First Reading
5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B–2009 Job 7:1-4, 6-7

Job spoke, saying: Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of hirelings? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages. So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me. If in bed I say, “When shall I arise?” then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23

Brothers and sisters: If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.

Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Mark 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

When we hear today’s first reading from the Book of Job, we can honestly wonder about its meaning. Why are we given such a depressed reading that seems to give no hope at all? We can remember that when we hear such readings, there is a presumption that we know the rest of the book. So the first challenge to us on this Sunday is to know the Holy Scriptures and to know the Book of Job! For instance, we should think of the Chapter 19, verse 25: I know that my Redeemer lives! Or Job Chapter 42, verses 2 and 3: Job 42:2-3 I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. 3 I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know.

Knowing the rest of the Book of Job helps us understand that today’s reading must be understood a reflecting a human situation which most of us have experienced. This go really bad in this life from time to time. Sometimes we cannot see our way forward. Many times we doubt that God really cares and sometimes we doubt that God even exists!

This first reading needs also to be understood in light of today’s Gospel from Mark. Jesus comes to Peter’s house and finds Peters’s mother-in-law sick with a fever. He heals her. Later Jesus heals others. He seems to spend the whole evening healing people. The next morning He seems to want solitude, but even then people come after Him, including Peter himself.

Jesus is telling us clearly in the Gospel passage that He has come to bring healing to others and to cast out our devils. In this sense, He is the answer to Job as well. Only God, only God in Jesus Christ, brings true and complete healing for all of our ills, whether physical, emotional or spiritual.

Some of this is reflected also in today’s second reading, from the First Letter to the Corinthians: To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.

Jesus becomes one of us by His birth as a human. Jesus chooses to love us and to redeem us. Jesus tells us that He is with us always. As we ourselves live our lives, we encounter good things and bad things. We have good experiences and bad experiences. We find within ourselves both good and bad. We also find that we are often helpless in the face of our own brokenness and in the face of the defects of others, even those we love.

For us who believe, the Word of God, Jesus Christ, is present in every situation, inviting us to live with Him, to know the Father’s peace and to have the strength of His Holy Spirit. May we be healed of all that afflicts us. May we give testimony to the saving power of God at work in our lives, bringing us healing and peace.