Homily for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B (2021)
The story of Job is an important book of the bible about the testing of a righteous man. It challenges the notion that bad things only happen to bad people. Stated another way, you must be a bad person if something bad has happened to you. If you were blind or deaf, sick or lame, then you or your parents must have done something for you to deserve punishment from God.
Job, however, was a good man by all accounts, yet God allowed Satan to test him. He lost his children, his servants, his animals, and his land – and he had no idea why. Today, we listened to the lament of a very depressed man. Perhaps, like me and like Job, you have experienced depression. When you heard these words, did you say to yourself, “I understand what he’s going through. I know that feeling.” Perhaps you feel that way right now. Let’s listen to Job’s words again:
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade,
a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery,
and troubled nights have been allotted to me.
If in bed I say, “When shall I arise?”
then the night drags on;
I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle;
they come to an end without hope.
Remember that my life is like the wind;
I shall not see happiness again.
Eventually, Job expresses hope in God in the midst of his distress and even appears to prophesy about a future incarnation of God in the flesh and standing upon the earth as well as his own resurrection:
He has put my family far from me,
and my acquaintances are wholly estranged from me.
My relatives and my close friends have failed me;
the guests in my house have forgotten me;
My breath is repulsive to my wife;
I am loathsome to my own family.
Even young children despise me;
when I rise, they talk against me.
All my intimate friends abhor me,
and those whom I loved have turned against me.
My bones cling to my skin and to my flesh,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,
This moment is a critical one for the depressed Job, he realizes that his salvation, his Redeemer, is not dead. Despite all that he must endure, he does not despair and he does not curse God; rather, he believes that even if he were to die, he would see God.
What about us? Can we have the confidence of Job? Job may have been righteous and innocent, but what if we suffer because we were not righteous? What hope do we have? Job could only hope for what we already have in Jesus Christ. For Jesus is the fulfillment of Job’s very wish: Jesus is the Redeemer who lives! He stood upon the earth in the flesh! And through His resurrection Jesus makes it possible for all of us to look forward to a resurrection in which in our own bodies we will see God in the flesh. Jesus spent his days preaching, healing, and forgiving the sins of people who both deserved and did not deserve their sufferings. It didn’t matter. He was here to bring a new era of freedom in which every sinner could be a saint, in which every unrighteous man could be made a righteous man, and in which every depressed man could have hope.
Life can depress us, literally, it can press us down. Sometimes the weights that we are under are placed upon us and sometimes we place those burdens upon ourselves. Jesus came to lift those burdens. In exchange, he gives us a lighter, more fitting load and gives us the grace and power we need to carry it. Just as he does in the Gospel today, he is seeking us out, going through every town and village, eager to find us, to heal our hearts, to forgive our sins, and to give us his righteousness. When we surrender to him, our sufferings become His sufferings. He becomes our Redeemer and he even redeems our sufferings. He makes them powerful. When we pray through our sufferings, they become the most potent prayers on earth and in heaven for they are directly linked to the heart of Jesus Christ who is our God in the flesh. Let us find courage to rejoice in these sufferings and make use of them for all who need our prayers until we see him face to face.
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