Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
José H. Gomez
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver
My sisters and brothers in Christ:
"Give praise to the Lord for his kindness, for his wonderful deeds
toward men. He has filled the hungry with good things, he has satisfied
the thirsty" Ps. 106, 8-9, Today's Communion Antiphon
Today we contemplate the beginning of Jesus' public life. In St. Mark's
Gospel it starts with Jesus leaving Nazareth, his home town, choosing
his first disciples as he went along the lake, going to the Synagogue
in Capernaum and then going to the house of his first disciples Simon
It was just a simple, normal, very human beginning. Nothing extraordinary,
no big crowds or spectacular miracles, but we know that God's things are
in that way. We can say that the beginning of Jesus' public life
has the simplicity of the things of God. The simplicity of the Annunciation
or the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and at the same time we are contemplating
the action of God among us. God with us.
It is so normal that we can even see in this passage of the Gospel how
Jesusí life was. We can title this passage, a day in the life of Jesus.
There are three clear moments or instances in what it seems to be a typical
day in the life of Christ: Prayer, missionary work and healing ministry.
It can also be summarized in one word, Love/Charity. Love of God and love
It is a great synthesis of what Christian life is supposed to be. This
past Tuesday we had, here at the Cathedral, the funeral for Fr. Ed Judy,
a Capuchin priest, who was the director of Samaritan house, in Denver.
It was a beautiful ceremony for someone who dedicated his life to the
service of the poor.
There were several things that drew my attention. One of them happened
at the beginning of the Mass. On top of the casket they had three objects.
A crucifix, he was a Christian, a Book of the Gospels, he was a priest
and they also had the constitution of the Capuchin order -- they explained
that it is a custom to place the constitution on the casket because anyone
who puts into practice the constitutions of the order is assured of going
As I was reading today's passage of the Gospel, I thought to myself, these
are the constitutions of Christian life. Prayer and Charity. If we practice
them, we are assured of going to heaven!
To me it is really interesting to see that Jesus' first priority is prayer.
"Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted
place, where he prayed". For many people, including the Apostles,
it was kind of a waste of time.
You can imagine the scene. Early in the morning, people just getting up
after a night of rest, They all needed it because the day before they
were probably up until late, curing the sick, driving out demons, etc.
They were probably asking each other, Where is he? Did he get up early?
Is he gone? "Simone and those who were with him pursued him and on
finding him said, 'Everyone is looking for you'. What are you doing by
yourself? People need you, take care of them! Get busy working!
For Jesus, prayer was first. We need to ask ourselves today, Is prayer
also first for me? It should be, among other reasons, because it helps
us to develop a personal relationship with God and also because as our
prayer life is so will our life be.
"It is in prayer, in talking to Jesus, that we learn to understand,
to remain cheerful, to welcome and to appreciate the people God places
in our path. Without prayer, the Christian would be like a plant without
roots" (In Conv. 3.3.3)
Prayer that is a conversation with God. Talking to God about His things,
about our things. No great formality but the confidence of a child that
knows that, his or her Father is always there, ready to listen and to
help us with his graces.
"Throughout our day we can and we must speak very frequently to God.
He is not far away. He is close to us, beside us. He always hears us,
but more especially at those times that we dedicate expressly to speaking
to him, without remaining anonymous, in person-to-person contact with
him" (In Conv. 3.3.3)
If we give importance to prayer, then as we see in today's Gospel, we
can accompany Jesus in his missionary work. "He told them, 'Let us
go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose
have I come'.
Jesus knows His mission in life and is driven to save our souls and to
fulfill His Father's plan. Jesus is our example of dedication and fidelity
to His life's work.
Each of us has received Jesus' command to be disciples, and to live our
lives as he requested. If we listen and hear his commands, we will live
our lives with charity and mercy to others, sharing the Gospel, and being
instruments of truth, justice and peace in our daily lives.
We have Jesus as our example, which may be overwhelming for us in His
perfection, but there are many small ways that we can grow to emulate
and fulfill Christ's request of us.
As St. Paul says in today's 2nd reading: "I have made myself a slave
to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the weak I became weak,
to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least
I am sure that the beginning of Jesus' public life was an exciting time
for the Apostles. Our time is also very interesting and exciting. We are
still at the beginning of the New Evangelization and the Holy Father,
Pope John Paul II, has entrusted us the joyful mission of re-evangelizing
all the aspects of Society.
Prayer and charity. That is Jesus' example in today's gospel. In the words
of a Holy newly canonized saint: "Prayer is the most powerful weapon
a Christian has. Prayer makes us effective. Prayer makes us happy. Prayer
gives us all the strength we need to fulfill God's commands. Yes, indeed,
your whole life can and should be prayer" Saint Josemaria Escriva,