Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)
1 cf. DIVINE OFFICE, Advent Hymn, Lauds.
2 OVID, Ars amatoria, I,99: Spectatum veniunt, veniunt spectentur it ipsae
3 JUVENAL, Satires II,81
4 cf. AUGUSTINE, Enarratio in Ps. 130.9; PL 37.1710
5 cf. P. COMESTOR, Historia Scholastica, lib. III Regum, 26; PL 198.1370
The copyright in this translation belongs to the author, Revd Dr S.R.P. Spilsbury
(The Gospel for the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Jesus, going up into a boat; which is divided into three clauses.)
(First, the theme for a sermon on the prerogative of spiritual grace, which the Lord bestows on the preacher, and on his holy way of life: The young Antiochus.)
1. At that time; Jesus, going up into a boat, passed over the water and came into his own city. (Mt 9,1)
It says in the Book of Maccabees that
The young Antiochus... gave Jonathan... leave to drink in gold and to be clothed in purple and to wear a golden buckle. (1M 11,57-58)
Let us see what is meant by Antiochus, Jonathan, gold, purple and the gold buckle.
Antiochus means ‘silent poor man’, and in this place he stands for Jesus Christ, who was a silent poor man. Note both words: he was a poor man, having nowhere to lay his head (cf. Mt 8,20), except the place where, bowing his head, he gave up the ghost (Jn 19,30). He was silent, led like a lamb to the slaughter, and not opening his mouth when he was ill-treated (cf. Is 53,7). So Jeremiah says:
Neither evil nor good shall proceed out of the mouth of the Highest. (Lm 3,38)
Jonathan means ‘the gift of a dove’, and he stands for the preacher, who receives the gift of a dove (the Holy Spirit), so as to invite sinners to the dove-like sighings of penitence. This, in the first book of Kings, Jonathan said to David:
If I shall say to the boy; Behold, the arrows are on this side of thee, take them up; come thou to me, because thee is peace to thee, and there is no evil, as the Lord liveth! but if I shall speak thus to the boy; Behold, the arrows are beyond thee; go in peace, for the Lord hath sent thee away. (1S 20,22)
There are three arrows: the soul’s fear of separation from God, the sorrow of confession, and the fervour of love. These arrows are shot from the bow of the preacher, and wound the soul so that it sighs and mourns. But if these arrows are ‘beyond the boy’, beyond a child’s reason, there is no safety for David; if they are in front of him, so that he can see the arrows, there is salvation for David and nothing evil: The Lord lives!
So Christ gives to this Jonathan leave to drink in gold, to be clothed in purple and to wear a golden buckle. Gold means the brightness of wisdom, purple the blood of the Lord’s Passion, and the gold buckle the bridling of his own will. Blessed is that preacher who is given leave to drink in gold! Nowadays, many have leave to own gold, but not to drink in gold. He drinks in gold, when he first draws from the bright wisdom he has received, and then gives it to others; as Rebecca said to Abraham’s servant, in Genesis:
Drink, sir, and I will give thy camels drink also. (Gn 24,14)
This is what Wisdom says to the preacher: "Drink, sir." She calls him ‘sir’, or ‘Lord’, because his power comes from Jesus Christ. As Genesis says:
Thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. (Gn 3,16)
Happy is he who is master of the wisdom given him! He is master of wisdom if he attributes it to God, not to himself, and lives according to what he preaches. Drink, sir, and I will give thy camels (your hearers) drink also.
This is what the Lord says in John:
Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. (Jn 2,8)
The chief steward is the one who arranges the seating, where each one sits to eat.
There are three couches in the Church, three orders in which the Lord as it were rests. They are married people, continents and virgins. The prelate or preacher is chief steward of these, and so he should first taste the drink, and afterwards serve it to those who are seated. So, The young Antiochus... gave Jonathan... leave to drink in gold.
And to be clothed in purple. That preacher is clothed in purple who, like the great preacher Paul, bears in his body the marks of Jesus (cf. Ga 6,17). So it says in Canticles:
The purple of the king is bound in the channels. (Ct 7,5)
The hollowed out channels stand for humility of heart. Thus the purple of the King (the Passion of Jesus Christ) is bound in the channels of humble preachers, through whom the water of doctrine flows, to water the gardens of spices, the souls of the faithful. There should be nothing standing between the preacher’s life and Christ’s Passion, as the
The world is crucified to me, and I to the world. (Ga 6,14)
And to wear a golden buckle. The buckle that fastens represents the fastening of our own will. It is aptly called ‘golden’, because from it comes purity of soul and body. The preacher should be bound with this buckle, so as to be able to say with the Apostle (in the second Epistle to Timothy):
I labour in the gospel even unto bands... but the word of God is not bound. (2Tm 2,9)
When the preacher’s self-will is bound, the word of God is set free in his mouth, so run freely to the hearts of the hearers. If, then, the prelate or preacher of the Church drinks in the gold of wisdom, and is clothed in the purple of the Lord’s Passion, and binds his selfwill with the golden buckle, he can truly go up into the boat with Jesus, cross the sea and come to his own city; whence today’s Gospel says, Jesus, going up into the boat, etc.
2. There are three things to note in this Gospel: first, the going up of Jesus into the boat: Jesus, going up into the boat; second, the bringing of the paralytic: And behold, they brought him; thirdly, the cure of the paralysed man: Arise, take up thy bed, etc.
In the Introit of today’s Mass we sing: All that thou hast done, O Lord. The Epistle is from blessed Paul to the Ephesians: Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, which we will divide into three parts and concord with the three clauses of the Gospel. The first is: Be renewed; the second: Putting away lying; the third: He that stole. Note that the cure of the paralysed man, the renewal of the mind, and the putting away of lying, mean the same thing; and that is why this Epistle is read with this Gospel.
(On the Cross of Christ: Jesus, going up into a boat.)
3. Let us say, then:
Jesus, going up into a boat, passed over the water and came into his own city. Allegorically: the boat is the Cross, on which Jesus Christ ‘went up’; as he said:
If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself- (Jn 12,32) with the hook of the Cross. Of this, it says in the prophet Amos:
What seest thou, Amos? And I said; A hook to draw down fruit.
And the Lord said to me: The end is come upon my people Israel;
I will not again pass them by any more. (Am 8,2)
Fruits have three things: taste, colour and smell. The fruits are just men, in whom is the savour of contemplation, the colour of holiness and the scent of good repute. The Lord draws these fruits to himself every day, with the hook of his Cross. When he went up on it, an end came upon us, because our misery was ended. He will not pass us by, but rather take us with him to glory. This is: He passed over the water and came into his own city. John says that Jesus knew when his hour had come, for him to pass from this world to the Father (Jn 13,1). This is what the Psalmist means by: He will drink from the brook by the wayside, etc. (Ps 109,7). He drinks from the brook of the Passion, in the way of his pilgrimage, and therefore he has lifted up his head, which he formerly inclined upon the Cross when he gave up his spirit.
(On his going down: Come down.)
4. Morally: let us take note, and see what is meant by these four words, ‘going up into’, ‘boat’, ‘passed over’ and ‘city’. To go up, one must first come down. So the Apostle says of Christ:
That he ascended, what is it, but because he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? (Ep 4,9)
The prophet Isaiah shows you how you should descend:
Come down, sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon. (Is 47,1)
Note each word: O sinful soul, called ‘virgin’ because you are barren of good works, ‘daughter’ because of your weakness, and ‘Babylon’ because of the confusion of sin, come down from your haughtiness of heart, and by humility sit in the dust and consider your worthlessness. These are ‘the lower parts of the earth’, and if you first go down and consider them, afterwards you will be able to go up. Genesis tells how Abraham went up from Egypt, with all that he had, into the south (cf. Gn 13,1). In the same book we read:
Jacob having called together all his household, said: Arise, and let us go up to Bethel. (Gn 35,2)
Abraham and Jacob stand for the penitent, who goes up from Egypt, the darkness of our misery, with all his household, the thoughts and affections of his mind, none of which should remain in Egypt. You should go up entirely into the south, contrition of mind, or Bethel, the house of God, where he dwells. So Isaiah says:
The High and the Eminent that habiteth eternity... dwells with a contrite and humble
spirit. (Is 57,15)
(See the Gospel: Jesus was led into the desert (Lent I))
(On the going up and renewal of the soul: Let us go up now to cleanse the holy places.)
5. There is a concordance to this in the first book of Maccabees, where Judas Maccabaeus says:
Let us go up now to cleanse the holy places and to repair them. And all the army assembled together; and they went up into mount Sion. And they saw the sanctuary desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burnt, and shrubs growing up in the courts as in a forest or on the mountains, and the chambers joining to the temple thrown down. And they rent their garments and made great lamentation and put ashes on their heads. And they fell down to the ground on their faces. (1M 4,36-40)
This passage contains how the soul is ruined, and how it is rebuilt. Judas, the penitent, having gathered all his army, his thoughts and affections, must go up into mount Sion, the watchtower of his mind. >From there he can look out over the east of his birth, the west of his death, the north of adversity and the south of worldly prosperity: first, to humble himself; secondly, to weep for himself; thirdly, to become strong; and fourthly, lest he grow proud.
Man recognises the good he has lost, when he first sees aright the evil he has done. So there follows: And they saw the sanctuary desolate, etc. The sanctuary is desolate when the soul, sanctified by the water of Baptism, sins mortally and is deserted by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The altar is profaned when faith is destroyed. The gates are burnt when the bodily senses are laid waste by the fire of concupiscence. Shrubs grow up in the courts when a multitude of superfluous thoughts arise in the heart. The ‘chambers’ were the rooms the Levites slept in, in the courts of the house of the Lord, which are mentioned in the last vision of Ezekiel (cf. Ez 40,45-46). They are thrown down, when the secret places of the mind are riven by unlawful desires. See, then, how the soul is ruined; but let us see how it is rebuilt.
They rent their garments, etc. Note, ‘they rent’, ‘they lamented’, ‘they put on ashes’ and ‘they fell down’. The rending of garments is contrition of heart; the lamentation is tearful confession; the imposition of ashes on the head is humble satisfaction; and falling on one’s face on the ground is the remembrance of one’s final destiny. The first man was told: "You are earth, and you will return to the earth." Those who go up with Judas to cleans and restore the holy places, truly go up with Jesus into the boat.
(On the four things necessary for sailing a ship, and their meaning: "Note that for sailing.")
6. For sailing a ship, at least four things are needed: a mast, a sail, oars and an anchor. The mast is contrition of heart, the sail is oral confession (because confession must be attached to contrition, as the sail is to the mast), the oars are works of satisfaction (fasting, prayer and alms-deeds), and the anchor is the remembrance of death. Just as the anchor holds back the ship from foundering on the rocks, so the memory of death restrains our life, so that it is not wrecked by sins. Solomon says:
Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin. (Si 7,40)
Whoever wants to cross from this mortal shore to the shore of immortality, and reach the heavenly city of Jerusalem, must go up into this boat of penitence.
The first part of the Epistle is concordant with this first clause:
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth. (Ep 4,23-24)
This is how mount Sion is cleansed and rebuilt. Judas went up to cleanse and renew the holy places, and the Apostle tells us to be renewed in the spirit of our minds by contrition of heart; to put on the new man in oral confession; who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth by works of satisfaction. So you will go up into the boat and come to the city of heavenly glory. May he lead us there, who went up into the boat of the Cross, and on the third day rose again as a new man; to him be honour and glory for ages unending. Amen.
(A theme on the five ways in which illnesses happen: They brought to him a paralytic.)
7. There follows, secondly:
And, behold, they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son. Thy sins are forgiven thee. (Mt 9,2)
As the Gloss says, sometimes illness is a result of sins, and so they must be forgiven first, so that health may be restored. Illnesses happen in five ways: first, so that the just may increase their merits by patience, like Job; or to preserve their virtue, lest pride tempt them, like Paul; or to correct their sins, as the leprosy to Mary, Moses’ sister, and like this paralytic; or for God’s glory, as with the man born blind, and Lazarus; or as a beginning of eternal punishment, as with Herod, that he might see here what would follow in hell. So Jeremiah says, With a double destruction destroy them, Lord (Jr 17,18). Let us see what is meant by the paralytic, the bed, and those who brought him,
from a moral point of view.
Paralysis, properly so called, affects the middle part of the body; if it affects every part, we call it apoplexy. A better approach is to call it a seizure of the body, caused by a great freezing either of the whole body or of a part. Paralysis is a loss of control of the members, and it represents the pleasure of the flesh, which is like a bed on which the paralytic, the soul, lies helpless. Jeremiah says, How long wilt thou be dissolute in delights, O wandering daughter? (Jr 31,22). When the flesh loses control in pleasure, the soul lies helpless, like one paralysed, in feebleness.
(The theme for a sermon against carnal delights: I have woven my bed with cords..)
8. Of this bed, the harlot says in the Proverbs of Solomon:
I have woven my bed with cords; I have covered it with tapestry, brought from Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us be inebriated with the breasts, and let us enjoy the desired embraces, till the day appear. (Pr 7,16-18)
The bed of carnal pleasure is woven with the cords of sin. It is covered with tapestries of varied delights, brought from the Egypt of a darkened conscience. Because mirth is mixed with sorrow, and pleasure with bitterness, there is added: I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Myrrh and aloes, which are bitter plants, represent the bitterness of punishment; the sweet-smelling cinnamon represents pleasure of the flesh. So the harlot (the flesh) says to the young man (the soul): Come (by the consent of the mind), let us be inebriated with the breasts (assenting to works of greed and lust), and let us enjoy the desired embraces (in the bondage of habit), till the day appear. This is appropriate, since the flesh cannot get round anyone except in the night of ignorance; so it fears nothing more greatly than the daylight of understanding. See, then, how the palsied man lies helpless on his bed.
Similarly, it says in Judith that Holofernes lay on his bed, fast asleep, being exceedingly drunk (Jdt 13,4). Holofernes is the ‘weakening of the sacrificial calf’, meaning the spirit of the sinner which, weakened by the consent of the mind, weakens the sacrificial calf of the flesh with the fatness of temporal abundance, in the pleasure of which it lies asleep, being exceedingly drunk.
It says, too, in Proverbs:
Thou shalt be as one sleeping in the midst of the sea, and as a pilot fast asleep, when the stern is lost.
And thou shalt say: They have beaten me, but I was not sensible of pain;
they drew me, and I felt not. (Pr 23,34-35)
Someone sleeps in the midst of the sea when he lies torpid amid his tossing thoughts and bitter sins, and he resembles a drowsy steersman who lets go of the rudder, the control of reason, and drives the ship of his life into the Charybdis of eternal death. He is not sensible of the beating of the demons, nor does he feel when they draw him by various vices, as an ox led to be a victim (Pr 7,22).
So the paralysed man lies on his bed, and of him Solomon says in Proverbs:
The slothful man says: There is a lion in the way and a lioness in the roads.
He turneth as a door upon its hinges. (Pr 26,13-14)
The lion is the devil, the lioness is carnal desire. He is slothful, his feet held fast, because greed and lust have weakened the feet of his good desires and will. He lies paralysed upon the bed of wretched pleasure, a sick man. He cannot find the energy to withstand the devil’s temptation, he is afraid to restrain the desires of the flesh. He does not want to go out, to works of penance; and so he turns about in carnal pleasure, like a door on its hinge.
(On the four who carry the paralysed man, and their meaning, and on the fourfold roof: And behold they brought him.)
9. And, behold, they brought him one sick of the palsy upon a bed.
Mark tells it like this:
And they came to him, bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four. And, when they could not offer him for the multitude, they uncovered the roof, where he was; and opening it they let down the bed whereon the man sick of the palsy lay. (Mc 2,3-4)
Humility and poverty, patience and obedience, are the four who bring the soul to Jesus, as it lies helpless in carnal pleasure. And because they cannot bring it because of the crowd of pressing desires of the flesh, they strip the roof and open it, and let down the bed with the palsied man in front of Jesus.
The roof is a fourfold one: of pride, avarice, stubbornness and anger, the leaky roof spoken of by Ecclesiasticus (Pr 19,13), blinding the eye of reason. Isaiah says: What aileth thee also, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops? (Is 22,1); and David: Let them be as grass upon the tops of houses, etc. (Ps 128,6). This roof, covering and obscuring the face of the soul so that it cannot see the light of justice, the four virtues mentioned strip by contrition of heart, and open in oral confession; thus they let down before Jesus, trusting in Jesus’ mercy, both soul and body in the satisfaction of penance.
No-one can come to Jesus, unless he is carried by these four virtues. As the Gloss says, "He is carried by four, who is lifted to God by four virtues, with a trusting mind. The Book of Wisdom says: She teaches sobriety and wisdom and justice and virtue (cf. Sg 8,7) (which others call prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice)."
(On faith: Jesus seeing his faith.)
10. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son. Thy sins are forgiven thee. The Gloss says: "His own faith is strengthened by God, where only that of others had been strong; so that being healed within and without, the man arose, and his errors were forgiven him by the merits of others. What wonderful humility! Despised by men, helpless in all his limbs, he is called ‘son’; at any rate, he is certainly such because his sins are forgiven."
Note these three points: seeing their faith, Be of good heart, son, and Thy sins are forgiven. Faith without love is empty; a Christian’s faith is with love. Take note: it is one thing to ‘believe God’, another to ‘believe that’ there is a God, and another to ‘believe in’ God. To ‘believe God’ is to believe that what he says is true, which bad people may do; and we may believe a man, without believing in him. To ‘believe’ in the second sense is to believe in his existence, that he is God; and the devils do this. To ‘believe in’ God is by believing to love him, to go to him, to adhere to him and be incorporated into his members. By this faith, the wicked man is justified. Where there is this sort of faith, there is trust in God’s mercy and remission of sin.
And, behold,some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth. (Mt 9,3)
Because they do not believe Jesus to be true God, they say he blasphemes by forgiving sins.
And Jesus, seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? (Mt 9,4)
The word is ‘cogitating’, a deliberate recalling to mind. Jesus sees their thoughts; as Hebrews says: All things are naked and open to his eyes (He 4,13); and Ecclesiasticus:
The eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun,
beholding round about all the ways of men, and the bottom of the deep,
and looking into the hearts of men, into the most hidden parts.
For all things were known to the Lord God before they were created:
so also alter they were perfected he beholdeth all things. (Si 23,28-29)
So, Why do you think evil in your hearts? The prophet Micah called down woe on those who pondered evil in their beds, and performed it at morning light (cf. Mi 2,1). When we dwell with mental pleasure, and consent to evil, in our ‘beds’ (our hearts), we perform that evil in the morning light, before the Lord’s eyes, even if we do not in fact carry it out. He who looks on a woman to lust after her (that is, who looks on her in such a way that he lusts for her) has already committed adultery with her in his heart (cf. Mt 5,28). The scribes could have known that he was God, from the very fact that he saw their thoughts.
Which is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk? (Mt 9,5)
The Gloss says, "Because you would not believe this spiritual truth, it is proved by a visible sign of no less power; that you might know the hidden power and majesty in the Son of man, in as much as he can forgive sins like God."
11. The second part of the Epistle is concordant to this second clause:
Putting away lying, speak ye the truth, every man with his neighbour; for we are members one of another. Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger. Give not place to the devil. (Ep 4,25-27)
We said just now that there are four virtues that carry the paralysed soul to Jesus, humility, poverty, patience and obedience; by which we put away the four things spoken of by the Apostle. By humility, we put away the lying of pride or vainglory, which lies by claiming to be something, whereas it is nothing. Lying is deceiving another’s mind.
Speak ye the truth, by love of poverty. Why is it that nowadays almost everyone speaks falsely to his neighbour, if not from avarice? This is what divides from one another those who should be members of Christ. Be angry with yourselves, by repentance, and sin not. The angry man thinks evil, and so the devil gets into him, to perform evil deeds. Patience is necessary, to drive out anger. Alternatively, Be angry means, show such vehement indignation towards yourselves that you desist from sin. Let not the sun which is Christ set, by deserting your mind. He is obscured from us by anger, as by a mountain standing in the way. Here, then, is why the Apostle invites us to have patience. He also invites us to obedience, saying, Give not place to the devil. When the first man fell into disobedience, he gave place to the devil. You must obey, because obedience shuts out the devil, and he cannot get into the soul.
We ask you, then, Lord Jesus Christ, to put away the lying of our pride; to drive out our avarice by poverty; to break our anger with patience; and to crush our disobedience by the obedience of your Passion. By this, may we be presented to you, and receive the forgiveness of our sins; and be made fit to rejoice with you for ever. Grant this, you who are blessed for ever and ever. Amen.
(The theme for a sermon on the five sons of Mattathias, and their meaning: Arise,
take up thy bed.)
12. There follows, thirdly:
Then said he to the man sick of the palsy: Arise, take up thy bed and go into thy house. And he arose and went into his house. And the multitude, seeing it, etc. (Mt 9,6-8)
Note the words, ‘Arise’, ‘take’ and ‘go’. The palsied man rises, when the sinner deserts the vices in which he has lain. There is a concordance to this in the Book of Maccabees, where it says:
Mathathias arose and abode in the mountain of Modin. And he had five sons. (1M 2,12)
These were Judas, Simon, Jonathan, John and Eleazar. Mathathias means ‘gift of God’; he represents the penitent by God’s gift arises from sin and goes to abide in mount Modin, which means ‘judgement’. St Augustine1 says, "Go up to the judgement seat of your mind. Let reason be your judge, conscience your accuser, fear the executioner and sorrow the torturer. Let your works stand in place of witnesses." This is mount Modin, and he who abides there has truly risen from sin. Mathathias, the penitent, has five sons: Judas (‘confessing’), Simon (‘obedient’), Jonathan (‘dove’), John (‘grace’) and Eleazar (‘the help of God’). These are the penitent’s sons; to him is given the gift of God, from which all these proceed. Judas cleanses, Simon builds, Jonathan renews, John decorates, Eleazar protects and keeps.
Judas cleanses the temple, because confession purges the mind of its vices. It says in the Book of Judges:
Who shall go up before us against the Chanaanite, and shall be the leader of the war?
And the Lord said: Juda shall go up. Behold, I have delivered the land into his hands. (Jg 1,1-2)
Canaanite means ‘jealous’, and represents the devil who ardently desires the sinner’s soul like a jealous man, and craftily strives to stop it returning to Christ. The penitent must go up against him in confession, drive him out of the land of his heart, and purge it of vices.
Simon builds, because obedience labours to this end, that the edifice of good works grows higher. So Mathathias says of him:
And behold, I know that your brother Simon is a man of counsel: give ear to him always, and he shall be a father to you. (1M 2,65)
Obedience is a good counsellor, because it teaches us to mortify self-will, which is the way to hell; and to do the will of another, which is the way to heaven. St Gregory2 says of this building, "Obedience is the sole virtue; the other virtues are contained in it, and it keeps them safe."
Jonathan does not cease to restore the holy places, because with dove-like simplicity he builds up what the craftiness of the ancient Enemy destroys daily, and destroyed in the first man. So it says in Genesis that the dove came to Noah in the ark at evening, carrying an olive branch with green leaves in her mouth (cf. Gn 8,11). Let us see what is meant by the dove, the evening, Noah, the ark, the olive branch and the green leaves. The dove, careful of its limbs, represents simplicity and purity which take care of our limbs by restraining lust. This dove comes to Noah, the penitent, in the ark of his mind, at ‘evening’, when the sun of worldly prosperity and the heat of carnal desire are declining in him. It carries an olive branch with green leaves. The branch is constancy of mind; the olive is a serene and cheerful conscience; the green leaves are words of salvation. The dove bears all these things, when simplicity comes to the mind of the penitent; and so Jonathan can restore what had perished.
John decorates the face of the temple with gold crowns, because the grace of the Holy Spirit adorns our works with a pure intention. So Isaiah says:
He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation,
and with the robe of justice he hath covered me;
as a bridegroom decked with a crown. (Is 61,10)
The Lord clothes the penitent with garments of salvation in contrition; he covers him with a robe of justice in confession; and he decks him with a crown like a bridegroom in works of satisfaction which should proceed from purity of mind. But because all these things profit nothing without God’s help, the fifth brother, Eleazar, joins in. By God’s help, what is begun is increased, what is increased is kept, and what is kept keeps the penitent and crowns him with the rewards of eternal life. So the Lord says to the palsied man, Arise!
(The theme for a sermon on afflicting the flesh and restraining the senses: David smote the Philistines.)
13. There follows, Take your bed. The Gloss says here, "To take up one’s bed is to lift the flesh up from earthly desires to the will of the spirit. Then, what was a sign of weakness becomes a proof of health." Take up your bed, then, separating your flesh from earthly things by continence, in hope of heavenly things. There is something similar in the second book of Kings, where it says that:
David defeated the Philistines, and brought them down. And he took the bridle of tribute out of the hands of the Philistines. And he defeated Moab, and measured them with a
line, casting them down to earth. And he measured with two lines, one to put to death, and one to save alive; and Moab was made to serve David under tribute. (2S 8,1-2)
Literally, understand the text like this: David defeated the Philistines, and he took the bridle of tribute out of their hands, the power that they had in Israel. And he defeated Moab, and measured them with a line, the one to whom he willed to give the inheritance, casting them down to earth, humbling them greatly. He measured with two lines, etc., deciding at his own pleasure whom to kill, and whom to keep alive.
Morally, the Philistines mean ‘those who fall down from drink’. They stand for the bodily senses, drunk with the drink of worldly vanity, falling into the pit of sin. They are called a ‘double ruin’, because they ruin themselves and the soul. Of this ruin the Lord says:
Every one that heareth these my words and doth them not shall be like a foolish man that built his house (his way of life) upon the sand (love of temporal things). And the rain (of the devil’s temptation) fell, and the floods (of carnal desire) came, and the wind (of worldly success or failure,) blew; and they beat upon that house. And it fell (because its foundation was sand, dry sand representing temporal things which lack the moisture of grace); and great was the fall thereof. (Mt 7,26-27)
David defeats and humbles the Philistines, when the penitent strikes down his bodily senses by mortifying the flesh, and humbles them by remembering his baseness. Then he takes away the bridle of tribute, the desires of greed and lust which formerly bridled the bodily senses, so that they could not eat the straw of the Lord’s Incarnation, placed in the manger; but could only drink the water of earthly pleasure. A bridled horse cannot eat, but it can drink. So Jeremiah deplores this tribute in Lamentations, saying, The prince of provinces is made tributary (Lm 1,1). The soul was once prince of provinces, the five senses; now it is tributary to carnal desires. But David takes out of their hand (their power) the bridle of tribute, when he takes up his bed, crucifying the flesh with its vices and concupiscences (cf. Ga 5,24).
And he defeated Moab, etc. Moab is ‘from the father’, meaning the movement of the flesh which we have contracted from our fathers. As often as this Moab arises, we must strike it down, crush it, and cast it down to earth. We measure it by our judgement, with the line of harsh penance. We humble it and apply punishment in proportion to guilt. We should measure with two lines, two sorts of compunction. One refers to sin: this is to death, to mortifying the movement of the flesh; the other refers to desire for glory, lifegiving to our spirit. So the Gospel continues: Go to your house. To go to our house is to return to paradise, man’s first home; or to inward care, lest we sin again. He rose, and went to his house. The Gloss says, "It is a great virtue, when without delay the command is accompanied by salvation. How rightly did those present leave their blasphemies in amazement, and turn to praise of so great a majesty."
So there follows: And the multitude, seeing it, feared, and glorified God that gave such power to men. (Mt 9,8). Note that they feared and they glorified. So we say in the Introit
of today’s Mass:
All that thou hast done to us, Lord, thou hast done in true judgement:
for we have sinned against thee, and have not obeyed thy commandments. (cf. Da 3,28-30)
This makes it clear that the palsied man was struck with illness because of his sins; and he could not be cured until they were forgiven. We should believe all that the Lord has done, because he does them with just judgement; and we should acknowledge our sins and glorify him with the crowds, saying,
But give glory to thy name, and do with us according to thy mercy. (cf. Da 3,42-43)
The third part of the Epistle is concordant to this third clause:
He that stole, let him now steal no more; but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing that is good,
that is: ‘take up your bed’, because he who intends a good work, takes up the bed of his flesh;
that he may have something to give to him that suffereth need. (Ep 4,28)
That is: ‘and go to your house.’ He goes to his house, when he bestows works of mercy on his soul, which suffers need.
Beloved brothers, let us then ask our Lord Jesus Christ to make us rise from sin, take up the bed of our flesh, and return to the house of heavenly blessedness. May he grant this, who is blessed, sweet and loveable, for ever and ever. Let every soul rising from the bed of the flesh say: Amen. Alleluia.
Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)