A Homily for Holy Communion on
Monday , 15th of June, 2015, 9 a.m.
for the Sisters of the Love of God
Fairacres Priory, Oxford
O that my words were written down!
O that they were inscribed in a book!
O that with an iron pen and with lead
they were engraved on a rock for ever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see on my side,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
I Know That My Redeemer Lives – And So Do I!
+ May I speak in the name of the Divine Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Amen.
The Book of Job is a most mysterious thing. I hadn’t really paid it much attention until I was recommended a little work by C. G. Jung, written towards the end of his life, called “Answer to Job”. It’s rather a bracing read, and it caused a bit of a kerfuffle when it was first published in the 1950s, so I can understand how this parson’s son put off writing it until after his mortgage was paid off and his pension secure.
I think I read it in the bath, in the Spring of 1989, whilst being a rather inept caretaker of a little house in the corner of S. Thomas’s churchyard down by the station in Oxford. I used to do a lot of reading in the bath, and I remember clearly that there was bright sunlight. It is a most remarkable book and, if I have remembered it rightly, what it does is rather radically to take the Scriptures more literally than any Fundamentalist would dare to. Job is depicted not just arguing with God, as Abraham and Jacob had done, but telling God off.
“I know that my redeemer lives” is a challenge to God to stop being horrible and start behaving like God. Job is setting down before the Almighty and saying “you really could do better than this, and I’m waiting here until you do”.
I’m not averse to going out on a limb from time to time, but as I typed these words, I really wasn’t sure I should say them. But on the other hand, I don’t think you can read Job any other way. And Job raises the stakes. He is urged to “curse God and die” (by Mrs Job who is presumably the beneficiary of the insurance policy). Because he knows “his redeemer lives”, either God is God, and lives, or there is nothing, just the cursing God, and death. But if God lives, God the redeemer, then we all do, the whole of his creation.
That turns out to be God’s answer to Job – look at creation. And when we look, we see life, often the “life more abundant” that Jesus promised us. The sparrows of the air and the lilies of the field (or leviathan and behemoth, as Job would have it) are tokens that our “redeemer lives”. And if our redeemer lives, so do we. Not just now. For ever. We partake of eternity, by virtue of having occupied this small plot of time.
On a requiem mass day, that is what we celebrate – both those who have occupied this small plot of of time with us, and exchanged time for eternity; and the promise of God, that he will be with us always, and redeem the time, for our eternity together, caught up in the mystery of the love of the Divine Trinity, the eternal redeemer. Who lives.