Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 4, 2018
When disasters—personal or communal—occur in our world, it’s likely that religious people will be asked: What does God have to do with this? Hello, I’m Franciscan Father Greg Friedman with the Sunday Soundbite for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
This 90-second soundbite can’t hope to answer that question, but perhaps today’s Sunday readings can help. In the first reading we hear from that Biblical expert on suffering—Job. It’s a short description of Job’s—and humankind’s—miserable condition. If we read more of the Book of Job, we discover that it doesn’t try to resolve the question of human suffering either. Rather it ends by bringing us face to face with the very mystery of God. With Job, we’re invited to turn ourselves over to God, and to trust in God’s infinite wisdom and care for us.
The Gospel personalizes that invitation. Mark depicts Jesus embarked on a journey that again and again brings him face to face with evil: manifested in the sin and suffering, sickness and death Jesus encounters in the world. Each time, he proves himself master over evil, the one who brings God’s forgiveness, the healer of human suffering. Eventually, he conquers death itself on the Cross.
What does God have to do with human suffering? The best answer I know is God’s answer, Jesus himself—the only answer we need.