Augustine on Psalm LXXXVII
ALMIGHTY God, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word; Grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This week we look at Psalm LXXXVIII and the homily of Augustine. This psalm is unique. It sees the in-gathering of nations into Zion as members of the family of God. Augustine later wrote a major work entitled "City of God" which stands today as a theological classic of the Church. Augustine wrote:
"Very excellent things are said of thee, thou city of God" (ver. 3). He was, as it were, contemplating that city of Jerusalem on earth: for consider what city he alludes to, of which certain very excellent things are spoken. Now the earthly city has been destroyed: after suffering the enemy's rage, it fell to the earth; it is no longer what it was: it exhibited the emblem, and the shadow hath passed away. Whence then are "very excellent things spoken of thee, thou city of God"? Listen whence: "I will think upon Rahab and Babylon, with them that know Me" (ver. 4). In that city, the Prophet, in the person of God, says, "I will think upon Rahab and Babylon." Rahab belongs not to the Jewish people; Babylon belongs not to the Jewish people; as is clear from the next verse: "For the Philistines also, and Tyre, with the Ethiopians, were there." Deservedly then, "very excellent things are spoken of thee, thou city of God:" for not only is the Jewish nation, born of the flesh of Abraham, included therein, but all nations also, some of which are named that all may be understood. "I will think," he says, "upon Rahab:" who is that harlot? That harlot in Jericho, who received the spies and conducted them out of the city by a different road: who trusted beforehand in the promise, who feared God, who was told to hang out of the window a line of scarlet thread, that is, to bear upon her forehead the sign of the blood of Christ. She was saved there, and thus represented the Church of the Gentiles: whence our Lord said to the haughty Pharisees, "Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." They go before, because they do violence: they push their way by faith, and to faith a way is made, nor can any resist, since they who are violent take it by force. For it is written, "The kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Such was the conduct of the robber, more courageous on the cross than in the place of ambush. "I will think upon Rahab and Babylon." By Babylon is meant the city of this world: as there is one holy city, Jerusalem; one unholy, Babylon: all the unholy belong to Babylon, even as all the holy to Jerusalem. But he slideth from Babylon to Jerusalem. How, but by Him who justifieth the ungodly: Jerusalem is the city of the saints; Babylon of the wicked: but He cometh who justifieth the ungodly: since it is said, "I will think" not only "upon Rahab," but "upon Babylon," but with whom? "with them that know Me."...
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"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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