Posts Tagged ‘Healing the Broken Hearted’

Healing the Broken Hearted

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Job 7: 1-4, 6-7; 1 Cor 9: 16-19, 22-23; Mark 1: 29-39
Deacon Larry Brockman

Praise the Lord who heals the brokenhearted!

And certainly, that’s a good description for Job today. If anyone was ever brokenhearted, it was Job. Here is a righteous man, meaning a man who loved the Lord and lived according to God’s Law. So Job was in a right relationship with God. And yet, Job had lost everything by human standards- his wife, his livelihood, and his health. Job was indeed brokenhearted and even cries out for an end to it all.

It’s a sentiment many of us experience during the course of life. In the midst of your comfort, which you worked hard to achieve, everything seems to crumble around you. It can be triggered by a job loss, the loss of a loved one, a medical diagnosis, the political environment; or even by the onset of a nasty long term flu. You feel depressed, brokenhearted, and even a little bit angry.

The question even arises in your mind- why did this happen to me? You look around and see people who don’t seem to have a relationship with God. They don’t go to church; they seem preoccupied with themselves and life’s pleasures. But by George, they are prospering and here you are, miserable. So, what is all this about Praising the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted? What does that mean?

I think St. Paul gives us a hint on how to resolve this dilemma in Corinthians. You see, Paul understands that life is not all about comfort. Rather, life is all about our relationship with God. Nothing else really matters in the end, does it- our wealth, our health, and even our friends, don’t matter.

Paul was struck off his horse in the midst of his zealous efforts to persecute the people of God, the Christians, and commissioned by Jesus to preach to the Gentiles. He didn’t say: “OK Lord, I’ll do that, but there are a few tents I’m commissioned to make first so I can make the house payment (Paul was a tentmaker by trade). No, he dropped everything and went off and preached the Gospel to the Gentiles, not knowing where his next meal and shelter would be in the process. We know that Paul worked his trade while he preached the Gospel from some of his other letters. So he found a way to do God’s mission for him and still eek out his sustenance.

Now in today’s reading, Paul says this: “If I preach the Gospel, there is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me.” Yes, Paul understands that an obligation has been imposed on him. God has imposed this mission on him. He is free to embrace it or not; but there are consequences either way. Only, the way to true righteousness with God is when we take up our cross and follow our mission. And when we are right with God, then nothing else matters.

So it was to Paul. Paul emphasizes that he could willingly or unwillingly follow that obligation to preach. His recompense if he willingly preaches the Gospel is righteousness with God. I get a sense of weariness in Paul’s words- He’s been at it for some time, but he feels he must keep going without break to save as many as possible. That is what is expected of him. He must endure whatever else befalls him on that path. And his ultimate recompense is a share in the promise of the Gospel- eternal life.

I was struck by the parallel between Paul’s mission and Jesus mission in today’s Gospel. This story is right in the beginning of Mark’s Gospel- just as Jesus is getting started after his Baptism. Jesus is preaching a new way, something different than the teaching of the Jewish Pharisees. Jesus is preaching “repentance”- that is, the need to change the way people live their lives. Instead of embracing the comforts of the world, people need to embrace love of God with their hearts, and to love their neighbors in the same way.

In the last couple of weeks, the “authority” of Jesus teaching has been emphasized in the daily and Sunday Gospels. “Authority” is what gives someone the right to do what they do. Jesus was not schooled by the Jews; Jesus was not authorized by the Romans or the Jews. Rather, Jesus authority was established by the works he did. And here, at the beginning of his preaching ministry, Jesus shows his authority by going around the country, visiting synagogues to cast out demons and cure the lame and sick.

Today’s Gospel shows how truly daunting that task was. Just like Paul, Jesus has left his life as a simple carpenter to follow the promptings his Father gave him to preach a Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins and to heal the possessed and sick in the process. Jesus gets virtually no respite; no comfort in the process.

His disciples even chase him down after a very busy day while he tries to get a few hours to himself. Jesus realizes that he must press on and says: “Let us go to the nearby villages so that I may preach there also.”

No matter how you feel about your life today, the only thing that really matters in the end is whether you are righteous in the eyes of the Lord. That is something we all need to go away and reflect on. Our Parish mission is coming up right at the beginning of Lent. It will be a golden opportunity for all of us, brokenhearted or not, to get in a right relationship with the Lord- to “Praise the Lord who heals the brokenhearted!”