The Patience of Job

I think the greatest of popes was Gregory the Great, who held the church together during Rome’s free fall into poverty in the 6th century. He kept his balance by reflecting on the scriptures, and one of his favorite books to reflect on was the Book of Job.  Here he is drawing on Job’s wisdom:

“Paul saw the riches of wisdom within himself though he himself was outwardly a corruptible body, which is why he says ‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels’. In Job, then, the earthenware vessel felt  gaping sores externally; while an interior treasure remained unchanged. The gaping outward wounds did not stop the treasure of wisdom within from welling up and uttering these holy and instructive words: ‘If we have received good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not receive evil?’ By the good he means the good things given by God, both temporal and eternal; by evil he means the blows he is suffering from in the present.”

Gregory quotes from Isaiah:

“‘I am the Lord, unrivalled,

I form the light and create the dark.

I make good fortune and create calamity,

it is I, the Lord, who do all this.’

“I form the light, and create the dark, because when the darkness of pain is created by blows from without, the light of the mind is kindled by instruction within.

‘I make good fortune and create calamity…’ Notice Job’s skill as he meets the arguments of his wife.If we have received good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not receive evil?’

 “It’s consoling, when we suffer afflictions, to remember our Maker’s gifts to us. Painful things will not depress us if we quickly remember also the gifts that we have been given. As Scripture says, ‘In the day of prosperity do not forget affliction, and in the day of affliction, do not forget prosperity.’”

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