Jesus moved slowly into teaching.
It was apparent that this was his chosen occupation.
He would talk to Imma and Mara, Peter and Andrew.
His friend from the baptism, Mary, was around more often than not.
As a few weeks passed the gathering grew. They started to use the little synagogue a short walk from Peter’s house.
Jesus was tempted to start outright with unity. Being one with Abba.
But he thought better of it. It had taken him almost twenty years to achieve the unity he knew now.
So he began by teaching them to pray to Abba.
He did not propose they all pray the same thing.
“There is nothing you have to recite,” he said.
He told them about cancelling debts. And asking Abba to cancel our debts.
He talked about greeting Abba as a friend, a father, a beloved one. As holy and good.
Mostly he combined talk of praying to Abba with basics he learned years ago.
Abba gives when you ask.
Abba honors needs and desires.
Abba acts without magic.
Change comes from within us when we are are alert, aware, believing, faithful.
Jesus was not demonstrative, at least not obviously so.
So, a week in, when Mara fell ill with a fever, he knelt where she lay. He placed a hand on her shoulder. When she reached out, he took her hand in his free hand.
The next morning, Mara woke up spry. She filled with praises for Jesus. “He healed me!” she cried.
“I did nothing of the kind,” Jesus laughed. “I was moved by your fever. I never would have done it if I had not been moved. Whatever happened was normal and natural and exactly as things should be when people are good to each other.”
Capernaum was no different than any community where people gossip and talk. Word of mouth was then as now the most potent mode of spreading things.
Jesus the teacher soon became Jesus the healer.
Jesus thought that was absurd. He had done nothing. He did not like the designation. He even felt some fear.
At the same time, he knew he was seen as special. And his teaching was taking root. Many paid him no mind. But a small number began to be more than curious bystanders and hospitable hosts.
They valued what he was saying. And the healing seemed part of that.
Jesus spoke of blessing the poor and mourners and of loving enemies. It was an invitation to a life centered on others. It was opposite to what was common. Looking out for yourself, your family, your friends.
“What is the point of loving your neighbor if you cannot love someone who bothers you ?” Jesus asked. “Treat adversaries as friends.”
“Are you religious?” Mary said later.
“Are you?” Jesus answered.
“You know, Jesus. I already told you I left religion when I left home.”
“I left it when I got to know Abba,” Jesus said.
“You don’t seem religious at all,” Mary responded. “I like that about you.”
“I don’t believe in hammering people over the head or in judging. People know what they are.”
Peter walked up and this conversation ended.
“Don’t you ever want to go fishing,” Peter asked with a speculative look.
“For what?” Jesus replied.
“For fish, what else?”
“I am more or less fishing for people, I think.”
“Yes, I suppose you are,” Peter said. “Tell you what. You come on down with Andrew and me. See how we catch fish.”
“Fine,” Jesus said.
“Tomorrow morning. We start early.”
“I’ll be there.”