A time for healing
A reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
by Vivian Cabrera
This Sunday’s first reading feels like it could have been lifted right out of my journal.
“I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me. If in bed I say, ‘When shall I arise?’ then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.”
Who among us hasn’t experienced months of misery and troubled nights? Who isn’t restless, day in and day out? I certainly am. We are almost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and so many of us have experienced incredible loss, terrible anxiety, and misery, so much misery. Whether it is the loss of a loved one or a job, cancelled plans, or dashed hopes for whatever future we had set out for ourselves. Job speaks right to the heart of what we are all experiencing.
“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope.
Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.”
When will we see happiness again? Will it ever happen? “My days come to an end without hope.” No one knows what tomorrow will bring. Maybe good news of more vaccines available or the sudden end of our quarantine, maybe bad news of even more death. It all can just seem so hopeless. Nothing is certain. So, what do we do?
Maybe all we are called to do now is lean into the misery, to really feel it in our bones. We need to allow ourselves to enter into the grief of all that we lost, the way Job entered into his. He cried out to God in despair. It’s time for us to do the same.
We should see this Sunday’s reading as an invitation to be angry with God. I used to think that anger was a bad emotion, and certainly, too much uncontrollable anger is not good. But feeling angry is not evil, and expressing disappointment is not bad. It’s a part of being human. We’re allowed to mourn all that we lost this past year. We’re allowed to lament over lost plans, lost comforts, and lost time. That’s ok. That’s good, even.
Only when we allow ourselves to feel all the “bad” things, can we make room for the hope and joy that is to come.
The responsorial psalm reminds us to “Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.”
That’s us. We are who the psalmist is talking about. We are the brokenhearted. And he is promising us that the Lord will heal us, “for he is good.”
Jesus proves this to us in the Gospel reading of Mark, when he heals Simon’s mother-in-law and then proceeds to heal the rest of the town who has gathered at his door. Mark isn’t simply telling us about the people of Capernaum. In his healing of their town, Jesus is promising that he can help us, too. Whether we need healing ourselves or whether it's those closest to us who need the help the most. All we have to do is show up, in our pain and our anguish, and ask.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
The pandemic has exposed all of our wounds, even the ones we’ve been avoiding. But one day, our wounds will be tended to. One day, all this will be over. For now, all we can do is wait, draw closer to the Lord and trust that he will heal us, the brokenhearted.
The readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, are
Job 7:1-4, 6-7
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
Vivian Cabrera is a Texan living in New York. She is an editor for
America Magazine, The Jesuit Review of Faith & Culture and is currently working towards completing her Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service.