Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time Scripture Readings First Job 7:1-4, 6-7 Second 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23 Gospel Mark 1:29-39 Prepared by: Fr.

James Cuddy, O.P. 1. Subject Matter
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healing and restoration hope for those suffering from pervasive sorrow Christ’s example of activity and contemplation

2. Exegetical Notes

The first reading is one of Job’s soliloquies. Simply put, it is his assertion that life is wretched. Every man is given his lot in life and each toils for a prescribed period of time and then is gone. (The preacher might use the poetic expressions of Psalm 90 -- You sweep men away like a dream, like the grass which springs up in the morning. In the morning it springs up and flowers by evening it withers and fades – to convey this sentiment.) The second reading demonstrates St. Paul’s understanding of his own vocation. It is clear that the initiative in his becoming an apostle and bold preacher rests with the Lord. His ministry is a free response to what the Lord has done first, and woe to him if he fails to do it. The second portion of the reading illustrates just what Paul is willing to do to communicate the Gospel: everything. The phrase to save at least some is marked by “a certain sadness. It suggests the many sacrifices and efforts of the Apostle had not produced visible results, or that his preaching seemed to fall on deaf ears” (JBC). The Gospel shows Christ with his privileged disciples – Peter, James, and John. Other Marcan occasions that he takes these three with him: the healing of Jairus’ daughter (5:37), the Transfiguration (9:2), the discourse on the sign of the end times (13:3, with Andrew), and of course, the Agony in the Garden (14:33). Jesus takes Simon’s mother-in-law and “helped her up.” A much better translation of the Gk. verb is “raised her up.” This same verb is used in Mark’s accounts of Christ’s Resurrection (cf. 14:28, 16:6). Her healing foreshadows the Resurrection.

Concerning the people looking for Christ, the JBC notes: “In Mk zetein always occurs in contexts suggesting an evil intention or at least a misguided sort of seeking.” For example, The Pharisees seek him for a sign (8:11), The chief priests and scribes seek a way to put him to death (11:18; 14:1; 14:55), and Judas seeks an occasion to hand him over (14:11).

3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

876 Intrinsically linked to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry is its character as service. Entirely dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly "slaves of Christ," in the image of him who freely took "the form of a slave" for us. Because the word and grace of which they are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely become the slaves of all. 2602 Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night. He includes all men in his prayer, for he has taken on humanity in his incarnation, and he offers them to the Father when he offers himself. Jesus, the Word who has become flesh, shares by his human prayer in all that "his brethren" experience; he sympathizes with their weaknesses in order to free them. It was for this that the Father sent him. His words and works are the visible manifestation of his prayer in secret.

4. Patristic Commentary and Other Authorities

Pseudo-Chrysostom: Not that He required prayer; for it was He who Himself received the prayers of men; but He did this by way of an economy, and became to us the model of good works. The Venerable Bede: Mystically if by the setting of the sun, the death of the Savior is intended, why should not His resurrection be intended by the returning dawn? For by its clear light, He went far into the wilderness of the Gentiles, and there continued praying in the person of His faithful disciples, for He aroused their hearts by the grace of the Holy Spirit to the virtue of prayer. St. Peter Chrysologous: Christ did not enter [Peter’s house] to obtain sustenance for himself, but to restore vitality to another. God wants human beings, not human goods. He desires to bestow what is heavenly, not to acquire anything earthly. Christ came to seek not our possessions but us. St. Peter Chrysologous: Fever loosens its grip on a person whose hand is held by Christ’s. No sickness can stand its ground in the face of the very source of health. Where the Lord of life has entered, there is no room for death. Pope John Paul II: Truly the words then spoken by Simon Peter were prophetic: “Everybody is looking for you.”

5. Examples from the Saints and Other Exemplars

The tireless preaching and healing of that filled Christ’s days and his constant prayer with the Father before dawn characterizes the life and preaching of St. Dominic. It was said of our

Holy Father that no one was as joyful in the midst of the brethren and no one was so singleminded on his vigils at night, weeping for sinners and praying for their good. 6. Quotations from Pope Benedict XVI

“Jesus' entire mission is symbolically portrayed in this episode. Jesus, coming from the Father, visited peoples' homes on our earth and found a humanity that was sick, sick with fever, the fever of ideologies, idolatry, forgetfulness of God. The Lord gives us his hand, lifts us up and heals us. And he does so in all ages. He takes us by the hand with his Word, thereby dispelling the fog of ideologies and forms of idolatry. He takes us by the hand in the sacraments, he heals us from the fever of our passions and sins through absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He gives us the possibility to raise ourselves, to stand before God and before men and women. And precisely with this content of the Sunday liturgy, the Lord comes to meet us, he takes us by the hand, raises us and heals us ever anew with the gift of his words, the gift of himself.” “Jesus slept at Peter's house, but he rose before dawn while it was still dark and went out to find a deserted place to pray. And here the true center of the mystery of Jesus appears. Jesus was conversing with the Father and raised his human spirit in communion with the Person of the Son, so that the humanity of the Son, united to him, might speak in the Trinitarian dialogue with the Father; and thus, he also made true prayer possible for us. In the liturgy Jesus prays with us, we pray with Jesus, and so we enter into real contact with God, we enter into the mystery of eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity.” “Jesus speaks to the Father: this is the source and centre of all Jesus' activities; we see his preaching, his cures, his miracles and lastly the Passion, and they spring from this center of his being with the Father. And in this way this Gospel teaches us that the center of our faith and our lives is indeed the primacy of God. Whenever God is not there, the human being is no longer respected either. Only if God's splendor shines on the human face, is the human image of God protected by a dignity which subsequently no one must violate.” “The Kingdom of God is the presence of God, the person's union with God. It is to this destination that Jesus wants to guide us. He tells us: God alone is the redemption of man. And we can see in the history of the last century that in the states where God was abolished, not only was the economy destroyed, but above all the souls.”

7. Other Considerations

It is interesting to note that Mark speaks of “the house of Simon and Andrew” being in Capernaum. But John the Evangelist tells us that the brothers were from Bethsaida (cf. 1:44). Sure, the two cities are quite close to one another – only about 5 miles separates the two of them along the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee – but the detail is a curious one. The brothers are now so intimately linked with the person of Christ and his preaching that they seem to have picked up and moved their home to this new city. This illustrates their wholehearted response to the call of our Lord: Come after me . . . A tired old joke tells of the representatives of three religious orders praying for a sign from God as to which order he most favored. As they prayed, a note gently wafted down from the ceiling of the church. One grabs it and reads aloud: “Dear brothers: I love all of my religious

orders equally. Signed: God, O.P.” With his preaching and healing driving him to contemplative prayer, and his contemplative prayer strengthening and renewing him for ministry, Christ is the exemplar of the Dominican motto: contemplare et aliis tradere. Maybe there’s some truth to the punchline . . . Recommended Resources Peter John Cameron, ed., Praying with Saint Paul: Daily Reflections on the Letters of the Apostle Paul. (Yonkers: Magnificat, 2008). _______. To Praise, To Bless, and To Preach – Cycle B. (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 1999). St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology Homily Helps: http://www.salvationhistory.com/homily_helps_listing/

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