Sunday, February 7, 2021

5th Sunday OT (Cycle B): Self Reflection in times of COVID


For a streamed version of this homily you can go here. 

  In today’s mass we hear about 3 very important men in the history of our salvation. In the first reading we meet Job, a man who's strong faith is an example to all believers because after losing his fortune, his home, his wife, his children even his health had the strength to famously say “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of Lord”.   On the second reading we met Paul, a former Pharisee, well educated, Roman Citizen, a well respected tent maker, and a persecutor of the Church. A man who after an encounter with the risen Christ, voluntarily gave everything he was and had in order to become a messenger of the Good News. Finally, in the Gospel reading we meet the Lord Jesus but not in all his glory. We meet him as a simple man who unlike Job and Paul, who in their lives had wealth and family, had nothing. In fact his parents were poor, so poor that he was born in a manger and as a baby became a refugee. We meet  him as a man that is beginning to fulfill his calling in life. Not worrying about what he had or what he gave up but focused on the task He received from the Father, to bring the good news to the world.. 

   We meet these three men at different stages in their lives. Job is at the end of his rope, he looks at himself and only sees failure, pain and disappointment. Paul is in the middle of his ministry reflecting upon why he does what he does, how he has given everything to the Gospel without expecting any recompense. And Jesus is at the beginning of his ministry, still trying to decide how to reach the people he had come to save, relying on prayer and contemplation to follow the way the spirit takes him.   

   The interesting thing about these three stories is that we meet each one of these men in a moment of self reflection. One of those moments in which we are forced by circumstance to take a good look at ourselves, reflect on where we had been, and decide how to move forward into the next step in our lives.  

    I would venture to say that every human being on earth, it doesn't matter from what culture or which time, has experienced moments like these throughout their lives.  The question for us today is :  In a time like the one we are living, in the middle of a pandemic, a time in which the act of wearing a mask, keeping our distance or even speaking loudly can be the difference between life and death for ourselves or for the ones we love.  What can we learn from these three men? What should our own moments of self reflection tell us?

    Well to the ones who have suffered great loss and now find themselves wondering what next, Jo(U)b teaches us that life is truly like the wind and that even when we feel that we will never feel happiness again, our faith doesn't end with what we have lost.  Winning or losing  the name of the Lord will always be blessed because as long as we have life, there is an opportunity for His eternal love and mercy to reach us and restore to us that which we have lost, even if we think this impossible.

    To the ones who day after day feel they give everything they have and are, and feel that they do not have anymore to give, St Paul reminds us that our efforts are not in vain. We have the assurance that some of the people we serve will be saved, but we should also accept the reality that some will be lost or not appreciate what we do for them. This is fine because our Father in heaven knows how much we love and care for the lives of others.

   To the ones who are starting on their efforts to help others, how have finally pushed fear out of the way and have taken the decision that this pandemic will not dictate the way we will live our lives, the Lord Jesus teaches us that only living a life of prayer and contemplation will give us the strengths and understanding we need to move ahead not where we want to go but where God the Father wants to send us.

  In today's readings we meet 3 very different men, in very different situations; each one reflecting on what lies ahead, what they should do, where they should go. Three men whose approach to dealing with the uncertainty of life have much to teach us.

    In these times in which we find ourselves wondering what comes next after COVID, let us focus our attention on the lives of these three men as a great example for us to follow.