Immersed in Christ: September 30, 2020
Wednesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
also, Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
The Responsorial is a cry of confused but persevering hope from one who feels rejected by God: “Let my prayer come before you, Lord” (Psalm 88).
Job’s friends said (chapter 4) he was being punished for his sins: “God doesn’t allow the innocent to suffer, so repent and God will restore your well-being.” Job insisted, “I have not transgressed the commands of the Holy One.” His friends replied (chapter 8), that God is fair. If Job is innocent and appeals to him, God will take away his pain.
Job doesn’t buy that. He admits, Job 9: 1-16, that no one can be “justified before God” or win an argument with him. “Even though I were right, I could not answer him.” But he adds that it doesn’t make any difference anyway: “If I appealed to him… I could not believe he would hearken to my words!… It is all one. God destroys both the innocent and the wicked…. I loathe my life.”
Those who are suffering terrible things even though they have been living basically good lives might echo Job (chapter 12-14): “I will defend my conduct before God…. What are my faults and sins? Why do you [God] hide your face and consider me your enemy?”
God gives his answer at the end of the book. But as stewards of his kingship we are called to give an answer now — by doing all we can in the name of God to eliminate suffering from the earth. God does not send suffering to punish sin; but all suffering is in some way traceable to the free choices of countless individuals. Over centuries sins have converted both the planet and every human culture into environments partly detrimental to human life on earth. Every human act puts something into the environment that affects us all for better or worse. To work for the reign of God is to counteract bad choices by choices that repair. We work for change as we pray: “Let my prayer come before you, Lord.”
In Luke 9: 57-62 Jesus makes us face our priorities! We might complain about conditions in this world – the abuses we see in business and political life, in education and environmental management — and say we want to do something about it. But Jesus challenges us: “How much are you willing to sacrifice in order to work for what you believe in?” To those who say, “I want to get involved but…” he answers, “Will you give up the security of a safe place to sleep at night? The birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. Will you break with family expectations and social customs, leave the dead to bury their own dead?” How much are we ourselves willing to put on the line when we say to God, “Let my prayer come before you, Lord”?
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Strive first for the reign of God and justice.