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The Second Sunday in Lent


Augustine on Psalm XXXVIII
Second Sunday in Lent Home

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Sacrementary of Gregory - Bishop of Rome. [600 AD] The petition is not only for assaults from without, but also from within.

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.

[Archbishop Cranmer 1549 - Collect of Ash Wednesday said daily until Palm Sunday]

Gen x. 44. 37 Psalm 6, 38 | 119:33–72   1 Thessalonians iv. 1. & St. Matthew xv. 21


They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries;
because I follow the thing that good is.
Lent 2 commentary
This week we examine Augustine's treatment of Psalm 38. It is a petition of King David. He suffers from some sort of spiritual and physical malady. David confesses he has sinned.
This is an appropriate psalm for the Lenten season. It is one of the seven penitential psalms used by the Christian Church (psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130). It has 22 verses that correspond to the Hebrew alphabet. Today we look in detail at verse 20.
They also that reward evil for good are against me;
because I follow the thing that good is.
Augustine wrote of this verse:
"They also that render evil for good, were speaking evil of me, because I have pursued the thing that is just". Therefore was it that I was requited evil for good. What is meant by "pursued after the thing that is just"? Not forsaken it. That you might not always understand persecutio in a bad sense, He means by persecutus pursued after, thoroughly followed. "Because I have followed the thing that is just." Hear also our Head crying with a lamentable voice in His Passion: "And they cast Me forth, Thy Darling, even as a dead man in abomination."  Was it not enough that He was "dead"? wherefore "in abomination" also? Because He was crucified. For this death of the Cross was a great abomination in their eyes, as they did not perceive that it was spoken in prophecy, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."  For He did not Himself bring death; but He found it here, propagated from the curse of the first man; and this same death of ours, which had originated in sin, He had taken upon Himself, and hung on the Tree. Lest therefore some persons should think (as some of the Heretics think), that our Lord Jesus Christ had only a false body of flesh; and that the death by which He made satisfaction on the Cross was not a real death, the Prophet notices this, and says, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." He shows then that the Son of God died a true death, the death which was due to mortal flesh: lest if He were not "accursed," you should think that He had not truly died. But since that death was not an illusion, but had descended from that original stock, which had been derived from the curse, when He said, "Ye shall surely die:" and since a true death assuredly extended even to Him, that a true life might extend itself to us, the curse of death also did extend to Him, that the blessing of life might extend even unto us. "And they cast Me forth, Thy Darling, even as a dead man in abomination."

This verse is so appropriate for the Centurion. We remember our motto: Fear God and do what is Right (that is what is just and good). Augustine points out that his version emphasized a pursuit of Good and Just. That is to continually run after or in the way of Good. It is an interesting interpretation, and  one that I think that our Lord would endorse. 
 Jesus called for justice in all that one does. Even as we pursue Good, we not only may, but will err and stray on occasion. Sometimes like David who remembered his sin as he wrote this psalm. Other times like Peter who denied Christ thrice. Life's road is full of landmines and snares. The lures of the modern world are subtle. It is all too easy for one to stray a bit here, and a bit there, without really realizing it. We are by our nature imperfect. So we remain faithful sinners in a state of repentance. We are reminded very much of that during the season of Lent. We cannot maneuver through this pilgrimage with perfect decisions-righteous works. So we pursue justice, but can never master it; we chase the good, and often find it, but not always. We pledge as Christ's soldiers to "endeavor" to do what is right - for that is all to which we may honestly ply our troth.
Augustine speaks also of the heresy in his day of denying Christ's suffering on the Cross. We are not likely to find that today, but the Church has its own 21st Century heretics. In Augustine's day men denied Jesus' human nature; in this day heretics deny his divine nature.  The good that they have received through the teaching of the Church, they return with slanders. They persecute the faithful.  I tell you, they have their reward. [Matt vi.5]


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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