In his book On Modern Inventions, Martin Buber writes: A rabbi once said to his audience: “There is nothing in this world that we cannot learn from.” The listener reacted skeptically and wanted to test his teacher, so he asked him: “And what can I learn from the railroad?” “That a man can miss a lot if he misses the right moment!” But the listener was still not satisfied: “And what from the telegraph, for instance?” “That every word is counted and accounted for.” The listener made one last attempt, “And what can be learned from the telephone?” “That one hears there what is said here,” said the rabbi.
We are listeners of Jesus Christ. What can we learn from our Master? Mark writes: “Early in the morning, right at dawn, he got up and went out. And he went out into the morning, and went up early, and went out into the morning, and went to the deserted place, and there he prayed.” (Mk 1:35). The Lord Jesus must have helped many people. We can sense this from the words of the Gospel, though it is not in the state as described by Mark, who contented himself with a mere remark: “And he healed many that were troubled with divers diseases, and cast out many evil spirits…” (Mk 1:34).
We know that the Lord Jesus did not desire or seek recognition from men. On the contrary, he often strictly forbade the healed not to tell anyone about it. He was only interested in the person who needed His help. Jesus, however, cares not only for the body but also for the soul of man. We see that He longs to get into the human soul through the healed body. We know that there are those among us “believers” who will say of themselves, “I am not a bad person. I don’t get angry with anybody; I don’t talk badly, I don’t steal…, so why should I pray, go to Mass, or go to confession?”
Let’s look again at the actions of Jesus. He did good works, healed, raised the dead… He was God, and we read further that He also took the time to glorify His Father, with whom He is equal. He didn’t need it, yet He gives us an example by doing so. Finding time even to glorify God, pray regularly, attend Mass, or approach the sacraments. We want to imitate the life of Christ in all things. So, we are not only to find time to help our neighbor, serve him, and visit him but let us not forget spiritual help. Let us help the sick body, but let us not forget to relieve the suffering soul. Helping the ill body is often rewarded with words of appreciation and other praises, but often hidden prayer is not rewarded by the neighbor. Nor do we long for a reward for spiritual help; on the contrary, let us rejoice that no one knows about it but our Father, and He will reward our efforts. We believe in just reward and punishment, so let us not be tempted by the reward here on earth, which is very small and weak.
We see Jesus leaving Capernaum for the surrounding towns to continue there. He doesn’t want glorification from people; He does everything for the higher things. He finds time for others. Let us help them materially, but let us not forget the spiritual, especially prayer, even if others do not appreciate it, if they consider it a waste of time, or do not believe in it at all. Let us encourage ourselves at this Mass so that we may not lose the joy of this activity, of which Jesus Himself gave us the example.
The Rabbi, with his words, did not only encourage and explain to his audience that in all things, a believer can be encouraged in his faith, but he indeed addressed us as well.