Mark 1: 29-39
As soon as they came out of the synagogue, Jesus, Simon, and Andrew went to the house of Simon and Andrew in the company of James and John. 30 As Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, they hasten to inform him about it. 31 Jesus came to her, took his hand and set her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 In the evening, after sunset, everyone who is sick or under the influence of evil impulses is taken to him. 33 The whole city was at his door. 34 And Jesus healed all these people afflicted with various evils and diseases of all kinds, liberated those who were under the influence of the forces of evil, while not allowing them to talk about him, because they knew who he was.
35 At dawn, while it was still dark, he got up and went out to a lonely place, and there he entered a state of prayer. 36 But Simon and the rest who were with him looked for him, 37 and after finding him, said to him, "Everyone is looking for you!" 38 He replies: "Let's go elsewhere to the neighboring villages, so that there too I can proclaim my message. That's the reason I left home." 39 So he went out and traveled all over Galilee, proclaiming his message in their synagogues and liberating people from the forces of evil.
What are you looking for after all these efforts?
Gospel commentary - Homily
Let's go elsewhere...
I just had a promotion. And today, I was launching a project that had been close to my heart for several months. The echoes I received suggested that I was right, and this project will be a significant contribution to the organization. Already, in my imagination, I see myself receiving the congratulations of senior management. Until ..... Until I started reading the Gospel story of this Sunday, where Mark tells me the end of a typical day of Jesus.
Four sentences of this story came to deflate my balloon. "Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with fever ... they talk to Jesus about the sick person"; "Jesus drives out many evil spirits and prevents them from speaking because they knew who he was"; "Jesus goes out and goes to a deserted place, and there he prayed"; " Everyone is looking for you". "But Jesus answers them: 'Let's go elsewhere, to the neighboring villages ... '". What link can there be between these 4 sentences, in your opinion?
Let's start with the first sentence. Why does Jesus heal the mother-in-law? The Gospel never talks about compassion or an intimate bond with her. The answer is simple: they ask him. The second sentence goes back to a well-known theme: Jesus does not want us to know who he is. In fact, this statement is misleading: it is not so much about a deep knowledge of Jesus than the use of expressions that lock Jesus into categories that may be destructive of what he really is, even though these terms seem as noble as those of "Son of God" or "Messiah"; because these categories tend to freeze someone inside concepts that many believe are known. For example, when someone becomes a parish priest in a standard parish, does not everyone know in advance what he should do? The third sentence presents Jesus as praying. By getting back in touch with the source of his mission and inspiration, Jesus takes a distance from everything that has made up his day. The fourth sentence shows us the result of this distance when he says: "Let's go elsewhere, to the neighboring villages ...".
These 4 sentences say this: Jesus is a man of action who has generated a transformative force, but never has his action targeted his own promotion, or any ideology, or a preconceived vision of the world. If he acts, it is because he is called, he is asked to do so; he does not need to be active as an activist who needs to feel that he is important. He acts, because people put their hope in him, but at the same time he refuses that this action, not only freezes him in a role, but also leads him to the pedestal of messianity. Remaining in tune with all those cries we hear only in the silence of the heart, he goes elsewhere, to the neighboring villages. He seems always moving, always listening, always searching. As paradoxical as it may seem, his action comes from his prayer.
Suddenly, I feel awkward with my own action. Not that my action is not good. But its motivation and orientation may be biased. At the heart of the same action, there is a huge difference between, on the one hand, seeking to be well seen, seeking advancement, seeking personal benefits, or even seeking to resolve personal issues, and on the other hand, responding to urgent requests or calls, giving because we feel we have received a lot, acting because love challenges us, intervening because we carry the dream of a world that is beautiful and great. I do not say these things in the name of a certain morality. I speak rather in the name of the risk of falling into idolatry: when my perspective is limited to my advancement or my personal issues, I sclerose both my person and my perception of reality, which become like these statues of plaster, where the life does not pass anymore. Jesus once said to his disciples, "Do not rejoice at the spirits that are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Lk 10, 20), ie, rejoice above all that the spirit of God has been able to reveal itself through you.
Is it possible to have our action always connected to this deep source of life and which always sounds right? I think this is where prayer plays its strategic role. It is this prayer that makes me get rid of certain actions to go elsewhere. It is this prayer that led Paul of Tarsus to write, as we see in this Sunday's letter: "I do not have to boast of proclaiming the Gospel, it is a necessity."
-André Gilbert, Gatineau, October 2002