Several years ago our parish started a new ministry. We called it “R U Support” — shorthand for “Recently Unemployed/Underemployed Support Group.” The idea was born when one of our staff members pointed out that, whether because of layoffs, plant closings or business relocations, it seemed that almost every day someone was coming in to tell us that he or she had lost their job. “We need a support group!” And we were off and running.
After only two meetings, our group had already outgrown the space we had reserved for it. And although stories and circumstances varied, when Job said “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?” most attendees knew exactly what he meant. Unfortunately for Job, however, his friends were anything but a support group! Still, Job believed that God would take care of him.
In Mark’s Gospel we find Jesus healing and casting out demons — Peter’s mother-in-law, townspeople gathered at the door, even the people of neighboring villages. It would seem that, even without the Internet, word traveled fast. Obviously there were many people in need of healing and many demons to be cast out.
Which brings us back to Job and our “R U Support” group. One reason the group is still growing is that people who have attended in the past are still recommending the group to new people today. Like Job and the people around Capernaum, the unemployed often feel lost and alone, sick with worry and beset by demons of loss and diminishment. But they, too, believe that God will take care of them. “He cured many who were sick … and…drove out many demons …” And in churches and community centers, town halls and college campuses, God is doing precisely that. It might be a volunteer executive recruiter, a representative of a county agency offering help with utility bills, or a woman from our local university helping people to navigate skill requirements and online assessment tools. Whoever it may be, through their gifts of time and talent, people’s lives are being healed. Some might even call it a miracle. We just call it R U Support …
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.