1st Reading – Job 38:1, 8-11
The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said:
Who shut within doors the sea,
when it burst forth from the womb;
when I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
When I set limits for it
and fastened the bar of its door,
and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stilled!
The Book of Job is a debate over whether all suffering is a punishment for sin, versus the idea that an innocent person might suffer. At the time, people believed the former, whereas the author of Job believed the latter.
This is a controversial idea because it brings into question either God’s power or God’s love. Why would an all-powerful and all-loving God allow an innocent person to suffer?
To explore this issue, the author sets the stage with an innocent person suffering: Job. He then presents Job’s friends, all of whom argue the belief of the time, that Job must somehow deserve his suffering. God then intervenes, giving a perfect finish to the whole debate.
God does not directly answer the question of why an innocent person would suffer, but through asking questions of Job, God does make it abundantly clear that the mystery of suffering is not the only part of the order of God’s creation that is beyond human comprehension.
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