Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Hebrews 12: 5-17 - Seek after peace

Hebrews 12:5-11
yet you have lost sight, already, of those words of comfort in which God addresses you as his sons; My son, do not undervalue the correction which the Lord sends thee, do not be unmanned when he reproves thy faults. It is where he loves that he bestows correction; there is no recognition for any child of his, without chastisement. Be patient, then, while correction lasts; God is treating you as his children. Was there ever a son whom his father did not correct? No, correction is the common lot of all; you must be bastards, not true sons, if you are left without it. We have known what it was to accept correction from earthly fathers, and with reverence; shall we not submit, far more willingly, to the Father of a world of spirits, and draw life from him? They, after all, only corrected us for a short while, at their own caprice; he does it for our good, to give us a share in that holiness which is his. For the time being, all correction is painful rather than pleasant; but afterwards, when it has done its work of discipline, it yields a harvest of good dispositions, to our great peace.
et obliti estis consolationis, quæ vobis tamquam filiis loquitur, dicens: Fili mi, noli negligere disciplinam Domini: neque fatigeris dum ab eo argueris. Quem enim diligit Dominus, castigat: flagellat autem omnem filium, quem recipit. In disciplina perseverate. Tamquam filiis vobis offert se Deus: quis enim filius, quem non corripit pater?  quod si extra disciplinam estis, cujus participes facti sunt omnes: ergo adulteri, et non filii estis. Deinde patres quidem carnis nostræ, eruditores habuimus, et reverebamur eos, non multo magis obtemperabimus Patri spirituum, et vivemus?  Et illi quidem in tempore paucorum dierum, secundum voluntatem suam erudiebant nos: hic autem ad id quod utile est in recipiendo sanctificationem ejus.  Omnis autem disciplina in præsenti quidem videtur non esse gaudii, sed mœroris: postea autem fructum pacatissimum exercitatis per eam, reddet justitiæ.
Aquinas

Persevere and embrace discipline: Having exhorted them to endure evil patiently, according to the example of the ancient fathers and Christ, the Apostle now exhorts them to do the same on the authority of Scripture...if he chastises, He does not hate; but His chastisement is directed to our good, because He speaks to us as to sons...God chastises you for discipline; do not regard lightly [neglect], i.e., do not despise it by negligence: ‘He that rejects wisdom and discipline is unhappy'. By reason of the second he says, Do not lose courage [be wearied] when you are punished by him. For some, even though they do not hate a harsh correction, bear it impatiently; therefore, he says, Be not wearied, while you are rebuked [punished] by him. For a man is spiritually wearied, when he is so sad that he faints: ‘That you be not wearied, fainting in your mind’; ‘Be not grieved with her bonds’.

The harvest: ...later it yields fruit, for fruit implies sweetness: hence, fruition is delight in the end now achieved. Most peaceful, for fruit is had here with disturbance of external inconveniences and internal trials; therefore, it is not most peaceful, as there. In glory, indeed, there will be no inward gnawing of conscience, no inclination to sin, no outward affliction. For according to Augustine, whatever you desire will be there; therefore, the fruit will be most peaceful...But fruit is brought forth only to them that are exercised in it, i.e., by discipline: ‘Strong meat is for the perfect; for those who by custom have their senses exercised’.

Hebrews 12:12-13
 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, And make straight steps with your feet: that no one, halting, may go out of the way; but rather be healed. 
Propter quod remissas manus, et soluta genua erigite, et gressus rectos facite pedibus vestris: ut non claudicans quis erret, magis autem sanetur.
Drooping hands are failure to do good: A sin of omission occurs in two ways: one, when a person fails to do good; another, by failing to endure evil and adversity. In regard to the first he says, Therefore, i.e., because chastisement yields the most peaceable fruit, then to obtain this fruit, lift your drooping hands. For since the hand is the organ of the organs, it is said to droop, when it stops performing good works; therefore, it must be lifted up by a right intention to do things pleasing to God... As a sign of this, when Moses lifted up his hands, Israel conquered; but when he let them fall, Amalek overcame them.

Weak knees are failure to endure adversity bravely: In regard to the other sin of omission he says, strengthen your weak knees. The entire weight of the body is held up by the knees. Therefore, those who have not the courage to endure adversity bravely have weak knees. Therefore, this weakness must be put aside: ‘You have strengthened the weary hands; your words have confirmed them that were staggering, and you have strengthened the trembling knees’; ‘Strengthen the feeble hands and confirm the weak knees’. Therefore, lift up the hand and knees and do not give in to idleness or hesitate because of weakness.

Make straight and the sin of transgression: ...For that is straight whose middle does not point to a direction different from the extremes, i.e., whose action does not depart from its proper intention and end. But there are three kinds of obliqueness: namely in the affections, in action and in understanding. From sinful affection follows obliqueness in the understanding and depravity in loving...so that what is lame as to outward action. For just as the tibia is said to be lame, when it does not follow the rule of the locomotive power, so an action is lame when it turns to the right in prosperity or to the left in adversity, and does not follow the rule of divine law...In regard to obliqueness of the understanding he says, may not be put out of joint. For an intellectual error follows an evil action: ‘They err that do evil’; ‘These things they thought and were deceived; for their own malice blinded them’. Therefore, a person who would avoid those two deviations must have his feet and his affects right; hence, he says, but rather be healed. For just as bodily health consists in the proper balance of the humors, so spiritual health in the proper arrangement of the affections: ‘Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed’.

Hebrews 12;14-17
Follow peace with all men, and holiness: without which no man shall see God.  Looking diligently, lest any man be wanting to the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up do hinder, and by it many be defiled. Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau; who for one mess, sold his first birthright. For know ye that afterwards, when he desired to inherit the benediction, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, although with tears he had sought it.
 Pacem sequimini cum omnibus, et sanctimoniam, sine qua nemo videbit Deum:  contemplantes nequis desit gratiæ Dei: ne qua radix amaritudinis sursum germinans impediat, et per illam inquinentur multi.  Ne quis fornicator, aut profanus ut Esau: qui propter unam escam vendidit primitiva sua: scitote enim quoniam et postea cupiens hæreditare benedictionem, reprobatus est: non enim invenit pœnitentiæ locum, quamquam cum lacrimis inquisisset eam.

The objectives of our action: ....there are various ends of human actions: for some are ordained to another, as justice ordains a man to his neighbor; and the end is peace; hence, ‘Peace will be the work of justice.’ Others are ordained to the one acting, as fasting, and the end is purity. For we fast for the sake of cleanness and purity. In regard to the first, he says, Strive for peace, i.e., do not only have it, but seek how to have it with all men: ‘If it be possible, as much as in you lies, have peace with all men’; ‘Seek after peace and pursue it’. In regard to the second he says, and for the holiness: ‘Let us wash ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit’.

Peace and holiness are necessary to see God: He shows that those remedies are necessary by indicating the two injuries we incur without them: first, the loss of glory in the future and of grace in the present. In regard to the first he says, without which no man shall see God, in which happiness consists...As if to say: Without peace toward our neighbor, and cleanness and purity in regard to ourselves, we cannot be happy: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God’. But the inheritance of the beatific vision is owed only to sons: ‘Nothing defiled shall enter into it’; ‘Lord, who shall dwell in your tabernacle? He that enters without stain’; ‘Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord? The innocent in hands and the clean of heart’.

Loss of God’s grace in the present:  he says, see to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God. For grace is lost by discord and uncleanness... grace is not obtained by merit; otherwise, grace would not be grace. Yet a man must do what he can. But God in His most generous will gives it to all who prepare themselves: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man open to me, I will come in to him’; ‘He will that all men be saved’. Therefore, God’s grace is not wanting to any one, but it communicates itself to all, as far as it is concerned, just as the sun is not wanting to the eyes of the blind. He says, therefore: see that no on fail to obtain the grace of God..

Grace and the error of Pelagianism: ...if anyone places an obstacle and his heart is moved to remove it, this is due to the gift of God’s grace calling by His mercy: ‘But when it pleased him who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace’. But this gift of grace is not sanctifying grace. Therefore, the fact that a person removes that obstacle is owing to God’s mercy; if it is not removed, it is owing to God’s justice. But he does not say, ‘lest you fail,’ but lest anyone fail, because everyone should be solicitous for his neighbor: ‘He gave everyone commandment concerning his neighbor’.

Avoidance of sins:  Then he comes specifically to advising the avoidance of sins contrary to each of the aforesaid medicines: first, he advises them to avoid sins contrary to peace; secondly, contrary to holiness...Esau came and asked for a blessing, which he did not obtain, although his father did it unknowingly, because in that stupor which he experienced, he was in ecstasy and learned from the Holy Spirit that he was not to retract what he had done; hence, he said: ‘I have blessed him and he shall be blessed’... For he found no place to repent, though he sought it with tears. For as it is recorded in Genesis: ‘He roared out with a great cry, and being in great consternation, said: Bless me also, my father.’ But on the other hand it says in Ezekiel: ‘If the wicked do penance for all his sins, which he has committed, and keep all my commandments and do judgement and justice, living he shall live, and he shall not die.’

Repentance is always possible while we are in this world: I  answer that as long as one is living in this world, he can do true penance. But sometimes a person repents not from a love of justice, but from the fear of punishment or temporal harm. This is the way Esau repented, not because he had sold his birthright, but for the rejection. Consequently, his penance was not accepted, because it was not genuine. For this is the way the damned in hell repent, as it says in Wisdom: ‘Repenting,’ not because they had sinned, but because they have been excluded.

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