Sunday, December 16, 2012

Psalm 111 vs 2: The eternal Church

On every Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.  We are able to do this because of the divine institution of the Church, which creates a community that hands down the faith entrusted to it from generation to generation.

Psalm 111 reminds us of this vital importance of the institution of the Church as a great gift of God:

Potens in terra erit semen ejus; generatio rectorum benedicetur.
His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed. 

Looking at the Latin

Potens (powerful/mighty) in terra (on the earth) semen ejus (hia seed/descendents/children) = his descendents will be mighty on the earth

potens, entis, p. adj.  powerful, mighty, strong.
terra, ae, the earth, in both a lit. and a fig. sense.
semen, enis, n. seed; descendants, children, posterity

generátio (the generation) rectorum (of the upright) benedicétur (let it be blessed) = the generation of the upright/righteous shall be blessed

Generatio here means the whole race or group.

generatio, onis, f, a begetting, generating, generation, "for ever and ever."
rectus, a, um, part. adj. just, right, righteous, upright; the just, just men, the good; steadfast, stable, steady.
benedico, dixi, dictum, ere 3  to bless, to praise, bless, give thanks to (God);  to be well pleased with, to take pleasure in

Penetrating the meaning of the verse

It is worth recalling here that virtually all of the psalms can be interpreted as references to Christ, who provides a model for us to imitate in order that we may learn to be perfect.  In this case, Christ is the ultimate ‘blessed man’, who shows his ‘fear of the Lord’ in his perfect obedience, even unto death.  

And because of his perfect sacrifice, he established a Church that has brought forth generation upon generation of blessed souls.

In the Old Testament, the blessing of having many descendants was usually taken literally.  In the New, though we are constantly reminded that it is our spiritual descendants that are truly important: the people who have knowingly or unknowingly benefitted from our prayers and actions; who have down the faith safeguard by the Church to us.

Accordingly, this verse should be a call to us to lay up our treasures in heaven, above all by cultivating that fear of God – or rather holy obedience – that is manifested in keeping the law.

Next verse

You can find the next part in this series here.

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