Homily for the fifth Sunday of the Year - Year B - Mk. 1:29-39


by

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 

" Immediately Jesus left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.


" That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he healed 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.


" And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, and they found him and said to him, 'Every one is searching for you.' And he said to them, 'Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.' And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. "





Homily:


" Immediately Jesus left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them. "


Jesus is in Capernaum: he had just preached in the synagogue of this town, which is situated on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. We have already seen, last Sunday, how he had amazed those who lived there with his teaching, and by casting out a demon who had possessed a man (cf. Mk. 1:23). Today, we see the Savior working among the inhabitants of this town: he heals all kinds of sicknesses and casts out demons.


Jesus had been invited to stay at the house of Simon and Andrew. The disciples of Jesus were not seeking to keep him all to themselves: that was not their intention. They simply wanted Jesus to see Simon's mother-in-law, for she was sick: she was in bed with a fever. And as soon as he did see her, Jesus proceeded to heal her. Everything seems to take place quickly; all three synoptic evangelists relate the event, presenting it as an instantaneous healing.


Did Jesus come to heal souls or bodies? The answer is simple: Jesus came into the world, the Word of God was incarnated, in order to heal both bodies and souls! God created man and woman as both body and soul, and he will recreate them, body and soul, in Christ. For the soul and body are inseparable from each other. What is material and visible, like the body, serves in effect as a sign of what is spiritual and invisible, such as the soul.


Here, the healing of Simon's mother-in-law shows us that he who is called to become the Rock of the edifice Christ builds has already been healed in his soul: the corporeal healing of Simon's mother-in-law is the sign of the spiritual healing of Simon himself. Of course, Simon has not been exempted from the possibility of falling, and we know that he would later deny his Master. But Simon is already spiritually healed in the sense that, already, he no longer thinks of himself, but rather of those for whom he is called to carry out his mission as Apostle of Christ: he no longer thinks of himself, since it was not for his own sake that he invited Jesus to his home, but rather for the sake of his suffering mother-in-law.


" That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he healed 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. "


Throughout his life, Jesus waged a war: a war against Evil. Similarly, last Sunday, we have seen Jesus working in his battle against Satan: it is a battle which takes place in the domain of knowledge, for the life of God itself belongs to the domain of knowledge. Today, once again, we see Jesus combatting Satan and the demons, emphatically forbidding them to say who he is: "He would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him."


At first sight, we may find it curious that Jesus would forbid demons from saying who he is, for it would seem that, by this means, the renown of the Savior would be greater and would spread more quickly. But this is not the case. For the knowledge of Jesus possessed by the demons is false, since it is partial and incomplete. This arises from the philosophical nature of the notion of the person. From the notion of the person, it follows that only Jesus can perfectly know himself. And so, only Jesus can truly tell the men and women he meets who he really is.


How then can we, the Christians of today, reasonably proclaim, like the Apostles, Jesus Christ to the entire world? The reason we can do so is simply due to the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in us, by faith and charity, and so when we proclaim Jesus Christ, it is the very Spirit of God, he who "comprehends the thoughts of God" (cf. 1 Cor. 2:11), who teaches the entire world to know the Savior of men. Did not Saint Paul write, "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit." (1 Cor. 12:3)?


" And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, and they found him and said to him, 'Every one is searching for you.' And he said to them, 'Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.' And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. "


Jesus shows us the example we should follow: he prayed before he preached. Once more, something material serves as a sign for something spiritual. If we do not pray before preaching, the words coming out of our mouth will not reflect the spiritual words which are absent from our soul. But if our spirit is united to the Spirit of God, then our words will not be simple human words: they will be, on the contrary, like those of Jesus himself, "words of grace" (Lk. 4:22). We can then hope, as was the case for the Apostle Peter, that the Holy Spirit will descend upon those who listen to us with an attentive heart: "While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word." (Ac. 10:44)


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, come to our aid as we proclaim to the entire world the Good News of Salvation and healing in Jesus Christ!



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