One of the opportunities I have as Assistant Director of Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is to record video reflections on the readings of the Scriptures proclaimed at daily Mass. I do so as part of larger group of colleagues at the Conference, along with lay and ordained leaders from around the country. I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the readings for the life of faith today and to share them here, along with the written text of the reflections. To view these video reflections for past and upcoming celebrations of the Eucharist, visit the USCCB website.
Reflections on the Word | Saturday, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year 2 | October 6, 2018
The readings today are about understanding the blessedness and true joy which comes in our encounter with God.
The reading from the book of Job brings us to the conclusion of a very long and difficult journey. The book tells the story of the suffering of an innocent man and wrestles with the difficult question of why bad things happen to good people.
Job endured losses in his life of his property, his children and then his health. His friends have, throughout this long ordeal, insisted that it was because Job must have secretly sinned against God. Yet Job, throughout the whole book, 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. He even demands that God speak to him and present his case – why does God allow the innocent to suffer? It is a remarkable challenge. Finally God does speak to him out of a whirlwind and reminds him that God alone is just and righteous.
But more importantly for Job, even though he has suffered unjustly, in today’s first reading we hear his 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. Job is humble in the face of his creator. He doesn’t degrade himself; he doesn’t retract his previous statements, but he 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 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 in many 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.
God’s presence doesn’t make hurt and pain go away like a magic wand – Job still endured the suffering and Jesus himself suffered and died – but they knew that an encounter with God leaves everything altered. Job endured the suffering and God pulled him through. Jesus gave all and God raised him from the dead.
Like the psalmist says, when God’s face “shines on us” we gain a new understanding – an encounter that cannot help but remind us that God transforms us by his presence of love at every moment of our lives.
Let us pray for a deep awareness of God’s presence in our lives today and every day.
God give you peace!