My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.
Read Chapter 30
Gregory The Dialogist
77. This we forbear to take account of after the history, for this reason, that the force of the speech appears from the pain of the suffering. But because, as we have already often said, blessed Job very frequently so relates things done, as to foretell things to be done, this excellently agrees with the accents of Holy Church, who in her weak members grievously feels the pain of the last persecution. And when others die off from her, all the stronger ones are wrung with sorrow. For her outward concern is earthly dispensing, but the interior is a heavenly charge. And so by the name of the ‘skin’ the weak are denoted, who now do service in her to exterior usefulness. While by the bones the strong are represented, in that in them the whole jointing of her body is cemented. And therefore because either being invited by bribes, or distressed by persecutions, many weak persons in her fall from the standing of faith, and themselves after they have fallen persecute her, what is it but that she suffers a ‘blackness of her skin,’ that in those very ones she should afterwards appear foul, in whom she before shewed fair. For whilst they who had been before accustomed to manage outward things aright, afterwards rage against the Elect of God, as it were ‘the skin’ of the Church has lost the hue of foregoing righteousness, in that it has come to the blackness of iniquity. Which Jeremiah also bewails under the likeness of the principal metal, saying, How is the gold become dim; how is the fine colour changed? [Lam. 4, 1] The froward, therefore, when they go forth from her sacraments, very often take a place of honour amongst the children of perdition, so that the very persons should rage against Holy Church with authority, who as it were in knowing despise this Church more cruelly. And hence when he said, My skin is black, he added, upon me; because those whom she before had as it were white as to the beautifulness of righteousness, she afterwards carries ‘black’ the worse. But when ‘the skin’ is turned to ‘blackness,’ the strong that are in her are consumed with jealousy of the faith. And hence he fitly subjoins; And my bones are dried up with heat. For in this way in the time before too that strongest bone of Holy Church, Paul, burned with a certain dryness of weariness, when he said to some persons on their falling; Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? [2 Cor. 11, 29] And so ‘the skin is made black, and the bones are dried up with heat;’ because while the weak leap forth to iniquity, all the strong are tortured with the fire of their zeal.