From the Moral
Reflections on Job by Saint Gregory the Great
The interior witness
person is frequently diverted toward pursuing exterior happiness when the breath
of popular favor accompanies his good actions. So he gives up his own personal
choices, preferring to remain at the mercy of whatever he hears from others.
Thus, he rejoices not so much to become but to be called blessed.
Eager for praise, he gives up what he had begun to be; and so he is severed from
God by the very means by which he appeared to be commendable in God.
But sometimes a soul firmly
strives for righteousness and yet is beset by mens ridicule. He does what
is admirable but he gets only mockery. He might have gone out of himself because
of mans praise; he returns to himself when repelled by their abuse. Finding
no resting-place without, he cleaves more intensely to God within. All his hope is
fixed on his Creator, and amid all the ridicule and abuse he invokes his interior
One who is afflicted in this
way grows closer to God the more he turns away from human popularity. He straightway
pours himself out in prayer, and, pressured from without, he is refined with a more
perfect purity to penetrate what is within.
In this context, the words of Job apply:
Whoever is mocked by his friend, as I am, shall call upon God, and He shall hear
him. For while the wicked reproach the just, they show them whom they should look
to as the witness of their actions. Thus afflicted, the soul strengthens itself by prayer;
it is united within to One who listens from on high precisely because it is cut off
externally from the praise of men. Again, we should note how appropriately the words
are inserted: as I am. There are some people who are both oppressed by human
mockery and are yet deprived of Gods favorable hearing. For when the mockery is done
to a mans own sin, it obviously does not produce the merit that is due to
The simplicity of the just man is laughed
to scorn. It is the wisdom of this world to conceal the heart with stratagems, to veil
ones thoughts with words to make what is false appear true and what is true appear
false. On the other hand it is the wisdom of the just never to pretend anything for show;
always to use words to express ones thoughts; to love the truth as it is and to avoid
what is false; to do what is right without reward; to be more willing to put up with
evil than to perpetrate it; not to seek revenge for wrong; and to consider as gain any
insult for truths sake. But this guilelessness is laughed to scorn, for the virtue of
innocence is held as foolishness by the wise of this world. Anything that is done out of
innocence, they doubtless consider to be stupidity, and whatever truth approves of, in
practice is called folly by their worldly wisdom.
Saint Gregory the Great,
(Office of Readings, Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time