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Posts Tagged ‘allegory’


Song of Songs 8: Found

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

“The Song of Songs, meaning the greatest of songs (1,1), contains in exquisite poetic form the sublime portrayal and praise of the mutual love of the Lord and his people.  The Lord is the Lover and his people the beloved.  Describing this relationship in terms of human love, the author simply follows Israel’s tradition.  Isaiah (5, 1-7; 54, 4-8), Jeremiah (2, 2f.32, and Ezekiel (16; 23) all characterize the covenant between the Lord and Israel as a marriage.  Hosea the prophet sees the idolatry of Israel in the adultery of Gomer (1-3).  He also represents the Lord speaking to Israel’s heart (2, 16) and changing her into a new spiritual people, purified by the Babylonian captivity and betrothed anew to her divine Lover ‘in justice and uprightness, in love and mercy’ (2,21) . . . [The Song] is an allegory in which each remark, e.g., in the dialogue of the lovers, has a higher meaning.  It is a parable in which the true meaning of mutual love comes from the poem as a whole . . . In Christian tradition, the Song has been interpreted in terms of the union between Christ and the Church and, particularly by St. Bernard, of the union between Christ and the individual soul”.  (Senior 791-792)

In this last chapter, we see the young lovers walking toward home; and the seal in verse 6 is a reference to a ring or emblem with which one marked, signed or identified an object.  In this poem, love is seen as the force that conquers all else. “In human experience, death and the nether world are inevitable, unrelenting; in the end they always triumph.  Love, which is just as certain of its victory, matches its strength against the natural enemies of life; waters cannot extinguish it nor floods carry it away.  It is more priceless than all riches”.  (798)

The Bride, the Church, the soul, remains chaste.  Her rich dowry is kept under watchful eyes until the time when she has matured, until the time she will be given in marriage and the dowry handed over to the groom who waits.

We are this bride.  We are this beloved.

We – like this bride – have suffered, have wandered, have searched, and have found.  We have also been found by the one who treasures us, the one who knows that we are a pearl of great price . . . the one who values us.  A dowry has been set aside for us to assure our redemption.  We are the seal set upon the heart.  Knowing this, having endured much, we still thirst.

This evening, as we wander home through the garden with its intense and alluring aromas, we are accompanied by the one who waits for us as we grow and mature.  We continue our journey up from the desert, leaning upon the lover.  We awaken under the apple trees where we were once conceived.  And when we open our eyes, we know that we have been found once again.  And we look into the eyes of our creator . . . who calls us anew to rise with the new day.

 


A re-post from May 28, 2012.

Images from http://blog.tuscandream.com/tuscany-italian-garden-wedding-estate-304/italian-garden-bride-groom/ and http://www.rebeccaatthewell.org/youtube.html

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. Print.   

For more on this beautiful poem, visit The Song of Songs – Tryst in the Spring page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/song-of-songs-tryst-in-the-spring/

Written on January 29, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Psalm 80: Prayer for a Persecuted People

Friday, March 24, 2017

Restore us, O LORD of hosts; let your face shine upon us, and we will be saved.

Persecution often follows us when we answer God’s call to act as God’s disciples, when we carry truth to people who do not want to see it. When we witness to an injustice, we want to rely on God’s wisdom, strengthen our resolve with Scripture – a manifestation of Christ among us, and rest in prayer with the Spirit.

Several years ago when I struggled with a particularly challenging set of circumstances, I left the student dining hall to go to my classroom where I might find some quiet. I had to prepare a report I knew would displease our leaders in that it spoke to a truth they did not want to hear. In the hush of that noontime, I flipped open the Bible that always lies near my desk and the pages fell open to Psalm 80, a prayer for those living through persecution. Had I come across an immediate answer to my prayer?

The opening lines call for help and restoration, and are followed by an image of the vine brought out of Egypt, an allegory familiar to the prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Hosea and Micah. Jesus uses this symbolic tale to describe his relationship with us: he is the vine, we are the branches (John 15:1-17). He sustains and nourishes; we are the fruit of Christ’s labor and love in us.

Anyone familiar with vineyard work knows that each winter the vines are cut back drastically in order that the plant become stronger and the fruit more dense and fine. Father Richard Veras writes that our hearts are encrusted and that Jesus must break through that crust in order to soften our hearts. “This crust is a barrier between him and the heart, and he will never respect or politely tolerate any such barriers”. Veras uses the examples of the Samaritan Woman at the well and Pontius Pilate to make his point. “The Samaritan woman’s barrier was doubt that true love and friendship could exist. Pilate’s barrier was power and position”. Jesus prunes their hearts and gives them the opportunity to do what is right. They have the option to choose.

And so do we. Each day. In every encounter with each person we encounter. DO we withdraw to hide within a structure of deceit and authority, or do we call for help and pruning? DO we turn away from the Creator, Savior, and Keeper, or do we ask for redemption?

Restore us, O LORD of hosts; let your face shine upon us, and we will be saved.

If we spend time with this psalm today, we might find our own prayer for the times when we are persecuted in Christ’s name.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 13, 2007.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.13 (2007). Print.  

 

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Mark 4:1-25: The Parable of the Sowergoodsoillogo

Friday, September 11, 2015

This is a familiar story we frequently hear. The other synoptic (meaning “seen as one”) gospels of Matthew and Luke have this same parable with little variations. Matthew also tells of the farmer who sows wheat in the day time but then an evil person sows weeds at night in the same field. When the workers want to pull the weeds, the owner says no; he knows that they may also pull up the wheat. The weed in this story is most likely the darnel plant that looks exactly like wheat until it matures. The allegory, therefore, is that we should not judge who is wheat and who is weed in our own little fields because we all look alike until the end of the journey. And only God can discern which is which – who is who.

Our scripture group recently shared ideas about how we each are a type of seed. We lack understanding when we allow “the evil one” to steal us away from God (the seed on the path). We allow persecution and tribulation to wear us down (the seed on the rocks). We allow our worldly goods and worries to separate us from God (the seed in the thorns). We all hope to be seed with a proper disposition – the seed which falls on fertile soil; yet we cannot tell who is who.

We also spoke of the ancient custom of plowing after sowing – so once the seed is disbursed it has to endure the plow before it germinates and grows; but the message of two thousand years ago is the same message we hear today: discipleship is difficult, troublesome, and usually unpopular. We have received the Word, but allowing it to flourish in our hearts and then govern our hands, feet, lips, and minds can be another thing entirely. When we are feeling as though discipleship is too onerous for us, we always go back to the one idea which is central to our lives: With God, all things are possible. Life may look impossible when we are down, but we can still reach our potential as a disciple. We can still be Christ-like. We can transform ourselves with the purifying fire of the struggles we experience. We can be touched and healed if we open ourselves to the possibility of miracles. And we can, in turn, offer our simple life to Christ by opening it to others.

Adapted from a Favorite written on March 3, 2007.

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