Gospel for Today


This Sunday's readings tell us a lot about healing.  In the Gospel reading from Mark 1:29-39, we read of Jesus healing Simon Peter's mother-in-law.  (Yes, Peter, our first Pope, was married; although he was apparently a widower as no mention of his wife is to be found in the Bible.  One early tradition has it that Peter's wife died a martyr.)  After Christ healed Simon's mother-in-law, more and more people came to him for healing, so that "the whole town was at his door." 
One gets the sense in this reading that this demand for healing was somewhat tiresome for Jesus, for early the next morning He rose early, in order to go off alone and pray.  Simon finds Him, and says, "Everyone is looking for you."  And why wouldn't they be?  In that age of primitive medicine, even a minor illness could quickly turn into something life threatening.  And along comes a man who could heal the blind, the lame, the feverish, the infirm.  Wouldn't you be lined up at his door, you and your family?
But Christ tells Simon Peter, "Let us go to the nearby villages so I can preach there also.  For this purpose I have come."  This is an important moment that we should not miss.  Simon is telling Jesus, "Hey, there is a line of people back at the house – they are waiting for you to come heal their wounds and illnesses."  And Jesus tells him, this is not why I am here.  I have a more pressing task.
Jesus is the great physician, to be sure.  His is a healing mission.  But Christ, as always, is not so much concerned with outward, superficial things.  He cares more for essentials.  He gets to the heart of the matter.  Christ's healing of people's bodies is only an outward sign of the true healing He has come to work – the healing of our souls.
For every person that Jesus healed, including Peter's mother-in-law, has one thing in common.  They all died.  Jesus healed them of their pain and suffering for a while, and certainly they each were very grateful of that.  It was God's will.  However, that does not change the ultimate reality that these fleshly bodies of ours are decaying.  We are fading away, and so is everything on this earth.  We may die today, tomorrow, or many decades from now, but we will die one day.  This will all pass away.  Jesus wants us to be concerned with that which will not pass away.  He may heal our bodies, yes, but what is most important is that He heal our souls.
In the Psalm today we acclaim, "Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted."  We all know what it means to be brokenhearted.  It does not mean you have artery blockage, or a weak valve.  It means you bear a wound in your spirit.  And if you have ever truly suffered from a broken heart, you know that you would gladly trade that pain for a physical ailment any day.
Job reminds us in today's first reading that this life is full of heartbreak.  "Is not man's life on earth a drudgery?" he asks.  He speaks of man as like a slave that longs for shade, or like a hireling waiting for his wages.  But there is no shade in which to find rest.  The hireling toils long, but his payment never comes.  Job speaks of lying in bed and not being able to sleep.  "Then the night drags on.  I am filled with restlessness until the dawn." 
We can all identify with Job's restlessness.  We all know what it feels like to work hard and be unrewarded.  To be tired and not know rest.  Like a slave out working in a hot field, yearning for a spot of shade, we are all yearning for… something.  Even those of us who have a lot of "creature comforts" have this feeling.  No matter what we accumulate in this life, there is always that feeling of yearning for something more.
This restlessness is a symptom of a wounded spirit.  St. Augustine spent much of his young life seeking pleasure and happiness wherever he could find it.  (He is the one who supposedly said, "Lord make me chaste, but not just yet.")  But he was never satisfied.  Happily, Augustine found the cure for his yearnings.  "My heart is restless, O God, until it rests in thee."  I invite you to make that prayer your own this day, to petition Christ, the Divine Physician, to heal whatever wounds are in your soul.  Find a cure for your broken heart.  Find rest in the Lord.

WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723