Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos
THE BROTHERS begged me to give an exposition of the book of Holy Job, revealing the mystery of the riches insofar as the Truth should teach me. Moreover, to this burden that they asked me to assume, they added as well that I should not only search the literal words for the allegorical sense but that I should then bend the allegorical sense to the exercise of moral action, a more serious obligation still. I should accompany what I have learned with the support of other texts from scripture, and after these texts I should add another exposition to tie them together, when they are difficult to understand.
As soon as I understood the scope and the difficulties of the work I was to undertake—a commentary on an obscure book that had been hardly discussed up to then—I confess that I was overcome by the mere hearing of what I was asked to do, and I gave in exhausted by the sheer magnitude of the task. But although caught between fear and devotion, I immediately raised the eyes of my mind to the Giver of gifts and put all hesitation aside, certain that a thing could not be impossible that the love in the hearts of my brothers had asked of me. I knew I was certainly unfit for such a task, but I overcame my despair and quickly raised my hopes to Him through whom the tongue of the dumb was loosed, who made the lips of infants eloquent, and who made an ass’s loud, unintelligible braying sound like normal human speech. And what is so wonderful about intelligence being granted to a stupid man like me if, when he wished, God could proclaim His truth through the mouth of a dumb beast?
Well then, taking courage with these thoughts, I aroused my thirst to search out this deep fountain. Although I found that the life led by those for whom I was bidden to explain the text was beyond my powers, I did not think it wrong for a leaden pipe to provide running water for human use. And so the brothers straightway sat down in front of me, and I began my oral exposition of the text.
—St Gregory the Dialogist, Moral Reflections on the Book of Job