Answering his heart not his questions – Friday, 26th Week in ordinary time – Job 38:1, 12-21, 40:3-5
Job’s three friends whom he rebukes as “miserable comforters” (16:2) have nothing more to say. They still thought that Job was completely wrong, but they felt he was so confirmed in his own opinions that it was useless to keep the discussion going.
Job’s friends are followed in their dialogue by Elihu (chaps 32-37), who adds his own advice. Apparently, Elihu was a silent listener to the whole dialogue. Elihu was angry with Job because he felt that Job justified himself rather than God. Elihu felt that Job was more concerned about being right himself than God being right.
Over the previous 35 chapters (since Job 2), God has been directly absent from the account. We read nothing of God’s direct role in comforting, speaking to, or sustaining Job in the midst of his crisis. Over that time, Job has ached repeatedly for a word from God.
At the end of Elihu’ speech, God intervenes with two speeches in which he gives Job the answers to his questions. They cover chapters 38-42; and with that our book ends. In the reading of today, we are given short excerpts from the first of God’s speech. To each speech, Job will give a short response.
In a way, the answer to the ‘why’ of his suffering is that there is no answer; in the sense that no human person is in a position to call into question the infinite wisdom and power of God. Job finally accept his situation. He now understands that he is of little significance in a vast universe which is totally beyond his comprehension. How can he question the God who is behind it all?
Previously, Job had insisted that God answer him. God turned the matter around and told Job that before He would answer any of Job’s questions, Job had some questions to answer himself. Yahweh begins by asking a series of questions full of poetic images. They compare the almighty power of the creator God with the impotence of Job, the creature.
Job is asked if he has ever given orders to the morning or sent the dawn to its place. Has Job ever gone to the “sources of the sea”? Does Job have even the faintest idea of the extent of the earth? Obviously, the answer is No. Only the Master of the Universe could do such a thing.