Bishop's Lectionary Reflection
Proper 25, Year B
October 24, 2021
Job 42:1-6, 10-17
In the end Job comes to a right-sized understanding of things. He understands who God is and he understands who he (Job) is. He knows that God is capable of everything and that he (Job) understands very little of the nature of God. Therefore, while he can express his unhappiness to God for his situation, he cannot challenge the wisdom behind God’s actions. As Job enters into these understandings, his relationship to God is restored to rightness. And with the beginning of that restoration, Job enters a fuller restoration: “And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends, and the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” The ending of the story of the sufferings of Job, therefore, is that all the sufferings are removed and Job is restored. The Book of Job is synonymous in our minds with suffering. Because the Book of Job offers no reasonable answer for suffering and evil, we tend to focus only on that evil and suffering, almost failing to notice that in the end, Job is restored. Job did not suffer because he did anything wrong; neither was he restored because he did anything right. God is simply in the business of restoration. Being in a right-sized relationship with God is the source of strength during suffering and the beginning of restoration.
Do you have a clear understanding of who you are in relation to God? While you cannot necessarily know the reason for suffering in your own life, can you persevere in relationship with God through which all things can be restored?
Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22)
As a response to the readings about Job’s sufferings, this psalm reveals the psalmist’s underlying belief that God loves the righteous and will deliver them when they suffer: “I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me and saved me from all my troubles.” Verses 19-22 suggest that God will deliver the righteous and slay the wicked. We have lived long enough to have seen that sometimes the righteous suffer while the wicked seem to prosper, so we are not so sure perhaps as the psalmist. But fearing God and trusting in Him is the beginning of righteousness. And in this beginning, we encounter angels.
How can you taste and see that the Lord is good? How is it possible to trust even when you are suffering? God will deliver. God will restore. That’s His business. Our job is to hear, to rejoice and to proclaim His greatness. How can you do that?
In this excerpt from the Letter to the Hebrews, we are reminded of the continuous presence of a living, perfect priest who is our eternal link to God. Priests were ordained and set apart to represent God’s people to God, to stand in the breach, to make intercessions for a sinful people so that they could be connected to God. Humans, imperfect and weak, were set apart to perform this function. It was not a perfect setup. Then God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, appointed His perfect son to be a priest. From then on, human beings have a constant, perfect and indefatigable link to God. There is no weakness in Christ – only power, only connection. Because of Christ we never have to be separate from God.
Take a moment, take several moments, when you are overwhelmed by your own imperfections and inability to connect to God to remember that Christ, the perfect priest, stands with you before God and places your hand in God’s almighty, caring hands. Can you commit to remembering that kind of constant presence?
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks this question of the blind man who has insisted on being seen and tended to by Jesus. It is the same question that Jesus asked James and John in our lesson from last week. James and John wanted Jesus to elevate them to special status so that they would seem important to others. This man, Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, a blind beggar wants Jesus to cure his blindness. James and John asked for something that would serve only them and point to their own glory. Bartimaeus asks for something that will bring wholeness and will point to Christ’s glory. As we learned in our Hebrew Scripture lesson for today from Job, God is in the business of restoring. When we approach Him in faith and embrace His glory and sovereignty, He longs to restore us to sight, to health and to wholeness of relationship with Him. When the blind beggar receives his sight again he is restored to the religious and social community. His cry to Jesus to have mercy on him is a cry of faith that begins the path to his restoration.
What do you want Jesus to do for you? Do you want to be elevated in social or financial status? Or do you want to have your spiritual and emotional sight restored so that you are in right relationship with God? If you want to truly be seen by God, how can you persevere in crying out to Jesus to have mercy on you?
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.