The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity
Augustine on Psalm CXII

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LORD, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to withstand the devil; and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source Bishop Gelasians Sacrmentary [494] where appointed for the Sunday before Ember Days in the Autumn. Ember days were for penitence, fasting, and the Saturday for ordinations in Rome. The 1662 added temptations of the world, the flesh One is reminded of the Lord's prayer and of 2 Peter 2:9

Psalm 112, Ephesians iv. 1   &   St. Luke xiv. 1
Homily - Psalm CXII by Augustine

  Psalm CXII

1 Corinthians i. 4.

I THANK my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Matthew xxii. 34

WHEN the Pharisees had heard that Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.


An Exposition of the Psalms

Psalm CXII

1. I believe, brethren, that ye remarked and committed to memory the title of this Psalm. "The conversion," he saith, "of Haggai and Zechariah." These prophets were not as yet in existence, when these verses were sung. [5007] ...But both, the one within a year after the other, began to prophesy that which seemeth to pertain to the restoration of the temple, as was foretold so long before. [5008] ..."For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." [5009] Whoever therefore converteth himself to the work of this building together, and to the hope of a firm and holy edifice, like a living stone from the miserable ruin of this world, understandeth the title of the Psalm, understandeth "the conversion of Haggai and Zechariah." Let him therefore chant the following verses, not so much with the voice of his tongue as of his life. For the completion of the building will be that ineffable peace of wisdom, the "beginning" of which is the "fear of the Lord:" let him therefore, whom this conversion buildeth together, begin thence.

2. "Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he will have great delight in His commandments" (ver. 1). God, who alone judgeth both truthfully and mercifully, will see how far he obeyeth His commandments: since "the life of man on earth is a temptation," [5010] as holy Job saith. But "He who judgeth us is the Lord." [5011] ...He therefore will see how far each man profiteth in His commandments; yet he who loveth the peace of this building together, shall have great delight in them; nor ought he to despair, since there is "peace on earth for men of good will." [5012]

3. Next follows, "His seed shall be mighty upon earth" (ver. 2). The Apostle witnesseth, that the works of mercy are the seed of the future harvest, when he saith, "Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap;" [5013] and again, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly." [5014] But what, brethren, is more mighty than that not only Zacchaeus should buy the kingdom of Heaven by the half of his goods, [5015] but even the widow for two mites, [5016] and that each should possess an equal share there? What is more mighty, than that the same kingdom should be worth treasures to the rich man, and a cup of cold water to the poor?..."Glory and riches shall be in his house" (ver. 3). For his house is his heart; where, with the praise of God, he liveth in greater riches with the hope of eternal life, than with men flattering, in palaces of marble, with splendidly adorned ceilings, with the fear of everlasting death. "For his righteousness endureth for ever:" this is his glory, there are his riches. While the other's purple, and fine linen, and grand banquets, even when present, are passing away; and when they have come to an end, the burning tongue shall cry out, longing for a drop of water from the finger's end. [5017]

4. "Unto the right-hearted there ariseth up light in the darkness" (ver. 4). Justly do the godly direct their heart unto their God, justly do they walk with their God, preferring His will to themselves; and having no proud presumption in their own. For they remember that they were some time in darkness, but are now light in the Lord. [5018] "Merciful, pitying, and just is the Lord God." It delighteth us that He is "merciful and pitying," but it perhaps terrifieth us that the Lord God is "just." Fear not, despair not at all, happy man, who fearest the Lord, and hast great delight in His commandments; be thou sweet, be merciful and lend. For the Lord is just in this manner, that He judgeth without mercy him who hath not shown mercy; [5019] but, "Sweet is the man who is merciful and lendeth" (ver. 5): God will not spew him out of His mouth as if he were not sweet. "Forgive," He saith, "and ye shall be forgiven; give, and it shall be given unto you." [5020] Whilst thou forgivest that thou mayest be forgiven, thou art merciful; whilst thou givest that it may be given unto thee, thou lendest. For though all be called generally mercy where another is assisted in his distress, yet there is a difference where thou spendest neither money, nor the toil of bodily labour, but by forgiving what each man hath sinned against thee, thou gainest free pardon for thine own sins also....He who is unwilling to give to the poor, seeketh riches; listen to what is written, "Thou shalt have treasure in heaven." [5021] Thou wilt not then lose honour by forgiving: for it is a very laudable triumph to conquer anger: wilt not grow poor by giving; for a heavenly treasure is a more safe possession. The former verse, "Riches and plenteousness shall be in his house," was pregnant with this verse.

5. He therefore who doth these things, "shall guide his words with discretion." His deeds themselves are the words whereby he shall be defended at the Judgment; which shall not be without mercy unto him, since he hath himself shown mercy. "For he shall never be moved" (ver. 6): he who, called to the right hand, shall hear these words, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." For no works of theirs, save works of mercy, are there mentioned. He therefore shall hear, "Come, ye blessed of My Father;" for, "the generation of the right ones shall be blessed." Thus, "the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance." "He will not be afraid of any evil hearing; for his heart standeth fast and believeth in the Lord" (ver. 7). Such as the words which he will hear addressed to those on the left hand, "Depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." [5022] He therefore who seeketh here not his own things, but those of Jesus Christ, [5023] most patiently endureth sufferings, waiteth for the promises with faith. Nor is he broken down by any temptations: "His heart is established, and will not shrink, until he see beyond his enemies" (ver. 8). His enemies wished to see good things here, and when invisible blessings were promised them, used to say, "Who will show us any good?" [5024] Let our heart therefore be established, and shrink not, until we see beyond our enemies. For they wish to see good things of men in the land of the dying; we trust to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living. [5025]

6. But it is a great thing to have the heart established, and not to be moved, while they rejoice who love what they see, and mock at him who hopeth for what he seeth not; "what the Lord hath prepared for them that love Him." [5026] How great is the value of this which is not seen, and it is bought for so much as each man is able to give for it. On this account he also "dispersed abroad, and gave to the poor" (ver. 9): he saw not, yet he kept buying; but He was storing up the treasure in heaven, who deigned to hunger and thirst in the poor on earth. It is no wonder then if "his righteousness remaineth for ever:" He who created the ages being his guardian. "His horn," whose humility was scorned by the proud, "shall be exalted with honour."

7. "The ungodly shall see it, and he shall be angered" (ver. 10): this is that late and fruitless repentance. For with whom rather than himself is he "angered," when he shall say, "Our pride, what hath it profited us? the boastfulness of our riches, what hath it given us? [5027] " seeing the horn of him exalted with honour, who "dispersed abroad, and gave to the poor." "He shall gnash with his teeth, and consume away:" for "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." For he will no more bring forth leaves and bloom, as would happen if he had repented in season: but he will then repent, when "the desire of the ungodly shall perish," no consolation succeeding. "The desire of the ungodly shall perish," when "all things shall pass away like a shadow," [5028] when the flower shall fall down on the withering of the grass. "But the word of the Lord that endureth for ever," [5029] as it is mocked by the vanity of the falsely happy, so will laugh at the perdition of the same when truly miserable.

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


[5006] Lat. CXI. A discourse to the people. [5007] [He argues from the relations of these prophets to the building of the second temple.--C.] [5008] Ezra i. 5; Hagg. i; Zech. i. [5009] 1 Cor. iii. 17. [5010] Job vii. 1. [5011] 1 Cor. iv. 4. [5012] Luke ii. 14. [5013] Gal. vi. 9. [5014] 2 Cor. ix. 6. [5015] Luke xix. 8. [5016] Mark xii. 42. [5017] Luke xvi. 24. [5018] Eph. v. 8. [5019] Jas. ii. 13. [5020] Luke vi. 37, 38. [5021] Matt. xix. 21. [5022] Matt. xxv. 34, 41. [5023] Philip. ii. 21. [5024] Ps. iv. 6. [5025] Ps. xxvii. 13. [5026] 1 Cor. ii. 9. [5027] Wisd. v. 8. [5028] Wisd. v. 8, 9. [5029] Isa. xl. 8.