Augustine on Psalm LXXVI
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving unto us that that our prayer dare not presume to ask, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Source of Collect: Leo , revised by Gelasius . (An 1662 revision by Bishop Cosin added and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. [Barbee and Zahl]
This week we examine the homily of Augustine on Psalm 76. He wrote concerning Christians as the true Jews:
The Jews are wont to glory in this Psalm which we have sung, saying, "Known in Judaea is God, in Israel great is the name of Him:" and to revile the Gentiles to whom God is not known, and to say that to themselves alone God is known; seeing that the Prophet saith, "Known in Judaea is God." In other places therefore He is unknown. But God is known in very deed in Judaea, if they understand what is Judaea. For indeed God is not known except in Judaea. Behold even we say this, that except a person shall have been in Judaea, known to him God cannot be. But what saith the Apostle? He that in secret is a Jew, he that is so in circumcision of the heart, not in letter but in spirit. There are therefore Jews in circumcision of the flesh, and there are Jews in circumcision of the heart. Many of our holy fathers had both the circumcision of the flesh, for a seal of the faith, and circumcision of the heart, for the faith itself. From these fathers these men degenerating, who now in the name do glory, and have lost their deeds; from these fathers, I say, degenerating, they have remained Jews in flesh, in heart Heathens. For these are Jews, who are out of Abraham, from whom Isaac was born, and out of him Jacob, and out of Jacob the twelve Patriarchs, and out of the twelve Patriarchs the whole people of the Jews. But they were generally called Jews for this reason, that Judah was one of the twelve sons of Jacob, a Patriarch among the twelve, and from his stock the Royalty came among the Jews. For all this people after the number of the twelve sons of Jacob, had twelve tribes. What we call tribes are as it were distinct houses and congregations of people. That people, I say, had twelve tribes, out of which twelve tribes one tribe was Judah, out of which were the kings; and there was another tribe, Levi, out of which were the priests. But because to the priests serving the temple no land was allotted, but it was necessary that among twelve tribes all the Land of promise should be shared: there having been therefore taken out one tribe of higher dignity, the tribe of Levi, which was of the priests, there would have remained eleven, unless by the adoption of the two sons of Joseph the number twelve were completed. What this is, observe. One of the twelve sons of Jacob was Joseph....This Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasse. Jacob, dying, as though by will, received those his grandsons into the number of sons, and said to his son Joseph, "The rest that are born shall be to thee; but these to me, and they shall divide the land with their brethren." As yet there had not been given nor divided the land of promise, but he was speaking in the Spirit, prophesying. The two sons therefore of Joseph being added, there were made up nevertheless twelve tribes, since now there are thirteen. For instead of one tribe of Joseph, two were added, and there were made thirteen. There being taken out then the tribe of Levi, that tribe of priests which did serve the Temple, and lived by the tithes of all the rest unto whom the land was divided, there remain twelve. In these twelve was the tribe of Judah, whence the kings were. For at first from another tribe was given King Saul, and he was rejected as being an evil king; after there was given from the tribe of Judah King David, and out of him from the tribe of Judah were the Kings. But Jacob had spoken of this, when he blessed his sons, "there shall not fail a prince out of Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until there come He to whom the promise hath been made." But from the tribe of Judah there came Our Lord Jesus Christ. For He is, as the Scripture saith, and as ye have but now heard, out of the seed of David born of Mary. But as regardeth the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, wherein He is equal with the Father, He is not only before the Jews, but also before Abraham himself; nor only before Abraham, but also before Adam; nor only before Adam, but also before Heaven and earth and before ages: for all things by Himself were made, and without Him there was made nothing. Because therefore in prophecy hath been said, "there shall not fail a prince out of Judah," etc.: former times are examined, and we find that the Jews always had their kings of the tribe of Judah, and had no foreign king before that Herod who was king when the Lord was born. Thence began foreign kings, from Herod. Before Herod all were of the tribe of Judah, but only until there should come He to whom the promise had been made. Therefore when the Lord Himself came, the kingdom of the Jews was overthrown, and removed from the Jews. Now they have no king; because they will not acknowledge the true King. See now whether they must be called Jews. Now ye do see that they must not be called Jews. They have themselves with their own voice resigned that name, so that they are not worthy to be called Jews, except only in the flesh. When did they sever themselves from the name? They said, "We have no king but Caesar." O ye who are called Jews and are not, if ye have no king but Caesar, there hath failed a Prince of Judah: there hath come then He to whom the promise hath been made. They then are more truly Jews, who have been made Christians out of Jews: the rest of the Jews, who in Christ have not believed, have deserved to lose even the very name. The true Judaea, then, is the Church of Christ, believing in that King, who hath come out of the tribe of Judah through the Virgin Mary; believing in Him of whom the Apostle was just now speaking, in writing to Timothy, "Be thou mindful that Jesus Christ hath risen from the dead, of the seed of David, after my Gospel." For of Judah is David, and out of David is the Lord Jesus Christ. We believing in Christ do belong to Judah: and we acknowledge Christ. We, that with eyes have not seen, in faith do keep Him. Let not therefore the Jews revile, who are no longer Jews. They said themselves, "We have no king but Caesar." For better were it for them that their king should be Christ, of the seed of David, of the tribe of Judah. Nevertheless because Christ Himself is of the seed of David after the flesh, but God above all things blessed for ever, He is Himself our King and our God; our King, inasmuch as born of the tribe of Judah, after the flesh, was Christ the Lord, the Saviour; but our God, who is before Judah, and before Heaven and earth, by whom were made all things, both spiritual and corporal. For if all things by Himself were made; even Mary herself, out of whom He was born, by Himself was made...
All that are the elect of Christ are his brethren by adoption, and all are Jews indeed and have been circumcised in spirit and by adoption inherit every promise to the sons of Abraham. As the Magnificat, which we sing, says:
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