Epistle of Fourth Sunday in Lent

Galatians 4:22-31

Brethren: It is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman and the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh: but he of the free woman was by promise: which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from Mount Sinai, engendering unto bondage: which is Agar: for Sinai is a mountain in Arabia, which hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But that Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the de­ solate, more than of her that hath a hus- band. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born according to the flesh persecuted him that was after the spirit: so also it is now. But what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.


Verse 22. It is written in the law, that is, in Genesis, (c. xvi. and c. xxi.) that Abraham had two sons, &c. that his two sons, Ismael, born of his servant, Agar, and Isaac of his wife, Sara, in an allegorical sense, represent the two testaments or covenants, which God made with his people: that by Ismael was represented that covenant of the former law delivered to Moses on Mount Sina, by which the Jews were made his elect people, yet as it were his servants, to be kept to their duty by fear of punishments; but by Isaac is represented the new covenant or testament of Christ, given at Jerusalem, where he suffered, where the new law was first published; by which law, they who believe in Christ were made the spiritual children of Abraham, the sons of God, and heirs of the blessings promised to Abraham: that Sina, the mountain in Arabia, hath an affinity with Jerusalem, and with her children, who remain under the servitude of the law of Moses: we cannot understand a conjunction, or an affinity, as to place and situation, Sina and Jerusalem being near twenty days' journey distant from each other; therefore it can only be an affinity in a mystical signification, inasmuch as Jerusalem was the capital of the Jews, where the children of those who received the law on Mount Sina lived still under the servitude of the same law: but Christians, who believe in Christ, must look upon themselves as belonging to Jerusalem, and not to the city of Jerusalem upon earth, but to the celestial Jerusalem in heaven, which is our mother, now no longer servants and slaves to the former law, but free, being made the sons of God by the grace of Christ, and heirs of heaven. And these blessings were promised to all nations, not only to the Jews, of which the much greater part remained obstinate, and refused to believe in Christ, but also particularly to the Gentiles, according to the prophecy of Isaias, (c. liv.) rejoice thou that hast been barren, like Sara, for a long time; i.e. rejoice, you Gentiles, hitherto left in idolatry, without the knowledge or worship of the true God, now you shall have more children among you than among the Jews, who were his chosen people. Wi.

Verse 29. S. Paul makes another observation upon this example of Ismael and Isaac: that as Ismael was troublesome to Isaac, for which he and his mother were turned out of the family, so also now the Jews insulted and persecuted the Christians, who had been Gentiles; but God will protect them as heirs of the blessings promised: they shall be accounted the spiritual children of Abraham, while the Jews, with their carnal ceremonies, shall be cast off. Wi. — This, says S. Austin, is a figure of heretics, (who are the children of the bond-woman) unjustly persecuting the Catholic Church. Ep. 48.


2193: The Revival of Merits and Gifts

From the Bull of Jubilee, "Infinita Dei misericordia," May 29, 1924

Now when the Hebrews in the year of the Sabbath, after recovering their goods which had passed into the ownership of others, were returning “to their own possession,“and the servants, now free, were betaking themselves “to their former family” [Lev. 25:10], and the debt of the debtors was cancelled, all this more happily happens and is accomplished among us in the year of atonement. For, all who by doing penance carry out the salutary orders of the Apostolic See in the course of the great Jubilee, the same regain anew and receive that abundance of merits and gifts which they had lost by sinning, and they are so set free from the cruel domination of Satan that they regain the freedom “wherewith Christ has made us free” [Gal. 4:31], and, finally, of all the punishment which they would have been obliged to pay for their faults and sins, because of the highly accumulated merits of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints, they are fully absolved.

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