The Gospel reading set for Morning Prayer today continues in Mark chapter one, and continues the theme of the physical realm mirroring the spiritual realm.
Earlier in the chapter, we have already seen Jesus being driven out, with some force, into the wilderness by the Spirit [of God]—the very action Jesus himself will take towards the compromised spirits, and, by chapter 3, give his disciples authority to take towards the compromised spirits. Spirit > human > spirit, and Spirit > human > human > spirit patterns. There in the wilderness, Jesus meets the Satan, Job’s restless wanderer after the pattern of Cain. There also, angels—gods in the service of the Most High God—serve Jesus.
Today’s reading opens with the first woman to appear in Mark’s Gospel, the mother-in-law of Peter. Raised up from fever, she serves Jesus. The weak English translation suggests a domesticity, pouring cups of tea and passing round plates of cucumber sandwiches. But Mark uses a word he only uses on one other occasion, indeed, has already used. Peter’s mother-in-law mirrors the angels. She is raised up the equal of the gods.
In Mark’s world, what happens on earth is as it is in the heavens. And, without removing the free will of angels, demons or humans, through the central actor Jesus, all things are being reconciled, in the heavenly realms and the earthly realm.
This confronts our Western worldview, within which only the physical realm is acknowledged. Nonetheless, plenty of people believe in a spiritual realm, whether with fear or fascination. Mark holds out a third way, the good news of Jesus.