December 20. Job. This book is a reflection on innocent suffering. In dialogue with Satan God allows “Satan” to tempt Job, an upright and wealthy family man, in order to see if he will curse God if his good fortune is reversed. He loses his land, animals, children and a disease attacks his body. His friends come to commiserate with him, ask him to acknowledge his sinfulness as the cause of his losses and challenge him to blame God. Job does eventually ask God that he should explain the cause of his suffering.

In reply God does not justify this action but speaks of his own power and the greatness of creation. Job accepts this in humility and trust and God restores his fortune.

“Job answered the Lord, ‘I know that you can do all things and no purpose of yours can be thwarted. I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know.” Job 42. Pope Francis: the life of every family is marked by all kinds of crises, yet these are also part of its dramatic beauty. Surmounting a crisis need not weaken their relationship. AL232.

For reflection and discussion. The last two years of dealing with the Covid pandemic have brought much suffering to all, although more to some than others. Suffering does happens to everyone, whatever their life situation. Sometimes we do bring it on ourselves but we can learn from Job of innocent suffering, as a test of fidelity. Reading how God speaks of his own creation can help us to appreciate its wonders and grow in trust and acceptance of God’s ongoing care and presence.