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The Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity

Homily of Augustine on Psalm LXXV
Home for this Sunday

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Sacramentary of Bishop Gregory of Rome [600 AD]. Cranmer added "Church" to the "familia". Note "ONLY" by the hope of grace.

2 Kings xix. 1 , Psalm 75, 76 | 107,   Colossians iii. 12   &   St. Matthew xiii. 24


For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.
But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ




God is the Judge; he putteth down one, and setteth up another

"Although God has in his own hand sovereign power and authority, so that he can do whatever he pleases, yet he is styled judge, to teach us that he governs the affairs of mankind with the most perfect equity"

[Calvin on verse 7, Psalm 75]


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commentary and opinion


Augustine speaks on Psalm LXXV in today's featured homily. The New International Version Study Bible mentions that it may be related to the threat that King Hezekiah faced from the Assyrians as related in 2 Kings xviii. 13 - xix 37. In reading that passage, I felt that the first four verses of chapter xix were especially appropriate for today's Old Testament lesson. King Hezekiah, one of the few righteous kings after David, is the central character in the story. He humbled himself with external signs: tearing his clothes in desperation and wearing sackcloth in contrition (for the whole of Israel as her king), and only then did he come before the Lord with his invocation. He bid the intercessions of Isaiah and the priests of the Temple in prayers for deliverance. Perhaps this 75th Psalm is what they composed and chanted in response to his bidding. First Hezekiah confessed; then he invoked. Note how Augustine's translation or paraphrase of Psalm LXXV picks up this theme in 2 Kings, and how it compares with received translations today. Augustine wrote:

"We will confess to Thee, O Lord, we will confess to Thee, and will invoke Thy name"

Do not invoke, before thou confess: confess, and invoke. For Him whom thou art invoking, unto thyself thou callest. For what is it to invoke, but unto thyself to call? If He is invoked by thee, that is, if He is called to thee, unto whom doth He draw near? To a proud man He draweth not near. High indeed He is, one lifted up attaineth not unto Him. In order that we may reach all exalted objects, we raise ourselves, and if we are not able to reach them, we look for some appliances or ladders, in order that being exalted we may reach exalted objects: contrariwise God is both high, and by the lowly He is reached. It is written, "Nigh is the Lord to them that have bruised the heart." The bruising of the heart is Godliness, humility. He that bruiseth himself is angry with himself. Let him make himself angry in order that he may make Him merciful; let him make himself judge, in order that he may make Him Advocate. Therefore God doth come when invoked. Unto whom doth He come? To the proud man He cometh not....Take heed therefore what ye do: for if He knoweth, He is not unobservant. It is better therefore that He be unobservant than known. For what is that same being unobservant, but not knowing? What is, not to know? Not to animadvert. For even as the act of one avenging animadversion is wont to be spoken of. Here one praying that He be unobservant: "Turn away Thy face from my sins." What then wilt thou do if He shall have turned away His face from thee? A grievous thing it is, and to be feared, lest He forsake thee. Again, if He turn not away His face, He animadverteth. God knoweth this thing, God can do this thing, namely, both turn away face from one sinning, and not turn away from one confessing....Confess therefore and invoke. For by confessing thou purgest the Temple, into which He may come, when invoked. Confess and invoke. May He turn away face from thy sins, not turn away from thee: turn away face from that which thou hast wrought, not turn away from that which He hath Himself wrought. For thee, as man, He hath Himself wrought, thy sins thou hast thyself wrought....

Ponder how is Augustine's explanation of this verse can be likened to a liturgical practice of the Church. In the tradition that I know and love, after hearing lessons from the Word of God, and an exhortation by the presbyter, there follows a general confession before the celebration of the Eucharist. As Augustine says, "confess therefore and invoke." The celebrant then declares God's promised absolution to all those who truly repent, and then turns to celebrate the Great Thanksgiving and invokes the Holy Ghost in the mystery of Holy Communion: "Bless and sanctify with thy Word and Holy Sprit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine". This invocation is known as the  epiclesis, and is part of the ancient Roman rite of
Hippolytus  who prayed "we beseech you to send the Holy Spirit on the offering of the Holy Church"


"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]


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