Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher of the Faith, 397
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will make music to your name, O Most High. When my enemies are driven back, they stumble and perish at your presence. For you have maintained my right and my cause; you sat on your throne giving righteous judgement.You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. The enemy was utterly laid waste. You uprooted their cities; their very memory has perished. But the Lord shall endure for ever; he has made fast his throne for judgement. For he shall rule the world with righteousness and govern the peoples with equity. Then will the Lord be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in the time of trouble. And those who know your name will put their trust in you, for you, Lord, have never failed those who seek you. Sing praises to the Lord who dwells in Zion; declare among the peoples the things he has done. The avenger of blood has remembered them; he did not forget the cry of the oppressed. Have mercy upon me, O Lord; consider the trouble I suffer from those who hate me, you that lift me up from the gates of death; That I may tell all your praises in the gates of the city of Zion and rejoice in your salvation. The nations shall sink into the pit of their making and in the snare which they set will their own foot be taken. The Lord makes himself known by his acts of justice; the wicked are snared in the works of their own hands. They shall return to the land of darkness, all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten and the hope of the poor shall not perish for ever. Arise, O Lord, and let not mortals have the upper hand; let the nations be judged before your face. Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but mortal.
Why stand so far off, O Lord? Why hide yourself in time of trouble? The wicked in their pride persecute the poor; let them be caught in the schemes they have devised. The wicked boast of their heart’s desire; the covetous curse and revile the Lord. The wicked in their arrogance say, ‘God will not avenge it’; in all their scheming God counts for nothing. They are stubborn in all their ways, for your judgements are far above out of their sight; they scoff at all their adversaries. They say in their heart, ‘I shall not be shaken; no harm shall ever happen to me.’ Their mouth is full of cursing, deceit and fraud; under their tongue lie mischief and wrong. They lurk in the outskirt and in dark alleys they murder the innocent; their eyes are ever watching for the helpless. They lie in wait, like a lion in his den; they lie in wait to seize the poor; they seize the poor when they get them into their net. The innocent are broken and humbled before them; the helpless fall before their power. They say in their heart, ‘God has forgotten; he hides his face away; he will never see it.’ Arise, O Lord God, and lift up your hand; forget not the poor. Why should the wicked be scornful of God? Why should they say in their hearts, ‘You will not avenge it’? Surely, you behold trouble and misery; you see it and take it into your own hand. The helpless commit themselves to you, for you are the helper of the orphan. Break the power of the wicked and malicious; search out their wickedness until you find none. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land.
Lord, you will hear the desire of the poor; you will incline your ear to the fullness of their heart,To give justice to the orphan and oppressed, so that people are no longer driven in terror from the land.
Ha! You who hide a plan too deep for the Lord, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, ‘Who sees us? Who knows us?’ You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay? Shall the thing made say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of the one who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?
Shall not Lebanon in a very little while become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be regarded as a forest? On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant shall be no more, and the scoffer shall cease to be; all those alert to do evil shall be cut off—those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit, who set a trap for the arbiter in the gate, and without grounds deny justice to the one in the right.
Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:
No longer shall Jacob be ashamed, no longer shall his face grow pale. For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction.
‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’ When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.
He came to his home town and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour except in their own country and in their own house.’ And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.