Friday, June 21, 2013

Psalm 112, verse 8: Making disciples through his Church

Hannah and Samuel

The last verse of Psalm 112 gives us the image of the barren woman granted the children she desperately desires, a typology that is repeated for us several times in Scripture, for it prefigures for us the spiritual children granted to the Church:

Qui habitare facit sterilem in domo, matrem filiorum lætantem
Who makes a barren woman to dwell in a house, the joyful mother of children


Qui (who) habitare (to live)  facit (he makes) sterilem (the barren [woman]) in (in) domo (the house)
matrem (the mother) filiorum (of sons/children) lætantem (rejoicing) 

Note: laetantem is the part sg pres fem acc of laetor, to rejoice

sterilis, e  unfruitful, barren.
domus, us, f. a house, structure; a house, abode, dwelling place; Temple; ;a race, people, nation; the priesthood.
mater, tris, f.  mother.
filius, ii, m. a son, child
laetor, atus sum, ari,  to rejoice, be joyful, take delight in


These days, many, instead of trusting God, seek to defy him through the use of immoral reproductive technologies.  Yet this verse reminds us of God's miraculous cure of the sterility of many women in Scripture who put their trust in him, including Hannah, Sara, Rebecca, Rachel and Elizabeth. 

But there is also a less literal meaning of this verse, St Robert Bellarmine points out, for their fertility prefigures the establishment of the Church:

"With mankind a low and contemptible position is consid­ered a misfortune, while barrenness is looked upon in the same light by womankind; but, as God looks down on the humble man so as to raise him from the lowest to the highest position, he also looks down on the humble woman, thereby changing her barrenness into fertility. This is quite applicable to several females, such as Sara, Rebecca, Rachel, Anne, and others; but it applies, in a higher sense, to the Church gathered from the Gentiles, that remained barren a long time, but ultimately begot many children, as the apostle has it, "Rejoice thou barren, that bearest not; break forth and cry out, thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than that of her that hath a husband."


Lord through your death and resurrection you invite us to be your sons and daughters, to become members of the spiritual family you have called to yourself; for this great grace we praise your name forever.

Make us, too spiritual mothers and fathers of many, working to bring all into your kingdom.

Contemplatio (Psalm 112)

1 Laudate, pueri, Dominum; laudate nomen Domini.
2 Sit nomen Domini benedictum ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.
3 A solis ortu usque ad occasum laudabile nomen Domini.
4 Excelsus super omnes gentes Dominus, et super cælos gloria ejus.
 5 Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster, qui in altis habitat, et humilia respicit in cælo et in terra?
6 Suscitans a terra inopem, et de stercore erigens pauperem:  
7 ut collocet eum cum principibus, cum principibus populi sui.
8 Qui habitare facit sterilem in domo, matrem filiorum lætantem.

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