A reflection on the readings for Sunday, February 4, 2024 — The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Several years ago, while living at the seminary in Providence, I got hit with a horrible flu. I’ve never felt so sick. Some of you may have had this experience.

One night, as I lay in bed, my fever was so high I simply felt like I wanted to die. I literally wanted to crawl out of my skin. I just wanted some relief, some comfort. I somehow managed to drive myself to the ER, where they brought my fever down and restored me to some comfort.

Being that sick is a horrible feeling, and when we’re going through it, we feel like it’s never going to end. In those moments, we feel like Job: “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery… I have been assigned months of misery… I shall not see happiness again.”

Peter’s mother-in-law very well may have been thinking about Job’s words, too. She lay in bed, sick with a fever. She is in very serious condition, possibly near death. Maybe she is losing hope. And then everything changes.

Jesus enters into her darkness, grasps her hand, shines his healing light, and raises her up (the same word used for his resurrection). Her healing leads to discipleship (she waited on them).

Maybe you are going through a physical illness. Or maybe you’re just in a dark place in your life. You’re dealing with depression. You’re feeling a sense of hopelessness and purposelessness. Jesus wants to enter into your darkness, shine his light, and lift you up.

Sometimes, we can most powerfully experience the Lord’s presence in our darkest moments. That’s what happened to Peter’s mother-in-law.

When we are most vulnerable, it is then that the Lord can extend his healing hand to us. So, let him take you by the hand. Tell him you need his healing and his presence.

On the other hand – and hopefully – let’s say you’re in a good place. Your relationship with Jesus is strong, and you know his loving presence. And so Christ calls us to do what he did: to enter the darkness that other people are experiencing, shine his light, and raise them up, just as he did for Peter’s mother-in-law and just as he does for us.

When she was healed, she became a disciple. You and I, who know the Lord, have been called by him to do what he did.

Think of someone in your life right now who is in a dark place. Go to them. Grasp them by the hand. Lift them up with God’s love.

Call them. Text them. Let them know that you are there for them. Go and be with them. Pray with them. Christ wants to use you to be an instrument of his healing presence.

Image: Adobe Stock; By Peter Hermes Furian.

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Fr. Michael Najim was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Providence in 2001. He currently serves as the pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Westerly, RI.

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