Today, the Gospel of Mark, in very few sentences, presents us with a portrait of Jesus and shows us his most prominent as a human person.
First (being close to Jesus), Jesus is no stranger to the lives of others. I imagine Jesus asking Peter, after meeting him: “Where do you live? Take me to your home. I want to meet your family.” Entering a house is creating a relationship of intimacy. Jesus wants to enter every house. He wants everyone to experience his closeness, his intimacy. One piece of advice I give to engaged couples preparing to be married to put a Bible and a Crucifix at the entrance of their future home. It will be a sign to them of the close presence of Christ in their home. And it will be a sign for others that they are entering a house where Christ is present.
Entering Peter’s house, the first thing He does is a miracle: Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law. It strikes me that the Gospel says: “Taking her by the hand.” Jesus is not only close. He is also tender; He is affectionate.
In fact, Jesus touched many people throughout his ministry: “He took by the hand and lifted a possessed deaf-mute. He touched the eyes of the blind and restored their sight. He touched a leper and cured him. He embraced the children who approached him. He took Jairus’s daughter by the hand and raised her to life. This very human personality trait of Jesus is an expression of his deepest identity: He is true “God with us.”
Second, we see An accessible Jesus.
People find out that He is at Peter’s house. And they come in multitude. Jesus welcomes them all. He works many, many miracles and exorcisms. One afternoon Peter’s house becomes the most visited site in Galilee. Because there was love, there was compassion; there were forgiveness and healing. Today Peter’s house is the Church. And in this house, Jesus continues to offer his goodness, his closeness, his availability to listen, to heal, to redeem sorrows and guilt. When you come to church, at least on Sundays, you come to meet this very Jesus. Sunday Mass is not a requirement of Catholicism; it is a need of our heart. It is the space and the opportunity to have a personal encounter with Christ: with his goodness, his love that redeems purifies, and heals.
Third, a praying and silent Jesus.
Jesus goes out at dawn to put himself in prayer and silence. He, who was the Eternal Word of God, keeps silent to listen to his Father. Without a doubt, Jesus lives in permanent contact with God the Father. His entire earthly life was, in this sense, a prayer. But Jesus dedicates specific times to silence and prayer.
Praying, Jesus reveals his secret to us to be close, accessible, and loving with others. Offering the day is not enough. You have to set aside time to pray. You have to put yourself in the presence of God. You have to talk with Him. Spouses know very well: it is not enough to live together; they have to talk. I know couples who book an afternoon or evening to go out to lunch or dinner together, and there they take the opportunity to have a deeper dialogue. To listen to each other and resolve their issues.
Praying is not just talking with God; it is also keeping silent before God. The same happens in marriage or family dialogue: you have to be silent to listen to others. “Silence allows the person in front of us to speak; and for us, not to remain clinging only to our words.” Thus, a space for reciprocal listening is opened and a fuller human relationship becomes possible. If God speaks to man in silence, the man also discovers, in silence, the possibility of speaking with God and about God.
Finally, This is the spoken portrait of Jesus that Mark’s Gospel presents to us this Sunday: a close, accessible, and praying Jesus. The invitation is clear: let us also be closer, more accessible, and prayerful. We know how to do it, especially with those who are by our side. And let’s discover that the secret to achieving this prayer. May the Most Holy Mary, our gracious Mother, grant us the grace of being closer, accessible, and prayerful. Fr. Fidel