Monday, 1 August 2016

Hebrews 12:1-4 - The cloud of witnesses

Hebrews 12:1
And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: 
Ideoque et nos tantam habentes impositam nubem testium, deponentes omne pondus, et circumstans nos peccatum, per patientiam curramus ad propositum nobis certamen: 

The cloud of witnesses and the imitation of the saints: ...the saints, although approved by the testimony of faith, did not obtain the promises; nevertheless, their hope did not fail. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, because in word and deed God is glorified by them...Secondly, on account of their fecund doctrine...Thirdly, on account of the usefulness of spiritual consolation, for as clouds bring refreshment, so also the examples of the saints...the lives of the saints impose on us the need of imitating them...the deeds of the saints, which are for us a pattern and precept of life’ (Augustine).

The weight of sin: By a weight can be understood past sin, which is called a weight, because it bends the soul down to what is below and inclines it to commit other sins: ‘As a heavy burden my iniquities are become heavy upon me’: ‘If a sin is not dissolved by penance, its weight soon leads to another’ (Gregory)... Or weight is earthly affection, and sin which surrounds us, carnal affection, which is caused by the flesh surrounding us. As if to say: Put aside your love of temporal and carnal things, if you want to run freely.

Sin which surrounds us: can be understood the occasion of sin which is present, i.e., everything that surrounds us, namely, in the world, the flesh, our neighbor and the devil. Laying aside every weight, i.e., past sin, which is called a weight, and sin which surrounds us, namely, the occasion of sin: ‘Laying away all malice and all guile’.

Persevere: ...not only what is imposed on us to endure patiently, but we should run willingly: ‘I have run the way of your commandments’. But this struggle is proposed to us for justice: ‘Even unto death fight for justice’.

Hebrews 12:2
Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God. 
aspicientes in auctorem fidei, et consummatorem Jesum, qui proposito sibi gaudio sustinuit crucem, confusione contempta, atque in dextera sedis Dei sedet.  
If you wish to be saved, look on the face of your Christ: ...Christ is the author of faith. Therefore, if you wish to be saved you must look to His example. Hence, he says, Looking on Jesus in His sufferings. This was signified by the brazen serpent lifted up as a sign, so that all who looked upon it were cured; ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believes in him may not perish; but may have life everlasting’

Christ's passion as an example to us:...He is the author [pioneer] of faith in two ways: first, by teaching it by word...secondly, by impressing it on the heart: ‘Unto you it is given for Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him’. Likewise, He is the finisher [perfecter] of our faith in two ways: in one way by confirming it through miracles..and by rewarding faith. For since faith is imperfect knowledge, its reward consists in perfectly understanding it: ‘I will love him and will manifest myself to him’ (Jn. 14:21).

The lessons of the Passion: ..three things should be considered in the passion of Christ: first, what He despised; secondly, what He endured; thirdly, what he merited...Then he indicates the fruit of this consideration...

Hebrews 12:3-4
For think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds. For you have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin:  And you have forgotten the consolation, which speaketh to you, as unto children, saying: My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord; neither be thou wearied whilst thou art rebuked by him.
Recogitate enim eum qui talem sustinuit a peccatoribus adversum semetipsum contradictionem: ut ne fatigemini, animis vestris deficientes. Nondum enim usque ad sanguinem restitistis, adversus peccatum repugnantes:
Consider him who endured: Three things: the type of suffering; hence, he endured hostility, i.e., affliction in words...,Secondly, from whom he suffered, namely, from sinners, for whom He suffered: ‘Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust’... Thirdly, the person suffering, for He suffered in His members from the beginning of the world before His passion, but then in His own person; hence, he says, against himself: ‘I have made you, and I will bear’; ‘I paid that which I took not away’ (Ps. 68:5); ‘He bore our sins in his body upon the tree’...

Martyrdom: As if to say: You should not grow weary in your tribulations, because you have not endured as much as Christ. For He shed His blood for us: ‘This is the blood of the new covenant which shall be shed for you’. But you have suffered the loss of your goods. Yet it is a greater work to give one’s life than external possessions; although sometimes the root from which it springs, namely, charity, might be less. Hence he says, In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood for Christ.

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