February 7, 2021

5th Sunday of Epiphany

Passage: Isaiah 40:21-31; Mark 1:29-39

Give us grace, blessed Jesus, to let you be who you are and not whom we would have you be. Amen.

There is a lovely term I encountered this week in regards to Jesus’ ministry in Mark:

Holy Agnosticism. Most of us would never term ourselves as ‘agnostic’ but in truth we are most of the time. Do we really understand Jesus all the time? Do we have the faith he longs for us to have? We are encountering in Jesus a person who is in the shadows.

Healer, yes. Preacher, yes. But he is also someone who hides. And hide he must in order to refill the empty of constant demand, of a servant of God with never enough time in prayer. He has had enough of the clamor of people wanting not his message but his touch, his healing. They, like often times, we, do not want to turn from the direction

our life is going to follow him. If Jesus is the presence of God, then what kind of God is he? Holy agnosticism simply means we don’t know but we are searching for the answer. It’s not unbelief; it’s looking for more to believe in and it’s a life of questioning.

Which is a good thing to do for if we never questioned Jesus we would never seek him more.

In a paraphrase of Rainer Maria Rilke ‘Do not seek the answers but the questions.

And along some distant day you will find yourself living into the answers.’ The point is not to have more answers but to have more Jesus, and in order to have more of him

we must seek him more. He longs to be found not just for what he can do but simply for who he is and who he wants to be for us and for all who claim to be his followers.

There will be some who say doubting is a sign of not being a true follower. But without doubt we cannot grow more in our faith; we will only stay content with how we we are now. Jesus wants us, wants his whole community of followers to grow but also to question and to ponder. Jesus found his sense of himself in prayer. Alone in deserted places. In order to have more Jesus we must do the same. In order to come through this pandemic with our faith not only intact but flourishing we must find Jesus in those quiet spaces asking for more of him. If we do not grow weary as the prophet Isaiah proclaimed, then our lives will be transformed and our faith strengthened.

A book written many, many years ago by a French priest to women living in a convent

is entitled ‘Sacrament of the Present Moment’ or ‘Abandonment to Divine Providence’.

Every moment has the potential of being holy and every day in our lives is an opportunity to abandon ourselves to Jesus even more. But will we? Even in this pandemic time in our lives we fill each moment with something to do. This is what the people of Jesus’ day wanted of him. More miracles! More healing! More demons exorcised! And we want the same. Do more for us, Jesus! Cast out this pandemic!

Heal these family members! And these are valid prayers but they are not the point of Jesus’ ministry. His was a ministry of proclaiming the kingdom of God, of God’s presence come among us. The call on his life was beyond being helpful then and now.

He heard a life-direction to be faithful to God, to who he was, to who he is now.

And we must listen ever more in these days to his voice begging us to come away and be still. Be filled with his presence and stop always being so busy. Jesus had to do what each of us must also do: discern our life’s direction in the quietness of prayer and stillness. Lent is almost upon us. Prayer and quiet would be good practices during this time. Be still and know God. Amen.

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