Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Restless and sleepless nights are miserable, and they seem to drag on forever. Amid the darkness of night, the minutes and hours seem to pass more slowly than ever. This is an experience common to many, and the first reading of the day latches onto it. In the larger context of the passage, the innocent Job finds himself surrounded by heart-breaking tragedies and tribulations, including the destruction of his property, disease that destroys his health, the reproach of his friends, and the death of his children. In the middle of this confusion and consternation, Job feels the weight and misery of life’s difficulties. From his perspective, all of human life on earth feels like just one long, restless night of trial and trouble. And, perhaps, Job is not the only one to have felt this way. Maybe these thoughts crossed the mind of Simon’s mother-in-law while she lay sick with fever. Maybe the ill and those plagued by demons whom we hear about in the Gospel felt similar emotions while they bore the weight of life’s difficulties. Or maybe even we have experienced or are experiencing this sentiment arising from the difficulties in our own lives.
In the midst of this darkness, in the midst of this restless night of life, Christ Jesus, the true Sun of Righteousness, enters this world to bring his light and the warmth of his consolation. As we hear in the Gospel today, Jesus is a man with a purpose, and his mission is one of proclaiming and bringing the consolation of God. But the consolation that Christ brings is not merely some saccharine emotion that glosses over sadness, rather the consolation of God heals wounds, cures infirmities, scatters the powers of darkness, and strengthens men and women to serve the Lord and others in love. In short, the true consolation of God is the light that leads people to salvation amidst the dark, restless night of this world. Jesus brings this consolation to Simon’s mother-in-law as he heals her, lifts her up, and strengthens her so that she might serve the Lord and others. Jesus brings this consolation to the other sick and those possessed by demons as he cures them and scatters the unclean spirits. Similarly, today Jesus continues his mission of consolation, going from place to place in every region of our hearts and every corner of our lives so that he might heal our wounds and infirmities, cast out the powers of darkness, and strengthen us to serve the Lord and one another in love. And, so, if ever we feel the burden of tribulations and life seems like one long, restless night, Christ Jesus promises us that his consolation will soon return. For this mission is why Jesus Christ has come: to bring the consolation that leads to our salvation.