Bulletin: February 7, 2021
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our readings today summon the Church to embrace its calling, to join in God’s healing of the world. As we hear of Job’s anguish, in which all hope and purpose have disappeared, we are reminded of the depth of suffering in the world around us, and perhaps also within our own hearts. We hear of Jesus bringing healing and hope to Simon’s mother-in-law and to the community around Capernaum. And we hear of Paul’s commitment to “become all things to all”, that is, to walk alongside all kinds of people, offering good news of the love of God. We need to be a people who do not hide from broken hearts, including our own. We are to share in the suffering of our world, but also to live as those who can tell the world of a God who brings hope. At our best, we the Church embody God’s great desire to heal the brokenhearted.
A TIME TO LAMENT
The poignant description of human suffering in our reading from the book of Job echoes the cries we have heard throughout the world with the coming of the coronavirus. We grieve many losses: of life and health, of jobs and security, of freedom to be with those we love. We are reminded that many of the psalms are prayers lamenting that the world is often not what it ought to be. In these coronavirus times, we the Church are first called to prayerfully lament: to weep with those who are weeping and to ache for a better world. Our prayer can remind us that, as Paul described in Romans 8, all creation is groaning, and the Holy Spirit is groaning in wordless, shared suffering.
We also live in God’s promise to transform our tears into joy. God is eager to bring healing to the world, and we are God’s instruments in doing so. We bring God’s gifts of creativity, resourcefulness, and perseverance to the task. Our prayerful lamentation reminds us of the urgency of God’s work through us.
FREED TO SERVE
The first chapter of Mark’s Gospel is very fast-paced, as Jesus begins his ministry on the move. The first scene in today’s passage happens so quickly that it’s easy to miss: Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law, and she promptly begins to serve Jesus and the disciples. This woman is never named, and only noted by her relationship with Simon. But she is the first person in Mark, once healed by Jesus, to clearly respond as a disciple. Her healing frees her to serve Jesus and others, and sparks the healing of many others.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus’ healings restore health, dignity, and a place in the community. They are also a summons to service. Mark’s brief story highlights that God is always raising up persons and communities, healed of illness or sin or sadness, to join in God’s healing work for others.