Sunday, 2/7/2021, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Don’t Become Restless
First Reading Commentary: Job 7:1-4, 6-7
Who among us is without problems? Sometimes when problems arise, we loose hope and become depressed. We search for answers and worry ourselves trying to find solutions as we attempt to deal with the situation. Sometimes we need consolation but there is nothing that anyone can say to ease our pain. We may even get to the point of just wanting to give up.
None of those thoughts are encouraging. Surely, we do not expect Scripture to give us such messages. But if you read today’s first reading without opening your mind and your heart to the fact that it is the Word of the Lord, it will leave you depressed. If you do not know and consider how the LORD blessed Job later in life, you would have reason to ask, “Why should I have faith?”
Faith is the whole point. When we try to find the answers and solutions to our problems in life without putting our faith in God, we loose hope and become restless and that is because we can do nothing without God. The attitude that Job presents in this speech which he is making, is exactly the wrong attitude to have!
The world cannot fix its own problems. We cannot fix our own problems. The One who created the world is the only One who can fix the world’s problems. The One who created us is the only One who can fix our problems. Expecting things or even wanting things to get better in life without having faith in God is futile. That is the message. Have faith in God and there will be no need for being restless.
Serve with Humility and Be Great with God
Second Reading Commentary: 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
Today, St. Paul’s message to the Corinthians is another message from Paul which also reaches out to us. Paul is calling us to be like him because it is our obligation to spread God’s Word and we have been entrusted with the stewardship of doing so.
In Acts 26:14-18, Paul testified to his conversion which was in mind when he wrote this part of his letter to the Corinthians. Paul testified that Jesus said, “Get up now…I have appeared to you…to appoint you a servant and witness…I shall deliver you from this people and from the Gentiles to whom I send you, to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light…so that they may obtain forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been consecrated by faith in me.”
In answering the call of Jesus at the time of his conversion, Paul became obligated to minister to the Gentiles and anyone else who would listen and Paul was entrusted with the stewardship of that ministry. Paul knew that if he was to be successful in his ministry of spreading the Good News of the Gospel, he had to become like Christ. This meant that Paul had to reach the people where they were and on their level and he had to reach them with humility.
Christ gave us the Gospel and gave Himself totally and completely without charge and without expecting payment of any kind. Instead, Christ made Himself a servant to all of mankind and instructed His Apostles to do the same. In Matthew 20:26-27, Christ said to the Apostles, “…whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”
Christ proclaimed His greatness with humility. Christ proved His greatness and proved that He is first with such extreme humility that we cannot explain it. Christ served us all by giving Himself up on the cross, defeating death and with His Resurrection on the third day.
Paul not only appreciated the sacrifice that Jesus made for mankind, but he also understood that he must do the same in fulfilling his mission. Paul understood that if we are to be great with God and first with God, we must be willing to accept the Gospel in faith and live according to the Word with absolute humility.
To be direct, we have to remember our place! It makes no sense to boast because there is no way that we can prove our greatness to God. We only exist because He said that we can. We could cease to exist just as easily. The only way to be great with God is to be humble.
This is why Paul said, “I have made myself a slave…I became weak…I have become all things to all, to save at least some…for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.” Having a share in the Gospel; means having a place in the Kingdom.
Think about it: When we serve others and practice humility instead of just boasting about how great we are; aren’t we obeying the Second Greatest Commandment: Love thy neighbor as thyself? And when we do that; aren’t we obeying the First Greatest Commandment of loving God with everything that we have? That is the bottom-line reason why Paul made himself so humble and why we should be humble ourselves.
Once Again, Faith Cures All
Gospel Commentary: Mark 1:29-39
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew where Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with fever. Jesus grasped her hand and helped her up and she waited on them. In the evening, the whole town brought their problems to Jesus and He drove out demons and cured the sick. This was in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy, “He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Isaiah 53:4
I want to consider the fact that the whole town came with their problems. All of us are broken. We all have problems and we are all sinners. We are just like the people in this Gospel and if we are to see our problems go away, we must rally behind Jesus. There is no other way.
Oh, we may be able to see some of our problems go away. We may be able to enjoy some physical pleasures. But whatever we may be able to achieve in this life will stay in this life. Whatever pleasures we experience in this life will stay in this life. Everything that we can fix in this life is only temporary. But when Jesus fixes a problem, it stays fixed for all eternity.
We can gain encouragement knowing that Jesus can cure all and that the devil and his evil spirits have no control over us. They cannot harm us unless we allow them to. As John Paul II said, "Be not afraid." If, in faith, we ask Jesus for healing, He will heal us in such a way as to bring us to Him in heaven.
This is why we offer our problems and troubles up to Christ. He takes on all of our burdens and sets us free. We still have to carry our cross in life but in the end, if our faith is absolute, we will be fixed and healed and we will enjoy eternal happiness in the Kingdom of heaven.
Why was Jesus able to cure people so easily? Sounds like a stupid question but the answer is not limited to His divine power. It was because of the faith of the people who came to Him. They were cured because they knew that if they came to Jesus; He would cure them. When we pray, is our faith absolute or do we doubt whether God can or will grant our intention? Sometimes, we do not get the answer that we are looking for because our faith is not as strong as that of the people in this Gospel.
In last week’s Gospel, Jesus drove out a demon who shouted, “I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” In today's Gospel, we hear that Jesus drove out many demons not allowing them to speak. When I think of this, I wonder why Jesus did not want His identity to be proclaimed. Two thoughts immediately came to mind. The first is humility but that is way off base and not the reason at all. Jesus is humble to the Father. Jesus practiced humility to us by giving Himself up on the cross for our salvation. Jesus is not humble to the devil and his demons.
The second thought grabbed me. Again, God does not want to be proclaimed by the evil one or any of his demons. Instead, God, the Father, wants us to know who He is and who His Son is because of our awe of His Almighty power which should strengthen our faith and all of the other gifts which we receive from the Holy Spirit. This strength destroys our fear giving us the fortitude that we need to follow the Son’s Light on our way to the Father. As I see it, our awe for God’s power together with our faith in God, makes all of the other gifts of the Spirit work and we need all of them to reach our destination which is heaven.
The next day, Jesus went to a deserted place but the crowds went looking for Him because they did not want Him to leave. But Jesus said, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”
We never want to let go of a good thing, do we? Too bad that some of us don’t know when we have a good thing. But these people in Judea did. That is why they did not want Jesus to leave them and we should not want Him to leave us either. The thing is that Jesus does not ever leave anyone who does not leave Him!