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Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXXI
Third Sunday after Easter Home

ALMIGHTY God, who showest to them that are in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Source of Collect: Sacramentary of Leo, Bishop of Rome [440-461AD]. The Vigil of Easter was the traditional time for Baptism, and this collect speaks to the newly baptized "all those who are admitted into the fellowship". One had to be baptized to be present during the Eucharist. Christiana professione censentor

Isaiah lix 8 , Psalm 120, 121, 122 123, 124, 125; 1 St. Peter ii. 11. St. John xvi. 16.

Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXXI

I WILL lift up mine eyes unto the hills; from whence cometh my help?

Grace be unto you, and peace from God the Father and the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the third Sunday after Easter. The note on the Collect of Gregory mentions that the Early Church used this Sunday for baptism. For one reason or another, all baptisms of the catechumen could not be accomplished on the eve of the Resurrection Feast, and so the Sundays between Easter and Pentecost where available to continue the baptisms.
This week we will consider Psalm 121. It is one of the Songs of Degree that pilgrims coming to Jerusalem, Mount Zion, might have sung, or on the actual temple steps as they went up to worship.
To accompany this psalm for the Old Testament lesson I have chosen Isaiah 59:8-18. The second part of this passage, from "Zion said, the Lord.." is known as the First Zion Poem"
Both the psalm and Isaiah sing of the source of salvation for people. Both are prophetic, reminding us that whenever trouble "comes a knocking at the door" we do right to look to the source of our salvation, the hills of Holy Jerusalem, Mother Jerusalem.
Augustine clearly shows that Christ is the new Zion, the new Jerusalem. He writes

...Let them "lift up their eyes to the hills whence cometh their help". What meaneth, The hills have been lightened? The Sun of Righteousness hath already risen, the Gospel hath been already preached by the Apostles, the Scriptures have been preached, all the mysteries have been laid open, the veil hath been rent, the secret place of the temple hath been revealed: let them now at length lift their eyes up to the hills, whence their help cometh..."Of His fulness have all we received," he saith. Thy help therefore is from Him, of whose fulness the hills received, not from the hills; towards which, nevertheless, save thou lift thine eyes through the Scriptures, thou wilt not approach, so as to be lighted by Him.
I once took a youth group to visit the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, and their little congregation of St. Francis, near Boone, NC. The Cherokee had long been converted to Christianity and had a Bible in their language. In their native faith before conversion, they had a concept of a triune god, and so the revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity was one they easily grasped. We went to a play to tell their story, and the name of the play was "Unto these Hills"; based on the prayer of Psalm 121.
You see, the way it was presented, the great Indian Removal began in 1838, many of the Cherokee in North Carolina looked to the hills, and fled to the caves, crags, and hollows to hide themselves from the Federal troops who had come to move them to the state of Oklahoma. Of course, they prayed to God for salvation. Some little time after that, a wealthy man deeded to the Cherokee a great swath of beautiful hills that the remnants of the people occupied, and do unto this day through the kindness and compassion of a Christian friend, and I believe whose help came from the Lord, and the recognition of his charitable duty, as he saw it, to aid his neighbor.
Let us lift up our eyes to the Risen Christ, from whence cometh our help. Alleluia

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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