Saturday, 30 July 2016

Matins readings for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

The Benedictine Office (1962) readings for the eleventh Sunday are set out below.

Nocturn I (4 Kings=II Kings 20:1-11)

Reading 1: In those days Ezechias was sick unto death: and Isaias the son of Amos the prophet came and said to him: Thus saith the Lord God: Give charge concerning thy house, for thou shalt die, and not live.  And he turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying:  I beseech thee, O Lord, remember how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is pleasing before thee. And Ezechias wept with much weeping.

R. Prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve Him Only * And He will deliver you out of the hand of your enemies.
V. Return unto Him with all your hearts, and put away the strange gods from among you.
R. And He will deliver you out of the hand of your enemies.

Reading 2: And before Isaias was gone out of the middle of the court, the word of the Lord came to him, saying: Go back, and tell Ezechias the captain of my people: Thus saith the Lord the God of David thy father: I have heard thy prayer, and I have seen thy tears: and behold I have healed thee; on the third day thou shalt go up to the temple of the Lord.

R. God, Which heareth all, even He sent His Angel, and took me from keeping my father's sheep, and * Anointed me with the oil of His mercy.
V. The Lord That delivered me out of the mouth of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear
R. And anointed me with the oil of His mercy.

Reading 3: And Isaias said: Bring me a lump of figs. And when they had brought it, and laid it upon his boil. he was healed. And Ezechias had said to Isaias: What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the temple of the Lord the third day? And I will add to thy days fifteen years: and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of the Assyrians, and I will protect this city for my own sake, and for David my servant' s sake.

R. The Lord That delivered me out of the mouth of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear * He will deliver me out of the hand of mine enemies.
V. God hath sent forth His mercy and His truth, and delivered my soul from among the lion's whelps.
R. He will deliver me out of the hand of mine enemies.

Reading 4:And Isaias said to him: This shall be the sign from the Lord, that the Lord will do the word which he hath spoken: Wilt thou that the shadow go forward ten lines, or that it go back so many degrees? And Ezechias said: It is an easy matter for the shadow to go forward ten lines: and I do not desire that this be done, but let it return back ten degrees.  And Isaias the prophet called upon the Lord, and he brought the shadow ten degrees backwards by the lines, by which it had already gone down in the dial of Achaz.

R. Remember, O Lord, thy covenant, and say unto the destroying Angel: Stay now thine hand * That the land be not utterly laid waste, and that thou destroy not every living soul.
V. Even I it is that have sinned, and done evil indeed but these sheep what have they done? Let thine anger, I pray thee, O Lord, be turned away from thy people.
R. That the land be not utterly laid waste, and that Thou destroy not every living soul.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. That the land be not utterly laid waste, and that Thou destroy not every living soul.

Nocturn II:  Exposition of St Jerome

Reading 5: Lest the heart of Hezekiah should be puffed up by his strange and unlooked for triumphs, and by his victory when he was but a prisoner, he was visited by bodily weakness, and told that he was to die that he might betake himself to the Lord, and turn Him from carrying out the sentence. We read of a like case in the history of the Prophet Jonah. And in regard to the threatening made against David — when punishments were foretold which were not brought to pass. This is not because that God is a Being capable of changing His mind, but because He willeth to mankind to know Him, how that "He [is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and] repenteth Him of the evil."

R. Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.* Because the hand of the Lord was with him, he smote the Philistine, and took away the reproach from Israel.
V. Is not this David? Did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?
R. Because the hand of the Lord was with him, he smote the Philistine, and took away the reproach from Israel.

Reading 6: Hezekiah turned his face unto the wall, not being able to go up to the Temple. This may either mean that he turned towards the wall of the Temple, hard by which Solomon had built a palace, or simply, that he turned his face to the wall, so as not to parade his tears before his attendants.Having been told that he was about to die, he prayed not for life and many years, but left it to God to do as in His good judgment He was pleased to will.

R. Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.* Because the hand of the Lord was with him, he smote the Philistine, and took away the reproach from Israel.
V. Is not this David? Did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?
R. Because the hand of the Lord was with him, he smote the Philistine, and took away the reproach from Israel.

Reading 7: He knew how this had pleased God on the part of Solomon. So, when he betook him to the Lord, he only made mention of his works, how he had walked before Him in truth, and with a perfect heart. Happy is he whose conscience in the hour of affliction can assure him of good works. Yea, "blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God ". It is indeed written in another place " Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?"  How then could Hezekiah say that he had walked with a perfect heart But the answer is, that by this is meant that he had destroyed the idols, opened the doors of the Temple, broken in pieces the brazen serpent, and done the rest of the things whereof the Scripture maketh mention.

R. Thus saith the Lord I took thee out of thy father's house, and appointed thee to be ruler over My people, over Israel * And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, to establish thy kingdom for ever.
V. And I have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies.
R. And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, to establish thy kingdom for ever.

Reading 8: "And Hezekiah wept sore." He had then no children, and it seemed as though the promise which God had made unto David, [that " his seed should endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before" Him,  was about to fail in his own death. It is written that " Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign,"— whence it is evident that Hezekiah begat him not till after three years of his new lease of life. Sore therefore wept he, when all hope was torn from him that the Messiah should spring from his seed. Others again remark that he wept sore, since death terrifieth sometimes even the saints, since they know not what sentence is about to be pronounced upon them, and what place shall be allotted them in the inscrutable judgment.

R. O Lord, Thou hast hearkened unto the prayer of thy servant, that I might build a temple unto thy Name,* O God of Israel, bless Thou, and hallow this house for ever.
V. O Lord, Who keepest covenant with thy servants that walk before thee in all their heart.
R. O God of Israel, bless Thou, and hallow this house for ever.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. O God of Israel, bless Thou, and hallow this house for ever.

Nocturn III (St Gregory the Great)

Reading 9: What signifieth it that when God, the Maker of all, would heal a deaf and dumb man, "He put His Fingers into his ears, and He spit, and touched his tongue." What is figured by the Fingers of the Redeemer but the gifts of the Holy Ghost? Hence it is written in another place Luke xi. 20 that after He had cast out an evil spirit, He said: "If I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you." Which words are thus given by another Evangelist Matth. xii. 28: "If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." By setting these two passages together we see that the Spirit is called the Finger.

R. My sins are many, yea, they are more in number than the sands of the sea; I am not worthy to look up toward heaven because of the multitude of my iniquities; for I have provoked thee to anger * And done evil in thy sight.
V. For I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me, for against thee only have I sinned
R. And done evil in thy sight.

Reading 10: For our Lord, then, to put His Fingers into the deaf man's ears was by the gift of the Holy Spirit to enlighten his dark mind unto obedience. That signifieth it also that "He spit and touched his tongue." We receive spittle out of the Redeemer's mouth upon our tongues when we receive wisdom to speak God's truth. Spittle is a secretion of the head which floweth into the mouth. And so, that wisdom, which is Himself, the great Head of His Church, as soon as it hath touched our tongue, doth straightway take the form of preaching.

R. Hearken, O Lord, unto the cry and to the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee today, that thine eyes may be open and thine ears attend;* Toward this house day and night.
V. Look down from thine high and holy place, O Lord, even from heaven thy dwelling.
R. Toward this house, day and night.

Reading 11: "And looking up to heaven, He sighed," not that He had any need to sigh, Who gave whatsoever He asked, but that He was fain to teach us to look up and sigh toward Him Whose throne is in heaven, confessing our need, that our ears should be opened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and our tongue loosed by the spittle of our Saviour's Mouth, that is, by knowledge of His Divine Word, before we can use it to preach to others.

R. Lord, when thy people shall turn again to thee, and shall pray unto thee in this house * then hear Thou in heaven, O Lord, and deliver them out of the hand of their enemies.
V. If thy people sin against thee, and turn again, and repent, and come and pray unto thee in this house.
R. Then hear Thou in heaven, O Lord, and deliver them out of the hand of their enemies.

Reading 12: "And He said unto him: Ephphatha, that is, be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed." Herein we must remark the command, "Be opened" was addressed to the deaf ears, but the tongue also was immediately loosed. Just so, when the ears of a man's heart have been opened to learn the obedience of faith, the string of his tongue also is thereupon loosed, that he may exhort others to do the good things which himself doth. It is well added "And he spake plain." He only doth well preach obedience to others who hath first learnt himself to obey.

R. One Seraph cried unto another * Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts the whole earth is full of His glory.
V. There are Three That bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost and these Three are One.
R. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. The whole earth is full of His glory.

Gospel: St Mark 7:31-37:

And again going out of the coasts of Tyre, he came by Sidon to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring to him one deaf and dumb; and they besought him that he would lay his hand upon him. And taking him from the multitude apart, he put his fingers into his ears, and spitting, he touched his tongue: And looking up to heaven, he groaned, and said to him: Ephpheta, which is, Be thou opened.  And immediately his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke right. And he charged them that they should tell no man. But the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal did they publish it.  And so much the more did they wonder, saying: He hath done all things well; he hath made both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Hebrews 11:30-40 - The fall of Jericho

The fall of Jericho: Hebrews 11: 30

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, by the going round them seven days. 
 Fide muri Jericho corruerunt, circuitu dierum septem. 
Fall of Jericho: ...he describes what happened when they entered the promised land. This is mentioned in Jos. (6), where it is stated that at God’s command the priests for seven days should go around the first city beyond the Jordan, namely, Jericho, with the ark of the covenant, and on the seventh day the walls fell down. Here was something on the part of men, namely, that at the Lord’s command they went round, believing that God’s command would be fulfilled, and something on God’s part, namely, the walls fell down by their going round.

Spiritual interpretation of the events: Morally, Jericho is interpreted moon or defect, and signifies this world. Its walls are the obstacles by which some are held fast in the world. By the trumpets, which the Levites and priests sounded, the voice of preachers is signified. By the going round for seven days is designated the course of the present time, which is completed in seven days. By this we are given to understand that all the obstacles of the world fall at the continuous sound of preaching: ‘The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty to God unto pulling down of fortifications, destroying counsels and every height that exalts itself against the knowledge of God'..

Rahab: Hebrews 11:31
By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with the unbelievers, receiving the spies with peace.
Fide Rahab meretrix non periit cum incredulis, excipiens exploratores cum pace.
Those who receive the preachers of the Gospel are freed from eternal death: ...he shows what was done by faith by one of the unbelievers, namely, by Rahab, as recorded in Joshua (chaps, 2 & 6). For when Joshua had sent spies to explore Jericho, they escaped with the aid of that woman who is called a harlot, i.e., an idolater. Or she was literally a harlot, with whom they stayed, not to sin but to hide...Therefore, she was freed by faith, hence, he says, by faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient [unbelievers], because she had given friendly welcome to the spies. She did not perish with the unbelievers, who perished corporally, because the spies had sworn to free her and everyone of her father’s house; which they the fact that she was freed by receiving them is designated that those who receives the preachers of the gospel are delivered from eternal death: ‘He that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive the reward of a prophet’ (Mt. 10:11).

Hebrews 11:32
What need is there to say more? Time will fail me if I try to go through all the history of Gedeon, of Barac, of Samson, of Jephte, of David and Samuel and the prophets.
Et quid adhuc dicam? deficiet enim me tempus enarrantem de Gedeon, Barac, Samson, Jephte, David, Samuel, et prophetis: 
And many more old testament saints: Having described the things done through faith by the fathers before and during the very entry into the promised land, the Apostle now begins to give examples of those who were in the promised land...Yet it should be noted that some of them did some good things, and some evil things. Hence, they are listed here only as to the good things they did or received. Yet it is probable that all of them finally were saints. For this reason the Apostle lists them in the catalogue of saints.

Gideon: (Judges chaps. 6-8). He is mentioned first, both because he did nothing evil and because he did something very important; and probably because he received the greatest sign of the incarnation in the fleece and dew, concerning which it says in Ps. 71 (v. 6): ‘He shall come down like rain upon the fleece.’

Barak: (Judges chaps. 4-5), who was not as famous as Gideon, to whom that victory was not credited, but to the woman. Perhaps this is why he passes him by.

Samson: (Judges chaps. 13-16), who particularly deserves not to be mentioned here, because he sinned by killing himself. But Augustine in The City of God excuses this, because it is believed that he did this at God’s command. The sign of this is that he could not have destroyed such a house by his own power, but by God’s power, which does not cooperate with evil.

Jephthah (Judges chaps. 11-12), But there is a question about Jephthah, whether he sinned by immolating his daughter as he vowed. For it seems not, because Judges (11:29) says: ‘The spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah’ and then mentions the vow and the victory... something from the Holy Spirit was there, namely, an impulse to vow in general that he would immolate whatever he came upon that could be immolated; but there was also something from his own spirit, namely, that he immolated what he should not. In this he sinned, but later he repented.

Sins repented of: Similarly, Gideon sinned by making an ephod and tempting God, when he asked for a sign on the fleece. But he also repented later, as did David, whom he mentions next, saying, David and Samuel, who are discussed in the Books of Samuel, and the prophets, concerning whom time would fail me, if I wished to discuss them.

Hebrews 11:33-35a
Theirs was the faith which subdued kingdoms, which served the cause of right, which made promises come true. They shut the mouths of lions, they quenched raging fire, swords were drawn on them, and they escaped. How strong [valiant] they became, who till then were weak, what courage they shewed in battle, how they routed invading armies!  There were women, too, who recovered their dead children, brought back to life. 
qui per fidem vicerunt regna, operati sunt justitiam, adepti sunt repromissiones, obturaverunt ora leonum, extinxerunt impetum ignis, effugerunt aciem gladii, convaluerunt de infirmitate, fortes facti sunt in bello, castra verterunt exterorum: acceperunt mulieres de resurrectione mortuos suos: 
Defending the common good: ...of all the outward acts of the moral virtues, the acts of courage and justice seem the most important, because they pertain most to the common good. For the republic is defended against its enemies by courage, and is preserved by justice. Hence, the Apostle commends the holy fathers on both: on courage, when he says, by faith they conquered kingdoms, i.e., kings, or even their kingdoms, as David and Joshua.

Spiritual victories: Nevertheless, the saints spiritually overcame kingdoms, namely the kingdom of the devil, of whom Job says: ‘He is king over all the children of pride,’ and the kingdom of the flesh: ‘Let not sin reign in your mortal body’; also the kingdom of the world: ‘My kingdom is not of this world’. But they conquered by faith: ‘This is the victory which overcomes the world, our faith’. For no one can despise present things except for the sake of goods to come, because it is mainly by contempt that the world is overcome, therefore, because faith shows us the invisible things for which the world is despised, our faith overcomes the world.

Acts of justice: ...justice is sometimes a general virtue, namely, when it obeys the divine law...But sometimes it is a special virtue and consists in human actions and exchanges, namely, when a person renders to everyone his due. But the saints had both...

God keeps his promises: ...he shows what they obtained, because they received the promises. For God’s promise is efficacious, because God never fails to keep His promise...he mentions particular benefits conferred on them: first, those which pertain to the removal of evil; secondly, to the performing of good...

Valiant women: An account of their resurrection or rather of their revival is found in 1 Kg. (chap. 17) and 2 Kg. (chap. 4)...just as those temporal benefits were given to them as to sick persons for sustenance by the merit of their faith, so they were the figures of coming good things, which will be given to us by the merit of faith...There were women, too, who recovered their dead children, brought back to life.

Hebrews 35b-
But others were racked, not accepting deliverance, that they might find a better resurrection.And others had trial of mockeries and stripes, moreover also of bands and prisons. They were stoned, they were cut asunder, they were tempted, they were put to death by the sword, 
alii autem distenti sunt non suscipientes redemptionem ut meliorem invenirent resurrectionem. Alii vero ludibria, et verbera experti, insuper et vincula, et carceres: lapidati sunt, secti sunt, tentati sunt, in occisione gladii mortui sunt, 
Suffering for the faith: Having given examples of the holy fathers of old who did many great things for the faith, the Apostle now gives examples or those who suffered for the faith...he shows why they refused release. It was not because God exercised no providence over them, but that they might obtain eternal life, which is better than release from any present punishment or any resurrection of the present life; hence, he says, that they might rise again to a better life: ‘I will rise again on the last day...

The root of merit is charity: However, not every martyr is greater than every confessor, but some martyr can be greater than some confessor; and conversely, some confessor than some martyr, although not universally. For one can be compared to another as to the type of work or as to the degree of charity. But no art of itself is as meritorious as dying for Christ, because a man is giving what is most dear, namely, his own life: ‘Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justices’ sake. But if considers the root of all merit, which is charity, then a work proceeding from greater charity is more meritorious. Consequently, one simple confessor could have greater merit before God. But the Apostle is speaking of the type of work, saying, that they might rise again to a better, i.e., a greater and more glorious, life. Hence, better implies a comparison between the state of the present life and the future resurrection, or a comparison between the glory of the resurrection of one person and the glory of another...

Hebrews 11: 37b-38
they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being in want, distressed, afflicted: Of whom the world was not worthy; wandering in deserts, in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth. 
circuierunt in melotis, in pellibus caprinis, egentes, angustiati, afflicti: quibus dignus non erat mundus: in solitudinibus errantes, in montibus, in speluncis, et in cavernis terræ.  
Skins of sheep and goats: ...A goatskin, in addition to being hairy, is vile...such clothing can be worn with an evil intention, as when they are worn from vainglory; but good, if they are worn out of contempt for the world and to chastise the flesh. But especially those who profess a state of repentance should show the signs of their profession; hence, it is lawful for them to use such clothing, as the prophets did: but not for display.

Poverty:...This prefigured the state of the New Testament, of which it says in Matthew: ‘If you would be perfect, go sell what you have.’...

Without dwelling of their own: ...roamed about in deserts, in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth, which are places suited to contemplation and penance.

Hebrews 11:39-40
And all these being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise; God providing some better thing for us, that they should not be perfected without us.
  Et hi omnes testimonio fidei probati, non acceperunt repromissionem, Deo pro nobis melius aliquid providente, ut non sine nobis consummarentur.
Received not the promise: But that no one might believe that this was due to lack of merit, he gives the reason for that delay: Since God had foreseen something better for us...all these, though well attested by their faith... did not receive what was promised, i.e., of glory, or the promised land, until Christ...they received temporal things, but not spiritual...

Something better: ...the consummation of which the Apostle speaks can refer to the essential reward, namely, to happiness, which is obtained through Christ...which the saints will not be given generally until after the general resurrection, although some perhaps already have it by a special privilege. Therefore, they are not consummated without us, but are perfected with a double stole, so that, as a Gloss says, the joy of each will become greater in the common joy of all. Hence, God provides for us in this matter. Therefore, he says, Since God has foreseen something better for us: ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity’. For man rejoices with many rejoicing: ‘If they kept the faith who waited so long, much more should we who receive right away’ (Gloss); ‘This day you shall be with me in paradise.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Hebrews 11:23-29 - On Moses

Today's section of Hebrews 11 continues the examination of Old Testament exemplars of faith with a look at selected events in the life of Moses.

Moses: Hebrews 11:23-26
The parents of Moses shewed faith, in making light of the king’s edict, and hiding their child away for three months, when they saw what a fine child he was. And Moses shewed faith, when he grew up, by refusing to pass for the son of Pharao’s daughter. He preferred ill-usage, shared with the people of God, to the brief enjoyment of sinful pleasures; all the wealth of Egypt could not so enrich him as the despised lot of God’s anointed; he had eyes, you see, for nothing but the promised reward.
Fide Moyses, natus, occultatus est mensibus tribus a parentibus suis, eo quod vidissent elegantem infantem, et non timuerunt regis edictum. Fide Moyses grandis factus negavit se esse filium filiæ Pharaonis,  magis eligens affligi cum populo Dei, quam temporalis peccati habere jucunditatem,  majores divitias æstimans thesauro Ægyptiorum, improperium Christi: aspiciebat enim in remunerationem.

Moses' parents: Here he touches on the history given in Exodus (chap. 1), namely, that the Pharaoh commanded the male children to be killed, lest they be multiplied. Secondly, it is recorded that Moses’ parents, seeing that he was a comely child, hid him for three months: which the Apostle attributes to their faith. For they believed that someone would be born to free them from their slavery. Hence, from the child’s comeliness they believed that some power of God was in him. For they were rude country people, who sweated, working with clay and bricks: ‘A man is known by his look’. From this we see that although faith is about invisible things, yet through certain visible signs we can rest in it. ‘Confirming the word with signs that followed’. But the fact that they did this from faith and not from carnal affection is evident, because they were not afraid of the king’s edict. Hence, they exposed themselves to danger, which they would not have done, unless they had believed that something great was in store for the child: ‘Do not fear them that kill the body’....they later exposed him...not to destroy him but to keep him from being stolen; hence, they placed him in a small basket, committing him to divine providence. For they believed that he would probably be killed, if he were found among them.

Moses' upbringing: Here he touches on the history recorded in Exodus (2), where it is stated that Pharaoh’s daughter had him nursed by his mother and adopted him as a son. But he denied himself to be her son, not in word, but in deed; because against Pharaoh’s will he killed an Egyptian who had harmed a Hebrew. Therefore, he says, by faith, when he was grown up, he denied himself to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. With what feelings he did this he shows when he says, rather choosing to be afflicted with the people of God, than to have the pleasure of sin for a time. This indicates his marvelous virtue.

Choosing poverty and pain for Christ: For there are two things which men desire most, namely, pleasure and delight in external things; and they flee most from their opposites, namely, pain and affliction, which are opposed to the first, and poverty and abjection, which are opposed to the second. But Moses chose those two, because he preferred pain and affliction to temporal sin’s pleasure, which is always associated with sin. He also chose poverty because of Christ: ‘It is better to be humbled with the meek, then to divide spoils with the proud’...for the faith of Christ, for which he endured a reproach from his brothers, as is stated in Exodus (2:14): ‘Will you kill me, as you did yesterday kill the Egyptian?’ This reproach was a figure that Christ would have to endure reproaches from the Jews: ‘My heart has expected reproach and misery’ (Ps. 68:21). But he esteemed those two things greater riches than the treasures of the Egyptians: ‘The riches of salvation, wisdom and knowledge’ (Is. 33:6).

Hebrews 11:27-29
By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the fierceness of the king: for he endured as seeing him that is invisible. By faith he celebrated the pasch, and the shedding of the blood; that he, who destroyed the firstborn, might not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea, as by dry land: which the Egyptians attempting, were swallowed up.  
Fide reliquit Ægyptum, non veritus animositatem regis: invisibilem enim tamquam videns sustinuit. Fide celebravit Pascha, et sanguinis effusionem: ne qui vastabat primitiva, tangeret eos.  Fide transierunt mare Rubrum tamquam per aridam terram: quod experti Ægyptii, devorati sunt.
The departure from Egypt: recorded in Exodus (chap. 2), he first left Egypt after killing an Egyptian; but he left it a second time, when he led all the sons of Israel out of Egypt. But a Gloss explains about the second departure, because he continues, not fearing the anger, i.e., the indignation, of the king. For at his first departure it is recorded in Exodus (chap. 2) that he feared him: ‘He that is good for nothing shall feel the king’s anger’. But at the second he did not fear him: ‘The just, bold as a lion, shall be without dread’. But it can be referred to the first.

Praiseworthy vs blameworthy fear: ...there are two things to be considered in fear: one is that it can be blameworthy, namely, when through fear a person does what should not be done, or neglects to do what should be done. This is not the way Moses feared, because fear did not cause him to neglect helping his brothers. The other can be praiseworthy, namely, when keeping the faith a person flees from danger because of a present fear: ‘When they shall persecute you in one city, flee to another’. For if a person, while preserving his honor could avoid danger and does not, he would be foolish and tempting God which is diabolical.

This is the way Jesus hid from those who would stone Him, and refused the devil’s suggestion to cast Himself down. So, too, Moses, trusting in God’s help, fled for a time, because he feared the king. He proves that he did this by faith, because faith is about invisible things. And he endured, i.e., awaited, the invisible God and his Help as seeing him: Let you heart take courage and wait for the Lord’ (Ps. 26:14).

Celebrating the Pasch: he alludes to the history recorded in Exodus (12), where the Lord commanded them before the departure of the children of Israel, namely, that same night, to immolate a lamb and put its blood on both the side posts and on the upper door posts of the houses: then they were to eat the flesh roasted at the fire, and unleavened bread with wild lettuce, and to do many other things that were to be observed. And this is called the Pasch, i.e., the eating of the lamb and the shedding of blood, these two things occurring at that passage which they were to accomplish the next day. It is called the Pasch from ‘paschin’ in Greek, and ‘passic’ in Latin, or from the word ‘phrase,’ which in Hebrew is the same as ‘passage.’

But this prefigured that Christ would pass out of this world by His passion: ‘That he would pass out of this world’ (Jn. 13:1). It also instructs us that by the merit of His death we have passed from earthly things to heavenly, and from hell to heaven: ‘Come over to me, all ye that desire me’ (Sir. 24:26). This, of course, is accomplished in virtue of Christ’s blood: ‘Having, therefore, a confidence in the entering into of the holies by the blood of Christ’ (supra 10:19).

But two passings occurred during that Pasch: one, in which the Lord passed, striking the Egyptians; the other in which the people passed. So, too, with the blood of Christ, Who is the lamb without blemish, the posts of the faithful should be besmeared, namely, their intellect and affections. He says, by faith he celebrated the Pasch, i.e., the eating of the lamb, and the shedding of the blood to be smeared upon the posts of their house. Why did they do this? That he who destroyed the first born of the Egyptians might not touch them: ‘He killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt’ (Ps. 77:51)...

Crossing the Red Sea: Two things were done there by faith: one was what the men did, namely, they committed themselves to cross over; and this was done only by faith. The other was on God’s part, namely, that the waters acted as a wall for them. But this was by faith, for the working of miracles is attributed to faith: ‘If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence, thither, and it shall remove’ (Mt. 17:19). Then he shows that this pertains to faith, because the Egyptians attempting this, i.e., willing to try it, were swallowed up, because they did not have faith: ‘You stretch forth your hand, and the earth swallowed them’ (Ex. 15:12).

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Hebrews 11:20-22 - The example of Jacob and Joseph

Hebrews 20 resumes the discussion of key exemplars of faith, looking now at Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.

Isaac: Hebrews 11:20
By faith also of things to come, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau. 
 Fide et de futuris benedixit Isaac Jacob et Esau.

Elevation of Jacob points to the gentiles over the Jews: Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau...Through this blessing the younger ruled the older. But this did not pertain to their persons, but to the two peoples that sprang from them: ‘over Edom I will stretch out my shoe’. For the Edomites who sprang from Esau were subject to the people of Israel. This signified that the younger people, i.e., the Gentiles, by faith were to supplant the older people, namely, the Jews: ‘Many shall come from the east and the west and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven’.

Jacob: Hebrews 11:21
By faith Jacob dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and adored the top of his rod.
 Fide Jacob, moriens, singulos filiorum Joseph benedixit: et adoravit fastigium virgæ ejus. 
Jacob dying blessed each of the sons: in Genesis (48), where it is stated that when Joseph was informed of his father’s illness, he called his two sons whom Jacob blessed, crossing his hands. With this gesture he chose Ephraim over Manasseh as to dignity, because the royal dignity came from Ephraim, namely, Jeroboam. But this blessing was by faith, because it was revealed to him that it would be thus in the future. This blessing referred to the people who came out of them and not to their persons.

The rod foreshadows Christ:  This is recorded in Genesis (49), where it is stated that he made Joseph swear that he would bury him in the tomb of his fathers; and after the oath, he adored the of his rod, as the Septuagint says, or at the top, as is had in the Greek... he adored not the rod nor Joseph, as some wickedly thought, but God Himself...He did this, moved by the consideration of Christ’s power, which Joseph’s power prefigured. For being the prefect in Egypt, he carried a scepter as a sign of his power: ‘You that rule them with a rod of iron’...he adored Christ signified by that rod, just as we adore the Crucified and the Cross by reason of Christ, Who suffered on it. Hence, properly speaking, we do not adore the Cross, but Christ crucified on it.

Joseph: Hebrews 11:22
By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the going out of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
 Fide Joseph, moriens, de profectione filiorum Israël memoratus est, et de ossibus suis mandavit.
Joseph's bones: ...he believed that the promise He made would be fulfilled by the return of the children of Israel to the promised land; secondly, because he believed that Christ would be born and would rise from the dead in it, and many with him. Hence, he desired to have a part in that resurrection. He says, therefore, By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites; and this in regard to the first: and gave commandment regarding his bones, as to the second...he knew that the children of Israel were to suffer many afflictions after his death. Therefore, to assure them of their deliverance and return to the promised land, he willed his body to remain with them as a consolation. Hence, Moses took it with him, just as each tribe took the body of its father, as Jerome says.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Hebrews 11:13-19 - The heavenly country

Hebrews 13-19 provides a summation of the lessons to be learnt from the exemplars of the faith considered so far.

Hebrews 11:13 -
All these died according to faith, not having received the promises, but beholding them afar off, and saluting them, and confessing that they are pilgrims and strangers on the earth.
Juxta fidem defuncti sunt omnes isti, non acceptis repromissionibus, sed a longe eas aspicientes, et salutantes, et confitentes quia peregrini et hospites sunt super terram. 

All these died in faith: He commends the faith of Abraham and of his children on its perseverance, because they preserved in the faith until death: ‘He that shall persevere until the end, he shall be saved’. Therefore, he says, These all died in faith, except Enoch. Or, these all, namely, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And this is better, because the promise was made only to them. Furthermore, he commends them on the long delay of the promise; hence, he says, not having received what was promised.

The promise: As if to say: Looking on with the vision of faith. Perhaps the response in the first Sunday of Advent is taken from this passage: ‘Behold from afar off, behold I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering the whole earth;’ ‘Behold the name of the Lord comes from afar’.

Saluting means venerating: He speaks, according to Chrysostom, in the manner of sailors, who when they first see the port, break out in praise and salute the city they have reached. So the holy fathers, seeing by faith the Christ to come and the glory they were to obtain through Him, saluted, i.e., venerated Him: ‘Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord. He is God and has shone upon us’; ‘Abraham, your father, rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it and was glad’.

The confession of faith leads to salvation:  He also commends their faith for its sincere confession, because, as it says in Romans: ‘With the heart we believe until justice; but with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.’

Strangers, exiles and pilgrims: Hence, he says, having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth: for those three called themselves strangers and pilgrims, for in Genesis Abraham says: ‘I am a stranger and a sojourner among you.’ Furthermore, the Lord says to Isaac: ‘Stay in the land that I shall tell you, and sojourn in it’, and Jacob himself says: ‘The days of my pilgrimage’. Now a pilgrim is one who is en route to some place. But a sojourner is one who lives in a foreign land with no intention of going anywhere else. But they not only confessed themselves sojourners, but pilgrims as well. So, too, a holy person does not make his home in the world, but is always busy and tending toward heaven: ‘I am a stranger with you, and a sojourner as all my fathers were’.

Hebrews 11:14 -16
For they that say these things, do signify that they seek a country. And truly if they had been mindful of that from whence they came out, they had doubtless time to return.  But now they desire a better, that is to say, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city. 
Qui enim hæc dicunt, significant se patriam inquirere. Et si quidem ipsius meminissent de qua exierunt, habebant utique tempus revertendi: nunc autem meliorem appetunt, id est, cælestem. Ideo non confunditur Deus vocari Deus eorum: paravit enim illis civitatem.

We seek our native land, the heavenly Jerusalem: Then  he shows that this confession pertains to hope. For one is a guest and a stranger, unless he is outside his country and going to it. Therefore, since they confess themselves guests and strangers, they signify that they are heading toward their native land, i.e., the heavenly Jerusalem: ‘But that Jerusalem which is above is free’. And this is what he says, for people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.

No looking back: But because someone might say that it is true that they were pilgrims in the land of the Philistines and Canaanites, among whom they dwelt, but they intended to return to the land they had left; he rejected this when he says, If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had time to return, because it was nearby. But as it is, they desire a better country, i.e., heavenly; hence in Genesis ‘Abraham said to his servant: Beware you never bring back my sons again thither;’... In this is signified that those who go out from the world’s vanity, should not return to it mentally: ‘Forget your people and your father’s house’; ‘No man putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God’; ‘forgetting the things that are behind, and stretching forth myself to those that are before’..

‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob;...the highest honor, [is] when someone gets a name derived from a solemn office or from the service of a great and excellent lord or prince, as the Pope’s notary, or the king’s chancellor. But it is a greater honor, when that great lord wishes to be named after those who serve him. So it is with these three, namely, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whose Lord, the great King over all other gods, specifically calls Himself their God; hence...he says, ‘God is not ashamed to be called their God’.

First in faith: ...God is known by faith...they are recorded to have first separated themselves for unbelievers by a special cult; hence, too, Abraham was the first to receive the seal of faith to become the father of many nations . Therefore, they are proposed to us as an example, as the ones by whom God was first known, and by them God was named as an object of faith. Therefore, He willed to be named by them.

A mystery lies hidden in them: For in them we find a likeness to the generation by which god regenerated spiritual sons. But we observe in them a fourfold way of generating. The first way is of free children by free women, as Abraham by Sarah begot Isaac, who begot Jacob by Rebecca, and Jacob the eight patriarchs by Leah and Rachel. The second way was of free children through bondwomen, as Jacob begot Dan and Naphtali by Bilhah and Zilpah. The third way was to servants by free women, as Isaac begot Esau by Rebecca; of him it was said, ‘The elder shall serve the younger’. The fourth was of servants by bondwomen, as Abraham begot Ishmael by Hagar. In this the diverse ways in which the Lord begets spiritual children is designated, because sometimes the good by the good, as Timothy by Paul; sometimes the good by the wicked, and this is the generation of free men by bondwomen; sometimes the wicked by the good, as Simon Magus by Philip, and this is the generation of servants by free women. But the generation of the wicked by the wicked is accounted in the seed; hence ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son’.

The King of...: is customary for a king to be called by the chief city, or from the entire country, as King of Jerusalem, King of the Romans, King of France. Therefore, the Lord is properly called the King and God of those who specifically look at that city, the heavenly Jerusalem, whose architect and founder is God. And because they showed by word and deed that they belong to that city, He is called their God; hence he says, for he, the founder of that city, has prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:17
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered Isaac: and he that had received the promises, offered up his only begotten son; To whom it was said: In Isaac shall thy seed be called. Accounting that God is able to raise up even from the dead. Whereupon also he received him for a parable.
 Fide obtulit Abraham Isaac, cum tentaretur, et unigenitum offerebat, qui susceperat repromissiones: ad quem dictum est: Quia in Isaac vocabitur tibi semen: arbitrans quia et a mortuis suscitare potens est Deus: unde eum et in parabolam accepit.

The testing of Abraham: kill the innocent is against the law of nature and is, consequently, a sin, Therefore, in willing to offer him he sinned. I answer that a person who kills at the command of a superior lawfully commanding, lawfully obeys and can lawfully carry out his duty. But God has power over life and death: ‘The Lord kills and makes alive’. But God does no injury, when He takes the life even of the innocent. Hence, by God’s decree many wicked and many innocent people die every day. Therefore, it is lawful to carry out God’s commands.

God's testing vs man's: God tests no one, since to test implies ignorance...the devil tests in order to deceive: ‘Lest perhaps he that tempts should have tempted you’. This is clear in the temptation of Christ. But a man tests in order to learn. Thus, in 1 Kg.  it is recorded that the queen of Sheba went to Solomon to try him with questions. But God does not test in that way, for He knows all things; but He tests in order that the man himself learn how strong or how weak he is: ‘To afflict you and prove you, and that the things that were in your heart might be made known’; and tells of Hezekiah being tested that all things might be made known that were in his heart. Furthermore, in order that others know the one tested and take him as an example, as Abraham and Job.

Obedience pertains to faith: For, as has been stated above, Abraham in his old age believed God promising that in Isaac he would be blessed in his seed. He also believed that God could raise the dead. Therefore, when he was commanded to kill him...[he] considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead. This, therefore, was the greatest proof of his faith, because the article of the resurrection is one of the most important.

The ram as a figure of Christ to come: place of his son, he immolated a ram sticking fast by the horns. But this was a parable, i.e., a figure of Christ to come. For the ram sticking fast by the horns among the briars is the humanity which suffered, fixed to the cross. And so it is clear that the figure was not at all equal to the one prefigured. Therefore, he received him back, i.e., Isaac, for a parable, i.e., for a figure of Christ to be crucified and immolated.

Feast of St James, Class II

The readings for the feast of St James are as follows:

Nocturn I (from the Common of Apostles): 1 Corinthians 4:1-4; 5-7; 8-10; 11-15

Nocturn II

Reading 5: James, the Son of Zebedee and brother of the Apostle John, was a Galilean, and with his brother one of the first of His Apostles whom the Lord called, whileas they were in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets and they immediately left the ship, and their father, and followed Him. And He surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder. Peter, and James, and John, were the three Apostles whom the Saviour loved best; them He took and brought up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them; when He went to the house of the ruler of the synagogue to raise his daughter from the dead, He suffered no man to follow Him save Peter, and James, and John; and, at the last, just before the Jews took Him, when He cometh unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.. He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee.

R. I saw men standing together, clad in shining raiment, and the Angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying* These men are holy, for they are the friends of God.
V. I saw a strong Angel of God fly into the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice
R. These men are holy, for they are the friends of God.

Reading 6: After that Jesus Christ was ascended into heaven, James preached how that He was God, and led many in Judaea and Samaria to the Christian Faith. A while afterward, he went to Spain, and there he brought some to Christ, of whom seven were afterwards ordained Bishops by Blessed Peter, and were the first such sent into that country.

R. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake;* Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.
V. When men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake.
R. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.

Reading 7: From Spain James went back to Jerusalem, where he taught the Faith to divers persons, and, among others, to the Magian Hermogenes. Thereupon Herod Agrippa, who had been raised to the kingdom under the Emperor Claudius, to curry favour with the Jews, condemned James to death for his firm confession that Jesus Christ is God. The officer who led James to the judgment seat, at sight of the courage wherewith he was ready to offer up his testimony, declared himself also to be a Christian.

R. These are they which have conquered, and are become the friends of God, who recked not of the commandments of princes, and earned the everlasting reward.
* And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.
V. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
R. And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.

Reading 8: As they were being hurried to execution, this man asked pardon of James, and the Apostle kissed him, saying, Peace be unto thee. James healed a paralytic, and immediately afterwards both the prisoners were beheaded. The body of the Apostle was afterwards taken to Compostella, (in the province of Gallicia, in Spain,) where his grave is very famous. Multitudes of pilgrims from all parts of the earth betake themselves thither to pray, out of sheer piety or in fulfilment of vows. The Birth - day of James is kept by the Church upon this day, which is that of the bringing of his body to Compostella. It was about Easter-time that he bore witness to Jesus Christ with his blood, at Jerusalem, being the first of the Apostles to do so.

Nocturn III: Homily of St John Chrysostom

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew: At that time, came to Jesus the mother of Zebedee's children, with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him. And so on.

Let no man be troubled if we say that the Apostles were still imperfect, for the mystery of the Cross was not yet finished, the grace of the Spirit had not yet been shed abroad in their hearts. If thou wilt behold them in their strength, consider them such as they became after the grace of the Spirit was given them, and thou wilt perceive that they had trodden under foot every vain desire. This is the cause wherefore their present imperfection is made known unto us, that is, that thou mayest see how great a change could be forthwith wrought by grace.

R. These are they who while yet they lived in the flesh, planted the Church in their own blood;* They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.
V. Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
R. They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.

 Reading 10: But nevertheless let us now look how they came unto Christ, and what they said. Master, they said, we would that Thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And He said unto them: What would ye that I should do for you? not, surely, that He knew not what their wish was, but that He would make them answer, and so uncover the wound, to lay a plaster upon it. Their wish proceeded from earthly motives, and they were shy and ashamed to express it, and therefore they took Christ apart, and so asked Him. The Evangelist saith: For they were gone apart, that they might not be discovered of them and then they told Him what they sought.

R. These men are saints, whom the Lord hath chosen in love unfeigned, and hath given them glory everlasting. These are they
* By the light of whose teaching the Church is glorified, even as the moon is glorified by the light of the sun.
V. The saints through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness.
R. By the light of whose teaching the Church is glorified, even as the moon is glorified by the light of the sun.

Reading 11: To me it seemeth most likely that they had heard how that the disciples should sit upon twelve thrones; they were fain to obtain for themselves the chiefest places at this enthronement; they knew that the Lord loved them better than the most of the others; but they feared that Peter would still be preferred before them; and therefore they made bold to say: Grant unto us that we may sit, one at thy right Hand, and the other at thy left Hand, in thy glory. They were even instant with Him, saying: Say that we may. And what answered He? To show that they were asking no spiritual gift, nor even knew for themselves what they were asking, nor would have asked it if they had known what it was, Jesus said unto them: Ye know not what ye ask, ye know not how great a thing, how wonderful a thing this is, a thing which even is not Mine to give.

Reading 12: And He said moreover: Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? Behold how He turneth their thoughts at once another way, speaking to them of things altogether different, as though He said, Ye come unto Me treating of honours and crowns, but I speak unto you of the wrestling and the sweat. This is not yet the time of reward, neither is My glory immediately to be revealed; but now death and danger are present with you. But consider how, by the manner of His questioning, He doth both exhort and invite them. He saith not Are ye able to bear death? Are ye able to shed your blood? but: How are ye able to drink the cup whereto He presently inviteth them, saying: the cup that I shall drink of; that He may make them readier for the strife by knowing that it is a strife which they are to share with Him.

Gospel: Matthew 20:20-23