Aquinas/Advent Homilies/Homily IX
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HOMILY IX: THE CRY TO GOD.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT. (FROM THE GOSPEL.)
"I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness." — S. John i. 23.
IN the former Gospel it was seen how Christ manifoldly praised John; in the present Gospel it is noted how John humbled himself. Morally, this world is understood by the text, Deut, viii. 15, "Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought." The scorpion represents luxury, and the drought is avarice. In this desert the creature proclaims Christ, the Just One and the Preacher. The creature cries three things firstly, that we should know God; secondly, that we should love Him; thirdly, that we should give Him the praise that is due to Him. Of the first, S. Augustine said, "All things cry, God made me." Of the second, he says again, "Heaven and earth, and all things which are in them on all sides, tell me that I ought to love Thee; neither do they cease to say this to all things, that they may be inexcusable if they love Thee not." Of the third, he says, "It is wonderful that man rests from the praise of God when all creation invites us to praise Him." In like manner Christ cries threefoldly — firstly, in doing miracles; secondly, by preaching things useful and profitable; thirdly, in dying for us. Of the first, S. John xi. 43, "He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth." Of the second, S. John vii. 37, "Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink." Of the third, S. Matt. xxvi. 5, 6, "Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost." In the first cry His power appeared; in the second, His wisdom; in the third, His ineffable goodness and love. These three cries were necessary for our redemption that He might be able to redeem; that He might know how to redeem; and that He might be willing to redeem us. Of these three reasons, 1 Cor. i. 30, "Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification;" also verse 24, "Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God." Christ is the anointed One, and therefore He is good; He is Power, and therefore He is powerful; He is Wisdom, and therefore He is wise. In like manner the just cry manifoldly firstly, in praying; secondly, in confessing; thirdly, in praising. Of the first way, Ps. lxxvi. 1, "I cried unto God with my voice; even unto God with my voice, and He gave ear unto me." Of the second way, Ps. xxxii. 5, "I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin." Of the third way, Ps. lvii. 2, "I will cry unto God most high, unto God that performeth all things for me," for we ought to give Him thanks for His mercy. The Preacher likewise ought to cry three things firstly, the wickedness of men; secondly, the misery of human weakness; thirdly, that the way of the Lord should be prepared. Of the first, Isa. lviii. 1, "Cry aloud, spare not; lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression." Of the second, Isa. xl. 6, "The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass." Of the third, Isa. xl. 3, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord," &c. Purity, humility, and justice prepare the way of the Lord. Of the first and second, Isa. Ixii. 10, "Prepare ye the way;" and he adds the mode of preparing it "Cast up the high way," by removing the loftiness of pride, that the way may be made by humility; " Gather out the stones," by the removing of the other sins, which preparation is the office of purity. Of the third, S. John i. 23, "Make straight the way of the Lord," and by purity make the rough ways plain. Humility orders us in relation to God; Justice regulates us in regard to our neighbours; and Purity with regard to ourselves. May we so govern ourselves that we may be worthy to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.