“Everyone is looking for you”, this was how Simon and the other disciples who were searching for Jesus expressed their desire to Jesus when they found him at prayer in a deserted place, early in the morning. This expression, “everyone is looking for you” seems to me upon deeper reflection to be a key to understanding the identity of Jesus, his mission and what he offers to people. The Gospel passage offers us a few pointers to why people were looking for Jesus in the Gospel.
The passage gives us a glimpse into the daily schedule of Jesus. He rises up early in the morning to pray privately; then he goes to worship with the community in the synagogue, and then in the afternoon he spends a substantial time visiting with the families of his close companions particularly those who were facing difficulties like Simon, whose mother-in-law was sick. Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law, and continues in the evening most likely into the city where he visits other families and when people heard about him, they brought him many people who were sick, and those who were possessed.
The account says that he cured all who came to him. And then he continues to another village preaching the Good News and curing the sick and healing those who were possessed. Jesus speaks clearly to his disciples that preaching the good news, restoring people to wholeness, and being with the people in their pains, sickness, and troubles is the purpose of his mission, “for this purpose have I come.” Jesus was keenly aware of his mission to earth. He was totally dedicated to this mission. He spent his whole day as we read in the Gospel today faithfully carrying out his mission.
Everyone was looking for him because in Jesus’s mission and life they found the fulfilment of the desires of their hearts. Everyone was looking for Jesus because they saw in him the fulfilment of the promise of God to be with God’s people. In Jesus, God has visited God’s people. God is healing God’s people, and restoring people’s lives and creation through Jesus. Through his daily activities we see clearly his divine identity and mission. This realization invites us to come to Jesus like those who came to him in the Gospel today in order that we may find in him healing, help, comfort and grace.
There are three important points for our meditation.
First, there is an invitation for us to come to Jesus. Jesus has something for everyone who comes to him. Notice that all the people who came to Jesus in the Gospel today left with a new experience. All those who are searching for Jesus in the Gospel, found him. God is never too far from us; God is always available to us. Those who found Jesus were those who were looking for him and they always left with a new experience of grace, restoration, healing and strength. Our encounter with God and God’s encounter with us, is always transformative. When we come to Jesus, he offers to us created and limited beings, something that we cannot offer to ourselves or bring about in our lives simply through our human effort.
Second, we all can relate to the experience of Job in the first reading in these days of the pandemic and in our own dark days of tears and pains. There are times in life when we feel like Job, that we “have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights” and we feel like Job that “I shall not see happiness again.” The answer to the misery of Job is found in the responsorial psalm, where we are invited to “praise the Lord who heals the broken hearted.” But how can I praise God, one would say, in the midst of the losses that I face? When we think of the losses in our lives within the last one year—deaths of so many, lost jobs, lost relationships, loss of one’s inner peace, social bonds, freedom, and even our failed plans and dreams—one would wonder how we could praise God.
However, this is where faith comes in against the logic of unbelief and despair. The Gospel today is an invitation to believe that there is a God who has power to heal; whose wisdom is without limit, and who bandages the wounds of life if we can only make that leap of faith in total trust.
Faith frees us from the despair of Job when in the face of our many troubles we begin to doubt God and ourselves. Faith makes you lighter because it is an invitation to bring whatever it is that weighs you down in prayer to God. Faith is dynamic movement from within, enabled by God’s grace that should give us the courage to work every day to change the contradictions of our present life and our world with courage.
And that takes me to the last message which is St Paul’s message on his own commitment to preaching the Gospel. Like Jesus, he also affirms that he has totally given his life to this mission and has become “all things to all to save at least some.” Brothers and sisters, we all have a role to play in healing the world. Like St Paul, we can share in the Gospel by committing ourselves to the mission that God has given us. Our times call for greater commitment to the mission of Jesus of healing the broken hearted, and bringing life to those who are sick in mind, body, and soul. The only way Jesus can take away our infirmities and bear our sins today is through each and every one of us—we are the hands, heart, and body of Christ in the world. Let us be about the task of healing the world in this time of suffering, despair and pain.
© Stan Chu Ilo