Saturday, 23 July 2016

Matins readings for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

According to the 1962 Benedictine Breviary:

Nocturn I (II Kings 9:29-33; 10:1-7)

Reading 1: In the eleventh year of Joram the son of Achab, Ochozias reigned over Juda,  And Jehu came into Jezrahel. But Jezabel hearing of his coming in, painted her face with stibic stone, and adorned her head, and looked out of a window. At Jehu coming in at the gate, and said: Can there be peace for Zambri, that hath killed his master? And Jehu lifted up his face to the window, and said: Who is this? And two or three eunuchs bowed down to him. And he said to them: Throw her down headlong: and they threw her down, and the wall was sprinkled with her blood, and the hoofs of the horses trod upon her.

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 when he was come in, to eat, and to drink, he said: Go, and see after that cursed. And when they went to bury her, they found nothing but the skull, and the feet, and the extremities of her hands. And coming back they told him. And Jehu said: It is the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant Elias the Thesbite, saying: In the field of Jezrahel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezabel, And the flesh of Jezabel shall be as dung upon the face of the earth in the field of Jezrahel, so that they who pass by shall say: Is this that same Jezabel?

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 Achab had seventy sons in Samaria: so Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, to the chief men of the city, and to the ancients, and to them that brought up Achab's children, saying: As soon as you receive these letters, ye that have your master's sons, and chariots, and horses, and fenced cities, and armour, Choose the best, and him that shall please you most of your master's sons, and set him on his father's throne, and fight for the house of your master.

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: But they were exceedingly afraid, and said: Behold two kings could not stand before him, and how shall we be able to resist? Therefore the overseers of the house, and the rulers of the city, and the ancients, and the tutors sent to Jehu, saying: We are thy servants, whatsoever thou shalt command us we will do, neither will we make us a king: do thou all that pleaseth thee.  And he wrote letters the second time to them, saying: If you be mine, and will obey me, take the heads of the sons of your master, and come to me to Jezrahel by tomorrow this time. Now the king's sons, being seventy men, were brought up with the chief men of the city.  And when the letters came to them, they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent them to him to Jezrahel.

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 of St John  Chrysostom - Homily 25 on Romans

Reading 5: Let us not dream that we are ourselves to be held less guilty, when we find that we have not been alone in sin. On the contrary, such fellowship addeth to our punishment. The serpent was more heavily punished than Eve, and Eve than Adam, and Jezebel suffered more than Ahab, who took the vineyard of Naboth. She it had been that planned the whole matter, and opened the way for her husband's crime. Even so thou also, who shalt have caused another's perdition, shalt suffer more grievously than shall they, whom thou hast ruined. Since, for a man to commit sin himself is less wicked than to lead others into sin.

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: If, therefore, we should see others sinning, let us not only not help them, but let us do what in us lieth to draw them out of the bottomless pit of destruction, lest we should suffer as accomplices in their trespass. Let our memory never forget that right awful judgment -seat, the river of fire, the chains that can never be unlocked, the darkness that cannot be pierced, the sound of teeth gnashing, the deadly worm. But thou sayest God is good. Are then all these things but idle words Is there no punishment for the rich man which giveth no heed to Lazarus Doth the bridegroom open to the foolish virgins the door of the marriage - chamber. They that have denied to Christ the necessaries of life, are they not to depart from Him into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels? The man that cometh in to the marriage -supper, not having a wedding garment, shall he, or shall he not, be bound hand and foot, and taken away, and cast into outer darkness. The servant that hath no compassion on his fellow -servant, which oweth him an hundred pence, shall he, or shall he not, be delivered to the tormentors. It is said, concerning such as commit adultery, that their worm dieth not and their fire is not quenched? Is that not true?

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: But these are perhaps only threats on God's part No doubt, quoth thou. I ask thee How darest thou say such a thing out loud, and deliver this judgment from thine own imagining For sooth, I can prove to thee, from the things which God hath done, that thou art wrong. If thou wilt not believe for things to come, at least believe for things past. Of them at least it cannot be said that they are nought but threats and mere words, for they have happened, and actually been realised in fact.

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: Who was He which brought in a great flood, until the whole land was standing water, and our whole race perished, save eight persons Who was He which rained upon Sodom brimstone and fire out of heaven. Who was He which overthrew all the host of Egypt in the Red Sea? Who was He which sent out a fire and consumed them that were of the faction of Abiram.  Who was He which sent a pestilence upon Israel, because David had sinned, and, from the morning even to the time appointed, there died of the people seventy thousand men.  Was it not God, and none other, Which brought upon them all these things, and more also.

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 Augustine)

Reading 9: The Pharisee might at least have said, "I am not as many men are." But what meaneth "other men" All other men except himself. "I," said he, "am righteous; others are sinners." "I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers," and then he took occasion, from the neighbourhood of the publican, to plume himself "or even," quoth he, "as this publican." "I am alone," he thought, "that publican" is one of the others. Mine own righteousness maketh the gulf between me and the wicked, such as he is.

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: "I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess." If we look in his prayer to find what he went to the Temple to pray to God for, we shall find nothing. He went up to pray, but his prayer was not a request of anything from God, but a glorification of himself. It was little enough not to pray to God, but he also glorified himself and despised his neighbour.

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: But the publican stood afar off and yet drew nigh to God. Self-knowledge bade him keep at a distance, but his earnestness made him close. The publican stood afar off, but the Lord was at hand to hear him."Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly" but the proud, such as was this Pharisee, "He knoweth afar off.". He knoweth the proud, all the same, but they are afar off from Him.

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: Consider now the lowliness of the publican. It was not only that he stood afar off, but "he would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven". He looked carefully, lest he should look up, he dared not to lift up his eyes unto heaven. Self-knowledge kept him down, though hope raised him up. Consider again, how that he "smote upon his breast." He afflicted himself, and therefore the Lord had compassion upon his acknowledgment of guilt." He smote upon his breast, saying Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." Hearken here to a prayer and wonderest thou that when the sinner remembereth, God forgetteth.

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 Luke 18:9-14

And to some who trusted in themselves as just, and despised others, he spoke also this parable: Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican.  I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner.  I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather than the other: because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Hebrews 11: 8-12 - Abraham, Sarah and the City of God

Today's section of Hebrew's continues the look at Old Testament exemplars of faith.  In the previous section Hebrews 11 looked at figures from before the deluge - Abel, Enoch and Noah.  St Thomas Aquinas classifies the next group as those 'before the law', starting with Abraham.

Abraham: Hebrews 11:8-10
By faith he that is called Abraham, obeyed to go out into a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he abode in the land, dwelling in cottages, with Isaac and Jacob, the co-heirs of the same promise.  
Fide qui vocatur Abraham obedivit in locum exire, quem accepturus erat in hæreditatem: et exiit, nesciens quo iret. Fide demoratus est in terra repromissionis, tamquam in aliena, in casulis habitando cum Isaac et Jacob cohæredibus repromissionis ejusdem. 
Aquinas:

Abraham

Scripture on Abraham:  In order to show how great is the authority of his example of Abraham, he mentions the renown of his name, saying, he that is called Abraham, by God: ‘You shall be called Abraham’ (Gen. 17:5). He is also called by men: ‘Abraham was the great father of a multitude of nations’ (Sir. 44:20). Therefore, such a one called by God and preached by men is a worthy example. Secondly, he gives the example, saying, by faith Abraham obeyed. For by faith we are enabled to believe God concerning invisible things: ‘For obedience to the faith’ (Rom. 1:5); When he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance: ‘Go forth out of your country and from your kindred, and out of your father’s house, into the land which I shall show you’ (Gen. 12:1). But the Lord was to give him that land for an inheritance: ‘All the land which you see, I will give to you’ (Gen.13:15).

Abraham shows we should live in the world as foreigners and strangers: ...we sometimes notice a person leaving his native land and going elsewhere to make a lasting home. Not so Abraham, for he lived as a stranger in the land of Canaan and dwelt there as a stranger. This is obvious from the fact that he did not build a house there, but lived in huts and tents...by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as is clear from Genesis (12 to 21), as in a foreign land...He says, heirs with him of the same promise, in which we are given to understand that we should live in the world as foreigners and strangers...

The City of God: Hebrews 11:10 -
For he looked for a city that hath foundations; whose builder and maker is God.
Exspectabat enim fundamenta habentem civitatem: cujus artifex et conditor Deus. 
Looking forward to the city: ...he shows why he lingered there as a stranger, namely, because he did not consider himself as having anything on earth, but was seeking a heavenly city as his inheritance: ‘Our feet were standing on your courts, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem, which is built as a city’ (Ps. 121:2); ‘your eyes which see Jerusalem, a rich habitation, a tabernacle that cannot be removed’ (Is. 33:20). It is called a city, first of all, because of the unity of the citizens, which unity is true peace...Secondly, it is ordered, because it exists for justice and not for doing evil...Thirdly, it was sufficient unto itself in all things that are necessary, for whatever is necessary will be there most perfectly, because it is a state made perfect by the assemblage of all good things: ‘Jerusalem, which is built as a city, which is compact together’ (Ps. 121:3).

Foundations indicate stability: ...the foundations are the first part of a building; hence, the angels are the foundations of a city: ‘The foundations therefore are in the holy mountains’ (Ps. 86:20); for men will be raised to the orders of angels.

The founder of this city is God, not the wisdom of human art: ‘We know, if our earthly house of this habitation be dissolved, that we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in heaven’ (2 Cor. 5:1). Now two things are required for the erection of a city: the first is the authority of the prince, by means of whom it is made firm and who is called its founder, and from whom it takes its name, as Rome from Romulus. And so God is called the founder of that city...The second is the way it is put together, which commends the wisdom of the artisan. And so God is called its artisan, because it was put together according to the disposition and wisdom of God...

Sarah: Hebrews 11: 11-12
By faith also Sara herself, being barren, received strength to conceive seed, even past the time of age; because she believed that he was faithful who had promised,  For which cause there sprung even from one (and him as good as dead) as the stars of heaven in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable
Fide et ipsa Sara sterilis virtutem in conceptionem seminis accepit, etiam præter tempus ætatis: quoniam fidelem credidit esse eum qui repromiserat. Propter quod et ab uno orti sunt (et hoc emortuo) tamquam sidera cæli in multitudinem, et sicut arena, quæ est ad oram maris, innumerabilis.
Sarah was able to conceive by the power of faith:  But there were two defects in his wife that made it seem almost impossible for her to be able to conceive: one was that she was sterile: ‘And Sarah was barren’. The other was that due to her age she was not naturally suited to bear children: ‘It had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women’... Yet in spite of all this, she received the power to conceive by faith, namely, her own or Abraham’s, because even though it was impossible according to nature that a woman of ninety conceive of a man of ninety, nevertheless, both believed God, for Whom nothing is difficult. Hence, he says, since she considered him faithful who had promised...

The miraculous conceptions in the Old Testament were as a figure of the Incarnation:...For it was necessary that His birth from the Virgin be prefigured by certain things, to prepare souls to believe. But it could not be prefigured by something equal, because a figure necessarily falls short of what is prefigured. Therefore, the Scripture shows the Virgin birth by the birth from sterile women, namely, Sarah, Anna, and Elizabeth. But there is a difference: because Sarah received the power to conceive from God miraculously, but from human seed; but in the Blessed Virgin He even prepared that most pure matter from her blood, and along with that, the power of the Holy Spirit was there in place of seed. For the Word was made flesh not from human seed but by a mystical spiration.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Hebrews 11: 1-7 - What is faith?

Hebrews 11 is a discussion of what is necessary for salvation, starting from some general propositions, and then developed through consideration of Old Testament exemplars of faith.  Today, a look at three aints from before the deluge: Abel, Enoch and Noah.

Hebrews 11:1
What is faith? It is that which gives substance to our hopes, which convinces us of things we cannot see.
 Est autem fides sperandarum substantia rerum, argumentum non apparentium. 2 In hac enim testimonium consecuti sunt senes.
Hebrews 11:1 provides a definition of faith which St Thomas describes as 'complete but obscure'.  His in depth analysis of the text though, eventually allows him to draw out a very clear formulation to focus on:
...our faith consists in believing that the blessed will see and enjoy God. Therefore, if we will to reach that state, it is necessary that we believe the principles of that knowledge. And these principles are the articles of faith, which contain the summary of this knowledge, because the vision of the triune God makes us happy. 
Hebrews 11:2-3
It was this that brought credit to the men who went before us. It is faith that lets us understand how the worlds were fashioned by God’s word; how it was from things unseen that the things we see took their origin.
 In hac enim testimonium consecuti sunt senes. Fide intelligimus aptata esse sæcula verbo Dei: ut ex invisibilibus visibilia fierent.
 The message of the Old Testament: Now the doctrine of the Old Testament was twofold: one was clearly given; the other was hidden behind the veil of figures and mysteries. The first concerned the unity of God and the creation of the world; the second the mystery of the incarnation and reparation. Hence, just as they observed the Sabbath in memory of the creation, so we observe Sunday in memory of the resurrection.

Creation of the world: In regard to the doctrine of the creation of the world he says, by faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God. This can be read in two ways: in one way so that by the word of God is in the ablative case. Then the sense is we, as the ancients, by faith, i.e., by the doctrine of faith, namely, of the Old Testament: ‘God said: Let there be light; and the light was made’ (Gen. 1:3); ‘He spoke and they were made’ (Ps. 32:9), understand that the world was created, i.e., arranged, by the word of God, i.e., by God’s command.

Faith in the creator is the foundation:  But all those words are expressly against the Manicheans, who say that what a man believes is not important, but what he does. But the Apostle sets faith down as the principle of every work; hence he says that it is the substance, i.e., the foundation. Therefore, without faith, works are performed in vain.

 OT exemplars of faith who lived before the deluge... 

Abel: Hebrews 11:4
It was in faith that Abel offered a sacrifice richer than Cain’s, and was proved thereby to be justified, since God recognized his offering; through that offering of his he still speaks in death.
Fide plurimam hostiam Abel, quam Cain, obtulit Deo, per quam testimonium consecutus est esse justus, testimonium perhibente muneribus ejus Deo, et per illam defunctus adhuc loquitur.
Scriptural testimony: ...By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice; hence, as confession witnesses to the faith within, so from his external sacrifice, his faith is commended by reason of his external worship in sacrifice. His chosen faith is shown by his offering a chosen sacrifice, for it was from the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat. For the best sacrifice was a sign of his chosen and approved faith: ‘Cursed is the deceitful man that has in his flock a male, and making a vow, offers in sacrifice what is feeble to the Lord’. No mention is made of the excellence of Cain’s sacrifice, but only that he offered it from the fruits of the earth. He says that Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, i.e., he offered a better sacrifice than Cain to God, because it was offered for the honor of God. Otherwise, it would not have been pleasing to God.

Abel's sacrifice was lauded because he was a just man: ...he received approval as righteous, namely, by faith: ‘From the blood of Abel, the just’ (Mt. 23:35). Yet it is not because of Christ’s testimony that he says, Abel obtained approval as righteous, because he intends to introduce the authority of the Old Testament only, but because of what is said in Genesis (4:4): ‘God had respect to Abel, and to his offering,’ because God has respect especially to the just: ‘The eyes of the Lord are upon the just’ (Ps. 33:16)...an offering which is not sacramental is accepted because of the goodness of the one offering; for the wickedness of the minister does not alter the sacramental goodness. But in regard to the one offering, goodness is required, if the sacrifice is to benefit him.

Enoch: Hebrews 11:5-6
When Enoch was taken away without the experience of death, when God took him and no more was seen of him, it was because of his faith; that is the account we have of him before he was taken, that he pleased God; and it is impossible to please God without faith. Nobody reaches God’s presence until he has learned to believe that God exists, and that he rewards those who try to find him.
Fide Henoch translatus est ne videret mortem, et non inveniebatur, quia transtulit illum Deus: ante translationem enim testimonium habuit placuisse Deo. 6 Sine fide autem impossibile est placere Deo. Credere enim oportet accedentem ad Deum quia est, et inquirentibus se remunerator sit. 
Sciptural authority: Then when he says, by faith Enoch was taken up, he commends Enoch...The Apostle makes no mention of his works, because Scripture says little about him, but merely shows what God did to him, because by faith, i.e., by the merit of faith, he was taken up from the present life, and kept from death in another; hence, he says, that he should not see death: ‘He was seen no more, because God took him’...the death of two persons, namely, Enoch and Elijah, has been deferred, the reason being that the doctrine of the Old Testament is ordained to the promises of the New Testament, in which the hope of eternal life is promised to us...Therefore, after the sentence of death was pronounced, the Lord willed to lead men to a hope for life.

Enoch counterbalances Cain:  Genesis (5:24) [he proves that he was taken up on account of the merit of faith, because the Scripture says of him before his being taken up that ‘he walked with God’ (Gen. 5:24), which is to consent to God and please Him], which is presented in other words...says that he was seen no more, because God took him, but here, he was not found, because God had taken him. But the sense is the same: ‘He pleased God and was beloved, and living among sinners he was taken up’ (Wis. 4:10). For just as it was fitting that man be expelled from paradise because of sin, so also that the just be brought into it. For by Seth he was the seventh and best descendant of Adam, as Lamech by Cain was the seventh and worst descendant of Adam, being the first who, contrary to nature, introduced bigamy.

What do we need to believe?: ...Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists...Secondly, that he know that God exercises providence over things. For otherwise no one would go to Him, if he had not hope of a reward from Him; hence, he says, and rewards those who seek him...This reward is no less than God Himself, because a man should seek nothing outside of Him...

Implicit vs explicit faith: But are these two sufficient for salvation? I answer that after the sin of our first parents, no one can be saved from the debt of original sin except by faith in the Mediator: but that faith varies as far as the mode of believe is concerned, for different times and states. But we to whom such a great benefit has been shown must believe more explicitly than those who existed before the time of Christ. At that time some believed more explicitly, as the greater fathers and some to whom a special revelation was made. Furthermore, those under the Law believed more explicitly than those before the Law, because they were given certain sacraments by which Christ was represented as by a figure. But for the Gentiles who were saved it was enough if they believed that God is a rewarder; and this reward is received through Christ alone. Hence, they believed implicitly in a mediator.

Knowledge about God can be had in a number of ways: in one way through Christ, inasmuch as God is the Father of an only begotten and consubstantial Son, and other things which Christ specifically taught about God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit regarding the unity of essence and trinity of persons. All this was believed, but in the Old Testament it was believed only by the greater fathers. In another way, that God alone is to be worshipped; this is the way the Jews believed. In a third way, that there is one God: and this was known even by the philosophers and does not fall under faith.

Noah: Hebrews 11:7
When Noe received a warning about dangers still unseen, it was faith that made him take alarm, and build an ark to preserve his family. Thus he proved the whole world wrong, and was left heir to the justification which comes through faith.
Fide Noë responso accepto de iis quæ adhuc non videbantur, metuens aptavit arcam in salutem domus suæ, per quam damnavit mundum: et justitiæ, quæ per fidem est, hæres est institutus.
Scriptural authority: He mentions five things that he did: first, that he believed God’s words about the judgment to come, but which was not yet seen. Hence, he says, By faith, Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, believed. Secondly, he was moved to fear by faith, because faith is the beginning of fear: ‘The fear of God is the beginning of his love; and the beginning of faith is to be fast joined unto it’ (Sir. 25:16). Hence, he says, moved by fear, namely, of the promised deluge, which, nevertheless, was not seen. Therefore, faith is concerned with invisible things. Thirdly, he fulfilled God’s command by building the ark; hence, he says, he constructed an ark, i.e., he did what was suitable according to God’s arrangement. Fourthly, he hoped for salvation from God, hence he says, for the saving of his household, i.e., his family, because they alone were saved: ‘herein a few, that is eight souls, were saved by water’ (1 Pt 3:20). Fifthly, since he did all the foregoing because of faith, he condemned the world, i.e., showed that worldly people deserve condemnation. But the revelation he received about constructing the ark was an answer to his desire and of the righteousness which is by faith.

Noah's reward: Then when he says, and was instituted heir of the justice which is by faith, he shows what he obtained by faith. For just as after someone’s death another person succeeds in his inheritance, so too, because justice had not entirely died in the world, because the world still continued, but in the deluge almost the entire world perished, therefore, Noah was made heir, as it were, because of his faith. Or of the righteousness which is obtained by faith. Or, just as his fathers were justified by faith, so he was made the heir of justice by faith, namely, an imitator of his fathers’ justice by faith.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Hebrews 10: 32-39 - In praise of virtue

St Thomas summarises the concluding section of Hebrews 10 as follows:
After exhorting them by frightening reasons to cling to Christ by faith, hope and charity, the Apostle now gives pleasing reasons, as a good physician after cutting applies soothing lotions. For of all commendations for doing good, there is one which best stimulates a person to persevere in a good work already begun. For virtue praised acquires an immense drive, and glory is a strong stimulus. 
Hebrews 10:32-34
But call to mind the former days, wherein, being illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions. And on the one hand indeed, by reproaches and tribulations, were made a gazingstock; and on the other, became companions of them that were used in such sort. For you both had compassion on them that were in bands, and took with joy the being stripped of your own goods, knowing that you have a better and a lasting substance. 
Rememoramini autem pristinos dies, in quibus illuminati, magnum certamen sustinuistis passionum: et in altero quidem opprobriis et tribulationibus spectaculum facti: in altero autem socii taliter conversantium effecti. Nam et vinctis compassi estis, et rapinam bonorum vestrorum cum gaudio suscepistis, cognoscentes vos habere meliorem et manentem substantiam. 
Aquinas:

Call to mind our successes: ...because past success stimulates a person to do better, just as bad fortune on the contrary leads to despair, he recalls their past good deeds... i.e., the good you accomplished; the former days, i.e., the first days of your conversion, when after you were enlightened by faith, which enlightens and cleanses the soul...

Abuse and afflictions:  On the other hand...a person suffers in two ways: in himself by enduring affliction, and in someone else by taking pity on another’s affliction. But they suffered in both ways. In regard to the first way, he says, and on the one hand, i.e., with respect to yourselves, you were made a gazing stock [laughing stock], which is very disagreeable for a wise man. For if a fool is mocked, it is not serious, even if he endures a great amount of derision from others, but to a wise man it is a burden....In regard to the second he says, and on the other, became partners of those who were so treated, i.e., of those who suffered such things: and this by compassion and by administering aid: ‘Communicating to the necessities of the saints’.

Compassion on the prisoners’[them that were in bands]: ...among the Jews many were in bands; as it says in Acts that Paul made havoc in the Church, committing men and women to prison..

Took with joy: ‘...Should tribulations be loved? It certainly seems not, because Augustine says: ‘You are commanded to bear them, not love them.’ I answer that they are not loved for their own sake, but for something else: and that is the way they loved them; hence, he continues, since you knew that you had a better and abiding possession, namely, other riches more important, which are increased by the removal of those riches, by which they are called better.

Hebrews 10:35-36
Do not therefore lose your confidence, which hath a great reward. For patience is necessary for you; that, doing the will of God, you may receive the promise. 
Nolite itaque amittere confidentiam vestram, quæ magnam habet remunerationem. Patientia enim vobis necessaria est: ut voluntatem Dei facientes, reportetis promissionem. 
Have confidence: ...He says, therefore: Inasmuch as you have done so many good things in the first days of your conversion, it should cause you to have much confidence in God; do not, therefore, throw away your confidence, which you will lose, if you stop doing good: which has a great reward.

The way to keep it is patience: ...For just as meekness moderates anger, so patience puts a limit to sadness, so that it will not exceed the bounds of reason. But sadness is sometimes caused by evils inflicted or by good deferred: ‘Hope that is deferred, afflicts the soul’...patience stands...not only for enduring evil, but for long-suffering in the face of good things deferred.

Why is patience necessary? That you may do the will of God and receive the promise, i.e., fulfilling God’s will, which is done by obeying God’s commandments, which are the signs of God’s will.

Hebrews 10:37
For yet a little and a very little while, and he that is to come, will come, and will not delay. 
37 Adhuc enim modicum aliquantulum, qui venturus est, veniet, et non tardabit. 38 Justus autem meus ex fide vivit: quod si subtraxerit se, non placebit animæ meæ. 39 Nos autem non sumus subtractionis filii in perditionem, sed fidei in acquisitionem animæ.

For let a little while: ...this authority seems to be from Habakkuk (chap. 32); nevertheless, the first words are taken from Hag (chap. 2.7)... he probably did this because both were speaking about the same coming.

There are two comings of the Lord: ...one is general, namely, at the end of the world in the general judgment; the other is particular, after every person’s death...as far as the length of time is concerned...[it] is much compared to the flow of time in relation to ourselves; yet it is brief compared to eternity...

Hebrews 10: 38-39
But my just man liveth by faith; but if he withdraw himself, he shall not please my soul. But we are not the children of withdrawing unto perdition, but of faith to the saving of the soul.

Strive to be good at death: ...he indicates the ones to be rewarded when he says, But my righteous [just] man lives by faith. This same text is found in Romans and Galatians. But the reward is paid only to the just: ‘The salvation of the just is from the Lord’. But justice is of two kinds: one in regard to human judgment: ‘not knowing the justice of God, and seeking to establish their own’; the other in regard to divine: ‘They were both just before the Lord’. But God requires the latter justice; hence, he says, my just man, i.e., the justice which is ordained to me, i.e., who is just to me and for me. But that by which a man is justified is faith: ‘The justice of God by faith of Jesus Christ’.

Justified by faith: ...Not only is justice by faith, but the one justified lives by faith. For just as the body lives by the soul, so the soul of God. Hence, just as the body lives by that through which the soul is first united to the body, so by that through which God is first united to the soul, the soul lives. But this is faith, because it is the first thing in the spiritual life: ‘If you will not believe, you shall not continue’ (Is. 7:9), just as a house does not remain, if the foundation is destroyed: ‘And that I live now in the flesh: I live in the faith of the Son of God’...

But if he shrinks back...: he shows the danger hanging over a person who does not continue in the justice of faith. For since it lies within the power of the believer to destroy himself or to save himself, he says, but if he shrinks back, namely, from the faith and from justice, my soul has no pleasure in him...For the will of God should be the rule of our actions. Therefore, a person who does not agree with God’s will, his soul is not right.

Children of withdrawing to perdition: ..a person is said to be a son of anything which rules him. Thus, a person is called the son of death, when that by which he is rejected by God, rules him...but of those who have faith, i.e., reborn in Christ, and save their souls. For a person who keeps God’s commandments saves his soul...Therefore, let us not fail from the faith.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Hebrews 10:26 -31 - The distinction between mercy, clemency and pardon

Hebrews 10:26-27
For if we sin wilfully after having the knowledge of the truth, there is now left no sacrifice for sins, But a certain dreadful expectation of judgment, and the rage of a fire which shall consume the adversaries. 
Voluntarie enim peccantibus nobis post acceptam notitiam veritatis, jam non relinquitur pro peccatis hostia, terribilis autem quædam exspectatio judicii, et ignis æmulatio, quæ consumptura est adversarios. 
Aquinas:

Failure to repent after sinning: [there is] a distinction between willing sinners and sinning voluntarily, so that the willing sinner is one who is led by passion to consent to sin, about which he did not think beforehand; but the one who sins voluntarily does so from certain malice, because his will is so prone to sin that he yields at once...Therefore, they sin deliberately, i.e., continue in the will to sin....the sacrifice which Christ offered for the remission of sins does not profit them, because those who repent have their sins forgiven: ‘This is the blood of the new testament, which will be shed for you’ i.e., efficaciously, but of the wicked it is said: ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength without cause and in vain’...

After death comes the judgment: ‘Know that there is a judgment’. The expectation of that judgment is dreadful both because of the consciousness of sins: ‘We all offend in many ways’ and because of the imperfection of our justices...This expectation is also distressing; hence, he says, and a fury of fire, i.e., the punishment by fire, which is inflicted by the jealous zeal of divine justice: ‘I am the Lord, you God, mighty, jealous’.

The zeal of God's spousal love: Therefore, just as a husband does not spare a wicked wife, so neither God a sinful soul: ‘The jealousy and rage of the husband will not spare in the day of judgment’. He continues, which will consume the adversaries: ‘A fire shall go before him and shall burn his enemies round about’, because the fire, which will go before the face of the judge, will burn the bodies of living things and will cast the reprobate into hell and consume their bodies, not by totally consuming them but by torturing them forever.

The dreadful expectation of judgment: ...For a person deserves a greater punishment to the degree that he scorns a more sacred thing.

Hebrews 10:28-29
A man making void the law of Moses, dieth without any mercy under two or three witnesses:  How much more, do you think he deserveth worse punishments, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace? 
 28 Irritam quis faciens legem Moysi, sine ulla miseratione duobus vel tribus testibus moritur: 29 quanto magis putatis deteriora mereri supplicia qui Filium Dei conculcaverit, et sanguinem testamenti pollutum duxerit, in quo sanctificatus est, et spiritui gratiæ contumeliam fecerit? 
There is a difference between mercy, clemency and pardon: ...for there is mercy, when a man by reason of an emotion of the heart and mind remits a punishment; but sometimes this is against justice, which forbids it. But there is pardon, when part of the debt of punishment is remitted for the public good. There is clemency, when not only part of the punishment but also part of the guilt is judged more leniently. The last two are not forbidden; but mercy described in the first way is forbidden, because it is against justice and breeds dissoluteness.

Why punishment is more severe for those who reject the New Testament: For since the New Testament was preached by Christ, a person who sins under it is punished more severely: ‘But I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you’... the case of those who from ignorance do not hold to the faith not announced to them is another. For the sin of unbelief is not imputed to the latter. But those who scorn the faith announced to them are punished more severely, because the sin of unbelief is the greatest.

Punishment for sin depends on the circumstances: ...there are two ways of sinning: one way is on a sudden, and so when a person dedicates himself to the things of God, if he sins all of a sudden, he is punished less: ‘The Lord who is good will show mercy to all of those who with their whole heart seek the Lord, the God of our fathers’; ‘When the just man falls, he shall not be bruised’. But if he sins from contempt, he sins more grievously, because, since he is in a higher state, he is more scornful. It is of these that he is speaking here, because they are more ungrateful.

Hebrews 10:30-31
For we know him that hath said: Vengeance belongeth to me, and I will repay. And again: The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Scimus enim qui dixit: Mihi vindicta, et ego retribuam. Et iterum: Quia judicabit Dominus populum suum. Horrendum est incidere in manus Dei viventis.

Fear of God: For the stronger and more just a judge is, the more he is to be feared: ‘God is a just judge, strong and patient’. Therefore, it is a fearful thing to fall into His hands: ‘It is better for me to fall into your hands without doing it, than to sin in the sight of the Lord’; ‘If we do not penance, we shall fall into the hands of the Lord, and not into the hands of men’.

This time now is for repentance: ...until the day of judgment it is not a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God, Who judges mercifully, as long as He is the Father of mercies; but after the judgment, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God, when as the God of vengeance, He will judge our justices. For at present, as one who has experienced infirmity, out of pity He judges mercifully.


Monday, 18 July 2016

Hebrews 10:19-25 - Entering the city of God

Hebrews 10:19-21
Having therefore, brethren, a confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ; A new and living way which he hath dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh, And a high priest over the house of God: 
Habentes itaque, fratres, fiduciam in introitu sanctorum in sanguine Christi, quam initiavit nobis viam novam, et viventem per velamen, id est, carnem suam, et sacerdotem magnum super domum Dei: 
Aquinas:

Adhere to Christ: After showing the many ways in which Christ’s priesthood is superior to that of the Old Law, the Apostle, in keeping with his practice, comes to a conclusion and exhorts us to adhere faithfully to that priesthood. For above, after recommending something the Apostle always gave an admonition, because he took the trouble to commend Christ’s grace, in order to incline them to obey Christ and desist from the ceremonies of the Law.

We have confidence because Christ has prepared the way:... His blood opened a new and living way for us: ‘He shall go up that shall open the way before them’; ‘If I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself’; ‘It shall be called the holy way: the unclean shall not pass over it’. This, therefore, is the way to go to heaven. It is new, because before Christ no one had found it: ‘No man has ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven’.

The city of God: Therefore, he that would ascend must inhere in Him as a member in the head: ‘To him that overcomes I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is the paradise of my God’; ‘And I will write upon him the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem’, because they will be brought in anew.

Living: , i.e., always continuing. In this appears the power of the godhead, because it is always living. But he shows what that way is when he says, through the curtain [veil], that is, through his flesh. For just as the priest entered into the holy of holies through the veil, so we, if we would enter the holy of glory, must enter through Christ’s flesh, which was a veil of his divinity: ‘Verily, you are a hidden God’. For faith in the godhead is not enough without faith in the incarnation: ‘You believe in God, believe also in me’. Or, through the veil, i.e., through His flesh given to us under the veil of the appearance of bread in the sacrament. He is not offered to us under His own form because of dread and to obtain the merit of faith.

The house of God:...He is called a great priest, because His priesthood is not merely over one people, as Aaron’s was, but over the house of God, i.e., the entire Church Militant and Triumphant: ‘That you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church’ (1 Tim. 3:15). He says, over, because ‘Moses was faithful in all my house as a servant’ (Num. 12:7), but Christ over the whole house as the Son, Who is the Lord of all things: ‘All power is given to me in heaven and in earth’ (Mt. 28:18).

Hebrews 10:22-25
Let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (for he is faithful that hath promised), And let us consider one another, to provoke unto charity and to good works: Not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed; but comforting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.
accedamus cum vero corde in plenitudine fidei, aspersi corda a conscientia mala, et abluti corpus aqua munda, teneamus spei nostræ confessionem indeclinabilem (fidelis enim est qui repromisit), et consideremus invicem in provocationem caritatis, et bonorum operum: non deserentes collectionem nostram, sicut consuetudinis est quibusdam, sed consolantes, et tanto magis quanto videritis appropinquantem diem.
We adhere to Christ through faith, hope and charity

Faith: For the first there are two things required, namely, faith itself: ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’, and the sacrament of faith...Nor is just any faith sufficient, but full faith is required. But this involves two things, namely, that all things proposed for our belief be believed, and that it be formed faith, which is accomplished by charity: ‘Love is the fullness of the law'...

Baptism prefigured: having our hearts sprinkled...is an allusion to Numbers, where is described the ceremony of the red cow, the water from which was sprinkled on an unclean person on the third; but on the seventh day his body and clothing were washed with other water. By the sprinkling with water of the red cow the passion of Christ was prefigured, because on the third day, i.e., by faith in the Trinity in baptism we are cleansed from our sins...Of the washing performed on the seventh day he says, and our bodies washed with pure water. For in baptism not only does the power of the passion work, but the gifts of the Holy Spirit are infused in us. Hence, on the seventh day, i.e., in the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit the entire man is washed inside and out from all sin, both actual and original, which is, as it were, corporeal, because the soul contracts it by uniting with tainted flesh. The Holy Spirit is called water, because He cleanses...As a sign of this the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form upon Christ baptized.

Hope: ...by faith in Christ is given to us the hope of eternal life and entrance into the kingdom: ‘He has regenerated us unto a lively hope’. Hence, he says, Let us hold fast, not the hope, but the confession of our hope, because it is not enough to have hope in one’s heart, but it must be confessed with the mouth: ‘With the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation’. Furthermore, it must be not only by word, but also by deeds; against those of whom it says in Titus: ‘They profess that they know God, but in their works they deny him.’

Charity: ...although charity principally clings to God, it is shown by love of neighbor: ‘He that does not love his neighbor, whom he sees, how can he love God whom he does not see?’...

Importance of community: Then he removes the contrary of charity when he says, not neglecting to meet together. For since charity is love, whose function is to unite, because, as Dionysius says, love is a uniting force: ‘That they may be one, even as we are one… and the world may know that you have loved them as you have also loved me’; therefore, to withdraw from one another is directly opposed to charity. Hence, he says, not neglecting to meet together in the assembly, namely, of the Church...if you observe that your companion is not behaving well, do not desert him, but console him, not as those who forsake the assembly, of whom he says, as some do.

Grace perfects nature: ...For someone could say: Why should we make progress in the faith? Because a natural movement, the closer it gets to its goal, the more intense it becomes, whereas the opposite is true of a forced movement. But grace inclines in the manner of nature; therefore, he says, not neglecting, as some do, but encouraging; and this all the more as you see the day, i.e., the end, approaching: ‘The night is passed, and the day is at hand'; ‘The path of the just, as a shining light, goes forward and increases even to perfect day’.