Sunday, February 7 at St. Francis Xavier Parish
We are now in the month of February which welcomes us with cold weather that will stay with us a bit longer, or so the weather forecast indicates. Even Father Claude has become used to the colder climate as he now runs in short sleeves around the house (just kidding).
In the Church’s calendar we celebrate the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time this weekend, and as the thumbnail for the livestream indicates (I try whenever it is possible to use a painting, or drawing in this case, to show a reference to the upcoming Gospel reading), this Sunday we reflect on the Gospel passage that speaks about the healing of the mother-in-law of Peter, as well as the healing of many others.
“In the gospel, God’s remembrance of and compassion for suffering humanity comes most tangibly and radically in the healing presence of Jesus. From the religious service in the synagogue Jesus moves immediately into the house of Simon and Andrew, accompanied by James and John, disciples who are having a busy apprenticeship. In the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law we have a vignette of the mission of Jesus, the free man, who cares nothing for taboos that prohibited the touching of a woman not one’s wife, and especially on the Sabbath. Jesus has healed the tormented man in the synagogue, and he will make no discrimination between male and female, even though to hold the hand of the sick woman could earn him the accusation of ritual uncleanness. Compassion has a more urgent hold on Jesus, and his raising of her is by the same power that God will manifest in raising Jesus from the dead. The response of Simon’s mother-in-law to her healing is to serve (diēkonei, which the Lectionary translates as “she waited on them”) Jesus and his companions. The last use of this word in Mark’s gospel is in Mark 15:41, and here it is again with reference to women who followed and served him, so framing the mission of Jesus from its beginning to his death with the service of women. It is a reminder, too, that all who have experienced the healing power of Jesus, in the flesh and in the Spirit, should respond with service of others.
Even though Jesus did not subject himself to Sabbath restraints, the crowds wait until “after sunset” when the Sabbath was over to bring those who are sick in body and mind to him. Jesus responds to the universal longing for wholeness and healing, vanquishing the reign of evil, yet commanding the evil spirits not to speak of him because not until his death will his true messianic identity be revealed. Before that, such a revelation, especially by the proclamation of the formerly possessed, could be manipulated by Jesus’s enemies into false charges of his being on the side of the kingdom of evil (see Mark 3:22-27).
The one to whom Jesus is first accountable, however, is not the sick or possessed person, not Simon or his companions. Jesus’s life is above all directed to God who is acting in him and through him, so early the next morning he seeks a place where he can be alone with God in prayer. Simon and some of his companions are described not as Jesus’s “followers,” but as those who “pursue” Jesus. There is a note of accusation and misunderstanding in Simon’s words: “Everyone is looking for you” (including us!). There is no appreciation of Jesus’s own need to search for his God in prayer. What Jesus has heard in his prayer is the call to proclaim the reigning presence of God in other towns, to move on from the enthusiastic reception of yesterday, because that is why he came. How often are we tempted to stay with the “yesterdays” of success and acclamation and hesitate to go forward to the largely unknown “tomorrows” to which God is calling us? And how important is prayer in our discernment of God’s call?” (Living Liturgy 2021)
We are still awaiting any news from the provincial government regarding when we will be allowed to reopen our churches as of the time that I am posting this message. As soon as we know something, we will make a post on our website and Facebook page.
Please remember in your prayers Ada Savelli, Josephine Zabukovec, Nicola DeVincentis, and Victoria Luscombe (sister of our parishioner Claude Luscombe), who all passed away this week. And please pray for those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones. Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.
Thank-you to all those who have been continuing to support the parish financially during this lockdown. Please know that you can bring your donation envelopes to the parish office and put them through the mail slot in the office door at any time. You can also send your donation in by mail, or donate online on the Donate tab of our website. We are encouraging our parishioners to consider pre-authorized giving going forward as their means of supporting the parish. If you are interested, the form for pre-authorized giving can also be downloaded from the Donate tab on our website.
The season of Lent begins in less than two weeks, starting with Ash Wednesday on February 17. You are invited to take part in the new online Bible study entitled “FORGIVEN”, which explores the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For more information please see the parish bulletin.
There are also two youth ministry events coming up during the Lenten season:
– Weekly online retreat for youth, teens, and families (7:00-8:00pm over Zoom on each Sunday of Lent)
– THINKfast (annual social justice event for students in Grade 5 and up) – held online this year
Please see this weekend’s bulletin or the youth ministry page of our website for more information on both events.
Wes also has print copies of daily Lenten devotions for both teens and families available which can be mailed out to anyone who would like one. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
Please join us online for Sunday Mass at 10:00am on the parish YouTube channel. The Rosary will be prayed at 9:30am.
God bless, have a great weekend and enjoy the Super Bowl!