Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
"Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever." (Mk. 1:29-39)
In 1989, Fr. James Goode, OFM, marked the first weekend in February as a National Day of Prayer for the African American and African Family. With a brave spirit, Fr. Goode introduced a celebration for communities to praise God for our families who cast their cares onto Jesus because he cares. Even now, amid a pandemic that has no ending in sight, Fr. James Goode would proclaim that Jesus is a way maker. And, God is the source to break the current Covid 19 strain that has many families wondering what's next. Many families' faith is on shaky ground during this pandemic. However, Fr. Goode, who ignited many revivals for Black Catholics worldwide, believed there is always a reason to celebrate. "Don't wait, celebrate," God's blessings on African American and African Families.
Therefore, even though we are unaware of the individuals' nationality in Mark's gospel reading, we know in the African spirit that the village was present in Simon's house. The home meeting is similar to our gathering when an elder or a patriarch is ill; the community gathers to comfort each other. And during their time, Simon, Andrew, James, and John, were more than likely looking for a way to medicate Simon's mother-in-law, who was sick with a fever. And to understand Simon's mother-in-law's severity, the Greek word for "fever" is pyressō, which means to be on fire. This elder was sick, on fire. Simon's family, no doubt, was looking for a remedy to cool her body. Suddenly, Jesus comes and touches Simon's mother-in-law. Now you know there was a reason for celebration, as the fever left Simon's mother-in-law and she served the community. "Don't wait, celebrate," God's blessings on African American and African Families.
Unfortunately, our zeal to celebrate our families in this season has deadened our spirits. The last-minute phone call to a loved one in the hospital has replaced the normal holding of a hand. We cannot visit a hospital in some cases. The medical staff tells us to wait outside in our cars. Who would have thought that we would still practice social distancing and masking-up now with no end in sight? How can we celebrate God's blessings on our families with the safety features in place to protect us from Covid19?
For this reason, I rejoice over this text in Mark's gospel. "He told them, 'Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also.'" Here I see Jesus telling us don't stop preaching the good news in the face of Covid19 or B.1.1.7. Don't stop praising God for your family even though you cannot reach out and touch them. Don't stop preaching the good news that all your family is still alive. If God is good all the time, then God is good in this time. Vaccine or no vaccine, God is still Good. Stimulus check or no stimulus check, God is still Good. Pray on Romans 8:28, "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." "Don't wait, celebrate," God's blessings on African American and African Families.
Authored: Evangelist Michael P. Howard, MACS
Let us pray…
National Day of Prayer for the African American and African Family
God of mercy and love, we place our African American and African families before you today.
May we be proud of our history and never forget those who paid a great price for our liberation. Bless us one by one and keep our hearts and minds fixed on higher ground.
Help us to live for you and not for ourselves, and may we cherish and proclaim the gift of life. Bless our parents, guardians, grandparents, relatives and friends.
Give us the amazing grace to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Help us, as Your children, to live in such a way that the beauty and greatness of authentic love is reflected in all that we say and do.
Give a healing anointing to those who are less fortunate, especially the motherless, the fatherless, the broken, the sick and the lonely.
Bless our departed family members and friends. May they be led into the light of Your dwelling place, where we will never grow old, where we will share the fullness of redemption and shout the victory for all eternity.
This we ask in the Precious Name of Jesus, our Savior and Blessed Assurance. Amen. Holy Mary, Mother of Our Families, pray for us.
Fr. James Goode