Father Valan Arockiaswamy

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Close Dear Audience,
For better understanding of the spiritual message behind this homily I kindly remind you to first read and contemplate the biblical texts before reading or listening to my preaching - a human reflection on the Word of God!

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Feb 4, 2018 Views 119 Listen 21 Downloads 1
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of Job (7:1-4, 6-7)

Job spoke, saying: Is not man's life on Earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of hirelings? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages. So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me. If in bed I say, "When shall I arise?" then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6)

(R) Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.

Praise the Lord, for He is good; sing praise to our God, for He is gracious; it is fitting to praise Him. The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; the dispersed of Israel He gathers. (R)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He tells the number of the stars; he calls each by name. (R)

Great is our Lord and mighty in power; to His wisdom there is no limited. The Lord sustains the lowly; the wicked He casts to the ground. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (9:16-19, 22-23)

Brothers and sisters: If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.


A reading from the Gospel according to Mark (1:29-39)

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.

(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
(R) Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


Jesus, after His baptism in the Jordan River, embarked upon His public ministry in the region of Galilee by announcing the nearness of the kingdom of God and calling people to repent and believe in His gospel.

Soon after that, He called four fishermen, namely Andrew, Peter, James and John, to be his disciples and started to teach and preach the good news of God's kingdom. In last week's gospel, we read that Jesus, accompanied by His disciples, went to a fishing village, called Capernaum, which was located on the northern shore of Sea of Galilee, Mark (1:21-28). There, on Sabbath day, He preached in the local synagogue and also healed a man with an unclean spirit by "rebuking" the spirit. Amazed by His teaching and, perhaps, also by His manner of preaching as well as His demonstration of divine power over evil or demonic forces, the people of Capernaum began to talk about this new teacher and exorcist among them.

Meanwhile, after leaving the synagogue, Jesus and His disciples went to the home of his disciples, Simon and Andrew, probably for a meal since the main Sabbath meal was served immediately following the synagogue service. At home, Simon's mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever. As soon as Jesus arrived, the family told Him about her and, probably, asking Him to do something about her illness. Here, we do not know anything more about the "fever" - its intensity, duration, symptoms or its seriousness. It could have been a mild illness which would last only for a few days or a more severe illness that would cause death. Mark simply writes that she was sick with a fever. It presupposes that she was unwell and, therefore, she was unable to be up and do her household chores; her normal life had been affected by an illness.

Jesus did not wait to be told a diagnosis. Being the Son of God, He had the power to cure whatever disease had invaded her body. He simply, therefore, "grasped her hand, and helped her up". In the Greek New Testament of the Bible, the word used is egeiro meaning "raise". The writer has used the same Greek word in many healings and the raising of the dead, including Jesus being raised from the dead, Mark (14:28; 16:6). The word has been used to suggest that new strength is imparted to those who lie low due to illness, unclean spirits, sin, or even death, so that they may again rise up to take their place in the world. So, according to the story, Jesus "raised" or "lifted" Simon's mother-in-law up and instantly "the fever left her". The story did not end there. She was well enough to get on with the task of serving Jesus and others.

In the Greek text of the gospel, the writer has used the word diakoneo to mean "to serve", or "to wait upon". The same word has been also used to describe the essence of Jesus' own ministry that He "did not come to be served, but to serve", Mark (10:45). Indeed, "serving" is the character and nature of our Lord Jesus. It is the way of His love; It is the way of His giving Himself to humanity. At the Last Supper, He demonstrated His greatest act of servant leadership in the washing of His disciples' feet, John (13:2-5). Not only was Jesus the servant of His people while He lived on earth, He also wanted His disciples to follow His example, and serve and help others as well when He said, "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you shall make himself slave of all", Mark (10:43).

Here, the story of Simon's mother-in-law exemplified true discipleship. Needless to say, the news of her healing really spread so quickly and led people to bring all kinds of sick people to Jesus for help. Jesus simply couldn't resist helping those in physical or spiritual pain with whatever power He had. He healed every one of them. But He did not permit those who were healed of the possession of demons to speak, "because they knew Him", Mark (1:34). Indeed, Jesus did not need or want the testimony of the demons; He preached, taught, healed, and performed miracles in order to help others, never to call attention to Himself.

The next day, while it was still dark, Jesus went to a deserted place. "Desert" here does not mean a hot and sandy place with little or no vegetation. There is no desert in the vicinity of Capernaum. The Greek word mon means a deserted or lonely, a quiet place. It was a place where He could be alone and pray. However, the people would not leave him alone. As a matter of fact, they pursued Him only to tell Him that people were looking for Him, perhaps, for more healings. But Jesus had other plans. He wanted to move on and visit other villages so that He could tell them about the love of God and heal them as well.

What is the message for us today?

  • God did not come into the world in the person of Jesus just to teach us about the establishment of His kingdom but also came to demonstrate what He really wanted to happen here on earth by healing, delivering, and carrying out the work of the kingdom. Jesus' healing is for today just as much as it was when He walked the earth and performed miracles of healing the sick and disabled. So, we should continue to expect Jesus to heal miraculously all those who are sick, as part of the activity in His Kingdom. Jesus is the only Person who can truly save and heal the sick.

    Today, let us pray for those who we know are or whom we have heard are ill, especially the most seriously ill and who cannot provide for themselves in any way because of complete dependence on other people's care. We shall pray that each of them may know and experience the power and depth of God's love, care and the riches of His saving grace.

  • Jesus heals the sick and restores them to good health so that they can serve Him and others in their family and community. He forgives our sins so that we may in turn forgive and love others. Therefore, if we are looking for personal healing, we must pray that Jesus may heal us because we want to serve Him more. If we bring other people who are in need of healing, we must pray that Jesus may heal them and equip them with the power to carry on serving Him and others. One of the characteristics that should embody every Christian's life is the act of serving and helping others, that is, following the example of Jesus.
  • Jesus wants us to call on Him when we are sick, injured, or troubled. And when we do, He sometimes answers us almost immediately, but sometimes He may not answer immediately or as soon as we might want, Psalm (120:1); Job (7:11-12). However, just because we don't have His immediate answer to our prayers in the way we expect, it doesn't mean He is not working in our lives. As a matter of fact, He treats all our prayers seriously. He does not brush us off. But sometimes, He is silent. And at the same time, just because He is silent, it doesn't mean He is absent.

    He just withdraws Himself, so that we may bestir ourselves and begin to look for Him; we may go in search of deserted and desolate places, so as to be alone with Him in prayer. Few of us are called to spend many hours in daily prayer, but all of us must make a habit of spending some time every day in silence and solitude, in order to experience the presence of God.

The more time we spend time with Him, the more we'll get to know Him and His love for us.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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