- Job 7:1-4, 6-7
- Psalm 147:1-6
- 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
- Mark 1:29-39
One of the things that make us truly human and different from the rest of creation is our ability to reflect on the meaning and the destiny of our lives. We have always asked questions about the tedium, the suffering, and the fragility of our lives here on earth.
The readings today give us two fragments of the thoughts and the approach of Job and of Christ.
Job is pessimistic, even depressed. He moans that the rhythm of life is one long cycle of drudgery and delusion, grief and hopelessness. Life for him is short and without promise. Though we may think that Job is being overly pessimistic, it is true that the lives of many in the past and in the present, do fit the description because of poverty and disease, especially in developing countries, and in the developed world, many suffer because of lack of hope or of affection in their lives or for want of direction and meaning to guide them through the storms of life. The lives of many or most who ever lived and who presently live are blighted with more suffering than we will ever know.
The gospel gives hope. The rhythm of Christ’s life as portrayed by Mark is much different to that of Job. Christ begins his day, not wondering when will it be evening as Job does, but by entering into intimacy with the Father in prayer. From contact with the Father his identity and purpose and his sense of himself and his mission flow. He then moves into action and returns to prayer in reflection on that action.
What Job and Christ have in common is the reflection they engage in. The conclusions of the Job of this extract and of Christ are very different. The futility and desperation of Job is replaced by the purpose and direction of Christ’s life and ministry.
The mission of Christ is to pray and to preach, to heal and to call to faith. He is fulfilling the description of the Messiah given in the Psalm.
He is good and loving; building up and bringing back; healing and binding; calling each one by name. He is great, almighty and wise, a God not of the mighty but of the humble.
God alone and faith alone give adequate answer to the riddles of life which sustain us in suffering and tedium. The Gospel call to healing and faith can give direction and promise to life. It gives guidelines and commandments to guide our reflections and decisions, to live by and to love by. It gives the prospect of triumph over death and the transformation of suffering. It gives us an example of love in action in the life and ministry of Christ and the promise of victory when life is over. The rhythm of the Gospel is the rhythm of a life of prayer and praise, faith and action, purpose and promise.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine,
Runs a joy with silken twine.
It is right it should be so,
We were made for joy and woe,
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.