Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)
(A sermon on the penitent soul, her confession and mortification of the flesh: When the woman of Thecua was come in to the king.)
12. There follows, thirdly:
Or what woman having ten groats, if she lose one groat, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house and seek diligently until she find it? etc. (Lc 15,8)
A moral interpretation. This woman represents the soul, regarding which there is a concordance in the second book of Kings:
When the woman of Thecua was come in to the king, she fell before him upon the ground, and worshipped, and said: Save me, O king. And the king said to her: What is the matter with thee? She answered: Alas, I am a widow woman; for my husband is dead. And thy handmaid had two sons: and they quarrelled with each other in the field, and there was none to part them. And the one struck the other, and slew him. And behold, the whole kindred rising against thy handmaid saith: Deliver him that hath slain his brother, that we may kill him for the life of his brother, whom he slew, and that we may destroy the heir. And they seek to quench my spark that is left. (2S 14,4-7)
Let us see what is meant by the king, the woman of Thecua and her husband, the two sons and their quarrel, the death of the one, the kindred and the spark. The king is Christ, the woman of Thecua is the soul, her dead husband is the world. The two sons are reason and sensuality, and the quarrel is the disharmony between them. The death of the one is the mortification of the carnal appetite, the kindred are the basic instincts, and the spark is the light of reason.
So: When the woman of Thecua was come in to the king, she fell before him, etc.
Thecua means ‘trumpet’. The Thecuite woman is the penitent soul, whose trumpet of confession sounds sweetly in her Creator’s ear. Note that in the Old Testament the trumpet sounds for three things: for battle, for banquets and for festivals (cf. Nb 10,42). The trumpet of confession summons us to do battle against the demons, for when the devil is despised in confession, he rises in rage. It calls us to the banquet of penance, and to the festival of glory.
Note these three: she went in to the king, she fell before him, and she worshipped. The king is Christ, who rules the nations with a rod of iron (Ps 2,9), with inflexible justice. To him, the soul goes in by hope, falls before him by humility, and worships him by faith.
She says, Save me, O king. Alas, I am a widow woman, etc. Note these three: Alas, woman, and widow. She says, ‘Alas!’ because she is sorry for sin; ‘woman’, because she is weak and frail; ‘widow’, because she is bereft of all human help; so she says, Save me, O king, sorrowful, frail and destitute. Save me, because I am your servant. Save me, because my husband is dead. The husband of the penitent soul was the world, which now was dead to her, as she was dead to the world. As the Apostle says: The world is dead to me, and I to the world (Ga 6,14).
There follows: And thy handmaid had two sons: and they quarrelled, etc. The two sons of the soul are its two parts, higher and lower, reason and sensuality, between which there is the greatest quarrel, since the spirit lusteth after the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit (Ga 5,17). Regarding this quarrel, Moses says in Genesis:
There arose a strife between the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot. Abraham therefore said to Lot: Let there be no quarrel, I beseech thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen: for we are brethren. Behold, the whole land is before thee: depart from me I pray thee. If thou wilt go to the left hand, I will take the right: if thou choose the right hand, I will pass to the left. (Gn 13,7-9)
Abraham represents reason, and Lot sensuality. The herdsmen of the flocks are the affections and movements of each, between which there is daily strife. But Abraham said, Let there be no quarrel, I beseech thee, between me and thee. Thus does reason chastise sensuality, wanting to pacify it. It says, we are brethren, do not fight against me, do not pick a quarrel. Behold, the whole land is before thee, that you may live according to your need, not for the sake of pleasure. Use what is lawful; live discreetly, because the Lord has given the earth to the children of men (Ps 113,16), not to the offspring of beasts. But because I see that your imagination and thought are prone to evil from your youth (cf. Gn 8,21), therefore I pray you to depart from me, because two opposites cannot live together. What fellowship hath light with darkness? What part hath the faithful with the unbeliever? (2Co 6,14). Depart from me, then, I pray; because if you do not depart, I am afraid your company will shape my behaviour. "One grape can develop mould at the sight of another"; and, "A bad companion will pass on his scabs and sores to his innocent and simple friend," says the Philosopher2. Depart from me, then, I pray: If thou wilt go to the left hand, etc. Note that what is left to the flesh is right to the spirit, and
what is right to the spirit is left to the flesh. This was signified in the disposition of Christ’s body on the cross. His right hand was towards the north, and his left towards the south, implying opposition. What we reckon on the left, was on the right to him; and temporal prosperity, signified by the south, and on the right for us, was on the left to him. So the words are apt: And thy handmaid had two sons: and they quarrelled with each other in the field, and there was none to part them.
There follows: And the one struck the other, and slew him. If he had departed from his brother, he would not have been killed. In this way, the just man who uses his reason should reprehend and kill the carnal appetite. There is a concordance to this in the second book of Kings, where it says that David,
calling one of his servants, said: Go near and fall upon him. And he struck him so that he died. And David said to him: Thy blood be upon thy own head. For thy own mouth hath spoken against thee, saying: I have slain the Lord’s anointed. (2S 1,15-16)
David is the just man, and the just man’s servants are the pure affections of reason, by whose unity he should kill the carnal appetite which, a little earlier, had slain the Lord’s anointed: that is, the soul anointed with the blood of Jesus Christ.
There follows: And behold, the whole kindred rising, etc. The depraved and perverse kindred are the basic instincts which are joined by kinship of blood with the sensuality of the flesh. When they see their kinsman, carnal appetite, being mortified by reason with discreet severity, they rise up daily all together, wanting to avenge the injury to their kinsman, and put out the spark of reason. So the Thecuite woman cries to the king: Save me, O king, because they seek to quench my spark that is left. A spark is subtle, agile and burning. The spark is the reason, subtle in discernment, agile in forestalling the devil’s temptations, and setting the mind afire with divine love. The basic instincts, that stupid and foolish kindred, try to put out that spark with the water of carnal concupiscence. She says, that is left, because after all vices have been committed, there is always a spark of reason left to the soul, to sting it and reproach it for its sins.
(On the drachma and its parts, and what they mean: If she shall lose one groat.)
13. Let us say, then, of this woman: Or what woman having ten groats. The ‘groat’ is the drachma, which according to the Gloss was a coin of a certain value, having the king’s image on it. Now a ‘drachma’ is a quarter of a stater; whereas ‘drama’, without the ‘ch’, is a kind of song, as in the anthem which speaks of "sweet songs of drama."3 Alternatively, a ‘drachma’ is an eighth of an ounce. The ‘ounce’ is so called because ‘at once’ it embraces all coins. It consists of eight drachmas, or twenty-four scruples. This is held to be a lawful weight, because the number of scruples equals the number of hours in a day and a night. The scruple weighs six beans, that is to say, six bean-seeds. The bean holds four grains of barley; that is to say, each bean seed weighs the same as four grains of barley.
The ‘ounce’ stands for Jesus Christ, who, being one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, embraces the universe of all created things in his unity. All creatures are, as it were, the centre of a sphere, while he is the circumference which encloses and encircles all things. So Ecclesiasticus says:
I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven. (Si 24,8)
The drachma, the eighth part of an ounce, stands for blessed Mary, who already possesses, and to a far greater extent, both in body and in soul, that bliss which all the saints are to have in the Octave of the resurrection. The twenty-four scruples are the twelve apostles, of whom the Lord said: Are there not twelve hours of the day? (Jn 11,9). The ‘day’ is Christ; the ‘twelve hours’ are the twelve apostles, who, on account of their perfection and their strengthening by the Holy Spirit, are given a double number. Like scruples, the least of all coins, they were despised in the world; and they do not cease from guarding the Church, which they founded with their blood, day and night, as if for twenty-four hours. The six beans represent all the martyrs and holy confessors, on account of the perfection of their good works (which we so signify not because of the beans, but of the number six, which perfect number). The four grains of barley, the food of cattle, stand for all the faithful of the Church, who like animals are fed with the teaching of the four Evangelists. See how exact is the order: The ounce contains drachmas and scruples; the scruples contain beans, and the beans contain grains of barley. So from Christ are descended blessed Mary and the apostles; from the apostles, the martyrs and confessors, and from them all the faithful of the Church.
This word ‘drachma’ has chanced to lead us a little away from our point; so let us return to the matter in hand (from which we have not really digressed).
(A sermon on how the devil kills in us charity towards God and neighbour: Joab the son of Sarvia.)
14. Or what woman having ten groats? The ten groats stand for the ten precepts of the Law, which the woman (the soul) has received from the Lord to keep; and if she had kept them, they would indeed remain. Whence the Lord answered the man who asked what he should do to obtain eternal life: If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Mt 19,17). Keeping the commandments is the way in to eternal life; but since charity has grown cold and iniquity has abounded (cf. Mt 24,12), there follows: if she lose one groat. She loses the groat by losing charity, in which is the image of the supreme king, and without which no one can attain the octave-day of bliss.
As to how this groat may be lost, there is a concordance in the second book of Kings, where it tells how Abner the son of Sarvia killed two chiefs of the army of Israel, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Gether. This is how he killed Abner:
Joab took him aside to the middle of the gate, to speak to him treacherously. And he stabbed him there in the groin, and he died... And when David heard of it... he said: Let
there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue of seed, or that is a leper, or that holdeth the distaff, or that falleth by the sword, or that wanteth bread. (2S 3,27-29)
And this is how he killed Amasa:
Joab had on a close coat of equal length with his habit; and over it was girded with a sword hanging down to his flank, in a scabbard, made in such a manner as to come out with the least motion and strike. And Joab said to Amasa: God save thee, my brother. And he took Amasa by the chin with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not take notice of the sword, which Joab had: and he struck him in the side, and gave him not a second wound.(2S 20,8-10)
These two chiefs, Abner and Amasa, stand for the two precepts of charity, towards God and towards our neighbour. Abner (‘lamp of the father’) stands for the love of God, by which we who sit in darkness are illuminated. Amasa (‘lifting up the people’) stand for love of neighbour, which lifts him up in his need. Joab (meaning ‘enemy’, the devil our adversary) kills in us these two precepts, like this: first the love of God, then the love of neighbour.
Joab took Abner aside to the middle of the gate, etc. Note these three: the middle of the gate, treacherously, in the groin. The devil, to kill the love of God in us, first takes us to the middle of the gate. The gate is the entrance and exit of our life, and its middle is the vanity of the world. The devil leads us not to the gate, but to the middle, because he blinds the sinner from considering the wretched beginning and end of his life, as he attends to false vanity. Here, speaking deceitfully to him by promising him temporal things, he strikes him in the groin, in the pleasure of the flesh; and so the soul dies and the love of God is lost.
Then he killed Amasa: Joab had on a close coat, etc. The devil’s close coat is all perverse folk with whom he clothes himself, binding them to him in equal measure to his garment, as he tries to make their malice equal to his own. The sword in the scabbard is the devil’s suggestion in the mind of the wicked. And because the devil is accustomed to kill love of neighbour by flattery and lies, there follows: Joab said to Amasa: God save thee, my brother. And he took him with his right hand, etc. The Gloss says, "To take the chin in the right hand is as it were to speak soft and fair; but to put the left hand on his sword is to strike secretly, from malice." Ecclesiasticus says:
An enemy speaketh sweetly with his lips:
but in his heart he lieth in wait to throw thee into a pit. (Si 12,15)
To fall into a pit is the same as to lose the groat of charity; and it was this loss that prompted the curse: Let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue of seed, etc.
Note these five: the issue of seed, leprosy, holding the distaff, falling by the sword, and wanting bread. The devil’s household are all those wicked folk who have no love for God or neighbour. They always suffer an issue of seed, a flood of various desires and lust. They become lepers, disfigured by all kinds of error; they hold the distaff, an abundance of temporal things, and then they fall into hell, struck by the sword of divine vengeance, where they will be tortured eternally with hunger and thirst. That is how the coin of charity is lost; but let us see how it is found again.
(On the four things that are in a lamp, and their meaning: Doth she not light.)
15. There follows: Doth she not light a lamp? A lamp has four parts: the earthenware bowl, the coarse linen wick, the soothing oil and the fire that gives light. The earthenware is a reminder of our frailty, the rough wick is penitence, the oil is pity for our neighbour and the fire is the love of God. Blessed is that soul which prepares such a lamp for herself, to find the lost coin. With such a lamp she may turn out the corners of her conscience and diligently seek the lost coin of charity until she finds it.
The third part of the Epistle is concordant to this third clause:
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, alter you have suffered a little, will himself perfect you, and confirm you, and establish you. (1P 5,10)
From God the Father comes down all the grace that works, co-operates and fulfils. Through Jesus Christ his Son, who has diligently sought and found us, like a lost coin, with the clay of our humanity and the light of his divinity, he has called us to eternal glory. When we have suffered a little in this world, he will perfect us with the double glorification of soul and body, he will confirm us in the eternal vision of him, and he will establish us in the blessed company of the Church Triumphant.
Let us then, dearest brothers, ask our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us, after the example of that holy woman, the penitent soul, to prepare a lamp by remembering our frailty, and with the wick of penance; to light the oil of mercy with the fire of divine charity, and with it turn out the corners of our conscience and diligently seek the long-lost coin of two-fold charity. When it is found, may we be found fit to come to him who is charity. May he grant this, to whom be honour and glory, dignity and power, for ever and ever. Let every created thing say: Amen. Alleluia.
1 cf. ARISTOTLE, De historia animalium, IX,40, 624a26-33
2 JUVENAL, Satura 2,82; SENECA, Epistola 7
3 "Ante torum huius Virginis frequentate nobis dulcia cantica dramatis"; BREVIARIUM ROMANUM, Commune Festorum b.M.V., ad Matutinum, I nocturno antiphona 3
The copyright in this translation belongs to the author, Revd Dr S.R.P. Spilsbury
(The Gospel for the fourth Sunday after Pentecost: Be ye merciful, which is divided into four clauses.)
(First, a sermon for the preacher or prelate of the Church: David, sitting in the chair.)
1. At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Lc 6,36)
It says in the second book of Kings, towards the end:
David, sitting in the chair, the wisest chief among three, was like the most tender little worm of the wood; who killed eight hundred men at one onset. (2S 23,8)
David represents the preacher, who should ‘sit in the chair, etc’. Take note of all the words. The ‘chair’ signifies humility of mind; ‘wisest’ implies clearness; the ‘chief’ is constancy; the ‘three’ are life, learning and eloquence; the ‘wood’ is the hardheartedness of the wicked; ‘most tender’ indicates mercy and patience; and the ‘little worm’ is severe discipline. Thus the preacher must sit in the chair of humility, taught by the example of Jesus Christ, who humbled the glory of his divinity in the chair of our humanity. He should be ‘wisest’, savouring the charity which alone tastes how sweet the Lord is (cf. Ps 33,9). He should be ‘chief’ in constancy of mind, so that like the lion, mightiest of beasts, he may fear the attack of none. He is ‘among three’, his life, learning and eloquence. He should also be the ‘most tender little worm of the wood’: a little worm that pierces and gnaws away the wood of the hard and unfruitful; ‘tender’, that is, patient and merciful towards the humble and contrite. Alternatively, just as there is nothing harder than a worm when it gnaws, but nothing softer when it is handled, so the preacher who sets forth the word of God should strike the hearts of his hearers hard; but if he is struck by insults, he should be gentle and friendly. This explains the phrase that follows, Who killed eight hundred at one onset. It says, ‘one onset’, on account of some people who, when they have killed pride, nurture a raging belly. The ‘eight hundred’ are the carnal and spiritual vices. The preacher should kill them all in himself, so as to perform works of mercy towards himself, and then towards others. That is why today’s Gospel says, Be merciful, etc.
2. There are four things to notice in this Gospel. The first is the mercy of God, where it begins: Be merciful. Second is the measure of eternal glory: Good measure. Third is the fall of the blind men into the ditch: And he spoke also to them a similitude. Fourth, the mote in the brother’s eye; Why seest thou the mote in thy brother’s eye? We will concord with these clauses some stories from the second book of Kings.
In the Introit of today’s Mass we sing: The Lord is my light; and we read the Epistle of St Paul to the Romans; I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy; which we will divide into four parts and concord with the four clauses of the Gospel. The first part is: I reckon; the second: For the expectation of the creature; the third: We know; the fourth: Not only, etc.
(A sermon on the threefold mercy of God and man: Be merciful.)
3. Let us say, then:
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not; and you shall not be judged. Condemn not; and you shall not be condemned. Forgive; and you shall be forgiven. Give; and it shall be given to you. (Lc 6,36-38)
In this first clause of the holy Gospel there are five things for us to notice especially: to be merciful, to judge not, to condemn not, to forgive, and to give. We will concord these five with five stories from the second book of Kings.
‘Merciful’ means having compassion on the miseries of others. ‘Mercy’ moves the heart with sorrow for the sorrow of another. In God, though, there is mercy without sorrow of heart: his pity is shown in merciful deeds. That is why the Lord says: Be merciful. And note: just as the heavenly Father’s mercy towards you is three-fold, so yours should be three-fold towards your neighbour.
The Father’s mercy is beautiful, broad and precious. It is beautiful, since it cleanses from vice: as Ecclesiasticus says:
The mercy of God is beautiful in the time of affliction,
as a cloud of rain in the time of drought. (Si 35,26)
In the time of affliction, when the soul is afflicted for her sins, the rain of grace pours down to refresh the soul and forgive sin. It is broad, because as time goes by it expands in good works; as the Psalm says:
For thy mercy is before my eyes: and I am well pleased with thy truth, (Ps 25,3)
because I am displeased with my own sin. It is precious, in the delight of eternal life of which Anna (sic: he means Sara) speaks in Tobias: This everyone is sure of that worshippeth thee, etc. (Tb 3,21). See in the Gospel: No man can serve two masters (Pentecost XV, clause 2). Of these three Isaiah says:
I will remember the tender mercies of the Lord,
the praise of the Lord for all the things that the Lord hath bestowed upon us: and for the multitude of his good things to the house of Israel, which he hath given them according to his kindness, and according to the multitude of his mercies. (Is 63,7)
Your mercy, too, should be three-fold towards your neighbour. If he sins against you, forgive him. If he strays from the way of truth, instruct him. If he is hungry, feed him. Of the first, Solomon says in Proverbs:
By faith and mercy sins are purged away. (Pr 15,27)
Of the second, James says:
He who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way shall save his soul from death and shall cover a multitude of sins. (Jc 5,20)
Of the third, the Psalm says:
Blessed is he that understandeth concerning the needy and the poor. (Ps 40,2)
So it is well said: Be merciful, as your Father is merciful.
(On the nature of cranes and their significance.)
4. There is a concordance to this in the second book of Kings, where David says to Mephiboseth:
Fear not, for I will surely shew thee mercy for Jonathan thy father’s sake; and I will restore the lands of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table always. (2R 9,7)
In this text the three-fold mercy towards neighbour is portrayed; the first, when it says, I will surely shew thee mercy for Jonathan’s sake, that is, for Jesus Christ who said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Lc 23,34). You should show mercy to the one who offends you both in heart and in word, forgiving him with heart and voice. The second mercy is when it says, I will restore all the lands of Saul thy father. The land, which a man works on, represents the grace bestowed in Baptism, which we should so receive as to make it fruitful in good works. When Saul (the soul anointed with the oil of faith) died, all he owned was lost. When you cause someone to be converted from the error of his way, you restore that land to him. The third mercy is, And thou shalt eat bread at my table always. So Solomon says:
If thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. (Pr 25,21)
So it is well said: Be merciful.
So let us be merciful, in imitation of the cranes, of which it is said1 that when they seek to fly to any destination, they fly high, so that from their exalted view-point they may find the lands they seek. One, resolute in going, leads the flock; and as he goes he chides the laggards, urging on the line with his voice. If he grows hoarse, another takes over. All of them together take care of the weary, so that if any flag, they all come together to support those who are tired, until with rest they regain their strength. Nor is their care any less on the ground. They divide the night into watches, so that one tenth are awake at any time. Those that watch hold small stones in their claws, so that if they drop them they show they have been asleep. The noise indicates that they should be careful. They flee from bats. Let us then be merciful like cranes, so that being set on the watch-tower of an exalted life, we may look out for ourselves and for other people. Let us show the proper way to those who do not know it. Let us chide the lazy and lukewarm with the voice of preaching. Let us take turns in our work, because he who lacks a time of rest will not stay the course. Let us carry the weak and feeble on our shoulders, so that they do not faint in the way. Let us keep watch and vigil for the Lord in prayer and contemplation. Let us grasp the Lord’s poverty, humility and bitter Passion, as in our claws; and if anything unclean tries to creep in, let us cry out at once. Above all, let us flee the blind bat of worldly vanity.
(A sermon against those who rashly judge hidden things: Oza put forth his hand.)
5. There follows, secondly, Judge not; and you will not be judged. The Gloss says, ‘We are allowed to pass judgement on public evils, which cannot be done with a good conscience. There are things in between, uncertain, which may be done honestly, because they may be done either well or badly. We do not know how someone who now appears bad, and it would be rash to despair of his correction or dismiss him as a castaway.’ Judge not; and you will not be judged.
There is a concordance to this in the second book of Kings, where it tells how
Oza put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it: because the oxen kicked and made it lean aside. And the indignation of the Lord was enkindled against Oza: and he struck him for his rashness. And he died there before the ark of God. (2S 6,6-7)
The ark is the soul, and the oxen are the bodily senses. Oza (his name means ‘hard’) is anyone who is confident in his own rightness, and criticizes other people. When the oxen get skittish- that is, when the bodily senses get troublesome and contrary- the soul is sometimes inclined to give way to something wrong. If a judgemental person tries to take hold with the rash hand of criticism, he should realise that he himself incurs the judgement of the Lord, who said, Judge not; and you will not be judged. The Philosopher2 says: "Look to your own faults, and spare other people’s."
(A sermon against those who rejoice over the fate or death of an enemy: David went up into the high chamber and wept.)
6. There follows thirdly, Condemn not; and you will not be condemned. There is a concordance in the second book of Kings, where David would not condemn Absalom, who wanted to condemn him.
He commanded Joab and Abisai and Ethai, saying: Save me the boy Absalom. (2R 18,5)
When he was destroyed,
David, much moved, went up to the high chamber and wept. And as he went he spoke in this manner: My son Absalom, Absalom my son! Who would grant me, that I might die for thee, Absalom my son, my son Absalom! (2S 18,33)
The death of an enemy is not something to rejoice over, but to mourn and weep for. So Christ went up to the high chamber of the Cross, there to weep for Adam and all his posterity, slain by Joab (the devil) with the three lances of greed, vainglory and avarice; and he said: My son Adam! Who would grant me, that I might die for thee; that is, that my death might profit you. It as if he said, No-one was willing to let me die for him! He reckons it a great gift, if a sinner ‘grants’ that his death should profit him!
(A sermon for the formation of patience: Semei cursed the king, etc.)
7. There follows, fourthly, Forgive; and you will be forgiven. There is a concordance to this in the second book of Kings, where it says that Semei cursed David, saying:
Come out, come out, thou man of blood, and thou man of Belial. The Lord hath repaid thee for all the blood of the house of Saul: because thou hast usurped the kingdom in his stead. And the Lord hath given the kingdom into the hands of Absalom thy son: and behold, thy evils press upon thee, because thou art a man of blood. And Abisai the son
of Sarvia said to the king: Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? I will go, and cut off his head. And the king said: What have I to do with you, ye sons of Sarvia? Let him alone and let him curse: for the Lord hath bid him curse David. And who is he that shall dare say: Why hath he done so? And the king said to Abisai, and to all his servants: Behold, my son, who came forth from my bowels, seeketh my life. How much more now a son of Jemini? Let him alone that he may curse as the Lord hath bidden him. Perhaps the Lord may look upon my affliction, and the Lord may render me good for the cursing of this day. And David and his men went by the way. And Semei by the hill’s side went over against him, cursing, and casting stones at him, and scattering earth. (2R 16,7-13)
St Gregory3 says, "If anyone is the victim of insulting words, and is hard put to it to keep his patience, let him call to mind the behaviour of David, when Semei was hurling abuse, and his armed officers were eager to take revenge. He said, What have I to do with you, sons of Sarvia? and a little later, Let him alone and let him curse as the Lord has commanded him. These words show that when he was forced to flee from his rebellious son because of his sin with Bethsabee, he recalled the evil he himself had done; and he reckoned the insulting words not as an attack, but as an aid whereby he judged he might be cleansed and find mercy. We too will find it a good thing to bear abuse, if in the secrecy of our hearts we recall the bad things we have done. The injuries that afflict us will then seem light indeed, compared with the worse things we have deserved. So let it be that we repay insults with thanks, rather than with anger; for by accepting them as the judgement of God, we are spared worse penalties."
8. There follows, fifthly, Give; and it shall be given to you. There is a concordance to this in the second book of Kings where it says that
Machir, his son Ammihel, and Berzillai the Galaadite brought David beds, and tapestry, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and meal, and parched corn, and beans, and lentils, and fried pulse, and honey, and butter, and sheep, and fat calves. (2S 17,27-28)
There is your Give: let us hear the It shall be given:
King David said to Berzillai: Come with me that thou mayest rest secure with me in Jerusalem. (2S 19,33)
Let us see the moral significance of this.
Machir means ‘seller’, Ammihel is ‘people of God’, Berzillai is ‘my strength’ and Galaad is ‘mound of witness’. These three men stand for all penitents, who sell what they have and give to the poor; who are the people of God whom the Lord has chosen as his inheritance (cf. Ps 32,12); and who in the strength of good works overcome the assaults of the ancient enemy. In them is heaped up the witness of the Lord’s Passion. These give Christ beds for sleepers, the quiet of a pure conscience in which Christ rests with the soul; tapestries of different colours, the various virtues; earthen vessels, themselves, as they humble themselves and recognise that they are frail and made of clay; wheat, the teaching of the Gospel, and barley, the teaching of the Old Testament; meal, confession made of the tiniest circumstances of all their sins; the parched corn of patience, the beans of abstinence and the lentils of self-contempt; the fried pulse of compassion for others, the honey and butter of the active and contemplative life; the sheep of innocence and the fat calves of the mortification of pampered flesh. If you give these things, it shall be given to you to hear the true David say: Come with me that thou mayest rest secure with me in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Note these four expressions: come, rest, secure with me, in Jerusalem. These four correspond to the four things we sing of in the Introit of today’s Mass:
The Lord is my light and my salvation; (whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the protector of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
My enemies that trouble me have themselves been weakened, and have fallen.) (Ps 26,1-2)
(The Lord is my light and my salvation) is concordant with the word Come; you cannot come rightly unless you have been enlightened. And my salvation is concordant with that thou mayest rest. Where there is salvation, there is rest. The Lord is the protector of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? is concordant with secure with me; and My enemies that trouble me have themselves been weakened, and have fallen, is concordant with in Jerusalem, wherein we shall not fear the enemies who now trouble us; they will fall into Gehenna, and we shall be in glory.
So the first part of the Epistle is concordant with this first clause of the Gospel:
For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that shall be revealed in us. (Rm 8,18)
Because sufferings are temporary, they are not worthy to be compared. They are light and transitory. Suffering passes, but glory remains for ever and ever.
And so, that we may attain that glory, let us ask the Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful father, so to pour his mercy upon us, that we ourselves may have mercy upon ourselves and upon others; that we may judge no-one, condemn no-one, forgive everyone who sins against us and give what we have to everyone who asks of us. May he himself graciously grant this, who is blessed and glorious for ever and ever. Amen.
Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)