In the readings for this Sunday, Feb. 4, we’re reminded that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. He did it by meeting us where we are and inviting us to something better.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
In the readings for this Sunday, Feb. 4, we see a very busy Jesus. He moves quickly from healing Peter’s mother-in-law, to healing the sick and people with demons, to going around the countryside to preach the good news. Following in his footsteps, Paul talks to us about becoming “all things to all.” That means that we need to make ourselves relatable to everyone we meet. We’re never too smart, too cultured, to popular, to busy; too anything to make time and make ourselves available to anyone who needs us. Job reminds us to be mindful of those who are experiencing emotional unhealth, too — depression, grief, burnout, or even a sense of being overwhelmed — the Jobs of our world need our help, too.
Job 7:1-4, 6-7
So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me.
Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
1 Corinthians 16:16-19, 22-23
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
As is often the case, our second reading today is the link between the first and Gospel. When Paul says, “I have become all things to all,” he speaks to the way that God meets us where we are, and how anyone who wants to bring Christ to others must do the same. Paul was a very effective preacher because he spoke to people on their level. Of course, we know that Jesus did the same — when he taught farmers, he used farming parables, when he taught fishermen, he used fishermen parables. And when Jesus wanted to introduce people to God, he found out what they needed and filled that need: healed the sick, fed the hungry, drove out demons from the tormented. The good news that he offered wasn’t just in word; it was in true, effective healing.
So where does Job come in? He’s crying and whining about how his life stinks. He wasn’t wrong, it did stink. The guy had everything and lost it all in a really unfair situation. He had plenty to complain about. He was wrong about never seeing happiness again, though. Things eventually worked out for him, but he couldn’t see that coming. Job can be a reminder to us that when things seem really bad, we still have a God who comes to meet us in our troubles. He can also remind us that no matter how cantankerous a person might be (like Job), they need our presence and our support. Everybody’s pain is real (even imagined pain has a source in some sadness or fear), and we need to respond to the pain that is presented to us. We need to meet people where they are, and be what they need when they need it.
Do you ever feel like life isn’t fair? What helps you to get over it?
What is the difference between meeting people where they are and becoming a social chameleon? How can you make yourself relatable to people without losing yourself and your values in the process?
How responsive am I to other people’s pain? Do I believe people when they say that they are suffering, and do I treat their suffering with the proper attention? How well do others respond to my pain? Where can I find what I need when I am suffering?
Bonus Question for all three groups:
Work on a poster together to put up in your kitchen or dining room that deals with the theme of “God healing the brokenhearted.” Write the names of people who you know need their hearts healed, and pray for them when you say grace together.
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”