Say the Word (Fifth Ordinary)

While it was still night, way before dawn, Jesus got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed.  Simon and those with him went looking for him. They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.” Jesus said, “Let’s go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also. This is why I’ve come.” He went  to their meeting places all through Galilee, preaching and throwing out the demons. (Mark 1: 35 – 39)

Preaching and healing are all of a piece for Jesus. You speak of God’s love and people are healed. Author Tony Hendra experienced the power of this combative ministry the first time he encountered the late Benedictine Monk Father Joe Warrilow, whom he pays tribute to in Father Joe. As a teenager, Hendra confessed to a flirtation he was having with a married woman. Shut up in a room with Father Joe, young Hendra spilled his guts, while Father Joe listened intently.

With his story finished, Hendra sat in silence observing the priest: “He hadn’t questioned a thing I’d said; he hadn’t asked me to repeat or clarify. He seemed to assume that I was telling the truth – which I tried to do … When he finally spoke, his words were slow and stilted: ‘You’ve done nothing truly wrong, Tony dear. God’s love has brought you here before any real harm could be done. The only sin you’ve committed is the sin of selfishness.’ The verdict was gentle, final, the last word of, well, a father.” “I’d never felt so safe and secure with anyone in my life,” writes Hendra. “I wanted to tell him everything that had ever happened in my few years. There were a million things I wanted to ask him. No, two million.” In that moment, Hendra discovers that encountering the love of Christ is a cure. Only say the word, Lord, and we shall all be healed.

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