8 February 2009. 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Job 7, 1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147; 1 Cor 9, 16-19, 22-23; Mark 1, 29-39
We continue to get to know Jesus and His public life during the Liturgical Season of Ordinary Time. The Gospel today gives us a glimpse of a day in the life of Jesus. It has three parts: preaching, healing and praying. He preached in the synagogue. Then, He returns to heal people who are sick, gathered in the house of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Finally, after a tiring day, retires and begins early in the day, with prayer.
Let me reverse the order.
“Rising very early before dawn, He left and went off to a deserted place, where He prayed.” Jesus begins his day with prayer. He marks a specific time and place where He could commune with God. To regularly rise very early before dawn is not easy for many of us. Some of us would rather catch up on sleep, and even spend some time to snooze. It takes will power to rise early, that is why, those who attend the Filipino dawn masses at 4 AM for nine consecutive days, consider it a challenge. Moreover, Jesus would look for a place that is conducive for prayer. St. Ignatius would call it, the composition of place. The ambiance is important as an aid to prayer (Of course, we can pray anywhere, anytime). To go to a deserted place where no one can disturb Him tells us the importance of His relationship with His Father.
During the day, He preaches in the synagogue and when animosity starts growing towards Him, He uses the countryside as venue for His ministry. His preaching are both in words and deeds. The power of His words can be attributed to His credibility and style: He does what He preaches and He teaches with authority. He reminds people of the Scriptures but at the same time, showed them the compassion of God by healing the sick and forgiving sinners.
Allow me to use my imagination. It is probable that Peter’s mother-in-law ‘waited on them’ meaning she runs the household for her guests. But she cannot serve Jesus and His friends well if she’s sick. People are gathering in her house; hospitality is a highly regarded virtue for the Jews. And she wished that she can do more if she is well. And so, when Jesus grasps her hand, helps her and cures her, she is able to serve Jesus as she wished. Around Jesus’ daily ministry are the support of family and friends.
But Jesus continues to work even after sunset. “When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was at the door.” One does not need imagination to see how crowded the house is. And Jesus does not stop even if He is tired. His heart goes out to those who are miserable. With Jesus, there are no office hours. The door is always open, even for the whole town. To those who are afflicted, as Job articulates the sufferings of those who encounter evil and pain, the presence of Jesus gives them hope. The brokenhearted, as the responsorial psalm, are granted a whole new heart by Jesus’ healing touch.
Late in the evening, Jesus retires (He also needs sleep!), but His weariness never prevents Him from starting the day praying. I believe in His hours of prayer, He brings all the needs of the world as He sees it daily. He brings to the feet of His Father the deepest desires of the world. It is also through prayer that He discerns the will of His Father. The Gospel today ended with Jesus telling His disciples, that though there are many who still need him in the home of Simon’s mother-in-law, there are other towns who beckons to Him too. And they must leave.
We pray that we pattern our lives according to Jesus.