Homily for V (5) Sunday Year B. 07-02-2021 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Job 7:1-4, 6-7
Psalm: Psalm 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39
Today we are presented with Job. The personality of Job is a prominent figure in the Old Testament to whom many of us look with great admiration. He is the example of depression, suffering, but also of patience and steadfastness per excellence, as recounted even today. Our first reading is truly tough to hear because of this though in the end, we admire Job for being crushed but not destroyed. He had it bad all along and things in his life had gone awry all the way. His family collapsed, his wealth disappeared, his health deteriorated and he cursed the day he was born because he could no longer feel nor see any good or meaning in life. However, despite all the depressing and excruciating experiences, he did not totally lose God but still mustered to keep a glimmer of hope alive in his God, and God never lost him either. This was his ‘dark night of the soul,’ which according to St. John of the Cross is not just an endless cycle of spiritual crisis but ultimately a journey towards union with God. Like Job many of us and indeed all of us in one way or the other and at one point or the other in life pass through our months of misery accompanied by troubled nights full of restlessness. These are the chaotic moments of our lives to which we have no solution in view, and we feel helpless and lost. Then groping like Job, we ask, ‘when shall I arise,’ to at least see the dawn of a new day and wondering if we will ever find happiness in life again. But the truth is that God is aware of our situation and our troubles and He wants to heal us, and He comes towards us waiting to see if we will turn to Him. It is important then that we do not forget that Christ the ‘Day Star’ (Luke 1:78, 2 Peter 1:19), always stands at the end of our ‘dark nights,’ as the source of a new day waiting to usher in a new dawn into our lives whose light will shine out in the darkness of our world. This is when like Job we shall finally smile in the end. Nevertheless, ask yourself, are you ready to allow Christ the Day Star to bring His light into the darkness of your world?
Since the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Christ announced the overall purpose of His mission, which is to establish the Kingdom of God – the kingdom of light. In view of this, last Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, He showed us in the synagogue experience, that part of His mission is exercising the ministry of casting out unclean spirits with His authority. On this fifth Sunday, we witness a further expansion of this mission with the insight that Jesus never rests on His mission but is always on the lookout for new areas where His gospel is needed, in the obscure corners so that He can bring light to the darkness of men’s lives. Entering the house of Peter’s mother-in-law, He heals her and later cures others from various diseases and set free those possessed by demons. He doesn’t stop there, but still made off very early the following day to the nearby villages so as to minister there as well. His mission never ends because His priority is to bring all of us into His wonderful light where we truly belong as children of the light to live in freedom. No matter who you are and what your situation is, Christ knows you and is aware of what you are passing through and He is coming to liberate you. Only keep faith and hope alive in Him, hold on and you will smile in the end.
Christ’s mission continues even today in His followers as in every age and culture we see the Church send out constantly men and women of generous spirit as missionaries to carry the gospel of Christ to places and cultures neglected. Indeed, these neglected ‘neighbouring country towns’ exist everywhere we find ourselves, not just in terms of physical geographical locations but most importantly in every inhabited area within us. In our secular society of today, every space of social interaction including politics has become a ‘neglected country side’ begging for the liberating light of Christ. Secularism today in its deceptive bid, has made this missionary call ever more incumbent on us. For it claims to accept religion but insists that religion belongs only to the private sphere. However, we know that to the extent religion and morality go together, we cannot severe religion from politics as both are key definers of human culture. That is why Richard John Neuhaus rightly said ‘culture is the root of politics, and religion is the root of culture.’ Truly religion is fundamental to our universal human culture and we must bring whatever is good, true and beautiful in it to bear in every aspect of our lives including our politics and social life for the progress of all.
Therefore, the obligation St. Paul places on himself in the second reading also binds each one of us as he says, ‘woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.’ By our baptism, we all have also been called to preach the gospel of Christ, so that together we can build ‘a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace (Lumen Gentium 36).’ Can you say that you are preaching the gospel of Christ? Christ desires to make use of you too as His instrument to spread the good news of His kingdom to others so that through you He can continue His missionary work, liberating people from darkness into light, from hatred to love, from bitterness to happiness, from frowning to smiling, from sin to righteousness, from brokenness to wholeness, and from relapse to progress. However, ask yourself, are you truly ready to be His instrument? He liberated people not just by words of mouth but most especially by His actions. To be His instruments, we must become His eyes, voice, ears, feet and hands that see, speak, hear, visit and touch those around us with the healing presence of Christ. As Christ goes about liberating people today, may He come into the life of every one of us to liberate us from whatever is holding us captive, especially sin, and lead us into His wonderful light and make us His instruments doing same for others. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.