Meet Jesus and be Lifted Up by Him

Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Job in the first reading today (Job 7:1-4, 6-7) is suffering greatly. “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?” He has had months of misery. He suffered insomnia at night. He says his days come to an end without hope. Put simply, Job’s problem was that he did not know Jesus. He knew he had a problem but did not know the cure. The cure was Jesus who would come many centuries later. On the other hand, as we heard in the Gospel today (Mark 1:29-39), those who were ill in Capernaum knew that Jesus was the answer to their problems. They told Jesus about Peter’s mother-in-law. He approached her, grasped her hand and helped her up and the fever left. After sunset they brought to Jesus all who were ill or possessed by demons and he cured many who were ill and drove out many demons. Those people in Capernaum were changed after meeting Jesus. There was life as they knew it before they met Jesus, and their life after they met Jesus. They were very different people after they met Jesus. They were new people, and everyone around them would have instantly seen the difference. It was so obvious in Peter’s mother-in-law. Before she met Jesus she was in bed with a fever but after she met Jesus she was up and about the house and served the guests.

The same happens when people meet Jesus today. They did not have happy lives before they met Jesus but have happy lives after they meet Jesus. Before they met Jesus they were like Job in the first reading but after they meet Jesus they are new people like the people in Capernaum. Recently I watched a documentary entitled The Beautiful Road (La Strada Bella subtitles in many languages including English; DVD) commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Catholic movement, Communion and Liberation. It featured a number of people whose lives changed after they encountered Jesus through the Movement of Communion and Liberation. In other words, they spoke about their lives when they were like Job in the first reading, and their new lives after they met Jesus. One was a husband and father. After meeting Jesus in the movement, he said he learned to love his wife, daughter, and family. He said he saw things that previously he was incapable of seeing. Another was in Kampala, Uganda. When she spoke to people about Jesus they didn’t understand and when she gave them medicine they would throw it away and she could not understand why. After she encountered Jesus, her patients began to take the medicine. What was different? She was. She said she did the same things as previously but now she was different. Obviously her patients could see the difference. She said if Jesus is not ours, is not flesh of our flesh, then you cannot help others. Not only did her life change when she had Jesus, but the lives of those around her also changed. Another in the documentary was a man in New York. He had reached a very low ebb in his life, he was in a worse state than even Job in the first reading. He felt like a werewolf except he never changed back into being human again. He thought he was in such a mess that not even God could get him out of it. To him God was only a picture on a wall. Then he encountered God through the movement and he completely changed, and became very happy. He made a comment that is interesting for today’s Gospel. He said, “If you expect God to lay down on the gutter with you he won’t because he is holy, but if you ask God he will pull you out of there.” That is precisely how Jesus helped Peter’s mother-in-law in the Gospel today; Jesus approached her, grasped her hand, and helped her up.

We have all met Jesus but in some way but we would all like to have more of Jesus in our lives like the people in Capernaum, like the people in the documentary who shared about their new lives after meeting Jesus. What can you do to meet Jesus, to have more of Jesus in your life? Obviously if we want to meet Jesus and have more of him in our lives we have to give Jesus time, as much time as possible every day. Above all, we meet Jesus in the Mass, and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation often. Praying every day is essential. If we do not pray, how can we expect to have more of Jesus in our lives? Read the Bible every day. I once heard someone say he would love to know what God thinks. There is a way to find out, read the Sacred Scriptures. They show us the mind of God, what God thinks. Read the Gospels and you will see Jesus showing us what God thinks. Job did not have the privilege of reading the Gospels. If he did, we would not have heard the complaint we did in the first reading.

Those who meet Jesus and are changed discover something else. They are more human. Peter’s mother-in-law was able to get up from bed and work. The people in the documentary had potential in their lives but did not know before they met Jesus. Once they met Jesus they knew they were greater than any condition they had been suffering and realized their value. Living with faith in Jesus, having Jesus in your life, makes your life more human, much better and happier, and you see your value. Jesus wants to do for us what he did for Peter’s mother-in-law. Jesus wants to approach you, grasp your hand and help you up. Will you give him the time in your life every day to help you up, become more human, reach your potential and see the value of your life? Will you give Jesus time every day to approach you, grasp your hand and help you up?

© Fr. Tommy Lane 2015

This homily was delivered in a parish in Maryland near where I have joined the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Fifth Sunday Year B

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