Sun, 27 September 2020
(Job 1:6-22; Ps.17:1-3,6-7; Lk.9:46-50)
“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked I shall go back again.”
In the beginning and in the end, we have nothing: and so should be our attitude toward all things we are given – that they are not our own, that we do not possess them… that they shall pass from us unto eternity again. As shall we all.
In our first reading we begin to hear of Satan’s temptation of Job, of whom the Lord’s own words witness: “There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.” But Satan in his jealousy responds, “Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?” and recounts all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on His “servant.” The adversarial angel then wins from God permission to tempt Job by removing all his blessings.
And the persecution is strong. All in a day Job loses all his multitude of livestock, his servants, and his children. Four messengers come, each with catastrophic news, each the sole survivor of the tragedy of which they speak, and each following the previous “while he was yet speaking.” In a moment all but his life is taken from Job. But Job proves God’s assessment of his character true by proclaiming, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” thus properly putting all things in God’s hands, and praising His glory even in such tragedy. We are told, “In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.” He is as the child Jesus sits beside Himself in our gospel today.
Satan has failed in his effort to get Job to curse God; he will not do so even at his wife’s prompting. But Job, so Christlike in his suffering the abandonment God’s Servant knows so fully upon the cross, shall fall short of the Christ in one respect: this innocent child will not be able to keep from decrying his state or withstand the accusations of others that he must be guilty of sin. He will not be able to suffer in silence, not opening his mouth to defend himself (taking this unwarranted persecution upon himself to redeem others, as Jesus has done) but will declare his “just suit” to the Lord, begging Him to “attend to [his] outcry,” saying with David in our psalm: “Hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.” He shall not be able to keep from stating his innocence, from saying, “Though you test my heart, searching it in the night, though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.” And in this way Satan shall break him; in this manner he shall fall short of the perfect humility of Christ. (Though the Lord shall justify and reward his faithful servant in the end.)
Brothers and sisters, do not act with jealousy, as even the disciples seem to today in trying to stop one “not of [their] company” from healing in Jesus’ name. Do not even think among yourselves of who is the greatest. This is an abomination before God. Have the attitude of Job toward all things – that they are but gifts from the Lord and that we are nothing in ourselves. Then you will be like His little child and so know His blessings forever.
O LORD, naked we came forth
from our mother’s womb,
and naked we shall go back again –
our lives are in your hands.
YHWH, let us be as an innocent child sitting patiently at the side of your only Son. Though the foe come to test our hearts, by your grace let us prove ourselves worthy of your blessings. Let us never sin against you in word or in deed but place all things in your holy hands and accept whatever befalls us.
O LORD, let us never be jealous or proud; let us never imitate the sin of Satan, who would see your children falter, who would strike any against whom his envy might rise. Let us but seek to serve you in all humility and so know the great joy of being as your Son. From all wicked thoughts release our souls that we might walk with you.
Hear our prayer for mercy, LORD; though we be not perfect, you can make us so. Let it be our sole desire to be pure before you, that we shall never know your wrath or be cast from your sight. Take all things from us, but only spare our life. Please never leave our side.