Friday, 1 March 2013

Psalms of Tenebrae/15 - Psalm 2: The desirable bonds of the law!


Today in this Lenten series on the psalms of Holy Week Tenebrae we have reached the start of the psalms of Tenebrae for Good Friday, and perhaps that is particularly appropriate at this difficult time for the Church, as we await the election of a new Pope.

Today's psalm, Psalm 2, sets the scene for the day's events, with its verses on the plotting of princes against the King of the world.  Some would have us believe the media has taken the place of the modern kings of the world - though personally, with 'princes' persecuting the Church and all she stands for like President Obama and in the US and Cameron in the UK, that seems an unnecessary stretch.

The words are perhaps most famous in its setting by Handel:



Why do the nations rage?

The New Testament repeatedly apply Psalm 2’s verses on plotting Kings and raging peoples to Pilate and Herod and all those who plotted against and persecuted Our Lord.

In particular, in Acts 4, St Peter cites the psalm and then says:

“…for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place.”

But the psalm can surely also be given a more contemporary meaning: the peoples plotting together are those advocating the secularist and new aggressive-atheistic rejection of the authority of God in society.  It is a rejection of God that pretends that sodomy is something praiseworthy rather than the perversion of our sexuality; that the great gift of life is something to be extinguished at our whim; and that the pursuit of self-indulgent pleasure is the highest ideal in our empty lives.

The bonds of God's love and homosexuality

In his commentary on verse 3 St Thomas Aquinas explains the rationale for the strong condemnations of atheism in the psalms.  He explains that atheism involves a specific rejection of God, the desire to ‘break the bonds’ of the natural law written on men's hearts, and the divine law taught to us by Christ.

Just how literally secularists and pretend-Christians take this desire to 'break their bonds asunder' is illustrated by a piece in the Australian Jesuit rag Eureka Street earlier this week, in an article that paints fidelity to Church teaching on homosexuality as a form of slavery, a form of bondage that needs to be broken!

What Scripture actually teaches us, though, is nicely summarized in the latter half of this psalm.

In verse 11 we are told to serve the Lord with fear and trembling. Verse 12 tells us to accept instruction, correction and discipline.  Finally, we are told to trust in God.

Like Our Lord, we may find ourselves suffering temptations and persecuted, but if we put our trust in God, we will reach the happy end he promises.

Psalm 2

Quare fremuerunt gentes, et populi meditati sunt inania? 
Astiterunt reges terræ, et principes convenerunt in unum adversus Dominum, et adversus christum ejus. 
Dirumpamus vincula eorum, et projiciamus a nobis jugum ipsorum. 
Qui habitat in cælis irridebit eos, et Dominus subsannabit eos. 
Tunc loquetur ad eos in ira sua, et in furore suo conturbabit eos. 
Ego autem constitutus sum rex ab eo super Sion, montem sanctum ejus, prædicans præceptum ejus. 
Dominus dixit ad me : Filius meus es tu; ego hodie genui te. 
Postula a me, et dabo tibi gentes hæreditatem tuam, et possessionem tuam terminos terræ. Reges eos in virga ferrea, et tamquam vas figuli confringes eos. 
Et nunc, reges, intelligite; erudimini, qui judicatis terram. 
Servite Domino in timore, et exsultate ei cum tremore. 
Apprehendite disciplinam, nequando irascatur Dominus, et pereatis de via justa. 
Cum exarserit in brevi ira ejus, beati omnes qui confidunt in eo.

Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things? 
The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ. 
Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us. 
He that dwells in heaven shall laugh at them: and the Lord shall deride them. 
Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage. 
But I am appointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain, preaching his commandment. The Lord has said to me: You are my son, this day have I begotten you. 
Ask of me, and I will give you the Gentiles for your inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for your possession. 
You shall rule them with a rod of iron, and shall break them in pieces like a potter's vessel. And now, O you kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth. 
Serve the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto him with trembling. 
Embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the just way. When his wrath shall be kindled in a short time, blessed are all they that trust in him.


Tenebrae of Good Friday

Nocturn I: Psalms 2, 21, 26
Nocturn II: Psalms 37, 39, 53*
Nocturn III: Psalms 58, 87*, 93
Lauds: 50*, 142, 84, [Hab], 147

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