Archive for the ‘Job’ Category

Why?

January 22, 2016

As [Jesus] passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. [Jesus cures the man’s blindness, leading to his giving glory to God and salvation in Christ.]

—The Gospel of John, chapter 9

The question of Jesus’ disciples reflects an ancient assumption: that bad things happen to people as a punishment for their sins. In perhaps the oldest Old Testament book, the friends of Job insist that his great suffering must be his fault somehow. Before throwing out the man born blind, the Pharisees tell him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” While our own personal sins can carry with them their own punishments, innocent suffering also exists. Job was innocent. Jesus Christ was sinless, and his mother Mary, too. Yet each one suffered greatly through no fault of their own.

Why does God (who is all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful) allow the innocent to suffer? God certainly does not work evil, yet he clearly permits evils to occur. Why? St. Paul wrote, “We know that in everything, God works for good for those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) And St. Augustine rightly concludes, “God would never allow any evil if he could not cause good to emerge from it.” Like Jesus answered his disciples in regards to the man born blind, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”

It is natural to question the plans of God in times of tragedy. But we Christians have reassurance even in the face of suffering and death. At the heart of our faith is the too-all-eyes senseless death of Jesus Christ, murdered on a cross. Yet from this evil God raised up great good for his Son, for us, and for the whole world. Like Christ’s first disciples, we do not always readily know the why’s and purposes of God, but in all things we have hope.

Enduring Deprivation — Monday, 20th Week of Ordinary Time—Year II

August 18, 2014

Readings: Ezekiel 24:15-23, Matthew 19:16-22

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, by a sudden blow I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes, but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears. Groan in silence, make no lament for the dead, bind on your turban, put your sandals on your feet, do not cover your beard, and do not eat the customary bread.” That evening my wife died, and the next morning I did as I had been commanded.

Then the people asked me, “Will you not tell us what all these things that you are doing mean for us?” I therefore spoke to the people that morning, saying to them: “Thus the word of the LORD came to me: ‘Say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD: I will now desecrate my sanctuary, the stronghold of your pride, the delight of your eyes, the desire of your soul. …  Your turbans shall remain on your heads, your sandals on your feet. You shall not mourn or weep, but you shall rot away because of your sins and groan one to another.”

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler, by Heinrich HofmannWhat does Ezekiel in the first reading have in common with the young man in today’s gospel?

A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” … Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

The Lord asked the rich young man to give up something precious to him, and the Lord took away something precious from Ezekiel. What if Ezekiel had rebelled after his loss, refusing to do anything further in the Lord’s service? People sometimes react to tragic loss in this way. What if that rich young man who went away sad never changed his mind? Divine callings often entail hardship, but consider the greater loss of never fulfilling the purpose of one’s life.

Every good thing, every person or possession, has come to us from God, and his desire for us is our supreme good. Therefore, the Lord is worthy of trust, even if we are stripped of what is dearly precious to us. As the suffering Job observed,

“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!”

Job’s Desolation — Tuesday, 26th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

September 28, 2010


The sadness of Job is like a heavy stone hanging from his neck.

In his pain, he seems to forget that he is surrounded by people who care about him very much. When Job’s friends learn of his misfortune they come to him. For days and nights they sit with Job, listening, not saying a word, yet saying a great deal by just being there. He is not alone.

In his despair, Job imagines that his life will never get better. Yet he cannot see the future. The Lord is going to bless Job and happiness will return to him.

In his darkness, Job wishes he were dead. He asks, “Why did I not perish at birth?” Yet death is not the way. When the Samaritans rejected Jesus, James and John asked to rain down fire, but Jesus rebuked them for it. As long as there is life, there is hope, for the Samaritans, and for us.

How wrong it is if we mistake death for the way of peace, for that is not Christ’s answer. How wrong it is if we imagine that we will never be happy again, for sun’s light shines beyond our horizon or behind the clouds, even if we cannot see it. And how wrong it is if we forget that people care about us, for each of us here is loved more than we know.