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Pastor's Letter 20210207 - 7 February 2021 - He Heals the Brokenhearted

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February 7th, 2021

Fifth Sunday-Ordinary Time Today’s

Theme:   “He Heals the Brokenhearted”


Jesus heals †Peter’s Mother-in-law  

A Message from Father Michael

Reflection on today’s Scripture Readings

The Book of Job confronts the problem of suffering. The common explanation was that suffering was a punishment for sin.  But in today’s First Reading, Job, a good man, suffers greatly (Job 7:1-7.)  As would be the case for most of us, his suffering causes him to take a gloomy view of life.  (If possible, take time to read the prologue (Job 1:1-22, 2:1-13,) and the epilogue (Job 42: 1-7,) which constitute the original folktale.)  

This sets the scene for our Gospel selection (Mark 1:29-39.)  However, we are not given Jesus’ answer to the question, “Why suffering?”, but His response to actual suffering.   He heals the sick and proclaims the Good News of salvation.  The Gospel also shows the urgency with which He dedicated Himself to preaching, something we see exemplified today by †Paul.

Our Second Reading shows Paul making himself “all things to all people,” in order to bring them the Good News (1 Corinthians 9:16-23.)  

Response to Suffering

Quite often the Bible discusses the problem of pain and suffering.  By what means we might handle this facet of our human existence, it offers no final solution.   However, under God’s guidance, the sacred writers attained some very consoling insights to help all Christians to cope with pain when it strikes.  Scripture should be the constant companion for each suffering person.  

(An interesting note: Since 1908, the Gideons have placed Bibles in hotel rooms.  They also can be found in all hospital rooms, available for patients whose health permits them to read.   Founded in 1899, the Gideon Society’s aim is to avail people to the Bible as they travel, and in times of need.  They claim to have placed more than two billion copies, worldwide, in the past 100+ years!)

Suffering is still a big problem.  Many people today could identify with Job.  One need only think of the people suffering with poverty, hunger, sickness, social injustice, oppression, tragedy….  In Old Testament times, suffering for sin was among the most common consequences noted.  But Jesus’ answer to suffering was not to accept the common view that suffering was God’s punishment.  He treated the problem of suffering as an opportunity to show the goodness of God.  By giving Himself to the sick, He revealed to us the compassion of God in the face of human suffering.

Surrounded as He was by throngs of physically and mentally sick people, He routinely restored their health.  He didn’t insulate Himself from human pain, but rather, He made Himself totally vulnerable before the wounded and the sick.  

Suffering is a lonely business.  Jesus wasn’t sentimental about it, nor did he preach “resignation” to it, as many do, even today.   He didn’t like to see people suffer.  In fact, suffering was one of the evils He came to earth to fight.  Having compassion for those who suffered, He made them well, casting out the “devils” of guilt, fear, shame and despair, that held people bound.

The suffering of others is an opportunity for us, too.  We may not have the ability to cure, but it is always in our power to care.  Just keeping a suffering person company is, in itself, very worthwhile.  It’s not easy, because it means that we have to be willing to share another’s pain, even though we are unable to relieve it.  

Except for health workers, most of us come to sufferers with “empty hands,” which we can use for comforting.  Most of the time, suffering people simply need to know they have not been deserted.  We must stand with them, as Mary did with Jesus, at the foot of the cross, so long ago.  Simply being with them, can be difficult for us to do, at times.   But from our own experience, we know those who suffer mostly want the comfort and reassurance only human warmth can offer.   In some ways, a person can be “healed” without being cured….

Suffering is an unavoidable element of the human condition.  So, it is a great comfort to know that Jesus went “down that road”—to the end.  Since He traveled it, nothing is the same; it’s been illuminated by His bright light.  He has shown us that although His suffering led Him to Calvary, it didn’t end there…it ended at Easter.  Our own suffering becomes an opportunity for Christians to share in Christ’s Passion—in the hope of sharing in His Easter victory!

The Need for Rejuvenation

People sometimes become so surrounded by matters pertaining to their work, that they haven’t any time for themselves.  Constant activity can become a “disease”—a dangerous situation.  People can suffer “burnout” or “breakdown.”  Generous people are more at risk than selfish people.  We need to take care of ourselves.  Our lives can’t be a case of constant “output,” and no “input.”  Only by prayerful meditation, coupled with careful attention to our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs can we remain joyful “givers.”

Even Jesus needed to take “time out” for Himself, as we heard in today’s Gospel: “Rising very early before dawn, He left and went off to a deserted place, where He prayed.”   Surrounded by physically and mentally sick people, He faced the danger of being “consumed,” with everyone clamoring for Him.   By going to the “deserted place,” He was enabled to recover His lost energy—to regain “focus,” and maintain and foster the most important thing in His life: His relationship with the Father.  Therein lies the secret of Jesus’ successful ministry.

Many times, the most beneficial prayer of all is simply to be in the presence of God, without saying or doing anything.  (This is why I stress to anyone who asks me, “Prayer should involve quiet meditation, fostering a connection to the Holy Spirit within ourselves, for maximum efficacy.”)

Simply to be in the presence of God is as valuable as quiet times we might spend beside a warming fire, on a chilly evening.   This may sound easy, but in practice, it’s difficult.  As soon as many of us become “idle,” we begin to feel empty, perhaps even useless.  Well-being comes to people when they are doing something.  They see value in themselves as a direct correlation to their usefulness.  They don’t know how to cope with idleness and stillness.  For some, it may actually be impossible.  As a result, their lives can be shallow and superficial.

On the other hand, when we immerse ourselves in quiet and stillness of God’s presence, our projects lose their urgency— their power over us—and we regain our self- worth, which consists not in doing, but in being.  

The most important way to love God is to simply be in His presence.  People today often equate love of God with social action.   Of course, prayer can also become a selfish thing—a “cop-out,” an “escape” from responsibility.   But so also can working!   That  can become a reason not to pray—to seek God.   Without prayer, we can become totally self-directed and self-propelled, rather than inspired by God.  

People often can lose themselves in their work.  But they can also find themselves in their work.  This is precisely why we need a lonely place in our lives.  We need to learn from Jesus’ example how to combine action with contemplation.  “Going away” is not escaping, especially if it leads to re- engagement!  There is a time to give and a time to receive.  For a healthy life, we need to take care of both….

May God Richly Bless You!

“GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”  

~ “Desiderata”—Max Ehrmann-1927 ~ 

To view a live stream of today's Holy Mass, and listen to Meditation Music, click here:  https://youtu.be/UycBVilzjkQ


Praise God with Cymbals.docx 

Praise God with Cymbals.mp3

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