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Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Deacon Bill Tunilla

No Time for Myself

We have all heard the saying there are never enough hours in a day to accomplish everything we need to do. I know many of us juggle demanding jobs or we may be struggling to find a job.  Still we try to make time for our spouse, our children, the in laws, chores, pets and ministry work.  Our calendars are full and we have no time left for ourselves and we can begin to feel drained and discouraged, perhaps angry at the demands placed upon us.  Many mental health professionals tell us this is an unhealthy approach to living life.  So how do we balance it all?

Let’s look in the scriptures we have heard today for some answers.   In our first reading from the book of Job it surely is a sad lament of human existence.  For Job life seems short, hard and full of drudgery.  To make matters worse he has insomnia and can’t even escape his suffering in sleep.  Perhaps if Job had a sleep aid like Benedryl or Sominx and he’d never have another sleepless night.

Then in our second reading from St. Paul to the Corinthians, St. Paul talks about the seriousness of his mission to preach the Gospel.  It demands forgetting about ourselves and dedication to ministry and others.  St. Paul puts it this way; “Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.  This becomes a reality when a person becomes a follower of Christ.

As we heard in our Gospel reading, Jesus like us was left with no time to be alone.  Mark tells us, “Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. 

Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, everyone is looking for you.  He told them, let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also.  For this purpose I have come.”

As we can see, Jesus was in high demand.  He could hardly find a few moments to be by himself and pray to his Father.  People were constantly seeking him out.  

The novelist Rose Macaulay once said, that all she demanded from this

life was "a room of her own." That is precisely what Jesus never had.

Today Our Gospel is set in Capernaum.  Sherry and I visited the synagogue and Peter’s house while we were on our pilgrimage in the Holy Land.  The house was typical of those of its time.  It had one large room that was approximately 20 x 20 and several smaller rooms.  This was where Jesus stayed most of the time during his earthly ministry.

 “A great doctor has said that the duty of medicine is "sometimes to heal, often to afford relief, and always to bring consolation." That duty was always upon Jesus….to help men and woman live, seek eternal life and to die. 

And there is our answer.  We as Christians are called to assist men and women from conception through natural death to point the way to obtaining and sustaining a relationship with God and secure a place in God’s Kingdom.

While it is human nature to try to put up the barriers and to have time and peace to oneself; that is not what Jesus did.  Conscious as he was of his own weariness and exhaustion, he was still more conscious of the insistent cry of human need. So when they came for him he rose from his knees to meet the challenge of his task.

Being a Christian challenges us to seek God’s will above our own.  When we seek God first and submit to his will, it is easier to assist the neighbor who comes requesting a listening ear – we can easily offer to pray for him or her.

When our family interrupts our rest or work then we can respond with compassion rather than irritation.  When the call to serve at church comes we can add our ministry hour to our schedule before our snowshoeing or ice fishing adventure. It is not that our adventures are not important for we need times to get away to refresh our souls and be recharged, but the true recharging comes when we assist those God sends to us. 

After we surrender our will over to God, we need to develop a prayer life like Jesus did.  Jesus knew well that he could not live without God and neither can we.  He knew that if he was going to fully share himself each day that he also needed to take in a deeper spirit of Love.  God is our lifeline.

In a little book entitled The Practice of Prayer, Dr. A. D. Belden has some great definitions. "Prayer may be defined as the appeal of the soul to God." Not to pray is to be guilty of the incredible folly of ignoring "the possibility of adding God to our resources." "In prayer we give the perfect mind of God an opportunity to feed our mental powers."

We are known as Christians in our church, neighborhood, work and our children’s sports teams. The wisdom and counsel we can develop from attending mass,  from developing a relationship in prayer, God and the Holy Spirit is different than what the world shares.  We become people folks feel they can confide in.

Many do not have a support system. You may be the only one who is open to a young woman sharing her abortion story, or a couple comes to who needs marriage counseling or you may be someone a young person can count on to listen compassionately to a story of their experiment with drugs.  Don’t let these grace filled opportunities slip through our fingers.

As we consider the scriptures we can be like Jesus, open and compassionate toward another's needs and depth of suffering. Scripture is full of stories of how Jesus was approached with the needs of others. The most powerful thing we can do is be present and listen.

There may not be enough hours in a day to accomplish everything we want to accomplish but know there are just enough hours in the day to accomplish what God wants you to finish.  Your day will be perfectly timed with rest, prayer and work when we seek God first and surrender ourselves to His will. 

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