Today we continue our reading of the Book of Job, the Man of Sorrows in the Old Testament. Job, described as a righteous, faithful man, was tested by Satan who took everything that Job had from him. His flocks and herds are stolen, his children are killed, and he himself is inflicted by painful boils. Job does not understand why he has been inflicted so, but despite the judgments of his friends, Job does not despair of God’s goodness. He refuses to admit to sins he did not do, just as he refuses to curse God. He remains faithful, trusting in God. The words of today’s responsorial Psalm, “I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living,” could easily be on Job’s lips.
Today the Church celebrates another “Man of Sorrows,” St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was also a person of great means, his father was a wealthy merchant. While St. Francis did not lose it all through calamities, he did give up all the wealthy that would have been his to embrace a life of gospel poverty. As Job’s friends judged him, St. Francis’ neighbors and family judged him harshly, at least at first. As Job suffered painful boils, St. Francis suffered the pains of Christ’s crucifixion. As Job, due to his faithfulness and righteousness, had all his wealth restored to even more than what he lost, so St. Francis knew that the reward of Heaven is so much greater than any wealth he could achieve in this life. “I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.” St. Francis knew that the real land of the living is Heaven, eternal union with God.
While not all of us will be called to the radical material poverty that St. Francis was called to live as witness, we are all called to that kind of radical spiritual poverty. While Job and St. Francis were righteous, meaning they lived a right relationship with the Lord, recognizing His supreme power and their nothingness, so we too must recognize that God is Lord, that His power and will is supreme. And with are His little ones, whom He loves.