Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B 11 February 2018

Today we complete Chapter One of Mark.

It concludes with yet another sign of goodness, one that not only confronts the power of physical evil but also is prepared to confront the ritual laws that isolated the leper and controlled the actions of anyone who wished to help. This chapter lays the foundation for the Good News and offers reasons for those who accept the gift of faith in Jesus to act.

One could posit that this incident has inspired followers of Jesus down the centuries to establish hospitals, nursing stations, clinics and the like; to bring healing and wholeness to those suffering and ostracised by diseases. We think of recent people like Damien of Molokai, Teresa of Calcutta and those who first took in the HIV sufferers. In the long history of faithful people, John of God and Camillus of Lellis either founded institutes or reformed existing hospitals to do what Jesus did in today’s gospel reading…not simply to cure, nor restore individuals to the community, but to stretch out the hand and touch.

How grateful are we in Australia for the extraordinary work pioneered by saintly women whose legacy includes hospitals in every state that have helped to create a wonderful health system.

We can say that at this point in Mark, the reader has been given ample grounds to give a proper response to the Good News.  Opposition will come in the following chapters (but we take a break and steel ourselves for the annual call of the Lenten season) and we will deal with that challenge many weeks from now.

In the short term, our task is to ask ourselves: is my faith confident to tackle, confront and surmount the power of evil today? That power was evident in Jesus’ time…on one level, hospitals and their ilk are a legacy of ‘stretching out his hand and touching.’

What will ours be?

Mons Frank

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B 4 February 2018

“…or the workman with no thought but his wages.”

 

Talking with a friend earlier this week, a rather successful small landscape gardener, I detected in his description of one of his employees who left him just before Christmas, something akin to the words of Job: he left for ‘a secure superannuation package’ with a local branch of the public service. He was a talented gardener, with prospects. I didn’t get the rest of the story, but it made me reflect on the wisdom of Cardijn and the teaching down the years of the efforts being made to help people come to an understanding of the dignity of work. The man may get his super, but what about job satisfaction, let alone a sense of being of service to the community?

 

There are several such social observations in the readings today. Some demonstrate that things don’t change. And others, like “he took her by the hand” and did so on the Sabbath was most unusual for that time, a man touching a woman! We will have some challenges in bringing Jesus approach to our times!

Job is in his testing time. His riches dispersed, and the words given him by the community representatives suggest he ought “curse God.” Paul has come to realise how blessed he is to announce the “Good News” and to do so freely. And whilst we do not know exactly what “devils” actually were in Capernaum, we recognise that there are many “devils” in 2018 that need to be cast out.

 

Like Him, we are called do it quietly, humbly and prayerfully, not seeking a reward.

 

Mons Frank