The Sunday next before Easter
Augustine on Psalm CX
Palm Sunday Home
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
To be said daily, after the Collect appointed for othe day, until Good Friday
Source: Sacramentary of Galesius, Bishop of Rome [494 AD]. "Palms" were carried by people on this Sunday in remembrance of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem.
Psalm 97, 110 | 22, 23 , Philippians ii. 5. St. Matthew xxvii. 1.
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool
Psalms 97, 110 | 22, 23
Philippians ii. 5.
LET this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
St. Matthew xxvii. 1.
WHEN the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: and when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me. And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment-seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there; and set up over his head his accusation written,
THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS
Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
1. ...This Psalm is one of those promises, surely and openly
prophesying our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; so that we are utterly
unable to doubt that Christ is announced in this Psalm, since we are
now Christians, and believe the Gospel. For when our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ asked of the Jews, whose Son they alleged Christ to be,
and they had replied, "the Son of David;" He at once replied to their
answer, "How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord
said unto My Lord?" etc. "If then," He asked, "David in the spirit call
Him Lord, how is He his son?"  With this verse this Psalm
2. "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool" (ver. 1). We ought, therefore, thoroughly to consider this question proposed to the Jews by the Lord, in the very commencement of the Psalm. For if what the .Jews answered be asked of us, whether we confess or deny it; God forbid that we should deny it. If it be said to us, Is Christ the Son of David, or not? if we reply, No, we contradict the Gospel for the Gospel of St. Matthew thus beginneth, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David."  The Evangelist declareth, that he is writing the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David. The Jews, then, when questioned by Christ, whose Son they believed Christ to be, rightly answered, the Son of David. The Gospel agreeth with their answer. Not only the suspicion of the Jews, but the faith of Christians, doth declare this...."If then David in the spirit called Him Lord, how is He his son?" The Jews were silent at this question: they found no further reply: yet they did not seek Him as the Lord, for they did not acknowledge Him to be Himself that Son of David. But let us, brethren, both believe and declare: for, "with the heart we believe unto righteousness: but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation;"  let us believe, I say, and let us declare both the Son of David, and the Lord of David. Let us not be ashamed of the Son of David, lest we find the Lord of David angry with us.
3. ...We know that Christ sitteth at the right hand of the Father, since His resurrection from the dead, and ascent into heaven. It is already done: we saw not it, but we have believed it: we have read it in the Scripture, have heard it preached, and hold it by faith. So that by the very circumstance that Christ was David's Son, He became His Lord also. For That which was born of the seed of David was so honoured, that It was also the Lord of David. Thou wonderest at this, as if the same did not happen in human affairs. For if it should happen, that the son of any private person be made a king, will he not be his father's lord? What is yet more wonderful may happen, not only that the son of a private person, by being made a king, may become his father's lord; but that the son of a layman, by being made a Bishop, may become his father's father. So that in this very circumstance, that Christ took upon Him the flesh, that He died in the flesh, that He rose again in the same flesh, that in the same He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of His Father, in this same flesh so honoured, so brightened, so changed into a heavenly garb, He is both David's Son, and David's Lord....
4. Christ, therefore, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Son is on the right hand of the Father, hidden from us. Let us believe. Two things are here said: that God said, "Sit Thou on My right hand;" and added, "until I make Thy enemies Thy footstool;" that is, beneath Thy feet. Thou dost not see Christ sitting at the right hand of the Father: yet thou canst see this, how His enemies are made His footstool. While the latter is fulfilled openly, believe the former to be fulfilled secretly. What enemies are made His footstool? Those to whom imagining vain things it is said, "Why do the heathen so furiously rage together: and why do the people imagine a vain thing?" etc.  ...He therefore sitteth at the right hand of God, till His enemies be placed beneath His feet. This is going on, this is taking place: although it is accomplished by degrees, it is going on without end. For though the heathen rage, will they, taking counsel together against Christ, prevent the fulfilment of these words: "I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession"?..."Their memorial is perished with a cry;" but, "The Lord shall endure for ever:"  as another Psalm, but not another Spirit, saith.
5. And what followeth? "The Lord shall send the rod of Thy power out of Sion" (ver. 2). It appeareth, brethren, it most clearly appeareth, that the Prophet is not speaking of that kingdom of Christ, in which He reigneth for ever with His Father, Ruler of the things which are made through Him: for when doth not God the Word reign, who is in the beginning with God?  For it is said, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever."  To what eternal King? To one invisible, incorruptible. For in this, that Christ is with the Father, invisible and incorruptible, because He is His Word, and His Power, and His Wisdom, and God with God, through whom all things were made; He is "King eternal;" but, nevertheless, that reign of temporal government, by which, through the mediation of His flesh, He called us into eternity, beginneth with Christians; but of His reign there shall be no end. His enemies therefore are made His footstool, while He is sitting on the right hand of His Father, as it is written; this is now going on, this will go on unto the end....
6. When therefore He hath sent the rod of His power out of Sion: what shall happen? "Be Thou ruler, even in the midst among Thine enemies." First, "Be Thou ruler in the midst of Thine enemies:" in the midst of the raging heathen. For shall He rule "in the midst of His enemies" at a later season, when the Saints have received their reward, and the ungodly their condemnation? And what wonder if He shall then rule, when the righteous reign with Him for ever, and the ungodly burn with eternal punishments? What wonder, if He shall then? Now "in the midst of Thine enemies," now in this transition of ages, in this propagation and succession of human mortality, now while the torrent of time is gliding by, unto this is the rod of Thy power sent out of Sion, "that Thou mayest be Ruler in the midst of Thine enemies." Rule Thou, rule among Pagans, Jews, heretics, false brethren. Rule Thou, rule, O Son of David, Lord of David, rule in the midst of Pagans, Jews, heretics, false brethren. "Be Thou Ruler in the midst of Thine enemies." We understand not this verse aright, if we do not see that it is already going on....
7. "With Thee the beginning on the day of Thy power" (ver. 3). What is this day of His power, when is there beginning with Him, or what beginning, or in what sense is there beginning with Him, since He is the Beginning?...
8. What meaneth, "With Thee is the beginning"? Suppose anything you please as the beginning. Of Christ Himself, it would rather have been said, Thou art the Beginning, than, With Thee is the beginning. For He answered to those who asked Him, "Who art Thou?" and said, "Even the same that I said unto you, the Beginning;"  since His Father also is the Beginning, of whom is the only-begotten Son, in which Beginning was the Word, for the Word was with God. What then, if both the Father and the Son are the beginning, are there two beginnings? God forbid! For as the Father is God, and the Son is God, but the Father and the Son are not two Gods, but one God: so is the Father Beginning and the Son Beginning, but the Father and the Son are not two, but one Beginning. "With Thee is the beginning." Then it shall appear in what sense the beginning is with Thee. Not that the beginning is not with Thee here also. For hast Thou not also said, "Behold, ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone; but I am not alone, because the Father is with Me"?  Here therefore also, the beginning is with Thee. For Thou hast said elsewhere also, "But the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth His works."  "With Thee is the beginning:" nor was the Father ever separated from Thee. But when the Beginning shall appear to be with Thee, then shall it be manifest unto all who are made like Thee; since they shall see Thee as Thou art;  for Philip saw Thee here, and sought the Father.  Then therefore shall be seen what now is believed: then shall "the beginning be with Thee" in the sight of the righteous, in the sight of saints; the ungodly being removed, that they may not see the brightness of the Lord....
9. Explain of what power thou speakest. Because here also, as is said, His power is mentioned, when the rod of His power is sent forth out of Sion, that He may be Ruler in the midst of His enemies. Of what power speakest thou, "In the splendour of the saints"? "In the splendour," he saith, "of the saints." He speaketh of that power when the saints shall be in splendour; not when still carrying about their earthly flesh, and groaning in a mortal and corruptible body....
10. But this is put off, this will be granted afterwards: what is there now? "From the womb I have begotten Thee, before the morning star." What is here? If God hath a Son, hath He also a womb? Like fleshly bodies, He hath not; for He hath not a bosom either; yet it is said, "He who is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared Him."  But that which is the womb, is the bosom also: both bosom and womb are put for a secret place. What meaneth, "from the womb"? From what is secret, from what is hidden; from Myself, from My substance; this is the meaning of "from the womb;" for, "Who shall declare His generation?"  Let us then understand the Father saying unto the Son, "From My womb before the morning star have I brought Thee forth." What then meaneth, "before the morning star"? The morning star is put for the stars, as if the Scripture signified the whole from a part, and from one conspicuous star all the stars. But how were those stars created? "That they may be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years."  ...This expression also, "before the morning star," is used both figuratively and literally, and was thus fulfilled. For the Lord was born at night from the womb of the Virgin Mary; the testimony of the shepherds doth assert this, who were "keeping watch over their flock."  So David: O Thou, my Lord, who sittest at the right hand of my Lord, whence art Thou my Son, except because, "From the womb before the morning star I have begotten Thee"?
11. And unto what art Thou born? "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec" (ver. 4). For unto this wast Thou born from the womb before the morning star, that Thou mightest be a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec. For in that character in which He was born of the Father, God with God, coeternal with Him who begot Him, He is not a Priest; but He is a Priest on account of the flesh which He assumed, on account of the victim which He was to offer for us received from us. "The Lord," then, "hath sworn." What then meaneth, the Lord hath sworn? Doth the Lord, who forbiddeth men to swear,  Himself swear? Or doth He possibly forbid man to swear chiefly on this account, that he may not fall into perjury, and for this reason the Lord may swear, since He cannot be forsworn. For man, who, through a habit of swearing, may slip into perjury, is rightly forbidden to swear: for he will be farther from perjury in proportion as he is far from swearing. For the man who sweareth, may swear truly or falsely: but he who sweareth not, cannot swear falsely; for he sweareth not at all. Why then should not the Lord swear, since the Lord's oath is the seal of the promise? Let Him swear by all means. What then dost thou, when thou swearest? Thou callest God to witness: this is to swear, to call God to witness; and for this reason there must be anxiety, that thou mayest not call God to witness anything false. If therefore thou by an oath dost call God to witness, why then should not God also call Himself to witness with an oath? "I live, saith the Lord," this is the Lord's oath...."The Lord sware," then, that is, confirmed: "He will not repent," He will not change. What? "Thou art a Priest for ever. "For ever," for He will not repent. But Priest, in what sense? Will there be those victims, victims offered by the Patriarchs, altars of blood, and tabernacle, and those sacred emblems of the Old Covenant? God forbid! These things are already abolished; the temple being destroyed, that priesthood taken away, their victim and their sacrifice having alike disappeared, not even the Jews have these things. They see that the priesthood after the order of Aaron hath already perished, and they do not recognise the Priesthood after the order of Melchizedec. I speak unto believers. If catechumens understand not something, let them lay aside sloth, and hasten unto knowledge. It is not therefore needful for me to disclose mysteries here:  let the Scriptures intimate to you what is the Priesthood after the order of Melchizedec.
12. "The Lord on Thy right hand" (ver. 5). The Lord had said, "Sit Thou on My right hand;" now the Lord is on His right hand, as if they changed seats....That very Christ, the "Lord on Thy right hand," unto whom Thou hast sworn, and it will not repent Thee: what doth He, Priest for evermore? What doth He, who is at the right hand of God, and intercedeth for us,  like a priest entering into the inner places, and into the holy of holies, into the mysteries of heaven, He alone being without sin, and therefore easily purifying from sins.  He therefore "on Thy right hand shall wound even kings in the day of His wrath." What kings, dost thou ask? Hast thou forgotten? "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers took counsel together against the Lord, and against His Anointed."  These kings He wounded by His glory, and by the weight of His Name made kings weak, so that they had not power to effect what they wished. For they strove amain to blot out the Christian name from the earth, and could not; for "Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken."  Kings therefore fall on this "stone of offence," and are therefore wounded, when they say, Who is Christ? I know not what Jew or what Galilean He may have been, who died, who was slain in such a manner! The stone is before thy feet, lying, so to speak, mean and humble: therefore by scorning thou dost stumble, by stumbling thou fallest, by falling thou art wounded...."But on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."  When therefore any one falleth upon it, it lieth as it were low; it then woundeth: but when it shall grind him to powder, then it will come from above. See how in these two words, it shall wound him and grind him to powder: he striketh upon it, and it shall come down upon him: are distinguished the two seasons, of the humiliation and the majesty of Christ, of hidden punishment and future judgment. He will not crush, when He cometh, that man whom He doth not wound when He lieth in a contemptible appearance....
13. "He shall judge among the heathen: He shall fill up what hath fallen" (ver. 6). Whoever thou art who art obstinate against Christ, thou hast raised on high a tower that must fall. It is good that thou shouldest cast thyself down, become humble, throw thyself at the feet of Him who sitteth on the right hand of the Father, that in thee a ruin may be made to be built up. For if thou abidest in thy evil height, thou shalt be cast down when thou canst not be built up. For of such the Scripture saith in another passage: "Therefore shall He break down, and not build them up."  Beyond doubt he would not say this of some, unless there were some whom He broke down so as to build them up again. And this is going on at this time, while Christ is judging among the heathen in such a manner as to fill up what hath fallen. "He shall smite many heads over the earth." Here upon the earth in this life He shall smite many heads. He maketh them humble instead of proud; and I dare to say, my brethren, that it is more profitable to walk here humbly with the head wounded, than with the head erect to fall into the judgment of eternal death. He will smite many heads when he causeth them to fall, but He will fill them up and build them up again.
14. "He shall drink of the brook  in the way, therefore shall he lift up his head" (ver. 7). Let us consider Him drinking of the brook in the way: first of all, what is the brook? the onward flow of human mortality: for as a brook is gathered together by the rain, overflows, roars, runs, and by running runs down, that is, finishes its course; so is all this course of mortality. Men are born, they live, they die, and when some die others are born, and when they die others are born, they succeed, they flock together, they depart and will not remain. What is held fast here? what doth not run? what is not on its way to the abyss as if it was gathered together from rain? For as a river suddenly drawn together from rain from the drops of showers runneth into the sea, and is seen no more, nor was it seen before it was collected from the rain; so this hidden rain is collected together from hidden sources, and floweth on; at death again it travelleth where it is hidden: this intermediate state soundeth and passeth away. Of this brook He drinketh, He hath not disdained to drink of this brook; for to drink of this brook was to Him to be born and to die. What this brook hath, is birth and death; Christ assumed this, He was born, He died. "Therefore hath He lifted up His head;" that is, because He was humble, and "became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross: therefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name; that at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ the Lord is in the glory of God the Father." 
Let us pray in the words of Augustine.
Turn we to the Lord God, the Father Almighty, and with pure hearts offer to him, so far as our meanness can, great and true thanks, with all our hearts praying his exceeding kindness, that of his good pleasure he would deign to hear our prayers, that by his Power he would drive out the enemy from our deeds and thoughts, that he would increase our faith, guide our understandings, give us spiritual thoughts, and lead us to his bliss, through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with him, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
[A prayer which he was wont to use after his Sermons and Lectures.]
NPNF (V1-08) St. Augustine
 Lat. CIX. A sermon to the people.  Matt. xxii. 42-45.  Matt. i. 1.  Rom. x. 10.  Ps. ii. 1, etc.  Ps. ix. 7.  John i. 1.  1 Tim. i. 17.  John viii. 25.  John xvi. 32.  John xiv. 10.  1 John iii. 2.  John xiv. 8.  John i. 18.  Isa. liii. 8.  Gen. i. 14.  Luke ii. 7, 8.  Matt. v. 34.  [He says elsewhere on Ps. civ. ver. 3: "What is that which is hidden, and is not public in the Church? The Sacrament of Baptism, the Sacrament of the Eucharist. For our good works even Pagans see, but Sacraments are hidden from them." Note the implications: two Sacraments, and no public celebration of the Eucharist. See A.N.F. vol. viii. Primitive Liturgies passim.--C.]  Rom. viii. 34.  Heb. ix. 12, 14, 24.  Ps. ii. 2.  Matt. xxi. 44.  Luke xx. 18.  Ps. xxviii. 5.  De torrente.  Philip. ii. 8-11.