Roman Rite – V Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B – February 4, 2018
Jb 7: 1-4.6-7; Ps 147; 1 Corinthians 9: 16-19.22-23; Mk 1: 29-39
Hos 6,1-6;Ps 51; Gal 2.19-3.7; Lk 7,36-50
Penultimate Sunday after the Epiphany called “of the divine clemency”
1) To announce, heal and pray
In this Sunday’s Gospel, as it was in last Sunday’s, we see Christ walking through the streets of Galilee accompanied by the first four Apostles he had called: Peter, Andrew, John, and James. More than speaking of a journey we could talk of the pilgrimage of the incarnated God, who came to this earth to take man into heaven. To go is different from to wander because it has a goal, pilgrimage is different from journey because the goal is a sanctuary that is the House of God.
In the first scene of today’s gospel, we see that Jesus enters as a “pilgrim” into Peter’s family home, and we know that the house is a domestic church. In this house, Peter’s mother-in-law lays in bed seriously ill. The Messiah takes her by the hand, heals her and makes her get up.
In the second scene of this gospel, Saint Mark shows us that all the sick of Capernaum, ill in body, mind and spirit, are taken to him, and he “heals many … and drives out many demons” (cf. Mk, 1-34).
This is an evident sign that the evangelization is a human promotion. The Gospel is an announcement that saves and heals. All four Evangelists agree on this statement. They attest that the liberation from illnesses and infirmities of every kind constituted, together with the preaching, the principal activity of Jesus in his public life. In fact, diseases are a sign of the action of Evil in the world and in man while the healings show that the Kingdom of God and God himself are near. Jesus Christ came to defeat Evil at the root, and healings are an anticipation of his victory achieved through his Death and Resurrection. In short, Christ announces the Kingdom of God speaking with authority and healing men to give them back their freedom as children of God.
However, it should be kept in mind that, if evangelization is sharing the Word that becomes flesh and takes care of the whole person and of every man because God’s charity has no barriers, prayer is the soul of this apostolate so much so that the two scenes that Saint Mark describes are enclosed in two moments of prayer: the one in the synagogue (see last Sunday’s gospel) and the one in a solitary place at night, before sunrise (see today’s Gospel). “It is much more fruitful to speak to God of men than of God to men” (Saint Catherine of Siena). Therefore, let’s go with Jesus to the hermitage1 of our heart, just as Christ “retires to a deserted place early in the morning” to pray. With prayer, we become, with Jesus, pilgrims of the Absolute and the incessant prayer is illuminated by the dawn of Easter. It is the womb from which every mission is born.
Without this prayer, each of us will fail times and words. Instead, it is a matter of “getting up” (in the Greek version it is used the verb which means to resurrect), that is, to resurrect with Christ every day “when” for the world “it is still dark”. To have God give us the grace to get up with and towards him, let’s often repeat this hymn:
“In the first light of the day,
dressed in light and silence,
things wake up from the dark,
as it was at the beginning of the world.
And we, who watch over night
attentive to the faith of the world,
projected towards the return of Christ,
or towards the light, we look.
O Christ, the splendor of the Father,
very bright divine light,
in You we dress in hope,
we live with joy and love.
To the Father we sing the praise,
to the Son who is light from light
and glory to the Holy Spirit,
that is the eternal source of life. Amen”.
2) The Gospel of hope
Every night prepares for the new day. And so, within the heart the hope that tomorrow will be better, we accept with courage every trial of life. However, the aforementioned hymn teaches us something more. It tells us to clothe ourselves of hope in Christ, living the baptism we have received.
In this sacrament, Christ gives us his clothes and these are not an external thing. They mean that we enter into an existential communion with Him. It means that his and our being flow together and interpenetrate each other. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). With these words St. Paul describes the event of his baptism. Christ has worn our clothes: the pain and joy of being a man, hunger, thirst, fatigue, hopes and disappointments, the fear of death and all our distresses up to death. And he gave us his “clothes”. Clothes of the love in which we are called to believe.
Believing in love is to live it.
If someone would ask me how to live with love, I would propose to accept this prayer of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus: “Living of Love is to guard You, the Incorrupt Word, Word of my God! You know that I love you, divine Jesus! The Spirit of Love completely inflames me. It is loving you that I attract the Father: my weak heart holds Him. O Trinity, you are now a prisoner of my Love! Living of Love is living of your life, glorious King, delight of the elect. You, hidden in the host, live for me: and I want to hide myself for you, Jesus! For lovers loneliness is needed, a heart to heart that lasts night and day. Your glance is bliss for me: I live of Love! … Living of Love here on earth is never to set a tent on the summit of Mount Tabor: it is instead to climb up with Jesus the Calvary, it is to see a treasure in the Cross! I will rejoice in Heaven, where proof is always excluded; but in exile I want, with my suffering, to live of Love … Living of Love is, while Jesus is asleep, finding rest on the tempestuous waves. Do not be afraid, Lord, that I wake you up! In peace, I await the heavenly landing. Soon the Faith will tear his veil; Hope for me is to see you one day: Charity is a swollen sail that pushes me: I live of Love! “(Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus, Doctor of the Church, Works – February 1897)
Believing in love involves making us bearers of hope.
How? Looking at the Cross and helping others to look at it so that they too in Christ may find “who first loved us. Jesus on the Cross loves us and he cleans us in the blood that is fire. Let us look to Christ, infinite Love, and Love that gives Love “. (Clemente Rebora). Love lives in the heart and opens to hope.
If having faith in love means to believe that love is the most important thing, placing hope in love means:
– to choose to build life on love,
– to believe that we are indeed saved through love and that this love remains eternal,
– to believe that the love that God has for us is stronger than all the evil that can reach us,
– to believe that we can live with love and that love is enough for us.
3) The Consecrated Virgins witnesses of hope.
To witness the hope that Jesus is risen giving it full citizenship in the world, some women consecrate themselves virginally to Christ. How do these women bear witness to hope in history and in everyday life? Relating with their daily life the great works of the Lord, according to the spirit of the Magnificat.
With work in the world and virginal prayer, they become lamps that radiate the hope brought by Christ or, better, they radiate Christ our hope and hope of the world, as St. Augustine teaches “May the Lord your God be your hope; do not hope for something from the Lord your God, but your Lord himself may be your hope. Many expect from God something outside him; but you must seek your God … He will be your love “. The Bishop of Hippo continues “What, then, is the object of our hope … What is it? Is it the land? No. Something that comes from the earth, like gold, silver, tree, harvest, water? None of these things. Something flying in space? The soul rejects it. Is it the sky, so beautiful and adorned with luminous stars? Among these visible things, what is, in fact, more delectable, more beautiful? No, it is not even that. What is it, then? These things are pleasing, these things are beautiful, and these things are good: look who made them, he is your hope … Tell him: you are my hope “.
On Mk 1: 32-34
Theophylact: Because the multitude thought that it was not lawful to heal on the sabbath day, they waited for the evening, to bring those who were to be healed to Jesus.
Wherefore it is said, “And at even, when the sun had set.”
There follows, “and He healed many that were vexed with divers diseases.”
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Now in that he says “many”, all are to be understood according to the Scripture mode of expression.
Theophylact: Or he says, “many”, because there were some faithless persons, who could not at all be cured on account of their unfaithfulness. Therefore He healed many of those who were brought, that is, all who had faith.
It goes on, “and cast out many devils.”
Pseudo-Augustine, Quaest. e Vet. et Nov. Test. 16: For the devils knew that He was the Christ, who had been promised by the Law: for they saw in Him all (p. 30) the signs which had been foretold by the Prophets; but they were ignorant of His divinity, as also were “their princes, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1Co 2,8)
Bede: For, Him whom the devil had known as a man, wearied by His forty days’ fast, without being able by tempting Him to prove whether He was the Son of God, he now by the power of His miracles understood or rather suspected to be the Son of God. The reason therefore why he persuaded the Jews to crucify Him, was not because he did not think that He was the Son of God, but because he did not foresee that he himself was to be condemned by Christ’s death.
Theophylact: Furthermore, the reason that He forbade the devils to speak, was to teach us not to believe them, even if they say true. For if once they find persons to believe them, they mingle truth with falsehood.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: And Luke does not contradict this, when he says, that “devils came out of many, crying out and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God:” (Lc 4,41) for he subjoins, “And He rebuking them, suffered them not to speak;” for Mark, who passes over many things for the sake of brevity, speaks about what happened subsequently to the abovementioned words.
Bede: Again, in a mystical sense, the setting of the sun signifies the passion of Him, who said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (Jn 9,5) And when the sun was going down, more demoniacs and sick persons were healed than before: because He who living in the flesh for a time taught a few Jews, has transmitted the gifts of faith and health to all the Gentiles throughout the world.
Pseudo-Jerome: But the door of the kingdom, morally, is repentance and faith, which works health for various diseases; for divers are the vices with which the city of this world is sick.
1The gospel uses the Greek word “hermitage” whose literal meaning is “solitary place”.