MEDITATION OF THE DAY
Receiving Jesus through Suffering
Jesus is the immediate answer to Job because he shares his suffering and is the only one to do so. Suffering encloses a man in solitude, puts him outside communion with his fellow men. Between Job and his friends an abyss was cleft. They regarded him with astonishment as a strange being, as the sudden appearance of the unprecedented in the midst of the very ordinary, as one marked with a sacred sign. But they could no longer get to him. Only Jesus could cross this abyss…. And it is only because he has first shared the suffering of everyone who suffers that in him and by him every man who suffers can find communion with other men.
Jesus is furthermore the answer to Job because he gives a meaning to suffering. Not that he explains it, for it does not come within the sphere of explanation. But he puts it into the world of the supernatural. Suffering is the means whereby the righteous man may be reunited with the sinner. It exists in a sinful universe. But the suffering of the righteous shatters the logic of suffering and sin. It allows suffering to exist where sin does not exist; and because it is bound up with sin, by this very fact it allows the righteous man to take the load of sin upon himself and so to destroy sin. It allows the righteous man to enter into communion with sinners. Thus Jesus unveils the hidden meaning of Job’s suffering, a suffering which remained a mystery to Job himself.
Finally, Jesus is the answer to Job because he does away with his suffering. Suffering cannot be accepted any more than it can be explained. If love can cause someone to take suffering upon himself, it is the love therein alone that is lovable and its final purpose is to do away with suffering. The book of Job is in the end a book of hope…. Jesus took suffering upon himself in order to do away with suffering. More still, he descended into the lower region to reach the very root of evil, so that those who had been grafted thereon might be freed from evil. Thus the Resurrection of Christ is the supreme answer to the heart-rending cry of Job.
Cardinal Jean Daniélou
Cardinal Daniélou († 1974) was a French Jesuit, a theologian, and a peritus at Vatican II. [From A Word in Season, Readings for the Liturgy of the Hours, VII, Ordinary Time, Year II (Weeks 1-17). © 1999, Friends of Henry Ashworth, Augustinian Press, Villanova, PA. Used with permission.]