Gregorius Moralia EN 314

 IX. 'You have spoken like a foolish woman.


If we have taken good things from the hand of the Lord, how When refuse the bad?' (
Jb 2,10)

See how the enemy is beaten on all sides, broken on all sides, failing in every kind of temptation, even losing the woman's support he had been used to. At this juncture it is pleasant to consider the holy man, stripped of everything on the outside, but full of God within. When Paul caught sight of the riches of wisdom within himself and saw his body without subject to decay, he said, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." In blessed Job, the earthen vessel suffered open sores without, but inside the unfailing treasury of wisdom poured forth running words of holy learning, as he said, "If we have taken good things from the hand of the Lord, how shall we refuse the bad?" The good things are the gifts of God, both the temporal and the eternal; the bad things he calls the tribulations he suffers, of which the Lord spoke through the prophet: "I am the Lord and there is no other, shaping the light and creating the darkness, making peace and creating what is evil."

After all, it is not that evil things, which have no natural existence of their own, are created by the Lord, but the Lord says that he creates what is bad when he turns things good in themselves into sufferings for us when we act badly. In this way they become bad to sinners by virtue of the suffering they bring, while by their own nature, they are good. Thus, venom is death to man, but life to a serpent. By loving the things around us, we draw away from the love of our creator, and while the mind turns away to subjugate itself to the creatures it loves, it separates itself from the company of its creator. Then the mind must be stricken by the creator through those very things which the mind had set up for itself against the creator. Where man in his pride does not fear to find occasion for sin, there he finds the punishment that will straighten him out. He comes back to the things he had abandoned all the more quickly for seeing that the things he had sought instead are full of suffering for him.

 So it is well said, "shaping the light and creating the darkness," because when the darkness of suffering is created by our outward sufferings, the light of the mind is accordingly lit within. He is "making peace and creating what is evil," for peace with God is restored to us when created things, which are well made but not well lusted after, are turned into punishments that are, for us, bad. By our own fault we fall out of harmony with God, so it is fitting that we should find peace with Him again through sufferings, so that when the things that are created good become sources of suffering for us, the mind of the sinner should be disciplined and humbly reshaped to be at peace with the creator. Blessed Job calls his sufferings bad because he is thinking of the turmoil from which they arise to strike the unquestioned goodness of health and tranquility.

316 But we should especially note in his words

with what skill and care he musters his presence of mind against his wife's arguments, when he says, "If we have taken good things from the hand of the Lord, how shall we refuse the bad?" It is a great source of consolation in time of troubles to recall in adversity the many gifts of our creator. What sorrow brings will not break us if we bring to mind quickly the support that comes from God's gifts. So it is written: "On good days, be not unmindful of the bad ones, and on bad days be not unmindful of the good ones."  Whoever receives gifts but at the time fears no punishment rapidly falls into pride through his glee. If a man is worn down by punishing troubles, but in the midst of those troubles does not console himself by thinking of the gifts that have come his way in the past, his peace of mind is rapidly destroyed by despair that sets in on all sides. So therefore the two attitudes are to be joined together, each supporting the other at all times. Recollection of God's gifts tempers the pain of suffering, and fear of suffering should check the glee we feel on receiving those gifts.

 The holy man therefore, to ease his worried mind in his sufferings, considers the delights of God's gifts, saying, "If we have taken good things from the hand of the Lord, how shall we refuse the bad?" So it was fitting that he prefaced this by saying, "you have spoken like a foolish woman." Because it is the woman's sense, not her sex, that is against her, he does not say, "you have spoken like a woman," but "like a foolish woman," to show that her wicked ideas are the result of chance foolishness, not her inborn nature.

X.In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Jb 2,10)

 We sin with our lips in two ways: when we say what is wrong or keep silent what is right. If silence was not sometimes a sin, the prophet would not have said, "Woe is me, that I have kept silent." In all that he did blessed Job did not sin with his lips, for he spoke no arrogant words against the one who struck him, nor did he stifle a just response to his wife's persuasions. He sinned not by speaking, nor by keeping silent, giving thanks to the father who was testing him and serving up wise doctrine to meet his wife's wicked arguments. Because he knew what he owed to God, and what he owed his neighbor (specifically, patience to his creator, wisdom to his wife), he therefore taught his wife by his rebuke and praised God by giving thanks. But which of us, if we should receive even a single wound of all those with which Job was smitten, would not soon lie prostrate at the very center of our being? See how he was laid low on the outside by the wounds of the flesh, but remained strong and erect within, protected by strength of mind. There he saw pass beneath him every arrow shot from without by the avenging hand of his rampaging enemy. He alertly snatched up the arrows fired directly, that wounded the flesh, and the ones fired obliquely, that came in his wife's words. Our champion, caught up in the heat of the battle on all sides, opposed the shield of his patience to those arrows. He goes out in the face of a hail of weapons, for his mind is like a shield whose facets are the several virtues by which he is distinguished.

318 But the more heroically the ancient enemy is defeated,

the more passionately he is driven to devise new traps. Because the wife had fallen silent under Job's reproaches, he immediately summoned others to rise to the task of rebuke and insult. Just as he had sought to increase the pain of Job's earlier losses by repeated reports of disaster, so now he attacks the stout heart with repeated barrages of insult.

XI.Three friends of Job heard all the evil that had befallen him


and they came, each from his own home: Eliphaz the Themanite, Baldad the Suhite, and Sophar the Naamathite. For they had agreed that they would come jointly to see Job and console him. (
Jb 2,11)

From the way they joined to come to console the afflicted friend, we see how great was their charity towards each other and towards the victim. Their zeal and good intentions are demonstrated merely by scripture's testimony that they were friends of so great a man, yet this very intention of theirs is shadowed in the eyes of the punishing judge when they burst forth in speech full of indiscretion.

XII. And when they looked upon him from afar,

they did not recognize him; crying out they wept, rent their garments, and scattered dust to the heavens upon their heads. (
Jb 2,12)

Because illness had changed the appearance of the victim, the friends cry out and weep, rend their garments, and sprinkle dust on their heads. When they see that the one they come to see is changed, spontaneous sympathy changes the appearance even of those who come to console. The way of consolation is to try to lift the victim from his grief first by joining with him in sorrow and weeping. It is impossible to console someone with whose suffering you do not sympathize, for the further aloof you stand from his suffering, the less will the victim, whose state of mind you do not share, be willing to accept your consolation.  The mind must be softened to be at one with the sufferer, embrace him, and thus lift him up. Iron cannot be joined to iron, unless both pieces are softened by the heat of the flame. What is soft cannot be joined with what is hard unless the hardness of the latter is softened and tempered so that it might almost become the very thing to which we seek to attach it. We cannot help the fallen to stand, unless we stoop from our rigid height first, for the posture of the erect is too far different from that of the fallen, and if we decline to bend, we can never lift.

The friends of the blessed Job, therefore, who came to lift him from his grief, necessarily took care to grieve along with him, and when they saw his wounded body took care to rend their own garments. When they saw his visage altered, they took care to dirty their own heads with dust. Thus the afflicted friend would more readily hear their words, since he saw something of his own affliction in them.

321 But we must realize that whoever wishes to console

the afflicted must set a limit to his own compassionate grief, or he will not only fail to ease the victim's mind but even, if he should grieve too deeply, burden the soul of the victim with the weight of despair. Our compassion should match the sufferings of the afflicted in a way that moderates and supports, but does not exacerbate and weigh down. So perhaps we might conclude that the friends of blessed Job were too much afflicted with grief when they came to console him. They saw the victim's sufferings but did not know his mind, and so they fell to sorrowing beyond measure, as if the victim, for all his strength, had been wounded in body but had fallen also in his heart.

XII.They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights;


none said a word to him, for they saw his sorrow was overwhelming. (
Jb 2,13)

We do not know whether they sat by poor Job for seven days and seven nights without interruption, or whether they came to him repeatedly and frequently over that period. Often we say we did something for so many days, even though we were not constantly busy with it for that time. Sacred scripture often takes the whole for the part, just as it takes the part for the whole. It takes the part for the whole when it describes the household of Jacob: "Jacob went into Egypt with seventy souls." Mentioning souls, it clearly intends us to understand bodies as well. On the other hand, scripture takes the whole for the part when Mary Magdalene at the tomb complains that "They have taken the Lord from the tomb and we do not know where they have put him." She had come looking only for the body of the Lord, but speaks as if the Lord had been entirely taken away at once. It is not clear in this present passage whether the whole is to be taken for the part.

323 But we must not fail to notice that they were long silent

and were rebuked when at last they spoke. Some there are who blurt out speaking hastily and continue carelessly what they began in haste. And some there are who begin speaking reluctantly, but once they begin, cannot keep their words in check. Seeing Job's suffering, his friends kept long silent.  But beginning late, they spoke without caution, because they would not spare Job's feelings. They held their tongues, lest they begin rashly, but once they began they used no moderation to keep their consolation from becoming insult. They came with the good intention of offering consolation, but this pure gift they offered out of compassion to God was spoiled by their thoughtless speech. Indeed, it is written, "If you bring your offering rightly, but do not apportion it rightly, you have sinned." We bring our offering rightly when we act with good intentions, but we apportion it wrongly if we do not carry out our intentions with care and attention. To apportion offerings rightly is to discern our own laudable enthusiasms correctly. The one who puts off doing this, even if he brings his offering rightly, is a sinner.

324 Often we act with good intentions,

but when we neglect to use discernment and care we fail to see the goal by which our actions will be judged. And so sometimes what we thought would be matter for praise becomes the basis of accusation against us.  Anyone who considers the actions of Job's friends cannot fail to see the compassion that brought them to him. We should measure carefully the charity of their act, to come together as one at the side of the afflicted man. We should value their long-suffering patience, to sit silently by for seven days and nights. We should regard their compassion and sympathy, to sully their own heads with dust. But when they began to speak, thinking to win praise for their virtue, they made themselves liable to reproach. Often the uncautious find that what begins with thought only of reward is turned into sin in the end. They lost with their rash words the reward they had bought with their labors. If divine grace had not commanded them to offer sacrifice in atonement, they could have been justly punished by the Lord for just that which they thought would be wondrous pleasing to the Lord. They displease the judge by the self-satisfied way they deign to speak as if in defense of the judge himself.

We say these things now to remind our readers to think carefully about the things they themselves do with bad intentions and beware of the Lord's punishment, when they see him punish so severely deeds begun with good intention but tainted with neglect and carelessness. Who would not think himself to have earned a reward if he had either defended God in the eyes of his neighbor or even at least sat silently by for seven days and nights out of compassion for a neighbor? And still the friends of blessed Job found no reward for their labors, only guilt, for though they knew how good was the consolation they offered, they did not know how to balance it with the restraint of discernment. Whence we learn it is necessary to consider not only what we do, but also the care with which we do it. We should do not evil at all, but we should also do no uncautious good. The prophet admonishes us to perform good deeds with care, saying, "Cursed is the man who does the Lord's work carelessly."

Let this example profit us in this way, that we remember to tremble in the presence of the searching and boundless scrutiny of the awesome judge, not only for the sins we have committed, but as well for the good deeds (if there are any) we have done.  Often what had been thought before a virtue becomes a fault when subjected to God's judgment, and where a fitting reward was expected, just punishment is found instead.

325 We have discussed this passage now briefly according to the historical sense. Let us turn to the mystery of allegory.

We spoke at the outset of this work about the unity of head and body and discussed carefully the great bond of charity between them.  The Lord still suffers much here in the body (which is us) and yet his body (the church) already rejoices with its head (the Lord) in heaven. Now therefore we should depict the sufferings of the head, just to show how much it still suffers through its body. If our sufferings did not affect the head, he would never have cried out from heaven on behalf of his afflicted limbs to the persecutor, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" If our sufferings were not pains for him, Paul would not have said, in affliction after his conversion, "I make up for the sufferings that Christ lacks, in my own flesh." And still, rejoicing in the resurrection of the head, he speaks of the one who "brought us to life again and made us to sit with him in the heavens."  Sufferings and persecution kept him bound on earth, but though weighed down by his pains he was already living vicariously in heaven through the glory of the head. Because we know that head and body are always united, so we begin with the sufferings of the head to show subsequently the pains of the body.

 We will not bother to repeat what we have already said repeatedly about Satan coming before the Lord, about their conversation, and the praises of Job spoken by their creator, for if the mind is long bogged down in matters already treated in detail, it is kept from getting to new material. We will make a beginning for our allegorical treatment, therefore, where we find something new said after the phrases already often repeated.

 XIV. 'But you have stirred me up against him, that I should afflict him for nothing.'

326 (Jb 2,3)

If blessed Job takes the part of our Redeemer in the time of his passion, how is it that the Lord says to Satan, "you have stirred me up against him"? The Mediator of God and man, the man Christ Jesus, came to bear the sufferings of our mortality in order to erase the guilt of our sins. But how does the Father claim that Satan stirred him to move against one who was of one and the same nature as the father, when it is clear that no inequality of power, no diversity of will disturbs the harmonious unity of Father and Son? But yet the one who is equal to the father by virtue of his divinity came in the flesh to suffer for us. He would not have undergone these sufferings if he had not taken on the appearance of a man to redeem it from its doom. If the first man had not sinned, the second man would never have come to bear the indignities of the passion. So when the first man was stirred to move away from the Lord by Satan, then is the Lord himself stirred up against the second man.

 So it is true to say that Satan stirred up the Lord to afflict Job, for he was the one who brought the first man in paradise down from the height of justice through the sin of disobedience.  If Satan had not dragged the first Adam to the soul's death as punishment for voluntary sin, the second Adam would never have come, without sin, to accept the voluntary death of the flesh.  So it is well said of our Redeemer, "You have stirred me up against him, that I should afflict him for nothing." As if to say openly: 'Since he does not die for his own sake but for another's, you stirred me up to afflict him when you drew the other away from me by your cunning arguments.' Then it is appropriately added, "for nothing." It is for nothing that someone is afflicted if he is weighed down with the punishment for sin but has never been tainted by the stain of that sin. It was for nothing that he was afflicted when he was made flesh and, having no sins of his own to admit, nevertheless undertook without guilt the punishment due to those who live by the flesh.  This is what it means when he says through the prophet, "What I did not take, for that I paid the penalty." The other one had been created to live in paradise, but in his pride tried to snatch away the appearance of divine power. The Mediator paid the penalty for that pride though free of guilt himself. Thus a certain wise man says to the Father, "Since you are just, you arrange all things justly. You also condemn the one who ought not be punished."

327 But we must ask how it is that he is just and arranges all things justly,

if he condemns the one who ought not be punished.  Our Mediator should not have been punished on his own account, for he had been touched by no stain of guilt. But if he did not accept an unearned guilt, he would never have freed us from the death we had earned. Since the father is just, therefore, he punishes a just man and arranges all things justly, because he justifies all men by punishing one who is without sin in place of all the sinners. In that way, the elect might rise to the summit of righteousness, because the one who is above all things bore the penalties of our unrighteousness. Where it says in the one place that he is condemned when he should not be, here it says that he is afflicted "for nothing." Taken in himself he was afflicted for nothing, but not for nothing when we consider what we ourselves have done. The rust of sin could not be scoured away except by the fire of suffering. So he came without fault to subject himself to suffering voluntarily, so that the punishments due our sins might rightly lose their victims by wrongly seizing hold of one who had been free of them. He was afflicted for nothing, and not for nothing, for he had no sin in himself, but by his own blood he washed away the stain of our sin.

XV. 'To which Satan answered, saying, 'Skin for skin;


a man will give up everything he has to save his life. But reach out your hand and touch his face and his flesh: then you will see that he will curse you to your face.' (
Jb 2,4-5)

When the evil spirit sees our Redeemer resplendent with miracles, he cries out, "We know who you are, holy one of God." The one who said this recognized the son of God and feared him. But sometimes, when he saw our Lord was capable of suffering, he thought (for he knew nothing of the power of divine pity) that he was merely a man. He had learned that there were many placed in pastoral positions with an appearance of holiness who were altogether strangers to the inner workings of charity and took no thought for the sufferings of another. Taking him to be like the others, Satan was angry that he could not be overcome by such losses and burned to touch Job's's flesh with suffering, and said, "Skin for skin; a man will give up everything he has to save his life. But reach out your hand and touch his face and his flesh: then you will see that he will curse you to your face." As if to say openly: 'He fails to react to events outside himself; then we will truly see what sort he is, if he experiences in himself that which will make him suffer.' When Satan seeks these things, he speaks not with real words, but with his desires; when his followers seek them, they fit words to their desires. He himself spoke through his followers, as we hear in the voice of the prophet, "Let us put the wood in his bread, and let us erase him from the land of the living." To put wood in bread is to raise the gibbet of the cross on which to fix his body. They think they can erase his life from the land of the living when they think him mortal and think to put an end to him with death.

XVI. So the Lord said to Satan, 'So: he is in your hand--but only preserve his soul.'

329 (Jb 2,6)

Who would be so mad as to think that the creator of all things was given over to the hands of Satan? But if we have learned from truth, who of us does not know that all those who lived wickedly are joined to Satan as limbs of his body? Pilate was one of Satan's limbs, failing to recognize even on the brink of death the Lord come to our redemption. The leaders of the priests were Satan's body, when they attempted to drive the Redeemer of the world from the world, pursuing him even to the cross. When therefore our Lord gave himself over into the hands of Satan's limbs, what else was he doing than allowing the hand of Satan to hold sway over him? His mission was to die on the outside, so that we might be freed within and without.

If we take the "hand of Satan" to be his power, Christ suffered the force of his hand in the flesh when he felt that power even in the spittle, the blows, the whips, the cross, and the lance of his passion. So he said to Pilate, one of Satan's limbs, when he came to his hour of passion, "You would not have power over me if it had not been given to you from above." But this power to which he had submitted outwardly he still put to his own uses inwardly. Pilate (or Satan, who was Pilate's leader) was under the power of the one over whom he took power. The one from above arranged to undergo what he did at the hands of his persecutor, so that the cruelty that came from the wicked minds of the faithless could still work to the advantage of all the elect. It was inner compassion that determined him to suffer wicked things outwardly.

This is why it is said of him at the last supper, "Jesus knew that the Father gave all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and that he was going to God: so he rose from supper and put aside his garments." See how, just as he was about to fall into the hands of his persecutors, he knew that he had even those persecutors in his power. It is clear that if he knew he had received all things, he must have possessed even those by whom he was possessed. Everything their malice was allowed to try against him he could inflict upon himself in the name of pity and compassion. So let it be said to Satan, "So:  he is in your hand," for the raving Satan won permission to smite his flesh, little knowing that he still served the Lord's power.

330 Satan is commanded to spare the soul [anima],

not because he is prohibited from touching it, but because he is thus shown to be unable to overpower it. The soul of our Redeemer is not upset by the force of temptation, the way it is with mere men like ourselves, who are often shaken by temptation's onrush. Our enemy was unable so much as to budge the mind of the mediator of God and man with temptation, even though he was permitted to take him up on a lofty mountain, to promise to give him the kingdoms of the world, to show him stones to be turned to bread.

The Mediator bore with all this without, while his mind clung firmly to its divine strength within. Even if he was sometimes troubled and groaned in the spirit, he still arranged in his divine power how much he would be troubled in his human weakness, governing all things serenely and showing himself troubled to make up for human weakness. He remained calm within himself, arranging everything that he would do with a show of distress to manifest the humanity he had accepted.

331 When we love rightly, there is nothing in all creation dearer to us than our soul;

thus we try to do justice to the weight of our love for others by saying we love them as much as our soul. Here then Job's's soul can stand for the life of the elect. When Satan is allowed to smite the flesh of the Redeemer, he is kept back from his soul, for when he takes power over the body to make it suffer, he loses his power over the elect, and when the flesh of the Redeemer dies on the cross, the minds of the elect are strengthened against temptation. So therefore it can be said, "So: he is in your hand--but only preserve his soul," as if to say, 'Have your way with his body and lose all rights of perverse dominion over his chosen ones, whom he has possessed in foreknowledge from all eternity.'

332 Satan went out therefore from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job

with the most terrible sores, from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. (
Jb 2,7)

None of the elect comes into this life without suffering the hostility of the enemy. The limbs of our Lord's body from the beginning of time, though they live faithfully, have suffered much cruelty. Does not Abel show himself to have been one of the Lord's limbs? He gave a foreshadowing of the Lord's death not only in the pleasing sacrifice he offered, but even in the way he accepted death in silence. Of him it is written, "Like a lamb before the shearer he will be silent and not open his mouth."

From the foundation of the world, Satan has tried to destroy the body of the Redeemer. From the sole of his foot, therefore, to the top of his head, he inflicted wounds, beginning with the first people and continuing in his fury until he came to the very head of the church.

XVIII. He was scraping his oozings with a potsherd.

333 (Jb 2,8)

 In the hand of the Lord, what else is this potsherd but the flesh he took from our earthy nature? A shard is hardened by fire, while the flesh of the Lord came forth from his sufferings all the stronger. Dying in his infirmity, he rose again from death without infirmity. So it is rightly said through the prophet:  "My strength is hardened like a potsherd." His strength hardened like a potsherd when he fortified the weakness of the flesh he had accepted with the fire of his sufferings. But what should we understand by the oozings if not sin?

Flesh and blood usually stand for the sins of the flesh, whence it is said through the psalmist, "Free me from blood." The oozing here is the blood's festering. So what is this ooze but the sins of the flesh grown worse with long habit? A wound begins to ooze, therefore, when a fault long neglected grows worse with habit.  So the mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, handed over his body to the hands of his persecutors, scraping his pus with a shard in that he cleansed away sin from the flesh. "For he came," as it is written, "in the likeness of sinful flesh, so that he might condemn sin of sin." When he offered the innocence of his flesh to the enemy, he wiped away the defilement of our flesh, and through the flesh by which the enemy held us prisoner he set us free. What we had made a tool of sin was transformed by our mediator into the armor of justice. With a shard, therefore, the pus is scraped, when sin is defeated by the flesh.

XIX. He was sitting on a dungheap.

334 (Jb 2,8)

He was not sitting in the forum where the law thunders forth, nor in some great edifice on a lofty throne, but on a dungheap. For the Redeemer of the human race took on flesh (Paul attests this), "choosing what was weak in the world to overthrow the mighty."  And was not our Redeemer sitting on a dungheap as buildnigs toppled when he settled peacefully among the pagans he had formerly rejected, leaving behind the Jews with their pride? He is wounded and away from home, because he suffered the hostility of Judea, was despised by his own race, and felt the pain of his sufferings, as John bears witness, saying, "He came to his own and his own received him not." But the Truth itself tells us how it is that he settled peaceably on the dunghill, for it says, "There will be more joy in heaven for one sinner doing penance than for ninety-nine just souls in no need of penance." He sits sorrowfully on a dungheap, for he freely embraces the hearts of the penitent after all their sins. For are not the hearts of the penitent a kind of dungheap? They weep for their sins as they regard their lives and put off their old selves as if they were heaping up their dung before them. In his troubles Job did not head for the mountain, but he stayed on the dungheap, because when our Redeemer came to his passion, he left behind the haughty hearts of the proud and found peace with the humble and the afflicted. He revealed this of himself even before the incarnation, when he said through the prophet, "To whom shall I look if not the man who is humble and peaceful and in awe of my words?"

335 Who can count up how many injuries he suffered at men's hands,

this one whose compassion brought so many gifts to men?  Who can count up how much he endures even now, even while he reigns from heaven over the hearts of the faithful? He suffers daily everything that his elect suffer at the hands of the reprobate. Though the head of this body (we are the body) has raised himself free above all things, he still senses the injuries inflicted by the wicked through his body which remains here below.

 But why must we say these things about the infidels, when we see many of those in the church itself who are devoted to things of the flesh, fighting with their wicked lives against the life of the Redeemer? There are those who pursue him with perverse deeds because they cannot use swords, who become enemies of the good when they see they cannot get what they want in the church. They involve themselves not only in wicked deeds but even work to twist the rectitude of the just away into perversity. They fail to keep their sight fixed on eternity and give way mean-spiritedly to a desire for things of this world. Their fall from eternity is more drastic, for they treating the temporal goods they see as if they were the only goods. The simplicity of the just disturbs them, so when they find a chance to unsettle the just, they urge their own two-facedness upon their brethren.  So what follows is particularly fitting:

Gregorius Moralia EN 314