TEXT: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 4, 2024

February 4, 2024 Father De Celles Homily

5th Sunday Ordinary Time                                                             

February 4, 2024

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

In today’s text from St. Mark’s Gospel,

         we find a sort of ordinary “day in the life” of Jesus.

And we find this day to be not unlike some of our own days.

He begins the day at work–preaching in the synagogue.

When He’s done with that,

         He goes to relax at the house of His friends Simon and Andrew,

but He never gets a chance to rest

         because His friends’ mother-in-law is sick,

                  and He has to cure her.

By the time that’s taken care of

         and evening’s come, He just begins to relax,

                  and the whole town starts to bring all their sick for Him to cure.

Finally, He gets a few hours of sleep,

         only to get up early the next morning

         to go off alone to spend time with His family, with His father in prayer.

But even there, Scripture tells us,

         “Those who were with Him pursued Him,”
         only to tell Him, “everyone is looking for You!”

And it’s back to work again.

Although the object of Jesus’ work is different than most,

         it sounds like a day not uncommon in the life of most human beings.

Change the object of His work to going to some place of business, perhaps virtually,

         rather than going to the synagogue.

Change the home of Peter and Andrew to your home,

         and you also find sick in-laws (or sick children, spouses, or parents),

         the phone ringing off the wall, email or text messages flowing in, and

                  all your friends calling to demand some of your time.

Jesus’ day is a very busy human day.

He led a hard life just like we so often do.

But unlike the rest of us, as the Lord endures all this, He never complains.

And as He begins His new day, He doesn’t hang His head in reluctant defeatism

         or even false optimism,

         but instead He rises from His prayer

                  and, with confidence and bold determination, says,

“Let us go on…that I may preach…
For this purpose have I come.”

With this as a background, we look at Job in today’s first reading.

He also accepts his difficulties

         –but he does so in the voice of a beaten and hopeless man:

                  “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?

                  …My days come to an end without hope

                           …I shall not see happiness again.”

He’s accepted his difficult life, but he’s without happiness, without hope.

Then compare this with the life St. Paul describes in today’s second reading.

Paul also recognizes his difficult life

         –he too is like a slave, he too is under compulsion and has no choice.

He says what so many of us often feel in our own lives:

         he must be “all things to all [men].”

But while St. Paul accepts all this,

         he doesn’t accept it like Job, unwillingly, with defeated inevitability,

         but rather he does so willingly

                  and with confidence in the meaningfulness of his toil.

The difference between the life of Job and the life of Paul

         can be summarized in two words: Jesus Christ.

Both chronologically and spiritually,

         between the life of Job and the life of Paul comes the life of Jesus Christ.

And in Christ we find the meaning and usefulness of human struggles.

Christ took on human life so that He could transform it.

He shared in our human life so that we could share in His divine life.

And we call His promise that we can share, both now and forever

         in His own eternal divine life,

                  the Good News, or the Gospel.

And it’s this Gospel that transforms the life of a man like Job

         into the life of a man like Paul:

Paul willingly accepts the burden of the difficult life

                  of proclaiming the Gospel,

         not out of despair, but out of hope,

         not out of desolation, but out of love of Christ and His Gospel:

                  “All this I do for the sake of the gospel,

                           so that I too may have a share in it.”


It is Christ and the proclamation of His Gospel

         that can change our lives from Job’s to Paul’s.

It’s by accepting the life-giving grace of Christ,

         and focusing our lives on being a witness to His Gospel,

         that our lives can be transformed from drudgery and slavery

                  to true joy and freedom.

Ask yourself:

At work, or at school, and at home, how do I proclaim the Gospel of Christ 

         to my co-workers, my customers, my friends, and my family

                  –or even to my enemies?

Do I recognize that these people are just like the people in today’s Gospel

         of whom St. Mark says,

                  “Everyone is looking for Jesus”?

Do I allow them to see Jesus in my life:

         Do they see in my acceptance of the burdens of this human existence,

                  not an acceptance with reluctance and defeated inevitability,

                  but an acceptance in love and faith and hope in the promises

                           of Christ and His Gospel?

Have I taken every opportunity to proclaim that Gospel to them,

         both through my example and words, of my love and faith in Jesus Christ

         –even if that example or those words might make my life

                  even more difficult or uncomfortable?

And how often have I really, clearly invited those

         with whom I share the struggles of human life,

         to also share with me the hope I have

                  in sharing in the blessings of the Gospel?


We will leave here today and return to our ordinary daily lives in the world–

lives in which we find much joy, but also lives filled with hardship and struggle.

Do we allow the life of Christ to change our human lives

         as it changed the life of Job, or as it changed the life of Paul?

Do we say with Job,

         “Man’s life on earth is a drudgery…without hope”?

Or do we let our lives, filled with all our ordinary human struggles,

         be also filled with the Gospel of Christ,

         and say with St. Paul,

“All this I do for the sake of the gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it”?

Do we begin our day as Christ does, in prayer with Him and the Father,

         then arise from prayer saying to ourselves:

“Let us go on…that I may preach….
For this purpose have I come.”