Reflections on the Readings
February 8, 2009, Year B
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Dennis Hankins
Job 7:1-4, 6-7
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
Theme: Meeting Man in his Misery
"For this purpose I have come." (Jesus)
Many aspire to leaving the world a better place than they first found it. I've met people who have left me feeling better, thinking differently, believing in the God of the impossible again. Such people influence others from a life filled with purpose and direction.
Jesus fulfilled the meaning of the Sabbath rest in the healing of Peter's mother-in-law. And a town filled with people in various stages of misery gathered before Peter's house begging for a moment to be in the company of greatness. Everywhere Jesus goes, man in his drudgery, in his satanic bondage, is drawn to him. In Jesus is great rest, great hope, great freedom, and great deliverance. This greatness is captured in the Psalm we've read today which says: "Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted."
The purpose which animates our Lord is that he might go even to the 'nearby villages' and meet humankind in whatever wretched state it exists. Arriving, Jesus will preach in the synagogues and 'drive out the demons.' What a mighty Savior, who not only calms the upheaval and chaos in the deepest recesses of our heart but even speaks to the winds and the waves and says, "Peace! Be still!"
We can conclude that the enormity and the energy of Jesus' presence comes from his deep and penetrating prayer life in the lonely places. In prayer, Jesus became one with the destitute environment of the desert place. From that place Jesus rose to enter into the lonely existence of Adam and Eve's sorrow. Wherever there is darkness, wherever a heart is burdened by the blackness of a million midnights, Jesus comes. He comes because he came that we might have life and that more abundantly. The indisputable truth is that Jesus is ever coming, is ever standing at the door and knocking. If we will hear his voice and open the door the blackness and weight of sin will lift like the dense fog before the mighty rising of the eastern Sun.
I often cringe when the miracles of grace and healing Jesus gives are written off as some kind of fairy tale. They however are not fairy tales to those who have felt and received of him who says still today in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more."
It is in this meeting humanity in his misery, no matter the depth of despair in which he may live, Jesus fulfills his purpose and lifts man up. This is the power of love which comes to bring man to his destiny with love. Coming a long way from the bosom of the Father to the womb of the Virgin Mary, Jesus came to draw the world into the inner life of his fellowship. It is this fellowship which Jesus described in his preaching; it is the presence of the Father and the Son comforting the heart once in despair; communing with us as friend with friend.
Reading the Scripture for today reminds us again of the rich and pure love of God. As in the words of a song of my memory says,
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, thank you for coming. Thank you for continuing to come to us in the bread and the wine, your very body and blood. Draw me ever deeper into this fullness of love, even the fellowship of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.