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Last Sunday's Sermon

Dear Readers I tried to put in this space a picture of the suffering Job but this program would not cooperate.  So I guess you will have to use your imagination.
Fr. Fred

The Readings

Job 1:1; 2:1-10

There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.
One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." The LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason." Then Satan answered the LORD, "Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face." The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life."
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.
Then his wife said to him, "Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die." But he said to her, "You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Mark 10:2-16

Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Job  Divorce  and  Children

Has anyone heard the saying, 'the patience of Job'? When I read the book of Job, I see a man who is losing his patience. Job is considered one of the books of wisdom and it is a discussion of why there is pain in the world. After all Job is a righteous man but all of these bad things happen to him and he does not understand. He loses his family, his health and all that he owns. His friends tell him it is because of something he did but Job can think of nothing he did to deserve this. Job is losing patience. In chapter 30 he speaks to God and says, “ I cry to you and you do not answer me; I stand, and you merely look at me. You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me.”

Rather than “the patience of Job” it seems to me a better phrase would be, “the frustration of Job.”

Many of us are like Job when bad things happen to us. We ask ourselves if God is punishing us for something we have done. Why do bad things happen to good people. In our way of thinking, bad things should happen to bad people and good things should happen to good people. If there is anything I can take away from Job, it is that we cannot understand why sometimes bad things happen. God's ways are not our ways. Maybe the idea that by living a good and righteous life it is of itself its own reward.

Let me move on to the Gospel reading. Here is a whole new problem. Divorce. What do you do about broken relationships. Jesus talks about divorce being created out of people's hardness of heart. I have been through a divorce and I believe it was not about the hardness of my heart but it was a broken heart.

In today's reading Jesus knows the pharisees are trying once again to trip him up. In the time of Jesus, women were little more than property and a man could easily divorce a woman.   Jesus takes the conversation away from divorce and he talks about marriage. He says when a man and a woman marry they become one flesh and no one should separate them. As all of you know, I performed a wedding recently and in the ceremony the couple verbally committed to love, honor, and cherish each other. It is a huge commitment.

Marriage should not be taken lightly and divorce is the same. I am not going to tell anyone that there is no possible circumstance where divorce is acceptable because there are times when it is necessary. I am not going to go into what those reasons are but I will say that a toxic marriage is not a marriage at all. A marriage should be one where the couple love and cherish each other.

Jesus uses children as an example of how we should live our lives. What does that mean? What are the qualities of children that he is talking about. After all, children are not exactly perfect. Believe me, I helped raise two of them and I taught school for over thirty years and there are times when children need to go to time out. I think Jesus is talking about having a childlike trust in God and an innocence when it comes to our faith. 

I watched the pope as many of you did last week and I saw a lot of qualities like that in him. He hugged and kissed whenever the spirit moved him. Pope Francis refers to himself as a sinner.  That makes him in the same category as the rest of us.  And, just like us, through God's grace we are all lifted up when we, the children of God, ask for his forgiveness.


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