5th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Proclaiming Jesus’ Healing in a Wounded World


Question: Why did Peter denied Jesus three times?
Answer: Because Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law.

This is just a joke. I just wanted to begin this Sunday’s reflection in a lighthearted manner.

In the Gospel Reading today, Jesus comes to Peter’s house and he finds that Peter’s mother-in-law is sick. And finding her sick, Jesus “took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her” (Mark 1: 30).

Two interesting things happened after Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law.

First, Peter’s mother-in-law upon getting healed, immediately served Jesus and his disciples in their ministry of healing.

When Jesus cures sick persons, he restores them to their proper status, role and place in the community. The fact that Peter’s mother-in-law immediately began to serve shows the completeness of her cure. She can resume her role and normal function in the home. This implies that all those healed by Jesus are called to serve. Jesus heals us so that we may heal and serve others.

Second, upon hearing of Peter’s mother-in-law’s healing the whole town rushes all their sick to Peter’s house. The Gospel says that by the evening the whole city was gathered at the door of Peter’s house. Now, all of a sudden, Jesus seems to have become a one-man hospital. The Gospel says that Jesus healed very many of 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 (Mark 1: 32 – 34).

This gospel scene reminds me of Pope Francis’ call for the church to become a field hospital.

“The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. … And you have to start from the ground up.” (From “A Big Heart Open to God,” America magazine Sept. 19, 2013)

The church is not just an ordinary hospital in the city but a hospital in the field. A field hospital is a hospital set up in the field especially during times of war to heal the wounded in battle. Pope Francis in calling the church a field hospital implies that the church should be a place of healing for all those who are wounded and scarred in the battle of life. The image of the church as a field hospital is very much in line with Pope Francis’ mindset of a church that goes out and immerse herself right in the griefs and anxieties, joys and hope of the people in the world today.

Back to the gospel, despite the frenzied activity of healing hundreds of people, Jesus rose up very early before dawn the following day, and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed (Mark 1: 35). Despite the exhausting and vital work of healing people, Jesus found time to commune with God the Father in prayer.

But the disciples did not understand what he was doing and “pursued” him. They felt that he was missing a great opportunity to become more popular.

Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1: 35)

But Jesus would have none of the disciples’ worldly agenda and remained focused on the work of proclaiming the Kingdom of God.

He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come” (Mark 1: 36 – 38).

Jesus healing of the sick and expelling of evil spirits were just expressions of his greater mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. The healing of the sick, driving out of evil spirits, forgiveness of sins, raising the dead, and other miracles of Jesus were merely signs of the presence of the Kingdom which Jesus has inaugurated during his public ministry. The paramount importance of the proclamation of the Kingdom was echoed in the second reading today by St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (I Cor 9: 17).

In today’s wounded world where many people are in need of healing whether physical, emotional or spiritual, we are called by Jesus to join him in his work of restoring the health and well-being of all people. But before we can make ourselves fully available to the healing work of Jesus, Jesus heals us of our own woundedness. By experiencing the great power of Jesus’ healing in our lives we are able to enter and help in the healing process of the woundedness of other people. In a term coined by German psychologist Carl Jung and popularized by Dutch Catholic spiritual writer, Henri Noewen, we become wounded healers.

I am passionate about the intersection between new media and technology. I continue to research and apply new media in theology and vice-versa. I am also a fan of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and her continuing relevance in today’s digital world.
View all posts by Baclaran Phenomenon

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