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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

LESSONS OF JOB
(Part 16)

RIGHTEOUSNESS AND AFFLICTION

We continue with lessons of Job with today's readings.

Given the havoc wreaked by typhoon Ondoy, our weather forecasters are more keen on being able to give accurate forecasts, so as to prepare people especially with potential heavy rains and flooding. In a similar setting in today's gospel reading, Jesus asks a question: "You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?" (Lk 12:56). The world seems to be highly advanced as to science and weather forecasting, but is unable to read the signs of the times. The world is veering into destruction, has entered into the end times, but people go on their merry ways, unmindful of the disaster that can befall them.

This situation connects to Jesus' second question: "Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?" (Lk 12:57). Jesus calls people to live lives of righteousness, but they seem either unable to comprehend or unwilling to obey. Even for those who are already renewed, they still struggle with becoming righteous in conduct. One major reason is the effect of original sin, which is the flesh, a tendency in us to sin. "For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want." (Rom 7:18-19). Even for those who want to do good or be righteous, they "discover the principle that when (they) want to do right, evil is at hand." (Rom 7:21). They know what is right, but they still sin. There is an intense inner struggle. "For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members." (Rom 7:22-23).

Are we then in a hopeless situation? By ourselves the answer would be yes. We are slaves to sin. "Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? (Rom 7:24). But there is hope, because there is a savior. The answer is Jesus. We have already been delivered by Jesus on the cross. He has won for us our salvation. We are now his slaves and no longer under bondage to sin. "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom 7:25a).

But the struggle continues. Having been redeemed by Jesus, we can live righteous lives. But being still influenced by the flesh, we can still sin. We know that Jesus has saved us, but our body is at times weak. There is a conflict between the mind and the flesh. How can our unruly flesh be tamed? One major way is through affliction. "It is good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn your laws." (Ps 119:71). Affliction brings discipline. Affliction purifies. Affliction makes us turn to God in our pain. Affliction moves us to cling to God who remains as the only one able to bring relief and consolation and restoration. Affliction convicts us of what is important in life and what our true priorities ought to be. "Before I was afflicted I went astray" (Ps 119:67a). Suffering caused by affliction is thus redemptive.

We have already been redeemed by Jesus. He calls us to live lives of righteousness. He is committed to teach us his ways through his laws. We must simply desire to obey. In God's commands we trust (Ps 119:66b). In God's word we hope (Ps 119:74b). In God's teaching is our delight (Ps 119:70b). And it is God's word that helps us endure. "Had your teaching not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction." (Ps 119:92).

The Lord has much to teach us, as He leads us on the path of righteousness. Along that path will be affliction and suffering, as that path is the way of the cross. But along that path as well is our redemption. Let us then joyfully continue to learn the lessons of Job.

God bless you all.

frank

(October 23, 2009)

"For to me life is Christ, and death is gain." (Phil 1:21)

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