The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

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Commentaries for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 14, 2014


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Mass Readings (NJB). Scroll down slightly. The NJB is used in most other English speaking countries.

Today’s Divine Office.

Anglican Use Daily Office. ”Briefly, it is a provision for an “Anglican style” liturgy similar to the Book of Common Prayer as an ecclesiastically approved variant on the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” More info.


My Notes on Isaiah 55:6-9.

Word-Sunday Notes on Isaiah 55: 6-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Isaiah 55:6-9.

COMMENTARY ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 145.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 145.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 145.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 145.

Pseudo-St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 145. Site incorrectly labels it Ps 144.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a.

Word-Sunday Notes on Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a.

Homilist’s Catechism on Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 20:1-16.

Father Fonck’s Commentary on Matthew 20:1-16.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 20:1-16.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 20:1-16.

St Catherine of Siene on Matthew 20:1-16.

Word-Sunday Notes on Matthew 20:1-16.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 20:1-16.

St Augustine’s Sermon on Matthew 20:1-16.

My Summary of the Readings for Sunday Mass, Sept 18.


Haydock Bible Commentary. Readings from the Douay-Rheims Challoner translation followed by notes from the old Haydock Commentary. Originally posted in 2008.

Navarre Bible Commentary: Not yet posted, will update.

Is God Fair. A post by Catholic Biblical Scholar Dr. John Bergsma.

Bible Workshop. Links, reading guide, comparing the readings, lesson plan.

St Charles Borromeo’s Parish Bible Study Notes. Some background and notes on the readings.

Lector Notes. Historical and theological background usually on the first and second readings.

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My Notes on Isaiah 55:6-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 14, 2014

Background~Isaiah 55:1-13 closes out the second part of the book, chapters 40-55, in doing so it connects with its beginning (Isa 40:1-11). The theme of forgiveness is found in Isa 40:2 and Isa 55:6-7 (part of today’s reading); the theme of return from exile is found in Isa 40:4 and Isa 55:12-13; nature’s role in the return is the theme in Isa 40:4 and Isa 55:12; and, God’s word is lasting and effective is the them of Isa 40:8 and Isa 55:10-11 (part of today’s reading).

Isa 55:6  Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found: call upon him, while he is near.
Isa 55:7  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God: for he is bountiful to forgive.

Seek ye the Lord. As the context here makes clear, the seeking in question is an act of repentance, the wicked must forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts. This seeking must be done while he may be found. Man cannot presume upon God’s mercy. He is patient regarding sinners but not complacent (2 Peter 3:9-10; John 7:33-34; John 8:21). The covenant curses had come upon the people for their infidelities (see Deut 28:15-68), but these were intended to be medicinal, leading to repentance and the re-establishment of a right relationship with God (Deut 30:1-10).

Thoughts in verse 7, 8, and 9 means something more than mere reflections, rather, the meaning is a plan, purpose, or design.

Isa 55:8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
Isa 55:9  For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.

My thoughts are not your thoughts…my ways (are exalted) above your ways. Gives the reason for the call to the unjust man to forsake his thoughts (verse 7). Similarly, the contrast between your ways and my ways indicates why the wicked man is called upon to forsake his ways.

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Commentaries for the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 14, 2014


Commentaries for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A.

Last Week’s Commentaries.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Proverbs 3:27-33.

Navarre Bible Comm. on Proverbs 3:27-33.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 15 (with some notes). Entire psalm.

Pending: St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 15. Entire psalm.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 15. Entire psalm

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 15. On entire psalm.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm15. On entire Psalm.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 8:16-18.

Navarre Bible Comm. on Luke 8:16-18.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 119.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Catechesis on Psalm 119.

Psallam Domino on Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 119:1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 8:19-21.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 8:19-21.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 8:19-21.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Pending maybe: My Notes on Proverbs 30:5-9.

Navarre Bible Comm. on Proverbs 30:5-9.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 119.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Catechesis on Psalm 119.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 9:1-6.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 9:1-6.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 9:1-6.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Ecclesiastes 1:2-11.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:2-11.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 90.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 90.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 90. On entire psalm.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 9:7-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 9:7-9.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Pending maybe: My Notes on Today’s First Reading (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11).

Now Ecclesiastes Gets Its Turn. Introduction to the book by Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma. Also, check out his three recent posts on Proverbs here, here and here.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Ecclesiastes 3:1-11.

Pending: Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 144.

Pseudo-Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 144. On entire psalm.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 144. On entire psalm.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 9:18-22.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 9:18-22.

Navarre Bible Comm on Luke 9:18-22.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 90.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 90.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 90.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 9:43-45.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 9:43-45.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 9:43-45.


Pending: Commentaries for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Pending: Next Week’s Commentaries.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 9:18-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 14, 2014

9:18-22. And it came to pass that as He was alone, praying, His disciples were with Him: and He asked them, saying, Whom do the multitudes say of Me that I am? And they answered and said, Some, indeed, John the Baptist: and others, Elijah: and others, that some prophet of those in old time has risen again. And He said unto them; But whom do ye say that I am? And Peter answered and said, The Christ of God. And He charged and commanded them to tell this to no man, saying, The Son of man is about to suffer many things, and to be rejected of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes: and be slain, and rise again the third day.

WELL may we call out to those who would search the sacred Scriptures, “Arouse ye, and awake.” For it is a thing impossible to perceive the exact meaning of the mystery of Christ, if we use for this end a debauched mind, and an understanding drowned, so to speak, in sleep. Need rather is there of a wakeful mind, and a penetrating eye; for the subject is one difficult to comprehend in the highest degree. And this is apparent now that our discourse has come to the explanation of the passage before us. For what says the Evangelist? “And it came to pass that as He was alone, praying, His disciples were with Him; and He asked them, saying; Whom do the multitudes say of Me that I am? Now the first thing we have to examine is, what it was which led our Lord Jesus Christ to propose to the holy apostles this question, or inquiry, For no word or deed of His is either at an unseasonable time or without a fitting reason; but rather, He does all things wisely and in their season. What therefore do we say, or what suitable explanation do we find for His present acts? He had fed in the desert a vast multitude of five thousand men: and how had He fed them? With five loaves! breaking with them into morsels two small fish! And these so multiplied out of nothing, that twelve baskets of fragments even were taken up. The blessed disciples therefore were astonished as well as the multitudes, and saw by what had been wrought, that He is |214 in truth God and the Son of God. And afterwards, when they had withdrawn from the multitude and He was alone, He occupied Himself in prayer, in this too making Himself our example, or rather instructing the disciples how to discharge efficiently their office as teachers. For it is, I think, the duty of those who are set over the people, and whose lot it is to guide Christ’s flocks, constantly to occupy themselves with their necessary business, and openly practise those things with which God is well pleased: even that saintlike and virtuous conduct which gains great admiration, and is certain to profit the people under their charge. For they ought either to be actively engaged in those duties which are to the glory of God: or such as in their retirement bring upon them a blessing, and call down upon them power from on high: of which latter, one and the most excellent is prayer. Knowing which the divine Paul said, “Pray without ceasing.”

As I said, then, the Lord and Saviour of all made Himself an example to the disciples of saintlike conversation, by praying alone, with them only in His company. But His doing so might perchance trouble the disciples, and beget in them dangerous thoughts. For they saw Him praying in human fashion, Whom yesterday they beheld working miracles with godlike dignity. It would not therefore have been entirely without reason, had they said among themselves; Oh, strange conduct! Whom must we consider Him to be? God, or man? If we say man, and like one of us; like one, that is, of the holy prophets; we see from the ineffable miracles which He works, that He far transcends the limits of human nature: for in manifold ways He doeth wonders as God. If we say He is God, surely to pray is unbefitting One Who is God by nature. For of whom can God ask what He wishes to receive? And of what can God at all be in want? To chase away therefore such confusing thoughts, and to calm their faith, which, so to speak, was tempest-tossed, He makes this inquiry; not as though He were at all ignorant of what was commonly said of Him, either by those who did not belong to the synagogue of the Jews, or by the Israelites themselves: His object rather was to rescue them from the general mode of thinking, and implant in them a correct faith, “Whom, therefore, He asks, do the multitudes say that I am? |215

Thou seest the skilfulness of the question. He did not at once say, “Whom do ye say that I am? but refers to the rumour of those that were without, that having rejected it, and shewn it to be unsound, He may then bring them back to the true opinion. Which also happened: for when the disciples had said, “Some John the Baptist, and others Elijah, and others, that some prophet of those in old time has risen up;” He said to them, “But ye, whom do ye say that I am?” Oh! how full of meaning is that “ye!” He separates them from all others, that they may also avoid their opinions, and not conceive an unworthy idea of Him, nor entertain confused and wavering thoughts, themselves too imagining that John had risen again, or one of the prophets. Ye therefore, He says, who have been chosen; who by My decree have been called to the apostleship; who are the witnesses of My miracles; whom do ye say that I am?

First before the rest Peter again springs forth, and makes himself the mouthpiece of the whole company, pouring forth the expression of love to God, and giving utterance to a correct and faultless confession of faith in Him, saying, “The Christ of God.” The disciple is unerring: a thoroughly intelligent explainer of the mystery. For he does not simply say, that He is a Christ of God; but “the Christ” rather: for there are many who have been called “Christ,” from having in various ways been anointed of God. For some have been anointed as kings; and some as prophets; while others, having received salvation by That Christ Who is the Saviour of all, even we ourselves, obtain the appellation of christ, as having been anointed by the Holy Ghost. For it is said in the words of the Psalmist, of those in old time, that is, before the coming of our Saviour: “Touch not My christs, and do My prophets no harm.” But the words of Habakkuk refer to us; “Thou hast gone forth to the salvation of Thy people: to save Thy christs.” Christs therefore there are many, and they have so been called from the fact [of having been anointed ]: but He Who is God the Father’s Christ is One, and One only: not as though we indeed are christs, and not God’s christs, but belonging to some other person: but because He and He alone has as His Father Him that is in heaven. Since therefore most wise Peter, confessing the faith correctly and without |216 error, said, “The Christ of God,” it is plain, that distinguishing Him from those to whom the appellation generally belongs, he referred Him to God, as being His sole (Christ). For though He be by nature God, and shone forth ineffably from God the Father as His only begotten Word, yet He became flesh according to the Scripture. The blessed Peter therefore professed faith in Him, lending, as I before said, his words to the whole company of the holy apostles, and acting as spokesman for them all, as being more accurate than the rest.

And this too we ought to observe: that in Matthew’s account we find that the blessed disciple said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God:” but the wise Luke, summing up so to speak the purport, agrees with him in the thoughts, but using fewer words, tells us that he said, “The Christ of God.” Moreover no mention is here made of that which the Saviour spake to him: but in Matthew again we find that He said to Him plainly: “Blessed art thou, Simeon, son of Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father in heaven.” The disciple therefore was verily taught of God; nor did he make this profession of faith for us of his own thoughts merely, but because the divine light shone upon his understanding, and the Father led him to a correct knowledge of the mystery of Christ. What therefore do those mistaken innovators 2 say to this, who unwarrantably pervert the great and adorable mystery of the incarnation of the Only Begotten, and fall from the right way, walking in the path of crookedness? For the wise Peter acknowledged one Christ: while they sever that One into two, in opposition to the doctrines of truth. ‘But yes, he replies, the disciple acknowledged one Christ; and so do we also affirm that there is one Christ, by Whom we mean the Son, even the Word that, is from God the Father 3.’ To this then |217 what do we reply? Is it not plain then, we say, to every one, that Christ asks the holy apostles, not, Whom do men say that the Word of God is? but, who “the Son of man is?” and that |218 it was of Him that Peter confessed, that He is “the Christ of God?” Let them also explain this to us: How is Peter’s confession worthy of admiration, if it contain nothing profound and hidden, and, so to speak, not apparent to the generality? For what verily did God the Father reveal to him? That the Son of man is a man? Is this the God-taught mystery? Is it for this that he is admired, and deemed worthy of such surpassing honours? For thus he was addressed, “Blessed art thou, Simeon, son of Jonah.”

The reason, however, for which he was thus admired is a very just one; for it was because he believed that He Whom he saw as one of us, that is, in our likeness, was the Son of God the Father, the Word, namely, That sprang forth from His substance, and became flesh, and was made man. See here, I pray, the profundity of the thoughts, the importance of the confession, the high and weighty mystery. For He Who was there in the likeness of mankind, and as a portion of creation, was God, Who transcends all created things! He Who dwells in the high and lofty place was abased from His glory to be in poverty like unto us! And He Who, as God, is Lord of all, and King of all, was in the likeness of a slave, and in the measure of a slave! This is the faith the Saviour crowns; to those thus minded He extends His bountiful right hand. For when He had praised Peter, and said that he was taught of God, as one who had obtained the revelation from above, from God the Father, He makes him more assured and more abundantly confirmed in the faith he had professed concerning Him, by saying: “And I say unto thee, that thou art a stone; and upon this stone I will build My church: and I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

For observe how He makes Himself at once the Lord of heaven and of earth. For He promises things that exceed our nature, and surpass the measure of humanity; yea, rather, even that of the angelic rank: and are suitable for that nature only to bestow, Whose glory and sovereignty transcend all. For, first He says that the church belongs to Him; the sacred Scriptures nevertheless distinctly ascribe it rather to God, |219 and to Him only, saying that it is “the church of God.” 4 For they say that “Christ presented it to Himself, having neither spot nor stain, but holy rather, and blameless.” As being God therefore He says that it is His, and promises moreover to found it, granting it to be unshaken, as being Himself the Lord of powers.

And next He says that He gives him the keys of heaven. Who is it then that thus pours forth language appropriate to God? Is it an angel? or some other intelligent power, whether principality, or throne, or dominion? or those holy seraphs? Not at all: but, as I said before, such language belongs to Almighty God alone, Whose is the sovereignty of earth and heaven. Let not, then, these innovators divide the one Christ, so as to say that one Son is the Word of God the Father, and that He Who is of the seed of David is another Son. For Peter made mention of one Christ; even the Only-begotten Who became man and was made flesh: and for this confession was counted worthy of these extraordinary honours.

When, however, the disciple had professed his faith, He charged them, it says, and commanded them to tell it to no man: “for the Son of man,” He said, “is about to suffer many things, and be rejected, and killed, and the third day “He shall rise again.” And yet how was it not rather the duty of disciples to proclaim Him everywhere? For this was the very business of those appointed by Him to the apostle-ship. But as the sacred Scripture saith, “There is a time for everything.” There were things yet unfulfilled which must also be included in their preaching of Him: such as were the cross; the passion; the death in the flesh; the resurrection from the dead; that great and truly glorious sign by which testimony is borne Him that the Emanuel is truly God, and by nature the Son of God the Father. For that He utterly abolished death, and effaced destruction, and spoiled hell, and overthrew the tyranny of the enemy, and took away the sin of the world, and opened the gates above to the dwellers upon earth, and united earth to heaven: these things proved Him to be, as I said, in truth God. He commanded |220 them, therefore, to guard the mystery by a seasonable silence until the whole plan of the dispensation should arrive at a suitable conclusion. For then, when He arose from the dead, He gave commandment that the mystery should be revealed to all the inhabitants of the earth, setting before every man justification by faith, and the cleansing efficacy of holy baptism. For He said, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth: Go ye, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in 5 the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and teaching them to observe all those things which I have commanded you. And lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” For Christ is with us and in us by the Holy Ghost, and dwells in the souls of us all: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion and honour with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |221

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, fathers of the church, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 9:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 14, 2014

9:1-5. And when He had called the twelve Apostles, He gave them power and authority over all the devils, and to heal sicknesses. And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And He said unto them, Take nothing for the way: no staff: no scrip: neither bread nor money: nor shall ye have two coats. And into whatsoever house ye enter, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye depart from that city, shake off the dust from your feet for their testimony.

IT is a true saying, that the fruit of good deeds is honourable. For those who wish to lead lives pure and undefiled as far as is possible for men, Christ will adorn with His gifts, and grant them an abundant recompense for all their saintly deeds, and make them partakers of His glory. For it is impossible that He should ever lie who says: “As I live, saith the Lord, those who honour Me, I will honour.”

As a plain and clear proof of this, I take the glorious and noble company of the holy Apostles. Behold them highly distinguished, and crowned with more than human glory, by this fresh gift bestowed by Christ. “For He gave them, it says, power and authority over all the devils, and to heal sicknesses.” Observe again, I pray, that the Incarnate Word of God exceeds the measure of humanity, and is radiant with the dignities of the Godhead. For it transcends the limits of human nature, to give authority over unclean spirits to whomsoever He will: as does also the enabling them to deliver from sicknesses such as were afflicted with them. For God, indeed, bestows on whom He will powers of this kind; and on His decree alone it depends that any are able, according to His good pleasure, to work divine miracles, and act as ministers of the grace that is from above: but to impart to others the gift bestowed on them, is altogether an impossibility. For the majesty and glory of the supreme nature is found existing essentially in nothing that has being, except in Itself, and It only. |200 Be it, therefore, angel or archangel, that any one mentions, or thrones and dominions, or the seraphim, which again are higher in dignity, let him wisely understand this: that they indeed possess pre-eminent authority by the powers given them from above, such as language cannot describe, nor nature bestow: but reason altogether forbids the supposition of their imparting these powers to others. But Christ bestows them, as being God therefore, and as out of His own fulness: for He is Himself the Lord of glory and of powers.

The grace then bestowed upon the holy Apostles is worthy of all admiration; but the bountifulness of the Giver surpasses all praise and admiration: for He gives them, as I said, His own glory. Man receives authority over the evil spirits, and reduces unto nothingness the pride that was so high exalted, and arrogant, even that of the devil: his wickedness he renders ineffectual, and, by the might and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, burning him as with fire, he makes him come forth with groans and weeping from those whom he had possessed. And yet in old time he had said: “I will hold the whole world in my hand as a nest, and will take it as eggs that are left: and there is no one that shall escape from me, or speak against me.” He missed, then, the truth, and fell from his hope, proud and audacious though he was, and vaunting himself over the infirmity of mankind. For the Lord of powers marshalled against him the ministers of the sacred proclamations. And this verily had been foretold by one of the holy prophets when speaking of Satan and the holy teachers: “That suddenly they shall arise that bite thee: and they shall awake that afflict thee, and thou shalt be their prey.” For, so to speak, they bit Satan by attacking his glory, and making his goods a spoil, and bringing them unto Christ by means of |201 faith in Him: for so they attacked Satan himself. Great therefore was the power given unto the holy Apostles by the decree and will of Christ, the Saviour of us all. “For He gave them power and authority over the unclean spirits.”

We will, in the next place, also inquire, if it seem good, whence a grace, thus illustrious and famous, descended upon mankind. The Only-begotten Word therefore of God crowned human nature with this great honour by becoming flesh, and taking upon Him our likeness. And thus, without in one single particular departing from the glories of His majesty;—-for He wrought deeds worthy of God, even though He became, as I said, like unto us, and was of flesh and blood;—-He broke the power of Satan by His almighty word. And by His rebuking the evil spirits, the inhabitants of earth became able to rebuke them also.

And that what I say is true, I will endeavour to make quite certain. For the Saviour, as I said, was rebuking the unclean spirits: but the Pharisees, opening their mouth to deride His glory, had the effrontery to say, “This man casteth not out devils, but by Beelzebub, prince of the devils.” But the Saviour rebuked them for so speaking, as men prone to mockery, and ill-disposed, and utterly without understanding, thus saying; “If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons east them out? Therefore shall they be your judges.” For the blessed disciples, who were sons of the Jews by their descent according to the flesh, were the terror of Satan and his angels: for they broke their power in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. And our Lord further said: But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, then the kingdom of God is come upon you.” For He, as the Only-begotten Son of the Father, and the Word, both was and is omnipotent, and there is nothing that is not easy to Him: but inasmuch as He rebuked evil spirits while He was man, human nature was triumphant in Him, and crowned with godlike glory; for it was capable of rebuking even the evil spirits with power. By Christ’s casting out devils, therefore, the kingdom of God came unto us: for one may affirm that it is the perfection of godlike majesty to be able to beat down Satan in spite of his resistance. |202

He glorified therefore His disciples by giving them authority and power over the evil spirits, and over sicknesses. Did He then thus honour them without reason, and make them illustrious without any cogent cause? But how can this be true if For it was necessary, most necessary, that having been publicly appointed ministers of the sacred proclamations, they should be able to work miracles, and by means of what they wrought convince men of their being the ministers of God, and mediators of all beneath the heaven, inviting them all to reconciliation and justification by faith, and pointing out the way of salvation and of life that is thereby. For the devout and intelligent need generally only reasoning to make them understand the truth: but those who have wandered without restraint into rebellion, and are not prepared to receive the sound speech of him who would win them for their true profit;—-such require miracles, and the working of signs: and scarcely even so are they brought to thorough persuasion.

For we often find that the discourse of the holy Apostles prospered in this way. For, for example, Peter and John delivered from his malady that lame man who lay at the beautiful gate. And upon his entering the temple, they had his aid, as it were, in testimony of the great deed that had been wrought, and spake with great boldness concerning Christ, the Saviour of us all; even though they saw that those whose lot it was to be rulers of the synagogue of the Jews, were still travailling with bitter ill-will against Him. For they said: “Ye men of Israel, why wonder ye at this, or why gaze ye at us, as though by our own might or righteousness we made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus, Whom ye delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he would have let Him go. But ye denied the Holy One, and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted you. And Him the Prince of Life ye killed; Whom God raised from the dead. And of Him we are witnesses: and His Name, through faith in His Name, hath made this man strong whom ye see and know: and faith in Him hath given him this soundness in the presence of you all.” But although many of the Jews were embittered at a loftiness of speech such |203 as this, yet against their will they put, so to speak, a bridle upon their wrath, being ashamed because of the greatness of the miracle.

And there is another point we must not omit. For having first invested the holy Apostles with powers thus splendid, He then bids them depart with speed, and commence their office of proclaiming His mystery to the inhabitants of the whole earth. For just as able generals, having equipped their bravest soldiers with weapons of war, send them against the phalanxes of the enemy; so too does Christ, our common Saviour and Lord, send the holy teachers of His mysteries, clad as it were in the grace that He bestows, and fully equipped in spiritual armour, against Satan and his angels; that so they may be unconquerable and hardy combatants. For they were about to do battle with those who in old time held mastery over the inhabitants of earth; even against the wicked and opposing powers, who had divided among them all under heaven, and had made those their worshippers who had been created in the image of God. These, then, the divine disciples were about to vex, by summoning to the knowledge of the truth those that were in error, and giving light to them that were in darkness: while those who in old time worshipped them, they rendered earnest followers of such pursuits as become saints.

For this reason very fitly He bade them take nothing with them, wishing them both to be free from all worldly care, and so entirely exempt from the labours that worldly things occasion, as even to pay no regard to their necessary and indispensable food. But manifestly One Who bids them abstain even from things such as these, entirely cuts away the love of riches and the desire of gain. For their glory, He said, and, so to speak, their crown, is to possess nothing. And He withdraws them even from such things as are necessary for their use, by the command to carry nothing whatsoever, neither staff, nor scrip, nor bread, nor money, nor two coats. Observe, therefore, as I said, that He withdraws them from vain distractions, and anxiety about the body, and bids them have no cares about food, repeating to them, as it were, that passage in the Psalm: “Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He shall feed thee.” For true also is that which Christ said: |204 “Ye are not able to serve God and Mammon.” And again; “For where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.”

That they may lead, therefore, a consistent and simple life, and, being free from vain and superfluous anxiety, may devote themselves entirely to the duty of proclaiming His mystery, and labour without ceasing in publishing to men everywhere the tidings of salvation, He commands them to be indifferent both as regards clothing and food. And to the same effect the Saviour elsewhere spake: “For let your loins, He says, be girt, and your lights burning.” But by their loins being girt, He means the readiness of the mind for every good work: and by their lights burning, that their heart be filled with divine light. And in like manner the law also of Moses plainly commands those who ate of the lamb: “Thus shall ye eat it: your loins shall be girt: and your staves in your hands: and your sandals on your feet.” Observe, therefore, that those in whom Christ, the true Lamb, dwells, must be like men girt for a journey: for they must “shoe their feet with the readiness of the Gospel of peace,” as blessed Paul wrote unto us; and be clad as becometh wayfarers. For it is not fitting for those charged with the divine message, if they would prosper in their office, to remain stationary; but, as it were, they must constantly be moving forward, and run, not for an uncertainty, but to win a glorious hope. For even those who once had fallen under the hand of the enemy, if by faith they fight for Christ, the Saviour of us all, will inherit an incorruptible crown.

But I can imagine some one saying, O Lord, Thou hast commanded thy ministers to carry with them no supply whatsoever of necessaries for food and raiment: whence, then, will they obtain what is essential and indispensable for their use? This too He at once points out, saying; “Into whatsoever house ye enter, there abide, and thence depart.” The fruit, He says, which you will obtain from those you instruct, shall be sufficient. For those who receive from you things spiritual, and gain the divine seed for their souls, shall take care of your bodily needs. And this no one can blame: for the wise Paul also sent word as follows: “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your bodily things? |205 “So the Lord also commanded, that those who preach the Gospel shall live of the Gospel.” And that this same truth is signified by the command of Moses, he clearly shews, saying, “It is written, Thou shalt not muzzle the trampling ox.” And what the intention of the law is he again showed, saying, “Doth God care for oxen? or sayeth He it altogether on our account, because it is fit that he who plougheth should plough in hope: and he who trampleth the corn as having hope to share in it?” For the teachers, therefore, to receive from those taught these trifling and easily procurable matters is in no respect injurious.

But He commanded them both to abide in one house, and from it to take their departure.1 For it was right, both that those who had once received them should not be defrauded of the gift: and that the holy Apostles themselves should not place any impediment in the way of their own zeal and earnestness in preaching God’s message, by letting themselves be carried off to various houses by those whose object was, not to learn of them some necessary lesson, but to set before them a luxurious table, beyond what was moderate and necessary.

And that it is by no means without its reward to honour the saints, we learn from our Saviour’s words. For He said unto them; “Whosoever receiveth you receiveth Me, and whosoever receiveth Me receiveth Him That sent Me.” For He purposely makes His own, and takes unto Himself, the honours paid to the saints, in order that on every side they may have security. For what is there better, or what is comparable unto the honour and love due unto God? But this is rendered by giving honour to the saints. And if he who receiveth them is right blessed, and of glorious hope, how must not also the converse be entirely and absolutely true! For he must be full of utter misery, who is indifferent to the duty of honouring the saints. For this reason He said, “that when ye go out from that house, shake off the very dust from your feet for their testimony.” |206

And next, we must see what this signifies. And it is this: That from those who would not receive them, nor set store by the charge confided to them, nor obey the sacred message, nor receive the faith;—-from such they should refuse to receive any thing whatsoever. For it is unlikely that those who despise the master of the house, will shew themselves generous to the servants: and that those who impiously disregard the heavenly summons, will ask a blessing of its preachers, by offering them things of no value, and such as the disciples could without trouble obtain from their own people. For it is written, “Let not the oil of the wicked anoint my head.” And besides they ought to feel that their love was due to those only who love and praise Christ; and avoid all others of a different character: for it is written: “Have I not hated, O Lord, them that hate Thee: and been hot exceedingly at Thy enemies? I have hated them with a perfect hatred: they have become my enemies.” So is the love proved of earthy soldiers: for it is not possible for them to love foreigners, while paying a due regard to their king’s interests. We learn this too by what Christ says: “that he who is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me altogether scattereth.”

Whatsoever, therefore, Christ commanded his holy Apostles was exactly fitted for their use and benefit: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |207 (source)

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Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 7, 2014

12. But if Christ is preached that he rose from the dead, how do some among you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13. But if there is no resurrection of the dead: neither is Christ risen.
14. And if Christ is not risen, then is our preaching void, and your faith is also void.

If the solemn, repeated, and consistent declaration of the whole Apostolic college is to the effect that Jesus Christ our Lord did really and truly rise again from death, in the body, and that they were assured of this fact by their own personal knowledge, and the evidence of their own senses, having often seen, conversed, walked, and more than once eaten with him, after that event: on what grounds, and with what confidence and assurance do some persons among you (he avoids saying some of you, as if he regarded them as opponents, dwelling among and associating with the Christians, but not in reality belonging to them) assert that the resurrection of the dead is impossible, or not within the design of God? For the universal includes the particular, and the particular implies the universal. The resurrection must be possible, for Christ rose. It must be the design and intention of God, for Christ is our head, and we his members, and his resurrection is the anticipation and the pledge of ours. If there is no resurrection, Christ did not rise; and if Christ  did not rise, the preaching of the Apostle is rendered void, empty, or false. For the whole system of the Christian religion is built upon this foundation. Every hope Christians cherish rests on faith in the resurrection of Christ. If that is not a fact, the whole structure falls to the ground.

A modern controversialist might perhaps reply to this, that the resurrection of Christ, as an historical fact, does not necessarily imply our own. There may have been reasons for the former which do not apply generally; and that the beatification of the human soul is conceivable without the resurrection of the body. Saint Paul would doubtless have replied to such an argument, had it been advanced, or likely to be advanced, in his day. But it is evident from the tenor of his argument that his opponents denied both the general resurrection, and that of Christ as an historical fact; and the Apostle accordingly addresses himself to the refutation of both errors together.

15. And we are found false witnesses of God; because we have spoken testimony against God, that he raised Christ; whom he did not raise, if the dead rise not.
16. For if the dead rise not, neither is Christ risen.
17. But if Christ is not risen, your faith is vain, for you are still in your sins:
18. Therefore also those who sleep in Christ are perished.

We, the Apostles, have blasphemed and slandered Almighty God, in proclaiming that he raised Christ from the dead; for if the resurrection of the dead is in itself impossible, the resurrection of Christ is not true. And in that case, further, you have not obtained through Christ the remission of sin. Your sins may have been atoned for by His death on the cross: but you have never been absolved from them. It was after His resurrection that Christ commanded the Apostles to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The very form of the Sacrament of Baptism is a figurative representation of the resurrection of Christ, the person baptized rising from the water to new life. And it was after his resurrection that he breathed on the Apostles and said: Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven. John 20:22-23. There is, therefore, no application of God’s pardon to the individual, if Christ is not risen. And from this it follows that those who have already fallen asleep in Christ, or died for His name, such as Saint Stephen, have perished, that is, are damned. For if they did not obtain remission of sins during this natural life, they could not have obtained it afterwards. It would seem that the teachers of heresy against whom the Apostle is arguing, must have carried their denial of the possibility of resurrection so far as to refuse to believe that of Christ, as a real and historical fact. And they could only be refuted by the oral testimony of the Apostles and other witnesses who had seen Him after His resurrection, the Gospel histories not being then written. It is also possible that their denial of the resurrection proceeded from a pseudo-philosophical idea about the inherent impurity of the material creation, association with which they regarded as a blemish upon God’s spiritual nature; an error which led heretics of this school, at a later period, to deny not the resurrection only, but the truth of the Incarnation as well, 1 John 4:2-3.

19. If in this life only we are hoping in Christ, we are more miserable than all men.
20. But now has Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of the sleeping:
21. For since indeed through man is death, through man also is the resurrection of the dead.
22. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

If there is no resurrection of the body, our hopes are bounded by the grave. Without resurrection, there is no life, and consequently no immortality. The Apostle plainly holds that the grave bounds all our prospect of future bliss, which is closed for ever, if we rise not. In that case, while all mortal men are more or less miserable. Christian people are the most miserable of all: more so than the pagans, who live in the free license of the indulgence of their inclinations. Of what advantage are mortification, fasting, watching, continence, justice mercy, if they have no reward awaiting them in the future? He does not say that Christian people, having this hope, would not be happier than other men, in the enjoyment of the hope, even if it were illusory; for that, probably, they would be in any case. What he says is that if what we hope for in Christ is of this world only, we are of all men most miserable.

In verses 20-24, the Apostle shows that the resurrection of Christ, which is an unquestionable fact, is as unquestionably a pledge of our own resurrection; and in verses 24-28 that our resurrection, and the final overthrow of death, is a part of that complete triumph and victory over all his enemies, which is the reward Christ won by his passion.

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Commentaries for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 7, 2014


READINGS AND OFFICE: Please note that links to the readings from the NABRE and the NJB are time conditioned and will be supplied as the 24 Sunday in OT, Year A comes near.Since this year (2014) the 25th Sunday falls on Sept. 14, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, that Feast with its readings replaces the normal readings. The next time the readings for the 25th Sunday, Year A will be used is in 2017.

Pending: Today’s Mass Readings (NABRE). Translation used in the USA.

Pending: Today’s Mass Readings (NJB). Scroll down slightly. The NJB is used in most other English speaking countries.

Today’s Mass Readings: RSVCE: Sir 27:30—28:7; Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12; Rom 14:7-9; Matt 18:21-35.

Today’s Divine Office.

Anglican Use Daily Office. ”Briefly, it is a provision for an “Anglican style” liturgy similar to the Book of Common Prayer as an ecclesiastically approved variant on the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” More info.


My Notes on Sirach 27:30-28:7.

A Very Brief Summary of the Thematic of  Today’s Readings.

Word-Sunday Notes on Sirach 27:30-28:7.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Sirach 27:30-28:7.

COMMENTARIES FOR THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 103. Entire psalm.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 103. Entire psalm.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 103. Entire psalm.


Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Romans 14:7-9.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 14:7-9.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 14:7-9. On 9-12.

Word-Sunday Notes on Romans 14:7-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 14:7-9.

Homilist’s Catechism on Romans 14:7-9.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 18:21-35.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 18:21-35. On 18:35-19:1.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matt 18:21-35.

St Jerome’s Homily on Matthew 18:35.

Word-Sunday Notes on Matthew 18:21-35.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 18:21-35.

Homilist’s Catechism on Matthew 18:21-35.



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Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 14:7-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 7, 2014

7. For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself.
8. For if we live, we live to the Lord: and if we die, we die to the Lord. Whether we live, therefore, or die, we belong to the Lord.
9. For in this Christ died and rose again, that he may be Lord of dead and living.
10. And thou, why judgest thou thy brother? or thou, why despisest thy brother? For we shall all stand before the tribunal of Christ.
11. For it is written: I live, saith the Lord, because to me every knee shall bow: and every tongue confess to God.
12. Therefore every one of us will give account of himself to God

7-9. Christ died and rose again. The Greek text and the Syriac add: and lived again. Christ was Lord of all from the first moment of his conception, but he entered upon the exercise of this dominion and authority by his death and resurrection (See Rom 1:4). One recalls Matt 28:18~”All power is given to me.” He died and rose, to be Lord of all men, dead and living. Servants do not belong to themselves but to their Lord, and our life and death are not our own but his.

10. Why judgest thou thy brother? Why do you, the Jew, condemn the Gentile for his liberty? Why do uou, the Gentile, despise the Jew who eats not, from scruple of conscience, and, because he does not, as yet, fully understand the freedom which Christ has given to you both? You are anticipating the sentence of the Judge before whom we must all one day stand.

11-12. As it is written: Is 45:23, 24. I have sworn by myself. The word of justice shall go forth from my mouth, and shall not return. Because to me every knee shall bend, and every tongue shall swear. Every man shall give account to God for himself : but not for another. Whether he has rendered what he has received, and glorified God in proportion to the degree of knowledge permitted him.

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My Notes on Sirach 27:30-28:7

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 6, 2014

Quotations are taken from the RSVCE. The [New] Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.   
Notice of copyright must appear on the title or copyright page of the work as follows:  “The Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1965, 1966 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Background~Sirach 24:1-32:13 is generally taken as forming a literary unit. The unit opens with a praise of wisdom in two parts (Sir 24:1-22; 23-29). In the first part (Sir 24:1-22) wisdom is personified and speaks about herself. In the second part the authors chimes in with his own praises, identifying wisdom with the Law (Sir 24:23).  He describes the wisdom embodied in the Law in terms of  abundant, life-giving waters: the four rives of Eden, along with the Jordan and Nile (Sir 24:25-27). He then notes that the first man (Adam) did not fully comprehend wisdom, anymore than the last man will succeed in doing, for she is deeper than the sea, the great abyss (Sir 24:28-29).

The praise of wisdom ends and the author then takes up the life-giving water image and applies it to himself as a seeker and holder of wisdom. Just as a channel or irrigation ditch can deliver the life-giving waters of a river to a garden where it is needed, so did Sirach deliver his teaching to his immediate disciples, described as his orchard and garden. But we are dealing with abundant, fruitful wisdom, and so his little canal of wisdom became a torrent, a deep sea, thus enabling him to extend the flood of wisdom further and further (Sir 24:30-34). Thus Sirach 24:1-31constitutes an introduction to the unit. The rest of the unit (Sir 25:1-32:13) is concerned with practical matters concerning how one ought to conduct oneself in family and society.

Since it would be rather lengthy for me to detail the remaining content of the unit, I will here simply direct the readers attention to the various sectional footnotes in the NAB (please note that the NABRE does not contain them): See the footnotes on 25:1-11; 25:12-25; 26:1-19; 26:20-27:15; 27:16-28:11; 28:12-26; 29:1-20; 29:21-28; 30:1-13; 30:14-25; 31:1-11; 31:12-32:13.

Immediate Context~Sirach 27:16-28:11 forms the immediate context from which today’s reading is taken.  The primary concern of these verses is to highlight the dangers to personal integrity and friendship. The betrayal of secrets can ruin a friendship, and very well might make reconciliation with the injured party impossible (Sir 27:16-21). Insincerity of conduct towards those you are having discourse with,  and the twisting of their word into a meaning not intended by them, is reprehended by Sirach, and he insists that the Lord hates such a man (sir 27:22-24). In typical Old Testament fashion Sirach 27:25-29 speaks of the inexorable law of retribution: what goes around comes around. It is at this point that today’s reading, Sirach 27:30-28:7 begins.

Sir 27:30. Anger and wrath, these also are abominations, and the sinful man will possess them.
Sir 28:1. He that takes vengeance will suffer vengeance from the Lord, and he will firmly establish his sins.

Anger and wrath are things directed towards other people. In spite of the fact that retribution will come upon the wicked eventually, they continue to maintain their hold on it.   

The sinful man will possess them. The evil man may come to “possess” anger and wrath as a recipient of such things; either from men in this life, or from God at the judgment. The latter (from God) is more likely the meaning here in light of the exiplicit statement in 28:1, and the reference to his not knowing where retribution comes from in Sirach 27:27.

Sir 28:2 Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray. 
Sir 28:3 Does a man harbor anger against another, and yet seek for healing from the Lord? 
Sir 28:4 Does he have no mercy toward a man like himself, and yet pray for his own sins? 
Sir 28:5 If he himself, being flesh, maintains wrath, who will make expiation for his sins?

Verse 2 should certainly call to mind the sixth petition of the Lord’s prayer, and verses 3-5 serve as commentary, while at the same time highlighting the hypocrisy of seeking reconciliation with God when still at enmity with your neighbor. Betrayal of friends (Sir 27:16-21) and insincerity of conduct (Sir 27:22-23) are both examples of such hypocrisy. The end result of the evil man’s hypocrisy towards his fellow man is treating God in the same base fashion.

Sir 28:6 Remember the end of your life, and cease from enmity, remember destruction and death, and be true to the commandments.
Sir 28:7 Remember the commandments, and do not be angry with your neighbor; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook ignorance

Remember, though you may think you can get away with something during this life, at its end their will be a reckoning: the law of retribution mentioned in Sirach 27:25-29. (see Sir 7:36;

do not be angry with your neighbor…overlook ignorance. Overlook the faults of your neighbor rather than bearing a grudge, for this is enshrined in the law (Lev 19:17-18; Ex 23:4-5).

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 6, 2014

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of all of chapter 9, followed by his notes on verses 16-19, 22-27. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the Scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

The Apostle had proposed his own example (8:13) with the view of inducing the Corinthians to forbear scandalizing their weaker brethren. He continues the subject in this chapter, and he shows the painful sacrifices to which he had submitted in forfeiting his rightful claims to support at Corinth, which he was perfectly free to enforce; and these sacrifices he made, lest he might in any way impede the progress of the gospel. From this he leaves it to be inferred, that they should abstain prom things in themselves indifferent, and involving no great sacrifice, in order to avoid the scandal of their brethren. He first establishes his Apostleship (verses 1–4). In the next place, he points out certain privileges which he had a right to claim in common with the other Apostles (4–7). He proves from several sources his right to receive sustenance from the Corinthians (7–15). But he refrained from enforcing this right, although it was hard for him to forego it, lest he might retard the progress of the gospel; nor will he receive any support from them even in future, lest he might be deprived of the special glory and crown attached to the gratuitous discharge of the duties of his sacred ministry (15–19). In the next place, he developes the idea expressed in verse 1—(“am I not free?”) and shows how he sacrificed even his personal liberty to procure the salvation of others, and thus to become a sharer in common with them in the blessings of eternal life (19–24). The mention of the prize of eternal life suggests to the Apostle an expressive image of the value of this prize, and the difficulty of securing it, conveyed in the difficulty of obtaining a crown at the Grecian games. He continues this subject of the difficulty of salvation, to verse 14 of next chapter.

16 For if I preach the gospel, it is no glory to me: for a necessity lieth upon me. For woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.

But, in what does my peculiar subject for glorying consist? In the mere preaching of the gospel? By no means; for, if I merely preach the gospel, I have no peculiar subject wherein to glory. I do only what I must do; for, woe to me if I neglect preaching the gospel.

This peculiar matter for glorying cannot consist in the mere act of preaching the gospel; since, in doing so, he only does what he is bound to do, under pain of eternal woe.

17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation is committed to me.

If I discharge this indispensable duty of preaching with alacrity and with the proper dispositions, I shall be entitled to the essential reward attached to so exalted a function; (I shall not, however, have the peculiar matter for glorying referred to), if I do this work from bad or unworthy motives, I lose a reward; my ministry, however, is not to be undervalued; for, still I act as a dispenser of the mysteries of Christ.

“Willingly,” ἑκὼν (hekon), i.e., with proper dispositions. If I perform the act of preaching the gospel with the proper dispositions, receiving, at the same time, the necessary means of support—the recompense to which all laws, human and divine, give me a claim—“I have a reward,” i.e., he secures the essential reward attached to preaching the gospel; but not the special, accidental glory and reward attached to preaching it, not only with proper dispositions, but also gratuitously, as had been done by him. “If against my will,” ἄκων, i.e., from sordid, unworthy motives; then, I lose all reward; however, “a dispensation is committed to me” (οἰκονομίαν πεπιστευμαι = oikonomian pepisteumai), i.e., I am still the dispenser of the mysteries of Christ, and, hence, my ministry is not to be undervalued or rejected in consequence of the unworthy motives by which I may be actuated.—Estius, in hunc locum. Others, with A’Lapide and Piconio, understand “willingly” to mean gratuitously, and “reward,” to mean a special reward attached to gratuitous preaching, and “against my will,” to mean, with the prospect of just temporal retribution. The former interpretation, however, seems preferable; for, the Apostle appears to consider four classes of preachers—the first, those who omit the duty of preaching. Eternal woe is to be their lot. A second, those who preach the gospel with proper dispositions, and receive temporal compensation. They are entitled to the reward attached to the discharge of this exalted function. A third, those who discharge the duty from corrupt motives; and although their ministry in a spiritual point of view, proves of no service to themselves, still, it is not to be undervalued or despised by others; for, they deal out the treasure of heavenly mysteries intrusted to their keeping. A fourth class—of which he himself is the type—those who preach gratuitously, and these are entitled to special glory and rewards. The interpretation of Estius, adopted in Paraphrase, assigns the more natural meaning of the words, “against my will.” For, a man who performs anything perceptive, even with a view of temporal remuneration, could hardly be said to have done so, “against his will.”

18 What is my reward then? That preaching the gospel, I may deliver the gospel without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

In what, then, consists my peculiar matter for glorying; my peculiar title to a special reward, sooner than forfeit which I would die (verse 15) is this that while preaching the gospel, I do so gratuitously and abstain from fully enforcing my right to support and temporal remuneration, founded on the fact of my preaching the gospel.

“What then is my reward?”—He says, emphatically, “my reward,” to distinguish it from the reward, verse 17. “My reward,” as appears from the following words, means, the cause or matter for reward; it is the same as “my glory,” verse 15:—From the whole passage, it appears quite clear, that the conduct of the Apostle in refusing any temporal compensation from the Corinthians, was a work of supererogation, to which he was not bound either in the abstract (as is clear from the fact of the other Apostles receiving support, and his receiving it himself from the Macedonians), or, in the circumstances; for, he might have explained his claims to support, and thus have removed all legitimate grounds of offence or unfair suspicions on the part of the Corinthians. Moreover, he says, that even were compensation offered him, after the explanation given, he would still refuse it (verse 15); in which case, he, certainly, would not be bound to forego his just claims.

OBJECTION.—He calls a departure from his present line of conduct “an abuse,” and hence, it was a matter of precept for him to act as he did.

RESPONSE.—The Greek word for “abuse,” καταχρησασθαι (katachresasthai), simply means, to use fully. It has this meaning (7:31). St. Chrysostom, by “abuse,” here understands to use a lesser good—minore bono uti—as opposed to a greater, but not to a precept. Hence, the words mean, that I might not use to the full extent (as it would be the exercise of a lesser good), my rights in the gospel.

19 For whereas I was free as to all, I made myself the servant of all, that I might gain the more.

For, although free from all human servitude, whether in regard to Jew or Gentile; I, still, made myself the slave of all in order to gain all to Christ.

The Apostle having referred to the sacrifice which he himself had made, when foregoing his claims to support, as a motive to induce the Corithians to forego, in favour of their weaker brethren, claims involving little or no sacrifice, now adduces another example of heroic charity still more arduous than the preceding, as it was, in a certain sense, the sacrifice of his liberty.

“For whereas I was free as to all,” &c. These words would appear to correspond with the words, verse 1, “Am I not free?” and are, according to some Commentators, a more full explanation of the same. He had, in the preceding, shown his light as an Apostle, and the sacrifices he made; he now shows how he gave up his freedom, in the cause of the Gospel.

22 To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all.

With the uninstructed and scrupulous, I became as a weak ignorant person, accommodating myself, as as far as possibe, from a feeling of tender compassion, to their weakness, in order to gain over persons of this class. In one word, I became all to all, in order to save all.

These words, of course, can only mean, that the Apostle went as far in accommodating himself to every description of persons, as the laws of virtue and religion would permit. He became all to all, says St. Augustine—compassione misericordiæ, non simulatione fallaciæ (Herein he exercised not the subtlety of a deceiver, but the sympathy of a compassionate deliverer)—and again, non mentientis actu, sed compatientis affectu (not acting with deciet, but out of compassion).—(Epistles, 9 and 19, ad Hieronymum.) “That I might save all.” In Greek, ἵνα παντως τινα σώσω, that I might by all means save some. The Vulgate is supported by some of the chief manuscripts, and by the Arabic and Ethiopic versions.

23 And I do all things for the gospel’s sake, that I may be made partaker thereof.

And, although I labour gratuitously and disinterestedly for others, I am not still forgetful of my eternal interests. I do all things for the advancement of the gospel, in order that with you I may share in its promises and rewards.

He says, that although regardless of temporal interests, there is one interest, however, which he has constantly in view, as the aim of all his actions, and that is, the interest of eternal salvation. “All things,” the common Greek text has, τουτο (touto), this, but παντα (panta), all things, is read in the chief MSS., and preferred by critics generally. “That I may be made partaker thereof.” The Greek word for partaker, συνκοινωνὸς (synkoinonos), means, partaker in common, which shows the great humility of the Apostle seeking only for the same crown that was in store for the Corinthians. What an important lesson is conveyed in these words of the Apostle, for those who are engaged in the salvation of others! What will it avail them to have saved thousands of others, if they themselves are lost? With the Apostle they should, therefore, constantly strive, while labouring for the salvation of their brethren, to be themselves sharers with them in the blessings of eternal life. They should frequently pray for the gift of the only true wisdom, viz., the wisdom of salvation.

24 Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize. So run that you may obtain.

And while striving to be a sharer with you in the rewards of eternal life, I am not ignorant, nor should you either be ignorant, of the arduous nature and conditions of the struggle in which we are all engaged; as it is in the race course, so is it here—all run in the course, but only one receives the prize. Do you so comply with the conditions marked out for running in the ways of the gospel, as to secure its reward.

24. The allusion to the reward of eternal life, suggested to the Apostle an idea which, with the Greeks, would be very expressive of the value of the prize for which they were contending, and of the conditions for securing it. This was the idea of the prize contested for at their public games, so famous in the history of Greece; and on this idea he founds an exhortation to strive earnestly for the prize of eternal life. The Apostle alludes to the Isthmian games celebrated at Corinth. (For a full account of the Grecian games see Potter’s “Grecian Antiquities.”) “So run that you may obtain.” From this example we are not to infer, that only one person can obtain eternal life, as only one was crowned at the Grecian games; for, the object of the Apostle in this example, as appears from the words, “so run that you may obtain,” is merely to show that as no man gained the prize in the Grecian games without complying with the laws prescribed for the combatants; so, no one can succeed in gaining the prize of eternal life, without complying with the necessary conditions of the spiritual exercises. As the prize at the games was glorious, so is it the case here. As the conditions were arduous, so is it also in regard to eternal life. In this verse, the Apostle refers to one of the exercises practised at the public games, viz., that of running; in verse 26, to two of them, viz., running and boxing.

25 And every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things. And they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible one.

And every one who wishes to contend at the public games, submits to the greatest privations, and cautiously abstains from every indulgence that might prejudice success. And they, indeed, submit to all the rigours of abstinence from meat, drink, exercise, &c., to gain a crown that shall fade away at once whereas, the crown for which we have entered the lists shall never fade.

“That striveth for the mastery,” ὁ ἀγωνιζόμενος (ho agonizomenos), who enters the lists as champion. The competitors, at the celebrated Grecian games, were obliged, in the course of preparation, to submit to the greatest privations, to practise abstinence from meat, drink, sleep, &c.—(see Epictetus, Enchiridion, cap. 35)—and all this merely for the purpose of gaining some transient applause, to have their brows encircled with a crown of either laurel or wild olive, ox pine, or even parsley, which was to fade away shortly, and be soon altogether valueless and utterly forgotten. But the crown, for which we are contending, is a crown of undying, never-fading glory; why not then submit to still greater privations in order to secure it? How much have not the saints endured for heaven? Cannot we do the same—none potes tu, quod isti et istæ? says St. Augustine. To how many privations do not worldlings submit for a mere transient glory, or for a wretched fortune? How much do not even the reprobate suffer for hell?—and what have we hitherto done or endured for the bright crown of the just in heaven? “Children of men, how long heavy of heart, why in love with vanity and in quest of lies!” And justly may all earthly promises be termed lies; since, instead of the enjoyment and happiness, which they hold out to us, they only cause us bitterness, remorse, and disappointment—“but we an incorruptible one.” Oh! how consoling to us in worldly crosses and disappointment to reflect that, if we lose a corruptible good, we can still secure a never-fading crown of glory. O Mary—“gate of Heaven”—“cause of our joy,” and “comfortress of the afflicted!”—pray for us.

26 I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air.

I, therefore, in the race of the gospel, run straightforward in my course towards the prize publicly exposed at the goal, and not as a man who runs at random. In the evangelical palæstra, I combat my adversary with effect, unlike the man who, instead of dealing out unerring blows, is merely beating the air.

The Apostle here makes allusion to two of the exercises in the Grecian games, viz., running and boxing.—(See Potter’s “Antiquities of Greece,” Vol. I. Book II. chap, xxi.)

27 But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.

And since my chief opponent and most dangerous adversary is my own body; I, therefore, chastise it, rendering it black and livid, and by mortification bringing it under subjection to the spirit; lest, after having preached to others, I myself become a cast-away.

The flesh is the most dangerous of the three leagued enemies of our salvation; if it be overcome, we can easily obtain the mastery over the world and the devil. Duriora sunt prælia castitatis, in qua pugna quotidiana, victoria rara (difficult is the moral combat, and in the daily struggle victory is rare).—St. Jerome. The Apostle here points out the most efficacious way of combating it—it is by “chastising” it, or, as the Greek word, ὐπωπιαζω (hypopiazo), means, rendering it bruised and livid, by the force of corporal macerations and austerities, and, thus, bringing it under subjection to the spirit. From this passage is derived a conclusive argument in favour of the practices of fasting and corporal mortification recommended and enjoined by the Catholic Church. For, those who are sincerely anxious for salvation, cannot propose to themselves a better model than the Apostle, who, to guard against reprobation, had recourse to bodily chastisement and austerities; nor can these salutary and painful exercises be less necessary for our sinful and rebellious flesh, than they were for St. Paul, fortified, as he was, by so many graces and communications from heaven.

The words also convey an argument against the erroneous doctrine of the inamissibility of grace; for, St. Paul, who was in the state of grace, fears lest he might fall therefrom and become a castaway. The words, therefore, evidently imply that a man can fall away from grace.

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