedly have sufficed to make it. So, why are there so many mighty deeds in Mark? What do they mean—for him and for us?

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John R. Barker, O.F.M., is a member of St. John the Baptist Province (Cincinnati) and is a doctoral student in Old Testament at Boston College. He earned an M.Div. from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and an M.A. in theology with a specialization in Scripture.

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Philip and James: 
		<b>James, Son of Alphaeus:</b> We know nothing of this man except his name, and of course the fact that Jesus chose him to be one of the 12 pillars of the New Israel, his Church. He is not the James of Acts, son of Clopas, “brother” of Jesus and later bishop of Jerusalem and the traditional author of the Letter of James. James, son of Alphaeus, is also known as James the Lesser to avoid confusing him with James the son of Zebedee, also an apostle and known as James the Greater. 
<p><b>Philip:</b> Philip came from the same town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida in Galilee. Jesus called him directly, whereupon he sought out Nathanael and told him of the “one about whom Moses wrote” (John 1:45). </p><p>Like the other apostles, Philip took a long time coming to realize who Jesus was. On one occasion, when Jesus saw the great multitude following him and wanted to give them food, he asked Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat. St. John comments, “[Jesus] said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do” (John 6:6). Philip answered, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit]” (John 6:7). </p><p>John’s story is not a put-down of Philip. It was simply necessary for these men who were to be the foundation stones of the Church to see the clear distinction between humanity’s total helplessness apart from God and the human ability to be a bearer of divine power by God’s gift. </p><p>On another occasion, we can almost hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice. After Thomas had complained that they did not know where Jesus was going, Jesus said, “I am the way...If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6a, 7). Then Philip said, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8). Enough! Jesus answered, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9a). </p><p>Possibly because Philip bore a Greek name or because he was thought to be close to Jesus, some Gentile proselytes came to him and asked him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip went to Andrew, and Andrew went to Jesus. Jesus’ reply in John’s Gospel is indirect; Jesus says that now his “hour” has come, that in a short time he will give his life for Jew and Gentile alike.</p> American Catholic Blog Only in human weakness do many of us begin to rely on God and explicitly repudiate our own divine ambitions. Every pain alerts us to the fact that we are not the Almighty.

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