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Passion Sunday

The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called

Passion Sunday

Homily of Augustine on Psalm XLIII
Passion Sunday Home
WE beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Sacramentary of Gregory, Bishop of Rome [600 AD]. The "people" in this translation is familia in Latin. "Passion" had its roots in Medieval times

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.
O send out thy light and thy truth, that they may lead me, and bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy dwelling
Lent 5 -
Passion Sunday, and we are two weeks away from the feast of the resurrection.  The title Passion relates to the mini liturgical season of Passiontide, which begins this Sunday and runs until the Resurrection. The Western Church in places changed the liturgical color from violet to red. In the days to come we shall read of Christ's passion, especially on Good Friday. 
This week we turn to Psalm 43, and with it the 58th chapter of Isaiah on fasting. Both the prophet and the  psalmist  call for the light of God to guide them. It is clear from reading the opening of Augustine's homily, that he preached his sermon on this psalm on a day of  fasting. The true fast is one of justice-righteousness, to which the material fast is but a sign. If we then seek that fast, Isaiah says
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward
and David says
O send out thy light and thy truth, that they may lead me, and bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy dwelling
Let us turn to Augustine and hear his exhortation concerning this verse:
Pray thou for what thou hearest; pray for it when thou hearest it; let these words be the voice of us all: "O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth. They have led me, and brought me on unto Thy holy hill, and into Thy Tabernacles" (ver. 3). For that very "Light" and "Truth" are indeed two in name; the reality expressed is but One. For what else is the "Light" of God, except the "Truth" of God? Or what else is the "Truth" of God, except the "Light" of God? And the one Person of Christ is both of these. "I am the Light of the world: he that believeth on Me, shall not walk in darkness." "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." He is Himself "the Light:" He is Himself "the Truth." Let Him come then and rescue us, and "separate at once our cause from the ungodly nation; let Him deliver us from the deceitful and unjust man," let him separate the wheat from the tares, for at the time of harvest He will Himself send His Angels, that they may "gather out of His kingdom all things that offend,"  and cast them into flaming fire, while they gather together the corn into the garner. He will send out His "Light," and His "Truth;" for that they have already "brought us and led us to His holy hill, and into His Tabernacles." We possess the "earnest;"we hope for the prize. "His holy Hill" is His holy Church. It is that mountain which, according to Daniel's vision, grew from a very small "stone," till it crushed the kingdoms of the earth; and grew to such a size, that it "filled the face of the earth." This is the "hill," from which he tells us that his prayer was heard, who says, "I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy hill." Let no one of those that are without that mountain, hope to be heard unto eternal life. For many are heard in their prayers for many things. Let them not congratulate themselves on being heard; the devils were heard in their prayer, that they might be sent into the swine. Let us desire to be heard unto eternal life, by reason of our longing, through which we say, "Send out Thy Light and Thy Truth."  That is a "Light" which requires the eye of the heart. For "Blessed" (He saith) "are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."  We are now on His Hill, that is, in His Church, and in His Tabernacle. The "tabernacle" is for persons sojourning; the house, for those dwelling in one community.  The tabernacle is also for those who are both from home, and also in a state of warfare. When thou hearest of a tabernacle, form a notion of a war; guard against an enemy. But what shall the house be? "Blessed are they that dwell in Thine house: they will be alway praising Thee."
This is indeed a theologically-packed paragraph. Augustine touches on many truths here. I am reminded of the 1st Chapter of the Gospel of John as I read Augustine's examination of this verse, and his association of God's Light with Jesus. John wrote that Jesus was
"the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
God loved the world so much that he fulfilled the  prayer of the psalmist and the vision of the prophet. God sent his Son as the Light and Truth of the world, so that they that believe on him shall not die, but have life everlasting. They who do not know Jesus are in darkness, and have not the light of Christ in them. They who are of the elect have that light, and they know right from wrong. They love Jesus. They follow his light and truth. They have died to the bondage of sin, and their wills are bound to the Love of Christ.
That light departed from the world for a space of three days at the end of the crucifixion when Jesus gave up the Ghost, but with the glorious Resurrection the Light came again into the world, and with the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Light shines in the churches corporately [Revelation 1-3] and in each Christian individually [Acts 2].
Warning - God's light through Christ is contingent upon faith. We see from Revelation that no church in and of itself is righteous, but that each is subject to have a mixture: the wheat and the tares; and each must be vigilant and militant, struggling to overcome, to persevere. Read the lessons of Revelation and especially the Church of Thyatira [Rev 2:18ff] God hates the sin of those who pretend to know him, but are of the Synagogue of Satan [Rev 3:9]. He hates the  sin of the unrepentant who refuse to acknowledge their misdeeds and will not try to turn [Rev. 2:20ff]. They do not have the light; they are blind. Jesus knows the heart and mind of every man. They who are of Satan and shun the light shall have their due. They who know Christ and persevere have that Light and have life everlasting. He who overcomes and perseveres shall be led to that Holy Hill, the true Church, Mother Jerusalem, where our Lord does dwell - the true light.

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]


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