Preach the Gospel

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Job’s lament in the first reading might well be the Chicken Little prayer being repeated across America today. The economic downturn has brought woe—foreclosures, job losses, portfolio shrinkage, bailouts for the rich and famous, misery for the masses. Mammon rules. America needs to exorcise the demon of mammon. Life is short. God wants quality life for everyone. Quality life demands adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, and education. The first TARP bailout flew through Congress. The new economic stimulus is toading its way through and education and health care are the first victims.
Job, you would really be unhappy today!

The responsorial psalm is not Job’s self-centered lament. This is trust in God. Praise God. Set aside the false self of greed, violence, avarice, and exploitation. Put on the true self found in the light and love of God. Only God can heal our brokenness and bind up our wounds. God sustains the lowly while God casts the wicked to the ground.

Paul reminds us that, baptized in the Spirit, we have the responsibility to preach the Gospel when convenient and when inconvenient. What is the Gospel? It is not the false self’s efforts to save itself. It is not the accrual of wealth, power and prestige. The Gospel is the true self grounded in the message of Jesus—give sight to the blind, set free the oppressed, liberate the captives.

In the Gospel, Jesus retreats from the conflicts of the synagogue to the safety of Simon’s home where he heals his mother-in-law. Women were devalued in Jesus’ society. Here Jesus is putting patriarchy on notice—every person is valued in his new order. He waits until after sunset when the Sabbath is over to heal the crowd. The crowd appears 38 times it Mark. The crowd is all the people disenfranchised by Roman domination and priestly codes. Many members of the crowd thus had health problems just like the poor and marginalized today. Jesus will set them free. We are called to healing ministry—to bring God’s healing to people and social structures which bind.

Jesus accepts his mission to preach and heal. He regularly needs to get away to be with Abba God. Our lives must be grounded in the god of light and love if we are to preach and heal.

Today, we are the hands and feet and eyes and ears of Jesus. Yes, we can choose to sit back, stay in our comfort zone, and be good pew potatoes. Like Paul, an obligation has been placed on us to preach the gospel and woe on us if we do not; therefore, we really have no choice. We have to preach good news to the poor even when the power brokers only preach good news to the wealthy. Baptism in the Spirit empowers us to preach the good news and to heal people and societal structures, to lift the ties that bind. We must commit ourselves as Christians to reforming societal structures which oppress and marginalize people.

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