St-Gregory-the-DialogistWhen Job lost everything, at Almighty’s God decree, to pre­serve his peace of mind he remembered the time when he did not yet possess the things he had now lost.

[…] To enhance his peace of mind he ponders yet more closely his origins, saying as he does so: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I shall return whence I came.

[…] Since therefore the things I have lost were only what I had received and must leave behind, what have I lost that really belonged to me?

But then, because consolation derives not only from thinking about one’s condition but also about the Crea­tor’s uprightness, he is right to add:

The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away; as it has pleased the Lord, so has he wrought.

He well says, as it has pleased the Lord. For since in this world we have to put up with things we do not like, it is necessary that we should accommodate our best endeavours to him who cannot will anything that is unjust.

If therefore we know that what is just and equitable pleases the Lord, and that we can suffer nothing but what is pleasing to him, then all our sufferings must for that reason be justly and fairly imposed: and it would therefore be very unjust of us to grumble at them.

We should note that, having got all that right, Job ends by praising God.

This was so that his adversary [the devil] might realise, over­come by shame at seeing Job’s plight, that his own attitude in his prosperity is one of contempt for God, the same God to whom even this man, now fallen on evil times, can never­theless sing a hymn of praise.

We should realise that the enemy of our race can smite us with as many of his darts as there are temptations for him to afflict us with.

For we do battle daily; and daily his onslaught of temptations rains down on us.

But we in turn can fire our darts against him if, while buried in our tribulations, we will but react in humility.

Thus Job, although suffering in material things, is still a blessed and happy man.

We should not think that our champion merely receives wounds without inflicting any in return.

Indeed, every prayer of patience offered by the sufferer in God’s praise is a dart turned against the enemy’s breast: and a much sharper blow is thereby struck than the one sustained.

For the man in his afflictions loses only earthly goods, whereas in bearing humbly with his afflictions he has increased many times over his stock in heaven.

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Reflections (Moralia) on Job, 2.17.30-18.31 (SC 32bis:203-205);  from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Sunday of the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2.

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