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Thoughts for the Week


Second Sunday of Lent

Thoughts for the Week - Fr R Taouk 
16th March 2014

St. Anthony of Padua on The Second Sunday of Lent

These three Apostles, the special companions of Jesus Christ, may be understood as three virtues of our soul, without which no-one can climb the mountain of light, the excellence of holy conversation. Peter is the one who acknowledged, James (or Jacob) is 'the supplanter', John is 'the grace of the Lord'. Jesus took Peter, and you too must take Peter, you who believe in Jesus and hope for salvation from Jesus. Peter is the acknowledgement of your sins, which consist in these three things: pride in the heart, lust in the flesh and avarice in the world. Take James, too. He is the supplanting of these vices, so that you may tread the pride of your spirit under the foot of reason; so that you may mortify the lust of your flesh, and repress the vanity of the deceitful world. And take John, the grace of the Lord, which stands at the door and knocks (cf. Apoc 3.20), so that it may enlighten you to recognise the evil things you have done, and help you in the good things you have begun to do. -

When thou shalt come to the oak of Thabor, there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine. (1Kings [1 Samuel] 10.3.)

The oak of Thabor and Mount Thabor stand for the excellence of a holy life, which may well be called 'an oak', 'a mount', or 'Thabor'. An oak, because it is constant and unbending through perseverance to the end; a mount, because it is high and lifted up by the contemplation of God; and Thabor ('the coming light') by the enlightening of good example. These three things are required in the excellence of a holy life: that it be constant in itself, contemplative towards God, and enlightening to our neighbour. When you come to or prepare to climb the oak or mount of Thabor, these three men going up to God will meet you. These three are Peter who recognises, James who supplants and John the grace of God. Peter bears three kids, James three loaves, and John a bottle of wine.

'Peter' is he who recognises himself as a sinner, and he carries three kids. The goat represents the stink of sin, and the three goats are the three kinds of sin which in general we commit: pride in the heart, unruliness in the flesh and avarice in the world. Whoever wants to climb the mountain of light must carry these three kids. That is to say, he must recognise himself as a sinner in these three ways. - 'James' is he who uproots the vices of the flesh, and he carries three loaves of bread. Bread represents the sweet savour of the mind, consisting in humility of heart, chastity of body and love of poverty.  No-one can have this savour unless he has first uprooted the vices. He carries three loaves of bread, the threefold savour of the mind which represses pride of heart, restrains the unruliness of the flesh and drives away the avarice of the world. - 'John' is he who (with God's grace going before him and following) keeps all these faithfully and perseveringly. He carries a bottle of wine, and the wine in the bottle is the grace of the Holy Spirit in a good will. Jesus took Peter and James and John: do you also take these three men, and climb Mount Thabor.