Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXIX JOD
WE beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Source: Saramentary of Gregory, Bishop of Rome [600 AD] In the Gospel today Jesus heals a man possesed, stretching forth his hand
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.
Thy hands have made me, and fashioned me
The Scripture reading for today is from the psalm in the section that begins with the Hebrew letter JOD. Augustine wrote, "
Thy hands have made me, and fashioned me" (ver. 73). The hands of God are the power of God. Or if the plural number moveth them, since it is not said, Thy hand, but, "Thy hands;" let them understand by the hands of God the power and wisdom of God, both of which titles are given to one Christ, who is also understood under the figure, Arm of the Lord. "Where it is read, 'And unto whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?'" Or let them understand by the hands of God, the Son and the Holy Spirit; since the Holy Spirit worketh conjointly with the Father and the Son: whence saith the Apostle, "But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit:" he said, "one and the self-same;" lest as many spirits as works might be imagined, not that the Spirit worketh without the Father and the Son. It is easy therefore to see how the hands of God are to be understood: provided, at the same time, that He be not denied to do those things through His Word which He doth by His hands: nor be considered not to do those things with His hands, which He doth through His word.…But is this said in respect of Adam? from whom since all men were propagated, what man, since Adam was made, may not say that he himself also was made by reason of procreation and generation from Adam? Or may it rightly be said, in this sense, "Thy hands have made me, and fashioned me," namely, that every man is born even of his parents not without the work of God, God creating, they generating? Since, if the creative Operatoria. power of God be withdrawn from things, they perish: nor is anything at all, either of the world's elements, or of parents, or of seeds, produced, if God doth not create it.…
I had mentioned in a previous post that Jesus is the incarnation of the "right hand of God" and that it had been part of Church tradition. In this homily today we see Augustine making this point distinctly again. We also notice that today's collect asked God, as our Sovereign, to stretch forth his right hand to defend and to protect us. Augustine makes a nice point in his examination of "hands" in emphasizing the Triune God, who acts as one God always in three persons, "hands" as it were. Have you ever noticed the propensity of the early church fathers to always end the collects in the name of the "Father, Son and Holy Ghost", it directly relates to this concept of the unity of the Godhead, and I believe, to an practice to ensure the faithful did not fall into the heresy of Arianism. We may think in terms of one of the Three being the actors in some divine action. For instance, you will sometimes hear, "God the Creator, Son the Redeemer, and Holy Ghost the Sanctifier" but indeed God is not divided, but rather one God, he acts through the "faces" of the Trinity in Unity--thus also his "hands".
Tomorrow the appointed OT lesson is Deut 6:1ff. In this passage God told Moses to teach the people this Commandment.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
WHOSOEVER will be saved : before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholick Faith.
Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled : without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholick Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons : nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son : and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one : the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son : and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate : and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible : and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal : and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals : but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated : but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty : and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties : but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God : and the Holy Ghost is God And yet they are not three Gods : but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord : and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords : but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the Catholick Religion : to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none : neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone : not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son : neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons : one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other : none is greater, or less than another; But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together : and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid : the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved : must think thus of the Trinity. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation : that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess : that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds : and Man of the substance of his Mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man : of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead : and inferior to the Father, as touching his manhood; Who, although he be God and Man : yet he is not two, but one Christ; One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh : but by taking of the Manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance : but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man : so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation : descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty : from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies : and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting : and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Catholick Faith : which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end.
This is the Catholick faith.
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