Bishop Richard's Weekly Reflection: Jesus is present in our moments of suffering.

February 2, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters,

So many of us, so many of our brothers and sisters, are living with stresses of one kind or another. There are increasing financial pressures, often combined with the perceived need to "keep up" in a consumerist society. There is concern for the peace of the world, and for those in so many places who are suffering the impact of conflict. Perhaps some are feeling rather like Job in the first reading of this Sunday’s Mass: “Lying in my bed I wonder, ‘When will it be day?’ Risen I think ‘how slowly evening comes.’” Job is inflicted with sufferings and his life drags. He is experiencing a sense of pointlessness. It might be suggested that Job is depressed.

Reading on through the book of Job, we find that the one thing he will not do is deny the presence of God in his life. He comes through his sufferings, the loss of everything and everyone he holds dear, and finds newness of life.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus, the Word made Flesh, is present in our moments of suffering. He cures Peter’s mother-in-law and, heals the sick who are brought to him and casts out devils. The Lord is present to us in our own times of suffering and struggle. He never leaves us. He is always present – and in this reality we experience true Hope.

Jesus also teaches us another lesson today – the foundation of our action as His disciples must grow out of prayer. The Lord Himself gives time to this. He is alone, in the silence of the time before dawn, in the presence of His Father. It is out of this time of prayer that the Lord’s actions flow. Prayer leads us to a real sense of purpose and direction. Just as Jesus went from prayer to his mission of healing and preaching – so our prayer ensures that our own actions are directed aright and produce the fruit that the Holy Spirit prompts in us.

With every blessing,

+ Richard

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