Sunday, February 5, 2012

Who can resist the power of His love?

Seasoned readers of this blog will know that I'm always on the lookout for really good, thoughtful but snappy reflections on the Sunday Mass readings (not least for printing in pew bulletins!). Well, I have one for you today, by Msgr. Paul Whitmore. I was quite moved by it - especially as the writer captures the sufferings believers experience without trying to resolve them in the trite fashion of many preachers!

It comes from a website called simply THE JOURNEY which provides a similar meditation on the Mass readings for each day of the week. (The Mass Readings for today are: Job 7:1-4, 6-7; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39.)

Many years ago, I visited a woman in the hospital whose whole body was covered with burns suffered in an accident. She could barely talk, but when she saw who I was, she made the effort to whisper to me, "Please tell me the story of Job."

Weeks later, she told me that this had been her only consolation in enduring the severe pain that wracked her body for many weeks.

When we think of Job, we think of a once-prosperous landowner, sitting on a dung heap, scraping his sores. Meanwhile, well-meaning friends are trying to convince this totally innocent man that he must have sinned grievously and God is now punishing him. At first, his faith prompts him to cry, "The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!"

Eventually, though, Job has to work through a great period of depression and near-despair. While acknowledging his innocence and the seeming injustice of his present condition, he eventually bows his spirit in total and complete trust in God. His powerful story has comforted thousands upon thousands of people who have lost everything, but have held tenaciously to their faith in a loving God.

In our own lives, when we feel that God has acted cruelly or unjustly, we need to look at the crucifix. Was it fair for Jesus, whose only crime was loving us, to be killed on a cross after severe humiliation and torture? Was it fair for his mother, Mary, to suffer the terrible pain that only mothers can know and appreciate?

Our second reading from Corinthians gives us the example of St Paul who endured daily trials because the compulsion of love and zeal urged him to preach the Word of life every day, in season and out of season.

In the Gospel, Jesus helps Peter's mother-in-law to her feet after curing her fever. What a touching scene when this now-healthy woman asks for her apron and starts preparing dinner for Jesus and His followers! Although we do not know the name of Peter's wife, we feel sorry for her! Not only does Jesus take her husband away to be an apostle, he even makes a follower out of the girl's mother. Who could resist the power of his love flowing into both her body and her spirit? May we, too, surrender our hearts to his power!


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