Friday, October 3, 2014


At the end of today's first reading Job responds to God,

I put my hand over my mouth. Though I have spoken once, I will not do so again; though twice, I will do so no more.

Mark Twain said, "Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid, than to open it and remove all doubt." I would make only one change and replace stupid with ignorant.

To say someone is ignorant is not an insult. It is a statement of fact. It is connected with humility. If we are humble we can all acknowledge our ignorance. Ignorance is lack of knowledge. Ignorance can be fixed.

The series of questions with which God peppers Job are not to beat Job down but simply to get him to admit his ignorance. To acknowledge that God knows what he can never know. And because God knows what we can never know, God also is the only one who can truly know what is good for us at any given moment.

We only know what we want. We know what we need on a very primitive level. I need to go to the bathroom. I need a glass of water. I need to go to the dentist. Our deepest needs only God knows.

And when it comes to other people we are even more ignorant. We cannot possibly know all the variables in another person's life. And yet we freely run around saying, "She needs to do this" and "He needs to do that."

As for myself, I am doing well if I can go from getting up in the morning to going to bed and do the right things.

We can offer advice to others. But we should always recognize the limited nature of our understanding of the situation, our ignorance. I think many things; I believe many things; I know very little.

So as we walk through today, as we get the urge to critique anything and everything, let us in humility acknowledge our ignorance, and practice the Job response.