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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Harvey

Inviting Jesus into the Day-to-Day: Sunday Gospel Reflections with Dr. Harvey

Updated: Feb 7


2024 Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Gospel: Mark 1:29-39 

(Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.) 

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you." He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come." So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.  

The Kingdom of God is at hand! We surely see this on display in this passage. The effects of sin are being addressed; suffering and illness are not part of God’s plan for us but exist because we live in a fallen world. Jesus' entry into human history is the catalyst for change. Before this passage, we have Mark’s account of the first exorcism and now Mark’s first healing of physical illness. This reveals to us that Jesus is no mere man but is the Holy One who is ushering in a new kingdom. 

The first recipient of this healing is Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Jesus does not heal her because she has become a follower, but because her son-in-law is a disciple of Jesus. The Christian life and the blessings from God should and will impact all aspects of life and those in your life. Whenever life is difficult never forget that faithfulness to God is not simply part of your pilgrimage to heaven, but it is also the foothold of Christ in the lives of those around you. Jesus wants to be a part of your life and that means he wants to enter into every nook and cranny of your life. How do you let Jesus do this? All he needs is an invitation.  

In this gospel passage it says they “immediately told him about her.” Does Jesus know what is going on? Yes. He is God in the flesh (cf. Jn 1:1, 1:14)! Yet, he still wants you to tell him. Why? Telling Jesus what is going on in life is sharing life with him. It is part of being in a relationship.

There are two vital details that follow. First, she is resurrected! Well...not in the way you might imagine. Yes, she is healed but the connection to resurrection comes with the Greek that we translate as “and helped her up.” Jesus raised her up. The Greek mirrors the word used to describe Jesus’ resurrection in Mark’s gospel. Mark is wanting readers to see this link, to see the changes that Jesus brings to life as part of the New Creation flowing from of his resurrection. The other important detail is that in response to her healing “she waited on them.” God is active in your life. How do you respond to him? Yes, a relationship with Jesus is necessary and that relationship means the day-to-day matters are related to Jesus. When Jesus acts, even if it is not according to your plan, do you notice it? How you respond matters. The dynamic of relationship with the Father through the Son is lived out as faith in action by the power of the Holy Spirit. “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead” (James 2:26).  


Applying this Gospel to the Eucharist 

This is why the Mass has set times of silence after the homily and after communion. God is active in the sacramental liturgy. He speaks to us from the Scriptures. He comes to us sacramentally through the Holy Eucharist. We need time to notice and respond. Consider how you might find moments during Mass and after Mass to respond to God’s work in the Sacred Liturgy. Do not allow those moments to occur and simply continue to the next moments. Thank the Lord. Praise the Lord. Make a resolution with the Lord to respond by serving him in a particular way that day or year. The important thing is to notice him and respond. 

This connection I am making with the Eucharistic Liturgy presumes that we invite Jesus into our life prior to and during the Mass. In silent prayer prior to Mass, during the pause at the Collect Prayer, and during the offertory or presentation of the gifts, vocalize an invitation to God. Let him know about those suffering in your life as we saw in the gospel reading. Let him know how you are suffering. Let him know the questions, doubts, frustrations, blessings, and appreciations you have. The universal catechism explains,  

The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. The Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ's sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering. -CCC 1368 

Allow God to enter into those moments through the Holy Mass and then respond. The habit of doing this at Sunday Eucharist will develop the habit and orientation for doing so throughout the week. 

[Jesus] encounters us ever anew, in the men and women who reflect his presence, in his word, in the sacraments, and especially in the Eucharist. In the Church's Liturgy, in her prayer, in the living community of believers, we experience the love of God, we perceive his presence and we thus learn to recognize that presence in our daily lives. He has loved us first and he continues to do so; we too, then, can respond with love. God does not demand of us a feeling which we ourselves are incapable of producing. He loves us, he makes us see and experience his love, and since he has “loved us first”, love can also blossom as a response within us.

-Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 17 

How will you invite Jesus into your day-to-day concerns? Are you ready to recognize him active in your life? How will you respond?

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