6th Sunday of Ordinary time Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. The Lord heals the broken-hearted!
First Reading: Job 7:1-4. 6-7. Psalm 146:1-6.
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39.
As usual, the sentiments and the messages in God’s Word are evergreen…..they are timeless words for all ages and seasons of life. Many times have I heard the echoes in the 1st Reading from Job, not only in other people, but in myself too. At times ‘life’ can be uphill, and full of speed humps along the way, and we wonder why? Or our prayer may be, “Dear Lord, give me the strength to keep on going, help me to see your purpose and your will.” If we remain a little bit open to the glimmers of hope; sure enough they come up ‘out of the blue’, as we say. It seems to me that in the Reading from Job, we have a hidden invitation to have an IMAX screen view of life, the world, and ourselves, and not be caught up in the old narrow Black and White Cinema of yester year. However, in getting ‘real’ if we have a horrible tooth ache, that experience colors everything doesn’t it?
Let’s look at the Text Message of the Responsorial Psalm: Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted. What a fantastic community response to God’s Word. At the end of the day, the Lord is the faithful one par excellence, and will not leave us in the doldrums. I remember a great and wise old Priest, Fr. Bonaventure, CP who had us Junior Professed Students for a day of Recollection many years ago at Holy Cross Seminary, Templestowe VIC, and he said something like this….” If ever you may feel that you are at the bottom of the barrel, you probably are! But you are most probably resting on the palm of God’s hand, and you probably don’t know it…” As a young Seminarian, that made a deep impression on me, and it still rings true today. I believe that Fr Bonaventure was dead set right! Let’s look at the last verse of the Responsorial Psalm; it is a timeless prayer, which can rise from our heart when graced insight or faith comes out into the sunshine.
Our Lord is great and almighty;
His wisdom can never be measured.
The Lord raises the lowly;
He humbles the wicked to the dust. R
Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted.
In the Gospel Reading, we can literally see Jesus walking out of the Synagogue with James and John to the House of Simon and Andrew. Now, the Synagogue in question here if I can remember correctly is only about the size of Tennis Court, if that! Then Simon and Andrew’s House was on the opposite corner, so it was not a long journey…..but notice Jesus went straightaway….let’s hold on to that. These days, the Synagogue is in ruins, but there is enough structure for one to get the idea of what it was like. Simon and Andrew’s House has a beautiful church built on top of it. The church floor is solid glass over the house. The Franciscan Friars have done a wonderful job in restoring, and excavating the site, and there is a real ‘feeling’ inside the Church of the holiness of this place, due to the experience of Salvation that Simon’s mother in law encountered, together with all the ‘faith’ of thousands upon thousands of Pilgrims who have visited this sacred site over the millennia.
Now let’s look in detail at what happened in this house…..Notice that Jesus immediately responds to the news that Simon’s mother in law was very sick. They did not have to ask Jesus to go to the House, he went to the House…now let’s look at what Jesus did in the house; because this is not just historical information, this is an incident of Salvation for the sick woman, and an example for all times. Salvation in this case means ‘experiencing and seeing’ which is a ’faith response’ the saving hand of God, in Jesus. Let’s go on with the details of this faith experience…..He went to her, and took her by the hand……and then what did Jesus do, He helped her up! Now, look at this in the light of Our Lord’s own Resurrection………The room in which the sick lady was could have been her possible tomb, and in this case it is more like a Tomb; in Jesus helping her up, she rose to new life!
Then what did she do? It says in the Gospel that she began to wait on them…does that mean that she went back into the Kitchen and prepared Hot Scones, Jam and Cream? Maybe not! But more importantly it means that through this experience of Jesus breathing and touching ‘new life’ into her, she was now a changed person, and went on and ‘ministered’ the Good News of experiencing ‘healing’ and then seeing with the eyes of faith, God’s saving hand at work. Isn’t that fantastic? Now combine this experience with Jesus having ‘life’ re breathed into him by The Father at the moment of His Resurrection!! See the parallel? Remember the story of Zacchaeus up the tree, waiting to catch a glimpse of Jesus? Jesus called him and what did he do? He came straight down from the tree, because Jesus wanted to Dine in his House. Salvation came to Zacchaeus and in turn his life changed dramatically because he saw, and experienced the world differently because of the ‘new life’ that Jesus gave him. Jesus said to him, ‘Salvation has come to your House’. This is also a situation where the ‘power’ of the most high refutes evil. Not in a Hollywood style, but look at the last verse of the Psalm again….’The Lord raises the lowly;’ who then are the lowly? Those who have a poverty of spirit…those who hunger and hope in the Lord, as one who will never let them down, that is the spiritual condition that we Christians should always aspire to……but it just doesn’t happen! Like a fire in a beautiful stone hearth, it needs to be fed, it needs to be tendered, hence we have to look, and listen to the Words of God that are continually being spoken to us and His people all the time, every day! If we feel like Job going through a very dry and hopeless period of life; we a not alone…look at Our Lord on the Cross….” My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”. Yet it was in that cry of dereliction from the Cross, that the pagan Roman soldier came to faith….” ‘In truth’ he said, ‘this is the Son of Man…’ Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted.
Finally, let’s go back to the Gospel where Simon Peter’s mother in law immediately began to wait on them….in other words she realised her life would never be the same again, and she embarked into Ministry…..Zacchaeus after his experience with Jesus, did an about turn, and entered into Ministry……Jesus, after His Resurrection calls his Disciples to Go out in Mission and Ministry to the whole world. Then with the empowerment thus realised at Pentecost the timidity of the Disciples was transformed into loving boldness. Everyone understood them.
Well, what about us, and how can God’s Word of Hope come alive in us? That’s the big question! Taking the 1st Reading, and the Gospel together, we know for sure that God hears us; In God’s own time. (Not my will but yours be done…as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer) So in our day to day lives, in our ‘down’ times the Lord visits us with Angels in human form. Why not take a little trip down Memory Lane, and re visit some of those times when you thought that you were at the bottom of the Barrel. Who came to you in your distress? What did that mean for your ‘faith-life’? As you reflect back on this human experience of salvation, did you ‘change’ as a result of it? Were you in a better position to see the face of Christ in your brothers and sisters? Unless, we revisit some of these experiences, our inner spirit will not be enabled into Mission/Ministry/Service of others in renewed ways. So, I conclude with a sentence from Psalm 92, ‘If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts’
SOME REFLECTIVE QUESTIONS FOR YOUR FAMILY OR PRAYER/BIBLE STUDY GROUP
1. Looking back over your life, as there been a special person(s) who have been the HUMAN FACE OF GOD to you? Who was this person? Alternatively, who were the people, and what was it about them, that mirrored the face of Jesus for you?
2. Would you like to share with your family or group, a time when you were unexpectedly ‘touched’ by the Lord through a friend, staff member, boy or girl, parishioner, neighbour, Religious or Priest?
3. Often in our place of work, and at home we can be taken for granted or take others for granted….not out of malice, but just because we have lots to do, and we have many things on our minds. Have you seen efforts made by other staff members at your place of work, or family members ‘reaching out’ to other people?
4. Do you have any creative suggestions as to how we can be more aware of our individual, community and family giftedness?
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
Leader: The Lord who healed the sick and preached the good news is with us now to hear and answer our prayers.
• That the leaders of God’s People continue to guide the Church courageously and creatively, we pray to the Lord:
• That our national, state and local leaders serve us successfully and unselfishly, we pray to the Lord:
• That our faith community work and pray together to help those in need of spiritual and material support, we pray to the Lord:
• That all who are ill, including N. and N, may be healed, we pray to the Lord:
• That doctors and nurses be blessed for their care of the sick and the dying, we pray to the Lord:
• That the fevers of greed, violence, hatred and discrimination be healed, we pray to the Lord:
• That all who have died, including N. and N, may rest in peace and glory, we pray to the Lord:
Leader: God of the good news, help us this week to be generous in our service and love of those who need our helping hands and hearts. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia