25 October 2011
ONE HUNDRED NINETIETH
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. [Job 1, 1] It is for this reason that we are told where the holy man dwelt, that the meritoriousness of his virtue might be expressed; for who knows not that Uz is a land of the Gentiles? and the Gentile world came under the dominion of wickedness, in the same proportion that its eyes were shut to the knowledge of its Creator. Let us be told then where he dwelt, that this circumstance may be reckoned to his praise, that he was good among bad men; for it is no very great praise to be good in company with the good, but to be good with the bad; for as it is a greater offence not to be good among good men, so it is immeasurably high testimony for any one to have shewn himself good even among the wicked. Hence it is that the same blessed Job bears witness to himself, saying, I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. [Job 30, 29] Hence it was that Peter extolled Lot with high commendation, because he found him to be good among a reprobate people; saying, And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked; for he was righteous in seeing and hearing, dwelling with them who vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. [2 Pet. 2, 7.8.] Now he evidently could not have been vexed unless he had both heard and witnessed the wicked deeds of his neighbours, and yet he is called righteous both in seeing and in hearing, because their wicked lives affected the ears and eyes of the Saint not with a pleasant sensation, but with the pain of a blow. Hence it is that Paul says to his disciples, In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine like lights in the world. [Phil. 2, 15] Hence it is said to the Angel of the Church of Pergamos, I know thy works,and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is; and thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith. [Rev. 2, 13] Hence the Holy Church is commended by the voice of the Spouse, where He says to her in the Song of love, As the lily among the thorns, so is my love among the daughters. [Cant. 2, 2] Well then is the blessed Job described, (by the mention of a gentile land,) as having dwelt among the wicked, that according to the testimony borne by the Spouse, be might be shewn to have grown up a lily among thorns, for which reason it is well subjoined immediately after, And that man was simple and upright.