Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran–

We have heard with our ears, O God, our forefathers have told us, the deeds you did in their days, in the days of old. Psalm 44:1

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? That shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for true I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee God and Lord as he:
This faith each day deeper be my holding of,
Truly make me harder hope and dearer love. –St. Thomas Aquinas/Gerard Manley Hopkins

Set me free, O God, from the bondage of my sins, and give me the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to me in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This is why it is called faith, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. And since I am in this season of allusions, I read about the pelican reference in Aquinas’ poem. It comes from an ancient legend of famine when a mother pelican wounded herself, striking her breast with the beak to feed her young with her blood. Christians took this imagery of perfect charity as their own, and odd little pelican references permeate the Middle Ages and Renaissance writing and arts. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Laertes declares his love for his father, "To his good friends thus wide, I’ll ope my arms / And, like the kind, life-rendering pelican / Repast them with my blood."

The point being two-fold: the cloud of witnesses throughout the ages, pressing into the unseen in faith, walking before us through the days of clutter with courage and fixed eyes, and secondly, once again a vivid reminder of the Savior who would stop at nothing to break the bonds of sin and restore beloved children to the abundant life through His sweet blood sacrifice.

Truly make me harder hope and dearer love.