Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, 4th February 2024

‘He heals the broken hearted, he binds up all their wounds.’

This Sunday, the readings invite us to look more deeply into the experience of human suffering. It is only through Christ that our pain and despair can and will be transformed. Just like the suffering people in today’s Gospel, we all long for Christ. It is through prayer that our yearning will be fulfilled.

Job (First Reading) expresses total despair at the great losses that he has experienced; he seems overwhelmed by the frailty of life. The suffering in our world today perhaps makes it easy to relate to his sentiments.

The Psalm, however, is like an antidote to the howls of loss that Job exclaims. It speaks of healing for broken hearts and minds; of wounds being bound and tended by our loving God, whose wisdom extends across a universe that he knows and loves intimately.

In the Second Reading, Paul writes of how his own experience of Christ and the Gospel impels him to share the Good News with others. He feels that he is like a slave to the Gospel, and is happy to accept this role.

Today’s Gospel portrays the early days of Jesus’s healing ministry in Galilee. After praying with the community in the synagogue, Jesus responds with compassion to all the sick and suffering people who are brought to him. He begins his days in prayerful solitude and is drawn by a desire to bring his Good News to as many people as possible.

Let us pray for the grace to respond with wisdom and compassion to the suffering and needs of our time. May we centre our lives in prayer and by the grace of God be determined like St Paul to bring the Good News to our broken and hurting world.