Sermons by St. Vincent Ferrer
A391  Dominica I in Quadragesima – Sermo unicus

St. Vincent Ferrer -  Sermon for the First Sunday of Lent
The Temptation in the Desert – Mt 4:1-11
Mt  4:1-11  Douay trans.
1 Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. 3 And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, 6 And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, 9 And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. 10 Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.
"And behold angels came and ministered to him," (Mt 4:11)  Today's gospel tells us of the holy fast of Jesus. The four points are as follows:

First, a convenient location,
Second, a sufficient time during which he fasted,
Third, an appropriate manner how he fasted,
Fourth, the fruit which resulted from the fast.
And about this fourth the theme speaks, "...angels came." etc., the fruits of what follows from the fast, because the angels came, etc.

   I say that today's gospel tells us about the holy fast; and first, the convenient place where he fasted.  Notice that when Christ wished to fast for forty days, he chose not to fast in the city of Bethlehem, where he was born, nor in the temple where he was presented, nor in Nazareth where he was nourished, nor among men, but in the desert which is the habitat of beasts.  This he says at the beginning of the gospel, "Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert," (Mt 4:2) – supply, wishing to fast – and this location was very appropriate.  The reason is because of the fittingness which the desert offers for the purpose of the fast. A fast is ordered to a three-fold end; namely restraining, liberating and for merit.
   First for restraining sins and vices, which for the most part happen from the inclinations of the flesh.  Because of this fasts are ordered for refraining.  For just as in the case of a stupid man who is armed, the arms with which he could do much harm are taken away, so likewise the body of man, stupid, armed with food and drink and other delights, which God gave us for the necessity of nature, when indiscreetly taken often kill the soul.  So they should be prudently taken away and removed from him.
   Second, a fast is ordered for freeing the soul, which, as long as it is united to the body, is much impeded by the body in spiritual goods. And so it is said, "For the corruptible body is a load upon the soul," (Wis 9:15).  So that the soul might be free for working spiritually, the flesh is restrained through fastings, and so the soul is raised freely to God.  It's like a scale. When one side is weighed down, the other is raised, and vice versa.
   Third, [a fast is ordered] for meriting and acquiring spiritual treasure, because just as through the whole year a man works for the needs of the body, so, by fasting, at least in this holy season, you labor for the soul.  Thus the Apostle, "...every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor," (1 Cor 3:8).  For all of these reasons, see the authority of St. Gregory [the Great], who says, "You who restrain your vices by a bodily fast," –note the first, to restrain – "you raise your mind," – see the second, namely, to free the soul – "you will receive virtue and rewards," – see the third, to merit.  Thus the triple ends of  fasting very much fit a desert place, where vices are restrained, because you do not have the occasion of sinning, nor by seeing with your eyes, etc. and so for the other senses.  It is clear, therefore, that the desert is the convenient place for a fast. 
   Thus about that text, "Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert," St. Gregory say in his homily today, "some are accustomed to doubt by which spirit Jesus is led into the desert?  Truly and without any question it is appropriately understood that he is believed to be led into the desert by the Holy Spirit." But some might say these reasons are not appropriate for Christ, who in his body never had any bad inclinations.  Also neither is his soul impeded by the flesh, and that he had merited his complete blessings.  Also, because already he merits, both as God and as man.
   I respond that regarding the person of Christ there is a good reason. For he did this so that he might give us an example, that in the time of the fast we might go to the desert leaving our cities, villages and communities.  Understand it this way, that in the holy time we set aside our daily business, problems and conflicts etc.  The model here is given for all.  First to the religious and clerics. In this holy time [of Lent] it is enough that they are occupied about the hours and the office.  Workers however in this holy time ought to hear Mass and a sermon, if there is preaching in some place, the first thing in the morning, and afterwards go about their business, so that they might provide for their children and household.  The wealthy ought to get up in the morning for worship. They should hear a high Mass and a sermon, and afterwards pray the psalms after Mass, praying up to lunchtime.  Those rich people who don't know the psalms, after Mass, should visit churches, monasteries and hospitals for prayer, where often there are many indulgences. After lunch then they can take a nap.  Finally, they should go to Compline, [night prayer], and afterwards say Vespers [evensong] or the seven penitential psalms or the Our Father, etc.  This is how someone goes out to the desert. 
   The great king David believed this, saying of himself, "Lo, I have gone far off flying away; and I abode in the wilderness. I waited for him who has saved me from pusillanimity of spirit, and a storm," (Ps 54:8f).  We don't read that David, after he was crowned king, was in the desert, but he remained alone in his palace room, far from his business, and so he achieves his purpose, "I waited for him who has saved me."  And the fruit of his merits, "from pusillanimity of spirit," –see the freedom of the soul – "and a storm," – supply, of the evil inclinations of the spirit.  It is clear then, [the desert is] a convenient place for a fast.
   I say secondly, etc. that the duration of forty days was sufficient.  For the text says that he fasted forty days and forty nights.  And why does it say forty nights?  I respond that this is said to differentiate the fast of the Jews who of old fasted through the day, and at night would eat their fill, just as the Muslims do.  Do not believe that the fast of Christ in that forty days and forty nights was like that, because he consumed nothing. 
   Nevertheless, the duration of forty days and forty nights was sufficient.  Reason: Because already you know that all God’s commandments are ten in number, in which all others are fundamentally included.   Just as God gave ten fingers to the body for doing all things, so he gave ten commandments, like ten fingers, for working meritoriously.  These commandments we break in four ways, namely by thought, word, deed and omission.

- By thought we break two precepts especially [9 & 10], that: You shall not desire your neighbor's wife, because it does not suffice to keep the body clean from this deed, but also the soul from the thought.  Secondly that: You shall not desire your neighbor's house nor anything which is his. From desires arise divisions and war, and so it is said, "For the desire of money is the root of all evils," (1 Tim. 6:10).

- By speech we break two other commandments, namely [2 & 8], that: You shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, because one should never swear unless out of necessity or usefulness.  And the other: Thou shalt not bear false witness, for whatever reason, neither in court or outside.

- By deed we break four, namely [1, 5, 6 & 7]: Thou shall not worship other gods.  Thou shall not kill.  Thou shall not commit adultery.  Thou shall not steal.

- By omission we break two, namely [3 &4]: Not keeping the holy days, and not honoring our parents. 
   Therefore by these four ways we break the ten commandments, and four times ten equals forty. For this reason we undertake forty days of penance, because we sin 4 x 10 [ways] because of the flesh.  And so Gregory:  "Through mortal wills of the flesh we break the Lord's commandments, which were received in the Decalogue, because therefore through the desires of the flesh we show contempt for the commandments of the Decalogue, it is fitting that we afflict the same flesh forty times.”  Behold, therefore, it is a sufficient time that Christ fasted, giving us an example.
Now there is here a three-part question about Christ, since Christ fasted in the desert for forty days:
- And the first question is, where did he sleep? 
- Second, what did he do?
- Third, what company did he keep?
   Now listen devoutly, for the evangelists have not said expressly where he was sleeping, but often through symbols the truth can be elicited, just as from a husk the grain can be extracted.  Christ’s sleeping in the desert was prefigured in the patriarch Jacob. When he was a pilgrim and traveler from Canaan to Mesopotamia, he passed through parts of this desert.  At night when he wished to sleep he put a stone under his head and in the night he saw the heaven opened and a ladder etc.  See the story found in Genesis 28.  All the [church] teachers say that Jacob signifies Christ.  The ladder, penance.  You have forty rungs for fasting.  Some [people] ascend continuing their fasting, some descend breaking their fast.  And Jacob, excited, was afraid, and he trembled at this vision.  To him it was divinely revealed that Christ, the Savior of the world, would fast there and sleep at that place.  Then Jacob said, "Indeed the Lord is in this place," (Gen  28:16).  The first question is clear.
   But contemplate this a while.  Christ began his fast on the day after the Epiphany [his Baptism], when it was the coldest, and he was sleeping on the ground then, giving us an example, that in this holy season we should set aside our linens, mattress and [such] luxuries.  And so David said, "Blessed is he who understands concerning the needy and the poor: the Lord will deliver him in the evil day...The Lord help him on his bed of sorrow: thou hast turned all his couch in his sickness," (Ps. 40:2,4).
   The second question: What was the man Christ doing?  Both because he was not working with his hands, and since he stayed forty days, was he not idle?  The text doesn't clearly tell what he was doing, but Luke elsewhere says what Christ was doing in the desert: "And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and he passed the whole night in the prayer of God," (Lk. 6:12).   Therefore he would spend his nights in dreaming and in prayer.  But during the day what was he doing?  I reply, that in three activities, namely in reading, in contemplating and in praying.

-- Of the first he was reading in the book which he always had with him, the greater part of the whole bible, namely the book of life, i.e. of the knowledge of God in which is written all the things that ever were, are, or can be. And every day Jesus Christ was reading this whole book, reading the first chapter, namely of the glory of Paradise.  And second, of the arrangement of the angels.  Third, of the penalties of the damned.  Fourth, of the sufferings of those in purgatory, and so on.  Also about the natures of the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the animals of the earth.  And all these he was seeing not only in general but even in particular, in their individuality, not only as God but also as man.

-- Second, he spent time in contemplating all these things.

-- As for the third, after the previous reading and contemplation, he was praying saying the prayer which later he would teach us, the Our Father.   For "Jesus began to do and to teach," (Acts 1:1).   And in our person he himself would say "Our Father."  And, "forgive us, etc.," because just as the mouth speaks for the feet and the other members, so Christ as the head, speaks in the person of his members.  In these [activities] therefore we should be about in this lenten time after the example of Christ.  So he was saying, "Labor not for the meat which perishes," namely, the business of this world, "but for that which endures unto life everlasting," (Jn 6:27), namely, meritorious works.
   The third question: Whose company did he keep?  I say, that of wild animals, and beasts and robbers.  Of beasts, it is said in Mark 1, that in that jungle [frondoso] desert there were lions, bears, wolves and many other animals.  The text says: "And he was in the desert forty days and forty nights, and was tempted by Satan; and he was with beasts, and the angels ministered to him," (Mk 1:13).  Practically, you can imagine that the aforesaid animals hid during the day in caves, and at night they went out to eat.  And when they saw Christ we are able to say that, just as the ox and the ass adored Christ, so also [these] etc.  This was the company Christ kept at night.  During the day he had the company of thieves and other evildoers.  For that desert is between Jerusalem and Jericho, of which Luke 10 says, "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers," (Lk 10:30).  Here the place is called "adumim" in Hebrew, and is translated "redland" or "red rise."  This place, where the man fell among robbers, is cruel and bloody.  Imagine how it was when the robbers spied him from afar, they would approach to see if by chance he might have some money.  But Jesus Christ changed their hearts and wills, and they showed Christ a great reverence.  So we, in a moral sense, dwell with the beasts, the wild beasts of sin, thinking how we have lived like beasts, by sinning etc.  Among robbers, thinking how by sinning, by appropriating honor and grace for ourselves, we have robbed God of  [his due] honor and reverence and fear.  On this account David said: "Not to us, O Lord, not to us; but to thy name give glory," (Ps 113:9).
   Third, the way in which Christ fasted, who overcame the temptation of the devil, is seen to be fitting  The teachers and especially the Master of History says that when in the baptism of Christ the voice of the Father sounded saying, This is my beloved Son, " You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased," (Lk 3:22), he says that the devil heard this voice.  He already knew that the time for the Messiah was completed, and so when he saw the miracles of Christ he concluded that he was the Son of God.  But when he saw him hungry, he suspected the opposite.  For this reason he wished to tempt him. 
   Taking a human form and in the robe of a holy man, he saluted him.  To whom Christ, responding, said, "You have come. You do not believe."  Briefly he spoke to Christ, "If you be the Son of God...," (Lk 4:3).  But the evangelist leaves it to us that we might touch on the practical point.  So note, when the devil came to Christ himself saluting him he said: "Some are thinking that you are the Son of God.  For the Son of God of old changed the staff of Moses into a snake, the water of Egypt into blood, (Ex 7), the wife of Lot into a pillar of salt. (Gen 19). So 'If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread,'" (Mt 4:3)  And replying, Jesus said: "It is written, Not in bread alone does man live, but in every word that proceeds from the mouth of God," (Mt  4:4; Deut 8:3).  See how appropriate this is for us, because when we fast now, the devil tempts us saying, "command that these stones be made bread," (v.3) etc.  We impatiently complain using harsh and cruel words, if our dinner is not ready or something else etc.
   Second temptation.  The devil, defeated by Christ in the first temptation from scripture, "Not in bread alone, etc." taking the next move from the fact that scripture, the word of God, is taught in the temple, proceeds to the second temptation, saying, "Are you willing that we go to the city to the temple?"  Christ, however, as a good soldier, wishing to present himself to his enemy in every situation, followed him to the temple where there was a great crowd of people gathered.  Then the devil said to Christ, "Are you willing that we ascend to the pinnacle? because there we can pray more privately."  And when they were on the very top, the devil said to Christ, "Look at the crowd of people here below!  There are many who do not believe you to be the Son of God, so, "throw yourself down,"(v. 6) because it is written of you, "For he has given his angels charge over you; to keep you in all your ways," (Ps 90:11).  Christ said to him, "It is written again: You shall not tempt the Lord your God," (v.7).  Here Christ gives an example to spiritual and devout people. When the devil tempts them to vainglory, they should stand firm, lest they fall.
   The devil, seeing that Christ excused himself, so he would not incur vainglory, wished to tempt him again, and said to Christ, "Let us go to the desert, to a mountain high enough where we will be alone and can pray."  And when they were on the mountain the devil showed Christ every corner of the earth, saying that all was his and he was able to give it to whomever he wished – but he lied – and he said, "All this will I give you, if falling down you will adore me," (v. 9).  Christ, who in the other temptations patiently excused himself, in this temptation became indignant and shouted out saying, "Be gone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord your God shall you adore, and him only shall you serve,"(v. 10; Deut 6:13).  But why? 
   Chrysostom says that some temptations touched on humility, but this touched on adoring the divinity, and on the crown of God, etc.  St. Jerome says that Christ here gives us an example that we should tolerate injuries to our person, but those which touch upon God we should rebuke indignantly.  Chrysostom: "In all personal injuries it is praiseworthy to be patient; injuries to God, however it is not wrong to rebuke to the utmost."   Note the story about St. Louis the king of France who used to brand the tongues of those who blasphemed God.  A text from the prophets: "They who rule over them treat them unjustly, says the Lord, and my name is continually blasphemed all the day long," (Isa 52:5).
   Fourth. The fruit resulting from fasting, is shown in the theme, when it is said:  "And behold angels came," (Mt 4:11). Here is an image you can understand.  It is like this, when two great lords, or princes, fight a duel in a closed arena, where the king keeps the field secure, and the friends and the army of both await the outcome on one side and the other.  And when the battle is over, the defeated one flees with his entourage and servants, and the friends of the victor joyfully rush out to him with all the assistance necessary.
   So it was with Christ and Lucifer, the greater princes of the world, as the Master of History says, but with a difference, for Christ is the prince of holiness and Lucifer of iniquity.  Today they fought a duel, and God the Father kept the arena secure.  Christ, as Chrysostom tells us,  commanded the angels to stand back so they wouldn't be seen by Lucifer.  Lucifer did the same with his minions, and only the two entered the arena.  The weapons of the devil were three: the lance, the sword and the dagger.  With the lance of pride and vainglory, with the dagger of gluttony and with the sword of avarice he tempted Christ and approached him.  Lucifer himself had slain may with these weapons, but they  could not harm Christ in any way.  So, vanquished, he fled.  And so it is of Christ the theme speaks, "and behold angels came and ministered to him," (v.11).
   But how did they minister to him?  Note that Christ was most in need of food, so they ministered to him in this way. Some devout contemplatives have said that the holy angels hastened to the Virgin Mary, who did not know anything of her son nor where he was.  They told her of his battle and victory.  When she heard from them the story of his victory, she sent him some food which she had prepared for him: cabbage, bread, spinach and perhaps some sardines, asking the angels if she could go to him, or if he could come to her, for lunch.  Thus did the angels approach and minister to him.
   So will it be for us.  Now, in Lent, we are in a battle with the devil in a closed stadium.  If we are victors over gluttony, vainglory and avarice, when the battle is over,  on Easter day the angels will come, that is, the priests, and they will minister the food which the Virgin Mary prepared for us, at least materially – the Holy Spirit effectively – in the oven of her virginal womb, namely the body of Christ, in the consecrated host.  Thus Christ says, "To him who overcomes, I will give the hidden manna, ... which no man knows, but he who receives it," (Rev 2:17).
A440  Sabbato ante Reminiscere  Sermo i
St. Vincent Ferrer -  Sermon for the Second Sunday of Lent
The Transfiguration – Matthew 17:1-9
Gospel: Mt 17:1-9  Douay Trans.

1 And after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: 2 And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. 3 And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. 6 And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them, Arise, and fear not. 8 And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.
   "Let us make here three tents," (Mt 17:4).  We continue our reading in today's gospel.  By way of introducing these words and the matter to be preached about, it must be known that in sacred scripture the devout hearing and listening to the gospel teaching are called tabernacles [or tents].  For if we analyze well the usefulness of tents, rightly they are compared to gospel teaching.  For when tents or tabernacles, are pitched by soldiers, they are done for three reasons:
1.      The first reason is because of the heat of the sun, to keep cool,
2.      The second, against the gusting of the wind, for protection,
3.      Third, for shelter against the rain.
   All these benefits gospel teaching gives to those who listen carefully, and this against a threefold defect.

1.      First, gospel teaching cools and preserves a man against the stimulation and ardor of the flesh, which moves many and stimulates them into sins of lust. Some are tempted to avarice, others into other sins.  These teachings, therefore, give cool shelter against the ardor of the flesh.

2.      Second, in this world there are many winds and storms and temptations of demons, but not inside the tent, i.e.of prayer and contemplation.  For prayer and contemplation keep out the temptations of the devil.

3.      Third, there are great rains and floods, and these are the world, which offers many occasions for sinning.  But enter the tent of gospel teaching and you will find there a remedy.  And so Isaiah says of gospel teaching, "Over all the glory shall be a protection. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shade in the daytime from the heat, and for a security and covert from the whirlwind, and from rain." (Isa 4:5-6).  So, prayer or contemplation gives cooling in the day against the ardor of the flesh. See, the first usefulness. And it gives security against the force of the wind, and this is its second strength or utility.  And it provides shelter from the rains, and so the third benefit.
   And so, by both reason and authority, these teachings appear like a tent, and so I intend to preach on three teachings, which are the three tents.  "Let us make here three tents," which was our theme. Our sermon, therefore, shall contemplate this glorious transfiguration in three ways, a triple contemplation.

            First because this transfiguration was gloriously celebrated,
            Second because this transfiguration was calmly received,
            Third because this transfiguration was piously kept hidden.
   My good people, let us place ourselves in these three tents, or in one of them.  I say first that it was gloriously celebrated, because in the gospel it is said, " ...Jesus takes with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and brings them up to a high mountain apart: And he was transfigured before them. And his face shone like the sun: and his garments became white as snow.  And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him," (Mt 17:1-3).  And here I wish to pitch the first tent for our Lord.
   Jesus chose three to follow him, whom he led to the top of the mountain, to show them the secret. When he prayed, he was transfigured, not that his figure which he already had was changed, but that it shone like the sun – not like the sun shines, but incomparably greater than the sun. But in the gospel it is said "like the sun," because in the world nothing is found that is brighter, and not only in his face and hands, but also his clothes were like snow, although incomparably more so. 
   And two holy men from the past appeared there, i.e. Moses and Elias.  You should understand [it was] the soul of Moses, for he was dead and his soul was in the limbo of the holy patriarchs, but Elias was not dead, rather he was alive, still living in a terrestrial paradise.  He it was who was to preach at the time of the antichrist and against that very antichrist who would kill him, in martyrdom.  And these three apostles, although they never had seen them, instantly recognized them, because of their splendor, and they saw them speaking with Jesus.  Neither Mark nor Matthew report what they talked about, but St. Luke says that they were speaking with each other about the "excess of the passion" of Christ to take place in Jerusalem in those days. ["And they spoke of his decease that he should accomplish in Jerusalem." (Lk 9: 30f)]
   Now, good people, let us examine this in a practical way.  These two, standing with Jesus, Moses and Elias, adored Jesus, knowing Jesus to be God and man, and they wondered much why he would permit himself to be chained and bound by the Jews, even if for sinners, since he could have accomplished his task by a single word.  Filled with admiration, since he it was who gave glory to the angels and to all the others, they were saying, "O God, how great is this charity."  Each of them discussed every aspect of his passion and detailed its excesses.  The passion is said to be "excessive" because of the extremes of sufferings and love which he has shown to us, for, God, indeed is rich in mercy and because of this exceeding charity and mercy he has loved us, according to what is said in Ephesians, 2, "But God, (who is rich in mercy,) for his exceeding charity wherewith he loved us," (Eph 2:4). See how gloriously this transfiguration is celebrated.  Behold, the first tent.  Here we rest against the attack and the temptation of the devil.  And this is the literal sense.
   And now we enter [its] secrets.  First we ask why Christ wished to be transfigured.  Second, about the people he wished to invite.
   My answer to the first is so that he might reveal his intrinsic glory and secrets.  Just as it is said by the teachers.  When Christ assumed humanity, let us see why he assumed it. I say for two reasons.  For his soul, as it was created in the womb of the Virgin Mary, immediately had such glory as he has now in heaven, and this because of his divinity.  It was a spiritual substance.  Nevertheless it was hidden in the body.  And so we say, "...and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father," (Jn 1:14).  It assumes a body, not glorious, but vulnerable and mortal, like us, and even more vulnerable than ours, and this for our sake.  But it was otherwise for the soul.  So because of his weakness he could be assimilated to his brothers in all things, as we read in Hebrews, "Wherefore he had to be made like unto his brethren in all things, that he might become  merciful," (Heb 2:17).  In such a body was the glorious soul, but it was not seen by people.  By which it is believed that, just like the body, so too the soul would be vulnerable.  Christ wished to show that this was not so.  For this reason he wished to show his glory which poured out of his body and overflowed.
   And listen to this parable.  There is a man dressed in rags, yet he is extremely rich.  People would consider him to be poor.  He might gather all his friends and his family and show them his wealth, and the people followed him saying, that, although he is badly dressed, he is rich, we will follow him.  So the common saying is, "Money makes for good friends."  So Christ wished to be transfigured.  For already he had promised when he said, "There are some of them that stand here, that shall not taste death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom," (Mt 16:28).  And he was speaking of those whom he now took with himself.
   Morally, for your sake.  Christ first had glory and yet his body was capable of suffering.  So for the souls of the saints who pass from this life to the next.  First their souls are in glory, and yet their bodies remain in corruption.  Nevertheless our body shall be transfigured, on the day of the resurrection, and the glorified soul will take up its body and overflow into the body.   And that glorified body is called bright, and on the day of judgment it shall  be brighter than the sun. And so it is said: "Then shall the just shine as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father," (Mt 13:43).
   To the second question, why did he take just three apostles and not more, and why  not all the saints, but just these two from the Old Testament – he called five, the holy teachers say that from the testimony of two or three every word stands, if you ask about the number.  But if you ask about the people, I say that these Apostles were Christ's friends.  For by divine promise St. Peter was already constituted pope, he was invited so that he might know even more.  Secondly he called James the Greater, because he was the first to receive martyrdom, as we read in the Acts, 12: "And he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword," (Acts 12:2).  Third, he called John, because he was a virgin chosen by God, and more beloved than the others, therefore he deserved to be honored more by the Lord.
    I say that he wished to call the dead and the living to the transfiguration, since he is seen to be judge of the living and the dead.  No so for the lords of this age, because they do not judge the dead.  Therefore it is said: "And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul," (Matt. 10:28).  And Acts 10: "...that it is he who was appointed by God, to be judge of the living and of the dead," (Acts 10:42). 

   But why more Elias than Enoch, since he too was still alive?  The question is unresolved.   And why the dead Moses rather than the other holy patriarchs?  Because there are many dead, especially since Abraham was the principal one.  And so it is said, "in the bosom of Abraham," (cf. Lk 16:23).  I say that I prefer one side of the various opinions about this, that which holds that only two of the holy patriarchs ever fasted for forty days: Moses, in Exodus 34, "And [Moses] was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights: he neither ate bread nor drank water," (Ex 34:28).  And Elias: "And [he arose, and] ate, and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb, "3Kgs 19:8).  Therefore because they fasted forty days, so they merited to be present at the transfiguration, in which it is clear how much this sacred fast of Lent is pleasing to God. 

   So we should fast for the forty days of Lent so on Easter Day we shall be at the transfiguration, namely by receiving communion, and we shall say with the Apostle [Paul], "But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord," (2Cor 3:18). 

   Note here how Christ, Moses and Elias fasted for forty days, and it says that Christ fasted praying.  Luke 6: "That he went out into a mountain to pray, and he passed the whole night in the prayer of God." (Lk 6:12).  Moses fasted for forty days by listening, (cf. Ex 34,) where it is said that he stayed on the mountain with God.  Elias fasted by journeying or walking, (cf. above. 3Kgs 19).  So we, at the example of Christ, should devote ourselves to praying.  "Be ye therefore followers of God, as most dear children," (Eph 5:1), by praying every prayer and observance.  Secondly, following the example of Moses, we should try to attend masses, and sermons and so we will be like Moses.  Third, at the example of Elias, we should try to walk, to journey, in pilgrimage, because when you fast by praying like Christ and listen like Moses, you ought to fast like Elias traveling, that is by visiting churches, because there are many indulgences in such.  Later, go to vespers, so that finally, on Easter, you shall be worthy to have the glory of paradise.

   You ought in these times to set aside your courtrooms, your lawsuits, and your objections  and allegations, by rather saying prayers, by saying the Our Father, the Hail Mary, etc. and after hearing a sermon and praying, you should journey forth, as I told you, that you might acquire some riches for your soul.  And remember what Christ said: "Murmur not among yourselves," (Jn 6:43).  In olden days, during this time [of Lent] court was not open nor was it held, but it is no longer such.  And this about the first tent.

   The second point is that this transfiguration was quietly received by the Apostles, Moses and Elias.  That is clear because St. Peter said, "Lord, it is good for us to be here: if you  wish, let us pitch three tents here," (Mt 17:4). It was therefore quietly received, because when Christ so stood, transfigured, and the onlookers were perceiving the glory of paradise, Peter said, "It is good for us to be here," (v. 4), because he tasted the tabernacle (tent) of paradise, because he said, "Let us pitch three tents here,"  as if believing that John would stay with Moses, James with Elias, and that he would be with Christ.  St. Luke says about him, "not knowing what he said," (Lk 9:33). 

   Then the shining cloud came and overshadowed them.  About this see, for although a cloud is bright of itself, nevertheless because of an impediment it is seen like a shadow.  And so to those standing there, a voice comes from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son," (v. 5).   And everyone fell on their face. 

   And Jesus came to the apostles lying there and he raised them up.  Once on their feet they saw that Moses and Elias had already departed; Moses to the place of the holy patriarchs, Elias to the earthly paradise.

   You can imagine that when the soul of Moses came to its place, he was questioned saying,  "Where did you go and what did you see?"  He replied, "I have seen the redeemer of the world, who is already many years old. Soon he shall come to free us."  O, what a great joy came over them.  The same can be imagined about Elias, when his companion Enoch saw him, and he said to him, "O companion, where did you go?  Where were you?  Tell me some news.  Have you seen the Savior?"  "Certainly," he replied, "I have seen the Savior.  For I was carried by St. Michael and I clearly saw the Lord transfigured."   He told him everything.  Consider the sorrow of the other saying, "O why did I not go?  O why was it not I?"  Then he could have replied, "Because you have not fasted."  So, about Moses someone might think what questions  there had been.   So it was received quietly. 

    But I ask what was the reason why Christ did not reply to the proposal of Peter saying, "Let us make here three tabernacles." According to the Gloss, he did not reply verbally, because it was not a rational request.  Well enough!  But I say that Jesus replied secretly.  For Peter was seeking his glory on that mountain and Christ showed that it could not happen for five reasons:

1.      The first is because of the arrival of the cloud.  See, in deed, he replied.
2.      Second because of the voice of the Father.
3.      Third because they had fallen down.
4.      Fourth because Christ helped them to rise up.
5.      Fifth because they saw no one but Christ. 

   And so Christ wanted first to show Peter the five [events], before he was to come and to have glory.  And first the cloud came and this signifies penance, and so: "Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," (Matt. 4:17).  So first penance must be done.

   Second the voice of the Father sounded, "This is my beloved Son, ...hear ye him," (v. 5). It signifies obedience. So it is said, " But if the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment, and justice, living he shall live," (Ezek. 18:21). 
   Third, fear and humiliation are required, because they fell down. For every saint fears death. For according to the Philosopher (Aristotle), " Death is the most terrible of all things," (Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics 3.6  [1115a27]).
  Fourth, Christ has to come and this on the day of judgment, when, by divine power they shall be raised from death, because Christ made them rise up at his transfiguration when he said to them, "Arise, and fear not." (v. 7), because sinners fear his appearance. But it is said to the just, "Do not fear, arise."
  Fifth " they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus," (v. 8), as is understood that only The divine essence and no creature is the object of glory, or of eternal life, speaking of essential or principal glory, about which St. Thomas, [Summa theologiae] I, q. 12, a. 8 in the response to the 4th objection.  And to this vision no creature through its own natural powers can come, as the same St. Thomas beautifully proves in the same question, namely q. 12, a. 4.  And so it is said in Romans 6: "But the grace of God, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus," (Rom. 6:23). 

   So that shall be the tent. Therefore he has to do all these things after, and in this way Christ responded by action (facto).  And so in the Psalm, "Judge me O God," it is said, "Send forth your light and your truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto your holy hill,"  (Ps 42:3), namely to Mount Thabor.  Thus, the second point, namely how the transfiguration was calmly received.

   The third part follows, in which that transfiguration was devoutly hidden.  For the text says: "And as they came down from the mountain, etc.," Jesus said to them, "Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead,"  (v. 9).

   But why did he wish that the aforesaid transfiguration be kept hidden?  Response: according to the teachers, the reason of his hiding was the piety of Christ, lest the Apostles and disciples hearing of such glory of Christ, if the transfiguration was revealed to them, and later having seen the ignominy of the passion of Christ, would have been more scandalized and would have sinned more by losing faith.  Thus these three Apostles, "held their peace, and told no man in those days any of these things which they had seen," (Lk 9:36). 

   I believe, however, that St. John, with the permission of Christ, told the Virgin Mary of the glory of the transfiguration of Christ, and so, it seems, that Christ wished more for our salvation, than for his glory, when he says, "But I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeks and judges," (Jn 8:50).  And so it was devoutly hidden, therefore now you have three tents.  Here you rest, especially in these times [of Lent].


St. Vincent Ferrer -  Sermon for the Third Sunday of Lent

The Samaritan Woman at the Well  John 4: 5-42

   "We...know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world," (Jn 4:42)  This holy gospel contains a beautiful story which contains three great disputations between Christ and others:

            The first was between Christ and the Samaritan woman,
            The second was the Samaritan woman with Christ,
            The third was with Christ and the disciples.
   And each disputation has an excellent question. The conclusion of the first disputation was, "Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet," (v.19). The conclusion of the second disputation is that Christ is the Messiah. The conclusion of the third disputation is the theme, that [he is] the Savior of the world (v. 42).. 
   As for the first disputation which was with the Samaritan woman it must be known that it was friendly, because Christ began it. So as Christ was traveling from village to village personally preaching, he came to Samaria, a great city, larger even than Paris. Near that city there was a high fountain -- it was called a fountain, because it gushed fresh water -- and a deep well. Christ was weary and totally exhausted from the journey. He sat himself on the edge of the well so he might wash his blessed face over the fountain, and so its coolness might refresh him. In the mean time he Apostles and disciples went into the city to buy food and bread. 

   And when Christ was alone at the fountain --the hour was noon -- a woman from the city of Samaria came to draw water. She found Christ there, and she did not greet him, recognizing that he was a Jew by his clothing, for Jews were not talking to Samaritans, just as we Christians do not talk with unbelieving Saracens. Christ began the disputation, saying, "[Woman,] give me a drink,"(v. 7).  She, looked at him with a fierce eye, began to argue with Christ, saying, "How do you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a  drink,? For the Jews do not communicate with the Samaritans,(v. 9) I shall certainly not give you a drink." 

   Christ replied saying, "O woman, if you knew the gift of God, and who he is that says to you, 'Give me to drink;'  perhaps you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water," (v. 10).  Note the gift of God given to the human race. This gift is the Son of God given in the incarnation, about which Isaiah, 9, "...A son is given to us," (Isa. 9:6).  Behold the gift given in our redemption. 

   The woman continued arguing, saying to Christ, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where then do you have living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and himself drank there, and his children, and his cattle?" (vv. 11-12). 

   Christ responds: "Woman, you do not understand of which water I speak, because this is not it. Whosoever drinks of this water, shall thirst again; but he who shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever: But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting," (vv. 13-14), and he shall have eternal life.

   Such was the power of Christ's words that the woman bowed to him, and already contrite in heart with humility and reverence said, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor have to come here to draw," (v. 15). Then Christ responded, "You want some of this water?"  The woman replied, "Yes, lord."  "Go to the city, and call your husband, and come back here," (v. 16). She said," I have no husband," and Christ said, "Well have you said, 'I have no husband,' for you have had five husbands: and he whom you now have, is not your husband. He is a bully and a lecher [ruffianus et ribaldus], and you are his mistress." And he told her the names of all her husbands, and their characters, and what work they did. This one was called such, and had such a job, and died in this way, and so on with the others. "But this one which you now have is not your husband but a lecher and you too are a lecher." Then she began to cry out, "O Lord, Lord clearly I see that you are a prophet (v.19) and you know everything that I have done (cf. v.39). Spare me, because I called you a Jew."  The conclusion of the first disputation. Note she first called him a Jew, and later she calls the Lord a prophet. So much for the literal sense of the first disputation.

    Morally. Now we uncover the moral lessons hidden for us.  In this disputation their are six hidden moral [lessons], which we begin to explore through questions.

   First, who is this Samaritan woman and what does she signify?  Response: this Samaritan woman signifies the every Christian sinner in two ways, and the gospel tells us. First, because she comes often, every day, to the water, but she is not satisfied.  Such is the condition of sinners, because they come daily to the water of temporal prosperity, and are not satisfied. Such is  the way of cupidity. For example, if a priest has a simple benefice, he tries to get a larger one, and is never satisfied.  Behold the condition of the water of temporal goods which do not satisfy, because they do not hit the spot where the thirst is. For the thirst is for having worldly goods, such as, lands, possessions, gold, silver etc. These temporal goods do not enter within the heart.  Even if you had a wagon filled with liquid gold, it would not satisfy you.  But just as a starving man is not satisfied by the sight of food on the table, because hunger is in the stomach, and so unless the food goes in, it will not take away the hunger or thirst. So it is with the consumption of temporal goods. Thus however much a man has, he thirsts and desires for more, because such things do not enter into his heart. Authority: "A covetous man shall not be satisfied with money: and he that loves riches shall reap no fruit from them, etc.," (Eccl  5:9). 

  And so  direct pleasures and worldly delights, are like a fever which burns a person with thirst.  He is then given a drop of water on the tongue, with a feather.  The same with the delights of lust, of  avarice, etc.  And so wherever flesh seeks refreshment in temporal things, it discovers only failure.  For the heart of a man is greater than the heavens and can be satisfied only by God, whom the heaven cannot embrace, but nevertheless the heart of man always holds fast to grace, and then man is satisfied, so Christ says, " Whosoever drinks of this water, shall thirst again; but he who shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever,  But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting," (vv. 13-14), by the water of grace and his presence.  Thus the conclusion is from theology,  that sanctifying grace [gratia  gratum faciens] brings and has with it the presence of God.  And by this sign it can be known if a person is in grace, when someone does not desire things leading to sin. Note: "springing up into life everlasting."  What a leap is that which the soul makes, when by mouth it leaps immediately into heaven.  Think if a man would jump from the earth into heaven.  O what kind of a leap would it be, even if it is beyond higher, how much higher yet is it to heaven.
   The second secret: Jesus, fatigued by the journey, was sitting there at the fountain.  It was almost noon. Why was Jesus more exhausted at that hour from the journey than any of the Apostles?  Because he was sustaining the whole world and all creatures.  Reason: you know, good people, that there never was there a man of such a delicate constitution like Christ as man. Why? Because we are conceived and begotten from most vile and corrupt stuff, and so we have a coarser constitution for enduring labors. The body of Christ formed by the Holy Spirit, was not of most vile matter but from the purest drops of the blood of the Virgin Mary, and so it was more delicate; or because he was fasting every day, and "passed the whole night in prayer," (Luke 6:12), and he labored preaching every day 

   And about this sensitivity [delicatura] it is said in Isa 53: " ...To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?  And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not. Surely he has born our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray, every one has turned aside into his own way: and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all," (Isa 53:1-6).  The arm of the Lord through which God the Father has worked all things, is Christ as God. "All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made." (John 1:3).  And speaking of his humanity he says, " And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground," (v. 2 ).  A tender plant is a little shoot and delicate, which grows up at the base of other large trees, or which sprouts in dry ground where there is not any water.  It is very delicate and fragile.  So it is clear the reason why Christ was more exhausted than the Apostles. 
  If it is said "Could he not care for himself?" I reply: Always, but he would not have given us an example of laboring for good works, so that we might have patience when we are tired and exhausted, as Christ was, and when from preaching of fasting or other reasons we are worn out, we take comfort from the example of Christ and we acquire patience.  Thus the Apostle, "But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses,  in stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God," (2 Cor 6:4-7).
   The third secret is: Why did the Apostles leave him alone?  because no one remained with him. The text says: " For his disciples had gone into the city to buy meats," (v. 8), and they left him alone in the desert, because that well was a considerable way from the city of Samaria. Response: why they left him alone, because it was at the command of Christ that all should go, so that he might save that woman. For if some disciple had been there, the woman would have been deterred, nor would she have spoken with him, and so he ordered that they all should go to the city to buy what was needed.

   In this we are morally instructed. And we have an example, that just as Christ in the incarnation has dismissed the company of  thousands of thousands of angels, Job 25: " Is there any numbering of his soldiers?" (Job 25:3). For our salvation he dismissed them.  The same way, as he dismissed the company of apostles for the salvation of that Samaritan woman.  So likewise we [should dismiss] the company of friends, children, wife, etc.  Also he says," And every one that has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting," (Mt 19:29). Note "for my name's sake" which is Jesus, translated as Savior. "For my name's sake," i.e. for the salvation of a soul, that the religious leaves his homeland for the purpose of preaching.  The same for the priest or  layman, who leaving the world "shall receive a hundredfold, etc."  Or wife, or children. 
  The question is: Is a man able to dismiss his wife for Christ, and the salvation of a soul, either his or of others?  Response: that a man cannot dismiss a wife which he already has, unless they both agree upon entering religious life, and if the other is to remain in the world, they are bound to live continently. Likewise a father should not leave his children unless thy are well provided with necessities, and are well instructed, educated and adult enough. The same holds for children, who should not leave their parents, poor and old, unless they are taken care of.  Second, one "leaves a wife," not a wife which he has, but one which he might have, and children which he might have. For the love of Christ he leaves everything. So this text [auctoritas] is to be understood.
  The fourth secret, or the fourth question is shown in this, when the woman says, "How do you, being a Jew, etc." (Jn 4:9). How does the woman know that Christ is a Jew? Response: that she recognized him by his speech in the same way as Peter was recognized on the night of the passion. "Surely you are also one of them; for even your  speech betrays you," (Mt  26:73). 
  Morally. Everyone is recognized for where his homeland is.  There are two opposing  homelands: paradise, and hell, and in each they speak differently.  The language of paradise is like that in the Psalm, "Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord: they shall praise you for ever and ever," (Ps 83:5). Therefore when a religious or priest or layman freely praises God, it is a sign that he is one of those from paradise. ".. for even your  speech betrays you," (Mt  26:73).  It is otherwise when, with weariness in a confused and irreverent and non devout way one recites the Office or prayers. It is a great sign of predestination to praise God with delight.  The language of hell is that of which John says in Apocalypse 16: "And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God, who has power over these plagues, neither did they do  penance to give him glory," (Rev 16:9).   Therefore when one swears, contradicts [renegat], blasphemes, etc., it is a sign that he is a townsman and citizen of hell, whence,  "you also are one of them, etc."  Thus to swear and contradict is a manifest sign of predicted damnation.
  The fifth secret is that water of which Christ spoke, "Whosoever drinks...," (v. 13)  This is the spiritual grace which extinguishes  ardor of pride in the proud,  avarice in the greedy, lust in the lusting, etc., just as natural water puts out the heat of the body.  Such a one does not wish for things inordinately, nor ardently seeks dignities, positions etc, like those do who still burn with the fever of pride, avarice etc. For the pure water of the grace of God extinguishes that burning in them. They who have grace say, with the Apostle [Paul], in 1 Tim. 6: "But having food, and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content," (1 Tim 6:8).  He does not say "delicacies" [delectamenta] and by which we are "decorated" [ornemur] etc. This the grace of God accomplishes, or the water of grace "springing up into life everlasting," (v. 14).  O, what a spring. Behold why he says, "he who shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever," (v.13), namely, with that temporal [thirst] from the heat of sin. Of this grace, Romans 6: "But the grace of God, life everlasting," (Rom 6:23), that is through "the grace of God" one has "eternal life."
  The sixth secret or sixth question: Since Christ said, "Go call your husband," Why did he say that, since Christ knew that she did not have a husband?  Response: that Christ chose this way of speaking so that the woman herself would speak the truth with her own mouth, that she did not have a husband. 
  Morally. " For you have had five husbands; and he whom you now have, is not your husband," (v.18). So when one sins out of weakness, or from ignorance, each person has five husbands, and finally takes on the bully [ruffianum], the devil. The five husbands are the five natural bodily senses. For just as a man rules his household, so these five senses rule the body in [those] sins which come from weakness, like Peter when he denied Christ out of fear. But when one sins out of habit and malice, one is ruled by the devil, like a bully or a pimp.  The Apostle says about this, "And they may recover themselves from the snares of the devil, by whom they are held captive at his will," (2 Tim 2:26). The same St. Paul says: "Know also this, that, in the last days, shall come dangerous times. Men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents," (2 Tim 3:1-2).
   The second argument, of the Samaritan woman with Christ begins with her boldness. And to understand this disputation you should know that between the Jews and the Samaritans there was an ancient question as to where they should pray, in Jerusalem or there, on Mount Gerazim.  The Jews said "in Jerusalem," because thus God commanded.  The Samaritans however said "on this mountain," because the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob worshipped there. The Samaritan woman seeing Christ to be a prophet, who revealed her secrets to her, thought, "O this one tells you the truth." To seek the solution to this subtle question, she begins the by saying: "Our fathers adored on this mountain, and you say, that at Jerusalem is the place where men must adore," (v. 20).  "Since you are a prophet , what do you say about this question?"

    In his reply Christ acknowledged two opinions.  First, that the truer opinion was that of the Jews, because although the patriarchs had adored there, nevertheless the place of prayer had been moved.  The second opinion, that one can worship in every place, because God is everywhere.  Then Christ replied: "Woman, believe me, that the hour is coming, when you shall adore the Father neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem. You adore that which you do not know; we adore that which we know, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour comes, and is now, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeks such to adore him. God is a spirit; and they who adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth," (vv..21-24).  And so Jesus resolved the question against the Samaritan woman.
  "The woman said to him: I know that the Messias (who is called Christ) is coming. Therefore, when he comes, he will tell us all things,"(v. 25).  Jesus replied, " I, who am speaking with you, am he," (v.26). Nowhere in the gospels is it found  that Christ so clearly said that he was the Christ, the Savior of the world, as he does here. And instantly the woman, enlightened, left her water jug and ran  into the city, crying out and declaring and calling the people, "O my good people, come, and see a man who has told me everything that I have done. Is not he the Christ?  They went therefore out of the city, and came to him," (v.29-30).
  In this question there are three secrets.
1.  The first is, God is spirit. What does it mean to adore "in spirit and in truth?"
   1)  To understand this, realize that it is an principle of philosophy, that truth is the correspondence of  thing to intellect. For example when the spirit thinks about the infinite sanctity and purity of Christ, and on the other hand it thinks about the gravest sins which man himself commits, then when the external gesture of the body corresponds to the spirit saying: "Lord I am not worthy to behold you. Alas, how many sins have I committed against your will and holiness etc.," and physically one bows down, by revealing humility externally, then [the body] corresponds with the spirit in the heart.  But when the heart is in the tavern, and the body bows, it is not truth.  In this way the publican prayed to God in the sprit and truth saying:" O God, be merciful to me a sinner," (Lk 18:13). For this reason we now say. "Bow your heads to the Lord," [Invitation to the prayer at the end of Lenten Masses] as if the church is saying, you are not worthy to look upon him.  For this reason the statues are veiled in Lent as if to say we are not worthy to look upon these images.
   2)  Second, God is adored in spirit and truth. First in spirit by thinking of his dominion, how he created body and soul and all things are his.  Otherwise of other lords.  Second, he is to be adored in truth, by the genuflecting of both knees to him, temporal lords only the left, and prelates the right.  In this way we say,  "Let us bend the knees," [Flectamus genua. Levate. A liturgical command during Good Friday intercessions.] and it does not say by a knee . "Raise up," namely, the spirit on high.  So when you wish to say a prayer, first you should pray in the spirit, thinking with whom you should be speaking, then in truth, by reverence of the body on the outside.  Behold why Christ says," The Father also seeks such to adore spirit and in truth," (Jn 4:23).  And scriptures agree saying," As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me," (Rom 14:11). 
   3)  Third, God is adored in spirit and in truth. First in spirit thinking of his eternity, and in contrast of our own vile beginnings, because [we are] made of earth, and thinking of our end, because we shall die.  And in truth by prostrating oneself on the earth, which is to say "to earth we shall return," and shall die, and God is in his eternity.  This is signified in his passion when it is said, "He gave up his spirit," (Mt 27:50).  There every Christian prostrates. Thus David says, " Come let us adore and fall down: and weep before the Lord that made us," (Ps 94:6).
   4)  Fourth, God is worshipped in spirit, by thinking of the generosity of God who gives all temporal and spiritual goods, and on the other hand our uncleanness and needs.  And in truth.  So we raise our hands: the right for spiritual goods, the left for temporal goods. 
   5)  The fifth manner of adoring God in spirit, by thinking of God's mercy, because since we are condemned to the pitchfork of hell, the Son of God was so merciful that he said to his Father: Blessed Father, I alone wish to be suspended for the whole people.  And on the other hand by thinking about  sins for which the sentence has been given. And in truth, when the cross is signed in the heart saying: "The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord,"  (Ps 32:5) from your passion.  Thus Paul, " "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ," (Gal 6:14). 
   6)  The sixth way of adoring in the spirit by striking our breast, thinking of God's infinite immensity and thinking of the offense committed toward him by our sins.  Thus the heart is struck with five fingers, just as we have five ways of sinning, namely, thought, word, work, omission and by persistence, because in these ways God is offended.
2.   The second secret is when it says, "She left her jug, etc."  Literally, why does she leave it?  So she can run more quickly to the city.  But spiritually, the jug symbolized the evil companions of the woman, who blocked her path, and so she left it.  Many are such, who by the association and familiarity and love of certain people are impeded from the path to paradise.  So the woman left her jug, i.e. her bad companions.  Thus the Poet," Things you have which are harmful, [though dear, let go,]" (Cato, Distich, Lib. I, v. 6).
 3.  The third secret is when it is said that she went to the city, crying out, "Come, I shall show you a man...etc.," (v.29). Thus she was not satisfied with her own conversion, but wished to convert her neighbors, because she converted the whole city.  Here we are  instructed that no one ought to be content with his own conversion, but ought to go out to convert his neighbor, like the good and devout wife, sweetly to convert her crude husband.  Likewise, brother, the brother; neighbor, their neighbor; servant, their lord;  master, their disciple; a lady, her handmaiden. Ecclesiasticus 17, "And he gave to every one of them a commandment concerning his neighbor," (Sir 17:12).  Also the Apocalypse, last chapter, " And the spirit and the bride say: Come. And he that hears, let him say: Come. And he who thirsts, let him come," and drink, "and he who wishes, let him take the water of life, freely," (Rev 22:17).  Note how the Holy Sprit says to man, "Come to Paradise etc."
     The third disputation was between Christ and the Apostles, humbly, because they said, "Rabbi, eat," (v. 31). and they set a meal before him. However, Christ refused to eat, but replied saying, " I have meat to eat, which you know not," (v. 32). The evangelist says that, "The disciples therefore said one to another," namely between themselves, "Has any man brought him [something] to eat?"  Christ however declaring which food he was talking about said," My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, that I may perfect his work," (v. 34). 

   This he was saying for the sake of the people who were coming from the city, and when he saw the people, he thought, "It is necessary for me to preach," because he did not say I do not prefer to eat food, but he said, I have other food to eat, namely the word of God. For not by bread alone does a man live, "But in every word that proceeds from the mouth of God," (Mat 4:4). Note that, in the example of Christ, a sermon should come from a fasting stomach. 

   And he preached to those from the city, O how sweetly, "and he remained there two days," (v. 40). And they believed in him, to such an extent that they said to the woman, "We now believe, not for your saying so: for we ourselves have heard him, and know that this is indeed the Savior of the world. (v. 42) In such a way he illuminated us." Behold therefore the conclusion of this dispute.
   Morally.  The food of Christ is to do the will of God the Father.  Thus we do the will and we give him to eat, because this food is greatly pleasing to him. 
 - He wants food from bishops, that they enter through the door, not through simony. Second after they are inside, that they be more concerned about souls that stipends.  Finally, that they live from stipends and share with the poor and give good example and good teaching.  From this food God is satisfied.
 - As for secular lords he wants food, namely that they minister justice both to the little ones and to the great, both to the poor as well as to the rich, and they do not qualify justice because of bribes and favors. Shunning robbery, content with their own income,  they serve the people in peace. 
 - In religious he wants four foods, and from these Christ wishes to be fed, namely apostolic poverty, evangelical chastity, complete obedience, and ceremonial observance.   - And of priests he wants three foods, namely devoutly to pray their breviaries, celebrate worthily, and behave properly.  1 Tim 3:7, "Moreover he must have a good testimony of them who are without: lest he fall into reproach." 
 - Of the laity he wants two foods, and they are enough, namely the articles of the faith and the observance of the precepts of God.  And finally he would say to you in judgment, from Mat 25:34, " Come, you blessed of my Father, etc." namely with the aforesaid foods and so you shall be with Christ at the table of glory, about which he said, "And I dispose to you, as my Father has disposed to me, a kingdom; That you may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom,"  here through grace, and in the future, through glory (Lk 22:29).
Jn 4:5-42  Douay trans.
5 He cometh therefore to a city of Samaria, which is called Sichar, near the land which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria, to draw water. Jesus saith to her: Give me to drink. 8 For his disciples were gone into the city to buy meats. 9 Then that Samaritan woman saith to him: How dost thou, being a Jew, ask of me to drink, who am a Samaritan woman? For the Jews do not communicate with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered, and said to her: If thou didst know the gift of God, and who he is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith to him: Sir, thou hast nothing wherein to draw, and the well is deep; from whence then hast thou living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered, and said to her: Whosoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again; but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever: 14 But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting. 15 The woman saith to him: Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith to her: Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered, and said: I have no husband. Jesus said to her: Thou hast said well, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands: and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband. This thou hast said truly. 19 The woman saith to him: Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers adored on this mountain, and you say, that at Jerusalem is the place where men must adore. 21 Jesus saith to her: Woman, believe me, that the hour cometh, when you shall neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, adore the Father. 22 You adore that which you know not: we adore that which we know; for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore him. 24 God is a spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith to him: I know that the Messias cometh (who is called Christ); therefore, when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith to her: I am he, who am speaking with thee. 27 And immediately his disciples came; and they wondered that he talked with the woman. Yet no man said: What seekest thou? or, why talkest thou with her? 28 The woman therefore left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men there: 29 Come, and see a man who has told me all things whatsoever I have done. Is not he the Christ? 30 They went therefore out of the city, and came unto him. 31 In the mean time the disciples prayed him, saying: Rabbi, eat. 32 But he said to them: I have meat to eat, which you know not. 33 The disciples therefore said one to another: Hath any man brought him to eat? 34 Jesus saith to them: My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, that I may perfect his work. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life everlasting: that both he that soweth, and he that reapeth, may rejoice together. 37 For in this is the saying true: That it is one man that soweth, and it is another that reapeth. 38 I have sent you to reap that in which you did not labour: others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours. 39 Now of that city many of the Samaritans believed in him, for the word of the woman giving testimony: He told me all things whatsoever I have done. 40 So when the Samaritans were come to him, they desired that he would tarry there. And he abode there two days. 41 And many more believed in him because of his own word. 42 And they said to the woman: We now believe, not for thy saying: for we ourselves have heard him, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.
A600  Feria IIII post Laetare

St. Vincent Ferrer -- Sermon - Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Cure of the Man Born Blind 

John 9: 1-38

  "And falling down, he adored him," (Jn 9:38).  Our sermon shall be from the holy gospel today which contains a great and beautiful miracle which Christ performed, the cure [Vincent prefers the word, enlightenment] of the man born blind. But first, let us salute the Virgin Mary, etc. [Here he has everyone recite the Hail Mary.]

  The complete gospel consists of three points,

            The first is the miraculous work (operatio miraculosa),

            The second is malicious attack (impugnatio malitiosa),

            The third is gracious approval  (approbtio gratiosa).

And of this third, when the blind man, illuminated by Christ, approves the miracle by adoring Christ, [John] the Theologian says,  "And falling down, he adored him," (Jn 9:38). Thus the gracious approval.


  The first shown in the holy gospel is the miraculous deed, about which the Gospel, "And Jesus passing by," i.e. exiting the temple, "saw a man, who was blind from birth," (v.1), who was standing there begging, and he whom Christ saw was familiar to all. The Gloss on Chrysostom, i.e. he looked on him attentively. Because of this attentive look, the Apostles found a reason for interrogating Christ saying, "Rabbi, who has sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?" (v. 2). They didn't ask whether this punishment had come from sin, because they presumed this, but they were asking through which sin. It seems that the Apostles were of the same opinion as the friends of Job, who were saying that all evil and illness come upon man from sins.  Job was holding to the contrary: "I have not sinned, and my eye abides in bitterness," (Job 17:2).

  Christ wishing to disabuse the Apostles of this opinion replied, saying, "Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him," (v. 3).  Note that Christ doesn't deny simply that children suffer something from the sins of the parents, especially in body which they have from their parents. Blessed Jerome even says that the secret sins of parents, which they commit behind closed doors, are often manifested in punishments of the children.  Exodus 20: "I am the Lord your God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation," (Ex 20:5). And Isaiah: " Prepare his children for slaughter, for the iniquity of their fathers," (Isa 14:21).  Ezekiel: "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father," (Ezek 18:20), and this with respect to the soul.  But the penalties, with respect to the body, because God never punishes the soul of a child directly just because of the sin of the father.  Thus he says in the same place, "Behold all souls are mine: as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, the same shall die," (Ezek 18:4). But not so for this man; not from the sins of the parents, nor from his own was he born blind, "but that the works of God should be manifested in him," (v. 3).  Note, [he says] "works" in the plural.  For when an innocent infant suffers, four works of God are manifested.

  First is manifested a work of justice.  The Doctors of theology say that the first parents had been formed in original justice, and although the body is naturally vulnerable, nevertheless God had given that grace to Adam, because as long as he was obedient to God and the body also was obedient to the soul and that the body did not suffer some accident. But because Adam was disobedient to God, for this the body lost grace and remains in its misery and vulnerability. Whenever therefore you should see an infant suffering some evil, divine justice is manifested there, because on account of the sin of Adam bodies suffer justly.  So David says, "And his justice unto children's children," (Ps 102:17).  So in this blind man there was a defect of some principle of nature so that the work of divine justice would be manifested in him.

  Second, in a suffering infant the work of divine mercy is made manifest, because the infant avoids sin. To the extent that this blind man lacks vision, many sins are avoided which are committed by the eyes. He was humble and merited from his patience.  Thus Habakkuk 3: ”When you are angry, you will remember mercy," (Hab 3:2).

  Third, is manifested the work of penance, because when the sinner sees that he who is innocent is suffering, he says to himself, "O wretched one, what shall become of me?"

    Fourth, is manifested the work of the grace of God, when God decided to cure him miraculously.  So Christ cured this blind man miraculously.  He says, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day," (v. 4).  Here Christ calls his presence the "sun," which makes the day bright, and his absence through bodily death he calls "night."  The Gloss says, "I must work," namely, miraculously, his "works, of him who sent me," namely the Father, "while it is day," i.e. as long as I am of the Father.  "The night comes," namely of death and of my passion, when no one can work, miraculously. After his death through the prayers of the holy Apostles, Christ would work miracles.  So David, "Give glory to the Lord," of lords, "for his mercy endures for ever," (Ps 105:1).

  Note how Christ when curing the blind man used seven ceremonies.  First he looked at him attentively. Second was the questioning of the Apostles, Third Christ spat on the earth. Fourth he made mud from the spittle. Fifth he rubbed it over his eyes. Sixth he sent him to the pool of Siloe. Seventh was the washing in that pool.  Why did he want to keep so many ceremonies and details, when he could have enlightened him by a simple command, as we read regarding another blind man, in Luke 18, when Christ said, "What do you wish that I do to you?" The blind man said, "Lord, that I may see. And Jesus said to him: Receive your sight, etc.," (Lk 18:41f), and immediately he could see. Why, therefore in this case did he use so many ceremonies?

  I respond, that Christ wished to cure [literally, illuminate] this blind man in this way so that he might give an example to every blind sinner how he can be enlightened. Note how everyone in the state of mortal sin is blind, because he does not see the danger of suddenly plummeting into the pit of hell. Now he is just falling from sin into sin.  So, the Prophet says about sinners, "And they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord," (Zeph 1:17).  Thus to cure him, it was necessary for Christ to follow the above ceremonies in bringing light to this blind man.

  First, Jesus sees,  i.e. looked at him attentively.  See here the recognition of sins which comes from the glance of Christ, as was made clear to Peter, who on the night of the passion denied Christ three times. He did not acknowledge his sin until Christ looked at him, Luke 22: "And the Lord turning looked on Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, as he had said: Before the cock crows, you shall deny me three times. And Peter going out, wept bitterly," (Lk 22:61).  See how the look of Christ is necessary for the recognition of sins.  So David said, "Look upon me, and have mercy on me; for I am unique and poor," (Ps 24:16).  Note "unique," i.e. alone, from whom God withdraws. Before his sin God was with him.

  The second circumstance was the questioning of the Apostles, "Rabbi, etc.," (v. 1), in which is shown contrition for sins, which is nothing other that the questioning of the heart or a debate, for which reason the sinner, out of contrition, says to himself, "O wretch, what have you done? You have committed so many sins, what will happen to my soul? I have lost so many good things," etc.  Note here the similarity with that merchant who on market day buys a straw basket as a gold one, who buys fish eyes for pearls, for which he paid everything that he had.  He shows his purchase to his friends, who asked how he could be so duped, and that it was worthless. He did not despair because he counted on  his rich father, but he blamed himself saying, "O miserable one, why did I not seek some advice. How stupid it was to make my purchase."  So there are also today many stupid buyers in the world, who believed that they had bought a golden urn, namely honors, dignities, which nevertheless is worthless.  Likewise they believe carnal delights to be pearls. But when they are enlightened by God and see themselves deceived, then they put their hope in Christ, like a rich father.  It is clear therefore how contrition is only an indicting questioning of oneself.

  Thus Job, 14, in the person of a sinner says, "How many are my iniquities and sins? make me know my crimes and offences,"  (Job 13:23).  Where he points out four differences between sins.  First is "iniquities," i.e. not equals, which are the sins which happen against the neighbor, and nevertheless God wishes that we be equal in love.  Second is where, "and sins," which are about deeds which happen against our own body, like lust, gluttony, laziness. Thus sins are called beastly.  Third where, "crimes," which happen directly against God, like blasphemy.  Fourth where, "and offenses," which are about deeds which happen against the soul, like pride, avarice, anger and envy.  Therefore, "offenses," as if abandoned, because by these defects the miserable soul is forsaken.  See why he says, "How many are my iniquities and sins? make me know my crimes and offences," (Job 13:23).

  The third circumstance why Christ spat on the ground.  Behold here oral confession which is nothing but to vomit sins and to purge of sins the stomach of the soul. And in this it is shown the manner of confessing by which the sinner ought to go, on bended knees before the confessor, and there to spit out and vomit those uncleannesses of stinking sins by giving himself the power to expel sins.  See how Christ "spat on the ground," (v. 6).  Say against those who vomit on the altar, who confess on foot, where the confessor since he be the judge ought to sit.  Some, however, confess, neither on the ground, nor on the altar, but looking the confessor face to face, which is bad for two reason.  First because of the shame of the sinner. Second because of the danger to the confessors, looking on the face of a beautiful woman, etc.  Therefore it is said to sinners, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity," (1 Jn 1:9).

  The fourth, he makes "clay of the spittle," (v. 6).  Behold here the imposition of a penance, because the prudent confessor ought to mix the saliva of the sinner with the earth, i.e. to recognize the gravity of the sins, so that, according to the condition and quality of the person, and the quantity of sins, he would know how to proportion the penance to what the sinner is able to do.  Deuteronomy 25: "According to the measure of the sin shall the measure also of the stripes be," (Deut 25:2) The same is said of sinners, "As much as she has glorified herself, and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give to her," (Rev 18:7).

  Fifth, he anoints his eyes.  He does not say punished, but anointed, namely in two senses, in which is shown a gentle admonition, which the confessor ought to give, namely anointing the eyes of the soul of the sinner, inducing him to penance, because it is better do penance here, than in the next world.  Therefore the confessor ought to say to the sinner, "Whatsoever your hand is able to do, do it earnestly: for neither work, nor reason, nor wisdom, nor knowledge shall be in hell, where you are hurrying," (Eccl 9:10).

  The sixth is, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloe," (v. 7).  See here the actual continuation of the appointed penance, namely from day to day, from week to week, etc. unless it is  changed  for him by another confessor, otherwise unless the penance is accepted, the sinner is damned.  Thus is said, "Go to the side of the holy age, with them that live and give praise to God. Tarry not in the error of the ungodly, give glory before death. Praise perishes from the dead as nothing. Give thanks while you are living, while you are alive and in health you shall give thanks, and shall praise God, and shall glory in his mercies," (Sir17:25-27).  "The holy age," i.e. the penitential parts of the damned world are sins.

    The seventh ceremony is, "He went..and washed, and he came seeing," (v. 7).  Siloe is interpreted '"sent".  See here eucharistic communion. After the sinner completed the six aforesaid works, he ought to go to the pool of Siloam, i.e. to the church of Christ who is "sent" by the Father, therefore, Mass is said  by the sent Christ, in which the soul is washed, and bathed contemplating the depth of the sacrament. In this way the blind sinner is enlightened according to that in 1 Kings 14, " that my eyes are enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey,"  (1 Kings 14:29), namely of the sweetest body of Christ.


  The second point of the gospel is about a malicious attack.  The Jews held four attacks or examinations about the cure of the blind man.  The first was of the bystanders, the second, of the Pharisees, the third of the parents, and the fourth was by the high court [lit.: princes].

-- As to the first, it must be noted that after the bystanders saw him who had been blind coming without a guide, and without a staff, and that he was seeing clearly, they said to each other, "Is not this the one who sat and begged? Some said: This is he. But others said: No, but he looks like him. But he himself said: I am he," (vv. 8-9).

-- As for the second, which was of the Pharisees, who having heard about it, asked him how it was that he could see.  He told them everything, saying, "That man called Jesus made clay," out of spittle, "and anointed my eyes, and said to me: Go to the pool of Siloe, and wash. And I went, I washed, and I see," (v. 11).  So they led him to the Pharisees.  "It was the sabbath." To them he gave the same story. Then the Pharisees said of Christ, " This man is not of God, who keeps not the sabbath. But others said: How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them," (v. 16).

-- The third examination was of the parents to whom the Pharisees said, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind?" How then does he now see? His parents answered them, and said: "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But how he now sees, we know not; or who has opened his eyes, we know not: ask himself: he is of age, let him speak for himself. These things his parents said, because they feared the Jews," (vv. 19-22), because the parents fearing the sentence of excommunication which the Jews imposed, had not dared to say who enlightened him, and so the sign was complete which Isaiah had promised, "God himself will come and ... then shall the eyes of the blind be opened," (Isa 35:4f).

-- The fourth dispute was with the high court [lit.: princes of the law], to which the healed blind man had been led. They said to him, "Give glory to God,"  that is, you should not say that this man cured you, because he is a sinner," (v. 24).  He replied, " If he be a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see," (v. 25).  They then said, " What did he do to you?" tell us, etc.  "Will you also become his disciples?  They reviled him therefore, and said: You be his disciple; but we are the disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses: but as for this man, we know not from whence he is," (vv. 27-29). He said to them, "Why, herein is a wonderful thing, that you know not from whence he is, and he has opened my eyes. Now we know that God does  not hear sinners: but if a man be a server of God, and does his will, him he hears." (v. 30f)  They replied, "You were wholly born in sins, and you dear to teach us? And they cast him out," (v. 34), excommunicating him.  This cured blind man was a holy man called Saint Cedonius [Celidonius, Sedonius], who with Mary Magdalen, Martha and Lazarus came to the province of Marseilles, etc.

  Morally.  This blind man, cured by Christ signifies the sinner enlightened by Christ, by returning him through penance from the darkness of sins to the brightness and the light of grace.  He is challenged and examined by four.

-- First by the neighbors.  Say when a religious or priest, man or woman is converted to God, immediately the bystanders and others challenge him jokingly, deriding, so that the saying of David about his is fulfilled, "We are become a reproach to our neighbors," (Ps 78:3). There are many who at this time do not dare to begin a good life.  Christ, comforting, says to such, " Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you," (Lk. 6:22).

-- Second he is challenged by the Pharisees, i.e. by carnal inclinations which separate us from God. Galatians 5: "For the flesh lusts against the spirit," (Gal 5:17), or by the Pharisees, i.e. by the demons who are alienated from God, from paradise, and from us, who challenge us tempting, first our faith, next with avarice, and lust etc., to withdraw a person from a good life begun.  The sinner ought to keep himself strong and happily endure such temptations.  James 1: " My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into diverse temptations; knowing that the trying of your faith works patience, and let patience be a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing," (Jas 1:2-4).  Gregory: "He fails to tempt those whom he perceives possess themselves with a undisputed right.  Augustine: "Don't judge yourself to live without temptation, for if you avoid one, expect another, if however you should say that you do not have a temptation, then you shall be tempted even stronger."

-- The third temptation, from the parents, i.e. from sickness, pain etc. which we have from our parents, namely Adam and Eve, because when a person is not overcome by derision and the temptations of demons, afterwards, come sicknesses, pains and the such by which they are compelled to go to God, so David, "Their infirmities were multiplied: afterwards they made haste," (Ps 15:4), i. e. to go to God.  So Gregory: "Evils which press us now, drive us to go to God."  2 Cor 12: " Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me," (2 Cor 12:9).

-- The fourth assault is from the princes of the law, i.e. from the temporal lords who want to have temporal goods of devout people.  The first assault touches upon fame, by crying hypocrite, etc. the second touches the soul, the third the body, the fourth temporal goods, because when a person wishes to live well and serve God, immediately come litigious questions, quarrels against the goods until it is driven away by them. Thus patience is necessary.  2 Tim 3: " And all who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution,"  (2 Tim 3:12).  Or say that the fourth confrontation is from the princes, that is the demons who tempt, etc., as above.  Thus the Apostle, Eph last: "Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power.  Put on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers," (Eph 6:10).


  The third point is the gracious approval of the miracle, from which comes the theme, "And falling down, he adored him." (v. 38). After the blind man now cured was thrown out by the Jews and excommunicated, no one dared to receive him in their homes, not even his parents, nor even to speak with him, nor to give him a light, or anything. He said to himself, "O miserable wretch, if we can only find that holy prophet Jesus who cured me, at least I would have his company."  Christ however knowing his tribulation and his good desire came to him on the street saying, "Do you believe in the Son of God? He answered, and said: Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him? And Jesus said to him: You have both seen him; and it is he who is talking with you. And he said: I believe, Lord. And falling down, he adored him, (vv. 35-38).  Christ welcomed him into his company. He can say with David, "For my father and my mother have left me: but the Lord has taken me up," (Ps 26:10).

  Morally.  We have here a teaching, because just as this one did not hesitate to leave those unfaithful associates, to be in the company of Christ, so neither should you. Note this against merchants, who keep company with infidels, against whom holy Scripture says, "Bear not the yoke," i.e. the company, "with unbelievers," (2 Cor 6:14).  The question which the Muslims make, because they hold and possess the Holy Land, therefore they should not be stamped out etc.  Response. The truth is that God wishes that this land rather be in the possession of the Muslims than the Christians.  Reason, for the greater confusion of the Muslims and the excusing of the Christians.

  The Muslims, of old, were at one time Christians who were deceived by Sergius and Mohammed, who held that Christ was not God. When the Christians out of devotion went there, they showed the Christians the place in which Christ gave sight to the blind man and raised the dead etc., which miracles could not have happened, unless by God alone.  Also, they say that they should not be baptized in the name of the Trinity; nevertheless they show there the place where Christ was baptized and the whole Trinity was revealed, which they deny.  Also, they do not believe in the sacrament of the altar, all the while showing where Christ held the [Last] Supper and instituted that sacrament.  Also they do not believe that Christ suffered, died or was buried, yet they show Christians the place of the passion, death, and the holy tomb, to their own confusion, because they show what they do not believe.  Thus David says, in the person of the Christian people, "Show me a token for good: that they who hate me may see, and be confounded," etc., (Ps 85:17).

  Second, the Muslims hold that land for the excusing of Christians, for no one is able to excuse himself of sins.  Eccl 7: " For there is no just man upon earth, that does good, and sins not," (Eccl 7:21).  Christ did not wish that Christians should commit sins and wicked deeds in that Holy Land.  If it is asked, Why should he permit that the Muslims would commit sins there?  I reply, because it is not as displeasing to him, as Christians.  Just like the king who permits his dogs to do their uncleanness in his room, which he would not tolerate with his children or soldiers.  So that Holy Land is the chamber of God, where it is permitted  that his dogs make their uncleannesses of sin, but it is not permitted to his children, namely the Christians.  Hence, that whole homeland was once the Christians', but because they committed sins there, God said, "Outside, outside!"  So Christ said, Lk 21: "...and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles," (Lk 21:24).

  Third, the Muslims hold that land for the consolation of Christians, because through this it is realized that that land is not the final goal of Christians, as it was of the Jews. But the heavenly homeland is the final goal of Christians, gained for us by the merit of the passion of Christ. Thus the Apostle, in Hebrews, last chapter: " For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come," (Heb 13:14). To which Jesus leads us, etc.


John 9: 1-38  Douay trans.

1 And Jesus passing by, saw a man, who was blind from his birth: 2 And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? 3 Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, whilst it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6 When he had said these things, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and spread the clay on his eyes, 7 And said to him: Go, wash in the pool of Siloe, which is interpreted, Sent. He went therefore, and washed, and he came seeing. 8 The neighbours therefore, and they who had seen him before that he was a beggar, said: Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said: This is he. 9 But others said: No, but he is like him. But he said: I am he. 10 They said therefore to him: How were thy eyes opened? 11 He answered: That man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me: Go to the pool of Siloe, and wash. And I went, I washed, and I see. 12 And they said to him: Where is he? He saith: I know not. 13 They bring him that had been blind to the Pharisees. 14 Now it was the sabbath, when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15 Again therefore the Pharisees asked him, how he had received his sight. But he said to them: He put clay upon my eyes, and I washed, and I see. 16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said: This man is not of God, who keepeth not the sabbath. But others said: How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. 17 They say therefore to the blind man again: What sayest thou of him that hath opened they eyes? And he said: He is a prophet. 18 The Jews then did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight, 19 And asked them, saying: Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then doth he now see? 20 His parents answered them, and said: We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21 But how he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: ask himself: he is of age, let him speak for himself. 22 These things his parents said, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had already agreed among themselves, that if any man should confess him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore did his parents say: He is of age, ask himself. 24 They therefore called the man again that had been blind, and said to him: Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner. 25 He said therefore to them: If he be a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see. 26 They said then to him: What did he to thee? How did he open thy eyes? 27 He answered them: I have told you already, and you have heard: why would you hear it again? will you also become his disciples? 28 They reviled him therefore, and said: Be thou his disciple; but we are the disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses: but as to this man, we know not from whence he is. 30 The man answered, and said to them: Why, herein is a wonderful thing, that you know not from whence he is, and he hath opened my eyes. 31 Now we know that God doth not hear sinners: but if a man be a server of God, and doth his will, him he heareth. 32 From the beginning of the world it hath not been heard, that any man hath opened the eyes of one born blind. 33 Unless this man were of God, he could not do any thing. 34 They answered, and said to him: Thou wast wholly born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out: and when he had found him, he said to him: Dost thou believe in the Son of God? 36 He answered, and said: Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him? 37 And Jesus said to him: Thou hast both seen him; and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said: I believe, Lord. And falling down, he adored him.

Mary Magdalen and Cedonius

Tradition has it that fourteen years after Our Lord's death, St. Mary [Magdalen] was put in a boat by the Jews without sails or oars - along with Sts. Lazarus and Martha, St. Maximin (who baptized her), St. Sidonius ("the man born blind"), her maid Sera, and the body of St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin. Expelled by persecutions from the Holy Land, they were put adrift out to sea in a frail boat with neither rudder nor mast. They traversed the Mediterranean and landed at the place called Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer near Arles. Mary Magdalene came the shores of Southern France, to Marseille  St. Mary spent the rest of her life as a contemplative in a cave known as Sainte-Baume.

Sergius and Mohammed

A legend of the Christians is, that the chief help Mohammed had in the contriving his Koran was from a Nestorian monk named Sergius. supposed to be the same person with the monk Boheira. with whom Mohammed. in his younger years, had some conference at Bosra, a city of Syria Damascena, where that monk resided.' To confirm which supposition, a passage has been produced from an Arab writer, who says  that Boheira's name, in the books of the Christians, is Sergius ; but this is only a conjecture.
A612 – 618     Feria VI post Laetare  Sermo unicus.

St. Vincent Ferrer – Fifth Sunday of Lent -
Sermon On the Raising of Lazarus
John 11:1-46
   He cried with a loud voice," (Jn 11:43)  Today we read the gospel of the raising of Lazarus by Christ.  This shall be our sermon. But first let us salute the Virgin Mary, etc.
   "With a loud voice," etc. (v. 43).  The holy gospel today briefly contains three miraculous incidents about the raising of Lazarus: 
     The first situation is humanly reluctant. [humanitus retractiva]
     The second situation is leading to merit. [meritalis inductiva]
     The third situation is principally effective. [principaliter effectiva]

And of this third the theme speaks, "He cried out with a loud voice," i.e. Jesus commanding, saying "Lazarus, come forth," (Jn 11:43).

   The first situation is human reluctance. The apostles were afraid that Christ would try to raise  Lazarus, for they all could be stoned in Jerusalem, and so they were discouraging Christ from going to Bethany which is near Jerusalem, where Lazarus had died.  The promised land had been divided into three provinces: Judea,  Galilee and  Samaria.  Christ had many enemies in the province of Judea and they frequently wanted to kill him. He had denounced the notorious sins, and vices of the Pharisees, the princes and the priests, and he was proving himself to be divine.  But because the hour of his passion had not yet come, he withdrew from the province of Judea and came to the province of Galilee where he was beloved.  In the mean time Lazarus died in the province of Judea. So Jesus said to the apostles, "Let us go into Judea again," (Jn 11:7).  The apostles, afraid of the situation, said to Christ, "Rabbi, the Jews but now sought to stone you: and you are going there again?" (v.8).  See here the human reluctance, but indirectly, because it is human to fear carnal death. Then Christ told them that Lazarus, his friend, had died, so he wanted to go there. 
   To counter their fear he said to them, "Are there not twelve hours of the day?"  If you ask, "And how is this to the point?"  I say, very much so, and according to all four of the senses of sacred scripture. 
   First according to the literal sense. When Christ said these words it was the time of the vernal equinox, which came after the 25th of March. That was the same day he had been conceived. Fifteen days before his passion, Christ said these words, "Are there not twelve..., etc."  Literally, a day has twelve hours, as if Christ wished to say to the apostles, "You should know that the rancor or ill will of the Jews against me already has changed, for just as the day and time changes from hour to hour, so also the heart of man changes, because therefore they have already  changed [their minds], not only twelve hours ago, but many days ago, therefore, etc.  This Christ said by way of rebuking the bad opinion which they had of the Jews, because a man ought always to presume the best about his neighbor, according to that in Luke 6, "Judge not, and you shall not be judged," (v. 37).

    "Are there not twelve, etc." is allegorical when the saying or deed is understood to be about that which a man should believe. According to this explanation Christ is called "day." Note, because just as morning and evening make one day, according to Genesis 1: "...and there was evening and morning one day," (v. 5). So God and man make one person of Christ.  Morning is the [day's] beginning, so also the divinity is the beginning of all things.  I am, "the beginning, who also speak unto you," (Jn 8:25).  Christ, as man was the evening and end of all things.  Because God made daylight first, second the firmament, third the plants, fourth the sun and stars, fifth the birds and fishes, sixth the beasts, and seventh he made man.  When therefore the Son of God took on humanity, then  "there was evening and morning one day," i.e. God and man have  become one person.  Hence the church sings, "Whose wisdom joined in meet array the morn and eve, and named them Day," (Hymn: Lucis creator optime).  About this one David says to God the Father, "By your ordinance the day goes on," (Ps 118:91).

   This day has twelve hours, namely the twelve apostles, Luke 6, "And when day was come, he called his disciples unto him; and he chose twelve of them (whom also he named apostles)," (v. 13)   The first hour was Peter, and so on for the rest.  In the same place it is clear in the text when he said,  "Are there not twelve hours, " i.e. twelve Apostles are for the day, that is of Christ, which is to say just as the hours do not dismiss the natural day, nor days the hours, rather the hours follow the day inseparably, so neither ought you dismiss me, nor I you, rather I defend you.  He did just that on the night of the passion, when he said to the Jews, "If therefore you seek me, let these go their way," (Jn 18:8).  Behold the day, that is how it defends the hours.  So he said to the Father, "Of those whom you have given me, I have not lost any one, " (Jn 18:9).

   The third explanation is tropological, that is moral.  According to this exposition the bright day is penance. Reason: because guilt is called a dark night. Thus grace to which man comes through  penitence, is called day.  About this the authority: "The night is passed, and the day is at hand," (Rom 13:12).  This day has twelve hours, namely twelve works of repentance.  

 -- The first hour is the acknowledgement of sins. Just as in the first hour the brightness of the day begins, and people can recognize each other, so in the recognition of sins man knows himself. 

 -- The second is the contrition of the heart.

 -- Third, the purpose of amendment.

 -- The fourth, the avoidance of occasions [of sin].

 -- Fifth, oral confession.

 -- Sixth, bodily penance.

 -- Seventh, spiritual prayer. 

 -- Eighth, almsgiving. 

 -- Ninth, repayment of debts.

 -- Tenth, forgiveness of injuries.

 -- Eleventh, the restoration of [another's] good name.

 -- Twelfth, eucharistic communion. 

  About this day and [these] hours Christ says to the Apostles in the gospel, "Are there not twelve hours in the day, " namely of penance which you keep, observe and do?  Therefore you need not fear from death, and so he adds, " If a man walks in the day, he stumbles not, because he sees the light of this world: But if he walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light," namely, of grace, "is not in him," (v. 9-10).

   The fourth explanation is anagogical, from "άνώ" which is above, and "άγώ" I lead, as in "I lead above," when the saying or action is explained as pertaining to hope.  And according to this explanation the bright day is celestial glory.  Reason: because in that place there is no night or darkness, nor obscurity of ignorance. Rather, when the soul enters paradise, God immediately shows it a book in which all things are revealed and made clear. This book of life is Christ who has two pages, namely divinity and humanity.

  About this day of glory the authority in Psalm 83: "For better is one day in thy courts above thousands." (Confused 83:11).  From which follows this conclusion, that saint stays in paradise for only one day.  Our life now has many days because of the interposition of nights.  But in paradise there is no night. It is always day, brightly illuminated by the sun of justice.  This day has twelve hours, that is twelve beatitudes, namely four of the soul and four of the body, and four of the composite.  The first beatitude of the soul is wisdom of divine things. The second, knowledge of creatures. Third, memory of the past. Fourth, the joys of the universe.  The first beatitude of the body is invulnerability. The second, clarity.  The third, subtlety. The fourth, agility.  The first beatitude of the composite or of the blessed life is general harmony.  Second, general abundance.  Third, full satisfaction. Fourth certain perpetuity.  There shall be one day which is noted by the Lord in Zechariah 14: "And there shall be one day, which is known to the Lord, " (v. 7).

   Or if you wish according to a second allegorical interpretation, say that the Catholic faith is a bright day, when it is without error, doubt and false opinion, about which the Apostle [Paul] to the Romans, 13: "The night is passed," namely of error, of darkness and  of false opinions, "and the day is at hand," namely of the Catholic faith. This day has twelve hours, namely twelve articles of the faith according to the number of the twelve Apostles, all of which are in the "We believe in God..." 

 -- The first  hour is of the creation of the world: " I believe in God, the Father Almighty," etc. The philosophers did not know this hour. They posited that the world was eternal. 

 -- The second, of the eternal generation of the son of God: "And in Jesus Christ His only Son, Our Lord," who is generated from the Father like a ray from the sun, etc.

 -- The third of the incarnation of the Son of God: "Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary," like the rays of the sun passing through a glass window pane which they do not break. 

 -- Fourth of the passion of Christ: "Suffered under Pontius Pilate was crucified, died and was buried," lest some believing for themselves and obeying, would suffer in the pit of hell.  

 -- Fifth about the freeing of the holy patriarchs: "He descended into hell," namely to free the holy patriarchs. 

 -- Sixth on the resurrection of Christ: "On the third day he rose again from the dead."   

 -- Seventh, about his miraculous ascension: "He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty."  

 -- The eight about his coming judgment: "He will come again to judge the living and the dead," that is the good and the bad. Whence he will come, namely from the right hand of God the Father.  

 -- Ninth, about the spiration of the Holy Spirit,  who proceeds from the Father and the Son, like heat from the sun and its ray: "I believe in the Holy Spirit."  

 -- Tenth, the universal authority of the church which it is necessary to believe, because the universal church can not err in those things which are of the faith, Christ saying to Peter, " But I have prayed for thee," Peter, " that thy faith fail not, (Lk 22:32).  Christ does not say this to Peter insofar as he was an individual person, but insofar as he was the Pope, a common person: "I believe in  the Holy Catholic Church," that is, universal. 

 -- Eleven is about the sanctification by the sacraments. By the sacraments the soul is made holy: "The Communion of Saints," that is of the sacraments, "the forgiveness of sins."  

 -- Twelfth is  the general resurrection of all: "The resurrection of the body, and life everlasting." 

   When therefore Christ says to the Apostles, "Are there not twelve hours of the day?"  which is to say, "Why do you fear temporal death since you are strong in the faith?"  It is otherwise for  those who are dying without faith and in error. Thus Christ says, " If a man walk in the day," that is, in the faith, "he stumbles not," by falling into hell forever.  See how there was a remedy against a tucked-in tail [caudam retractativam, i.e. a fearful spirit].  So men are given this advice, to say every day, "I believe...," and "Try your own selves if you be in the faith; prove ye yourselves," (2 Cor 13:5).


   The second situation was leading to merit. This was the charity or love which Christ had for Lazarus his disciple, and Mary and Martha his sisters, and vice versa.  Thus they drew him like a smoking candle which draws to itself the flame of another nearby candle, and this naturally, because since their hearts were like burning lamps, they drew that light.  About which John 1: "It was the true light, which enlightens every man who comes into this world," (v. 9).  See, this is the motivating reason, and so the Gospel says, "Jesus therefore came," to Bethany, "and found that he had been four days already in the grave (v.17)"....up to ... "he troubled himself and groaned in the spirit," (v. 33)   Men do act in such a way, and "he troubled himself," namely by showing sadness in his face, and he wept, not only out of compassion for Mary and Martha, but also for the resurrection of Lazarus himself. He was about to bring [Lazarus] back from the state of sinlessness in which he presently was, to the state of being capable of sinning, for at the passion of Christ he also sinned. He lost faith in Christ.  Behold the motivating situation which is called meritorious, because the love of Lazarus and his sisters for Christ was meritorious.

    Morally.  It must be noted here that in these words when it is said, "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus," (v. 5),  it is insinuated that this signifies three kinds of people who are loved by Christ.  First, persons purely continent; second, persons worthily repentant; and third, persons justly governing.

   First Christ loves purely continent persons, which is shown where it says, Jesus loved Martha, who always was a virgin, pure and continent.  There are however here noted three grades of continence.

 - First conjugal continence, which is between husband and wife, keeping the manner and faithfulness to each other. So Paul says, "Marriage honorable in all," keeping the manner, "and the bed undefiled,", that is, keeping faith.  "For fornicators and adulterers God will judge," (Heb 13:4).

 - The second kind is the continence of widows, and this is better when widows avoid that act, because God wishes it to be only between husband and wife. The Apostle [Paul writes], "For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication," (1 Thess 4:3).

 - The third grade is virginal purity, and it is better than the others, which is never to have sensed that experience, neither desiring in the heart, nor speaking of it with the mouth, nor touching upon the deed, etc.  And of this kind is Martha, and so she is loved much by Christ.  About these three grades, Bede says, "Conjugal chastity is good, better is the continence of widows, but best is virginal purity."

       Second the Lord loves repentant persons, which is shown where, "Jesus loved Mary Magdalen who was a penitent, whom the Lord Christ loved more after her repentance than before, according to the parable in Luke 15: "What man of you that hath an hundred sheep: and if he shall lose one of them, doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go after that which was lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, lay it upon his shoulders, rejoicing: And coming home, call together his friends and neighbors, saying to them: Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost? I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance," etc. (Lk 15:4-7). Note, he "lay it on his shoulders," and this when he carries the cross on his shoulders, then is fulfilled, "and the government is upon his shoulder," (Isa 9:6). 

    Third, God loves persons who rule justly, which is shown where, Jesus [loved] Lazarus who was the prefect and lord of one third of the city of Jerusalem. Say how [secular] lords and [churchly] prelates are loved by the Lord when they "enter through the gate."  Second, when they live decently after they are in, and they care more for the souls than for their salaries.  Third, when they divide their income into three parts, namely, one for themselves, another for their family and a third for the needy.  Such men are presiding justly.  It is otherwise with those who do not enter through the gate [i.e. legitimately promoted], but leap over, through robbery and simony [i.e. by bribery].  The temporal lords can be saved only by rendering just decisions and giving alms, because in judgment Christ does not ask the lay leaders whether they had said their breviary [literally, hours], or if they had fasted, but he asks of them if they had done justice for criminals, if they kept the people at peace, and if they corrected notorious sins. 

  But for many lords it happens that stupidly, they cover themselves with a shield,  not just from where the arrows are coming, but from other direction.  Many lord covers himself with the shield of devotion, but not in that part whence come the arrows of censure.  They recite the hours, and hear many masses, but do not care about justice and peace, nor for the correction of sins. For this they will be rejected by Christ.  About God's love for good lords, scripture says, "My heart loves the princes [of Israel]," (Judg 5:9).


   The third situation, designated principally effective, is about the power and authority of Christ, his precept and command, at the resurrection of Lazarus. This is the theme: "He cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth," (Jn 11:43).  The story from the Gospel begins when  Jesus "comes to the tomb. Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it," etc. and continues to the end.  In this raising of Lazarus, Christ performed five ceremonies.

   The first was when he had the tomb opened, saying," Take away the stone." (v. 39).  Martha said to him, " Lord, by this time he stinks, for it is now four days," wholly covered with worms. Christ said to her, "Did not I say to you, that if you believe, you shalt see the glory of God?" (v. 40).  

   The second ceremony when Jesus, "lifted up his eyes said: Father, I give you thanks that you have heard me. And I knew that you always hear me; but because of the people who stand about I have said it, that they may believe that you have sent me," (v. 42).  As a man he is less than the Father, and so he was praying, because as God it was not necessary.

   The third ceremony: "He cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth," (v. 43). And he was not speaking to a corrupt body, because it hears nothing, but he was speaking to the soul existing in the limbo of the holy fathers, as is believed, because he [Lazarus] was a holy man, and "immediately he came forth." v. 44.

   The fourth ceremony was when he said, " Lazarus, come forth " because he was " bound feet and hands with winding bands " according to Jewish custom.

   The fifth ceremony was when he said, "Loose him, and let him go." "Many therefore of the Jews,...had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees, and told them the things that Jesus had done." vv. 45-46
   Morally.  In these five ceremonies Christ showed  how a sinner is resuscitated from the death of guilt to the life of grace through penitence .

   First the tomb ought to be opened, "Take away the stone," etc. In sacred scripture the body of the sinner is said to be a tomb. Reason: because outside it is a tomb and seems like a burial place, but from within it is filthy and stinking and full of corruption, where the dead soul lies. And so Christ says to the sinners, "Woe to you...because you are like to whitened sepulchers, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness," (Mt 23:27).   This first speaks about religious who externally wear the habit of decency, but inwardly are full of all kinds of sorrow.  Same of priests, who externally wear their white surplices, but within, corruptibility.  Same of laity, both men and women. 

   The first task to be done, if dead, if the spirit should be raised, is to open the tomb. This happens in oral confession, namely, to roll back the huge and heavy stone of shame. O how many there are who prefer not to remove this stone, nor open the tomb to clearly confess sins, but wish to mitigate their sins, like women, and so many are damned for this.  See why Christ said, "Take away the stone."

   Martha said, "Lord, by this time he stinks, for it is now four days."  He sins by thought, word, deed and omission, and gives forth such a stink that all cover their noses, except Christ who was standing as if he perceived nothing.  By this confessors are instructed that when they hear grave and stinking sins, they should not show fastidiousness, nor spit, nor gasp, lest the sinner be shamed and not dare to tell their sins, saying, "What would he do if I were to tell him some even greater sins?"  Rather, he should listen, patiently and cover his face, and encourage the penitent to tell his sins and not be ashamed. Thus scripture says to the confessor, Deut. 23: "Thou shall not abhor the Edomite," i.e. the bloodstained sinner "because he is your brother: nor the Egyptian," i.e. the gloomy sinner, because you also were a sinner.  Thus, "Now we that are stronger, ought to bear the infirmities of the weak," (Rom 15:1).  And of those who confess their sins, clearly can be said that, "Their throat is an open grave," (Ps 5:11).
   The second ceremony was when Christ prayed after the opening of the tomb, in which he showed that after the confession is done, the confessor ought to pray saying, "May almighty God have mercy on you," etc. and so the heart of the sinner is disposed to contrition and to the good resolve to refrain from sins.  James 5: "Confess therefore your sins one to another," that is, the laity to the priests, "and pray one for another, that you may be saved." (Jas 5:16).
    Third, Christ "cries out with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth," from the tomb with respect to the body, and out from hell, with respect to the soul.  So the sinner as he hears the penance assigned to him ought to come forth, forgiving sins himself, because otherwise he is not absolved, and he should come out of hell to which he was bound through guilt, if he does his penance, otherwise not.  Hence, Luke 13: "unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish, " (Lk 13:3). 
   The fourth ceremony.  Christ said, "Loose him."  This saying is by the confessor when he absolves the sinner by saying, "By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ commissioned to us  and granted to you, I absolve you," etc.  Thus, about this absolution it is said to confessors, "And whatsoever you shalt loose on earth," namely, you confessors, "it shall be loosed also in heaven, and whatsoever you shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven." (Mt 16:19).  This binding is the imposition of the penance.
   The fifth ceremony, "... and let him go," so namely if the penitent is not able to bear a large penance, give him a small one, because it is better to make it to purgatory with a small penance than with a large penance to end up in hell, and this is said against those confessors who give exceedingly heavy penances. About which Matthew says, c. 23: " For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men's shoulders," (v.4).   It can also be understood another way, namely that many are absolved by a confessor from the bonds of sins who are prevented from completing their penance, because a husband prevents his wife, and e converso, a friend a friend, a father his son, and e converso.  No one should interfere with another doing penance unless it might possibly be hurtful, to whom Christ says, "But woe to you...[who] shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter. " (Mt 23:13)
John 11:1-45  Douay translation.
1 Now there was a certain man sick, named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary and Martha her sister. 2 (And Mary was she that anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair: whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3 His sisters therefore sent to him, saying: Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4 And Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it. 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus. 6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he still remained in the same place two days. 7 Then after that, he said to his disciples: Let us go into Judea again. 8 The disciples say to him: Rabbi, the Jews but now sought to stone thee: and goest thou thither again? 9 Jesus answered: Are there not twelve hours of the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world: 10 But if he walk in the night, he stumbleth, because the light is not in him. 11 These things he said; and after that he said to them: Lazarus our friend sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 His disciples therefore said: Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 But Jesus spoke of his death; and they thought that he spoke of the repose of sleep. 14 Then therefore Jesus said to them plainly: Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad, for your sakes, that I was not there, that you may believe: but let us go to him. 16 Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples: Let us also go, that we may die with him. 17 Jesus therefore came, and found that he had been four days already in the grave. 18 (Now Bethania was near Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.) 19 And many of the Jews were come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus had come, went to meet him: but Mary sat at home. 21 Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But now also I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23 Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith to him: I know that he shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live: 26 And every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever. Believest thou this? 27 She saith to him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world. 28 And when she had said these things, she went, and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The master is come, and calleth for thee. 29 She, as soon as she heard this, riseth quickly, and cometh to him. 30 For Jesus was not yet come into the town: but he was still in that place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews therefore, who were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she rose up speedily and went out, followed her, saying: She goeth to the grave to weep there. 32 When Mary therefore was come where Jesus was, seeing him, she fell down at his feet, and saith to him: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33 Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews that were come with her, weeping, groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself, 34 And said: Where have you laid him? They say to him: Lord, come and see. 35 And Jesus wept. 36 The Jews therefore said: Behold how he loved him. 37 But some of them said: Could not he that opened the eyes of the man born blind, have caused that this man should not die? 38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it. 39 Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days. 40 Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? 41 They took therefore the stone away. And Jesus lifting up his eyes said: Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always; but because of the people who stand about have I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 When he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth. 44 And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him, and let him go. 45 Many therefore of the Jews, who were come to Mary and Martha, and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees, and told them the things that Jesus had done.
C166  De Incarnatione filii Dei.  Sermon

St. Vincent Ferrer -- Sermon On the Incarnation (Lk 1:26-38)

Luke 1:26-38, Douay transl., especially:

- Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus (v. 31)...

- And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age (v. 36)...

- And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word, (v.38).

  "Ecce, ecce, ecce." Behold, behold, behold. The words of this theme are gathered from today's gospel of the feast, which is originally found in Luke 1:31.  Today's solemnity is totally about the most holy Incarnation of the Son of God in the womb of  the Virgin, and so is my sermon.  To honor the Son of God and his mother, and for the comfort of our souls, we humbly offer our greeting to the Virgin, the same which was spoken today by the angel Gabriel etc. [Hail Mary, etc.]

  Some might wonder where this theme is found.  It seems that it is not in the gospel, nor in the epistle.  I say that it is sifted out of the gospel, in which "behold" is said three times, not without deep secrets and mysteries.

The first is when the angel announced to the Virgin that she would be the mother of God saying "Behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and give birth to a son." (Lk 1:31).

The second is when he announced to the Virgin that Elizabeth had conceived, saying, "Behold, Elizabeth your cousin, has conceived a son in her old age." (v. 36)

The third is when the Virgin finally consented and said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word," (v. 38)

Here is where we get the proposed theme.  It calls for a demonstrative sermon.  Grammaticus [Donatus, Ars minor] says, "[Words] of demonstrating, like: See!, Behold!"  And it is also exhortative.  "Behold" is said three times, because magnitude, height and depth – all three – must be contemplated acutely and astutely in the Incarnation:

Divine kindness  [Divinalis benignitas]
Human utility.  [Humanalis utilitas]
Virginal humility.  [Virginalis humilitas]

Open, then, the ears of your heart to contemplate with great devotion and affection these three aforesaid topics.


    First, the divine kindness is acutely contemplated from this blessed incarnation  which God has shown us in this holy incarnation.  That God, out of love of us has become man, is greater than if gold had turned to dirt, or mud into lead.  The Creator has become the creature; the king, the servant; and the Lord, the slave; the rich man, the pauper; the almighty, the weak; the eternal, temporal; the infinite, out of love for us has become finite; and tiny like an ant, in humanity; the immense one, confined to the Virgins womb; the invulnerable, vulnerable. No mind can handle or comprehend this kindness.  He does all this to help our weakness.  Behold, the divine kindness.  For this reason almost all the prophecies speaking of this matter begin with the word: "Behold."  David says: "For behold God is my helper, and the Lord is the protector of my soul," (Ps 53:6).

  About this help, remember the story of a great king, who had a vineyard alongside of his palace. He sent farmhands there, promising them a big salary if they could finish the work that same day, otherwise they would get nothing.  The laborers worked furiously, but as evening drew near  they still had about half left to do.  The son of the king saw through his window that they could not finish, wished to help them.  He went into his room, and in disguise put on the clothes of a farmhand, and helped them, and they finished, and in the end they got their pay. Does it not seem to you to be a great kindness in the firstborn son of the king, to humble himself so much, that the workers could have the money promised to them?

  Such was the humility of the Son of God. The vineyard of the king is this world.  "The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel," (Is 5:7), to which he sends workers: the patriarchs, and prophets. He promises them a salary if they would finish before sunset, i.e. before death.  They would enter into the kingdom of heaven.  The Son of God, Jesus Christ, seeing through the window of his knowledge that they could not gain the prize of glory, because our works are meritorious from the death of Christ and his merit, and before the death of Christ no one, however holy, could enter heaven.  The gate was closed.  So the son of the king entered the room of the Virgin's womb, today, where he was clothed with the uniform of that farmer, Adam, so that he could help them who would work continuously right up to their death.  See why he says, "For behold God is my helper," with the help of grace in the present time; "and the Lord is the protector of my soul," in eternal glory, (Ps. 53:6). 

  Isaiah, too, gives a sign of this incarnation and says, beginning with the word "behold:" "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel," (Is 7:14).    Note: "Behold a virgin shall conceive."  Although he could have assumed flesh from other women, nevertheless he assumed it from a virgin.  "And bear a son," not the Father, because he never was a man, nor is, and never shall he be. Also neither the Holy Spirit.  But she "bears a son."  It is more fitting that the Son be incarnated, if we wish to attend to the purpose of this Incarnation, which is that sinners and enemies become the friends of God, and sons of God, and inheritors or co-heirs of the kingdom.  The Apostle touches on this reason saying "For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren," (Rom 8:29).  Note: "Emmanuel", "Ema," i.e. "with us."  "El," i.e. "God."  Thus "Emmanuel," means "God is with us," for otherwise unless he were God, man could not save himself.  Therefore, among all the prophets, this one especially is to be studied.

  And when the angel greeted her, she was reading this prophecy, as Mary told Elizabeth.  At that moment the Virgin was thinking to herself, "O Lord, what will this virgin be like?  Who would be worthy to conceive the son of God, to be the mother of God and the queen of heaven?" And she prayed to God that it not be delayed so that she might see her and be able to serve her, saying "Lord preserve my sight, that I might see her, my hearing, that I might hear her, my speech that I might speak to her, my hands that I might serve her. O blessed shall that virgin be," and she wept, unable out of humility to think about herself, that she might be the one.

  And when she was thinking these things, suddenly Gabriel the archangel entered without opening the doors.  Utterly radiant and beautiful, with great reverence he greeted the Virgin saying "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women," (Lk 1:28).  When she heard this she was disturbed by his message, not by the vision of the angel, because Jerome says that she was accustomed to seeing angels, but she was upset by his words.

  Before the coming of the angel the Virgin was thinking about that virgin and about that great grace. Suddenly the angel greeted her saying, "Hail, full of grace," which is to say, "You are that virgin full of grace."

  Second, she was thinking about her great closeness with God, that she would be his mother. And so the angel said to her, "The Lord is with thee," in a greater closeness than with other creatures.

  Third she was thinking of the excellence of that virgin over other women. and so the angel said to her "Blessed are you among women."  And "she was troubled at his saying," [Lk 1:29]  If the angel had greeted her in the usual way, as good people greet others, she would not have been disturbed.  But when she heard this salutation...

[Morally]  Here is an example for you, young women. If someone greets you in a usual manner, you should not be upset but return the greeting in the usual fashion. But if some fool [stultus] greets you in an unusual manner, you do not have to reply, unless by saying "What do you have to do with me etc.," because such a greeting is unseemly [iniqua], like when he says "God be with you, lily blossom,  paradise flower, gracious angel, you are my life," etc. If the Virgin was disturbed by an unusual greeting from an angel with whom she cannot sin, how much more ought you to be disturbed by this unusual line from foolish men?

    And the angel putting her at ease said, "Fear not, Mary," because in this greeting there is no sin, "for you have found grace with God," add "over all creatures."  Now that the Virgin was at ease, the angel explained his communiqué [ambasiatam], beginning with "behold," saying,

    "Behold you shall conceive in your womb,
    and shall bring forth a son;
  and you shall call his name Jesus
    He shall be great,
    and shall be called the Son of the most High;
  and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father;
    and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.
    And of his kingdom there shall be no end," (vv. 31-33).

See, the whole message, which has eight clauses containing the secrets of the Christian faith, which the angel then explained to her.

1. Conception

First where he says, "Behold you shall conceive in your womb," someone might say, "Why is it necessary to say 'in the womb,' when there is no conception anywhere else?  Just as why is it necessary to say 'You see with your eyes,' since one does not see with other parts?"  I reply, that it is not without reason that the angel said, "Behold, you shall conceive in your womb," because Mary, before the arrival of the angel had conceived God in the mind by contemplating that prophecy. But the angel, revealing to her a maternal conception said, "You shall conceive in your womb," not only in your mind, in which you have already conceived, but "in you womb," declaring to her the manner of the conception, like a hazelnut conceives its seed without breaking etc.  If someone says, "Nature does this." Cannot God, who makes a virgin pregnant, do more? [Iam bene est bestia. Et numquid potest plus deus qui virginem gravidavit?] And when the Virgin Mary understood this, think how she rejoiced.

2. Birth

Second he says "And you shall bring forth a son."  Behold, the birth.  For you shall bring forth a Son, not a Father, because the Father neither is, nor will be a man; nor the Holy Spirit.  But if someone says, "How is it possible, since the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one in essence, indivisible, that the Son assumes humanity and becomes a man, since they are one entity?"  It is explained by a likeness to the one sun, in which the Father can be considered generating, a substance, and the Son begotten, the rays, and the  Spirit, exhaled, the heat, and yet there is only one sun, and when the rays are passing through the glass window, red or another color, the rays receive that color, and not the substance of the sun, nor its heat.  So, the Virgin Mary is a window clearer than crystal. Thus the church sings "The heaven's window you are made..."  And through her passes the ray of the eternal sun, the Son of God, entering to illuminate the house of this world, without breaking the window, indeed it remains even brighter. And when the angel says "And you shall bring forth a son," the Virgin understands that she would be the mother not of the Father, nor of the Holy Spirit, but of the Son.

3. Passion

The third clause is where he says, "You shall call his name Jesus."  Behold, his passion.  Because "Jesus," is the same as "savior", by whose passion we have been saved.  Thus Gregory says, "The birth would have profited us nothing, unless there had been the advantage of being redeemed." And when the Virgin heard this name, Jesus, from the angel, I believe that she bowed down.  Reason: Because the ancient prophets held him in great reverence.  Isaiah says, "Your name, and your remembrance are the desire of the soul. My soul has desired you in the night," (Is 26:8-9).  So it is a laudable custom to bow when "Jesus" is named.  If preachers when they preach before the pope bow when the address him, how much more when the supreme Pope is named?

4 Descent

. Fourth: "He shall be great."  Behold, the descent into hell.  Because just as he was great in heaven before the Incarnation,  he ought also to be shown to be great on earth before men through miracles, he wished also to show his greatness in hell by striving against it and by leading out holy fathers out of it.

5. Resurrection

Fifth where "[He] shall be called the Son of the most High." Behold, the resurrection.  The philosophers say that the definition of man has one genus and two differences, because man is a rational mortal animal. Before the passion, however, Christ was rational and mortal, and so can be called the "Son of Man," but  only after the resurrection should he be called the "Son of the Most High" because he is immortal and invulnerable.

6. Ascension

Sixth when he says, "...and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father."  Behold, his miraculous ascension.  Because just as the throne of David was higher by excellence and power over other kings of his domain, so Christ in his ascension was placed on a throne of glory to reign over all creatures.

7. Eucharist

Seventh where he says, "...and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever"  Behold, the sacrament of the Eucharist.  The church is called the house of Jacob in which there is a struggle against the devil through humility.  This is with respect to men's  understanding; we who do not know the last day of the world.  The first day in which no Mass will be said in this world, that day shall be the last day of the world.  We get this from that text of Christ. "And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world," (Mt 28:20).  And so David says "The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven," (Ps 10:5).

8. Judgment

Eighth, where he says, "...and of his kingdom," whether of glory or of punishment, "there shall be no end."  Behold, the general judgment.  He shall reign over the wicked and condemned with the rigor of justice, because they shall never be freed from their punishments.  He shall reign over the good and blessed with the sweetness of mercy in heaven without end. Of this clause David prophesied saying, "Your kingdom is a kingdom of all ages: and your dominion endures throughout all generations," (Ps 144:13), namely of those to be saved, and the generation, namely of those to be damned.  Now we have the first "behold" of this communiqué.


  Second, its human usefulness should be acknowledged.  Do not believe that he became incarnate for his own good and advantage, because he did not need our goods, as David says, but for our advantage [utilitate], because all good radically proceeds from the incarnation of the Son of God, like flowers and fruits of the tree are generated from the root, so all good, and especially those of faith and obedience, proceed from the root of the incarnation, because granting this, all the other articles of faith become easy to believe, because it is no wonder if he has been born of a woman, that he is man.  Also you believe that he works a miracle.  Practically speaking, no wonder from one who is God.  The same can be said of all the articles of faith pertaining to Christ's humanity or divinity.  It is clear therefore that the incarnation of Christ is the root or the gates of all the other articles of faith. Because of this Christ said, "You believe in God, believe also in me," (Jn 14:1), with respect to the humanity.

  Also in the blessed incarnation of the Son of God, all good is from supernatural obedience.  Of old there was no teacher who did not err on the way, whom we could follow, because neither Moses, because he sinned, nor others.  Only Jesus, who on this day [Feast of the Incarnation], takes on humanity that he might be visible, so that we can follow him.  Thus Augustine said, "God must be followed, who cannot be seen; man must not be followed, who can be seen," (Augustine Sermon on Nativity, in Aquinas, Summa, III, q.1, a.2].  So then, that there might be a man who could be seen by man, and whom a man might follow.  For this reason God has become man.

  Also for the usefulness and good of our redemption, in the blessed incarnation, the whole beginning of our redemption was situated in the pocket [bursa] of the virginal womb, and the price was paid in the passion. So David said, "He has sent redemption to his people," (Ps 110: 9).

  Also from the usefulness and good of our salvation, which proceeds from the incarnation, comes about the restoration in heaven and on earth.  The reason is, like a balance, when one part goes down, the other part rises, so the Son of God humbled himself so that he might exalt us.  As Gregory says, "God, who in the humility of your Son, raises the fallen world, grant perpetual joy to your faithful, eternal joy, that the number of angels be replenished."

  And this the angel indicated to the Virgin when he said to her the second "Behold."  "And behold your cousin Elizabeth, she also has conceived a son in her old age," (Lk 1:36)    Literal sense. The Glosses and commentaries [postillae] say that the angel said this to comfort the Virgin.  But spiritually it is understood thus.  The name "Elizabeth" in Hebrew is composed of three Hebrew names: "El" i.e. God, "I", i.e. me, and "Zabeth" i.e. seventh.  "Elizabeth," means "seventh of my God."  This "seventh of my God" is human nature.  In the beginning God created:  1) the earth with the trees, 2) water with the fishes, 3) air with its properties, 4) fire with its qualities, 5) heaven with the planets, and 6) angelic nature.  Seventh he formed human nature.  See, the "seventh of my God".

  This woman was sterile her whole life, because she was not able to conceive until now, in her old age.  Note that seven are the ages of the world or of mankind.  First is infancy.  This was from Adam to Noah. Second, childhood. This was from Noah to Abraham.  Third is adolescence. This was from Abraham to Moses.  Fourth is youth. This was from Moses to David. Fifth is maturity [virilitas].  This was from David to the Babylonian captivity [transmigrationem].  Sixth is old age.  From the Captivity to the incarnation of Christ. The seventh is decrepitude. This shall last from Christ to the end of the world.  And in this [age] Elizabeth, i.e. human nature, conceived, merit for obtaining glory through faith , hope and charity. See why it is said, "Behold, Elizabeth your cousin," etc.  Likewise Isaiah said, "In your presence, O Lord. We have conceived, and been as it were in labor, and have brought forth the spirit...of salvation," (Is 26:17-18).


  Third, we are reminded of the virginal humility, when the third "behold" is said.  After the angel had proposed to her his communiqué, that she would be the mother of God, the Queen of Heaven, etc., with the greatest humility she responded saying: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word," (Lk 1:38).

  Think how on bended knees and with tears of joy, she said these words, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord."  Note devoutly that when the Virgin Mary said the first word, "Behold" she was not immediately pregnant, nor became the mother of God; neither in the second, nor in the third, etc., but in the last, namely "[according to your] word."  Then, instantly, the Virgin adored God in her womb, whom she did not see with the eyes of her body, but of her mind.

  It is  like this also in the consecration of the host at Mass.  Not in the first word, nor in the second is the body of Christ present, but in the last, and then the priest adores the "pregnant" host.  Only then should you adore and not before;  So did the Virgin Mary adore.  The virginal humility is well contemplated here.  The angel called her Lady, Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, and she calls herself Handmaid: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord," etc.

  Rightly the humility of the Virgin was prefigured through that holy woman who heard the message of king David, who also wished not to become his wife, so that she would be queen, but said, "Behold, let your servant be a handmaid, to wash the feet of the servants of my lord," (1Kg 25:41).  [The name,] Abigail is interpreted to mean the "exultation of my father."

  Behold the Virgin Mary who brought joy to her father, Adam who was weeping because of his sin for which we all are damned.  There was no little exultation in the revelation to him of the Virgin in the curse of the serpent, when God said to the devil in the guise of the serpent, "I will put enmities between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed: she shall crush your head," (Gen 3:15).

  Abigail, i.e. the exultation of my father, whom Christ the King wished in the Queen of Heaven, who responded, "Behold, let thy servant be a handmaid, to wash the feet of the servants of my lord."  Note, that she might "wash the feet of the servants of my lord."  That virgin washed feet.

  Feet are the last members of the human body, even mystically.  The status of the patriarchs was as the head of the world, the neck [the status] of the prophets; the belly [venter], of the apostles; heart and arms, of the martyrs; shins, of the doctors; thighs, of the confessors.  The end of the world is the present time.  We are in those "upon whom the ends of the world are come," (1Cor 10:11). And the Virgin washes us from the iniquity of our sins, and the stains, because she continuously prays for us, because otherwise we would have been destroyed.  Thus the church sings to her:

Show thyself to be a Mother;
Through you may he (Jesus) receive (our) prayers;
Who, being born for us;
Undertook to be your own (Son),

            (Vespers Hymn: Ave Maris Stella).
 St. Vincent Ferrer – Sermon for Palm Sunday (3)

Matt 12:1-9

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” (Mt 12:9)

     This text is taken as the basis of our sermon. It is a short and very devout song composed by the Holy Spirit, and today sung with devotion to Christ, when he solemnly entered the city of Jerusalem. We sing it today many times, representing that solemnity, Christ coming into the city of Jerusalem: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The whole solemnity of Palm Sunday today consists of three points:

-- First is about the honor and solemnity today coming to Christ shown by the city of Jerusalem in which he was received honorably [receptus honorabiliter].

-- Second is about the solemnity which we today give, representing him appropriately [repraesentando appropriate].

-- Third is about the way which Christ walks today, coming into the city of Jerusalem virtuously [veniendo virtuose]

And for each of these in particular and for all of them in general we should sing and say to God, "Blessed is he who comes,” etc.


The first point today is about the honor and solemnity which the Jews showed. In the temple they praised and blessed Christ coming into the city of Jerusalem, where he was received honorably with great joy and festivity. Very remarkable. I find that Christ came to Jerusalem often and for many reasons, and there was never any celebration nor honor given like today.

Christ first came to Jerusalem for the Presentation, fifty days after his birth, when the Virgin Mary presented him in the temple. We do not read that there was a solemn reception then, except that Simeon and Anna adored him, as is clear in Luke 2. He was tiny, and the procession was tiny. But his body grew, and his compassion grew, and the time came when he was no longer carried in the arms of the Virgin, but on the back of an ordinary donkey, not to be redeemed with [sacrificed] doves [birds], but he would redeem all men by his blood.

Second, Christ came to the city of Jerusalem for debating, when he was twelve years old. There was no celebration for him at that time.

Third, he came for prayer. In accord with the law, he would come to Jerusalem for every feast day, and would enter the temple.

Fourth, he came to stamp out sins and notorious vices, because the high priests by their greed had made of the temple a house of business, Jn 2. Nor was there any celebration for him then.

Fifth he came to preach, often, because that city was a metropolis and the capital of the province.

Sixth, he came to reveal his divinity by working miracles, healing the sick, raising the dead. Not even then was there a celebration.

Seventh, he came for sacrificing himself. Today he wished to enter Jerusalem , [the place] where he should suffer for the redemption of the human race. Then there was a great festival for him and a solemnity celebrated.

For this reason, I reply there that although Christ had performed many good things for us, nevertheless we are bound and obliged to him more for the work of his passion and death, that for all the others. We are bound to praise and bless him for the work of the incarnation which he did out of love of us. Also for the teaching and preaching which he had given, going from village to village. But above all we are bound [to bless] him for the work of the passion, because the Lord himself wished to die for the servants, the king for his subjects, a just man for the unjust, the innocent one for sinners. So Bernard: "Above all , good Jesus, the chalice of the passion which you drank, the work of our redemption, renders you beloved to me."

See the reason why God put it into the hearts of the people that he be received so solemnly when he came to Jerusalem for sacrificing.

This solemnity consists in six circumstances or ceremonies which were done for him

First, because he wished to enter riding. It is not read anywhere that Christ ever rode an animal. Only today, when he entered Jerusalem. And then he rode on a colt of an ass, according to the prophecy of Zach 9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold your king will come to you, the just and savior: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass," (Zach 9:9). Then was fulfilled that prophecy.

Read how he sent two disciples from Bethphage, according to the Gloss, Peter and Philip, for the donkey and colt, etc. A tethered ass signifies the Jewish people, the synagogue bound by the chain of the law of Moses, which chain has three links, namely the three kinds of precepts: the ceremonial precepts which order a person toward God; second, the judicial precepts, which order one to the neighbor; third, the moral precepts which order a person regarding himself, how everyone should live. The colt which had not yet had been tied, nor had ever borne a burden on its back, signifies the Gentiles, who had no chain of law around their neck, nor burden of precepts on their back. It signifies that Christ not only had come to redeem and save the Jews, abut also the Gentiles and pagans. Thus he observed this ceremony, because he wished first to ride on the ass, which he had to untie, because at the time of the Messiah-king all prefiguring and ceremonies should cease. Second, he wished to ride on the unbroken colt, not out of necessity, but that the scripture and prefiguring should be fulfilled. Because the Gentiles also should be converted to Christ. Thus the Apostle, "and whosoever believes in him shall not be confounded," (Rom 9:33).

The second ceremony or circumstance is this. He wished today to enter Jerusalem in a procession, because a great crowd preceded him and followed him, and he with the apostles went in the middle. Just as we do today in processions in which many precede and many follow, and the bishop or priest who represents Christ, in the middle with the priests. And the gospel says that both the ones preceding and the ones following were looking back saying "Hosanna to the son of David," (v. 9). In this is shown that all who preceded, from Abel down to Christ, namely the Patriarchs and Prophets, as well as also those who would follow, down to the end of the world, all look upon Christ through faith, saying, "Hosanna," etc. Because no one can be saved, unless through Christ. Therefore Gen 49: "I will look for thy salvation, O Lord," (Gen 49:18). And, in Acts 4: "Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved," (Acts 4:12).

The third circumstance is this. The entire route, from the Mount of Olives up to Jerusalem was covered. Such was the devotion of the people, that not with caps [cappis] or other decorations [ornamentis], but with the coats and capes of men and women, they paved the path, the Evangelists says, " Ad a very great multitude spread their garments in the way," (v. 8). Why this? I reply that this was a figure of future martyrs, as is clear in sacred scripture. The human body is called the clothing of the soul, which clothing the vast crowd of martyrs, would lay down on the way, dying for their faith in Christ. So David says, in the person of martyrs: " Because for thy sake we are killed all the day long: we are counted as sheep for the slaughter," (Ps 43:22). Also in the Apocalypse 7 it says of martyrs: "These are they who are come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb," i.e. of Christ, (Rev 7:14).

The fourth ceremony consisted of the tree branches. The Evangelist says that " others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way," (v. 8), namely flowers and leaves and branches from trees. It was a sign. For in sacred scripture men are called trees. Mark 8: "I see men as it were trees, walking," (Mk 8:24). From these trees, flowers, leaves and branches of merit and good works are to be spread out before the way of Christ, namely that they be done for him, because otherwise they are worthless. Jn 15: "for without me you can do nothing," (Jn 15:5), of merit.

The fifth was, because he wished to be praised and blessed both by the great as well as by the small, and Hosannas cried out, according to that of David: "Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings you have perfected praise," (Ps 8:3). This was to show that by virtue of his passion not only adults and great ones are saved through penance, but also children through innocence. Wis 6: "For he made the little and the great, and he has equally care of all," (Wis 6:8).

Sixth, because all, both the great as well as the small with one voice were saying, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” (v. 9). In which it is shown that he was the universal redeemer of all. Authority: "For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus: Who gave himself a redemption for all," (1 Tim 2:5f).

From all this we understand why and how today this solemnity was celebrated for Christ and not otherwise. About this Zacharias,the father of John the Baptist, had prophesied saying: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because he has visited and wrought the redemption of his people," (Lk 1:68).


The second point which touches us more, is about the solemnity which we make, representing that solemnity appropriately given today to Christ, because just as Christ today with solemnity and procession came to the place of his passion, so also we today with great solemnity and procession, come to the passion which today is read in the mass. Someone might ask: "Why is the passion of Christ read today with such solemnity?" Because the passion of Christ ought to generate sadness and pain in the hearts of the faithful, and not happiness and joy. Note how the passion and death of Christ can be received and considered in a fourfold way, according to which it is read four times in the church, according to the four gospels.

First it can be viewed and thought about from the point of view of his personal dignity, considering the person who suffers, who is Christ, King, father [papa], Lord, innocent and pure. And according to this consideration the passion of Christ brings sadness, pain, tears and sighs to Christians. In this respect the passion of Christ is read on Good Friday, on which the bells are not rung, and people prostrate themselves, sad, and bowing their heads. In this respect the prophet Jeremiah considered the passion of Christ saying, "And I was as a meek lamb, that is carried to be a victim," (Jer 11:19).

In a second way the passion of Christ can be received and considered according to human necessity, because we are all weak and wounded by the plague of sins, nor can we be cured except by the blood of Christ, who willed to suffer for our sins. Isa 53: "But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins," (Isa 53:5). And according to this point of view the passion of Christ urges us to contrition and sorrow for our sins, for which it was necessary for Christ to suffer and die. And in this respect the passion of Christ is read in the church on Wednesday, according to the gospel of Luke.

A third way it can be considered according to judicial perversity, because the Jews had been honored by God, the sons of the prophets and patriarchs, the people chosen by God and yet so strongly they had rebelled against their God. In this respect the passion of Christ gives us an occasion for compassion for that reprobate people, destroyed and damned by the passion of Christ. And from this point of view the passion of Christ is read in church on Tuesday. And in this way the prophet Zacharias considered the passion of Christ, saying: "What are these wounds in the midst of your hands? And he shall say: With these I was wounded in the house of them who loved me," (Zach 13:6).

Fourth, the passion of Christ can be heard and pondered according to its ultimate usefulness, because from the passion of Christ we have been freed from damnation to hell, from mortal sins, and we have grace in this world and glory in the next. See the ultimate utility of the passion of Christ. And seen in this way the passion of Christ generates in us joy, happiness, exultation and consolation. This is why the passion of Christ is read today [on Palm Sunday] with such solemnity, joy and happiness, singing, "Glory and praise." So Isaiah says: "Rejoice, and give praise together, deserted Jerusalem: for the Lord has comforted his people: he has redeemed Jerusalem," (Isa 52:9). Note, the "deserted Jerusalem," about which the Apostle says in Galatians 4: "But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free," (Gal 4:26), and from her all men of the world had deserted by her sins. But now, already, it must be rejoiced, "...for the Lord has comforted his people," by paying for them the price. This is the reason why the passion today is read with joy.

Here note the six differences of today's joy as opposed to the six sorrows of Good Friday.

The first sadness, because on Good Friday the holy bells are not rung, they are silenced. Because in the passion and death of Christ, the bells, i.e. the apostles whose sound of preaching goes out to the whole world, according to the prophecy of David, lose their sound, because none dared to announce Christ, moreover the greater bell, namely Peter was broken by denying Christ, nor did John who was next to the cross dare to say anything in Christ's behalf. But today, considering the ultimate benefit of the passion of Christ we make a great solemnity, ringing the bells.

The second sadness, because then the tables are struck, a sound of sadness and pain, and it symbolizes the sound of derision and blasphemy which they heaped on Christ in the passion. But today the priests sing with a high and clear voice. Reason: because of the passion of Christ, the souls of the blessed shall sing with the angels in glory.

The third sadness is this. On Good Friday the holy images, crosses and icons are hidden and covered, just as in the passion of Christ, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalen and John and others covered their heads out of grief and sadness. They could not gaze upon the cruel passion of Christ. But today the cross is held high, solemnly, in a sign of the benefits of the passion of Christ.

The fourth sadness is because on Good Friday, the holy passion is commemorated with tears and sorrows, to show the tears and sighs of the Virgin Mary and the others. But today it is remembered with joy and gladness because of its ultimate usefulness.

The fifth sadness is because on Good Friday, people prostrate themselves, shoes off, grieving, and many fast on bread and water. But today people walk in procession with great joy, well dressed, carrying branches in their hands which signify the victory which we have over our enemies by the passion of Christ.

The sixth sadness, because then the passion is sung without any procession and order, for the apostles were dispersed, separated and divided. But today a solemn procession takes place, and we all go, gathered and ordered, because from the passion of Christ we all are united and gathered. John 6 says that Christ was to die "to gather together in one the children of God, who were dispersed," (Jn 11:52). So we sing with joy: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” (v. 9).


The third point is about the way which Christ took coming into Jerusalem, which way is made up of six stages.

The first stage. Christ, today, in the morning, left Bethany and came to Bethphage. Second, from Bethphage to the Mount of Olives. Third from the Mount of Olives he descended into the Valley of Josephat. Fourth from the Valley of Josaphat he came to Jerusalem. Fifth, from Jerusalem he went into the Temple of God. Sixth, from the Temple he returned to Bethany with the twelve apostles, as in Mark 11. So, it seems that he had six stations.

And this represents our path which we walk by sinning and returning to grace through t the way of penance.

First, through sin we depart from Bethany which is interpreted "house of obedience," from which we withdraw whenever we break the precepts of God for the sake of gaining some earthly prize. In this withdrawal there should be weeping. So when Christ left Bethany, leaving Mary Magdalen, Martha and Lazarus, thanking them, because often they had received him into their home, Mary Magdalen began to weep, saying to Christ, "Lord where do you wish to go? because it is already decided in Jerusalem that they should kill you. So keep the paschal feast here, and your mother will come here." The apostles said the same, and Martha and Lazarus. They were afraid. Christ replied to them, "It is necessary to fulfill the will of him who sent me." Magdalen and all the others wept, saying, "Perhaps we shall never see you again." Tears in the departure from Bethany, in which it is shown that man, when he departs from the house of obedience ought to weep, through contrition, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah, 2: "Know you, and see that it is an evil and a bitter thing for you, to have left the Lord your God, and that my fear is not with you," (Jer 2:19). So, the first station.

Second he comes to Bethphage, which is interpreted the "house of the cheek" or "house of the mouth." This represents oral confession. After you have left Bethany, i.e. the house of obedience, with tears of contrition, it is necessary that you come to Bethphage, i.e. to the house of confessing your sins by mouth. Bethphage is a village of priests. So confession has to be done to priests, because no one else, no matter how holy, can forgive sins, because only to the priests did Christ say, "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them," (Jn 20:23). Note "they are forgiven them," he does not say they will be forgiven, because that very same hour in which they are forgiven by a confessor, they are forgiven by God. "and whose sins you shall retain," namely by not absolving, because they were unwilling to refrain from sinning, or because they were unwilling to make restitution, or because they were unwilling to forgive injuries, "they are retained," (Jn 20:23) by God. Thus, the second station.

Third, from Bethphage he went up the Mount of Olives. So, the works of satisfaction. The Mount of Olives has three conditions in which are signified the three works of satisfaction. First because the Mount of Olives is difficult. See here the difficulty of fastings, of vigils etc. Second because it is high. This stands for the height of prayer, which according to Damascene is the "elevation of the mind to God." Third because there olives grow, which are medicinal. See, the generous giving of alms. "Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance," (Mt 3:8).

Fourth, from the Mount of Olives he descended into the valley of Josaphat, which means "the judgment of the Lord." Thus the repayment of debts, because the Lord shall judge irrevocably that everyone repay his debts. Although you are in the Mount of Olives through satisfactory works, it is also required that you descend into the Valley of Josaphat, by restoring things taken in two ways, either spiritually or temporally. Spiritually a clergyman descends into the valley of Josaphat who obtained his prelacy or dignity or benefice by simony, because he committed theft. John 10: "He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up another way, the same is a thief and a robber," (Jn 10:1). The door represents legitimate election, without your assistance, or dealing. It means a spiritual appointment is pure, because the Pope appointed you without your knowledge or dealing. If you wish to be saved it is necessary to descend into the Valley of Josaphat by making reparations saying, "Lord I have stolen this, so I restore it to the hands of your vicar." In a secular matter, he who stole a castle, a villa, a home, a field or possessions or money, or something else descends into the Valley of Josaphat, when he restores it. It is necessary to descend from the evil state. Let no one deceive you. Also if you defame someone, it is necessary to descend to restoring to him his good name if it not true what you said, or if it is hidden or a secret. If you say that it will be embarrassing or dangerous for you to recant, I respond, it doesn’t matter, because the sin is not remitted until what was taken is restored.

Fifth, from the valley of Josaphat he comes to Jerusalem which is interpreted as "peaceful". See here the forgiveness of injuries, when a man makes peace for himself with his enemy. So David: "Pray you for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem: and abundance for them who love you. Let peace be in your strength: and abundance in your towers," (Ps 121:6-7). Note: "abundance," because unless a greater person has peace with lesser and e converso, and the greater among themselves do not "abound" then there will be poor and the earth will be sterile. So the Apostle says: "Follow peace with all men, and holiness: without which no man shall see God," (Heb 12:14). Note peace and holiness go together, because some have peace but no holiness, but malice and sin likes robbers among themselves, like procurers with their prostitutes. Thus the buyer, seller and manager have peace but not holiness when they defraud each other.

Sixth, from Jerusalem he enters the Temple of the Lord. This means Holy Communion. After you have done the previous stations, you go to the Temple of the Lord for communion, nor do you expect that the Lord would come to you in your weakness, etc. Gen "Come in, you blessed of the Lord: why do you stand without?…And bread was set before him," (Gen 24:31,34), which is allegorically said to every Christian. This is the way to paradise which Christ showed to us by entering into Jerusalem. And so: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” Mt 12:9

Matthew 12: 1-9 Douay translation

1 And when they drew nigh to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto mount Olivet, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 Saying to them: Go ye into the village that is over against you, and immediately you shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them and bring them to me. 3 And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye, that the Lord hath need of them: and forthwith he will let them go. 4 Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5 Tell ye the daughter of Zion: Behold thy king cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of her that is used to the yoke. 6 And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them. 7 And they brought the ass and the colt, and laid their garments upon them, and made him sit thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way: 9 And the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying: Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
Here is the link to the Sermons of St. Vincent Ferrer which Father Hewko has been reading in some of his Sermons:

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)