One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 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." Then Satan answered the Lord, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face." The Lord said to Satan, "Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!" So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
One day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the eldest brother's house, a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were ploughing and the donkeys were feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell on them and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was still speaking, another came and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was still speaking, another came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three columns, made a raid on the camels and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was still speaking, another came and said, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house, and suddenly a great wind came across the desert, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; I alone have escaped to tell you."
Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshipped and said,
"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked shall I return there;
the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord."
In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong-doing.
Lord, hear a cause that is just,
pay heed to my cry.
Turn your ear to my prayer:
no deceit is on my lips. (R./)
From you may my judgement come forth.
Your eyes discern the truth.
You search my heart, yo u visit me by night.
You test me and you find in me no wrong. (R./)
I am here and I call, you will hear me, O God.
Turn your ear to me; hear my words.
Show your great love, you whose right hand saves
your friends from those who rebel against them. (R./)
An argument arose among the disciples as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, "Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest."
John answered, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us." But Jesus said to him, "Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you."
There is this imaginary debate, where Satan argues with God about the level of human endurance. Could a person keep the faith if their life began to fall apart? So God allws Satan to test poor Job in all kinds of ways, destroying first his property and then taking away his sons and daughters until Job is left desolate. Later in the narrative is wife appears but her bitter words offer him no consolation. Alone, yes; but still aware of God. "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." The underlying message of Job is that we cannot control life as though we were God.
Children quarrel, yes, but they quickly make up again. The gospel presents us with two scenes of envy and pettiness. The disciples were arguing, "which of them was the greatest." Jesus turns to children and says to welcome a child is to welcome him, and "The least one among you is the greatest." This statement is all the more puzzling if it includes Jesus. Is he the least? He is, supremely, the child of his Father, always in the attitude of receiving the Father's life and as a child he is receiving it totally.
In order to teach a vital life-lesson Jesus often used actions as well as words, a kind of visual language. His disciples were arguing about a very selfish question: Which of them was the greatest. It might have been about talent, family background, or even their closeness to Jesus. He needed to teach them what greatness reall is, in the eyes of God.
The lesson began by putting a child beside him before he said a word. The child was no symbol of greatness in that world, but a symbol of weakness and vulnerability. Jesus identifies with the little ones, to whom the world gives no status. In wanting to be the greatest, the disciples were way off the mark.
The point is that God's values not those of the world. Like the rivalries of those disciples, we can sometimes be egotistic in our ambitions. We need to remember God's values as made clear to us by his blessed Son.