Job and the Church
Thursday October 3, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Job 19:21-27) Gospel (St. Luke 10:1-12)
Before I say anything else about the homily today, I need to correct a point I made on Monday, and that is with the name of the evil one: Satan. I think I told you it means "The Tempter"; it actually means "The Accuser". So his task is to accuse us before God. As we go through the Book of Job, we see the devil right there to accuse him and actually even to accuse God, as we saw: "Of course, he's going to be faithful! Look at all of the things that You did for him!" And so we see that constant accusation. He certainly is The Tempter as well, but he is The Accuser.
But as we see with Job, his friends come to him and ridicule him. They deride him and accuse him also of all kinds of things. Job asks simply for pity, but then he turns around and says something which is so important. We see the hope that is there and the faith, he says, "As for me, I know that my Vindicator lives." That is exactly what we need to be doing as well.
When we look at the Book of Job, what we see is that it is exactly what the Church is going through today. God turned the Church over to Satan for one hundred years and said, "Go for it. You have whatever it is you need." Satan looked at God about one hundred and twenty years ago or so and said, "Of course it's going to be faithful! Look at all the grace you gave to it. But just do this: Give me one hundred years and I will destroy Your Church!" And the Lord gave it to him and said, "Go ahead." For the Church, She says, "I know that my Vindicator lives." It does not matter if it is chiseled in stone with lead poured into that; all that matters is that She continues to preach the Gospel.
Now if we look at Job, here is a poor man who not only loses everything, but finally God allows the devil to attack his own body and he has got sores all over. He is placed upon a dungheap where he sits and takes a potsherd and scrapes his sores. This is a man who is in misery. Everything around him looks horrible. The sores are oozing, they are infected, and he is a mess. Look at the Church today. What can you say, other than the same thing? The Church has been humbled, and needs to be humbled some more, thanks be to God. And we need to look at all the sores. Everything around the Church has been destroyed and now Satan has been allowed to attack the very essence of the Church Herself. And just like Job, the Church says, "I know my Vindicator lives. Even if the vast majority of my children have gone astray, even if people do not believe what I am teaching them, even if they are not faithful to what the Lord has asked of us, even if they destroy every church building in the world, even if they try to obliterate what it is to be Catholic from the face of the earth, the Church will say, 'I know that my Redeemer lives.'"
And as the Lord told us in the Gospel reading today, "For those who listen to the Word, then say to them that the kingdom of God is at hand for you. But if they do not listen, shake the dust from your sandals, but then say, 'The kingdom of God is at hand!'" It does not matter whether they want to listen or not, the fact of the matter is the kingdom of God is at hand. Our Vindicator lives, and they have attempted to destroy His bride. It is not going to be a happy day for those who have made this attempt. It is not quite complete as yet - that is obvious - but there is not much time left. For us, what is required is to be faithful. We have seen some horrendous things but the worst is yet to come. So we need to continue to be faithful because that message which was preached from town to town 2,000 years ago is the one being preached to each one of us individually: The kingdom of God is at hand. It is not far away, and we have a choice to make.
We can be like Job's friends and we can look at what is going on in the Church, as so many have done, and say, "Obviously, this cannot be the true Church of Jesus Christ. Look at the apostasy, look at the infidelity, look at all the problems. The Lord has given up on His Church; therefore, everything that you Catholics have been saying is clearly false because if this was God's Church, He would be showering it with so many graces. People would be able to recognize it was the truth and they would be flocking to it. Instead, they're going the other direction. Look at the non-Catholics, they're living a better Christian life than the Catholics. Obviously this cannot be God's Church."
Or we can be like Job. We can say, "I know the truth, and I know that my Vindicator lives." That is what we hold onto. We know the truth; we know what Jesus intends. We must accept it and we must live it. That is not an easy thing in our day, but it is the most glorious thing because each one of us, like Job, can make that choice. Like Job, the Church has not sinned - many in the Church have sinned - the Church has not. The Church has not gone astray and it has not apostasized; many in the Church have, but the Church will not. the Church is placed upon a dungheap where She can look at the gaping wounds and look at them ooze. Yet, in the midst of all the ridicule and all the pain, the Church will be able to say, "I know that my Vindicator lives." And for anyone who listens, hear the Word of the Lord: The kingdom of God is at hand.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.