Reflection for Friday, October 6, 2006: 26th week in Ordinary Time.

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Authors
Howard, Joan Blandin
Issue Date
2006-10-06
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Essay
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en_US
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Abstract
Once upon a time there was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. Don’t know much about his wife, but he had seven sons and three “beautiful” daughters. They got along well and often enjoyed family meals and celebrations. Job was a wealthy man owning thousands of sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys along with many servants. He was known in his community as an honest, upstanding, God fearing man. He was thought to be “the greatest of all the people of the east.”|Then one day, out of the blue Job was struck with tragedy. All of his cattle and livestock were killed by foreign marauders. He and his family were left unscathed for which he gave thanks to God. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job continued to praise God even though he believed that God was responsible for his “naked” status.|Things went from bad to worse for Job. He was afflicted with “loathsome sores…from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” So painful were these sores that for relief, Job “took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.” Job’s wife encouraged him to “curse God, and die.” But Job remained faithful to God, but believing that God was responsible for or at least allowed his tragedy to persist. In the midst of his suffering Job began to question: was God testing him, was God punishing him, had God abandoned him? Job began to curse himself – cursing the day he was born. Why had he been born if only to suffer? Little did Job know that Satan himself was in fact attempting to tempt God by calling into question Job’s faithfulness to God. Job was in no way aware of God’s continuing faithfulness to him.|Three of Job’s friends came to console and comfort him. They were completely overwhelmed and speechless at the horrific sight of Job. They suggested that he must have down something terribly wrong to bring God’s wrath down upon himself – so what have you done, Job? They reminded him that God does not pervert justice; “God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.” They encouraged Job to search his heart and to come clean with God. Job, you must have done something to deserve this. What was it? Job could think of nothing, and begged God to reveal to him if there had been some grave misstep on his part. Jobs friends were of no comfort to him, only adding to his misery: “…miserable comforters are you all.” Job, knowing himself to be a good and decent man, was tormented by his friends. Job was left feeling completely betrayed not only by his friends who now act superior to him, but also abandoned, betrayed and belittled by God – a God he had been faithful to for years. Why, why was this happening?| Finally, “The Lord addressed Job out of the storm…” In the midst of the pain, suffering and tragedy God is present to Job. The Lord reminds Job of all the universally marvelous and mysterious creations. The Lord not only claims responsibility for these, but also continues to be present in all of creation. He questions Job’s ability to do what God has done. The Lord discounts the suggestions of his friends. God does not send pain and suffering. Tragedy and suffering strike good people, but not according to any preconceived plan by God. However, God is present in the midst of pain, suffering and tragedy. God is the creator of all that is good, holy, helpful, loving, caring, marvelous, mysterious and beautiful. God continues to reside in these and all creations and continues to be present.|The story ends with God blessing Job’s later years. He acquires even more livestock, his family remains intact, his daughters grow more beautiful and he lives 140 years enjoying his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Job repents and remains faithful to God, recognizing “ …I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”|What am I to make of this story? Like Job, I want explanations for my own pain, suffering and tragedy. What did I do to deserve this? This must be part of God’s plan – He wants me to learn something from all this. What is it I am to learn? This is some sort of test – to see how faithful I am, if I go to church, if what? There seems to be something deeply engrained in me – I need to understand. The answer may just be that I will never understand. It is about mystery. The mystery of God, God’s love and faithfulness for me; the mystery of ongoing creation, and the mystery of good and evil and of pain and suffering. The good news is that God is present within, in the midst of the storm – the pain, struggle and suffering. Where? Who? How? That is for me to pay attention to. In the ongoing struggle – who, where, how are the moments, times, people, occasions of relief, comfort, joy and love. God is not only the beginning and the end, but the constant in the midst. The good news is that God is faithful, even when I feel I am not and especially when life gets really lifey!
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University Ministry, Creighton University.
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These reflections may not be sold or used commercially without permission. Personal or parish use is permitted.
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