HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







A Commentary On The Psalms From Primitive and Mediæval Writers Volumes 1 To 4 by Rev. J.M. Neale D.D.

Gregorian. That I offend not * in my tongue.

Monastic. The same.

Parisian. For innumerable troubles are come about me, * let it be Thy pleasure, O LORD, to deliver me.

Ambrosian. As the last Psalm.

Mozarabic. I waited patiently for the LORD, * and He inclined to me.

Gregorian Office of the Dead. Let it be Thy pleasure, O LORD, to deliver me, * make haste, O LORD, to help me.

1 I waited patiently for the LORD: and he inclined unto me, and heard my calling.

I waited for Him That is the expectation of the Gentiles, (L.) and so does He wait also. “And therefore will the LORD wait that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted that He may have mercy upon you.”* The Rabbis are fond of comparing those two texts: “the heathen say, Where is now their GOD?” and that triumphant reply, “Lo, this is our GOD, we have waited for Him, and He will save us.”* S. Athanasius makes a simpler use of the verse; that we are not, as it were, to outrun the providential leadings of GOD,* by exposing ourselves voluntarily to our persecutors, but are rather expecting to expect Him, till He shall make the way clear for us, whether it is His will that we should serve Him yet longer in this world, or should glorify Him once for all in the fires. But take it rather of the expectation of the Church after the promise of now four thousand years’ standing; “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head;” expectation revived and renewed in every age by the types and prophecies, and at last fixed to a certain epoch by the seventy weeks of Daniel. I waited patiently. And “we are saved by hope;” and what is hope but patient expectation, (Lu.) according to that saying of the Apostle,* “Then do we with patience wait for it?” And if ever of any expectation, it may be said of that expressed by the Psalmist here. And so S. Bernard says—and no one has written better than he on hope—“Thou, (D. C.) O LORD, art my Hope: whatever I have to do, whatever to avoid, whatever to tolerate, whatever to wish, Thou, O LORD, art my hope: the only cause and reason of my expectation. Let another speak of his own merit; let him boast that he bears the burden and heat of the day. Let him vaunt that he fasts twice in the week, let him glory that he is not as other men; but as for me, I have no such ground of acceptance,* I expecting will expect the Lord, and Him alone.” And again, in another place, “If rewards are promised us to be obtained through Thee, I will hope: if battles rise up against me, I will hope; if the world rages, if Satan attacks, if the flesh lusteth against the spirit, in Thee will I hope.”* And He inclined to me. Never so gloriously, never so lovingly, as when the King, now exalted on the throne of the Cross, inclined His Head to give the last kiss of affection to His Bride; or, as others will understand it, to ask her leave to absent Himself for a little while, according to that saying, “I will come again and receive you to Myself.”* S. Thomas goes through the different stages of expectation, comparing them to the increasing brightness of a summer morning: the first greyness, when you can hardly tell whether the day has really broken or not—and that was the hope of the patriarch; the earliest streaks of colour which tell most undoubtedly of the approaching sun, and there we have the Mosaic types; the brightness diffused over the whole earth, and there we have the predictions of the prophets; and then, lastly, the one or two actual rays which shoot up from the horizon, and in like manner such manifest revelations as Daniel’s seventy weeks, and Malachi’s “The LORD Whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His Temple.”

2 He brought me also out of the horrible pit, out of the mire and clay: and set my feet upon the rock, and ordered my goings.

Out of the horrible pit: or, as it is in the Vulgate, Out of the lake of misery. That is a noble passage of S. Augustine’s,* where he speaks of the barrenness of that land where the rivers of justice flow not. Mediæval writers refer to the prophecy of Zechariah, “As for thee also, by the blood of the covenant, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water.”* Out of the mire. And they dwell, not only on the polluting nature of sin, but on its power of engulphing and swallowing up, (L.) like an abyss of mire. And they remind us how, here also, like cures like: how man, made of clay, and to be resolved into clay again, and engaged in the hard labours which the spiritual Pharaoh exacts from the clay-field, was cured from his blindness by that clay which our LORD made. S. Gregory says well: “By the name of mire in Holy Scripture sometimes we understand the cupidity of earthly possessions, sometimes filthy and polluting doctrines, sometimes the desires of carnal concupiscence.”* And so the Prophet cries out, “Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his!—how long?—and that loadeth himself with thick clay!”* Or they take the horrible pit on the one side, and the mire and clay on the other, to set forth to us the shame as well as the agony of the LORD’S Passion. Upon a rock. “O true Rock!” cries a mediæval saint;* “O glorious Rock, lifting itself so serenely above the storms and clouds of this lower world! Thou only firm abiding-place for the trembling feet! Thou only secure abode for the hunted conies! What thanks or praise can I give to Thee,* Rock, to which I turn my eyes, Rock of my security, Rock whence burst forth the Living Water, the Water whereof, if a man drinketh, he shall thirst no more! Rock of ages! Rock of the elect!”* This is the Rock so worthily figured by the smitten rock in the wilderness: we need fear no error when we have an Apostolic commentator, “That rock was CHRIST.” And not water alone did that Rock send forth: “He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.”*

Christus misit quod promisit

Pignus Sponsæ,* quam revisit

Die quinquagesimâ:

Post dulcorem melleum,

Petra fudit oleum,

Petra jam firmissima.

Or yet again:* we may take the rock of that Mountain which shall be established on the top of the mountains and exalted above the hills; (L.) the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. A Rock indeed! For,* let the foot once be set there, and what can remove it? let the house once be established there, and what can endanger it? And then it may well follow, and ordered my goings. For then we shall see how all our goings have been so ordered, as to lead us in safety to the Everlasting LORD; ordered, by means that we little thought; ordered, by many an affliction, many a fear, many an “all these things are against me;” but ordered right, (B.) for all that, all things working together for our good. Or, if we take the Hebrew, the sense is even still more applicable: כוֹנֵן אֲשֻׁרָי, making good my success: that glorious, final success, where no more temptations have to be met, no more watch and ward maintained; where the armour may be laid by; where there is perfect peace! Therefore it well follows:

3a (3) And he hath put a new song in my mouth: even a thanksgiving unto our GOD.

They are full of the different meanings which the new song may have: whether it is to be taken of the Gloria in Excelsis,* first heard at Bethlehem; or the Nunc Dimittis, with its extension of redemption to the Gentiles. But if we take the rock as we have just taken it, (D.) of the heavenly mountain, then this can only be the song of Moses and of the Lamb: of Moses, in that the Red Sea of this life is past; and of the Lamb, in that, in a higher and more perfect sense,* peace is proclaimed to men of peace in that true Vision of Peace. S. Clement of Alexandria dwells at great length on this passage, comparing our LORD, in that half Pagan way of his,* to another Orpheus. In the three new songs which the Church daily employs, the Benedictus, the Nunc Dimittis, and the Magnificat, they see a mystical application to each Person of the Blessed TRINITY, and the especial work of that Person in the salvation of man. But why does it go on—even a thanksgiving unto our God? Because, as Ruffinus observes, there are many who so take a hymn of praise into their mouths, as in real truth to glorify themselves, and not GOD. Not unfitly do they compare with this new song the old song of corrupt human nature, (Ay.) which, like the syren melody of Pagan lore, endeavoured to plunge men into a bottomless abyss. But if, (D. C.) as before, we put these words into our LORD’S mouth, then what shall the new song be? And they well answer that still there are three. The first is, “I ascend unto My FATHER and your FATHER;” the second, “Whose sins soever ye remit, they are remitted unto them;” the third, “I will send the promise of My FATHER unto you.”

3b (4) Many shall see it, and fear: and shall put their trust in the LORD.

Or, as S. Augustine reads it, The just shall see it: a reading for which there is no authority. But we may ask, How can we see a song? And why ought not the Psalmist rather to say, They shall hear it? And the answer is ready: Because the hymn of praise that GOD loves is that of deeds, and not of words. Hence it is set down as the character of the wicked, “Behold, they speak with their mouth:” that is, with their mouth only. Therefore also it is said that, when the evil spirit troubled Saul,* it was the harp of David—not his voice—which drove it away; for the harp needs the hand to make it sound. And fear. But why, if it be a thanksgiving, should they fear? And they happily refer to that first new song, “Glory to GOD in the Highest,” concerning which it is said that the shepherds were sore afraid. And shall put their trust in the Lord. For so they did when they continued, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem.”1 And they observe also how any example of great trust has been preceded by a time of fear. “Fear not: lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.” And so the Angel to the Blessed Virgin: “Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with GOD.”* So to the shepherds: “Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”* So to the holy women at the Sepulchre: “Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek JESUS, Which was crucified.”* It is well said, “In the way of GOD we begin by fear, and advance to courage; for, just as in the way of the world adversity is the parent of fortitude,* so in that of the LORD boldness ends in debility, fear in strength.” And how is this? Let an early writer explain: “The beginning of our salvation and of our wisdom is, as Scripture testifieth,* the fear of the LORD; from the fear of the LORD springs salutary compunction; from compunction self-renunciation; from that, humility; from humility mortification of all our appetites: by that mortification every vice is uprooted, and withers; and vice failing, then grace takes root, and flourishes.” And so it follows here: shall fear, and shall put their trust in the Lord. Oh happy dread, so ending in happy love! Oh hard yet dear schoolmaster, thus to bring us to the only Source of perfect security! Who would not fear, (W.) who would not tremble, with Esther? Who would not say, ‘If I perish, I perish,’ if only Ahasuerus is about to stretch forth the golden sceptre, and to welcome the timid suppliant?

4 (5) Blessed is the man that hath set his hope in the LORD: and turned not unto the proud, and to such as go about with lies.

Or, as the Vulgate gives it, Whose hope is the Name of the Lord: the difference arising from the various readings of שֵׁם, the Name, and שָׂם, he set. It is curious to see how every little redundancy of the Vulgate is made,* by these pious writers,* to give its own instruction: as here—in Beatus vir CUJUS nomen Domini spes EJUS, where the ejus is the mere colloquial repetition, they beautifully see the hope set on the LORD as the Author of Faith in the cujus—as its Finisher in the ejus. But what Name is this, save the “New Name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name?”* as so it was fulfilled, when the command of the Angel was, “Thou shalt call His Name JESUS.” Unto the proud. For to some one we must turn. If we will not listen to that dear invitation, “Look unto Me and be ye saved,* all the ends of the earth,” then we turn to Satan; for we cannot stand alone. The μανίας ψευδεῖς of the LXX., the insanias falsas of the Vulgate, lead the commentators to dwell at great length on the Bacchic frenzy of the heathen festivals; and so to the participation in heathen crimes by those Christians “whose god is their belly.” But our version is truer and better; and its mystical meaning is the higher. For who is the proud indeed but he who said,* “I will exalt my throne above the stars of GOD: I will be like the Most High?”* And there may also be a dim allusion to the “Lawless One,”—“who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called GOD, and that is worshipped,”—under the name proud: and in them that go about with lies to the Beast, “who doeth great wonders, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles.”* And, as it is here said, Blessed is he who hath set his hope in the Lord, and turned not unto the proud, and such as go about with lies, so S. John tells us, “All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”* Whose hope is the Name of the Lord. The great Carmelite expositor reminds us that, as Romulus, (Ay.) by offering an asylum to all the evil doers of other places, in a short time enormously increased the population of the new city; so the Church has a temple to offer us,* a hiding-place to all those who are grieved with the burden of their sins; and this temple is none other than the Name of JESUS. “The Name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” Of this Church, in a higher than the original sense, the LORD saith, “I have chosen Jerusalem, that MY NAME might be there.”* And it is the multitude of those who have fled to the refuge of this Name which have made the Church so populous: as S. Bernard says, “whence, think you, is so sudden and so great a light, save from the Name of JESUS?”*

5a (6) O LORD my GOD, great are the wondrous works which thou hast done, like as be also thy thoughts which are to us-ward: and yet there is no man that ordereth them unto thee.

The Vulgate is not better than our version. Many marvellous things hast Thou done, O Lord my God: and in Thy strength there is none like unto Thee.

It is the voice of the Church exulting in the Incarnation. (Ay.) Great are the wondrous works which Thou hast done in old time; the creation of the world, the overthrow of the five cities, the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt, their introduction into the land of Canaan. But this is the wonder of wonders; this is the miracle of miracles. For Hugh of S. Victor well observes,* that though all things which exist were made by GOD, yet in a more especial sense He is said to have made those things which have to do with the reconciliation of man to Himself; and of all these the Incarnation must hold the first place. And if we are to take the version, yet there is no man that ordereth them unto Thee, then we can only understand how the scheme of redemption is here said to have been GOD’S counsel from the very first, suggested to Him by no inferior or created being, (D. C.) but the marvellous work of His own eternal mind.

5b (7) If I should declare them, and speak of them: they should be more than I am able to express.

It is almost wonderful that so much difficulty should have been made in the interpretation of the word them. Some will have it as a parallel passage to that in S. John,* where he says that if the deeds of our LORD were written every one, he supposes that not even the world itself could contain the books which should be written. But surely he refers to the works which he has before mentioned, those works which preceded the Incarnation. For see how the contrast is continued. “If I should declare THEM … Then said I, Lo, I come.” These previous actions, whether of mercy or of judgment on the one hand, and the coming to save the earth on the other. In the Vulgate it is, (Ay.) I have announced them, and have spoken of them: they are multiplied beyond all number. And in this announcement of that which is to take place, we have the prophecies of the Incarnation. That: “Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son.” That: “There shall come forth a Rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”* That: “Behold, a woman shall compass a man.” That: “This gate shall be shut, it shall not be open, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD the GOD of Israel hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.”* S. Thomas takes care to draw the practical conclusion: If I should declare them, and speak of them, they shall be more than I am able to express: then in return, What shall I render unto the LORD for all the benefits He hath done unto me?

6a (8) Sacrifice, and meat-offering, thou wouldest not: but mine ears hast thou opened.

Here we have in the first place a great difficulty as to the understanding of the passage. In the LXX. it is: Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a Body hast Thou prepared. So it is in the Italic. In the Vulgate it is as we read it, but mine ears hast Thou opened. S. Paul quotes it from the LXX.: “Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me.”* The reason of this variation is, that the Hebrew אָזְנַיִם was derived from זן, to prepare: whence it meant the substance or body provided. Whereas in the other sense it was taken from אזן an ear: whence the difference. This is one of the most curious passages in the Psalms; S. Paul taking it one way, followed by the Eastern Church: the Western, together with the Jewish commentators, taking it the other. It is remarkable that the HOLY GHOST speaking by S. Paul, should have been pleased to put so much honour on a translation which we cannot believe to represent the original meaning. Nevertheless we are bound to follow that which seems to be undoubtedly the sense of the Hebrew, and to explain that. Mine ears hast Thou opened. The reference is to the law in the Mosaic ritual, “If the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children, I will not go out free: then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, and to the door posts; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him for ever.”* Now see how most divinely this applies to our LORD. He, (Ay.) as a good servant,* did indeed say, “I love My Master,” namely that FATHER, the LORD of heaven and earth, Who appointed Me this task of redemption, and Who hereafter shall say to Me, “Well done, good and faithful servant:” “My wife,” that is, the Church, betrothed to Me on the Cross, though the marriage can only be consummated in the kingdom of heaven: “and My children,” namely those of whom it is written that, having loved Mine own that were in the world, I loved them unto the end. Then it proceeds: “His Master shall bring Him unto the judges:” and so the FATHER caused Him to be set before those most unrighteous judges,* Annas, and Caiaphas, and Pontius Pilate. “He shall also bring Him unto the door or unto the door post:” where notice the two phrases which seem so clearly to denote the upright and transverse beams of the Cross. “And His Master shall bore His ear through with an awl:” the ear simply represents the organ of obedience; and the LORD’S ear was so bored with an awl, when His hands and feet were pierced and then fastened to the Cross, that true door to eternal felicity. “And He shall be His servant for ever:” and so we are reminded that His work on earth did not cease with the Cross, seeing He “ever liveth to make intercession for us.” Whence we see how marvellously true a type was Jacob of our LORD. Jacob served seven years for his Rachel; why then did the true Jacob serve only three years and a half for the true Rachel, namely, the Church? Because, when He died on the Cross, His work was but half complete; His labour on earth formed the first half, His prevailing intercession in heaven the second; just as seven years are the double of three years and a half.

It is worth while quoting the eloquent words of Vieyra.* He takes the Vulgate literally: But Mine ears hast Thou perfected. “He would say, Thou, LORD, rather desirest the perfection of ears, than the oblation of Thy sacrifices. Whence it follows, that the Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Altar being the greatest thing that GOD can receive from us, quà Sacrifice, and that the greatest thing we can receive from GOD, quà Sacrament, yet that He desires, even more than this, our ears, and to that end makes them perfect: aures autem perfecisti mihi. See if I had not good reason to say that CHRIST had rather be heard than sacramentally received. But why? To communicate, is to receive that which CHRIST is: to hear CHRIST, is to receive what CHRIST says. How can it be better to hear that which He says, than to receive that which He is? The question seems difficult, but the answer is easy; and it is here: aures autem perfecisti mihi. It is possible to hear CHRIST with perfect, and it is possible to hear Him with imperfect ears. To hear Him with imperfect ears, is to hear Him without doing His works: to hear Him with perfect ears, is to hear Him and to do that which He commands. And when He is heard after this fashion, it is better to hear Him than to receive Him. CHRIST says so Himself. The woman in the Gospel praised the Blessed Virgin that she had borne CHRIST in her womb: Beatus venter qui te portavit: and the LORD answered, Quinimo beati, qui audiunt verbum et custodiunt illud. Hence it follows: that it is better to hear CHRIST, doing what He says, than to communicate in CHRIST, receiving what He is.”

6b (9) Burnt-offerings, and sacrifice for sin, hast thou not required: 7 then said I, Lo, I come,

8 (10) In the volume of the book it is written of me, that I should fulfil thy will, O my GOD: I am content to do it; yea, thy law is within my heart.

First, let us hear the inspired commentator on the inspired Psalm: “Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith: Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O GOD. Above when He said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O GOD. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of JESUS CHRIST once for all.”* Hence some of the Fathers have taken occasion to argue, (L.) that sacrifices were not the ordinance, but simply the permission, of GOD, allowed by Him as the lesser evil of the two, to keep off the peril of idolatry. But this opinion is a grave error: only compare these passages. “The LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:”* “And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD;.… And the LORD smelled a sweet savour:”* and the express command given to Abraham for, and as to the materials of, a sacrifice. “We know,”* says the Apostle, “that the law is good,* if a man use it lawfully;”* that is, if he use it with the remembrance of Him Whom it sets forth; if, in offering its sacrifice, he fixes the eye of faith on the Great Sacrifice for the sins of the world. And in this belief,* that the Jewish sacrifices were not merely permissive, but really, as inferior sacrifices, well-pleasing to GOD, the greatest of the Fathers agree.

But we have now one of the most difficult verses in the Psalms before us; one,* the full meaning of which will perhaps not be manifested till we “know as also we are known” in the next world.

THEN said I. When? And hence they take occasion to discuss the question whether, if man had not fallen, the LORD would have been incarnate; or whether His determination to take upon Him our nature depended on His prevision of our sin. Surely of these questions we may say, “Such knowledge is too wonderful and excellent for me: I cannot attain unto it.” Yet doubtless they who have written on it,* seem, all but certainly, to have made their point good. And this has been the general opinion from the foundation of the Church: that, whether Adam had fallen or not, the Second Adam would nevertheless have been incarnate. Then said I, Lo, I come. And herein are the types of our LORD in old time fulfilled. Joseph, when Israel said to him, “Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shehem? Come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.”* Samuel, when he said, “Here am I, for thou didst call me.”* Isaiah, as it is written, “I heard the voice of the LORD, saying, Whom shall I send, (D. C.) and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I, send me.”* And notice the then. Then, before all worlds. then, long since in eternity; then, when it was predestined that man should have his being, the SON of GOD offered Himself to become man. But now we come to the hardest point. In the volume of the book it is written of Me. In the head of the book, it is both in the Vulgate and Italic, also in the LXX. But volume is perhaps nearer to the Hebrew. Then the question arises, in what book was this written? In the book of predestination, S. Thomas says, and with him, many of the chief schoolmen; and in this opinion agrees Venerable Bede. (Z.) In the book of GOD’S Providence,* some of the late schoolmen say,* which seems to be only the same sense under different words. In the whole volume of the Prophets,* say most of the early Fathers. S. Ambrose,* following the interpretation, In the Head of the Book, refers this prophecy to the Book of Genesis. “In the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth:” that is, by Him Who is the Beginning, the Alpha as well as the Omega, the First not less than the Last. S. Isidore,* though referring the words to Genesis, takes a different verse towards the commencement of that book: “This is now bone of My bone, and flesh of My flesh,” which he applies to the Incarnation. Some later writers, and more especially Jansenius, will have it that the death of Abel is the especial type to which reference is here made. Procopius,* that the allusion is to the ram slain instead of Isaac. A whole host of saints refer it to the Psalter, (A.) in the head of which book we find “Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly.” Others would rather take it of the Head of the Gospels: “the book of the generation of JESUS CHRIST:” “the beginning of the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST:” and more especially,* “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and the Word was GOD.” If I had myself to decide upon all these, I should without hesitation adopt that interpretation which understands by the Head of the Book, the first verse of the Bible. That I should fulfil Thy will, O My God. Hence they take occasion to dispute how far the will of our LORD concurred in His Passion: and this verse became of course a celebrated quotation in the Monothelite controversy. Having given these various interpretations,* I cannot bear to pass over a wonderful passage in Vieyra:1 “All that had been written by the Prophets, or that had been represented by the patriarchs,* that CHRIST had to suffer, He saw and knew most perfectly in that hour of His agony; and from that very instant He engraved the principle of the Cross on His heart: Yea, Thy law is within My heart. In medio cordis, not on one side; on one side He laid His own natural feelings, fears, thoughts, cares: the Cross took the central place. Then said I, Lo, I come. Then? When? When He came into the world: ‘Wherefore when He cometh into the world He saith, Lo, I come.’ When? When He was prepared for His Passion: when JESUS, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth. When? When He was nailed to the Cross, as it is written in the same Psalm, Corpus autem perfecisti mihi.”

9 (11) I have declared thy righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I will not refrain my lips, O LORD, and that thou knowest.

10a (12) I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart: my talk hath been of thy truth and of thy salvation.

In the great congregation. And when was that? Refer it, (W.) if you will, to the great congregation of the Angels, the nine orders of the celestial hierarchy, to whom, before the world was, the SON of GOD declared His purpose of atoning for the future sins of the future man. A great congregation was that also, when, having now taken our nature upon Him, He stood a Child of twelve years old in the temple amongst the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. The great congregation again sets before us the five thousand fed by the side of the Lake of Gennesaret, and that would fain have taken Him by force to make Him king, Who said, My kingdom is not of this world. Once more in a great congregation it was that “on the last day, that great day of the feast, JESUS stood and cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.”* But that was a greater congregation still, when hanging on the Cross in the sight, doubt it not, of those twelve legions of Angels, of whom He had the night before spoken; in the sight too, of the Prince of the Power of the Air, with all his assembled hosts; He so declared GOD’S righteousness as never before had it been, never since could it be manifested, in those words, “It is finished.” And, as others remind us, (D. C.) there is yet to be a great congregation in which all kindreds, and tribes, and people, and nations shall be assembled together, and the judgment shall be set, and the books opened, and once more the SON of GOD shall declare His FATHER’S righteousness, with the “Come, ye blessed,” and “Depart, ye cursed.” Lo, I will not refrain My lips. But how is this, when it is said, “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth?” Because it is written, “There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”* Before Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate, He was silent: but at the tribunal of the FATHER day by day He pleads our cause, by His own Almighty words, not less than by the all-prevailing power of the Wounds to which He points. And notice herein a promise of His intercession for us, as long as the Church militant shall need it; a promise confirmed in a certain sense by an oath, and that Thou knowest. Whatever be the danger, (G.) whatever the affliction,—in the extremest calamity, in those days, when, if it were possible, the very elect should fall away, I, Who stood silent in My own defence, will speak in the cause of My Bride. When she is persecuted by the powers of the world, when she suffers from the attacks of heretics without, or bleeds from dissensions within, then I, that am her Advocate, I, that have promised to be her Mediator, I will not refrain My lips, O Lord, and that Thou knowest. I have not hid Thy righteousness. They fail not to tell us how in this Melchisedec, the King of Righteousness, is the great type of our LORD, and how S. Paul reminds us of the righteousness revealed by the Gospel. My talk hath been of Thy truth, as when in the parable of the Good Samaritan He promised, (D. C.) “Whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee;”* as when He made that declaration, “No man is able to pluck them out of My FATHER’S hand:” as when He so often promised, “Ask, and ye shall receive:” “If ye shall ask anything in My Name, I will do it:” “In My FATHER’S house are many mansions:” and a hundred other promises where mercy and truth meet together. Or they take it, (F.) understanding the word righteousness in the sense of the price of our acquiring righteousness,* and thus of our LORD’S Blood: I have not hid Thy righteousness within My heart; namely, when for our sakes the Blessed LORD permitted that heart’s Blood not to remain within His heart, but to pour forth as a torrent, when His side was pierced with a spear.

O cor, voluptas cœlitum!

Cor, fida spes mortalium!

En! hisce tracti vocibus

Ad te venimus supplices.

Tu nostra terge vulnera

Ex te fluente sanguine:

Tu da novum cor omnibus

Qui te gementes invocant.

10b (13) I have not kept back thy loving mercy and truth: from the great congregation.

Why does he say it twice? And they answer, (L.) in order to contrast the two great assemblies: that in which the LORD, after being unrighteously judged, ascended the tribunal of the Cross; and that in which, with the same Cross, as the sign of His glory, He shall come again, to judge righteously the quick and the dead.

Of this we have just spoken, and need not repeat what was then said.

11 (14) Withdraw not thou thy mercy from me, O LORD: let thy loving-kindness and thy truth always preserve me.

They take it as the prayer of our LORD,* not for Himself in His own person, but in that of His Church. “As even in the time of My greatest desolation on the Cross, still, after a certain sort, Thou wast present with Me, so now let not the fruits of My Sacrifice be lost; be Thou with My Church in its several passions, as Thou wast with Me in Mine own. Because I have not hid Thy mercy and Thy truth from the great congregation, (A.) from the unity of the universal Church, look Thou on Thy afflicted members; look on those who are guilty of sins of omission, and on those who are guilty of sins of commission, and withhold not Thy mercy from them.” The great Saxon theologian takes it in another sense: “Whoever feels that he is set afar off from GOD by an evil life; whoever feels that sins are strengthening into customs, (Lu.) and customs into habits, let him cry like Esau, with an exceeding great and bitter cry, Withdraw not Thou Thy mercy from me, O Lord. I have withdrawn myself from Thee, but withdraw not Thy Presence from me.” And then S. Thomas comforts such a penitent by reminding him,* “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him.” “I call,” as the Eastern Church says,* “not on account of my merits, but of my demerits; not on account of the work of my hands, but for the sake of the Hands that were stretched out on the Cross. I call, the unjust on the Just, because the Just suffered for the unjust; I call, fixing my eyes on Thee, Who didst fix Thine eyes on Peter; on the GOD Who for me suffered, for me died, for me rose again, for me ascended. And thus it is that I offer up my Kyrie Eleison.” Let Thy loving kindness and Thy truth. Notice how often he puts these two together, as knowing that they never could have been reconciled but by the Cross. These, they say, (P.) were figured by the upright and cross-beams; these are the two sticks which the widow of Sarepta was gathering when salvation came to her; and was gathering for this end, that she and her son might live, and not die. And he has need to use the strongest plea to win GOD’S mercy; because it follows:

12 (15) For innumerable troubles are come about me; my sins have taken such hold upon me that I am not able to look up: yea, they are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart hath failed me.

Do not let us fear to put the words into His mouth, Who Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses. Innumerable troubles. Who ever doubted it, O Thou Man of sorrows,* Whose whole life was one long sorrow! Thou, Whose vigils on the lonely mountains were for us, that did not watch for ourselves! Thou, Whose many fastings were for us, that pamper the flesh with its affections and lusts; Thou, Whose never-ending prayers were for us, and we, miserable creatures! will not give one poor hour to prayer for ourselves,—innumerable troubles came about Thee indeed! Is it not marvellous to think how these troubles have been the food, and strength, and consolation of the Church of GOD in the midst of her own? Has she ever educated any great saint, some one or more of whose works do not touch on the Passion? Oh, how their words glow like fire, burn whenever they draw nigh Calvary! Oh,* how the driest, coldest dissertation on Canon or Rubric, on disputed date or involved history, kindles at once, if incidentally it touches on the LORD’S sufferings! And for me, on whatever I may be employed, whatever task I have in hand,—more especially when I interpret Holy Scripture, either now, as in writing, or by preaching,—“if I forget Thee,” O most sweet Passion, Source of all confidence, Fountain of all peace, and therefore most fitly to be called Jerusalem, which is by interpretation the Vision of Peace, “if I forget Thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning!”

My sins have taken such hold upon Me. Those sins which, since I took them on Myself that I might save a perishing world, are now really to be called Mine: those sins, on account of which the light of GOD’S Countenance was withdrawn from Me, and therefore could I not look up; and therefore that was My cry, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani!

Quidquid enim proavi, quidquid commisimus ipsi,*

Committentque alii quos sua sæcla manent,

Hoc insons simul omne luit pro sontibus, æquâ

Lance volens pœnas pendere pro meritis.

Addo quod ut doceat mala vincere cuncta ferendo,

Prævius ipse ultro pessima quæque tulit.

Scilicet hæo duræ causa est pulcherrima mortis,

Causa quod infamem non renuitque necem.

Or, if looking for a moment from the Cross to that illustrious band of penitents who have knelt, from the days of the good thief and the pardoned Mary, at its foot, and taking these as their words, can we apply them at one and the same time to Him Who did no sin, and to them who have, save Him, no refuge from sin, better than by (quoting those verses of one who came back after long wanderings?

It is no merit of mine own,* but Blood of Him That died,

Our Elder Brother, and Thy SON, Whom my sins crucified;

For every drop of crimson dye thus shed to make me live,

Oh, wherefore, wherefore have not I a thousand souls to give?

13 (16) O LORD; let it be thy pleasure to deliver me: make haste, O LORD, to help me.

14 (17) Let them be ashamed, and confounded together, that seek after my soul to destroy it: let them be driven backward, and put to rebuke, that wish me evil.

15 (18) Let them be desolate, and rewarded with shame: that say unto me, Fie upon thee, fie upon thee.

16 (19) Let all those that seek thee be joyful and glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say alway, The LORD be praised.

17a (20) As for me, I am poor and needy: but the LORD careth for me.

17b (21) Thou art my helper and redeemer: make no long tarrying, O my GOD.

It will be better to consider these verses when, by GOD’S help, they occur again, where they form the 70th Psalm. That, as the second edition, may be considered, if I may use the expression without irreverence, as the more perfect, in its verbal differences, of the two; and for that therefore we will wait.

And now:

Glory be to the FATHER, in Whose book it is written that the Only-Begotten should do His will; and to the SON, Who saith, Lo, I come: and to the HOLY GHOST, Who openeth our ears;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.








Copyright ©1999-2016 e-Catholic2000.com