A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to Luke 4:38-44
After he left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Messiah. At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
Opening Prayer: God of might, giver of every good gift, put into our hearts the love of your name, so that, by deepening our sense of reverence, you may nurture in us what is good and, by your watchful care, keep safe what you have nurtured. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen
Encountering Christ: After the disappointing reception he had received in his hometown, the tide turns in Capernaum where his preaching, his effortless domination of an unclean spirit and in today’s Gospel, his cure of all sorts of sicknesses, including that of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, strengthened that impression to the extent that the people did not want him to leave but he did so in order to evangelize the other towns.
Considering so many years of patient waiting during his hidden life, there seemed to be a clear urgency in his action. This intensity of mission was present throughout Our Lord’s public life. There were times when they had no time to eat or rest (Mark 6:31). At least once he was so fatigued that he slept in the boat through the storm (Matthew: 8:24). At the sight of the crowd he had pity and began to teach them (Matthew 9:36).
Our Lord’s energetic activity seems almost out of place with so much waiting during his hidden life. Nevertheless, this passage enlightens the common thread of both his apparent inactivity and activity. It was the will of his Father: “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” Jesus was aware of being sent on a mission by his Father. For years, that mission entailed a hidden life. Now it entailed active ministry. He embraced both fully, precisely because they were his Father’s will. Similarly, shortly before his Passion, Jesus said, “the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me” (John 14:31).
Today we are reminded that when Jesus said, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28), it really was his purpose to put himself at the disposal of all who were in need and suffering in any way. Yet when invited to stay among the people who were so kind to him, Jesus reminded them that his main purpose was preaching the love of his Father to as many as possible, and so He had to continue to meet others.
Since the Institution of the Eucharist, it means that we can in fact always have Jesus as a travelling companion in our journey through life. It’s wonderful to realize that the Word of God is at our disposal if only we call on him in faith. “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
Jesus’ escape from the crowd to pray at daybreak indicated that he was not tempted to activism devoid of prayer. Our Lord modeled for us the nexus between prayer and action. Therefore, guided by the Holy Spirit, Christians unite their prayer with Christ’s prayer to the Father. Prayer guides and strengthens all we do.
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, by your actions you revealed to us the importance of being both contemplative and active in our mission. When we are firmly united to you in prayer and through the sacraments, we fruitfully communicate you to those around us. Instill in us your love and passion for the will of your Father and for the salvation of all souls.
Action Items: Lord, today by your grace I will take great care to take several moments throughout the day to offer brief prayers to you.