Anthony_Sermons - (@LC 6,12@).
1 BERNARD, reference unknown
2 ARISTOTLE, De somno et vigilia, 3
3 AUGUSTINE, Ennar. in Ps. 98.3; PL 37.1259
4 cf. GREGORY, Moralium XXXI, 33, 70; PL 76.612
5 OVID, Remedia amoris, 229
6 cf. RICHARD OF ST VICTOR, Beniamin minor 73-74; PL 196.52-53
7 BERNARD (=GUIGO), Epistola ad fratres II,3,18; PL 184-350
8 cf. AUGUSTINE, Epistola 262.11; PL 33.1081
9 OVID, Epist. ex Pont. II,3,53
(The Gospel for the same Sunday: Jesus went out. )
(First, a sermon for preachers: Israel went out.)
1. And Jesus went from there and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan, who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to him: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David, etc. (Mt 15,21-22)
We are told in the first book of Kings that:
Israel went out to war against the Philistines, and camped by the Stone of Help. (1R 4,1)
Israel means ‘the seed of God’, and signifies the preacher (or his preaching) of which Isaiah says:
Except the Lord of Hosts had left us seed (i.e. preaching), we had been as Sodom; and we should have been like to Gomorrha. (Is 1,9)
He should go out to war against the Philistines (Philistine means ‘falling through drink’), the demons who, being drunk with pride, fell from heaven. He goes out to battle against them when, by his preaching, he strives to rescue the sinner from their hands; but this he can only do if he camps by the Stone of Help.
The ‘Stone of Help’ is Christ, who is referred to in this Sunday’s Office reading:
Jacob took a stone, and putting it under his head, slept. (Gn 28,11)
In this way, the preacher should rest his head (his mind) upon Jesus Christ, the Stone of Help; so that he may rest upon him, and in and through him overcome the demons. This is the meaning of the words, ‘encamped by the Stone of Help’, because he sets the camp of his conversation, and pitches the tents of his preaching, beside Jesus Christ who is his help in time of trouble, and he trusts in him, and attributes everything to him.
So, in the name of Jesus Christ, I will go out against the Philistine (the demon), that I may in this preaching avail to free from his hand the sinner made captive by sin; and I trust entirely in his grace, which goes forth for the salvation of his people (cf. Ha 3,14). As the present Gospel says, Jesus went out, and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
2. In summary, this Gospel contains three main points: the going out of Jesus Christ; the petition of the Canaanite woman for her daughter, afflicted by the demon; and the freeing of her daughter. We shall explore the moral significance of these three.
(A sermon on contempt of the world: Jacob, being departed from Bersabee.)
3. Jesus went out, says Matthew. The going-out of Jesus signifies the way the penitent man goes out from the vanity of the world, as we hear in the Office reading for this Sunday:
Jacob, being departed from Bersabee, went on to Haran. (Gn 28,10)
Note the concord between the two Testaments: Jesus went from there and retired to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew); and Jacob, being departed from Bersabee, went on to Haran (Moses, in Genesis).
Jacob means ‘supplanter’, signifying the converted sinner who treads the sensuality of the flesh beneath the foot of reason. He goes out from Bersabee (meaning ‘the seventh well’), which stands for the insatiable desire of the world, which is the root of all evils (cf. 1Tm 6,10). John refers to the well in his Gospel, where the Samaritan woman says to Jesus:
Sir, thou hast nothing wherein to draw, and the well is deep. (Jn 4,11)
Whosoever drinketh of this well shall thirst again. (Jn 4,13)
O Samaritan woman, how truly do you say that the well is deep! The desire of the world is deep indeed- it is bottomless! That is why everyone who drinks the water of this well, transitory riches and delights, will thirst again. ‘Again’, because as Solomon says in Proverbs:
The horse-leech has two daughters that say, Bring, bring. (Pr 30,15)
The ‘horse-leech’ is the devil, who thirsts for our soul’s blood, and desires to suck it. His ‘two daughters’ are riches and pleasures, which always say, Bring, bring.. and never say, It is enough.
The Apocalypse says of this same well (or pit):
The smoke of the pit arose, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened.. And from the smoke of the pit there came out locusts upon the earth. (Ap 9,2-3)
The smoke which blinds the eyes of reason goes up from the pit of worldly desire; the great furnace of Babylon. Sun and air are darkened by this smoke. ‘Sun and air’ stand for religious, who are like the sun because they should be pure, warm and full of light; and like the air because they should be contemplatives, ‘airy’.
But, forced out by sin, smoke has gone forth from the pit of cupidity and blackened them all. As Jeremiah complains in Lamentations:
How is the gold become dim, the finest colour is changed. (Lm 4,1)
Sun and gold, air and the finest colour- these have the same meaning, so that the splendour of both the sun and of gold is made dim, and the air and the finest colour is changed. The words "dimmed" and "changed" are appropriate, for the smoke of cupidity dims the splendour of religious life, and covers the fine colour of heavenly contemplation with soot. Contemplation infuses the face of the soul with fine colours, white and red: white for the Lord’s Incarnation, red for his Passion; ivory-white for chastity, burning red for the ardent desire for the heavenly bridegroom.
4. Alas and alas! How changed is this fine colour today, blackened by the smoke of cupidity! As it is further written:
From the smoke of the pit came out locusts upon the earth.
Locusts, because of their ability to jump, represent all religious who (by putting together the two feet of poverty and obedience) ought to leap upwards to the heights of eternal life. But, for shame! They jump backwards, going out from the smoke of the pit upon the earth. As Exodus says, they cover the face of the earth (Ex 10,5). Nowadays there is not a market-place, not a court- whether secular or ecclesiastical- where you will not find monks and religious. They buy, and sell again.
"They build up and pull down, squaring the circle."1
In their law-suits they gather parties, appear before judges, hire lawyers and barristers, and call witnesses. With these, they are prepared to swear oaths for the sake of transitory things, frivolous and vain. Tell me, you fatuous religious, was it in the prophets, or in the Church’s Gospels, or in St Paul’s epistles, or in the Rules of St Benedict or St Augustine, that you found these lawsuits, these wanderings, these disputes about transitory and perishable things, these shouts and protests? Did not, rather, the Lord say to Apostles, monks and all religious (and not just by way of counsel, but by precept) that they should choose the way of perfection? In Luke’s Gospel he says:
But I say to you: Love your enemies. Do good to them that hate you. Bless them that curse you and pray for them that calumniate you. And to him that striketh thee on one cheek, offer also the other. And, him that taketh away from thee thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to everyone that asketh thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again. And as you would that men should do to you, do you also tho them in like manner. And, if you love them that love you, what thanks are to you? For sinners also love those that love them. And, if you do good to them who do good to you, what thanks are to you? For sinners also do this. (Lc 6,27-33)
This is the Rule of Jesus Christ, to be preferred to all rules, institutions, traditions or new ideas, because, The servant is not greater than his Lord; neither is the apostle greater than he that sent him (Jn 13,16). Pay attention! Listen and look, all you peoples! is there any madness, any presumption, like that of such religious? In their Rule or constitutions it says that each monk or canon should have two or three tunics, and two pairs of trousers, suitable for winter and summer. If by chance they lack these somewhere or at some time, they complain that due order is not being observed, that the Rule is being miserably broken! See how carefully they keep rules and regulations regarding the body, but keep little or not at all the Rule of Jesus Christ, without which they cannot be saved!
And what shall I say about clerics, and about the prelates of the Church? If any bishop or prelate contravenes a decree of Alexander or of Innocent, or of some other Pope, straightaway he is accused, summoned, convicted and deposed! But if he commits some mortal offence against the gospel of Jesus Christ, which it is his principal responsibility to uphold- no-one either accuses him or rebukes him! They all love what is their own, not what is of Jesus Christ (cf. Ph 2,21). And so, in Matthew, Christ himself says of all these, whether religious or clerics:
You have made void the commandment of God for your tradition. Hypocrites, well hath Isaias prophesied of you, saying: This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men. (Mt 15,6-9)
And he says again, in Luke:
Woe to you, Pharisees, because you tithe mint and rue and every kind of herb, and pass over judgement and the charity of God. Now these things you ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Woe to you, Pharisees, because you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues and salutations in the market place. Woe to you lawyers also, because you load men with burdens which they cannot bear, and you yourselves touch not the packs with one of your fingers. Woe to you lawyers, for you have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered in; and those that were entering, you have hindered. (LC 1,
So it says rightly in the Apocalypse that
The smoke of the pit arose as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened. And from the smoke of the pit there came out locusts upon the earth.
(A sermon for penitents: The things which before my soul would not touch, and on the three-fold temptation by the devil, and in what ways nocturnal pollution occurs.)
5. The pit of worldly cupidity is called ‘the seventh well’ for two reasons: either because it is the cess-pool of seven sorts of crime (for cupidity is the root of all evils, the Apostle says (1Tm 6,10)); or because just as in Genesis the seventh day is not said to have an evening (cf. Gn 2,2), so cupidity never reaches a point of satisfaction. From this wretched pit the sinner comes out; Jacob, being departed from Bersabee, went on to Haran; and Jesus went from there and retired to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
What these three names (Tyre, Sidon and Haran) mean, we shall see. Tyre means ‘distress’, Sidon means ‘hunting for grief’, and Haran means ‘high’ or ‘indignation’. So the penitent, going out from the cupidity of the world, retires to the region of Tyre, that is, of distress. There is, in fact, a two-fold distress for the penitent. The first is that which he has for the sins he has committed; the second is that which he undergoes from the threefold temptation of the devil, the world and the flesh. Of the first of these, Job says:
The things which before my soul would not touch, now, through anguish, are my meats. (Jb 6,7)
To the penitent, over and above the contrition he feels for his sins, constant vigils, an abundance of tears and frequent fasting are as it were delicate foods. Previously, before he turned back to penitence, his sensual soul, sated with temporal things, abhorred their touch. Whence Solomon says in Proverbs:
A soul that is full shall tread upon the honeycomb;
and a soul that is hungry shall take even bitter for sweet. (Pr 27,7)
6. Of the second anguish, the three-fold temptation of the just man, Isaiah says:
As the whirlwinds come from Africa, desolation comes from the desert, from a terrible land.
A grievous vision is told me... Therefore are my loins filled with pain; anguish hath taken hold of me, as the anguish of a woman in labour.
I fell down at the hearing of it; I was troubled at the seeing of it.
My heart failed, darkness amazed me. (Is 21,1-2,3)
We should note these words: the whirlwind (the devil’s suggestion), the desolation (the world’s cupidity) and the grievous vision (the temptation of the flesh). The whirlwind from Africa is the devil’s suggestion, disturbing and troubling the soul of the penitent. Whence it says in Job:
A violent wind came on a sudden from the side of the desert, and shook the four corners of the house. And it fell upon and crushed the children of Job. (Jb 1,9)
This violent wind, which blows from the desert region, is the sudden assault of the devil, coming strongly and without warning. It shakes to the very foundations the ‘four corners of the house’, the four chief virtues of the just man’s soul; and alas! Sometimes it causes him to fall into mortal sin, so that ‘Job’s children’, the works and good desires of the just man, die.
7. The desolation from the desert is cupidity. It comes from the desert of the world, full of wild beasts, and it seeks to lay waste the wealth of poverty in the holy man who is contrite and penitent. So Joel says:
Fire hath devoured the beautiful places of the wilderness,
and the flame hath burnt up all the trees of the country. (Jl 1,19)
The fire of cupidity eats up and devours the ‘beautiful places of the wilderness’, the prelates and ministers of the Church who are set up in the desert of the world, and given by God to be the beauty and ornament of the Church itself. The flame of avarice burns up ‘all the trees of the country’, that is, all religious. These are well termed ‘trees of the country’, the country being the religious state into which they have been transplanted from the region of deceit and worldly vanity, to bring forth the fruit of heavenly glory.
8. The grievous vision, told from a terrible land, is the temptation of the flesh. It is well termed ‘a terrible land’, because it is made horrid and abominable by wandering thoughts, careless words, perverse deeds and many things unclean and filthy. The temptation of the flesh is called ‘a grievous vision’, because it comes chiefly through the medium of the eyes. That is why the Philosopher2 says, "The eyes are the first lances of lust," and why Jeremiah, in Lamentations, bewails:
My eye hath wasted my soul. (Lm 3,51)
Blessed Augustine3 says, "The shameless eye is herald of the shameless heart," and so, in the words of blessed Gregory,4 "The eyes should be held captive, because they are
like robbers." In the fourth book of Kings we read how robbers led captive a little maid from the land of Israel, and she served the wife of Naaman the leper (cf. 2R 5,2). The robbers are the eyes, which steal the maiden of modesty and chastity from the land of Israel (the mind of the just man who sees God), and make her serve the wife (fornication) of Naaman the leper (the devil). From this wife the leprous devil begets many leprous sons and daughters.
An alternative interpretation is this: the temptation of the flesh is called ‘a grievous vision’ because it often comes in dreams, and leads to the pollution of the body; which greatly distresses (and so it should) the mind of the just man. So Job says:
Thou wilt frighten me (i.e. let me be frightened) with dreams, and terrify me with visions;
so that my soul rather chooseth hanging, and my bones death. (Jb 7,14-15)
When the just man feels himself afflicted with horrible imaginations and dreams, he should get up straight away and suspend his soul in the contemplation of heavenly things; and he should afflict the bones of his unruly body, as it experiences a passing pleasure, with groans and blows.
This pollution usually comes in one of four ways. It may be that the organ which holds the semen is over-full, or else it may be due simply to bodily weakness. If so, there is little or no sin. But it may result from over-indulgence in food and drink, and if this becomes a habit it may be mortal. Or it may result from having gazed deliberately on a woman, with full consent of mind: and then it is altogether mortal.
So the penitent, who has left Bersabee and withdrawn to the region of Tyre, says: Just as the whirlwinds come from Africa (i.e. the suggestions of the devil), so desolation (cupidity, which lays waste everything) comes from the desert (the world); and so too from the terrible land (wretched flesh) the grievous vision is told me. Alas, alas! Lord God, where am I to flee from so great a whirlwind, so great a desolation, so grievous a vision? What am I to do? Hear what the penitent himself adds:
Therefore are my loins filled with pain, anguish hath taken hold of me,
as the anguish of a woman in labour.
When the ‘grievous vision from the terrible land’ is told to the penitent, his limbs are filled with pain, not pleasure. So he says with the Prophet: Burn my reins, etc. (Ps 25,2), Anguish hath taken hold of me... Truly that penitent has withdrawn to the region of Tyre, when he says, Anguish hath taken hold of me. What anguish? That of a woman in labour. If there is no greater physical pain than that of childbirth, there is no spiritual anguish greater than that of a just man in the midst of temptation. So it says in Exodus:
The Egyptians hated the children of Israel, and afflicted them and mocked them; and they made their life bitter. (Ex 1,14)
The Egyptians are the demons, wicked sinners and carnal motions. These all hate the children of Israel, the just. The demons afflict them, sinners mock them, and carnal motions make their life bitter.
9. The next words are:
I fell down at the hearing of it, I was troubled at the seeing of it.
My heart failed, darkness amazed me.
Each of these phrases must be related to its corresponding phrase. The penitent says, When I heard the whirlwinds coming from Africa, I fell at once upon the earth, on my face, and prayed the Lord not to let me be carried away by that whirlwind. The just man, when he hears the whispering of the devil, should straightway fall down in prayer, because this kind of demon is not cast out except by prayer and fasting (cf. Mt 17,20). I was troubled when I saw coming the desolation of worldly cupidity. He does well to be troubled. The just man ought to have a troubled soul and face, whenever any desire for temporal things tries to allure him, lest it laugh at him. My heart has failed from the impulse of lust. The darkness of eternal death has amazed me, when the grievous vision from the terrible land was told me. As one key pushes out another key, so the fear of hell drives out the pleasure of lust. It is well said of the penitent man that he departed from Bersabee, withdrew to the region of Tyre, and went on to Haran.
See how well Tyre and Haran (anguish and the heights) go together. He who wants to reach the heights cannot do so without anguish. So the penitent who wants to climb to the fulness of eternal life must first pass through Tyre. That is why the Lord says in Luke:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things (Tyre),
and so to enter into his glory (Haran)? (Lc 24,26)
What should we do, then, for the penitent who goes forth from the pit of worldly desire and journeys to the heights of heavenly happiness? The mountain is high, the ascent is very difficult, and the pain is intense. That he may not grow faint on his journey, we must make him a ladder, by which he can climb easily. It is the one referred to in this Sunday’s lesson:
Jacob saw in his sleep a ladder, standing upon the earth, etc. (GN 2,
(A sermon for religious: And thou, son of man, take wheat.)
10. This ladder has two sides and six rungs, to climb up. This ladder is the sanctification of the penitent, of which the Apostle says in today’s Epistle:
This is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour. (IThess 4.3-4)
The sides of the ladder are contrition and confession. The six rungs are the six virtues in which the whole sanctification of soul and body consists: the mortification of self-will; the strictness of discipline; the virtue of abstinence; the consideration of our own weakness; the exercise of the active life; and the contemplation of heavenly glory. Of these six, the Lord spoke to Ezekiel, saying:
And thou, O son of man... take thee wheat and barley and beans and lentils and millet and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee loaves. (Ez 4,1)
The wheat, which dies when cast in the earth, means the mortification of self-will;
the barley, which has a strong stem, is the strictness of discipline;
the beans, food of fasters, are the virtue of abstinence;
the lentils, poorest and cheapest of foods, are the consideration of our weakness;
the millet, which needs a lot of tending, is the exercise of the active life;
the fitches (vetches) or wild oats, a climbing plant, is the contemplation of heavenly glory.
Because our sanctification and cleansing consists in these, we should take them and put them in our vessel, of which the Apostle says, Let every one of you know how to possess his vessel in honour and sanctification. From these six elements let us make ourselves loaves, so that refreshed by them we may withdraw to the region of Tyre and go on to Haran. As it says, Jesus left those parts, and withdrew to the region of Tyre.
(A sermon on confession, in which five things are necessary: Jesus went out and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and the four elements of a bow and a harp.) 11
11. There follows: And Sidon. Sidon means ‘hunting for sorrow’. A hunter who wants to hunt effectively needs five items of equipment: a horn to blow, a swift and lively dog, a polished sharp spear, a quiverful of arrows and a bow. He needs the horn to alarm the prey, and the dog to catch it, a spear to kill it, and a bow and arrows so that he can shoot from afar those animals he cannot get near enough to spear. This huntsman is the penitent, to whom the Father says in this Sunday’s lesson:
Take thy arms, thy quiver and bow, and go abroad; and bring me of thy hunting, that I may eat and my soul may bless thee. (cf. Gn 27,3-4)
The arms of the penitent son are the quiver and the bow. The arrows are the prickings and pains of contrition in the heart, of which Job says:
The arrows of the Lord are in me, the rage whereof drinketh up my spirit. (Jb 6,4)
The Lord’s arrows are the prickings of conscience, which mercifully wound the sinners heart, so that as he feels indignation against himself because of sin, he humbles the spirit of pride. So there is added, The rage thereof drinketh up my spirit (i.e. consumes my pride). The bow represents confession, and so the Lord says in Genesis:
I will set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be the sign of a covenant
between me and between the earth. (Gn 9,13)
Between God and the earth (that is, the sinner, to whom it was said: Earth thou art and to earth shalt thou return.) is set the bow of confession, the sign of the covenant of peace and reconciliation. See how appropriately the bow represents confession:
12. A bow has four parts: two flexible horns, a hard and unyielding middle, and a soft string which bends the horns. In the same way there are four parts to confession. The two horns are sorrow for past sins and fear of eternal punishment. The middle, hard and unbending, is the firm intention that the penitent should have never to return to his vomit. The soft string is the hope of pardon, which truly bends the two horns, sorrow and fear, from their rigidity. From a bow like this are shot the sharp arrows of the mighty (Ps 119,4).
The huntsman (the penitent) should have also a horn to blow, a dog and a spear. The horn is the cry of naked accusation, the dog is the bark of a biting conscience, the spear is the fulfilment of the proper punishment or satisfaction. Along with the bow of confession, the sinner should have the horn of naked accusation and the dog of a biting conscience, lest he allow anything of sin or its circumstances to remain untouched. He should also have the spear of punishment, indignation and satisfaction: to chastise himself, to feel shame and to make amends for his sins; so that he should find as many sacrifices as the offences he has committed. This is the good hunting of which the Father says to his son, Bring me of thy hunting, that I may eat and my soul may bless thee. This is the hunting referred to in today’s Gospel: Jesus went out, and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
(A sermon against the curious and those straying after worldly matters: Dina went out.)
13. And behold, a woman of Canaan, who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to him: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil. (Mt 15,22)
Notice how the Canaanite mother first goes out, and then prays for her daughter, when Jesus had withdrawn to the region of Tyre and Sidon. It is when the sinner has gone out from the world, and from the insatiable appetite of his flesh; when he has retired to the region of Tyre (the anguish he feels in contrition) and Sidon (the hunting he must do in Confession), that the Canaanite woman, the sinful soul which recognises the evil she has done previously, begins to cry out and say: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David. This should be the proper prayer of the penitent soul, who follows David’s example in doing true penance after committing adultery and murder, and is converted to penance. She says, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David, as if to say, "Lord, you took flesh from the family and tribe of David, so that you might bestow the grace of forgiveness, and extend the hand of mercy, upon those converted sinners who follow David’s example and hope in your mercy, and who do penance." So, Have mercy on me,
0 Lord, thou son of David.
14. Who answered her not a word. (Mt 15,23)
How mysterious are God’s counsels! How fathomless are the depths of eternal wisdom! The Word- who was in the beginning with the Father, and through whom all things were made (cf. Jn 1,1)- answered not a word to the Canaanite woman, the penitent sinner. The Word, who made the tongues of infants eloquent (Sg 10,21), and gives a mouth and wisdom (Lc 21,15), answered not a word! O Word of the Father, creating and restoring all things, governing and sustaining all things, answer me at least one word- me, a wretched woman; me, a penitent! Let me prove to you through your own prophet, Isaiah, that you should answer. Through him, the Father made a promise to sinners concerning you, saying:
The word which shall go forth from my mouth:
it shall not return to me void,
but it shall do whatsoever I please
and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it. (Is 55,11)
What has the Father willed? In fact, that you should receive the penitent and answer him a word of mercy. Did you not say: My meat is to do the will of him who sent me? (Jn 4,34). Have mercy on me, then, son of David: answer me a word, O Word of the Father. 1
1 will prove by the authority of your prophet Zechariah that you should have mercy and answer. This is what he prophesied of you:
In that day there shall be a fountain open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
for the washing of the sinner and of the unclean woman. (Za 13,1)
0 fountain of love and mercy, who were born of that blessed ground, the Virgin Mary, who was of the house and family of David: wash away the filth of the sinner and the unclean woman! Have mercy on me, then, son of David; my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil.
Why does the Word answer not a word? Surely, to incite the soul of the penitent to greater contrition, to a more piercing sorrow. So the Bride says of him in the Canticles:
1 sought him and found him not: I called, and he did not answer me. (Ct 5,6)
15. Let us see more clearly what is grieving this Canaanite woman. My daughter, she says, is grievously troubled by a devil. There is a concordance to this troubling in the Office Over what sorrow does this Canaanite woman grieve? Let us take a closer look reading for this Sunday, where it says:
And Dina the daughter of Lia went out to see the women of that country. And when Sichem, the son of Hemer the Hivite, the prince of that land, saw her, he was in love with her: and took her away, and lay with her, ravishing the virgin. And his soul was fast knit unto her. (Gn 34,1-3)
This is how my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil. Lia means ‘laborious’ and Dina means ‘cause or ‘judgement’. Lia is the soul of the penitent, who labours insistently at the work of penance. She says, with the Prophet, I have laboured in my groaning (Ps 6,7). She is the woman of Canaan (meaning ‘business’). The business of the penitent soul is to despise the world, afflict the flesh, and to weep for past sins and never again commit anything to weep for. The daughter of this Canaanite, of Lia, is a person’s own mind or conscience, and it is well named ‘Dina’ (‘cause’ or ‘judgement’) because one should lay the cause of one’s sins before the judge (the priest), and freely accept the judgement and sentence handed out. And here it should be noted that by the ‘mind’ or ‘conscience’ of a person I mean nothing other than the penitent’s own soul. In sacred Scripture, different persons very often represent one and the same thing; so that here the Canaanite woman and her daughter, morally, signify the soul of one penitent.
16. Of this soul is said: Dina went out to see the women of that country.
The women of that country represent the beauty, abundance, vanity and pleasure of the temporal things of this world. They are called ‘women’ because they weaken men’s minds, just as in the third book of Kings we read that Women turned away the heart of Solomon (1R 11,3). Beauty and temporal abundance beguile the heart of the wise man. The unhappy soul goes out to see these women when she takes delight in the abundance and beauty of temporal things. Then the unhappy outcome is what follows:
When Sichem, the son of Hemor the Hivite, the prince of that land, saw her, he was in love with her.
Sichem means ‘labour’ and Hemor is ‘an ass’; Hivite is ‘wild’ or ‘worst’.
Sichem is the devil, who is always labouring to do evil. I have gone round about the earth, and walked through it (Jb 2,2). He is called ‘son of Hemor the Hivite’, because by the stupidity and ferocity of pride, from being an angel he became a devil; from a son of the highest glory he became a son of eternal death. He is called prince ‘of the land’, in reference to those who are ‘earthly minded’ (cf. Ph 3,19). The Prince of this world is cast out, says the Lord (Jn 12,31). When he sees the unhappy soul, who ought to be bearing the cause and judgement of her sins, wandering through temporal vanities, he does what it says: he made love to her, took her away, lay with her and ravished the virgin, and his soul was fast knit to her.
The devil ‘makes love’, when he suggests sin to her; he ‘takes her away’ when she consents to his suggestion; he ‘lies with her and ravishes her virginity’ when the evil thought about produces an overt action; his ‘soul is knit to her’ when she is held captive and bound with the web of evil custom. See how grievously my daughter is troubled by the devil/ Have mercy on me, then, thou son of David, for my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil, Sichem the son of Hamor the Hivite. And the Lord, whose mercies are without number, had pity on the daughter troubled by the devil, and wonderfully set her free.
17. And so follows, in the same passage of Genesis:
Two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, the brothers of Dina, taking their swords, entered boldly into the city, and slew all the men; and they killed also Hamor and Sichem, and took away their sister Dina, out of Sichem’s house. (Gn 36,25-26)
Simeon means ‘hearing sadness’, and represents contrition in the heart; Levi means ‘addition’, and represents confession by the mouth, which should be added to contrition of heart. These two sons of Jacob (the penitent man), brothers of Dina (his soul), must sieze the swords of divine love and fear, and slay the devil, his pride, and everything that belongs to him (sin and its attendant circumstances); thus are they able to free their sister, the soul, who is held captive in the devil’s house and bound with the chain of evil custom.
Let us pray then, beloved, the Lord Jesus: that by his holy mercy he will grant us to go out from the vanity of the world, and so withdraw to the region of Tyre and Sidon, contrition and confession, that our daughter-soul may be freed from the devil and his
temptations, and placed in the blessedness of the eternal kingdom. May he grant this, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Let every man say: Amen.
Anthony_Sermons - (@LC 6,12@).