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Yet will I lift mine eyelids to the star,
The marvellous things that thence eternal well.
HOMILY OF HERICUS OF AUXERRE, ON THE GOSPEL FOR THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY
Gospel-St. John iv. 46-53.—" At that time, there was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judæa into Galilee, went to him, and prayed him to come down and heal his son ; for he was at the point of death. Jesus, therefore, said to him Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to him : Lord, come down before that my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way, thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way; and as he was going down, his servants met him, and they brought word, saying, that his son lived. He asked, therefore, of them, the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him,-Yestesday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him. The father, therefore, knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him, Thy son liveth. And himself believed, and his whole house." How incomprehensible and inscrutable, and how far removed from all human fathoming the divine judgments are, is plainly shown in all
Scripture, but more especially in this day's Gospel; for, behold, as the following words of this lesson declare, our Lord and Redeemer, when asked to go and see the ruler's son, refused to go; though, as we read elsewhere, he vouchsafed to proniise to come to the centurion's servant, although the centurion himself refused the visit, exclaiming that he was not worthy. Thus we see that with Almighty God (whose judgments, indeed, are hidden, yet always true) the faith of the centurion prevailed more than the purple of the ruler. So, also, David, when yet a boy, was chosen for the kingdom before his elder brethren, and preferred before those who, to man's judgment, seemed to have more wisdom ; and, in the latter days of the world, not the eloquent and noble, but poor unknown fishermen, were called by our Lord to the apostleship. Thus the psalmist, when he considered this subtlety of the divine counsels, said: “Thy judgments, O Lord, are a great deep." (Ps. xxxv. 7.) “The judgments of the Lord are true, justified in themselves.” (Ps. xviii. 10.) And Isaias sung of Christ : “ He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.” (Isaiah xi. 3.) But these
be seen in their several places, better than we could bring out, let us now see how these few observations are developed in this day's Gospel.
“There was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum." The word ruler (regulus) is the diminutive of the word that signifies king,—that is, a little king. Capharnaum was a city of the province of Galilee; in which our Lord had shown forth many wonders, and where, at that very time, the ruler's son lay sick. When, therefore, he heard that our Lord had come from Judæa into Galilee, “where lately he had turned the water into wine,” he set out to beseech of Him health for his son. Now, though the whole territory of the twelve tribes is called Judæa, yet, properly speaking, that of the two tribes, namely, Judah and Benjamin, only is Judæa; from which part, when our Lord was coming, the ruler went to him, and prayed him to come down and heal his son." And why? “ For he was at the point of death. Jesus, therefore, said to him : Unless you see signs and wonders you believe not.” Signs, namely, present before them; wonders to strike their hearts at a distance. For such was the habit of the Jews, that all divine things could not be accommodated to their faith, except by signs. As the apostle St. Paul says, “the Jews require signs.” (1 Cor. i. 22.) But why was it that our Lord said to this ruler, less you see signs and wonders, you believe not,” when he had already believed before he had seen a sign?” For did he not believe, when
he asked him to save his son ? But if we attend to what he asked, we shall clearly perceive that his was not a full faith. He asked, indeed, our Lord to heal his son; but he sought also his bodily presence, as if He could not confer health on his son, unless he were present in per
But had he perfectly believed, without doubt he would know that there is no place where God is not. So he reproves him as one who was torpid in faith, and who was, in a certain measure, as it were tempting him to the cure of his son.
“ The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die.” The sickness of his son made him urgent; and, therefore, persevering in his entreaties, he asks his cure: “Jesus saith to him: Go thy way, thy son liveth.” So, in another Gospel, we learn “ that there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying,—Lord, my servant lieth at home, sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented.” To whom our Lord said, “I will come and heal him.” (St. Matth. viii. 5.) The centurion was one set over a hundred soldiers ; seeing, then, that the ruler was of greater rank than the centurion, let us take particular notice, why he refused to come in person to the ruler's son ; and why, though not asked, he promised to go to the centurion's servant. He does not vouchsafe to be present with the ruler's son. He does not disdain to go to meet the centurion's servant. Truly, this is set before us by our Redeemer as an example of humility for our imitation, and that our pride may be repressed; we who reverence in men not that which is made after the likeness of God, but honours and riches; that our Redeemer might show that what is high in the sight of men, that is, of the lovers of this world, is to be despised by His elect; but what is despised by men, is not to be despised by his saints ;-therefore, he refused to go to the ruler's son, but was ready to go to the centurion's servant.
“ The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way." From this it appears how much profit he drew from our Saviour's rebuke. For our Lord had said to him; “Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not." But, immediately on his hearing from our Lord, “Go thy way, thy son liveth,” forth with he went believing
“ The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him; and they brought word, saying that his son lived. He asked, therefore, of them the hour wherein he grew better; and they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” Nor is it without a great mystery, that the evangelist relates that it was at the seventh hour that
the son of the ruler was freed from his infirmity; for not only are the miracles of Christ, which he did in person, wonders to us,—but also in those very works there are hidden mysteries to be considered. The number seven is consecrated by the gifts of the Holy Ghost; since all the spiritual gifts which are bestowed by God on the faithful, are comprehended in that number seven.
seven virtues of spiritual gifts, with which the state of men, in this present life, may
be most comely adorned: namely, wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, godliness, and the fear of the Lord. Without the grace of God, no one can be either wise or intelligent, or capable of counsel, or brave, or learned, or godly, or filled with the fear of the Lord. Which gifts, seeing that they are not otherwise given to man, but by the grace of the Holy Spirit; deservedly are applied to the Holy Ghost himself, who is no other than the true God, who is called by the same
For as the Son proceeding from his Father, is called a lion, because of his strength; a lamb, on account of his innocence; a door, because by him we enter into the Father; light, because he enlighteneth every man; as he is called, moreover, the truth and the resurrection, and many other appellations, according to his several properties; so also the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is properly called by these seven names: namely,---wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, godliness, and fear. Whence, He is said to be of sevenfold grace, because of the mystery of the number, in which the highest perfection is understood; for it is made up of three and four; by the three is understood the Most Holy Trinity-by the four, the Gospel. Whether three be multiplied by four, or four by three, it maketh twelve, it completes the mystery, and shows that by the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and the doctrine of the Gospel, the twelve apostles were sent forth to the four quarters of the earth,—namely, the east and the west, the north and the south. So, also, our inward man has three dispositions,—the irascible, the concupiscible, and the rational; and in the soul there are three powers,- the will, the memory, and the understanding. So, also Isaias the prophet, when he prophesied that the holy Spirit should rest upon our Lord bodily, said: “There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse," namely, our Lord Jesus, from the race of David, “and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of know.. ledge and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah xi. 1-3.) For the Spirit himself rested on
our Lord Jesus Christ; in his body the whole fulgess of the God. HÉAD dwelt most plentifully ; not in portions as on the other saints, to some of whom he gives the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge; to some the grace of virtues ; and to others is given to each one according to the measure of faith ; but He resteth fully only upon Him, and dwelleth in him with an everlasting habitation. Since, then, by this number the Holy Spirit is himself designated, from whom and by whom all health, all strength, and every spiritual gift are given to the faithful; well does the evangelist say that the ruler's son was made whole at the seventh hour of the day; seeing that whatever health there is for soul and body is given by the bounty of the same Spirit, who is mystically designated by that number. Well, then, was it that the ruler's son was made whole at the seventh hour, seeing that the whole man is restored to health, when the creature acknowledges his Creator, and with humility and worthy service bows down to him. For this is the best of all orders, that as the soul is bound in service to God, so the body is to the spirit. Also, the same number is consecrated by the seven gifts of the Spirit, in whom, and by whom, the health and remission of sins is given.
“ The father, therefore, knew that it was at the same hour that JESUS said to him, Thy son liveth : and himself believed, and his whole house." In this same Gospel, a little higher up, we read, that when our Lord was preaching in Samaria, when they heard the voice of the woman, saying, “ Come and see a man who has told me all things whatsoever I have done" (St. John iv. 29), many of the Samaritans, without seeing any other sign, on her word alone believed in him. But on this great miracle being performed, in Judæa, the ruler only and his house believed; which explains what our Lord said above: “Unless you see signs and wonders you believe not.” Wherein it was prefigured, that few of the Jews would believe in God, but that a multitude of the Gentiles should come to the faith ; for the Jews saw the Son of God doing signs; they heard his apostles, preachers, and masters; and yet few of them submitted their necks to the yoke of the faith, the rest remained obstinate in their infidelity. Therefore, were they hereafter condemned to perpetual torments in their infidelity ; but to us, if we believe in the faith and are adorned with good works, eternal beatitude is promised, as our Saviour saith to us: “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” (St. John xx. 29.) Yet the perfect conversion of the Jews shall be fulfilled about the end of the world, when, by the preaching of Enoch and Elias, the hearts of the fathers shall