Sundays and festivals with the Fathers of the Church

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Sundays and festivals with the Fathers of the Church

  1. 1. S U N D A Y S AND FESTIVALS WITH THEFATHERS O F THE C H U R C H OR HOMILIES OF THE HOLY FATHERS ON THE GOSPELS OF ALL THE SUNDAYS AND CHIEF FESTIVALS OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL YEAR BY THE REV. D. G. H U B E R T A U T H O R OK *ECCE HOMO! MEDITATIONS ON T H E PASSION, AND 1 HEAVEN ON E A R T H J OR, T W E L V E HOURS OF A D O R A T I O N B E F O R E THE BLESSED SACRAMENT R. & T. W A S H B O U R N E 4 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON BENZIGER B R O S . : NEW YORK, CINCINNATI A N D CHICAGO T9OI
  2. 2. Biblio!èque Saint Libère http://www.liberius.net © Bibliothèque Saint Libère 2010.Toute reproduction à but non lucratif est autorisée.
  3. 3. SUNDAYS AND FESTIVALS WITHTHE FATHERS OF T H E CHURCH
  4. 4. ^liliil jobstat. DANIEL CANONICUS ILES, S.T.L Imprimatur. »t H E R B E R T U S CARD1NALIS VAUGHAN, Archiepiscopus Westmonast.Die 4 Junii, igoi.
  5. 5. %0 THE RIGHT HONOURABLELADY H E R B E R T OF LEA IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF HER GREAT CHARITY AND GENEROSITY THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED BY HER HUMBLE AND OBLIGED SERVANT IN CHRIST D. G. HUBERT
  6. 6. CONTENTS PAGEINTRODUCTION x iiiFIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT Gospel - - - - - . i Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St, Peter 2SECOND SUNDAY OF" ADVENT Gospel . . . . . . . 8 Homily by St. Jerome, Priest - - - 9THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT Gospel - - - - - - 12 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. Peter - - - - - 13FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT Gospel • - - - - - - 20 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. John the Baptist - - - - - 2 1CHRISTMAS DAY Gospel - - - - - - 26 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of Our Lady on Christmas Day - - - 27T H E FEAST OF S T . STEPHEN, THE FIRST MARTYR Gospel - 30 Homily by St. Jerome, Priest • - - 31SUNDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS Gospel 35 Homily by the Venerable Bede, Priest - - 35T H E FEAST OF THE CIRCUMCISION Gospel . . . , - - - 40 Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop - 40
  7. 7. ««• Vlll T H E EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD Gospel - - - - - - - Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. Peter on the Epiphany - 43FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY Gospel - - - - - - - 50 Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop - 50 OCTAVE D A Y OF THE EPIPHANY Gospel 53 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 54SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY Gospel - Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop -THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY Gospel . . . . Homily by St. Jerome, PriestFOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY Gospel - I. Homily by St. Jerome, Priest II. Homily by St. Augustine, BishopFIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY Gospel - Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop -SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY Gospel - Homily by St. Jerome, PriestSEPTUAGESIMA SUNDAY Gospel - Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. Lawrence on Septuagesima SundaySEXAGESIMA SUNDAY Gospel - Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church* of St. Peter on Sexagesima Sundayy U I N Q U A G E S I M A SUNDAY Gospel - Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. Peter on Quinquagesima SundayASH-WEDNESDAY Gospel - Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop -
  8. 8. PAGE FIRST SUNDAY IN L E N T Gospel 109 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. John Lateran - no SECOND SUNDAY IN L E N T Gospel • 116 Homily by Pope St. Leo the Great 116THIRD SUNDAY IN L E N T Gospel - 123 Homily by the Venerable Bede, Priest 124FOURTH SUNDAY IN L E N T Gospel - 131 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 133FIFTH SUNDAY IN L E N T , OR PASSION SUNDAY Gospel - 139 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. Peter on Passion Sunday - 140SIXTH SUNDAY IN L E N T , OR PALM SUNDAY Gospel - 147 Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan 148GOOD FRIDAY Gospel - 154 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 160EASTER SUNDAY Gospel - 163 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Easter Sunday - 163EASTER MONDAY Gospel - - - - - - - 170 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. Peter on Easter Monday 171FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, OR Low SUNDAY Gospel 174 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. John Lateran on the First Sunday after Easter - . . . . . . 175SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER Gospel 180 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. Peter on the Second Sunday after Easter - 181
  9. 9. PAGETHIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER Gospel 187 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 188FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER Gospel ig2 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 193FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER Gospel . . . - - . - . 199 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 200ASCENSION D A Y Gospel - - - - - - 207 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. Peter on the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord - 207SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER Gospel 218 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 218WHIT-SUNDAY, THE FEAST OF PENTECOST Gospel - - - - - - - 224 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of St. Peter, Apostle, on the Feast of Pentecost - - 225WHIT-MONDAY Gospel - - - - - - - 234 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 234TRINITY SUNDAY Gospel - - - - - - - 238 Homily by St. Gregory of Nazianzus - - - 238FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - - - - - - - 239 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - - - 240F E A S T OF CORPUS CHRISTI Gospel . . . . . . . 245 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 246SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - - - - - - - 248 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of S S . Philip and James on the Second Sunday after Pentecost - - - - - - 249THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - - - - - - - 257 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of SS. John and Paul on the Third Sunday after Pentecost 258
  10. 10. PAGEFOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel 265 Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop 266FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel 272 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop 272SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel 276 Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop 276SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel 282 Homily by St. Hilary, Bishop 283EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel 285 Homily by St. Jerome, Priest 286NINTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - 288 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Basilica of St. John, called the Constantine 289TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - 295 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 296ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel . . . . 299 Homily by Pope St. Gregory 300TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - 304 Homily by the Venerable Bede, Priest 305THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - - - - 308 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 308FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - 312 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 313FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - - . . . 317 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 318SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel . . . . 324 Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop - 325
  11. 11. SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - 327 Hcmily by St. John Chrysostom - 328EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - 332 Homily by St. Peter Chrysologus - 333NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - 337 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of the Holy Martyr Clement 338TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel . . . . 342 Homily by Pope St. Gregory, preached in the Church of SS. Nereus and Achilles on their Festival 343TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel 347 Homily by St. Jerome, Priest 348TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel - 349 Homily by St. Hilary, Bishop 35oTWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel . . . . . 35i Homily by St. Jerome, Priest 352TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Gospel 354 Homily by St. Jerome, Priest 356FEAST OF S S . PETER AND P A U L , APOSTLES Gospel - 361 Homily by St. Jerome, Priest 362T H E ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Gospel - - - - . - - 365 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 365T H E FEAST OF A L L SAINTS Gospel . . . . . . . 370 Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop - 371
  12. 12. INTRODUCTION T H E Christians rule of life is contained in the Gospels. T h e y are the Book on which he should meditate, and the teaching of which he should endeavour to put into practice all the days of his life. Y e t , it is to be fearedthat, in reading this Book, he might not have the necessarylight from above, and perhaps might attach to the sacredwords a meaning that was not intended by the DivineTeacher, nor by H i s disciples. T o prevent such pos­sibility, many learned men, well versed in H o l y W r i t ,have carefully explained the meaning of the Gospels, andhave thus imparted to Christians a greater taste and lovefor the reading of the W o r d of God. Hence we^Jiavetheir commentaries, meditations, lives of Jesus Christ, anddivers essays on the H o l y Scriptures, the titles of whichalone would form a large volume. Many of these worksare thoroughly well written, and the reader can be butgreatly edified and instructed by them. However, it isstrange, that from the beginning it never occurred to any­one to go up to the very source. Among spiritual booksthe oldest are the best and the surest. It seems, therefore,that the works of the holy Fathers should have obtainedthe preference, for they are nearly as old as the Church,and in them the tradition is preserved in all its strengthand purity.
  13. 13. Indeed, when w e follow these wise teachers in theirwritings from century to century, w e are astonished thatChristian Faith, enlightening us now, should be alwaysone and the same, and that the doctrine of faith, taught bytlie Church, and the doctrine of morals, preached in theworld, have never undergone any change in the successionof centuries. W e see that the true Church, our gloryand the foundation of our hope, has a l w a y s remainedcalm in the midst of storms, victorious in the fierceststruggles, unhurt amidst the most powerful attacks, andalways preserved from the arrows of her enemies. W esee that the Bride of Jesus has always been holy and in­fallible in her precepts and commands, a l w a y s wise andenlightened in her teaching, a l w a y s prudent and reason­able in her discipline, and always pure in her religiouspractices. W e recognise that the Church, built upon theRock, has been, and will be to the end of the world, holyand immaculate, because she is protected by the infinitelypowerful and eternal G o d , and guided by the H o l y Ghost. It is, therefore, a subject of astonishment that, whatthe holy Fathers have written and preached about theGospels, has not more often been translated and pub­lished in modern times. W a s it not quite natural tothink of this pious duty, especially as they are oftenquoted in sermons and instructions, and consulted, whendifficult passages of H o l y Scripture have to be explained ?A r e not they our teachers, under whose guidance wecannot fall into error ? There are no better sourcesfrom which to draw with greater safety. W h a t eloquenceand diversity in their w o r k s ! W h o would not admirethe grace and strength of a St. John Chrysostom, thefecundity and sublimity of a St. Augustine, the clearpenetration and depth of a St. Ambrose, the vast learningof a St. Jerome, or the penetrating knowledge o f
  14. 14. St. Gregory ? W h a t dignity and authority in St. L e o ,and what beauty in the writings of the Venerable Bede ! T h e works of the Fathers of the Church form a richlibrary. Y e t this field, so fertile in an abundance ofdelicious fruits, remains sterile for the greater number ofthe Catholic people, who perhaps know not what tochoose, or are ignorant of the language of these holywriters. It seems to me that a collection of Homiliesfrom different Fathers, arranged according to theSundays and principal festivals of the ecclesiasticalyear, would be a great spiritual help to all Christians.This is the reason w h y I undertook this collection, andI have carefully endeavoured that it should be usefulto all. Before every Homily is placed the respective part ofthe Gospels, thus showing the intimate relation existingbetween the one and the other. T h e literal, spiritual,allegorical, and figurative meaning of the Holy Scripturesis explained in these discourses. Their style is clear andsimple, yet elegant; the comparisons are most beautifuland instructive, for they are natural. Simplicity is theirornament, and this simplicity pervades the whole dis­course. T h e present book is, therefore, a selection ofdifferent essays which, by their number and diversity,form a collection presenting the doctrine of faith andmorals, and containing the principal truths of our H o l yCatholic Religion. This is the notion or idea which may be formed ofthese Homilies, I have endeavoured to render, in anatural and simple style, the sublime and forcibleeloquence of the holy Fathers, without weakening theirthoughts. F o r I am of opinion that a literal translation,often dry and tiring, could not give a clear idea of thebeautiful expressions found in these Homilies. A dog-
  15. 15. matical work is not to be translated like .a history or anordinary speech. It is to be hoped that this book will be of great andgeneral utility, specially as priests and others, whoseduty it is to instruct the faithful, have not always thetime to consult the Fathers, even should they possesstheir works. T h e duties of priests in parishes, the timethey spend in the confessional, their visiting the sick andthe poor, the administration of the Sacraments, will notallow them to do so. Besides, would it not require along time to find out the special subject ? For, in order todiscover in the writings of the Fathers a few pages, oreven one passage, directly explaining the Gospel, a wholeessay or a whole book must sometimes be read, thegreater part of which has no direct reference to thatGospel. Again, there are many priests, whose duty itis to preach and instruct, who do not possess the worksof the Fathers, who have a few books only : their smallmeans not allowing them to buy any more. W e also offer this book to all Christians who spendsome time, specially on Sundays and Feast-days, inspiritual reading. T h e Homilies* are also offered to allthose who, through sickness or the nursing of the sick,are prevented from assisting at the instructions of theirPastor. T h e clergy and the laity will find in them asource of instruction and edification. A s to the writer,he will be rewarded by the thought that he has placed inthe hands of a great many a selection of solid instructions,a great portion of which has never been translated.T w o words will explain w h y this book ought to be dearto all good Christians : it contains the essential partsof the Gospels, and the most important parts of theworks of the Fathers. D. G. H U B E R T . BATH, October^ 1901.
  16. 16. SUNDAYS AND FESTIVALS WITH THEFATHERS OF T H E CHURCH FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT.G O S P E L : L u k e x x i . 25-33. At that time: Jesus said toHis disciples: There shall be signs in the sun and in themoon and in the stars, and upon the earth distress ofnations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of thesea and of the waves, men withering away for fear andexpectation of what shall come upon the whole world.For the powers of the heavens shall be moved, and thenthey shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud withgreat power and majesty. B u t when these things beginto come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, becauseyour redemption is at hand. A n d H e spoke to them asimilitude : See the fig-tree and all the trees, when theynow shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh;so you also, when you shall see these things come topass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen,1 say to you, this generation shall not pass away till allthings be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away,but .My words shall not pass away. 1
  17. 17. H O M I L Y BY P O P E ST. G R E G O R Y , P R E A C H E D IN THE CHURCH O F ST. PETER. FIRST HOMILY ON THE GOSPELS. I. A s our adorable Saviour will expect at H i s comingto find us ready, H e warns us of the terrors that willaccompany the latter days in order to wean us from thelove of this world ; and H e foretells the misery which willbe the prelude to this inevitable time, so that, if weneglect in the quietness of this life to fear a G o d of com­passion, the fearful spectacle of the approaching last judg­ment may impress us with a wholesome dread. A shorttime before H e had said: Nation shall rise against nation,and kingdom against kingdom. And there shall be great earth­quakes in divers places, and pestilences and famines (Luke x x i . 10, n ) . N o w H e added: And there shall be signs in thesnn and in the moon and in the stars, and upon the earth distressof nations. Of all these events we have seen many alreadyfulfilled, and with fear and trembling we look for the nearfulfilment of the rest. A s for the nations which are torise up one against the other, and the persecutions whichare to be endured on earth, what w e learn from thehistory of our own times, and what we have seen withour own eyes, makes a far deeper impression than whatw e read even in H o l y Scripture. W i t h regard to theearthquakes converting numberless cities into lamentableheaps of ruins, the accounts of them are not unknown toyou, and reports of the like events reach us still fromvarious parts of the world. Epidemics also continue to cause us the greatest sorrow and anxiety ; and though we have not seen the signs in the sun and in the moon and in thestars, mentioned in H o l y Scripture, we know, at least, that fiery weapons have appeared shining in the sky, and even blood, the foreboding of that blood which was to be
  18. 18. shed in Italy by the invading barbarian hordes. A s to the terrible roaring of the sea and of the waves, we have not yet heard it. However, we do not doubt that this also•will happen ; for, the greater part of the prophecies of our Lord being fulfilled, this one will also see its fulfil­ ment, the past being a guarantee for the future. I I . Moreover, we say this, beloved brethren, to en­ courage you to unceasing watchfulness over yourselves, so that no false confidence may take possession of your souls, leaving you to languish in ignorance; but that, on the contrary, a true and wholesome fear may drive you on to do good, and strengthen you in the carrying out of good works. T a k e special notice of the following, added by our S a v i o u r : Men shall wither away"for fear and expecta­ tion of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved. W h a t is meant by our heavenly Teacher when speaking of the powers of heaven, but the angels and archangels, the thrones, principalities and powers, that will appear on the day of vengeance of that severe Judge, W h o will then demand from us with severity the homage and submission, which H e now, as our Creator, although unseen, asks for in love as His due. Then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with greatpower and majesty. W h i c h means that the people will then see Him, whom in H i s meekness and humiliations they would neither listen to nor recognise, coming in power and majesty. In that day they will feel the more com­ pelled to acknowledge His power, since in the present time they deny H i m , and refuse to submit themselves to His yoke, to which H e so patiently invites them. III. A s , however, these words of our Saviour arespoken to the lost, so are the following uttered for the comfort of the elect: When these things begin to come to pass,look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at 1—2
  19. 19. hand. Truth Itself teaches the chosen ones in thesewords, and seems to say to t h e m : W h e n y o u see thecalamities which portend the end of the world increasing ;when fear of that awful judgment-day takes possession ofeven the bravest hearts at the sight of the shaken powersof heaven, then lift up your heads, that is, rejoice withyour whole heart, because the end of this world, so littleloved by you, announces to you the wished-for, freedomto be enjoyed by you hereafter. T h e head is often usedin H o l y Scripture for the soul, and in this w a y , by warn­ing us to lift up our heads, it reminds us to rouse up oursouls to the thought of the heavenly home which is await­ing us. Those, therefore, who love God, are commandedto rejoice when they see the end of the world approach­ing, because, when this world, which they havenot loved,is destroyed, they will find themselves in possession ofHim, W h o is the one true object of their love. W e areassured that among these true believers, w h o have areal longing to see God, there is not one who will not bedeeply moved by the fearful events accompanying the endof the world. F o r we know from H o l y Scripture thatWhosoever will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy ofGod. (James iv. 4.) Therefore, to show no pleasure at theapproach of the end of the world is as much as to declarethat we love this world, and that.we are the enemies ofGod. T h i s wicked clinging to the world must be farremoved from the hearts of good Christians, and of thosewho by faith are convinced that there is another life, andb y their good works deserve that life. L e t those weepover the destruction of the world, whose hearts are givento it, and whose hopes are fixed upon it, and who, farfrom seeking this new life, refuse to believe that therewill be another life. A s for us who believe in thisheavenly home and in its eternal bliss prepared for us, let
  20. 20. -us hasten to reach them. W e should wish to attain this•home as soon as possible, and endeavour to find the shortest w a y thither. For, are w e not surrounded in this world by a great many misfortunes ? D o we not experi­ ence many troubles and calamities ? What, indeed, isthis mortal life but a painful w a y ? Consider, beloved brethren, what folly it would be in a man walking alonga toilsome and difficult road until overcome with fatigue,and yet not wishing to see the end of i t ! Moreover, ourSaviour teaches us by H i s wise similitude that thisworld does not deserve our affection, but that, on thecontrary, we should despise it. H e says : See the Jig-treeand all the trees. When they now shoot forth their fruit, youknow that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see thesethings come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand.Is it not as though H e said : In the same way that youconclude by the trees bearing fruit that summer is near,so by the downfall of the world you will know that thekingdom of G o d is not far off ? These words show usplainly enough that the fall and destruction of this worldare its real fruits, since its rise and increase are closelyconnected with its fall, and since it brings forth thosethings only which are destined to perish. If, on the con­trary, wd consider the kingdom of G o d , we are aware thatwe may in all truth compare it with the summer, whenall the clouds of our afflictions will be dispersed and befollowed by happy days, lighted up by a never disappear­ing sun of bliss. . I V . A n d that we should never doubt these truths, our Lord confirms them with an oath, saying : Amen, I say toyou, this generation shall not, pass away till all thingsbe ful­ 9filled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away. A m o n g all corporeal things and beings nothing is more durable than heaven and earth ; in the
  21. 21. same w a y nothing disappears more quickly than theword. Before the word is expressed it exists, and hardlyis it said than it has disappeared; for the word cannotattain its perfection without at the same instant losing itsexistence. N o w heaven and earth shall pass away, says theoracle of eternal truth, but My words shall not pass away.It is as if our Saviour said : L e a r n ye, that everythingamong you, that seems to be durable, has not been madeto last for ever or to continue without any c h a n g e ;whereas what seems to pass away quickly, is firmlyand for ever established. F o r even the words I speak,and which fly away, contain in themselves irrevocableutterances. V . N o w , beloved brethren, to return to what you haveheard about this world being filled with continual dailyincreasing evils, consider what remains of the immensenation that has sustained the calamities of which I amspeaking. Meanwhile, the troubles have not yet left us ;w e are still oppressed by lamentable and unforeseencalamities, and we are grieved and afflicted by newlosses. Strip, therefore, your hearts from the love of thisworld which you enjoy so little ; and for this purpose taketo heart the precept of the A p o s t l e : Love not the world,nor the things which are in. the world. If any man love theworld, the charity of the Father is not in him (i John ii. 15).W h a t we have experienced these last three days is notunknown to y o u ; how suddenly raging storms haverooted out the largest and strongest trees, have pulleddown houses and destroyed churches ! M a n y of theinhabitants, who at the end of the day quietly and ingood health projected new plans for the morrow, weretaken away by a sudden death during the night, andburied under the ruins of their dwellings. V I . I beseech you, beloved brethren, be careful! If
  22. 22. the invisible Judge is letting loose the stormy winds in order to produce these terrible effects; if H e only needs- to move the clouds of heaven and thus to shake the whole earth, and to overthrow and ruin the strongest buildings; what can we expect from this Judge when in His wrath H e comes to take revenge and to punish sinners? If a mere cloud raised by H i m against us is sufficient to strike us down, how shall we be able to resist His almighty power? St. Paul, thinking of the infinite power of the Judge appearing on this awful day, exclaims: It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. x. 31). The Royal Prophet expresses himself with the same force, when in his psalm he says : The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken; and He hath called the earth. From the rising of the sun, to the going down thereof Godshall come manifestly: our God shall come, and shall not keep silence. A fire shall burn before Him ; and a mighty tempest shall be round about Him, He shall call heaven from above, and the earth, to judge Hispeople. Gather ye together His saints to Him; and the heavens shall declare His justice, for God is Judge. Hear, 0 My people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I ivitt testify to thee; I am God thy God. Understand these things you thatforget God; lest He snatch you away, and there be none to deliver you ( P s . xlix.). It is not without a special reasonthat this severe judgment will be accompanied by fire and storms; for it will weigh, as in scales, men whowere devoured by the natural fire. Therefore, beloved brethren, keep this great day before your minds eye, andwhatever seems difficult and troublesome, will soon become light and easy, when you compare the one with the other. The prophet Sophonias says to us : The great day of the Lord is near, it is near and exceeding swift; the voice of the day of the Lord is bitter ; the mighty man shall there meet with tribula­ tion. That day is a day of wrath, a day of tribulation and
  23. 23. distress, a day of calamity and misery, a day of darkless andobscurity, a day of clouds and whirlwinds; a day of thetrumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against thehigh bulwarks (Soph. i. 14-16). A n d the L o r d God hasspoken of this day through H i s prophet: Yet one littlewhile, and I will move the heaven, and the earth, and the sea,and the dry land ( A g g . ii. 7). B u t , as w e have alreadyremarked, if the earth could not resist the force of thewind set in motion, how will man be able to resist themotions of the heavens ? F o r what are all these terribleevents causing us so much uneasiness and fear, butheralds announcing to us the wrath of G o d followingthem ? F r o m all this we conclude that between the.evils oppressing us now, and those which will come inthe latter days, there is a s great a difference as betweenthe power of the highest Judge and the power announcingH i m . Therefore, beloved brethren, think of the last daywith renewed attention ; amend your lives; steadfastlyresist all temptations leading you to sin, and wipe outwith your tears the sins you have committed. T h e n themore you have endeavoured, through salutary fear, toanticipate the severity of H i s judgments, the greaterwill be the confidence with which you will witness thecoming of this Immortal K i n g . SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT.G O S P E L : Matt. xi. 2-10. At that time: W h e n John hadheard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of hisdisciples, he said to H i m : A r t T h o u H e that art to come,or look we for another ? And Jesus making answer, saidto t h e m : G o and relate to John what y o u have heardand seen. T h e blind see, the lame walk, the lepers arecleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor
  24. 24. have the Gospel preached to t h e m ; and blessed is hethat shall not be scandalized in Me. And when theywent their w a y , Jesus began to say to the multitudes,concerning J o h n : W h a t went y e out into the desert tosee ? A reed shaken with the wind ? B u t what went yeout to see ? A man clothed in soft garments ? Behold,they that are clothed in soft garments are-in the houses ofkings. B u t what went ye out to see ? A prophet ? Y e a ,I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he ofwhom it is written : Behold, I send my angel before thyface, who shall prepare thy w a y before thee. HOMILY BY ST. JEROME, PRIEST. HOMILY ON S T . M A T T . xr. I. W h e n John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus,in order to question H i m about H i s mission, he was notignorant either of His advent or of His dignity as theMessiah. H e knew that Jesus w a s the Lamb of God Whotaketh away the sin of the world, for he had shown H i m toothers who had no knowledge of His divine nature.Indeed, the precursor had heard the almighty voice ofthe Father giving testimony : This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased (Matt. iii. 17). N o w we know thatour Saviour asked the Jews "to show H i m the place whereLazarus had been buried, though H e knew it well, sothat those w h o would accompany H i m thither, shouldbegin to believe in His divine mission, when witnessingthe miracle of the raising of Lazarus,, that was to follow.In the same w a y John, who w a s to be condemned todeath by Herod, sent his disciples to Jesus, that bywitnessing H i s miracles and the operation of H i s divineand almighty power, they might believe in H i m , as wellas receive instruction from the Divine Teacher Himself,
  25. 25. W h o m they could then question as their personal teacher.It seems that S t . Johns disciples were angry with ourLord ; for the question shortly before addressed to H i mby them, sufficiently disclosed their pride and envy. T h eEvangelist tells us how the disciples of John came toH i m s a y i n g : Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, butThy disciples do not fast? (Matt. ix. 14). A t another timethe same disciples complained to John and said to h i m :Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond the Jordan, to Whom thougavest testimony, behold He baptizeth, and all men come to Him.(John iii. 26). It w a s as if they said : W e are a smallnumber and almost forsaken, for the multitude are withJesus Christ, and they follow H i m . I I . St. John does not say to our L o r d : A r t T h o u H ethat is come ? B u t he a s k s : Art Thou He that art to come ?A s if to s a y : L e t me know whether, after announcingT h y coming into this world, I shall not also announce T h ycoming into L i m b o , whither I shall soon be going ? F o ris it right and just that the Son of G o d should die ?A n d is it not T h y own wish to send someone to thejust in L i m b o and announce to them the mystery ofT h y advent ? I I I . And Jesus answered the inquiring disciples andsaid to t h e m : Go and relate to John what you have heard andseen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, thedeaf hear, the dead rise again. John had through hisdisciples asked this question of Jesus : Art Thou He thatart to come, or look we for another ? Y e t , instead of answer­ing this question, instead of removing with one wordwhatsoever had scandalized them, Jesus mentioned*Hismiracles and said to t h e m : G o and relate to John themiracles you have seen ; speak of the blind who now see,of the lame who now walk, and of all other miraculouscures you have witnessed. A n d tell him another fact, no
  26. 26. less astonishing, that the poor have the Gospel preached to them. Under the name of poor our Saviour meant boththe poor in spirit and the poor deprived of the goods of thisworld; for there will not be any difference between richand poor, nobleman and serf, when the Gospel is preachedto them. T h i s also shows how just and wise and true theDivine Teacher is, W h o , when working for the salvationof their souls, considers them all-equal. And the wordswhich H e added, Blessed is he that shall not be scandalizedin Me, contain a reproof addressed to the disciples of John,as we shall see later on. I V . A n d when these messengers went their way, Jesusbegan to say to the multitudes, concerning John : What went yeout into the desert to see ? A reed shaken with the wind ? Butwhat went ye out to see ? A man clothed in soft garments ?Behold they that are clothed in soft garments are in the housesof kings. Had our Lord condemned St. John by thesewords, Blessed is he that is not scandalized in Me, as manypretend, w h y does H e overwhelm him with praises ?Indeed, Jesus praised John the Baptist, because themultitude did not understand the meaning of the disciplesquestion, and thought that even John was still in doubtas to whether Jesus really were the Messiah, though hehad already pointed H i m out as the true L a m b of G o d .In order, therefore, to give the multitude to understandthat John did not send his disciples for the purpose ofclearing up his doubt, but to- have them instructed, ourLord said : What went ye out into the desert to see ? W a sit to see a man who like a reed is shaken with every wind;an inconstant man who is still in doubt about the missionof H i m W h o m he had already announced ? D o youthink he envies Me, and that b y his preaching he seeksonly his own honour and glory and even personalinterest? And how could riches and dainty dishes
  27. 27. delight one who makes his food of locusts and wild honey ?W o u l d soft garments be more useful to him, since he isclothed with camels hair and a leathern girdle about hisloins ? Such food and such garments are the appanage ofthose who look for no other dwelling than a prison ; forthis will be the abode of them that preach the truth.Flatterers and self-interested people, that is, those whoare eager in the pursuit of money and of luxurious living,you find them and their desires in the houses of kings. A l lthis clearly shows that those who lead a severe and peni­tential life, and who announce the truth in all its purity,without deceit and flattery, must remain a w a y from royalcourts and from the palaces of sensual people. V . T h e testimony which T r u t h Itself g a v e to John theBaptist, saying that he was more than a prophet, exaltedhim above all other prophets, because, whilst otherprophets had, many hundreds of years tefore, announcedagain and again the coming of Jesus, John had pointedH i m out as already come. Moreover, he was dis­tinguished above all other prophets by the privilegeaccorded to him of baptizing Jesus in the waters of theJordan. A n d in order to point out to all the specialdignity of John, our L o r d added: This is he of whom it iswritten; Behold, I send My angel before thy face, who shallprepare the way before thee (Mark iii. 2). N o t that Johnpossessed the angelic nature, but that, announcing to usthe coming of the Saviour, he performed one of the dutiesof the celestial messengers; THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT.G O S P E L : John i. 19-29. At that time: T h e Jews sentfrom Jerusalem Priests and L e v i t e s to John to ask him :W h o art thou ? A n d he confessed and did not d e n y ;
  28. 28. and he confessed: I am not the Christ. A n d theyasked h i m : W h a t then ? A r t thou Elias ? A n d hesaid: I am not. A r t thou a Prophet? A n d heanswered: N o . T h e y said, therefore, unto h i m : W h oart thou, that we may give an answer to them that sentus ? W h a t sayest thou of thyself ? H e s a i d : I amthe voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight theway of the Lord, as said the Prophet Isaias. A n d theythat were sent were of the Pharisees. And they askedhim and said to him : W h y then dost thou baptize ifthou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the Prophet ? Johnanswered them, s a y i n g : I baptize with water, but therehath stood One in the midst of you W h o m you know not.The same is H e that shall come after me, W h o is pre­ferred before m e ; the latchet of W h o s e shoe I am notworthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania,beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. H O M I L Y B Y P O P E ST. G R E G O R Y , P R E A C H E D I N THE CHURCH O F ST. PETER. SEVENTH HOMILY ON T H E GOSPELS. I. T h e words of this Gospel, beloved brethren, teachus highly to esteem the humility of St. John. H i s heroicvirtues were so well known, that he was believed by themultitude to be Jesus Christ Himself; yet, far from beingled astray by the high estimation in which he was held,or holding a good opinion of himself, he preferred toknow himself and to remain in his humble position. Heconfessed and did not deny; and he confessed: I am not theChrist. However, by saying that he was not the Christ,W h o m they believed him to be, he did not deny thatwhich he in reality was, and so in truth he became amember of H i m W h o s e name he would not-assume. H e
  29. 29. renounced the name and the high dignity of Jesus Christ,and thus deserved to be a member of C h r i s t ; for the con­fession of his humble condition raised him up to a great­ness published and confirmed by our L o r d Himself. Ifnow we meditate on some words of Jesus which w e findin another part of H o l y Scripture, w e shall have to clearup a most important question. W h e n the disciples ofour L o r d asked H i m about the second coming of Elias,He, answering, said to them : Elias indeed shall come. But Isay to you, that Elias is already come, and they knew him not, hithave done unto him whatsoever they had a mind. Then thedisciples understood that He had spoken to them of John theBaptist (Matt. xvii. n - 1 3 ) . N o w , ask John the Baptist ifhe be Elias, and he will answer: / am not. W h o can explain this mystery, beloved brethren ? W h y does the Prophet of truth contradict H i m who is the Eternal T r u t h ? F o r there is a great contradiction between these two testimonies. And if John does not agree with the Truth, who shall be recognised as the Prophet of truth ? Y e t , when we examine the meaning of these words, which seem to be contradictory, w e at once, recognise that, although apparently announcing opposite things, they really are in perfect agreement. W h e n the angel, appearing to Zacharias, said that John shall go before the Lord in the spirit of Elias ( L u k e i. 17), he wished to convey the meaning that John would come into this world with the spirit and power of the prophet Elias, in order to precede the first coming of the Redeemer, as Elias would precede His second coming. E l i a s will be the precursor of the great Divine Judge, as John was the precursor of the Divine Redeemer. John was Elias in spirit but not in person; therefore, he could deny to be the person of one whose spirit was in him, according to the testimony of the L o r d . Besides, it was proper that
  30. 30. Jesus, answering His disciples, should speak of the spiritof St. J o h n ; whereas the Baptist, answering a multitudeof rough and sensual people, spoke of his body and person,and not of his spirit. In this manner his words do notdepart from the w a y of truth, though at first sight theyseem to contain a contradiction. II. W h e n he promptly added that he w a s not aprophet, he wished to declare that he had not only thepower to announce the Redeemer of the world, but w a salso able to point H i m out; and he declared his mission,saying : i" am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Y o uknow, beloved brethren, that the only-begotten Son iscalled the Word of the Father, as S t . John the Evangelisttells us, s a y i n g : In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John i. i ) .Now you certainly notice that, when you speak, the soundof the voice strikes the ear before the word is distinctlyheard. In the same sense John declares himself to be thevoice, because he precedes the W o r d , for his coming pre­ceded that of the Redeemer ; therefore he w a s the voicethrough which the W o r d of the Father was heard. H eis also the voice of one crying in the wilderness and an­nouncing to the hopelessly forsaken Judea, the approaching consolation of the Saviour. L a s t l y , he teaches the mean­ing of his cry by adding : Make straight the way of the Lord,as said the prophet Isaias (Isa. xl. 3). Now, the w a y of the Lord is made straight and prepared in our hearts, when.we hear the word of truth in humility and resignation. His w a y is also made straight, when through the purityof our life w e prepare ourselves to accept the teaching of His truth. T h u s Jesus Christ said : If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We willcome to him, and will make Our abode with him (John xiv. 23).,Consequently, he that extols himself in pride and is
  31. 31. governed by avarice; he that gives himself up to luxury and lust, closes his heart against truth, opens the door to passions, and shuts every entrance of his soul against the L o r d , W h o then cannot take up H i s abode with him. I I I . These same men sent by the Jews to St. John, inquired of him w h y he baptized, since he was not Christ, nor Elias, nor the Prophet? B u t it w a s envy, not the desire of knowing the truth, that led them to speak. T h i s is sufficiently clear from the words of the Evange­ list, who says : And they that were sent were of the Pharisees, just as if he had said : T h e y inquired into the doings of John with such eagerness as to show that they wished to find in them something blamable, and that they did not care for his teaching, which only aroused their envy and jealousy. H o w e v e r , since the spirit of meekness and holy zeal does not forsake the saints, even when the envious and wicked question them, w e see that John the Baptist answered with words of life and salvation the questions inspired by envy and hatred, arid said: J baptize with water ; but there hath stood One in the midst of you Whom you know not. T h e baptism of John w a s only a baptism with water, as he himself confessed, therefore it did not give the H o l y Ghost. It had not the power of forgiving sin; only of purifying the bodies, but not the souls, of those who received it. H e g a v e this unfruitful baptism only to fulfil his office of precursor, preceding by this baptism the one of the Redeemer, just as in his birth he had preceded the coming of Jesus into this world. E v e n in his preaching he had come before the Saviour. T h u s by the representation of this sacrament he signified the real Sacrament instituted b y our L o r d . While announcing the mystery of the Redeemer to the multi-• tude, John taught them that this Redeemer, W h o m they knew not, stood in the midst of them. F o r H e W h o was
  32. 32. God had taken human nature, was like us in everything,and w a s visibly among men ; yet the splendour of H i s Divinity w a s hidden from their eyes. And when he added: The same is He that shall come after me, Who ispreferred before me, he wished to teach us, that if Jesus Christ, as to H i s birth, has come after him, according to His dignity H e was infinitely preferred before him. Andhe gives the reason of this preference in the precedingwords, He was before me, and declares that H e W h owas born after him far surpasses him, because timecannot enclose H i m in its bounds. Though H e was bornof His Virgin Mother in time, yet H e was begotten ofHis Father from all eternity. However, to show evenmore clearly the esteem and reverence which were due tothe Redeemer, he confessed in deep humility that he wasnot worthy to loose the latchet of H i s shoe. A m o n g theancients there was a custom that, when a man would notaccept the bride allotted to him by law, this bride was totake off his shoes. T h i s clearly indicates that, when Jesuscame to abide among men, H e also showed Himself as theBridegroom of the Holy Church, according to the words ofJohn himself, s a y i n g : He that hath the bride is the bride­groom (John iii. 29). N o w , in order to combat the opinion,according to which some thought that the person of Jesuswas John the Baptist, he positively declares that he w a s noteven worthy to loose the latchet of the Redeemers shoe,acknowledging by this that, as he could neither assumethe name nor the nature of the Bridegroom, so neitherhad he the power to uncover the feet of the Redeemer.There is yet another meaning in these words. Everyoneknows that what serves to cover the feet is taken fromthe skin of dead animals. N o w , our Saviour, taking abody like ours, appeared in this world with the coveringof our mortal and corruptible nature. W h o is able to 2
  33. 33. understand the mystery of the Incarnation of the W o r d ofGod ? W h o can comprehend how the highest Spirit,giving life to everything, received life in the womb of amother ? H o w w a s H e , who had no beginning, but iseternal, and showed Himself in time, conceived ? A n das the obscurity of this mystery is signified b y the latchetof the Saviour of the world, we understand w h y John theBaptist declared that he had not the power to loose it.Though he had recognised by his prophetic spirit theIncarnation of the W o r d , his human mind w a s not ableto conceive this great mystery. W h e n he tells us that heis not worthy to loose the latchet of the Saviours shoe,he wishes to teach us that he acknowledges his ignorance,and that w e are not to be astonished at seeing that H e ,W h o was born after him, was preferred before h i m ; be­cause the mystery of our Saviours nativity was farbeyond his conception and understanding. Lastly, thisconfession of S t . John tells us that, though he mighthave possessed the required knowledge imparted to himin the gift of prophecy, he still remained in ignoranceconcerning this incomprehensible mystery. I V . Beloved brethren, our special attention is called tothe w a y in which the saints endeavour to preserve thevirtue of humility. A s soon as they are aware of theextraordinary wisdom and knowledge imparted to them,they consider all the things which they do not know, sothat the consideration of their weakness may keep themhumble, since the knowledge of their perfection mightengender pride in them ; they are convinced that, know­ ledge being a virtue, humility is its best preservative. For, be the mind ever so enlightened by extraordinaryattainments, it must be humbled deeply, that the blessings received and acquired by knowledge may not be blown away by the wind of pride. Therefore, beloved brethren,
  34. 34. when you do good works, remember the evil you have done in past y e a r s ; for if you keep your faults beforeyour eyes, you will never feel vain delight nor takethoughtless pleasure in any merit you may possess. Con­sider yourselves less than others, especially less than those not entrusted to your care. Should you notice faults inyour neighbour, consider that he possesses virtues whichyou do not see. Everyone is intended to acquire a certaindegree of eminence through his merits ; yet in a certainsense he must not recognise this, lest he lose through pride the virtue he has attained. Woe to you, says the prophet Isaias, that are wise in your own eyes, and prudentin your own conceits (Isa. v. 21). St. Paul confirms thesewords when he s a y s : Be not wise in your own conceits(Rom. xii. 16). W h e n Saul was puffed up with prideGod said to h i m : When thou wast a little one in thy own eyes,was thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel ? (1 K i n g sxv. 17). T h a t is, when thou didst esteem thyself butlittle among others, I exalted thee above all of them; butnow, as thou thinkest thyself great, thou hast becomelittle in M y eyes. O n the contrary, we see David who,in spite of his power and glory, thought but little of him­self, dancing before the ark and saying: Before theLord . . . I will both play and make myself meaner than I havedone, and I will be little in my own eyes (2 Kings vi. 22). B u twho is he that would preserve himself from pride ? had hedone such heroic deeds as this King, and counted in hislife so many wonders as we read in the history of thisKing ? H e had, by the strength of his arms, struckdown lions and bears and cut them to pieces ; he waspreferred to his brothers, though the last of them, andwas chosen to wear the royal crown ; he was anointed bythe prophet, in order to take the place of a reprobateKing, and to govern the kingdom of Israel. W i t h one 2—2
  35. 35. single stone he had overthrown a powerful giant, theterror of Sauls army. Y e t , in spite of these brilliantdeeds, and in the midst of his triumph and exaltation,this powerful K i n g , as seen by his humble words andfeelings, thought but little of himself. If the greatestsaints, amidst their wonderful deeds, thought themselvesworthy of contempt, how will those who do not practisethe least virtue excuse their vanity and pride? F o rshould we deserve praise for our good works, yet they mustbe considered as nothing, unless humility give them theirvalue. Virtue will lower, not exalt us, when humility iswanting. T h e Christian who heaps up virtues withoutthe accompanying humility is like a man exposing dustto the w i n d ; it will be carried a w a y by the wind andthrown into his own eyes. Therefore, beloved brethren,cling to humility in all your actions, as to the root of allgood works. D o not consider those whom you surpassin merits, but fix your eyes on those w h o excel you invirtues; then y o u will place before you as models thosewho are most perfect, and by your own humility you willattain the highest degree of perfection. FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT.G O S P E L : L u k e iii. 1-6. N o w , in the fifteenth year ofthe reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate beingGovernor of Judea, and Herod Tetrarch of Galilee, andPhilip his brother Tetrarch of Iturea and the country ofTrachonitis, and L y s a n i a s Tetrarch of Abilina, under thehigh priests A n n a s and Caiphas, the word of the L o r d w a smade unto John, the son of Z a c h a r y , in the desert.A n d he came into all the country. about the Jordan,preaching the baptism of penance for the remission ofsins, as it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias
  36. 36. the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness :Prepare y e the w a y of the L o r d ; make straight H i spaths. E v e r y valley shall be filled, and every mountainand hill shall be brought low ; and the crooked shall bemade straight, and the rough w a y s plain. A n d all fleshshall see the salvation of G o d /HOMILY BY POPE ST. G R E G O R Y , PREACHED IN THE CHURCH O F ST. J O H N THE BAPTIST. TWENTIETH HOMILY ON THE GOSPELS. I. T h e Gospel, speaking of the Roman EmperorTiberius and of the different Princes governing Judea andGalilee and other provinces, has no other motive but totell us the year in which the word of the Lord was made untoJohn, the Precursor of the true Messiah. H e was toannounce to the world H i m W h o would save some amongthe Jews and a great number of Gentiles; therefore thetime of his ministry is given by the name of the Emperorwho reigned over the Gentiles and by the Princes govern­ing in Judea. T h e enrolment which had taken place inthe world, indicates that the Gentiles were to be united,whilst the faithless nation of the Jews would be dispersed.For the Romans recognised but one supreme chief, whilstJudea w a s divided into four provinces under as manyPrinces. T h u s was verified among the Jews the wordof the Redeemer : Every kingdom divided against itself shallbe brought to desolation ( L u k e xi. 17). And the names of thehigh priests are given after those of the Kings, becauseJohn the Baptist announced the Messiah, who was bothPriest and K i n g . S t . L u k e , mentioning in his Gospelthe ministry of the Precursor, speaks at the same time ofthe office of priests and rulers. II. John came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching
  37. 37. the baptism of penance for the remission of sins. F r o m thewords of H o l y Scripture it appears that S t . John not onlypreached the baptism of penance, but also administeredit to some of the Jews. H i s baptism could not forgivesins, for only the baptism instituted by Jesus can do that.However, he preached the baptism of penance; for,though he had not the power to give the baptism whichsanctifies, at least he announced it to the world. T h i sgreat prophet had preached, in the ministry of the W o r d ,the Saviour W h o , being the uncreated W o r d of the Father,was made man for us ; and now he represented by hissterile baptism the Sacrament of the real Baptism, whichalone can sanctify, truth and reality being preceded byshadows and symbols. I I I . And the Gospel adds : As it was written in the bookof the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying inthe wilderness : Prepare ye the way of the Lord ; make straightHis paths. W h e n John was asked by the priests andL e v i t e s : Who art thou ? he answered: / am the voice ofone crying in the wilderness (John i. 23). H e w a s called bythe prophet a voice, as we have shown elsewhere, be­cause by his voice he had preceded the Divine W o r d .W e also know the words uttered by this voice, for theprophet himself tells them, saying : Prepare ye the way ofthe Lord; make straight His paths. W e learn from all thisthat he, who preached the true faith and the necessity ofgood works, wished also to prepare the hearts of thosewho listened to him, that is, to prepare the w a y by which the L o r d was coming. F o r he removed from menshearts whatever could prevent the grace of G o d from entering into and illuminating them by the Divine light.T h e minister of the word makes the w a y s straight for the steps of the Redeemer, when he awakens pious thoughtsin the mind of his hearers. Therefore, when it is said:
  38. 38. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hillshall be brought low, we understand that the humble aremeant by the valleys and the proud by the mountains.W e know now why at the coming of the Saviour of theworld the valleys were to be filled and the mountains tobe brought low, for H e Himself said: Everyone thatexalteth himself, shall be humbled; and he that humbleth him­self, shall be exalted ( L u k e xiv. 1 1 ) . A valley, which isfilled up, rises and increases; whilst a mountain or hillbrought down will decrease. T h u s we see that the Gen­tiles, who in all humility received the faith in JesusChrist, the Mediator between God and man, received thefulness of g r a c e ; whilst the Jews, puffed up and filledwith pride and vanity, lost the grace of G o d throughtheir faithlessness. T h e valleys are filled, because thehumble, receiving into their hearts the word of salvation,obtain at the same time grace to help them to practisevirtue, according to the words of the psalmist: Thousendest forth springs in the vales (Ps. ciii. 1 0 ) ; and again :The vales shall abound with corn (Ps. lxiv. 14). T h e waterrunning down the mountains represents those proudmen who have forsaken the doctrine of t r u t h ; buthumble souls receive the truth preached to them, likethe valleys receive the waters which render them fertile.Indeed, we recognise this fact when we consider thosewhose meekness and simplicity are despised by the world,but who are- nourished and filled with the bread ofDivine truth. I V . W h e n the multitude saw the extraordinary holi­ness of John the Baptist, they believed him to be thefirm and high mountain announced in H o l y Scripture:It shall come to pass that the mountain of the house of the Lordshall be prepared in the top of mountains, and high above thehills ; and the people shall flow to it (Mich. iv. 1 ) . These
  39. 39. words were applied to S t . John the more confidently • since, according to the Gospel, he w a s taken for Christ Himself: The people were of opinion, and all were thinking in their hearts of John, that perhaps he might be the Christ ( L u k e iii. 15). T h e multitude, thinking this in their hearts, insisted on an answer, and said to h i m : Art thou not Christ ? B u t John the Baptist, through his own humility, was in his own eyes like a deep valley. H e was, therefore, filled with the grace of the H o l y Ghost, and, making known the opinion he had of himself, he answered: He that shall come after me is preferred before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. A g a i n he said : He that hath the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceih with joy because of the bridegrooms voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease (John iii. 29, 30). W e see, therefore, that John the Baptist, on account of his great virtues, was taken for Jesus Christ by those who saw and heard him. In order to bring them out of this error, he answered that he was not only not Christ, but that he was not even worthy to loose the latchet of H i s shoe, that is, to investigate and understand the great mystery of the Incarnation. They also imagined, when taking John for Jesus Christ, that the Church was H i s Bride. H o w e v e r , he formally de­ clared that the true Bridegroom was H e who possessed the bride, as if to s a y : I am not the bridegroom, only the friend of the Bridegroom, giving us to understand that his only joy consisted in hearing the Bridegrooms voice, and that he did not glory in his own voice. F o r the j o y which St. John felt in his heart did not come from the fact that the multitude listened to him in sincere humility, but from the hope that the voice of truth had gained their hearts, and that by his teaching he would then unfold the
  40. 40. truth more fully to them. H e could, therefore, say that his joy w a s full; for he that rejoices only because his voice w a s listened to, cannot possess real and entire happiness. V . S t . John, speaking of our Redeemer, added: He must increase, but I must decrease. Now, let us consider in what our L o r d could increase and in what H i s prophet could decrease. This difficulty is easily overcome when we remember that the people, seeing the wonderful mortification of John the Baptist, and his retirement in the desert far from all intercourse with men, thought he was Christ the Messiah. Whereas, seeing Jesus among publicans, conversing and eating with them, and not avoiding the company of sinners, they took H i m for a prophet only, and not for the Christ. B u t what John said was literally fulfilled, when the time came that the Redeemer, W h o m they had looked upon as a mereprophet, was recognised as the Christ, and that John the Baptist, taken for Christ, w a s then known only as H i sprophet. Then, indeed, was fulfilled what John said ofJesus : He must increase, but I must decrease. A n d our Lordincreased in the esteem of men as soon as they recog­nised W h o H e in reality w a s ; whilst the honour givento John decreased, when it became known that he wasonly the prophet of the Messiah. T h u s the holiness ofJohn the Baptist was preserved, because he remainedhumble. T h e greater number of those w h o wish toattain to greatness, very often by their proud thoughtsand sentiments, fall deeply, and verify in their lives thesew o r d s : Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain andhill shall be brought low. F o r G o d is with the humble, andgives them H i s richest blessings; whereas H e forsakesthe heart of the proud man. V I . Again it is s a i d : And the-crooked shall be made
  41. 41. straight, and the rough ways plain. T h e s e words will befulfilled when the wicked, whose hearts are corrupted byinjustice, endeavour to return to G o d by practisingChristian justice. A n d the .rough w a y s are made plain,when hard and passionate hearts are softened and becomepeaceful through the grace of God. W h e n the word oftruth is not received, but finds an insensible heart, it iswithdrawn, on account of the obstacles placed in its way.Whereas, when through the unction of the grace of God,we are softened and willingly receive the instructionsand exhortations of G o d s ministry, the truth they an­nounce, instead of finding rough w a y s , finds them smoothand plain, and thus easily penetrates the heart. V I I . And all flesh, continues the Evangelist, shall seethe salvation of God; that is, all men shall see Jesus Christ.B u t in this life all men cannot see the Redeemer. Itseems, therefore, that the prophet spoke of the future,that he saw heaven open before him, and Jesus in Hisglory, surrounded by angels, apostles and saints, as H ewill come to judge the world. T h e n all men, both thejust and the unjust, will see the Judge. T h e just, thatthey may receive the due reward of everlasting happi­ness ; and the wicked, that they may be punished ineverlasting torments for their sins and vices. A m e n . CHRISTMAS DAY.G O S P E L : L u k e ii. 1-14. And it came to pass that inthose days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustusthat the whole world should be enrolled. T h i s enrollingw a s first made by Cyrinus, the Governor of Syria. A n dall went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. AndJoseph also went up from Galilee out of the city ofNazareth into Judea, to the city of D a v i d , which is
  42. 42. called Bethlehem, because he was of the house andfamily of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his espousedwife, w h o was with child. And it came to pass, thatwhen they were there, her days were accomplished thatshe should be delivered. A n d she brought forth herfirst-born Son, and wrapped H i m up in swaddling-clothes,and laid H i m in a manger, because there was no room forthem in the inn. A n d there were in the same countryshepherds watching and keeping the night-watches overtheir flock. A n d behold an angel of the L o r d stood bythem, and the brightness of God shone round aboutt h e m ; and they feared with a great fear. A n d the angelsaid to t h e m : Fear n o t ; for behold I bring you goodtidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people;for this day is born to you a S A V I O U R , W h o is Christthe L o r d , in the city of David. And this shall be asign unto y o u : Y o u shall find the Infant wrapped inswaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenlythere w a s with the angel a multitude of the heavenlyarmy, praising God, and saying: Glory to G o d in thehighest, and on earth peace to men of good will.HOMILY BY POPE ST. GREGORY, PREACHED IN THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY ON CHRISTMAS DAY. EIGHTH HOMILY ON THE GOSPELS. I. Since by the mercy of God we are to say threeMasses to-day, there is not much time left for preachingon this G o s p e l ; at the same time the festival of theL o r d s Nativity obliges us to speak a few words. L e tus first ask why, when our L o r d was to be born, theworld w a s enrolled ? W a s it not clearly to show thatH e W h o was to come into this world and be made manwould one day enroll H i s elect and inscribe their names
  43. 43. in the book of eternity ? F o r the prophet, speaking ofthe reprobate, s a y s : Let them be blotted out of the book ofthe living ; and with the just let them not be written ( P s .lxviii. 29). Then it is not without a special reason thatthe L o r d is born in Bethlehem. F o r the name Bethlehemsignifies the House of Bread, and this is the birthplace ofH i m W h o said : 1 am the living Bread, which came down fromheaven (John vi. 5 1 ) . W e see then that the name ofBethlehem was prophetically given to the place whereChrist w a s born, because it w a s there that H e w a s toappear in the flesh, by the eating of which the souls ofthe elect are fed unto life everlasting. H e w a s born, notin H i s mothers house, but away from home. A n d thisis a mystery, showing that by assuming our mortalityH e w a s born in a strange country. W e say strange,considering the Divine nature of our Redeemer, andnot H i s Divine power. For, referring to this power,H o l y Scripture says that, when the L o r d came into thisworld, H e came unto H i s own. B u t , when thinking ofH i s Divine nature, and knowing that H e w a s begottenof the Father before all worlds, we may say that bytaking our nature in time, H e came into a strangecountry. Again, considering, as the prophet says, thatall flesh is grass (Isa. xl. 6), we easily understand howJesus, taking this flesh, changed it into wheat, since H esaid of Himself: Unless the grain of wheat falling into theground die, itself remaineth alone (John xii. 24). T h i s is thereason why the Divine Child is seen in a manger afterH i s birth, that H i s flesh, like pure wheat, may draw toH i m the faithful, as mysterious animals, to be fed andfilled with eternal wisdom. And when it is said that theangel showed himself to the shepherds keeping thenight-watches, and that a wonderful light surroundedthem, we learn from this that those, who carefully attend
  44. 44. to the flocks entrusted to them must be favoured with deeper knowledge, since their ministry is highly meri­ torious. For, whilst they carefully watch over their flocks, they are enlightened by God with graces more abundant than those given to others. I I . T h e angel announced that a King was born, and sud­denly there w a s with the angel a multitude of the heavenlyhost praising G o d and saying : Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace to men of good will. Before the Incarnationof the Son of God there w a s disagreement between theangels and men. Original sin and the crimes daily com­mitted in the world were the cause of this division. It wasonly just that the angels, being the friends and faithful ser­vants of God, should look upon men as strangers and haveno communication with them on account of their trans­gressing the commandments. B u t since man submittedto G o d and recognised H i m as his lawful Master, theheavenly spirits consider mankind as their fellow-citizens.T h o u g h highly superior to us, they do not despise ourweakness, since the K i n g of heaven and earth camedown and took upon H i m this human weakness. Theseblessed spirits, forgetting their former aversion, wish tolive in friendship with us. Instead of despising us asfrail humanity, they look upon us as their fellow-creatures.W e read in H o l y Scripture that L o t and Josua prostrateon the ground worshipped the angels sent by God ; butwhen St. John fell down to adore before the feet of theangel he was prevented from doing so, for the angel said:See thou do it not, for I am thy fellow-servant and of thybrethren (Apoc. xxii. 9). W h y did the angels, before thecoming of the Redeemer, see men prostrate before themand prevent them not ? A n d why were they unwilling,after the birth of our Saviour, to receive such honour ?W a s it not because they saw the human nature, which they
  45. 45. had before despised, now exalted high above their own inthe person of Jesus, true God and true man ? A l s o becausethey dread to see the human nature humbled, since theyadore that humanity in the person of the K i n g of Majesty,their own K i n g . Lastly, the angels consider man astheir equal because they adore God made man, sitting atthe right hand of the Father. L e t us, therefore, belovedbrethren, beware of every sin, by which w e might bemade unworthy of that heavenly city, which God hasprepared for us as well as for His angels. L e t us leadsuch good lives that they may correspond with ourdignity. Avoid, therefore, impurity and lust, even everysinful thought. L e t not wickedness soil the purity ofyour souls; let not the poison of envy and hatred penetrateyour hearts. K e e p your souls free from pride, covetous-ness and anger, and especially from the desire of tastingthe sinful pleasures of this world. Remember that youhave been called the sons of the most High ( P s . lxxxi. 6).Defend in yourselves the glory of G o d by avoiding sin,for G o d was made man in order to honour us and makeus partakers of H i s eternal glory. A m e n .THE FEAST OF ST. STEPHEN, T H E FIRST MARTYR.G O S P E L : Matt, xxiii. 34-39. At that time : Jesus saidunto the Scribes and Pharisees: Behold, I send to youprophets, and wise men and scribes ; and some of themyou will put to death and crucify, and some you willscourge in your synagogues and persecute from city toc i t y ; that upon you m a y come all the just blood that hathbeen shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel thejust even unto the blood of Zacharias, the son of Barachias,whom you killed between the temple and the altar.
  46. 46. TA m e n , I sa) to you all these things shall comeupon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou thatkillest the prophets and stonest them that are sent untothee, how often would I have gathered together thychildren as the hen doth gather her chickens under herwings, and thou wouldest not. Behold, your house shallbe left to you desolate. F o r I say to you, you shall notsee M e henceforth till you say : Blessed is H e thatcometh in the name of the L o r d . HOMILY BY ST. JEROME, PRIEST. COMMENT ON M A T T , XXIIL, BK. IV. I. T h e words addressed to the Jews by our Redeemer,when H e said: Fill ye up the measure of your fathers (Matt, xxiii. 32), especially refer, as we have alreadyremarked, to Himself, w h o m the Jews afterwards put todeath. In a secondary sense they may also be appliedto H i s disciples, of w h o m H e s a y s : Behold, I send to youprophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them youwill put to death and crucify, and some you will scourge inyour synagogues, and persecute from city to city. Observethat, according to the Apostle writing to the Corinthians (1 Cor. xii. 4), there are diversities of gifts granted to Christs followers. Some are prophets of that which isto come ; some are wise men, who know the suitableseason for rebuke or exhortation; some are scribeslearned in the law. A n d of these they stoned Stephen,slew P a u l with the sword, crucified Peter, and scourgedthe disciples, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles(v. 4 0 ; x v i . 23). W h e n these men, sent by God, sawthat they were universally despised, persecuted from onecity to another, and lastly driven out of the land of the
  47. 47. Jews, they went to the Gentiles. After reproaching the Jews with the blood of so many of their own people which they had shed, our L o r d added these words: Amen, I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. B u t the multitude listening to Jesus, when H e said these words, had not shed the blood of Abel and other saints of the Old Testament unto the blood of Zacharias. Why, then, should they be guilty of all that blood ? Because, in the language of the Scriptures, all the just are in­ cluded in one and the same generation, and all the wicked in another generation, of which they are con­ sidered to be the offspring. A s to the generation of thejust we hear the prophet s a y : Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord, or who shall stand in His holy place ? (Ps. xxiii. 3). A n d , after speaking of those who shallascend into this mountain, he concludes with thesewords : This is the generation of them that seek Him, of them that seek the face of the God of Jacob. T h e same prophet, speaking in another psalm of all the saints, says that heaven will ever bless the generation of the just. Con­sidering the wicked mentioned in that passage, we seethat they are called a brood, or generation, of vipers (Matt. iii. 7), and all these things shall come upon that accursed generation. T h e prophet Ezechiel, after enumerating all the sins committed in this world, adds these terrible w o r d s : If these three men, Noe, Daniel, and Job, shall be in the land, they shall deliver their own souls by theirjustice, but the land shall be desolate (Ezec. xiv. 1 4 , 1 6 ) . T h e prophet includes under the names of Noe, Daniel, andJob, all the just who by their virtues were like thesemen. Then, all those who persecuted the Apostles, andimitated Cain and Joas in their sins, are included in thegeneration of the wicked. II. It is a matter of dispute among commentators,
  48. 48. who is meant by Zacharias, the son of Barachias. W eread of several persons of the name of Z a c h a r i a s ; buthere, in order to prevent any mistake, it is particularlysaid : Whom you killed between the temple and the altar. Ihave read various opinions in various places upon thisquestion, and I will give each of them. Some hold thatZacharias, the son of Barachias, is the eleventh of thetwelve minor prophets, and this opinion is supportedby the fathers name. B u t Holy Scripture nowheretells us that this prophet w a s slain between the templeand the altar, and it is hardly possible that he can havebeen so, for in his time it could scarcely be said thateven the ruins of the temple still existed. Others main­tain that this Zacharias was Zacharias, the father ofJohn the Baptist. T h i s interpretation is derived fromthe dreams- of the A p o c r y p h a l Gospels, wherein it isasserted that he was martyred for preaching Christscoming. Again, others will have it that this Zacharias,the son of Barachias, w a s that Zacharias of whom weread, that he w a s killed b y Joas, King of Juda, betweenthe temple and the altar. Against this it is to beremarked that that Zacharias was not the son ofBarachias, but of Joiada the priest; whence it is writtenin H o l y Scripture : Joas did itot remember the kindness whichJoiada, his father, had done to him (2 Par. x x i v . 22). T h e question, therefore, arises, if this opinion be true, why,the name and manner of death both agreeing with the explanation, Zacharias is called, not the son of Joiada, but of Barachias. In Hebrew Barachias signifies the blessed of the Lord, and Joiada justice. In the Gospel used b y the Nazarenes the name of Joiada is used instead of Barachias. I I I . Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to thee.- L e t us not imagine
  49. 49. that by the word Jerusalem our L o r d meant the stonesand buildings of the city. N o , H e spoke of the in­habitants, and complained, like a kind father complainsof his childrens wickedness. In another Gospel ( L u k exix. 41) we are told that when Jesus saw the city H ewept over i t ; and b y t h e words added by our Saviour :How often would, I have gathered together thy children, H e teaches us that all the prophets who had arisen amongthe Jews, in order to convert them, were sent in H i s name. W h e n , lastly, H e tells the Jews that their house would be left desolate, H e only confirms what H e had already announced to the prevaricating people by the prophet Jeremiah, saying : / have forsaken my house ; I have left my inheritance (xii. 7). Indeed, w e see in our time that the house of the Jews, that is, the magnificent temple, considered as one of the wonders ctf the world, is a for­ saken and desolate place, since Jesus Christ abandoned it, and since the Heir w a s killed by the perfidious nation, which endeavoured to seize upon the inheritance. I V . In the same manner our L o r d addressed Jerusalem and the whole Jewish nation, when H e said : / say to you, you shall not see Me henceforth until you say: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. T h e s e last words, which the children used when expressing their j o y at the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, are taken from the 117th Psalm, in which the royal prophet speaks of Jesus. B y these words our L o r d wished to tell the Jews, that they would never see H i m unless they did penance, and openly confessed that H e was the Son of God the A l m i g h t y , announced by the prophets. T i m e was given to the Jews to be converted. Their only duty was to acknowledge and adore H i m , W h o was sent by the Father to be their K i n g ; then they would see Jesus Christ and reign with H i m .
  50. 50. SUNDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS. G O S P E L : L u k e ii. 33-40. At that time: Joseph and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were wondering at these things which were spoken concerning Him. A n d Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother : Behold, the Child is set-for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the"tribe of Aser. She was far advanced in years, and hadlived with her husband seven years from her virginity;and she was a widow until fourscore and four y e a r s ;who departed not from the temple, by fastings andprayers serving night and day. Now, she at the samehour coming in, confessed to the Lord, and spoke ofH i m to all that looked for the redemption of Israel.And after they had performed all things according to thelaw of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, into theircity Nazareth. And the Child grew, and waxed strong,full of wisdom ; and the grace of God was in H i m . . H O M I L Y BY T H E V E N E R A B L E B E D E , T R I E S T . Bic. i., ON L U K E II. I. In the Gospel we see that Joseph was called thefather of our Saviour ; but we know that he w a s not, ac­cording to the erroneous interpretation of the Photinians,the real father of Jesus, but only His reputed father, inorder to save the honour of Mary his spouse. T h eEvangelist knew that the Virgin, though a mother, hadconceived by the operation of the Holy Ghost. However, 3—2
  51. 51. 36 S UN DA YS A ND FESTIVA LSto follow the common expressions used b y historians, hemade no scruple at calling St. Joseph the father of Jesus.Moreover, w e may apply to him the qualifications of afather in the same sense and for the same reasons as we callhim the spouse of Mary, though she remained a Virgin inspite of the conjugal bond. Indeed, on account of thisbond, uniting Joseph with his spouse, he deserved the titleof father of Jesus more justly than if he had adopted H i m ;and he would have possessed the rights of a father overJesus, even though not born of his spouse, had he adoptedH i m according to the law. I I . It was in very truth that Simeon, when speakingof the Redeemer, could say to Mary : Behold, the Child isset for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel.Indeed, many will rise through Jesus Christ, the lightand the glory of Israel. H e Himself teaches us thistruth, when He says : i" am the resurrection and the life.And everyone that liveth, and believeth in Me, shall not die forever (John xi. 25, 26). And H e will be an occasion offall for many, because H e is the stone which, rejected bythe builders, has become the head of the corner, and willgrind to dust those on whom it falls, those w h o do not believe in H i m . It was of them that H e spoke, saying :If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin;but now they have no excuse for their sin (John x v . 22). B u tJesus is also an occasion of fall for many, not only in H i s own person, but also in the person of H i s ministers. T h u s we hear St. P a u l say : We are the good odour of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish (2 Cor. ii. 15). If, therefore, we willingly accept the doctrine of salvation, preached by G o d through H i s ministers sent to us, then it will be a good odour sanctify­ ing our s o u l ; whereas the same doctrine will be an odour of death and an occasion of fall for those who
  52. 52. neglect or despise it. W h e n the prophecy again tells usthat this Child shall be contradicted, we know that by thesewords is meant the faith in the death of our L o r d on thecross preached to the world. St. Paul tells us that the.Jews, speaking of the Christians, said : We know that thissect—those believing and teaching this doctrine—is every­where spoken against (Acts xxviii. 22). A n d the sameApostle says : We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jewsindeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles, foolishness(1 Cor. i. 23). I I I . H o l y Simeon again said to our Blessed L a d y thata sword would pierce her own soul. W e easily under­stand that a sword of sorrow, grief and suffering, result­ing from the great sufferings of her Son, w a s meant bythese w o r d s ; for no tradition relates that M a r y died bythe sword, which after all has power over the body onlyand not over the soul. H o l y Scripture speaks of thisspiritual sword : Their tongue is a sharp sword ( P s . lvi. 5).T h o u g h the Blessed Virgin Mary was fully convincedthat her Son Jesus, the eternally Begotten of the Father,could avoid death, though about to accept it willingly,yet, being His Mother, she could not but suffer the mostacute pain on seeing H i s crucifixion. T h e sword which,according to the prophet, pierced the soul of Mary, clearlyindicates the terrible anguish, suffered by this sorrowfulmother in her own soul. Before the Redeemer appearedin this world, no one could recognise with certitude thoseJews who, either received the grace of Jesus Christ, orrefused to accept the grace that was offered them. B u twhen the tidings of H i s birth were spread abroad, thenthe hidden thoughts of many hearts were revealed.King Herod, hearing this news, was troubled, and allJerusalem with him; whereas the shepherds rejoiced whenthe angel said : / bring you good tidings of great joy ; for
  53. 53. this day is born to you a Saviour ( L u k e ii. 1 0 , 1 1 ) ; and theyreturned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they hadheard and seen (verse 20). T h e splendour of the miraclesand Divine doctrine of the Saviour attracted many toH i m , and they listened to H i s w o r d s ; whereas otherscalled H i m a deceiver, and despised H i m . A n d when theysaw H i m hanging on the Cross, they even blasphemedH i m , and esteemed H i m worthy of that cruel punish­ment ; whilst the former showed deep sympathy andgrief on seeing the Author of life condemned to death.T h e Church of Jesus has until now felt this sword ofsuffering, and will be pierced by it till the end of thew o r l d ; for, as a mark of faith and salvation, she will becontinually contradicted. It is with grief and sorrowthat the Church sees great multitudes persevering ininfidelity and rushing on to perdition, though very many,hearing and obeying the word of G o d , will rise withJesus Christ. H e r sorrow increases when the thoughtsof many hearts are revealed, and when she perceives inthe field, in which she has been continually sowing theseed of the Gospel, cockle growing up. Indeed, theknowledge that the cockle of sin and vice is eminentlymore fertile, that it takes deep root and shoots forthluxuriantly, choking much of the wheat of virtue andinnocence, causes her tears to flow in abundance. I V . Anna, the prophetess, w h o by her long and holylife was accounted worthy to see the Redeemer of Israel,and to give testimony to the truth that she perceived inher prophetic mind, is the type of the Church; who seesherself deprived of the visible presence of her Bridegroomand Lord, since H e left this mortal life. T h e number ofyears mentioned by the Gospel as being the age of thiswidow, represents the time of the exile of the Church ina foreign land. She cannot, on account of this present
  54. 54. life in the world, be united with her Lord and Master,W h o s e coming, like A n n a the prophetess, she impatientlyawaits at the entrance of the temple, for she trusts inH i s promise: We will come to him, and make our abode withhim (John xiv. 23). After the testimony given b y Simeonto the Redeemer of the world, and given also about herselfby a Virgin in the conjugal state, it seems quite natural,in order not to exclude any kind of conditions, that awidow, venerable both by her position and holy life,should appear in the person of Anna and testify to thecoming of the Redeemer of Israel, and confirm this by-her praises. V . St. L u k e speaks here of the return of Jesus and H i sparents to Galilee, after they had performed all things accord­ing to the law of the Lord. H e does not mention the flightinto E g y p t , already recorded by St. Matthew, and whichhe did not think it necessary to repeat, to the interruptionof his narrative. A t all events, we know that St. L u k e ,like the other Evangelists, was enlightened by the HolyG h o s t ; and we know that, had the things he omittednot been committed to writing, the omission would havebeen supplied later on by the inspiration of God, so thatthe reader could place them in their proper position in theGospel story. A s to the words added by S t . L u k e thatthe Child grew and ivaxed strong, full of wisdom, and the grace of God ivas in Him, we remark that Jesus Christ, havingtaken a human nature, was subjected to all its weak­nesses and infirmities, and could as man grow and wax strong. B u t , considering H i m only as the W o r d of God and God Himself, we know that H e could not increase in wisdom. H o w e v e r , in all truth it may be said that H e was full of wisdom and grace, since H e was filled with grace as the Mediator between God and man, and from H i s birth was overflowing with grace, on account
  55. 55. of the perfect union between God and man in one DivinePerson. S t . John confirms all this when, speaking of theSon of God made man, he calls H i m full of grace and truth(John i. 14), meaning by this expression the fulness ofH i s Divinity, expressed by St. L u k e under the name ofwisdom. T H E FEAST OF THE CIRCUMCISION.G O S P E L : L u k e ii. 21. At that time: After eight dayswere accomplished that the Child should be circumcised,H i s name was called Jesus, which was called by theangel before H e was conceived in the w o m b . H O M I L Y B Y ST. AMBROSE, BISHOP. B K . 11., ON L U K E II. I. T h e Child is circumcised. W h o is that Child ? Itis the Child of W h o m it is said: A Child is born to us ; aSon is given to us (Isa. ix. 6). Made under the law, that Hemight redeem them who were under the law ( G a l . iv. 4).And His parents carried Him to Jerusalem to present Him tothe Lord ( L u k e ii. 22). I have explained, in my commen­tary on Isaias, what is meant by being presented to theL o r d ; I will not, therefore, enter into the subject again.H e that is circumcised in heart has G o d for his Protector,for the eyes of the Lord are upon the just ( P s . xxxiii. 16).Y o u will easily see that, as all the ceremonies of the oldlaw were types of the realities in the new, so the circum­cision of the body—a necessary duty—signified the cleans­ing of the heart from the guilt of sin. B u t , since thebody and the mind of men remain yet infected with aproneness to sin, the circumcision of the eighth day isalso a type of that complete cleansing of sin with which

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