Lent with the Book of Job (Ch 5)
February 26, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
Chapter 5 (First Sunday of Lent)

‘Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn? 
Surely vexation kills the fool,
   and jealousy slays the simple. 
I have seen fools taking root,
   but suddenly I cursed their dwelling. 
Their children are far from safety,
   they are crushed in the gate,
   and there is no one to deliver them. 
The hungry eat their harvest,
   and they take it even out of the thorns;
   and the thirsty pant after their wealth. 
For misery does not come from the earth,
   nor does trouble sprout from the ground; 
but human beings are born to trouble
   just as sparks fly upward. 

‘As for me, I would seek God,
   and to God I would commit my cause. 
He does great things and unsearchable,
   marvellous things without number. 
He gives rain on the earth
   and sends waters on the fields; 
he sets on high those who are lowly,
   and those who mourn are lifted to safety. 
He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
   so that their hands achieve no success. 
He takes the wise in their own craftiness;
   and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end. 
They meet with darkness in the daytime,
   and grope at noonday as in the night. 
But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth,
   from the hand of the mighty. 
So the poor have hope,
   and injustice shuts its mouth. 

‘How happy is the one whom God reproves;
   therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 
For he wounds, but he binds up;
   he strikes, but his hands heal. 
He will deliver you from six troubles;
   in seven no harm shall touch you. 
In famine he will redeem you from death,
   and in war from the power of the sword. 
You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
   and shall not fear destruction when it comes. 
At destruction and famine you shall laugh,
   and shall not fear the wild animals of the earth. 
For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,
   and the wild animals shall be at peace with you. 
You shall know that your tent is safe,
   you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing. 
You shall know that your descendants will be many,
   and your offspring like the grass of the earth. 
You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,
   as a shock of grain comes up to the threshing-floor in its season. 
See, we have searched this out; it is true.
   Hear, and know it for yourself.’ 

Eliphaz acknowledges that God is the Ruler and Creator of all things. He is a man who possesses wisdom in human things. Eliphaz also has an understanding of the invisible and visible, since he speaks of the inexplorable, the great, the honourable, and also of water and rain. If he distinguishes that water from rain, he must have in mind water from wells, from creeks and from cracks in stone. One can find very wise thoughts of this kind in many places in Scripture, not least of all in Paul, who writes, In him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible. But it seems clear that Eliphaz became afraid in a very human way because of the things that it happened to holy Job, and so he turned from this to admire the works of providence. Regarding the things without number, one has to admit that Eliphaz speaks from a human perspective. For God himself knows everything, there is no miracle in that. Doesn’t Solomon say, For it is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements; the beginning and end and middle of times; the alternations of the solstices and so on? This knowledge is also given to those who, like Solomon, are worthy of this benefit. 
Again Eliphaz vigorously criticizes the one who has been rebuked by the Lord, but too often it is righteous people who have been vilified. Among them are Joseph, whom the Egyptian woman charged with excess in spite of his modesty, and Susanna, who suffered as a hostage the humiliations from the lawless elders. Consequently, if he understands his words that the just man rebuked by the Lord will be hidden from the scourge of the tongue to mean that he is neither humiliated nor vilified, he is wrong. It is more accurate to say that the one who lives by the will of God cannot be harmed by humiliation or vilification, by the scourge of the tongue. Virtue protects him from being found guilty of the false allegations. Nor does such a person fear the coming destruction, since he says with St Paul, Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? Over all this he prevails through virtue’s abundance. Likewise, he is protected from the intrigues of false wisdom, since God takes the wise in their own craftiness

The words of the Prophet, The calamity will come from far away, must be understood like this: the good comes from us. For it is said, The kingdom of God is within you, and so we have an inclination toward virtue that Christ called ‘kingdom’. But the punishment and damage and disorder of sin come from the outside. For the man, who is created after God’s image, carries the seed of the good within, but if he deviates from the right path, he encounters evil, without having received such an inclination from God. (Didymus the Blind, In Job)

Musical Selection (William Cowper)

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform.
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
  Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
  And works His sovereign will.

You fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
  But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
  He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev'ry hour.
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan his work in vain.
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.


Lord our God,
in every age you call a people
to hear your word
and to do your will.
Renew us in these Lenten days:
washed clean of sin,
sealed with the Spirit,
and sustained by your living bread,
may we remain true to our calling
and, with the elect, serve you alone.
Grant this through Christ, our liberator from sin,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
holy and mighty God for ever and ever. Amen.