First Reading: Job 7:1-4. 6-7; Psalm: 147. R. v. 3a; Second Reading: 1 Cor 9:16-19. 22-23; Gospel: Mk 1:29-39



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“Everyone is searching for you.” (Mk 1:37).

The above statement were the words of Simon Peter and the other three disciples. They were excited that the popularity of Jesus has snowballed. Obviously, they were with Jesus when Jesus entered the synagogue in Capernaum in the gospel of last Sunday. They saw how Jesus stunned his listeners when he spoke with authority. And even more, how Jesus healed the man with unclean spirit. It was at this point that the fame of Jesus began to spread everywhere and around the surrounding region of Galilee.

After this definitive impression in the synagogue, Jesus visited the house of Simon. And again they saw how Jesus instantly healed Simon’s mother-in-law of her fever. By evening, words have gone round about the marvellous deeds of Jesus which began in the synagogue. The people of the city brought many who were sick and possessed and Jesus healed them. The following day, Jesus rose and went to a lonely place to pray. It was while Jesus was praying that the disciples brought these words to him: “Everyone is searching for you.” Apparently, more sick people were brought to Jesus for healing but Jesus was nowhere in sight. That the disciples were able to find Jesus showed their enthusiasm to see Jesus build on his growing popularity. But Jesus burst their bubble. “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.”

The disciples must have been disappointed by this reply of Jesus. But the truth is that popularity has a way of stealing from us if we are not vigilant. Popularity can make us unoriginal. It can make us build our lives around what excites and entices people that we begin to lose our own identity, our focus. When we incessantly fall to the lure of what people want us to do; we inadvertently begin to fall out of what we ought to do.

The popularity of our world is unoriginal; it is derivative. This is why what is right and acceptable is judged by the marketability of it. This is why fashion depends on what the society decides and not what the individual wants. This is why artistes, actors and actresses in the music and film industries no longer listen to the voice of morality but the demands of the people. What excites the society and not what builds it is what they propagate and sell. But Jesus is clearly saying something different today – ‘Look the opposite side.’ The larger voice of the people even when attractive could be leading us away from what is most important. The desire for popularity could steal our identity.

Again, let’s hear one more time the message of the disciples – “Everyone is searching for you.” For the disciples, Jesus should seize this opportunity to expand his popularity. But if we choose to interpret their message differently, we could say that perhaps the disciples wanted Jesus to do more good works. After all, healing the sick is something good. Alright then; let’s assume that was the intention of the disciples. Was Jesus against healing the sick? Definitely not. Before now Jesus healed in the synagogue and in Simon’s house; after which he healed many who were sick and possessed that were brought to him by evening of the same day. But as we can see, the demand became endless. Everyone began to search for Jesus for the same reason. Not for who he is; but for what he does.

Jesus saw this coming and this was why he withdrew to a lonely place to reflect and to pray so as to reconnect back to his identity and primary mission. Who Jesus is, is most important and that is what defines his mission and not what the people want. Jesus is the ‘Word of God’ (Jn1:1), and the Word of God is the first foundation of faith and not miracles. Spiritual gifts like miracles will cease (1 Cor 13:8-10); but the Word of God is eternal. Can we see the reason Jesus withdrew to a lonely place? If the people were searching for him because of the miracles he performed, we can imagine what will happen when Jesus ceases to perform miracles. They will all go away. This is the same reason why some gullible Christians jump from Church to Church today. Faith built on miracles is like a house built on a sandy foundation. It will not withstand the rain and wind of trials.

Jesus teaches us today that the popular opinion of the people should not always eclipse or sell. When we are surrounded by the persuasive demands of the society and the pressure becomes too much; we can like Jesus retreat for a while to reflect and pray so as to listen to God and to reconnect back to our true identity and goal. Because when we endlessly yield to the demands of the society, we could lose our identity as disciples of the faith.

People do all sorts of things today just to gain popularity and recognition. We have become commodities of adaptation to suit the demands of our buyers. We do all sorts of things on Tik Tok, Instagram and Snapchat just to entice, excite, and to whet the appetite of our viewers. The morality of our actions doesn’t matter to us anymore so far as we have more viewers and followers. We give our viewers what they want in order to get what we want. The demands of our viewers have stolen our originality and identity because we have become slaves of profit and popularity. Jesus calls us today to rediscover our identity as his sons and daughters through reflection and prayer. To retreat for a while to listen to what God could be saying to us in our routinary life.    

Beware of “everyone is searching for you.” What everyone wants may be leading us astray. Many pastors have been led astray and ruined by the craze for miracles and popularity. Many lives have been lost due to the gullibility of believing what is deceptively acclaimed as divinely inspired but in reality is evil and fake. Even the Devil recognised and professed the name of Jesus (Mk 1:23-24). Jesus knew what the craze for miracle could do. He knew how people could easily fall for it without any depth of faith. He knew the frenzy it could cause and how preachers could be tempted to gain popularity with it. But Jesus did not fall for the popularity of miracles. Because genuine faith cometh by hearing and not by excitement. And this was why Jesus said to his disciples; “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.”

“Everyone is searching for you” is a language of popularity. Beware of it as a leader. Beware of it when you are successful. Beware of it when people sing your praises. Beware of it when you are loved by everyone. Because it may be about to steal from you; to make you derail from your primary goal; from your identity. But reflection and prayer could bring us back to track; to make us rediscover our initial goal, and to see the need to turn the other side and continue on the right road.  


Lord Jesus, amidst the many voices in our world calling us to follow the popular demands of our society; may we listen to your voice of wisdom and be courageous to do what you command. Amen.           

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