Friday, 16 December 2016

When the walls of the city are completed...

In the last two posts I've referred to St Bede's advice in the face of attacks and attempts at seduction from within and without, namely just ignore them; keep building the walls of Jerusalem through the cultivation of the virtues.

His commentary on the final verses of Nehemiah 6 completes this little cycle, pointing to the hoped for results for our efforts, namely the conversion of those who have fallen, or at the very least, the exposure of their false teaching for what it is.

Nehemiah 6:16 - The attackers become afraid

Verse 15-16 of Nehemiah 6 marks a key turning point: the walls of the city have finally been completed, and the opponents of the work suddenly realise that this work had been done at God's instigation, and brought to a conclusion by him:
The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul; it had taken fifty-two days a-building. And when this reached the ears of our enemies, fear overtook all the nations round about us; their stature fell in their own eyes, and they doubted no longer that it was God who had inspired the enterprise. (Knox translation)
St Bede comments:
So too in the Holy Church,when the sturdy structure of charity, self-restraint, peace, and the rest of the virtues is erected, unclean spirits grow afraid and their temptation, put to flight by our strength, is repelled and makes our victory all the greater.  This can be understood to apply equally to heretics and to false catholics, who, through the steadfast faith of good men which works through love, are either set straight and reformed or, having been exposed so that people can be on their guard against them, are expelled from the boundaries of the Church. (On Ezra and Nehemiah, trans DeGregorio, pp 189-90)
Persevere in faith and good works!

St Bede's message then, is clear: focus on building virtue within ourselves; if we have the knowledge and skills required, expose false teachers and teaching for what it is lest others be led astray; and trust in God to compete the work.

And on that note, from tomorrow I will once again post on the great O Antiphons that are traditionally sung on these dates as we properly in this season focus our meditations on the coming of Christ once again.

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