Homily For The 5th Sunday Of Ordinary Time, Year B

Christ Heals, Transforms And, Empowers Us In Order To Help Others

Rdgs: (1st: Job 7, 1-7; Ps 9, 16-23; 2nd: 1Cor 9, 16-19. 22-23: Gos: Mk 1, 29-39)         

This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

On this fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, the holy mother church invites us to Praise the Lord who heals the broken hearted. Hence, she turns our attention to the power and ability of God to deliver us through his son Jesus Christ from daunting situations. Specifically, she reminds us that without the healing and the transforming power of Christ we would have been in perpetual slavery, and hopelessness. So daily, Christ continues to move around healing, transforming and empowering us to help others.

Some weeks ago, after Mass, a young man with his wife and son walked to me, grabbed my hand, looked into my face, and said: “Father, you touched and healed me today!” At first I was embarrassed, and asked him: “What did I do to you?” As I waited for him to respond I noticed that the three of them were in tears, and the man said to me: “For forty seven years, I have never been touched by any preaching, Father, you have transformed my life today.” Finally, I said to him, “I was not the one that touched and healed you, it was Jesus.” They all nodded and said in unison, “Yes, but He used you to do it!” I said “of course!” Then I encouraged, and prayed for them before they left joyfully. Jesus is still touching and healing people today. What he did in the days of the apostles, he continues to do in our own time because: “He is the Ancient of Days” (Dan 7, 13), “the Beginning and the End” (Rev 22, 13), “the same today, yesterday and forever” (Heb 13, 8).

The first reading presents us with the dilemma of Job an innocent and faithful servant of God. Rather than leave the image of suffering and misery, the story of Job should raise our hope and trust in the saving power of God. His faith was severely tested by the devil. He lost all his legitimate wealth, children, friends, and was inflicted with leprosy. Even his own wife who should have encouraged and supported him in his difficult moment divorced him as most women do today in our modern world. As a man, Job complained as of us do: “Lying in bed I wonder, when it will be day? Rising I think, how slowly evening comes…Remember that my life is but a breath, and that my eyes will never see joy.” In spite of all these he did not lose his faith in the saving power, and providence of God. The case of Job reminds us of our own daily struggles with both physical and spiritual problems like: infirmities, hardships, rejection, alienation, racial discrimination, betrayal by even our friends and families, etcetera. Above all, it reminds us of what seems to us as: “the grave silence or absence of God or the dark nights of our lives.” These are terrible moments when we confront God with questions like: “God where are you, why me, what have I done wrong”?  However, it is interesting to note that even Jesus asked the same question: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Out of frustration, Job also asked God: “Why let people go on in misery, why give light to those in grief? (Job 3, 20). These questions are normal and simply indicate that we are truly human. However, if we do not lose our faith in the process, God will surely show us his saving power. Job later realized this, and said: “I know that my redeemer lives” (Job 19, 25), and the palmist tells us that: Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30, 5). So brethren, surely, God will not fail you because he says: “I am Yahweh who heals you” (Ex 15, 26).

In our second reading today, Paul strongly expressed his willingness to preach the gospel. He said: “Curse upon me if I do not preach the gospel!” The story of Paul is like the story of a man who after surviving a disease, decided to dedicate the rest of his life in search of a cure f the disease and also, in caring for those suffering from the same disease. Again, he is like a doctor who discovered a vaccine for Ebola, Chikungunya, Chickenpox, Malaria, High Blood Pressure, Sickle Cell Anemia, HIV AIDS, etcetera, and vowed to offer it free of charge to all the patients. Paul was sick spiritually until he divinely encountered the healing power of Christ. This became the turning point in his life. So as a healed man who knows what it means to be sick, he burns with zeal in order to make sure that others do not suffer from the same sickness. The Doctor that healed him was Jesus Christ. The medicines that healed him were the name, the precious blood and, the good news of Jesus Christ. He took the full dose of these and was healed, transformed and empowered. He realized that: There is no other name by which man shall be saved except through that name Jesus (Acts 4, 12) and, that “Whoever calls upon that name shall be saved” (Acts 2, 21). So, by placing a curse on himself, Paul declared “a state of emergency” on souls and nations that are infermed and need the healing power of Jesus Christ to recover. My dear friends, what we must learn from Paul today, is that the good news of Jesus Christ brings healing, deliverance and empowerment. If we have been healed and delivered by Christ, we must like Paul become fountains of healing to others. So if you have been touched and healed, heal and touch someone else. This is what Paul also means by: “…I made myself all things to all men in order to save some at any cost; and still do this for the sake of the gospel, to have a share in its blessing.” The more we heal souls through the good news the more we too are healed.

The gospel of this Sunday recounts how Jesus went about healing, delivering and empowering people. First, Jesus healed the mother of Simon Peter of her infirmity (fever). As soon as she was healed, she on her on part cured them of their hunger by feeding them. That is what Mark means by: “…And she began to wait on them.” Jesus preached, healed and delivered people from all kinds of infirmities, and problems. There was no one who encountered him with faith that he did not heal. This is important! If Jesus must heal us, we too must have faith in him. If the good news must liberate us, we must have faith in Christ.  The power of Jesus is still the same today, and he is ready to heal those who come to him in faith, those who are ready to wait on him, those who are ready to humble and open up to him, and those who are willing endure until they have encountered him. It does not matter how long you have been sick, how long have been abandoned or who has abandoned you. Like my friend who was touched and transformed after forty seven years, it does not matter how long you have been stubborn or strayed from him. It does not matter what the reports or odds against us are. All we need is Patience, Hope, and Faith in Jesus Christ who is abundantly able to deliver those who trust in him. Therefore let us praise the Lord who heals our broken hearts.”

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!

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