Our readings today are a study in contrasts. We hear Job speak of the drudgery of life — it has no meaning, no order, and the night drags on. We all have days like that — but Job was having more than a bad day. However, in the Gospel account, we meet Jesus who moves with a sense of energy and purpose, bringing hope and healing to all who come to him. And St. Paul speaks of the grace that impels him to preach the Gospel.
In difficult times, we look for the source of Jesus’ energy and passion so that we may tap into it. St. Mark gives us a hint as he describes Jesus rising early and going off to a deserted place to pray — to be in communication with his God and Father. Mark never describes what Jesus prayed about, but I suspect it was similar to our prayer — praising and thanking God for the good things in our life, begging healing for those in need, and asking for the grace to live according to the Gospel.
As we celebrate this Sunday, there are several things we might notice. The first is the theme of healing that pervades the readings, the music we sing, the Preface, and the Responsorial Psalm which reminds us to “Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted.”
The Gathering Rites close with the Collect, or Opening Prayer. Each Sunday, there are two choices for this prayer. The first option this week is a prayer for safety and an expression of hope. If the priest chooses the Alternate Opening Prayer, we will hear that same expression of hope (“in your mercy, no thought of ours is left unguarded, no tear unheeded, no joy unnoticed) and we’ll also pick up strains of the beatitudes as we pray that “the blessings promised to the poor in spirit” will lead us to the treasures of the Kingdom.
When the lector or deacon leads the General Intercessions, we will want to put names and faces on the prayers for the sick and suffering. And part of our personal prayer may also ask God to show us ways we can help alleviate some of the pain and suffering of people we know.
Just before we sing the “Holy, Holy,” the priest prays the Preface, the prayer of praise and gratitude which recalls God’s great deeds on our behalf. There are eight options for Sundays in Ordinary Time. The seventh is especially appropriate for this weekend as we recall the gift of Jesus our Redeemer whose obedience restored us to grace.
As we focus on Jesus’ ministry of healing this week, we might also take special notice of the ambry or case for the holy oils. At the Chrism Mass, the bishop blesses the Oil of Catechumens used in Baptism, the Oil of the Sick, and the Sacred Chrism.
And in our quiet moments of preparation before Mass, we may want to reflect upon the areas of our life that need healing and the areas where we have already experienced the healing power of Jesus.
Sr. Rehrauer is president of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, Bay Settlement, and former associate director of the Liturgy Secretariat for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.