St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienHear my prayer, O God, give ear unto the words of my mouth (Psalm 53:4).

The words of St. Paul teach us that no man knows how he ought to pray: For we know not how to pray as we ought.

[…] What we are shown here is the perfect confidence of Him, Who alone sees the Father, Who alone knows the Father, Who alone can pray the whole night through—the Gospel tells us that the Lord continued all night in prayer—Who in the mirror of words has shown us the true image of the deepest of all mysteries in the simple words we use in prayer.

And so, in making the demand that His prayer should be heard, he added, in order to teach us that this was the prerogative of His perfect confidence: Give ear unto the words of My mouth.

[…] He alone could confidently desire this Who did no sin, in Whose mouth was no deceit, Who gave His back to the smiters, Who turned not His cheek from the blow, Who did not resent scorn and spitting, Who never crossed the will of Him, to Whose Will ordering it all He gave in all points glad obedience.

He has next added the reason why He prays for His words to be heard: For strangers are risen up against Me and violent men have sought after My soul; they have not set God before their eyes.

The Only-begotten Son of God, the Word of God and God the Word assuredly could Himself do all things that the Father could, as He says: What things soever the Father doeth, the Son also doeth in like manner, while the Name describing the divine nature which was His inseparably involved the inseparable possession of divine power.

Yet in order that He might present to us a perfect example of human humility, He both prayed for and underwent all things that are the lot of man. Sharing in our common weakness He prayed the Father to save Him, so that He might teach us that He was born man under all the conditions of man’s infirmity.

This is why He was hungry and thirsty, slept and was weary, shunned the assemblies of the ungodly, was sad and wept, suffered and died. And it was in order to make it clear that He was subject to all these conditions, not by His nature, but by assumption, that, when He had undergone them all, He rose again.

Thus all His complaints in the Psalms spring from a mental state belonging to our nature. Nor must it cause surprise if we take the words of the Psalms in this sense, seeing that the Lord Himself testified, if we believe the Gospel, that the Psalms spiritually foretold His Passion.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): Homily on Psalm 53 [54], 6-7.

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