October 05, 2012

Book of Job

Good Msgr. Pope post on the problem of suffering:
I am part of a bigger plan. I have a place on a canvas which has both light and darkness that exist in a kind of interplay that, for his own purposes, God permits.

“Enjoy” the book of Job. There is a kind of paradoxical serenity that comes to us from realizing that we see and know very little. In letting God be God, and letting go of our passion to control, and understand everything, there comes a kind of serenity.

The mysterious suffering that exists before us, is a very great mystery indeed. But it is not the only mystery. For if we are to ask why there is suffering, why is there evil? then we must also ask: Why is there love, why is there beauty, why is there justice, and why do we yearn for these?

Somehow, we know that we cannot answer these questions. If we cannot answer why there is beauty and goodness or truth, and why God has put them into our heart, then how should we expect to be answer the question, “Why is there evil, why is there suffering?”

Leave it to God. Now, he is not giving simple answers. Instead, he is reminding us that we know not whereof we speak.
From the latest Word Among Us:
In his apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris, Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote that the Book of Job “is not the last word on this subject… . In a certain way it is a foretelling of the Passion of Christ.” Jesus, though innocent, endured bitter suffering— including betrayal by close friends. And in his suffering, he not only redeemed us; he revealed the redemptive power implicit in all hardship and pain. To explain this, papal preacher Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa asked: “What do you do to reassure someone that a par­ticular drink contains no poison? You drink it yourself first, in front of him. This is what God has done for humanity: he has drunk the bitter cup of the passion… . At the bot­tom of the chalice, there must be a pearl. We know the name of that pearl: resurrection!”

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In chapter 9 Job sounds passive-aggressive. He sounds like he's flattering God but has this undercurrent of aggravation towards Him. He says something like "who am I to question God?" while meaning, "hey this is not a fair fight." The homilist said that the people of that time didn't understand that sickness, earthquakes, plagues, and even rain were NOT directly from God but are "secondary actors". God isn't shifting the tectonic plates, nature is doing that. Nature was created by God but not everything that happens to us is directly done by God.

But one can't help but feel sorry for the people of Job's time then since they were laboring under this delusion that everything bad that happened was directly from God and was thus his judgment on them. You want to say, "why didn't God tell them that?" God is content to let us figure things out. He is tremendously big on giving over power to his creatures, given that we have the power to kill each other, including his own Son.

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Lately I've been impressed by how from so many different sources I've been hearing about the "new evanglization". Sherry W's book "Forming Intentional Disciples", N.T. Wright's, the Liturgy of the Hours, the "Year of Faith", Catholic bloggers.... It seems we've reached a tipping point, as if God is trying to tell us that now evangelization is not optional. Certainly the trajectory is not good, although that's to look at it in too detached a fashion. It's not a numbers game given that the good shepherd would leave the 99 for the sake of the one.

I also think back to an argument I had with a friend and how I appealed to authority but did so in a needlessly authoritarian way. I said after he railed against priests, "Your beef is with Jesus. He's the one who left humans in charge." My argument wasn't effective in part because only love is persuasive. It's like I was saying that Jesus had outsourced his job when, of course, Jesus said he would be with us always. That he would send his Spirit and that we would be animated by that Spirit. I was the one who lacked faith. What Christ would say is not "hey Jim (not his real name) you should be getting over your past hurts by now," but "hey Jim I have a bottomless well of unconditional love for you." Love is patient, love is kind, as St. Paul wrote. If six years ago Ron was telling me exactly the same stories with exactly the same venom that only corroborates his need for grace and a sense of God's love. The Eucharistic will bring him back, not arguing that church is Christ's plan.

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