The Homilies of Saint Jerome, Volume 1 (1–59 on the Psalms) (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 48)

The Homilies of Saint Jerome, Volume 1 (1–59 on the Psalms) (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 48)

Copyright Date: 1964
Pages: 462
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  • Book Info
    The Homilies of Saint Jerome, Volume 1 (1–59 on the Psalms) (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 48)
    Book Description:

    This volume contains fifty-nine homilies preached by St. Jerome on selected Psalms.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1148-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xxxii)

    In 385, st. jerome, sick at heart, fled the cruel calumnies of Rome, and after a year’s pilgrimage, sought refuge in the Holy Land. These years were not only the happiest period of his life, but also the most productive and earned for him the title he most coveted, ‘vir ecclesiasticus.’ From his monastic retreat at Bethlehem, his voice was to resound throughout the Christian world as its undisputed oracle, ‘the spiritual director as well as moral and intellectual conscience of half the West.’¹ The Church, too, was to preserve that voice and honor that instruction with the immortal laurel...

      (pp. 3-14)

      The psalter is like a stately mansion that has only one key to the main entrance. Within the mansion, however, each separate chamber has its own key. Even though the great key to the grand entrance is the Holy Spirit, still each room without exception has its own smaller key. Should anyone accidentally confuse the keys and throw them out and then want to open one of the rooms, he could not do so until he found the right one. Similarly, the psalms are each like single cells, everyone with its own proper key. The main entrance to the mansion...

      (pp. 15-24)

      The fifth psalm has for its title: ‘Unto the end, for her that obtains the inheritance. A psalm of David.’¹ There are many who insist that the titles do not belong to the psalms but who really do not know why they hold such a view. If the titles were not found in all the manuscripts—Hebrew, Greek, and Latin—their position would be tenable. Since, however, there are titles in the Hebrew books, and this one in particular marks the fifth psalm, I am amazed at the implication that there can be anything in Scripture without reason. If it...

      (pp. 25-34)

      Names are given to individual things that we may be able to identify them, and psalms have titles for the same reason. The fifth psalm bears the title, ‘Unto the end, for her that obtains the inheritance’;¹ the sixth, ‘Unto the end, in verses, a psalm of David, for the octave.’² In the fifth are the words, ‘for her that obtains the inheritance’; in the sixth, ‘for the octave.’ Last Sunday, we read the sixth psalm, but because of my illness, we could not interpret it; today, however, we have read the seventh, which, likewise, is sung after the Alleluia.³...

    • HOMILY 4 ON PSALM 9 (9A, 9B)
      (pp. 35-37)

      Jesus, son of nave, was fighting in the desert and as long as Moses kept on praying, he was victorious.¹ One was fighting; another was really conquering by prayer. And so, with the words of Scripture, I say: ‘Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it,’² for I certainly seem to be the one speaking, but it is while others are praying that I speak. The ninth psalm, which you have sung to the Lord, is grand in its poetry and noble in its mysteries, but since we cannot discuss the entire psalm, it will be enough for the...

    • HOMILY 5 ON PSALM 14 (15)
      (pp. 38-42)

      Most opportunely do we read the fourteenth psalm; so timely is its place in the proper course of the liturgy that it seems to fall there almost by plan. The psalm is read, moreover, in its regular sequence. This has happened, I think, by the dispensation of God, so that what would be of special profit to you might be read aloud today in the normal process of exegesis. You have heard the fourteenth psalm, and its title is ‘A psalm of David.’ David is our Christ, as we have said so many times. Besides, we read in Exodus¹ that...

    • HOMILY 6 ON PSALM 66 (67)
      (pp. 43-49)

      May god have pity on us, and bless us.’ May He not be our Judge, but may He be merciful to us. ‘May God have pity on us.’ It is the voice of the apostles speaking to the assembly of the nations: You have believed in our words, behold you are the Church that has been assembled in the name of God; for this reason do we say, may God have pity on us and bless us, so that with His blessing He may absolve the first malediction against man in Adam.¹ ‘May he let his face shine upon us.’...

    • HOMILY 7 ON PSALM 67 (68)
      (pp. 50-59)

      God arises; his enemies are scattered.’ This psalm may be interpreted both in particular and in general. In particular, it refers to the Lord Himself, how He rose from the dead and scattered all His enemies, I mean the devil and his army or the Jews. In general, it applies to us when, in straits and distress, we cry out: ‘Awake! why are you asleep, o Lord? Help US!’¹ just as the apostles in the boat roused the Lord from sleep with the cry: ‘Lord, save us, we are perishing!’² ‘And those who hate him flee before him.’ Now the...

    • HOMILY 8 ON PSALM 74 (75)
      (pp. 60-61)

      Unto the end.¹ (Do not destroy!) A psalm of Asaph; a song.’ The Hebrew text does not have ‘unto the end,’ but has instead, ‘for the victor.’ The translators of the Septuagint have not erred very seriously, however, inasmuch as victory certainly implies the end. Well said: ‘Unto the end,’ (‘ne corrumpas’ Do not destroy!). The word destroy—‘corrumpas’—has many shades of meaning. David uses it in speaking to someone about his friends: ‘Ne corrumpas eum’—‘Kill him not,’² that is, Saul. The sense here is obvious. In another place,³ we learn that David blessed the Lord because his...

    • HOMILY 9 ON PSALM 75 (76)
      (pp. 62-67)

      Before the cross brought light to the world, before the Lord was seen on earth, ‘God’ was ‘renowned in Juda, in Israel,’ moreover, ‘great was his name’;¹ but when the Savior came, ‘through all the earth his voice re-sounded, and to the ends of the world, His message.’²

      ‘In peace is his abode’:³ for which the Hebrew has ‘in Salem.’ You see, therefore, the literal translation is Jerusalem—that is Salem⁴—which first was called Salem, later Jebus, and finally Jerusalem. This is that Salem in which Melchisedec was king. We read: ‘You are a priest forever, according to the...

    • HOMILY 10 ON PSALM 76 (77)
      (pp. 68-78)

      Aloud to the Lord I cry; aloud to God, and he hears me; on the day of my distress I seek my God.’¹ See how troubled he is, for he cries in loud appeal to God, God, God; yet there is but one God. ‘Aloud to the Lord I cry.’ A loud cry is all the more necessary when the troubled heart is far away. This is what he is saying: because of my sins I am far away from You, and so I must cry out loud that in Your gracious mercy You may hear me. ‘Aloud to God,...

    • HOMILY 11 ON PSALM 77 (78)
      (pp. 79-89)

      Holy writ warns us to partake of the feast prudently when we have been invited to dine at the table of a rich man.¹ I might say that a rich man’s table of Scripture has been laid before us. We enter a meadow filled with flowers; here the rose blushes; there the lilies glisten white; everywhere flowers abound in all varieties.² Our soul is drawn hither and thither to pluck the most beautiful. If we gather the rose, we leave the lily behind; if we pluck the lily, the violets remain. Likewise, in the seventy-seventh psalm, mystically fruitful in divine...

    • HOMILY 12 ON PSALM 78 (79)
      (pp. 90-92)

      For we are brought very low.’¹ Because for our sake You became lowly and as one in sore need, we, too, are brought very low. This is ‘The prayer of an afflicted one when he is faint and pours out his anguish before the Lord.’² Because You became poor, although You were rich,³ we, too, have become poor and wretched.

      ‘Help us, O God, our Savior.’ In Hebrew the psalm has: ‘Help us, O Jesus, our God.’ Wherever, in fact, our text has ‘Savior,’ the Hebrew text has ‘Jesus.’ We know that when Gabriel⁴ came to Mary, he said: ‘Thou...

    • HOMILY 13 ON PSALM 80 (81)
      (pp. 93-101)

      Unto the end, for the wine presses, a psalm of Asaph.’¹ It is written in the law that there are three solemn festivals: the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. The tenth day [of the month]² before the feast of Tabernacles, was a fast day, and the fast lasted until evening. On this occasion they blew the trumpet, that is to say, they fasted and during the fast blew the trumpet, and ten days later came the feast of the Booths. Mark this attentively: three solemn festivals are described in the law: first the Passover, second Pentecost, third Tabernacles. Before Tabernacles a...

    • HOMILY 14 ON PSALM 81 (82)
      (pp. 102-110)

      God arises in the divine assembly.’ There are many different postures that one adopts. Frequently we are sitting down; sometimes we are standing; other times we are lying down; at times we are running; then again we are walking. In the same way, God is described in terms of human individual differences, and His attitude is represented in a variety of ways. If we are saints, then, we are like Moses, and God says to us: ‘You wait here near me,’¹ for that is what He said to Moses. Now Moses at that time was standing on a rock; hence,...

    • HOMILY 15 ON PSALM 82 (83)
      (pp. 111-117)

      O god, who is like to you?’¹ Because there is no one like You, we look for no other Creator except You. ‘Be not silent, O God, and be not still!’ We are silent; do You intercede in our behalf. This is the voice of the just man, for he who says: ‘Be not silent, O God,’ is at peace with his conscience.

      ‘For behold, your enemies raise a tumult.’ By following the tropological method of interpretation, we are able to apply this verse to the Church and to heretics. Then again, in accordance with its literal character, we can...

    • HOMILY 16 ON PSALM 83 (84)
      (pp. 118-126)

      Unto the end, for the wine presses. A psalm of the sons of Core.’¹ There are three psalms with the phrase, ‘for the wine presses,’² as part of their title: the eighth, the eightieth, and the eighty-third. The eighth is superscribed with David’s name, the eightieth with the name of Asaph, and the eighty-third with the sons of Core. I am going to give you a rule whereby you may know what to look for in Scripture. Any psalm that has the sons of Core in its title will always be joyful without any note of sadness. Whereas Core, and...

    • HOMILY 17 ON PSALM 84 (85)
      (pp. 127-134)

      Unto the end. A psalm of the son of Core’¹ is the title of the eighty-fourth psalm. As I have said frequently before, you will always find joy and never sadness in a psalm that has ‘for the sons of Core’ in its title. This is so because the sons’ joy is to console the father’s sorrow. Reread the psalms with that in mind and you will discover that wherever you come upon the title, ‘of the sons of Core,’ you will find no sadness. I have remarked likewise many times that the name Core signifies the place of Calvary...

    • HOMILY 18 ON PSALM 86 (87)
      (pp. 135-145)

      Apsalm of the sons of Core. A song.’ I have called your attention frequently to the difference between the psalm and the song. The psalm is named from the psalter, but a song comes forth from the voice. The psalm, a work of art, relates to the practical; the song, to meditation and is speculative.¹

      His foundation upon the holy mountains.’ The psalmist did not predicate whose foundation, but merely stated: ‘His foundation upon the holy mountains.’ These are the utterances of a prophet; the sons are Core’s sons. The meaning of the name Core, as I have indicated before,...

    • HOMILY 19 ON PSALM 89 (90)
      (pp. 146-155)

      A prayer of Moses, the man of God.’ There are four psalms characterized as a prayer:¹ the sixteenth and the following. psalm, the eighty-ninth, and Psalm 101. The one-hundred-and-first psalm is: ‘The prayer of an afflicted one when he is faint and pours out his anguish before the Lord.’² The one we are considering is entitled: ‘A prayer of Moses, the man of God.’ We have read the Song of Moses in Exodus,³ the song that Mary and Moses sang after the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea, and Pharao and his army had been drowned to a man. Then...

    • HOMILY 20 ON PSALM 90 (91)
      (pp. 156-163)

      You who dwell in the shelter [adiutorio] of the Most High.’ Now, it is the name, Ezra, that is translated ‘adiutorium’ and means ‘help.’ In fact, the prophet Esdra is called Boēthós, helper.¹ He is the one who led back the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, back into the land of promise. He, therefore, who dwells in Ezra, who dwells in Jesus (in accordance with tropology), who, as the Apostle says,² built His house without human hands—that house that the Lord had also built for the midwives in Egypt³—‘shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven.’⁴...

    • HOMILY 21 ON PSALM 91 (92)
      (pp. 164-173)

      The ninety-first psalm is inscribed with the title: ‘A psalm; a song for the Sabbath day.’ There could be no sabbath day without six preceding days. We work for six days, on the seventh day we rest. We cannot sing to the Lord, therefore, save on the day of the sabbath. As long as we are engaged in the works of the world, that is, for the six days, we cannot sing to the Lord. Leviticus says: ‘On the sabbath day you shall do no servile work.’¹ No one, therefore, on the day of the sabbath and on the day...

    • HOMILY 22 ON PSALM 93 (94)
      (pp. 174-182)

      We have always maintained that from its title one may learn the theme of a psalm. ‘A psalm for David himself on the fourth day of the week.’¹ The fourth day is midway to the sabbath; it is, as it were, the heart of the week, the middle day in seven. It is the fourth day, and the fourth day has an equal number of days on each side. On one, the first, second, and third; and on the other, the fifth, sixth, and seventh. You see, therefore, that the fourth day of the week is supported on both sides...

    • HOMILY 23 ON PSALM 95 (96)
      (pp. 183-190)

      The ninety-fifth psalm is distinguished by the title: ‘A song of David when the house was being built after the captivity.’¹ A title such as this brims with mystery; it embodies the whole mystical meaning and plan of our salvation. ‘A song of David, when the house was being built after the captivity.’ The Jews interpret this title as follows: A song of David after the Babylonian Captivity when the temple was rebuilt under Esdra, Zorobabel, and Jesus, the son of Josedech, a song of David. According, then, to the Jews, David knew in his spirit five hundred years before...

    • HOMILY 24 ON PSALM 96 (97)
      (pp. 191-196)

      Of david, when his land was restored again to him.’¹ We read in the Books of Kings and in Paralipomenon that David was a valorous hero who subjugated to his rule all the surrounding nations. This fact agrees with the literal interpretation of the title, so that we understand its meaning thus: The song of David that he sang to the Lord, when he restored peace to his own land, Judea, after vanquishing all his foes. That is history. On the contrary, if David’s name means ‘strong of hand,’² then, the ‘strong of hand’ is no other than the Conqueror...

    • HOMILY 25 ON PSALM 97 (98)
      (pp. 197-203)

      Sing to the Lord a new song’; the story of the Son of God crucified is the new song that had never been heard of before. A new event should have a new song. ‘Sing to the Lord a new song.’ It was the man, indeed, who suffered; but, you, sing to the Lord. Suffer, certainly, He did as man; He redeemed as God. ‘Sing to the Lord a new song.’ A new name merits a new song. This thought is intrinsic to what Scripture says in another place: ‘You shall be called by a new name.’¹ A new name...

    • HOMILY 26 ON PSALM 98 (99)
      (pp. 204-212)

      The lord is king; the peoples tremble.’ There are three psalms that begin with the same versicle, the ninety-second, the ninety-sixth, and the ninety-eighth. Although the opening versicle is the same in each psalm, the verse ending is different. How, then, does the ninety-second psalm begin? ‘The Lord is king, in splendor robed.’¹ The ninety-sixth, however, says: ‘The Lord is king; let the earth rejoice’;² the ninety-eighth: ‘The Lord is king; the peoples tremble.’³ You see that the order of these psalms seems almost in reverse. ‘The Lord is king: the peoples tremble’ logically should be first; ‘The Lord is...

    • HOMILY 27 ON PSALM 100 (101)
      (pp. 213-215)

      Of kindness and judgment I will sing; to you, O Lord.’ Let sinners who are despairing of their salvation, who are humble and broken down over their sins, hear the song of mercy; let the arrogant who say: ‘The Lord is merciful, let us sin, He will pardon us,’ hear the song of justice.

      ‘I will sing praise. I will persevere in the way of integrity,’ that I may understand what I am singing and meditate upon the meaning of the psalm; that my mind may not wander off on distraction; my body seem to be praying, but my soul...

    • HOMILY 28 ON PSALM 101 (102)
      (pp. 216-218)

      The prayer of a poor man, when he is faint and pours out his anguish before the Lord.’¹ The psalm is speaking of the poor man, not the pauper of this world, but him of whom it is written: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’² ‘When he is faint’; when he remembers his sins, past and present. ‘Pours out’ with his whole heart, not with his lips. Who, indeed, is the man who is able to pour out his anguish in the presence of the Lord? Who is there who does not feel the prick of conscience?

      ‘Hide not your...

    • HOMILY 29 ON PSALM 102 (103)
      (pp. 219-221)

      Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name.’ Another of the psalms says: ‘Know that the Lord is God’;¹ this one: ‘And all my being, bless His holy name.’ If we say: ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul,’ and the Lord is ‘Lord,’ what name of the Lord is the psalmist thinking of here? If the Lord is called by name Lord, what does ‘and all my being, bless His holy name’ mean? Simply this, the advent of the Son implies the name of Father. Before the coming of Christ, God was known, but...

    • HOMILY 30 ON PSALM 103 (104)
      (pp. 222-229)

      This psalm is the worship of the creature praising and blessing his Creator through the prophet and is similar in theme to the eighteenth psalm that says: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament declares his handiwork.’¹

      ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul!’ The prophet bestirs himself to praise God. To bless the Lord, that is, to praise the Lord, brings, moreover, a blessing upon oneself. ‘O Lord, my God, you are great indeed!’ You, who are God of all, are especially my God, for I am not the slave of sin; I have merited to be...

    • HOMILY 31 ON PSALM 104 (105)
      (pp. 230-233)

      Give thanks to the Lord, invoke his name’; give thanks to Him and say: we, indeed, are sinners but You are merciful, have pity on us. ‘Invoke his name.’ There will be no setting up of idols in our hearts, but we shall call upon the Lord and He Himself will be our redemption. ‘Make known among the nations his deeds.’ Shame on the Jews who say that His miracles and works were performed only in Israel.

      ‘Sing to him, sing his praise.’ He who understands the Sacred Scriptures, who meditates constantly on the law of the Lord, and contemplates...

    • HOMILY 32 ON PSALM 105 (106)
      (pp. 234-237)

      Alleluia, Alleluia.’¹ It is necessary to bear in mind the rule that whenever there are two alleluias in the prescription of a psalm, one marks the end of the preceding psalm; the other, the beginning of the following one.

      ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.’ O you who sin grievously and despair of salvation, and think that because of the magnitude of your sins you cannot obtain pardon, I admonish you—rather the prophet admonishes you—to give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. Great are your sins, but great is the Lord who has...

    • HOMILY 33 ON PSALM 106 (107)
      (pp. 238-244)

      Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his kindness endures forever!’ Because He is gracious and forgives sin, for that reason confess your sins to Him. If He were not good, the prophet would not admonish you to confess and give thanks to Him; His kindness is everlasting. Here in this world, He is all clemency; in the next, He is justice. ‘For his kindness endures forever.’ As long as you are in this world, confess, and give thanks to Him.

      ‘Thus let the redeemed of the Lord say, those whom he has redeemed from the hand...

    • HOMILY 34 ON PSALM 107 (108)
      (pp. 245-254)

      A song of a psalm of David.’¹ Song always suggests the work of the mind, but psalm that of the body. To express this distinction more clearly, song implies theory, and the psalm practice in reference to the art. Since, therefore, the title announces a song of a psalm, the second versicle continues logically and correctly with: ‘I will sing and chant praise in my glory.’²

      ‘My heart is ready, O God; my heart is ready.’³ I am ready, not only in act, but also in heart and in mind. My heart is ready in desire, my heart is ready...

    • HOMILY 35 ON PSALM 108 (109)
      (pp. 255-269)

      Unto the end, a psalm of David.’¹ ‘Unto the end’ is a sign that the message of the psalm pertains not to the present but to the future. If, moreover, the prophet speaks of the future, the prophecy is of Christ.

      ‘O God, be hot silent in my praise.’² Christ is saying: ‘Judas betrayed Me, the Jews persecuted and crucified Me and thought that they were doing away with Me unto the end, but You, O God, be not silent in my praise.’ The whole Church throughout the world praises the Lord every day and fulfills the Lord’s prayer: O...

    • HOMILY 36 ON PSALM 109 (110)
      (pp. 270-279)

      The lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand.” A psalm of David.’¹ It is David who is speaking, a prophet, a holy man, a king. What is the king saying? What does the king and prophet say? ‘The Lord is my Lord.’ The Savior has revealed the meaning of these words in the Gospel when He asked: ‘If the Christ is the Son of David, how then does David in the Spirit call him Lord?’² Notice, therefore, that He is saying: If He is David’s son, as you say, how does David in the Spirit call Him...

    • HOMILY 37 ON PSALM 110 (111)
      (pp. 280-280)

      I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart.’ If David were not single-hearted and sincere, he would not have said, I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; not only with his lips, but with all his heart.

      ‘In the company and assembly of the just. Great are the works of the Lord.’ Of the just, he says, of those who at first were sinners, but are now just. Is it not cause for wonderment when, moreover, we behold the elephant and the camels on the one hand, and the fly and the mosquito...

    • HOMILY 38 ON PSALM 111 (112)
      (pp. 281-285)

      Happy the man who fears the Lord.’ I have told you frequently that all interpretations in the name of the just man point to Christ. If the saints are types prefiguring the Savior, the truly holy man, for example Isaia, is a type of the Lord and Savior, and so, too, are Joseph, David, Solomon, and the rest of the saints. Now the happy man who is being described in this psalm is a just man in truth, but this just man is a type of the true just Man. ‘Happy the man who fears the Lord.’ So much for...

    • HOMILY 39 ON PSALM 114 (116A)
      (pp. 286-292)

      I have loved the Lord because he will hear my voice in supplication.’¹ The psalmist did not say, I shall love, but I have loved. He does not promise to love, but testifies that he has loved. ‘I have loved.’ Why have I loved? Because the Lord will grant gracious hearing to my entreaty. I have loved expresses time past; the granting of my request, however, is in the future. Indeed, he did not say, I have loved because the Lord has so graciously answered my prayer, but I have loved because the Lord will attend my plea.

      ‘Because he...

    • HOMILY 40 ON PSALM 115 (116B)
      (pp. 293-299)

      I believed, therefore have I spoken.’¹ In the Hebrew psalter Psalms 114 and 115 are integral parts of the same psalm. Why, then, did the prophet say, I believed, therefore, I spoke? What was it that you believed? What did you say? The first of these psalms closes with the words: ‘I shall please the Lord in the land of the living.’² With that in mind, the prophet says now: ‘I believed, therefore have I spoken.’ What did I believe? That I shall be pleasing to the Lord in the land of the living; that is what I believed; that...

    • HOMILY 41 ON PSALM 119 (120)
      (pp. 300-315)

      Let us turn to the psalm that is read after the one hundred and eighteenth psalm. Psalm 118, by the way, is constructed, as we have more than once indicated, on the pattern of the alphabet and is, therefore, alphabetical in form. It begins with ALEPH and goes on down to the last Hebrew letter THAU, with successive groups of verses beginning with successive letters of the alphabet. There are twenty-two Hebrew letters, and the verses are composed in octaves corresponding to the letters of the alphabet. The first eight verses, for example, begin each with the letter ALEPH. When...

    • HOMILY 42 ON PSALM 127 (128)
      (pp. 316-324)

      Happy are they who fear the Lord.’¹ What is the reward of those who fear the Lord? What is their crown? Let us see what their glory is, what their reward. ‘Happy shall you be, and favored.’ I have already granted their happiness; now I am inquiring into its nature. What is the happiness of the man who fears the Lord? ‘Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; your sons like olive plants around your table.’²

      I think that in the merciful kindness of Christ, we all fear the Lord. Then do we...

    • HOMILY 43 ON PSALM 128 (129)
      (pp. 325-328)

      Much have they oppressed me from my youth, let Israel say, much have they oppressed me from my youth.’ Twice the psalmist repeats his complaint: much have they persecuted me; time and again from my youth they have persecuted me. If, however, I have begun to serve the Lord in middle life—at about forty, for instance—obviously, I cannot say that they have oppressed me from my youth. Nevertheless, what am I saying? They have tormented me from my youth; they have wounded me from my youth; they have trampled upon me from my youth. What, moreover, does he...

    • HOMILY 44 ON PSALM 131 (132)
      (pp. 329-332)

      Remember, o lord, for David all his meekness.’¹ There are many commentators who conclude from the words of the Gospel: ‘Son of David, have mercy on us’²—the cry of the blind man sitting on the wayside at Jericho—that this David, whose name means ‘strong of hand,’ refers to the Lord Savior.³ If, however, we accept their judgment, we are doing violence to our intelligence, for if the words: ‘Remember, O Lord, for David all his meekness,’ refer to Christ, how, then, does Christ say as of another: ‘ “Till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling...

    • HOMILY 45 ON PSALM 132 (133)
      (pp. 333-340)

      Behold, how good it is, and how pleasant, where brethren dwell at one!’ The psalmist mentions two qualities of the common dwelling of brethren, good and pleasant. Martyrdom is good, but it is not pleasant, for it consists in suffering and sorrow; in torture there is always pain, and in pain there is certainly no pleasure. ‘Behold, how good it is, and how pleasant.’ On the other hand, sensuality is pleasant. Eating rich foods, for example, seems to be pleasant, for it may incite sensual desire. The prophet, then, has predicated two attributes, possibly contradictory—good and pleasant—which he...

    • HOMILY 46 ON PSALM 133 (134)
      (pp. 341-352)

      Come, bless the lord, all you servants of the Lord.’ This is the last psalm in the songs of the steps.¹ The first of these gradual psalms opened with the words: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.’² In the second, the psalmist had begun his ascent with: ‘I lift up my eyes toward the mountains’;³ on the third: ‘I rejoiced at the things that were said to me’;⁴ on the fourth: ‘To you I lift up my eyes, who are enthroned in heaven.’⁵ Notice how gradually he mounted step by step, always ascending to...

    • HOMILY 47 ON PSALM 135 (136)
      (pp. 353-356)

      Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.’¹ Despite these words, heretics maintain that there is no repentance, but the prophet urges us to confess our sins, for God is good. Blessed, therefore, is he who acknowledges that he is a sinner just as the Apostle does: ‘I am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.’² If the Apostle makes such a confession, how much more should the sinner? Scripture says, moreover: ‘The just man accuses himself when he begins to speak.’³ If the just man is prompt to accuse himself, how...

    • HOMILY 48 ON PSALM 136 (137)
      (pp. 357-360)

      By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Sion.’ If one has never been sick, he does not appreciate the value of health.¹ The cripple does not know the strength of feet that are sound; the blind man does not realize the power of vision. This is all by way of introduction, for the psalm says that we sat down by the streams of Babylon and wept when we remembered Sion. The meaning of Babylon is confusion; hence, Babylon is a figure of this world. It is the sinner, therefore, that fell from Paradise and entered...

    • HOMILY 49 ON PSALM 137 (138)
      (pp. 361-362)

      I will confess to you, Lord, with all my heart.’¹ The nature of a wound determines the medication to be applied. Just as the body has wounds of various kinds, so also the soul has its passions and its wounds, and we must do penance in proportion to the nature of our sin. If a man makes confession of all his sins, he is acknowledging his sins to the Lord wholeheartedly. If, for example, someone has committed fornication and he confesses only that and is avaricious, or irascible, or a slanderer, or blasphemer, and is full of faults and vices,...

    • HOMILY 50 ON PSALM 139 (140)
      (pp. 363-364)

      Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil men.’ In no way does the devil succeed so well in deceiving us as he does through the agency of men; it is from treachery this kind that the prophet prays for deliverance.

      ‘Who devise evil in their hearts.’ He is warning us against heretics.

      ‘The venom of asps is under their lips,’ for their words, friendly enough on the surface, are full of deadly poison.

      ‘By the wayside they have laid snares for me’; they have tried to set a trap for me in Holy Scripture by adducing proof more apparent than...

    • HOMILY 51 ON PSALM 140 (141)
      (pp. 365-373)

      O lord, to you I call; hearken to me.’¹ Moses was standing his ground in the midst of his people, and Pharao, marching in pursuit, was almost upon him; on all sides he was straitened. It was then that he cried out to God and instantly God said to him: ‘Why are you crying out to me?’² All the while that Moses was praying in silence, God was hearing him. Scripture, however, does not record what he said, only that he cried. The blood of martyrs, too, constantly cries out to the Lord and He listens graciously. The Lord declared...

    • HOMILY 52 ON PSALM 141 (142)
      (pp. 374-376)

      Of understanding for David. A prayer when he was in the cave.’¹ The title of this psalm agrees with history and refers to the time when David fled Saul into the wilderness of Engaddi and hid himself in a cave. Saul, unaware of David’s hiding place, also entered the cave in order to take care of his needs, I presume,² but, because the words: ‘Of understanding for David’ are part of the superscription, it is necessary to take into consideration, also, the spiritual significance of the psalm. Accordingly, this psalm of David is accepted for certain in the name of...

    • HOMILY 53 ON PSALM 142 (143)
      (pp. 377-379)

      O lord, hear my prayer.’ Modest words, full of humility and compassion. ‘Hearken to my pleading in your truth.’¹ These are the words of a man who trusts. ‘In your truth,’ in Your Christ, of course: ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’² ‘In your justice answer me.’ Here, likewise, in Your Christ; I place no trust in myself, but I seek the mercy of Your truth and justice.

      ‘Enter not into judgment with your servant.’ How clearly the prophet reveals his trust in the loving kindness of Christ when he says: Do not summon Your servant...

    • HOMILY 54 ON PSALM 143 (144)
      (pp. 380-391)

      Even though we have preached at length on the Gospel, nevertheless, for the sake of those who do not know Latin, we must make a few comments on the psalter, some may not go away starving while others are well satisfied. Since, moreover, the psalm is long and we would be here a whole day if we lingered over each verse, we ought to reflect briefly upon a few thoughts, rather than spend our time unfolding the meaning of words.

      ‘Blessed be the Lord, my God, who trains my hands for battle.’¹ One who attempts a brief explanation of Holy...

    • HOMILY 55 ON PSALM 145 (146)
      (pp. 392-399)

      Praise the lord, O my soul.’ The title of this psalm is: ‘Of Aggai and Zacharia.’¹ In the first place, we should know that this title is not found in the Hebrew text, but in the Septuagint translation. We should say a word, however, about the superscription, ‘Of Aggai and Zacharia,’ that appears in the popular edition. Because the restoration of Jerusalem is implied in the verse: ‘The Lord shall reign forever; your God, O Sion, unto generation and generation,’² some exegetes are of the opinion that the psalm refers to the restoration of Jerusalem that took place under Aggai...

    • HOMILY 56 ON PSALM 146 (147A)
      (pp. 400-407)

      Praise the lord, because a psalm is good.’¹ The title of Psalm 146 is ‘Alleluia.’ Those who are unfamiliar with the Hebrew language, are wont to inquire into the significance of the word ‘alleluia’ when it appears in the title of a psalm. This particular psalm has ‘alleluia’ not only in its title but also in its prelude. Where our text says, ‘Praise the Lord,’ the Hebrew says, ‘alleluia.’ Among the Hebrews, God has as many as ten names; He is called Sabaoth, Saddai, Eloim, El, even Jao, and Eser Jaia. Along with others, there is also the name Ja,...

    • HOMILY 57 ON PSALM 147 (147B)
      (pp. 408-415)

      Glorify the lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Sion.’ We have just heard the venerable priest declare in his sermon that the Jews had been abandoned because of their transgression of the law. How, therefore, does Scripture say: ‘Glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem, praise your God, O Sion’? Then, too, what about the verse that follows?

      ‘He has strengthened the bars of your gates.’ Is it of this Jerusalem that the prophet is speaking? Of this Sion? Praise your God. Why? Because He has strengthened the bars of your gates. There are no gates; how, then, are the bars...

    • HOMILY 58 ON PSALM 148
      (pp. 416-423)

      There is a double ‘alleluia’ in the title of this psalm, and many suppose that the two alleluias constitute the title. We ought to know, however, that one alleluia marks the close of the preceding psalm and the other the beginning of this. We must learn the rule that all psalms that commence with an alleluia, also end with an alleluia.¹ Many are of the opinion that a subjoined alleluia indicates the beginning of another psalm, but that is not so, for the psalm that opens with alleluia, likewise, closes with an alleluia. Why am I drawing your attention to...

    • HOMILY 59 ON PSALM 149
      (pp. 424-429)

      The one-hundred-forty-ninth psalm has been read which begins with the words: ‘Sing to the Lord a new song.’ The venerable priest has explained that Psalms 95 and 97 have this same introduction. The ninety-fifth psalm is entitled: ‘A song for David himself, when the house was built after the captivity,’¹ and alludes to the house of Christ that is built after captivity, that is, after repentance for sin. Since, therefore, he has given us an excellent interpretation of the opening verse of our psalm: ‘Sing to the Lord a new song’—that it is a new people that sings a...

  5. Back Matter
    (pp. 430-430)