October 6, 2012 - Saturday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Job 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17
Psalm 119:66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130
Luke 10:17-24

A lot of people dislike the ending of Job, because it almost suggests that everything he went through is all better because he now has twice as much as before. He lost his children, but now he has more children. We know that to some extent this is true though. When we are going through suffering, we forget the good times, and when we are going through good times, we forget the suffering. God even gives Job another 140 years to make up for the time that was lost. God has repaid Job in full for the suffering he experienced, though that suffering was really just the loss of God’s previous gifts. Then, at the end of the reading, Job dies. Sure, he was surrounded by his family. Sure, he was old and full of years. But he still dies. At the beginning of the book, God allows Satan to inflict any torture on Job so long as he does not kill him. So, in a certain sense, the ending of this book is more depressing than the beginning. Death comes for us all.

This is the point that Jesus is making to the disciples he sent out. “Do not rejoice because you have powers to remove suffering from the world, to defeat evil spirits and cure sickness, to be immune to venom, but because your names are written in heaven.” It does not matter how good we make this world if we are going to die in the end. A person can be a billionaire with every pleasure that can be purchased, but, if death is awaiting them, it does not matter how good this life was. What is the point of building a house of cards, only to see it knocked down? What is the point of a long, productive life, only to have it all destroyed by death?

This is the good news that Jesus brings: there is another possibility. This is what the kings and the prophets desired to hear but did not hear: existence is not merely a flash of lightning, gone as soon as it appears, but continues forever. And this perpetual existence, which would be torture if it were an endless succession of suffering interspersed with periodic moments of reprieve, has the potential to be different than the life we have experienced up to now. Not only will we live forever, but we will live forever with the perfect happiness of knowing God.