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Fr. Francis Martin


Sunday Introduction

5B Ordinary Time


Faith enough to seek more

by Sr. Mary M. McGlone — 2018

Today, St. Millie, one of the seldom noticed model disciples in Mark’s Gospel, is going to show us what happens when one is touched by Jesus. Mark didn’t actually tell us her name, he only identified her as the mother of Peter’s wife. But she’s important enough to deserve a name and calling her “Millie” is easier than continually referring to her as Peter’s mother-in-law.

Jesus apparently didn’t know Millie until he went home with Peter and friends, presumably to get something to eat and discuss the whirlwind day they had just spent going from shore to synagogue. They no sooner get in the house than they inform Jesus that the chief cook, Millie, is laid low with a fever. Jesus wastes not a moment, but goes right to her bedside and takes her by the hand. Fully aware that he’s using loaded language, Mark tells us that Jesus raised her up and the fever left her.

We might read this as a testimony that Millie was no weakling or hypochondriac but a hospitable, willing Jewish mother, ever ready to set the table. Someone else might say that it’s a tale reinforcing women’s servitude. Those who say the latter might be close to deciphering Mark’s message, even if their interpretation is inadequate.

Mark said very clearly that our Millie began to wait on the people in the house. To describe that, he used the verb diakoneo, a word variously translated as wait on, minister to, or serve.That word hints that Mark may have used this story to introduce us to the first Christian deacon. The message is even stronger when we realize that Mark used that word sparsely in his Gospel. The next time Mark uses this word he is quoting Jesus himself. Jesus used the word when he described his own vocation. In response to his disciples who were jockeying for position, Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve” (10:45). The only other time Mark uses this verb for serving, it again refers to women. He identified the women who stood by Jesus at the cross as including those who “had followed him when he was in Galilee and ministered to him” (15:41). When Mark says that Millie waited on them, he is giving her higher praise than the apostles ever earned. He is telling us that Millie accepted the gift Jesus was offering the world and responded by becoming a servant like him.

Our other two readings offer different perspectives on the idea of service. Job’s lament comes out of his tragic experience of having been blessed with plenty and then losing everything. While he might have felt that he had earned his good life, he was certain that he was not guilty of anything for which God should punish him by stripping him of wealth, health and even his posterity. Utterly frustrated in his desire for what he understood as justice, Job’s experience of undeserved suffering ultimately opened him to a different concept of God and to compassion for others who suffer in innocence. The humiliation of realizing he had done nothing to earn his well-being any more than his suffering, opened Job to a more honest relationship with the God who loves saint and sinner, the strong and the debilitated. Job’s theological reflections taught him about the God who desires life for all of creation. With that, Job was on the way to sharing faith with Millie and Paul.

What Paul adds to our discussion is his sense that once he came to know Christ he was impelled to serve Christ and the Gospel. When he says “Woe to me if I do not preach it!” Paul admits that the only way to be truly himself is to carry Christ’s work forward. Like Millie, he knows that service is the only thing that makes sense of his life, not because he’s looking for a reward, but because he is expressing what has come alive within him.

Today’s Liturgy of the Word, invites us to spend time with three of our ancestors in faith. Job the theologian will caution us about any sense of entitlement, reminding us that nothing we can do merits life and the love of God. We can only receive them as free gifts. Paul the passionate apostle challenges us to evaluate whether our way of life and the messages we proclaim are true to who we are and God’s life in us. St. Millie leads the way in showing us how to be faithful images of the Master. She demonstrates that sharing God’s love can be as simple as setting the table and enjoying communion with anyone who comes.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections and 2018 archive can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

First Reading

5B Ordinary Time

My life is like the wind

Jb 7:1-4, 6-7

  • In the Book of Job, God allows Satan to inflict all kinds of suffering on Job.
  • Through it all, Job remains faithful to God.
  • The story of Job points out that the ways of God are beyond human understanding.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

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Proclamation Tips for Lectors

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Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • Today is one of only two times in which we hear the book of Job in the mass.  And what do we overhear but a tiny part of a great ancient debate about the meaning of human life.
  • Job spoke:  I am not permitted the luxury of background, so I must speak the name Job clearly and forcefully.  My listeners may then remember all his misfortunes, and follow along with me as we are thrust into the heart of the lament: Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?  As with all rhetorical questions, I will state these opening questions as facts.  And they are more than facts; Job has lived them to the full.
  • Usually the first reading points toward the Gospel passage where the church will find its fulfillment in the words and actions of Jesus.  This time, besides the tie-in with Jesus, I am reminded starkly of the lot of parents and children in our own day who live those unrelenting words: without hope.  Who will speak for them?  How can I, myself affluent, repeat their complaint to an assembly of mostly affluent Christians who either are wrapped in their own hardships and turn away from the suffering of others, or perhaps pile on those other people further hardship?  If Malala Yousafzai were here today she would know a way.
  • The words of Job sound to me like an eloquent speaker composing as he goes.  He starts with a general statement: Are not his days those of hirelings?  Then he muses on slaves and hirelings – a far cry from the laborers in the vineyard!
  • Job compares his fate with that of people in general.  So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights.  He cannot even look forward to a restful sleep.  The night drags on – I will emphasize all four words to bring out that reality.  But life itself passes rapidly, swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and at this point my voice can take on a whirring high pitch.
  • The reading ends on a firm conviction.  My days are like the wind.  I shall not see happiness again.  Job is challenging listeners to prove him wrong.  I could respond with the verses of Psalm 39: “like a breath, and who will remember?”

Key elements

  • Central point: Job addresses an experience that is obvious to all who want to see it.  Each verse that follows reinforces his position.
  • Message for our assembly: The cries of Job have not lost their force after so many centuries.  Do Christians care any more?  Can our assembly be content praying that the poor of this world will be fed and clothed?  The letter of James also judges harshly such one-dimensional Christianity.
  • I will challenge myself: To pray that I may have the voice to embody the misery of those our societies are marginalizing.  If I hum to myself the spiritual ‘I been ‘buked and I been scorned,’ that may help.

SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at

Greg Warnusz

Introducing the reading at Mass

The book of Job, uniquely in the Hebrew Scriptures, challenges one of the fundamental tenets of Jewish wisdom, the proposition that if you live a righteous life, God will reward you.

Oral interpretation

The liturgical setting

In today’s gospel, from our year-long sequence of readings from Mark, all who were sick or demon-possessed came to Jesus for relief. Perhaps their plight prompted this selection of first reading.

The Literary background

You probably already know the story of Job: A prosperous fellow, he suddenly experiences catastrophic, inexplicable losses of wealth, family and health. Friends try to explain it all as divine punishment for some secret sin, but Job knows better. What he doesn’t know is why. He just keeps repeating, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Today’s passage is a short excerpt from one of the long conversations among Job and his “friends.”

Scholars agree that it’s hard to agree on when and where the book of Job was written. Many of its parts are also exceptionally hard to translate. We classify it as “wisdom literature,” along with Psalms and Proverbs. But Job challenges one of the fundamental tenets of Israelite wisdom, the proposition that if you live a righteous life, God will reward you. He faces squarely the problem of the suffering of the innocent, and does not confect a sugar-coated answer.

In the ancient Middle East (and in the modern Middle East, for that matter), one’s status among peers was extremely important. To be dishonored was a source of great suffering, and suffering from another source was likely to bring one dishonor. Thus Job’s friends jump to the conclusion that some hidden deed meriting dishonor has brought him suffering. Job’s comparison of himself to a hireling reveals the importance of honor and shame in this dynamic. In that ancient culture, it was not polite to ask for work. One had to wait and hope that a man of higher status would hire him. (Imagine yourself on the sidewalk outside a day-labor agency, waiting to be sent to a job. Your eyesight is keen, and you recognize an old high-school classmate across the street, looking prosperous with a wool coat and leather briefcase. Wouldn’t you turn your face to the wall?) Job’s use of the hireling metaphor tells the depths of his shame.

Proclaiming it

Notice the sequence of paired phrases. Let this table illustrate the pairings.

    • Remember that my life is like the wind;
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me.
If in bed I say,”When shall I arise?”
then the night drags on;
I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope.
I shall not see happiness again.

In your proclamation, use pauses and changes of tone to make them sound like related pairs. And try to sound like Job: beaten down but not defeated, completely at a loss for an explanation, but still clinging to faith in the Lord.

SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at


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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

It is allowed to complain to God!

FIRST READING — The Jewish people were a lot more realistic in their prayer lives than we are. Their relationship with God was not altered by a vision through rose-colored glasses. Theysaw themselves as they were. When they were miserable, they complained! The Book of Job is one long complaint addressed to God. It represents the life of thecommunity thathas been stripped of all its assets. It has nothing left but its faith in God and its commitment to God. That will not be taken away! Now, the only thing left is to complain. Perhaps,God will hear that. Inour lives, too, things are not always as we would want them to be. Suffering is there, but God can change that if he wants to. We may have reached our limits with endurance. God had better intervene soon. I know that God can change this misery into happiness for me. Hope and trust in God meansthat I place everything in God’s hands. That is our prayer, too.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

Innocent human suffering

FIRST READING — The book of Job is a theological statement on the issue of innocent human suffering. The book begins with the question: Are God’s people only faithful to him because of the blessings they receive? Would they remain faithful if God withdrew his blessings? Satan raises the question and God uses Job as a test case. When Job is suddenly afflicted by the death of his family, loss of wealth, and personal illness, a series of “friends” argue that Job’s misfortunes must be a punishment for some of his sins. Job refuses to accept this traditional explanation of why “bad things happen to good people.”

Today’s reading represents Job’s response to one of his so-called “comforters.” He rejects their shallow explanation of his misery. Job reflects not only on his own pain but also on the suffering of all innocent people. He gives voice to the sentiments that many people feel at a time of suffering:Life is futile. It has no meaning. Is not man’s life on earth drudgery? The sooner death comes along, the better. Why doesn’t God speak to me? God’s silence and seeming absence is also a part of our suffering. (God does speak in Chapter 40.) Job’s lament is a “complaint of the righteous.” We need to know that it is okay for us to complain to God about the circumstances of our lives.[If interested in studying the Book of Job, visit our website and click on Commentaries on the Books of the Old Testament > Commentary on Job, Level 3.]RESPONSORIAL PSALM 14

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission. Table of Contents

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Sr. Mary McGlone

The test of faith

FIRST READING —When we meet Job this weekend he is lamenting his fate. He who once had everything, now finds himself poor, sick and abandoned. His crisis seems to make him realize, perhaps for the first time, that there is real, innocent suffering in life. This is the test of his faith.

According to some scholars, what Job is grieving is the loss of paradise — he’s speaking for the children of Adam who realize that the world they receive has been marred. They grieve the fact that happiness and justice are not givens but the precarious outcomes of choices that individuals and groups must make.

If Job ever thought that he was in control of his fate, if he thought that the good things he had in life were his own doing or a reward for his righteousness, his experience of loss destroyed that myth. Perhaps he never fully understood that the wonderful life he had enjoyed was an undeserved, free gift. He was a good man, but he was also lucky, or we might say, an uncommonly blessed man. His unearned loss taught him that one’s lot in life doesn’t depend on righteousness or what one deserves. Job began to reassess the very meaning of life, and it was coming up short. The only sense he could make of it was that life is a drudgery, that humans are like slaves who hope that their master will get around to feeding them. That was certainly how he felt at the moment and may well have been his new assessment of his previous life: The difference was simply in how well his master or the fates treated him at any given time.

For the first time in his life, instead of seeing things from the vantage point of someone who has everything, he was forced to see life from the perspective of people who suffer. He heard his friends theologize, asserting that God blesses the good and punishes the wicked, but their arguments did not hold water. Job has come up against the hardest question a believer can face: Is it possible to praise God from the depths of misery?

For the moment, Job seems to just sit in his gloom. But in reality, he is complaining, and that is a sign of life. We find his theme echoed by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel as well as in the Book of Psalms. When Job cries out to God, he is making the only act of faith he is capable of at that moment. His complaint prepares him for the revelation he will eventually receive. When God answered him, there were no excuses, just the reminder that Job is not God, that he cannot comprehend God’s ways.

Job’s salvation is that God’s answer is enough for him. He accepts his role as a creature, one made by God, for God and loved in ways he will never be able to fathom.The symbol of his salvation is his return to prosperity. He will never again equate material well-being with being loved by God.

Today’s reading doesn’t take us through Job’s entire drama. We hear no more than his sorry assessment of humanity’s lot.  The reading prepares us for the Gospel by using Job as the symbol of the world and its people at the time of Christ’s coming. There was unexplained and often undeserved suffering. Jesus’ mission to make the reign of God present in the world, to incarnate and give witness to God’s love, is the final answer to the question of suffering.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2018 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Commentary Excerpts



Theology of Work Commentary


FIRST READING—No commentary for this reading.

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)


Life Recovery Bible

Talking to God about our pain

Job 7:1-5 Whether we suffer from physical pain, the loss of a spouse, a disappointing career, divorce, loneliness, depression, an estranged loved one, alcoholism, or any kind of addiction, nights are difficult. At least in the daylight hours, our work or other activities can help take our mind off our situation. When night falls and we are alone, the reality of our pain stares us in the face with no distractions. It is then that we can talk to God about our pain. He will listen and comfort us. We are never alone—we can always talk to God through prayer.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s First Reading

  • No exegesis for this week on the first reading.
Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

Life is Painful and Fleeting

Suffering is one of the themes in the Book of Job (the First Reading), where the inspired writer addresses the mystery of suffering. The Book of Job offers no solution to suffering except that all suffering is temporary while our eternal condition is in the hands of our Lord. God promises to heal all suffering when He gathers the faithful into their final, eternal home, as we sing in today’s psalm.

Job’s description of the sufferings of human existence recalls divine judgment in the Fall of Adam that impacted on all Adam’s descendants (Gen 3:17-19).  Job describes life as a desperate struggle in which humankind lives like a slave who suffers in being unable to find shade/rest from the scorching sun or a hired man who barely makes enough to live.  He knows that life is brief, and at this point in Job’s story, his suffering makes him believe he can never be happy again (verse 6).

Such is the world’s plight resulting from the corruption of original sin (CCC 215, 390, 397-98, 404, 412) and personal sin (CCC 1852, 1868).  No one can escape the struggle that makes the life of every human a battle against sin:  “The whole of man’s history has been the story of dour combat with the powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day.  Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield, man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by God’s grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity” (Gaudium et spes, 37; CCC 409).

Job’s experience was the human condition before the Incarnation of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  There was no hope of Heaven since the Fall of Adam and the introduction of sin into the world closed its gates, and death consigned all humans to the abode of the dead, Sheol in Hebrew (CCC 536, 633).  However, with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, St. Mark dramatically describes Heaven as “torn open” (Mk 1:10; CCC 1026).  In Christ, humanity received the hope of eternal life and His promise that those who suffer because of injustice in the world will receive God’s mercy and justice.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Responsorial Psalm

5B Ordinary Time

Ps 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

This psalm praises God for his concern for the brokenhearted.

Praying in good times and bad

RESPONSORIAL PSALM —As we know, a translation is always an interpretation. One must choose the most adequate words possible to express what was originally meant but in a new way and setting. Those who translate the psalms, some of which were written as much as 2,500 years ago, face the immense task of trying to understand the original in its context and then articulating its meaning in contemporary language. That necessarily leads to a rich diversity of attempts. And, the variety can open us to the breadth of meaning of what we are singing and praying with our ancestors in faith.

The Roman Lectionary translates the opening line of Psalm 147 as “Praise the Lord, for he is good; sing praise to our God for he is gracious.” Gregory Polan, Hebrew Scripture scholar and Benedictine Abbot Primate,  translated this line as “How good to sing psalms to our God; how pleasant to chant fitting praise!” (The Psalms, Songs of Faith and Praise).

The difference in those two translations is between an invitation or injunction to praise and a spontaneous cry of joy in God’s goodness. When we pray this psalm in relation to today’s readings, we may find that we are challenged with Job to accept the invitation to pray in good times and bad. Then the opening line reminds us that no matter what we are going through, God is good and gracious and waiting for us to discover that truth. At other moments, our spirit may be in tune with Saints Millie and Paul who sang out in joy to the God who gives life and heals every wound. Then, like Mary singing the Magnificat, we sing because rejoicing is our most natural and heartfelt response to having experienced the love of God.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Commentary Excerpts

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Life Recovery Bible

God can restore us

Psalm 147:2-11 God can restore us to wholeness again. We need to turn to him instead of withering away in our remorse. There is always hope when we honor God in our life because there is nothing greater than God’s power. He is able to heal us and provide for all our needs and is never overwhelmed by the dependency that we call our enemy.

SOURCE: Content taken from Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition. Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

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The LORD is the Healer of the Brokenhearted

In the Responsorial Psalm, we sing: “Praise the LORD who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” The psalmist begins with a call to praise God for His goodness. He is the Creator who made the stars, lifts up the downtrodden, and judges the wicked. Those who receive God’s mercy are those who trust in the Lord’s wisdom and not in their efforts or merits. For Christians, the psalm invites us to praise God not only because He was the Savior and Provider of His people Israel in the past, but because, in His mercy and love, He has made Himself present among humanity through the Incarnate Christ, the Word made flesh.

The psalmist begins with a call to praise God for His goodness (verse 1). He has gathered up His people, the Israelites, from exile. God has led them to home to rebuild Jerusalem. He has healed the broken hearts and has bound their wounds (verses 2-3). He is the Creator who made the stars, lifts up the downtrodden, and judges the wicked (verses 4-6). Those who receive God’s mercy are those who trust in the Lord’s wisdom and not in their efforts or merits (verse 5). For Christians, the psalm invites us to praise God not only because He was the Savior and Provider of His people Israel in the past, but because, in His mercy and love, He has made Himself present among humanity through the Incarnate Christ, the Word made flesh. He makes Himself present to humankind in the Eucharist and the other Sacraments, healing, consoling, and saving us until the end of time.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Second Reading

5B Ordinary Time

Key Topics

I am all things for all people, for the sake of the Gospel

1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23

  • The Corinthian community wants to reward Paul for his ministry among them.
  • Paul stresses that God’s love is freely given.
  • In today’s passage, Paul preaches to the community about God’s generosity.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

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Proclamation Tips for Lectors

🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫 LECTOR’S NOTES 🟫🟫 SECOND READING 🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫

Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • If I preach the gospel…  Readings like this are made for lectors and homilists, especially if we are not paid for our ministry.  As we repeat the words of the apostle, we have every reason to apply them to ourselves.  Now we just have to apply ourselves to the convoluted phrases in the passage, right?
  • Here is the background.  Some of the first missionary evangelists would ask for families to take them in and cover their room and board.  Today, full-time ministers and administrators receive a salary.  Paul admits that such recompense would be his full right in the gospel.  But there were ministers then and now who have outside sources of income.  Paul had his tent business, while many of us have our weekday jobs.  So he, and we also, can offer the gospel free of charge.
  • Now to the convoluted passages.  In the first sentence I hear about people doing self-promotion, in contrast with just doing their good work routinely.  Today we have far too many of those types in all the churches, unfortunately, and I can imagine such parasites back then in places like Corinth.  The apostle declared that he didn’t go in for that, stating that an obligation has been imposed on me.
  • Now, since Christ has put him under obligation, it becomes a question of the apostle’s own willingness to be there.  If I do this willingly, I have a recompense, namely that his ministry is free of conditions that he might impose.  Unwillingly?  He is entrusted with a stewardship, in other words, accountable.
  • In the second part of today’s reading, the apostle shows me how far that responsibility for others has taken him.  I have made myself a slave to all.  I remember the hymn in Philippians and how it describes Christ as taking the form of a slave.  His approach: to become all things to all.  The goal: to win over as many as possible, to save at least some.
  • What is in it for him?  He does it for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.  If our life as a church – not our family or our daily work – is the primary reality, then we can declare these words just as confidently as we did the opening words of the passage.

Key elements

  • Central point: Ministry in the church is a matter of commitment.  Matters of just wage and working conditions must be honored, but this is not about any old job!
  • The message for our assembly: The reading has nothing to do with tithing or pledging.  Paul had outside employment, as do many ministers, but we are dealing today with the level of commitment and dedication we bring to our ministry.
  • I will challenge myself: To read with a spirit of grateful thanks that I share the same calling as the apostle.
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at
Greg Warnusz

Introducing the reading at Mass

Ancient Corinth was a sophisticated city where many teachers proclaimed new religious and philosophical ideas. Paul, a stranger to the new Christian community there, has to establish his credentials. The virtues of which he boasts are surprising.

Oral interpretation

The historical background

Corinth, while not an Athens, was a center of philosophical and religious ferment; new and bizarre ideas were constantly in the air. Christianity seemed to be at least an ambitious development of old Judaism, if not an entirely new religion, with plenty of yet unanswered questions. In this atmosphere, Paul had to make sure his credentials were convincing. So he spends all of chapter 9 defending his rights as an apostle.

An important theological point

Paul always makes it clear that, of himself, he does not deserve the job. There is no “reason for me to boast.” The gospel is greater than the messenger. Both because of this humility, and to make sure that his behavior gives no reason to doubt his message, he tried to exercise his authority modestly, making himself “a slave to all.” He offers the gospel “free of charge,” that is, without asking for the support he could justly request. (That some modern televangelists take no such pains is reason enough to dismiss them with no further questions asked.) (Later in this letter, Paul will vigorously remind the Corinthians of a similar truth about themselves; though rich in spiritual gifts, they are of themselves unworthy, and should acknowledge the gifts as gifts from a gracious God.)

Proclaiming it

Now you know what’s behind Paul’s emphatic and argumentative language. He is on fire about the gospel, zealous about his work, certain of his authority and careful about keeping the messenger out of the message. In these verses, he’s defending his credibility. Well, make him sound credible by sounding emphatic yourself.

SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at


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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

Paul writes about abuses in the Church

SECOND READING — The key to getting along with people as a pastor in the church is never to talk about money! Paul set a very bad example for the pastors of our times. He literally went out and earned a living independently from his work as an apostle. The “worker-priests” in France 20 years ago tried to do the same. Most of them did not survive. They were not originally from the working class and could not really identify with the people with whom they worked. The ministry of the Gospel was not entirely credible in the fiction of their lives. Paul knew that he had to get along with people by getting alongside the way they lived. Otherwise, he would have no credibility with them. Surely, there is a lesson in all this for priests of today who need to find an opening into the hearts of the people to whom they seek to minister: to be strong with the strong and weak with the weak.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

Paul, the preacher

SECOND READING — Paul tells us how he has no choice but to preach the Gospel. He seeks no pay for his ministry. He is totally dedicated to it, seeking to be all things to all people so that he can win all for Christ.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

Woe to me if I do not preach

SECOND READING — “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” That’s Paul’s basic explanation for everything he is doing. Woe is a pretty strong word in Scripture. Jeremiah (23:1) and Ezekiel (34:2) shouted woe to the self-serving shepherds of God’s flocks. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus contrasted the blessed with their rich, well-fed, well-entertained and popular counterparts, for all of whom he predicted long-lasting woes. Jesus also predicted woe for all whose exercise of authority caused suffering and who preached what they did not practice.

From those contexts, we can conclude that woe is the result of being untrue to oneself and one’s God-given vocation. When Paul says “Woe to me if I do not preach,” he’s saying that the Gospel has taken such a hold in him that he cannot be himself if he does not preach it. Preaching the Gospel has become his very nature, and if he does not do it, he is lost to himself and will lose his relationship to God.

Because of that, Paul can refer to himself as a slave or a steward. Not only that, but his responsibility to preach overrides his own personal preferences.  He’s a well-trained Pharisee, obviously a person with a strong personality and a man who feels an unusual depth of religious freedom. Nevertheless, he will bend to anyone’s needs if that will facilitate the spread of the Gospel.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Commentary Excerpts



Theology of Work Commentary


SECOND READING— No commentary for this reading

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)


Life Recovery Bible

Achieving freedom that we long for

9:15-18 Paul gave up his right to be paid for his work in the ministry, choosing instead to support himself. The point wasn’t whether or not he should have been paid. He was illustrating the principle that when God has called us to do something, we may have to give up some of our rights and freedoms to accomplish it. If we hope to progress in recovery, our relationship with Jesus Christ and adherence to his program need to take the central place in our life. We may need to give up some of our possessions, activities, and codependent relationships to achieve the freedom that we long for.

Sharing the Good News

9:19-23 An essential part of recovery is sharing the Good News of God’s forgiveness and help. Paul shows us that if we want to communicate to others, we must first take the time to understand where they are coming from. Paul listened to his audience and found common ground with them before he helped them change. As we seek to help others, we begin by gaining their confidence. We don’t need to be good at winning arguments; we need to be good at listening and showing that we care. Paul listened to the needs of people and then presented his message in a way that met their specific needs. We can do the same as we carry the message of hope to hurting people.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s Second Reading

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

All Things for the Gospel

St. Paul’s life was an example of suffering for the sake of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. In the Second Reading, St. Paul confesses his compelling drive to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it was his divine calling. He asked for no reward for his service, believing that the additional sacrifice would make his reward that much greater in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

St. Paul confesses that he feels compelled to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ; he knows it is his divine calling.  In doing so, he asked for no reward, even though he could have expected it since Jesus told His disciples: the laborer deserves his payment (Lk 10:7).  But Paul did not make use of just compensation for preaching the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.  He earned his living by tent-making (Acts 18:3; 1 Cor 4:12; 2 Cor 12:13; 1 Thes 2:9; 2 Thes 3:8-9), hoping that the additional sacrifice would make his divine reward that much greater in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Like St. Paul, the Holy Spirit calls all Christians to serve as Jesus’ apostles (those “sent” through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation) to preach the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and His “good news” of God’s gift of eternal salvation.  In his preaching, Paul says he was compelled to become all things to those he preached to better connect with the people who heard him and increase their openness to his message.   St. Josemaria Escriva wrote: “He must become all things to all men in order to save all men” (Christ Is Passing By, 14).  Vatican II defined what this apostolate involves: “The witness of life, however, is not the sole element in the apostolate; the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers to draw them towards the faith, or to the faithful to instruct them, strengthen them, incite them to a more fruitful life; ‘for Christ’s love urges us on’ (2 Cor 5:14) and in the hearts of all should the Apostle’s words find echo: ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel’ (1 Cor 9:16)” (Apostolicom actuositatem, 6).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Gospel Reading

5B Ordinary Time

Key Topics

He went to a lonely place to pray

Mk 1:29-39

  • The stories of Jesus’ miracles are a sign that the power of Satan is broken and the kingdom of God has arrived.
  • Jesus is the one who brings the kingdom of God to earth.
  • In today’s Gospel the miracles are signs of the ultimate healing that Jesus will bring to the world.

SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴 OUR SUNDAY VISITOR INTRO 🔴🔴🔴 GOSPEL 🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴

Proclamation Tips

🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫 LECTOR’S NOTES 🟫🟫 GOSPEL READING 🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫

Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • I hear again of a ministry.  This time it is the ministry of Jesus, preaching and driving out many demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
  • I also hear of a provincial phenomenon.  Mark sounds like oral tradition: The whole town was gathered at the door.  But I cannot imagine Jesus as a glad hander or a mass media creature.  He will have time for each one, as he cured many who were sick and drove out many demons.  I will dwell on this quality time, for I believe that Jesus himself invented the concept.
  • We value our rest and recuperation and wait until the last possible moment to awake and start a new day.  Jesus, in contrast, rose very early before dawn and went to a deserted place where he prayed.  When we hear about Jesus, or holy men and women in general, are we encouraged to imitate their example?  Let me read this sentence as if we all could get up and pray in the late night silence.

Key elements

  • Climax: The words of Jesus describing his mission: Let us go on to the nearby villagesFor this purpose have I come.
  • Message for our assembly: Let us get to know Jesus, the man for others.
  • I will challenge myself: To capture in my speech my own admiration for the Son of God come among us, and also the wonder of the apostles as they told Jesus: Everyone is looking for you.

Word to Eucharist

Word to Eucharist: We are looking, too; that is why we come today and walk forward to the table.  Let us find what we are looking for.  It would in part shine in the faces of those walking with us.

SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at


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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

Jesus always sets time aside for prayer

GOSPEL —The Gospel of Mark is a document meant for the disciples of the Lord Jesus. They see in it the way the original followers of Jesus failed to understand and defaulted many times in their attempts to follow the Lord. Then, it becomes their duty to do better.

Jesus prayed often and with determined intensity. He set the pattern for those who would be his followers. They, too, must be people of prayer. Just as Jesus was able to do the wondrous things he did as a result of his intense communion with the heavenly Father, we, too, must commune deeply with God and go out to work those transforming ‘miracles’ of our everyday work. The healing power of Jesus will be replicated in our daily living if we are given to prayer in which we have access to the power of the living God, the same power that was in Jesus. We who are the body of Christ can do no less than Jesus who is our Head.

When Mark says that Jesus went to Peter’s mother-in-law and helped her up, he uses the same verb he uses when he means raised from the dead (Greek egeiro). The healing miracles of Jesus are not just interventions in nature. They are proclamations of the rising from that death that is the result of sin. When Jesus cures those who are afflicted in any way, he points to the future redemption from sin which will be brought about by his death and resurrection.

Even when the disciples managed to track him down, Jesus did not relinquish his profound communion with the Father. Bishop Fulton Sheen once said that anyone who is too busy to pray is far busier than God ever intended him/her to be! The more we have to do in this world, the more we need to be in prayer.

Silencing demons illustrates an other characteristic of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus will be known for who he really is only when he has suffered, died, and been raised from the dead. The demons cannot know this.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

Days in the life of Jesus

GOSPEL — The Gospel, like the First Reading, deals with the issue of evil and sickness. It recounts “days in the life of Jesus.” These verses weave together four events.

In the first event, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law. After being healed, she immediately gets up and begins to serve. Jesus’ action involves healing, lead-ing to service and discipleship. “The greatest in the kingdom is the one who serves.”

The second event could be titled Healing and Deliverance Service in the Streets. In this event, Jesus directly confronts his enemies, namely, evil and sickness, and he demonstrateshis power over both. Notice that Jesus forbids the demons to reveal his identity. This is known as the “messianic secret.” The popular understanding of the Messiah’s role is political and military—one who will lead the people in rebellion against the Romans and restore the glory of Israel. Jesus knows that it is not God’s will for him to fulfill this understanding of Messiahship. He is going to be a suffering Messiah who will triumph through suffering—something the people will not fully comprehend until after the Resurrection.

In the third event, Jesus teaches the importance of balancing a busy schedule with time for quiet and solitude. He shows us his need to “get away from it all” and to spend time “recharging spiritual and emotional batteries.” However, the disciples chase after him saying, “Everyone is looking for you.”

In the fourth event, Jesus heads back to the ministry of teaching and preaching, casting out demons along the way.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

Jesus’ reputation as exorcist and healer

GOSPEL — Mark opens Jesus’ public ministry with a flurry of activity that all happens in Capernaum. After the synagogue incident we heard last week, we now hear that Jesus went out of the synagogue, the place of teaching, and immediately entered the home Peter shared with others. They let him know immediately that Simon’s mother-in-law was ill. Mark tells the rest of the story in very tangible detail: Jesus drew near her, took her hand and raised her. The details of this very short miracle account make a point of Jesus’ attentive personal involvement with this woman. It is very little surprise, then, that the next phrase is “she served them.”

As Mark introduces us to Jesus, he presents him as the victor over demons and a healer. It is striking that the first person Jesus healed was a woman — quite likely a widow and one whose social standing came through her daughter’s husband. In other words, she was one of the lowly. And what do we know of this lowly woman? Only that upon being healed, she “waited on them.” The word for “waited on” comes from the Greek diakoneo which we immediately recognize as the root for deacon. It is not a common word in Mark’s Gospel, in fact, it is used only twice more. After this verse, Mark 10 shows Jesus reprimanding the disciples who were seeking the first places at his right and left sides. He told them that he had not come to be served, but to serve. The only other people whom Mark presents as servers are the women who remained with Jesus when he went to the cross (15:41). Mark presents this woman, the first person healed by Jesus, as the first to understand his message and the implications of following him.

With this story, Mark has established Jesus’ reputation as an exorcist and healer. The sun has set on his first day in public ministry. In the second part of our reading, people begin to flock to Jesus at night. If his first exorcism and healing were symbol of what he offered, the “whole town” who came in the night represented the world in need. This is only the first of the crowds who would press on him, seeking healing, and there is no indication that they understood the message of his presence in the way that Peter’s mother-in-law did. He healed many and drove out demons, but Mark does not say that the healed people became his disciples and the demons seem more able to understand the implications of what he does than do the crowds.

That leads to the third part of today’s selection. Before dawn, Jesus escaped to a deserted place where he prayed. This is the first of three times that Mark will depict Jesus at prayer. The second comes after the sharing of the loaves among the crowd in Mark 6; the third is in the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark gives us the idea that Jesus’ prayer at the beginning of his ministry was a key to discerning what he was to do. He was an overnight sensation, and Peter and the disciples seemed to be ready to be his managers. But rather than defer to public expectations, rather than be caught up in fame, Jesus chose to extend his reach.

By way of explanation for his decision to go to other villages, Jesus says, “For this purpose I have come.” The word Jesus used that is translated as come is more like “come out” or “come forth.” This is a little like Luke’s depiction of Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth (4:16-30) when Jesus proclaimed his mission in the words of the prophet Isaiah. Here, Jesus indicates that he knows his purpose, he has come forth for more than popularity in a small place. As Peter’s mother-in-law foreshadowed, his mission is to serve.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Fr. George Smiga

Burning up

GOSPEL — Today’s gospel includes what is probably the shortest miracle of Jesus’s ministry. It is only two verses. Jesus comes to Peter’s house and hears that Peter’s mother-in-law is in bed with a fever. He goes to her, grasps her by the hand, and lifts her up. She is cured and waits on them. This miracle is noteworthy because of its brevity.

But, there is also something else that sets it apart. The miracle does not tell us the disease from which Peter’s mother-in-law suffers. This is unusual. Usually miracle stories point out the problem quite specifically: a person is blind or lame or is a leper. But this story does not describe the disease, but only the symptom: she has a fever. What is the cause of the fever?  Does Peter’s mother-in-law have the flu? Is she fighting an infection? Does she have malaria? The text does not say.

This peculiarity becomes even more interesting when we examine the word which the Greek text uses for the fever. It is not a noun but a participle, a verbal form. It literally means she was in bed “burning up,” or she was in bed “on fire.” The question is in what sense was she on fire? Translators conclude that she was “on fire” because she had a fever. This is a logical and responsible translation. But what if we went in another direction. What if Peter’s mother-in-law was “burning up” not physically but emotionally? What if she was “on fire” not medically but personally? In other words, what if Peter’s mother-in-law was really upset about something?

What could she be upset about? You do not have to look far in Mark’s Gospel to discover a reason. Ten verses before Jesus comes to her house, her son-in law, Peter, together with his brother Andrew are catching fish at the sea of Galilee. Jesus comes along and says, “Follow me.” They leave their nets and follow him. Now, how do you imagine Peter’s decision would play out in the mind of his mother-in-law?

“He did what! You know that the only reason that I agreed that my daughter could marry that guy was that he had a job. He knew how to catch fish. Now you are telling me he has left his nets and is going around Galilee with Jesus catching people! Good luck with that! How are you going to put food on the table catching people? How is he going to pay for my grandchildren’s education?”

You could see how Peter’s mother-in-law could begin “to burn.” Even more so when after a few days she hears that at last Peter is at last returning home and is bringing this new Jesus friend with him, it would make sense for her to say, “I’m going to my room to lie down, and I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want to face Peter or his new friend. They’re all out of their minds.”

Now if we imagine that Peter’s mother-in-law is “on fire” because of Peter’s decision to follow Jesus. The whole meaning of this story shifts. Peter’s mother-in-law becomes an example of those times in our lives when people we care for disappointed us. When a family member or a friend makes a decision that we do not understand, a decision that we think is foolish. Such a decision perplexes us, depresses us, and, sometimes enrages us. Sometimes it sets us on fire. “He was always a boy with a head on his shoulders. Whatever moved him to invest his life savings with that crook?” “She was a girl with good judgment. What would move her to fall in love with that looser?”  “Why is my son so preoccupied with his job?” “Why does my friend drink so much?” “Why won’t my daughter just talk to me?”

When people we care for make decisions that disappoint us, it causes us pain. That can make this story of Peter’s mother-in-law a very important story for us. In this story Jesus becomes our healer. Look at what he does. As soon as he enters his house they tell him about Peter’s mother-in-law: “She’s gone to her room, and she’s not happy. She’s burning up.” What does Jesus do? He does not judge the woman. He does not become angry himself. He goes to her, takes her by the hand, and lifts her up. She changes. She begins to serve them.

How does Jesus bring about this change? We are not told. But, it probably included him reminding her that as much as she loved her family, she could not run other people’s lives, that everyone had to make their own decisions. He probably also told her that God had a plan, and we cannot see that whole plan at once. It certainly involved the power of his presence. When she touched his hand and heard his words, she must have realized, “There’s something about this man that I trust. Maybe my son-in-law is not so crazy after all.” When people in our life disappoint us, we too must trust in Jesus. We must turn to him, take his hand, and ask him to remove our judgment and our anger.

Now, some people might not like this interpretation of the story of Peter’s mother-in-law. They might think that by seeing her fever as something emotional and personal rather than something physical, the significance of the miracle is reduced. But, I am not sure that is true. After all, aspirin can relieve a fever, but only the power of God can change a human heart.

©2021 Building on the All Rights Reserved. More homilies can be read at Building on the Word website.

Commentary Excerpts


🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥 THEOLOGY OF WORK 🟥🟥 GOSPEL 🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥

Theology of Work Commentary


GOSPEL— No commentary for this reading.

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)


Life Recovery Bible

Importance of prayer

1:35-39 If Jesus, the Son of God, took time from his busy schedule to pray to his Father, how much more do we need to do so. By placing a high priority on prayer, Jesus could persevere in his ministry and keep from burning out. We who seek recovery for ourself and for others cannot get by without prayer. The busier the day ahead, the more we need to meditate on God’s Word and pray for his strength and wisdom.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s Gospel

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

Jesus the Healer of the Suffering

Jesus’ message in the Gospel Reading is as relevant to us today as it was to the Jews of the 1st century AD.  Repent, believe in the Gospel (Jesus’ good news of salvation), and offer yourself to Jesus for spiritual healing.  Then, commit yourself to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and serve Him as Your Lord and Savior.  God the Son came into the world to free humanity from slavery to sin and death.  Our suffering becomes God the Son’s suffering when we unite ourselves to Him and the pain He submitted Himself to in His human body.  Jesus took upon Himself both the emotional pain of His people’s betrayal and the physical pain He suffered in His Passion.  Jesus suffered for the sake of the redemption of humanity, and He promises that our sufferings, as a result of sin in the world, will have value (Rom 8:17; CCC 1460).  Jesus rescued us from sin and death, and He will take the faithful who have joined their suffering to His into Heaven where they will experience only love and eternal beatitude in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity.

Jesus made Capernaum and Simon-Peter’s house His ministry headquarters.  St. Mark uses his favorite word, “euthus,” three times within three verses.  It is an adverb that means “immediately,” “at once,” or “now” and expresses Mark’s call for his readers to respond to Jesus’ Gospel message immediately.  Mark uses the adverb 47 times in his 675 verses.  Also, notice that Jesus’ acts of mercy were not limited to public miracles.  In this touching little story about healing Simon-Peter’s mother-in-law, there is a message for all who profess to be Jesus’ disciples.   Peter’s mother-in-law set an example for us in expressing her gratitude when she immediately rose from her sick-bed and “waited on” Jesus and His disciples.  Like Peter’s mother-in-law, our lesson is that our actions should demonstrate our love for the Lord and our gratitude for His blessings.

We learn in verse 32 that it wasn’t until after sunset that the townspeople brought their sick to Jesus for healing.  The narrative began on a Sabbath (Mk 1:21), according to the Law, a day of rest (Ex 20:8-11, 23:12; 31:12-17; 34:21; 35:1-3; Lev 19:3; 23:3; Num 15:32-36; Dt 5:12-15).  The Sabbath rest did not inhibit Jesus from healing Simon-Peter’s mother.  However, the Pharisees’ strict interpretation of the Sabbath laws did prevent the people from what could be interpreted as “work” on the Sabbath by bringing family members to Jesus for healing.  Therefore, the people waited until sundown when it became the next day.  Healing on the Sabbath will become an issue of contention between Jesus and the Pharisees.

Jesus healed many people, and He cast out demons that He immediately silenced, refusing to let them reveal His true identity (see Mk 1:23-26).  The demon spirits knew Jesus’ true identity and feared Him, recognizing His divine power (verse 34).  Demons are spiritual beings who are the fallen angels.  God created them to be good; however, through their own free will choice, they became evil by rebelling against God and following Satan, who was himself once an angel (see Rev 12:7-9 and CCC 391-95).  The testimony of demons is not the kind of witness Jesus wants to His true identity.  His identity as the divine Messiah must be revealed slowly through His miracles and His teaching.

In verse 35, we read that Jesus rose before dawn and withdrew alone to pray. Jesus’ action raises the question: if Jesus felt it was necessary to devote time to private prayer, shouldn’t we do the same?  All four Gospels record that several times Jesus withdrew from His disciples for personal prayer.  However, the crowds of people continued looking for Him.  Sympathetic to the people’s needs, Simon-Peter went to find Jesus (verses 36-37).  In verse 38, Jesus agrees to return and gives the reason for His mission.  He came to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the children of Israel.  It is the same fulfillment statement St. Mark made in 1:14-15, After John had been arrested, Jesus came to the Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God saying: “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe the Gospel.”

Jesus’ message is as relevant to us today as it was to the Jews in the 1st-century AD.  Repent, believe in the Gospel (good news) of Jesus’ gift of eternal salvation, and offer yourself to Jesus for spiritual healing.  Then, commit yourself to Christ and let Him raise you to a new spiritual life.  The Greek verb for the “raising” of Peter’s mother-in-law is the same verb Jesus used when He commanded Jairus’ daughter to “arise” and return to life (Mk 5:41-42), and it will appear again to describe Jesus’ Resurrection (Mk 14:28; 16:7).  Jesus’ promises He will “raise up” to new life all those who believe in Him and come to Him in the waters of Christian Baptism and receive Him in the Eucharist (see Jn 6:40, 44, 54; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; baptism commanded as necessary for salvation in Mk 16:16).  And for our part, in gratitude, we should respond in serving the Lord like Simon-Peter’s mother-in-law and like St. Paul who, despite personal hardships, committed his life to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and suffered martyred for his faith.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Catena Aurea

5B Ordinary Time

The Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) is Thomas Aquinas’ compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels. It seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Church Fathers.

Annotated index of Church Fathers used in commentary

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

Mk 1:29-39


29. And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

30. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.

31. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 7) First, it was right that the serpent’s tongue should be shut up, that it might not spread any more venom; then that the woman, who was first seduced, should be healed from the fever of carnal concupiscence. Wherefore it is said, And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, &c.

THEOPHYLACT. He retired then as the custom was on the sabbath-day about evening to eat in His disciples’ house. But she who ought to have ministered was prevented by a fever. Wherefore it goes on, But Simon’s wife’s mother was lying sick of a fever.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (v. Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc. c. 1:32) But the disciples, knowing that they were to receive a benefit by that means, without waiting for the evening prayed that Peter’s mother should be healed. Wherefore there follows, who immediately tell him of her.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) But in the Gospel of Luke it is written, that they besought him for her. (Luke 4:38.) For the Saviour sometimes after being asked, sometimes of His own accord, heals the sick, shewing that He always assents to the prayers of the faithful, when they pray also against bad passions, and some times gives them to understand things which they do not understand at all, or else, when they pray unto Him dutifully, forgives their want of understanding; as the Psalmist begs of God, Cleanse me, O Lord, from my secret faults. (Ps. 19:12) Wherefore He heals her at their request; for there follows, And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up.

THEOPHYLACT. By this it is signified, that God will heal a sick man, if he ministers to the Saints, through love to Christ.

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 6, 8) But in that He gives most profusely His gifts of healing and doctrine on the sabbath day, He teaches, that He is not under the Law, but above the Law, and does not choose the Jewish sabbath, but the true sabbath, and our rest is pleasing to the Lord, if, in order to attend to the health of our souls, we abstain from slavish work, that is, from all unlawful things. It goes on, and immediately the fever left her, &c. The health which is conferred at the command of the Lord, returns at once entire, accompanied with such strength, that she is able to minister to those, of whose help she had before stood in need. Again, if we suppose that the man delivered from the devil means, in the moral way of interpretation, the soul purged from unclean thoughts, fitly does the woman cured of a fever by the command of God mean the flesh, restrained from the heat of its concupiscence by the precepts of continence.

PSEUDO-JEROME. For the fever means intemperance, from which, we the sons of the synagoguek, by the hand of discipline, and by the lifting up of our desires, are healed, and minister to the will of Him who heals us.

THEOPHYLACT. But he has a fever who is angry, and in the unruliness of his anger stretches forth his hands to do hurt; but if reason restrains his hands, he will arise, and so serve reason.


32. And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.

33. And all the city was gathered together at the door.

34. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

THEOPHYLACT. Because the multitude thought that it was not lawful to heal on the sabbath day, they waited for the evening, to bring those who were to be healed to Jesus. Wherefore it is said, And at even, when the sun had set. There follows, and he healed many that were vexed with divers diseases.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Now in that he says many, all are to be understood according to the Scripture mode of expression.

THEOPHYLACT. Or he says many, because there were some faithless persons, who could not at all be cured on account of their unfaithfulness. Therefore He healed many of those who were brought, that is, all who had faith. It goes on, and cast out many devils.

PSEUDO-AUGUSTINE. (Pseudo Aug. Quæst. e Vet. et Nov. Test. xvi.) For the devils knew that He was the Christ, who had been promised by the Law: for they saw in Him all the signs, which had been foretold by the Prophets; but they were ignorant of His divinity, as also were their princes, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Cor. 2:8)

BEDE. (ubi sup.) For, Him whom the devil had known as a man, wearied by His forty days’ fast, without being able by tempting Him to prove whether He was the Son of God, he now by the power of His miracles understood or rather suspected to be the Son of God. The reason therefore why he persuaded the Jews to crucify Him, was not because he did not think that He was the Son of God, but because he did not foresee that he himself was to be condemned by Christ’s death.

THEOPHYLACT. Furthermore, the reason that He forbade the devils to speak, was to teach us not to believe them, even if they say true. For if once they find persons to believe them, they mingle truth with falsehood.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) And Luke does not contradict this, when he says, that devils came out of many, crying out and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God: (Luke 4:41) for he subjoins, And he rebuking them, suffered them not to speak; for Mark, who passes over many things for the sake of brevity, speaks about what happened subsequently to the abovementioned words.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Again, in a mystical sense, the setting of the sun signifies the passion of Him, who said, As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5) And when the sun was going down, more demoniacs and sick persons were healed than before: because He who living in the flesh for a time taught a few Jews, has transmitted the gifts of faith and health to all the Gentiles throughout the world.

PSEUDO-JEROME. But the door of the kingdom, morally, is repentance and faith, which works health for various diseases; for divers are the vices, with which the city of this world is sick.


35. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

36. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.

37. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.

38. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.

39. And he preached in their synagogues through out all Galilee, and cast out devils.

THEOPHYLACT. After that the Lord had cured the sick, He retired apart. Wherefore it is said, And rising very early in the morning, he went out and departed into a desert place. By which He taught us not to do any thing for the sake of appearance, but if we do any good, not to publish it openly. It goes on, and there prayed.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Not that He required prayer; for it was He who Himself received the prayers of men; but He did this by way of an economy, and became to us the model of good works.

THEOPHYLACT. For He shews to us that we ought to attribute to God whatever we do well, and to say to Him, Every good gift cometh down from above, (James 1:17) from Thee. It continues: And Simon followed him, and they that were with him.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Luke however says, that crowds came to Christ, and spoke what Mark here relates that the Apostles said, adding, And when they came to him, they said to him, All seek thee. (Luke 4:42) But they do not contradict each other; for Christ received after the Apostles the multitude, breathlessly anxious to embrace His feet. He received them willingly, but chose to dismiss them, that the rest also might be partakers of His doctrine, as He was not to remain long in the world. And therefore there follows: And he said, Let us go into the neighbouring villages and towns, that there also I may preach.

THEOPHYLACT. For He passes on to them as being more in need, since it was not right to shut up doctrine in one place, but to throw out his rays every where. It goes on: For therefore am I come.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) In which word, He manifests the mystery of His emptying himself, (Phil. 2:7) that is, of His incarnation, and the sovereignty of His divine nature, in that He here asserts, that He came willingly into the world. Luke however says, To this end was I sent, proclaiming the Dispensation, and the good pleasure of God the Father concerning the incarnation of the Son. There follows: And he continued preaching in their synagogues, in all Galilee.

AUGUSTINE. (de Cons. Evan. ii. 19) But by this preaching, which, he says, He continued in all Galilee, is also meant the sermon of the Lord delivered on the mount, which Matthew mentions, and Mark has entirely passed over, without giving any thing like it, save that he has repeated some sentences not in continuous order, but in scattered places, spoken by the Lord at other times.

THEOPHYLACT. He also mingled action with teaching, for whilst employed in preaching, He afterwards put to flight devils. For there follows: And casting out devils. For unless Christ shewed forth miracles, His teaching would not be believed; so do thou also, after teaching, work, that thy word be not fruitless in thyself.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Again mystically if by the setting of the sun, the death of the Saviour is intended, why should not His resurrection be intended by the returning dawn? For by its clear light, He went far into the wilderness of the Gentiles, and there continued praying in the person of His faithful disciples, for He aroused their hearts by the grace of the Holy Spirit to the virtue of prayer.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000Commentary in public domain.
Introductory video to this Sunday by Larry Broding at
Directions: On this page you will find questions on the Sunday Readings that can be used in RCIA or Faith Sharing groups. Clicking on the PDF icons at bottom right will give participants additional commentary and resources.

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Word Sunday

by Larry Broding

Turn back to God: Believe the Good News


Job’s reply to a friend’s criticism

Have you ever questioned God’s fidelity? Have you ever asked the question “Why me, God?” What happened? What helped you to return to God or remain faithful, like Job?


Praise the Lord for all things

When do you stop in your daily routine to give God praise? Why do you praise the Lord?

Take a few moments and look for reasons to praise God. Nothing is too small or too large. Make a list, if needed and praise the Lord!


The value of Good News

How have you show others the Good News? How have you enjoyed the Good News? How do you show yourself and others its ultimate worth?


Preaching the Good News

What are the most important duties of daily life? What crises can upset those duties?

When we suffer from illness, or serve others who are sick, we, too, are called to announce God’s reign.

©1999-2021 Larry Broding at Material may be copied for personal use or for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

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Small Group Questions

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

1. Share with the group or person next to you what spoke to you most in the Gospel. With this first question, try to refrain from commenting on what others said. Just share what spoke to you and then move on to the next person.

2. In the First Reading, Job is in a very bad place. What is one of the worst or darkest experiences you have had to deal with? What helped you move through that time?

3. What do you hear Paul saying to us in the Second Reading?

4. What are forces of evil that you or others have to deal with? What helped you during those times?

5. In the Gospel, Jesus finds time for prayer in the midst of a very busy schedule. Do you have a challenge in this area? If so, how do you make space for prayer as you do all the other things in your daily life?

6. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

JOURNALING:  Having listened to God’s Word and listened to others’ reflections on it, take a quiet moment to reflect on what you are hearing God say to you. Your response will be what you bring to Eucharist on Sunday, asking Jesus to help you respond as he asks of you. When ready, jot down your reflections.

PRAYING WITH THE WORD:  Facilitator: Let us now pause to see how something(s) said in the reading might lead us into shared prayer. Suggestion: Jesus, as I ponder the words of Job, I think of all the people who feel their lives are a drudgery. Please allow your love and mercy to fall upon them.

RESPONDING TO GOD’S WORD:  Share with the person next to you one way you can act on this week’s readings. Suggestion: If possible, reach out to someone who is feeling a lot like Job.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Discussion Questions

by Fr. Clement Thibodeau

1. To what extent is your daily decision-making guided by your life of prayer?

  • Do you pray daily?
  • When during the day?
  • Do you pray about things that are real to you, about everyday things?
  • Do you ask for guidance in the choices that you will make that day?
  • Do you pray that God’s will will be done in your daily decision-making?

2. Does your parish community (or family or prayer group) pray for things that are practical and concrete in the life of its members?

  • Are the Prayers of the Faithful (General Intercessions) actually reflecting the prayer needs of the faithful?
  • Who composes the Prayers of the Faithful for your weekend liturgies?
  • Do you have any input? Should you?

3. Have you ever asked anybody to pray for you?

  • When was the last time you did so?
  • Do you believe that a disciple of Jesus Christ will be heard when that person prays for someone or something?
  • Do you sometimes pray for yourself?
  • Do you believe that your prayers are heard by God? Why? Or why not?

SUGGESTION FOR CHRISTIAN ACTION:  Find out who prepares the General Intercessions for the weekend liturgies in your parish. Inquire as to how one may have some input into the things or persons being prayed for. Submit some prayer intentions to be offered by your parish (or family or prayer group) at the weekend liturgies.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Bible Study Questions

by Vince Contreras

1. How does the healing Jesus performs in this passage (verses 30-31) compare with the exorcism we heard about last week (verse 25)? What new realm of Jesus’ authority is seen here?

2. How do you picture the scene in verses 32-34? Why does Jesus silence the demons?

3. After a day like this passage describes, what pressures could Jesus be feeling as a new day dawns? How might this relate to his decision to move on (verse 38)?

4. What do you think Jesus prayed for during his prayer time?

5. What do you do when you need to get away and be with God?

6. What goals would you like to set for your “quiet time” with God—for example, a certain amount of time, saying the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet, or a Scripture reading plan?

© 2014 Sunday Scripture Study for Catholics by Vince Contreras. Used with permission.
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