Layman’s Homily: 2/8/15

I’m gonna see if I can keep this up for a while. My ideas tend to die rather quickly, but this would be a nice one to do regularly. Every Sunday, my goal is to type up one of these based on the readings of the day at Mass. If you like it, please share it.

Labor.

We begin the readings by looking at Job (Job 7:1-4,6-7), amidst his struggles. Just prior to this reading, he refers to the arrows of God piercing him and poisoning him. Job is a man filled with anguish about everything in his life, currently, and there is a definitely near-rage in his voice in today’s first reading.

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.

Job is almost a broken man at this point. But he hasn’t called it quits. He speaks of working, labor, and wages, and refers to life on earth as “drudgery.” But, hidden beneath all this is a hint of hope, because while life on earth might be awful, Job knows there is something more, and he continues to work toward it.

The second reading (1 Corinthians 9:16-19,22-23) continues this idea. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, refers to his work for God as having been “imposed” on him. He did not choose it, for if he had, he would be rewarded for it. Instead, he has been assigned a task and carries it out, no matter the cost. It is this feeling of obligation toward God that makes Paul such an interesting study.

Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.

Though a free man, he says, he claims to be a slave to all – he is here to serve not just God, but God’s greatest creation – man. By serving man, he hopes to elevate them to God. By serving God, he hopes to elevate Him in the eyes of man. Beneath all this, Paul is not elevating himself. He firmly believes that if he is on the level of the weakest, he can push them to becoming the strongest and, in turn, complete his task before God.

But, it is not only Job and Paul who must work. In today’s Gospel (Mark 1:29-39), Jesus is faced with the task of healing and driving out demons. In one village, he spends an entire day doing just that. His work on earth is the work of someone who spreads the joy of knowing His Father and the comfort of being in His presence. But, it does not come without a cost. Jesus retreats to a deserted area to pray, and is found by his disciples. They tell him everyone is looking for him, having heard what wonders he was performing. Jesus, knowing how monumental his task was, set out for the nearby villages.

Our work on earth is never done. Even as a child or a retired adult, we still have a task to glorify God in whatever it is we do. Some feel the direct calling – work in ministry, as a priest, nun, etc. – while others feel the calling to do so through other professional means. Companies like Home Depot and Chick-Fil-A are examples of the latter.

What we as Christians must remember is that there are times when the work seems to be insurmountable, but we cannot give up at it. We must continue to work toward the final goal: a life after this one. If we wish to see it, then we cannot stop working. It is not as monumental as the work Jesus went through, but in an era such as ours, it is (at times) almost as grueling.

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