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Breaking Open the Word

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time 

February 4, 2024

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Introduction

Today is Sunday, February 4th. It is the Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time. The First Reading from the Book of Job is not uplifting to read. This is what it says: “Job spoke saying, ‘Is not man’s life on earth 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.” It goes on to say, “I am filled with restlessness until the dawn. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to and end without hope…… I shall not see happiness again.”


Many of us can identify with Job. We may have recently experienced the death of a loved one. We may, or a family member or friend, may be coping with a serious illness. We may have recently been through the pain of a divorce or long to have a child but can not conceive. We may have recently become unemployed or are in a career that is not fulfilling or a job where we are overworked and undervalued. We may have elderly parents that require significant care or are faced with life-changing choices. We may have children who are being targeted on social media or are falling short at school or experiencing behavioral issues. We ourselves may be, or someone we love may be, battling addiction or mental health issues. Like Job, we may describe our lives as “drudgery”, “miserable”, “troubled” or “hopeless”.


So where do we go from here?

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Gospel Explained

The Gospel from Mark provides an answer to the question of “Where do we go from here?”. When life is a “drudgery”; in our “misery”; or when events in our life make us feel “troubled” or “hopeless”, we need to go to Christ. Perhaps better said, we need to let him into the “home” of our hearts.


We see in this gospel passage that Simon’s mother-in-law is sick with a fever. Now we know, from other healing miracles of Jesus’ in scripture, that Jesus could have simply have said the word and Simon’s mother-in-law would have been healed. That is why I see symbolism in the fact that Jesus entered the house. Jesus wants to bring healing into our lives. He wants to tend to our brokenness and he wants to touch our woundedness. The gospel passage states, “He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.”  Christ wants to do the same for us – He wants to approach us; He wants to touch our hand; He wants to help us.


Note another sentence in the gospel passage – “They immediately told him about her.” Simon, Andrew, James and John did not hide this woman’s infirmary from Jesus. Rather they told him about her. We are invited to do the same. We can tell Jesus about the pain, suffering or weariness that we know a family member or friend is experiencing. How do we do that? We do it through prayer! Prayer is a powerful tool and a way that we can participate in bringing Christ into the cross of another.

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Today's Theme

Life in this world is not always easy. With the fall of Adam and Eve, sin and evil entered into humanity’s story. However, our loving God has not left us alone. In fact, he loves us so much He entered into our broken world through His Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. He is here! We are not alone!


Mother Teresa said, “We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only care for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.”


There are many “Jobs” in our world, and in our lives, today; we may, at times, feel like one of them. The anti-dote for “drudgery”, “misery”, being “troubled” or “hopelessness” is love. We have a God who loves us. So much so that “he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Let us let the love of Christ enter into our home. Let us be the love of Christ by approaching others, grasping their hands and helping them up.

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Theme in our Life Today

There are no promises that we, a family member or friend, will receive the same healing that Simon’s mother-in-law did. There are no guarantees that our “fever” will leave us and we will immediately be up and waiting on people like Simon’s mother-in-law did. What is promised, and guaranteed, is the presence of Christ in our drudgery, misery, trouble and hopelessness.


I offer you this reflection – “Can you imagine Jesus standing before your bed and you continue sleeping? It is absurd that you would remain in bed in his presence. Where is Jesus? He is already here offering himself to us. “In the middle’, he says, “among you he stands, whom you do not recognize.’”

Let us pray today for the grace to recognize the presence of Christ. That us pray today to be Christ’s presence to others.

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Prepare for Sunday

Where do you need healing and grace in your life?


Who do you go to, or what do you turn to, when you are feeling the effects of the “drudgery”, “misery” or “troubles” of life?


In what ways can you be, or bring, the presence of Christ to someone who is labored or burdened in your life?

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