Lent with the Book of Job (Ch 35)
March 28, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.



Chapter 35 (Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent)

Elihu continued and said: 
‘Do you think this to be just?
   You say, “I am in the right before God.” 
If you ask, “What advantage have I?
   How am I better off than if I had sinned?” 
I will answer you
   and your friends with you. 
Look at the heavens and see;
   observe the clouds, which are higher than you. 
If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him?
   And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him? 
If you are righteous, what do you give to him;
   or what does he receive from your hand? 
Your wickedness affects others like you,
   and your righteousness, other human beings. 

‘Because of the multitude of oppressions people cry out;
   they call for help because of the arm of the mighty. 
But no one says, “Where is God my Maker,
   who gives strength in the night, 
who teaches us more than the animals of the earth,
   and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?” 
There they cry out, but he does not answer,
   because of the pride of evildoers. 
Surely God does not hear an empty cry,
   nor does the Almighty regard it. 
How much less when you say that you do not see him,
   that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him! 
And now, because his anger does not punish,
   and he does not greatly heed transgression, 
Job opens his mouth in empty talk,
   he multiplies words without knowledge.’ 


The story of Job is both the summit and also the dead end of the Hebrew Scriptures. Humanity has never known what to do with unjust suffering—which is our universal experience on this earth—until Jesus gives his seismic shift of an answer. One could say that the story of Jesus is the same story as Job, who says, “I know that I have a Living Defender, and he will raise me up at last, will set me close to him, and from my flesh I shall look on God” (Job 19:25-26). This is Jesus’ exact faith affirmation on the cross when he first says, “Why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34), followed by, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34), and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Jesus is the new Job, but with a way out and a way through.

Pain teaches a most counterintuitive thing: we must go down before we even know what up is. In terms of the ego, most religions teach in some way that all must “die before they die.” Suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to both destabilize and reveal our arrogance, our separateness, and our lack of compassion. I define suffering very simply as “whenever you are not in control.” Suffering is the most effective way whereby humans learn to trust, allow, and give up control to Another Source. I wish there were a different answer, but Jesus reveals on the cross both the path and the price of full transformation into the divine.

When religion cannot find a meaning for human suffering, human beings far too often become cynical, bitter, negative, and blaming. Healthy religion, almost without realizing it, shows us what to do with our pain, with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably give up on life and humanity. I am afraid there are bitter and blaming people everywhere, both inside and outside of the church. As they go through life, the hurts, disappointments, betrayals, abandonments, and the burden of their own sinfulness and brokenness all pile up, and they do not know how to deal with all this negativity. This is what we need to be “saved” from.

If there isn’t some way to find some deeper meaning to our suffering, to find that God is somehow in it, and can even use it for good, we will normally close up and close down. The natural movement of the small self or ego is to protect itself so as not to be hurt again. As I shared last week, neuroscience now shows us that we attach to negativity “like Velcro” unless we intentionally develop another neural path like forgiveness or letting go.

Mature religion is about transforming history and individuals so that we don’t keep handing the pain on to the next generation. For Christians, we learn to identify our own wounds with the wounding of Jesus and the sufferings of the universal Body of Christ (see Philippians 3:10-11), which is Deep Meaning that always feeds the soul.  We can then see our own suffering as a voluntary participation in the one Great Sadness of God (Colossians 1:24). Within this meaningful worldview, we can build something new, good, and forever original, while neither playing the victim nor making victims of others. We can be free conduits of grace into the world. (Richard Rohr; Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality)

Musical Selection

In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet God leads His dear children along Where the water's cool flow bathes the weary one's feet God leads His dear children along
Some through the waters, some through the flood Some through the fire, but all through the blood Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song In the night season and all the day long 
Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright God leads His dear children along Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night God leads His dear children along

Away from the mire, and away from the clay God leads His dear children along Away up in glory, eternity's day God leads His dear children along


God of mercy and compassion,
grant that your household, the Church,
may persevere in obeying your will,
so that in our own day
those who offer you true service
may grow in number and holiness.
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.