Lent with the Book of Job (Ch 9)
March 02, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Chapter 9 (Thursday of the First Week of Lent)

Then Job answered: 
‘Indeed I know that this is so;
   but how can a mortal be just before God? 
If one wished to contend with him,
   one could not answer him once in a thousand. 
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength
—who has resisted him, and succeeded?— 
he who removes mountains, and they do not know it,
   when he overturns them in his anger; 
who shakes the earth out of its place,
   and its pillars tremble; 
who commands the sun, and it does not rise;
   who seals up the stars; 
who alone stretched out the heavens
   and trampled the waves of the Sea; 
who made the Bear and Orion,
   the Pleiades and the chambers of the south; 
who does great things beyond understanding,
   and marvellous things without number. 
Look, he passes by me, and I do not see him;
   he moves on, but I do not perceive him. 
He snatches away; who can stop him?
   Who will say to him, “What are you doing?” 

‘God will not turn back his anger;
   the helpers of Rahab bowed beneath him. 
How then can I answer him,
   choosing my words with him? 
Though I am innocent, I cannot answer him;
   I must appeal for mercy to my accuser. 
If I summoned him and he answered me,
   I do not believe that he would listen to my voice. 
For he crushes me with a tempest,
   and multiplies my wounds without cause; 
he will not let me get my breath,
   but fills me with bitterness. 
If it is a contest of strength, he is the strong one!
   If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him? 
Though I am innocent, my own mouth would condemn me;
   though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse. 
I am blameless; I do not know myself;
   I loathe my life. 
It is all one; therefore I say,
   he destroys both the blameless and the wicked. 
When disaster brings sudden death,
   he mocks at the calamity of the innocent. 
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked;
   he covers the eyes of its judges—
   if it is not he, who then is it? 

‘My days are swifter than a runner;
   they flee away, they see no good. 
They go by like skiffs of reed,
   like an eagle swooping on the prey. 
If I say, “I will forget my complaint;
   I will put off my sad countenance and be of good cheer”, 
I become afraid of all my suffering,
   for I know you will not hold me innocent. 
I shall be condemned;
   why then do I labour in vain? 
If I wash myself with soap
   and cleanse my hands with lye, 
yet you will plunge me into filth,
   and my own clothes will abhor me. 
For he is not a mortal, as I am, that I might answer him,
   that we should come to trial together. 
There is no umpire between us,
   who might lay his hand on us both. 
If he would take his rod away from me,
   and not let dread of him terrify me, 
then I would speak without fear of him,
   for I know I am not what I am thought to be.

The desertion and treachery of Job’s friends, the gibes, raillery, mockery and derision, and the tearing in pieces by all was something intolerable. For the character of calamities is not of such a kind, that they who reproach us about our calamities are inclined to vex our soul. Not only was there no one to soothe him, but many from all sides troubled him with taunts. And you see him lamenting this bitterly and saying, “but even you, too, fell upon me” (Job 19:5). He calls them pitiless and says, “My neighbors have rejected me, and my servants spoke against me, and I called the sons of my concubines, and they turned away from me” (Job 19:14, 16). “And others,” he says, “sport upon me, and I became the common talk of all (Job 19:9, 10). And my very raiment,” he says, “abhorred me” (Job 9:31). These things at least are unbearable to hear, still more to endure in their reality, extreme poverty, and intolerable disease new and strange, the loss of children so many and so good, and in such a manner, reproaches and gibes, and insults from men. Some indeed mocked, some reproached, and others despised; not only enemies, but even friends; not only friends, but even servants, and they not only mock and reproach, but even abhorred him, and this not for two or three, or ten days, but for many months; and (a circumstance which happened in that man’s case alone) not even did he have comfort by night, but the delusions of terrors by night were a greater aggravation of his misfortunes by day. For that he endured more grievous things in his sleep, hear what he says “why do you frighten me in sleep, and terrify me in visions?” (Job 7:14). What man of iron, what heart of steel could have endured so many misfortunes? For if each of these was unbearable in itself, consider what a tumult their simultaneous approach excited. But nevertheless he bore all these, and in all that happened to him he sinned not, nor was there guile in his lips.
Let the sufferings of that man then be the medicines for our ills, and his grievous surging sea the harbor of our sufferings, and in each of the accidents which befall us, let us consider this saint, and seeing one person exhausting the misfortunes of the universe, we shall conduct ourselves bravely in those which fall to our share, and as to some affectionate mother, stretching forth her hands on all sides, and receiving and reviving her terrified children, so let us always flee to this book, and even if the pitiable troubles of all men assail us, let us take sufficient comfort for all and so depart. And if you sayest, he was Job, and for this reason bore all this, but I am not like him; you supply me with a greater accusation against yourself and fresh praise of him. For it is more likely that you should be able to bear all this than he. Why, you ask? Because he indeed was before the day of grace and of the law, when there was not much strictness of life, when the grace of the Spirit was not so great, when sin was hard to fight against, when the curse prevailed and when death was terrible. But now our wrestlings have become easier, all these things being removed after the coming of Christ; so that we have no excuse, when we are unable to reach the same standard as he, after so long a time, and such advantage, and so many gifts given to us by God. Considering therefore all these things, that misfortunes were greater for him, and that when the conflict was more grievous, then he stripped for the contest; let us bear all that comes upon us nobly, and with much thankfulness, in order that we may be able to obtain the same crown as he, by the grace and lovingkindness of Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom be glory to the Father together with the Holy Spirit, now and always and for ever and ever. Amen. (St. John Chrysostom)

Musical Selection

O Lord of every shining constellation
That wheels in splendor through the midnight sky, 
Grant us Your Spirit's true illumination
To read the secrets of Your work on high.

You, Lord, have made the atom's hidden forces, 
Your laws its mighty energies fulfill;
Teach us, to whom You give such rich resources, 
In all we use, to serve Your holy will.

You, Lord, have stamped Your image on Your creatures, 
And though they mar that image, love them still;
Lift up our eyes to Christ, that in His features
We may discern the beauty of Your will.

in your boundless mercy
grant us always the desire to know what is right
and the readiness to do it,
so that we who cannot exist without you
may direct our lives according to your will.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.