JESUS—A COMPASSIONATE BROTHER
One cannot really understand the sufferings of others without having passed through suffering. Try to tell a husband who has lost his wife or someone who has met an accident, “I know what you are suffering,” or “It is not so bad,” and he will answer, or at least think, “You don’t know, because it is not you who suffer.” Jesus, says the disciple Paul, could be compassionate and understand us because he suffered for us and became one of us.
The gospel shows this compassion of Jesus to those afflicted with all sorts of ills, to the brokenhearted. He is committed against death and misery. Isn’t that the mission he entrusts also to us today?
Lord God, compassionate Father, every day we meet people who suffer, who have been tried hard in life, who have encountered evil and pain. What shall we say to them? Let us like Jesus, try to understand the pains of our neighbor in need feel with them, and be reliable friends, perhaps in respectful silence, on account of him who suffered our pains and shared in our ills, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading: Hebrews 2:14-18
Since the children share in blood and Flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the Devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life. Surely he did not help angels but rather the descendants of Abraham; therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever. or: Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name; make known among the nations his deeds. Sing to him, sing his praise, proclaim all his wondrous deeds. R.
Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD! Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly. R.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! He, the LORD, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail. R.
Alleluia: John 10:27
Alleluia, alleluia. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord. I know them, and they follow me. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39
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. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
The death of Jesus has set us free. We no longer live in bondage or in fear of what is to come. Hebrews advises us today that Christ himself was tested through his suffering and is thus in a position to help those who are tempted. His coming was first directed to his fellow Jews, the children of Abraham.
In Mark’s Gospel, early in his ministry Jesus visits the home of Peter and cures the apostle’s mother-in-law. The structure of this brief account follows the miracle story form. There is a brief description of the illness (fever) and the action of Jesus (“grasped her hand, and helped her up”). Finally, the completeness of the cure is underscored, when it is said that the woman waited on them.
This service is described as a diakonia, the common term for Christian ministry. There may well be a deeper teaching here. We too have been cured of our alienation from God by the redemptive action of Christ. What remains for us is to respond in a spirit of Christian service. If we have been “graced” by God, then Christian service or ministry is a natural result. This is something of which we should be always mindful.
For Christ to be our high priest, interceding before God on our behalf, he first had to know what it means to be human. So too we who have been cured of our spiritual fever are called to express our gratitude in a spirit of service.
– For all who preach the Gospel, that they may speak the Good News of Christ in the light of the people’s everyday life and needs, we pray:
– For all who care for the sick, that they may never tire of treating them with personal attention and infinite respect, as they would do for the Lord himself, we pray:
– For our Christian communities, that we may be of one heart and soul and not to allow any among us to be in need, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
God, our Father, in these signs of bread and wine, you let again come among us him who is compassionate and reliable because he shared in our death and pain, your Son, Jesus Christ. Let every bit of anguish and grief bring us a deeper understanding of ourselves, of life and of our neighbour and help us to be closer to your Son, who is our Lord, for ever and ever. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
God, our Father, we have a friend and brother who has been tried and tested as we are, put to the test at times. He has been here with us; we have taken part in his sacrifice. Give us now his Spirit of strength to stand firm in our trials, to grow through them as human beings and Christians, and to stand by the side of those who are submerged in suffering. May this be our way of sharing in everyday life in the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
Who can understand better our pain and suffering than the Son of God, who was one like us, but without sin, who went through our temptations, our suffering, our death for our sake. He knows and stands by our side in our difficult moments. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!