Charles Rich’s Reflections on Old Testament
Passages Heralding Christ and the Church
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Genesis 45:6

Joseph, who is a Figure of Christ said to his brothers, ‘Come closer to me…I am your brother.’ Our Lord, in the person of Joseph speaks of Himself as our brother.


Psalms

“The Psalms speak of Christ and they do so in language that is sweet and sublime…in this way we are strengthened in the truths of revelation. Long before the coming of Christ into this world, He willed that He be heralded by those who served as forerunners of Himself. Now David, the author of nearly half f all the Psalms, speaks in them of Christ and Lord and he does so in poetic strains that have never been equaled. Christ our Lord permits Himself to be seen and heard in the Book of Psalms and so it is our task to perceive Him in them. Do we, like Saint Augustine, hear the voice of Christ in all the Psalms?”


On Psalm 2

“The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son; this day I have begotten you.”

The Psalmist knew that God would one day assume our human nature (as in the line from Psalm 2 above) and so he speaks to us of it in all the Psalms….The saints look upon the psalms as the direct hint that Christ would one day come and that He would do so in the economy of the flesh – flesh sinned and so flesh has to redeem us from this sin.”

“I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

“God has made the results of the Incarnation of Christ known to the whole world – it is not the will of the Almighty that the light Christ is should be hidden from the view of the ordinary man, woman and child, and so it is for this reason that the Church was established: it was founded in order that the light Christ is should be diffused and communicated through the whole world.”


Psalm 23:4

“Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.” “It is with Christ in view (that the Psalmist says this.) Christ is always with us as our intimate companion and friend!”

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remember Sion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1)

The foreign land is this whole mortal life to those who have received the grace to love something higher… .There is in the saint an overmastering desire to depart for his native homeland and to consider the world in which he finds himself as an alien country. ‘I long to be dissolved and to be with Christ,’ is the motto all the saints have made their own.

“When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Psalm 42:2)

In her request to behold the face of her god, the soul asks for a vision of His Divine Essence, since that is the signification of the term “face” in Hebrew.”


Psalm 138:14
“I praise you for I am wonderfully made.”

“In the 138 th Psalm we are given a kind of hint that we should be astonished at the contemplation of our own being…and thank God for having fashioned us in such an amazing way. In Hebrew, the words referring to this can hardly be translated in a satisfactory manner since the thought is not fully expressed and rounded out…a human being will always remain an inexhaustible source of wonder to the devout and reflective mind…A great American religious genius…Isaack Hecker, who founded the Paulist Fathers, once said these words: ‘Man is a mystic fact.’…We should all look at ourselves in the divine light that Christ is, for thus regarded, we will perceive something in ourselves we could never have thought there would be there…Who are we, and what are we, we should often prayerfully ask ourselves.”

The Prophets:

“Why do we have to suffer in this life is the cry that has been going up from human hearts ever since our first parents have been cast out of paradise. To answer this question with any satisfaction we have to go through the writings of the Patriarchs and Prophets as well as those in the New Testament.”


The Song of Songs

(Charles Rich often mentions that the Jews interpreted the Song to be an allegory of the love of God and the soul just as Christian mystics have done see his commentary of the Song of Songs originally published by St. Bede’s in an edited form as The Embrace of the Soul, but later published also by St. Bede’s in the original as How to Become Really Rich: Notes on the Song of Songs.)

“The sacred writer has recourse to the kind of language everyone is able to understand, provided, of course, that one’s heart is free from the sin that impedes the light of heaven’s grace from penetrating our deep interior selves…(with what)...we will one day encounter when we meet God face to face and see Him as He is.”

“ The Song of Songs speaks to us of Christ the Lord Who is the Divine Bridegroom of the soul….”you give them rest at midday (Song 1:7) means the heights of bliss to which holiness brings (those who love Christ.)…The Song of Songs voices the longing of the soul for the Ideal; in it, is rejected the quest for the actual, the apparent, the false and the plausible. We are here in the word of Plato’s ideas and those super-Essential Realities spoken of by all the mystical doctors of the Church…If ever there was a lover in this world it was he of the Song of Songs, who was a figure of Christ. We do not want time but eternity and we make this known in the opening words of this sacred hymn, “let him kiss me” to say to God and in these words indicate the closeness to Him we wish to have. We long to be drawn to the Ideal Beauty Christ is and nothing else is able to take its place in ourselves.”

“Let my lover come to his garden and eat its choice fruits”…You are an enclosed garden God says to the soul completely given over to the love Himself…these choice fruits consist of the mystical graces with which the saints are endowed…The Saints alone are able to see in the song an expression of God’s love for them…God wants us to long for Him with a passion and ardor with which we crave for no other thing.

“More delightful is your love than wine.” What beauty, what goodness, truth, joy, pleasantness and delight can for one instant be compared with god’s own, substantial, and infinite Beauty? Who…can be compared with Christ? …God became man so that we can have someone whom we can love without any reservation and to an unlimited degree. There is nothing God has made to which we can yield up our whole heart and our whole mind, for nothing exists which warrants such a complete surrender. Only God alone can be loved unconditionally.”

“Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountain of spices.”

The soul says to Christ “Amen, Come, Lord Jesus.” In the Son of Songs the redeemer of the world in portrayed in His most beautiful aspect, and so the soul catching sight of His beauty, becomes beside herself with longing.”