February 4, 2021
Today’s first reading (Job 7:1-4, 6-7) is taken from the Book of Job that deals with the very difficult topic of the undeserved suffering of the innocent and just. The author describes the human condition in somber tones: We have a hard service on earth. Like a slave who longs for the shadow. We are allotted months of emptiness (read: living through a pandemic). Our days are swift and come to their end without hope. Ouch! Lastly, he says: “my eye will never again see good.” This reading may very well speak to us in the context of life with Covid-19. This is not a sprint but a marathon. It is long and heavy trudging. Hour after hour. Day after day! Week after week. Month after month. Dare I say, coming up to a year in March? We are all weary and exhausted!
In our second reading (1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23) as opposed to our first reading Paul gladly takes on being a slave for the sake of the Gospel. He feels convicted that he has been called, i.e., he has an obligation, to proclaim the Good News and therefore deserves no reward or pat on the back. Paul asks the question: “What then is my reward? And he answers it by saying: “that in my proclamation I may make the Gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the Gospel.” He goes on to say:
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
While it appears idyllic that Paul does not need affirmation or support in reality that is not me or dare I say: us. If this pandemic has taught me anything it is how easy it is for me to get laboured and overburdened and how much I need the love and care and support of others to keep going.
Speaking of the Gospel, today’s text (Mark 1:29-29) is the story of Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law, in the evening curing all who were sick and possessed and finally in the morning while it was still very dark getting up and going into the deserted place to pray. When the disciples found him they kind of chastise him because “everyone is looking for you”. Jesus, there are people who need your help! Jesus there are people who need healing from illnesses and possession! What do you think you are doing?
Today’s scripture readings speak to us of hardships, demands and the long haul that sometimes is our life. I don’t know about you but I certainly feel as if I am in a long haul as I wade through life in the midst of this pandemic. Jesus teaches me that it is okay to do self-care, i.e., rest and prayer. Sometimes we think negatively of self-care as a selfish act. However, if we are God’s creation and belong to God we have the obligation to be good stewards in how we look after ourselves. In fact, we can change our terminology from self-care to self-stewardship! Not only is it okay for me to take good care of myself, I have an obligation to do it. I need to understand that I am not the Vine but one of the branches that desperately needs to be connected to have life, and have it to the fullest. In fact, if we take a step back we realize that the better we look after ourselves and stay connected to the Vine, the better we are able to look after the demands that come to us from the other branches. Let us remember not only is it good to be good, it is also good to be good to ourselves!