Today we celebrate the fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time. This week on Thursday, we will celebrate the World Day of the Sick. As I mentioned at the beginning of mass I will offer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to any who would like to celebrate it. Before we do that – I want to share just a couple of thoughts about our Scriptures.
In our first reading from the Book of Job we hear Job speaking to his friends. They believed that if you did good things God would reward you and if you did bad things you would be punished by God. Job was a good man and here he was suffering beyond belief. He responds to his friends by telling them what it is like to suffer – to be without hope. We are left there today – with Job’s reflection that there is nothing that can be done for him. He is discouraged and so he tells his friends and God, that he is without hope.
In the Gospel Mark tells us that Jesus and the disciples enter the home of Peter and his brothers. Peter’s mother in law is there and she is ill. Jesus heals her of her fever. Her response is to serve Jesus and his companions.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about what Christ has done for him. He is a willing servant of Jesus – a slave of the Gospel message because it brings life to people. He proudly proclaims that it is the Gospel of Jesus that moves him to do all that he does.
It is appropriate that we pray for the sick – millions of people are suffering because of Covid-19 – close to 2.5 million people have died because of it. Because of the Covid-19 virus countless people are struggling with their mental health, with relationships, with their jobs, and with work – thousands are out of work and/or have lost their businesses and their homes. Now is a good time for us to weep and to speak to God about our suffering and the suffering of our brothers and sisters. Now is a good time for us to ask our God to hear us, to see us, to heal us.
Now is a good time for us to realize that doing the right thing does not always result in blessing and doing the wrong thing does not always result in punishment/suffering. Our relationship with life and with God is much more complex.
The readings remind us that when we are suffering it is right and good and normal to speak of our suffering to God – to shout about the unfairness of life. The readings also remind us that our relationship with God cannot be reduced to an “I’m good, I deserve a blessing” or a “he is bad, he deserves punishment” dynamic.
We are reminded that we are called to be like Job – to acknowledge our suffering and to speak to God about it. We are reminded that we are called to service – whether life is good or not – God calls us to service. Finally, the one thing that ought to shape our behavior is the presence of God in our lives. All that we do, should be done because of God. God has given us everything and the only response worthy of such a gift is gratitude and service.
As we continue our prayer let us remember that there is room in our bodies, hearts and minds for anger and hurt and there is also room for faithful service, thanksgiving and praise. God does not walk away from us when we fail! We do not walk away from God when pain and suffering become a daily part of our lives. Let us live for the sake of the Gospel!
Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI