5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Jesus cured many who were sick with various diseases.” Entrance Antiphon: Ps 95(94):6-7 — “O come, let us worship God and bow low before the God who made us, for He is the Lord our God.” First Reading: Jb 7:1-4, 6-7 — “I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.” Responsorial Psalm: Ps 147: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 — “Praise the Lord, Who heals the brokenhearted.” Second Reading: 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23 — “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel.” Alleluia: Mt 8:17 — Alleluia, alleluia. “Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Alleluia, alleluia. Gospel: Mk 1:29-39 — “Jesus cured many who were sick with various diseases.” Communion Antiphon: Ps 107(106):8-9 — “Let them thank the Lord for His mercy, His wonders or the children of men, for He satisfies the thirsty soul, and the hungry He fills with good things.” Good evening (morning)! Let me begin by stating a couple of basic facts in the light of our faith as Christians ... as Catholics. God knows our love. God knows everything we think and do. If you feel an absence of God, anger at God, or are disappointed in God – God knows that also. Talk to the Lord about all your thoughts and feelings as you might with a close friend or parent. Let God enlighten your dark corners. We cannot understand all the ways of God. We were not there when God created the world. In the First Reading, we listen to a man named Job. Now, Job was a righteous man. He followed God’s laws and was a faithful Jew. And yet he suffered. His story demonstrates that hardships will befall us – no matter how we live our lives. We are human beings, and it is natural to feel doubt, loneliness, loss, and anger. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it and but we also shouldn’t dwell there. We are called to reorient toward the Lord. Our culture tells us we should be have all that we want when we want it. This is a lie from the Evil One ... from Satan. We experience great joy in life, but we also have great difficulties. Faith and action (rooted in faith) give our lives meaning. Life is short. Live in love and gratitude. We will soon meet the Lord. Don’t let Him be a stranger to you! Our call is to live authentically and preach the Good News that God is real ... that God is love ... and that God will be with us now and always. From the two greatest commandments we know that we are to love God and each other. Saint Francis of Assisi gave up the comforts of life to be able to live authentically among the lowliest people. As we celebrated a few weeks ago, God made Himself one of us by being born of a lowly woman in a manger. Jesus was enslaved ... made captive ... by those who crucified Him. And yet, after all He endured, His example shows us how to love. Once again, I can use the lesson of Saint Francis of Assisi. We are to “preach the Gospel with our lives” and as Saint Francis said, “if we have to use words.” Here and now ... today ... in 2021, we have the benefit of knowing who Jesus is. In Job’s time and into the 1st century AD, people believed that sickness was punishment. Demonic possession was often equated with sickness. The disciples have a difficult time figuring out who Jesus is. His family has a difficult time figuring out who Jesus is. His opponents think He is demonic. But as we’ve heard over the past few weeks, the only ones who recognize Jesus right away are the demons – and they fear Him very much. Jesus prays. It is through prayer (and fasting) that Jesus can work miracles. Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law, but He also went to small towns to preach the kingdom of God. This is one way Jesus made Himself small in order to go and gather sheep. It is yet another example He sets for us. No matter what doubts or hostility we have – or have had – toward faith and God, divine forgiveness is freely available. At times ... perhaps ... we have doubted like Job ... Maybe we may have persecuted like Saul ... Perhaps we have denied Jesus like Peter. But the Holy Spirit gives us the courage to love as Christ did and proclaim the Gospel. God’s mercy is endless. We are to embrace this mercy and be a light to others. Even though at times we feel loneliness and desperation, the Lord is with us, not only in our hearts but also miraculously in the presence of the Eucharist which we will receive shortly from this very table. Let us open our hearts and proclaim Him to the world ... by what we say, by what we do, and by who we are.