Readings for Feb. 5
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Job 7:1-4; 6-7; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19; 22-23; Mark 1:29-39
Today we listen to Job in his misery, sounding very hopeless. He has lost everything — wife, children, extended family, animals, wealth. All is gone and he cries out to God, why? We listen to this reading perhaps asking our own questions of why did this happen to Job since he was such a good man and now he seems in despair.
Perhaps we ponder our own questions of why did misfortune happen to me or to a loved one. Job in all his pain and suffering did not lose hope, he didn’t understand why but he continued to call out to God, he did not turn and walk away from God. What a role model Job is for each one of us. In our journey through life I’m sure there has been a time when you wanted to turn and walk away from God but like Job you stayed or maybe you did turn away and then returned knowing that life without God was impossible.
At the end of the story, Job says, “By hearsay I had heard of you, but now my eye has seen you.” The question seems to be not why did all this happen but how do I trust that all is in God’s hands. Job sees that he does not need to understand God but that he needs to trust what we hear in psalm 147, “the Lord heals the broken-hearted and mends our wounds.”
We may presume that Job’s reflections on the miseries of human life are meant to provide a background for the healing work of Christ, of which today’s Gospel speaks. It is from such miseries that Job speaks of that Christ comes to save us.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus moves from one busy day to the next very swiftly. This week we see him leaving the synagogue where he has taught the people, healed a man of an unclean spirit and then he travels to Peter’s house where he healed his mother-in-law.
He then has crowds of people at the door begging for healing and all this occurred on the first day of his ministry. He then slips out alone for some much needed prayer and again is called back for more healing requests but instead he moves along to the next town in order to teach about his Father and the Kingdom in the synagogue.
It seems there are two agendas here; the people are clamoring after Jesus to be healed and he is focused on preaching the good news.
Isn’t this the same as today? We are constantly praying in petition for something; some type of healing, strength, courage, patience, and all the things we think we so desperately need and Jesus is trying to teach and show us the most important truths we really need to grasp.
Like Job, we can sometimes allow ourselves to believe we can never be happy unless God answers our prayers and heals our suffering when what we need to realize is that God is with us in our life, that Christ has come to save us from our misery.
Instead of focusing on our needs, we can turn our attention to God’s desires for us and we will be able to grasp the hope that awaits us.
Kathleen Ebner is a member of St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Lewes, where she serves as a spiritual director and catechist.