My Smile is a Facade

February 7, 2021   Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 74)

Reading I   Jb 7:1-4, 6-7
Job spoke, saying:
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade,
a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery,
and troubled nights have been allotted to me.
If in bed I say, “When shall I arise?”
then the night drags on;
I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle;
they come to an end without hope.
Remember that my life is like the wind;
I shall not see happiness again.

Responsorial Psalm   Ps 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
R. (cf. 3a) Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
R. Alleluia.
Praise the LORD, for he is good;
sing praise to our God, for he is gracious;
it is fitting to praise him.
The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem;
the dispersed of Israel he gathers.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
R. Alleluia.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He tells the number of the stars;
he calls each by name.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
R. Alleluia.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
to his wisdom there is no limit.
The LORD sustains the lowly;
the wicked he casts to the ground.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
R. Alleluia.

Reading II   1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23
Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach,
I offer the gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.

Alleluia   Mt 8:17
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   Mk 1:29-39
On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn, he left
and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues,
preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.


By Nick Sciarappa

I am the nightmare of the fire department – plugging space heaters, phone chargers, computers, rope lights, and a plethora of electronic devices into one lowly power strip. The best way to master the art of making a power strip work for you comes from experience: Tripping circuits, overheating outlets, and destroying many lowly power strips.

As I threw away my most recent fire hazard (broken power strip) I began to reflect on how I often feel like a broken conglomeration of burnt out plastic and metal.

Just as the intensity of electricity destroyed the value and purpose of the power strip, I’ve come to recognize that the combination of worldly responsibilities, intense emotions and negative experiences can fry me, sending me into bouts of depression.

My depression is like a power strip that has too many electronic devices plugged into it. Everything that normally gives me energy, just doesn’t anymore. Everything that I want to put energy into feels pointless. Even when I accomplish tasks, I feel no satisfaction or purpose.

My smile is a façade for a deep ache of my heart.

For me, overcoming bouts of depression started with my counselor defining it. The definition of depression he used for me was, “intense emotion turned inward."  The start of the solution for me, is to turn intense emotions outward. There is no better example of venting all of their negative emotions quite like Job.

In today’s first reading, I imagine Job praying by screaming with all of his heart, with fists swinging in the air in prayer. I imagine him showing anger, jealousy, sadness, and honesty as he says, “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?” or, “I shall not see happiness again.” When I read Job, I see a broken power strip begging to be fixed.

I see a person being honest with their suffering in front of the perfect outlet to dump emotion onto: God.

For me, and many others with depression, honest outward expression is a sign of heathy expression of emotion. For me, Job isn’t an ungrateful negative jerk. He’s an amazing example of what it means to be honest and outward facing before God.


Nick Sciarappa is the Director of Youth Ministry at Sts. John and Paul Parish in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He’s worked for the church in many capacities including as a journalist at the National Catholic Reporter, and as the digital Media Strategist for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Nick produces “Clerically Speaking” a podcast where two Catholic priests talk about the priestly life that you don’t see at Mass.  Nick is married to his illustrious wife Riley, and thinks she is pretty neat. Follow Nick on Twitter and tweet something funny at him. 

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