V Sunday  in ordinary time

V Sunday in ordinary time

Gio, 04 Feb 21 Lectio Divina - Anno B

Job 7:1-4, 6-7; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark l: 29-39.

First Reading taken from the Book of Job, presents the most painful moment in the life of Job. In fact, this phase of life for Job is his "why me?" moment. Through the acts of Satan, he loses all his wealth along with his Children. The book of Job is the perfect example of the suffering of the innocent. Moreover, the book shows the way to liberation i.e. God is our hope and one must trust in Him at all times. Like Job, even today, innocent persons continue to suffer in our neighbourhood, country and world at large. Job feels abandoned by friends and by God when confronted with sufferings, offers the dark reflection on the world.  The story of Job expresses a typical human problem that bad things happen to good people and the question whether people can serve God selflessly, without hope of any reward.  In all his suffering, Job did not know what we know, that he was being tested by God to see if he would remain faithful in his service to God. He did not know Satan was challenging God regarding his loyalty. He did not know that in the end, God would reward his faithful loyalty, blessing him with more than he had in the beginning. Job and his friends did have an extended dialogue on sufferings. One said that Job had sinned. Another said that Job should repent. The last said that Job’s guilt deserved punishment. Even his wife questioned his integrity, telling him to curse God so he could die. But, remaining faithful in the service of the Lord, Job said that he has received good things from the hand of God and why not receive bad things from him.  At this point of his journey there appears to be no end to Job’s misery. The nights seem to drag on and on since he is unable to sleep because of all his pain. For him his days seem to move more swiftly than a shuttle across the threads on a loom.  Soon the frail fabric that is his life will come to an end.

In the Second Reading Paul expresses his fidelity in the service of the Lord. To emphasize this fact he tells them how he has given up rights and privileges which he certainly could claim, in order to give himself fully and entirely to the spreading of the gospel among them and to be free from any personal interest and gains.  Thinking spiritually, he considers himself as a slave indebted to Jesus, never being able to repay for the gift of salvation that was promised to him by the grace of God. The fact that he had been chosen by Jesus to proclaim the Gospel was not a reason to boast. It was an obligation as a born again Christian to preach the Word of God in answer to his calling to walk his living faith in Christ.  His loyalty to Christ who had personally called him motivated him to preach the Gospel so that he could share in the eternal reward that awaits all those who remain as faithful servants of the Lord. Paul viewed his work for the Lord as he being entrusted with a commission, to be the faithful ambassador of Jesus. Therefore his first and utmost preoccupation is to deliver the message at all cost in complete obedience and service to his master.  He does his work freely and willingly, without any charge.  He says that in order to win many over to Christ, he made himself a slave to all. He set aside many of the freedoms that he previously enjoyed in order to make himself acceptable to all.  He becomes all things to all in order to save at least some. And Apostle Paul invites us to become all things to all persons in order to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul speaks eloquently of how he has sought to meet diverse people on their own terms in order to bring them the gospel. The implication is that if Paul can share the gospel among so many types of people of social and economic situations, we, the living Church, should also be able to live Christ-cantered lives in the midst of the diverse circumstances, cultures, socio-political scenarios.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we continue to read from Mark’s Gospel, learning more about the ministry of Jesus. Jesus cured Simon’s mother-in-law, and she immediately began to serve Jesus and his disciples. Jesus also cured many others who were brought to him, healing their illnesses and driving out demons. As we will see throughout Mark’s Gospel, Jesus did not permit the demons to speak because they knew his identity and would have revealed it to those who were present. On the morning after this busy day, Jesus retreated in prayer, but was pursued by Simon and others who brought news that many people were looking for him. At this point in Mark’s Gospel, we begin to see a distinct role for the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples—they act as intermediaries between Jesus and the people. Jesus reports to his disciples that they need to leave Capernaum to preach in other places.

We can see in today’s Gospel a picture of Jesus’ ministry: preaching, curing the sick, driving out demons, and then moving on to continue this work in another place. Mark's Gospel tells us that Jesus did this throughout Galilee. Jesus’ compassion and healing of the sick is a sign of the Kingdom of God. The Church continues to extend Christ’s healing presence to others in its ministry to the sick. In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the Church prays for spiritual and physical healing, forgiveness of sins, and comfort for those who are suffering from illness.

In today’s Gospel we also notice the importance of prayer in Jesus’ daily life. Jesus rose early in the morning, removed himself from the crowds, and went to a deserted place to pray. When the disciples found him, he told them that it was time to move on. We believe that in his prayers Jesus found guidance and direction from God. We also bring our decision-making to God in prayer, asking for his guidance and direction in our lives.

Today’s Readings tell us that we have different examples of how one can think spiritually as against worldly thinking. They echo how the weak human nature often overcomes the spiritual nature that perceives the greater mysteries of God. We have come to the realization that in order to remain faithful in the service of the Lord, we must embrace a spiritual mind so that we can understand the things of God. We have learned that no matter how hard life be at times, by the power of the Holy Spirit and a spiritual approach we can overcome any obstacles in life.  We can by the grace of God the Father in the Name of Jesus face any suffering and pain. As we receive freely from God many blessings, we must give freely to others our self, not expecting any worldly reward. What Jesus presents us today is a life filled with meaning:  A life where there is time for prayer, reflection and coming closer to God; where there is time for sharing with others in word and action; where there is time for building and healing and reconciling. Jesus needed prayer to find the will of his Father and he shows us way to pray in order to discover the will of God in our lives and discover the path he has chosen for us.  Prayer is essential for everyone and helps us to overcome the darkness of life.

The lesson we learn from the liturgy is that suffering is inevitable in life. Each religion has to deal with this as a fact. The maximal intensity of suffering is death. In the face of suffering man is powerless and he tries to find meaning to it. In Christianity, the attitude towards suffering is quite basic and definitive.  It is the suffering of Christ that gives meaning to our sufferings. Christ has come as the redeemer and the conqueror of suffering and of death. He does not limit his healing mission to the physical sufferings alone but seeks to heal the whole person. The inner healing of the person and the forgiveness of sins is the mission of Jesus. God intervenes in human situation to alleviate suffering, yet he permits suffering to take place. Sufferings often motivate people to seek God, and as they draw closer to Him they can understand Him better. In the first reading we have Job, that legendary model of long-suffering patience, is speaking of the tiresomeness of life.  He complains of the hardships he had to experience in life in the face of sudden disasters. He gives expression to the pain and sorrow he is facing. He is unable to see the happiness that lies in store for him. In the second reading Paul speaks of the obligation imposed on him to preach the Word of God, making himself the slave of the Gospel.  Yet he does this task willingly and freely without looking for any reward. The Gospel gives the vivid picture of healing ministry of Jesus and his popularity as everyone was searching for him. But he chooses to go to other places to continue his ministry of preaching and healing. In the midst of his heavy work of teaching and healing he spends his time in prayer.

During this week let us reflect on the typical day in the life of Jesus: a teacher, a preacher, a healer and a man of prayer. As the followers of Jesus let us all aim to be like him in our lives and in our proclamation of his kingdom.