February 8: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Job 7:1-4; 6-7; 1 Cor. 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39
The readings of this Sunday proclaim God’s healing power in Christ, who heals our brokenness. The First Reading on the story of Job leads us to reflect on the drama of human suffering and its relationship to our faith and trust in a God who cares for people. As this story unveils, we realize that human suffering and misery have always remained a mystery. During the present economic crisis we have heard of stories of people who have been affected so much that they preferred to leave this world. Each one of us have seen or experienced suffering and misery in reality. We have people in our families who have suffered enormously to extend that we ask: why does God allows such suffering. Job is an upright man, whose earthly goods, his wife, family and health are completely wiped away in a short time. It is not surprising that Job is depressed, confused and even questions God. He doubts the worth of living in his condition. Job like many like many people who have suffered enormously sees no hope beyond this life, and thus wrestles with the drama of human suffering. But in the face of all this, Job remains faithful to God. In all his suffering, Job did not know that he was being tested by God to see if he would remain faithful. He did not know that Satan was challenging God regarding his loyalty. Here we have a lesson for each and every one of us. No matter what happens in life, we should always think spiritually in order to try to understand the grace of God at work in our lives. Job's condition reminds us of the situation in many parts of the world, where economic poverty and disease continue to wipe away family members. Like Job, those left behind search for the meaning of such suffering. As Christians, we believe that God knows our suffering and cares for us.
The Gospel passage centres on healing by Jesus. He starts at the home of Peter's mother-in-law who had fever and then continues healing the whole evening. The healing itself was not the main point. Rather it was a symbol, a sign of restoring people to health, to integrity of mind and body, so that they could enjoy the fullness of life, which is a foretaste of the Kingdom of God. Thus Jesus' teaching, healing and exemplary all point to the Kingdom of God. At the end of the day's healing ministry, Jesus was tired. But we hear that early in the morning "he went off to a lonely place and prayed there". We are reminded of the temptation to neglect prayer in the midst of our busy ministry. Without prayer we would soon run out of steam, because that is where we must go to regain our daily energy. It is in prayer that we deepen our relationship with the Lord and focus more on the meaning of what we are doing. Early in the morning, we too must go off to a lonely place and pray. We must find time to be alone with Christ, so that Christ may speak to us in the silent hours of the morning, and give us the energy to face the day. The Central message may be summed up in three points. 1) The readings underline God’s healing power in Christ who heals our brokenness; 2) Just as in all his suffering Job remained faithful to God, we too are challenged to remain faithful, knowing Jesus will grasp our hand and lift us up; 3) The Gospel reminds us of Jesus’ healing ministry, that having been healed we too become healers of others in the community.
©2009 John M. Mbinda