"Breaking Open the Word" :
James Cavanagh is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. His weekly column, "Breaking Open the Word," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Click here to visit the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver.
February 5, 2012: The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Synopsis: Job is part of the “Writings” or wisdom books of the Bible that include Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and a few others. It deals with the perennial problem of evil and suffering. In this week’s first reading Job laments his plight and the plight of all men: “Is not man’s life on earth drudgery?” This passage provides the background for this week’s Gospel in which a multitude of people afflicted with all kinds of maladies come to Jesus for healing. Job raises the question for which Jesus is the answer.
The psalm links the first reading and Gospel. In its original context it celebrated the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity. It expresses the hope—hope fulfilled in Christ—that God “will heal the brokenhearted and bind up all their wounds.”
In the second reading Paul says that preaching the Gospel is not an option: “Woe to me if I do not preach it!” Paul was responding to some who had questioned his motives. They believed he was exploiting the Gospel for personal gain. Paul insists that he is motivated by just one thing: the Gospel.
As we heard in last week’s Gospel, Jesus began his public ministry by healing a man possessed by a demon. In this week’s Gospel, the healings continue as large crowds flock to him for help. The miraculous healings were but signs pointing to the kingdom of God and mankind’s ultimate deliverance on the cross. The main purpose of the miracles was to call attention to his message of mercy; a message that continues to resound in the Church.
Key verse: “If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me; woe to me if I do not preach it!” (1 Cor 9:16)
Catechism of the Catholic Church: “By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death, Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below, but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage” (No. 549).
Benedict XVI: “What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end” (“Porta Fidei” [“Door of Faith”] Oct. 11, 2011).
Life application: Jesus came to free each and every person from the bondage of sin and evil and to show us the way to heaven. He preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and that salvation was open to all. The Gospel message is one of great hope. It is needed now more than ever when so many people suffer for want of food, decent shelter and adequate health care. But many of those who enjoy the basic necessities of life suffer from a lack of purpose or a sense of meaning in their lives. The greatest deprivation of all is the lack of love and the loss of faith. The Gospel message is one of great hope. It’s up to us to share it. Woe to us if we don’t!
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. Cavanagh’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register.
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