The destruction of Jerusalem has closed that portion of the prophetic Scriptures which were based on the institutions and history of the figurative period. The Altar of the true God, built by Solomon on the the summit of Moriah, was the authenticated evidence of the true religion, to those who were then living under the Law of expectation. Even after the promulgation of the New Testament, the continued existence of that Altar (the only one heretofore recognized by the Most High as his own), was some sort of an excuse for such of the Jews as were obstinate in clinging to the old order of things. That excuse was taken away, when the Temple was so destroyed, as that not a stone was left on stone; and the blindest partisans of the Mosaic system were compelled to acknowledge the total abrogation of a religion, which was reduced by God himself to the impossibility of ever offering those sacrifices which were essential to its existence.
The considerateness wherewith the Church had, so far, treated the Synagogue, would henceforward be unmeaning. As the beautiful queen and bride, she is now at full liberty to show herself to all the nations, subdue their wild instincts by the power of the Spirit, unify them in Christ Jesus, and put them by faith into the substantial, though not visible, possession of those eternal realities which had been foreshadowed by the Law of types and figures.
The New Sacrifice, which is no other than that of the Cross and of Eternity, is now, more than ever, evidently the one sole centre where her life is fixed in God with Christ her Spouse, and from which she derives her energy in labouring for the conversion and sanctification of all future generations of men. The Church, now more than ever fruitful, is more than ever receiving of that life of Union, which is the cause of her admirable fecundity.
We cannot, therefore, be surprised that the sacred Liturgy, which is the outward expression of the Bride’s inner life, will now more than ever reflect this closeness of her Union with God. In the seventeen weeks we have still to spend of this Time after Pentecost, there is no such thing as gradation, no connection, in the Proper of the Sundays’ Masses. Even in the Lessons of the Night Office, dating from August—the historic Books have been replaced by those which are called the Sapiential and which, in due time, will be followed by the Books of Job, Tobias, Judith and Esther; and here again, there is no connection further than that of sanctity in precept or in example. So far, we have found more or less of oneness of idea between the Lessons of the Office and the Proper of the Mass; but beginning with this tenth Sunday, these are independent of each other.
Henceforward, therefore, we must limit our commentary to the Proper of each Sunday’s Mass; and in doing this, we shall be respectfully taking the teachings which the Holy Spirit, who divideth as he willeth, gives us, unitedly with the Church, in each portion of each Sunday’s Liturgy. Each Epistle and Gospel, especially; and then, each Introit and Collect, each Gradual and Offertory, each Secret, Communion and Postcommunion, each of these will be a precious and exquisitely varied instruction. We shall see all this in the Epistle of this tenth Sunday.
The fall of Jerusalem—that great event, which told men how the prophecies were going to be gloriously fulfilled, now that the Jewish opposition was so completely removed—yes, the great event we were commemorating last Sunday, is one more and solemn proclamation of the reign of the Holy Ghost throughout the entire earth; for as we said of Him, at the grant Pentecost solemnity, He hath filled the whole world. We have much to learn from the tone our holy Mother the Church puts in the Liturgy of these remaining seventeen Pentecostal Sundays. In the admirable teachings she is now going to give to her children, there is no logical arrangement or sequel. She is as intent as ever on leading souls to holiness and perfection; yet it is not by following a method of any sort, but by her applying to us the united power of the divine Sacrifice and the word of the Scripture, to which she sweetly adds her own; and the Holy Spirit of Love breatheth upon it all, just where he willeth, and when he willeth.
This Sunday is, some years, the second of the dominical series which opened with the feast of Saint Laurence, and took its name (of Post Sancti Laurentii) from the solemnity of the great Deacon-Martyr. It is also sometimes called the Sunday of Humility, or of the Pharisee and Publican, because of the Gospel of the day. The Greeks count it as the tenth of Saint Matthew, and they read on it the episode of the Lunatic, which is given in the 17th Chapter of that Evangelist.