Accepting Life as God has Given It
A Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Based on the readings from Job 7:1-7, 1 Corinthians 9:16-23, Mark 1:29-39
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
As I pondered over this week’s reflection, I kept asking myself, “What do these three readings have in common?”
They seem to be so disjointed and unrelated but then I realized what they have in common is accepting you’re your life and making the best of it.
Job seems to be totally depressed and unhappy when we read these words; “Remember that my life is but a breath, and that my eyes will never again see joy.”
Job begins by commenting on how life is drudgery and being like a slave who seeks a shady place to cool off and receives almost nothing for his labor. “Like the slave, sighing for the shade, or the workman with no thought but his wages, months of delusion I have assigned to me, nothing for my own but nights of grief.”
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of how he regards his responsibility to preach the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ. “I do not boast of preaching the gospel, since it is a duty which has been laid on me; I should be punished if I did not preach it! If I had chosen this work myself, I might have been paid for it, but as I have not, it is a responsibility that has been put into my hands. Do you know what my reward is? It is this in my preaching, to be able to offer the Good News free, and not insist on the rights which the gospel gives me.”
Paul concludes by giving the reasons he accepts his lot in life; “I am not a slave of any man I have made myself the slave of everyone so as to win as many as I could. For the weak, I made myself weak. I made myself all things to all men in order to save some, at any cost, for the sake of the gospel, to have a share in its blessings.”
The Gospel reading tells of Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law and many others who were brought to him sick and filled with evil spirits but when morning came Christ had gone off by himself to pray and when Simon and the others found Him Christ suggested; “‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.
As I said at the beginning of this reflection the common bond of all these readings is that we need to accept our life as God has provided it to us.
We need to accept whatever yoke God might have placed upon us with gratitude and forge forward with the tasks God has assigned us, no matter how heavy a burden they seem to be, just as Christ accepted the cross upon which he was to be hung and carried it to the hill of Calvary.
Life is too short to spend a lot of time complaining about our problems and difficulties or as Job puts it; “Remember that my life is but a breath,” and get on with doing what God has called us to do as best as we can.
Christ told Simon and the others that He had come to this world to teach us the way and St. Paul knew that he had to do whatever was necessary to proclaim the Good News of salvation, so too do we need to go forward each day living out the Word in deed and proclaiming our love of God without shame.
With all of Job’s complaint, we have to remember that Job never abandoned God or gave up on His devotion or love and trust in God and for that He was rewarded a hundred fold everything he had lost.
Our reward for accepting our lot in life and living the word of God as Christ taught in not only our words but more importantly by our actions. We must be compassionate, generous and loving to ALL God’s children especially those who are struggling because of poverty, illness, age, homelessness, or lack of adequate education.
Just as Paul told the people of Corinth, “I have made myself the slave of everyone so as to win as many as I could. For the weak, I made myself weak. I made myself all things to all men in order to save some, at any cost, for the sake of the gospel, to have a share in its blessings.” we also must do whatever it takes to live a life that exhibit’s the attributes that Christ instructed in the Sermon on the Mount and the story of the Good Samaritan.
As that once popular song we used to sing joyfully in church by Carolyn Arends says; “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord And we pray that all unity may one day be restored And they'll know we are Christians by our love, They will know we are Christians by our love. We will work with each other, we will work side by side, we will guard each one’s dignity, and save each one's pride and they will know we are Christians by our love. We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand and together we will spread the news that God is in our land and they will know we are Christians by our love. Love is patient, love is kind Never boasts, not full of pride Always hopes, always trusts The evidence of Christ in us.
True Christians are those that not only talk the talk but actually walk the walk by caring for everything God created especially the poor, aged, sick, homeless and unemployed.
I cringe every time I hear a candidate for president of the United States who claims to be a Christian advocating cutting back on programs that help those mentioned above while also endorsing programs that increase the richest citizens wealth on the backs of the poor and middle income people.
True followers of Christ will be known by their love and caring for each other and by their acceptance of their life by making the best of it. True Christians will look out for each other and share what they have been given with those in need.
This is what I gleaned from this week’s readings.
I pray that I and you can accept our live and live our life in a manner that is consistent with the teachings Christ gave us and work toward a time when the Good News of Christ’s Teachings actually brings about a time of peace and brotherhood for all the people of this planet. AMEN