Job spoke, saying:(Job 7:1-4, 6-7 NAB)
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade,
a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery,
and troubled nights have been allotted to me.
If in bed I say, “When shall I arise?”
then the night drags on;
I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle;
they come to an end without hope.
Remember that my life is like the wind;
I shall not see happiness again.
I like this passage (I like most of Job), but it's a passage that makes no sense without its context. It tickles me a bit that everyone will be saying "Thanks be to God" to Job complaining that life is short, terrible, and without hope, but that aside, this is not an easy passage to read. I suppose the idea here, as usual, is that it serves as a kind of prologue to the other readings, on God healing the brokenhearted (Psalm), Paul becoming weak to win the weak (second reading), and Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law (Gospel); but it's not obviously going to come across like that to anyone, I think, and I suspect the portion of the congregation that pays any attention to the readings will be baffled by it. Much of reading in church is getting the mood right. Exhortations can be read pleasantly, narratives in a measured way, and prophetic proclamations forcefully (in the history of the world, no one has come up with a better or more fun way to open than, "Thus says the Lord!"--those readings always take care of themselves), but how does one read a complaint that is at the same time simply an allusion to a larger story? I'm not sure. I always do some practice, but this is likely one that will just end up read however it happens to be read; I don't know that practice will get anywhere with it.
I find it odd, too, that the reading just skips over Job 7:5, "My flesh is clothed with worms and scabs; my skin cracks and festers." It can't be squeamishness, since the readings next Sunday are about leprosy. Was there any particular rationale for leaving it out? It is another of those mysteries.
In context, of course, Job's complaint is in response to Eliphaz, who has scolded Job with almost stereotypical pious advice, telling him that if Eliphaz were Job, he'd appeal to God: "Happy is the man whom God reproves! The Almighty's chastening do not reject. For he wounds, but he binds up; he smites, but his hands give healing." So Job responds that he would appeal to God if he could, and demands to know why Eliphaz is attacking him when his miserable life is going to be coming to an end soon anyway. That's what's going on here. I don't see why we couldn't have had a little of this exchange, which would take all of one more minute and make the whole passage make sense on its own. It would still cohere with the other readings, and it wouldn't sound like it was from a scrap of paper floating around after the fire in the library in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.
At least this is one in which the NAB is reasonably readable. The epistle, which also makes little sense out of context, is clunky enough in translation that it borders on incomprehensible.
All very curious. One wonders what the thought process was underlying these kinds of things.