Thursday, April 6, 2017

Grace flowing from his side - Psalm 127 (Gradual Psalm No 9)

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Morgan Library

There is perhaps a certain irony in having last psalm of None, an hour that commemorates Christ's death, opening with a beatitude.  But we can, I think, see this as speaking of the blessings that flow from the wounds of Christ, when he was pierced by a lance.  Indeed, Cassiodorus suggests that “In the ninth [of the Gradual psalms], it is proclaimed that we become blessed through fear of the Lord, and that all profitable things are granted us.”

Psalm 127
Canticum graduum.

1 Beáti omnes, qui timent Dóminum,* qui ámbulant in viis ejus.
Blessed are all they that fear the Lord: that walk in his ways.
2  Labóres mánuum tuárum quia manducábis: * beátus es, et bene tibi erit.
2 For you shall eat the labours of your hands: blessed are you, and it shall be well with you.
3  Uxor tua sicut vitis abúndans: * in latéribus domus tuæ.
3 Your wife as a fruitful vine, on the sides of your house.
4  Fílii tui sicut novéllæ olivárum: * in circúitu mensæ tuæ.
Your children as olive plants, round about your table.
5  Ecce sic benedicétur homo, * qui timet Dóminum.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed that fears the Lord.
6  Benedícat tibi Dóminus ex Sion: *  et vídeas bona Jerúsalem ómnibus diébus vitæ tuæ.
5 May the Lord bless you out of Sion: and may you see the good things of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
7  Et vídeas fílios filiórum tuórum: * pacem super Israël.
6 And may you see your children's children, peace upon Israel.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

As with yesterday's psalm, I plan to come back to this one after Easter, so today just a taster in the form of the introductory remarks on it by St Cassiodorus:
The number itself announces the splendour of this step, for it reveals to us the sacred summit of the holy Trinity by its triple trebling. 
But since we read: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,we must investigate why the prophet has decided that we must keep it in mind at this stage. There are two fears which prick our hearts. The first is human fear, by which we are apprehensive of suffering physical hazards or losing worldly goods; this is clearly a temporary state, since we fear such things only as long as we dwell in the life of this world. But divine fear always mounts with us through all the advances which we make in this life. Whereas we abandon worldly fear together with the world on the first step, divine fear remains ever with us, and is adapted as a most faithful companion throughout our ascent. 
As has already been said in Psalm 118: Pierce thou my flesh with thy fear, for I am afraid of thy judgments,  So it is fitting that both on this step and everywhere we be instructed that fear of the Lord should be within us, for it is approved as our essential guardian.   
In the first limb the prophet recounts by certain allusions the blessings of those who fear God, so as to fire the spirits of the committed with the warmth of heaven's reward. In the second, he blesses them that they may gain eternal joys, so that none may be apprehensive of this sweetest of fears…We identify in this psalm the promises made to those who fear God, the rewards obtained by the person who with pure mind feels awe for the Lord. 
So let us pray most eagerly that we may deserve to obtain this fear which we seek not as punishment, but for salvation; from it sprout blessings such as never spring from worldly delights. It is right that we seek this highest gift with vehement entreaty. So as we have said, let us continually beg the Lord that by His generosity we may deserve to attain such gifts. He who bids sinners make entreaty in season and out of season has promised that He can hearken even to the undeserving among us.

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