If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Second Sunday of Lent Year B 2015

The Second Sunday of Lent, (B)
(Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18; St. Paul to the Romans 8:31-34; St. Mark’s Gospel 9:2-10)

In our Gospel passage today we find Our Blessed Lord wanting to prepare His disciples for what He foresaw would soon happen: His Passion that would culminate in His sacrificial Death was looming large on the horizon.   Jesus had recently forewarned His disciples of it, but, as in so many other matters, they were not yet able to truly appreciate and fully understand His words.  When the time would come for Him to be taken away from them, they would find it a traumatic and potentially faith-shattering experience because of the original trust they had placed in Him when leaving so much behind in order to follow Him; and yet more now, because of the admiration and love they had conceived for Him as a result of their short but close association together.   Jesus’ immediate purpose, therefore, was to prepare them so that they might be able to draw serious profit from the suffering that would soon come His and their way: He could not spare them the trial, but He would not have them agonize and lose faith because of it.   How then did Jesus go about preparing His disciples for their forthcoming trial of suffering, questioning, and soul-searching?

Notice, first of all, that Jesus was well aware that His disciples were, as yet, weak in faith and by no means steadfast in their love for Him.  At present they were rejoicing in the presence of the Lord: He was the Bridegroom and they were the Bridegroom’s most privileged friends.  However, such present, earthly, joy, though holy, would not be enough to sustain them through the trials that lay ahead.  And that, People of God, is something we should notice.  Joy in the Lord based largely on emotional experiences would not be enough for Jesus‘ disciples, nor can it suffice for us now; their joy, their love, had to be much more firmly founded on faith: on a faith shot through and through with transcendent hope, and becoming ever more incandescent with a divinely-gifted love for the Person of Jesus.  Therefore:

Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.  

Why did Jesus take these three particular disciples with Him on that momentous occasion?

The case for Peter is clear enough since he had just, in the presence and in the name of all the disciples, confessed Jesus as the Christ (Mark 8:29):

            ‘Who do you say that I am?’  ‘You are the Christ’.

Moreover, Jesus recognized that Peter had been personally chosen and blessed by His Father in order to make that confession; therefore, as we learn from St. Matthew (16:17), following His Father’s lead, He named Peter as the rock upon which He would subsequently build His Church.  And so, Peter -- spokesman of the disciples, individually blessed by the Father, and chosen as the rock on which Jesus would build His Church -- was, indeed, pre-eminently suited to accompany Jesus up the mountain.

James the Elder, son of Zebedee, would become leader of the original group of Jewish believers in Jesus making up the original Church in Jerusalem; and being in so prominent a position he would become the first of the Apostles to suffer martyrdom for Jesus’ sake about the year 44 AD.  He had to be well prepared for such a calling and so pressing a destiny and therefore he became Jesus’ second choice to follow Himself along with Simon Peter.

Perhaps the reason for John’s being taken by Jesus up the Mount of Transfiguration is to be sought in the mysterious nature of his authorship of the Gospel now bearing his name.  For strangely enough, all three Synoptic Gospels tell of Jesus’ Transfiguration though none of the named authors was present on the Mount; whereas John, on the other hand, though actually present on that unique and momentous occasion, does not give us any explicit details of it!

He was quite a young man at the time; a very committed and observant, sensitive and impressionable, disciple of the Lord.  He was so deeply affected by what he saw and experienced on the Mount of Transfiguration -- an event second only to the unseen moment of Jesus’ Resurrection as testimony to His divinity -- that whereas Peter, a mature man of the world, would give clear and factual reminiscences of the event (Peter being a source for Mark’s Gospel), John would, just as Jesus envisaged, remain (cf. John 21:22): recalling, considering and reconsidering, lovingly praying and calmly contemplating, what had taken place and what had been said on those heights above, as he unremittingly sought to appreciate and assimilate their purest truth and deepest significance for his understanding of Jesus.  When, ultimately, he felt a compulsion to write down or hand on what by then had been filling his mind, heart, and soul for years, His resultant Gospel would be replete, not with factual details of that wondrous occasion, but rather with the all-enveloping atmosphere of divine truth and ultimate reality engendered by Jesus’ presence to, and communion with, His Self-revealing Father in the unity of the overshadowing Spirit … which, John had come to know full well, was not a passing, occasional occurrence for Jesus, but rather a passing manifestation of what was the enduring character of His whole life on earth: for He always lived before and in the presence of His Father; doing His will, proclaiming His truth, and promoting His glory to the utmost of His being.

Therefore, as I have said, the faith of these three very distinct and -- taken together -- most comprehensively talented individuals, needed to be made unyielding and sure on the basis of the divine authority of the words and teaching of Jesus, shot through and through with eschatological hope in the abiding presence and power of His Spirit, and becoming ever more radiant with incandescent love for the Person of Jesus in His Church.  To that end, these three -- Peter, James, and John -- were afforded an experience that would allow them to glimpse, briefly, something of the teaching authority, the hidden majesty, and indeed the heavenly glory of the Lord. 

First of all:

 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.

This united witness of the Scriptures – Moses and Elijah, the Law and the Prophets -- solemnly confirmed Jesus as Lord of heaven, the long-proclaimed, lovingly-prepared, and eagerly-awaited, Seed of God’s promise to Abraham, of which we heard in the first reading and as Jesus Himself said (John 5:39, 46):

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.    

If you believed Moses you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.

Dear People of God, we must most sincerely try to love and appreciate the Scriptures aright if we would know and love Jesus in spirit and in truth, if we would remain firm and, indeed, grow even stronger in our faith through times of trial and temptation.

Then, to the yet greater awe and fear of the disciples:

A cloud came, casting a shadow over them, and from the cloud came a voice:  "This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him!"

The heavenly Father Himself (they had no doubt of that!) was impressing upon them again the authority of Jesus’ words and teaching.  But surely, there is something more, something far more intimate and personal than ‘listening’ being advised, even commanded, here; for why did the Father speak, as it were publically, of what was most intimately Personal between Himself and His Son … that is, His love for His Son: This is My Beloved?  Surely, the Father is there, certainly not commanding, not even so much as advising but, most delicately drawing those who are initially committing themselves to His Son, to learn, from Him, the Father Himself, how rightly and fully to love His beloved One.

            This is My beloved Son!

This approach is far more compelling and inviting than any command could be; it is a divine inspiration and heartfelt Personal invitation and call from the Father; it is the sublime source of those subsequent words of Jesus (John 6:44, 65):

            No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draw him.

            No one can come to Me unless it is granted him by My  Father.

Now we too, should turn to and prayerfully learn something from the Father drawing us to Jesus, His beloved Son, when, at Holy Mass, we prepare to welcome Him into our midst as the Father’s sacramental pledge of love for mankind; and most especially, as we receive Him into our individual hearts as the Father’s Personal Gift of Love to each one of us.  For we should recall, first of all, that Jesus is being given to us by the Father that we might love Him in the power of His accompanying Spirit, and secondly, that the Beloved Son we are receiving is Himself a living Personal Gift of Love Who wills to love in us, as our love for the Father, seeking to draw us back to the Father with Himself.

Holy Communion is that doubly divine and momentous occasion when we are able and called to learn from the gifting Father how to love, better and ever more personally, His beloved Son; and also how best to allow His Son to lovingly respond to and live for the Father in and through us by the Holy Spirit abiding in and with us as Jesus’ gift.

The disciples descended with Jesus from those heights so close and open to heaven with a faith itself transfigured into an anticipation of Christian faith.  Now, despite Jesus’ recent warning of His approaching suffering, rejection by the religious authorities, and resultant death lurking in their minds, they had received a faith-vision of Jesus’ heavenly glory, hidden as yet from earthly scrutiny, but something, nevertheless, both beautiful and sure that would help them relate to the resurrection Jesus promised would follow His death in three days.  Nevertheless, because they would be most sorely wounded by their Lord’s suffering and death, this ‘dry-dock’ work of preparation and confirmation undertaken on the Mount of Transfiguration would be sedulously pursued by the Lord as, again and yet again, for a second and then a then a third time, He clearly warned and loving prepared them for their time of trial and temptation.

People of God, we Catholics and Christians of today are, like the original fathers of our faith, subject to trial and temptation throughout the world; we must, therefore, learn how to protect our faith, our Christian and Catholic civilisation, and our own selves; we must ‘listen to Him’, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour, if we would be strong in faith and love for eternal life, for our adversaries subject us to great stress and savage attacks all over the world.  Our governments are forgetful of their Christian heritage and solicitous only for their own permanence in power and popularity.  As Catholics and Christians, we are not – like those militant, pseudo-religious groups – allowed and encouraged to hate and lust, be it for pleasure or for power!  How such connivance with native passions and their unrestrained expression stirs up ‘religious zeal’ in all sorts of people but especially in the young, short of understanding and  emotional stability, and most eager to make their mark by doing what comes so easily and naturally if encouraged and praised by evil masters!   Our Christian strength – for we are not allowed to become ‘wimps’ ever shivering between humanism and emotionalism! – our strength has to come, as Jesus taught, from our faith in Himself, and has to express itself through the power of His Spirit: faith must not be explained away by rationalising expediency, nor spiritual power subverted by trite and emotional platitudes meant above all to avoid trouble or emolliate opposition.

Moreover, as Jesus was so solicitous for His disciples and future Church we too must look to our children who need help as they try to understand their humanity and adapt to the society around them.  To those ends they should be taught morals and guided towards love of what is truly beautiful. They are not, of themselves, positively innocent; in infancy their relative helplessness demands that they instinctively wail and grab to satisfy their most basic needs, and they need to be loved and guided lest, as they grow stronger in body, they continue to seek and grab, no longer for what they need, but for what they fancy.  Of course, their greatest need as they are growing up is for faith and spiritual strength to withstand peer-pressure which would force them into compliance with group excitement and amusement without reference to any personal thinking or religious morals.   Of one thing we can be certain, children left to ‘find out for themselves’ will rarely find out what is good and true for themselves; they will be led, drawn along, by the examples and solicitations of others in their group, responding to nothing better than the shared exuberance of youth under the domination of passions and pride… feelings which all share or at least can easily understand.  Because of that sharing in emotional awareness and excitement very few members of a group of friends or ‘mates’ dare to ‘go it alone’ and, following their personal conscience, resist, or seek to control, that of which they cannot actually approve, but dare not openly disapprove.

Good Catholic and Christian parenthood is indeed demanding, but it is a most beautiful art with lifelong and indeed eternal rewards.

People of God, delight in the Lord Jesus, try ever to follow confidently His example; trust humbly in the teaching of His Church and her Scriptures; and never give up hoping that the goodness of God Who gives His own Son for and to us all, will lead you to share in the eternal glory of Jesus before the Father if you persevere faithfully thus walking with Him along life’s way to heaven’s reward.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

First Sunday of Lent Year B 2015

1st. Sunday of Lent (B)
(Genesis 9:8-15; 1st. Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15)

The waters of the Flood had destroyed life, the waters of Baptism would offer life; the Flood destroyed earthly, Baptism would offer supernatural, life.  In between those two events -- after the Flood and in preparation for Baptism -- God made three covenants with His chosen people; three covenants whereby, from this Chosen People would arise the Promised One -- the Messiah of God, the Lord and Saviour of mankind – Jesus of Nazareth, the Word of God, Son of the Father, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born in human flesh of Mary the Virgin.   All of that is contained in the opening words of Jesus:
            This is the time of fulfilment.  The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Our Gospel reading told us how Jesus had been driven by the Spirit of God into the desert where He was:
            For forty days, tempted by Satan.
We are told elsewhere in the Gospel how Satan, in the course of that encounter, tried and failed to tempt Jesus by offering Him the satisfactions of worldly sustenance and pleasure, human presumption and personal vanity, overweening pride and self-satisfaction.  That is the background to those words of Jesus which Mother Church still proclaims in His name:
            Repent, and believe in the Gospel;
words, she continually recalls because the need for such repentance is abiding.
Repentance is, indeed, required, in order to initially believe and accept the Gospel message; abiding and ever-developing repentance is to be desired and aspired to if we are more deeply to appreciate and fruitfully embrace the Gospel’s offer of salvation and eternal life.
 It is sometimes thought that repentance is only needed in order to convert to Catholicism or Christianity and after that only when sin has been committed.  Such a view, however, is too superficial, since repentance and life in Jesus are two sides of but one and the same coin, so to speak; for turning from the world has no religious significance or supernatural value unless it is done to enable one to turn to Jesus:
(Jesus) went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax  office.       And He said to him, "Follow Me."  So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.  (Luke 5:27-28)
All the Apostles likewise, as Peter testifies, left everything to follow Jesus.
On the other hand, however, the rich young man who directly approached Jesus professing a desire to become perfect, could not follow Jesus’ advice when He said:
"If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."  When the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:21-22)
It is abundantly clear that, though he was living a good life – sincere, he thought, in his aspiration to perfection – nevertheless, love of riches would not allow him to grow sufficiently in repentance: for he could not turn ever-anew to Jesus under the motivation of a deepening awareness of and response to the beauty of Gospel truth, nor out of greater love for and trust in the Person of Jesus, because he was held back by the silky comfort and security of wealth.
Jesus made this most absolutely clear when He told His disciples:
“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?”  Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” (Mk. 10:24-27)
Very often, in order to promote or to popularise the Faith, it is presented as being an addition, so to speak, that will make our present experience of life better.  However, that can, very easily, be wrongly understood, because Christian faith is not given to top up our present life so much as to change it altogether; indeed, perhaps even to consign it to the rubbish bin so that we can start anew, afresh, on a life replete with heavenly aspirations, as St. Paul tells us:
I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
St. Paul is there speaking in a very emphatic manner in order to get over a most important aspect of Christian discipleship.  He did not, literally, count the advantages and blessings that had been his in Judaism, the blessings of his careful upbringing, as so much rubbish in themselves; but, out of love for Christ, he regarded those things as if they were rubbish, in so far as he turned away, preferentially, from them in order to give himself ever more completely to Jesus; and in so doing Paul was continually repenting of all things past.
Today, repenting is generally thought of as regret for having done something wrong, for having sinned; indeed, there are some who consider repentance as necessarily involving an attitude of abiding regret, penance, and sorrow, and imagine a life of penance as involving constant sackcloth and ashes, fasting and flagellation.   Perhaps such images can be applied to the experiences and external practices of some few people, but generally, and indeed normally, they are only to be found in the very early stages of repentance; for repentance, essentially, is not just a cutting-off, a rejection, of what is past: it is rather a constant aspiration towards, and preparing for, what is better.   As St. Paul expressly said:
I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.
He remained always proud and grateful for having been brought up a Jew and he would have given his life to help his former Jewish brethren; but when he glimpsed something of the glory of Christ, he turned away from his past -- thereby repenting of it -- and he never looked back again because he was always, henceforth, striving to give himself ever more perfectly to Christ:
I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; I live by faith in the Son of God Who has loved me and given Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)
And so, dear People of God, “repent and believe the Gospel” are words for all time, words to be realized throughout our lives as we seek to grow in the love of the Lord.  We repent of our pride when we are slowly or suddenly allowed to see the truth, or see further truth, about ourselves -- our weakness, our ignorance, our folly, our pretence -- and are thereby enabled to recognize, long and pray for, humility and love of Jesus.   We likewise repent of our slothfulness and little faith when, for example, calmly appreciating more deeply those other words of Jesus in our Gospel passage:
            This is the time of fulfilment, the kingdom of God is at hand,
we seriously acknowledge that it is at hand for us only if we will prevail upon ourselves to make the necessary effort to take up God’s offer and work at it.  Again, we repent when -- under the Gospel’s influence -- we change our minds about what is of supreme worth, when we learn ever anew what is truly admirable and beautiful, and when, under the special influence of God’s grace, we come to shed silent heart-felt, if not eye-drop, tears at our own ever-repeated failure to acknowledge and sufficiently respond to the beauty and goodness of the gifts which God has already Personally bestowed upon us. 
Repentance is an ever-growing sensitivity and responsiveness to the call of God’s grace, a call that would lead us ever higher and further, thereby requiring that we be always prepared and ready to turn away from what is behind and below and look to what is upward and to come.
However, repentance is only to be found in all its grandeur when it fills us with gratitude: when we find that, as it enables us to see more clearly our past sins and present failings, it also allows and indeed compels us to appreciate more fully what a debt of gratitude we owe to God for so many past blessings, so long ignored.  Yes, repentance is indeed a great gift of God: for the gratitude it generates is a virtue both beautiful in itself and delightful in the joy with which it fills our heart and mind; while the goodness it reveals is an awesome and a humbling presage of the fulfilment to which it inspires us.

Friday, 13 February 2015

6th Sunday of Year B 2015

 6th. Sunday of Year (B)
(Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46; First Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45)

The good of the whole, which the teaching in our first reading brings to mind, that is, the physical safety and human dignity of society, has unquestioned priority over individual ‘rights’.

Likewise in our second reading: the individual should, first and foremost, endeavour to serve God and the Church:

Do everything for the glory of God, avoid giving offence.

Thus far we can glimpse what is perhaps a fundamental characteristic of any God-fearing, any committed Catholic and Christian, human-being: a deep-seated, soul-satisfying, desire to give oneself to something greater than self, to some supreme and transcendent Good; indeed, to the Personal Good Whom we in Jesus are blessed and sublimely privileged to know as God our Father.  To what degree that longing develops will depend first of all, on our recognition and acceptance of its presence in our mind and heart, and then upon our correspondence with the demands it makes upon us.

Holy Mass is the supreme offering mankind can make to God in and through His beloved and only-begotten Son, Who -- being God incarnate, that is, both perfect God and perfect man -- seeks to draw us to Himself that He might then be able to draw us with Himself to the God Who sent Him, His Father, Whom He wants to become ‘Our Father’.  He sets out to do this, first of all, by His words and His teaching: the whole of the first part of the Mass consisting of prayers, readings from Scripture, and the Creed.  He does all this that we might thereby be inspired  and enabled to participate more intimately and fully with Him in His own sacrificial presence and Personal commitment on the altar and in our hearts, which is the sublime promise and ultimate purpose of the Mass.

People of God, do strive, pray, earnestly to understand and take to heart the teaching presented in the Liturgy of the Word at Holy Mass, that you might better love and unite yourself with Jesus’ very Person as He offers Himself to the Father for you, and gives Himself to you for the Father; for that teaching and that offer of Christ, together with your personal response and commitment, are the whole substance of salvation.

The offertory at Mass … bread and wine which earth has given and human hands have made … are words which show that our whole life and work, that is our whole being, is required to be involved.  The offertory is, or should be, the time when we offer ourselves to the Father so that we too, just as the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, may be transformed ever more completely into living members of Christ’s Body, loving temples of the Holy Spirit, and children of God’s heavenly and eternal family.

What therefore, precisely, is salvation, the ‘work of our redemption’?   Look at our Gospel reading:
Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out His hand, touched the kneeling leper and said to him, ‘Be made clean’.

For the Jewish leaders -- those public figures seen as learned and known as powerful -- leprosy was a sign of God’s punishment, and a leper was to be regarded as one damned and rejected, dis-owned, by God; and so, for them, those pathetic words the afflicted had to endlessly and loudly proclaim, ‘Unclean, unclean’, were necessary, not primarily to protect others against the degrading, flesh-eating sickness as God intended, but to protect ‘devout’ Israelites from incurring the contamination of legal and liturgical uncleanness!

Jesus responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honours Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.' You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition.  You nullify the word of God in favour of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”  (Mark 7:6-8, 13)

By what miraculous power or process did Jesus correct such distortions and heal this particular courageous victim at His feet?   By the miracle of love!  God’s divine love for us!!  And indeed, the Greek verb translated ‘touched’ can also mean ‘embraced’, Jesus embraced him!

What actually happened on that day and at that very moment, was that Jesus -- in a real but initially symbolical way for our better understanding and appreciation of His future human life and destiny -- took the man’s leprosy onto Himself, in so far as the leper who had previously been obliged to dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp, was made clean, whereas Jesus, we are told in the Gospel reading, after His healing gesture, was obliged to:

Remain outside in deserted places, because, the man spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.

Ultimately, of course, and most literally, He would take our death upon Himself, to lift from off our shoulders the curse of our sinfulness and raise us up with Himself to a new possibility and experience of transfigured life.

Today, in our very sick and tormented world, we are the hands whereby Jesus is able to ‘touch’ sick, wounded, and needy humanity … and such contact is established whenever we try to do what Paul advised:

Do everything for the glory of God, avoid giving offence.

However, we should never be under any illusion that we can, of our own efforts -- least of all by seeking personal popularity, which many justify to themselves by imagining it will then ‘brush off’, as it were, on to Jesus Himself !! -- effect the changes needed; because, at best, we are but the hands whereby Jesus contacts men today, it is still His divine love and Personality which alone can make such contact salutary.

In total ‘opposition’ to modern popular thinking and politically-inspired teaching, therefore, we – as individual disciples of Jesus -- need to learn more and more how to forget those human rights accorded us by men, in favour of Jesus’ need for transparent and humble contacts with humanity today … and notice that St. Paul wants us to thus humbly serve Mother Church also:

            Avoid giving offence whether to the Jews or Greeks or the Church of God.

How many however, grasp those human rights accorded by men to attack, or at least to give offence to, Mother Church and the world-wide People of God!!  How many would politically accept such rights while denying the Ten Commandments; or would pretend that such rights give the truest and fullest exposition and understanding of God’s law.  Can we recognize the difference between the two as Jesus so beautifully distinguished between the  Pharisees’ understanding for their own purposes of those words ‘Unclean, unclean’, and God’s original purpose of love revealed in them and exemplified for us by Jesus?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

5th Sunday Year B 2015

           5th. Sunday, Year (B) 
                  (Job 7:1-4, 6-7; 1st Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39)

Let me first give you an outline of St. Mark’s gospel as far as our reading today:  John the Baptist was proclaiming his message of repentance when Jesus came to him and was immersed in the Jordan, whereupon the Father from heaven declared Jesus to be His beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit descended anew upon Him, immediately leading Him into the desert to overcome Satan in a direct, personal, confrontation, before beginning to draw followers to Himself.  When John the Baptist had been imprisoned, Jesus returned to Galilee to begin His proclamation of the Good News, the Gospel of salvation; and there, seeing Peter and Andrew, James and John, fishing on the Sea of Galilee, He called them to Himself as disciples.  Then, as you heard in last Sunday’s Gospel reading, together:
They came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and
The effect of Jesus’ preaching was most striking: they were amazed at the authority of His teaching, and also, that of His very Person when -- before their eyes -- He drove out of a man possessed an unclean spirit shrieking:
Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are -- the Holy One of God!
Now we have today’s reading which tells us that:
On leaving the synagogue, Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.  
Jesus had entered the synagogue as one entering His own realm: there He had spoken with the authority of a prophet; and His Person as the Holy One of God had been proclaimed by a man possessed of an unclean spirit.  But, are those other words of the spirit:
What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth?
perhaps some slight indication of the secret dispositions of some of those hearing Jesus and witnessing such happenings in that synagogue at Capernaum?  For He left the synagogue recognized indeed by His hearers as one speaking with prophetic authority, and partially acknowledged by His fearers as the Holy One of God; but, acclaimed He was not, neither as prophet nor as the Holy One of God. 
Today we learn that on leaving the synagogue Jesus went straightway to the house of him who was to become Peter; and so, that house, the home of Peter, could aptly signify the future Church Jesus would found on the rock of Peter’s faith.  Jesus therefore, having just left the synagogue accepted neither in the divinity of His Person nor in the authority of His teaching because of His humanity:
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Simon?     (Mark 6:3)
thereupon symbolically entered the Church where His humanity, His enfleshed divinity, both manifested His power and brought Him immediate acclaim and whole-hearted acceptance:
Simon’s mother-law lay sick with a fever, and He grasped her hand and helped her up.  Then the fever left her and she waited on them.  And when it was evening the whole town brought to Him all who were ill or possessed and He cured many who were sick and drove out many demons.
Mark is telling us of a perfectly understandable event in which Jesus initially did a service for His disciple Peter.  But the wisdom of God had wide horizons in view and so, in this small incident at the beginning of Jesus’ career we find encapsulated His whole life’s work and mission; for the authority and power of Jesus’ word and the majesty of His Person would burst the limitations of the Law, the Temple, and the synagogue, and lead inevitably to the Universal Church. 
Let us now look more closely at what transpired.  Mark tells us that:
Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.  They immediately told Him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.  Then the fever left her and she waited on them.
“He grasped her hand and helped her up”.  That is how we would expect it to have happened and that is how it is translated for modern readers.  But that is not literally how Mark expresses it; for his order of events is slightly different:
Having approached, He raised her taking (her) by the hand.
Mark puts “raised her” before mentioning that He took her by the hand.  Let me try to show you why the Spirit guided him in that choice.
The Greek word Mark uses for the raising, lifting, up of the sick woman is the same verb that he uses for the resurrection of Jesus (Mark 16:6):
The angel said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified. He is risen!  He is not here.
Likewise St. Luke, when he tells us of Peter’s first address to the Jewish people (Acts 3:15), uses that same Greek word again:
You killed the Prince of life, Whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.
There is also a liturgical hymn from the early Church, only a few years after Jesus’ resurrection, which tells us (Ephesians 5:14):
All things are made manifest by the light. Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light."
There, notice, we have the same Greek word for “rise” this time being used for a newly baptised person rising from sin and being illumined by Christ.
Now, perhaps, we are in a position to begin to understand why Jesus had to leave the synagogue and go directly to Peter’s house, the Church, to “raise up” Peter’s mother-in-law: for “raising up” can only be rightly understood in the Church, because it speaks of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, which, through faith, empowers the waters of baptism to wash away sin and bestow new life for the salvation of mankind.  Jesus did not simply lift her up by His miraculous power; no, He ‘raised’ her in anticipation in His own resurrection and helped steady her by the right hand of His divine, supporting and sustaining, Flesh.
People of God, here we catch a trace of the eternal wisdom of God; for here, the Holy Spirit inspired Mark to use words whose fullness of meaning and significance he, Mark, could only partially have glimpsed.  And how wonderful it is for us, in and through the Church by the guidance of the same Holy Spirit, to be able to appreciate more and more of the wonder of God’s wisdom and the fullness  and beauty of His truth!   The Church can never come to the end, so to speak, of God’s majesty and goodness: there will always be infinitely more enshrined beyond and above our present capabilities, which -- hidden and at times unspeakable -- makes up the eternal glory of divinity uniting Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a transcendent oneness of mutual love, understanding, and appreciation.  We should have the utmost reverence for the Scriptures and the deepest gratitude for Mother Church: for it is only from them, in and through her, that each of us can come to a saving knowledge and transforming realization of the wonder of our calling to know, love, and serve God here on earth so as to be able to delight in Him for all eternity.
St. Mark then tells us something which greatly surprised the disciples:
Rising (a different Greek word this time) very early before dawn, (Jesus) went off to a deserted place where He prayed.  Simon and those who were with Him pursued Him and on finding Him said, “Everyone is looking for You” …
Jesus had left His disciples behind in order to go and pray to His Father alone.  Later on, after rising from the dead, He did the same again: He disappeared from their view as He ascended to His Father in heaven.  And now we are all -- as with Simon and his companions of old -- ever on the look-out for His return in glory.
The letter to the Hebrews (7:24-25) informs us that in heaven:
Jesus, because He remains forever, has a priesthood that does not pass away.  Therefore He is always able to save those who approach God through Him, since He lives forever to make intercession for them.
Jesus, in heaven, intercedes, prays -- just as He did on leaving Simon’s house in today’s Gospel reading -- alone before the Father, but now at His right hand of power, for all those whom the Spirit raises to new life through their faith in Jesus.
And so, God’s wisdom and beauty has foreshadowed for us in broad outline the full saving work of Jesus in the events of this one day at the very beginning of His ministry as recorded for us by St. Mark.  What treasures the Scriptures hold beneath the apparent simplicity of their inspired words!
Finally, let us take note of what we are told concerning Simon’s mother-in-law:
The fever left her and she waited on them.
Is that a prophetic picture of all those truly raised by Christ?  Do they -- and should we -- likewise serve Our Lord and our brethren in Mother Church?  I am sure you know well enough the answer to that question; may therefore the Holy Spirit of Jesus in Mother Church guide and sustain you in your personal works of service for God’s glory and the salvation of souls:
            While I (and Mine) are in the world, I am the Light of the world. (John 9:5)