Sorrow and suffering. Healing and comforting. Proclaiming the Good News and prayer. Today’s readings bring all those experiences and actions together in a way that makes sense of human suffering, and shows us how to transform suffering into a kind of blessing.
Job laments the emptiness of his existence. Many in today’s troubled world feel the same sense of hopelessness. Those suffering from drug addiction, declining health, loneliness, mental illness and poverty might echo Job’s refrain. In fact, some who have no other resources see death as the only solution.
The Psalm reminds us to sing praises to the Lord who heals the broken-hearted. St Paul reminds us to preach the Good News always. How do we do that today?
In every community there are groups who need to hear the gospel preached more by actions than by words. My parish is starting an Out Of the Cold program once a week throughout the winter months. In doing so we join many other churches that offer meals and warming centres. These places of comfort provide more than food. The smile and the kind word also nourish, and heal the broken-hearted.
In the gospel we see Jesus enter the house of Simon and Andrew. He spends his evening healing, and it seems to be a never-ending job. “And the whole city was gathered around the door.” In my mind I picture an endless stream of people asking for help, much like a hospital emergency ward on a Saturday night.
Whenever Jesus heals, he casts out demons. I always wonder about that. What demons did people at that time carry? What demons control our lives today? Addiction may be one. We usually think of alcohol and drug addiction, but food, gambling, gaming and technology are also addictive. Negative emotional states such as anger, greed, jealousy, pride and selfishness can close our hearts to love. Demons such as these keep us from proclaiming the gospel.
How can we cast out these demons? In today’s Gospel I am drawn to what Jesus did after he spent the night healing. “…Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place and there he prayed.” Prayer is nourishment for our souls. Prayer is the answer to everything. Through prayer we can overcome our demons.
When I am feeling like Job, that life is overwhelming, I pray the rosary. As I visualize the events in the life of Jesus, I feel Him walking with me. And that is all I need. With Jesus beside me my brokenness is transformed into a blessing, an experience that makes me stronger. It makes me feel whole.
Let us walk together as a faith community, praying, proclaiming the Good News by our actions, and singing praises to the Lord, who heals the broken-hearted.