Lent with the Book of Job (Ch 25)
March 18, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Chapter 25 (Saturday of the Third Week of Lent)

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered: 
‘Dominion and fear are with God;
   he makes peace in his high heaven. 
Is there any number to his armies?
   Upon whom does his light not arise? 
How then can a mortal be righteous before God?
   How can one born of woman be pure? 
If even the moon is not bright
   and the stars are not pure in his sight, 
how much less a mortal, who is a maggot,
   and a human being, who is a worm!’ 


When one says that Christ by his mission strikes at evil at its very roots, we have in mind not only evil and definitive, eschatological suffering (so that man “should not perish, but have eternal life”), but also—at least indirectly toil and suffering in their temporal and historical dimension. For evil remains bound to sin and death. And even if we must use great caution in judging man’s suffering as a consequence of concrete sins (this is shown precisely by the example of the just man Job), nevertheless suffering cannot be divorced from the sin of the beginnings, from what Saint John calls “the sin of the world”, from the sinful background of the personal actions and social processes in human history. Though it is not licit to apply here the narrow criterion of direct dependance (as Job’s three friends did), it is equally true that one cannot reject the criterion that, at the basis of human suffering, there is a complex involvement with sin.

Christ suffers voluntarily and suffers innocently. With his suffering he accepts that question which—posed by people many times—has been expressed, in a certain sense, in a radical way by the Book of Job. Christ, however, not only carries with himself the same question (and this in an even more radical way, for he is not only a man like Job but the only-begotten Son of God), but he also carries the greatest possible answer to this question. One can say that this answer emerges from the very matter of which the question is made up. Christ gives the answer to the question about suffering and the meaning of suffering not only by his teaching, that is by the Good News, but most of all by his own suffering, which is integrated with this teaching of the Good News in an organic and indissoluble way. And this is the final, definitive word of this teaching: “the word of the Cross”, as Saint Paul one day will say.

One can say that with the Passion of Christ all human suffering has found itself in a new situation. And it is as though Job has foreseen this when he said: “I know that my Redeemer lives …”, and as though he had directed towards it his own suffering, which without the Redemption could not have revealed to him the fullness of its meaning.

In the Cross of Christ not only is the Redemption accomplished through suffering, but also human suffering itself has been redeemed,. Christ, – without any fault of his own – took on himself “the total evil of sin”. The experience of this evil determined the incomparable extent of Christ’s suffering, which became the price of the Redemption. The Song of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah speaks of this. In later times, the witnesses of the New Covenant, sealed in the Blood of Christ, will speak of this.

It is he himself who acts at the heart of human sufferings through his Spirit of truth, through the consoling Spirit. It is he who transforms, in a certain sense, the very substance of the spiritual life, indicating for the person who suffers a place close to himself. It is he—as the interior Master and Guide—who reveals to the suffering brother and sister this wonderful interchange, situated at the very heart of the mystery of the Redemption. Suffering is, in itself, an experience of evil. But Christ has made suffering the firmest basis of the definitive good, namely the good of eternal salvation. By his suffering on the Cross, Christ reached the very roots of evil, of sin and death. He conquered the author of evil, Satan, and his permanent rebellion against the Creator. To the suffering brother or sister Christ discloses and gradually reveals the horizons of the Kingdom of God: the horizons of a world converted to the Creator, of a world free from sin, a world being built on the saving power of love. And slowly but effectively, Christ leads into this world, into this Kingdom of the Father, suffering man, in a certain sense through the very heart of his suffering. For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by a grace from outside, but from within. And Christ through his own salvific suffering is very much present in every human suffering, and can act from within that suffering by the powers of his Spirit of truth, his consoling Spirit. (Pope St. John Paul II; Salvifici doloris)

Musical Selection

Who could believe what we have heard,
and to whom has the power of been revealed?

Like a young plant he grew before us, like a root in desert ground,
Without beauty to attract our eyes, without majesty to be found.
A man of constant sorrows, knowing the taste of pain;
A man to make us hide our eyes - we took no account of him.

Ours were the sufferings he carried, ours the sorrows he bore,
But we thought of him as punished, struck by God, brought low.
Yet he was pierced through for our sins, crushed by the weight
Of our faults - on him lies a burden that brings us peace.
By his wounds we are healed.

By oppression and law he was taken. Would anyone plead his cause?
He was torn away from the living, struck down in death for our faults.
They gave him a grave with the wicked, they gave him a tomb with the rich.
Though he'd done no wrong, they accused him;
though innocent, took his life.

YHWH's been please to crush him, crush him with suffering and pain.
If he offers his life in atonement, He'll see his kindred again.
He will have life forever, and through him God's wish will be done.
His soul's anguish completed,
He'll know the joy of God's beloved one. 


Grant, O Lord,
that as we celebrate with joy this season of Lent
we may enter more deeply into the paschal mystery
and come to enjoy the fullness of its riches.
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.