|Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 147v|
- Judas Hangs Himself the Musée Condé, Chantilly.
Today's psalm deals with the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, as evildoers and those who hate God plot to eliminate true worship of God.
The destruction of the Temple
Opinions are split on just which particular destruction of the Temple this psalm refers to, but its role in this Nocturn is nicely explained by Cassiodorus' note on the three psalms of this second Nocturn of Maundy Thursday:
"Psalm 71 promised that the Lord's incarnation would come. In 72 Asaph [the psalms' author] put his transgressions behind him, and chose the course to follow. In this psalm there is lamentation for the destruction of the city, so that the Jews' extreme hardness of heart should at least feel fear at the disasters to their city. The good Physician has done all he could, if the sick man wished to recover his health. Let us remember, however, that the authority of the Church relates that Jerusalem was ravaged in the days when the most cruel people of the Jews crucified Christ the Lord, so that there can be no doubt what temporal evil that obstinate transgression sustained."
In the context of Maundy Thursday, the psalm is a plea to God to preserve the faithful remnant of his people in the face of pride and persecution.
The evil within the Church
More generally, as Fr Pius Pasch explains in words so very pertinent to the state of the Church today, it is an instruction not to lose hope, even in the fgace of those Judas' who pretend to be priests and bishops:
"The destruction of the temple was one of the saddest phases of Jewish history, and pre-figured both the death of Christ on the Cross, and in these latter days the destruction of our churches by the enemy within. In the midst of the Church's apparent destruction, its humiliation by enemies who pretend to be our shepherds, we cry out in our impatience that God will put a stop to this madness. But we never lose our trust in God. These verses remind us not to lose faith―God is our powerful Saviour."
Psalm 73 (74)
1 Ut quid, Deus, repulisti in finem, iratus est furor tuus super oves pascuæ tuæ?
2 Memor esto congregationis tuæ, quam possedisti ab initio.
3 Redemisti virgam hæreditatis tuæ, mons Sion, in quo habitasti in eo.
4 Leva manus tuas in superbias eorum in finem : quanta malignatus est inimicus in sancto!
5 Et gloriati sunt qui oderunt te in medio solemnitatis tuæ;
6 posuerunt signa sua, signa: et non cognoverunt sicut in exitu super summum.
7 Quasi in silva lignorum securibus exciderunt januas ejus in idipsum; in securi et ascia dejecerunt eam.
8 Incenderunt igni sanctuarium tuum; in terra polluerunt tabernaculum nominis tui.
9 Dixerunt in corde suo cognatio eorum simul: Quiescere faciamus omnes dies festos Dei a terra. 10 Signa nostra non vidimus; jam non est propheta; et nos non cognoscet amplius.
11 Usquequo, Deus, improperábit inimícus: * irrítat adversárius nomen tuum in finem?
12 Ut quid avértis manum tuam, et déxteram tuam, * de médio sinu tuo in finem?
13 Deus autem Rex noster ante sæcula: * operátus est salútem in médio terræ.
14 Tu confirmásti in virtúte tua mare: * contribulásti cápita dracónum in aquis.
15 Tu confregísti cápita dracónis: * dedísti eum escam pópulis Æthíopum.
16 Tu dirupísti fontes, et torréntes * tu siccásti flúvios Ethan.
17 Tuus est dies, et tua est nox: * tu fabricátus es auróram et solem.
18 Tu fecísti omnes términos terræ: * æstátem et ver tu plasmásti ea.
19 Memor esto hujus, inimícus improperávit Dómino: * et pópulus insípiens incitávit nomen tuum.
20 Ne tradas béstiis ánimas confiténtes tibi, * et ánimas páuperum tuórum ne obliviscáris in finem.
21 Réspice in testaméntum tuum: * quia repléti sunt, qui obscuráti sunt terræ dómibus iniquitátum.
22 Ne avertátur húmilis factus confúsus: * pauper et inops laudábunt nomen tuum.
23 Exsúrge, Deus, júdica causam tuam: * memor esto improperiórum tuórum, eórum quæ ab insipiénte sunt tota die.
24 Ne obliviscáris voces inimicórum tuórum: * supérbia eórum, qui te odérunt, ascéndit semper.
God, why have you cast us off unto the end: why is your wrath enkindled against the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember your congregation, which you have possessed from the beginning.
The sceptre of your inheritance which you have redeemed: mount Sion in which you have dwelt.
3 Lift up your hands against their pride unto the end; see what things the enemy has done wickedly in the sanctuary.
4 And they that hate you have made their boasts, in the midst of your solemnity.
They have set up their ensigns for signs, 5 and they knew not both in the going out and on the highest top.
As with axes in a wood of trees, 6 they have cut down at once the gates thereof, with axe and hatchet they have brought it down.
7 They have set fire to your sanctuary: they have defiled the dwelling place of your name on the earth. 8 They said in their heart, the whole kindred of them together: Let us abolish all the festival days of God from the land.
9 Our signs we have not seen, there is now no prophet: and he will know us no more.
10 How long, O God, shall the enemy reproach: is the adversary to provoke your name for ever?
11 Why do you turn away your hand: and your right hand out of the midst of your bosom for ever? 12 But God is our king before ages: he has wrought salvation in the midst of the earth.
13 You by your strength made the sea firm: you crushed the heads of the dragons in the waters.
14 You have broken the heads of the dragon: you have given him to be meat for the people of the Ethiopians.
15 You have broken up the fountains and the torrents: you have dried up the Ethan rivers.
16 Yours is the day, and yours is the night: you have made the morning light and the sun.
17 You have made all the borders of the earth: the summer and the spring were formed by you. 18 Remember this, the enemy has reproached the Lord: and a foolish people has provoked your name. 19 Deliver not up to beasts the souls that confess to you: and forget not to the end the souls of your poor.
20 Have regard to your covenant: for they that are the obscure of the earth have been filled with dwellings of iniquity.
21 Let not the humble be turned away with confusion: the poor and needy shall praise your name. 22 Arise, O God, judge your own cause: remember your reproaches with which the foolish man has reproached you all the day.
23 Forget not the voices of your enemies: the pride of them that hate you ascends continually.
Tenebrae of Holy Thursday
Nocturn I: Psalms 68, 69, 70
Nocturn II: Psalms 71, 72, 73
Nocturn III: Psalms 74, 75, 76
Lauds: 50, 89, 35, [Ex 15], 146
And for the next part in this series, go here.
And for the next part in this series, go here.