The Overnighter

Today’s readings:

  • Hebrews 2:14-18
  • Mark 1:29-39

In the Douay, the RSV, or the NABRE with other Mass texts.
The Vulgate if you’re up to it.

Then, at very early dawn, he left them, and went away to a lonely place, and began praying there. Simon and his companions went in search of him: and when they found him, they told him, All men are looking for thee. And he said to them, Let us go to the next country-towns, so that I can preach there too; it is for this I have come.
Mark 1:35-38 (Knox)

At St Dominic’s, on the first Friday of the month, overnight into the first Saturday, there is an over-night Adoration. The youth, I think, must be really into it: overnighters always seem to appeal to the youth. I’m happy to get there at 6AM to join in the fun. That last hour in the predawn light of San Francisco, kneeling before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, is so rich! (Lest anyone say the Orthodox do not do this, we had such things at the Monastery, but nothing quite so intense.) To be there in the darkness, with candles and the white-hot Host shining out at you; Alive, Eternally Present, and yet intimately loving and loved. The Heart of Love, on fire for the world, waiting in silence only for our love to respond.

I love this image in St Mark of Jesus, after healing pretty much anyone within a day’s walk of Simon Peter’s house, going out exhausted to pray in the predawn silence. It shows the reality of the incarnation. Jesus, as a Baby, as a Newborn, was God – but the physical reality of his brain, of his vocal chords, of his muscle control, was a real baby, a real newborn. The Word had no words.  And here, Jesus as a Man, can be the creator of the universe, the healer of every wound, the joy of every heart; but a human body can’t keep going: it stops from time to time. It sleeps. It needs recharging. And he’s not here to run it into the ground doing miracles. He’s got stuff to do! He can’t be a superhero of sorts: a miracle-working God in a man suit. He has to be us. St Paul makes it clear, today in his Epistle to the Hebrews:

And so he must needs become altogether like his brethren; he would be a high priest who could feel for us and be our true representative before God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. It is because he himself has been tried by suffering, that he has power to help us in the trials we undergo.
Hebrews 2:17-18 (Knox) 

Jesus is like us in every way. This so important. He is still God, yes, and he is still Man, and sinless. But really: he dies. He needs to sleep. He’s hungry. He’s subject to the full situation here – he is subject to the fallen order even though he, himself, is not fallen. Think about that that for a moment: to rescue us, God has to play by the house rules here. The same ones you and I have to play by. So after a night of exhausting spiritual labor. Prayer has to happen. But then something else…

We come to him in the silence before dawn and say, “Everyone is looking for you.”

When he says let us go… together… into the neighboring towns, he means, from his place of prayerful, loving silence, that we have work to do. As the day’s dawn rises, we have to get out there, into the neighborhood, into the streets, to do the work he has given us to do. It’s not enough to kneel in silence without getting out here. It is for this he has come… and so, too, us.

Everyone is truly looking for Jesus – even the ones don’t yet know it. It is our job to bear up (and to be) that Sacred Heart, on fire with love for the world. That’s what happens with the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Loyal Heart of Joseph: all set on fire with Jesus’ Love. What of you? It is good to adore, to repair in silence for the sadness and sins of the world, but we must go out into the neighboring towns. We are God’s hands and feet in the world, being the presence of Love in Action.

The Heart beats: so we must dance.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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