Readings for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

Isaiah 40:21-31; 1 Corinthians 9:16-27; Mark 1:29-39

Part of being human is having needs. Physical, emotional, medical, financial, spiritual…the list of things you and I need at this very moment could fill a notebook the size of the New York City yellow pages.

What we’re often not very good at is putting those needs in proper order. We pay too much attention to matters of less significance while neglecting those things which should be at the top of our list. For example, we might devote more time in the day to planning dinner than we do to prayer.

In our Gospel reading, the disciples expect Jesus to keep cranking out the miracles, and are taken aback when he goes off by himself to pray. They see the need for healing miracles, but not the greater need for prayer and preaching (Mark 1).

Our Old Testament lesson reminds us that God towers over creation with incomparable greatness. Yet amazingly, He sees the needs of those who are small and frail, and assures us that all who wait upon Him will receive His help (Is 40).

In our Epistle reading, Paul compares the Christian life to an athletic contest. It takes discipline and perseverance  to reach the finish line. We trust not in ourselves, but look to Christ as we strive for an eternal reward (1 Cor 9).