FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (2021)
Readings:Job 7:1-4, 6-7Psalms 147:1-61 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23Mark 1:29-39
For all those who at anytime have felt overwhelmed and put upon, Job’s words in the first reading clearly resonate: “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of hirelings? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages. So have I been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me. If in bed I say, “When shall I arise?”, then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until dawn. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.” It is of small consequence, that the responsorial psalm reminds us to “praise the Lord, who heals the broken hearted,” for the depressive dimensions of life often weigh us down, and leave us without hope.
There are many who appear to take delight in their maliciousness, but it is unclear that they are genuinely happy. It is no doubt clear to all that they have the power to make others unhappy, but what is not clear is whether they have the power to make themselves truly happy, for delight can only come to those who strive to do the will of the God we worship, a God whose intention is not to make every moment of life giddy with excitement, but He is a God who is desirous of lifting our burdens, and, as todays’ gospel acclamation states, a God who takes away “our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
In our gospels for these Sundays in Ordinary time Jesus is just beginning His earthly ministry, and we are given in the first chapter of Mark examples of His desire to do God’s will to bring ordinary life back to a vestige of what it was at the beginning of time. Last week He is seen as having power over the evil spirits, the kind of spirits that take “delight in their maliciousness.” This week Jesus is no sooner told that His new friend Simon Peter’s “mother-in-law lay sick with a fever,” when He immediately goes to her, “grasped her hand (the power of touch sadly missing during our pandemic), and helped her up.” When the fever left her, she did what she was accustomed to do, “she waited on them,” something to be sure that made her happy.
Jesus’ brand-spanking new disciples got the point and seized the moment, bringing to Jesus “all who were ill and possessed by demons.” Jesus “cured many who were sick with various diseases,” and “He drove out many demons.” Jesus surely knew He could not eradicate all illness, or expel every possible demon, but He was compelled to go to the nearby villages in Galilee so that as many people as possible might come to know that the God they worshipped wanted what was best for them, wanted them to be made right physically and psychologically.
Jesus is the answer to the despair of Job. While He cannot make everything right, He is going to give as many people as possible a taste of what His Kingdom is all about. We see the same fervor in the apostle Paul in our second reading who wishes “to win over as many as possible… to save at least some.”
The cares, concerns, and burdens of life, made all the more difficult by those possessed with evil spirits, are nothing in the face of a God who wants what is best for us. It is Jesus who came into our world, and during His short ministry on this earth, taught us that the cares and concerns of this world, the failures and losses that we must bear, lead not to a death that should be feared, for even they can lead us to a life that is eternal in the kingdom that Jesus came to establish.