Today, at Matins, we begin to read the Book of Job. During the month of September the days begin to be shorter and the nights begin to be longer. The warmth of summer begins to make place for the coming cold of winter. We are entereing a season of struggle between light and day, warm and cold. The year is slowly circling closer to its end.
The readings at Matins follow this natural pattern. The book before us is that of Job. A man of great struggle. But this month we will also meet Tobias, Judith and Esther. All of whom have seen great struggle and have overcome. The Holy Spirit places these books before us as our spiritual food so that we might learn to be valiant in our spiritual stuggles. These Old Testament heroes inspire us with their heroism as well as with their all too human failures. For we continue to recite the Psalms of David, an other great hero of the Faith … But also a very fallible man that fell into great sin.
In the Bible we find heroes to look up to. We also find heroes that have fallen into sin …. And have recovered. We see their repentance and we see how God receives them back into His loving arms.
The first response today at Matins says: “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? * The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away: as it pleased the Lord, so it is done; blessed be the name of the Lord. Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away: as it pleased the Lord, so it is done; blessed be the name of the Lord.” This is not a sigh of desperation but a statement of rock-solid faith. Job appears not to understand why he is confronted with so much suffering and disaster. Yet he remains faihful. His faith in God is of the sort that cannot be shaken by suffering (no matter how greatly he suffers, and how horribly un-just it all is). On top of it all Job maintains his faith in the midst of those that are not faithful. Job’s strength of faith is truly an amazing feat of inner strength! As St. Gregory notes in the 6th lesson:
For it is no very praiseworthy thing to to be good among the good, but to be good among the bad. For, as it is a heavierfault not to be good among the good, so it is boundless to be good among the evil.”
Fr. Gregory Wassen