Our Lady Queen of Heaven
Catholic Church, Harwich, Essex

Fifth and Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, First Sunday in Lent 4, 11 and 18 February 2024

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mark 1:29-39)

Mark sets before us a typical day’s ministry of Jesus in Capernaum. The miracles of Jesus are signs of the kingdom and point to the resurrection. He has come to raise up to new life those who welcome his help. Mark speaks of Jesus at prayer before the night ends.

How do I experience the new life and healing Jesus brings?

Do I allow time for quiet prayer in my daily life?

Let us pray for those who struggle with debilitating sickness of body or spirit.

Let us pray for those who care for sick and elderly family members.


Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mark 1:40-45)

What is most remarkable about this miracle ism that ‘Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him’. Jesus is not afraid to violate the law by reaching out and touching the leper. He challenges the rules about what is ‘clean’, and what is ‘unclean’.

Jesus orders the man to tell nobody about his healing. But in his enthusiasm the man proclaims the word everywhere. The gospel ends with the irony that, while the leper rejoins society, Jesus the healer stays outside ‘in places where nobody lived’.

What does Jesus’ acceptance of the leper teach us?

How do I try to reach out to those who are rejected by society?

Let us pray for a spirit of compassion and understanding.

Let us share the healed man’s enthusiasm to make known the goodness of God.


First Sunday of Lent (Mark 1:12-15)

It is an ancient custom in the Church that the temptation of Jesus in the desert should be read on the First Sunday of Lent. The Church always puts before us his time of solitude. Jesus has just received baptism from John and is filled with the Spirit. This same Spirit drives him into the wilderness, the place of desolation and loneliness.

Jesus was tempted. To be tempted is the fate of all human beings. That Jesus was tempted shows his humanity. He did not give way to temptation. Mark shows that this Son of Man is at peace with all creation and cared for by the providence of the Father.

The reading concludes with a reminder of Jesus’ mission, to preach the ‘good news’ from God. To announce that the time has come, and that the kingdom is approaching. We begin the season of Lent, a time of self-examination and self-denial. We are invited to welcome God’s special time of blessing and the coming of the kingdom into our lives.

How does the story of the temptation enrich my understanding of the humanity of Jesus?

How does this story strike me as I begin Lent?

Let us pray for the Church as we begin this season of fasting and prayer.

Let us pray for the hungry and let us work for a fairer distribution of the world’s goods.

                                                                                                                   Fr Adrian Graffy