5th Sunday of the Year (b) 2018
If every you are feeling depressed or ill then its probably best you don’t read the book of Job. Poor Job is not the happiest of souls. This morning’s reading from his book is no exception, ‘months of delusion I have assigned to me, nothing for my own but nights of grief.’ And he goes on in the same vein. Of course, sometimes if you are feeling down, then it helps to know that you are not the only one. I was feeling down recently. I had flu over Christmas; in fact, spent Christmas in bed with a high temperature, headache, aching bones, and no energy What I way to spend Christmas I thought. But then I got over the flu only to develop a cough that I can’t get rid of. So, I know how Job felt. When you’re ill it’s not nice, you really are not at your best.
We are told in the gospel today that Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was ill too; that she had gone to bed with fever. However, Jesus came to her aid; he took her by the hand and helped her up And, we are told, the fever left her. We can imagine how she relieved she must have felt and grateful to Jesus. Word must have got round the village, because that evening everyone who was sick in the village came to where he was staying, and we are told that he cured many.
Now some atheists might say that today we don’t need Jesus to heal us; because we can go to the doctor or the pharmacist; we can get asprin and paracetomol; or if we have a virus our doctor can get us antibiotics. And its true.; I got over my flu thanks to taking medication. But for that reason wouldn’t dismiss the role Jesus plays in my healing. You see, colds and flu are illnesses but there are other forms of illness that is brought on by the way we live. People who are selfish make themselves ill in another way. It may not be visible but their selfishness is destructive to them and to others. People who are proud can also affect their own lives and those of others. Pride has a way, at its worsts, of destroying people’s health. The proud person will often be angry, aggressive and jealous. All of these vices poisons our system and we become ill.
No pill, nor tablet, no antibiotic can overcome the problems caused by selfishness and pride. However, the message of Christ can. His message is he antidote. He teaches us to be humble, to be gentle, to be kind and generous. Such people don’t get ill deep down in their souls. Christ’s message is so simple and you don’t have to pay a penny; it’s all given.
In life we cannot avoid getting ill at times, like Job, we will feel sorry for ourselves when we are down. But Christ is always there at our side. Like St Peter’s mother-in-law, he wants to lift us up again, make us feel better. And the wonderful thing about the message of Christ is that it can do this even though our circumstances haven’t changed; we can feel good about ourselves even in the midst of trials and tribulations, at times of illness. Because we know that He is always there at our side to help us to endure. How many people, good people, I know who are suffering from one thing or another, trials that would break most people, and yet to meet them for the first time you wouldn’t think they had a care in the world. This is because they have really understood the message of Jesus Christ; it gives them hope and makes them smile when they feel like crying.
So dear Job, we know how you feel, but its not the message for us. We do have the message to make our lives happier and more meaningful; and its free and for everyone.