JOB 38:1,12- 21, 40;3-5

Lord Save Me

TELL ME, WHICH IS THE PLACE OF LIGHT?   This question is urgently posed by God as a challenge in answer to the complaints made by Job in the midst of his sufferings.   These words remains for us today as sharply posed as ever they were.   They represent a concise summary of the theme of this ancient writing.   Stated in a more modern, blunt form the Lord confronts each human person with the compelling need to reply to the issue posed by encounter with the sufferings of life:

Tell me, does life have any meaning?   Significantly, this manner of posing the question is deliberately personal, even while it is directed to everyone as represented by the individual man Job.   It is the Lord God, who is acknowledged to have the final word concerning the happenings in this world, to whom we must reply as we give our answer to this basic question.   The answer that Job must give is one that will engage him in a new way with the Lord who, with these words decisively deals with the complaints that suffering has wrung out of the heart of the patriarch.   "Tell ME", God says.   Realize that the way you react to the losses that you have met with is a way of answering Me personally as I deal with you through the trials and sufferings you have been experiencing.

The Book of Job in taking up this theme of life's meaning and of man's place in the universe, deals with a topic that had exercised the more reflective minds of the ancient world.   The learned sages of Mesopotamia and of Egypt had sought to gain some light on the way to respond to existence when life brought more pain than satisfaction.   As early as the end of the third millennium before Christ, an Egyptian text presents a dialogue of a man with his soul as he considers whether suicide is preferable to living in a world where, as he puts it, "The land is left to those who do wrong."

Where Job differs is that the author realizes that the dialogue is not, ultimately, only interior, with his own soul. God is personally engaged. Our response to life with its demands, joys, and sufferings is, in fact, a reply to a highly personal question that determines our relation to the omnipotent Creator.   The Job account of the final resolution of his trials in which he is compensated by God for his losses with greater prosperity leaves the question answered only temporarily.   For Job is still subject to death.

It is only when the Lord Jesus takes on himself the ultimate suffering that is death that the full answer is given to the question so urgently posed by God to each of us: "Tell me, which is the place of light?" His answer is his rising from the dead to bring us with himself into the light that is life in the bosom of the eternal Father.   We express in this Eucharist our firm trust and our gratitude for this surpassingly satisfying answer to the true meaning of our life in this world.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger