Commenting on the relationship between the Old Testament and the New, St. Augustine waxed poetic: “The New in the Old is concealed; the Old in the New revealed.”* The promise of the Messiah, woven throughout the Old Testament, lays the groundwork for Christ’s coming in the New Testament. No doubt Augustine was borrowing language from Jesus’ admonition to His disciples in the Gospel of Matthew, which we hear at Mass today:
“Therefore do not be afraid of them.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
This concealed/revealed language also works its way into the text of the Mass for the Dead (the Requiem Mass). A 13th-century Franciscan, Thomas of Celano, wrote the Dies Irae sequence, describing vividly the end times:
Iudex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet, apparebit:
Nil inultum remanebit.
When the Judge his seat attaineth,
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.
These bits of trivia are more than mere brain candy. They should remind us that for centuries, Christians have meditated on, and savoured, the words of Christ. And like sewers with fine thread, many brilliant scholars and artists have woven Christ’s words into the beautiful tapestry of our Catholic intellectual history.
Today let us be grateful for the gift of sacred Scripture, and for our ancestors in faith who devoted their lives to presenting its rich truth creatively and beautifully. As we consider how to reinvigorate the occasional banality of our life of faith, let us consider our tradition with new, fresh eyes.
No doubt the future life of the Church is revealed by sifting through a history that, to many, lies yet concealed.