Ordinary time “B”: Fifth Sunday

by Fr Wandile M. Dlamini OSM

Theme: Life can be so beautiful , even in the midst of all trials in the world, if we learn to live through the mystery of suffering for the sake of the Gospel and its promises.

FIRST READING: Job 7:1-4, 6-7

This reading presents the character of a servant of God who before, was enjoying his riches and gladness , then suddenly he gets struck by misfortunes in his life. He lost his children and all his possessions and lastly his health began to decline. He is afflicted with boils in his entire body from head to toe. He finds himself now lying in ashes, seeking relief from every angle of life. Even his wife is disgusted by the condition of life he finds himself in and loses her tamper and gives way to anger and shouts, “Do you still hold on to your integrity ? Curse God and die”. (Job 1:1-2,13).

This reading therefore, contains the famous reflection on the condition of people here on earth. Life is nothing but full of misery. Human beings are subjected to enormous sacrifices from which they derive no benefit. Human beings have turned out to be worse than laborers who toil from dawn to sunset in the fields, working under scorching heat of the sun in the distressing wait for the evening to arrive (vv 2-3).

Job sees himself even more unfortunate than a slave, unhappier than the laborer. He attacks God asking him why he put him in such a painful situation. He even wonders why God allowed him to be born if he had to go through such unbearable sufferings and misfortunes. Surprisingly, Job does not suffer in silence. He cries out to the Lord God asking him to give an explanation of his afflictions and calamities. His way of lament scares a lot of people because they perceived that as a form of blasphemy and rebellion against God and yet that was his way of prayer.

Like Job, if we cry and scream our pains even if we do not realize it, we are invoking God asking him to come to our aid and shed his light and strength on us.

SECOND READING: 1Corinthians 9:16-19, 20-23

Paul take up the trouble to remind Christians of their duty to assist the apostles . “Those who announce the Gospel live from the Gospel” (1Cor. 9:14). He calls to mind the words of Jesus in Mt. 10:10, “Workers deserve their living”.

Paul in this episode goes on to say that at times the evangelizer must be ready to give up his right to support the community. Paul and Barnabas have practiced this; they lived by working with their hands and never wanted to be a burden to anyone. Paul never preached the Gospel to earn money, but to satisfy an irresistible inner compulsion. Convinced of the greatness and excellence of the gift received he couldn’t restrain himself. He felt the need to share this gift with other people.

GOSPEL: Mark 1: 29-39

Mark in this passage presents his liberating intervention . We look at this into three different scenes.

The healing of Peter’s mother in law (vv 29-31). It is not clearly specified what type of disease she was suffering from except that she was suffering from fever and was in bed. Jesus came closer to her, took her hand and lifted her back on her feet, and she began to serve. What is worth noting here is that when Jesus was told about her condition he never went away or flee or turn a deaf ear, or ignore the needs of the sick woman. He comes closer to her and makes himself a neighbor to those who are victims of inhuman situations. He raise her up; and this gesture symbolizes the transmission of divine power and brings salvation; to raise again from the dead, from the condition of ‘no life’ to new life.

Jesus cures diseases (vv 32-34) no matter what nature. But he does not permit people to talk about what he does because he does not want popularity and misunderstanding from the people and also to be regarded as a holy healer. His sole purpose was to illustrate to his disciples the significance of their mission.

The last part of the passage (vv 35-39), we see Jesus in prayer. Jesus liked to pray in solitude of the mountain, in the quiet of the night, and such moments of prayer enabled him to receive the light to face the pain of every human race. It is this very light, his word that guides us, accompanies us to face the world and all its challenges; to act and fight evil.