Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)
1 in PETER LOMBARD, Sententiae II, dist. 17.2
2 GLOSSA ORDINARIA on Job 23.4-5
3 JEROME, Epistola 125, ad Rusticum, 7; PL 22.1076
The copyright in this translation belongs to the author, Revd Dr S.R.P. Spilsbury
Translated by Paul Spilsbury (PROLOGUE FOR ADVENT)
We offer praise and thanksgiving to God, Three and One, by whose help we have reached the first Sunday of the Lord’s Advent in our exposition of the Sunday Gospels. Note, then, that Isaiah is read in Church throughout the whole of Advent, and we intend to concord various texts of his to the Advent Gospels and Epistles, as the Lord shall grant.
(The Gospel for the first Sunday in Advent, which is divided into four clauses: There shall be signs in the sun and in the moon, etc.)
(First, the theme for a sermon for penitents or religious: In that day the bud of the Lord shall be.)
1. At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars. (Lc 21,25)
In that day the bud of the Lord shall be in magnificence and glory: and the fruit of the earth shall be high. (Is 4,2)
This text will be expounded first allegorically, of the Word Incarnate; and second morally, of the converted sinner.
In that day, that is, in the time of grace when the brightness of the eternal light shone on those who sat in darkness (Isaiah says with prophetic certainty), the bud of the Lord shall be, the Son of the Father, whom blessed Mary, the tree of life, brought forth like a bud in the Nativity. Isaiah says:
Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above
(let Gabriel come and send down upon us the dew of his message), and let the clouds rain the just
(let the prophets foretell Christ's Nativity, watering our hearts with saving rain); let the earth be opened (that is, Mary at her believing), and, thus, bud forth a Saviour.
This bud was in magnificence, doing great things as to preaching and working miracles; and in glory, as regards the Resurrection. The fruit of the earth, that is, of the blessed Virgin, he was high in his Ascension.
Of the magnificence of miracles, Isaiah says:
God himself will come and save you.
Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened,
and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Then shall the lame man leap as a hart,
and the tongue of the dumb shall be free. (Is 35,5-6)
Of the glory of the Resurrection he says:
They shall see the glory of the Lord and the beauty of our God. (Is 35,2)
Whence John says:
We saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father. (Jn 1,14)
Of the height of the Ascension, the Father says in Isaiah, speaking of the Son:
Behold, my servant shall understand:
he shall be exalted and extolled, and shall be exceeding high. (Is 52,13)
The Son is called the servant of the Father because he was obedient even unto death (Ph 2,8)
(On confession: The glory of Libanus; or: In that day, the Lord shall shave.)
2. Morally. In that day, etc. Day is when the sun gives light to the earth. When the sun of grace illuminates the earth (the sinner's mind), then it produces the bud of the Lord, meaning contrition. So Isaiah says:
The rain and the snow come down from heaven...
and soak the earth and water it, and make it to spring,
and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater. (Is 55,10)
The rain and the snow signify the grace of the Holy Spirit. Regarding the snow, see the Gospel: Jesus took Peter, etc. (Lent IIA). Grace, the divine mercy, comes down like rain and snow and waters the earth (the sinner who savours earthly things) so as to make him heedless of them, pricked with tears, laying bare the secret of his wickedness. This soaking, then, does three things: it renders heedless, it produces tears, it uncovers what is hidden. It waters it with the spirit of poverty, of which Isaiah says:
Let the spirit be poured upon us from on high, (Is 32,15)
lest, as Job says, Thirst burn against her (Jb 18,19), the thirst of cupidity. And it makes it to spring in magnificence, which comes about when he is universally contrite for all he has done or failed to do. Then it gives the seed of good works to the sower (the penitent who sows in tears) and bread to the eater (who reaps in exultation). In that day, then, the bud of the Lord will be in magnificence.
There follows: and glory. From the bud of contrition flowers the glory of confession, of which Isaiah says to the penitent soul:
The glory of Libanus is given to it, the beauty of Carmel and Saron. (Is 35,2)
Libanus is ‘whiteness’, Carmel ‘cutting away’ and Saron ‘song of sadness’. Confession does these three things: it whitens the soul, it cuts away what is not needed, and it weeps and sings the song "My soul is sorrowful even unto death" (Mt 26,38). A woman in labour hath sadness (Jn 16,21).
Of the whitening of the soul from sin, Isaiah says:
If the Lord shall wash away the filth from the daughters of Sion, and shall wash away the blood of Jerusalem out of the midst thereof, in the spirit of judgement and in the spirit of burning. (Is 4,4)
Filth represents unclean thoughts. As Jeremiah says: Her filthiness is on her feet (Lm 1,9), meaning her affections. Blood represents the lust of the flesh. The Lord washes this from the daughters of Sion (the souls that belong to the Church) by the spirit of judgement (confession, whereby the penitent judges and condemns himself) and by the spirit of burning (contrition, with which the soul burns and then overflows in tears of compunction).
Of the cutting away of what is superfluous in confession, Isaiah says:
In that day, the Lord will shave with a razor that is sharp (or hired) by them that are beyond the river... the head and the hairs of the feet, and the whole beard. (Is 7,20)
The razor which smartens up a man is confession, which renews his spirit. So Jeremiah says:
Break up anew your fallow ground, and sow not upon thorns, (Jr 4,3)
lest they grow up and choke the word of confession. This razor is called sharp or hired, either because it cuts through sin and its circumstances, or because the sinner should pay a kind of fee for it in his work of salvation, devotion and humility. The razor belongs to those beyond the river, that is, who have passed through the waters of Baptism. The Lord shaves the head, etc. The head and feet stand for the beginning and end of life, and the beard for strength in good work. With the keen edge of confession the Lord shaves vice (‘hairs’) from the penitent, from his first entry into the world to his final departure. He shaves the whole beard, so that he may not put his trust in any good deed that he does, as if he himself did it. We should put our trust only in him who made us, not in what we ourselves do. He who made us is wholly good, the Supreme Good; but the good things we do are like blood-stained rags (cf. Is 64,6). Decide for yourself what good you should trust in: surely in the good Lord Jesus, to whom the Prophet says, Thou art good (Ps 118,68).
Of the song of sadness, Isaiah says:
By the ascent of Luith they shall go up weeping:
and in the way of Oronaim they shall lift up a cry of contrition. (Is 15,5)
See above (Pentecost X, clause 3).
There follows in our previous text: And the fruit of the earth shall be high. The fruit of the earth is the satisfaction of penance. So Isaiah says:
This is all the fruit, that the sin thereof should be taken away. (Is 27,9)
The fruit of penitence is high when the penitent is lowly, humbling himself before the high yet humble true sun, Jesus Christ, who shades the splendour of his light with the sackcloth of our mortality. So it says in today’s Gospel: There will be signs in the sun, etc.
3. Note that there are four Comings of Jesus Christ. The first was in the flesh, of which is said: Behold the great Prophet comes, and he will renew Jerusalem. The second is in the soul: We will come to him and will make our abode with him (Jn 14,23). The third is at death: Blessed is that servant, who when the Lord comes, etc. The fourth will be in majesty, whence it says in the Apocalypse: Behold he cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see him (Ap 1,7). These four comings are noted in the first four words of this Sunday’s Gospel, and we will treat each one of them in turn.
In the Introit of today’s Mass we sing: To thee I have lifted up my soul. The Epistle of blessed Paul to the Romans is read: Know that it is now the hour, which we will concord with the first and the second advents (that is, in the mind); the Introit of the Mass we will take with the third and fourth advent. First, then, we will treat of the first Advent.
(On the Annunciation or the Nativity of the Lord: I saw the Lord; and: The potter sitting.)
4. There will be signs in the sun and in the moon.The sun, which shines alone, is Jesus Christ who alone dwells in inaccessible light (cf. 1Tm 6,16). In comparison with his brightness and holiness, all the brightness of the saints suffers loss. So Isaiah says:
We are all become as one unclean (i.e. leprous)
and all our justices as the rag of a menstruous woman. (Is 64,6)
This sun, as the Apocalypse says,
became black as sackcloth of hair. (Ap 6,12)
He covered the light of his divinity with the sack-cloth of our humanity:
I made haircloth my garment. (Ps 68,12)
What has sack-cloth to do with you, O Son of God? That is the garment a criminal should wear, not God; a sinner, not the Creator. It is the robe of the penitent, not of one who forgives sins. What, then, has sack-cloth to do with you? Much indeed, and it is in every way necessary for sinful man; for:
It repenteth me that I have made man. (Gn 6,7)
That is, a punishment is due to me for man’s sake. Isaiah says:
Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins;
thou hast wearied me with thy iniquities. (Is 43,24)
I am weary of bearing them. (Is 1,14)
So the sun became black as sack-cloth, the brightness of eternal light (cf. Sg 7,26) hid itself beneath the sack-cloth of flesh. Isaiah says that the bud of life is ... God, and there is no God beside thee.
Verily thou art a hidden God, the God of Israel, the Saviour. (Is 45,14-15)
His look was as it were hidden. (Is 53,3)
Hidden indeed! The hook of divinity was hidden under the bait of humanity, that he might slay the dragon (the devil) that is in the sea, that is, the salt and bitter world (cf. Is 27,1). So Job says:
In his eyes as with a hook he shall take Behemoth. (Jb 40,19)
The humble one catches the proud; our little child catches the ancient serpent. Whence Isaiah says:
The sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp;
and the weaned child shall thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk. (Is 11,8)
Our Child, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, draws with his powerful hand the asp or basilisk (the devil) from his hole or den (the conscience of sinners).
So, the sun became black like sack-cloth. O First! O Last! O Highest! O humble and lowly! Isaiah says:
We thought of him as it were a leper,
and as one struck by God and afflicted. (Is 53,4)
5. Regarding this humility, there is a concordance in the same book:
I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and elevated. (Is 6,1)
Note: let us see what is meant by the Lord’s sitting, the throne, high and elevated.
The Lord’s sitting is the humble bowing down of his divinity in human nature. So Ecclesiasticus says:
The potter sitting at his work, turning the wheel about with his feet, who is always carefully set to his work. (Si 38,32)
The potter is the Son of God, of whom the Psalm says:
He hath made the hearts of every one of them. (Ps 32,15)
He sits, humbling himself in flesh, at his work, for the sake of our salvation. So Isaiah says:
That he may do his work, his strange work:
that he may perform his work, his work is strange to him. (Is 28,21)
St Gregory says, "He comes into the world to do his work: he redeems the human race. But his work is strange to him, it does not befit his divinity to be spat upon, scourged and crucified." With the feet of his humanity he turns the wheel of our humanity towards life, which was previously running towards death; so that whereas it was formerly said to it, Earth thou art and to earth thou shalt return (Gn 3,129), now is said, Blessed art thou, and it shall be well with thee (Ps 127,2). The Gospels show clearly enough how great a concern he had for thirty-three years, to finish his work. He says in the Psalm, I ran (Ps 61,5). He ran to the Cross as to a furnace, with so great a desire to bake and complete his work that he made no reply to Pilate, lest perhaps the business of our salvation might be delayed.
6. A throne, etc. A throne is a firmly based seat, and it represents the humanity of Christ,
which is firm and solid in every way, being based on seven pillars. So Isaiah says:
In that day, seven women shall take hold of one man, saying:
We will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel;
only let us be called by thy name. Take away our reproach. (Is 4,1)
These seven women are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are called ‘women’ because no-one is born of God except by the Spirit. The man is Christ, ‘one’, because he alone is without sin. The seven gifts take hold of him, so as to grasp him firmly and not let him go. They pass by all other husbands but Christ, taking hold of no-one else. There is no man who does not sin. In all others is the dwelling of the spirit of tribulation, not the dwelling of peace. The spirit was in the prophets and other just men, but because they were men, and therefore sinners, it was in them but did not dwell in them. Only of Christ does John say:
He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining, he it is that baptizeth. (Jn 1,33)
So they take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, etc. The Gloss says, "He who has food and clothing, needs no more." We will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel: that is, to have the Holy Spirit, equally with the Father and the Son, is to possess all things and lack nothing. Let us be called by thy name: that is, Christians are named after you, all who desire to be fulfilled in our dwelling. Take away our reproach: lest we be compelled any longer to share a lodging with the filth of vice which has been driven out of human hearts.
7. The humanity of Christ, in which divinity sits (humbles itself) as on a throne, was high and lifted up. High with incomparable holiness, as in John:
He that cometh from above is above all, (Jn 4,31)
by the excellence of his life. So Isaiah says of him:
He shall eat butter and honey,
that he may know how to refuse the evil and choose the good. (Is 7,15)
Note that two things are made of sheep’s milk, butter and cheese. Butter is sweet and soft, cheese dry and hard. The sheep is Adam: before sin his nature was like butter in innocence and purity; after sin it was dry and hard like cheese. So:
Cursed is the earth (thy flesh) in thy work;
thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee. (Gn 3,17)
When Emmanuel came, whom the Virgin conceived, he ate not cheese but butter, because he did not take corrupt flesh subject to sin, but the purest flesh from the Virgin's purest flesh. He also ate honey, which falls from above and denotes the supereminence of his life.
Christ’s humanity was also lifted up on the wood of the Cross. So in John:
When I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself, (Jn 12,32)
with the hook of the Cross whereon our sun was covered with sack-cloth and signed with five marks. Thus, There will be signs in the sun.
(On the Lord’s Passion and his five wounds: There will be five cities.)
8. The signs in the sun are the five wounds in the body of Christ. These are Five cities in the land of Egypt, speaking the language of Canaan...
One shall be called the city of the sun. (Is 19,18)
Egypt means ‘grief’ or ‘darkness’. The land of Egypt represents Christ’s flesh which was in grief:
Offering up with a strong cry and tears; (He 5,7) and in darkness:
He hath made me to dwell in darkness as those that have been dead of old. (Ps 142,3)
In this land there were five cities, the five wounds, which are cities of refuge to which anyone fleeing will be freed from death. Fly, then, fly to the fortified cities, outside which anyone found will be slain. Thus Genesis says that all flesh found outside the ark was destroyed by the flood. In the ark alone is life; fly to it, then, as Ruth did to whom Boaz said:
Mayest thou receive a full reward from the God of Israel,
to whom thou art come, and under whose wings thou art fled. (Rt 2,12)
With arms outstretched on the Cross like two wings, Christ receives those who come to him for refuge and hides them in the safety of his wounds from the assaults of the demons.
There follows: Speaking the language of Canaan (which means ‘exchange’). The wounds of Christ are like a changed language, speaking of us to the Father not for vengeance but for mercy. As the Apostle writes to the Hebrews:
You are come... to Jesus the mediator of the new testament,
and to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel. (He 12,22 He 12,24)
The blood of Abel cried for vengeance, the blood of Christ cries for mercy. So St Bernard says, "O man, you have safe access to God, seeing that you have the Mother standing before her Son, and the Son before his Father. The Mother shows her heart and breasts to her Son, the Son shows his side and wounds. Where such great signs of love are present, there will be no rejection."
There follows: One shall be called the city of the sun. The wound in the side is the city of the sun. In the opening of the Lord’s side the gate of paradise was opened, through which there shines the brightness of the eternal light. Natural History tells that blood taken from the side of a dove cleanses a spot from the eye. Likewise, the blood drawn by the soldier’s lance from the side of Christ enlightens the eyes of the man born blind (that is, the human race).
9. To this first Advent, the first part of today's Epistle is concordant:
The hour now is to arise from sleep. (Rm 13,11)
Just as in the last Advent,
the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall rise again, (1Co 15,52)
so in the first Advent the trumpet of preaching sounds: The hour now is, etc. This hour is the year of goodness (cf. Ps 64,12), the fulness of time when God sent his son, made of a woman, made under the law (Ga 6,4). Let us rise from sleep, then, from the love of temporal things of which Isaiah says:
Seeing vain things, sleeping and loving dreams, (Is 56,10)
that is, temporal things which delude sleepers but which are put to flight at the first hour of the day, when the sun rises. The sack-cloth, the humble cloths in which he was wrapped, the rough crib in which he lay, invite us to rise from sleep and reject the darkness. It is the hour for us to arise from sleep.
But woe to us! We cannot and will not watch this one hour with the Lord! The Lord keeps watch, as Jeremiah says:
I see a rod, watching. (Jr 1,11)
Jesus Christ is this rod, flexible by his obedience and humility, slender in his poverty, whereby he watched but we are unwilling to keep watch with him. The men of riches have slept their sleep (Ps 75,6); but the riches of men, the humility and poverty of the just, keep watch with the Lord and so are able to say what follows:
Now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. (Rm 13,11)
This is what Solomon says in Proverbs:
The path of the just, as a shining light, goeth forwards,
and increaseth even to perfect day. (Pr 4,18)
‘Shining light’ refers to ‘when we believed’; ‘even to perfect day’ to ‘our salvation is nearer’. The ‘shining light’ is the Incarnation of the Word, from which faith is derived; ‘perfect day’ is his Passion, from which our salvation is nearer. "What would it have profited us to be born, if we had not then been redeemed?"
So, beloved brothers, let us suppliantly pray that he who covered himself with sack-cloth in his first Advent, and signed himself with the marks of the Passion to intercede for us: would make us to rise from sleep and keep watch with him, so as to be made worthy to possess the inheritance of eternal salvation in his final Coming. May he grant this, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
(On the second clause.
The theme for a sermon for penitents or religious: Moses took the blood.)
10. There follows, regarding the second Advent: And in the moon. The signs in the moon are those St John speaks of in the Apocalypse:
The whole moon became as blood; (Ap 6,12)
The moon shall be turned into blood. (Jl 2,31)
God made two luminaries, a greater and a lesser, representing two rational creatures. The greater luminary is the angelic spirit, the lesser luminary is the human soul. It is called ‘moon’, a single light. The human soul is created to savour heavenly things, and, like those blessed spirits, to praise the Creator and rejoice with the sons of God (cf. Jb 38,7). It is from too great a nearness to the earth that it has contracted blackness and lost its brightness; so that if it is to recover it, it must needs first be turned wholly into blood.
The blood is contrition of heart, of which the Apostle writes to the Hebrews:
Moses took the blood with water and scarlet wool and hyssop; and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying: This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. The tabernacle also and all the vessels of the ministry, in like manner, he sprinkled with blood; all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. (cf. He 9,19-22)
See how the whole moon is become as blood! Let us see what is meant, morally, by Moses, blood, water, scarlet wool, hyssop, the book and the people, the tabernacle and the vessels.
When the compassionate and merciful Jesus Christ comes into the soul of the sinner, then Moses takes the blood, etc. Moses is the sinner himself, when he has been converted, taken from the waters of Egypt. He must take these four things: the blood of sorrowful contrition, the water of tearful confession, the wool of innocence, scarlet with fraternal charity, and the hyssop of true humility. With these he must sprinkle the book of his heart’s secret and the people of his thoughts, the tabernacle of his body and all its vessels, the five senses. In the blood of contrition all things are cleansed, all are forgiven (with the intention of confessing, however). Without the blood of contrition, truly there is no remission of sin.
(A sermon for enclosed religious: The glory of Libanus shall come to thee; and: In the year that king Ozias died.) 11
11. Let it be said, then: There will be signs in the moon. By the outward signs of the penitent the inner marks of contrition are recognised. When chastity of body, humility in work, abstinence in food and lowliness in clothing shine forth, they are the heralds of inner sanctification. Concerning these four, God promises the penitent soul:
The glory of Libanus shall come to thee,
the fir-tree and the box-tree and the pine-tree together,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary. (Is 60,13)
The glory of Libanus is chastity of body, of which the soul glories in Ecclesiasticus:
I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus. (Si 24,17)
Libanus means ‘whiteness’; the cedar drives away serpents with its scent. In Libanus, then, the soul is exalted like a cedar, because the scent of holy conversation drives away the serpents of the devil’s suggestions, and of carnal concupiscence. Again, Isaiah says:
Over all the glory shall be a protection. (Is 4,5)
Where there is the glory of chastity, there is the protection of divine mercy, preserving all its works.
The fir-tree is taller than all other trees, and represents humility, which is raised higher than all other virtues. There is a concordance in Isaiah:
In the year that king Ozias died,
I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated;
‘and the house was full of his majesty’,
and what was below him filled the temple. (cf. Is 6,1)
King Ozias, proud and leprous, stands for the vice of pride. When this is dead in man, the Lord sits enthroned. The soul of the just is the seat of wisdom, for it is in the soul uplifted by humility, and elevated from earthly things by contemplation of what is eternal, that the Lord rests; and the house of the five senses is filled with his majesty. All the members are quiet when the Lord rests in the mind. So the Lord says:
And my people shall sit (when I myself sit therein)
in the beauty of peace (as to honesty of life),
and in the tabernacles of confidence (as to constancy of conscience),
and in wealthy rest (as to the riches of good repute). (Is 32,18)
And therefore there is added that what was below him filled the temple. When the Lord rests in our mind, all the things we do are subject to him, because they are done in humility; and these fill the temple, that is, they build up our neighbour.
The box-tree is pale in colour, and so stands for abstinence from food and drink, of
which Isaiah says:
The Lord will give you spare bread and short water, (Is 30,20) and again:
The ass-colts that till the ground (i.e. penitents who afflict their flesh)
shall eat mingled provender (barley with straw, meaning rough food). (Is 30,24)
The pine-tree (from which pitch is extracted) represents lowliness in clothing. An empty belly and poor clothing pray fervently to God. We should make amends for our past luxury in food and clothing by means of meagre food and rough garments. As Isaiah says:
Instead of a sweet smell, there shall be a stench, and instead of a girdle, a cord.
And instead of curled hair, baldness,
and instead of a stomacher, haircloth. (Is 3,24)
(Against the eloquent and wise of this world: In that day a man shall cast away; and on the mole and the bat.)
12. The second part of the Epistle is concordant to this second Advent:
The night is past and the day is at hand. (Rm 13,12)
This is what Isaiah means by:
The old error is passed away: thou wilt keep peace;
peace, because we have hoped in thee, Lord. (Is 2,
Night and error both stand for the blindness of sin. Day and peace stand for the illumination of grace. The repetition of the word ‘peace’ indicates the inward and outward peace that man has when the Lord sits on his high and elevated throne.
There follows: Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness. (Rm 13,12)
This is what Isaiah means by:
In that day a man shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold,
which he had made for himself to adore, moles and bats. (Is 2,20)
Note that silver stands for eloquence and gold for wisdom, the mole for avarice and the bat for vainglory. The mole lacks eyes and digs in the earth; the bat does not see in the daytime, because it lacks the crystalline fluid and has its wings fastened to its feet. The carnal man, who savours earthly things, makes idols for himself from the silver of eloquence and the gold of wisdom: the moles of avarice and the bats of vainglory, which are the works of darkness. Avarice lacks the light of holy poverty and digs in the earth, loving earthly things. Vainglory, while pleasing to the human day, does not see the divine day. Its wings (the works whereby it would fly to heaven) are fastened to its feet, its carnal affections. It wants to be seen and praised by men. Alas! How many preachers and prelates of today make themselves idols from the eloquence and wisdom that God has given them, and adore them? They seek to get rich, to be honoured, to be called ‘Rabbi’ and to be saluted in the public squares (cf. Mt 23,7).
But in that day, the illumination of grace of which it is said: the day is at hand, a man casts away the moles and bats, which do not see the light and therefore represent the works of darkness. Then the words which follow are fulfilled: And let us put on the armour of light (Rm 13,12).
(For penitents: Arise, arise.)
13. This is what Isaiah means by:
Arise, arise, put on thy strength, O Sion;
put on the garments of thy glory, O Jerusalem, the city of the Holy One. (Is 52,1)
Sion and Jerusalem stand for the soul which, when it sins, is taken prisoner by the devil. When it does penance it is lifted and raised up. Rise, then, in contrition; rise in confession; put on the strength of final perseverance; put on the garments of your glory, the two-fold charity: and so you will be the city of the Holy Spirit.
There follows: Let us walk honestly, as in the day. (Rm 13,13)
Isaiah says of this:
The glory of the Lord... shall be seen upon thee,
and the Gentiles shall walk in thy light,
and kings in the brightness of thy rising. (Is 60,1-3)
The Gentiles are the bodily senses, the kings are the affections of the mind. The former walk in the light of honest conversation, the latter in the splendour of purity, when the soul of man is enlightened by the glory of the Lord.
There follows: Not in rioting and drunkenness. (Rm 13,13)
Of these, Isaiah says:
They are swallowed up with wine, they have gone astray in drunkenness, they have not known him that seeth (i.e. God, who sees all things), they have been ignorant of judgement.
For all tables were full of vomit and filth, so that there was no more place. (Is 28,7-8)
Not in chambering and impurities.
It shall be the habitation of dragons, and the pasture of ostriches, etc. (Is 9,20)
See the Gospel: Jesus was led into the desert (Lent I).
Not in contention and envy.
Everyone shall eat the flesh of his own arm (will savage his neighbour in contention and envy)
Manasses Ephraim and Ephraim Manasses (the laity against the clergy and vice versa) and they together shall be against Juda (i.e. religious). (Is 9,20)
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.
He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation (i.e. the virtues)
and he hath covered me with the robe of justice (i.e. Jesus Christ). (Is 61,10)
For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ (Ga 3,27).
Therefore, beloved brothers, let us devoutly pray him to turn the moon of our soul wholly into the blood of contrition, whereby we may cast off the works of darkness and walk in the day, and put on Him who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.
(On the third clause.
The theme for a sermon on the point of death or for the burial of the dead: He shall look upwards.)
14. There follows, regarding the third Advent: And in the stars.
The signs in the stars are those spoken of by John in the Apocalypse;
The stars from heaven fell upon the earth, as the fig-tree casteth its green figs when it is shaken by a great wind. (Ap 6,13)
Isaiah says of a man labouring at the point of death:
He shall look upwards, and he shall look to the earth;
and behold trouble and darkness, weakness and distress, and a mist following him: and he cannot fly away from his distress. (Is 8,21-22)
At the point of death there is the trouble of sickness, darkness in the eyes (which are then, so it is said, deprived of light), weakness in the limbs and the distress of death; and the mist which follows is the fear of hell, or the presence of the devil scheming to snatch the soul as it departs. Alas! Wretched man! Whether he looks up or looks to the earth, he cannot fly from his distress! He must fall to the ground and return to the earth. So Isaiah says:
Babylon is fallen, she is fallen (that is, man's flesh), and all the graven gods thereof (the delights of its senses)
are broken unto the ground. (Is 21,9)
For, Earth thou art and unto earth shalt thou return (Gn 3,19). This is what is meant by: The stars (living men) fell from heaven (the firmament, that firm state wherein they thought to stand firm and live long) upon the earth from which they were created.
As the fig-tree, etc. The fig-tree is human nature, which, when it is shaken by the great wind of death ‘casts its green figs’, that is, loses its senses and limbs and becomes useless. These, then, are the signs in the stars. Blessed will be that servant whom the Lord shall find watching, when he comes and knocks at the door (cf. Lc 12,36-7).
(Against the lustful and gluttonous: You shall be ashamed of the gardens.)
15. Happy is he who can sing in the hour of his death what is sung in the Introit of today's Mass:
To thee I have lifted up my soul (Ps 24,1).
This is what Isaiah means by:
Arise, arise, stand up O Jerusalem. (Is 51,17)
O soul, arise from the allurements of your flesh; arise from the concupiscence of the world; stand up for eternal joys. He who thus lifts up his soul to God will be safe at the point of death.
In thee, O my God, I put my trust.
This is what Isaiah means by:
And it shall come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel... shall lean no more upon him that striketh them (Assyria; i.e. the devil) but they shall lean upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. (Is 10,20)
In thee I trust, he says, not in the flesh, not in the world. Isaiah says of this trust:
Lo! thou trusteth upon this broken staff of a reed, upon Egypt: upon which, if a man lean, it will go into his hand and pierce it. (Is 36,6)
Worldly wealth and bodily health are like a reed rooted in the mud, beautiful on the
outside but hollow within. If a man leans upon this reed, at death it breaks; and, being broken, wounds the soul which, so wounded, falls into hell.
There follows: Let me not be ashamed.
Truly, truly, whoever puts his trust in the Lord while he lives, will not be ashamed in the hour of death, but will exult and say with Isaiah:
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God. (Is 61,10)
On the other hand, Isaiah curses those who put their trust in the world:
You shall be ashamed of the gardens which you have chosen,
when you shall be as an oak with the leaves falling off, and as a garden without water.
And your strength shall be as the ashes of tow, and your work as a spark.
And both shall burn together: and there shall be none to quench it. (Is 1,29-31)
At the end of their life, carnal people will be ashamed of the gardens of greed and lust which they chose while they lived. They will be stripped and dried up like an oak with the leaves falling off- riches and pleasures. They will be like a garden without water, for all pleasure will cease. The water of worldly pleasure will not run through the channels of the senses to arouse the concupiscence of the flesh. Then their strength, the pride in which they trusted, will be as the ashes of tow which is very quickly consumed; and their work will be as a spark lasting no time at all. Both the strength of pride and the work of avarice will be burned by the demons, and there will be no-one to quench it. So Isaiah says:
Their worm shall not die and their fire shall not be quenched. (Is 66,24)
There follows: Neither let my enemies laugh at me.
Jeremiah speaks of this laughter in Lamentations:
All they that passed by the way have clapped their hands at thee:
they have hissed and wagged their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying:
Is this the city of perfect beauty, the joy of all the earth?
All thy enemies have opened their mouth against thee:
they have hissed and gnashed with the teeth, and have said:
Lo, this is the day which we looked for, we have found it, we have seen it. (Lm 2,15-16)
Those who have put their trust in the Lord will be safe from this laughter at the end of their life; he himself has promised them in Isaiah:
You shall go out with joy (from the body),
and be led forth with peace (to the heavenly homeland).
The mountains and the hills (the angels and the apostles)
shall sing praise before you:
and all the trees of the country (the souls of the saints) shall clap their hands, (Is 55,12)
at your company, exulting and praising the Son of God together.
Let us then devoutly ask him, beloved brothers, that when the last day comes and the end of our life, he would free us from the mockery of the demons and make us to go forth in joy, and be led in peace by the hands of the angels. May he grant this, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
(On the fourth clause.
The theme for a sermon on the day of Judgement and on the damnation of sinners: With breaking shall the earth be broken; and: Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is near; and: The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man; and: The sword of the Lord is filled with blood.)
16. There follows, regarding the fourth Advent: And upon the earth distress of nations. Isaiah says of this distress:
With breaking shall the earth be broken, with crushing shall the earth be crushed, with trembling shall the earth be moved,
with shaking shall the earth be shaken as a drunken man. (Is 24,19-20)
Just as a drunkard does not know what he is doing, so all those who are turned into the land of the wicked will be drunkards in their greatness, and bewildered at everything.
This earth, or land, is mentioned four times, signifying four kinds of sinner: the proud, the lustful, the avaricious and the wrathful. The proud will be broken, as in:
The Lord shall break the grinders of the lions. (Ps 57,7)
The lustful will be crushed, as Jeremiah says:
The Lord will crush them with a double crushing, (Jr 17,18)
so that those who sinned in soul and flesh will be punished in both. The avaricious will tremble, as in Job:
They shall be as chaff before the face of the wind, and as ashes which the whirlwind scattereth. (Jb 21,18)
The wrathful will be shaken, as Job says again:
I have seen those who work iniquity, and sow sorrows, and reap them, perishing by the blast of God, and consumed by the spirit of his wrath. (Jb 4,8-9)
There follows: By reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves.
So Isaiah says:
It shall be at an instant suddenly. A visitation shall come from the Lord of hosts in thunder,
and with earthquake, and with a great noise of whirlwind and tempest, and with the flame of devouring fire. (Is 29,6)
The elements will avenge their Author. The downfall of the damned will be sudden. As the Apostle says to the Thessalonians:
The Day of the Lord shall so come as a thief in the night. For when they shall say: Peace and security; then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that
is with child. And they shall not escape. (IThess 5.2)
Suddenly, as the Apocalypse says:
Surely, I come quickly. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Ap 22,20)
Then the sinner will be visited with thunder from on high, and the quaking of the earth. Overburdened with the weight of his sins, it will shake him off it. And there will be a great noise of a whirlwind from the air, and tempest from the sea. Where, then, shall the wretch fly? Where shall he hide himself? If he wants to ascend to heaven, he will be thrown back by the thunder. If he takes to the air, the whirlwind will crush him. If he stays on the earth, he will not be able to bear its quaking; for, as Job says:
The earth shall rise up against him. (Jb 20,27)
If he wants to enter the sea, he will be thrown up by its waves. What is left for the wretch, then, for whom no place is to be found in all the world, except to fall into the abyss of flame and devouring fire? Of this, Job says:
A fire that is not kindled shall devour him. (Jb 20,26)
17. There follows:
Men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. This is what Isaiah says:
Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is near: it shall come as a destruction from the Lord.
Therefore shall all hands be faint: and every heart of man shall melt, and shall be broken.
Gripings and pains shall take hold of them: they shall be in pain as a woman in labour.
Everyone shall be amazed at his neighbour: their countenances shall be as faces burnt.
Behold, the day of the Lord shall come, a cruel day, and full of indignation and of wrath and fury,
to lay the land desolate, and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
For the stars of heaven and their brightness shall not display their light;
the sun shall be darkened in his rising, and the moon shall not shine with her light.
And I will visit evils upon the world, and their iniquity against the wicked:
and I will make the pride of infidels to cease,
and I will bring down the arrogancy of the mighty. (Is 13,6-11)
There follows: For the powers of the heavens shall be moved, that is, in amazement. So Isaiah says:
All the host of the heavens shall pine away,
and the heavens shall be folded together as a book. (Is 34,4)
The Gloss says: "This air will be rolled up in fire, and will seem to be folded like a book. After all sins have been laid bare and abandoned, the books which were opened will be folded up, and sins shall no more be written in them. Hence Daniel says: The judgement sat and the books were opened."
Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)