B Cycle – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 20
Life at times is very difficult and for the past year we have been experiencing the impact of job loss, isolation, death, uncertainty, political upheaval, increasing depression and frustration. When will it end and where is God in all of this? The book of Job is one every person should read for Job experiences every loss you can imagine. He expresses his condition by stating he has had months of misery and he shall not see happiness again. If you read the book, you will see his friends are not helping him believe anything will get better. No in fact, they tell him all that is happening to him is his fault for he has sinned and is being punished.
Job is expressing the emotions each of us have felt at one time or another. His words are particularly true in today’s environment and with the uncertainty of when COVID will be eradicated. Is this the wrath of God being inflicted on the world and if so then it certainly does not help us believe in a loving merciful God? But if you take a minute to stop and think about it, things have not changed much from Job’s day to now. So perhaps we can stop looking at the problems we encounter and look for a way to deal with these things by looking at the Kingdom of God versus the Kingdom of the world.
Jesus during his ministry on earth told us the world is still under the dominion of the ruler of the world. But he also told us “in the world there will be tribulation but be of good cheer for he has overcome the world (JN.16:33).
The readings the Church gives us today are interesting for the should open our eyes to a reality each of us face daily. Life can be difficult. Even prior to the pandemic, when things in the world were looking up, we still experience those same emotions of loss, abandonment, betrayal, fear, uncertainty. Death, financial difficulty, job loss, are daily occurrences and none of us are immune. How can we be of good cheer when we have lost control of things we thought were in our control? Jesus offers us the one thing we cannot attain on our own, peace. What were his first words to us as he begins his ministry? He enters the temple, opens the scroll and reads from the prophet Isaiah, “the Lord has anointed me, to bring good tidings to the afflicted. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of prison to those who are captive.” (Is.61:1).
Then he began to do that and is still doing that. He told us the Kingdom of God was at hand, establishing that place on this earth where disciples feel the freeing presence of Jesus. It exists in this world of sin. It is there where we like those people in today’s gospel went to hear Jesus speak to them, touch them, and respond to them. Job eventually gets to that place where his trust in God becomes a visible witness of God’s power to overcome all that assails us.
Jesus, violated all the rules which instead of bringing the people of his day closer to God, kept them from experiencing his presence. He healed on the Sabbath, he touched those declared unclean because of leprosy or because they violated other laws. He dined with sinners and his own disciples violated the laws of purification. His words however, offered hope, forgiveness, mercy, and peace. Instead of seeing certain death or a life lived without hope the people began to believe and opened their hearts to receive what he offered them, life lived in the presence of God.
This is what we need today. We must read this and every reading searching for the message he is speaking to us today. We see in this reading how we must go to him and receive what he has to offer. We do not have to wonder if he will respond, he always responds. Even in this gospel, as he attempts to have private time with his Father, the people will not leave him alone, they show up seeking what he offers them. Does he tell them to wait until his time of prayer is over? Does he get angry with them for disturbing him? Does he tell them that day is his off, come back tomorrow?
No, he responds, and, in that response, we learn a lesson about receiving God’s grace. We learn, we must continually go to Jesus to seek his words, to feel his touch and to be fed from the one who can feed our hunger. We learn not to wait, not to wonder where he is, or to think he will not respond. We are always welcome in his presence; he came for us and to show us the Father’s heart.
We see in the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, how we are to respond when we receive anything from Jesus. She immediately began to serve after she was touched by Jesus. We see that same kind of response from Paul as he proclaims the gospel because he must share the good news of Jesus Christ with those who need to hear it.
How are we responding to the gift of salvation, freely given to us by a loving God who sent his Son to take upon himself the guilt of our sins. We must respond because that is why Jesus came. We are the people in need of his touch. We need to barrier of sin between us and God removed so we can have the glory we lost by the sin of Adam restored. Today the Church is telling us to look at the response of the people in the readings to Jesus and ask ourselves if we are responding in the same way to Jesus.