Patristic Lectionary—1 August 2020, Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, I occasionally post selections from Durham University’s two-year lectionary for the Divine Office that draws mostly from patristic writings.  The lectionary was initially edited by Stephen Mark Holmes (University of Edinburgh School of Divinity) and subsequently re-edited and formatted by Michele Freyhauf (Durham University).  Click here for the link to the lectionary.]

Patristic Lectionary—1 August 2020, Saint Alphonsus Liguori

[The image is of William Blake’s watercolor “Job and His Family Restored to Prosperity” from the Butts set (1805-1806) of the Illustrations of the Book of Job.  “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning” (Job 42:12)]

Job 42:7-17

Job is Justified by God Over His Enemies

After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the LORD had told them; and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.

And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends; and the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house; and they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold. And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah; and the name of the second Keziah; and the name of the third Keren-happuch. And in all the land there were no women so fair as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers. And after this Job lived a hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days.

St. Gregory the Great

Moralia in Job, Praefatio 13 (Sources Chrétiennes, vol. 32, 2nd ed.:135-6)

Among the wonderful works of divine dispensation it is pleasing to note how every star in turn appears on the face of heaven to illuminate the night of this present life, until at the end of that night there rises like a true morning star the Redeemer of the human race. For the interval of night, lit up by the rising and setting of the stars in their courses, is shot through with the great beauty of heaven. Then so that the light of the stars should shine out in turn, each in its own time, to pierce the darkness of our night, Abel came to represent innocence; Enoch, to teach moral purity; Noah, the patience to work in hope; Abraham, to show obedience; Isaac, chastity in marriage; Jacob, to teach us to endure toil; Joseph, to repay evil with good; Moses, to represent gentleness; Joshua, to teach us confidence in adversity; Job, to show us patience in the midst of misfortune. Those are the stars we see shining in the heavens, to light our steps on our laborious way through the darkness of our night. For the divine dispensation presented to the mind of man as many examples of righteousness as if sending so many stars into the dark sky above sinners, until the true morning star rose, to announce the eternal dawn to us, and because of his divine nature shining more brilliantly than the other stars.

All the elect who lived a holy life before the Lord foretold his coming in prophetic words and deeds. Not one of the righteous failed to announce him symbolically. It was obviously right that all should represent the good, by which all were good, and which they knew was useful to all. The Lord had to be foretold without cease, since he was given to us to be received without measure and possessed without end: so that all the ages might say together what the end of the ages showed in the universal redemption. That is why it was also inevitable that even blessed Job, who revealed so great a mystery as the Lord’s incarnation, should symbolise in his own life the one whom he described in words, and through his own suffering show what the Lord would suffer, foretelling the sacrament of his passion all the more truly because he prophesied it not only in words but in actual suffering.

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