Saturday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time – Year 2 | Memorial of St. Therese of Lisieux | October 1, 2022
The first reading from the book of Job brings us to the conclusion of a very long and difficult journey.
Job endured many tragic and terrible losses in his life. His friends have, throughout this long ordeal, insisted that it was because Job must have secretly sinned against God. Yet Job, maintains his innocence in the face of the attacks of his so-called friends. He says he is righteous and does not understand why this has happened to him – and as we have followed along – we know this isn’t just bluster – its true! Job feels he has been wronged by God.
Does some of this sound familiar? I think it may be something all of us may feel from time to time in our relationship with God, especially when things happen in our lives that cause us suffering and pain. If a person of faith hasn’t had this experience in their lives, they haven’t lived long enough! It comes to us all.
Job takes a big step some of us might not though – He demands that God speak to him and present his case. He wants God to answer him directly! It is a bold challenge!
Finally God does speak to him out of a whirlwind, reminding him that God alone is righteous and just. Any human’s goodness pales in comparison to God’s infinite goodness.
And in today’s first reading we hear Job’s response to God. He acknowledges the glory of God, but also he is filled with gratitude that God would take the step of speaking to him directly. “I had heard you by hearsay before, but now I hear you face to face,” he says.” This encounter is the moment of truth in the story. While Job is humble in the face of the Creator, he also recognizes that in seeing God and having God respond in his moment of deep suffering, he can be at peace.
He regains his joy through his encounter with God.
In the Gospel, Jesus is also full of joy. Evil is being overcome with power of God. But the deeds of power the disciples do is not his focus of joy – rather he says to them to rejoice that you are in the company of God – and will be forever. Jesus rejoices in the fact that the God whom he calls his Father – the same God who spoke to Job – is gracious, and comes to people in their needs, revealing his love to them often in unexpected ways.
To be able to experience God, to encounter God and to be changed by the encounter, is, at its core, the heart of the Christian life. Everything else – the way we pray, the work we do, the way we are called to act with love and compassion for others –all comes from that experience or encounter with the loving God who is present to us always, especially in times of difficulty or distress.
How appropriate that these readings today are about understanding the blessedness and true joy which comes in our encounter with God, as it is also the Memorial of St. Therese of Lisieux, or St. Therese of the Child Jesus as she is titled on the liturgical calendar. St Therese, a French Carmelite nun, who only lived to the age of 24 in the late 19th century, was know for her humility before God, her deep devotion to the mercy of God, and her contemplative vision which helped her to transform her own many sufferings into compassion for others and a rich encounter with God which touches people even today. Like Job, she found God a source of joy in the midst of many trials and difficulties. Like Jesus, she rejoiced in the experience of God which filled her life and which, through her writings and example, she witnesses to all of us – even today.
Participating in the celebration of the Eucharist was a particular source of joy for St. Therese. Let us pray for a deep awareness of God’s presence in our lives today and every day and may we find our own joy renewed when we join in the sharing of Christ’s body and blood given for the life of our world.
God give you peace!