BEING ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE (cf. 1 Cor 9:23)
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Ps 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 (R. see v.3a); 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39
In our world of today, suffering abounds in great measure in such a way that the book of Job would not be difficult for most people to understand. What is normally difficult to understand is why righteous men do suffer too, when suffering is often associated with evil. That was the confusion in Jobs case that led to his lamentation. It was also a problem in Jesus time (cf. John 9:2) and very rampant in our time, which has given room to the uprising of many solution-centred churches today.
Jesus came that he might liberate us from these sufferings. Consider his manifesto in Luke 4:18-19 in that light. He said, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and sight to the blind; to free the oppressed and to announce the Lords year of mercy. While he went about doing that, he had to also change the impression that all sufferings are due to evil (cf. John 9:3).
So, in healing Peters mother-in-law and many others who were brought to him, Jesus furthered the work of God here on earth. The challenge, before us from all these, is of two fold.
The first challenge is that we need to make good use of the opportunity which Jesus constantly gives us. He says to us, Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matt 11:28). Come to him with all your challenges and he is sure to take care of you.
The second challenge is what St. Paul talks about in the Second Reading. We need to further the healing mission of Christ on earth by ensuring that those who face different challenges see the compassion of Christ through us. Christ emptied himself (cf. Phil 2:7) and laid down his life for us. We too must empty ourselves and lay down our lives for others (cf. 1 John 3:16). Just try and make sure that you offer a smile to someone who is in tears. In such a way, you will be representing Christ well on earth.
Do not think that that would be easy for you to embark on alone. We cannot do that well without Christ. It is in him that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). He already warned us that cut off from him, we can bear no fruit (John 15:5). That is why St. Paul declared, I can do all things in [Christ] who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).
Hence, Jesus teaches us in the Gospel, the importance of prayer even while we labour to do his work. He took out time to pray so that he might be in communion with the Father. We too need to pray always in order to be in communion with him.
May Christ, the Prince of Peace, grant peace to our country in this period of great challenges and turbulence in our nation. Amen
Have a blessed and peaceful Sunday celebration. Peace be with you.