Stay Connected to God

02-07-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Our first reading comes from one of the most powerful and meaningful books of the Bible: the Book of Job. This book is about the story of the man who had everything, then he had nothing and all the sad happenings that went on in-between. There he is: Job sitting on a dung heap and he has to listen to speeches from his well-intentioned but nonstop talking friends. Because they cannot understand what happened, they think he should not either. Our passage for this weekend gives a plain view of life from Job. Simply put, he sees life as hard.

This passage lets us feel the suffering in the heart and life of Job, We know that there are 36 chapters of listening to his friends go on and on in speculation and guessing and then at the end finally God speaks to him. We want to pay close attention to all of this because Job is the great symbol for all of us, namely this man is "the symbol" for all who suffer long and patiently, who struggle to understand their life and God's life.

Remembering the passage from Job about life, suffering, and meaning, we now listen to the Gospel passage about a big crowd of poor people who have gathered at the temple in Capernaum on the Sabbath. We can envision Jesus leaving the temple and then going to the house of Simon Peter's mother-in-law who is suffering greatly with a fever and is now incapacitated. Everyone hangs around to watch and to talk. We hear Jesus helps her up and fully restores her to health so that she can even entertain people in her home. As the day now is ending, many more people arrive and want Jesus to heal them. He does so, hoping that they will come closer to the sacred mystery of the Kingdom of God that has come upon them. Then he prayed and went forth to other towns and villages to preach and heal.

We realize that the many people who came to Simon Peter's house wanted Jesus to cure them right away without any effort or responsibility on their part. People often say that we modern people of the world are the only impatient ones who want things immediately. Our Gospel passage tells us this is not as true as we think.

The brief sentence in Gospel about Jesus stopping and going to pray is a very important sentence. Jesus himself needed to draw strength from his Father in Heaven, the One who announced him as his Beloved Son a mere two or three weeks ago. Having started out from Galilee on his mission and journey to Jerusalem, Jesus needs to stay connected to his Heavenly Father. This is an easy and, in a sense, obvious lesson that we often forget in our lives. We need to stay connected with God, not just in the temple as Jesus did, but also each day in prayer. If you recall the first reading, because Job kept faith through it all, because he had this sense of God, he found goodness and meaning in his life.

The various lessons of the scriptures this weekend encourage us to keep faith and trust in God at all times and to stay connected to him not only in church, but also in our daily lives.