5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (Mark 1:29-39)
Pro-Life Sunday, February 4, 2018
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
ONE does not need to be pessimistic to conclude that there is so much suffering in the world. It is a reality as old as mankind itself; a reality as varied as the gradations of gray . . . . We are afflicted by moral, emotional, spiritual, and physical suffering . . . . All these forms of suffering make life miserable—a veritable “Way of the Cross”! Job had all the reasons to complain. (See today’s First Reading.)
Of all types of suffering, the most striking is usually the physical one. It is always a pitiful sight to see cripples, lepers, persons devoured by cancer, people who are blind, maimed, or immobilized for life on their beds or mats . . . In spite of all the progress of modern medicine, all those struck by sickness still experience a feeling of helplessness and humiliation. The many forms of suffering are still with us, and for all we know, they are here to stay, in ever-renewed and baffling forms . . .
When he came to share our human condition, Jesus accepted suffering as a natural consequence of the Incarnation and thereby he showed that he was a human being through and through. But he was “a man with a mission”—the mission to redeem and save every human being from all that degrades, oppresses and disfigures him or her. That was why, part of his mission was to relieve as many as he could from any suffering, and especially the one inflicted by demonic possessions. Jesus knew that the ultimate cause of all suffering was the devil. That was why, he cast out devils as an integral part of his healing and saving mission.
But suffering is still with us, even after the coming of Jesus, as a perpetual reminder of the frailty of the human condition in the world. It is also a sign that the Reign of God has not yet come in its fullness. It is only in the New Jerusalem that “there shall be no more death or mourning, crying or pain . . . (Rv 21:4).
The healings performed by Jesus are signs that the Reign of God has already been inaugurated and that the salvation that Jesus proclaims will surely come in its fullness when God’s Kingdom reaches its completion.
As Christians, we are not only people who have been mercifully healed by Jesus. We are also sharers in his mission as “the healer” of humankind. As such, we, too, are called to show concern for the ailments afflicting mankind, and to do our best to reduce them. It is also our mission to cast out the devil from our own lives and the lives of others. This commitment of ours will be one of the most effective proclamations of the Good News. It will be one of the clear signs that the Kingdom of God is ever more making inroads in this pain-ridden world of ours.