Rise Up from the Shadows

From A Homily for the Eve of the Epiphany (ca. 1170).

The angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph saying, “Rise and take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt.”  God gave the patriarchs and prophets, sitting in spiritual darkness, a sign, that they should rise from their sleep and the shadows and desire instead holiness… But, like Herod seeking to kill the children, the devil will search out holiness, and through diabolical plots, try to destroy it.  But the patriarchs and prophets did rise up from the shadows.  Out of Egypt, God says, I have called my son…. And from unbelievers and sinners, I chose believers, who are my children in faith.  From pagans, I made Jews; and from Jews, I made Christians…. Rachel weeps for her children, we read, but she refused to be consoled.  Why does she refuse consolation?  Because these were to be redeemed through the redemption of Christ’s blood.  She refused to give them up to oblivion.  When one is in distress in captivity, true friends cannot be consoled, because they wait, in hope, for that one to be liberated.

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)  was a twelfth century German nun, a polymath and visionary theologian,. She was an abbess for much of her adult life, founded a convent at Bingen, and was consulted by the great church leaders of her time for her wise counsel. She preached a series of homilies on the liturgical Gospels to members of the monastic communities that she led, marking her out as the Middle Ages’ only systematic female exegete. She is commemorated on September 17 on the liturgical calendars of several churches. 

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