Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
February 04, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








Keep your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care,
that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace,
they may be defended always by your protection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Jb 7:1-4,6-7

Job spoke, saying:
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.
Remember that my life is like the wind;
I shall not see happiness again.

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

R/. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.

Praise the LORD, for he is good;
sing praise to our God, for he is gracious;
it is fitting to praise him.
The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem;
the dispersed of Israel he gathers. R/.

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He tells the number of the stars;
he calls each by name. R/.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
to his wisdom there is no limit.
The LORD sustains the lowly;
the wicked he casts to the ground. R/.

Second Reading 1 Cor 9:16-19,22-23

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach,
I offer the gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

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.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.

Alleluia Mt 8:17 


Gospel Mk 1:29-39 

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

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 have I come."
So he went into their synagogues,
preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

Catena Nova

My days pass more swiftly than the weaving of cloth by the weaver. In a very suitable image, the time of the flesh is compared [by Job] with a cloth web. As the web advances thread by thread, so this mortal life passes day by day; in proportion as the web increases, so it advances to its completion. Just as we said before, while the time in our hands passes, the time before us is shortened. Moreover, of the whole length of our lives, the days to come are proportionally fewer to those days that have gone by…. The Redeemer’s pity never delivers anyone after death whom it has not gracefully restored to pardon before death (Pope St. Gregory the Great). 
As soon as Jesus crossed the threshold he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying ill in bed with a fever…. All he had eyes for was the spectacle of a sick woman, lying there consumed with a raging fever. At a glance he saw her desperate plight, and at once stretched out his hands to perform the divine work of healing; nor would he sit down to satisfy his human needs before he had made it possible for the stricken woman to rise up and serve her God. “So he took her by the hand, and the fever left her.” Here you see how fever loosens its grip on a person whose hand is held by Christ’s; no sickness can stand its ground in the face of the very source of health. Where the Lord of life has entered, there is no room for death (St. Peter Chrysologous).
God wishes to test you, like gold in the furnace. The dross is consumed by the fire but the pure gold remains and its value increases. It is in this manner, that God acts with His good servants, who puts theirhope in Him and remain unshaken in times of distress. God raises them up and, in return for the things they haveleft, out of love for God, He repays them a hundredfold in this life and with eternal life hereafter. If then you remain constant in faith, in the face of trial, the Lord will give you peace and rest, for a time in this world, and forever in the next (St. Jerome Emiliani).
Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain. He may prolong my life; he may shorten it. He knows what he is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still he knows what he is about. (St. John Henry Newman).
Let me seek, then, the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into prayer: where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all….In true prayer, although every silent moment remains the same, every moment is a new discovery of a new silence, a new penetration into that eternity in which all things are always new. We know, by fresh discovery, the deep reality that is our concrete existence here and now and in the depths of that reality we receive from the Father light, truth, wisdom and peace. These are the reflection of God in our souls which are made to His image and likeness.  (Thomas Merton)
I am often amazed that this [story] offends many, especially women, who may cynically respond, "That's why she was healed, to be a servant to the men." But they have missed the meaning of the phrase "to wait on them," which is the term used for a deacon. She "ministers" to him, just as the "angels ministered to him" during his time in the desert. Jesus has gone out to Simon's mother-in-law in her disease and grasped her by the hand for the victory of justice. In gratitude for his taking hold of her and giving her life to do his work, she responds wholeheartedly. Now the first four followers of Jesus become five in number. (Megan McKenna)
Having come to earth to proclaim and to realize the salvation of the whole man and of all people, Jesus shows a particular predilection for those who are wounded in body and in spirit: the poor, the sinners, the possessed, the sick, the marginalized. Thus, He reveals Himself as a doctor both of souls and of bodies, the Good Samaritan of man. He is the true Saviour: Jesus saves, Jesus cures, Jesus heals. (Pope Francis)


     In these days of worry about how old a politician is, there's Pope Francis at 87 years of age, one of the oldest pontiffs in history.  And whenever a pope gets to those upper reaches of the life-cycle, eyes turn to the next conclave and bets are taken on who will emerge the next Bishop of Rome.  Whenever that might be, I imagine a frenzied mob of supporters of the conservative favorite storming the Sistine Chapel wearing MCGA (“Make the Church Great Again”) hats shaped like miters, to assure no election fraud prevents their candidate from becoming pope and, above all, no one named to the College of Cardinals by the deceased pope gets elected. The Swiss Guard would be as unprepared and overwhelmed.  

    Yes, a fantasy — I hope — yet suggestive of the same kinds of division within the Catholic Church we see in the nation at large.  And don’t think these divisions don’t overlap.  The intertwining of politics and religion is perhaps stronger than ever in this country.

    To wit the strange occurrence that took place at the Capitol Building last month when an anonymous priest celebrated an unauthorized Latin Mass on a makeshift altar according to the so-called Tridentine rite — all to protest a perceived bias against traditional Catholics by the F.B.I.  I leave it to your imagination who the House members were who lent their support.

    Allied with the organizers of the Mass, a new advocacy group called CatholicVote —which recently endorsed the leading Republican candidate for president (much to his approval) — had someone in attendance who commented, "the American government is based on and was founded on religious liberty, and the U.S. Capitol is a symbol of that government, and … Catholics are welcome there.” That must be a relief to the Catholic president of the United States, the 26 Catholics in the Senate and the 122 Catholic members of the House of Representatives — about 28% of the total (even though the Pew Research Center just reported that Catholics make up 20% of the population coming in second after the 28% who are religiously unaffiliated — the "nones."

    Now members of the Arlington Latin Mass Society and the folks at CatholicVote might not think many of these politicians are "real Catholics" for a variety of reasons.  And maybe not even Pope Francis!  (These days, the question "Is the Pope Catholic?" might get a variety of answers).  For one thing Francis has restricted celebration of that form of the Mass much to the consternation of those who favor it, noting how its use "was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division."  

    But the latest controversy for which he has come under fire from such quarters is a Vatican document — and here I quote the text rather than the sensationalized media reports — saying

when people ask for a blessing, an exhaustive moral analysis should not be placed as a precondition for conferring it….one should not prevent or prohibit the Church’s closeness to people in every situation in which they might seek God’s help through a simple blessing….In this way, every brother and every sister will be able to feel that, in the Church, they are always pilgrims, always beggars, always loved, and, despite everything, always blessed. (Fiducia supplicans, passim; December 18, 2023)

     The reaction to this development has triggered a maelstrom of protest —albeit from a different faction of the church — not seen since Pope Paul VI upheld the traditional teaching on artificial contraception in 1968.  Strange how defenders of the papacy have so surprisingly changed sides, so to speak, isn't it?

    Which brings me to the churches of St. Paul’s time as they were also torn by factions. The “conservatives” of his day were always arguing over the Law of Moses and how much of it Gentile converts were supposed to keep.  Some thought the whole thing, others just circumcision, still others a few dietary regulations, and some rules for marriage.  And Paul was viewed as a dangerous “liberal” by the factions who were pro-Law, because he insisted the Gentiles did not have to observe much, if any, of it.  He thought even Jews no longer needed to do so.  Why, he even called the conservatives “weak” for clinging to certain traditions and insisting others do the same – though he allowed freedom to do as they saw fit for themselves.

      But Paul would always rise to the defense of his Gentile converts whenever they came under attack by the Law-minded.  Even the hot-button issue of eating meat sold in markets that came from a local temple where they were sacrificed to some god by pagan priests -- even that didn’t bother Paul very much.  In a very “liberal” position, the apostle insisted, since such “gods” weren’t real, you could eat meat sacrificed to them.  Of course, this made the “conservatives” very upset.  They accused Paul of promoting a “pagan agenda.”

      Yet Paul was, above all, a preacher.  And like Jesus before him, all kinds of people were looking for him (cf. G). And for the sake of the gospel, he made [himself] a slave to all, so as to win over as many as possible (II). So much so that if eating meat would be a scandal to some people in the church, he advised the “strong” to refrain from such eating in the presence of the “weak”:  a more “conservative” position I’m sure upset some more “liberal” Corinthians who so prized Paul's gospel of freedom. 

      Now the church today could learn much from Paul’s approach, torn as we are on what is and what isn’t essential to the faith, what the gospel demands and what it doesn’t.  Yes, we would do well to learn from Paul’s wisdom: 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.  To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all [people], to save at least some.  All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it (II).  Easier said than done – I know.

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that we may be instruments of healing, relieving the suffering of those who are burdened with illness or frailty, and offering support and hope.

For pastoral ministers and missionaries, particularly those serving in areas of crime and violence: that God will guide and protect them as they accompany God’s people with the Gospel and words of hope.

For all who are hopeless or despairing: that the Spirit of God will bring light to their darkness and hope to their hearts.

For all who feel devalued: that God will heal their self-image and give them a new spirit of purpose and direction in life.

For all who echo Job’s cry: those struggling to survive, fleeing violence, or searching for food: that the Spirit will give them strength and that open our hearts to assist them.

For all who are ill: that the Spirit of Christ may renew the gift of life within them and bring healing to their mind, body, and spirit.

For the members of Congress: that God will guide their deliberations on immigration, help them develop policies that honor the dignity of each person, and promote the greatest good for our society.

For all who are working to establish peace: that the Spirit will lead their dialogue and inspire new pathways to establish lasting peace and mutual understanding.

Out of your power and compassion, O God, you sent your Son into our afflicted world to proclaim the day of salvation. Heal the brokenhearted, bind up our wounds. Bring us health of body and spirit and raise us to new life in your service. We make our prayer through Christ our L ord.  Amen.

Offertory Antiphon

Offertory Hymn


O Christ, the healer, we have come
to pray for health, to plead for friends.
How can we fail to be restored,
when reached by love that never ends?

From every ailment flesh endures
our bodies clamor to be freed;
yet in our hearts we would confess
that wholeness is our deepest need.

Grant that we all, made one in faith,
in your community may find
the wholeness that, enriching us,
shall reach the whole of humankind.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn

Praise the one who breaks the darkness
with a liberating light.
Praise the one who frees the prisoners,
turning blindness into sight.
Praise the one who preached the Gospel,
healing every dread disease,
calming storms and feeding thousands
with the very bread of peace.

Praise the one who blessed the children
with a strong yet gentle word.
Praise the one who drove out demons
with a piercing two-edged sword.
Praise the one who brings cool water
to the desert's burning sand.
From this well comes living water,
quenching thirst in every land.

Praise the one true love incarnate:
Christ who suffered in our place.
Jesus died and rose for many
that we may know God by grace.
Let us sing for joy and gladness,
seeing what our God has done.
Praise the one redeeming glory,
praise the One who makes us one.