Fifth Sunday of the Year

Fifth Sunday of the Year

Job 7: 1-4, 6-7;   1 Cor 9:16-19,22-23;   Mk 1:29-39

By Fr. Nicholas Christuraj S.J.

The first reading of today presents, to us the painful truth of life. Suffering is the part and parcel of our life journey. The entire book of Job is the example of the suffering of the innocent and how the innocent finds the hope in the God alone.  The sad reality is expressed through the mouth of Job: “is no man’s life on earth a drudgery?” ( Job 7:1) yes, we can never find complete happiness in our life on this earth. This realization should lead us to long and to prepare for heaven, which is our true and permanent home. So rather than to be attached to this world and curse our suffering rather we should be focused on achieving the fullness of joy and salvation in our heavenly home.

In the second reading, St. Paul as a faithful and humble servant of Christ Jesus feels he is chosen to bear witness to Christ and to preach the good news to all, in order to reach a wide range of people: whether it be religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralist, loose-living immoralist. He feels that it is his responsibility and by not doing so he will infer curse upon himself. He further goes on to say though being free yet he chooses to be a slave to all, in order to win as many as  for Christ and kingdom values.

The Gospel of today is a brief description of a typical day of the Lord Jesus in his public ministry. Even after sunset, people brought to Jesus all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. He cured the sick people and casted out many devils. In the Gospel passage we read “in the morning, long before dawn, he  got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there” ( Mk 1 :35 ),  in the bible there also other instances, which also states that Jesus went to the lonely place to pray.  Perhaps the questions that arise in our mind: Jesus being son of God,  why does he need to pray? and what did he pray for? Jesus as a true master and teacher through his exemplary life teaches his disciples and us too, that our daily life and ministry is not possible without our union with the Abba Father. In the Gospel we see, on the previous day Jesus spent practically whole day healing people, and casting out evil spirits, so he is not only exhausted physically but also spiritually. Healing people drained Jesus’ power, in a similar way working with people drains us of power. That’s why we need to do what Jesus did, we too need to recharge ourselves spiritually. May be, we will not be able to go to a lonely place or alone into the woods to pray.  But definitely, we can pause momentarily during the course of our day to get in touch with ourselves and to listen to God’s voice in our hearts. Besides our personal prayer it can be achieved by the ‘Examination of Conscience’ the spiritual tool suggested by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

At times away from the maddening crowd to be alone with the Alone gives us great energy, revitalizes our enthusiasm, broadens our vision and gives clarity to our thinking. Again, it is not running away from our responsibility or escape from our duties, but taking some quite time for ourselves to introspect our life and mission and to set out in a right direction. This is what we see in the life of Jesus as he takes time to be with his father united in prayer. This incident also throws light on the fact that our prayer life and our ministries influence one another. The more one prays the more he/ she is charged and impelled to serve the people, the more one involves in the service of people, is automatically drawn to the Almighty in prayer.

Jesus’ preaching and healing ministry is a sign of God’s kingdom. The kingdom of God has to be spread and not to be limited to particular place and particular people. That is why Jesus says, “ Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came” ( Mk 1 :38). Jesus had a compassion and solidarity with the sick and suffering. The church as an active agent called to spread the values of Jesus and to continue his healing ministry to those who are sick both physically and spiritually.  Let us pray for the church and with the church for its growth and fruition.

As we reflect over readings of today’s liturgy let us ask ourselves these three questions:

  1. Do I look at the hopeful situation just like Job even if I am faced with gloomy situations all around me?
  2. Am I charged with the energy like St. Paul to preach the Gospel at all cost?
  3. Is my prayer life and ministry influence one another?