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Translated by Paul Spilsbury
(The Gospel for the second Sunday after Pentecost: A certain man made a great supper, which is divided into three clauses.)
(First, a sermon on the battle between the demons and the just: The Philistines gathering together.)
1. At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: A certain man made a great supper, and invited many. And he sent his servant at the hour of supper to say to them that were invited, that they should come. [Lk 14.16-17]
In the first book of Kings it says:
Now the Philistines, gathering together their troops to battle, assembled at Socho of Juda, and camped between Socho and Azeca in the borders of Dommim. And Saul and the children of Israel being gathered together came to the valley of Terebinth: and they set the army in array to fight against the Philistines
. [1Kg(Sm) 17.1-2]
Philistine means ‘falling from drink’, Socho is ‘tents’, Juda is ‘confession’, Azeca is ‘deceit’, and Dommim is ‘red’. Thus the Philistines represent the demons who, drunk with pride, fell from heaven. They gather their forces and assemble for battle in ‘Socho of Juda’, to battle against those who are camped in the tents of penitence; these are ‘between Socho and Azeca in the borders of Dommim’, because the demons fight against just men to deceive them with their wicked suggestions and, if they succeed in deceiving them, lead them into the blood of sin.
It says, too, in the third book of Kings that the dogs licked the blood of Ahab [cf. 3(1)Kg 22.38], the dogs being the demons who lick the blood of Ahab (‘brotherhood of fatherhood’), of the man who used to live in the brotherhood of penitents who have one God and Father. The children of Israel, true preachers gathered in unity of faith, must set their minds and preaching in array, to fight against the demons. But where? In the valley of Terebinth, of course- that is, in the humility of the Cross, from which flows forth the most precious resin of Jesus Christ’s blood; of him who says in today’s Gospel: A certain man made a great supper, etc.
2. There are three things to note in this Gospel. First, the preparation of the great supper and the invitation to it by the servant: A certain man. Second, the excuses of those invited: And they began all at once to make excuse. Third, the bringing in to the supper of the poor, the feeble, the blind and the lame: Then the master of the house, being angry. We will concord with these three clauses certain stories from the first book of Kings.
This Sunday we sing in the Introit of the Mass: The Lord is made my protector; and the Epistle of St John is read: Wonder not if the world hate you; which we will divide into three parts and concord with the three clauses of the Gospel. The first is: Wonder not; the second: In this we have known; the third: He that hath the substance of this world.
(A sermon for religious: Anna gave her son suck.)
3. Let us say, then: A certain man made a great supper. This supper is two-fold: that of penitence and that of glory. Since we cannot come to the second without the first, let us prepare the first one, and see what foods are necessary for it.
There is a concordance to this in the first book of Kings:
Anna gave her son suck, till she weaned him. And after she had weaned him, she carried him with her, with three calves, and three bushels of flour, and a bottle of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord in Silo
. [1Kg(Sm) 1.23-24]
Anna (whose name means ‘grace’) stands for the grace of the Holy Spirit, who suckles the penitent with the two breasts of prevenient and subsequent grace, until he is altogether weaned from the milk of carnal desire and worldly vanity. When a mother wants to wean her child, she puts a bitter ointment on her nipple. The child finds bitterness where it expected sweetness, and so is weaned from the milk it enjoys. In the same way, the grace of the Holy Spirit anoints the breast of temporal things with the bitterness of tribulation, so that by this bitterness man may be induced to reject the desired delight, and turn instead to that which is true.
And after she had weaned him, she carried him with three calves
. These are the foods we need to prepare for the supper of penitence. Grace takes the penitent with three calves, a threefold offering. The first is the calf of a broken and a contrite heart: as the Psalm says, Then shall they lay calves upon thy altar [Ps 50.21]. Penitents offer calves upon the altar of a contrite heart by sacrificing their lustful and unclean thoughts. The second calf is confession. Hosea says, towards the end:
Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him:
Take away all iniquity and receive the good:
and we will render the calves of our lips.
[Hos 14.3]
We take words with us when we try to fulfil what we have heard, and so turn to the Lord, saying to him, ‘Take away all the iniquity that we have done, and receive the good which you have given us.’ Not to me Lord, not to me, but to thy name give glory [cf. Ps 113.9]. In this way we offer you the calves of our lips, the confession of sin and of praise. The third calf is our body, mortified by penance. The calf or the heifer is a young animal- it represents our flesh, which in youth runs riot in the fields of wantonness. Samson says, in Judges: If you had not ploughed with my heifer, you had not found out my riddle [Jg 15.18]. Samson represents the spirit, while the heifer is our flesh. We plough with it when we afflict it, and so we answer the riddle, What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion (the lion of the tribe of Judah)? What is sweeter than the honey of contemplation? What is stronger than the preacher at whose roar all stand still? What is sweeter than the honey of meekness? What stronger than the lion of severity? So it is well put: She carried him with three calves.
And three bushels of flour
. Wheat is ground and broken down into flour. Flour mixed with water is baked into bread, which strengthens man’s heart [Ps 103.15]. In the same way the grain of our work has to be ground and broken down in the examination of our conscience, that it may be purified like flour. This examination must be three-fold, measure in three bushels. We must examine the nature of the act itself, its origin and its purpose. Then the work must be mixed with the water of tears, to be lamented by the upper and nether watery ground [Jg 1.15]. We offer our work either to make amends for the evil we have already done, or for desire of eternal joy. The Law prescribes the offering of two turtle-doves, one for sin and one for a holocaust [cf. Lev 12.8]. Bread is made from flour and water, to strengthen man’s heart, because his conscience is fed by work and tears combined.
And a bottle of wine
. The amphora contained three measures. Wine represents gladness of mind, springing from the testimony of a good conscience, concern for one’s neighbour’s welfare, and in the hope of eternal joy. With all these things mother Anna, the grace of the Holy Spirit, takes her son, the righteous man, up to the house of the Lord in Silo, ‘translated’ to eternal life. Thither the saints are translated from their earthly pilgrimage, and there they feast with the blessed angels in its glory.
(A sermon on the banquet of heavenly glory: The Lord of hosts shall make.)
4. In days gone by, supper was the one meal in the day, usually in the evening, when everyone came together to eat. The supper represents the refreshment of eternal glory, in which the saints are satisfied together with the vision of God, who rewards with the same wage all those who labour in the vineyard [cf. Mt 20.2]. Isaiah says of this banquet:
The Lord of hosts shall make unto all the people, in this mountain, a feast of fat things:
a feast of wine, of fat things full of marrow, of wine purified from the lees.
[Is 25.6]
See how well the Gospel is concordant with Isaiah: the Lord says, A man made a great supper; Isaiah says, The Lord of hosts shall make... etc. One speaks of a great supper, the other of a feast of fat things.
Note these four: feast, fat things, full of marrow, wine purified from the lees. The feast, which is for many people, is the glorious company of all the saints. The ‘fat things’ refers to their charity, the ‘marrow’ to the joy of souls in the vision of God; the purified wine to the glorification of their bodies. In this mountain, the heavenly Jerusalem, the Lord of the angelic hosts will make a feast of fat things, a gathering of all the saints who are full of a rich charity, full of the inexpressible joy of the vision of God, and blessed with the glorification of their bodies. There will be purified wine indeed! The vintage of the grapes is refined by being strained of imperfection. In the vintage of the general resurrection, the bodies of the saints will be gathered and refined, purified from everything corruptible and mortal, and stored in the heavenly cellars. How well said, then: A certain man made a great supper!
Note also that at the great supper we eat a substantial meal, those fruits which the children of Israel brought from the land of promise, grapes and figs and pomegranates, as the book of Numbers tells [cf. Num 13.24]. The grapes, from which wine is pressed, stand for the joy which the saints have in the vision of the incarnate Word. Mere men see God as a man, though angels do not see God as an angel, and they see their own nature raised above the angels. Habbakuk says of this joy:
I will rejoice in the Lord: and I will joy in God my Jesus
. [Hab 3.18]
He says rightly, ‘my Jesus’; who to save me, took ‘me’ (that is, my flesh) from me, and raised me above the angels.
The fruitful fig, sweeter than all fruits, represents the delight that the saints have from the vision of the whole Trinity. The prophet says:
O how great is the multitude of thy sweetness, O Lord,
which thou hast hidden for them that fear thee!
[Ps 30.20]
You have hidden it, so that it may more fervently be sought, that being sought it may be found, being found more dearly loved, and being loved eternally possessed. O God, thou hast provided for the poor [Ps 67.11]. The psalmist does not say what he has prepared, because words cannot express what he has prepared. The Apostle speaks of what eye has not seen (because it is hidden), what ear has not heard (because it is silent and cannot be uttered), and what has not entered into the heart of man (because it is beyond our comprehension) [cf. 1Cor 2.9].
The pomegranates represent both the unity of the Church Triumphant and the diversity of rewards. The pomegranate contains within itself sweet-scented seeds. All these seeds are hidden under the skin of the pomegranate, and yet each seed has a distinct cell. In the same way, in eternal life all the saints have a single glory, and yet according to the deeds of each they receive a greater or a lesser reward. That is why the Lord says: In my Father’s house (the ‘skin’) there are many mansions (the distinct cells) [Jn 14.2].
(A sermon for penitents: The Lord, the God of hosts shall call.)
5. See then what kind of foods we eat in the great supper, of which is said: A certain man made a great supper. This man is Jesus Christ, God and man, who made a great supper, of penitence and of glory, but many despise his invitation. As the book of Proverbs says:
I called and you refused. I stretched out my hand, and there was none that regarded.
[Prov 1.24]
The Word of the Father called both in his own person and through the words of others, and they refuse to come. He stretched out his hand upon the cross, do bestow so many benefits, and no-one regards it. But the time will come when that outstretched hand will become a fist to smite the wicked [cf. Is 58.41].
The Lord calls us to the first supper, of repentance. Isaiah says:
The Lord, the God of hosts, in that day shall call to weeping and to mourning:
to baldness and to girding with sack-cloth
. [Is 22.12]
In these four, true penitence is contained: weeping (contrition), mourning (confession), baldness (renunciation of temporal things), and sack-cloth (satisfaction). The Lord calls men to this supper, but they will not come because they make another supper for themselves, of which it is said:
And behold, joy and gladness, killing calves and slaying rams, eating flesh and drinking wine: Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die.
[Is 22.13]
The Lord also invites men to the supper of eternal glory. In the book of Ezra it says that:
Cyrus made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and in writing also, saying: Who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him. Let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judea, and build the house of the Lord, the God of Israel. He is the God that is in Jerusalem
. [Ez 1.1,3]
Cyrus (meaning ‘inheritance’) stands for Jesus Christ our inheritance. The prophet says: My inheritance is goodly to me [Ps 15.6], better than all the saints put together. He commands all the people to go up to the heavenly Jerusalem, built as a city [Ps 121.3] of smooth stones, the souls of the just. But, in the prophet Haggai, the people say: The time is not yet come for building the house of the Lord [Hag 1.2].
The Lord, whose mercies cannot be numbered, calls not only in his own person, but by the duly appointed preachers, referred to by the words: And he sent his servant at the hour of supper to say to them that were invited that they should come, for now all things are ready [Lk 14.17]. The Gloss says that supper-time is the end of this age. The Apostle says to the Corinthians that we are those upon whom the ends of the world are come [1Cor 10.11]. At this end the servant (the preaching order) is sent to those who have been invited by the Law and the Prophets, to tell them to stop delaying and get ready to partake of the supper, because everything is now prepared. Christ has been sacrificed, the entrance to the kingdom stands open. Christ’s Passion is the opening of the Kingdom, and through it the Church and the righteous man, who have entered the first supper and are to enter the second, say in the Introit of today’s Mass:
The Lord became my protector, and he brought me forth into a large place:
he saved me, because he was well pleased with me.
[Ps 17.19-20]
With arms outstretched upon the cross, the Lord became my protector in his Passion; he brought me forth into a large place in the sending of the Holy Spirit; and he saved me when the enemy assailed me because it pleased him that I should enter the supper of eternal life.
The first part of today’s Epistle is concordant with this first clause of the Gospel. John says to those who sit down together at the banquet of eternal life:
Wonder not, brothers, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren
. [1Jn 3.13-14]
The world, or rather those who love the world, hates the citizens of eternal life. No wonder, because they even hate themselves! He that is evil to himself, to whom will he be good? [Ecclus 14.5]. There is a concordance to this in the first book of Kings:
Saul became David’s enemy continually; ...And Saul did not look on David with a good eye from that day and forward
.[1Kg(Sm) 18.29,9]
Wonder not if the world hates you. We know we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. The love of brothers is the entrance to the supper of eternal life.
So let us ask the Lord Jesus Christ, dearest brothers, to lead us into the supper of penitence, and from there transfer us to the supper of eternal glory. May he grant this, who is blessed and glorious for ever and ever. Amen.
(A sermon against care for temporal things: I have bought a farm; and: The ark of the covenant of the Lord.)
6. There follows, secondly:
And they began all at once to make excuse. The first said to him: I have bought a farm and I must needs go out and see it; I pray thee, hold me excused. And another said: I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to try them; I pray thee, hold me excused. And another said: I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. And the servant, returning, told these things to his lord.
[Lk 14.18-21]
We must look at these three things: the farm, the five yoke of oxen, and the wife.
The ‘farm’ would have been a piece of ground surrounded by a wall or ditch. It represents the love of domination, of which St Bernard1 says, "I do not fear fire and sword as greatly as the lust to dominate." Those who burn with it wall themselves round with riches and honours. This is the farm Gethsemane, wherein our Lord was betrayed and bound. The name means ‘vale of fat things’- a low place into which refuse drains, to make it ‘rich’. Thus in the farm ‘Gethsemane’ (in those who want to lord it over others rather than serve them, and who take their ease in the vale of carnal pleasure, besmeared like pigs with the filth of temporal riches) Jesus Christ is betrayed: that is, the faith of Jesus Christ is destroyed. Faith rejects temporal goods, and does not wish to dominate. It is content with subjection, and grows from being despised. This farm Gethsemane is ‘bought’ (and would that it could not be had at any price!), because it forces a man to go out from the inward contemplation of God to outward cares.
There is a concordance in the first book of Kings, where it says that:
The ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, sitting upon the cherubims... was come into the camp... And the ark was taken by the Philistines
. [cf. 1Kg(Sm) 4.4,5,11]
The ark is the contemplative man, in whom is the manna of sweetness, the tablets of the two-fold law, and the rod of correction. He is called ‘the ark of the covenant of the Lord’, because he enters into a covenant to serve the Lord for ever. The Lord ‘sits upon the cherubims’, spirits full of knowledge: that is, upon the soul that is full of charity, since charity is the fulfilling of the law. Under the compulsion of sin, this ark goes out from the Holy of holies, the hidden face of God, and enters the camp, buys a farm, and desires to be superior. When it is lifted up like this, it is captured by the demons and taken to Azotus (‘fire’), the heat of carnal desire. And so he says: I have bought a farm.
(A sermon against the lust for domination: Saul, compelled by necessity.)
7. And I must needs go out and see it. Notice the words, ‘I must needs’, ‘go out’ and ‘see’. Whoever acquires the farm of earthly dominion finds himself under necessity. Whereas he was free, he has made himself subject to a wretched slavery. In this way, as the first book of Kings tells, Saul was compelled by necessity to go down to the woman with the divining spirit who lived at Endor. That is why he said:
I am in great distress; for the Philistines fight against me; and God is departed from me, and would not hear me.
[1Kg(Sm) 28.15]
The farm and the divining woman have the same meaning. Endor means ‘spring of generation’, and it stands for Adam, the fount and origin of the human race. He was given paradise as his endowment, but chose to spend it in buying the farm of domination, after hearing the lying words: You shall be as gods [Gen 3.5]. Whoever seeks to dominate is walking according to the old man, not the new Man, Jesus Christ [cf. Col 3.9,10]. As John tells us, when Jesus knew that men would come to take him by force and make him king, he fled into the mountain [cf. Jn 6.15]. The art of consulting the dead was called ‘pythonism’ (divination), and so the woman who knew how to do it was said to be a ‘pythoness’. Alas! How many religious, dead to the world and buried in the cloister, does this woman, the love of domination, raise from the sleep of contemplation, from rest and peace, and bring into public view! As Isaiah says:
Thou shalt be brought down: thou shalt speak out of the earth.
And thy speech shall be heard out of the ground:
and thy voice shall be from the earth like that of the python:
and out of the ground thy speech shall mutter.
[Is 29.4]
This is what happens to the man who buys a farm or consults a pythoness, who comes out of the quiet of the grave. You shall be humbled and brought down, you who thought to rise! You shall speak out of the earth, of earthly things, you who once used to speak about heavenly things. Your speech, which once uttered burning words regarding the soul’s delight and abstinence from greed, shall be heard out of the ground, talking of the belly, of gluttony, and fine foods and drinks. Your voice shall be from the earth, from prelacy, like a python; and your speech shall mutter out of the ground, grumbling where once you found your strength in silence and in hope [cf. Is 30.15]. What ‘needs’! What perversity! I bought a field, and I must needs go...
Go? In Genesis, we read how Esau went forth, a farmer and hunter; while Jacob, a simple man, stayed at home and took his blessing by stealth [cf. Gen 25.27-33]. When someone, from love of temporal things, goes chasing off after a farm, or to consult a pythoness, he leaves the quietude of his soul and, without a doubt, his eternal blessing is taken away. I must need go out and see it, see it just once, before I die! This is the only fruit of riches, as Ecclesiastes says:
Where there are great riches, there are also many to eat them.
And what doth it profit the owner, but that he seeth the riches with his eyes?
[Eccles 5.10]
There you have it! He who buys the field of earthly domination does not come to the Lord’s supper, but makes a false excuse, saying: I pray thee, hold me excused! His words sound humble, with his ‘I pray you’; but there is pride in his heart, and he is too proud to come. He often says to the just man, ‘Pray for me, I am a sinner.’ It sounds humble, this asking for prayers; but the pride is still there, because he does not reject his sin. There is a concordance to this in the first book of Kings, where Saul says to Samuel:
But now bear, I beseech thee, my sin: and return with me, that I may adore the Lord.
[1Kg(Sm) 15.25]
(A sermon on the five yoke of oxen, and their meaning: I have bought five yoke of oxen.)
8. And another said: I have bought five yoke of oxen, etc. The five yoke of oxen stand for the five senses of the body. As oxen are yoked together, so in pairs the organs of our senses serve us. There are two ears, two eyes, two nostrils; two organs of taste, the tongue and the palate; two hands for touching. These are the ten princes of which Solomon says in Ecclesiastes:
Wisdom hath strengthened the wise more than ten princes of the city.
[Eccles 7.20]
Wisdom is the love and contemplation of God, which strengthens the wise man, the soul which relishes the sweetness of love, more than ten princes of the city, that is, more than all the delights of the ten bodily senses. The former truly satisfy, the latter leave us wholly empty. The former leave a swet taste, the latter a bitter. Whoever serves the former is free, but whoever serves the latter is wretched. The man who buys the yoke of oxen makes a bad bargain. He spurns the savour of divine love and subjects himself to the unhappy appetite of the five senses, a wretched slavery.
If only a man would take on the Lord’s yoke, which is gentle, and not the harsh yoke of the devil! Isaiah says:
The yoke of their burden, and the rod of their shoulder, and the sceptre of their oppressor, thou hast overcome, as in the day of Madian
. [Is 9.4]
See how Isaiah is concordant with the Gospel. What the Gospel calls a farm, Isaiah calls a rod; and what is termed a yoke of oxen is called the yoke of their burden; and what is called a wife in the one is called a sceptre in the other. The book of Judges tells how Gideon (whose name means ‘turning in the womb’) overcame Madian with three hundred men, and with trumpets and lamps. In the same way the penitent, who should turn around in the womb of contrition, should take ‘three hundred’ (the Trinitarian faith), together with the trumpets of confession and the lamps of satisfaction. With them he should overcome the yoke of the devil’s burden, the pleasures of the five senses with which the devil burdens the soul; and the rod of his shoulder, the desire to dominate with which the devil pricks the soul like a peasant poking his donkey with a stick; and the sceptre of his oppressor, the unruliness of the flesh expressed in a two-fold way, by gluttony and lust. The ruling sceptre is lust, which rules nearly everyone; and the oppressor is gluttony, which daily, under the guise of necessity, exacts the usury of pleasure.
(A sermon on the infestation of vices and on the mortification of the flesh: Naas the Ammonite came up.)
9. There is a concordance to this in the first book of Kings, where it says that
Naas the Ammonite came up, and began to fight against Jabes Galaad. And all the men of Jabes said to Naas: Make a covenant with us; and we will serve thee. And Naas answered them: On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may pluck out your right eyes, and make you a reproach to all nations in all the people of Israel
. [1Kg(Sm) 11.1-2]
There follows:
And the spirit of the Lord came upon Saul, when he had heard these words; and his anger was exceedingly kindled. And taking both the oxen, he cut them in pieces
. [1Kg(Sm) 11.6-7]
‘Naas’ means ‘serpent’, so he is a fit symbol of the devil, who in the form of a serpent deceived our first parents. ‘Ammonite’ means ‘people of grief’, or else ‘crusher, squeezer’. Naas is king of the Ammonites, just as Satan the ancient serpent is prince of the malign spirits who dwell in the grief and sorrow which (according to the Apostle) works death [cf. 2Cor 7.10]. They crush and squeeze the life of the saints. Ecclesiasticus says:
As a furnace to gold, as a file to iron, and as a flail to wheat:
So is tribulation to the just man
. [cf. Prov 27.21,17; Ecclus 27.6]
The wicked man lives for the good, in the sense that his life benefits the good man, smoothing his rough places by his abrasiveness. Naas fights against Jabes Galaad (‘dried out’ and ‘mound of witness’), the soul that first has to be parched of its vices and then filled with the witness of the Lord’s Passion. Naas fights against the men of Jabes Galaad, to pluck out their right eyes, because he knows that so maimed they will be less able to do battle. The right eye is the clear sight of discretion. The devil tries to pluck it out, leaving the left eye of worldly affection. He knows that the man who does not desire eternal things will love worldly prosperity. If he is held by earthly things, he will yield to the least attack.
He who wants to free his soul from the snares and traps of the devil, must do as it says afterwards: the spirit of the Lord came upon Saul, etc. Saul, the anointed king, was a good man at the start of his reign, when he freed this city. He represents the just man, anointed with the grace of God. When the spirit of the Lord, contrition of heart, comes upon him, he is angered against his past sins, and cuts the two oxen in pieces. The ‘two oxen’ are the two eyes, the two ears, and so on. He cuts the two oxen in pieces, when he wears out his eyes with tears, that have coveted what is not lawful. He cuts the two oxen in pieces, when he puts a thorny fence around his ears, so that they do not listen to detraction or flattery; and so with the rest of the senses. He offers as many sacrifices as he finds stumbling-blocks in himself.
10. And another said: I have married a wife, etc. It is not marriage, it is the abuse of marriage that leads many astray and holds them back from the Lord’s supper. They enter upon marriage, not to found a family, but from carnal desire. There are three good reasons for taking a wife. The first is the procreation of children, as Genesis says: Increase and multiply [Gen 1.28]. The second is mutual help: It is not good for man to be alone; let us make him a help like unto himself [Gen 2.18]. The third is because of incontinence; as the Apostle says: If someone is not continent, let him marry, only in the Lord [cf. 1Cor 7.9,39]. If anyone marries for any other reason besides these, woe betide him! Furthermore, although marriage is a good thing in itself, it does bring with it considerable danger. As the Apostle says in I Corinthians: He that is with a wife is solicitous for the things of the world; how he may please his wife. And he is divided [1Cor 7.33]. He has a two-fold responsibility, towards God and towards his wife. It is difficult to walk the middle path, to divide one’s attention between each so as not to neglect either. We read in the first book of Kings that:
The two wives of David were taken captives, and David was greatly afflicted
. [1Kg(Sm) 30,5-6]
If had not had wives, he would undoubtedly not have been so greatly afflicted.
In the Gospel passage the ‘wife’ stands for the lust of the flesh, which is not ‘bought’ but ‘married’. Every sinner, from the moment of his birth, finds himself accompanied by the sins of the flesh. Yet we may ask why the first two asked to be excused, but not the third? The answer is that the pleasure of the flesh so holds a man in thrall that he neither desires to come to eternal joys, nor cares about excusing himself. From this it is clear that he does not love God; who at the prayers of the Old Testament patriarchs lovingly came down to the wedding, to espouse human nature to himself.
The second part of the Epistle is concordant to this second clause of the Gospel:
In this we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren
. [1Jn 3.16]
St John mentions three things: God, ourselves and our brethren. He who loves God does not buy the farm of domination. He who loves his own soul restrains the yoke of his five senses. He who loves his neighbour, for whom he should lay down his life, will in no wise marry the wife of lust, which would scandalize and offend him.
We ask you, then, Lord Jesus, to take away from us entirely the farm of domination; to restrain the pleasures of our five senses; and to keep us away from the wife of accursed concupiscence; so that we may be free to come to your supper. Grant this, you who are blessed for ever and ever. Amen.
(A sermon against the lover of the world, who when he is left despised by the world, is taken up by Christ: A young man of Egypt, the servant of a man.)
11. There follows, thirdly:
Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant: Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the feeble, and the blind, and the lame.
[Lk 14.21]
When the first three refuse to come to the Lord’s supper, the servant is sent to bring in the poor, the weak, the blind and the lame. They rarely fall away, who lack the delights of sin; and those who have nothing in the world to delight in are more quickly converted to grace. Happy the misery, then, that leads to better things! And happy darkness, that brings forth light! Those destitute of worldly abundance, like poor people; or of bodily health, like the sick, the blind and the lame- who lack the pleasures of sin- are all the more readily brought into the Lord’s supper.
So there is a concordance in the first book of Kings, where it says that
A young man of Egypt, the servant of an Amalecite, despised and abandoned by his master because he began to be sick... David found and fed, and made the guide for his journey
. [cf. 1Kg(Sm) 30.11-15]
The Egyptian boy represents the lover of this world, covered with the darkness of sin. When he cannot keep up with the world in its worldly pursuits, he is despised by it and left sick. Christ finds him, because he himself converts to his love those whom the world despises and abandons, and he feeds them with the food of God’s word, and makes them a guide for his journey when, from time to time, he makes such a one his preacher.
The four kinds of person are not distinguished without reason: the poor, the feeble, the blind and the lame. The poor controls little and possesses little. The ‘feeble’ literally refers to one suffering a disorder of the liver, which weakens the body, though here it has a more general sense of weakness. The blind man lacks sight in both his eyes, and the lame man has difficulty in walking. These four physical disabilities represent four groups of people, ensnared by four vices: avarice, wrath, lust and pride. The avaricious man is ‘poor’, because he controls money, but not himself: he is possessed, rather than possessing. Even when he has much, he regards it as inadequate. The Philosopher2 says: "Though a man be master of the whole world, he is wretched if what he has does not seem enough;" and: ‘I do not reckon poor the man who is satisfied with what he has, however little it may be.’ The feeble man is the angry, ‘liverish’, man. >From bitterness he burns with wrath, and in this state is unable to work God’s justice. Job says: Anger killeth the foolish [Job 5.2]. The blind man is the lustful man, lacking the sight of grace in either eye, reason and understanding. The lame man is the proud man, unable to go sure-footed by the way of humility. Of these and like vices the Philosopher3 says: "Shun in every way, destroy with fire and sword, and separate by every artifice: laziness from the body, ignorance from the mind, lust from the belly, sedition from the state and discord from men." These four sinners, held in the streets and lanes of carnal pleasure and worldly vanity, the merciful Lord calls to the heavenly banquet by means of the preacher of Holy Church.
The third thing he says to the servant is:
Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
[Lk 14.23]
Those compelled to come in represent those who, scourged by adversity, are forced to come to the Lord’s supper. Hosea says:
Behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns and I will stop it up with a wall: and she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers and shall not overtake them: and she shall seek them and shall not find. And she shall say: I will go and return to my first husband, because it was better with me then, than now
. [Hos 2.6-7]
The Lord closes up the ways of the sinful soul, her crooked deeds whereby she follows her demon lovers, with the hedge of adversity and the wall of sickness; so that she will return to himself, her first husband. Once she has experienced the sweetness of God’s love, and is filled with joy in contemplating him, she says that she is far, far better off than when she was abused by the pleasures of her wretched flesh.
12. The third part of the Epistle is concordant with this third clause of the Gospel, which refers to the poor:
He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth
. [1Jn 3.17-18]
The Lord says in Luke:
Yet that which remaineth, give alms; and behold, all things are clean to you
. [Lk 11.41]
The Gloss says: "Give to the poor what is left over after meeting the need for food and clothing." He who has the substance of this world, and has set aside what he needs for food and clothing, and sees his brother in need, for whom Christ died: he should give him what remains. If he does not give, if he shuts his heart against his poor brother, I maintain that he commits mortal sin; for God’s love is not in him. If it were in him, he would gladly give to his poor brother. Woe to those who have cellars full of wine and corn, and two or three changes of clothing, and have the poor of Christ, hungry and naked, crying at their doors. Even when they give something, it is only a little, and of the worst rather than the best quality. The time will come, it will surely come, when they themselves will be standing outside the door and crying: Lord, Lord, open to us! And they who would not listen before will hear these words: Amen, amen, I say to you, I know you not. Depart, ye cursed, into eternal fire [Mt 25. 11-12,41]. Solomon says:
He that stoppeth his ear against the cry of the poor shall also cry himself and shall not be heard
. [Prov 21.13]
Let us then, dearest brothers, ask our Lord Jesus Christ, who has called us by his preaching, to graciously call us by the inspiration of his grace to the supper of heavenly glory; where we shall be satisfied as we contemplate how sweet the Lord is. May God, One and Three, make us sharers of this sweetness. He is blessed, to be praised, and glorious throughout eternal ages. May every faithful soul who is brought into this supper say: Amen. Alleluia.
BERNARD, De consideratione, III,1,2; PL 182.759
SENECA, Epistola 9; Epistola 1
The source of this saying is unknown.

The copyright in this translation belongs to the author, Revd Dr S.R.P. Spilsbury

1 posted on 06/13/2003 8:33:48 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: *Catholic_list; nickcarraway; Salvation; father_elijah; Siobhan; Maeve; NYer; JMJ333
Saint Anthony of Padua, 'Hammer of Heretics' pray for us!
2 posted on 06/13/2003 8:58:57 PM PDT by Lady In Blue (Bush,Cheney,Rumsfeld,Rice 2004)
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To: Lady In Blue
The Life Of Saint Anthony Of Padua

3 posted on 06/13/2003 8:59:53 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue
6 posted on 06/13/2003 9:23:29 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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