Jesus' mission is Church's mission: Preaching, teaching and healing. That's why we have churches, schools and hospitals. These ministries seem to be our primary mission. This might get us busy, tired, stressed and can get us out of our wits. That's when we need that space to recharge our spirits and bodies. That's what the Lord did. However, he doesn't seem to complain when "they" came to "disturb" him out of his "space". For Jesus the "action-contemplation" space was seamlessly woven into his mission-presence space.
-Tony Kayala, c.s.c.
Introduction to the Celebration
– verses 29 – 31: Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law;
– verses 32-34: a general statement on Jesus’ ministry of healing;
– verses 35 – 39: Jesus chooses to expand his ministry to neighboring towns.
– in the life of Jesus and in our lives.
It would be good to spend some time with the expression “because that is why I came.” Like so many phrases in the Bible, it is brief and seemingly simple, but it can transform our consciousness radically. When the Church neglects the marginalized it is always because it has forgotten the reason “why it came”.
Sometimes we are discouraged by our failures,
but at other times it is success that prevents us.
Like Jesus, we must go against those who admire us and the work we are doing.
They want us to continue where we are,
they remind us of the good we do for people,
as friends, teachers, doctors, nurses or counsellors,
how we take them by the hand and help them,
so that the fever leaves them and they can wait on us.
They point out the people bringing to us all who are sick,
and those who are possessed by devils,
so that it feels as if the whole town is there crowding round the door or our house.
of one kind or another,
or who need devils to be cast out.
Teach us to follow the example of Jesus;
remind us that if we want to do your will
we must learn to get up in the morning, long before dawn,
and leave our house to go off to a lonely place and pray there,
so that when others come in search of us saying, “Everybody is looking for you,”
like Jesus, we will be free enough to choose what we know is right for us.
We will go to neighboring regions where no one else has gone,
relate to those we have been keeping at arm’s length,
so that we can bring the good news of your love there too,
remembering that this is why we have come into the world.
We pray that we will never lose the missionary spirit of Jesus,
so that, just as he went through all Galilee,
the church too will go through all areas of society and all cultures,
preaching your love wherever people are gathered,
and casting out every kind of evil spirit.
• When we gather for the Eucharist we become the Body of Christ: Jesus is the head of this body, we are the trunk and arms and legs.
• We show we are one body by having shares of one loaf and drinking from one cup.
• The cup of blessing which we bless, is a participation in the blood of Christ.
• The loaf which we break, is a participation in the body of Christ.
• Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
• But we recall that there are sisters and brothers in this community who cannot gather with us because they are sick or housebound.
• So we bring them a share of our one loaf, the portion carried to them by the Minister of the Eucharist.
• Then through that sharing, they become one with the rest of us and with Christ.
• The Ministers carrying portions of our loaf to the sick and housebound of the community are forming the links and sinews of the Christ’s body.
We continue reading from the first chapter of Mark and its emphasis on Jesus as the one who inaugurates the kingdom of God. Now it is his healing ministry that highlights God’s triumph over the powers of darkness. This is dramatically symbolised in the fact that it is after sunset on the Sabbath that the people come crowding around the door. During the Sabbath they were not allowed to bring their loved ones to him as this would be considered work, but now they flock to him in search of his healing compassion. As before, Jesus does not permit the demons to speak and here an important theme of the gospel is being alluded to. People have definite expectations of what a Messiah should be, and what Jesus is offering will be different and so he refuses to allow a mistaken notion of his purpose to develop. Rather he commits himself to his task by taking time out to pray alone and then continuing his mission of proclaiming the kingdom.
4. Fr. Jude Botelho:
We are familiar with the story of Job, part of which is contained in the first reading of today. Job’s story was a pitiable one: He was deprived of family, lacked worldly possessions, was racked by physical pain and suffered mental anguish. Job put himself the question: “Why should God allow these misfortunes to come upon me?” Job moans his lot: “Is life worth living?” He compares his life to a slave, whose life is one long drudgery; he feels helpless and hopeless like a workman who has to work for no wages; His life is one long bore, he waits for the end which will not come. Job though steadfast and loyal was impatient. His human friends had failed to explain life and he felt that his divine friend would not come either. Is there any hope for the depressed? Our Christian perspective adds a new dimension. Truly, if death is the end of it all, life does not make sense!
The healing in giving
He stood on the steel bridge-fifty feet above the swirling river. He lit his last cigarette –before making his escape. There was no other way out. He had tried everything: orgies of sensuality, travel excitement, drink and drugs. And now the last failure: marriage. No woman could stand him after a few months. He demanded too much and gave nothing. The river was the best place for him. A shabby man passed by, saw him standing in the shadow and said, “Got a dime for a cup of coffee, Mister?” The other smiled in the darkness. A dime! “Sure, I’ve got a dime, buddy. I’ve got more than a dime.” He took out a wallet. “Here take it all.” There was about $100 in the wallet, he took it out and thrust it towards the tramp. “What’s the idea?” asked the tramp. “It’s all right. I won’t need it where I am going.” He glanced down towards the river. The tramp took the bills, and stood holding them uncertainly for a moment. Then he said, “No, you don’t mister. I may be a beggar, but I’m no coward; and I won’t take money from one either. Take your filthy money with you –into the river. He threw the bills over the rails and they fluttered and scattered as they drifted slowly down towards the dark river. “So long, coward.” said the tramp and he walked off. The ‘coward’ gasped. Suddenly, he wanted the tramp to have the money he had thrown away. He wanted to give – and couldn’t! To give! That was it! He never had tried that before. To give –and be happy… He took one last look at the river and turned from it and followed the tramp….
The gospel story begins with Jesus going with his disciples James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. He has barely entered when they confide to him their worries and concerns, petty though they may seem. Simon’s mother-in-law has gone to bed with a fever. Jesus did not hesitate, he went straight away to her bed, took her by the hand and the fever left her and she began to wait on them. Jesus’ present healing involves only a gesture – he grasped her hand and helped her up. That healing action of Jesus was enough to set the town on fire, and by evening everyone who was sick or afflicted in any way was at Simon’s doorstep. Whenever people hear of a healer there are hordes of people who seek the magical touch. What’s wrong in seeking a miracle? If we can get instant relief from our misery why not try the charm, the magical ritual, the holy sanctuary? After all does not God want us to be healed? The Gospel tells us the crowds kept increasing, they wanted more miracles. By morning there were crowds milling around waiting for Jesus but he was nowhere to be found, he disappeared. The apostles could not understand. This was the moment Jesus should have capitalized on his popularity, yet he disappeared and when they found him, he was alone by himself praying. By refusing to be what the people wanted him to be: a magical Saviour, Jesus was making a point, that good health does not necessarily enhance the quality of life, and ill-health does not necessarily detract from it. Rather than carry on with the healing, Jesus insisted on leaving the crowds and heading off to other places to preach the good news. We can imagine it was hard for Jesus to leave the people yet that was the Father’s will revealed to him in prayer, and that is what he did. He had come not to do what the people wanted him to do but to do the Father’s will. Suffering, a deep part of human existence, and essential part of estrangement from God, was also a means of purification and return to God. Jesus did not ignore pain, but did not seek to avoid it either.
Broken to become beautiful!
At the Royal Palace of Tehran in Iran, you can see one of the most beautiful mosaic works in the world. The ceilings and walls flash like diamonds with multifaceted reflections. Originally, when the palace was designed, the architect specified huge sheets of mirrors on the walls. When the first shipment arrived from Paris, they found to their horror that the mirrors were shattered. The contractor threw them in the trash and brought the sad news to the architect. Amazingly, the architect ordered all of the broken pieces collected, then smashed them into tiny pieces and glued them to the walls to become a mosaic of silvery, shimmering, mirrored bits of glass. Broken to become beautiful! It's possible to turn your scars into stars. It's possible to be better because of brokenness. Never underestimate God's power to repair and restore.
Pause and be still
The musician Andre Kostelanetz once visited the French artist Henri Matisse. When Kostelanetz got to Matisse’s home, his nerves were frayed and he was exhausted. Matisse noticed this and said to him good-humouredly, “My friend you must find the artichokes in your life.” With that he took Kostelanetz outside to his garden. When they came to a patch of artichokes, Matisse stopped. He told Kostelanetz that every morning after he has worked for a while, he comes out to his patch of artichokes to pause and be still. He just stands there looking at the artichokes. Matisse then added: “Though I have painted over 200 canvasses, I always find new combination of colours and fantastic patterns. No one is allowed to disturb me in this ritual. It gives me fresh inspiration, relaxation, and a new perspective towards my work.”
Mark Link in ‘Sunday Homilies’
Finding our strength and power in God
There was a man who was in the habit of going off by himself into a remote wood. One day a friend curious to know what he was up to, followed him. When he caught up with him, he found him sitting quietly on a log. “What are you doing?” he asked the man. “I’m praying,” came the reply. “But why come to this remote spot to pray?” “Because I feel close to God here.” “But isn’t God to be found everywhere, and isn’t God the same everywhere? “God is, but I am not.” – While it is true that we can find God and pray to God anywhere and everywhere –in the kitchen, in the street, in the car, in the farmland, in the workshop –still, it’s a good idea to have a special place to which we can withdraw from time to time – the shore, the park, the mountains, the church, or whatever. In such places God seems to be nearer and more friendly. The whole atmosphere seems to be more pervaded with the divine presence. And in such places we are different too. We are calmer, quieter, more relaxed, and thus more open to what God is offering us at all times and in all places.
Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies
Reaching out makes us reach within
Late one December night on the cancer ward the halls were quiet and solemn, the patients were asleep and most of the visitors were gone. The nurses were gathered about the nurse's station preparing for shift change. Sarah, one of the nurses, was especially tired, having worked seven straight 12 hour days. The kids had needs, her husband had been laid off, and the house payment was due. PING. PING. PING. Sarah angrily looked at the call light box. The patient was a seventy-year-old woman. Sarah had been to her room at the end of the hall at least fifteen times. Angrily she started down the hall. On her way, she suddenly stopped. She stood motionless as a soft voice wafted out of room 235.
"And then one day I'll cross the river;
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives."
Tears welled up in her eyes as she listened and thought about the young woman in that room -- a thirty-five year old mother of two with cancer, with only a week to live, perhaps days. Sarah stood there, with tears in her eyes, remembering how this young terminal woman had such peace. The patient would speak to everyone who came into her room and she would smile even in her pain and took the time to share her faith and let people know the reason for her peace was a faith in God. All the nurses who had been around her commented on her strength and how they had felt peace and calm after talking with this exceptional young woman.
"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know who holds the future,
Life is worth all the living, just because He lives."
Sarah started down the hall to answer the call light, but she was no longer going to check on some pestering old woman. She was going to the room of a patient, a person, a fellow human in need. Sarah left work with a new outlook on life. She had a rekindling of the spirit of service that had motivated her to become a nurse. Those fires had almost died, but for a young terminal woman who had the desire to be of service to her fellow man even unto death. This is a reminder to us that the reason that we are on this earth at all is to be of service to each other. Christ said it best when He said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his brother."
May we let his presence within transform us and the world around!
1. Your job comes first. Forget everything else.
3. Always have your briefcase with you when not at your desk. This provides an opportunity to review completely all the troubles and worries of the day.
4. Never say "no" to a request. Always say "yes."
5. Accept all invitations to meetings, banquets, committees, etc.
6. All forms of recreation are a waste of time.
7. Never delegate responsibility to others; carry the entire load yourself.
8. If your work calls for traveling, work all day and travel at night to keep that appointment you made for eight the next morning.
9. No matter how many jobs you already are doing, remember you always can take on more.