Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary 455. Job 1:6-22. Psalm 17:1,2-3.6-7. Luke 9:46-50.
Job greets us today in the liturgy of the word. This scroll helps us to
continue to develop biblical wisdom. It is among the Writings of the Hebrew
Bible which contain such wisdom books and the psalms as well. This book
helps us to ponder over why the innocent often suffer and why bad things
happen to good people. The author is a Hebrew but he is devout enough to
situate the person of Job in an imaginary land differing from the Land of
Israel. His thoughts are too daring and scandalous for the devout
Israelite, but an Israelite could profit from reading them since they come
from an alien called Job. He at first prospers in the land of Uz; not Os!
Satan, the adversary pleads with God to test the faithfulness and
righteousness of this humble servant of God who has riches in abundance and
sons and daughters. His wife is another question since she will be among
those who taunt and tease Job in his trials and sufferings and losses. She
too is questioning the God of Job. Job withstands the four “friends” who
test him and question his innocence but he never succumbs to cursing God.
Since the book is both prose and poetry it easily attracts our attention
and we learn from its wisdom how to become like Job patient amidst our own
personal troubles, illnesses, losses, and tragedies. We are also
fascinated that the setting and characters of the book are non-Israelites
thus the author is free to develop his wisdom thoughts about the justice of
God and the innocence of Job. “God does not offer any rational answer to
his problem of innocent suffering. God humbles Job and forces him to
realize that man cannot presume to ask God any questions.” (The
Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion).
We hear from those who study this book in Hebrew that it is the most
difficult to translate and interpret. We learn from it the important
statement of Job that even songs are based on and may indicate a belief in
the afterlife: “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He
shall stand up over my dust at the last.” (Job 19:25). We also learn the
saying about it, “the patience of Job” which the Epistle of James refers
“According to the Talmud the book was recited by the High Priest shortly
before the Day of Atonement and is still read by the Sephardim on the fast
of Av 9. It is also one of the few biblical texts whose study is permitted
during the period of mourning.” (Enc. of Jewish Rel. p.212).
Thus this book or scroll is not only God’s active and dynamic voice but is
kept alive through its use in the Church’s liturgy and the worship of the
synagogue. It will continue to help inquisitive minds who struggle with
the problem of evil and suffering. And it will help play writers, poets,
and philosophers to keep it alive through their creative research and
Our lesson for the day is to be patient with others and with oneself. This
virtue is helpful for understanding sickness, weaknesses, death, and
tragedy brought about by natural catastrophic events. Interestingly
enough, the word for patience comes from the Latin verb which means “to
suffer.” We all feel like Job in some of the experiences of our lives, but
we can also imitate his “hanging in there” with God despite the fact that
bad things happen to good people. Amen.