Reflection 11/1: The End of Job
Dear Beloved Community of St. John’s,
It would be wrong to see the ending of the book of Job in a romanticized way. Job is made once again whole. Yet, the pieces have not been put back together without cracks and seams. Job would tell us, like a veteran who’s gone to war will tell us, nothing is ever the same again.
The old, trite truism is that “no one gets out of life alive.” If we were able to ask Job at the end whether it was worth it—what he went through, the losses he suffered, the betrayal—I don’t know that Job could have dignified the question with an answer.
This is where our Christian faith comes in. Christianity teaches us that, yes, it is worth it. The suffering, the blood, the dirt, the harsh glare of the sun, and the piercing thorns and splinters. We are called to do good. Jesus calls us to feed the hungry and care for the anguished, even when we, too, are hungry and anguished. Through the teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we have eaten a banquet on the journey. We’ll be changed at the end.
We are signed with the cross of Christ in our baptisms. Many families—mine does—has a tradition of a baptismal gown that is handed down from one generation to the next, and across from cousin to cousin. The white, fragile, often frayed-at-the-edges garment signifies how we are yoked to Jesus from age to age. This is how the book of Job ends. The generations around his deathbed looking back at their source, seeing in front of them their futures.
Powerful this ending may be, but it is not romantic. It is the hard stuff of experience and growth of wisdom.
Job is a story about what life is. Jesus teaches us that life itself is what is worthwhile.