“What is urgent is the evangelization of a world that not only does not know the basic aspects of Christian dogma, but in great part has lost even the memory of the cultural elements of Christianity.”

                          Pope St. John Paul II


Boston Catholic Journal

“I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.”

                          Pope Benedict XVI

 

Suggested Reading:


The Problem
of Evil

The Problem of Evil: Exonerating God

Exonerating God


CCD

CCD: Crisis in Catholic Doctrine

Crisis in
Catholic Doctrine:

the Grave State of Religious Education in America


Boston Catholic Journal

Write us:

editor@boston-catholic-journal.com

Boston Catholic Journal
PO Box 80171
Stoneham, MA 02180 US
 


 


 

MISFORTUNE


and what we should learn from the trials of Job
 

“Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord. In all these things Job sinned not by his lips, nor spoke he any foolish thing against God.”   (Job 1.21-22)

 

Job lost everything

Everything: children, house, health, good name, property ... you name it, and Job lost it. Covered with boils from “the 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: “Curse 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.

Finally, Job himself uttered what we all have uttered at one time or another in our lives:
“Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?” In other words, would that his nakedness had never been clothed in honor and glory — for then he would not know the pain of losing what he never had.

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 Job’s house, and tempted Job to despair ... to give up on God.

And yet ... incredibly,
“in all these things Job sinned not.” Job was blameless before God.
 

We know Job.

We have been Job ... in one form or another at some point, perhaps at many points, in our lives.

We have been devastated, deprived of what we esteemed good, lost our health, our jobs, our dignity, security ... and, for great sorrow, even our families.

How do we console ourselves? Most often, as Job’s friends had consoled him, we tell ourselves that our misfortune is, in some incomprehensible sense, just ... that we are suffering the rigors of an exacting and ineluctable justice that we had somehow eluded for sins or crimes we no longer remember ... from which we had inexplicably managed to escape, and which have finally caught up with us and demanded tribute.

However, the fact of the matter is that — at least in the case of Job — Job’s misfortunes were not just. There was no proportion between what he suffered and what he had done — indeed, Job had done nothing but good!

Job’s misfortunes were not God’s “payback”. And neither are ours.

Even were 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.

Yes, God is just. But it was not Job — and it is not us — it is God Himself who paid the price of justice in the shattered humanity of Christ.
 

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”.

Love, mercy, goodness, justice are not merely “parts” of God's Being — rather, His being is a “Being-good” “Being-loving” “Being-merciful” ... and “Being-just”. 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 a “just" 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, “the Just One.” *
 

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?

Ask yourself from the depths of the truthfulness of your being:  have you worked harder, more diligently, more desperately, more deservingly, than the poverty stricken farmer in sub-Sahara Africa? Why is he not adorned as you? Why is his plate empty? Because you are “more just” and these things are your “more justly” yours (your “due” in justice?) — but somehow not his?

If you posses power, wealth, esteem, glory, in this world, do not congratulate yourself on your diligence, your
“uncanny” insight, your “good luck” and success. Given the blandishment of the evil one — the “father of lies” — which we find in the temptation of Christ,  it is, I suggest, far more appropriate to tremble.

Behold Job. And also behold Christ — Christ Who was also tempted by that same evil one who, in his empty promise, is frightfully revealing
:

“And the devil led Him into a high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time; and he said to Him: To thee will I give all this power, and the glory of them; for to me they are delivered, and to whom I will, I give them.”  (Saint Luke 4.5-6)

Ask yourself 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 God’s favor, a token of  His predilection: if you are “just” and “Godly", God will prosper you.

Misfortune and suffering, then, are  — much in line with the reasoning of Job’s “consolers” — afflictions from God. They are the penalty — meted out by God — for “injustice” and “ungodliness”. Material prosperity, on the other hand, together with wealth and power — these are God's blessings for the “just”. It is, in a word, their “reward” ... their “due” in all justice.

But it was not Saint Paul’s ...  nor the “reward” due in “justice” to the other Apostles:

“Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode; And we labour, working with our own hands: we are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and we suffer it. We are blasphemed, and we entreat; we are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all even until now” (1 Cor. 4.10-13)

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 begin with.

Remember, who precisely was it who had said that wealth, material prosperity, and power was his to give? And who was it that took it away from Job – that was his to give and his to take?

Misfortunes are not from God. Nor are they the penalty of your sins, for you would then have nothing (given your countless sins and the justice that would be exacted for each.)

Misfortunes, suffering, want, pain, destitution, illness, are not lofty, if cruel, tributes to justice! They are evils! Evils out of which God ever brings good ... as He did with Job who,
“in all these things ... sinned not.”

Misfortune is not of your own making — still less is it from God. Saint Paul understood this. You must also:

“For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.”   (Ephesians 6.12)

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.

_____________________________________________________

Acts 7.52

 

Editor
Boston Catholic Journal

   Printable PDF Version

 

Boston Catholic Journal - Nihil autem nisi Jesu - Nothing except Jesus
 

 

 



Search the Boston Catholic Journal


FREE CATHOLIC
AUDIO
LIBRARY


Free Catholic Audio Library
Download Catholic Prayers
and more


The Little Office

The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary

of the
Blessed Virgin Mary


Novena to St Jude

 Novena to St Jude Printable 4-fold with one piece of paper
Printable Booklet
on 1 sheet
of paper, 4-fold, free


With Mary in the Rose Garden
Mary Immaculate, Mother of God
Reflections on the Rosary
with a Poor Clare Nun and Padre Pio


The Baltimore Catechism

Discover what the Church really teaches
Download the PDF

Thoughts in Passing about our Holy Catholic Faith

Thoughts in Passing
on our Life in Faith


The Practice of the Presence of God

by
 Brother Lawrence

Audio Files


Father Michael Schmitz

Father Mike Schmitz — Homilies

A Passion for Preaching


Pope Saint Pius X
Pray for us

Pope St. Pius X Pray for us

“I shall spare myself neither care nor labor nor vigils for the salvation of souls”

 

 

             Totally Faithful to the Sacred Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Holy See in Rome

 “Scio opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum” 
“I know your works ... that you have but little power, and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name.” (Apocalypse 3.8)


 

Copyright © 2004 - 2017 Boston Catholic Journal. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise stated, permission is granted by the Boston Catholic Journal for the copying and distribution of the articles and audio files under the following conditions:
No additions, deletions, or changes are to be made to the text or audio files in any way, and the copies may not be sold for a profit. In the reproduction, in any format of any image, graphic, text, or audio file, attribution must be given to the Boston Catholic Journal.