Sisters and Brothers! None of us walked with Jesus and his Apostles when the great Salvation events took place 2000 years ago in the Holy Land. However the word of Good News about what God accomplished there and then for the salvation of the world we accept with faith. Furthermore this word of what happened there and then doesn’t just inform like the news outlets do on TV, Radio, Internet etc. This word is like the seed sown in the soil. It is sown in the depth of our being, in our soul. This is how God through his word informs us. He shapes us. He forms us.
How much we need this power of God’s word. We need this word like Job from our First Reading. Some of you might thing that it was such a sad and depressing piece of reading: ‘My days have passed and vanished, leaving no hope behind… my eyes will never again see joy.’ Why did we read it at this Mass? Did we read it to lose our hope and joy too? My Dear Friends! The Word of God is not reduced to giving us solutions and advice. The Word of God embraces us with the whole spectrum of our human experience. Job, the man who spoke those heart wrenching admissions, did it after his children were murdered, his estate levelled to the ground and leprosy inflicted him. Enough reason to be down, wasn’t it? Furthermore it might sound like a joke that after hearing his admissions we were singing the Psalm 146: ‘Praise the Lord for he is good, sing to our God for he is loving, to him our praise is due.’ Was it a joke? It was not a joke. It was an act of faith.
Additionally there is this question: Why did it all happen to Job? His three friends gave a ‘religious’ explanation: it was a punishment from God. However Job was convinced that he didn’t offend God and he was right. His wife gave his even ‘better’ advice: ‘Curse God and die.’ However Job didn’t give an ear to that either. When suffering in spirit, mind and body he lamented his condition but clang to his faith that God is good, merciful and just. When we read and listen to this sad passage from the Bible we are invited to hold fast, like Job did, to what God has revealed about himself and us. Even if your ‘good’ friends around you, and in your head, tell you to abandon your trust in Jesus, turn to our good Lord and Saviour and invite him to your situations like Peter did in the Gospel. Peter’s mother-in-law was suffering from fever. Maybe two years ago we wouldn’t think about fever as something serious but now having lived through the COVID – 19 pandemic we can appreciate the distress of the Peter’s family better.
My Dear fellow believers! When Job suffered he was still in God’s embrace, though it didn’t feel like that. When Peter’s mother-in-law suffered she was embraced by Jesus. As we are entering the Liturgy of the Eucharist now we do so with everything happening in our lives. However whether it feels like we are on the top of the world or in the valley of darkness we are celebrating the Eucharist which is a thanksgiving. With Jesus taking bread and wine into his hands we also present ourselves and with Jesus we do it with thanksgiving. ‘Praise the Lord for he is good, sing to our God for he is loving, to him our praise is due.’ Is it a joke? It is not. It is an act of faith exceeding far that of the people of Athens.