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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

LESSONS OF JOB
(Part 40)

MARY, HANNAH AND JOB


December 22, 2009

Today’s readings
1 Samuel 1:24-28
1 Samuel 2:1-8
Luke 1:46-56

What is the common denominator in today’s readings, as they relate to Mary, Hannah and Job? Both Hannah and Mary exult in the Lord who reverses fortunes, while Job experienced such a reversal of fortunes, twice over.

Hannah says God lays low the mighty, the well-fed and the mother of many, while lifting up the weak, the hungry and the barren wife (1 Sm 2:4-5). Mary says God lays low the rulers and the rich, while lifting up the lowly and the hungry (Lk 1:52-53). This is what happened to Job. From his lofty position he was laid low, and then he was restored to an even loftier position.

This is the mystery of a God who acts as He simply does, moving from one extreme to another. “The Lord puts to death and gives life; he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again. The Lord makes poor and makes rich, he humbles, he also exalts.” (1 Sm 2:6-7). Who can figure God out? “The Almighty! we cannot discover him” (Job 37:23a).

God however has constantly revealed Himself in the scriptures as one who loves the poor. He has “lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things” (Lk 1:52b-53a). “He raises the needy from the dust; from the ash heap he lifts up the poor” (1 Sm 2:7). Even in the case of Job, who was a rich man, God lifted him up from his affliction only after he had lost everything and became poor, and only after he had been sitting “among the ashes” (Job 2:8).

God raises the poor and needy, not just out of poverty, but to glorious heights. His intent is “to seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage.” (1 Sm 2:8b). Thus, from severe affliction, God raised Job to double what his wealth and prestige had been. Thus, as Mary exulted, God “looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.” (Lk 1:48a).

Why is this? This is the way of God Himself. This is the way of Jesus. Though he was God, he allowed himself to be emptied and humbled, and then he returned to eternal glory as Lord and King (Phil 2:6-11). From the heights to the depths and then back to the heights. Just like Job.

This is what we call the way of the cross. It is the way of discipleship. Just like Jesus who suffered “death on a cross” (Phil 2:8), we are called to die to self (deny self), take up our cross, and follow Jesus (Lk 9:23).

This is why suffering is redemptive. God chose to suffer, in order that Jesus might win for us our salvation. God allows us to suffer, so that, after gaining the purification that He intends for us, He might reverse our situation. Is it any wonder then that God allows us to suffer? Even when we are upright and blameless like Job?

But is this not unjust? In a way, yes. Just as it was unjust for a righteous Jesus to be crucified as a criminal. But “his great justice owes no one an accounting” (Job 37:23c).

In the end, we just rest in the knowledge that our God is just and righteous. In His justice and righteousness, He reverses people’s fortunes. He favors the poor and lowly. He raises the afflicted to great heights of glory.

Ultimately, since He is Savior, God brings us to heaven.

Let then Mary’s canticle be ours as well. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” (Lk 1:46). Let us join Hannah in singing praise to God. “My heart exults in the Lord, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory.” (1 Sm 2:1).

And Job? “Thus the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his earlier ones.” (Job 42:12a). “Then Job died, old and full of years.” (Job 42:17). In his latter days, Job simply rejoiced in the victorious life God had given him.

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