Gregory the Great: “Will the Rhinoceros be Willing to Serve Thee?” (2) Tuesday, Sep 3 2013 

St-Gregory-the-Dialogist(September 3rd is the feast of St Gregory the Great)

Following on from here…

Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee? (Job 39:9).

But at the very beginning of the rising Church – when the might of the wealthy was raising itself against her, and was panting for her death – who could then believe that she would subdue those stiff and stubborn necks of the haughty, and would bind them, with the gentle bands of faith, when tamed by the yoke of holy fear?

For she was tossed about, for a long while, in her beginnings, by the horn of this rhinoceros, and was struck by it, as though to be utterly destroyed. But by the dispensation of Divine grace, she both gained life and strength by death, and this rhinoceros, wearied with striking, bowed down his horn.

And that which was impossible to men, was not difficult to God, who crushed the stubborn powers of this world, not by words, but by miracles. For behold we observe daily the rhinoceroses becoming slaves, when we see the mighty of this world, who had before, with foolish pride, relied on their own strength, now subject to God.

The Lord was speaking, as it were, of a certain untamed rhinoceros, when He was saying; A rich man will hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:23). And when it was replied to Him; And who will be able to be saved? He immediately added; With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matt. 25:26).

As if He were saying: This rhinoceros cannot be tamed by human strength, but yet it can be subdued by Divine miracles. Whence it is here also fitly said to blessed Job, as representing Holy Church; Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee? i.e. As Myself, Who bore for a long while with his resisting the preaching of men, but yet suddenly overpowered him with miracles, when thus I willed it.

As if He said more plainly; Are they who are proud with foolish haughtiness, subjected to thy preaching, without My assistance? Consider therefore by Whom thou prevailest, and in every thing wherein thou prevailest bow down thy feeling of pride.

Or certainly, what wondrous works are wrought at last by the Apostles, who subject the world to God, and bend the pride of the mighty of this world, when subdued to His power, is brought before the notice of blessed Job, to bring down his confidence, in order that blessed Job may think the less highly of himself, the more he beholds such stubborn souls gathered together to God by others.

Let Him say then; Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee? i.e. As it will serve Me, by means of those, whom I shall have sent.

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Reflections (Moralia) on Job, 31, 1-2 (on Job 39:9) @ Lectionary Central.

Rabanus Maurus: The Lord Is Just in All His Ways and Kind in All His Doings Tuesday, Sep 11 2012 

(Commenting on Esther 4:1-16)

Mordecai, hearing that the death of the Jews was planned by imperial decree, put on mourning and, in bitterness of soul and cries of anguish, went to the entrance of the palace.

When the leaders of the Church hear of the persecution which the rulers of this world plan to bring upon the innocent servants of Christ, they display to heaven with tears and compunction of heart their press­ing needs..

[…] Now, should someone ask how it can be reconciled with being the most just of kings that he should inflict trials upon the innocent, let him know that this is not out of a wish to do evil, but the consequence of some supreme purpose.

For the wisdom of God which overcomes all evil, and reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other and orders all things well, does all that it wills in heaven and on earth, in the sea and in the deep.

By a just decision it comes about that his faithful servants are given into the hands of their persecutors, either to expiate their sins, or reform their way of living, or even to increase their merits and double their reward.

For, as the Prophet bears witness: The Lord is just in all his ways and kind in all his doings. He is near to all who call upon him. In truth, he fulfils the desire of those who fear him, and he hears their cry and saves them.

For, when Satan asked it, the Lord did not give Job into his hands that he might perish but that, with his help, he might conquer this most wicked enemy, and so win for himself the palm of victory, and leave a just punishment to his enemy for his malice.

The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass him, that power might be made perfect in weakness.

Nor should we pass over in silence the fact that it is said that Mordecai could not enter the king’s palace wearing sackcloth, but merely came to the entrance to the palace. For no one can enter the palace of the heavenly kingdom in the corruption of this present life.

But, in the meanwhile, everyone before the actual day of his death should knock at the gate of the kingdom by bodily mortification and compunction of heart, and thus at the hour of death enter the Lord’s paradise in joy.

Rabanus Maurus (c.780-856): Commentary on Esther, 7 (PL 109:654);from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of Week 24 in Ordinary Time, Year 2