The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveler.
Read Chapter 31
Gregory The Dialogist
27. Whereas, Paul being witness, charily is described as patient and kind, by patience it bears with composure the ill turns of others, by kindness it also renders with mercifulness its own good ones. Whence blessed Job at once patiently bore those of his own household cursing him, and received to him kindly the travellers and strangers, to the first affording examples of morals, the other meeting with the succour of external things. For the holy man viewing by the Spirit of prophecy the Redeemer of mankind, also kept his pardoning words in practice, whereby He warns us, saying, Let go, and it shall be let go to you; give and it shall be given unto you. [Luke 6, 37] For our giving relates to the things which we have outwardly, but our letting go to the dismissing the grief, which we have inwardly contracted by the offence of another. But it requires to be known, that he who ‘lets go’ but does not ‘give,’ though he has not done to the full, yet has observed the better part of mercifulness. But he who ‘gives’ but never ‘lets go’ does not execute mercy at all; because by Almighty God the gift is not accepted from the hand, which is proffered by a heart tied and bound in wickedness.
28. For there is need for the soul that offers alms first to be made clean, because every thing that is given to God is reckoned according to the feeling of him who gives it. Therefore every stain of evil must be wiped clean from our interior man by the changing of the thought, because the offering has it not to appease the wrath of the Judge, except it be acceptable by the purity of him who offers it. Whence it is written; And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offerings; but unto Cain and to his offerings He had not respect. [Gen. 4, 4. 5.] For it is not that sacred Revelation says that ‘He had respect to the offerings of Abel, but to the offerings of Cain He had not respect;’ but he first says, that He had respect to Abel, and afterwards subjoined, And to his offerings. And again he says that to Cain He had not respect, and next added, nor to his offerings. For according to the heart of the giver is the thing that is given received. Therefore not Abel by virtue of his offerings, but by virtue of Abel the gifts offered were well pleasing. For it is read that the Lord had regard first to the person who gave, before the things which he gave. Hence blessed Job going on to tell us his bountifulness in the boon of hospitality did right in bringing forward first his patience and kindness towards enemies, how that he did not ‘exult in the destruction of his enemy;’ that he did not ‘assail his persecutors with words of cursing;’ that those enraged against him within, he bore with equanimity; and then at last he brought forward the bountifulness of his hospitality, that, namely, by the order of his relation being listened to, we might learn that exterior gifts are seasoned by the interior pureness of the heart, that the combination of his virtues might teach the reader what sort of person he ought to be in himself, when he administers external good to others.
29. But who would not account himself to be a holy man in the midst of such heights of his virtues? Who would not be in some measure tempted by his mere merits alone being so many in number, so that if at any time as being but man he went wrong, he would not have his transgression made known to men; and would account it as trivial if he did any thing wrong in lesser things; and would rather prefer to cover his offence by silence than disclose it by the voice of confession? For it often comes to pass that the mind being lifted up by virtuous attainments, when it knows that many good things are scattered abroad concerning it in the esteem of neighbours, does not wish it to be known, if there is any thing that it does deserving of blame. Which same darkness of mistaking the mind is for this reason exposed to, because high-swelling clogs the eye of the heart. Hence blessed Job, in the midst of so many distinguished achievements in virtues, who became so lofty in practice, in order to shew how lowly in mind he was