The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

The Mystical Ship, Part 2: Aquinas’ Homily Notes on Matthew 8:23

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2017

THE MYSTICAL SHIP (Part II)
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY.
“And when He was entered into a ship His disciples followed Him.”
Matt 8:23.

MORALLY, by a ship holiness of life is signified by reason of (I) the material; (II) the form; (III) the use.

I. THE MATERIAL. On the first head, the material of the ship, it is to be noted that a ship is made of wood, iron, oakum, and pitch:

(A) By wood is represented righteousness, which is the righteousness of Christ Wis. 14:7, “Blessed is the wood by which justice cometh.”

(B) By iron, on account of its solidity, fortitude is expressed Jer. 1:18, “Behold I have made thee this day an inner pillar.”

(C) By oakum or tow, by which wounds are bound up, is implied temperance, by which is healed the wound of fleshly
lust. Of those whose wounds have not been bound up it is said, Isa. 1:6, “Wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up.” Judges 16:13, of Samson, when deceived by Delilah, and bound with new ropes, “he broke them from off his arms like a thread.”

(D) By pitch is symbolized charity, which is the bond of souls Gen. 6:14, “Pitch it (Noah’s ark) within and without with pitch.” A holy man is formed by charity 1 Cor. 16:14, “Let all your things be done with charity.

II. THE FORM. On the second head it is to be noted that the form of the ship consists in five particulars.

Firstly, the smallness of the beginning.

Secondly, breadth of the middle.

Thirdly, the height of the end.

Fourthly, the narrowness of the bottom.

Fifthly, the wideness of the top.

Concerning the smallness of its beginning, is the grief for past sins Jer. 6:26, “Make thee mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation.”

Concerning the breadth of the middle is hope of the eternal joys Rom. 12:12, “Rejoicing in hope.”

Concerning the height of the end is the fear of eternal punishments. The holy man grieves over the sins he commits, and he fears the punishments which he merits, but he fails not through desperation in fear and grief S. Matt. 3:8, “Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance.”

Concerning the narrowness of the bottom is the humility which arises from highest goodness Ps. 81:10, “Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.

Concerning the wideness of the top… Unfortunately, the notes make no elucidation on this point.

III. THE USE. On the third head it is to be noted that the use of a ship in four ways stands for holiness of life.

 The first use is to carry men across the sea. We ought by holiness to pass over the sea of this world to the heavenly country, to God Wis 14:5, “Men also trust their lives even to a little wood, and passing over the sea by ships are saved.”

The second is to carry merchandise, or fruits, which are the odour of good works, to be diffused from us on all sides
Job. 4:25-26, “My days are swifter than a post they are passed away as the swift ships.” Phil. 4:18, “An odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.”

The third use is to make war in them. We ought by holiness to war against the demons 1 Macc 15:3, “I have chosen
a great army, and have built ships of war.” Eph. 6:12, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers.”

The fourth use is to catch fishes, to convert men to God S. Matt. 4: 19, “I will make you fishers of men.”

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