During the general audience on May 18, Pope Francis explained that in the face of misery, we may express our wrath to God.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The biblical text we have just heard concludes the book of Job, a pinnacle of world literature. We meet Job in this series of catechesis on old age: we meet him as a witness of faith who does not resign himself to a caricature of God, but who cries out in the face of evil, until God answers and reveals his face. And God finally answers, as always, in a surprising way: He shows Job his glory without crushing him, on the contrary, with sovereign tenderness, as God always does.
We must read the pages of this book carefully, without prejudice, without platitudes, to grasp the power of Job’s cry. It will do us good to put ourselves in his train of thought, to overcome the temptation of moralism in the face of annoyance and despondency at the pain of having lost everything.
We know the story: Job loses everything in his life, his wealth, his family, his son and even his health. And wounded he is talking to three friends, and then a fourth who comes to greet him.
This dialogue with his friends is like a path to the moment when God speaks. And in the closing text of this book, the passage in which God finally addresses him, Job is praised for having understood the mystery of God’s tenderness behind his silence.
God rebukes Job’s friends who thought they knew all about God and pain, and who come to comfort Job, but ultimately condemn him with their preconceived ideas. May God save us from this hypocritical and presumptuous form of devotion! May God save us from that self-righteous religiosity and belief in precepts which gives us a certain conceit and leads to Pharisaism and hypocrisy.
This is how the Lord speaks of them: “I am very displeased with you . And He says to Job’s friends, “My servant Job will pray for you. Perhaps I am for his sake; then I will not punish you for your foolishness, though you have not made me so pure as my servant Job” (42:7-8).
God’s statement surprises us, for we have read the fiery pages of Job’s protest, which left us stunned. Yet, says the Lord, Job was doing well, even when he was angry and even when he became angry with God. He was doing well because he refused to accept that God is a persecutor, God is something else. And as a reward, God returns all his possessions to Job in twofold, after asking him to pray for his wicked friends.
moment of conversion
The climax of Job’s outburst is also the moment of his conversion of faith. He says, “My defender lives, at last He will enter this world. And no matter how violated I am, I will see God from this body. By my side I will see Him with my own eyes” (19:25-27).