26th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II

In today’s First Reading the Lord responds to Job’s multiple chapters of lament and disputation with his friends over why such suffering befell him. Wisdom encompasses a great deal of knowledge, and one of the characteristics of ancient wisdom literature in general are great lists surveying the immensity of the natural world. The Lord is now questioning Job about how much he really knows, as opposed to how much he thinks he knows. Job, again showing his humility and respect for the Lord, knows he won’t win any debates with God.

In the face of suffering our distress is compounded by how little we ever truly know about the why. When our suffering is due to evil we’re reminded that iniquity is a mystery; sometimes we ask why and there is no answer. When faced with any mystery we’re dismayed by how little we truly know, and suffering is one of the greatest mysteries of all, but it is nothing compared to the mystery of God.

Our Lord knows the answer to all of life’s mysteries and has experienced suffering in a way most of us cannot even imagine. In difficult moments let’s turn to him for consolation and strength. He may not give us all the answers we want, but he will accompany us in every leg of our journey.

Readings: Job 38:1, 12–21, 40:3–5; Psalm 139:1–3, 7–10, 13–14b; Luke 10:13–16. See also 15th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

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26th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Job shows the humility of acknowledging that the Lord is the judge of everything in matters of justice. This is wisdom, the fear of the Lord, understood to be respect, something Job has been showing him despite the tragedy he has suffered, recalled last Monday, along with health problems in the chapters that followed.

In the chapters leading up to today’s excerpt from Job his friends have been trying to convince him that his children (or he himself) must be guilty if Job has been punished in this way by the Lord. He’s still struggling with why his misfortune has happened when, in his eyes, he has done nothing wrong. He knows he cannot declare that the Lord is unjust, because it is impossible for the Lord to be unjust.

The Lord is often accused of injustice by those who are suffering, but that goes against who and what the he is. He always has the best of intentions and always has a perfect and accurate knowledge of the “facts” in the case. Job knows this, and sometimes we have to remind ourselves of it too. Let’s ask Our Lord for the grace to help us in our trials, not put him on trial when things don’t go our way.

Readings: Job 9:1–12, 14–16; Psalm 88:10bc–15; Luke 9:57–62. See also 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II13th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle C, 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year II, and 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday.

26th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

In today’s Gospel Our Lord has to remind James and John, after a Samaritan village disrespected Our Lord and his disciples, that he wants salvation, not fulmination. The Old Testament has some rousing accounts of fulmination; Elijah called down fire on soldiers who’d come to him with attitude (see 2 Kings 1:10-12). James and John obviously wanted to relive the “glory days” of prophetism where the wicked were blown away, but that’s just a remnant of a mentality of the Messiah as someone who is coming to “clean house.”

It’s the Old Testament for a reason. You don’t bring Good News by calling down divine wrath. You bring Good News by announcing that liberation from sin is at hand for those who want it. The Samaritans today didn’t need further punishment; turning their back on the Gospel was worse than fulmination. They didn’t turn their back on Our Lord because he was the Messiah, but because they were at enmity with Jews in general. The results are the same: the grace of God passed them by.

Our charity, even when it is slighted, can open the door to grace for a soul. Let’s take Our Lord’s lesson to heart today and focus more on sharing the Good News and less on fulmination. Little by little that charity can win over even the most hardened soul.

Readings: Job 3:1–3, 11–17, 20–23; Psalm 88:2–8; Luke 9:51–56.

26th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II

The beginning of the book of Job, today’s First Reading, throws a bucket of cold water in the face of anyone who even has the most minimal sense of entitlement, and also touches on the biggest issue for which people take the Lord to task: why does he allow evil in the world? The book of Job is considered part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament because it wrestles with the question of why bad things happen to good people. Job struggles with this throughout the book.

Blaming God for every bad thing that happens is nothing new. In today’s First Reading the Lord is praising Job’s virtue and has great faith in him. “Satan” in this story is not the fallen angel, since he still has communion with God and serves him; rather, Satan is a transliteration of a Hebrew word for “adversary,” someone in a court of law who tries to legally refute another’s claim. In this story, Satan is refuting Job’s virtue: is he virtuous just because he is comfortable and rich? Job’s virtue is on trial.

Job experiences a deluge of misfortune: he suffers from war, violence, and “natural” disaster costing him his loved ones and his wealth. Yet Job does not claim to be entitled to anything: “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!” Job’s virtue shines in the face of adversity. Our Lord permits trials, and sometimes even sends them, in order to make our virtue shine. He believes in us. He let himself be nailed on the Cross to prove that exact point.

Whatever trials or adversity we currently face, let’s not play the blame game, or play the entitlement card, or give up. Let’s prove Our Lord’s faith in us is well founded by facing our trials with virtue.

Readings: Job 1:6–22; Psalm 17:1b–d, 2–3, 6–7; Luke 9:46–50. See also 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday,  25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B and 19th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Today’s readings are an invitation that go far beyond the fashionable pastime of bashing on the rich in the face of the world’s needs and problems. The rich man in today’s Gospel converted too late, but his late conversion should be a lesson for us to consider that one day we may too hear those dreaded words, “too little, too late.” It doesn’t take a fortune to be complacent.

There may be people in the world who live in plush mansions with everything they could want, but the rich are not the only people in society today endangered by abundance. There are lots of couch potatoes out there who are parked on their sofas when there is something they can do to help make the world a better place. The poor are not just at the gates of mansions; they’re in our towns and neighborhoods. It is our society that runs the risk of falling apart. Each of us can take inventory of the plenty with which the Lord has blessed us and ask him how we can use that plenty in a way pleasing to him. A surplus of time, talent, or treasure should never stay a surplus for long, otherwise we run the risk of drowning in our abundance due to our complacency and apathy.

Let’s ask Our Lord today to give us the nudge to get off our sofas and help shape society for the better.

Readings: Amos 6:1a, 4–7; Psalm 146:7–10; 1 Timothy 6:11–16; Luke 16:19–31. See also 2nd Week of Lent, Thursday.