The Gospel today which is a continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel, presents to us Jesus who, after preaching on the Sabbath in the synagogue of Capernaum, heals many sick people, beginning with Simon’s mother-in-law. Upon entering Simon’s house, he finds her lying in bed with a fever and, by taking her hand, immediately heals her and has her get up. After sunset, he heals a multitude of people afflicted with ailments of every kind. Since healing the sick occupied a large part of Christs’ public mission, it invites us to reflect on the meaning and value of illness, in every human situation. This opportunity is also offered to us each year on the World Day of the Sick which is celebrated on February 11.
Despite the fact that illness is part of the human experience, we do not succeed in becoming accustomed to it, not only because it is burdensome and sometimes painful, but also because we are made for life, for a full life. We rightly think of God as fullness of life indeed, as eternal and perfect life. When we are tried by evil and our prayers seem to be in vain, then doubt besets us and we ask ourselves in anguish: what is God’s will? We find the answer to this question in the Gospels. For example, in today’s passage we read that Jesus “healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mk. 1: 34); in another passage from Matthew it says that Jesus “went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people” (Mt. 4:23). Jesus leaves no room for doubt: God whose face he himself revealed is the God of life, who frees us from every evil. The signs of Jesus’ power of love are the healings he performed. However, these cures are not complete in themselves but guide us towards God and make us understand that one’s deepest illness is the absence of God, who is the source of truth and love. Only reconciliation with God can give us true healing, true life, because a life without love and without truth would not be life. The Kingdom of God is precisely the presence of truth and love and thus is healing in the depths of our being. Therefore, Jesus’ preaching and the cures he works form one message of hope and salvation.
Thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ work is extended in the Church’s mission. Through the sacraments it is Christ who communicates his life and love to the multitudes, while he heals and comforts innumerable sick people through the many activities of health-care workers that Christian communities promote with fraternal charity. Thus, they reveal the true face of God, his love. Let us pray for all sick people, especially those who are most seriously ill, and need to depend entirely on the care of others. May each one of them experience, in the solicitude of those who are beside them, the power and love of God and the richness of his saving grace. Mary, health of the sick, pray for us!
May God love and bless you!
Sr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, IHM