Today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary time and for the last three weeks the readings have been looking at the man Jesus setting out on his mission to preach the Good News of the Kingdom.
On the 2nd Sunday we saw Jesus inviting the disciples of John to follow him to ‘come and see’ where he lived. We see their excitement as they return home after spending only a day with him and announcing: We have found the Messiah!
Then on the 3rd Sunday we saw the attraction Jesus has for those seeking the truth. He calls four men to become his apostles and they follow without hesitation.
Last week, the 4th Sunday, we saw Jesus teaching in the synagogue and all were impressed by the authority of his teaching and astonished at the power of his word which could give orders even to unclean spirits.
And today we meet him once again in the Gospel. We see him at work; we watch him in action. We draw closer to him, trying to get to know him and understand him a little better.
So what do we see about Jesus in today’s Gospel?
- We see a strong, energetic, busy Jesus, working hard to spread the Good News of the Kingdom. From the synagogue where he cast out the evil spirit from a possessed man he went straight to Simon’s house and cured his mother-in-law. Then crowds came and after sunset he is still working. Long before dawn he got up for prayer: let us go elsewhere (let us keep moving) … he went all through Galilee.
- There is a sense of urgency, of mission, of energy, of driven-ness. Jesus is like the sower of seed who doesn’t stop to look back where the seed has fallen but one who goes on sowing.
- We see a man of great simplicity and power. Jesus comes to the bed of Simon’s mother-in-law and takes her by the hand and helps her up – her illness now gone. The words of Jesus and the deeds of Jesus are one and the same thing, equally powerful. Simplicity and power!
- We see a man of prayer, a man who keeps his priorities straight; his relationship to his Father stays in the first place. A man who refuses to let the busy routine dictate the terms of his life. A man who defends the spiritual from the practical, as well as from the temptation of popularity.
- Finally, we see a man who is busy teaching us. Not only by what he says but by what he does.
This Gospel shows us one of the greatest and most significant aspects of what Jesus came to teach us. When he goes off to preach elsewhere and leaves behind all those who are not yet cured and who are still suffering he shows us that he did not come to take all this away. He could have gone on curing till there was no one left to cure but in moving on he showed us that he had not come to inaugurate a paradise on earth without illness or suffering.
Nor did he exempt himself from suffering.
Jesus came to show us by the example of his life and death that the way to happiness and eternal life was through the human situation – and not around it.
Jesus did not come to take away our suffering but to show us how to make it – in union with him – a vehicle to eternal life. He came to bring happiness IN our human condition – and not through exemption from it.
- Do we live our Christian life with a sense of urgency, with a sense that the day will come when it will end and that then it will be too late for all the things we need to accomplish?
- Are we simple and humble about how we deal with others or do we have lots of self interest? Are we simple about our good deeds?
- Are we people of prayer? Do we put energy into our prayer? Do we make time for prayer, even getting up early, like Jesus? Do we look for a time and a place, every day? If Christians are serious about their Christian life they will pray.
- Are we constantly praying for exemptions from suffering; for privileges, for favours? Or do we pray for the strength to remain happy and at peace in these sufferings?
Our present life is a special time of grace, a time of favour. Let us set to work before it runs out.