Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere. Mark 1:44-45
The man who went away and “began to publicize the whole matter” did so understandably. He had been suffering from the awful disease of leprosy and most likely was losing hope. He came to Jesus, knelt down humbly before Him and expressed his profound faith. He said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus, of course, did wish to make him clean and immediately healed the leper.
What’s interesting is that, after healing the man, Jesus told him not to tell anyone. But, in his excitement, the man went off telling everyone. The result was that Jesus’ fame and reputation exploded and curiosity about Him spread everywhere. People sought Him out with such interest that, as this passage says above, “It was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.”
This story should naturally raise a few questions in our minds. One interesting fact to ponder is that Jesus appeared to have no interest in being “popular.” He could have easily went from town to town and, as He entered a new town, announced, “Attention everyone…I am here!” People would have immediately flocked to Him. But, instead of embracing His instant fame, He went off to deserted places. People came to Him in these hard-to-get-to deserted places.
Jesus went off to deserted places waiting for people to seek Him out because His life was all about fostering authentic conversion of souls, not cultural popularity. He wasn’t interested in the esteem of worldly opinion, He was only interested in changing hearts. Therefore, by withdrawing into deserted places, He was able to let the Father in Heaven bring to Him those who were open to authentic conversion.
The same is true with us. The “popular Jesus” is not always the “real Jesus.” In other words, the authentic Gospel message is not normally that which our popular culture will hold up as exciting. Jesus and His authentic Gospel message will not always make headlines in the national news. Rather, if we want to find Him, we must diligently seek Him in the hidden and quiet places where He waits for us.
Reflect, today, upon the image of Jesus waiting for you in the silence. Where is that silent “deserted place” in which He waits? Where is He waiting for you to come and meet Him? Seek Him out and when you do discover Him, you will be eternally grateful that you made the effort.
Lord, I do seek You, but I also realize that I never seek You enough. You are there, waiting for me in countless ways. You are calling me into a deeper silence and solitude. In the deserted places of life, You desire to minister to my soul. Help me to listen to You and to make the journey to You. And as I find You, help me to truly embrace the conversion of heart You have in mind for me. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Anthony