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Moral Reflections on Job by Gregory the Great

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posted on Mar, 3 2014 @ 10:25 PM
When Paul perceived within himself the riches of internal wisdom, yet saw the corruptibility of his own body, he was led to say: We have this treasure in earthen vessels. Now in the blessed Job the earthen vessel felt the gaping sores without, while this treasure of wisdom remained whole and intact within. For outwardly his body was in agony, but inwardly from the treasure of wisdom came forth holy thoughts: If we have received good from the hand of the Lord, why should we not endure evil? The good here refers either to the temporal or to the eternal gifts of God, and the evil to the scourges of the present time, about which the Lord says through the prophet: I am the Lord and there is no other. I form the light and create the darkness. I make peace and create evil.

I form the light and create the darkness, for though outwardly these scourges create the darkness of anguish, inwardly knowledge enkindles the light in the mind. I make peace and create evil, for peace with God is restored to us when those things which were rightly created for us, but are not ordinarily desired, are turned into scourges and become evil for us. It is through sin that we become opposed to God; therefore, it is fitting that we should return to his peace by way of scourges. In this manner, when everything created for good is turned into a source of pain for us, the mind of the chastened man may be humbly renewed and restored to peace with his Creator.

We ought particularly to observe in Job’s words how skillfully he meets his wife’s persuading: If we have received good from the hand of the Lord, why should we not endure evil? It is a great comfort in tribulation if, in times of adversity, we recall the gifts our Creator has given us. Nor will overwhelming sorrow break us, if we quickly call to mind the gifts which have sustained us. For it is written: On the day of prosperity do not forget affliction, and on the day of affliction do not forget prosperity. For if a man receives God’s gifts, but forgets his affliction, he can fall through his own excessive joy. On the other hand, when a man is bruised by scourges, but is not at all consoled by the thought of the blessings he has been fortunate to receive, he is completely cast down.

Thus both attitudes must be united so that one may be supported by the other: the memory of the gift can temper the pain of the affliction, and the foreboding and fear of the affliction can modify the joy of the gift. And so the holy Job, to soothe his soul’s depression in the midst of his wound, weighs the delightful gifts he has received even while he suffers from the scourges, saying: If we have received good from the hand of the Lord, why should we not endure evil?

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