Fifth Sunday OT February 7, 2021

  • READINGS: Job 1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23;
  • Mark 1:29-39

This past week, Governor Brad Little moved Idaho to Phase 3, lifting more of the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic. People have been chafing under the restrictions imposed, but we are not out of the woods yet and these remain challenging times. My mom, who just turned 105 last week end, recalls at the age of 3 moving to California from Seattle for six months while her mother recovered from the 1918 Influenza pandemic, which killed 675,000 people in the US alone. As a teenager, having lost her dad at when she was 11, mom’s family went onto welfare just to survive during the Great Depression of 1929-1938. During WWII, our whole country—Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation, put up with rationing and made great personal sacrifices to support the war effort. Now mom’s quarantined in her senior living center during the duration of the pandemic. While difficult times and personal struggles have always been part of the human story, still, whether faith-filled or not, we resist such challenges and ask why, just as Job does in our first reading.

Job, a wealthy and God-fearing man, suffers the loss of his entire family, his wealth, and health. Despite misfortune, Job does not abandon his faith in the Lord. “God gives us what is good and we accept that; should we not also accept whatever comes from God that is bad”, he concludes. “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of a hireling?” Ultimately, Job survives these terrible events because he trusts in God, even though he cannot explain why they are happening. And in the end, he receives more blessings than he had before the trials began.

Job attributed the benefits and the punishments all to God, but unlike Job, we know through Jesus that his Father, Abba, Daddy, is love. It was out of love that Jesus cured peoples’ illnesses and deformities, drove out the devil, and forgave sins. Jesus demonstrated that what is good is of God and what is bad is not of God, but of the devil and human weakness. I don’t mean to minimize the hardships people around the world are experiencing because of the pandemic, but neither do I believe, as some seem to think, that God is using this virus to punish society for its ills. Rather, as Job experienced, sometimes bad things happen to good people through no fault of their own. But hidden in difficult times is usually a silver lining, if we are open to looking for it. For instance because of the virus, more people are working from home, providing time to interact with children and spouses over lunch and breaks. Many people find they can complete their work in less time and have more time for family and self as a result.

Less travel means less burning of fossil fuel, which has positively impacted the quality of our environment. We can actually SEE LA now!

People are reaching out to one another to check on their health, using Facetime, ZOOM gatherings, phone calls, texts, notes, expressions of concern for the well-being of others. People are sharing food, money for essentials, some donating their stimulus checks, and companies like Subaru that donated 50 million meals in 2020, will donate 100 million meals in 2021. Many people are tipping more generously service providers whose incomes have been severely curtailed in this shutdown of businesses. People are out walking, together, with pets, getting outside more, Etc.

Do you recall a decade ago when the acronym WWJD—What would Jesus Do, was circulating? It was a reminder to behave like Jesus, especially when confronted with injustice, bigotry, hatred, and personal attack. We know that Jesus healed the sick, cured the infirm, confronted hypocrites, rejected unjust laws, forgave those who attacked him, and drew upon his heavenly Father for strength. He was tireless in his efforts to share the Good News with all willing to listen and repent. As His followers, we are commissioned to continue his mission, especially in times like these where the need for forgiveness and healing is so great. To do so, we need to strive to do as Jesus did.

Around our community, in our country, and around the world people continue making sacrifices to help themselves and others cope. In following Jesus’ command to love one another and choose to respond to others with kindness and respect, even to our enemies, we experience God’s comfort and healing presence. Under duress, we are compelled to examine our attitudes, values, actions, and goals. We have Jesus’ message of love and redemption to guide our thinking and strengthen our resolve to make this world a better place for everyone. No more rigidly-held positions that seek to push us farther and farther apart, but common ground that compels us to respect our differences while working together for a better, more just tomorrow. As followers of Jesus, may we commit to sharing what we have with others, in particular those most in need, comforting those who grieve, and proclaiming hope to those wearied by the afflictions we currently share.

For the 11:00 am Mass on Scout Sunday

Consider the Scout Law, a guide for living lives consistent with the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ charge that we love our neighbors as ourselves.

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

A brilliant video that ties in with today’s homily.