Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
On the news this past week, I heard an excellent phrase that I believe describes how many, if not most of us feel: The news anchor said, “We’re Covid exhuasted…” Of course we are! All the rules that we are following to stay safe which has touched almost every aspect of our lives: limiting our social activity, hospitals are all but ghost towns, shopping has become a necessity only, in Canada alone, 5.4 million are working from home and funerals are limited to 25 people only. Both our health and political leaders tell us that we will be “orange for an indefinite period of time.” And now we have to deal with ‘new variants,’ and ‘vaccine delays’. Yes, for sure, we are “Covid Exhausted”
But we have have been there before. All we have to do is look at the First Reading to see that. Perhaps we are feeling like Job in the first reading. Job speaks of ‘drudgery’ ‘restlessness’ and ‘troubled nights’ of the human condition…our Condition. Job is speaking from experience… he had it all and he lost it all: the destruction of his family, the loss of all his property, he’s suffering from painful illnesses; he’s ignored by his neighbours and friends-he’s questioning if God cares at all. All Job sees is an end without hope. He’s ready to give up… but he doesn’t.
But, by contrast, in the Gospel, Jesus is our hope! Jesus comes to preach the Good News…the Good News of God‘s love….he heals the sick, encourages the discouraged; he gives hope to the hopeless. He preaches The Good News that WE, humanity, the human condition, have life through Him. Once again, where Job is ready to give up hope, Jesus offers us hope.
We see this in today’s Gospel. Jesus and his follower have left the synagogue and have entered Peter’s house. His mother-in-law, the lady of the house, who did all the domestic work, including the cooking and preparing of food is in bed sick… we are told with a fever. Perhaps the woman was in bed, because like Job, she was discouraged, or depressed? Or perhaps like us, she was tired of what was going on around her? Or perhaps too there are too many sick in her community and she was exhausted caring for them? Regardless, Jesus heals her and things return to normal.
But Jesus is not about the ‘normal’. The crux of this gospel is found in the second part… Jesus healing those who were sick from the city! How exhausting that must have been for Jesus. Surrounded by desperate people, wanting to be healed or protected from diseases. And yet we’re told that he gets up early the next, while it is still dark, and goes to a deserted place, by himself to pray. Jesus needs that time to contemplate, to think, to reflect, to talk with God about all that had happened.
However, his prayer is interrupted by his companions and they say to Jesus, “everyone is searching for you.” Jesus does not respond with, “oh really?” or “that’s great” or “Okay, let’s go back…” Rather he says, “Let us go on to the neighbouring towns so that I may proclaim the message there for that is what I came out to do.” And that is what he did. Through his ministry to the sick and healing those in need, Jesus’ spread the Good News.
This tells us that although Jesus wants to share in our blessings and our joys, he is also very much present to us in the more challenging times in our lives. Even for those of us who are “Covid Exhausted…” Jesus is right beside us, holding us up!
Scripture tells us that eventually, life got better for Job… in fact it got very good. We know that life can and will throw us curve balls with challenges, and at times we may be overwhelmed by what is going on around us. However, like Job, we need to hang in and not give up. Things will get better for us as well!
In the psalm, we prayed, ‘God heals the broken-hearted, binds the wounds and sustains the lowly.’ Jesus does that, through us. Even though we may be suffering from Covid Exhaustion, there is hope in these challenging days: across the country, cases are going down; a new drug has been found to help reduce symptoms and heal faster; and we will be vaccinated against the corona virus. Life will get better. In the meantime, as he did for Peter’s mother-in-law, we let Jesus take us by the hand, and let him lift us up.