The Big Picture

February 7, 2021 The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B)

The tie in between today’s readings: What are you working for?

Psalm 147:1-6, Job 7:1-7, I Corinthians 9:16-23, Mark 1:29-39

Our friend Job has a problem in our Old Testament reading for today, Job 7:1-7. It may be remarkably similar to your situation as well. You get up. Drink your coffee and drag yourself to work. There you’ll grind away for at least eight hours at a high-pressure, life-sucking, nowhere job. You finish. In your exhaustion, you don’t even remember how you got home. You make dinner. Watch TV. Take your antidepressants with your tranquilizer to hopefully escape your life’s anxieties and, just maybe, get some sleep before you have to get up and do it all over again. Your body aches. Your mind is numb. You give five days on this treadmill to get two back on the weekend. You get paid, but it’s never enough. Robbing Peter to pay Paul you try to keep your creditors at bay while telling yourself that you’re lucky because what you have is better than nothing. Perhaps, but does it matter whether you drown in ten feet of water or twenty? The months quickly roll into years leaving less and less of you in their wake and if the doctors tell you that you will die tomorrow…would you care?

On the surface, the quick answer is economics. Change your occupation, expenses, or location and all will be better. Yes, by all means, if you can make smarter decisions and adjustments, do it! But for many, our life circumstances encase us like a body cast; there are no honorable options.  It wouldn’t matter anyway. Living comfortably doesn’t shield you from a frustratingly empty life. Ultimately, the problem is not prosperity, but perspective. You need to learn that it’s not about you. You have to live for something bigger. Jesus show us something bigger in today’s gospel in Mark 1:29-39.  In these ten verses, the Lord pours Himself out healing the sick, casting out demons, and in prayer. You have to seize His examples. Love God. Love your neighbor.

In 1 Corinthians 9:16-23, St. Paul, who was no stranger to poverty, suffering, and imprisonment, gives us his motivation and method for living a fulfilled life. First, he points to his commission to preach the gospel to the world. Whether he would have volunteered for it or not, the Lord has given him this job to do and he does it because he loves God. In accomplishing his mission, he translates his God love into brotherly love by making himself a slave to his hearers. Instead of throwing his intellect and authority around, the Apostle stoops to conquer by finding common ground with his vast and varied audience. He knows that this is the best way to earn a hearing for the gospel and the saving of souls. No matter his situation, he does what needs to be done because he sees the bigger picture of salvation. We, too, can live above the pains and problems of our lives if we grasp this first principle: we are witnesses for the gospel of Jesus Christ in this life and our jobs only pay the expenses for us to do it.

Our reading in Psalm 147:1-6 shows us that we can have joy in a God focused life while in this veil of tears. Our faith gives us behind the scenes understanding. Our Father sees. He binds our wounds. He heals the broken hearted. He understands our situations. The Lord is always there in our time of need. Never fear! Remember too, though this life can be ridiculously hard, it is not forever. Better days are coming! As it says in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen. Ear has not heard and no one can even imagine the things that God has prepared for those who love Him.” Set your heart on eternal things! Love God! Love your neighbor! Spread the gospel! Get the big picture!

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