Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

When disasters–personal or communal–occur in our world, it’s likely that religious people will be asked: What does God have to do with this?

This short reflection can’t hope to answer that question, but perhaps today’s Sunday readings can help. In the First Reading, we hear from that Biblical expert on suffering—Job. It’s a short description of Job’s—and humankind’s—miserable condition. If we read more of the Book of Job, we discover that it doesn’t try to resolve the question of human suffering either. Rather it ends by bringing us face to face with the very mystery of God. With Job we’re invited to turn ourselves over to God, and to trust in God’s infinite wisdom and care for us.

The Gospel personalizes that invitation. Mark depicts Jesus embarked on a journey that again and again brings him face to face with evil: manifested in the sin and suffering, sickness and death Jesus encounters in the world. Each time he proves himself master over evil–the one who brings God’s forgiveness, the healer of human suffering. Eventually he conquers death itself on the cross.

What does God have to do with human suffering? The best answer I know is God’s answer–Jesus himself–the only answer we need.

Sunday reflection by Father Greg Friedman, from St. Anthony Messenger Press, find it on the web at