FEBRUARY 7, 2021 – 5TH SUNDAY IN THE ORDINARY TIME
Fr. Manoling Thomas, CSsR
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/020721.cfm)
“In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place and there he prayed.” [Mk. 1:35].
Today’s Gospel continues on from where we ended last Sunday [Mk. 1:21-28], wherein, St. Mark told us that the people who heard and saw what Jesus did, were amazed at the way he taught and the way the evil spirit obeyed him!
Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus leaving the synagogue and heading towards Simon’s house, accompanied by his first four recruits: Simon, Andrew, James and John. Jesus was informed that Simon’s mother-in-law was with a fever. Immediately Jesus attended to her. After the fever left her, she began serving them. When the sun had gone down and the Sabbath observance had ended, outside the house were gathered people who were sick of various diseases, and those possessed by evil spirits. Out of compassion, Jesus attended to all of them! Indeed Jesus had a very busy day!
But Jesus also needed to take time out for himself and to be by himself; otherwise he could end up consumed by exhaustion! Jesus did get out. He went to a deserted place very early in the morning to pray!
A story goes about a man who had the custom of going off by himself to a secluded place. One day, his close friend got curious as to where he goes and what he does there. So secretly this friend followed him. When he finally caught up with the man, the friend saw him sit down quietly on a fallen tree.
Then when the man finished, his friend approached the man, and asked: “What are you doing here?” asked this friend. “I’m praying”, was the reply. “But why do you have to come here to pray?” “I feel closer to God here.” “But isn’t God everywhere and the same God is found everywhere?” “Yes, that is true! God is the same everywhere but I am not!” the man replied.
Yes, we can find and pray to God anywhere and everywhere, be that in the kitchen, on the street, inside a vehicle, in the farm, or in the place where we work. But it is also a good idea to look for a special place where we can withdraw to, from time to time. In such a place, God somehow seems nearer and friendlier. In such a place, we may feel that somehow we are different, calmer, more relaxed, quieter and seemingly more open and disposed to listen to what God will tell us or reveal to us! Such a place can be our sacred space, our little tabernacle, or our secret garden! In that place and space we can meet and talk with God undisturbed! In that sacred space we find not only God but also our true and deeper self! Was this Jesus’ experience?
Why do we need our sacred space and our secret garden? It is because that in the middle of our busy day and our daily routine, we can lose touch with our deeper selves. One cannot clearly see one’s own face in a murky and troubled pond. We need a calm and serene pond to be able to see clearly our real face!
To get in touch with our inner life, and our deeper self, we need quality time for ourselves and a space to withdraw from our usual environment! We need to go into our sacred space and our secret garden as Jesus did. Jesus went into his sacred space and secret garden to regularly communicate with God, his Father. There Jesus got his energy, his guidance, and the sense of direction in his mission in the world.
Meeting with God regularly in our sacred space and in our secret garden, we too get our energy, our guidance and direction as we go about the work God assigned to us in this world. By regularly withdrawing from our busy schedule, and our daily routine to meet with God, as Jesus did, we can be sure that what we are doing is in accordance with God’s will, and not simply our own ego trip!
Have you found your own sacred space and secret garden? How often do you go there? When you meet with God in your sacred space and secret garden what usually is your experience like?