On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
UNDERSTAND | By Father Greg Friedman, OFM
When disasters—personal or communal—occur in our world, it’s likely that religious people will be asked: What does God have to do with this?
This brief response can’t hope to answer that question, but perhaps today’s Sunday readings can help. In the first reading, we hear from that Biblical expert on suffering—Job. It’s a short description of Job’s—and humankind’s—miserable condition. If we read more of the Book of Job, we discover that it doesn’t try to resolve the question of human suffering either. Rather it ends by bringing us face to face with the very mystery of God. With Job, we’re invited to turn ourselves over to God, and to trust in God’s infinite wisdom and care for us.
The Gospel personalizes that invitation. Mark depicts Jesus embarked on a journey that again and again brings him face to face with evil: manifested in the sin and suffering, sickness and death Jesus encounters in the world. Each time he proves himself master over evil—the one who brings God’s forgiveness, the healer of human suffering. Eventually he conquers death itself on the cross.
What does God have to do with human suffering? The best answer I know is God’s answer—Jesus himself—the only answer we need.
DISCUSS | By Father Dan Kroger, OFM
According to the first reading (Job 7:1-4, 6-7), what is Job’s situation so that he feels so bad? What had happened to him?
Could we say that Job feels hopeless?
In the second reading (1Cor 9:16-19, 22-23), Paul says that he “offers the Gospel free of charge.” What does he mean?
Paul says that he “has made himself a slave to all.” Why did he do that?
In the Gospel (Mk 1:29–39), where did Jesus go after leaving the synagogue? Who was with him?
Who was sick with a fever? What did Jesus do?
What happened that evening?
Jesus went to a deserted place very early the next morning. Why?
We hear in the Gospel about Jesus encountering many people who were ill. Right now, with COVID, there are many people who are ill and suffering. Make an effort to pray every day for all those suffering from illness of any kind.
Jesus went away to a deserted place. See if you can find somewhere quiet to spend some time alone. Maybe it’s a spot outside or a tucked-away place in your house. Go spend some time there and just sit quietly, pray, or read.