Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stretch Forth the Right Hand of Thy Majesty

Et extendens Jesus manum, tetigit eum, dicens: Volo.  Mundare.  Et confestim mundata est lepra ejus.
And Jesus stretching forth His hand, touched him, saying, I will.  Be thou made clean.  And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed.

— St Matthew viii, 3.

I've blogged on this before, last year, but I noted it again while reading the Day Hours of this, the Third Sunday after the Epiphany (or rather, the Second after the Octave thereof): the Collect magnificently matches to-day's Gospel passage in the Traditional Rite (St Matthew viii, 1-13), for, as Christ stretched forth His hand to heal the leper, by His theandric act cleansing him, and again, just as at the Centurion's plea Our Lord effected a cure at a distance by His word alone, another act of the God-Man, so too we ask God the Father in to-day's Collect to stretch forth (cf. St Matthew viii, 3) the right hand of His Majesty - that is, apply to us (so weak and infirm) the precious merits of His Son won by His Passion, touch us by the Sacred Humanity of the Word, the Onlybegotten Son of God, and save us, heal us, help and defend us in all our troubles and needs; for it requires only God's pitying eye to fall upon us, and of His goodness He, being All-Good, the Good that is diffusive of itself, will do all manner of good for us, for our salvation:

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, infirmitatem nostram propitius respice: atque ad protegendum nos, dexteram tuæ majestatis extende.  Per...
Almighty everlasting God, mercifully behold our infirmity: and to help us, stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty.  Through...

Origen, was it, or perhaps Irenæus (I think the latter) memorably described the Son and the Holy Spirit as the two Hands of the Most High, God the Father Almighty.

As is proper in this time after Epiphany, we continue to celebrate the wonders wrought by Christ's Divinity acting through His Humanity.

For a comparison, here is how the Anglican Prayer Books, descending from the Sarum Rite, render this prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

— Not a bad version, yoking together several pairs of words, something that English (and even more so Norwegian) tends to do well, given that our language contains many synonyms and near-equivalent words (there, I've put a conjunct pair in myself).

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