5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Knowing Jesus is a privilege and a joy, but it is also a duty and a responsibility; he has to be shared, he has to be proclaimed.

Dad and two young children eating breakfast at the kitchen table
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First Reading: Job 7:1-4, 6-7

  • This part of Job’s speech comes in a cycle of conversations between the suffering Job and his three friends. In this emotional dialogue, Job’s friends maintain the principle that God is just and, therefore, any misfortune visited on Job must be due to sin on Job’s part. We know, however, from the beginning of the book that Job is innocent. This leaves Job in a position of profound wrestling with the meaning of life and suffering and the place of God within that reality.
  • Job’s speech gives a visceral depiction of the drudgeries of work and life; is there any point to it all? The book of Job doesn’t really answer these questions, and in this portion of the text, Job offers no solutions; it is a simple description of how a person can view life. In what ways can the Bible’s honest wrestling with these questions provide hope for people today?
  • How is Job’s experience altered through a New Testament perspective, which takes into account the gospel of hope?

Psalm: Psalm 146(147):1-6

  • The responsorial psalm is designed to be a response to the first reading; in what ways does its joyful and confident proclamation of the goodness of God and his healing of the brokenhearted become a fitting response to Job’s speech above?
  • We pray in the psalm that God’s wisdom can never be measured; how was God’s wisdom displayed in the book of Job?

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23

  • What is the gospel message that Paul felt such a burden to share?
  • Paul intensely focuses on the need to share the gospel to “save some at any cost”. What does that look like in today’s context?

Gospel: Mark 1:29-39

  • Jesus’ early ministry in Mark’s gospel is characterised by healings; some are narrated as individual cases, but the gospel is clear that there were many more that were unrecorded. Consider how Jesus’ healing ministry connects to the healing power of God praised in the responsorial psalm above.
  • Jesus is often depicted as retreating alone to wilderness places in order to pray; these times are often said to have been early in the morning before sunrise. The Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours can be prayed at any time of the day, but the custom of praying it before sunrise, after Jesus’ example, is called “praiseworthy”. In what other ways can Jesus’ example of prioritising prayer in the early morning be integrated into our lives?
  • Jesus and Paul both prioritised preaching in their ministries, as reflected in the gospel and second reading; think about how preaching can be made more central in the life of the Church – both for those who preach and for those who receive preaching.


“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16 ESV) – this is the cry of St. Paul in today’s passage from 1 Corinthians 9.

There is something of the prophet Jeremiah in St. Paul:

“If I say, “I will not mention him,
or speak any more in his name”,
there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in,
and I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9 ESV)

Isn’t that an extraordinarily provocative image? Jeremiah tried to spare himself the inconvenience, the trouble, and even the danger of sharing God’s word, but the more he tried to keep quiet, the more persistently the need to speak burned within him and wore down his resolve. It seems to me that Paul had a similar experience; he speaks in today’s passage of the need to share the gospel as being a “duty” and a “responsibility” laid upon him without his own choice.

That responsibility to share the gospel led Paul to constant attempts to enculturate the message into whatever context he found himself in. Paul made himself “all things to all people” by finding ways to communicate this burning message in whatever way he could.

Even in the gospel, we hear that Jesus came in order to preach, and he was eager to keep moving around the villages and towns of Galilee to proclaim the message of the Kingdom.

What kind of a message could inspire that kind of tenacity and urgency? We need to return to that gospel constantly, no matter how many times we’ve heard it before, because as Pope Francis succinctly put it: “Christ is the ‘eternal Gospel’ (Revelation 14:6); he ‘is the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8), yet his riches and beauty are inexhaustible. He is forever young and a constant source of newness” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11).

The gospel is Jesus. It is who he is, the Son of God, through whom we have access to the Father and the life of the Trinity, the one who has taken our humanity up and enabled us to be truly children of God. It is what he did in becoming incarnate of the Virgin Mary, living among us, dying on the Cross, and rising again to offer us eternal life and salvation.

Knowing Jesus is a privilege and a joy, but it is also a duty and a responsibility; we can’t selfishly cling to him to the exclusion of others, he has to be shared, he has to be proclaimed. The true and eternal life he offers is for everyone, and it is your responsibility, laid upon you by that same Jesus, to proclaim him to all peoples. In doing so, you play your part in the ever-growing Kingdom of God.


  • Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (especially #11-13)
  • Pope St. Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi