Livonia, Michigan

From Fr. Tom!

After I read today’s Gospel for the first time, this question came to my mind: What is the reason that you are looking for Jesus??? Last week we heard about Jesus who heals a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue. From the synagogue he goes to Peter’s house and heals his mother in-law who has a fever. “That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons…. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons” (Mark 1:32-34). Then, very early in the morning he escapes to a quiet spot to pray. Before he could finish his morning prayers his disciples hunt him down and inform him that an even larger crowd has gathered with their sick and infirm and that everyone is looking for him. You would expect Jesus to say, “Great, now we are in business. Now they are coming. Our strategy is working.” But what does he say? He says no, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do” (Mark 1:38).
Excuse me! Proclaim the message? What message is greater that healing the sick and restoring to them their human dignity that has been disfigured by sickness and poverty? Isn’t that essentially what Jesus came for? Well, not exactly. Jesus came to bring good news to the poor (Luke 4:18). This good news is spiritual and material just as the human person is soul and body. But when it comes to order of priority, the spiritual comes first, then the material. This order is brought out in Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: “Seek you first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
What Jesus came to do, in other words is to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God, to invite all humankind to let God reign as king in their hearts and in their lives, to reconcile us with God and with one another. Much of the sickness, poverty and suffering that exists in our world is traceable to the state of disharmony or sin that separates us from God and from one another. By healing this root cause of all our problems, we find ourselves in a position to receive God’s abundant blessings in all areas of our lives, spiritual as well as physical, moral as well as material, social as well as psychological. But to try to seek physical healing and material well-being without first making peace with God is to miss the point. It is putting the cart before the horse. It does not work. This is probably what the people of Capernaum tried to do with Jesus that morning. So, Jesus boycotts them and continues to other cities of Galilee to proclaim the message.
The big crowd that came looking for Jesus that morning went home disappointed. They did not find him. Why? Because they were looking for him for the wrong reasons. They were looking for Jesus simply to get what they wanted; they were not interested in what Jesus came to give. Not that Jesus is not interested in our material welfare. He is. But the spiritual must come first. Like the people of Capernaum we come to church on Sunday looking for Jesus. We come with our various problems of soul and body. To avoid disappointment the first thing we need to do is to forget our personal problems and seek the kingdom of God that Jesus came to proclaim. When we find the Kingdom of God then God Himself will take care of all our other needs of soul and body.
May your last, full week before Lenten season be blessed and holy!

~Fr. Tom