Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year B
February 07, 2021 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Job 7:1-4;6-7 | Psalm 1417:1-6
I Corinthians 19:16-16;22-23 | Mark 1:29-39
+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Are you a good person? Do you enjoy helping others have good health, achieve their potential in life, and find happiness and fulfillment? Or do you enjoy seeing people suffering and in misery and try to destroy others by bearing false witness against them, gossiping about them, or physically harming them?
Today on this fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus shows us the way to obtain the rewards of a life passionate about the health and welfare of others.
“Love thy neighbor as thyself” is a commandment that was well known by the Jews. Jesus was asked who “neighbor” refers to in this commandment and then went on to tell the listeners the story of the good Samaritan. Remember that?
Well, the Jews at that time looked down on the Samaritans, feeling they were “lower class people”.
So you can imagine that when Jesus explained that it was a Samaritan who did good, that they would have been perplexed. As told by Jesus:
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day, he took out two denari (equal to $2.00, which was worth considerably more in those days) and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”
Jesus made it clear that in this parable the Samaritan loved his neighbor, and in doing so, he taught the lesson of helping those in need.
Today’s Gospel from Mark tells another one of the “miracle” stories of Jesus when he heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Jesus’ help for those in need is for all people in all places and under all circumstances.
Income inequality in the United States has grown since the 1970s such that it currently mirrors levels seen leading up to the Great Depression. Income inequality harms health by increasing the prevalence of poverty, generating chronic stress due to increased social comparisons and eroding societal cohesion, and destabilizing institutions to protect health.
As the gap between the rich and poor in terms of wealth grows, so does the gap in their health. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that across all groups, American’s self-reported health has declined since 1993. And race, gender, and income play a bigger role in predicting health outcomes now than they did in 1993. Overall, white men in the highest income bracket were the healthiest group. Further, while the health of wealthier people is remaining relatively stagnant, the health of the lowest income group is declining substantially.
Mitigating the harmful effects of income inequality on health requires concerted action by the government, academia, employers, non-governmental organizations, and the media to reduce inequality through taxes and transfers, increasing wages and employment, improving working conditions, and expanding access to education from early childhood education through higher education, investing in social programs that protect the vulnerable, and informing the public about ways in which inequality undermines health.
Just like Paul in our second reading, the Good Samaritan did not ask for any repayment from the injured victim. Obviously, the Good Samaritan managed his money well and as a result, he was able to be generous and had the means with which to carry out his good intentions.
Unfortunately, to some people, gaining more and more money is the central focus of their lives. We read almost daily of scheming doctors, for example, Dr. David Morrow of Rancho Mirage, who cheat insurance companies for monetary gains and end up in prison. Some warning signs of the “greed” syndrome include:
–overly self-centered behavior
–lack of empathy
–never being satisfied
–always wanting more and more
If they would follow Jesus’ teachings, they would have a happier, more meaningful, and richer life.
As we go through life, we have daunting questions throughout for which we have difficulty finding answers:
–Why did the wildfires burn down some houses, but spare others?
–Why did I get involved in a traffic accident when I was driving safely?
–Why did the pandemic kill so many people?
The readings this Sunday deal with the fundamental question we all have: Why is there suffering and pain? Why can’t God create a world without pain as He is all-powerful and good?
Let’s look at our first reading from Job. For anyone who has been afflicted with pain and suffering, Job is the patron saint. Job was an example of one of the finest people in the human race but yet, he lost his livelihood, he lost his wife and family, he lost his health, and he even lost his standing in the community. He lost everything! He laments that life has become drudgery and he calls out to God to find out why this is happening to him. God answers Job by asking, “Where were you when I created the day and the night? How can you question me, Job in this manner?
Perhaps we do not suffer to the extent that Job suffered, but life brings many challenges, including the one to our faith in God to see us through the crises, like our current pandemic.
During times in our lives that make us ask questions like, “ God, why me?” or “What have I done wrong?” God answers these questions at His own time.
But God is aware of our crises and wants to help us just as He healed all those people in today’s Gospel.
In our second reading from First Corinthians, Paul expresses his desire to preach the Gospel “free of charge”. Paul saw his call as a mission for the salvation of others. Until Paul encountered Jesus, he persecuted Christians. But after meeting Jesus, Paul dedicated himself to preaching the Good News. Just like Paul, we should see our call and mission as a responsibility, rather than a job where we earn money.
In our Gospel from Mark, Jesus encounters the mother-in-law of Simon Peter who is sick with a fever. He immediately went to her side and grasped her hand, helping her up and healing her.
Jesus saw his ministry as a mission and responsibility, not ever seeking wages, praises, or material things. He preached, taught, healed, and delivered everyone in need from all kinds of problems and illnesses. There was no one who encountered Him with faith that He did not heal.
Jesus is calling to us all today for a life-changing encounter to liberate ourselves and bring the Good News to a world greatly in need of His healing!