5th Sunday in Ordinary Time - February 4, 2018 (Thoman)

February 4, 2018 I Holy Spirit (HG)

Job 7:1-4, 6-7 | Cor 9:16-19, 22-23 |  Mk 1:20-39

I. As people of the 21st century, we hear that gospel passage about Peter’s mother in-law getting up to wait on her guests and we think, well, that means she got up, served them a round of drinks and started to fix supper.  She may very well have done that, but that is not the message the gospel writer Mark is trying to communicate.  The Greek word he uses for that service is “diakoneo.” Listen to that…what do you hear in that word?

  • diakoneo – deacon – or similar to diakonia - root word for deacon: one who serves
  • and the service is much more than the domestic house work we stereotypically think of women doing.
  • what Mark is saying Jesus “raised her up” (also key words) and then she served.
  • the importance of this word is enhanced when we realize only two other times does Mark use this word…
    • when Jesus is talking about himself and says, “The Son of Man has come not to be served, but to serve.”
    • and at the foot of the cross Mark says there were women there who had “ministered” to his needs.
  • in each case Mark uses diakoneo, the word for service
  • what Mark is saying is that after Jesus came to her, Peter’s mother-in-law got up and served like Jesus. She became like Jesus in her service, not just simply doing housework.
  • he is saying this is the call of a disciple of Jesus

II. But service like this can be challenging.

A. It can be challenging when we are physically ill: when we are ill we don’t feel like doing anything…we don’t have the energy to do anything…nor should we do anything! We need to take care of ourselves so we can get well again and be of service to others.  What we can do at that time though is to pray for Jesus to come to us.  We can pray for his healing presence…we can pray for his comfort…we can ask Jesus to help us keep strong faith.

B. And we can’t be of service when life gets us down. Look at poor Job in the first reading. He is down and out. Job has lost everything – his material possessions, his family and his health. Life has become bleak. Every day is drudgery. He sees no light at the end of the tunnel.  There are times when we feel the same way.  We may be stressed out, without motivation or energy, when we feel hopeless, when we feel we are all alone. We don’t know how we’re going to get through the day let alone the week. It’s hard to be a giver all the time and when we are down and out we don’t feel like we can give anything to anyone.

III. What can help us to get up and be of service like Peter’s mother-in-law?

A. I think one thing is simply our relationship with the Lord. When we are in relationship with the Lord we simply have the assurance of his support and presence. That, in itself, should give us comfort and a quiet peace in our heart even if our life is in general turmoil. Faith supports hope.

B. Try to muster up the energy to do something, however small that may be. If we reach out to someone in some way – doing some small deed of charity can energize us – help us to feel better – help us to get out of ourselves. That can be the beginning of being of greater service.

C. And then there is prayer. Jesus himself got up early the next morning and spent time in prayer with his heavenly Father. Giving ourselves time and space for prayer renews our relationship with God. That means consciously setting aside time for prayer, however brief that may be. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but at least some time.  It can also mean time for reading and reflection. Perhaps journaling, listening to soothing music. Just as we may need personal time when we are physically ill, so we need personal time when life becomes overwhelming.

IV. St. Paul gives us an example of a disciple totally immersed in his service to the gospel. He has become completely dedicated to the gospel, seeking to win over as many as possible to Christ.  And Jesus himself, even though he is besieged by crowds on every side, keeps moving forward. He says, “For this purpose I have come.”

V. Peter’s mother-in-law got up and served the needs of those around her – she has become a model of service to us, serving in the sense of diaconal service, helping to build up the body of Christ.  May we hear the invitation of Jesus to “get up,” and become a person of service just like Jesus.

Fr. Dwayne Thoman