Job 7: 1-4, 6-71 Corinthians 9: 16-19, 22-23 Mark 1: 29-39
It is a long-standing tradition that the gospel account recorded by St. Mark, which we are hearing in this year of the Church’s cycle of readings, is based upon the message that was preached by St. Peter. For some period of time Mark accompanied St. Peter and, thus, how he presents the gospel follows from what he had heard from St. Peter. Unlike Matthew and Luke who begin their gospel accounts with what are known as Infancy Narratives, and unlike St. John who starts his Gospel with a theological presentation, Mark begins immediately with the ministry of Jesus.
In some way, these events might seem to be unremarkable. Last week, for example, Jesus followed a common practice of attending synagogue and speaking there. But it is noted that he spoke with “authority.” Today, he stops at Peter’s home and there restores Peter’s mother-in-law to health so that she can look after the needs ofJesus and his companions. Then Jesus goes on to preach and to heal, followed by going off to pray.
Within this account of a “day in the life of Jesus,” Mark presents three components which are fundamental to the ministry of Jesus: word, action, prayer. What can readily be understood as God’s communication to us today then, is that basic to the mission of Jesus is also to be a part of our lives as believer: word, action & prayer.
Along with this passage from the Gospel of Mark, we also hears a brief section from the Old Testament Book of Job. This book is part of the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament. Basically the Book of Job encourages an understanding that in the midst of suffering and pain in life, there is a need to maintain a firm faith and trust in God. I was curious about the particular passage assigned for us to hear today because the lament of Job could be easily be our own during these early days of February in the Northern Hemisphere when, indeed, the days are short and the night are long. Like Job we can complain that so much must be endured. Sometimes it seems like it is too much. But Job does not abandon his faith in God.
As much as we might identify with Job and his laments, we need also to keep in mind those three components of the life of a believer: word, action and prayer. Our focus is not to be on ourselves, but how, in each of our lives, the words we say, the actions we do, and the conversation with God that is prayer, genuinely reflects in us the presence of God to our world.
We also have the occasion to listen to what St. Paul wrote to early Christians. He confirms his awareness that his response to God and his faith in God compelled him to carry on his ministry of preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. He did not seek any benefit for himself. He did not want any material return or reward. He attempts to be all things to all persons he addressed because his true concern is the effect his efforts will have on others and how they will live out their day-to-day lives as a result. Such thinking ought to guide us as well.
Word, action, prayer – these three components of the ministry of Jesus are present to us in the Gospel of Mark and are reflected in the remarks of Job and of Paul. The clear suggestion to us is to make them key components in living out our Faith, Next week, the annual “in-pew” appeal of Catholic Charities represents the effort we, as the local Church of the Diocese of Cleveland, make to address the needs that are present in so many different areas.Consider the basic understanding of the life of believers that is found in word, action and prayer to be a response that is made to the annual Catholic Charities Appeal. It is an opportunity to show a genuinely living and active faith in our good and gracious God.