Fifth Sunday of the Year

Job 7:1-4 & 6-7; 1 Cor 9:16-19 & 22-23; Mk 1:29-39 (Year B)

“Is not man’s life on earth nothing more than pressed service, his time no better than hired drudgery? Remember that my life is but a breath, and that my eyes will never see joy.” The Book of Job speaks to human experience with a brutal honesty, frequently expressing the disillusionment that many have felt but few have dared express with such openness. We might not experience the catastrophes ascribed to Job, but we shall certainly, at some time, know his sense of abandonment in times of struggle.

At the beginning of his trials Job accepted his fate with noble humility: “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” What he could not accept, and what was to become the recurring question of his suffering, was a familiar complaint: “Where is God to be found in my darkest hour?” The longing that ultimately brings us to God must, of its very nature, question his seeming absence.

As the Book of Job continued to unfold, Job received no specific answer to his complaints. Nevertheless, from the depths of his abandonment he continued to believe “that my redeemer lives, and that he, the Last, shall take his stand on earth”.

His faith was answered not with explanations, but with an overwhelming sense of God’s loving presence at the heart of his darkness. His questioning surrendered itself to trust. “I know that you are all-powerful: what you conceive you can perform. I am the man who has obscured your designs with my empty-headed words. I have been holding forth on matters I cannot understand, on marvels beyond my knowledge.”

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