Beginning tomorrow and continuing throughout this week we will be reading from the Book of Genesis, starting with the account of how God created the heavens and the earth. As the crowning achievement of creation, God fashioned Adam and Eve, made in his own image and likeness. When he had finished all the work of creation, on the sixth day, we read that “God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good” (Gn 1:31).
If we keep in mind the perfect goodness of God’s original creation, we can see in today’s first reading, that something has gone terribly wrong. Job’s description of his experience of life is very bleak. He says that life on earth is “a drudgery,” consisting of “months of misery,” and “troubled nights.” His days come to an end without hope. He concludes, “I shall not see happiness again.”
Tragically, we know that Job’s experience is not uncommon. Many people struggle with a terrible burden of loneliness, grief, sadness and depression. Many feel that their life is one long difficult trial. Too many people, young and old, choose to end their lives because they are worn out from carrying heavy burdens, and they see no hope for anything better in the future. Even those for whom life is not so dark nevertheless pass through periods of great pain and difficulty.
What happened to the goodness of God’s creation? We know the answer, and we will read about it in passages from Genesis this week: our first parents rebelled against God, thereby bringing pain and death into creation. We can say that God gave humanity a creation which was perfectly good, with no trace of pain or death, and our first parents ruined it. Creation is no longer as God created it to be. It is now broken by sin. Neither creation itself nor we human beings function in the way that God originally intended.
So far, this is a tragic story. If it were the whole truth, life would indeed be very bleak. And for many people, without faith, this is the way life looks. But thanks be to God, this is not the whole truth. God’s goodness is not thwarted by sin. By the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, he is bringing forth a whole new creation, which is even more glorious than the original creation. We have good reason for hope!
This is the good news which Jesus is preaching throughout Galilee in today’s Gospel. He says, “For this purpose have I come.” He has come to announce the arrival of the Kingdom of God, where the power of the enemy, of sin and death, is defeated forever. The healings which he performs, as Pope Francis tells us in this week’s Spiritual Reflection, are meant to “arouse faith” in the people – faith that God is able to save them and restore them, healing them from the effects of sin.
In the second reading, St. Paul says that he is preaching that same Gospel, that same “good news.” He is doing everything he can to bring the message to as many people as possible. We can read in his Letter to the Romans an example of the hopeful word that he preached: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rm 8:18-21).
At times we all do experience life as Job describes it, as a difficult drudgery. But if we have faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which Paul and so many others have continued to preach ever since, then we can have sure reason to hope that, even when we do not yet see it, God is working to bring about a whole new creation, far superior to the original creation, in which we shall live for eternity.
If we have that hope, then, as our theme for the week tells us, the Lord is calling us “to share the good news of salvation with those we meet.” He is calling us to proclaim, by our words and by our lives, “Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.”
Have I ever felt like Job that life is “a drudgery” consisting of “months of misery” and “troubled nights”? Has my faith in Jesus given me the hope that God is able to save, restore and heal the effects of sin? How am I proclaiming the good news of salvation by my words and my actions?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 17, no. 2. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.