The First Sunday in Lent
Augustine on Psalm LI
First Sunday in Lent Home
O LORD, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
[Collect of Ash Wednesday said daily until Palm Sunday]
This homily was traditionally said on Quardregesima... another name of this Sunday, which marked the start of Lent being about forty days before Easter. The beginning of Lent was officially moved by the church to Ash Wednesday before this Sunday, but the collect remained, even though the fasting had begun
This week we examine Augustine's treatment of Psalm 54. It is a song of David, recounting his experience and prayer in the wilderness of Ziph being pursued by King Saul. To compliment this psalm, I have selected the reading from 1 Samuel. The passage tells of the treachery of the people of the region of Ziph, and Saul's fruitless attempt to corner and kill David. I have chosen verse 3 of the psalm for close examination. Augustine writes of it.
"For aliens have risen up against me". What "aliens"? Was not David himself a Jew of the tribe of Judah? But the very place Ziph belonged to the tribe of Judah; it was of the Jews. How then "aliens"? Not in city, not in tribe, not in kindred, but in flower. ...But see the Ziphites, see them for a time flourishing. With reason "alien" sons. Thou amid the Ziphites hiding saidst what? "Blessed the people whereof the Lord is its God." Out of this affection this prayer is being sent forth into the ears of the Lord, when it is said, "for aliens have risen up against me."
Centurions, I read of happenings in this post-modern world that convince me that we are facing a situation where many of our own countrymen, our kinsman, are becoming increasingly alienated to us. They are not of our "flower" as Augustine puts it. In their generation, they are alien to the Gospel message, and have left the love of their forefathers. They have not Jesus Christ, the Son of the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob before their eyes, but some other god of their own design, or no god at all.
I am reminded of the words of our Lord Jesus concerning the naysayers,
Released by Primus Pilus
Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"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]
* ORDO CENTURIONUM * IN HOC SIGNO VINCES * TIME DEUM ET OPERARE IUSTITIAM