Lent with the Book of Job (Ch 18)
March 11, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Chapter 18 (Saturday of the Second Week of Lent)

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered: 
‘How long will you hunt for words?
   Consider, and then we shall speak. 
Why are we counted as cattle?
   Why are we stupid in your sight? 
You who tear yourself in your anger—
   shall the earth be forsaken because of you,
   or the rock be removed out of its place? 

‘Surely the light of the wicked is put out,
   and the flame of their fire does not shine. 
The light is dark in their tent,
   and the lamp above them is put out. 
Their strong steps are shortened,
   and their own schemes throw them down. 
For they are thrust into a net by their own feet,
   and they walk into a pitfall. 
A trap seizes them by the heel;
   a snare lays hold of them. 
A rope is hid for them in the ground,
   a trap for them in the path. 
Terrors frighten them on every side,
   and chase them at their heels. 
Their strength is consumed by hunger,
   and calamity is ready for their stumbling. 
By disease their skin is consumed,
   the firstborn of Death consumes their limbs. 
They are torn from the tent in which they trusted,
   and are brought to the king of terrors. 
In their tents nothing remains;
   sulphur is scattered upon their habitations. 
Their roots dry up beneath,
   and their branches wither above. 
Their memory perishes from the earth,
   and they have no name in the street. 
They are thrust from light into darkness,
   and driven out of the world. 
They have no offspring or descendant among their people,
   and no survivor where they used to live. 
They of the west are appalled at their fate,
   and horror seizes those of the east. 
Surely such are the dwellings of the ungodly,
   such is the place of those who do not know God.’ 


There are blessings in the temporal order which God may grant here, but withhold or withdraw there: for instance, the blessings of the married state, the procreation of children, abundance in worldly goods, bodily health, and so forth. Such things can make people happy – or  make them miserable. The Lord bestows them on the good and the wicked alike: and sometimes they are removed by the same divine hand, whether from the good or the wicked.
Job was blessed, a happy man indeed, when living uprightly  amidst all his wealth; and yet he was more blessed in his even more upright and irreproachable condition of poverty. He was blessed when surrounded by his ten children, but more blessed when, smitten with the loss of all of them at once, he nevertheless remained unshakable in his love for God. He was blessed in his bodily health, but rendered more so by the wounds and injuries, the ulcers and sores that he received: more blessed on his dung heap than in a palace adorned with marble.
We observe the difference, the contrast: one man is well endowed with riches and good health, yet miserable; another, destitute and plagued by ill-health, is a genuinely happy man even so. The rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day lived such a pointless life, for all his feasting. How impoverished he really was, despite the vast wealth! How naked despite the fine apparel, how sick for all his bodily fitness, how famished for all the unstinted fare, how wretched in his merry-making, how lonely amidst the conversation of friends, how downcast for all the pampering by the menials! How different from Lazarus, made rich in his poverty, blessed in his wretchedness, happy in his misfortune, made sound again despite his sores, homeless indeed, yet making himself at home; without clothing but not without faith; without the strength of bodily health, yet strong in charity; without food yet not without Christ; exposed to dogs, but the companion of angels; not offered even the very crumbs from the rich man’s table, yet regaled with the bread of heaven.

The good things of this life can be ours for good or evil; they are to be rated accordingly. Temporal blessings, then, it is sometimes good to enjoy, but sometimes not; sometimes it is good to despise them, but sometimes it is not. It is good indeed to have them when they conduce to the fear of God; but equally it can be good to despise them, when that is done for the sake of the glory that comes from Almighty God himself, and not from men. (St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, Epistolae).

Musical Selection 

Cf. How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!  My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.  Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.  Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah  Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.  They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion.  O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah  Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed.  For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.  For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favour and honour. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.  O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you. (Psalm 84)



by your healing gift of grace
you share with us the things of heaven
while we are yet on earth.
Guide us, we pray, in this our present life
and lead us to that everlasting light in which you dwell.
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.