Yes! There IS a link between this Sunday’s OLD TESTAMENT READING [JONAH 3: 1 - 5. 10] and the GOSPEL EXTRACT [MARK 1: 14 - 20]. As with Mark’s version...
We all know the basic story of Job! In short it starts with a very graphic portrayal of ‘how the mighty have fallen’. However, the Lord God knew of what Job was really made and his servant eventually comes right again as Job reverts to what he really is – a man of faith and integrity.
TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT READING [JOB 7: 1 – 4. 6 – 7] shows us Job in his initial despair as he struggles with his faith in the face of quite enormous personal suffering and family tragedies heaped on him by one disaster after another. Job proclaims that “my days … come to their end without hope … my eye will never again see good.“
My own personal experience (as well as all my family and friends together) has never been confronted with anything even faintly resembling the tragedies with which Job was confronted. Yet, there have been times when I have experienced real hardship, disappointment in myself, and unexpected challenges to which I needed to respond. There have been times when, like Job, I have (together with a well-known spiritual author) found myself asking:
“God, where are you?” It isreally the same question Job posed in our Old Testament extract.
It is good for us, from time to time, to hear the powerful reminder proclaimed in
TODAY’S PSALM [147 or 146] …. “the Lord builds up … brings back … heals the broken-hearted … binds up wounds … calls each one by name.“ The Psalm immediately before today’s one provides us with the reminder that “the Lord keeps faith forever.“ We know that Job eventually recovered himself, and towards the end of his story is able to proclaim that “I know you can do all things and that no purpose is beyond you … I knew of you only be report, but now I see you with my own eyes.“ (42: 2 & 5)
At different times of our living we all need to hear Job and appreciate his personal discovery and ‘rehabilitation’
I often wonder if there are not times when I do not feel like being rehabilitated – or lack the energy to undertake the necessary process?
How about you?
NEW TESTAMENT READING [1 CORINTHIANS 9: 16 – 19. 22 – 23] is not intended to have any direct connection it does, for me, offer a little ‘titbit’ which some of you may find a good point for reflection. Saint Paul tells us that “to the weak I become weak, that I might win the weak.“ Job’s faith became more real and personal in the process of experiencing weakness and eventually beginning the process of rehabilitating himself. Do we need to experience the challenge of real weakness in raw reality in order to discover (as our Psalm tells us) that “our Lord is great and almighty; his wisdom can never be measured?“ Is this HOW Job was able to say I knew you only by report, but now I see you with my own eyes?
It should not escape our notice that in TODAY’S GOSPEL [MARK 1: 29 — 39] we are reminded that at the very beginning of his ministry Jesus is somewhat overwhelmed by the needs of people who needed to be CURED! We should never limit his ‘curing’ ministry to the physical – or ‘demons’ to ‘spooks’. I stand in need for other weaknesses to be cured. There are demons inside me which are not ‘spooks’ and need to be “cast out.” Jesus was busy rehabilitating people.
We all stand in need of some sort of healing. What is required of me is to honestly identify what is ‘sick’ … as well as owning the little demons which lurk in the shadows and want to be cast out.