The book of Job attempts to answer an age-old question: why do people suffer? Moreover, the question becomes harder when it is narrowed down to righteous people and asked, why, then, do the good people suffer more than others?

All of us have experienced suffering (evil) in our lives. Some people have confronted more than others – the ravages of war, the brutality of nature, social and physical devastation of diseases and pandemics and moral destruction of injustice, abuse, and exploitation. There are also other types of suffering that come directly out of human limitations, like misunderstanding, greed, anger, hatred… we all know what evil can do to our mundane lives.

At the time of Job, people directly connected suffering to human sins. They believed that suffering was a punishment from God. Later, some Christians thought that suffering was a part of God’s testing of His faithful followers. This means God is pleased to see those who love Him suffer. How do we respond to these types of explanations? How do we approach the book of Job? And what has Jesus to say about suffering?

In today’s first reading, Job is in extreme pain and agony – the brutality of evil has encompassed him entirely. For him, life is not fair. Unfair suffering has taken away every hope from him. There is no more joy left in him. The last sentence of today’s reading sums up Job’s dire state of mind. He cries out in despair, “I shall not see happiness again.

In his suffering, Job opens his heart and mind to God and laments bitterly to God. He knows that there is no person other than his own Creator, who can understand his pain and suffering. We should see Job’s words not as a search for meaning for his misfortune, but rather his heartfelt prayer before God. It is a prayer just like Jesus did when He was at Gethsemane.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus shows us how to respond to human suffering. Whenever Jesus saw a suffering person, He got up and went near to that person and brought healing to that person. We see Jesus helping the mother-in-law of Peter and then until late night, curing a lot of people who had come to Him seeking healing. Jesus constantly worked hard to eradicate evil.

Jesus shows us that evil can be overcome by being compassionate and caring for each other. He did not discuss why or how, but rather, did His part. He showed us that when we respond to people’s sufferings, we become truly human.

–Rev. Ranjan D’Sa OCD

Category Reflections