Reading I - Job 7:1-4, 6-7
Psalm - 47
Reading II - 1 Cor 9:16 -19, 22-23
Gospel - Mark 1:29-39
As I reflect on the readings for today's liturgy, I am struck by the fact that in this "ordinary time" of the Church Year, we are experiencing an extraordinarily difficult time. However, the readings include both.
In the first reading from the Book of Job in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), we meet Job, a good man, who is being challenged to decide whether to continue to be a faithful worshiper of God. He is wrestling with the age-old questions: 1) Why does God allow suffering? 2) Why do some suffer so much more than others? 3) If God is so good (Ps. 147), why does he allow evil?
Some of the sentiments expressed by Job are heard by people today during the current Pandemic: "Is not man's life on earth a drudgery?" "...I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me."
Jesus never answers the questions. In his humanity, he accepts suffering himself and reaches out in love to those suffering around him. From our own observation, we know that suffering can make us "bitter or better." We observe some who become mean and destructive. On the other hand, we see others who help others in need of goods or comfort. We even see heroic deeds when a person risks his or her own comfort or even life for others.
What must we do to be prepared to be "better" in the ordinary and extraordinary times? In the Christian Scriptures (New Testament), Jesus tells us: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." In today's Gospel, we see Jesus leaving the synagogue after teaching and ordering an evil spirit out of a man. The congregation is astounded with his teaching and his power over the evil spirit.
After observing the Sabbath services, Jesus and his disciples go to visit the home of Simon Peter whose mother-in-law is sick. Jesus heals her, and she provides them with a meal. In the evening, many people needing healing or freedom from evil spirits gather in front of Peter's home and are cured of their ailments.
The next morning Jesus rises early and goes to a private place to pray. His disciples search for him and tell him that everyone is looking for him. Of course, they want him to remain with them. However, Jesus tells his followers that they need to go to the other villages in Galilee, also. Jesus thus signals that he is sent for all peoples.
Jesus has thus shown us the Way!
I. He participates in Holy Day Services which for him, as a Jewish man, was to attend the Sabbath Services in the Synagogue. For modern Jewish people, they can also attend Sabbath Services. For Christians, it may be to participate in Sunday Mass or Prayer Services in their Church Homes.
II. Then he participates in fellowship with others. He reaches out to those in need of healing, understanding, acceptance, food, e.g.
A. Healing the blind man and others
B. Understanding the Samaritan woman at the well
C. Accepting Simon Peter, in spite of his weaknesses
D. Feeding the multitude who had been listening to his preaching
E. Sacrificing self for others
III. In spite of his busyness, Jesus prioritizes time for personal prayer. Before dawn, he goes to a private place to commune with his Heavenly Father.
IV. He corrects his followers who want him to stay with them. He says that he must go to other villages also to preach to them.
V. In our Second Reading from St. Paul, we are reminded that Jesus extends his salvation to the Gentiles ( non- Jews) also.
Jesus shows us how to be our best selves by his example. As Emmanuel, he walks beside us to help us on our way. Let us remember that we are not alone whether in extraordinary or ordinary times.
Stephanie Morris, Ph.D. , ASBS, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
"Ordinary" sounds so, well, ordinary and dull. "Ordinary" can be defined as uninteresting or commonplace. We know that the Church refers to "Ordinary time" because it is counting the weeks between special holy days.
Sometimes we may wish that we were not "ordinary" folks but wealthy celebrities or business people. Kate Drexel was one of those - the daughter of a millionaire banker. She had great and wonderful things about her in her father's houses and enjoyed the benefits of wealth. But Kate was called to something else. By accepting her call to religious life, Kate rejected the facade of wealth for a simpler life. Mother Katharine liked "ordinary." She said it was part of the path to perfection: "Perfection consists in the performance of ordinary duties well." Being content with where she was and what she had to do, Mother Katharine could focus on what God wanted her to be and to do. As the Little Flower, Mother Katharine saw the benefit of ordinary, little things done well.
Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
As a thank you for a donation made, a charity that I support sent me a pair of socks. They are navy blue with white doves and on the bottom is the saying, “Pray, don’t worry.” I am seriously considering recrafting them into gloves so that the reminder to pray is more visible. As last year’s circumstances carry into this new year, prayer is the number one tool I need to remember that God really has got this in His control. As I write this post, I am one week into a new Bible Study series entitled, “The Armor of God.” We use a workbook, and each day there are Scripture readings and questions on which we are to journal. The focus of this study is Ephesians 6: 10 – 19 which begins with “Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil, and ends with, pray…”
The value of this study for me at only day three, is that I recognize that the on-going unsettledness I feel runs much deeper than the visible disruptions I continue to see in lives and businesses in my community, nation, and the world. I realize that the inner disorder I am experiencing is truly spiritual warfare and the armor I need is continual prayer. As St. Paul writes, “With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit…” Being in communion with God will enable me to live in this world without becoming a victim to anger, preoccupation, obsession, and addiction.
In your blog, Sr. Annette, you noted several behaviors of Jesus that model ways of One who lives in the way of the Lord. Prayer appears to have been a daily practice for Jesus. He prayed during his activities of healing, prayed with others, taught his disciples how to pray and he also created space for solitary prayer. Scripture gives us several glimpses into Jesus’ going off to a quiet place to be alone with God. Jesus always credited His Father was the One who brought forth the fruit in his ministry. In the solitude of prayer, Jesus enters into intimacy with his Father. “In solitary prayer, Jesus comes to understand his identity and mission. In prayer, he experiences God’s will and direction, and affirms that it is God who sends him, who gives him the words to say and the deeds to fulfill.” These words of Henri Nouwen, for me, validate the need to discipline myself to spend quiet time with God on a regular basis so I can make the journey from mind to heart, “from unceasing thinking to unceasing prayer.
As we prepare for the Season of Lent, let us commit to discovering God in the center of our being by taking time to sit in solitude and silence. There, in the place of the heart, we can learn the power of interior prayer and hear the voice of the One who calls us “my beloved.”