1. At that time: The angel Gabriel was sent by God. (Lc 1,26)

In this Gospel three things are noted: the sending of Gabriel to the Virgin, the announcement of the Lord’s conception, and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.


2. The sending of Gabriel to the Virgin: The angel Gabriel was sent; whose name means ‘God is my comfort’. Isaiah says:

Say to the fainthearted: Take courage, and fear not.

Behold, God himself will come and will save you. (Is 35,4)

We usually comfort three kinds of people especially- the sick, the bereaved and the fearful. Such was the human race: it had laboured in sickness for five thousand years, and found no remedy. It was bereft of the delights of Paradise. It was in continual fear of the devil, who scourged it with one hand, and dragged it to hell with the other. But thanks be to God! Comfort was sent, which healed the sick, consoled the lonely, and made the fearful safe. The angel Gabriel was sent (Lc 1,26), then, a good ambassador from a far- off land, bringing cool water to the thirsty soul. Behold the comfort of the thirsty soul, faint from thirst, and falling through faintness- cool water, the water of saving wisdom.

Whither was he sent? Into a city of Galilee, which means ‘a wheel’ or ‘passing across’. Those who labour in these two, need comfort. A wheel runs- to ruin! The human race ran from sin to sin, and afterwards passed over to hell. So Jeremiah says in Lamentations 1:

Juda hath removed her dwelling place,

because of her affliction and the greatness of her bondage:

she hath dwelt among the nations and she hath found no rest:

all her persecutors have taken her in the midst of straits. (Lm 1,3)

From the slavery of sin there comes the passing over to the damnation of hell. In such straits, comfort is needed, to turn the wheel, that ran down to death, towards life, and so to the passing over to glory. Thus:

He will go before you into Galilee; there you will see him (Mt 28,7)

Called Nazareth, meaning ‘flower’, ‘anointing’ or ‘consecration’; for there was found the flower of virginity, the anointing of the sevenfold grace, the consecration of the glorious Virgin.

3. To a virgin (Lc 1,27). There is something similar in Genesis 24:

Rebecca, an exceeding comely maid, and a most beautiful virgin, and not known to man. (Gn 24,15-16)

Rebecca (meaning ‘receiving much’) is the blessed Virgin, who truly received much, because she conceived the Son of God, and of her beauty the Son himself says in Canticles 6:

Thou art beautiful, O my love, sweet and comely as Jerusalem. (Ct 6,3)

Beautiful in humility, beloved by charity, sweet in contemplation, comely in virginity, like the heavenly Jerusalem wherein God dwells, and the Virgin was his dwelling place. She says:

He that made me rested in my tabernacle, (Si 24,12) that is, in my womb.

Espoused to a man whose name was Joseph. St Bede’s Gloss says, "He wanted to be born of an espoused virgin, that the order of his generation might be covered by Joseph, and lest she be stoned as an adulteress; and so that the Virgin might have the support of a husband and a witness to her integrity, and so that the devil might be ignorant of the mystery." Joseph was the saviour who saved Egypt from famine; so this Joseph saved the blessed Virgin from infamy. God would rather that some should doubt his origin, that doubt his mother’s modesty. He well knew that good reputation is easily lost.

Of the house of David. This refers not only to Joseph, but also to the Virgin, for both were of the house of David. In the last chapter of Numbers, the Lord says:

All men shall marry wives of their own tribe and kindred;

and all women shall take husbands of the same tribe (Nb 36,7-8)

And the virgin’s name was Mary. Name of sweetness and name of delight, name comforting the sinner and of blessed hope. What is Mary but ‘star of the sea’, lighting the way to harbour for those tossing on the bitter waters? A name beloved of the angels, terrible to the demons, health to sinners and sweet to the just.

4. And the angel being come in to her (Lc 1,28). . She was within when the angel came to her, engaged in reading or contemplation, alone, and meaning to be alone. Hosea 2 says of her:

I will lead her into the wilderness: and I will speak to her heart. (Os 2,14)

‘Hail’; rather than the triple ‘Woe’ of which the Apocalypse speaks: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth (Ap 8,13). She was without the concupiscence of the flesh, without the concupiscence of the eyes and without the pride of life (cf. 1Jn 2,16); because she was chaste, because she was poor, because she was humble.

Full of grace, because she was the first among women to offer to God the glorious gift of virginity, which therefore merited to enjoy the sight and speech of the angel, and which gave the world the author of all grace. Full of grace, because

The sweet smell of thy ointments is above all aromatical spices;

thy lips are as a dropping honeycomb, (Ct 4,10-11)

in which grace is poured out (cf. Ps 44,3).

The Lord is with thee; whom he carried up to heavenly things by a new love of chastity, and afterwards, by means of human nature, consecrated with all the fulness of the divinity. The Lord is with thee.

A cluster of Cyprus my love is to me, (Ct 1,13)

and therefore full of the wine of grace.

Blessed art thou among women. There is a concordance in Judges 5:

Blessed among women be Jahel, may she be blessed in her tent. (Jg 5,24)

Her name means ‘waiting for God’. She was truly blessed, who waited for the blessing of all, and in her expectation received it. Truly blessed, because she was neither barren nor unclean. "She became fertile without blushing, pregnant without heaviness, child-bearing without pain."1 Without any other example among woman-kind, she was virgin and mother, and gave birth to God.

5. Who, having heard, was troubled (Lc 1,29). There is a concordance in John 5:

An angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond, and the water was moved (Jn 5,4)

The movement of the waters is like Mary’s troubling at the angelic vision and the unaccustomed greeting.

And thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. She was troubled because of her modesty, and from prudence she wondered at the new form of blessing.

He that is hasty to give credit is light of heart. (Si 19,4)

What a beautiful mingling of modesty and prudence, so that modesty should not become over-timid, nor prudence over-confident.

Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. He calls her familiarly, by name; and tells her not to be afraid. There is a concordance in Esther 5:

When king Assuerus saw Esther the queen standing, she pleased his eyes, and he held out towards her (as a sign of clemency) the golden sceptre which he held in his hand. And she drew near and kissed the top of his sceptre. (Est 5,2)

Assuerus (meaning ‘blessedness’) is God, the blessedness of the angels, whose eyes our queen Esther pleased; (the name means ‘prepared in due time’, that is, the time of our salvation). The gold sceptre is heavenly grace, which he held out to her when he filled her with grace above all others. Because she was not ungrateful for so great grace, she drew near in humility, and kissed it with charity.


6. The announcement of the Lord’s conception: Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son (Lc 1,31). Blessed Bernard2 says, "There is a double miracle, yet elegantly joined together: God being a son, the Virgin being a mother. Neither should the son have any other mother but a virgin, nor should she bring forth any other son but God." Note that Christ was conceived at Nazareth, born at Bethlehem, and crucified at Jerusalem, as at a more important place. So Christ was conceived in humility, born in charity (the ‘house of bread’), and crucified by being lifted up.

7. And thou shalt call his name Jesus. Note that we read of five persons who were called by God before they were conceived in the womb. The first was Isaac, of whom Genesis

17 says:

Sara thy wife shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name Isaac. (Gn 17,19)

The second was Samson, of whom Judges 13 says:

The angel said to the wife of Manue: Thou shalt conceive and bear a son. (Jg 13,3)

The third was Josias, of whom III Kings 13 says:

Behold, a child shall be born to the house of David, Josias by name. (1R 13,2)

The fourth and fifth were John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. In these five, there are noted five kinds of chosen.

In Isaac (meaning ‘laughter’) we see charitable people who are always laughing in mind. As Job 29 says:

If at any time I laughed on them, they believed not;

and the light of my countenance fell not on earth. (Jb 29,24)

The souls countenance is the reason, whose light is grace, and of which is said:

The light of thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us. (Ps 4,7)

The charitable man serves in the ‘laughter’ of devotion, and detractors do not believe him, rather they criticise. But because of this, his brightness should not fall to the ground, rather he should always work in the light of reason, in joy of mind.

In Samson (meaning ‘their sun’) we see those who preach the word of God, who in word and example should be the ‘sun’ of those to whom they preach. He says, You are the light of the world (Mt 5,14). The sun is called the source of heat and light, in which we see life and doctrine, which should flow from them, like two streams from a fountain, to other people. Their lives should be warm, their teaching clear.

In Josias (meaning ‘place of incense, or of sacrifice’) we see true religious, in whom is the incense of devout prayer and the sacrifice of mortified flesh; whence Daniel 3 says:

In a contrite heart and humble spirit let us be accepted;

and so let our sacrifice be made, that it may please thee (Da 3,39-40)

In the Baptist we see all penitents and good secular folk who baptize and sanctify themselves in the Jordan (the ‘river of judgement’), that is, in tears and confession, in bestowal of alms and in other works of mercy.

In Jesus the Saviour we see all good prelates of the Church, of whom Obadiah says: Saviours shall come up into mount of the South to judge the mount of Esau: and the kingdom shall be for the Lord. (Ab 1,21)

The mount of the South is the excellence of a good life, which prelates should go up so as to be able to judge (that is, to condemn) the mount of Esau, the pride of carnal folk; and so in them and from them they will make a kingdom for the Lord. Amen.


8. The overshadowing of the Holy Spirit: How shall this be done, because I know not man? (Lc 1,34). Although she believed what was to be done, she enquired how it was to come about. "She asked how it might be, because she had vowed in her heart not to know a man, unless God should dispose otherwise."3 The Gloss of Ambrose says,

"When Sara laughed at God’s promise, and Mary said, ‘How shall this be?’ why were they not made dumb, like Zacharias? But Sara and Mary did not doubt what was to happen, they asked how. Zacharias denied that he knew, denied that he believed, and sought further authority for believing. And so he received the sign of silence, because signs are not given to believers, but to unbelievers."

And the angel, answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee (Lc 1,35). Because he had previously said ‘full of grace’, and now says ‘will come upon thee’, we must understand that, just as when something is added to a full vessel it overflows, so some drops of her grace would overflow to us. When the Holy Spirit came upon the Virgin, he both purified her mind from the stain of sin, so that she should be worthy of the heavenly birth; and created in her womb, by his operation, a body for the Redeemer from the flesh of the Virgin.

And the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. In this we understand both natures of the Saviour, because a shadow is formed from light and a corporeal object. The Virgin could not contain the fulness of the divinity, but the power of the Most High ‘overshadowed’, when the incorporeal light of the divinity took in her a body of humanity, so that God might be able to suffer.

And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Jesus was born holy, overcoming the usual state of corruptible nature, and not being conceived through sexual intercourse. We who are constrained by the state of corruptible nature can be sanctified by grace. It was fitting that since a virgin conceived contrary to nature, she should give birth to the Son of God beyond all human capability.

And, behold, Elizabeth, etc. (Lc 1,36). So that the Virgin should not lose hope of giving birth, she received the example of her barren kinswoman’s pregnancy, so that she might learn that all things are possible to God, which seem to be contrary to the order of nature.

9. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord (Lc 1,38). She did not boast of her singular privilege, but, mindful in all things of her own condition and of the divine condescension, she professed herself to be the handmaid of him whose mother she had been chosen to be, and with great devotion she made her own choice to fulfil the promise of the angel.

Be it done unto me according to thy word. "Immediately, Christ was conceived of the Virgin, fully man in soul and body, even though the outline and structure of his body and limbs could not be discerned. He is believed to have been conceived on the twenty-fifth of March, and to have died on the same day, thirty-three years later."4 Blessed is he for ever.


10. The angel Gabriel was sent, etc. We have heard how blessed Mary conceived the Son of God the Father; let us now hear briefly how the soul conceives the spirit of salvation. The Virgin Mary is the faithful soul; a ‘virgin’ by integrity of faith, whence the Apostle says:

I have espoused you to one husband,

that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ; (2Co 11,2)

and ‘Mary’ (‘star of the sea’) by the confession of that faith.

With the heart we believe unto justice- there is the ‘virgin’; but,

with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation- (Rm 10,10)

there is the star which leads from the bitterness of the world to the harbour of eternal life. She lives in Nazareth of Galilee, that is, in the ‘flower of passing across’. This flower is the hope of fruit; she hopes to pass across from faith to sight, from shadow to truth, from promise to reality, from flower to fruit, from the visible to the invisible. So the shepherds said:

Let us go over to Bethlehem, (Lc 2,15)

because there we shall find good pasture, the bread of angels, the Incarnate Word. So Isaiah 32 says:

A joy of wild asses, the pasture of flocks. (Is 32,14)

the wild asses are the just, whose joy will be the pasture of the flocks, the glory and blessedness of the angels; because they will feed together with them, that is, they will be satisfied with the vision of the Incarnate Word.

The angel Gabriel is sent to this virgin, his name meaning ‘God has comforted me’. He represents the inspiration of divine grace, without whose comfort the soul fails. So Judith 13 says:

Strengthen me, O Lord God of Israel, at this hour. And she struck twice upon the neck of Holofernes, and cut off his head. (Jdt 13,9-10)

Holofernes means ‘weakening the fatted calf’; meaning the sinner who is fattened by the richness of temporal things, and who is deprived of virtue by the devil, and so is weakened and emasculated. The head of Holofernes is the devil’s pride. So Genesis 3 says:

She shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel, (Gn 3,15)

meaning the end of life. Blessed Mary crushed the pride of the devil with her humility, but he lay in wait as it were for her heel, in the Passion of her Son. He who wants to cut out the devil’s pride from himself, must strike him twice. The two-fold blow is the remembrance of our birth and of our death. Whoever thinks well on these, cuts off the devil’s pride from himself; but he must first ask for the comfort of divine grace. As it is said:

Do ye manfully, and let your heart be strengthened. (Ps 30,25)

11. And the angel being come in to her. Herein is noted the solitude of the soul, in which she dwells by herself, reading the book of her own misery, looking upon the divine sweetness. So she merits to hear, ‘Hail’. The name ‘Eva’ (‘woe’ or calamity) reverses the word ‘Ave’.5 The name of the soul existing in mortal sin is ‘Eva’ (‘woe of calamity’); but when she is converted to penitence, she hears ‘Ave’ (a-vae, ‘without woe’).

Full of grace. He who overfills a brimming vessel loses what he pours in. If the soul is full of grace, there is no room for the uncleanness of sin to enter. Grace wholly occupies it, leaving not the least empty corner into which the contrary might enter or remain. He who sells everything, desires to possess everything. The soul is so wide that nothing can fill it

except God alone, who (as John says) is greater than our heart and knoweth all things (1Jn 3,20). A totally full vessel overflows on every side. All the senses receive from the fulness of the soul, for, as Isaiah says,

There shall be sabbath after sabbath, (Is 66,23)

that is, peace of the senses and the bodily members after interior peace.

The Lord is with thee. On the other hand, Exodus 33 says:

I will not go up with thee, because thou art a stiff-necked people, (Ex 33,3)

that is, disobedient and proud. It is as if he said, I would go up with you, if you were humble. So, in Isaiah 43, he promises the humble:

Thou art my servant; when thou shalt pass through the waters I will be with thee, and the rivers shall not cover thee. When thou shalt walk in the fire, thou shalt not be burnt, and the flames shall not burn thee. (Is 43,1-2)

The waters are the devil’s suggestions, the rivers are gluttony and lust, the fire is abundance of money or temporal goods, and the flame is vainglory. The servant (the humble soul with whom the Lord is) passes unscathed through the devils temptations, for neither gluttony nor lust cover him. He whose head is covered can neither see, smell, speak or hear properly; he who is covered by gluttony and lust is unable to contemplate, discern, confess or obey virtue. Even though the humble soul walks in the fire of temporal things, yet she will not from them be burnt by avarice or vainglory.

12. Blessed art thou among women. Natural History says that women are of greater piety than men, and more quickly shed tears, and have strong memories. These three denote compassion for one’s neighbour, the devotion of tears, and the remembrance of the Lord’s Passion. Canticles 8 says:

Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm: for love is strong as death; (Ct 8,6)

your love, on account of which you died. Blessed are those souls who have these three properties; among them, the faithful and humble soul, full of works of charity, is blessed with the prerogative of a special blessing.

Regarding this blessing, there follows: Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. Natural History says pregnant women are affected by pain and weakness of appetite, and their sight is dimmed. Some women, after becoming pregnant, have an aversion to wine, because they are weakened by drinking it. In the same way the soul, when she conceives the spirit of salvation by the

operation of the Holy Spirit (cf. Is 26,18), begins to grieve for her sins, to lose the appetite for temporal things, and to be dissatisfied with herself (thus ‘dimming the eye’ with which she usually regards herself). She recoils from the wine of lust. You can tell from these signs that a soul has conceived the spirit of salvation, which she bears when she brings it out into the light of good works. She gives it the name of salvation, because whatever she does she does with a view to salvation. It is said that intention ‘gives a name’ to one’s work. She works to please God, to receive forgiveness, to edify her neighbour, and to come to eternal salvation. May he deign to grant us this, who is blessed for ever. Amen.


13. Behold a great and strong wind before the Lord overthrowing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: the Lord is not in the wind.

And alter the wind an earthquake: the Lord is not in the earthquake.

And alter the earthquake a fir: the Lord is not in the fire.

And alter the fire the whisper of a gentle breeze. (1R 19,11-12)

In that is the Lord; the text comes from III Kings 19. Four things are to be noted here: the angel’s greeting, the troubling of blessed Mary, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the Incarnation of the Son of God.

14. The angel’s greeting: Hail, full of grace; there is a great and strong wind. The greeting is called a ‘wind’ or ‘spirit’, because it was sent to a spiritual person by the angelic spirit. It is ‘great’, promising great things, and ‘strong’, because it came by the strong Gabriel regarding the strong king of glory.

Alternatively, these three words correspond to the three phrases of the greeting. ‘Hail, full of grace’ is the ‘wind’, being about nothing earthly, nothing of the flesh, but entirely of the spirit, because of grace. The first woman was Eve, earthly and from the earth, flesh of flesh and bone of bone. To her was said ‘Woe!’, because,

I will multiply thy sorrows, and in sorrow shalt thou bring forth. (Gn 3,16)

But to blessed Mary, whose conversation was already in heaven (cf. Ph 3,20), was said, ‘Hail, full of grace’.

Note that the angel did not say, ‘Hail, Mary’, but, ‘Hail, full of grace’. We say, ‘Hail, Mary’ (‘star of the sea’), because we are in the midst of the sea, tossed by the waves and submerged by the storm. So we cry ‘Star of the sea!’, that through her we may come to the harbour of salvation. She it is who rescues those who call on her from the storm, shows them the way, and leads them to harbour. Angels need no rescuing from shipwreck, being safe in their homeland, whom the glory of God illuminates, and their lamp is the Lamb (cf. Ap 21,23). And so the angel did not say, ‘Hail, Mary’. But we poor souls, cast into the see from before God’s eyes, at every hour storm-tossed and at death’s door, cry continually, ‘Hail, Mary’.

The Lord is with thee. This corresponds to ‘great’. Truly it was a great thing, to have in her womb the Lord ‘whom heaven and earth cannot contain’ (cf. 1R 8,27), and to carry him for nine months.

Blessed art thou among women. Behold, ‘strong’. It says in Judges 5:

Blessed among women be Jahel, who put her left hand to the nail, and her right to the workman’s hammer: and she struck Sisara in the head. (Jg 5,24-26)

And in Judith 14:

One Hebrew woman hath made confusion in the house of king Nabuchodonosor. For behold, Holofernes lieth upon the ground; and his head is not upon him. (Jdt 14,16)

And in chapter 13:

Ozias, the prince of the people of Israel, said to Judith: Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth. (Jdt 13,23)

The peg which shut the door of the tabernacle is the virginity of blessed Mary:

This gate shall be shut and shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it. (Ez 44,2)

The hammer, shaped like a ‘T’ is the cross of the Lord’s Passion. Sisara (meaning, ‘exclusion from joy’) is the devil, who ever toils to exclude men from eternal joy. He was killed by the virginity of blessed Mary and her Son’s Passion; he knew not the secret of either, and he lost his power by the power of both. And so, blessed is she among all women and above all women, who made confusion in the house of the devil, cut off the chieftain’s head, and restored peace to us.

And so there follows: overthrowing the mountains (meaning pride), and breaking the rocks in pieces (the hardness and malice of the demons). The Lord hath blessed thee by his power, O blessed among the angels, because by thee he hath brought our enemies to nought. (Jdt 13,22)

The Lord was not in the wind, because it was not in the greeting that the Incarnation of the Word happened. First she asked how, and learned by asking. From learning she consented, and from her consent the conceived. One must go step by step, going up in stages.

15. The troubling of blessed Mary is represented by: After the wind, an earthquake. She was troubled at his saying, maybe because she heard herself called ‘blessed among women’, she who was already blessed among the angels. So Judith 15 says:

Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honour of our people; for thou hast done manfully, and thy heart has been strengthened, because thou hast loved chastity. (Jdt 15,10)

Or maybe she was troubled because she heard herself proclaimed what she did not feel herself to be. St Gregory6 says: "It is a mark of the elect that they think themselves less than they are." It is the greatest virtue not to see one’s own virtue, and good to conceal from oneself what is clear to the eyes of others. She gave us an example, to be troubled at our own praise, and always to think ourselves less than we are, or hear from other people.

So Natural History says that shells which conceive pearls from heavenly dew, if a bright light suddenly shines on them, compress themselves with fear and shut with a sudden fear, lest their offspring be tainted. So it was with blessed Mary, who conceived the pearl of the angels from the heavenly dew:

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above. (Is 45,8)

At the bright light of the angel she was suddenly troubled. That is why we sing, "The Virgin trembled at the light"7 So we too, who want to conceive the pearl of a holy life in the dew of grace, should suddenly fear at the shining of human praise, and should compress and humble ourselves, shut ourselves up so as not to go outside, lest we lose by human favour what we have so well conceived. The Lord (the Incarnation of the Word) was not in the earthquake, the troubling of blessed Mary.

16. The coming of the Holy Spirit: And alter the earthquake, a fire. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, a fire that illuminates without burning.

Note that fire rises above all things. It cannot be held, and it turns to its own operation the things in which it is engendered. It transforms to its own nature all things in any way drawing near to it. It is renewed, not lessened, in transmitting itself. So with the Holy Spirit, equal to the Father and the Son. He rises above all things:

The Spirit of the Lord moved over the waters, (Gn 1,2)

like the mind of a craftsman brooding over the work to be done. His power is incomprehensible, and thou knowest not whence he cometh and whither he goeth (Jn 3,8). He sets afire the souls in which he is engendered, and they set fire to others. He transmits himself to all, and those who approach him feel his warmth. He renews; hence: Send forth thy spirit, etc. (Ps 103,30). He raises the mind above; and however much he diffuses his grace on every side, he remains the same in himself.

This fire came upon the Virgin, and filled her with the charism of graces. But in this fire, the Incarnation of the Word was not yet, but waited for the consent of the Virgin. No-one can conceive God in their mind, except by consent of the mind. Whatever is in the mind apart from its consent, cannot justify a man.

17. The Incarnation of the Word: And alter the fire, the whisper of a gentle breeze; and in that was the Lord. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she whispered. And immediately, The Word was made flesh (Jn 1,14). Note that we whistle or whisper by contracting our mouth. Blessed Mary contracted herself: though queen of angels, she called herself a handmaid, today the Lord looked upon the humility of his handmaid (cf. Lc 1,48). This is concordant to Judith 15:

Joachim the high priest came from Jerusalem to Bethulia, to see Judith. (Jdt 15,9)

Joachim (meaning ‘man of preparation’) is Jesus Christ, who said: I go to prepare a place for you (Jn 14,2); and who by his own blood entered once into the Holies (He 9,12). He came today from the heavenly Jerusalem to Bethulia, meaning ‘the house giving birth to the Lord’. This is the blessed Virgin, who gave birth to him, whom he came in his own person to see, to dwell in, and to take flesh from. To him be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.


18. Behold, a great and strong wind. Four things are noted here: the wrath of the coming Judge, the sentencing of the damned, the burning Gehenna, and the glory of the blessed.

The wrath of the Judge who is to come: Behold a great wind, etc. Isaiah 28 says of this:

A spirit of judgement of him that sitteth on the throne. (Is 28,6)

And in chapter 27:

In that day, the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword shall visit Leviathan the bar serpent, and Leviathan the crooked serpent, and shall slay the whale that is in the sea. (Is 27,1)

The Son is called a sword, which the Father will brandish in the judgement. The

brandishing of a sword causes two things- a brightness and a shaking shadow. So Christ in the judgement will show the glory of divinity to the just, and the form of the human nature he took to the unjust, so that they may look on him whom they pierced (cf. Jn 19,37 Ap 1,7). This sword is called ‘hard’, because it cannot be turned aside by prayer or price; it is ‘great’, because it reaches all things; and ‘strong’, because it strikes all things. And so, in the day of judgement, the Father will, in his Son, visit Leviathan, the devil, and his minions. He is called ‘serpent’ because of his craftiness, ‘bar’ because of his inflexible pride, ‘crooked’ from envy and a ‘whale’ who swallows everything. So are his followers, too, in whose conversation, bitter with sins, the devil dwells. Then will be that spirit that overthrows the mountains, the powerful and proud of this world, and breaks the rocks of unfaithful hearts.

19. The sentencing of the damned: And after the wind, an earthquake. Isaiah 24 says of this:

With breaking shall the earth be broken (i.e. the proud) with crushing shall the earth be crushed (the avaricious), with trembling shall the earth be moved (the wrathful),

with shaking shall the earth be shaken as a drunken man, (the gluttonous and lustful) (Is 24,19-20).

All day the Lord cries out: Come to me, all you that labour (Mt 11,28), and they will not come. Then they will hear: Depart, you cursed (Mt 25,41). What an earthquake there will be then, noise and tumult, grief and groaning, gnashing of teeth and weeping; when that monster the devil is cast into hell with all the wicked!

20. The burning Gehenna: And after the earthquake, a fire. Isaiah says, in the last chapter:

Behold, the Lord will come with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind.: to render his wrath in indignation and his rebuke with flames of fire, for the Lord shall judge by fire. (Is 66,15-16)

And the last chapter of Judith:

He will give fire, and worms into their flesh,

that they may burn, and may feel for ever. (Jdt 16,21)

21. The glory of the blessed: And after the fire, the whisper of a gentle breeze: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom (Mt 25,34). There is the Lord, sweet and gentle, worthy of praise and love, loving and kind. He is not like that in the wind of anger, the earthquake of damnation, the Gehenna of fire; but in the whisper of a gentle breeze, his unspeakable mercy. So he says in Zechariah 10:

I will whistle for them and I will gather them together,

because I have redeemed them. (Za 10,8)

Then, as Isidore says, the saints will know more fully what good grace has brought them, and what would have happened if the divine mercy had not freely chosen them, and how true it is, what is sung in the Psalm:

Mercy and judgement I will sing to thee, O Lord. (Ps 100,1)

This we should know most certainly, that no-one is set free except by undeserved grace, and no-one is damned except by well-deserved judgement.

Let us then beware, beloved, of the wind of pride, of the earthquake of avarice and wrath, of the fire of gluttony and lust; wherein the Lord is not. And let us humble ourselves in the whisper of our confession and self-accusation, of meekness and peace, because the Lord is there; and then we will deserve to hear in the day of judgement: Come, ye blessed. May he grant this, who is blessed for ever. Amen.