Wednesday, January 06, 2010

the 4th watch

Saint Hilary (c.315-367), Bishop of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church
Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 14, 13-14 (trans. SC 258, p. 27 rev.)

"About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them"

«Then he made the disciples get into the boat while he dismissed the
crowds. After doing so, he went up to pray. When it was evening, he was
there alone» (cf. Mt 14,22-23). If we are to explain these happenings we
must distinguish between the times. If he was alone in the evening, this
points to his solitude at the hour of his Passion when panic had caused
everyone to scatter. If he made his disciples get into the boat and cross
over the sea while he himself dismissed the crowds, and if, having
dismissed them, he went up a mountain, this means that he directed them to
remain in the Church and to sail across the sea – that is to say, this
world – until, at his return in glory, he would grant salvation to all who
are to be the remnant of Israel (cf. Rom 11,5)... and this people would
give thanks to God his Father and be set firm within his glory and
majesty... «During the fourth watch of the night, he came
toward them.» In the expression «fourth watch of the night» we find the
number corresponding to the signs of his care. Thus, the first watch was
that of the Law; the second, that of the prophets; the third, that of his
coming in the flesh; the fourth is situated in his return in glory. But he
will find the Church declining and hemmed in by the spirit of the
Antichrist and all the distresses of this world. He will come when
anxieties and afflictions are at their height... The disciples will be
terrified even by the coming of the Lord, fearing the images of a reality
distorted by the Antichrist and by the deceitful imaginations infiltrating
their sight. But our good Lord will speak to them directly, casting out
their fear and saying: «It is I», dispersing their fear of imminent
shipwreck by faith in his coming.

No comments: