Holy Prophet Job
Today the Byzantine Church commemorates the Prophet Job. He is often called the just and the patient Job.
The Kondakion for the Liturgy is beautiful: “The sight of the wealth of Job’s virtues inspired the evil one to attempt to destroy him, but in attacking his body he was unable to touch his soul. As for us, the same evil foe has stripped us and chained us in bondage, for we were not armed with the justice of Job. For this, we entreat you, O our savior, bestow on us your help that never fails.”
What does it mean for a Catholic to refer to an Old Testament Prophet as a saint and to remember him in the Divine Liturgy? The Church teaches, “The patriarchs, prophets, and certain other Old Testament figures have been and always will be honored as saints in all the Church’s liturgical traditions” (CCC 61). The Byzantine Churches, in fact, celebrate specific feast days for Old Testament figures: Jeremiah, Job, Eziekiel, Joshua, David, Moses, Daniel, the seven Maccabee brothers, etc. In fact, you will see several of the Old Testament prophets in the icons at St Ann’s.
As you know, the word “saint’ is commonly taken to mean someone who followed the will of God and is now in heaven. The Apostle Paul uses the word for those who are baptized. Applied to Old Testament persons the word saint is used to say that this person points clearly to the Messiah, to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A good example, you will recall, are the Prophets Moses and Elijah appearing with Jesus on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration.
The Prophets, hence, are worthy of our devotion and our imitation leading us to meet God in Heaven.
What is the source of Job’s just and patient stance in front of evil? One can only answer the in-dwelling of the Spirit of truth. God’s holy Spirit guarantees truth in the face of error or evil. Spiritual harm and temporal afflictions are real and the Prophet Job gives witness to this fact.
The Church reads the book of Job during Holy Week because there are significant parallels between the Prophet and Jesus: righteous man who suffers due to others. We interpret God’s allowing of Satan to afflict Job to prove his faithfulness. Jesus is the only sinless man who freely suffered for the sins of the world, i.e., is for each of personally. Job, like Jesus, it is revealed in the book named after him, “will rise again with those whom the Lord raises up” (Job 42:17 ). This passage is read on Holy Friday when we hear of the tombs being opened at the moment the Savior died on the Cross (Mt.27:52).
May the Holy Prophet Job teach us to be just and patient. May we follow his lead.