Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
Even those who have never read the Scripture have heard of Job. For many, he is a sad character who embodies the human spirit in its worst moments.
The First Reading is an excerpt from the Book of Job. It describes our popular notion of Job and his plight. We think we know how he feels and we think of him as a pathetic figure. There are times when we are discouraged, times when there are more down times than ups in our lives. Sometimes we think that is “ordinary time.”
But to get a true picture of Job’s life, one really should read the entire book. His life is nothing short of a tragedy. He is stripped of his family and all his possessions. Then he is struck with illness. There seems nothing for which to live and he questions the very purpose of life. The Book of Job tells the story of a man who has a very different vision of God than what was common among those with whom he lived. The people of the time expected nothing from God but a full life here on earth. Job is looking for a more intimate relationship with his creator.
The Gospel tells us something of Jesus’ feelings during what is ordinary time in Jesus’ life. Again and again, he reached out to others. Day after day, he ministered to the people. Then, wearied by the crowd and feeling the burden of his ministry, “he went off to a lonely place in the desert.” Simon found him there and the Lord began once more.
Neither the story of Job nor the story of Jesus is told in only the verses we hear today. In spite of Job’s trials, we need to look at the final verses of the book to discover that Job’s fidelity was rewarded: “The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his earlier ones.” The rest of Jesus’ story includes the resurrection that he shares with all of us. Our answer to the seeming “drudgery” of ordinary time is Easter. Resurrection casts out the demon of drudgery. We know that there is hope and we are convinced that we will recapture our enthusiasm.
Like Paul, we sometimes preach the Gospel because of our enthusiasm. Sometimes we do it simply because we have no choice. We know that our hope is in this good news. It fills us with life.
As we move to the altar, we pray for those who do not know the Lord, who are possessed by their own discouragement and lack of hope. We pray that our witness will fill them with life and creativity.