Saturday, September 23, 2006

Holy Scripture on ‘Eli, Eli, lama savachthani? My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’

NOTE TO THE READER: Throughout the Psalms of the Prophet-King David one finds a multi level "typology", where the speaker of the Psalm is a "typos" or image of, in one instance, the persecuted and suffering Christ and then the embattled human soul. The struggles and battles described in the Psalms are thus phrophetic images of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and then of the inner battles of those who struggle in Christ against the demons and the passions. Some Psalms may be clearly Messianic prophecies, such as Psalm 2. Others may be typologic in two ways: the prophetic image focuses in one instance on the Lord Christ, then on the Christian athlete, or some times it is equally both--an image itself of Christ's victory granted to us. But in Psalm 21 we find "I am a worm and not a man, the scorn of men and the outcast of the people". How can this refer to Christ? One answer would be that it is a image of the persecuted Christ, reviled and spit upon by human society. Thus the Prophet-King writes: "All who saw me jeered at me, they spoke with their lips, they wagged their heads. ‘He hoped in the Lord, let him deliver him, let him save him, for he wants him'". Later, St. Matthew records the reaction of the people to the crucified Christ: "While the passers by blasphemed him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days! Save yourself. If you are Son of God, come down from the cross.’ Likewise the chief priests mocked him along with the scribes and elders and Pharisees, saying, ‘He saved others. He cannot save himself. If he is the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross and we will believe in him. He trusted in God, let him now deliver him, if he wants him. For he said, ‘I am the son of God." The Pharisees actually use the same words from Psalm 21. In fact, Psalm 21 is rich with Messianic images that the early Church held as precious testimony for the victory of Christ.

Psalm 5

Give ear to my words, O Lord, understand my cry. Attend to the voice of my supplication, my King and my God; for to you I shall pray, O Lord. In the morning you will hear my voice. In the morning I shall stand before you, and you will watch over me; because you are not a God who wants iniquity. The evildoer will not dwell with you, nor will the lawless remain before your eyes. You have hated all those who work iniquity; you will destroy all those who speak lies. The Lord abhors a man of bloodshed and deceit. But I in the abundance of your mercy shall enter your house, I shall worship towards your holy temple in fear of you. Guide me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies, direct my way before you. Because there is no truth in their mouths; their heart is vain. Their throat is an open tomb, they deceive with their tongues. Judge them, O God. Let them fall through their counsels; according to the multitude of their impieties cast them out, for they have embittered you, O Lord. And may all those who hope in you be glad; they will rejoice for ever, and you will dwell among them, and all those who love your name will boast in you. Because you will bless the righteous; you have crowned him, O Lord, with your good pleasure.

Psalm 2

Why were the nations insolent and why did the peoples meditate vain things? The kings of the earth stood up and the rulers were assembled together against the Lord and against his Christ. Let us break through their bonds and cast away their yoke from us. He that dwells in heaven will laugh them to scorn and the Lord will mock them. Then he will speak to them in his anger and panic them in his fury. But I was established as king by him, on Sion his holy mountain announcing the Lord’s decree: The Lord said to me: ‘You are my Son. Today I have begotten you. Ask me, and I shall give you nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession. You will shepherd them with an iron rod; like a potter’s vessels you will smash them.’ And now, kings, understand; be corrected, all who judge the earth. Serve the Lord in fear and rejoice in him with trembling. Accept correction, lest the Lord be angry, and you perish from the right way whenever his fury is suddenly kindled. Blessed are all who have put their trust in him.

Psalm 21

O God, my God, attend to me; why have you abandoned me? Far from salvation are the words of my offences. My God, I shall cry by day, and you will not hear; and by night, and it shall be no folly for me. But you, the praise of Israel, dwell in the Holy Place. Our fathers hoped in you, they hoped and you delivered them. They cried to you and they were saved, they hoped in you and they were not shamed. But I am a worm and not a man, the scorn of men and the outcast of the people. All who saw me jeered at me, they spoke with their lips, they wagged their heads. ‘He hoped in the Lord, let him deliver him, let him save him, for he wants him’. For you are the one who drew me from the womb, my hope from my mother’s breasts; on you I have been cast since the womb. From my mother’s womb you are my God, do not abandon me. For trouble is near, for there is no one to help me. Many bullocks have surrounded me, fat bulls have assailed me. They opened their mouths against me, like a lion ravening and roaring. I have been poured out like water, and all my bones have been scattered, my heart has become like wax melting inside me. My strength has dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue has stuck to my throat, and you have led me down into the dust of death, For many dogs have surrounded me, an assembly of evil doers has assailed me. They have dug my hands and my feet; all my bones have been numbered; they have observed me and gazed at me. They have parted my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing . But you, Lord, do not keep your help far from me, be attentive to my defence. Deliver my soul from the sword and my only one from the hand of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth and my lowliness from the horns of unicorns. I shall declare your name to my brethren, I shall hymn you in the midst of the Church. Those who fear the Lord, praise him, all the seed of Jacob glorify him. Let all the seed of Israel fear him. For he has not spurned nor slighted the pauper’s supplication, nor has he turned his face from me; and he heard me when I called upon him. From you is my praise; in the great Church I shall confess you; I shall pay my vows before those who fear you. The poor will eat and be filled, those who seek the Lord will praise him; their hearts will live for ever. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn back to the Lord and all the families of the nations will worship before him. For the kingdom is the Lord’s and he is master of the nations. All the fat ones of the earth have eaten and worshipped; all those who go down into the earth will fall down before him. And my soul lives for him, and my seed will serve him. The coming generation will be proclaimed to the Lord, and they will proclaim his justice to a people yet to be born, whom the Lord has made.

The Reading is from the Prophecy of Isaias.

The Lord God has given me the tongue of instruction, that I may know when to speak a word. Very early in the morning he has given me, given me an ear to hear; and the instruction of the Lord, of the Lord opens my ear, and I do not disobey, I do not dispute. I gave my back to scourges, and my cheeks to blows; I did not turn my face from the shame of spitting. The Lord God became my helper; therefore I was not ashamed, but I set my face like solid rock, and I knew that I would not be put to shame; he who justifies me is near. Who will contend with me? Let him stand up against me at the same time; who will contend with me? Let him draw near me. See, the Lord, the Lord will help me; who will injure me? All of you will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat you up. Who among you fears the Lord? Let him obey the voice of his servant; you that walk in darkness and have no light, trust in the name of the Lord and place your reliance on God? See, all of you burn like fire, make the flame grow strong. Walk in the light of your fire, and in the flame that you have kindled! For my sake this happened to you: you shall lie down in sorrow.

The Reading is from the Epistle of Paul to the Romans.

Brethren, while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.


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