5th Sunday of the Year (b)

Ordinary Time of the Year. (B) 

Sunday 5th February:            Fifth Sunday of the Year.  (B)

The Book of Job confronts the difficult question of suffering.  In Old Testament times, the common explanation was that suffering was a punishment for sin. However, Job is a good man who suffers greatly. This results in his depressing view of life.

This sets the scene for the Gospel reading where we Jesus concentrating not so much on the ‘why?’ of suffering but responding to actual suffering. He heals the sick, he proclaims the good news of salvation but still finds time for himself to step back, reflect and above all pray.

St. Paul, in the second reading, talks about his own ministry as an apostle and what it is that drives him on. All he says and does is done for the sake of the Gospel and Christ.

Monday 6th February: Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions.   St. Frances Xavier had brought Christianity to Japan about 1549.  By 1587, there were said to be over two hundred Christians but at this stage, the emperor ordered all missionaries to leave the country, afraid of their growing influence.  Some stayed behind in disguise. In 1597, 26 Christians, mostly Japanese were crucified in different ways over a period of time.  The group was made up of 6 Franciscans, 3 Japanese catechists, Including Paul Miki) and 17 Japanese lay people. Paul Miki was highborn Japanese and an eminent Jesuit preacher. He prayed for the conversion of his executioners and forgave them.

Tuesday 7th February:  Weekday of the fifth week of the year.   

          We read Solomon’s great prayer at the dedication of theTemple. He praises the goodness of God, who is all-powerful and cannot be restricted or contained even in the heavens far less theTemple. The Lord is to be honoured.  He watches over his people, forgives their sins and listens to their needs.

The Pharisees and some of the scribes are critical that Jesus did not follow the strict purifications rites the Law demanded. He reminds them that sincerity and internal purity are far more important.         

Wednesday 8th February:   Weekday of the fifth week of the year.

          Knowledge of Solomon’s wisdom spread everywhere.  The Queen of Sheba hears about it and decides to come and investigate things for herself.  She was impressed both by the style of his court and by his faithfulness to God.

Jesus continues his teaching on inner purity. What comes from the heart is either good or bad.  He then lists the fruit of an evil heart.

Thursday 9th February:         Weekday of the fifth week of the year.

Solomon begins to drift from God and worship the false gods of some of his wives. As a result, he is told the Kingdom will be divided after his death and half would be given to his servant. He died after reigning for forty years.

Jesus shows how faith is not restricted to the Jews and the example of a non-believing pagan is put before us.

Friday 10th February:   Memorial of St. Scholastica.

          It is traditionally believed that St. Scholastica was the twin sister of St. Benedict.  She is believed to have been in charge of a convent near Monte Cassino where he was Abbot. She devoted herself to a life of prayer and solitude. She could only visit her brother once a year under the strict rules under which they bound themselves.  She died in 543, aged sixty-seven.

Saturday 11th February:        Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.

This date marks the anniversary of the first of eighteen apparitions of Our Lady to St. Bernadette inLourdesin 1858.  She identified herself as the Immaculate Conception.  She appealed for pilgrims to do penance, to come in procession and for a church to be built there.  Now over six million pilgrims go toLourdesbetween April and October each year.  Some go out of curiosity, some go looking for a physical cure, some go looking for spiritual healing, some go to renew or even find their faith in God. At the heart of a pilgrimage are the two great processions – the Blessed Sacrament Procession and the Marian (Torchlight Procession).  The praying of the Rosary is also stressed but the phrase in the roof of the Rosary basilica sums up the message ofLourdes– Through Mary to Jesus.

Today is kept throughout the world as the World day of Prayer for the Sick.