5 Epiphany – Year B

Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-12, 21c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39

“The greatest prayer is patience.” – Buddha

                As we mentioned before, Mark’s Gospel has a sense of fast moving urgency, frequently using the word “immediately.”  Now he puts on the breaks, at least temporarily.  The whole gang of five is staying at Peter and Andrew’s house.  Jesus cures Peter’s mother-in-law, and many others.  The word gets out, and by sundown the “whole city” is gathered at their door (Mark 1:33).  Next morning Jesus is nowhere to be found.  He snuck out while it was still dark, off to a deserted place to pray.  He took a break.  Even though there were still many needy people in Peter’s town of Capernaum, he doesn’t go back there.  What lesson can we learn from this story?  First, no one of us can do everything.  Sometimes we have to stop and say no.  Even though there are so many worthy endeavors, what good are we if we burn out?  Or worse, what good are we if we work at what we will never be good doing.  This is no excuse to do nothing.  The question is: to what unique task is God calling us?  The second lesson is that we will not find our distinctive way if we do not pray.  This not only requires taking time apart, but calls for patience.  Buddha was right.  Sitting and waiting is often the best prayer.  Perhaps even atheists, not knowing whom to address, are indeed praying in their silence, because prayer is essentially listening, not talking.  We may need the time for an hour or two in the heat of the day.  Or we many need days or months as a recluse.  Are we patient enough to listen and wait in silence?  Peter and the rest of the gang were not patient at all while they were frantically hunting for Jesus.  Let us stop and find our way in prayer, no matter how long it takes.  Then at some point we will hear Jesus say, as he did in today’s Gospel, “Let’s go.”  (Mark 1:38 – see Greek below)

Greek

                In Mark 1:38 Jesus says let’s go to the neighboring towns or villages.  We may think of villages as quaint quiet peaceful places.  Jesus was not furthering his retreat.  The Greek word often here translated “village” actually means “market town.”  These are busy places.

Haiku

In silence peaceful

down your word from on high leapt.

So let now us go.

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