From the American Bible Society:
February 5, 2012
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
This is a reminder to continue in your daily Lectio Divina Scripture reading. We’ve included the content again for you, to make it easier for you to continue to engage with God’s Word.
EVERYONE IS LOOKING FOR YOU
Mark 1:29-39 (Good News Translation)29 Jesus and his disciples, including James and John, left the synagogue and went straight to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon's mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever, and as soon as Jesus arrived, he was told about her. 31 He went to her, took her by the hand, and helped her up. The fever left her, and she began to wait on them. 32 After the sun had set and evening had come, people brought to Jesus all the sick and those who had demons. 33 All the people of the town gathered in front of the house. 34 Jesus healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases and drove out many demons. He would not let the demons say anything, because they knew who he was. 35 Very early the next morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and left the house. He went out of town to a lonely place, where he prayed. 36 But Simon and his companions went out searching for him, 37 and when they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 But Jesus answered, “We must go on to the other villages around here. I have to preach in them also, because that is why I came.” 39 So he traveled all over Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and driving out demons.
After reading today’s Gospel, one has the feeling that Mark tries to sum up in a few lines what could be described as “one day in the life of the Lord.” After preaching in the synagogue, a visit to Simon and Andrew’s house, some healings when the Sabbath is over, the usual night rest, a time of prayer in a lonely place, and back on the road and to other villages where the Gospel must be announced. In those brief lines, the evangelist displays the dimensions in which Jesus carries out his ministry. First, even if we cannot compare the fever of Simon’s mother-in-law with the pain, anguish and grief suffered by Job, Jesus’ feelings of compassion are the first trait shown in the passage. In fact, we must remember, he has been sent to bring salvation and healing to the people of Israel. Curiously, her immediate response is an attitude of service: “she began to wait on them.” That reminds us of Mary: just after the announcement from Gabriel, the first thing she does is visit the elderly Elizabeth, who might need some help with her pregnancy. When the sun has set – and the regulations of the Sabbath allow the people to carry the sick, - he heals those who suffer from any kind of physical or spiritual ailment. It is important to notice how, from the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus prevents demons – as he will prevent his own disciples, later on - from telling who he is. The reason for what has been termed “the Messianic secret” could be the risk of being misunderstood. The Jewish authorities, both religious and political, the crowds, the disciples themselves, expected a Messiah who would deliver Israel from the Roman dominion as any other leader of this world would do: by means of force, violence, uprising or revolt. If Jesus accepted the title of Messiah as such, he could give rise to expectations which had nothing to do with the obedience and acceptance of God’s plans. And those plans meant suffering, rejection, an unfair trial, death on a cross. Even if those events would be crowned by the resurrection, no one in Israel was ready at that moment to understand “the ways of the Lord.” So, silence was probably the only reasonable attitude. Prayer in solitude, behind the closed door of his own intimacy (Matthew 6:6), is one of Jesus’ daily activities, a sign of his close relation to the Father, and an example for the disciples to follow: “Watch and pray… “(Mark 14:38). Finally, Jesus is faithful to his deepest vocation and mission: he has been sent to evangelize. He has not come to be a local preacher, comfortably limiting his ministry to a small community and enjoying acceptance and a good name amongst a small flock where he can live a quiet domestic life. First, the villages around and, later, the whole of the Galilee are the steps to take: he has to preach there, “because that is why I came.” It is obvious that Paul, the great apostle, understood quite well that Jesus’ mission was also his own: “How terrible it would be for me if I did not preach the gospel … God has entrusted me with that task” (1 Corinthians 9: 15, 17). Of course, it is our task too!
For those who heard Jesus for the first time, his presence must have been an experience they would never forget. His words, his signs must have been something so new, so different from the preaching they were used to, that they had “to look for him.” As for you, are his words so new and attractive as to set you in motion after him? Or have they become the stale words which we know by heart and repeat as a meaningless routine? We cannot perform the signs of healings Jesus did, but are we conscious that we are called, like Jesus, to bring hope and relief to those around us who suffer? Or, as a previous step to our activity, do we pay any attention to those whose days pass by without hope and whose existence and suffering we ignore?
Pray especially for yourself: that the Lord may grant you the gift of a spirit of prayer, so that you may stop your daily routine – just as you are doing now - and find some time to listen to his voice. Pray for those who have received a special calling to announce the Gospel far from their homes: missionaries, lay volunteers and ministers, that they may experience closeness and help from the Lord. Pray for those who, like Job, suffer without understanding the reasons for their grief: that in their darkness they may find the light of hope and relief for their pain and suffering.
Thank God – (I hope!) - none of us is suffering the pains and anguish to which Job was subjected. We take for granted so many things we enjoy: health, a home, a job, friends, an education … riches which other people lack. Be conscious about all those gifts you have received from God. Be also conscious of your own wounds (even if you hide them, you know pretty well your ailments). See how you can be a minister of Jesus’ healing power. And humbly accept the healing you also need.
Reflections written by Rev. Fr. Mariano Perrón Director of Inter-Religious Affairs Archdiocese of Madrid, Spain