Day 176 – June 25

Today’s Readings:

2 Chronicles 1-2
Acts 7:44-60
Job 20

When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. – Acts 7:58

Today we witness the first recorded martyrdom in the Church, and the reality of the life of the Christian faithful. Stephen is brought to trial because he makes the Jews uncomfortable in their living the Law. Stephen’s authentic living of faith and his bold proclamation of Jesus is too much for them, and they find reason to kill him. Here, at Stephen’s death, another man enters the picture. Saul, a zealous Jew, is to rise to be one of the great persecutors of the Christians, until He is confronted with Jesus.

Stephen’s death was senseless, and so seems to suffering of Job. Again we see God working his tapestry from the underside, the picture of His masterpiece hidden in the confusion of our daily life. Let us offer our lives like Stephen, trusting that God will use our small sacrifice to the benefit of His masterwork.

May God bless you.

Day 175 – June 24

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 27-28
Acts 7:22-43
Job 19

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. – Job 19:25

Job protests the treatment he receives from his so called ‘friends’, and despite what he describes as an abandonment by God, he still testifies to his faith in God as the one who redeems.

To ‘redeem’ is to buy back, or to make up for the lack or wrong-doing of a person. We hear today Stephen, in the Book of Acts, telling of the sin of the people Israel, who chose to reject God and the consequences of that choice. And yet, despite the times when we too reject God, he waits in the wings for us to turn back to Him that we may be saved.

Job understood this. He placed all of his hope in that future event – the one we know all too well when we look upon the Cross of Christ – that even in the misery of Job’s current state, he would be at peace because God promised to redeem him and his people. May we have the patience of Job, and his faith, to approach the setbacks of life with courage, putting all of our trust in our future – a future bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ.

May God bless you.

Day 174 – June 23

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 25-26
Acts 7:1-21
Job 18

“Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked,
And this is the place of him who does not know God.” – Job 18:21

These words from Job are an accusal that would apply to two innocent, both Job and Stephen (from the Acts 7). Both men seem to be on trial for their faith that is misunderstood by their fellow believers. We’ve looked at Job before at how we only see the surface of his situation, God has allowed this calamity to befall his favorite son among men, and how Job is judged a sinner because of the devestation in his personal life. Then we have Stephen, a follower of Jesus, one of the seven deacons chosen in the early organization of the Church. Stephen was brought up against charges of blasphemy, probably due to jealousy, and brought false witnesses against him.

Two men, both condemned by their own people. The first due to misreading of the mystery of suffering judge their friend a sinner; the second propped up for a fall because his righteousness made others look ridiculous in their religiosity. And how do these two men respond? They cling to God come what may.

Many times we see opportunities to defend faith, and shy away because we don’t want to get entangled or lose friendships over a discrepancy of faith. Let us learn to choose when it is necessary to speak, and when it is prudent to refrain, not for our own sake, but for the good of the soul before us. May our Lord help us to know the difference.

May God bless you.

Day 173 – June 22

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 23-24
Acts 6
Job 17

…select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge (of the daily distribution of food) … –  Acts 6:3

As the Church begins to grow, it experiences the pains that come with the growth of any institution, and it begins to form a little bit of structure to take care of the daily tasks. It says a lot that  the first appointments in the Church were to service to those in need. This has been a hallmark of the Church since its foundations, read today in the acts of the apostles. The structure was needed because more were coming go believe in Jesus through the disciples.

Structure is a necessary part of organizing ourselves to fulfill the mission given to us. Where we sometimes get turned upside down is when we forget the purpose of the structure and sustain it for its own sake rather than for the sake of the Gospel. Let us then, ask Jesus to give us the gift to keep our mission – to make Jesus known and loved – as the center of all of our planning and service, for it is for his beloved poor we are called.

May God bless you.

Day 172 – June 21

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 21-22
Acts 5:22-42
Job 16

…calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. – Acts 5:40-42

Suffering. No one likes discomfort, let alone to be in pain. In today’s reading from Job, we hear of his turmoil, not understanding why this devastation befell him. He has thoroughly examined his conscience, and in his heart he can find no reason for the punishments he is enduring. Yet, he holds on to the hope he will be vindicated by God.

From the Book of Acts, we find the disciples of Jesus rejoicing in their suffering, that “they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

Here, we find two examples where people are enduring pain of some sort, both having done nothing evil to deserve their current condition. We know people in our lives who live this reality and when approached with the question of ‘why bad things happen to good people?’ we are at a loss to make sense of it all. It is one of the great mysteries facing humanity as we contemplate the attribute of God.

Does God bring calamity? In Job’s case we are privy to see the background to what is happening. We see God so confident in his creation – Job – that he allows Satan to have his way. God is confident that through Job’s suffering Satan will be put to shame and God will be glorified. But if we look at it from Job’s perspective, it would be reasonable that he would begin to doubt God’s goodness. Job’s saving grace is a thread of hope that he holds on to. Despite his current condition, he finds the strength to trust in God’s wisdom, knowing in humility he doesn’t see as God sees.

What do we say when we meet the Jobs in our lives? Those in a state of questioning must come to find the answers on their own, but we can help them immensely by journeying with them, supporting them in their uncertainty. And pray. The story of Job is not finished, and when it is, all will be revealed. And the same for those we love who find themselves or someone dear to them in a similar state. Our stories are not over, and God is working through our misery, knowing full well through His entering into our human story giving us the sign of the Cross. Yes, God understands fully our suffering, and takes it upon Himself to help us carry the burden until all is revealed in Eternity.

May God bless you.