Bringing Jesus to the Brokenhearted

User’s Guide to Sunday, Feb. 7

What does the suffering of Job teach us? How does Jesus respond to our suffering?
What does the suffering of Job teach us? How does Jesus respond to our suffering? (photo: Unsplash)

Sunday, Feb. 7, is the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B). Mass Readings: Job 7:1-4, 6-7, 10; Psalm 147:1-6; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39.

The first reading tells us of Job’s lament not only for his own particular situation in life, but, indeed, for the lot given to all human beings. “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?” he asks. And he argues that any hope for relief from this drudgery is like being a slave or like “a hireling who waits for his wages.” His is not a happy outlook, but it may match the feelings of many as we have lived through the pandemic and the loss of loved ones, shuttered businesses, loss of graduation celebrations long hoped for, weddings, trips and many freedoms. The world has seemed rather bleak for so many, of late. 

So it is that we should welcome the Responsorial Psalm for this Sunday, which reads, “Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.” And the Gospel from St. Mark recalls this truth. In it, Jesus enters the home of Simon and heals his mother-in-law. Then he goes to cure “many who were sick with various diseases.” Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Galileans gathered around Jesus and approached him for relief from their own brokenheartedness and broken bodies. Jesus does not flee from them, but, rather, approaches them, saying, “For this purpose have I come.” 

This recalls the unique nature of the God of Christianity. 

Unlike other religions, our God became one of us. He does not sit above us, loving us at a distance. Rather, he took on our body, with all the failings and foibles that come with it except sin, and experienced, like Job in the first reading, just how much life on earth can become drudgery. Then, when he began his ministry, Jesus walked into the midst of the people and healed them. When he healed Simon’s mother-in-law, he touched her. In the Greek text from today’s Gospel, when he cured the sick, the implication is that he cared for them. He did not cure them from a distance. He spent time with each person.

What, then, is our response to this God who moves toward us? As the Psalmist says, we ought to praise him. And as Simon’s mother-in-law demonstrated after she was healed, we should serve each other. 

And as St. Paul says in the second reading, he ought to order our lives so as to become the very slaves that Job speaks about in the first reading. 

St. Paul says to the Corinthians that he has “become all things to all, to save at least some.” 

And he does this “for the sake of the gospel.” 

“I have made myself a slave to all,” he writes, “so as to win over as many as possible.” 

This is the proper response of the Christian who has received the loving care and healing of the Lord. 

And it is, of course, also what God himself did for us by taking on our humanity. 

He became a servant to us. 

Therefore, with so many in pain around us, sometimes invisibly so, we ought to avoid the temptation to remain in our comfort zones. Rather, we should go out and serve those most in need. In doing so, we will bring Jesus to them.