You gotta hand it to Job. He really knows how to lighten up your day:
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?...
If in bed I say, “When shall I arise?” then the night drags on…
Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.
Alright!! The Word of the Lord!!! My man!!
The gospel too is filled with sickness and despair. This is the story of Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law. I’ll leave aside the obvious cracks about Peter (hello! The “first Pope”!) having a wife to better focus on the mess in Capernaum.
Jesus has just left the synagogue where last week he healed a man with an unclean spirit. His fame is starting to spread – through all of Galilee. That’s kind of bad news because evidently, Caper-town is a hotbed of the sick, the seriously warped and the demon-infested.
Especially at night…
“When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
It must have been like Halloween out there – a fire or some torches to see by. Shadows dancing on walls and out into courtyards. Waves splashing on the beachfront. The creaking of boats rocking on the water. The smell of dead fish and sick people who could not clean themselves. Hooting and hollering and carrying on, as “the whole town” gather at Simon’s house, desperate to get relief from whatever ailed them. Pushing, straining, crushed together, hoping, doubting.
It’s kind of hard to appreciate in our day of antibiotics and morphine, but even an abscessed tooth or an infected splinter could kill a strong man in no time flat. And for the chronically ill, there was nothing but the love of their frazzled family and hope for quick release from agony.
It’s the ancient tale of Job all over. The human condition. Misery. Lunacy. Undeserved suffering. Inescapable pain and all the other benefits of being a species that is just fit enough to reproduce before dying in torments.
Into this mess comes Jesus, setting right what the world and blind, heedless Nature have decreed as the way things must be. Jesus, who reshapes humanity to show off the image of God hidden within. Jesus, who draws in flesh God’s intention for his Creation, and sets himself against a world skewed into death, disease and struggle by the forces of chaotic Nature.
Let us pray.
Jesus, you healed “many” in Capernaum who were sick, crazy and entangled in evil. That was terrific. We have many like that today. We heal their bodies, sometimes. We band-aid their minds, sometimes. But many more don’t even know they are sick and damage their families and communities with the craziness. And those we do heal are sometimes abandoned, lonely and sad.
Your healing ministry showed us the destiny of Creation: whole, healthy, free – a community restored to the throb and bustle of life. Help us bring those who are sick back into our lives and out of the shadows. Let us join your ministry of healing bodies, minds and spirits, doing what we can, as you did, for those in desperate need of love, pity and the touch of a human hand.