Job lost everything
house, health, good name, property ... you name it, and Job lost
it. Covered with boils from
sole of his foot to the crown of his head,
he sat upon the ashes he poured over his head and scraped himself
with a potsherd. Even his wife reviled him:
God and die.
Three friends came,
barely recognizing Job, and sat a week with him in silence. They
then proceeded to
console Job ... by convicting him of his sins
... sins he never committed.
But God had, ... made a fence for him, and his house, and all his substance round about, blessed the works of his hands, and his possession hath increased on the earth? (Job 1.10)
God prospered Job.
The evil one,
knowing this, tore down the hedge, devastated Jobs house, and
tempted Job to despair ... to give up on God.
We know Job.
been Job ... in one form or another at some point, perhaps
at many points, in our lives.
Jobs misfortunes were not Gods payback. And neither are ours.
justice demanded of us for our sins and unlike Job, our own sins
are many we can never make adequate restitution, never pay reparation,
for we are too poor. We had squandered that patrimony of grace which
had been given our First Parents in justice, and we forfeited it
just as they did even after Baptism washed us of that
Original Sin, that primal effrontery through which our patrimony
became our poverty! Only what is without sin can cancel sin.
And that justice has already been rendered through Jesus
Christ on the Cross.
Rendering Justice to God
God did not and He does not exact the restitution of justice from us. We do not possess the tribute, the wherewithal and we are fools, or deceived, if we believe that we can render justice to God. Only God can render justice to God. Why? Because the plenitude of justice that is God and that is due God is infinite because God Himself is infinite. His justice like His love, goodness, and mercy is the perpetual act of His being: it is, as it were, the very fabric of His Being: a Being-good, a Being-loving, a Being-merciful ... and a Being-just.
goodness, justice are not merely
of God's Being rather, His being is a
These infinite and eternal acts (the
acts of being: a-being-loving, a-being-good, a-being-just)
do not simply coincide with His Being as something extraneous
to it they constitute His Being! To
sin against justice, then, is to sin against the infinite justice
of God Who alone is a Being-just ... and note merely
being. How, then, can finite man make infinite restitution?
We cannot. Only Christ, being God, could on the Cross. That is
why Jesus is called,
So what of Job? What of us?
We came into
this world with nothing. We will leave it with nothing. We think
that we have worked for, earned, all the good things we
enjoy, and reckon the day they may be taken from us injustice.
Injustice was never done us, for we never merited, deserved,
any of these things. What, then, of all our hard work and sweat?
soberly: whence your prosperity, your power, your wealth?
From whom, and to what end? And at the cost of whose
dignity and through the poverty of how many did you acquire it?
Prosperity, many Protestants hold, is a sign of Gods
favor, a token of His predilection: if you are
God will prosper you.
But it was not Saint Pauls ... nor the reward due in justice to the other Apostles:
This was the insidious trap set for Job by the devil through his consolers ... and by our own self-recrimination in the face of misfortune. We are confronted with misfortune. Who is to blame? With incredible subtlety, the devils suggests that Either we are guilty or God is! If we are not guilty for this misfortune, then God is. If God is not, then we are. But neither is the case!
In other words, Job brought it unknowingly upon himself and God (not the devil, mind you ...) was perfectly willing to be complicit in this injustice by punishing Job for what he did not do! What is more, He punished Job by unjustly taking away what was his. It was a masterpiece of illusion! Diabolically brilliant! Job was tempted by the devil to despair in having "unjustly" lost all that was not his in justice to begin with!
In a supreme
irony, Christ was tempted by the same devil to idolatry through
an empty promise to give Him what was already His to
Misfortune is not of your own making still less is it from God. Saint Paul understood this. You must also:
Let us see misfortune for what it is and not for what the father of lies would entice us to believe. Evil is from the evil one, endlessly contending with the ever redemptive love of God lifting us up from the squalor of misery through the arduous path to holiness, calling us from that relentless malice that would pull us down to despair.