Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Psalm 125 v 8 - Going out and coming in

Image result for sheaves of wheat
Van Gogh

In the previous verse of Psalm 125 we looked at the idea of 'going out', and the need for almsgiving and other good works; in this verse the focus is on 'coming in', the harvest or reward for our efforts.  It takes us back to the joy of the Resurrection, and of the New Jerusalem to come.

Veniéntes autem vénient cum exsultatióne, * portántes manípulos suos.
ueniens ueniet in exultatione, portans manipulos suos.

ρχόμενοι δ ξουσιν ν γαλλιάσει αροντες τ δράγματα ατν

Text notes: Venientes…venient, is as in verse 7, a construction based on the Hebrew and emphasizes the certainty of the action. 

venio, veni, ventum, ire,  to cometo come upon
porto, avi, atum, are, to bear, carry.
manipulus, i, m.  lit., a small bundle, a handful; a sheaf. 125,6 Venientes autem venient cum exultatione, portantes
manipulos suos. But coming they shall come with joy, carrying their sheaves. 128,7.

But coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves
but they shall surely come with exultation, bringing their sheaves with them.
they come back, they come back, full of song, carrying their sheaves.
But they return rejoicing, bearing their sheaves.
shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Shall doubtless come again with joy, and bring his sheaves with him.
trust me, they will come back rejoicing, as they carry their sheaves with them.


The image of a sheaf is not one that will be familiar to most of us, so St Cassiodorus' explanation of the context for the literal meaning of the verse is rather helpful:
When harvesters have finished their work, after assembling the ears of corn they carry in their laps to the thresh­ing-floor the bundles which they have tied together in the fields. In the same way the blessed ones carry to the Lord's threshing-floor their most fruitful works. Happy is the bosom which is weighed down by the loads of wheat, so that light straw does not cheat the prayers of the harvester; otherwise he would then reap empty rewards for his toil, for he can now work no longer.
St Augustine provides the spiritual meaning of the verse, focusing on the nature of the reward being held out to us, alluded to figuratively by the reference to sheaves:
For in that resurrection of the dead, each man shall receive his own sheaves, that is, the produce of his seed, the crown of joys and of delight. Then will there be a joyous triumph, when we shall laugh at death, wherein we groaned before: then shall they say to death, O death, where is your strife? O death, where is your sting?
For him, the essence of the reward receive is peace:
And what will you reap? Peace. Said the Angels, Peace on earth unto rich men? No,  but, Peace on earth unto men of a good will.  
 Coming in

St Cassiodorus also explains why this represents a 'coming in':
Coming, they come in joyfulness, for divine mercy is in store for them because their actions on this earth have accorded with the commands of heaven
There is perhaps, a temptation to want t move straight to the positives, and skip past the difficult times that God sends to enable us to endure and learn from in order to progress spirituality.   St John Chrysostom closes his commentary on the psalm, though, with a reminder that we should thank God for both sides of the equation:
Let us also be aware of this, therefore, and thank the Lord both tor tribulation and for relief. Different though they are, after all, they each have one end in view, like sowing and harvest. Let us hear tribulation generously and gratefully, and relief with words of praise, so as to attain also to the future goods, thanks to the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the power for ages of ages. Amen.

Psalm 125 (126)
Canticum graduum.

 In converténdo Dóminus captivitátem Sion: * facti sumus sicut consoláti:
When the Lord brought back the captivity of Sion, we became like men comforted.
2  Tunc replétum est gáudio os nostrum: * et lingua nostra exsultatióne
2 Then was our mouth filled with gladness; and our tongue with joy.
3  Tunc dicent inter Gentes: * Magnificávit Dóminus fácere cum eis.
Then shall they say among the Gentiles: The Lord has done great things for them.
4  Magnificávit Dóminus fácere nobíscum: * facti sumus lætántes.
3 The Lord has done great things for us; we have become joyful.
5  Convérte, Dómine, captivitátem nostram, * sicut torrens in austro.
4 Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as a stream in the south.
6  Qui séminant in lácrimis, * in exsultatióne metent.
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

7  Eúntes ibant et flebant, * mitténtes sémina sua.
6 Going they went and wept, casting their seeds.
8  Veniéntes autem vénient cum exsultatióne, * portántes manípulos suos.
7 But coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves.
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.

And you can find the next part in this series, on Psalm 128, here.

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