“It was the worst of times; it was the best of times”
My sincere apology to Charles Dickens. The real quote from A Tale of Two Cities is the reverse statement. However, when I read the Readings for this Sunday, I was struck by the way they hit on the experience of the last few weeks in our secular society.
Job is the poster child for belief in the will of God and acceptance of the vagaries of good fortune as related by the world. Job had been a very wealthy man, a success in all of the societal markers used to measure such thing. Then God, at the urging of Satan, decided to test Job’s faith to prove his fidelity to the Lord. We read in today’s selection of the description of the misery he endured. He did not succumb to the promptings of neighbors and friends to reject the Lord and curse the trials he endured. He kept true to the Lord, in spite of possible temptation to renounce the Lord. Job resisted and recovered all of his wealth and status.
In the Gospel, we enjoy the description of Jesus going out into the community, spreading the message, healing the sick and blind, bringing the message through his acts to the poor, the ill, and the marginalized. This has always been His message; affirmed by the Church Fathers in Vatican II. The message of the Preferential Treatment of the Poor is a cornerstone of our beliefs. However, as I learned at my mother’s knee; “talk is cheap, it still takes a buck to buy a shot” (she owned a tavern).
Fortunately, this is one of those Sundays where the readings go forward with the teaching aimed at us. It sets the tone for us to avoid a false pride in preaching the Gospel. It is not a privilege given to the worthy, it is a responsibility set upon the believers to preach and live the Gospel. That’s the hard part; living the Words.
All three readings assure us that God is always a part of the experience. He never leaves us; He holds us up when we are in the depths of despair, He comes among us when we need Him in our travails. He places upon us the responsibility of the Word. It is the Word that sustains us, challenges us, and pushes us to do the difficult. This is our faith and we are proud to profess it; or are we? Check yourself.
Peace and Blessings,