Homily for the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Christ Liberates And Calls Us To Serve Others Freely

Readings: 1stJob 1-7; Ps 9, 16-23; 2nd1Cor 9, 16-19. 22-23: Gos: Mk 1, 29-39

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

(https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8452-8392)

On this fifth Sunday of ordinary time, the holy mother church invites us to praise Christ, who continues doing good. He and his apostles carried out their mission as a responsibility and not as a burden or just for wages. Therefore, he liberates and calls us to serve others freely.

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The first reading presents us with the dilemma of Job, an innocent and faithful servant of God. Rather than leave the image of suffering and misery, the story of Job should raise our hope and trust in the saving power of God.

The devil severely tested Job’s faith. He lost everything. As a man, Job complained as most of us would do: “Lying in bed, I wonder when it will be daylight. Rising I think, how slowly evening comes. Remember that my life is but a breath, and that my eyes will never see joy.” However, and to the glory of God, Job did not lose his faith in God.

Job’s case reminds us of our own daily struggles with the problems of life. Above all, it reminds us that, at times, it seems to us as the “grave silence or absence of God” in our lives. They are terrible moments that make us ask questions like, God, where are you? Why me? What have I done wrong? God answers these questions at his own time.

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In the second reading, Paul strongly expressed his willingness to preach the gospel. He exclaims: “Curse upon me if I do not preach the gospel!” His story is like that of a man who survived a terrible disease and dedicated his life to helping other patients. Again, he is like a doctor who discovered a life-saving vaccine for a particular illness and vowed to offer it free of charge to others to save them.

Paul was “spiritually sick” until he providentially encountered Christ. This encounter transformed his life and strengthened his faith. So, he dedicated himself to the preaching of the good news. This is his testimony: “For the sake of the gospel I made myself all things to all men, in order to save some at any cost, and to have a share in its blessing.” So, rather than for wages, Paul saw his call as responsibility towards others’ salvation. He was a full-time itinerary preacher who was always hungry for the conversion of souls for Christ.

In today’s gospel, Jesus tirelessly went about teaching, healing, delivering, and empowering people. This includes the mother-in-law of Peter. Also, Jesus saw his ministry as a responsibility, not principally as a wage earner for him. So, above everything, he was passionate about it, and about the welfare of his people.

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Like Jesus and Paul, we ought to see our call and mission as a responsibility, instead of a burden or a wage-earner, or solely for mundane reward. Wages or rewards does not refer to only money or material things. Deliberately seeking praise for our work and mission is a way of demanding wages too. If we do so, we have already received our wages. So, when we attract undue attention to ourselves for the work we do, it is also a way of gaining a salary for what merely ought to be our responsibility.

Jesus preached, healed, and delivered people from all kinds of infirmities and problems. No one encountered him with faith without being healed. If Jesus must heal us, we too must have faith in him. Also, If the good news must liberate us, we must believe it.

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The power of Jesus is still the same today. He is ready to heal those who come to him in faith. He is prepared to have a life-changing encounter with those who are prepared to approach him with humility. Therefore, let us “praise the Lord who heals our broken hearts.”

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!

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