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Gospel Reflection – 5th Sunday of the Year

Dear sisters and brothers,

As I read this weekend’s Gospel I was reminded of a scene from ‘The Chosen’.  You may remember me having mentioned this series in the past.  It is about the life of Christ but reflecting on the experiences of those whom he chooses, his disciples, helping us to remember that he chooses each of us to be his disciples as well.  This Gospel reminded me of how the series presents the scene.  When I’ve imagined it before, the crowd have descended on the house where Jesus is staying, and it’s all been very overwhelming – which reflects that that’s probably how I’d feel if it happened to me!  However, the way in which The Chosen presented it was much more gradual and joyful.  A lady passes by the window and sees Jesus; she asks him a question and they enter into a healthy, two-way conversation.  Passers by see what’s going on and join in.  Jesus senses a need in someone and starts to pray for them.  Bit by bit people are drawn to the scene and Jesus happily interacts with them, in conversation, in healing, in banter and in prayer.  It highlights the attractiveness of Jesus to all those who encountered him that evening.  Jesus is an attractive character to whom people are drawn.

The Gospel is in contrast with the Book of Job, the parable that we hear from in our first reading.  Poor Job!  Life was great for him; he was a righteous man who did no wrong, but then God allows Satan – who in the story hasn’t become a fallen angel yet – to test his righteousness.  Under difficult circumstances will he denounce God?  So, Satan decimates his wealth, his family and his health and abandons him.  There’s a lot more to the story, but the final line in today’s reading says it all for me: “Remember that my life is but a breath, and that my eyes will never again see joy”.  He may not denounce God, but an element of despair has crept into his heart as he struggles to understand why God would let so much that is bad happen to someone who has sought to be faithful to God all his life.

Isn’t that the same for all of us?  Some of those who came to the house where Jesus was staying in the Gospel may well have known such hopelessness too.  Many of us will experience it as we face grave problems with our health or in our families.  And so many people feel it in the face of the pandemic.  Where can our hope come from?

It comes from the attractive, and still very real, personality of Jesus who reveals God’s love to us and remains constantly with us, strengthening us from within, even when life gets dark and heavy.  That night, as the crowds came to him – in conversation, in healing, in banter and in prayer – he brought hope to them, and as we turn to him with all our needs in our own prayer, he brings hope to us as well, whatever the circumstances of our lives.  Let us pray that we, and God’s hurting world, will be drawn to Christ more and more each day and know his healing, strengthening, hope-filled presence.

With every blessing,

Simon