Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Ps 147:1-6; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39
This is the next to the last Sunday before Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 14th. We are still looking at the early public life of Jesus. In cycle B this year we are walking through St. Mark’s gospel. It starts with the healing and deliverance ministry of Jesus. St. Luke starts his gospel telling us about what surrounded the birth of the Messiah. Then he directly goes into Jesus’ teaching.
At daily Masses we are reading in St. Mark some 14 healing and deliverance stories in the first 7 chapters. Some are very short and others give us more details on Jesus’ love to heal and free people.
Today, Sunday, we are still in chapter one where there are two individual healings and one group account. At the end of this chapter, Jesus had finished teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, his early home base. Jesus entered the house of Peter and Andrew with James and John. Peter’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever. Jesus went in and “grasped her hand” and helped her up. The fever left her and she immediately waited on them. In Greek, the word “help” means “raising up.” After sunset, when Jews were allowed to move around, the local people brought Jesus all who were ill and those possessed by demons. Jesus cured many.
To help us unpack these stories it is helpful to say a little prayer to the Holy Spirit for understanding, and then slowly read through these stories for greater detail. They are truly amazing and bring us more confidence and hope that Jesus is continuing to heal at each Mass and in many places all over the world.
St. Blaise and the fish bone
Yesterday we remembered the story of St. Blaise, an early bishop of Sebaste in Armenia. He enjoyed widespread veneration in both the Eastern and Western Churches due to the many cures Jesus worked through him. St. Blaise is most noted for the story of a mother who brought her young son to this good Bishop. The boy had a fish bone caught it his throat. Blaise prayed over the body and the bone was released.
Due to persecution, Blaise lived as a hermit in a cave until hunters found him. He was brought to Roman authorities yet would not give up his faith in Jesus. He was then tortured and finally beheaded in 316 A.D.
It is the custom on St. Blaise’s commemoration to take two unlighted blessed candle sticks and places them next to the throat of each person who comes for that healing prayer. The priest or minister says: “Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.“
Jesus and the Healing Mass
Jesus extended his healing and deliverance ministry to the priests of his church and other special persons. When we study the Mass texts, we discover each Mass is a healing Mass. Before the congregation receives communion, the Body and Blood of Jesus, we hear these words. The priest says: “Behold the lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world. “And the people respond, “Lord, I am not worthy, say but the word and my soul will be healed.“
As we receive Jesus real presence under the appearance of bread and wine, we can ask Jesus to heal us. We also continue Jesus’ deliverance ministry from evil spirits. At each Mass there are two exorcism or deliverance prayers, one at the end of the Our Father, “deliver us from evil,“ and the other immediately following the Our Father, Deliver us Lord, from every evil and grant us peace in our days.”
This is my prayer for each one of you reading these reflections, especially during this cold and flu season. May Jesus surround you and your household with his healing light. Amen.
Have a safe and blessed week. Jesus wants to heal more of us. Thank you, Jesus.
Peace and all good!
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2018 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)