Some days, we just feel like Job in the first reading. We look at the world around us and feel that life is a drudgery to be endured. Our Lord has come to free us from that drudgery and introduce us to a life of joy.
Every once in a while, I just want to sit down and enjoy a good TV show, and it never fails that I'm unable to find anything worth watching. We have over 60 channels covering everything from home improvement to science to music to movies, and there never seems to be anything I want to watch. Anyone else ever feel like that?
This boredom with things doesn't limit itself to the selection of TV shows. Most Americans have lots of things that they could do with their time. They could work on projects around the house, engage in a hobby they enjoy, do some reading, and so on. With all this available for us, why do we fall into the “there's nothing to do” trap?
Even at work, it becomes a temptation to become bored with our jobs. All of us, whether directly or indirectly, have jobs that impact others around us, whether other employees or directly with those the company serves. Yet, the temptation is to become self-absorbed with the job, and find it dull, monotonous, and boring. Why does that occur?
The answer to all these questions is that we become focused on the things of the world. Life on Earth is not an easy thing. Yes, modern technology and engineering have definitely made things better, but there are still parts of our lives which are difficult to handle. In response, our reaction is often to turn to earthly things to provide the escape from those difficulties. Are you dealing with stress? Engage in sports or a hobby. Have family issues? Spend more time at work to forget about it. When we focus on the things of the world, we often discover that the promise these things hold for us is merely an illusion, and can even make the problem worse.
Jesus came to free us from the things of the world. Focusing our lives on the things of the world will only lead to more sorrow in the long run, but when we focus our lives on Christ, our lives become a joy. It can be subtle, and may take some time, but when we spend our lives in service of Our Lord, even the most monotonous of tasks can become a joy-filled experience.
In the Gospel this morning, Our Lord healed Simon's mother-in-law, who was sick with a fever. At the time when Jesus was performing his earthly ministry, medicine wasn't as advanced as it is today. Someone suffering from a fever was likely to die within a few days, as they had no medication which could take care of the underlying illness. When Our Lord healed Simon's mother-in-law, I can imagine that she reacted with great joy to this miraculous healing. She likely asked Jesus and the Apostles to sit down and allow her to serve them out of joy and gratitude for His gift of healing.
The Gospel also tells us that Jesus healed many who were sick or possessed by demons. Once again, I can't imagine that people would leave the house solemnly and silently, but with great joy. Those who were healed were probably dancing in the streets, shouting and praising God. In fact, St. Mark tells us that the whole town was present, so you could imagine the celebration that was occurring as everyone rejoiced for their neighbors who received the marvelous gift of healing.
This is the joy that we will receive when we serve Our Lord. It won't be as sudden as the miraculous healings we see in the Gospel, but we will still experience it. We will have this joy when we do something small for another person, like holding a door when their hands are full. We will experience great joy when we visit someone who is homebound and doesn't receive many visitors. The joy will come when we listen and pray for those who are at difficult points in their lives, allowing them to express their frustrations and receive consolation and prayer.
It is easy to fall into the temptation of focusing on worldly things and viewing life as a drudgery to endure. If we focus on serving Our Lord, we will rise above that temptation and drudgery, and experience the joys that come with the simple things we do every day.