Woe to me!
Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

Today, in our Gospel reading, Saint Mark continues his story about the first days of the Jesus’ public life. Throughout his Gospel, Mark tells us that Our Lord preached in the synagogues and that he drove out demons. One day, after preaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, the town in which Simon Peter and Andrew lived, Jesus decided to visit their home together with James and John. When he arrived, Jesus was told that Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. Jesus immediately decided to cure her. That was how Jesus’ miracles occurred. He saw the faith of the people and he cured them. Jesus approached Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, grasped her hand, and she was cured. She immediately got out of bed and began to serve Jesus. She showed her appreciation for the gift that the Lord gave her by serving him.

Jesus had failures and disappointments, as we all do, but he did not let them overcome him. Despite the occasional setback, he continued to teach and perform miracles. When he preached, he always taught clearly and without hesitation. He openly stated what he expected of each person who wants to follow him. We Christians say that we follow Christ and that we are prepared to abide by all of his teachings faithfully. Nevertheless, we oftentimes hear of a deacon, a priest, a bishop, or even the Pope, who preaches or teaches about one of the great moral issues of our times and subsequently has to put up with the protests of those who listen to him. This is exactly what Our Lord lived through when he preached about things that the people did not want to hear or that made them feel uncomfortable.

The Evangelists, those who wrote the Gospels, did not try to cover up the occasional failures that Jesus had during his public life. While it is true that many people accepted Christ’s preaching, there were others who, when they heard him, were openly hostile to him. Even when they saw his works and his miracles, many did not want to believe. In spite of the disappointment that Jesus must have felt at times, he continued to go from town to town teaching because that is why he had come to this world. This is what the Church does.

Following the example of the Lord, the Church preaches, evangelizes and teaches. This is the prophetic mission of the Church and it is her most important task. Yet it is also the most difficult task that the Lord has given to us Christians. Because, even though society is not in agreement with what we teach, even if people stop coming to our Churches because we preach things that they do not want to hear, we have to continue valiantly teaching what Christ himself handed down to us. We cannot change his words to suit the beliefs of others. We have to continue saying what Saint Paul said to the Corinthians: “If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!” And we might add, “Woe to us if we do not preach exactly what Jesus taught!”

Saint Paul tells us in the Second Reading that the person who has firmly decided to follow the Lord with integrity, despite the problems that this may cause him or her, will receive the help of God. We have the example of Job in the First Reading that shows us the attitude that we should have. Job would never have been able to continue living his life if he had not had complete confidence in God.