[5th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B, Feb 8, 2015 / Job 7:1-4, 6-7 / Ps 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 /1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23 / Mark 1:29-39]
TODAY we listen to the prophet Job complaining about life and his work – “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of a hireling? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hired man who waits for his wages.” Poor old Job, dear oh dear. But perhaps he reflects the attitude of many going to work on a Monday morning!
Seeing as all of us have some kind of work to do, let us spend a moment reflecting on the importance of work in the Christian vocation and how it can become more fulfilling. Is my work only to make money? Hopefully not — as usually we don’t make so much! What is the value of work? How can my workplace become more interesting? Firing the boss?
Before doing that let us contrast Job’s pessimism with the fired up life of Paul in the second reading. He is oozing energy and vitality for his work. There is no stopping this guy. He has a very high A.Q.
Do you know what that is? I.Q. is obviously Intelligence Quotient. E.Q. is Emotional Quotient. In recent times what is essential is A.Q. This is your Adversity Quotient. The capacity to resist, to endure, to overcome all problems with creativity and as Paul would put it, “to fight the good fight and run the good race to the finish.”
Paul had a very high A.Q. enduring shipwrecks, struggles, stoning, misunderstandings, and yet he kept going. “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! I become all things to all people so as to win at least some of them.” He was no couch potato or armchair revolutionary but he was out there giving it all he had, announcing the Gospel in season and out of season. Have you got a high A.Q. for the work of announcing the Gospel?
Maybe we can ask how to be fired up for our work and make it a place of mission? Let us learn from Jesus in today’s gospel, he is our model. Jesus was a worker and a missionary. He worked hard all day, teaching, curing, healing, driving out evil Spirits. His work was his mission. The gospel tells us that “the whole town was gathered outside his door!”
Where did he get the strength? It was not magic. He also experienced challenges and tiredness but where did he go in those moments? To the source, his Father.“Very early in the morning, before daylight, Jesus went off to a lonely place where he prayed.” In prayer he received the grace, the strength and the energy of the Spirit. He recharged his A.Q. there. And then there was no stopping him – “Let’s go to the nearby villages so that I may preach there too; for that is why I came.”
The Canon Law of the Church states “Each of Christ’s faithful is called to exercise the mission…lay people have the right and obligation to strive that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all people throughout the world. This obligation is all the more insistent in circumstances in which only through them are people able to hear the Gospel and to know Christ… The lay have the special obligation to permeate and perfect the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel” (Canons 204, 225). So work then becomes a place of mission! So it is ok to earn big bucks, just do it in the spirit of the Gospel and don’t forget to share some of those blessings with the less well off. (You can send donations to my bank account, number…).
Striving to live the gospel values at work means that it is more than just a way to earn money. Doing our work well contributes to our growth in holiness. Some big earners forget this and instead of being welcomed in heaven as a modern Robin Hood (someone who uses his gains to help the less fortunate) will be received as Hood Robin (someone who uses his power and position to steal from the poor and give to the rich!).
Want to enjoy more your work? Make it your mission. Want to have a higher A.Q. to love others, even those difficult ones? Find time to recharge your A.Q. in the silence of prayer. Connect to the source. Without him, life is so boring! Connect and discover your missionary potential. You too are sent by God. He needs you in your family, he needs you in your office. He needs your response. Are you available? Lord, here I am, send me…