May the Peace of Christ Reign in our hearts…
Alright I admit it… during my life there were moments when I was definitely a problem child.
I didn’t listen, I was willful and even devious at times.
It was my way or the highway.
And if justice would have had its way with me I would have been in sorry straights.
On the other hand If only love or what appeared to be love was present in my life
I might have been that proverbial spoiled brat
And frankly when I was nine my Aunt Molly told me she thought I was a spoiled brat.
My parents somehow knew how to combine justice and sacrificial love .
They loved me but they didn’t give me everything I wanted or thought I needed.
And when I needed a swift kick in the behind they gave it to me.
As usual in today’s Gospel there are several levels of meaning.
On the surface it appears that these are simple narratives explaining how Jesus began his ministry in Galilee.
Everyone is impressed with him, he speaks with authority and he revealed that he had the power to heal people.
He is a big hit… “Everyone is looking for you” the disciples said to him.
On a much deeper level I believe that Jesus is still wrestling with the manner which the Father needs him to accomplish his mission.
How is he to win souls for God?
How he is to save the world?
Would the world be saved if he died for our sins as justice would demand,
or would the world be saved if he gave into our needs and desires and won us over with miracles and healings etc.
Jesus must have often wondered how he could win the hearts and minds and souls of the people he loved.
At first glance it seemed that miracles and healings were working.
Everyone was looking for him, seeking him out.
His disciples were thrilled and must have panicked when they couldn’t find him in the morning.
You see the problem was simply this Jesus was an incredibly compassionate man.
When he saw a sick person it was hard for him not to heal them.
Yet every time he did so he inadvertently reinforced the wrong understanding of his mission.
Jesus is a great success in Capernaum and everyone is looking for him but they are looking for him for the wrong reason.
They are looking for him because they want something and they think Jesus can give it to them
They are saying to themselves
Let’s follow him because he can heal us when we are sick
Let’s follow him because he will feed us when we are hungry
Let’s follow him because he can give us what we want
Kind of like when we say, Dear Jesus help me win the lottery or help me win at the Casino.
Everyone in Capernaum was looking for him because they probably wanted to build him a house and have him stay with them and take care of them.
And as word spread and people from near and far started coming to see him the people of Capernaum probably wanted to cash in on his success.
Sadly after their first encounter with Jesus the people of Capernaum were not more inclined to self-sacrifice or selfless love or being faithful to the covenant.
The miracles healed their bodies but not their hearts.
Just like my parents or any parent knows that they will spoil their child if they gave them everything they wanted.
It is so crystal clear that Jesus would not have won many souls for God by setting up shop in Capernaum and beginning a healing ministry.
And so at first glance even though he appeared to be a great success remember everyone is looking for him.
After prayer and discernment in quiet place in the wilderness Jesus was able to once again refocus his mind and heart on Father’s will.
He did not return to Capernaum as the Disciples and the people wanted.
He left the sick and the hungry in Capernaum as hard as that might have been for him.
Healing them and feeding them would not guarantee the salvation of their souls.
After Prayer Jesus knew that he could not stay in that place and he moved on to other villages to proclaim the Gospel.
The temptation to work miracles and win souls would be with Jesus until the very end of his life.
It started in the desert when the devil said to him turn these stones into bread and it would finish In the garden of Gethsemane when he would ask the Father to take the cup of suffering away from him and let him save the world in another way..
We all know how the story ends
Jesus paid the price of our sins with his suffering love.
There is a lot for us to contemplate here
How do we view God and what is God’s place in our hearts?
Do we expect him to take away all of our suffering?
Do we expect him to keep us healthy even though we eat too much and exercise too little?
Do we think that somehow if we say the right words in the right order he will give us what we want ?
How often do we go away to a deserted place and refocus our minds and hearts on God’s will and God’s plan for us?
Are we looking for him because we hope to get something Or are we here in these pews because like Jesus we have come to understand that selfless sacrificial love is the only way for us to save ourselves and save the world.
Very important questions indeed
We adore you O Christ and we praise you
Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world