His archers surround me, he slashes my kidneys asunder, and does not spare; he pours out my gall upon the ground.
Read Chapter 16
Gregory The Dialogist
17. Herein, viz. that he declared himself to be ‘crushed on a sudden,’ he denoted the unguarded mind of weak persons: who, whilst they are not skilled to foresee the evils which are destined to come, find them more severe in proportion as they also undergo them contrary to expectation. But to stedfast minds adversities do not come on a sudden, in that they are foreseen before they come. And this Holy Church too does now undergo in certain backsliding people, who, after the richness of instruction, are sometimes so crushed by sudden assaults of evil, that they fall as deeply in certain wicked practices, as if they had never been vouchsafed the food of the word. It proceeds;
He hath held my neck, and broken me in two, and set me up for His mark.
18. As in evil the ‘neck’ denotes pride, so in good it denotes the lifting up in freedom; whence it is sometimes the case that ‘pride’ itself is also put for the authority belonging to that lifting up; as when the Lord says by way of promise to Holy Church by the Prophet, I will set thee for the pride of ages. [Is. 60, 15] And because in time of persecution some that are weak do not dare to preach with freedom the truths they have a sense of, it is rightly said of this enemy, He hath held my neck, and broken me in two. But perchance those are denoted by the appellation of ‘neck,’ who, in the season of her peace, are lifted up more than befits, and by occasion of defending the cause of right minister to the evil of self-exalting; which same in time of persecution feel adversity the more sensibly on this account, that they are elevated by prosperity. Concerning whom it is rightly said, He hath held my neck, and broken me in two; i.e. the pride which she had in her weak members, He bowed down by the severity of His smiting. And set me up for His mark. It is known that ‘a mark’ is for this reason ‘set up,’ that it may be hit by the sending of the arrow. And so the faithful people is ‘set as a mark’ to its enemy, in that he is ever assaulting it with his blows and afflicting it with his persecutions: for he that undergoes perpetual ills in this life, as if set for a mark, receives blows from one striking him; and hence the great Preacher, when he was suffering the ills of persecution, and groaning beneath the persecuting efforts of his enemies, to comfort the tender soul of the disciples touching his troubles, says, For yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. [1 Thess. 3, 3] As if be said to them in plain words; ‘Wherefore at this season do ye wonder at my wounds, when, if we seek the joys of the eternal world, we have come hither for this, even to be stricken?’