Imitation of Christ

Reflection on the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 5)

By Ed Hogan

The readings for this Sunday:
Job 7:1-4,6-7
Psalm 147:1-6
1 Corinthians 9:16-19,22-23
Mark 1:29-39

The full text of the readings can be found here.

I think that it would be interesting and instructive to take a serious look at Mark's Gospel for today. In a relatively short passage, Mark outlines for us the Christian life as exemplified by Jesus. It contains the essential elements of a life that Jesus laid out for us.

It started with Jesus in the synagogue and indicated the starting point of the day. Jesus went to the synagogue to be part of the prayer life of his community from which he drew the spiritual energy to carry on his mission.

The Church for us is the place where we should find a community of prayer to and adoration of God that will serve to energize us to lead a life of commitment. There is a lot to be gained by being part of a community of believers because our life of faith is nourished by our companions on the Christian journey. When one is alone in this task, the burdensome quality of the journey can be quite daunting, but when we travel together with others, the sense of companionship and care can be very supportive.

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus enters the house of Simon and Andrew and is apprised of the feverish condition of Simon's mother-in-law. The text tells us that "Jesus grasped her hand and helped her up. Then the fever left her...".

This scene captures for us our mission of outreach. Our prayer life is not for us alone, but should lead us to reach out to those who are suffering, who are in need. Jesus did not wait for the woman to come to him, but he went to her. This action should remind us that we too are to respond to perceived need and to look for opportunities to reach out. Jesus approached the woman, grasped her hand and helped her up. This an active rather than a reactive form of ministry.

In the third frame of this picture of Jesus, is the scene in the evening when they brought to him all who were ill, etc. This is the third facet of his ministry, that at evening time when ordinarily one rests from the actions of the day, Jesus extended himself to all in need and helped to cure many of their disorders.

The same message is conveyed to us as well. When we have taken care of those near us, we need to widen our vision and extend our care far beyond our immediate neighborhoods. We need to be concerned, and care for needy people in a broader way. If nothing else, we should at least pray for all those in dire situations and when possible do something about it in a concrete way.

Finally, Jesus, rising early, went to a deserted place to pray. The core idea behind this action is that prayer is what intimately connects us to God. While we need and can prosper in community prayer and adoration, at another level, our prayer life is unique to each person, and needs to be developed in silence and aloneness. It simply requires us to practice being in the presence of God which is best done in silence.

With this Gospel as our template, we can readily emulate Jesus and live the fullness of the Christian way of life.