5th Sunday Ordinary Time
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: February 4, 2024
If you could choose one line from the Bible to summarize the whole history of salvation, one passage that captures the heart of the Gospel, which line would you choose? There is one line in our Gospel today that struck me as revealing the message of the Gospel. As Jesus enters the house of Simon and Andrew, we are told that the mother-in-law of Simon is sick in bed. It says that Jesus, “… came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.” Jesus took her by the hand and lifted her up.
This summarizes the Gospel, the action of God in Jesus. God wants to take each of us by the hand and lift us up. Lift us up from the struggles, the fears, the anxieties, the dark moments, the sicknesses, the coming death that awaits us. When we are lifted up ourselves by Jesus then we naturally begin to serve others like the mother-in-law of Peter.
I always remember one statement from someone who said that there are 3 things every parent needs to teach their children. That life is hard, that life is not fair, and finally, that life is good.
We heard a passage from the Book of Job today. Job is a book about the human struggle in this life. That life is hard, that life is not fair. For Job, life had become utterly dark and it did not seem to be fair at all. His suffering was not something that he deserved. We hear Job at a very low moment. He says, “I am allotted months of emptiness,” “nights of misery,” “night is long, and I am full of tossing until the dawn.” Life can become very hard and difficult at times.
Jesus took her by the hand and lifted her up. Job is someone who needed to be taken by the hand of God and lifted up. Each of us at certain times of our life need to be taken by the hand and lifted up. When life is hard and seems so unfair.
The Church is called the body of Christ. The ministry of Jesus is made visible today through the church, through us. What we see Jesus doing in the gospels is what we are called to do today. So, like Jesus, the church needs to be there to take people who are suffering by the hand and lift them up. Who needs you to take them by the hand and lift them up? Who in your family, or among your friends, or at your school, or at your work, or in this parish, or in this community? Someone who is down, struggling. You are called to reach out like Jesus by some kindness that brings them some hope. So, that they can see beyond the reality that life is hard, that life is unfair, to be able to see also that life is good.
People were all coming to Jesus with their struggles, sickness, discouragement, hurt, looking for some healing, some hope, some care. Jesus must have been overwhelmed at times. We see him getting up early in the morning to go out to a deserted place to pray. Jesus needed that life of prayer connecting him to the Father to allow him to continue to take them all by the hand and lift them up.
We are the body of Christ, we are called as the church to reach out and take people by the hand and lift them up. Through contact with us we need to help people to see the goodness of life when they are faced with the dark moments, the hard and unfair moments of life. Perhaps through your prayer for someone in need. Go out from here and take those in need by the hand and lift them up. As you were lifted up by Jesus, go out and lift up others.