Saturday, 16 July 2016

Matins readings for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

The Matins readings for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost in the traditional Benedictine Office are set out below.

Nocturn I (4 Kings 1=2 Kings 1:1-10)

Reading 1: And Moab rebelled against Israel, after the death of Achab.  And Ochozias fell through the lattices of his upper chamber which he had in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, saying to them: Go, consult Beelzebub, the god of Accaron, whether I shall recover of this my illness.

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 an angel of the Lord spoke to Elias the Thesbite, saying: Arise, and go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them: Is there not a God in Israel, that ye go to consult Beelzebub the god of Accaron? Wherefore thus saith the Lord: From the bed, on which thou art gone up, thou shalt not come down, but thou shalt surely die.

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 Elias went away. And the messengers turned back to Ochozias. And he said to them: Why are you come back? But they answered him: A man met us, and said to us: Go, and return to the king, that sent you, and you shall say to him: Thus saith the Lord: Is it because there was no God in Israel that thou sendest to Beelzebub the god of Accaron? Therefore thou shalt not come down from the bed, on which thou art gone up, but then shalt surely die

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 he said to them: What manner of man was he who met you, and spoke these words?
But they said: A hairy man with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said: It is Elias the Thesbite. And he sent to him a captain of fifty, and the fifty men that were under him. And he went up to him, and as he was sitting on the top of a hill, said to him: Man of God, the king hath commanded that thou come down.  And Elias answering, said to the captain of fifty: If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee, and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him, and the fifty that were with him.

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: Sermon 124 of St Caesarius

Reading 5: Dearly beloved brethren, in the Lessons which are now being read to us day by day, I have often warned you that we must not follow the deathful letter, to the abandonment of the quickening spirit. For it is thus that the Apostle saith: "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.". If we will understand only the plain meaning of the letter, we shall get little or no edification from our readings in the Divine Scriptures.

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: All those things whereof we hear were types and images of things.The Blessed Elias was a type of the Lord our Saviour. Just as Elias was rejected by the Jews, so was the true Elias, even our Lord, rejected and despised by the same Jews.

R. Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain upon you * For there are the mighty of Israel fallen
V. All ye mountains that stand round about, the Lord look upon you but let Him pass by Gilboa
R. For there are the mighty of Israel fallen

Reading 7: Elias went away out of his own country, and Christ hath left the synagogue Elias went into the desert, and Christ hath come into the world. Elias, when he was in the desert, was fed by ravens, and Christ in the desert of this world is comforted by the faith of the Gentiles.

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: For the ravens which, at the command of the Lord, ministered unto Elias, were a type of the flock of Gentiles. Wherefore also it is said for the Gentile Church: "I am black, but comely O daughters of Jerusalem!" Why is the Church black but comely She is black by nature, but comely by grace. Why is she black by nature? Because she must needs own: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."  Why is she comely by? Sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be clean wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow,

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 (from St Gregory):

Reading 9: No man that hath read the history of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman Princes Vespasian and Titus, can be ignorant that it was of that destruction that the Lord spoke when He wept over the ruin of the city. It is these Princes that are pointed at where it is said "For the days shall come upon thee that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee."

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: The truth of what followeth: "They shall not leave in thee one stone upon another" is even now fulfilled in the change of site of the city, which hath been re-built round about that place without the gates, where the Lord was crucified, while the ancient city hath been, as I am told, rooted up from the very foundations.

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: What the sin of Jerusalem was which brought upon her the punishment of this destruction, we find written after: "Because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." The Maker of men, through the mystery of His Incarnation, was pleased to visit her, but she remembered not to fear and to love Him. Hence also the Prophet Jeremiah, rebuking the hardness of man's heart, calleth the birds of the air to testify against it, saying "The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed time and the turtle, and the swallow, and the crane, observe the time of their coming but my people know not the judgment of the Lord."

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: The Saviour wept over the ruin of the unfaithful city, while she herself as yet knew not that it was coming. If thou hadst known, said He, even thou and we may understand Him to have meant thou wouldest thyself have wept, in place of making merry as thou now dost, knowing not what hangeth over thee. And hence He saith farther: "at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace." While she was giving herself up to fleshly pleasures, and casting no look ahead upon coming sorrows, she had still for a day in her power the things which might have brought unto her peace.

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.

This Sunday's Gospel is St Luke 19:41-47:

And when he drew near, seeing the city, he wept over it, saying: If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, And beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee: and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.  And entering into the temple, he began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought.Saying to them: It is written: My house is the house of prayer. But you have made it a den of thieves. And he was teaching daily in the temple. And the chief priests and the scribes and the rulers of the people sought to destroy him:

Friday, 15 July 2016

Hebrews 10:7-18 - Behold I come

The discussion of Psalm 39 starts in earnest in these verses of Hebrews 10.

Hebrews 10:7-9
Then said I: Behold I come: in the head of the book it is written of me: that I should do thy will, O God. In saying before, Sacrifices, and oblations, and holocausts for sin thou wouldest not, neither are they pleasing to thee, which are offered according to the law. Then said I: Behold, I come to do thy will, O God: he taketh away the first, that he may establish that which followeth.

Tunc dixi: Ecce venio: in capite libri scriptum est de me: Ut faciam, Deus, voluntatem tuam.  Superius dicens: Quia hostias, et oblationes, et holocautomata pro peccato noluisti, nec placita sunt tibi, quæ secundum legem offeruntur,  tunc dixi: Ecce venio, ut faciam, Deus, voluntatem tuam: aufert primum, ut sequens statuat. 

The coming of Christ: ...I come by the Incarnation: ‘I came forth from the Father and am come into the world’, and this in order to offer myself in the passion; therefore, he says, Lo.

But was that sacrifice accepted? It certainly was, because in the roll [head] of the book it was written of me. This book is Christ according to His human nature, and in it were written all the things necessary for man’s salvation...Therefore, if predestination is called a book, it is obvious that Christ is the head of the book: ‘They that are written in the book of life of the Lamb’. Therefore, in the head of the book, i.e., in me, according to my divine nature, it is written of me, according to my human nature, I have come to do your will, i.e., this was foreordained that by Your grace I should do Your will, by offering Myself for the redemption of the human race.

Hebrews 10:10-12
In the which will, we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ once. And every priest indeed standeth daily ministering, and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this man offering one sacrifice for sins, for ever sitteth on the right hand of God, 
In qua voluntate sanctificati sumus per oblationem corporis Jesu Christi semel. Et omnis quidem sacerdos præsto est quotidie ministrans, et easdem sæpe offerens hostias, quæ numquam possunt auferre peccata: hic autem unam pro peccatis offerens hostiam, in sempiternum sedet in dextera Dei, 
The one sacrifice: ...the Old Law offered many sacrifices without expiating for sins. This man, therefore, offered one sacrifice, because He offered Himself once for our sins, and sat down at the right hand of God, not as a minister always standing, as the priests of the Old Law, but as the Lord: ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand’; ‘He sits on the right hand of God’; at the right hand of God the Father with equal power in the divine nature, but with the more important goods in the human nature: ‘He sits on the right hand of the majesty on high’; and this forever, for He will not die again, because ‘Christ rising from the dead, dies now no more’; ‘His power is an everlasting power’.

Hebrews 10:13-18
From henceforth expecting, until his enemies be made his footstool.  For by one oblation he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.  And the Holy Ghost also doth testify this to us. For after that he said:And this is the testament which I will make unto them after those days, saith the Lord. I will give my laws in their hearts, and on their minds will I write them: And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more. Now where there is a remission of these, there is no more an oblation for sin.
de cetero exspectans donec ponantur inimici ejus scabellum pedum ejus. Una enim oblatione, consummavit in sempiternum sanctificatos. Contestatur autem nos et Spiritus Sanctus. Postquam enim dixit:  Hoc autem testamentum, quod testabor ad illos post dies illos, dicit Dominus, dando leges meas in cordibus eorum, et in mentibus eorum superscribam eas: et peccatorum, et iniquitatum eorum jam non recordabor amplius. 18 Ubi autem horum remissio: jam non est oblatio pro peccato.

Waiting (expecting) until his enemies be made a stool for his feet (Psalm 39, 109): This expecting does not imply any anxiety in Christ, as it does in men, because ‘hope that is deferred afflicts the soul’, but it designates His will to have mercy: ‘The Lord waits that he may have mercy only’. Therefore, those who are willing are subjected under His feet, i.e., to His humanity; and in this their salvation consists, namely, in doing His will: ‘How long do you refuse to submit to me?’. But the wicked, who are unwilling submit to it because even though they do not accomplish His will per se, yet it is fulfilled in their regard as a work of justice. Consequently, all things are subject in one of those ways: ‘You have subjected all things under his feet’.

We are sanctified by his offering: one offering he has perfected for all time. This He did by reconciling us and uniting us to God as to our principle; those who are sanctified, because Christ’s sacrifice, since He is God and man, has power to sanctify for every: ‘Jesus, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate. For by Him we are sanctified and united to God: ‘By whom we have access to God’.

Forgiveness of sins means no more offerings for sin are required: ...Sins are remitted in the New Testament by Christ’s sacrifice, because the blood of Christ was shed for the remission of sins; therefore, in the New Testament, in which sins and iniquities are forgiven, as the authority indicates, there is no offering to be repeated for sins: ‘They that are in health need not a physician, but they that are ill’ (Mt. 9:12). Therefore, where there is forgiveness of sins, there is no longer any offering for sin. For this would be to demean Christ’s sacrifice.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Hebrews 10:1-6 - On Psalm 39

The first half of Hebrews 10 is essentially an exposition of Psalm 39.

The explicit quotes from it start in verse 6 of the chapter (with verse 7 of the psalm), but the whole of the psalm is relevant to the argument being made here, so is worth reading through so you recognise verses when they are cited.

 Psalm 39
In finem. Psalmus ipsi David.
Unto the end, a psalm for David himself.
1 Exspéctans exspectávi Dóminum, * et inténdit mihi.
With expectation I have waited for the Lord, and he was attentive to me.
2  Et exaudívit preces meas: * et edúxit me de lacu misériæ, et de luto fæcis.
3 And he heard my prayers, and brought me out of the pit of misery and the mire of dregs.
3  Et státuit super petram pedes meos: * et diréxit gressus meos.
And he set my feet upon a rock, and directed my steps.
4  Et immísit in os meum cánticum novum * carmen Deo nostro.
4 And he put a new canticle into my mouth, a song to our God.
5  Vidébunt multi, et timébunt: * et sperábunt in Dómino.
Many shall see, and shall fear: and they shall hope in the Lord.
6  Beátus vir, cujus est nomen Dómini spes ejus * et non respéxit in vanitátes et insánias falsas.
5 Blessed is the man whose trust is in the name of the Lord; and who has not had regard to vanities, and lying follies.
7  Multa fecísti tu, Dómine, Deus meus, mirabília tua: * et cogitatiónibus tuis non est qui símilis sit tibi.
6 You have multiplied your wonderful works, O Lord my God: and in your thoughts there is no one like to you.
8  Annuntiávi et locútus sum: * multiplicáti sunt super númerum.
I have declared and I have spoken they are multiplied above number.
9  Sacrifícium et oblatiónem noluísti: * aures autem perfecísti mihi.
 7 Sacrifice and oblation you did not desire; but you have pierced ears for me.
10  Holocáustum et pro peccáto non postulásti: * tunc dixi: Ecce vénio.
Burnt offering and sin offering you did not require: 8 Then said I, Behold I come.
11  In cápite libri scriptum est de me ut fácerem voluntátem tuam: * Deus meus, vólui, et legem tuam in médio cordis mei.
In the head of the book it is written of me 9 that I should do your will: O my God, I have desired it, and your law in the midst of my heart.
12  Annuntiávi justítiam tuam in ecclésia magna, * ecce lábia mea non prohibébo: Dómine, tu scisti.
10 I have declared your justice in a great church, lo, I will not restrain my lips: O Lord, you know it.
13  Justítiam tuam non abscóndi in corde meo: * veritátem tuam et salutáre tuum dixi.
11 I have not hid your justice within my heart: I have declared your truth and your salvation.
14  Non abscóndi misericórdiam tuam et veritátem tuam * a concílio multo.
I have not concealed your mercy and your truth from a great council.
15  Tu autem, Dómine, ne longe fácias miseratiónes tuas a me: * misericórdia tua et véritas tua semper suscepérunt me.
12 Withhold Withhold not, O Lord, your tender mercies from me: your mercy and your truth have always upheld me.
16  Quóniam circumdedérunt me mala, quorum non est númerus: * comprehendérunt me iniquitátes meæ, et non pótui ut vidérem.
13 For evils without number have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I was not able to see.
17  multiplicátæ sunt super capíllos cápitis mei: * et cor meum derelíquit me.
They are multiplied above the hairs of my head: and my heart has forsaken me.
18  compláceat tibi, Dómine, ut éruas me: * dómine, ad adjuvándum me réspice.
14 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me. Look down, O Lord, to help me.
19 confundántur et revereántur simul, qui quærunt ánimam meam, * ut áuferant eam.
15 Let them be confounded and ashamed together, that seek after my soul to take it away.
20  convertántur retrórsum et revereántur: * qui volunt mihi mala.
15 Let them be confounded and ashamed together, that seek after my soul to take it away.
21  ferant conféstim confusiónem suam: * qui dicunt mihi: euge, euge.
16 Let them immediately bear their confusion, that say to me: 'T is well, 't is well.
22  exsúltent et læténtur super te omnes quæréntes te: * et dicant semper: magnificétur Dóminus : qui díligunt salutáre tuum.
17 Let all that seek you rejoice and be glad in you: and let such as love your salvation say always: The Lord be magnified.
23  ego autem mendícus sum, et pauper: * Dóminus sollícitus est mei.
18 But I am a beggar and poor: the Lord is careful for me.
24  adjútor meus et protéctor meus tu es: * Deus meus, ne tardáveris.
You are my helper and my protector: O my God, be not slack.

Hebrews 10: 1-4
For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things; by the selfsame sacrifices which they offer continually every year, can never make the comers thereunto perfect: For then they would have ceased to be offered: because the worshippers once cleansed should have no conscience of sin any longer: But in them there is made a commemoration of sins every year. For it is impossible that with the blood of oxen and goats sin should be taken away. 
Umbram enim habens lex futurorum bonorum, non ipsam imaginem rerum: per singulos annos, eisdem ipsis hostiis quas offerunt indesinenter, numquam potest accedentes perfectos facere: alioquin cessassent offerri: ideo quod nullam haberent ultra conscientiam peccati, cultores semel mundati: sed in ipsis commemoratio peccatorum per singulos annos fit. Impossibile enim est sanguine taurorum et hircorum auferri peccata. 

Shadow and reality: ...the New Law, as far as future goods are concerned, represents more explicitly than the Old: first, because express mention and a promise of good things to come are found in the words of the New Testament, but not in the Old, which mentions only carnal goods; secondly, because the power of the New Testament consists in charity, which is the fulfillment of the Law. And although this charity is imperfect by reason of the faith in which it inheres, it is, nevertheless, similar to the charity of heaven. Hence, the New Law is called the law of love. Hence, it is called an image, because it has an expressed likeness to the goods to come. But the Old Law represented it by carnal things; hence it is called a shadow: ‘Which are a shadow of things to come’.

Why do we keep offering the Mass if we do not need to repeat the sacrifices, as in the Old Testament:
I answer that we do not offer something different from what Christ offered for us, namely, His blood; hence, it is not a distinct oblation, but a commemoration of that sacrifice which Christ offered: ‘Do this in commemoration of me’. The second thing he prefaced is that in the Old Testament a commemoration was made of his own sins and those of the people every year. Therefore, they were abolished. Hence, he says, in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. This is true, for mention was made of sins in general, namely, that he was conscious of sin; but special mention is made in the New: ‘Confess, therefore, your sins one to another’.

Hebrews 10:5-6
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith: Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldest not: but a body thou hast fitted to me:Holocausts for sin did not please thee.
Ideo ingrediens mundum dicit: Hostiam et oblationem noluisti: corpus autem aptasti mihi: holocautomata pro peccato non tibi placuerunt. 
The one true sacrifice: Hence, he says, sacrifice and offerings you did not desire, and then adds: but a body you have prepared for me, i.e., fit for immolation; and this for two reasons. First, because it was most pure, to wipe away all sin: ‘It shall be a lamb without blemish’; secondly, because it would suffer and be immolated: ‘God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh’. But that body is a true sacrifice and a true oblation: ‘He has delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness’ .

A spiritual offering: In burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure. It is a greater thing to please than to will, because those things please which something causes us to will; but sometimes we will certain things not for their own sake but for something else. Therefore, because holocausts were more fitting, but he says that they were not pleasing, then much less the others.

Why did God institute the Old Testament sacrifices then?  ...the statement that the Lord did not want them can be understood in two ways: In one way, so that He does not want them at the time when, the truth coming, the shadow could cease; hence, a person would sin by offering them now. In another way, so that He does not want them for the sins of those who offer them: ‘Your hands are full of blood’ . The third answer toward which the Apostle is tending is that they were never pleasing to God of themselves, nor were they accepted. But they are said to be accepted for two reasons: first, because they were a figure of Christ Whose passion was accepted by God, for He was not pleased with the killing of animals but in faith in His passion: ‘For all things happened to them in figure’. Secondly, to restrain them from idolatry by means of those sacrifices..

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Hebrews 9:23-28 - Christ's gift of heavenly things

Hebrews 9:23-24
And if such purification was needed for what was but a representation of the heavenly world, the heavenly world itself will need sacrifices more availing still. The sanctuary into which Jesus has entered is not one made by human hands, is not some adumbration of the truth; he has entered heaven itself, where he now appears in God’s sight on our behalf. 
Necesse est ergo exemplaria quidem cælestium his mundari: ipsa autem cælestia melioribus hostiis quam istis. Non enim in manufacta Sancta Jesus introivit exemplaria verorum: sed in ipsum cælum, ut appareat nunc vultui Dei pro nobis: 

The Old Testament was suggest the pattern of heavenly things: ...Now better things are always cleansed with better things. But they were the figures of heavenly things be cleansed with better blood... For the high priest expiated the sanctuary which was made with hands, but Christ has entered into the Holies not made with hands, for they were not, so far as they were concerned, the patterns of the true one, but into heaven itself...

Sacrifices, in the plural: Yet there is but one sacrifice of was prefigured by several sacrifices of the Old Law.

Why?:  In order now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Here the Apostle alludes to a rite of the Old Law according to which the high priest, who entered the holy of holies, stood before the mercy seat to pray for the people. Similarly, Christ entered into heaven to stand before God for our salvation. But not in the same way, because the high priest could not see the holy of holies or any face on account of the smoke ascending from the censer; but Christ appears before the face of God: not that a bodily face is there, or a cloud, but clear vision.

Hebrews 9:25-26
Nor does he make a repeated offering of himself, as the high priest, when he enters the sanctuary, makes a yearly offering of the blood that is not his own. If that were so, he must have suffered again and again, ever since the world was created; as it is, he has been revealed once for all, at the moment when history reached its fulfilment, annulling our sin by his sacrifice. 
25 neque ut sæpe offerat semetipsum, quemadmodum pontifex intrat in Sancta per singulos annos in sanguine alieno: alioquin oportebat eum frequenter pati ab origine mundi: nunc autem semel in consummatione sæculorum, ad destitutionem peccati, per hostiam suam apparuit. 

Once and for all:  But Christ has not entered into the place made with hands, nor was it to offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the holies every year with the blood of others...Christ offered Himself for the sins of the whole world, because He was made the propitiation for our sins and for those of the whole world. Therefore, if He were offered frequently, it would have been necessary for Him to have been born and to suffer from the beginning of the world; but this would have been most unbecoming.

The fulfillment of history: Now at the end of the age, Christ has appeared: ‘We are the ones upon whom the ends of the ages are come’. And he says this on account of the number of years, because already more than a thousand years had passed since he said this. For the ages of the world are taken according to the ages of men, which are chiefly distinguished according to the state of progress and not according to the number of years. The first age was before the deluge, in which there was no written law or punishment, as in infancy. Another was from Noah to Abraham; and so on for the ages, so that the final age is the present one, after which there is no other state of salvation, just as there is no other age after old age. But just as in the other ages of men there is a definite number of years, but not in old age, which begins at sixty, and some live for 120 years, so it has not been determined how long this state of the world will continue. Yet it is the end of the ages, because no other age remains for salvation.

Hebrews 9: 27-28
Man’s destiny is to die once for all; nothing remains after that but judgement; and Christ was offered once for all, to drain the cup of a world’s sins; when we see him again, sin will play its part no longer, he will be bringing salvation to those who await his coming.
Et quemadmodum statutum est hominibus semel mori, post hoc autem judicium: sic et Christus semel oblatus est ad multorum exhaurienda peccata: secundo sine peccato apparebit exspectantibus se, in salutem.
Death and judgment:  In every man we find two things, namely, the need to die; secondly, that he should rise, not to be cleansed but to be judged according to his deeds. He touches on the first when he says, and just as it is appointed for men once to die.

Christ did not have to die: ...since Christ had not descended from Adam by way of human seed, but merely as to bodily substance, He did not contract original sin; consequently, He was not obliged by that statute: ‘For in what day soever you shall eat of it, you shall die the death’, but He underwent death by His own will: ‘No man takes it away from me: but I lay it down of myself’... Therefore, he says, that he was offered: ‘He was offered because it was His own will’ (Is. 53:7);

Efficacy of Christ's death: our death is the effect of sin: The wages of sin is death’. But Christ’s death destroys sin; therefore, he says, to bear the sins of many, i.e., to remove them. He does not say ‘of all,’ because Christ’s death, even though it was enough for all, has no efficacy except in regard to those who are to be saved: for not all are subject to Him by faith and good works.

Sin will not be a part of the Second Coming: He shall appear a second time not to deal with sin... In the first coming He was also made a victim for sin: ‘Him who knew no sin, he has made sin for us’. But those things are not to be found in the second coming; hence, he says that he shall appear without sin.

Judgment: ..He will appear not to be judged, but to judge and to reward according to merits; hence, he says that he will appear. And although He will appear to all in the flesh, even to those who wounded Him, He will appear according to His divinity to the elect that eagerly wait for him by faith to save them: ‘Blessed are all they that wait for him’ ; ‘We look for the Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who will reform the body of our lowliness, made like to the body of his glory’.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Hebrews 9:15-22 - Last will and testament

The second half of Hebrews tackles the problem of why Jesus had to die.

Hebrews 9:15-17
Thus, through his intervention, a new covenant has been bequeathed to us; a death must follow, to atone for all our transgressions under the old covenant, and then the destined heirs were to obtain, for ever, their promised inheritance. Where a bequest is concerned, the death of the testator must needs play its part; a will has no force while the testator is alive, and only comes into force with death. 
Et ideo novi testamenti mediator est: ut morte intercedente, in redemptionem earum prævaricationum, quæ erant sub priori testamento, repromissionem accipiant qui vocati sunt æternæ hæreditatis. Ubi enim testamentum est, mors necesse est intercedat testatoris. Testamentum enim in mortuis confirmatum est: alioquin nondum valet, dum vivit qui testatus est. 

The new covenant is the will of Christ: order that a will [testament] be in force, the death of the testator must be established. Therefore, the New Testament would have no strength, unless the death of Christ had come in: ‘It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people’. But the death of the testator is necessary for two reasons: first, that the testament might be valid, because, since it expresses the last will, it can always be changed before death; hence, he says, a testament takes effect only at death, i.e., after death. That is the way the New Testament has been confirmed by the death of Christ: ‘this is my blood of the new Testament,’ namely, its confirmer and dedicator. Secondly, the death of the testator is necessary, in order that the testament be in force and be efficacious; hence, he says, otherwise it is yet not in force, because no one can seek anything, nor an heir his inheritance by reason of the testament, till after the death of the testator. Therefore, Christ willed to interpose his death for our sake.

Hebrews 9:18-22
Thus the old covenant, too, needed blood for its inauguration. When he had finished reading the provisions of the law to the assembled people, Moses took blood, the blood of calves and goats, took water, and scarlet-dyed wool, and hyssop, sprinkled the book itself, and all the people, and said, This is the blood of the covenant which God has prescribed to you. The tabernacle, too, and all the requisites of worship he sprinkled in the same way with blood;  and the law enjoins that blood shall be used in almost every act of purification; unless blood is shed, there can be no remission of sins.
Unde nec primum quidem sine sanguine dedicatum est.  Lecto enim omni mandato legis a Moyse universo populo, accipiens sanguinem vitulorum et hircorum cum aqua, et lana coccinea, et hyssopo, ipsum quoque librum, et omnem populum aspersit, dicens: Hic sanguis testamenti, quod mandavit ad vos Deus. Etiam tabernaculum et omnia vasa ministerii sanguine similiter aspersit. Et omnia pene in sanguine secundum legem mundantur: et sine sanguinis effusione non fit remissio.
Prefigured in the Old Testament: ...neither was the first testament ratified, i.e., confirmed, without blood. But that blood prefigured the blood of Christ: ‘All these things happened to them in figure’...
the Apostle alludes here to history, which is recorded in Exodus that after Moses had read God’s commandments to the people and they had answered: ‘All things that the Lord has spoken we will do, we will be obedient’, he took the blood which he had ordered them to save of the twelve calves, and sprinkled the book of the Law and the people, as though in confirmation of the covenant... that blood was a figure of Christ’s blood...

The meaning of the symbolism: ...therefore, Christ used the words in Matthew: This is the blood of a goat because of its likeness to sinful flesh, and of a calf because of courage. But it is mixed with water, because baptism derives its efficacy from the blood of Christ. It is sprinkled with hyssop, which cleanses the breast, by which faith is signified: ‘By faith purifying their hearts’; and with purple wool, which is red to signify charity: ‘My beloved is white and ruddy’, because the people are cleansed by faith and the love of Christ. The book of the Law is sprinkled, because the passion of Christ fulfilled the Law: ‘It is consummated’; ‘I have not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it’.

The tabernacle:..And these two things are necessary for sanctification, namely, the power of Christ’s blood and the oil of mercy, by which the tabernacle, i.e., the Church, and the vessels, i.e., the saints, are sanctified.

Other cleansings in the Law: But cleansings were of two kinds: one from bodily stain, as leprosy, the other from spiritual, namely sin. The first could pertain to inanimate things, as the leprosy of houses: and the cleansing from that uncleanness was done with the blood of an immolated animal, or with the water of expiation, which was mixed with blood of a red calf. Hence, he says, almost all things, and not absolutely all...But for the cleansing from the stain of sin the shedding of blood is necessary, because it was required for the sacrifice; hence he says, without shedding of blood there is not forgiveness of sins. This showed that the forgiveness of sin was to be accomplished by the blood of Christ. Hence, in the Old Law, sins were forgiven not by virtue of a sacrament, but by virtue of faith in Christ. Hence, it is frequently stated there: ‘The priest shall pray for him and for his sin, and it shall be forgiven him’.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Hebrews 9:8-14 - Reopening the way to heaven

The next section of Hebrews 9 takes us to the nature and effect of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

Hebrews 9:8-10
The Holy Ghost signifying this, that the way into the holies was not yet made manifest, whilst the former tabernacle was yet standing. Which is a parable of the time present: according to which gifts and sacrifices are offered, which can not, as to the conscience, make him perfect that serveth, only in meats and in drinks, And divers washings, and justices of the flesh laid on them until the time of correction.
 8 hoc significante Spiritu Sancto, nondum propalatam esse sanctorum viam, adhuc priore tabernaculo habente statum: quæ parabola est temporis instantis: juxta quam munera, et hostiæ offeruntur, quæ non possunt juxta conscientiam perfectum facere servientem, solummodo in cibis, et in potibus,  et variis baptismatibus, et justitiis carnis usque ad tempus correctionis impositis.

Before Christ: ...For as long as the Old Testament endured, the way into the holies, namely, Christ, Who says: ‘I am the way’ had not yet come; for He is the door by which one enters into the holies: ‘I am the door’. But He was not yet made manifest, because He was still hiding under the shadows of the figures of the letter: ‘For the law having a shadow of the good things to come’, which is symbolic for the present age, or leading us to the things which occur at the present time.

Why the holy of holies was closed under the Old Law: ...For no one enters into it, unless he is perfect: ‘It shall be called the holy way: the unclean shall not pass over it’. Hence, where there was no cleansing and no perfection, there was no entrance into it. But the Old Testament was unable to make perfect those who served it, because the sacrifice had not yet been offered that would satisfy for the sin of the whole human of all things and offerings of animals were not offered in the holy of holies, but in the holies or in the court of the tabernacle.

True cleansing: But they were unable to cleanse, because they cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper that serves with the service of latria, which pertains to divine worship. I say, perfect the conscience. For cleansing is of two kinds: one from the stain of sin and debt of punishment as to the conscience. The Law cannot do this...The other cleansing was in regard to divine service, in order that one might lawfully minister at such sacrifices; and thus it cleansed.

Saints of the Old Testament: But were many perfect in the Old Law? It seems so; for it was said to Abraham: ‘Walk before me and be perfect’. Furthermore, Moses and many others were very saintly and perfect. I answer that although there were many holy and perfect persons then, it was not from the works of the Law...but this was by faith in Christ: ‘Abraham believed God and it was reputed to him unto justice’.

Regulations for the body: And in various ablutions, because as it says in Mk, the Jews observed the washing of cups and of pots, and when they returned from the market, they did not eat until they were washed. Against this the Lord says : ‘Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees: because you make clean the outside of the cup and dish, but within you are full of rapine and uncleanness.’ Yet the Apostle is not speaking here about the superstitions of the Pharisees. Therefore, we must go to the other washings commanded in the Law, such as the water in which the priests washed, and the water of purification in the cleansing of leprosy or defilement...He calls those ceremonies regulations for the body, i.e., fleshly, because they pertained only to bodily cleanness, and there was no spiritual power in them.

Hebrews 9:11-12
But Christ, being come an high priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hand, that is, not of this creation: Neither by the blood of goats, or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the holies, having obtained eternal redemption. 
Christus autem assistens pontifex futurorum bonorum, per amplius et perfectius tabernaculum, non manufactum, id est, non hujus creationis: neque per sanguinem hircorum aut vitulorum, sed per proprium sanguinem introivit semel in Sancta, æterna redemptione inventa. 
Who enters: For the high priest is the prince among the priests. But Christ was such: ‘And when the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory’; ‘Having therefore a great high priest that has passed into the heavens’...Christ is the high priest of heavenly goods...He is a high priest of the good things to come...He assists the Father by interceding for us...

The dignity of the inner tabernacle: is unmovable: ‘Your eyes shall see Jerusalem, a rich habitation, a tabernacle that cannot be removed’ the tabernacle of heavenly glory: ‘Lord, who shall dwell in your tabernacle?’ called a tabernacle, because it is the habitation of pilgrims. For it is not due to us by reason of the condition of our nature, but only through grace... It was more perfect, because all imperfection ceased there: ‘When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away’. Furthermore, it is of a different condition, because the Old was made by human hands, but this by the hand of God...Or, by the tabernacle can be understood Christ’s body, in which He fought against the devil...

He entered not without blood:. not with another’s blood: taking not the blood of goats or of calves but his own blood, which He offered on the cross for our salvation: ‘This is my blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins’.

Christ entered not once a year, but once for all time: ...But Christ throughout all of time, which is as a year, entered once for all into the holies and poured out His blood once: ‘Christ died once for our sins’; ‘for in that he died for sin, he died once'. Furthermore, He entered once; for from the fact that He entered heaven, He is there always. Hence, he says, he entered once for all into the holies.

He entered to expiate our sins: Why He entered, namely, to make an offering for the ignorance of the people, not for His own, because He had none. For the blood of Christ is more powerful, because by it he secured an eternal redemption. As if to say: we are redeemed by that blood; and this forever, because His power is infinite...He wrought eternal redemption by His own blood, in which His greatest efficacy appears.

Hebrews 9: 13-14
For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh:  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?
 Si enim sanguis hircorum et taurorum, et cinis vitulæ aspersus inquinatos sanctificat ad emundationem carnis: quanto magis sanguis Christi, qui per Spiritum Sanctum semetipsum obtulit immaculatum Deo, emundabit conscientiam nostram ab operibus mortuis, ad serviendum Deo viventi?
The two cleansings of the old law: In regard to the first it should be noted that there were two cleansings in the Old Law: one took place on the day of atonement, as already stated, and seemed to be directly ordained to cleansing from sin.

The other was against legal irregularity, as mentioned in Numbers (19:2), where the Lord commanded Eleazar to take from Moses a red cow without blemish, of full age and which has not carried the yoke, and bring her forth without the camp and immolate her in the sight of all. Then dipping his finger in her blood, he should sprinkle it over against the door of the tabernacle seven times; and then burn her flesh entirely, i.e., her flesh, hide and even her dung. Then the priest was to take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet twice dyed.

After this was done, a man that was clean was to gather up the ashes of the cow and pour them forth in a clean place outside the camp. Some of these ashes were to be put in water with which an unclean person, who touched the corpse of a man, was to be sprinkled on the third day, and on the seventh with hyssop. In this way and in no other way could he be cleansed. That is the opinion of the Apostle. Therefore in regard to the first he says, If the blood of goats and oxen; but as to the second he says, and the ashes of a heifer being sprinkled sanctify such as are defiles, not by conferring grace, but to the cleansing of the flesh, i.e., from an irregularity carnally hindering them, as though unclean, from divine worship. But they did not take away sins, because, as Augustine says, sometimes by virtue of that sprinkling they were cleansed from bodily leprosy; hence, he says, to the cleansing of the flesh.

The blood of Christ cleanses our conscience: As if to say: If blood and ashes can do this, what could Christ’s blood do? Certainly much should be noted that the blood of those animals merely cleansed from outward stain, namely, from contact with the dead; but the blood of Christ cleanses the conscience inwardly, which is accomplished by faith: ‘Purifying their hearts by faith’, inasmuch as it makes one believe that all who adhere to Christ are cleansed by His blood. Therefore, He cleanses the conscience.

Cleanses us from dead works: It also cleanses them from contact with a corpse; but He from dead works, namely, sins, which take God from the soul, whose life consists in union by charity.

Cleansing to enable ministry: It also cleansed them in order that they might come to the figurative ministry; but the blood of Christ to the spiritual service of God: ‘The man that walked in the perfect way, he served me’. Therefore, he says, to serve the living God. Furthermore, God is life: ‘I am the life’; ‘I live forever’. Therefore, it is fitting that one who serves Him be alive: hence, he says, living God: ‘For as the judge of the people is himself, so also are his ministers’. Therefore, he that would serve God worthily, should be living, as He is.