Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday

"Hear my prayer, O God, and hide not thyself from my petition: take heed unto me, and hear me: how I mourn in my trial, and am vexed; because of the crying of the enemy, and of the tribulation which cometh from the ungodly.  These are the words of one who is disquieted, beset by trouble and anxiety.  He prayeth as one under much suffering, desiring deliverance from evil.  Let us see from what evil he doth suffer: and as we hear what that evil is, let us recognize that we also suffer from the same thing; so that as we share his tribulation, we may also join in his prayer.  I mourn in my trial (saith he) and am vexed.  When doth he mourn?  When is he vexed?  In my trial, saith he.  He hath in mind the ungodly that cause him tribulation, which same he calleth his trial.  Therefore, think not that the wicked can serve no good purpose in this world, and that God is unable to accomplish good by means of them.  Every wicked person is permitted to live in order that he may be made righteous, or else that the righteous may be tried by him.

I would to God that the ungodly who now try us were converted, and so were on trial with us.  Yet, though they continue to try us, let us not hate them: for we know not whether any of them will continue to the end in his evil ways.  And mostly, when thou thinkest thyself to be hating thine enemy, thou hatest thy brother, and knowest it not.  Only the devil and his angels are shewn to us in Scripture as doomed to eternal fire: their amendment alone is hopeless, against whom we wage a hidden strife.  For which strife the Apostle would arm us, saying: We wrestle not against flesh and blood (that is, not against men, whom we see) but against principálities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.  Mark that he saith not: The rulers of this world: lest perchance thou shouldst think that devils are rulers of heaven and earth; but rather, he saith: The rulers of the darkness of this world.  When he speaketh thus of the world, he would have us understand the lovers of the world whereof the Gospel saith: And the world knew him not.

For I have spied unrighteousness and strife in the city.  Give heed now to the glory of the Cross itself.  On the brow of kings is now placed that Cross, which once enemies did deride.  Effect hath proven strength.  He hath subdued the world, not with a sword, but with Wood.  The Wood of the Cross seemed a worthy object of scorn to his enemies; and standing before that very Wood, they wagged their heads, saying, If thou be the Son of God, come down from the Cross!  Thus did he stretch forth his hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people.  If he is just who doth live by faith, then is he unrighteous who hath not faith.  Wherefore, when he saith: Unrighteousness: understand that it is the disobedience of unbelief.  The Lord then saw unrighteousness and strife in the city, and stretched out his hands unto an unbelieving and gainsaying people.  And yet, looking upon the very same, he saith: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

-- From the Treatise on the Psalms by St Augustine 

** Painting by Andrea Mantegna

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