Reading I: Job 7:1-4, 6-7
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
GOSPEL: Mark 1:29-39

Lamenting Life

If you take a closer look at today’s first reading, you may notice something familiar about Job’s lament. You may notice that it could have been uttered, virtually word for word, by many people today – people who are unemployed, addicted, abused or otherwise afflicted. In fact, it seems to be an accurate description of the human condition. But before we get too depressed about it, we need to remember that God has a response to the human condition. God’s incarnate response is Jesus.

Healing the World

As Christians, we understand that Jesus died so that we would be redeemed. By his resurrection, he conquered death so that we might live forever with the Father. But we can’t forget that Jesus did more than that. Jesus didn’t simply tell us to keep our eyes on the heavenly prize. Jesus came to heal our ills, to bring us comfort, and to ease the pain that so many people endure.

Jesus calls us to do the same thing. We need to reach out to the people around us who are suffering. The people who, like Job, are lamenting life and are therefore in most need of our love, compassion and hope. It may seem like a monumental task and far beyond our capabilities, but we need to remember that we are part of a much larger community called Church. If we were all to answer the call, imagine the good our combined efforts could do.

Recharging Ourselves

In order to answer Christ’s call to heal the afflicted, we must also follow his example when it comes to preparing and maintaining ourselves and our ministry. We see in today’s Gospel that Jesus took time to rest and pray. After healing ills and driving out demons from the people in Simon’s and Andrew’s village, he slept and then went to a secluded place to pray. He rested his body and then tended to the needs of his spirit before heading out to other villages.

Regardless of our ministry – whether we are clergy or laity, ecclesial ministers or marketplace ministers, formal educators or parents – we need to remember that we’re running a marathon, not a sprint. Ministry is a long-term endeavor, so we need to take care of our bodies and minds so that we can continue to effectively minister for as long as Jesus needs us to!

Eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of rest will help maintain or physical bodies. But we need to recharge our spiritual batteries too; and we do that through prayer. That’s what Jesus did – and not just in today’s Gospel reading. There are many, many times throughout the Gospels when Jesus goes off to spend time with his Father. If we expect to follow his example in ministry, we need to do that as well.

Expanding Your Ministry

One final thing we should consider is that, when Jesus was done with his prayer, he didn’t go back to the same village. He went out to new villages, healing and bringing hope wherever he went. In this way, he helped spread the Good News throughout Galilee. Likewise, the apostles headed out into the world, often going from place to place, delivering Christ’s message to people everywhere.

We need to do the same thing. We need to expand our ministry horizon. Parents should not only teach and nurture their own children, but their children’s friends as well. Teachers should not simply teach at school, but everywhere the opportunity presents itself. Clergy should not only tend to the people of their parishes, but any who need their help. Lay men and women should not only discuss Christian principles and ideals at church on Sunday, but in the workplace, at the gym or out with friends.

As Christians, we are called to help alleviate the pain and suffering inherent in the human condition, and to help bring Christ’s message of hope to the world. And in order to do it most effectively, we must take care of our own physical and spiritual needs too. If we do that, we’ll be much better prepared to sow the seeds of the Good News wherever we go.

Life Applications:

How would you describe the human condition in your own words?
What can you do to comfort the afflicted and bring hope to those around you?
What do you need to change in order to take better care of your body, mind and spirit?

Original article by Brandon Jubar, 2006-2021.
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