5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
7th February 2021
Year B – Psalter week 1
Almost every part of all our lives at the moment, every decision and action we take, is impacted by the very real need to look after our physical wellbeing, and also a real concern for the physical wellbeing and healing of many. There is also a real thirst and need for mental and spiritual healing as well.
Our first reading, and our Gospel this weekend are very appropriate for our current time. Job in the first reading, is weighed down with endless drudgery and despair, he is pessimistic about life and the future, is fretful and restless.
Job’s feelings and the challenges we are all facing currently, provide a powerful backdrop for the message of our Gospel which is very much about prayer and healing. These two things are inextricably linked and a significant part of Jesus’ mission and purpose.
For our spiritual health, it is important to be able to talk about how we feel, we need to talk to God, and to those around us who care for us. If we are doing the listening; then we need to listen, not to correct what someone is saying, but sometimes just to quietly listen and to support.
In Jesus, we have a perfect model for a friendship that is rooted in listening. We have in Jesus a true friend who listens to us and will take everything we say to God His Father. Jesus is certainly, a faithful listener who does not correct as much as he encourages and guides. He actively wants to hear us, and to hear whatever we have to say, for He is always patient and loving and supportive.
In today’s Gospel Jesus has left the synagogue after teaching the people and freeing a man from an evil spirit as we heard last week, and then heads back to Simon’s home almost certainly to rest. As soon as he arrives, he hears that Simon’s mother-in-law is ill.
He goes immediately to her and we are told only that he took her by the hand and gently raised her up. It is a tender scene suggesting that Jesus took some time to listen to her talk about what was troubling her. Indeed, listening was, and is, an important part of Jesus’ ministry of healing.
Attentive and focused listening with one’s whole mind and whole body takes a lot of effort. When another person listens to us in this way, we can feel unburdened, cared for and that our thoughts matter, that we matter. We are able to make some sense of our situation.
This act of talking to Jesus, knowing that he is completely focused on us to encourage and not to condemn – and then us quietly listening to his response, is a perfect form of healing prayer. It provides healing that is sometimes physical, sometimes emotional, and always spiritual.
After Jesus had healer Simon’s mother-in-law, the crowds then waited until after sunset, so when the sabbath was over, to bring to him all those who were sick in body and mind. Jesus spent a long time listening and healing well into the night, but he did not turn away anyone who came to him.
He wakes before dawn, and now we get to see the real importance of prayer in Jesus’ own daily life. He got up, removed himself from the house, and went off to a quiet place to pray. This would have been his customary practice, away from any distractions he would go to talk to God the Father, and to be listened to and to be encouraged and supported.
When the disciples found him, he then knew exactly, what he was to do next. He told them that it was now time to move on. In his prayers, Jesus found guidance and direction from God. Prayer was the source of his strength when times were tough, and of his love and compassion for all.
What Jesus heard in his prayer was the call to proclaim the love, mercy, and presence of God in the other towns, to ‘move on’ from the enthusiastic reception of the day before, because that is why he came, to preach a message of hope to our suffering world.
We also often need to ‘move on’ in our relationship with God. How often are we tempted to stay with the ’comfort of what we know, of ‘what we have always done’, and hesitate to go forward to the largely ‘unknown’ to which God is calling us?
Like Jesus, we need to try to regularly take time out, and find a quiet place to pray, if only for a short while. If we want him to listen to us and to help us, then we also need to make time to listen to him.
What will help us all in these challenging times is building our relationship with God. We can bring our decision-making to God in prayer, asking for his guidance and direction in our lives. We can ask what we can do, to help the suffering and challenges we see around us.
This week let us be attentive to God’s very real call to each of us to ‘talk to him’, to tell him how we are feeling, yes, even to question him and challenge him, he wants us to be honest.
Let us seek out that quiet place, which is absolutely necessary in order to allow God to encourage and guide us, and to continue to heal us in mind, body, and spirit.
My life is but a breath
Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted
1 Corinthians 9:16-19,22-23
I should be punished if I did not preach the Gospel
He cast out devils and cured many who were suffering from disease
Sunday Message and Look
Download this weeks Sunday Message and Look (for our younger parishioners) by clicking on the images, for all the readings for this week, as well as the prayers during mass and the usual weekly thoughts and reflections.
Alleluia, alleluia! I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life. Alleluia!