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Ordinary Time – 5

We always aim for a balanced life. “All work and no play makes John a dull boy” is a famous proverb. It means that if all we do is work then we become both bored and boring. But if all we do is play and avoid work, we will never be good in what we are supposed to do.

This search for balance is true even in our spiritual life. If we are too absorbed in our good works without spending time to pray then our soul becomes famished. And if we pray all the time without translating it into action, then we become escapists and hypocrites.

The Gospel today presents to us Jesus as the model of real balance in spiritual life. Mark’s gospel is known to show Jesus is almost endless busy-ness, doing things with admirable speed and alacrity. And in today’s reading, Jesus goes from synagogue to Simon Peter’s house to heal his mother-in-law to crowds of waiting sick and afflicted people. Such dedication and hard work for the Kingdom of his Father…

But Jesus knew how to prudently handle life’s important matter. He was always available for others. He was always available when his mission is concerned. But he knew he needed a resource that can put a balance in his life. He withdrew from the crowd early in the morning to pray.

What did prayer do to Jesus’ personal life and ministry? Prayer gave the Lord deep personal contact with his Father. He was guiding people to him and so he must be the first to offer his heart to his Father. Prayer energized the Lord to resume his work with more vigor and determination. Prayer gave balance and credibility to Jesus’ preaching and ministry.

How very far is the attitude of many Christians today from the example of the Lord. We give up on prayer because we claim we are so exhausted after a day’s work. We refuse to go to Sunday Mass because even Sunday is a busy day for us. Or we rest our bodies on Sundays but ignore to provide respite and refreshment for our souls. And yet we have time for television, newspapers, texts and malls!

In the Old Testament, God clearly gave the mandate to keep the Sabbath, to observe a day special to the Lord. In the New Testament, Jesus showed the example of someone who draws close to God even in the midst of frenetic activities. The early Christians understood that God must be honored on Sunday, the new Sabbath, the day of Resurrection and Pentecost.

If you’re hearing this or reading this now, chances are, you go to church or have the intention to do so in obedience to God’s will and in conscious thanksgiving. So let us turn our attention on people we love, people we know, who have given up on prayer or Sunday Mass or devotions because they are “too busy” for God. Let us pray for them and given the chance, remind them that “all work and no PRAYER shatters a person’s soul”.