When Bildad had finished speaking Job answered:
"Indeed I know that this is so
but how can a mortal be just before God?
If one wished to contend with him,
one could not answer him once in a thousand.
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength
—who has resisted him, and succeeded?
he who removes mountains,
and they do not know it,
when he overturns them in his anger
who shakes the earth out of its place,
and its pillars tremble
who commands the sun, and it does not rise
who seals up the stars
who alone stretched out the heavens
and trampled the waves of the Sea
who made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the chambers of the south
who does great things beyond understanding,
and marvellous things without number.
Look, he passes by me, and I do not see him
he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
He snatches away who can stop him?
Who will say to him, 'What are you doing?'
How then can I answer him, choosing my words with him?
Though I am innocent, I cannot answer him
I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.
If I summoned him and he answered me,
I do not believe that he would listen to my voice."
I call to you, Lord, all the day long;
to you I stretch out my hands.
Will you work your wonders for the dead?
Will the shades stand and praise you? (R./)
Will your love be told in the grave
or your faithfulness among the dead?
Will your wonders be known in the dark
or your justice in the land of oblivion? (R./)
As for me, Lord, I call to you for help:
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Lord, why do you reject me?
Why do you hide your face? (R./)
As they were going along the road, someone said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
Job takes us back to that austere period after the exile as inviting us to examine how we deal with crisis in life. He replies to Bildad, the second friend who had come to offer his sympathy and comfort in his dark hour.
This chapter gets to the heart of the Book of Job: it is about the unfathomable ways of God. Nobody, not even a naturally virtuous man like Job, can claim to be morally perfect in the sight of God, whose wisdom and power are beyond our understanding.. "Should He come near me, I cannot see Him; How much less can I give Him any answer." The final poem (chapters 38-41) is a long acceptance of God's control of the universe, beyond human scrutiny and comprehension, as hinted in today's reading.
Like Job, we too live in a world that is vast beyond comprehension as we discover the plethora of planets in an expanding universe. Like Job we must learn to bow in mumble adoration before the God who made it all. Like him too, we grow suspicious of quick, superficial answers which, like fast food or sudden wealth, cannot really satisfy the hunger of the heart.
Three men said they wanted to join with Jesus and travel about sharing in his work, without first considering what that would involve. When he invited them to join him immediately, two of them wanted it deferred, since they had urgent duties to attend to first. We might agree that burying one's father and saying goodbye to one's family were priority issues. Yet, Jesus wanted them to come immediately, leaving everything else behind.
It is hard to fathom how the call of Jesus could be so urgent. Following him closely is never an easy option. He asks for a loyalty and allegiance even greater than what we owe to our blood relatives. Trying to follow the gospel seriously can even put us at odds with those closest to us. But this challenging gospel, like any other difficult gospel text, must be set within the wider context of his teaching, to love one's neighbour as oneself.