In the first Reading, we discover that poor old Job was in bad form. In fact he was suffering from deep depression. He complains: “Months of delusion I have assigned to me, nothing for my own but nights of grief. Lying in bed I wonder, “When will it be day? Risen, I think, ‘How slowly evening comes’.” Sadly, it is a condition that is all too prevalent at the present time, thanks to Covid 19. Job’s condition and mood is what G M Hopkins refers to as ,’the dark night of the soul’. But Job never wanted the anguish he endured. The same can be said of those who suffer depression in the Covid world of 2021. We need to be there with our care that goes beyond sympathy. Job’s comforters were there as his friends, but they wrung their hands, shook their heads and did nothing to help.
Jesus the healer was different. He went far beyond the call of duty in taking care of people, In fact he burnt himself out coping with the demands people made of him. He longed to have peace and quiet and to take time out just to say his prayers but found it impossible to do so. Jesus reminds me of the many great people who are working in our hospitals and residential care homes who are, like Jesus, burnt out, but make the effort to keep on going. They deserve more than a sympathetic clap. Such a gesture can be little different from that of those who saw Job and did nothing positive to help him.
St. Paul, like Jesus, could not have been faulted in his efforts to be there for others. “For the weak I have made myself weak. I have made myself all things to everyone for the sake of the Gospel”. His life is an example to the rest of us as a life of dedication and commitment despite the trials and tribulations. Whatever our vocation in life, it would be nice to have that commitment and dedication. It is there in abundance in our community. Along with those in our health service, I think of countless parents at the present time wrestling with the many challenges that confront them during the present lockdown. I think of teenagers doing their best to cope with study in a vacuum, anxious and worried about the future. I think of those who as volunteers, cook and bring meals to the house bound. I think of the countless people in essential services.
What motivates people to be of service to others. For me, and for so many others, it has to be the challenge that Jesus gave his first disciples time and time again. When he washed Peter’s feet he said: “I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done.”A Christian life must be, above all, a life of service where we can reach out to others, to family and friends and neighbours, and particularly to those who find it hard to cope with the Pandemic and for whom the dark night of the soul is a stern reality.