Lent with the Book of Job (Ch 11)
March 04, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Chapter 11 (Saturday of the First Week of Lent)

Then Zophar the Naamathite answered: 
‘Should a multitude of words go unanswered,
   and should one full of talk be vindicated? 
Should your babble put others to silence,
   and when you mock, shall no one shame you? 
For you say, “My conduct is pure,
   and I am clean in God’s sight.” 
But O that God would speak,
   and open his lips to you, 
and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!
   For wisdom is many-sided.
Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves. 

‘Can you find out the deep things of God?
   Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? 
It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
   Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? 
Its measure is longer than the earth,
   and broader than the sea. 
If he passes through, and imprisons,
   and assembles for judgement, who can hinder him? 
For he knows those who are worthless;
   when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it? 
But a stupid person will get understanding,
   when a wild ass is born human. 

‘If you direct your heart rightly,
   you will stretch out your hands towards him. 
If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,
   and do not let wickedness reside in your tents. 
Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish;
   you will be secure, and will not fear. 
You will forget your misery;
   you will remember it as waters that have passed away. 
And your life will be brighter than the noonday;
   its darkness will be like the morning. 
And you will have confidence, because there is hope;
   you will be protected and take your rest in safety. 
You will lie down, and no one will make you afraid;
   many will entreat your favour. 
But the eyes of the wicked will fail;
   all way of escape will be lost to them,
   and their hope is to breathe their last.’ 

As often as a mighty wrestler goes down into the arena, those who are no match for him present themselves in turn to be overthrown. When one is beaten another takes his place to try to overcome by a succession of adversaries him who cannot be beaten by their individual powers. Thus, in this theatre of men and angels, the blessed Job showed himself a mighty wrestler to whom first Eliphaz  came forth, then Bildad, and now finally Zophar the Naamathite who begins with an insult: Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and a man full of talk be vindicated? 
It is always the practice of the impertinent to answer the opposite of the truth that has been said to them lest, if they assent to the things asserted, they should seem inferior. To them the words of the righteous, however few, are always a multitude. The wicked cannot hear good words with patience and they answer back so that they do not have to amend their life, as Zophar plainly shows us when he adds: Should your babble silence men, and when you mock, shall no one shame you? The uninstructed mind is offended by the truth and reckons silence to be a punishment. 
When scorners cannot defend the evils that are reproved in them, they feel worse through shame and defend themselves vigorously digging up bad things to say about the life of their reprover, thinking themselves not guilty if they can fasten guilty deeds upon the heads of others. When they can’t find true ones, they make them up, so that they too can appear to rebuke with equal justice. Thus Zophar adds with lying lips, For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God's eyes.’ Whoever remembers the words of blessed Job knows how false this charge is; how could he call himself pure who said, If I justify myself, my own mouth would condemn me. Here is the wickedness of the unrighteous, it refuses to bewail the real evil in itself while inventing evil in others, for it gains comfort for its evil deeds if the life of the reprover can be stained with false accusation.
Zophar is not afraid to dare to instruct one better than himself, and so he exhorts Job and shows how unimportant punishment appears to the righteous man, by saying: You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. The mind feels the ills of the present life all the more severely in proportion as it neglects the good of the next life. Now Zophar does well in likening the miseries of the present life to waters that have passed away; if a man raises himself up to things eternal and fixes the eye of his soul on those things which remain without change, he sees that everything here below that has an end is to be counted as almost nothing. Even when evil spirits also tempt the mind of a righteous man so that he is both saddened by affliction and chilled within by temptation, grace never leaves him and the more he is struck by the dispensation of providence, the more God watches over him in pity, for when it grows dark through temptation, the inner light is kindled again. (St. Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job

Musical Selection


There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea.
There’s a kindness in God’s justice,
which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows

Are more felt than up in heaven;

There is no place where earth’d failings

Have such kindly judgment given.


For the love of God is broader
than the measures of the mind,
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.


But we make God’s love too narrow
by false limits of our own,
and we magnify its strictness
with a zeal God will not own.


There is plentiful redemption

In the blood that has been shed;

There is joy for all the members

In the sorrows of the Head.


There is grace enough for thousands

Of new worlds as great as this;

There is room for fresh creations

In that upper home of bliss.


If our love were but more simple,
we should rest upon God’s word,
and our lives would be illumined
by the presence of our Lord.

Eternal Father,
turn our hearts back to you,
that we may commit our lives to your praise and service,
seeking always the one thing necessary
and providing for the needs of others.
We ask this 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.