Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 4, 2018
What “mom” among us has not come home, bone weary, with an armload of groceries, but no plan for dinner, only to be greeted at the door with a chorus of
“MMOOOOMM!!!! Where have you been? I need__________________” (fill in the blank)?
Or what “dad,” after a long, hard day at work, anxious to lay back in the recliner and watch a game, is welcomed with…not a hug and a kiss…but: “Don’t get too comfortable, we have to __________________________” (fill in the blank)?
This probably strikes a familiar note to most folks, bringing a nod and a knowing smile to the face. But, ask a young parent in Afghanistan, or Syria, or Peru, or Africa how they enjoyed last evening, and you are likely to hear a heart-wrenching story that brings tears to the eyes, not a smile to the lips. All over the world, there are parents who hear their children say: I need…and you can fill in the blank with words like…water to drink, I am so thirsty…something to eat, we haven’t eaten since yesterday morning…help, I am so sick…there are too many blanks to fill in to even begin to recount the suffering!
For some, the First Reading from the Book of Job is a vivid description of their day-to-day, hand-to-mouth existence. But, even those of us blessed to live in a privileged country still wrestle with things that keep us tossing and turning at night. In fact, wealth is not a protection from misfortune, distress, or the loss of hope. Oftentimes, it is actually the cause of tragedy. It all boils down to the fact that the world is indeed a hostile environment. And while there are most definitely degrees of suffering, pain is pain…worry is worry…misfortunate is misfortune…loss is loss, and whatever the cause or the level of intensity, it can still be debilitating. It can rob us of our sleep, leaving us physically, emotionally, and spiritually fatigued. And God knows this!
Motivated by love for us and the desire to ease our sufferings without eliminating our free will, God’s Eternal Word took Flesh to walk among us. And for an all too short period of time, Jesus could not help but overpower sickness, disease, hunger, sin, evil spirits, and even death itself. When encountering human suffering, the Lord’s wondrous powers and miraculous deeds simply erupted from Him in an almost spontaneous and uncontainable display of compassion and love. Jesus could not help but to heal. And when He returned to heaven, He left behind the healing and calming power of the Gospel.
In our Second Reading, St. Paul describes how The Good News has the heart, the mind, the energy, the power, and the compulsion that was The Incarnation. The Lord left, within easy reach of our hands, what we need to plow through our sufferings and to recover hope and peace. When you step forward and extend your hands and say AMEN…it truly is given to you.
And this might be the key to opening up today’s Gospel passage. Once you have recovered your health, like Peter’s mother-in-law, stand up and serve!