From the Moral
Reflections on Job by Saint Gregory the Great
The interior witness
persons are frequently diverted toward pursuing exterior happiness when the breath
of popular favor accompanies their good actions. So they give up their own personal
choices, preferring to remain at the mercy of whatever they hear from others.
Thus, they rejoice not so much to become but to be called blessed.
Eager for praise, they give up what they had begun to be; and so they are severed from
God by the very means by which they appeared to be commendable in God.
But sometimes a soul firmly
strives for righteousness and yet is beset by other’s ridicule. It does what
is admirable but it gets only mockery. It might have gone out of itself because
of other’s praise; it returns to itself when repelled by their abuse. Finding
no resting-place without, it cleaves more intensely to God within. All its hope is
fixed on its Creator, and amid all the ridicule and abuse it invokes its interior
Those who are afflicted in this
way grow closer to God the more they turn away from human popularity. They straightway
pour themselves out in prayer, and, pressured from without, they are 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 others. Again, we should note how appropriately the words
are inserted: as I am, because there are some people who are both oppressed by human
mockery and are yet deprived of God’s favorable hearing. For when the mockery is done
to a person’s own sin, it obviously does not produce the merit that is due to
The simplicity of the just is laughed
to scorn. It is the “wisdom” of this world to conceal the heart with stratagems, to veil
one’s thoughts with words so as 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 one’s 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 truth’s sake. But this guilelessness is laughed to scorn, for the virtue of
innocence is held as foolishness by those duped by 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