Parsing Job and Jesus

Homily for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's liturgy

Audio for homily 

It’s all in the verbs!
The verbs in these scriptures paint the scene and tell the story.

Listen to the verbs we heard in Job:
longs, waits, drags on, troubled, end without hope, shall not see…
Certainly all of us,
at one time or another, or many times, or even this morning,
have known these verbs in our own lives
and felt their weight upon our shoulders,
heavy on our minds and in our hearts.
In Job’s soul he longed and waited for an end to his suffering
and for the hand of God to reach out and rescue and heal him.

In the gospel, we’re presented with a very different set of verbs.
In the town of Capernaum Jesus
entered, approached, grasped, helped and cured;
the people gathered and pursued
and Jesus
rose early, went off, prayed, left, preached and drove out demons.
Here there’s action, movement, interaction and results,
healing and restoration: good news!

What are the verbs in our lives, yours and mine?

Do I find myself troubled like Job, longing and waiting,
life dragging on through endless days and nights?

Or do I find myself moving from place to place with Jesus?
knowing his presence, his touch his help, his healing?

What are the verbs in our lives this morning?

If I’m filled with restlessness,
wondering if I’ll ever see happiness again,
do I, like Job, persevere in my prayer,
reaching out, trusting in the Lord,
even when he seems distant or even absent?

Do I remember the Cross?
Or do I forget that the Lord is there for me
not just at the end of my suffering
but with me in my suffering,
that he’s with me in the drudgery life sometimes assigns me?

And when I do find myself in the company of Jesus,
in his presence and peace,
do I welcome to my door, as Jesus did,
others who are seeking him, who need him;
others in my family, my neighborhood, at work and at school
who might find him in my approach? in my touch?
who might find healing in my words and in my deeds
- and yours?

And whether I feel like Job
or like Peter’s mother-in-law just cured by Jesus,
do I sometimes, like the Lord himself,
get up early (or stay up late)
and sneak off to a quiet place, apart from others,
to pray?
Do I seek God’s strength in difficult times
and praise and thank him when my heart’s at peace?

In both these scriptures
we encounter the mystery of how God moves in our lives.

Why did Job, a good and faithful man, suffer so much,
so much more than others?

Why did Jesus move on to another town
when there were people in Capernaum
still waiting to meet him and see him and hear him,
to be healed by him?

Why are there times when the Lord seems so close
and other times when he seems to have walked away,
forgotten us, left us alone?

Does the Lord every leave my side?
No, he does not.
Does he sometimes show his face more clearly than at other times?
Yes, he does.

Why is this?
I don’t know.

How much we need, then, to be faithful in prayer
lest we miss his presence when it is clear.

How important for us to find the time to be alone with him
to strengthen our faith for those times
when it seems we cannot find him.

Perhaps the three most important verbs in today’s scriptures are these:
he rose early, he went off and he prayed:
he, Jesus, who was faithful to his Father
even when, on the Cross, he feared
his Father had abandoned him.

Jesus got up, went apart from all the others, and prayed.
And this morning
we got up, left our homes and came here to pray.

In the scriptures and in the sacrament of this altar,
the Lord never fails to show us his face
and to nourish us with his life, with his Body and Blood
in the Eucharist.

As the people of Capernaum gathered at Jesus’ door,
everyone looking for him,
let us gather here this morning
to seek the Lord while he may be found.


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