6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Reflection by Joanna Krynski
What a start to today’s readings. We are dropped into Job’s monologue that paints his current emotional state as one of utter despair and brokenness. He begins, “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?” He describes his days as coming to an end without hope. And the reading ends with the devastating line, “I shall not see happiness again.”
With the dramatic devastation and suffering Job was put through, I have no trouble believing he would be sharing such sentiments as these. Really, who wouldn’t be feeling this way? I dare say (or dare hope) that none of us have been put through the same amount of harsh trials as Job has been put through, but even so, I am sure most of us have experienced feelings of despair and brokenness. What role did God play during your times in darkness?
On the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website usccb.org, it describes the Book of Job as “an exquisite dramatic treatment of the problem of the suffering of the innocent.” This is a problem we all know too well. Perhaps you or a loved one have been the “innocent” who has suffered. Even if not, the daily news report is never short of a story of a crime being committed against an innocent victim. It can be so easy to fall into despair over the terror and hardships of our world. But today’s Gospel does not leave us in this pit of despair. Instead, today’s Gospel shows us Jesus entering such broken and defeated lives to offer compassion, hope, and healing.
There is no shortage of the need for healing in today’s Gospel. After Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law, he was brought others in the town who were ill or possessed by demons. What struck me in this Gospel was not just how Jesus “cured many who were sick…and drove out many demons,” but how “the whole town was gathered at the door.” It wasn’t just the sick or possessed who needed healing; everyone in the town was in need of healing in some way, perhaps even healing from their own doubt that Jesus could perform such miracles. I have to wonder what Jesus’ reaction would have been to realizing he not only had a crowd of people to heal, but that he literally had the whole town breathing down his neck as he did it! No wonder Jesus rose the next day before dawn to go off to a deserted place to pray. But again, how telling that he soon was found and interrupted, being told, “Everyone is looking for you.” Everyone. Everyone is looking for you, everyone needs you. This had to wear on Jesus, and yet, Jesus accepted his role and continued. He was driven by his purpose, which was “not to solicit acclaim for himself but to awaken faith and trust in the Word of God, to restore in humankind God’s vision of a world united as brothers and sisters under his providence.” Jesus came “not to restore bodies to health but to restore spirits to wholeness” (Living Liturgy, 2018 ed.). And so, Jesus continued to preach and heal and preach and heal.
While Jesus visited different villages, it strikes me that the people still needed to meet him there. Yes, it is written that Jesus made some “house calls,” going directly to those too ill to come to him, but as we hear in today’s Gospel, many people came to Jesus looking for healing. I imagine it was word of mouth that spread the news that Jesus
was in the village. Also, I imagine there were many ill or possessed people who could not have made it to Jesus if it were not for the help of a family member or neighbor guiding them to Jesus. I believe this is an integral part to building the Kingdom of God—helping each other come to Jesus to find the healing we each need, but also, by showing each other compassion and empathy, we will reveal the love of God present in our communities.