Branching-Out

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Feb 5, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 6:1-2a, 3-8)

Last week, we read about the call to Jeremiah to be a prophet and his reluctance because he thought he was too young. Today, we read about God’s call to Isaiah who said he was unworthy. Isaiah’s first response was, “Woe is me, I am doomed.” That is not exactly the kind of response we might have expected but, that is what it was. Why?

Being a prophet is an awesome responsibility but, in both cases, God assured the would-be prophets that he was with them: “Whom shall I send? Who will go with me?” Then, with that assurance, Isaiah did not hesitate: “Here I am, send me.”

Most of us are not called to be prophets in that total life-giving sense, but we are often called to say or do something that is challenging, and sometimes we may feel threatened in such situations. “If I say these words, will people reject me?” “If I do not follow the crowd, will they cut me off or put me down?” It is hard to know when to speak up and when to let something go, at least for the moment. The key is to do what Saint Paul wrote in the letter we read from last week: Speak the truth with love, meaning not with criticism or rejection. Imagine if the leaders of our society talked that way. Imagine if everyone in our families talked that way. Then we could speak the more difficult truths to one another without fear of rejections or reprisals.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 138)

“In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.” We can even sing his praises out of sight of the angels. When was the last time you actually praised God? When can the next time be?

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Feb 6, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the book of Deuteronomy

A reading from the Book of Job

(Chapter 7:1-4, 6-7)

Here is a nice cheery reading from Job, one of the most difficult characters in the Bible.

“Job spoke, saying: “‘Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of hirelings.? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages. So 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. 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.’”

Ow! What is this doing in our liturgy? It is actually a part of Job’s dialogue with three of his so-called friends who try to dissuade him from believing in God. But throughout his seemingly undeserved sufferings, Job does not lose his faith in God, and in the end, he is rewarded.

Have you or anyone you know ever felt like Job? Suffering! Sadness! Tossing and turning at night! No help from supposed friends or family! I hope that has not happened to you or anyone you love.

What we can learn from Job and his life of woes is that he did not give in. He did not lose his faith in God, even when his friends did not comfort him. Now, not only does God care for us, but God is not far from us, as he seemed to be far from Job. No! God lives within us. His Spirit is with us always. We have only to listen, especially when we feel down, depressed, or deserted. The Spirit is God within us.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6)

“Praise the Lord who heals the brokenhearted.” Yes, sometimes our hearts do break for any number of reasons. But God is a healer. Ask Jesus, the healer of hearts, to help you to heal.

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Nearness of God, The Prophet Job, Jesus heals

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