Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Hebrews 13:9-14 No lasting city

St Thomas Aquinas' commentary follows below, but can I also recommend the excellent lecture on these verses (and the two that follow in the next post) by Dr Peter Kwasniewski reprodeuced over at Rorate Caeli.

The gift of grace: Hebrews 13:9-13
Be not led away with various and strange doctrines. For it is best that the heart be established with grace, not with meats; which have not profited those that walk in them. We have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the holies by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
Doctrinis variis et peregrinis nolite abduci. Optimum est enim gratia stabilire cor, non escis: quæ non profuerunt ambulantibus in eis. Habemus altare, de quo edere non habent potestatem, qui tabernaculo deserviunt. Quorum enim animalium infertur sanguis pro peccato in Sancta per pontificem, horum corpora cremantur extra castra. Propter quod et Jesus, ut sanctificaret per suum sanguinem populum, extra portam passus est. Exeamus igitur ad eum extra castra, improperium ejus portantes. 

Imitate the faith of the apostles: ...Here it should be noted that since truth consists in the mean, which is one, many false statements can be opposed to one truth, just as there are many extremes to one middle. Therefore, the doctrine of faith is one, because only one line can be drawn between two points. But all other doctrines are manifold, because there are many deviations from what is straight...

The heart strengthened by grace: ...Here it should be noted that in the early Church there was one error rampant, namely, that it was necessary for salvation to observe the ceremonies of the Law, which consisted especially in partaking of certain foods, such as the paschal lamb (Ex. 12) and in abstaining from certain foods, as is clear from Leviticus (chap. 12) and from other passages.

Christ's sacrifice prefigured in the blood of the heifer and goat taken into the holy of holies: ...Therefore, the immolated heifer and goat is Christ, the Priest, offering Himself for our sins. Therefore, the blood of Christ was brought into the holies and the flesh burned outside the camp. Two things were thereby signified: one, that Christ was immolated in the city by the tongues of the Jews; hence Mark says that He was crucified at the third hour, although He was raised on the Cross at the sixth hour. The other is that by virtue of His Passion Christ brings us within the heavenly holies to the Father. But the fact that the bodies were burned outside the camp, as to our Head, signifies that Christ would suffer outside the gate; but as to us, who are the members, it signifies that Christ is immolated for those who are outside the camp of ceremonies of the Law and of the external senses.

Strengthen our hearts not with food, but with grace; for we cannot do otherwise, because we have an altar, from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. That altar is the Cross of Christ, on which He was immolated; or Christ Himself in Whom and by Whom we offer our prayers. This is the golden altar spoken of in Rev. Of that altar, therefore, they have no right to eat, i.e., to receive the fruit of Christ’s passion and to be incorporated into Him as head, who serve the tabernacle of the ceremonies of the Law... For such persons received no profit: ‘He that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgement to himself’. But the body is called a tabernacle, because we dwell in it as in a war against enemies and it remains a short while: ‘The laying away of my tabernacle is at hand’. Therefore, it should not be served.

Christ and the saints prefigured: ...Whose blood was brought into the heavenly holies for the sin of the whole world, suffered by fire on the altar of the Cross, and was burned outside the camp, i.e., outside the common society of men, with the fire of charity, with fasts, prayers, and other works of mercy. For these the blood of Christ was efficaciously brought into the holies.

No lasting city: Hebrews 13:14
For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come.  
Non enim habemus hic manentem civitatem, sed futuram inquirimus. 
No lasting city: ...For our end is not in the things of the Law or in temporal things: ‘Our end is Christ unto the salvation of all who believe’. Therefore, we have not here a lasting city, but where Christ is. Therefore, let us go to Him: ‘If you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God’; ‘Look upon Sion, the city of our solemnity’; ‘He looked for a city that has foundations; whose builder and maker is God’. They also seek a better city, i.e., the heavenly one. For we strive to be transferred to it as to our place and altar. Therefore, let us go to it.

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