Friday, February 6, 2015

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Readings: Job 7:1-4; 6-7; 1 Cor. 9:16-19, 22-23; Mk 1:29-39
Mystery of human suffering, brokenness, God’s compassion and healing are some of the words that help capture the central message of this Sunday. The readings proclaim God’s healing power in Christ, who heals our brokenness and restore us to wholeness. The First Reading on the story of Job leads us to reflect on the drama and mystery of human suffering. It raises the question of suffering and its relationship to our faith and trust in a God who cares for all people. As this story unveils, we realize that human suffering and misery have always remained a mystery. During the recent years of economic crisis, we heard of many stories of people who had been affected so much that they preferred to die. There are families that lost everything and experienced one misfortune after another, just like Job. We had people in our families who suffered enormously to the extent of asking: 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 people who have suffered enormously, sees no hope beyond this life, and thus wrestles with the meaning of human suffering. But in the face of all this, Job in the end 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. As disciples and stewards of Christ, we believe that God knows our suffering and cares for us.

The Gospel passage reveals a sharp contrast between Job’s sorrowful and sleepless night, and Jesus’ day spent in doing good for others, concluding in a peaceful night and welcoming the dawn in prayer. Jesus starts the day 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 fullness of life as they serve God. This is a foretaste of the Kingdom of God. At the end of the day's healing ministry, Jesus is tired. But we hear that early in the morning "he went off to a lonely place and prayed there". As disciples and stewards, prayer is central to our 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 who fuels our stewardship. Prayer keeps us focused on the vision, mission and purpose of what we are doing. Early in the morning, we too must go off to a lonely place and pray. We must find quiet time to be alone with Christ, so that Christ may speak to us in the silent hours of the morning. There Jesus will give us more 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 and binds up our wounds.  2) Just as in all his suffering Job remained faithful to God, we too are challenged to remain faithful no matter what happens to us; despite our suffering or humiliation, knowing that Jesus will rescue us in the end. 3) The Gospel calls us to be instruments of healing, of God’s loving mercy and compassion in the broken world around us.

©2014 John S. Mbinda

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