Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)
(A theme on the fall of our first parent, and the mercy of the Redeemer: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.)
18. There follows, thirdly:
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, etc. (Lc 10,30)
This man is Adam, man in general, who when he tried to raise himself up, fell by deceit, and went down from the blessedness of the heavenly Jerusalem to the miseries and weakness of this changeful and error-ridden life. By this, he fell among robbers, fell into the power of the angels of night, who make themselves appear as angels of light, but cannot do so for long. He would not have fallen among them, if he had not rendered himself liable by straying from the heavenly command. They strip him of the garments of spiritual grace, immortality and innocence, and inflict on him the wounds of sin, whereby the integrity of human nature is violated, and death pierces the entrails. One who keeps unspotted the garments he has assumed, cannot feel the blows of the robbers. They went away, not by ceasing to ambush, but by hiding their ambush. Leaving him half dead, because though they could deprive him of immortality, they could not take away his ability to reason, without which man cannot know and recognise God. The priest and the Levite who pass by are the priesthood and ministry of the old Law or Testament, which can expose the wounds of the fallen world, but cannot cure them.
The Samaritan (‘guardian’) is the Lord, who for our sakes was made man, undertook the journey of this life, and came to the wounded man,
being made in the likeness of man, and in habit found as a man, (Ph 2,7)
our kinsman by taking on our suffering, and our neighbour by bestowing his mercy. He bound up his wounds, checking sin by rebuking it. He poured in oil, giving hope to penitents by saying:
Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Mt 4,17)
He poured in wine, inspiring sinners with the fear of punishment by saying:
Every tree that doth not yield good fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire. (Mt 3,10)
His beast is his own flesh, in which he came to us, on which he placed the wounded man, bearing our sins in his body (cf. 1P 2,24). He is carried, who believes in the Incarnation and believes that he is saved by the mysteries from the assault of the Enemy.
The inn is the Church here on earth, where wayfarers and those returning to the eternal homeland are refreshed. He is taken to the inn, laid on the beast, because no-one enters the Church unless he is baptized and united with Christ’s Body.
He took care, lest the sick man should lose the precepts he had received. But the Samaritan had not time to stay long on earth; he had to return whence he had come down. So next day, after his Resurrection, when a fuller brightness of eternal light than that before his Passion shone on the world, he took out two pence, the two Testaments
on which the name and image of the eternal King are inscribed, and gave to the host, the Apostles:
Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, (Lc 24,45)
so that they might guide the people. And whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above: the Apostle spends more when he says:
Concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord; but I give counsel. (1Co 7,25)
He spends more, when he does not avail himself of the right to receive his upkeep (cf. 2Th 3,9). When he returns in judgement, he will repay, saying:
Because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. (Mt 25,21)
Which of these three? It is clear from the text that the foreigner who expended mercy on him was closer to the Jerusalemite than were the priest and Levite of his own people. No- one is closer than one who has cured our wounds, because the head is one with the limbs. Let us love him, then, as Lord and God, and let us love him as our neighbour. Let us also love whoever is an imitator of Christ. Whence there follows: Do likewise. To show that you truly love your neighbour as yourself, devoutly do whatever you can to relieve his bodily and spiritual needs.
19. To this third clause, the third part of the Epistle is concordant:
Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one. Was the Law then against the promises of God? God forbid. For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise, by the faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to them that believe. (Ga 3,20-22)
Here it is clearly shown that neither the priest nor the Levite (the sacrifice and ministry of the old Law) could give life to, and justify, the human race. Only our mediator and Samaritan Jesus Christ cured the wounded, gave life to the half-dead, and laying him upon himself bore him to the inn of the Church, that the promise of eternal life might be given to him who believes in Jesus Christ. Justice does not come from the priest or the Levite, but from faith in Jesus Christ. Scripture hath concluded all under sin. This is what the same Apostle says to the Romans:
God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he may have mercy on all, (Rm 11,32)
as if to say, when their sins have been noted by the law, they are convicted and cannot excuse themselves. They must seek the mercy of our Samaritan mediator.
There is a concordance to this in Job:
There is none that may be able to reprove both, and to put his hand between both. (Jb 9,33)
If two enemies, with swords in their hands, fight each other: who would be willing to place himself between them and restrain them, except one who has kinship with them both? God and man fought each other, God with the sword of punishment and man with the sword of sin. No-one could prevent this strife. Christ came, kin to both parties, being Son both of God and of man, and placed himself between them to restrain them. He charged man not to sin, and by suffering stood in the way of God the Father, lest he strike. He took the hand of both, showing man an example of how to act, and showing God his own actions, to placate him.
Beloved brothers, let us together pray him to heal the wounds of our sins, and to reconcile us to himself; that we may return from this Jericho to the heavenly Jerusalem from which we have fallen: by his help, who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.
(A moral sermon on the seven sons of Job, which are the seven beatitudes: A certain man.)
20. A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, etc. (Lc 10,30)
The Lord says to Job:
Tell me, if thou knowest, where is the way where light dwelleth; and where is the place of darkness? (Jb 38,18-19)
Light and darkness represent justice and wickedness. Light dwells in Jerusalem, Jericho is the place of darkness; so whoever goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho is going down from the light of justice to the darkness of iniquity. So: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, etc. Let us see what is the moral significance of the man, Jerusalem, Jericho, the robbers, the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan, the oil and wine, the beast, the inn, the innkeeper and the two pence. With all these, we will find concordances in the Book of Job, as the Lord may grant us.
This man is any just man, who as long as he is occupied in works of penance, and is suspended in the sweetness of contemplation (saying with Job: My soul chooseth hanging (Jb 7,15)), surely dwells in Jerusalem. He is a true Job, a man simple and upright, and fearing God, and avoiding evil; having seven sons and three daughters (cf. Jb 1,1-2).
The seven sons of the just man are those seven beatitudes of which the Lord speaks in Matthew (MT ,.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. This beatitude has two parts: the abdication of possessions and contrition of spirit, so that even good man thinks himself useless and inferior to others. The poor in spirit do not exalt themselves on high, but cultivate those things that pertain to fear and true humility. As Job says:
I change my face, and am tormented with sorrow.
I feared all my works, knowing that thou didst not spare the offender. (Jb 9,27-28)
He changes his face when he does not give his mind to exalted things; and so he is tormented with sorrow for what he has done. The man poor in spirit fears his works, fearing idleness and delusion. Idleness lessens the love of God; delusion lessens a proper self-love, when someone who has done a good deed wants secret gratification in his heart, or an aura of approval or reward outwardly. But blessed is the man who shakes his hands from all reward (Is 33,15). Reward from the mouth is glorying in praise; reward from the heart is expecting to be well thought of; reward from the hand is a bribe that is given. One should be afraid of these, strengthened by knowing that God will not spare an offender. Even though he calls sinners to repentance, he does not leave any sin without its retribution. Either man punishes it, or God.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land. The meek man is one who is not affected by a harsh or bitter mind; a simple faith teaches him to bear ever injury patiently. The meek man is dumb, not responding when he suffers injury. So Job says:
If I have been afraid at a very great multitude,
and the contempt of kinsmen hath terrified me:
and I have not rather held my peace,
and not gone out of the door. (Jb 31,34)
As if to say: though everything rages against me outwardly, within myself I remain undisturbed. The contempt of kinsmen hath terrified me. There are people who are afraid of contempt. They are forced to ‘go out of the door’, since when they are knocked upon by insults, they open up things that were not known about them, as if going out through the door of their mouth. St Gregory2 says: "To desire nothing in the world is a great safeguard, like hanging on to something immovable, and however much one is shaken in one’s lower nature, one is not shaken in mind; and if one is shaken outwardly, this is only the weakness of the flesh." He who has no fear of contempt, does not rush forth with his tongue. St Augustine3 says: "If the people you live among do not praise your right living, that is their mistake- but if they do praise it, that is your danger!"
Blessed are they that mourn. Job says: My face is swollen with weeping; and my eyelids are dim (Jb 16,17); and again: I went mourning (Jb 30,28). St Gregory4 says: "The holy man, though lifted up by wealth and honour, goes mourning because even though power and glory show him set over men, he offers God the sacrifice of a broken heart inwardly by his sorrow."
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice. Job says:
I was clad with justice: and I clothed myself with my judgement, as with a robe and a diadem. (Jb 29,14)
He is clad with justice as with a robe, when he clothes and covers himself on every side with good deeds, and leaves no part of his behaviour naked to sin. The judgement of the just is called a diadem, because by it they aspire to be rewarded on high, not with earthly things here below.
Blessed are the merciful. Job says:
If I have denied to the poor what they desired,
and have made the eyes of the widow wait:
If I have eaten my morsel alone,
and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof:
(for from my infancy mercy grew up with me:
and it came out with me from my mother’s womb)
If I have despised him that was perishing for want of clothing,
if his sides have not blessed me,
and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep. (Jb 31,16-20)
Blessed are the clean of heart. Job says:
If my heart hath followed my eyes, and if a spot hath cleaved to my hands...
If my heart hath been deceived upon a woman, and if I have laid wait at my friend’s door:...
For this is a heinous crime,
and a most grievous iniquity,
it is a fire that devoureth even to destruction,
and rooteth up all things that spring. (Jb 3,
As if to say: I did not want even to look at what might arouse desire, nor by looking to pursue what I desired. No spot stuck to my hands- that is, no guilt to my actions. Even if an unlawful thought crossed his mind, he never let it go as far as action. It is a fire, etc., because the fire of lust does not only stain and pollute, it swallows up until all is lost. It roots up all that springs, the seedlings of the soul’s good actions: because if one does not resist the evil of lust, even things that seem to be good will perish.
Blessed are the peacemakers. Job says:
If I have despised to abide judgement with my man-servant or my maid-servant,
when they had any controversy against me:
For what shall I do when God shall arise to judge?
And when he shall examine, what shall I answer him?
Did not he that made me in the womb make him also?
And did not one and the same form me in the womb? (Jb 31,13-15)
St Gregory5 says: "He comes to judgement with his servants as an equal, because he fears the judgement of the One who is over all. He regards himself as a servant of the true Lord, and so he does not set himself above his servants with a haughty heart. He who does not refuse to be judged along with his man-servants and maid-servants shows that he is not proud in the presence of his neighbour. The virtue of humility is a great thing for powerful men, when they consider the equality of their condition."
21. These seven beatitudes are the seven sons of the just man, and their glory makes him noble, powerful and renowned. His three daughters are contrition, confession and
satisfaction, of which enough has been said in many places. See how great a light, how great a glory there is in Jerusalem, in holiness of life! But how much darkness there is, how many miseries, when he goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho (which means ‘moon’ or ‘odour’), representing the waning prosperity of worldly things. The children of this world say of it, in Jeremiah:
As for the word which thou hast spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken to thee:
But we will certainly do every word that shall proceed out of our own mouth,
to sacrifice to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her...
Since we left off sacrifice to her... we have wanted all things,
and have been consumed by the sword and by famine. (Jr 44,16-17,18)
The queen of heaven means the moon, representing waning worldly prosperity, which carnal folk serve, thinking that if they leave off they will be consumed by famine and sword; and so they are unwilling to hear the word of the Lord.
Job did not go down to this moon; he said:
If I have thought gold my strength,
and have said to fine gold: My confidence!
If I have rejoiced over my great riches,
and because my hand had gotten much:
If I beheld the sun when it shined,
and the moon going in brightness. (Jb 31,24-26)
He would indeed have lost hope in the Creator, if he had put his hope in a creature. Nothing but God satisfies the mind which seeks God in truth. He goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he falls from the light of poverty into the darkness of riches.
It is told that a wolf once, seeing the moon in a well, thought it was a cheese. When, on the advice of a fox, he climbed into the well and found nothing, he had to stay there in sorrow; and when the villagers found him there, they stoned him to death. Just like that is a religious who ‘sees the moon going in brightness’, in the well of worldly vanity. Like a
fool, he believes the fox (carnal desire) that tells him that something transitory and changeable is true and enduring. Being deceived, he goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho, from the height of contemplation into the well of cupidity; and so he falls among robbers, who strip him, wound him, and leave him half dead.
The robbers are the five bodily senses, to which there is a concordance in Job:
His robbers have come together,
and have made themselves a way by me,
and have besieged my tabernacle round about. (Jb 19,12)
The robber lies in wait to catch someone. The bodily senses, lying his under an appearance of being necessary, set traps of pleasure. They come together, so as to deceive more readily, and make a highway through the wretched soul, leading to death. The tabernacle of our body is besieged round about by them, so that whatever way the soul wants to go, it falls among them, and they despoil it of grace and wound it in nature. There is a concordance in the same part of Job:
He hath hedged my path round about, and I cannot pass;
and in my way he hath set darkness.
He hath stripped me of my glory, and hath taken the crown from my head.
He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am lost.
And he hath taken away my hope, as from a tree that is plucked up. (Jb 19,8-10)
The path of the wretched soul is hedged about when, being devoted to the bodily senses, it is unable to fulfil the good that it sees should be done. The darkness is set in its way, when it cannot even discern what should be done. It is stripped of glory when it is stripped of the grace of the Holy Spirit; its crown is taken away when it is deprived of the mind’s pure intention, and so it is destroyed and perishes, and it is like a tree without the root of humility, plucked up by the wind of the devil’s tempting from the ground of eternal stability, and no hope of divine mercy remains to it.
(A theme for a sermon on the penitence of the just man: Let the day perish.)
22. See how great a misery he falls into when he goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho! He should mourn and weep like Job, who said:
Let the day perish wherein I was born,
and the night in which it was said: A man-child is conceived.
Let that day be turned into darkness:
let not God regard it from above, and let it not be in remembrance, and let not the light shine upon it.
Let the darkness and the shadow of death cover it,
let a mist overspread it:
and let it be wrapped in bitterness.
Let a darksome whirlwind sieze upon that night: let it not be counted in the days of the year, nor numbered in the months.
Let that night be solitary, and not worthy of praise.
Let them curse it who curse the day, who are ready to raise up Leviathan.
Let the stars be darkened with the mist thereof:
let it expect light and not see it,
nor the rising of the dawning of the day.
Because it shut not up the doors of the womb that bore me, nor took away evils from my eyes.
Why did I not die in the womb?
Why did I not perish when I came out of the belly?
Why received upon the knees?
Why suckled at the breasts? (Jb 3,3-12)
Note that ‘the day’ is delight in sin; ‘the night’ is blindness of mind. Man is referred to under three aspects: by nature, by guilt and by weakness. Man is born in the day, conceived in the night. He would not have been caught by sin’s allure if he had not been weakened by a darkened mind. ‘Let the day perish’ means, let delight in sin be destroyed by the vigour of justice. ‘Let the night’ means, let penitence extinguish what the blinded mind commits by consenting to the unforeseen allurements of sin. But so that guilt, which begins to attract, should not draw into destruction, ‘day is turned to darkness’: that is, when pleasure arises that draws to final destruction, it is seen, and tormented by penance. If it is so punished, ‘God will not regard it’ at the judgement, to punish it, and the light will not shine on it. It is illuminated by the accusing light, but it is, as it were, covered: because it is not recalled to the judge’s memory. Whence: Blessed are they whose sins are covered (Ps 31,1), so that they are not made manifest to human sight. ‘Let not the light shine’ on them, but let pleasure’s daylight be covered, so that it be not seen by the All-seeing; covered either by the laments of penitence or by the secret judgements of God, whereby prevenient grace frees us, which we do not know how to deserve. ‘And the shadow of death’, the death of Christ according to the flesh, which destroys our double death. He lay in the tomb one day and two nights, since he joined the light of his simple death to the darkness of our double death. It is truly a ‘death’ that separates the soul from God, and a ‘shadow’ that separates flesh from soul. (Another interpretation is that ‘shadow of death’ is forgetfulness, because its effect is to remove something from our memory, as death removes from life).
‘Let a mist overspread’ refers to a confusion of the mind leading to glory; ‘let it be wrapped’ on every side in the bitterness of penitence. ‘Let a dark whirlwind possess that night’, meaning the stormy whirlwind that is calmed by the spirit of sorrow, overshadowing the mind with sadness. This is the wind that breaks the ships of Tharsis (Ps 47,8), the force of compunction which with its healing moisture confuses the ‘sea’, minds devoted to the world. ‘Let it not be counted in the days of the year’: the year of our enlightenment is perfected when the Judge comes and our pilgrimage is complete. The ‘days of the year’ are individual virtues, the ‘months’ are the many deeds of virtue. But since he is afraid that the Judge may requite his evil deeds, he prays that his good deeds will be rewarded in a way that does not also demand satisfaction for the evil deeds. If this night should be numbered with the days, everything would be dark; so ensure that it is not so numbered, and no sin escape punishment, by not adding further sin by defending what one has done. ‘Let that night be solitary, unworthy of praise’.
There are people who praise and defend what is evil, and so increase guilt so that it does not remain alone. To them, Ecclesiasticus says, Hast thou sinned? Do so no more (Si 21,1), that is, do not sin further by defending sin. Anyone who does not seek after worldly success is a good fighter against sin.
‘Let them curse it who curse the day’. By doing penance, they strike a blow against the night; the trample down the light of prosperity, and reject the day of pleasure. Alternatively, the ‘day’ means the enemy’s temptation, and the meaning is that they truly
punish what has been committed when they detect the tempter’s snares at the very start of his smooth talk, as they raise Leviathan further against themselves (see the Gospel, When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man (Lent III)). He adds: Let the stars be darkened with the mist thereof (that is, of the night); because when vice is overcome, there may still remain some slight thing unconquered, lest the victor become proud. Though they shine with virtue, they drag the remains of night along, still struggle against what is around them. So they shine all the better, because they endure this shadow humbly and unwillingly. The Book of Joshua tells how, in the promised land, the Canaanites were not killed, but made tributary to the tribe of Ephraim (cf. Jos 17,13). When we enter the heavenly realm in hope, some vices remain even among the best things, and they serve us as a means to humility; so that whoever cannot overcome a slight fault will not get proud. Again,
These are the nations which the Lord left, that by them he might instruct Israel. (Jg 3,1)
These are the vices by which the just man is always attacked, and as long as he is afraid of being overcome he represses spiritual pride, and learns from small things that he cannot by his own power overcome greater. Alternatively, Let the stars be darkened with the mist thereof, because the night (consent to sin, inherited from Adam) so darkens the eye that even those who light the world like stars cannot see the eternal light as it really is. This is the meaning of, Let it expect light and not see it, because however ardently they strive upwards, they cannot in the flesh see the light as it is, because of the blindness due to original sin, in which they have been born.
Nor the rising of the dawning of the day. The dawning of the day is the new birth of the resurrection, in which the saints arise in the flesh to see the eternal light. But however much the elect may shine here, they cannot penetrate what will be the glory of the new birth. This night does not shut, it opens the gates of the womb; because once man has been conceived in sin, he unlocks the desires of concupiscence. When these gates, the desires of carnal concupiscence, are unlocked, we are drawn into countless evils of corruption. So we groan under our burdens, because justice demands that what we do of our own free will, we should suffer for even against our will.
Why did I not die in the womb? The womb wherein man is conceived to sin is evil suggestion. Would that I had died there, would that I had known I was dead, rather than let temptation draw me into taking pleasure in it! Why did I not perish as soon as I came out of the womb? Someone ‘comes out of the womb’ when sin has been conceived, and then outward pleasure is taken in it. But would that I had expired in that pleasure, rather than that in folly I had consented to the action! Why was I received upon knees? One is ‘received upon knees’ when, by the spirit’s consent, all the senses and members are spread out for the commission of evil, as knees are spread for a child. Why suckled at the breasts? One is ‘suckled at the breasts’ when one is fed on broken promises and smooth excuses. See how guilt is first hidden in the act itself, as in a womb; then it is displayed shamelessly before men, and is out of the womb; then it goes on to become a habit, and is as it were taken on the knees; finally it is fed on either false hope or despair, and so is suckled at the breast.
(Against hypocrites, and those who seek positions of honour: It chanced that a priest went down; and: Abimelech fought; and: They are like wild asses; and the rest that follows.)
23. See with how great a lamentation the man who goes down from Jerusalem should mourn and repent. The story goes on:
And it chanced that a certain priest went down the same way, and seeing him, passed by. In like manner also a levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by.
The priest represents the love of domination, and the Levite hypocrisy. There is something similar to these two in the Book of Judges, where we read that Abimelech fought stoutly to capture the tower:
and approaching the gate, he endeavoured to set fire to it. And behold, a certain woman, casting a piece of millstone from above, dashed it against the head of Abimelech, and broke his skull. And he called hastily to his armourbearer, and said to him: Draw thy sword, and kill me: lest it should be said that I was slain by a woman. He did as he was commanded, and slew him. (Jg 9,52-54)
Let us see what is meant by Abimelech, the tower, the gateway, the fire, the woman, the piece of millstone, the skull and the armourbearer of Abimelech.
Abimelech’s name means ‘my father is king’. He is someone who, like a father and king, wants to take precedence over others. The tower is a position of honour, which he approaches in order to possess it. But to climb it more easily, he sets the fire of gold and silver (which the prophet calls, a fire in the house of the wicked (cf. Mi 6,10)) to the gate, that is to those who are as it were the Church’s gateways, so that when he has scorched them with this fire he may climb through them into the tower. Alternatively, the gate represents those curial doorkeepers and notaries who are the worst of cheats. They suck the blood of the poor, and empty the purses of the rich, so as to bestow the contents of them on their ‘nephews’ and ‘nieces’: or, rather, their sons and daughters! They pigeon-hole petitions and grab gold and silver pieces for them. Job says of them:
Fire shall devour their tabernacles, who love to take bribes; (Jb 15,35)
The tabernacles of robbers (or thieves) abound, and they provoke God boldly; whereas it is he that hath given all into their hands. (Jb 12,6)
Like wild asses in the desert they go forth to their work:
by watching for a prey they get bread for their children (and nephews!).
They send men away naked, taking away their clothes...
Out of the cities they have made men to groan, and the soul of the wounded hath cried out: and God doth not suffer it to pass unrevenged.
They have been rebellious to the light... (Jb 2,
which is why they will be deprived of the light of grace and glory. Unhappy Abimelech, who wanted to get ahead, but not to get better. He hastened on his journey, not afraid of the deceit of innkeepers, the cold of the Alps, the heat of Italy, the perils of Tuscany, the thieves of Rome! He got as far as the gate, and set fire to it. He was relieved of his gold and encumbered with lead; he was left in suspense and- well, what happened next to this would-be climber, we shall see!
And behold, a woman: this woman is the flesh, and the piece of millstone with which she breaks his skull is anxious ambition which distracts his mind here below, and afterwards he himself will be crushed by the blow of the severe Judge. Job says:
He shall flee from weapons of iron,
and shall fall upon a bow of brass.
The sword is drawn out, and cometh forth from its scabbard, and glittereth in his bitterness. (Jb 20,24-25)
St Gregory6 says that the weapons of iron are the necessities of this present life, which press hard. Bronze stands for the eternal sentence, which because it is not heeded by the wicked is likened to a bow that strikes from hiding. Let him ‘flee from the weapons of iron’, then, because while he greedily grabs many things out of fear of present needs, he exposes himself to the blows of eternal judgement. ‘Drawn out and coming forth’, the wicked man who plots evil in his heart is like a sword in its scabbard. He is drawn out and comes forth when his wickedness becomes apparent in evil deeds. ‘Glittering’ indicates a showiness in striking. Someone who harms other people from a place of
power may be said to ‘glitter’, because the life of good people is tormented as by a lightning flash from on high against those good people.
And he called his armourbearer. The squire who carries the weapons, but does not fight with them, is hypocrisy. The wretched Abimelech preferrred to perish from this, rather than from the ‘woman’, the works of the flesh. Job says of them both:
When time shall be, the ostrich setteth up her wings on high. (Jb 39,18)
The ostrich, whose feathers are like those of the heron and the hawk, represents the hypocrite who decks his wings with the plumage of a sanctity that does not belong to him. Its wings (thoughts) are tiny, but it flaps them when it can. The hypocrite makes a great display when he gets the chance, but meanwhile he hides his thoughts within (as though folding his wings to his body), so as to appear holy. Surely we see here the priest who offers tribute of gold and silver, as sacrifices to gods of whom it is said: All the gods of the gentiles are devils (Ps 95,5); and here is his minister, the Levite, as well.
24. We read that the priest and the Levite, when they saw the man who was wounded, robbed and half dead, ignored him and passed by. There is a concordance to this in Job:
When (the ostrich) leaveth her eggs on the earth, thou perhaps will warm them in the dust?
She forgetteth that the foot may tread upon them, or that the beasts of the field may break them.
She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers. (Jb 39,14-16)
The ostrich represents the hypocrite, who seeks a high place in the world. She leaves her eggs, the offspring she has produced, and does not care about them at all, that without careful advice and watchful discipline they may be led astray by bad example, or crushed by the beasts of the field. The field is the world, and the beast is the devil who lies in wait for his earthly prey: despoiling and wounding the soul going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and feeding daily upon human death. The implication is that the hypocrite does not care at all if the devil prowls around the world, and seizes those whose lives are good. In this way ‘she is hardened against her young ones’. The person not infused with the grace of charity regards his neighbour as a stranger, even if he himself brought him to birth in God. it is appropriate that the passage begins, She leaveth her eggs on the earth. To leave one’s eggs on the earth is to leave one’s
children without a heavenly example; yet heavenly care does not abandon them, as is shown in the words: Thou perhaps will warm them in the dust? It is as though to say, I will warm them in the dust, warm them with the fire of my love, the souls of these little ones who are set in the midst of sinners (who are as dust which the wind blows from the face of the earth (cf. Ps 1,4)).
25. So the Gospel continues, appropriately:
But a certain Samaritan, being on his journey, came near him; and seeing him, was moved with compassion. And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine; and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two pence, and gave to the host... (Lc 10,33-35)
The Samaritan (meaning ‘guard’) represents the grace of the Holy Spirit, of which Job says:
Who will grant me that I may be according to the months past, according to the days in which God kept me?
When his lamp shined over my head: and I walked by his light in darkness?
As I was in the days of my youth, when God was secretly in my tabernacle?
When the Almighty was with me:
and my servants round about me? (Jb 29,2-5)
The soul, going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and falling among thieves, sees itself stripped and wounded. It thinks about its Baptismal innocence, the sweetness of contemplation, and the original purity of its life; and it sighs and weeps, saying: Who will grant me that I may be according to the months past (perfection of life), according to the days (clear conscience and shining example) in which God kept my going in and my coming out? Going in to contemplation, coming out to activity. Going in to self knowledge, coming out to set a good example to my neighbour. When his lamp (grace) shined over my head (my mind), and I walked by his light in darkness (by ways of justice, among false brethren). Alas, alas! Who will grant me to be as in the days of my youth, of my Baptismal innocence and pure life? When God was secretly in my tabernacle, that I might make progress inwardly, in secret. Hypocrisy makes a public show of weeping, not secretly. When I had left this secret place, I fell among thieves; but while I was hidden
the Almighty was with me, and my servants were round me, my bodily senses that served me purely and faithfully. But alas, alas! Unhappy me, when I went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when I left my secret place! My servants became robbers to me, stripping me and wounding me. But the grace of the Holy Spirit, who prays, and makes to pray with unutterable groanings (cf. Rm 8,26), who is "Father of the poor, giver of all gifts, the soul’s true radiancy"7 : let us see what He does for the wounded soul!
He bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine. Oil, which gives light, is the knowledge of sin; wine, which inebriates, is the compunction of tears, which inebriates the soul in forgetfulness of temporal things. Inebriation also stimulates tears. There is a concordance to these two in Job:
By what way is the light spread,
and heat divided upon the earth?
Who gave a course to violent showers,
or a way for noisy thunder,
that it should rain on the earth? (Jb 38,24-26)
The way is the grace of the Holy Spirit, by whom the light (knowledge of sin) is scattered; and then the heat (the ardour of contrition) is divided upon the earth, making the sinner himself divide the totality of his sin, piece by piece, sin and circumstances. Thus it gives course to violent showers (compunction of tears), whose vehemence breaks down the barriers of guilt and shame, and makes way for the noisy thunder; that is, it opens the way to confession, which, like thunder, terrifies the devils. So it says in the first Book of Kings:
The Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and terrified them; and they were overthrown before the face of Israel. (1S 7,10)
In the thunder and the sword of confession, the Philistines (the devils) are terrified and overthrown by the children of Israel (true penitents). How appropriate, then, the words: Pouring in oil and wine, he bound up his wounds. The grace of the Holy Spirit binds the wounds of the soul when he guarantees to the penitent the hope of pardon and the robe of glory.
And placing him on his beast, etc. The beast of burden is obedience, as the psalmist says: I am become a beast before thee (Ps 72,23). When the soul is subjected to another’s will, it is supported by it; while it carries, it is carried. The smelly inn is the stench of wickedness, the inn-keeper is the spirit of contrition. The two pence are two kinds of compunction- for what one has done, and what one has failed to do. The
penitent should mourn because he has done what he was forbidden, and failed to do what he was commanded. The sinner’s soul is wounded, but it is soothed by the poultice of the Holy Spirit. It is carried on the beast of obedience to the stinking inn of its own wickedness, there to sit with Job who (we are told),
took a potsherd and scraped the corrupt matter, sitting on a dung-hill. (Jb 2,8)
A potsherd is made of clay, moulded while it is still soft, and then baked. When baked, it represents the roughness of penance, with which the penitent, as he ‘sits on the dunghill’, humbling himself in the stink of his wickedness, should scrape the pus of his sins. Pus arise from the blood, which when a wound is fevered becomes pus: the blood putrefies. So the putrefaction of sin should be scraped with the potsherd of penance.
And note: no-one can return to Jerusalem unless he is placed on the beast of obedience. That is why the Lord entered Jerusalem riding on an ass. Of this beast, Nehemiah said:
And there was no place for the beast on which I rode. (Ne 2,14)
Our body should be like a humble beast, obedient and docile, and the soul should ride upon it. it should have no place in the world, because man’s place is above all things: as the psalmist says:
Thou hast set him over the works of thy hands. (Ps 8,7)
Note also that Natural History teaches us that when a beast is on heat, it will calm down if its hair is shaved. That is what we should do with our body; when it wants to run riot in the abundance of temporal things, or indulge itself in the wantonness of the flesh, we should disfigure it and shave its head like an idiot. So we are told that Job shaved his head and fell down upon the ground (Jb 1,20). We are accustomed to shave the head when it is itchy, or weighed down with severe sickness. When our body is itchy and infirm, we should shave the hair of riches and pleasures, so that like a meek animal it may be able to bear us to the city of Jerusalem.
So, dear brothers, let us ask the grace of the Holy Spirit, that He may pour into our soul’s wounds the oil and wine of his mercy; that he may bandage them, and set us upon the beast of obedience; that he may lead us to the inn that is the remembrance of our sins, and commend us to the inn-keeper who is the spirit of contrition; so that we may stay under his care until, for the two pence of double compunction, we may recover the original health which we have lost. So, being recovered, may we be able to return to that Jerusalem from which we fell. May he grant this, who with the Father and the Son lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Let every penitent soul say, Amen. Alleluia.
Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)