St-Gregory-the-DialogistThou shalt also forget thy misery, and no more remember it, as waters that pass away (Job 16:11).

The mind feels the ills of the present life the more severely, in proportion as it neglects to take account of the good that comes after.

And as it will not consider the rewards that are in store, it reckons all to be grievous that it undergoes.

And hence the blinded imagination murmurs against the stroke of the scourge, and that is taken for an immeasurable woe, which by the days flowing on in their course is daily being brought to an end.

But if a man once raise himself to things eternal, and fix the eye of the soul upon those objects which remain without undergoing change, he sees that here below all whatsoever runs to an end is almost nothing at all.

He is subject to the adversities of the present life, but he bethinks himself that all that passes away is as nought.

For the more vigorously he makes his way into the interior joys, he is the less sensible of pains without.

Whence Zophar, not being afraid with boldfaced hardihood to instruct one better than himself, exhorts to righteousness, and shews how little chastening appears in the eyes of the righteous man.

As if it were in plain words; ‘If thou hast a taste of the joy which remains within, all that gives pain without forthwith becomes light.’

Now he does well in likening the miseries of the present life to ‘waters that pass away,’ for passing calamity never overwhelms the mind of the elect with the force of a shock, yet it does tinge it with the touch of sorrow.

For it drops indeed with the bleeding of the wound, though it is not dashed from the certainty of its salvation.

But it often happens that not only stripes inflict bruises, but that in the mind of each one of the righteous the temptings of evil spirits come in force, so that he is grieved by the stroke without, and is in some sort chilled within by temptation.

Yet grace never forsakes him. The more severely grace smites us in the dealings of Providence, so much the more does it watch over us in pity.

For when it has begun to grow dark through temptation, the inward light kindles itself again.

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Reflections (Moralia) on Job, 10, 32 (on Job 11:16) @ Lectionary Central [slightly adapted].

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