The Second Sunday in Lent
Augustine on Psalm CXIX HE
Second Sunday in Lent Home
ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.Source: Sacrementary of Gregory - Bishop of Rome. [600 AD] The petition is not only for assualts from without, but also from within.
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.
[Archbishop Cranmer 1549 - Collect of Ash Wednesday said daily until Palm Sunday]
Gen x. 44. 37 Psalm 6, 38 | 119:33–72 1 Thessalonians iv. 1. & St. Matthew xv. 21
1 Thessalonians iv. 1.
WE beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
Psalm 6, 38 | 119:33–72 (He-Teth)
St. Matthew xv. 21.
JESUS went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
Augustine of Hippo
Psalm 119 HE
Preface to Psalm 119
31. In this great Psalm there cometh next in order that which, with the Lord’s help, we must consider and treat of. “Set a law for me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes, and I shall seek it alway” (ver. 33).…
32. Why doth this man still pray for a law to be laid down for him; which, if it had not been laid down for him, he could not have run the way of God’s commandments in the breadth of his heart? But since one speaketh who is growing in grace, and who knoweth that it is God’s gift that he profiteth in grace; what else doth he pray, when he prayeth that a law may be laid down for him, save that he may profit more and more? As, if thou holdest a full cup, and givest it to a thirsty man; he both exhausts it by drinking it, and prayeth for it by still longing for it.…
33. But what meaneth, “Evermore”?…Doth “evermore” mean as long as we live here, because we progress in grace so long; but after this life, he who was in a good course of improvement here, is made perfect there? Here the law of God is examined into, as long as we progress in it, both by knowing it and by loving it: but there its fulness abideth for our enjoyment, not for our examination. Thus also is this spoken, “Seek His face evermore.” Where, evermore, save here? For we shall not there also seek the face of God, when “we shall see face to face.” Or if that which is loved without a change of affection is rightly said to be sought after, and our only object is, that it be not lost, we shall indeed evermore seek the law of God, that is, the truth of God: for in this very Psalm it is said, “And Thy law is the truth.” It is now sought, that it may be held fast; it will then be held fast that it may not be lost.…
34. “Give me understanding, and I shall search Thy law, yea, I shall keep it with my whole heart” (ver. 34). For when each man hath searched the law, and searched its deep things, in which its whole meaning doth consist; he ought indeed to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind; and his neighbour as himself. “For on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” This he seemeth to have promised, when he said, “Yea, I shall keep it with my whole heart.”
35. But since he hath no power to do even this, save he be aided by Him who commandeth him to do what He commandeth, “Make me,” he addeth, “to go in the path of Thy commandments, for therein is my desire” (ver. 35). My desire is powerless, unless Thou Thyself makest me to go where I desire. And this is surely the very path, that is, the path of God’s commandments, which he had already said that he had run, when his heart was enlarged by the Lord. And this he calleth a “path,” because “the way is narrow which leadeth unto life;” and since it is narrow, we cannot run therein save with a heart enlarged.…
36. He next saith, “Incline mine heart unto Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness” (ver. 36). This then he prayeth, that he may profit in the will itself.…But the Apostle saith, “Avarice is a root of all evils.” But in the Greek, whence these words have been rendered into our tongue, the word used by the Apostle is not πλεονεξία, which occurs in this passage of the Psalms; but φιλαργυρία, by which is signified “love of money.” But the Apostle must be understood to have meant genus by species when he used this word, that is, to have meant avarice universally and generally by love of money, which is truly the root of all evils. …If therefore our heart be not inclined to covetousness, we fear God only for God’s sake, so that He is the only reward of our serving Him. Let us love Him in Himself, let us love Him in ourselves, Him in our neighbours whom we love as ourselves, whether they have Him, or in order that they may have Him.…
37. The next words in the Psalm which we have undertaken to expound are, “O turn away mine eyes, lest they behold vanity: and quicken Thou me in Thy way” (ver. 37). Vanity and truth are directly contrary to one another. The desires of this world are vanity: but Christ, who freeth us from the world, is truth. He is the way, too, wherein this man wisheth to be quickened, for He is also the life: “I am the way, the truth, and the life,”are His own words.
38. …He prayeth that those eyes wherewith we consider on what account we do what we do, may be turned away that they behold not vanity; that is, that he may not look to vanity, as his motive, when he doeth anything good. In this vanity the first place is held by the love of men’s praise, on account of which many great deeds have been wrought by those who are styled great in this world, and who have been much praised in heathen states, seeking glory not with God, but among men, and on account of this living in appearance prudently, courageously, temperately, and righteously; and when they have reached this they have reached their reward: vain men, and vain reward. …Moreover, if it be a vain thing to do good works for the sake of men’s praises, how much more vain for the sake of getting money, or increasing it, or retaining it, and any other temporal advantage, which cometh unto us from without? Since “all things are vanity: what is man’s abundance, with all his toil, wherein he laboureth under the sun?”. For our temporal welfare itself finally we ought not to do our good works, but rather for the sake of that everlasting welfare which we hope for, where we may enjoy an unchangeable good, which we shall have from God, nay, what God Himself is unto us. For if God’s Saints were to do good works for the sake of this temporal welfare, never would the martyrs of Christ achieve a good work of confession in the loss of this same welfare.…
39. “O stablish Thy word in Thy servant, that I may fear Thee” (ver. 38). And what else is this than, Grant unto me that I may do according to what Thou sayest? For the word of God is not stablished in those who remove it in themselves by acting contrary to it; but it is stablished in those in whom it is immoveable. God therefore stablisheth His word, that they may fear Him, in those unto whom He giveth the spirit of the fear of Him; not that fear of which the Apostle saith, “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear;” for “perfect love casteth out” this “fear,” but that fear which the Prophet calleth “the spirit of the fear of the Lord;” that fear which “is pure, and endureth for ever;”that fear which feareth to offend Him whom it loveth.
40. “Take away my reproach which I have suspected, for Thy judgments are sweet” (ver. 39). Who is he who suspected his own reproach, and who doth not know his own reproach better than that of his neighbour? For a man may rather suspect another’s than his own; since he knoweth not that which he suspecteth; but in each one’s own reproach there is not suspicion for him, but knowledge, wherein conscience speaketh. What then mean the words, “the rebuke which I have suspected”? The meaning of them must be derived from the former verse; since as long as a man doth not turn away his eyes lest they behold vanity, he suspecteth in others what is going on in himself; so that he believeth another to worship God, or do good works, from the same motive as himself. For men can see what we do, but with a view to what end we act, is hidden.…
41. “Behold, I have coveted Thy commandments: O quicken Thou me in Thy righteousness” (ver. 40). Behold, I have coveted to love Thee with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and my neighbour as myself, but, “O quicken Thou me” not in my own, but “in Thy righteousness,” that is, fill me with that love which I have longed for. Aid me that I may do that which Thou chargest me: Thyself give what Thou dost command. “O quicken Thou me in Thy righteousness:” for in myself I had that which would cause my death: but I find not save in Thee whence I may live. Christ is Thy righteousness, “Who of God is made unto us wisdom,” And in Him I find Thy commandments, which I have coveted, that in Thy righteousness, that is, in Him, Thou mayest quicken me. For the Word Himself is God; and “the Word was made flesh,” that He Himself also might be my neighbour.
Let us pray in the words of Augustine.
Turn we to the Lord God, the Father Almighty, and with pure hearts offer to him, so far as our meanness can, great and true thanks, with all our hearts praying his exceeding kindness, that of his good pleasure he would deign to hear our prayers, that by his Power he would drive out the enemy from our deeds and thoughts, that he would increase our faith, guide our understandings, give us spiritual thoughts, and lead us to his bliss, through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with him, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
[A prayer which he was wont to use after his Sermons and Lectures.]
NPNF (V1-08) St. Augustine