Last week, as I was walking down the main hall of our Motherhouse, several people stopped me and said, “Sister….is looking for you” After the third such greeting, the temptation was to hide so that I could accomplish my list of to dos! However, my service that day was to the call of Christ in those greetings!
In the gospel Simon says to Jesus, “Everyone is looking for you.” Jesus is having great success healing many people and driving out demons. All who encounter him adore him. He is a rising star! People are paying great attention to him—“The whole town was gathered” at the door of Simon and Andrew’s house. Jesus could have been a hit reality show!
Nonetheless, Jesus moves on to other villages. Personal idolization is not the purpose for which Jesus has come. His ministry is not about drawing attention to himself, but about preaching the Good News of salvation. Yet his ministry is about himself, for he is the Good News. His ministry is about reaching out to others and easing their burdens of life. And so he cures those brought to him who are “ill or possessed by demons.” But his ministry is more than this.
Jesus never loses sight of why he came—to preach the Good News of salvation. His ministry is about helping others move beyond their immediate life concerns to reach for the Life he offers them. The healing is the medium for calling the people to a renewed relationship with God. In the midst of attention and adulation by the people for what he is doing, Jesus never loses sight of his mission to bring a deeper healing to everyone. Jesus never loses sight of his mission because he never loses sight of his Father. In the midst of his success, he goes “off to a deserted place, where he prayed.” The source of Jesus’ fidelity to his mission is his relationship with his Father.
Like those in the gospel who come to Jesus for healing, we all come to Jesus with expectations (after all, prayers of petition are the most common prayers we pray). The challenge is to move beyond our expectations to what Jesus really wants to give us—the Good News of salvation. Jesus’ Presence to us today and his healing hand do not assure us that we will never suffer.
Human life is full of suffering—physical, emotional, spiritual. The new life and hope Jesus brings by preaching the Good News assures us, however, of having the strength to keep the suffering in perspective. Jesus assures us that suffering belongs to this life, but this is not all there is to life. This is the Good News he preaches.
We need to allow Jesus’ Presence to transform us so that our every breath is a proclamation of God’s Good News, his saving mystery. Most of us won’t go out to neighboring towns to preach. But we can smile a simple thank you to the tired cashier in the supermarket.
We can bite our tongue rather than snap at the rambunctious children. We can do something thoughtful for someone when it is not expected. Like Jesus, we can be a living Gospel, the Good News in action. We are the Good News when we, like Jesus, take time in prayer to encounter him, grow in our love for him, draw strength from him.