HOMILY – 5th SUNDAY [B] 2018            [Job 7:1-4,6-7; Mark 1:29-39]

After all the hot weather of past weeks, a weather report announcing a depression settling over the country bringing lots of rain was very welcome.  Getting the tail end of a cyclone as well, was a bit too much!

But there’s a “Depression” we dare not welcome – the kind that is already among us, attacking healthy bodies, personalities and whole families.  This depression that has so many people on medication has been defined as a silent killer, the slow erosion of self. Today’s Dom/P front page – mental health services crumbling under enormous demand.  –  A person wrote of depression that, “It corners you at night or when you’re all alone and slowly eats away at any shred of happiness it can find.”

The cry of Job [1st Reading] is from one very depressed person.  Grief and sadness is all that he knows and laments, my life is but a breath, and my eyes will never again see joy.  You probably know someone like that, perhaps more than one: people who can see nothing but problems, who have nothing good to say about anyone, or who feel they have nothing to show for their life…

Another recent news item told of people who use public transport as though there was no one else with them.  A crowded bus in total silence.  No conversation, no eye contact, sitting so as not to touch the person next to you!  Headphones and cell phones signalling “keep away and don’t disturb me”!  The article suggested that, while we might be quite comfortable in that situation, isolating ourselves and block out awareness of others, could affect the ability to socialise and contribute to depression. – Yesterday (Saturday) the Pastoral Council and Parish Leadership team met to explore ways to encourage community growth during this year. Last year’s Archdiocesan Synod provided plenty of material, echoing Pope Francis’ call

to move outside the known and the comfortable, to take the message of the gospel into our social networks, people we work with and the society of which we are a part.  Our PPC has picked up on this and will assist the parish to develop a spirituality of service which will make possible a “reaching out” by individual parishioners – you and I – to bring others an appreciation of Christ.

As New Zealand continues towards becoming the most secular country, as individual rights become less and less linked to personal responsibility, as faith-based education gets swallowed up in a climate favouring no religion, the gospel message is either politely ignored or openly ridiculed.

People crowded round Jesus when they heard how he welcomed people, bringing healing to their lives through his listening ear and gentle touch.  They couldn’t get enough of him because he gave everyone a sense of being valued, of having something to offer.  Depression can’t defeat such an attitude.

Two Sunday’s ago, I mentioned the British Parliament’s initiative in setting up a Ministry of Loneliness – one of the primary sources of depression.  In the current euthanasia debate, we should not be surprised to see loneliness feature as an incentive driving people to want their life to end.  Our PPC aims to equip each of with the incentive to turn the tables, by being proactive in helping people feel good about themselves, wanted for themselves.

The newsletter item inviting your involvement in assisting a new group of refugees settle among us, is a most practical way of beginning that process.  Jesus came that we may have life.  There should be no “Jobs” among us, feeling they’re on the scrapheap!  We are children of a loving, merciful God who wants nothing but our happiness.  Live that belief and see the difference.