bible blog 254

This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church

Job 3: 1-23 (some verses omitted by the Lectionary)

Job opened his mouth and cursed his day.

Job spoke out and said:

Perish the day on which I was born,

the night when they said, “The child is a boy!”

The day I was born

Why did I not perish at birth,

come forth from the womb and expire?

Or why was I not buried away like an untimely birth,

like babes that have never seen the light?

Wherefore did the knees receive me?

or why did I suck at the breasts?

For then I should have lain down and been tranquil;

had I slept, I should then have been at rest

With kings and counselors of the earth

who built where now there are ruins

Or with princes who had gold

and filled their houses with silver.

There the wicked cease from troubling,

there the weary are at rest.

Why is light given to the toilers,

and life to the bitter in spirit?

They wait for death and it comes not;

they search for it rather than for hidden treasures,

Rejoice in it exultingly,

and are glad when they reach the grave:

Those whose path is hidden from them,

and whom God has hemmed in!

One day Job is a well-to-do respected man who obeys the commandments of God, the next he is mourning the loss of his family, wealth and health. The idea that God has done this because he (God) is being tested by the Satan, is one that we’d like to think of as a literary device rather than a theological truth. The bitterness evident in Job’s tirades and his refusal of pious comfort, displays a view of life which must often be held by the poor of the earth. The beauty of Job is that he tells it like it is, assigning the responsibility to God and allowing Him no excuses. If he is God, the Creator of the world, He has to accept responsibility for the way it is. As we shall see, God honours his critic more than those who want to palm him off with dubious theology. Today we should pray hard for the millions of our fellow human beings who would welcome death.

Lk 9:51-56

Gospel

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,

he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,

and he sent messengers ahead of him.

On the way they entered a Samaritan village

to prepare for his reception there,

but they would not welcome him

because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.

When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,

“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven

to consume them?”

Jesus turned and rebuked them,

and they journeyed to another village.

The real Good Friday Agreement

For Jesus, the way of the cross lies ahead, as the way the Father has asked him to go for the deliverance of the world from evil. It is precisely not the way that messianic Jews want their Messiah to go. He should smite the wicked in the name of God, which is exactly what James and John want to do to the sectarian Samaritans. Jesus must have sighed wearily at the hopeless misunderstanding of God’s way shown by his disciples. If the churches of Jesus had always shown his forbearance when faced with sectarian bitterness, their witness to him would have more genuine that it has been. The religious history of Scotland, my own country is disfigured by acts of hatred by all churches which have bad consequences even today. The people who carried these out had not fully considered the meaning of the little story.

5 comments

  1. Your comments about the Church in Scotland could no doubt be duplicated for most if not all countries. We are all guilty to some degree, and, as you say, we often do not realize the extent of the consequences – mostly because they happen to people of whom we are unaware.
    I have a question about the first reading meditation. I have always taken it that Job was the one being tested. It is an intriguing thought that it may be God instead, but how do you understand that working?

    1. In the prologue of Job, God proudly exhibits Job as an example of the success of his management style. The Satan, who knows what’s what, tells God that naturally if you favour a person, they’ll be respectful of you and your wishes. But, he tells God, if his favour is withdrawn, Job will curse him to his face. In the outcome Job comes perilously near to doing so. God’s reputation is at stake, not only with the Satan and the heavenly court, but also with Job and the readers of his story. In the end the reputation of God is only saved by his revelation of himself as creator. Job realises that he doesn’t know enough about creation to judge his maker

      Job’s testing of God, his refusal to accept the usual excuses for Him, is approved by God who now shows his favour by speaking to him. In the end, both God, and his servant, pass the Satan’s test. (Don’t think of The Satan here as the Christian devil! He’s more like a court jester or Shakespearean clown)

      1. Yes, I see your point on this now. In short, I guess it could be said that both God and Job were being tested here. I am not sure about the comment of Job realizing he does not know enough about the creation, or about how God’s reputation being saved. That will require more thinking on my part.

        I do consider the Satan to be the same as the devil, but at an earlier time in his ‘career,’ so you are quite right in thinking of him as a jester/clown here.

        Thank you for your thoughts.

  2. Hey, Patmos Pete, just a word or two in the language of human beings would help. Is it that you are worshipping the beast and want help? Or think I am and need help? Or think I am and need smiting? Why can you only quote and not speak? Perhaps your mouth is so full of scripture it has no words of its own? While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

  3. Thanks Jeff. As regards the reputation of God I don’t think I’m making a new point. Traditionally scholars have viewed Job as a dramatic theodicy i.e a justification of God’s management of the world. The prevalence of evil and misfortune in the world puts God’s reputation at risk, even in the minds of the faithful sometimes. In the drama, God saves his reputation by answering Job out of the whirlwind and revealing his super-human wisdom.

    Job’s criticism has been based on his confidence that he knows how the world should be run. When God reveals to him his ignorance of the processes of creation (Where were YOU?) he realises he’s spoken beyond his capacity.

    This is a drama, an invention, a supreme piece of imaginative theology, not a history.

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