Lent with the Book of Job (Ch 21)
March 14, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Chapter 21 (Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent)

Then Job answered: 
‘Listen carefully to my words,
   and let this be your consolation. 
Bear with me, and I will speak;
   then after I have spoken, mock on. 
As for me, is my complaint addressed to mortals?
   Why should I not be impatient? 
Look at me, and be appalled,
   and lay your hand upon your mouth. 
When I think of it I am dismayed,
   and shuddering seizes my flesh. 
Why do the wicked live on,
   reach old age, and grow mighty in power? 
Their children are established in their presence,
   and their offspring before their eyes. 
Their houses are safe from fear,
   and no rod of God is upon them. 
Their bull breeds without fail;
   their cow calves and never miscarries. 
They send out their little ones like a flock,
   and their children dance around. 
They sing to the tambourine and the lyre,
   and rejoice to the sound of the pipe. 
They spend their days in prosperity,
   and in peace they go down to Sheol. 
They say to God, “Leave us alone!
   We do not desire to know your ways. 
What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
   And what profit do we get if we pray to him?” 
Is not their prosperity indeed their own achievement?
   The plans of the wicked are repugnant to me. 

‘How often is the lamp of the wicked put out?
   How often does calamity come upon them?
   How often does God distribute pains in his anger? 
How often are they like straw before the wind,
   and like chaff that the storm carries away? 
You say, “God stores up their iniquity for their children.”
   Let it be paid back to them, so that they may know it. 
Let their own eyes see their destruction,
   and let them drink of the wrath of the Almighty. 
For what do they care for their household after them,
   when the number of their months is cut off? 
Will any teach God knowledge,
   seeing that he judges those that are on high? 
One dies in full prosperity,
   being wholly at ease and secure, 
his loins full of milk
   and the marrow of his bones moist. 
Another dies in bitterness of soul,
   never having tasted of good. 
They lie down alike in the dust,
   and the worms cover them. 

‘Oh, I know your thoughts,
   and your schemes to wrong me. 
For you say, “Where is the house of the prince?
   Where is the tent in which the wicked lived?” 
Have you not asked those who travel the roads,
   and do you not accept their testimony, 
that the wicked are spared on the day of calamity,
   and are rescued on the day of wrath? 
Who declares their way to their face,
   and who repays them for what they have done? 
When they are carried to the grave,
   a watch is kept over their tomb. 
The clods of the valley are sweet to them;
   everyone will follow after,
   and those who went before are innumerable. 
How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?
   There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.’ 


The saint is not one who accepts suffering because he likes it, and confesses this preference before God and men in order to win a great reward. He is one who may well hate suffering as much as anybody else, but who so loves Christ, Who he does not see, that he will allow his love to be proved by any suffering. And he does this not because he thinks it is an achievement, but because the charity of Christ in his heart demands that it be done. The saint is one so attuned to the spirit and heart of Christ that he is compelled to answer the demands of love by a love that matches that of Christ. This is for him a need so deep and so personal and so exacting that it becomes his whole destiny. The more he answers the secret action of Christ’s love in his own heart, the more he comes to know that love’s inexorable demands. But the life of the Christian soul must always be a thing whole and simple and complete and incommunicable. The saints may seem to desire suffering in a universal and abstract way.  Actually, the only sufferings anyone can validly desire are those precise, particular trials that are demanded of us in the designs of the Divine for our lives. Some people are picked out to bear witness to Christ’s love in lives overwhelmed by suffering. These have proclaimed that suffering was their vocation. But that should not lead us to believe that in order to be a saint one must go out for suffering in the same way that a college athlete goes out for football. No two men have to suffer exactly the same trials in exactly the same ways. No one is ever called to suffer merely for the sake of suffering. What, after all is more personal than suffering? The awful futility of our attempts to convey the reality of our sufferings to other people, and the tragic inadequacy of human sympathy, both prove how incommunicable a thing suffering really is. Suffering, therefore, must make sense to us not as a vague universal necessity, but as something demanded by our own personal destiny. When I see my trials not as the collision of my life with a blind machine called fate but as the sacramental gift of Christ’s love, given to me by God the Father along with my identity and my very name, then I can consecrate them and myself with them to God. For then I realize that my suffering is not my own. It is the Passion of Christ, stretching out its tendrils into my life in order to bear rich clusters of grapes, making my soul dizzy with the wine of Christ’s love, and pouring that wine as strong as fire upon the whole world. (Thomas Merton; No Man is an Island)

Musical Selection


Psalm 73. TRULY God is loving unto Israel: * even unto such as are of a clean heart.
2 Nevertheless, my feet were almost gone, * my treadings had well-nigh slipt.
3 And why? I was grieved at the wicked: * I do also see the ungodly in such prosperity.
4 For they are in no peril of death; * but are lusty and strong.
5 They come in no misfortune like other folk; * neither are they plagued like other men.
6 And this is the cause that they are so holden with pride, * and cruelty covereth them as a garment.
7 Their eyes swell with fatness, * and they do even what they lust.
8 They corrupt other, and speak of wicked blasphemy; * their talking is against the Most High.
9 For they stretch forth their mouth unto the heaven, * and their tongue goeth through the world.
10 Therefore fall the people unto them, * and thereout suck they no small advantage.
11 Tush, say they, how should God perceive it? * is there knowledge in the Most High?
12 Lo, these are the ungodly, * these prosper in the world, and these have riches in possession:
13 And I said, Then have I cleansed my heart in vain, * and washed my hands in innocency.
14 All the day long have I been punished, * and chastened every morning.
15 Yea, and I had almost said even as they; * but lo, then I should have condemned the generation of thy children.
16 Then thought I to understand this; * but it was too hard for me,
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God: * then understood I the end of these men;
18 Namely, how thou dost set them in slippery places, * and castest them down, and destroyest them.
19 O how suddenly do they consume, * perish, and come to a fearful end!
20 Yea, even like as a dream when one awaketh; * so shalt thou make their image to vanish out of the city.
21 Thus my heart was grieved, * and it went even through my reins.
22 So foolish was I, and ignorant, * even as it were a beast before thee.
23 Nevertheless, I am alway by thee; * for thou hast holden me by my right hand.
24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, * and after that receive me with glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? * and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee.
26 My flesh and my heart faileth; * but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
27 For lo, they that forsake thee shall perish; * thou hast destroyed all them that are unfaithful unto thee.
28 But it is good for me to hold me fast by God, to put my trust in the Lord GOD, * and to speak of all thy works in the gates of the daughter of Sion.


Do not forsake us, Lord, in this time of penance,
but by your grace
confirm your power within us
and renew our dedication to your holy service.
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.