This Sunday, we read in the Gospel of Mark that Jesus "went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons" (1:39). As we also learned from earlier verses in the designated section from the first chapter of Mark, Jesus supports his preaching and healing by a life of prayer: "In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed" (1: 35). In short, the rhythm of life that Jesus lived, as he moved from the synagogue to Simon's house, revolves around preaching, healing and prayer. Jesus fulfilled his messianic promises by carrying out these life-giving divine acts.
The resolution to the problem raised by Job in the first reading lies in the Messianic acts of Jesus. Job portrayed a sinister view of human life in his verses (7: 1-4. 6-7). The sad tone of Job's vision of human existence in the verses creates a somber mood that is upsetting to his readers: a restless life lacking hope, joy, and happiness, a transient and listless human existence. This tragic experience is true of life before Christ came into the picture. With the arrival of Christ and through his preaching, healing, and prayer, He transforms the sad condition of the human lot described by Job. Jesus can heal us of physical and spiritual sickness because he is the Messiah. In the sacraments of healing (Confession, Anointing of the Sick, and the Eucharist), Jesus has the power to take us by the hand and lift us up as he did to Simon's mother-in-law (v. 31). Jesus wants to raise us up so that we may serve him and others as he did by replicating his way of preaching, healing and prayer. Jesus calls us to follow his example, to preach (as Paul says in 1 Cor. 9: 16-19), heal and pray.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is 'the perfect man', who invites us to become his disciples and follow him" (520). Jesus invites us to follow his example of spreading the Good News to all, to bring his healing presence of mercy and compassion to others, and to find time to pray not only with the community but alone in a quiet place where the Holy Spirit can renew us individually for the mission of preaching and healing.
We can only do what Jesus did, preaching and healing, if we find time to pray, as Jesus often did. In addition to joining others in the church to participate in the sacrifice of mass on Sundays and during the weekdays, do we find time and a deserted place to pray and meditate? Do we strive to pray the Sacred Scriptures daily through Lectio Divina? Do we step into the church (church on the hill and historic church are usually open from morning to afternoon, Monday to Friday) when the opportunity presents itself to visit our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? Think and act on these things.
Our parish monthly Eucharistic Adoration is this Monday, February 5. Have you attended one before? It is usually an hour of worship in songs and silence. It might be an opportunity to renew your commitment to following Jesus in his preaching, healing, and prayer mission. Consider this thought, too.
Please note that Next Sunday, February 11, is designated World Day of the Sick and World Marriage Day. I invite you to come to mass with prayers in your hearts and lips for these categories of people in our church. We should pray for those suffering from illnesses and those who are married or preparing for marriage. Also, since next Sunday will be the last time the assembly sings alleluia until the Easter Vigil, let's enhance this joyful acclamation through hymns, psalms, and refrains.
Fr. Alayode Bernard Oniwe, OP