05 Feb – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Christ Who Makes Us Free To Serve
Without Christ our lives would be pure drudgery. We would be like slaves, or like workmen with nothing to look forward to but our wages. But the healing power of Christ has transformed our lives: now we are free to make ourselves like him, the slaves of everyone, offering men the good news without asking for anything in return.
– The Sunday Missal
Job began to speak:
Is not man’s life on earth nothing more than pressed service,
his time no better than hired drudgery?
Like the slave, sighing for the shade,
or the workman with no thought but his wages,
months of delusion I have assigned to me,
nothing for my own but nights of grief.
Lying in bed I wonder, ‘When will it be day?’
Risen I think, ‘How slowly evening comes!’
Restlessly I fret till twilight falls.
Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle my days have passed,
and vanished, leaving no hope behind.
Remember that my life is but a breath,
and that my eyes will never again see joy.
1 Corinthians 9:16-19.22-23
I do not boast of preaching the gospel, since it is a duty which has been laid on me; I should be punished if I did not preach it! If I had chosen this work myself, I might have been paid for it, but as I have not, it is a responsibility which has been put into my hands. Do you know what my reward is? It is this in my preaching, to be able to offer the Good News free, and not insist on the rights which the gospel gives me.
So though I am not a slave of any man I have made myself the slave of everyone so as to win as many as I could. For the weak I made myself weak. I made myself all things to all men in order to save some at any cost; and I still do this, for the sake of the gospel, to have a share in its blessings.
On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.
That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.
In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.
Remember that my life is but a breath
There was once a taxi driver who shared with me that the present economic arrangement where people worked their guts out for the sake of a miserly wage is no different from the slaves that used to work for the landowners. It seems that there does not seem to be any end to the drudgery that they face. The readings of today instruct us that being Christians require us to go beyond the monotony of work but to realise that our work in itself helps to sanctify God’s name.
We are Christian workers and not workers who just happen to be Christians and as such, St Paul reminds us that we need to continually spread the Word of God to ensure that all around us have had the chance to hear the Good News. It may seem tiresome to always be a counter-example to the world in our words and deeds but this is where we can draw the example from Jesus in the Gospel where He went off to a lonely place to pray before the start of His ministry.
The shortness of one’s life is not to be viewed as a curse but rather a privilege to put in the best effort that we can come up with to ensure that our duty as Christians are fulfilled. Our employers expect us to put in the best effort and likewise, God would like us to strive beyond mediocrity but instead consider ourselves to children of the light, always shining our love to others.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Lord we pray for the strength to continue to spread your Word to people whom we encounter.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who suffer persecution in their daily life.