Tuesday of the Fourth Week After Easter
|℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia.||℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.|
|℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia.||℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.|
We are bound to believe the Word of God: but this Word is accompanied with every proof of its really coming from God. When Jesus told men that he was the Son of God, he gave ample proof of his being such: in the same manner, he insists on our believing what he reveals, but he gives us a guarantee of its being the truth. What is this guarantee? Miracles. Miracles are the testimony which God bears to himself. A Miracle rouses man’s attention, for he knows that it is by God’s will alone that the laws of nature can be suspended. If God employ a Miracle to make his will known, he has a right to find man obedient. The Israelites were convinced that it was God who was leading them, for the sea opened a passage to them, immediately that Moses stretched forth his hand over its waters.
Now Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, did not demand our belief in the truths he revealed to us, until he had proved the divinity of his mission by Miracles. The works which I do, said he, give testimony of me. And again: If you will not believe Me, believe my works. And what are these works? When St. John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to Jesus, that they might ask him if he were the promised Messias, Jesus gave them this answer; Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached unto them.
Such is the motive of our Faith. Jesus requires of us that we receive his Word, as being that of the Son of God—for he has proved himself to be so by the Works he has wrought. Truly may we exclaim with the Psalmist: Thy testimonies, O Lord, are become exceedingly credible! Whom shall we believe, if we refuse to believe Him? And what must be the guilt of them who refuse to believe! Let us hearken to our Jesus speaking of those proud men who, though they had witnessed his miracles, rejected his teaching: If, says he, I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin. It is their incredulity that led them astray, but their incredulity showed itself when, after witnessing such Miracles as the raising Lazarus to life, they refused to acknowledge the Divinity of him who bore testimony to himself by such works as these.
But our Risen Jesus is soon to ascend into Heaven; the Miracles he wrought will be things of a long past; are we, henceforth, to have no testimony for his Word, which is the object of our Faith? Let us not fear. Do we forget that historical documents, when genuine, bring the same conviction to our minds, with regard to past events, as though we ourselves had been witnesses of those events? Is it not a law of the human mind—is it not a basis of certainty—that we yield assent to the testimony of our fellow men, as often as we have evidence that they are neither deceived themselves, nor wish to deceive us? The Miracles wrought by Jesus will be handed down to the end of time, supported by guarantees of authenticity which no facts of history could possibly have. If the authority of history is what all acknowledge it to be, then is he a fool who doubts the Miracles which we are told were worked by our Savior. Though we have not been eyewitnesses of them, yet such is our certainty of their having been done, that our Faith is as strong and as docile as though we had assisted at the admirable scenes described in the Gospel.
Our Lord had sufficiently provided for our yielding our Faith to his Word, by letting us know that he had confirmed his teaching by his Miracles. But he would do more. He gives his disciples the power to do what he himself had done, and this in order that our Faith might be strengthened by these supernatural evidences. It was on one of the forty days spent with his Apostles, before his Ascension, that he spoke these words to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be condemned. We have already stated the basis on which this Faith was to rest—the Miracles of the God-Man who demands our Faith. But there were to be other Miracles superadded to his own. Let us continue the text just quoted: And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name, they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. Here, then, we find the power of working Miracles given to Jesus’ Disciples. He bids them go and preach his Word to men, and men must yield their Faith; he, therefore, gives his Disciples a power over nature, which will prove them to be the Ambassadors of the Most High. Their word is not their own; it is that of God. They are the Ministers of the Incarnate God, and we must believe their teaching. By believing them, we are, in reality, believing Him who sends them, and who, to make sure of their rightful authority, gives them the credentials which he himself deigned to show to men, when he spoke with his own lips.
Neither is this all. If we carefully weigh his words, we shall see that he does not intend the gift of Miracles to cease with his first Disciples. It is true that history proves how faithfully Jesus fulfilled his promise, and that, when the Apostles went forth commanding the world to believe what they preached, they gave testimony of their divine mission by countless miracles—but our Risen Lord promised more than this. He said not: “These are the signs which shall follow my Apostles,” but These are the signs which shall follow them that believe. By these words he perpetuated in his Church the gift of Miracles; he made it one of her chief characteristics, and one of the grounds of our Faith. Before his Passion, he had gone so far as to say: He that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do, and greater than these shall he do. It is now that he graces her with this prerogative: so that, dating from that hour, we must not be surprised at finding that his Saints perform Miracles, greater even, at times, than his own. He promised that it should be so, and he has kept his word; thus showing us how desirous he is that Faith (which is one of the main objects of a Miracle) should be fostered and made vigorous in his Church. Far, then, be from every loyal child of the Church that fear, that uneasy feeling, yea, that indifference, which some people evince when they hear or read of a Miracle. The only thing we should look to is, are the witnesses trustworthy? If so, a true Catholic should receive the account with joy and gratitude; he should give thanks to our Jesus who thus mercifully fulfils his promise, and keeps such a watchful eye over the preservation of Faith.
Let us adore him in that miracle of miracles, his Resurrection. Let us enter into the sentiments of the following fine Sequence; it dates from the 9th century, and is from the rich treasury of Saint Gall’s.
Voce modulemur supplici,
Et devotis melodiis
Qui seipsum exinanivit,
Ut nos perditos
|Let us suppliantly sing the praises of our Savior; let us joyously offer our devout melodies to the God of heaven, our Messias; who emptied himself, that he might deliver us men from the perdition whereinto we had fallen.|
|Carne gloriam Deitatis occulens
Pannis tegitur in præsepi,
Miserans præcepti transgressorem,
Pulsum patria Paradisi nudulum.
|He hides under a human body the glory of his Divinity; he is wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger; for he has pity on man that transgressed the command, and was driven naked from the land of Paradise.|
|Joseph, Mariæ, Simeoni subditur,
Et legali hostia mundatur,
Nostra qui solet relaxare crimina.
|He is subject to Joseph, Mary, and Simeon; he is circumcised; and he that is wont to forgive us our sins, deigns to be ransomed, as a sinner, by the offering prescribed in the Law.|
|Servi subit manus baptizandus,
Et perfert fraudes tentatoris,
Fugit persequentum lapides.
|He bows down beneath the hand of his servant, and is baptized by him; he permits the tempter to lay snares for him; he has to fly from his enemies, who seek to stone him.|
Dormit et tristatur,
Ac lavat discipulis pedes
|He suffers hunger, sleep, and sadness: he, God and yet Man, Infinite and yet humble, washes his Disciples’ feet.|
Inter hæc objecta corporis
Nequaquam quivit latere,
Et docrinis prodita.
|But, notwithstanding these outward humiliations, his Divinity could not be hid; it was made evident by his miracles and teaching.|
Dat saporis vini.
|He gives water the taste of wine at the marriage feast.|
Claro lumine vestivit.
|He gives to the blind the light of day.|
Tactu fugat placido.
|He, by his gentle touch, drives hideous leprosy away.|
|Patres suscitat mortuos,
Membraque curat debilia.
|He raises the dead to life; he cures them that are maimed.|
|Fluxum sanguinis constrinxit,
Et saturavit quinque de panibus
|He stays a flux of blood; and, with five loaves, feeds five thousand men.|
|Stagnum peragrat fluctuans,
Ceu siccum littus,
|He walks upon the waters as though they were dry land; he calms the winds.|
|Linguam reserat constrictam,
Reclusit aures privatus vocibus;
|He makes the dumb to speak, and the deaf to hear; he drives fever away.|
|Post hæc mira miracula taliaque,
Sponte sua comprehenditur,
Et damnatur, et se cricifigi
Sed sol ejus mortem
|After these and other such wonderful miracles, he allows himself to be taken by his enemies, and condemned; he refuses not to suffer crucifixion; but the sun refuses to witness his Death.|
Quam fecit Dominus,
Et victor suis apparens dilectoribus vivens,
Ut clausia de ipso reserarent.
|Then comes the Day which the Lord hath made: it lays waste to death. Jesus triumphs; he returns to life; he appears to them that love him, to Mary first, and then to the Apostles. He explains the Scriptures to his Disciples, opening their hearts that they might understand what was there written concerning him.|
|Favent igitur resurgenti Christo
|All creatures keep a feast of joy at the Resurrection of Jesus.|
|Flores, segetes redivivo fructo
Et volucres gelu tristi terso
|Flowers spring up, meadows are again clothed in their rich verdure, and birds, now that gloomy winter’s past, carol in sweet jubilation.|
|Lucent clarius sol, et luna
Morte Christi turbida.
|The sun and moon, that mourned at Jesus’ death, are brighter now than ever.|
Resurgenti plaudit Christo,
Quæ tremula ejus morte
Se casuram minitat.
|The earth, that shook at his death, and seemed ready to fall to ruin, now puts on her richest green to greet her Risen God.|
|Ergo die ista exsultemus
Qua nobis viam vitæ
Resurgens patefecit Jesus.
|Let us, therefore, be glad on this day, whereon our Jesus, by his Resurrection, opened to us the way of life.|
|Astra, solum, mare jocundentur,
Et cuncti gratulentur in cœlis
Spiritales chori Trinitati.
|Let stars, and earth, and sea rejoice: let all the Choirs of the Blessed in heaven give praise to the Trinity. Amen.|
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)