Sunday, September 25, 2016

Reflections for the 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Poor Job

You just have to feel sorry for Job. It's one thing after another for the poor fellow. First the oxen and donkeys get carried off in raid. Then the sheep are struck by lightning (that must have been some lightning!). Then the camels are kidnapped. Finally, and worst of all, Job's sons and daughters all die when the oldest brother's house collapses in a windstorm.

Think for a moment what you might have done if you were in similar circumstances. How would you have responded?

Satan thought that Job would blaspheme God to His face. God knew otherwise. He knew that Job was faithful and trusting. So He allowed these things to happen in order to prove Job's mettle. This may seem a little cruel on God's part. But we must remember that God needs to be first in our lives before everything and even everybody. That's what God is trying to show here.

And Job proves God right. Look at his response to all these calamities:

“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!”

Far from cursing or blaspheming, Job actually blesses God. This is a statement of great faith. Job realize that God owes Him nothing, and he trusts that God has a reason for whatever He allows to happen, no matter how bad it seems.

Could you make a statement like this in your darkest moments? If not (or even if so), spend some time today praying for God's grace to strength your trust and enable you to bless God in every situation, even the worst ones.

Tuesday – Fire from Heaven

James and John were horribly miffed. How dare that Samaritan town dare to refuse welcome to Jesus? Those people deserved to be punished, they decided. So they went to Jesus with a suggestion: “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” That would show those Samaritans.

Did Jesus roll His eyes and groan? Had these fellows learned nothing? Sigh...

Jesus turned and rebuked James and John. The Gospel doesn't record what He said. We can imagine that there may have words about loving enemies and controlling one's temper. In any case, James and John were probably pretty sheepish by the end.

Perhaps we, too, should be a little sheepish as we think back on our own responses to people who oppose us. If so, it's time to ask Jesus' pardon and move with Him onto the "next village" or the next stage in our lives.

Wednesday – God's Transcendence

Today Job, in the midst of his great suffering, reflects on God's transcendence. God is the One Who commands all of creation. He can shake the mountains and make them fall. He can make the sun and stars fail to rise. He does marvelous things beyond our imagining. He is simply all-power and all-wise.

Who, therefore, Job asks, can contend with God? Who dares to question Him? Who can stand before Him? Who can answer His demands? Job even wonders if the mighty God could answer his prayers.

Here, however, Job makes a mistake. In his reflection upon God's transcendence, he forgets about God's immanence. The God of the universe does indeed answer our prayers. He does draw near to us, for He loves us. So we, along with Job, need to learn how to balance our perception of God's transcendence with our faith in His loving immanence.

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