5th Sunday (B)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today we continue to read from Mark’s Gospel, learning more about the ministry of Jesus. Jesus cured Simon’s mother-in-law, and she immediately began to serve Jesus and his disciples. Jesus also cured many others who were brought to him, healing their illnesses and driving out demons. As we will see throughout Mark’s Gospel, Jesus did not permit the demons to speak because they knew his identity and would have revealed it to those who were present.
On the morning after this busy day, Jesus retreated in prayer, but was pursued by Simon and others who brought news that many people were looking for him. At this point in Mark’s Gospel, we begin to see a distinct role for the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples—they act as intermediaries between Jesus and the people. Jesus reports to his disciples that they need to leave Capernaum to preach in other places.
Today’s Gospel completes a picture of Jesus’ ministry: preaching, curing the sick, driving out demons, and then moving on to continue this work in another place. Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus did this throughout Galilee.
Jesus’ compassion and healing of the sick is a sign of the Kingdom of God. The Church continues to extend Christ’s healing presence to others in its ministry to the sick. In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the Church prays for spiritual and physical healing, forgiveness of sins, and comfort for those who are suffering from illness.
In today’s Gospel we also notice the importance of prayer in Jesus’ daily life. Jesus rose early in the morning, removed himself from the crowds, and went to a deserted place to pray. When the disciples found him, he told them that it was time to move on. We believe that in his prayers Jesus found guidance and direction from God. We also bring our decision-making to God in prayer, asking for his guidance and direction in our lives.
We know from last week’s Gospel that Jesus gathered and prayed with the community in the synagogue. Today we learn that Jesus also took the time to pray alone. Following the example of Jesus, we also pray together with our community, and we take the time to pray alone. Our children observe our prayer with others. We might want to take the opportunity to talk with them about our private prayer, however, so that through our example, they may learn to make private prayer an important part of their daily lives.
Gather as a family and talk about the ways in which your family prays together (at Mass, grace before meals, bedtime prayers). Invite each member of the family to talk about his or her private prayer: When do you pray? Where do you pray? How do you pray? What do you pray for?
Jesus modeled for us a life of prayer. Read together today’s Gospel, Mark 1:29-39. Talk about this Gospel with your family. Ask questions such as the following: What do you think Jesus was praying about in today’s Gospel? What guidance have you received from God in prayer? Conclude by asking God to bless our times of prayer so that we can know and follow God’s ways. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.
Consider these questions: What did you want most when you were sick? What did other people do to help you when you were sick? How have you helped others who were sick?