Suffering is such a mystery - and God himself inspires a kind of right to protest, says Pope in considering the Book of Job.
Just one verse each day.
“Be free, be free in your prayer. Don’t imprison your prayer within preconceived paradigms! No! Prayer should be like this: spontaneous, like that of a child with his father …”
Pope Francis offered this advice in continuing his general audience series on the elderly, with the reflection of May 18, 2022, focusing on Job, whom we meet in the Book of Job as an already elderly man.
The Pope said this book of the Bible is a “universal literary classic” that needs to “be read well, without prejudices, without stereotypes, to understand the power of Job’s cry.”
The Holy Father drew from Job’s great suffering a lesson on prayer. “There is kind of right that victims have to protest vis-à-vis the mystery of iniquity, a right that God grants to everyone, that indeed, He himself, inspires, after all.”
The Pope said that sometimes he meets people who feel guilty or wrong because they have “protested against God” because of this or that problem.
God is not afraid of our prayer of protest, no! God understands
“But, you know, friend,” he said, “that protesting is a way to pray when it is done like that. When children, when young people object against their parents, it is a way of attracting their attention and of asking that they take care of them. If you have some wound in your heart, some pain, and you want to object, object even to God. God will listen to you. God is a Father. God is not afraid of our prayer of protest, no! God understands.”
God lets Job vent
The Holy Father said that God’s initial silence at Job’s protest signifies that he “does not shy away from the confrontation, but, from the beginning, allows Job to give vent to his protest, and God listens.”
At times, perhaps we need to learn this respect and tenderness from God. And God does not like that encyclopedia – let’s call it this – of explanations, of reflections that Job’s friends do. These are things that come off the tip of their tongues which are not right – that type of religiosity that explains everything, but the heart remains cold. God does not like this. He likes Job’s protest and silence more.
The Pope noted how God rebukes Job’s friends because they have not spoken well of God, whereas Job has.
God’s declaration surprises us because we have read pages on fire with Job’s protest which have left us dismayed. And yet, the Lord says Job spoke well, even when he was angry, and even angry at God, but he spoke well because he refused to accept that God was a ‘Persecutor.’
“God is something else,” the Pope said. “And what is that? Job was seeking that. And as a reward, God gives back to Job double of all his possessions, after asking him to pray for those bad friends of his.”
Read the whole text here.