Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all of you!
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
February 3/4, 2024
Job 7:1-4, 6-7; 1 Cor. 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39
The title for today is Job’s Reality is Ours. My homily may not necessarily put a smile on your faces, but maybe it will bring you some peace and hope to those of us most in need.
In this first reading, we hear about an experience Job had in his life, something so many people have endured in their lives. Hundreds of patients at Gundersen Clinic came to me with this story over the years. Broken-hearted people, broken by the world, feeling alone…. perhaps you have felt this way. Few of us who live long enough will escape it… broken and wounded by unfortunate tragedies and events in life.
I call it the reality of Job is our reality. It seems to me that if we understand Job, we begin to make sense of our own lives because so often his reality is our reality. To understand this first reading, we must understand the bigger story, the complete story of Job. To understand ourselves we must know our complete story, which is a story of how God is working in our lives over a long period of time.
You see, today’s reading is only the middle of Job’s life. The beginning is a story of riches and blessings, and the end a story of a great restoration and promise.
The beginning, the middle and the end must be taken together if we are to understand Job and what God was doing in his life. One without the others is not enough. The whole story, stitched together as it were, must be grasped. God stitched it together in Job’s life. God will stitch it together in our lives too.
What is that story? In the beginning, Job was a man greatly blessed by God. He had a large family, lots of land, many cattle, sheep, and animals. He lived in a very nice home, had many servants, and was well-regarded by all. He was a man who did not seriously sin. He was a friend of God, you might say. He was also man Satan chose to test, and God permitted the test for reasons Job and others didn’t understand at the time. The worst of evils befell him. His life became miserable. His health, his family, and his possessions were all suddenly taken away from him. He lost everything, except his unwavering faith in God and a conviction of his sinlessness before God. After severe testing, God restored him to his former glory; indeed, God gave back what Job had lost, and even greater things. Yes, Job was restored. His life renewed.
What is the reality of Job in your life? What are the beginning, middle and end of your story? Remember, your beginning, middle, and end must all be taken into account if you are going to make sense of it. They must be seen as a whole. To focus only on one and not on the others is a mistake. How has God stitched your life together for you?
When you are in that middle part of the story, where suffering is all around, maybe remembering today’s Gospel is needed. Imagine Jesus entering the house of your heart. It is in your heart where the meaning of your suffering will be found. Imagine Jesus seeing your pain, your inner sickness, the very stuff you hide from others, things that bother you so much that you lock it up inside, even if it gives you a “high fever”, so to speak. Imagine all this sickness came into your life after having once been happy and content. Imagine Jesus approaching you, grasping your hand, and helping you up out of the pain. Imagine your fever, your inner pain, your concerns, worries and problems vanishing! Not only your problems vanishing, but God restoring you and blessing you in ways that are lavish. How would you feel? What would you do?
My friends, this can happen for you. The beginning is not the end, and the middle is not the end. The beginning and the middle are what leads to a great restoration and blessing for you.
It describes the life of the Son of God who became man for us all, who came to us from the glories of heaven (the beginning), who suffered, died for us (the middle), and then rose and ascended to heaven in the greatest of glory (the end). It describes the life of each of us who follow Jesus. Actually, it is the life of every faithful Christian.
For those of you who are living in the first part, never having experienced significant pain and loss, remember it all can be taken from you in a moment’s time. To those of you who may be living in that middle part of the story, the part of loss and suffering, remember it’s not the end of the story. For all who are living in the third part and have experienced a healing and restoration, live in gratitude. May God bless you all!