5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you." He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come." So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I want to be your apostle. I come to you in prayer with all of my sinfulness, weakness, and human frailty. I unite my poverty and nothingness to your infinite greatness. With you I can do great things; without you I can do nothing. Lord, teach me to be a true apostle, always doing what you want, how you want and when you want.
Petition: Lord, enable me to grow as your apostle through my contact with you in prayer.
1. Jesus Had Much To Do. This passage is a snapshot of a day in Jesus’ life, one of constant work and service to others. He was up early, and late to bed. When he enters Simon's house, he takes care of his mother-in-law right away. When people come to him with their sick and lame, he does not turn them away but cures as many as come to him. He is constantly on the move, going from town to town and synagogue to synagogue. His life seems full of action. We must marvel at the intensity of it all, he never seems to stop, there is always someone else who needs him, there is always another soul to be saved, he just can’t say no. From the beginning of his public ministry we see in him the great awareness that his time is limited (we must work while it is still light, there will come a time when it is dark and we won’t be able to work) and that the time he has is not for himself. He is generous in his gift of himself to others. His life is not about himself.
2. How Does He Do It? Mark reveals to us the secret of Jesus intense apostolic life: "Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed." It is paradoxical: he gains his strength at the price of what seems to us like necessary rest; he finds his motivation and his direction for his apostolic life in his intimate filial prayer with his Father. Later he would tell his followers to seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else will be given to you, but before giving us advice he always leads with his example. How important those moments of quiet solitude must have been to him, if he willingly sacrificed his sleep to have them! As the Son, he was always in the presence of the Father, but his humanity still felt the need to carve out times in which he would have no other distractions to speak with the Father, to contemplate him, and let his love fill his human soul. We can’t really get to know the Father without spending time with him in prayer, we cannot learn and fill our hearts with his love if we don’t drink from the fountain itself. This is our real source of strength, as it was for Jesus. Prayer was doubtless a time of peace for him, but even that peace gets interrupted and it is time for Jesus to show his love for the Father in his love for men.
3. Prayer Keeps Him On Track, it keeps him thinking as his Father thinks, and not as men do. When the disciples find Jesus in prayer, they want to go back to the town to do a repeat of the night before, which had been such a success: Everyone is looking for you!: They are totally taken up with his popularity and success, and the feel of God’s power, and the hopes that surface in their hearts because of it. But Jesus, in his prayer has been listening to the Father, and so he has a much clearer idea of his mission: Let us go onto the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come. His prayer is a source of light as well as strength, prayer shows him the way to go and what he needs to do. In prayer, Jesus puts the Father at the center, and when he rises from prayer and goes about the things of daily life, the Father is still at the center; Jesus’ ministry does not separate him from the Father, it actually keeps him as close as he can possibly be to him, by being at all times of one mind and one will with the Father. Jesus chooses the Father’s way, and whatever logical, valid, human reasons the disciples might have for asking him to go back to the town are replaced by the simple reason that his Father wishes otherwise. Jesus’ human intelligence and will were always docile to and at the service of his Father’s understanding and wishes. And so he went from there with his disciples to preach and to cure, as his Father wished. Intense work, done for the right reason, does not separate us from God, but quite the opposite.
Conversation: Lord Jesus, I my greatest desire is to have the same zeal for the Kingdom that you had. I don’t want my devotion to be limited to the nice words I say in prayer, but to be reflected in everything I do, and in my availability to whoever needs me. I trust in you, that if I keep you at the center of my life I will always find in you the courage and strength to do what I ought, to put others’ needs before mine, to put you and the needs of my brothers and sisters before my own needs and feelings. This is not easy to do, but you have shown me the way, and you have said you will be always with me.
1. Have I discovered yet what God is inviting me to do in my life? Is there anything holding me back?
2. In what ways does my prayer help me to keep God at the center of my life? Does my prayer make any difference?