First reading: Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Ps. 34:1-8 (19-22) Alternate: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Ps. 126; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52
In the end Job’s fortune is restored. He has sons and daughters, livestock and cash, lengthening of days equaling 140 years. God comes to him in wonder, a whirlwind and a voice exceeding all human knowledge. Who is Job to question? “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me” (42:3).
And yet we love this righteous man precisely because he says — however obsequious his soul may be in the end — “Listen and I will speak. I will interrogate you. Respond to me” (42:4). Encountering God through sight, Job repents in dust and ashes. He is the argument of every person consigned to drink the bitter cup of sorrow. God is the mystery sustaining and permeating all creation before whom we bring “words without knowledge” (38:2).
It is right and a good and joyful thing always and everywhere to give thanks to you. But is it always a joyful thing? “I will bless the Lord at all times” (Ps. 34:1). We know, however, from dear Job that “many are the tribulations of the just” (34:19).
The prophet Jeremiah describes the awaited return of God’s exiled people. Through the prophet, the Lord speaks: “Sing with joy for Jacob, cry to the chief of the nations; sound, sing, and say, ‘Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel” (31:7). “I will gather them from the ends of the earth, among whom will be the blind and lame, those with child and those in labor” (31:8). The psalmist provides a coordinating thought: “They went out weeping, carrying the seed for sowing; returning, however, they return in exaltation carrying their sheaves” (Ps. 126:6).
Our Old Testament meditation confirms what we know. Life is suffering. Our meditation suggests a truth to which we must return again and again if we are to live in hope. God is with us.
Our sufferings and our bitter argument against the apparent silence of God are deeply heard and deeply felt by the One who bears them. The wounds are still in place. Priested forever, Jesus stands before the Father. There he continuously says everything we have ever said. The Father’s silence is the most attentive listening (Hebrews). You may approach God through him “for all time.”
Consider one example, one man’s bitter pain and his journey to a secret heaven. Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, sits where he ought to sit, by the side of the road. He is blind, begging, and vested to evoke pity. He voices a droning chant: Have mercy on me. All he wants is daily bread. Hearing that Jesus is coming, he begins to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Beware all disciples who love to protect their Savior from impertinent supplications. Bartimaeus will not be silenced. He cries more loudly. Jesus, standing in the street, commands Bartimaeus to be called.
Do you know what faith is? According to our story, faith is throwing off the old cloak, jumping to Jesus, saying what you want. The last and best miracle is this: sequebatur eum in via (he was following him in the way).
Closing our Bibles, we find the same old world. But a voice speaks. Inwardly, the Spirit bears witness to our spirit that we are sons and daughter of God. Bearing whatever wounds we must, we are invited to throw off the old life and get into the flow of life-giving grace.
Look It Up
Read Mark 10:46-52. Steps to salvation.
Think About It
Theodicy is the luxury of the ponderous and privileged. People who have really suffered need help, hope, and consolation.