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Fourth Sunday in Advent

Augustine on Psalm XCIX
Advent Four Home

O LORD, raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

Source: Bishop Gelasius of Rome Sacramentary [464 AD]. The 1662 edition added the "running the race that is before us" "Succor" is to run to help, while "sore let" is to thwart, hinder

Philippians iv. 4, Psalms 98, 99 | 101, 103   &  St. John i. 19.

Homily of Augustine on Psalm XCIX

Thou heardest them, O LORD our God;
thou forgavest them, O God, though thou didst punish their wicked doings.

         Gilbert West and his friend, Lord Lyttleton, both men of acknowledged talents, had imbibed the principles of infidelity from a superficial view of the Scriptures. Fully persuaded that the Bible was an imposture, they were determined to expose [it]. Mr. West chose the Resurrection of Christ, and Lord Lyttleton the conversion of St Paul, for the subject of hostile criticism. Both sat down to their respective tasks full of prejudice and a contempt for Christianity. The results of their separate endeavours was that they were both converted by their attempts to overthrow the truth of Christianity! They came together, not as they had expected, to exult over an imposture exposed to ridicule, but to lament their folly and congratulate each other on their joint conviction, that the Bible was the word of God. Their able enquiries have furnished two most valuable treatises in favour of revelation -- one, entitled "Observations on the Conversion of St Paul", and the other, "Observations on the Resurrection of Christ."
         ... Charles H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries 
Today we feature Augustine on Psalm 99, and our selected verse reads:
Thou heardest them, O LORD our God;
thou forgavest them, O God, though thou didst punish their wicked doings.
 I wonder if this is not a truth that is often overlooked by the Church today. God forgives, for the sake of Christ he blots out the sin from his judgement on the last day, but as a loving Father he will correct, and will not forestall the consequences that often follow foolish and sinful deeds. We need look no further than King David and his affair to understand this truth. The man after God's own heart lost his son, and suffered the consequences of his deed through a broken family in his remaining days.
Augustine wrote:
"They kept His testimonies, and the law that He gave them."..."Thou heardest them," he saith, "O Lord our God: Thou wast forgiving to them, O God" (ver. 8). God is not said to be forgiving toward anything but sins: when He pardoneth sins, then He forgiveth. And what had He in them to punish, so that He was forgiving in pardoning them? He was forgiving in pardoning their sins, He was also forgiving in punishing them. For what followeth? "And punishedst all their own affections." Even in punishing them Thou wast forgiving toward them: for not in remitting, but also in punishing their sins, hast Thou been forgiving. Consider, my brethren, what he hath taught us here: attend. God is angry with him whom, when he sinneth, He scourgeth not: for unto him to whom He is truly forgiving, He not only remitteth sins, that they may not injure him in a future life; but also chasteneth him, that he delight not in continual sin.


"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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