Saturday, September 2, 2017

Psalm 127 verse 4 - The bread of heaven and the oil of mercy

The Bride Church, from Sacro Speco

Fílii tui sicut novéllæ olivárum: * in circúitu mensæ tuæ.
filii tui sicut germina oliuarum in circuitu mensae tuae. 

σου ο υοί σου ς νεόφυτα λαιν κύκλ τς τραπέζης σου

Fílii (the sons/children) tui (of you) sicut (like) novéllæ (new) olivárum (of the olives trees): * in circúitu (around) mensæ (of the table) tuæ (your)

filius, ii, m. a son, child
novellus, a, m. young, new  
oliva, ae,  the olive tree.
circuitus, us,  Used chiefly in the phrase "in circuitu," round about.
mensa, ae, a table.

Your children as olive plants, round about your table.
Thy children as young olive-plants round about thy table.
Thy children like young olive trees, round thy board.
Your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Thy children like the olive branches round about thy table.
The children round thy table sturdy as olive-branches.
Your children like shoots of the olive, around your table.

It should be noted that the translations all use the term children, though strictly speaking filii means sons.  This follows a long line of interpretation though: Cassiodorus, for example, notes that the word sons should be viewed as inclusive, covering daughters as well:
When the psalmist says elsewhere: Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, it is not just the man that fears the Lord that is blessed; the woman too who fears the Lord is blessed. 
More generally though, while this verse could be seen as simply pointing to a happy family life, the fathers also see it as extending the metaphors relating to the image of the Church.  St Augustine, for example, cites St Matthew to demonstrate that the Church is both spouse and child of Christ.
In the words of the Lord, we find the Church to be both His brethren, and His sisters, and His mother.. ..For Mary was among the sides of His House, and His relatives coming of the kindred of the Virgin Mary, who believed on Him, were among the sides of His House; not in respect of their carnal consanguinity, but inasmuch as they heard the Word of God, and obeyed it....He added; For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.  Brother, perhaps, on account of the male sex whom the Church has: sister, on account of the women whom Christ has here in His members. How mother, save that Christ Himself is in those Christians, whom the Church daily brings forth Christians through baptism? In those therefore in whom you understand the wife, in them you understand the mother, in them the children...
The image of young olive trees, St Cassiodorus explains, reflects the traditional importance of this plant:
it is because they are greener, more vigorous, and extremely strong in every way, and they bear fruit more abundantly. This fruit provides stores of food, and kindles light, and relieves tired bodies.
He adds that the images of these two verses are closely related:
Do not imagine that the combination of olive and vine in these comparisons is accidental. We read that the man wounded by robbers in the gospel was healed by the application of wine and oil, for these two provide sacramental protection of our life. Wine contains the severity of justice, oil the gentleness of mercy; the first can match the Old Testament, the second the New. 
 The phrase around your table, Cassiodorus argues, alludes to the sacrament of the Eucharist:
So they surround the spiritual table which is the Lord's altar, for they are filled with the bread of heaven.
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.

And for the next part in this series on Psalm 127, continue on here.

No comments:

Post a Comment