We don’t often hear from the Book of Job at Sunday Mass. In fact, we only hear from it twice in the three-year reading cycle, and only in Year B, as we are in this year. Today’s reading is a good reason why we don’t – it’s really rather depressing, isn’t it? We hear Job complain: “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? …So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted me.” Not very good news, is it? I don’t know about you, but I come to Mass to be uplifted by the Good News and this doesn’t sound like very good news. But, if we reflect on our lives, most of us would admit that there have been times when we have felt just like Job – some of you might be feeling like him right now, with personal struggles weighing you down. For all of us, the ongoing war in Ukraine and the ever-expanding war in the Middle East, as well as the political turmoil in our own country leave us all troubled; it’s easy to feel more than a little depressed.
Of course, we realize that suffering is a part of everyone’s life and we can all identify with Job’s lament. Fortunately, as you know from Job’s story, all was well in the end. Job put his trust in God, muttering and complaining, but, in the end, humbly admitting that he did not understand God’s ways. In the end, he had his fortune, his family and his health restored. Despite his protestation that we hear at the end of today’s first reading that “I shall not see happiness again,” Job lived a long and, in the balance, a happy life. His story is one that can console and encourage us, especially in the darkest moments of our lives.
And, as it is almost every Sunday, the first reading today was selected to prepare us for the message of the Gospel. In today’s Gospel, we experience our Lord encountering people who are suffering: Peter’s mother-in-law who lay sick with a fever, those who were brought to Jesus with various diseases or possessed by demons. Notice how he responds. He comforts and heals them all as a sign of God’s love and care for them. As we hear this, we are assured that our God will listen to our prayers, will comfort us and, in his time and, according to his will, will heal us. In the meantime, we learn patience and how to trust in God, as Job did. Just as we don’t know how long those who were brought to Jesus that day had been suffering from their illnesses, so we don’t know when God will come to us and heal us. But, like Job and the people in our Lord’s day, we put our trust in God and await his healing power to touch us.
And, just as Jesus came to show God’s love and saving power in person to the people of his day, those of us who follow Jesus are called to show God’s love and healing power in person to the people we encounter every day. That’s why we care for the sick and comfort the distressed in our families and among our friends and neighbors. That’s why we have Catholic hospitals and nursing homes, schools for the blind and deaf and homes for the disabled. Of course, so many of you understand that so well and are very generous in your care of those around you and to the annual Catholic Charities Appeal and, in the name of the thousands of people to whom you show God’s love in person in this way, I thank you. As I mentioned at all of the Masses a few weeks ago, I was really edified when I learned that our parish led all of the parishes throughout the Archdiocese in our financial support of the Catholic Charities Appeal last year. It clearly demonstrates our willingness to respond to our Lord’s call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked right here in our Archdiocese! In doing so, we show the same compassion that Jesus did in a variety of ways every day of our lives. If you haven’t already done so, you will be receiving this year’s appeal in the mail and I’m confident you will, once again, be very generous; thanks!
And, as we do this, we are the bearers of the Good News that Jesus came to bring: that God does, indeed, love us all and that, through his Son, he has given us all the means to happiness and even joy, in this life and for all eternity in the life to come. And, as we hear in today’s second reading, like Paul, we offer that gospel freely, so that everyone we meet might have a share in it. How blessed we are to know that God loves us and how privileged we are to be called to spread that Good News!