The Gospel according to Mark 1: 29-39
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. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
Opening Prayer: Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care, O Lord, we pray, that they see what must be done and gain strength to do what they have seen. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Encountering Christ: Jesus entered Peter’s home and immediately healed his mother-in-law, who was seriously ill to the point of death. Peter had witnessed Christ’s miracles already, but this healing under his own roof of a member of his family must have moved him deeply. Not only was she completely restored, but also she began to wait on them, as we can imagine she had before she got sick. In our own lives, we can read about Christ, share insights with others, and even preach about him, but our souls change forever and irrevocably when Christ touches us personally. We can delight in the truth that Our Lord wants family intimacy with each of us. He wants to “make it personal.”
I personally have been blessed by several encounters with Christ, starting several years ago, through the Eucharist. I have continued to have these close experiences with Christ when I am on the alter during mass.
No sooner had Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law than the whole town showed up for healing or exorcism. Jesus had become a very popular preacher. He taught with authority. He showed great compassion. And he had powerful healing gifts. His ministry was moving forward with great momentum and he was entering the dynamic, busy, interpersonal, exhausting yet exhilarating period of public ministry. For three years, Jesus would work tirelessly, often not even stopping to eat (Mark 3:20). When our ministry is tiring, when we have given all we have, when we’re so exhausted we’re tempted to discouragement, we can learn from Jesus. Although he tired, his heart was constantly “moved with pity,” or “moved by compassion,” so that he never ceased to do the Father’s will, which was to bless, heal, restore, and redeem mankind. In our limited way, we are called to do the same in the short time we have to give to Jesus, remembering that we do our best work when we rely on Jesus, not on our own strength.
The crowds had come to Peter’s house after sunset for healing, likely staying until very late, and still Jesus got up “before dawn” to pray in a deserted place, a haven of silence and solitude. Do we need any further encouragement to set our alarms so that we have time to pray, each morning? I take the first part of my day when my mind is free and clear and not cloudy from the day’s work and the day to day struggles with life to pray and share my thoughts and hopes and disappointments with Jesus. Whatever in our lives prompts us to start the day; Our Lord is calling us clearly to begin beforehand with prayer. Notice, he didn’t rouse his disciples to join him at that early hour. He wants us to make a decision out of love to rise in time for prayer.
Closing Prayer: May God, the source and origin of all blessing, grant you grace, pour out his blessing in abundance, and keep you safe from harm throughout the year. Amen.
Action for the Day: Each night examine your conscience on the day that has ended. Ask God for the grace and wisdom to see where you missed His presences.