Friday - 5th Week - Year B - Mark 7:31-37
Thursday - 5th Week - Year B - 7:24-30
Wednesday - 5th Week - Year B - Mark 7:14-23
Tuesday - 5th Week - Year B - Mark 7:1-13
Monday - 5th Week - Year B - Mark 6:53-56
5th Sunday In Ordinary Time - Year B - Mark 1:29-39
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year: B
Job 7.1-4, 6-7; Ps 146 (147);1 Cor 9.16-19, 22-23; Mk 1.29-39
Novelist Russell Banks once wrote a short story called "The Fish." In this fanciful tale we are told about a giant fish that lived in a good-sized lake not far from a small Chinese village. For reasons no one was ever clear about, the authorities, led by a Colonel Tung, decided that this giant fish was a menace that had to be removed from the lake. But every time the colonel tried to kill the fish, the creature somehow survived unscathed. They fired automatic weapons at the fish, but no bullet struck it. They placed mines throughout the waters of the lake, and although the fish detonated the mines, it swam on. They hid floatable grenades amidst chunks of bread that were scattered on the water's surface. And although the fish ate the grenades along with the bread, it lived on.
Needless to say, each time Colonel Tung failed to slay the beast, the reputation of the fish grew. People delighted in astonishment that such a creature existed. Tourists began to come to the lake's shores to catch a glimpse of the fish, and soon people in boats trolled the waters to see it, cameras at the ready. But then one day someone began to circulate the idea that it must be the waters of the lake itself that contained the magic. Surely such special water had healing properties, could be an elixir for long life.
They Carried away Water
Soon, everyone who came to see the fish brought a mason jar, a bucket, or some other vessel with which to cart home some of this magic water. This went on for months. The authorities tried to control it, but under the cover of darkness some were now siphoning water out of the lake into tanker trucks. Before anyone could do much about it, the lake level dropped precipitously. A dry stretch of weather over the next summer depleted the lake still more until finally the terrible day came when there was no longer enough water for the great fish to swim in. One morning, people found the fish lying on its side, flapping its fins on a muddy flat that had once been the lake. They began to bring water back to the lake, dousing the fish as quickly as they could. But by sunset that night, they buried the fish.
We Ruin Things around Us
I am by no means certain what all Mr. Banks meant to convey via this story. Probably it means lots of things, but among them is surely this idea: there is nothing so wonderful in this life that we humans cannot find a way to ruin as soon as we make our own selves our sole reference point. As soon as something becomes all about me, the moment I spy something that I think I can turn to my private advantage, my perspective becomes narrowed, my horizons contract, and suddenly I discover that by trying to horde something for my own private benefit, I have killed that very thing.
Jesus Cared for all
Indeed, we human beings will go to extraordinary efforts to free ourselves of chaos, yet however the harder we try to destroy chaos, the worse things become. In some ways we have some success. Throughout the past two thousand years, Christians have done much good for those who have suffered. It is said that Christians learned the Muslim invention of the hospital, later of course we brought healing across the globe. We also created schools so that the poor could rise out of their poverty. We created social programs, did you know that it was Christians who brought about Universal medical care in Canada. Jesus cared for the sick, so we should too.
Getting Rid of Evil
However, we need to tell the truth about our Christian history too. There have been times when clearly we have tried to destroy what we thought was evil and in doing so unleashed hell on countless numbers of people. During the crusades, we killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslims who would not convert. And of course we engaged in many wars in order to "rid the world of evil". And yet, the vain promise of "a war to end all wars" has brought instead a century of the worst violence in human history. Wounds are still alive, and hearts are restless.
Prayer was his Strength
More than ever we need to listen and follow Jesus. Did you notice what he did in the text after healing people and casting out the demons? After Jesus, in his compassion, heals those with disease and demons for a full day, he gets up in the early morning to pray. While it was still dark and goes to a place alone and prayed.
He Listened to His Father
The text doesn't say what he prayed; I wonder if he says nothing but just listens. An older Christian once said that praying was more about listening than asking from God. He said, "Most times just sit in silence and listen for what God wants you to know and do."
Everyone is Searching for You
And so his companions find him praying and begin to tell him what he must do. "Everyone is searching for you." OK, Jesus, they are saying, it is time for you to really show them your power and to expand your popularity. That is what we want you to do, be successful.
And yet, Jesus will not let the disciples set the agenda. Did you notice that? He says, "Let's go on to neighboring towns so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came to do." And he went through Galilee proclaiming the message in the places of worship and casting out demons.
The Time is Fulfilled
It is interesting that Jesus message itself casts out the demons. You remember what Jesus was preaching? "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe the good news." It is a simple message however as we shall see; all the forces of Hell will set themselves against this one from Nazareth. And still he will not respond to their chaotic fury with a punch, or kick or slash of the sword or dropping of a bomb, but rather he will speak the truth to them and to us even to the point of death on a cross. Where we expect him to crush evil and chaos with a divine army, instead he speaks the truth, even to the point of a death on the cross.
What an Absurdity!
And to many, responding to evil in his way is folly; to respond to power with truth is insanity; and of course to die for one's enemies rather than fighting them to the last breath seems nothing less than absurd.
And yet, still we gather under the sign of the cross; the throne of God's power. We who have been called to proclaim the message of Christ's reign are entrusted to proclaim to those around us that there is a way which can cast out the demons that deceive us and create chaos in the lives of humanity.
Jesus Brings the Kingdom
Proclaiming the Gospel starts in a simple way. Do you know that you are beloved? That God has welcomed you, just as you are, into a new way of life. Do you know that Jesus, the Holy One has called us friends, broken people like us, troubled people like us, sinners like us; friends we who could not make it to God by being rich enough, or smart enough, or popular enough or good enough. The kingdom of God has come near, come to us in Jesus Christ. If anyone, even yourself tells you that you are unworthy of life, tell them, "Shut up!” If someone says to another that they are unlovable tell them, "Shut up!" And of course, there is more to the story, and more to the Gospel, but at the core is God's love for a chaotic and broken world.
His kind of power may not be what the world expected but it is enough to claim us and make us sons and daughters of the Most High God to call us to share in God's mission as the very body of Christ. For when all is said, we are called to proclaim with our lives that the power and truth of God is at work setting us free and the whole world free of death and destruction.
The Mission of Love
To follow this Holy One who does not destroy enemies, but rather gives his life for them, is the most important mission of all. While the world may not realize it and we may not yet realize it, but the church is the most important thing that is happening in the world. I sincerely believe that we have been called to follow Jesus and witness to God's loving power at work in the world. To be asked to share in the divine power and mission of Jesus is the greatest news of all and that is what we understand as LOVE mission.!
In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, 'Everyone is searching for you’
When we do good works people come in search of us because we become another Christ in our deeds and intentions. When we do bad things, people run away from us. We are called to be like Christ who always went around doing good works and helping people in need. He liberated them from their sufferings and pain.
Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD
Vancouver - Canada
Saturday - 4th Week - Year B - Mark 6:30-34