35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
REFLECTION, By Fr Aldo, sx
Since before Christ, people had always tried to find a solution to the problem of pain and suffering, without succeeding. Even the First Reading of today presents the anguishing and dramatic situation of Job.
The Gospel shows us how Jesus confronts this reality. He does not propose theological explanations about evil or why do sickness and deceases exist. But his intervention provides an answer: evil does exist, but it is not invincible; it can and must be defeated.
If Jesus could talk with Job he would surely say that the most useless thing to do is to blame God or whoever else for the existence of pain and evil. The best thing to do is to stand by those who suffer and gather whatever strength we have to fight and liberate those who have become victims of oppressive forces.
Let us learn from Jesus:
In the first part of the Gospel Peter’s mother-in-law is sick in bed with fever. Jesus takes her by the hand, she stands and begin to serve all. Let us notice that when Jesus heard that there was a sick person he did not escape, but he approached her. Don’t we usually try to avoid those who are suffering? Then, Jesus’ gesture was simply to take the person paralyzed in bed by the hand and she was raised up. This is precisely the gesture the followers of Jesus should have: to take those who are afflicted and paralyzed by evil by their hand and raise them up. After that, the woman began to serve. Every healed person becomes a healer, an active member of the community.
In the second part of the Gospel Jesus heals all kinds of sickness. Here we must be careful not to transform our religion into a source of miracles. If we do that we would be just like other healers, witches and fortune tellers. Through the miracles he performed, Jesus leads us to understand that God does not accept situations which cause suffering and death. God is on the side of those who suffer. By healing the sick Jesus shows that a new era has begun; all that hinders the person to become fully human is already being eliminated. This new humanity will become a reality when we all participate and do as Jesus did.
Then, we see Jesus in prayer. There were so many forms of prayer in Israel both individually and as community. Every Sabbath Jesus joined the community in prayer, but he did not limit himself to that. He often retreated himself in solitude where he addressed his prayers to the father and received enlightenment about the human condition. Not all problems can and have to be solved, but in prayer one can discover the meaning and even the value of certain kinds of pain and suffering. The prayer of Jesus is not a simply solicitation for favors, but an encounter with God that permits Him to see the human reality with its problems as God sees them.
Finally, by the morning, Peter and the Apostles search for Jesus, determined to convince him to continue performing miracles and solving the problems of the people. The Apostles do not understand the purpose of what Jesus did, they do not understand that they should take the responsibility to complete what Jesus had begun. Jesus did not adjust to their plans, but he demands that all be involved in the liberating mission he started. He does not replace our responsibility, but enlightens us with his Word and remains present with us as we journey.