Monday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time [II]
I Kings 17:1-6  +  Matthew 5:1-12
June 6, 2016

“I lift up my eyes toward the mountains; whence shall help come to me?” [Psalm 121:1]

Today’s Responsorial is the entirety of Psalm 121, the second of the fifteen “Songs of Ascents”.  At the beginning of his exposition of Psalm 121, Saint Augustine of Hippo reminds us that these fifteen psalms “deal with our upward climb….  The ascent[, step by step,] is made in our hearts as we mount toward God through the valley of weeping, which symbolizes the humility of our very distressed condition.  The ascent can succeed for us only if we are first of all humbled and remember that it is from this valley that our climb must begin.”  Today’s Responsorial sings in the context of this climb.

“I lift up my eyes toward the mountains; whence shall help come to me?”  Does our help come from the mountains?  St. Augustine makes a distinction.

On the one hand he notes that the “mountains are already bathed in light” so that the seekers might ascend them.  However, it’s the light and not the mountains that are the seekers’ help.  The seekers must not, St. Augustine insists, “put their trust in the mountains, because the mountains do not give off light of their own.  They transmit light from Him of whom Scripture says [in the first chapter of John], ‘He was the true light, which illumines [everyone] who comes into this world’”.[1]  This distinction is similar to another, perhaps more familiar analogy in our Catholic Faith:  that of Mary being the moon, who only reflects light from the sun.

In regard to Psalm 121, St. Augustine explains that we “can take the mountains to be symbols of great and illustrious people”, and he gives as an example St. John the Baptist.  Nonetheless, St. Augustine reiterates that help “comes to you not from the mountains themselves but from Him whose plenitude endows the mountains.”  When the Doctor of Grace rhetorically asks what it means “to say that the mountains are illumined”, he explains that “the sun of righteousness has risen, the Gospel has been preached by the apostles, the scriptures have been promulgated, [and] all the sacraments are thrown open”.  God’s saints have reached the summit of holiness through the same light of the Divine Revelation that the Church displays in our own day.  To quote the Second Vatican Council’s constitution Dei Verbum:  by “this revelation… the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake in Christ, who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation.”[2]

[1] John 1:9.
[2] Dei Verbum 2.