Anthony_Sermons - (PROLOGUE)
(A sermon on humility: Mary Magdalen.)
3. Let us say, then: Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, etc.
These three women represent three virtues of our souls: humility of mind, contempt for the world, and joyful peace. Magdalen, named after the village of Magdala (meaning ‘tower’), stands for humility of mind. Mary of James (Jacob, ‘the supplanter’), the mother of James the Less, stands for contempt of the world. Salome (‘peaceful’), the mother of James and of John the Evangelist, stands for the joy of peace. These women are called by the same name, Mary (which means ‘enlightener’), because these three virtues enlighten the human mind in which they dwell. We shall say something about each.
Mary Magdalen is the humility of mind which is raised up like a tower inasmuch as it reckons nothing of itself. Hence James says: Let the humble brother glory in his exaltation (Jc 1,9), because he is lifted up by that which humiliates him. This tower is referred to in Genesis, where Jacob pitched his tent beyond the Flock tower. (Gn 35,21)
The tower represents humility, the flock pure simplicity. Thus Jacob, the just man,
pitches the tent of his life, wherein he serves (since his life warfare upon earth (Jb 7,1)), beyond the Flock-tower which is firmly based on humility, the mother of pure simplicity. Note that it says ‘beyond the tower’, not ‘in the tower’, because while he lives the just man thinks himself less than he really is.
So John says of the Magdalen:
Mary stood at the sepulchre without, weeping. Now as she was weeping, she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre, and she saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. (Jn 20,11-12)
Note each word. A sepulchre, or ‘monument’, is a reminder of the dead; thus it is a reminder of our own death, a memorial of our burial. It reminds us to continue in sorrow of heart and in works of penitence. Mary stood at the sepulchre, because the humble person maintains a constant awareness of his mortality, so that when he cometh, he shall find him watching. (cf. Lc 12,37)
How does she stand? Outside, weeping. Outside, not inside. Outside there is nothing but
lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children
and would not be comforted, because they are not. (Mt 2,18)
Rachel (meaning ‘sheep’) stands for the simple, penitent soul. Her children are her works, which were dead by the commission of sin; and they are no more alive, as the were before they became dead. Alas! The downward path is easy, but how hard is the path up!
"That which was a long time coming to be, falls in a moment."1
As she was weeping, she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre. There is the true humility of the penitent. Note the three words: wept, stooped, looked. She wept, and there is contrition; she stooped, and there is confession; she looked, and there is satisfaction, which she truly has before her when she directs here eye at the sepulchre of her death.
And she saw two angels. These two angels (the word means ‘messengers’) stand, in their moral sense, for our wretched entry into life and our bitter exit. We who are the Body of Jesus Christ have one of these at out head and one at our feet, attending on the wretched beginning and ending of our life. They are well-named ‘angels’, because they announce the frailty of our body and the vanity of the world. These are the two angels who, in Genesis,
brought Lot forth from Sodom, and said to him:
Save thy life; look not back, neither stay thou in all the country about;
but save thyself in the mountain, lest thou be also consumed. (Gn 19,17)
Whoever considers well the beginning and end of his life will go forth from ‘Sodom’, the foulness of the world and of sin, and will save his soul. He will not look back, returning to his former sins, nor will he linger ‘in the country about’; for he who dwells among the occasions and images of sin after he has put sin aside has not yet abandoned sin utterly. He will save himself ‘in the mountain’, that is, in excellence of life. Very properly, then, humility is represented by the Magdalen.
(A sermon on contempt for the world, and how one should receive the Body of Christ: Cast out the old leaven.)
4. Her companion, appropriately, is Mary the mother of James, whose name means ‘supplanter’. She stands for contempt of the world, which tramples all transitory things underfoot like dust, and rids itself of the leaven of the old way of life. For this reason the Apostle says in today’s Epistle,
Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened. For Christ our Pasch is sacrificed. (1Co 5,7)
The words ‘ferment’ and ‘fervent’ are related, because fermentation cannot be contained for more than the first hour, but it grows and overflows. The Greek word is zyma, and there is a Sequence containing the words:
Zyma vetus expurgatur,
ut sincere praedicatur
"The leaven old is cast away, that sincerely we may say,
Christ is risen again!"
The leaven is greed for earthly things and desire for carnal gratification, which after
beginning to ferment becomes unbounded. The miser is not satisfied with the money he has, nor is the libertine sated with fleshly indulgence.
Isaiah says, referring to the avaricious and lustful:
The wicked are like the raging sea which cannot rest:
and the waves thereof cast up dirt and mire.
There is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord. (Is 57,20-21)
The ‘waves of the sea’, heaving and restless, are the desires of the perverse man, which break upon his soul and wear it down into the mud of impurity and wretchedness in which the swine (that is, the demons) gladly roll. Purge out, then, the old leaven. The Lord commands in Exodus:
Seven days there shall not be found any leaven in your houses:
he that shall eat leavened bread, his soul shall perish out of the land of Israel. (Ex 12,19)
Seven days means the whole time of our life, which goes in a seven day cycle. No leaven, fermenting with worldly and fleshly lusts, should be found in your houses, that is, in your hearts. Otherwise, the soul of him who eats it will perish from the land of Israel, which stands for eternal life, in which we shall see God face to face (cf. 1Co 13,12). Purge out, then, the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened..
And so Exodus says:
The people therefore took dough before it was leavened: and tying it in their cloaks, put it on their shoulders. (Ex 12,34)
And a little later:
And they baked the meal, which a little before they had brought out of Egypt, in dough, and they made earth cakes unleavened. (Ex 12,39)
There are three things to note in this text: contrition, confession and satisfaction. The ‘meal’, finely ground flour, the food of invalids, stands for penance, the food of sinners. We must mix it with the water of contrition, bind it in our cloaks (our consciences) with the cord of confession, and carry it on our shoulders by works of satisfaction. We cook this flour, so that it may not ferment, with the fire which is the love of the Holy Spirit, and
we make ‘earth cakes’, the way-bread of our mortality, the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Thus we live sincerely as regards ourselves, and in truth as regards God and our neighbour.
5. For Christ our Pasch is sacrificed. According to St Augustine, the word ‘Pasch’ is derived, not from ‘Passion’, but from ‘passing’3 ; for on that day the destroying angel passed through Egypt, as the Lord set his people free. By the word ‘Pasch’ they signified the Lamb who was to pass this day from this world to the Father. So, we note, ‘Pasch’ denotes both the lamb and the evening hour in which the lamb was slain, the fourteenth moon of the first month. It refers also to the days of unleavened bread, from the fifteenth evening to the twenty-first day of the same month. The Evangelists, however, use the term ‘days of unleavened bread’ and ‘Pasch’ interchangeably. For example, Luke says: The feast of unleavened bread, which is called the pasch, was at hand (Lc 22,1). So: Christ our Pasch is sacrificed. On this Paschal solemnity, we eat this Lamb, nailed for us to the Cross, sacrificed to God the Father for the reconciliation of the human race, with the bitter herbs which are sorrow of heart, in the way commanded to the children of Israel.
You shall gird your reins (says the Lord), and you shall have shoes on your feet, holding staves in your hands, and you shall eat in haste; for it is the Phase (that is the Passage) of the Lord. (Ex 12,11)
Note these three words: reins, shoes and staves. The ‘reins’ or kidneys are the parts from which flow the foul liquids of the body. The veins and interior parts distil a thin fluid in the kidneys, and this fluid when released from there runs down with sexual heat. The kidneys are by nature hot, and they are composed of much fat. That is why the Lord says, rightly, Gird your reins. In other words, restrain the heat of lust by the mortification of the flesh. The ‘shoes’ are the examples of the saints. With these we should protect our feet, the affections of our minds, so that we may safely tread upon serpents (the suggestions of the devil) and scorpions (the false promises of the world). The ‘staves’ in our hands are the words of preaching, shown in our deeds. He who wishes to eat the Lord’s Body worthily should gird his reins with the cord of chastity, protect the affections of his mind with the examples of the saints, and prove his words by his works. So, with the true Israelites, he will celebrate the true Pasch and pass from this world to the Father (cf. Jn 13,11). Of this passing, a certain philosopher has said:
"The world is like a bridge: cross it, don’t make your home on it."
And another has said:
"The world is an unstable bridge.
You get on to it via your mother’s womb, you leave it via death."4
So it is good to build a tower of humility with Mary Magdalen, and to uproot the world
with Mary of James.
(A sermon on peace: With three things my spirit is pleased, and on the nature of bees.)
6. With these two there is associated a third, Salome, whose name means ‘joyful peace’. Ecclesiasticus says of this:
With three things my spirit is pleased, which are approved before God and men:
The concord of brethren, and the love of neighbours,
and man and wife that agree well together. (Si 25,1-2)
From this three-fold peace there arises joy before God and his angels, and rejoicing among men. As the Prophet says, Behold how good and how pleasant it is, etc. (Ps 132,1).
Let us say, then: Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus. Luke says that:
The women that were come with him from Galilee... saw the sepulchre and how his body was laid. And returning they prepared spices and ointments; and on the sabbath day they rested, according to the commandment. (Lc 23,55-56)
The Gloss on Matthew says that the commandment was to observe the sabbath rest from evening to evening; and so the religious women, after the Lord’s burial, occupied themselves in preparing ointments as long as it was lawful to work- that is, until sunset on Good Friday. And because, due to lack of time, they could not complete their task, as soon as the sabbath was over (that is, after sunset) and it was possible to work again, they hastened to buy spices, so that in the morning they might come and anoint the body of Jesus. These devout women hastened. They worked to prepare ointments, like bees working to make wax and honey. Regarding this, it says in the ‘Natural History’5 that "The works of bees are shared out. Some make wax, some honey; some shape the wax, some bring water, some gather the honey. Some go to work at the beginning of the day, and some rest until they are aroused by one of their number. Then they fly and go to work." The bee which wakens the other, sleeping, bees I reckon to be the blessed Magdalen, who because she loved much, strongly urged the others to prepare ointments. But blessed Mary, after the Lord her Son had been buried, never departed (some say) from the tomb, but continually kept watch there, weeping, until she was the first to be found worthy to see him risen; and so in her honour Saturday is celebrated by the faithful.
(A sermon for religious: Take to yourself perfumes.)
7. In the same way, faithful souls enlightened with the splendour of humility will buy with good will (the coin stamped with the Emperor’s image (cf. Mt 22,19-21)) the spices of which the Lord spoke to Moses in Exodus, saying:
Take spices, of principal and chosen myrrh, and of cinnamon, of calamus, of cassia, and of olive oil. And thou shalt make the holy oil of unction, an ointment compounded alter the art of the perfumer: and therewith thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the testimony, and the ark of the testament, and the table with the vessels thereof, the candlestick and furnture thereof, the altars of incense and of holocaust. (Ex 30,23-28)
Principal and chosen myrrh represents devotion of the mind, which we should choose for ourselves as first priority. Cinnamon, the colour of ash, stands for the remembrance of death. Calamus (reed-pipe) is the melody of confession. Cassia, whose habitat is watery places, and which grows tall, is faith: which is nurtured in the waters of Baptism and grows tall by charity. Olive oil is heart-felt mercy. From these five we should make the holy ointment which sanctifies us, compounded after the art of the perfumer, the Holy Spirit.
With this ointment we should anoint these five things:
The tabernacle of the testimony: that is, the poor of Jesus Christ, signed with the character of his poverty while they are in this world, on pilgrimage far from the Lord.
The ark of the testament: those who carry the ark of obedience in a new vessel, that is, in a heart and body renewed through penitence.
The table with its vessels: those who set before all men the twelve loaves (the doctrine of the Apostles), with a pinch of incense (the humility of a devout mind) and a gold dish (the brightness of fraternal charity).
The candlestick and its furniture: all those holy prelates of the Church who do not hide the candle of their dignity under the bushel of temporal wealth, but set it on the hilltop, the excellence of a holy life, so as to give light to all who are in the house, the Church, and to show them the way. And not just the ‘candlestick’, but its ‘furniture’: all those others appointed to lesser office.
The altars of holocaust and incense: The altar of holocaust represents those in the active life, who offer themselves wholly for the needs of their neighbour. The altar of incense represents contemplatives, who are experienced in the sweetness of heavenly delights.
With such an ointment, compounded by the Holy Spirit, all those we have spoken of, the members of Jesus Christ, crucified on the cross of penance, dead to the world and buried in the tomb of heavenly converse, away from the disturbance of men- all those should be anointed.
(A moral sermon on tranquillity of heart: And very early.)
8. Let us say, then:
Mary Magdalen, and Mary of James, and Salome bought sweet spices, that coming they might anoint Jesus. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen. (Mc 16,1-2)
Matthew tells it like this:
And in the evening of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. (Mt 28,1)
And on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared. (Lc 24,1)
And on the first day of the week Mary Magdalen cometh early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre. (Jn 20,1)
Mark says: ‘very early’, which is not in disagreement with Luke and John. Matthew uses the term ‘evening’, the first part of the night, to refer to the whole night, at the end of which they came to the sepulchre. We should understand ‘the evening, or night, which dawns (that is, which ends with dawn)’; not the first part of the night, but the last, is the dawn at which they came. ‘The evening of the sabbath’ is really the night of the day after the sabbath. They did indeed begin to come in the evening, when they prepared the spices; but they arrived when dawn was breaking. Matthew makes it sound obscure, through trying to be brief, but the others are clear enough.
Morally. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, etc. ‘Early’ means the dawn of grace, until which the soul is benighted. As the Prophet says:
In the morning I will stand before thee. (Ps 5,5)
As St Augustine6 says, "Right and upright, just as you made me right and upright." On the first day after the sabbath, holy souls come to the tomb. It clearly says that they come on the first day after the sabbath, because unless the spirit rests from temporal things it cannot approach God. So the Lord says in Jeremiah:
Take heed to your souls and carry no burdens on the sabbath day:
and bring them not in by the gates of Jerusalem. (Jr 17,21)
The sabbath means rest, Jerusalem is the soul, and its gates are the five senses of the body. Those who carry burdens on the sabbath and bring them in by the gates of Jerusalem are those who are entangled in the restlessness of temporal matters, and bring the burdens of sin, the bundles of worldly cares, through the gates of the five senses into the soul. In this way they do not guard it from sin. But faithful souls, who have driven away all the buzzing flies of Egypt, come to the tomb on the first day after the sabbath.
(A sermon for those wishing to enter religious life: Who will roll away for us.)
9. There follows, secondly:
And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And looking, they saw the stone rolled back. For it was very great. (Mc 16,3-4)
Allegorically. The rolling away of the stone suggests the unlocking of the sacraments of Christ, which were covered by the veil of the written law. The Law was written on stone, and when its covering was taken away the glory of the Resurrection was revealed; while the abolition of the ancient death, and the perpetual life we may hope for, began to be preached through the whole earth.
Morally. The stone is rolled away when the weight of sin is taken away by grace. When this happens, and how man should dispose himself in order that it happen in him, is told in Genesis:
And the custom was, when all the sheep were gathered together, to roll away the stone from the mouth of the well. (Gn 29,3)
If you want the stone of sin, which presses down upon you so that you cannot rise, to be rolled away: you must gather the sheep (innocent thoughts) in Christ. So there is added:
And behold, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she fed the flock. (Gn 29,9)
Rachel (meaning ‘sheep’) feeds the sheep, because the simple man nurtures wholesome thoughts.
A further moral interpretation: the man who goes to the tomb is one who proposes to do penance in some monastery or religious order. But when he considers the greatness of the stone (the severity of religious life), he says: Who shall roll us back the stone from
the door of the sepulchre? The stone is great: what with the difficulty of entering, staying up for vigils, frequent fasting, scarcity of food, rough clothing, hard discipline, voluntary poverty, prompt obedience. Who will roll this stone away for us, from the door of the tomb? O feeble minds! Draw near and look! Do not hesitate, and you will seen the stone already rolled away. Matthew says:
An angel of the Lord descended from heaven and coming rolled back the stone and sat upon it. (Mt 28,2)
The angel is the grace of the Holy Spirit, who removes the stone from the door of the sepulchre, strengthens our faith, smoothes out all the roughness, and sweetens all bitterness with the balm of his love. As the Prophet says:
The horse is prepared for battle: but the Lord giveth safety. (Pr 21,31)
The ‘horse’ is good will. "Nothing is hard for one who loves."7
(A sermon for contemplatives: And entering in.)
10. There follows, thirdly:
And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a white robe: and they were astonished. (Mc 16,5)
Morally. The tomb is the contemplative life, in which the man who is dead to the world is buried as in a tomb. So Job says:
Thou shalt enter into the grave in abundance,
as a heap of wheat is brought in its season. (Jb 5,26)
The just man, when the chaff of temporal things has been blown away, leaves the world in the abundance of divine grace and enters the grave of the contemplative life. In this he rests like a heap of corn, because in contemplation his soul is fed with heavenly sweetness. Entering the tomb, he sees a young man sitting on the right, clad in a white robe. The Son of God, ‘youthful, because useful’, helps us in the vigour of his youth, and is always ready to help. It is appropriate that ‘he sat on the right’, because the right hand is the ‘off side’ or ‘outside’. He helps us indeed, giving us his divinity and accepting our humanity, so that we who were ‘outside’ might be brought ‘inside’. So that we might enter, he went out and clad himself in a white robe, flesh without the least stain. St
Bernard8 says: "After all other benefits, he wished his right side to be pierced, to show that he wants to prepare from his right side a place on his right."
The just man, leaving the world and entering the tomb, must see and contemplate this young man, in the way St Bernard9 indicates: "The person beginning the spiritual life, the novice in Christ, must be taught to draw near to God, so that God may draw near to him. He should be advised with what great purity of heart he must gaze on him, to whom he offers the sacrifice of his prayer. The more he sees and understands him, to whom he makes his offering, the more affection he will have towards him, and love itself will bring understanding. The more he himself has affection towards God, the more he will grasp that this itself, if it is worthy of God, is what he is offering; and in God it will be well with him. To the person praying or meditating in this way, however, we would propose as a better and safer way the image of the Lord’s humanity: his birth, Passion and Resurrection. In this way the weaker spirit, which knows best how to think about bodies and bodily things, will have something towards which it may direct its affection, and towards which it may fix a devout gaze, in its own way. Moreover, the Lord comes in the form of a Mediator, as Job says; A man visiting his own species will not sin (cf. Jb 5,24). That is to say, when he directs his mental gaze towards him, by thinking of the human nature in God, he never departs from what is true; and as long as in faith he does not make a separation between God and man, he learns for that time how to recognise God in man. In this respect, for the poor in spirit and the simpler children of God there is a sweeter affection in the mind, proportionate to the nearness of human nature. But afterwards, when faith turns into affection, those who embrace Christ Jesus in the midst of their hearts with the embrace of sweet love, begin to know him as fully man, in respect of the human nature he took on, and fully God, in respect of the divine nature which took it; and to know this not according to the flesh, even though they cannot know him fully as God according to his divinity. And so, sanctifying him in their hearts, they love to offer him their vows." They offer their spices with the holy women, of whom it is said: And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right, etc.
(A sermon on the ten appearances of our Lord and their meaning: Ye seek Jesus.)
11. There follows, fourthly,
Who saith to them; Be not affrighted; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified; he is risen, he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee; there you shall see him, as he told you. (Mc 16,6-7)
The bitter root of the Cross has passed away, the flower of life has blossomed with its fruits. That is to say, he who lay down in death has arisen in glory. He was buried at evening, he arose at dawn, so that the words might be fulfilled:
In the evening weeping shall have place: and in the morning gladness. (Ps 29,6)
Buried on the sixth day after the sabbath, which is called the Parasceve, around sunset; laid in the tomb during the following night, the sabbath day, and the night following that; he arose on the third day, that is, the morning of the first day after the sabbath. It was appropriate that he lay in the tomb for one day and two nights, because he joined the light of his simple death to the darkness of our twofold death. We were held in the death of both our animal and our spiritual life; he brought his single death, of the flesh, to us and released both of ours. He brought together his simple death and our double death, and in dying he took away our double death.
Note that: "The Lord is recounted to have appeared ten times to his disciples after the Resurrection: first, to Mary Magdalen; second, to the women returning from the tomb; third, to Peter (according to the words: The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon (Lc 24,34)); fourth, to the two who were going to Emmaus; fifth, to the ten Apostles behind closed doors, Thomas being absent; sixth, on the eighth day, when he appeared to the Apostles and Thomas was with them; eighth, on Mount Thabor, where the Lord had appointed that they should meet (and so, before the day of Ascension he appeared eight times). On the actual Ascension Day he appeared twice, namely when he ate with the eleven in the upper room, as Luke says: And eating together with them, he commanded that they should not depart from Jerusalem (Ac 1,4), and again after the meal. The eleven disciples and others, with the blessed Virgin and the other women, came to the Mount of Olives, where the Lord appeared to them: And while they looked on, he was raised up; and a cloud received him out of their sight (Ac 1,9)."10 Let us see what these ten appearances signify morally.
12. First he appeared to Mary Magdalen. To the penitent soul, the grace of the Lord appears sooner than to others. So it says in Exodus:
The manna appeared in the wilderness, small, and as it were beaten with a pestle, like unto the hoar frost on the ground. (Ex 16,14)
‘In the wilderness’, that is, in the penitent, there appears the ‘manna’ of divine grace, ‘small’ in contrition, ‘beaten with a pestle’ in confession, ‘like hoarfrost’ in satisfaction.
Secondly, he appeared to the women returning from the tomb. The Lord appears to those who return from the tomb, who go back from meditation on the wretchedness of his leaving this world in death to the consideration of the woeful way he entered it at his birth. As Genesis says:
The Lord appeared to Abraham in the vale of Mambre as he was sitting in the door of his tent, in the very heat of the day. (Gn 18,1)
Abraham is the just man, the valley is two-fold humility, Mambre is ‘clear-seeing’. The tent is the body, its door is the entrance and exit of life, and the heat of the day is
compunction of soul. The Lord appears to the just man who lives in that humility of heart and body which leads to the clear vision of heavenly glory; he sits in the door of his tent, that is, in the consideration of the birth and death of his body, in the fervour of compunction.
Thirdly, he appeared to Peter. As Jeremiah says:
The Lord hath appeared to me. Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee. And I will build thee again. (Jr 31,3-4)
Peter says, "The Lord, rising from the dead, appeared to me, to penitent me, to me bitterly weeping!" And the Lord replied, I have loved thee with an everlasting love. So it is written, The Lord turned and looked at Peter (Lc 22,61). He looked upon him because he loved him: Therefore, with the cord of love, I have drawn thee, having pity. St Augustine11 says: "He does not want to bring vengeance on sinners, he seeks to bestow pardon on those who confess." I will build thee again, in the summit of the apostleship; so: Go tell his disciples, and Peter. St Gregory12 says: "Peter is mentioned by name, lest he despair because of his denial. If the angel had not mentioned him by name, who had denied his master, he might not have dared to come back among the disciples."
Fourthly, he appeared to the two disciples going to Emmaus. Emmaus means ‘desire of counsel’, namely, of that counsel which the Lord gave when he said:
If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast and give to the poor. (Mt 19,21)
The two disciples stand for the two precepts of charity, towards God and towards our neighbour. The Lord appears to anyone who has charity, and to anyone who desires the poverty of Jesus Christ. So it says in Genesis:
Isaac went up to Bersabee, where the Lord appeared to him. (Gn 26,23-24)
Bersabee means ‘the well that satisfies’. This is charity and humility, which satisfy the soul. Those who have this will not thirst for ever (cf. Jn 4,13).
Fifthly, he appeared to ten disciples gathered together in unity, behind closed doors. When the disciples, that is, the affections of reason, are gathered together in unity, and when the doors of the five senses are closed, then truly the grace of the Holy Spirit appears to the mind. So in Luke, when Zacharias had entered the Temple of the Lord, the angel of the Lord appeared to him standing on the right of the altar of incense (cf. Lc 1,9 Lc 1,11). When Zacharias (‘remembrance of the Lord’), the just man who keeps the Lord in the storehouse of his memory, enters the temple of the Lord (that is, his conscience, in which the Lord dwells) the angel of the Lord (the grace of the Holy Spirit) appears to him, enlightening him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. The altar of incense is compunction of the mind, the right side is a pure intention. Thus the grace of the Lord stands on the right of the altar of incense, because it approves that compunction, praises
that incense and receives it, which the just man sends forth from the pure intention of his mind.
(A sermon on the general resurrection and the four gifts of the glorified body, which are represented by the four rivers of paradise: The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun.)
13. Sixthly, he appeared on the eighth day to the disciples when Thomas was with them, from whose heart he removed all doubt. When we come to the eighth day of the general resurrection, he will take away every wrinkle of doubt and every spot of mortality and infirmity. As Isaiah says:
The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days: in the day when the Lord shall bind up the wound of his people, and shall heal the stripes of their wound. (Is 30,26)
Notice the two words, wound and stripes. The ‘wound’ refers to the unclean thoughts of the mind, the "stripes" to the death of the body. But in the day of the general resurrection, as Isidore says in the Book of Creatures13 , "The sun and moon will receive the reward of their labour, because the sun in the east will shine seven times brighter than now, when it shines at the height of noon; so that it will torment those who are in hell. And the moon will stand in the west and will shine as brightly as the sun does now." Then indeed the Lord will truly bind up the wound of our soul, because, as the Prophet says, no beast (that is, no evil thought) will pass through Jerusalem (cf. Is 35,9). Further, as John says in the Apocalypse, The city will be of pure gold like to clear glass (Ap 21,18). What is brighter than gold, or clearer than glass? And what, I ask, will be brighter and clearer than the soul of the glorified man in the general resurrection? Then the Lord will heal the stripes of our wound, with which we were smitten because of the disobedience of our first parents, when this mortal puts on immortality, and this corruptible puts on incorruption (cf. 1Co 15,53-54).
In the general resurrection, the paradise of the Lord (the glory of our glorified body) will be watered by four rivers- Phison, Gehon, Tigris and Euphrates (cf. Gn 2,10-14). In other words, it will be adorned with four gifts: brightness, subtlety, agility and immortality. Phison means ‘change of countenance’, Gehon ‘the heart’, Tigris ‘an arrow’, Euphrates ‘fruit-bearing’. By Phison, the brightness of the resurrection is designated, whereby we shall be changed from our condition of such dirt and darkness to the likeness of the sun. So it is said: The just shall shine out like the sun (Mt 13,43). Gehon denotes subtlety; for just as a man’s breast is not split, wounded, opened, nor does it suffer pain, when thoughts go forth from his heart: so the glorified body will be of such subtlety that nothing will be impenetrable to it, yet it will remain unbreakable, indissoluble, closed and solid. It
will be like the body of Christ which is already glorified, which went into the apostles, the doors being shut (cf. Jn 20,26). Tigris stands for agility, well represented by the swiftness of the arrow. Euphrates is immortality, wherein we shall be inebriated by the richness of the house of God (cf. Ps 35,9). When we are planted in it, like the tree of life in the midst of paradise, we shall bring forth fruit, the apples of eternal satisfaction. Satisfied with these, we shall not hunger for all eternity.
(A sermon for the preacher or prelate of the Church: Take a rod.)
14. Seventhly, he appeared to seven disciples as they were fishing. Fishing is preaching, and the Lord appears to those who are labouring at it. So it says in the Book of Numbers:
The glory of the Lord appeared over Moses and Aaron. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take the rod, and assemble the people together, thou and Aaron thy brother: and speak to the rock before them, and it shall yield waters. And when thou hast brought forth water out of the rock, all the multitude and their cattle shall drink. (Nb 20,6-8)
In this passage Moses represents the preacher. Aaron means ‘strong mountain’, and he represents two things: excellence of life and constancy of fortitude. Without such a brother Moses could never proceed. To Moses the Lord said: Take the rod of preaching, and gather the people, with Aaron your brother, without whom the people can never be gathered together properly. "He whose life is despised, his preaching will be held in contempt."14 Speak to the rock, the hard heart of the sinner, and it shall yield the water of compunction. It says, ‘speak ye’, not ‘speak thou’; rightly, because if the preacher alone speaks, and his life is silent, the water will not flow from the rock. The Lord cursed the fig-tree in which no fruit was found, but leaves only (cf. Mt 21,19). Such were the clothes of those exiled from paradise. Let Moses speak together with Aaron, and the water will flow forth, and the multitude of the people and their cattle- that is, clergy and laity, spiritual and unspiritual, will be filled with the water of compunction. This is the multitude of which John spoke:
They cast the net; and now they were not able to draw it, for the multitude of fishes. (Jn 21,6)
(A sermon for penitents: With curtains of goats hair, and: The Lord Almighty appeared to me at Luza.)
15. Eighthly, he appeared to the eleven disciples on a mount in Galilee (cf. Mt 28,16-18). Galilee means ‘passing across’, and it stands for penitence, whereby a man crosses from the bank of mortal sin, by the bridge of confession, to the bank of satisfaction. So on the mountain of Galilee, the excellence of penance, the Lord appears to the eleven disciples, that is, to penitents. The number eleven is appropriate, because, as Exodus says:
There were eleven curtains of goats’ hair, to cover the top of the tabernacle. (Ex 26,7)
There are two things to note in the curtains of goats’ hair: the harshness of penance and the stench of sin, to which penitents confess they have been subject. The top of the tabernacle is covered with these curtains, meaning the Church Militant. They withstand the heat of the sun, bearing the burden of the day and its heat (cf. Mt 20,12). They protect the hangings, woven of fine linen, blue and purple and scarlet double-dyed. This refers to the faithful of the Church, adorned with the fine linen of chastity, the blue of contemplation,the purple of the Lord’s Passion and the double-dyed scarlet of twofold charity. They give protection against the downpouring of the rain (the snares of heretics), the whirlwind (the devil’s temptation) and the dust that soils (the vanity of the world). Thus, the Lord appeared to the eleven disciples.
In Genesis, Jacob says:
God Almighty appeared to me at Luza, which is in the land of Chanaan. (Gn 48,3)
Luza means ‘almond’, and it stands for penance, which contains three elements, like an almond. There is the bitter skin, the hard shell and the sweet kernel. The bitter skin stands for the bitterness of penitence, the hard shell for the constancy of perseverance, and the sweet kernel for the hope of pardon. The Lord appeared at Luza, which is in the land of Chanaan (meaning ‘exchange’). True penance is that which changes a man over from left to right, passing with the eleven disciples on the mountain of Galilee, where the Lord appeared.
Ninthly, he appeared to them while they were at table, as Mark tells (cf. Mc 16,14), on the actual day of the Ascension. Luke says, While eating with them, he commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem (Ac 1,4). The Lord appears to those who sit down (that is, who rest) in the upper room of their mind, away from the unrest of worldly matters, and who eat the bread of tears in the remembrance of their sins and the repast of heavenly sweetness. So Genesis says:
The Lord appeared to Isaac and said: Go not down into Egypt, but stay in the land that I shall tell thee, and sojourn in it. And I will be with thee, and will bless thee. (Gn 26,2-3)
The Lord commands the just man three things: not to go down into Egypt, the unrest of worldly matters where bricks are made from the mud of self indulgence, the water of avarice and the straw of pride; to rest in the country of the inward life; and to count himself a pilgrim all the days of his life, in which he now fulfils his service. Thus shall the Lord be with him, and bless him with all the blessings of his right hand.
(A sermon on compassion for the poor: The Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire.)
16. Tenthly, he appeared to them when, as Luke says,
He led them out as far as Bethania (that is, to the Mount of Olives),
and lifting up his hands he blessed them; (Lc 24,50)
and while they looked on, he was raised up;
and a cloud received him out of their sight. (Ac 1,9)
The Lord appears to those who stand upon the Mount of Olives (‘mercy’), as Exodus tells:
The Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush:
and he saw that the bush was on fire and was not burnt. (Ex 3,2)
The Lord appeared to Moses, the merciful man, in a flame of fire; that is, in compassion of mind. But where does this flame come from? It comes from the midst of the bush: of the poor, the pierced, the troubled, the bereft, the naked, the afflicted. When the just man is pricked with the thorns of their poverty, he is set ablaze with compassion to have mercy on them. He sees that the bush, the poor man, burns with greater devotion, and is not consumed by his poverty.
Ah, dearest brothers, gathered together for this Pasch of the Resurrection, I beseech you to buy, with the holy women, the spices of virtue with the coin of good will. With them anoint the limbs of Christ, with sweetness of speech and the fragrance of good example. So may you come to the remembrance of your own death, and enter the tomb of heavenly contemplation. There may you see the Angel of great counsel, the Son of God, sitting at the right hand of God the Father. In the general resurrection, when he comes to judge the world by fire, he will appear to you gloriously: I do not say ten times only, but always, into eternity and world without end. You will see him as he is, you will rejoice with him, you will reign with him. May he who rose from the dead deign to grant us this. To him be honour and glory, empire and power, in heaven and on earth, in eternity and through everlasting ages. Let every faithful soul, in this Easter joy, say: Amen. Alleluia!
Anthony_Sermons - (PROLOGUE)