Healing The Darkness – Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time 2018

The selection this weekend from the Book of Job tells of an experience of a terrible darkness. His darkness brought about by Satan and experienced in all three dimensions of his person. In his mind his work that had become drudgery. He experiences pain in his body from physical misery. His nights are troubled and rendered sleepless because of a restless spirit. In the end, he sees his life slipping away without any hope for happiness. In the end, he believes he would be better off dead. If this sounds like your life then you may be experiencing depression. Depression as severe as Job’s can lead to despair and worse. Undiagnosed and untreated depression can end in the loss of one’s life.Many of us may know of friends and family members who suffer from this affliction. Many others may not know that the people closest to them may be suffering silently. Because of the stigma associated with such maladies as melancholia, the person afflicted keeps it hidden from the very persons who would gladly help without judgment. To others, it may seem to be only a bad temper with flairs of anger or moodiness. Or it may look like someone who just wants to be alone or has trouble sleeping. In the effort to ease their pain the afflicted person may resort to self-medication, which leads to an array of behaviors, including alcohol or drug abuse, compulsive gambling, or sex addiction, overwork, or overeating. If depression is masked by these behaviors the individual may be in denial or may not even know they have a condition that can be treated. Gone untreated this condition can lead to suicide. The current high rate of suicide among the population, especially those going through difficult life transitions, is alarming. Life transitions are difficult enough, but when coupled with depression it may prove fatal. The transition from childhood to adolescence; change in life in middle age; and retirement, all have their special challenges. One may feel like Job, afflicted by Devil, with nowhere to turn. Others who are uncaring or fail to understand may seem to be like Job’s friends who accuse him and then abandon him to face his fears alone. This leaves one with the feeling expressed by Job with the words, “I shall not see happiness again.” (7:7) Getting medical help is the first step to recovery. Like Simon’s mother-in-law, Jesus first healed her of her malady. The next step is also crucial: it is about being of service to others. The words “waited on them” used in the Gospel today is the same word found by the scriptures for the duties assigned to the seven men chose to care for the widows in the Book of Acts (6:1-6). (diakoneo ≈ servant or deacon) Once healed, she participates in the mission of Jesus’ disciples. Her work is not drudgery, rather serving other gives meaning to her life as service can give meaning to our lives. This is about putting our gifts at the service of the Kingdom. As we help others, we also help ourselves by stirring in us a passion to love others by giving our time, out treasure, our very lives. This is what Jesus does and all those who desire to follow his example.The final part of the Gospel story is also important for us to carefully follow. Jesus “went of to a deserted place to pray.” When engaged in service we must take time for prayer and reflection. It gives us time to connect to our “Higher Power.” The grace that comes from contemplative or meditative prayer is what we require so that we do not burn ourselves out with too much work and no play. We need to ‘waste time with God’ so we can see clearly what is going on in our lives – body, mind, and spirit. This is called self-care so that we can, in turn, care for others. If we find that our passion has become drudgery, and we suffer to the point of despair we need to seek help and share with others our needs to keep ourselves healthy so we can continue to serve with a joyful heart. It can care for our body, our mind, or our spirit. There is no need to face our troubles alone. Job didn’t, he stayed connected to his God, and his fortunes changed. Unlike in Job’s day, God can also work through our medical, behavioral, spiritual professionals to dispel the darkness.