Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

In the first reading today, we hear Job lamenting about the troubles that have befallen him and he complains about the apparent futility of life and the struggles that each day brings. We, the readers of the Book of Job, know from the first chapters that it is the Devil that is behind Job’s agony and God, in a way sometimes hard for us to fully understand, has permitted the Devil to test Job.

It seems that more and more people today are sounding like Job. The bitter rivalries and aggressive attempts to criticize and discredit others are o$ the storyline of many TV reality shows. Those same behaviors are often practiced in present-day politics and sadly even among various religious groups that demonize others holding contrary views. Suicide, often a symptom of despair, is at epidemic proportions in the West. Each day in the U.S. over 3,450 teens in grades 9-12 attempt suicide. In 2017 more teenagers and young adults died from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease COMBINED. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 24 years old. In an age where technology has enabled people to be more connected than ever in history, there seems to be a growing sense of isolation and despair.

An article that I recently read, citing a survey of 8th, 10th and 12th graders, found that “teens who spent more time seeing their friends in person, exercising, playing sports, attending religious services, reading or even doing homework were happier. However, teens who spent more time on the internet, playing computer games, on social media, texting, using video chat or watching TV were less happy.” Whatever the cause, there seems to be a growing disillusionment with life and more and more people seem to be adopting the attitude of Job evidenced in today’s first reading.

In the Gospel Jesus said that the purpose for which he came was to preach the Gospel (i.e. the Good News that God loves us and desires us to share in His joy) and to drive out demons. Many today are skeptical about demons or any suggestion that personified evil has anything directly to do with the ills that befall us. I beg to differ. The biblical witness and the authoritative teaching of the Church acknowledges that the Devil is the “Father of lies;” he lied to our first parents and caused them to doubt God’s goodness. He convinced them to rely on themselves alone and not trust in God’s love and providence. Those same “lies” are being sown today. Lies that say we can find ultimate happiness apart from God by having more money, power, sex, fame or other worldly pursuits. So, what is the remedy to all this?

Jesus is the remedy! We, his disciples are called to imitate his priorities by proclaiming the Good News of God’s love and through prayer, the sacraments (especially Confession), spiritual disciplines and by the power of love, drive out the influence of the Evil One. We, the Church, are called to be a sign of hope in our world. By our faith in God’s goodness we can witness to hope and, we pray, invite others to move from despair to that same hope

Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,

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