2021 5th Sunday of the Year (B)
The picture of Job we get from the first reading is that he’s not a happy man. Maybe that’s why we like him so much, or at least, identify with him; it’s much easier to identify with someone who is miserable than with someone who is happy all the time. “Is not man’s life on earth nothing more than pressed service” Job complains “his time no better than hired drudgery.” No, not a happy soul. Yet I understand where he is coming from. I remember the time before I became a priest, working in an office, and the constant refrain was “we’re overworked and underpaid!” Yes, unhappiness and dissatisfaction are easy to identify with. And yet in spite of the drudgery Christ offers us so much more.
Christ’s life wasn’t easy either. Look at today’s gospel. See how people won’t leave him alone. The Gospel tells us ‘the whole town came crowding round the door’. All of them looking for something from him. And he saw each one. He healed each one. And still they kept coming. We have an expression ‘no rest for the wicked’, of course, that can’t apply to Jesus; still, he got no rest. Some people were in genuine need; you’d like to presume most of them, but others were just using him in some way or other; seeing him as a soft touch. And yet he treated all alike. He must have been exhausted in the end. But he would have it no other way because he was doing the Father’s will. No wonder the next day he got up early to go to a lonely place, to rest and to pray in order to recharge his batteries.
Jesus challenges us to be like him, to copy his example. Life for us too can be difficult at times, and never more so than during this pandemic. It can help us to see that we too, as followers of Christ, have a role to play. Not necessarily healing the sick but healing in a wider sense. At this difficult time many people are in need of such healing, the young and not so young. They are at best fed up and bored, or at worst depressed and suicidal. God has put us here to help others. We don’t have to be heroic, just to be kind, compassionate and generous. God is asking us to reach out to others in need. Yes, we have our own needs, but the more you give to others the more you get back. It is by helping others that we ourselves are helped. In the midst of the drudgery that is this lockdown when we help others a ray of light comes into our lives.
We have a choice: to be like Job, where everything is doom and gloom or to be like Christ, where everything has a purpose, a good purpose , even the drudgery.