GOSPEL REFLECTION: 5th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
GOSPEL: Mark 1:29-39
As soon as Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her and she began to serve them.
That evening at sunset, they brought to Jesus all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons and he would not permit the demons to speak because they knew him.
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.”
He answered, “Let us go to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also, for that is what I came out to do.” And Jesus went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
In today’s Gospel text, the evangelist St. Mark relates to us that it was such a busy day for our Lord Jesus – preaching, curing the sick, expelling demons from possessed people. Yet despite a hectic and tiresome schedule, our Lord Jesus still managed to give time to pray. “In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. This particular text reveals to us that Jesus is indeed a man of prayer. We have seen so many occasions that our Lord Jesus will always find time to pray i.e. to seek peace, to rest, to contemplate, and to commune with his Father. Thus the Gospel text gives us an important lesson in life i.e. no matter how busy we are with our life we should always find time to pause awhile, to reflect and to pray. A good examination of life is worth it in order for us to have a clearer direction as we contemplate our journey through life. The Philosopher Socrates puts it beautifully, “An unreflected life is not worth living.”
Today, therefore, I’d like to talk about the importance of prayer. Every one of us knows what prayer is all about. Prayer is our direct line with heaven. A prayer is a form of communication that allows us to converse with God. Making it simple, Prayer is talking to God. It may be simple as it sounds, but to some, it could be a struggle. Some people find prayer as a challenge. Well, it’s a busy world, it’s a complicated world. And therefore, there are people who find prayer complicated too.
But to pray for me is a privilege. Can you imagine, when we pray we are making a personal audience with God? Prayer is man’s opportunity to appear before God and therefore such a huge honor on the part of man. Like, if you are invited to the Vatican to have an audience with the Pope…wouldn’t you feel privileged? Yes, because not everybody has the chance to be up close and personal to a somebody like the Pope. If you are invited for a personal audience with Queen Elizabeth, wouldn’t you feel the same way too? If you feel privileged having such opportunities with personalities like the Pope or Queen Elizabeth, how much more should you feel privileged to have a personal encounter with God? Prayer is like that. The good news is that we don’t have to arrange for an appointment. We don’t bother to go somewhere else. You can have a personal audience with God anytime and anywhere we want. That’s the best part of it.
Some people would say ‘I don’t feel like praying.’ Prayer is not a matter of feeling. We don’t pray only when we feel like praying. Like we don’t eat only when we feel like eating. Prayer is essential in our lives like eating our meals. How can we live without our communion with God? Our Lord tells us to pray without ceasing.
When we pray, we should pray like talking to a loved one or to your best friend. We become more confident knowing that God is a loved one or a best friend to us, a someone who loves us unconditionally. God is not a distant God. This is the very reason of God’s incarnation in the person of Jesus. Jesus reveals to us the kind of love God has for us.
In the First Reading of this Sunday, we encounter Job. Job’s life and example are worth our contemplation. Job was severely tested. He experienced extreme tribulations in his lifetime yet his faith never wavered. He trusted and trusted all the way. When we pray, therefore, we should have Job’s faith in a loving God.
When we feel some kind of aridity in our prayer and spiritual life, ask the Lord for strength. The disciples humbly admitted that they didn’t know everything that led them to ask Jesus – “Lord, teach us how to pray.” We should humbly ask the same thing too.