Lent with the Book of Job (Ch 16)
March 09, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Chapter 16 (Thursday of the Second Week of Lent)

Then Job answered: 
‘I have heard many such things;
   miserable comforters are you all. 
Have windy words no limit?
   Or what provokes you that you keep on talking? 
I also could talk as you do,
   if you were in my place;
I could join words together against you,
   and shake my head at you. 
I could encourage you with my mouth,
   and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain. 

‘If I speak, my pain is not assuaged,
   and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me? 
Surely now God has worn me out;
   he has made desolate all my company. 
And he has shrivelled me up,
   which is a witness against me;
my leanness has risen up against me,
   and it testifies to my face. 
He has torn me in his wrath, and hated me;
   he has gnashed his teeth at me;
   my adversary sharpens his eyes against me. 
They have gaped at me with their mouths;
   they have struck me insolently on the cheek;
   they mass themselves together against me. 
God gives me up to the ungodly,
   and casts me into the hands of the wicked. 
I was at ease, and he broke me in two;
   he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces;
he set me up as his target; 
   his archers surround me.
He slashes open my kidneys, and shows no mercy;
   he pours out my gall on the ground. 
He bursts upon me again and again;
   he rushes at me like a warrior. 
I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin,
   and have laid my strength in the dust. 
My face is red with weeping,
   and deep darkness is on my eyelids, 
though there is no violence in my hands,
   and my prayer is pure. 

‘O earth, do not cover my blood;
   let my outcry find no resting-place. 
Even now, in fact, my witness is in heaven,
   and he that vouches for me is on high. 
My friends scorn me;
   my eye pours out tears to God, 
that he would maintain the right of a mortal with God,
   as one does for a neighbour. 
For when a few years have come,
   I shall go the way from which I shall not return. 


Job however challenges the truth of the principle that identifies suffering with punishment for sin. And he does this on the basis of his own opinion. For he is aware that he has not deserved such punishment, and in fact he speaks of the good that he has done during his life. In the end, God himself reproves Job’s friends for their accusations and recognizes that Job is not guilty. His suffering is the suffering of someone who is innocent and it must be accepted as a mystery, which the individual is unable to penetrate completely by his own intelligence.

The Book of Job does not violate the foundations of the transcendent moral order, based upon justice, as they are set forth by the whole of Revelation, in both the Old and the New Covenants. At the same time, however, this Book shows with all firmness that the principles of this order cannot be applied in an exclusive and superficial way. While it is true that suffering has a meaning as punishment, when it is connected with a fault, it is not true that all suffering is a consequence of a fault and has the nature of a punishment. The figure of the just man Job is a special proof of this in the Old Testament. Revelation, which is the word of God himself, with complete frankness presents the problem of the suffering of an innocent man: suffering without guilt. Job has not been punished, there was no reason for inflicting a punishment on him, even if he has been subjected to a grievous trial. From the introduction of the Book it is apparent that God permitted this testing as a result of Satan’s provocation. For Satan had challenged before the Lord the righteousness of Job: “Does Job fear God for nought? … Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse thee to thy face.” And if the Lord consents to test Job with suffering, he does it to demonstrate the latter’s righteousness. The suffering has the nature of a test. (Pope St. John Paul II; Salvifici doloris)

Musical Selection (Tomás Luis De Victoria)
Tradiderunt me in manus impiorum
et inter iniquos proiecerunt me
et non pepercerunt animae meae:
congregati sunt adversum me fortes:
Et sicut gigantes steterunt contra me.
Alieni insurrexerunt adversum me
et fortes quaesierunt animam meam.
Et sicut gigantes steterunt contra me. 

They delivered me into the hands of the wicked
and cast me among evildoers.
and did not spare my soul:
Strong men gathered together against me;
And, like giants, stood against me.
Foreigners rose against me
and strong men sought my soul.
And, like giants, they stood against me.


Lord God,
you love innocence
and you restore it in those who have sinned.
Turn back our wayward hearts to you
and inflame them with your Holy Spirit,
that we may be steadfast in faith
and effective in the works of love.
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.