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Go Farther In Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Week V-B, 04 February 2018
Job 7:1-4, 6-7///1Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23///Mark 1:29-39

Sorry for not sending my recipe last Sunday when I reflected about the “authority of Jesus” after preaching and exorcising a possessed man in a Capernaum synagogue. The people were amazed as Jesus spoke with authority unlike their scribes and Pharisees. Authority is not about powers but being truthful by being connected with the people and with God. Jesus spoke with authority because He spoke of the situations and feelings of the people; most of all, He spoke with authority in casting out demons because He is one with God. Our Gospel today is a continuation of that scene from the synagogue when Jesus then proceeded into the home of Peter along with Andrew, James and John to heal Peter’s mother-in-law. It was still the day of Sabbath and St. Mark shows us in a beautiful manner how Jesus had come to share His authority with us by restoring that oneness of people with one another and with God.

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. (Mk.1:29-31)

Sickness and disease, problems and sufferings of all kinds, including sins cut us off from others, from God, and even from our very selves. We lose our sense of connections that we feel isolated, alone, even abandoned. We could not go with our usual routine in life as we are confined to our bed like Simon’s mother-in-law who was “high with fever”. Unknown to us, it is also during such moments of “high fever” when Jesus comes to us in silence to heal! Let us now reflect on the Lord’s movements in healing Simon’s mother-in-law when “he approached her, grasped her hand, and helped her up.”

Jesus comes to us, approaches us in so many ways when we are feeling so down and lonely. It always happens every time we wake up in the morning: we may still be sick or may still have problems but to be alive for another day is a sure sign of the Lord’s coming to us! He has plans for us in enabling us to pass through the night, no matter how difficult it may have been for us. Note that in coming to the house, St. Mark said the four disciples “immediately told” Jesus about Simon’s sick mother-in-law. Do we immediately speak to Jesus of our sickness and problems? Or, are we so focused with our own cure to our sickness or solutions to our problems that we hardly notice Jesus approaching us, grasping our hands, even embracing us to comfort us? Be still and think first of Jesus beside you, allow Him to grasp your hand and raise you up like in His Resurrection (such is the thought behind the original Greek word St. Mark used in this passage, “egeirin”).

Whenever Jesus approaches us and grasps our hands when we are down, His ultimate aim is not only to heal us but most of all to raise us up to a new level of relating with God, with self and with others. Sickness and misfortunes in life are not from God but can be occasions to experience His love and mercy. This is the reason why the Prayers of the Faithful cannot be skipped even in weekday Masses because that is when we pray for the sick and those suffering not only for healing but most of all to find meaning in their situations by “reconnecting” with God, with others and with their very selves.

The same thing is true when we are in sin, when we feel disconnected with others, with God and with our very selves. We feel down and isolated. Yet Jesus continues to come to us, approaching us, grasping our hands and raising us up. In today’s Gospel, as the Sabbath ended at sunset, more people came to Jesus to bring the sick and the possessed to be healed and exorcised. The same thing happens all over again when we come to Jesus in the sacraments of the Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick, and Reconciliation or Penance. Jesus heals us not only of our body ailments but also of our mind and soul, casting away all the demons that plague and immobilize us, reconnecting us with God, others and self to be filled with life anew.

Trials always come our way in different forms and manner, most especially for us who believe in God and try our best to follow His ways. And there are times that despite our great efforts to serve God, trying so hard to lead holy lives despite our shortcomings and sins, we feel like Job in the first reading, wondering between despair and hope why God seemed to have abandoned us: “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of a hireling? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages. So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me.”(Job 7:1-3)

It is not wrong to cry out to God in such moments of great pains like Job; if we read this beautiful book, we shall find that God allowed the devil to test Job by taking all his children and wealth. On top of such terrible losses, Job was later afflicted with sores in his entire body that he could speak of drudgery in life and of being like a hireling or a slave. But Job remained faithful to God amid his sorry plight that eventually, he was healed and rewarded with more children and wealth. When faced with suffering like Job, we must raise our eyes to Christ who comes to us always in silence. And like Simon’s mother-in-law, we try our best to continue to serve God in others in our afflictions and in our healings. This is the whole point of St. Paul in the second reading: to be “all things to all men” because true freedom is not a license to do anything we want but to serve those who are weak, those in need, those who are suffering.

We have been tremendously blessed by the Lord who comes to us in our moments of darkness. He raises us by the hand and makes us stand again every time we fail and fall. Today Jesus is inviting us to be connected with Him, to go farther in proclaiming His good news of healing and salvation to more people. Let us be His hands that grasp and raise up others who are down in sickness and sin and miseries. Amen.

Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II,
Parokya Ng SanJuan Apostol At Ebanghelista,
Gov.F.HaliliAve., Bagbaguin, Sta.Maria, Bulacan3022