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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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 19:13-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013


Mat 19:13  Then were little children presented to him, that he should impose hands upon them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them.

Then were little children presented. Both states are blessed. The present passage is not merely an additional instruction of the apostles on Christian family life [cf. Schanz, Knabenbauer], but it illustrates our Lord’s view on both the state of matrimony whose fruit he blesses, and of virginity represented by the innocent children [cf. Opus Imperfectum, Bede, Rabanus, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas]. “Then” seems to connect this incident with the preceding [cf. Mk. 10:13], or with verse 2 [Schanz], though it does not do so necessarily [cf. Lk. 18:15]. “Little children” are not merely spiritual children [cf. Origen; 1 Cor. 3:1], but the Greek word employed by the third evangelist [Lk. 18:15] signifies newly born children [cf. Lk. 2:12, 16; Acts 7:19], though the word may have here a wider meaning [cf. 2 Tim. 3:15]. “That he should impose hands upon them” accords with the Jewish custom of presenting the children for this purpose to the ancients in Jerusalem [cf. Ugolini, thesaur. antiq. vol. iv. p. 826; Thomas Aquinas, Jansenius, Maldonado]; as the miraculous effects of our Lord’s physical contact were well known, the parents had in this case a special inducement for presenting their children to him [Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Jansenius, Maldonado]. The mention of prayer is omitted in the parallel texts of the second and third gospel, but is already implied in the touch of our Lord [cf. Gen. 48:14, 15]. “The disciples rebuked them,” not as if they had considered it useless to bless little children who did not understand what happened to them [cf. Alb. Keil]; but either because they thought it below the dignity of the Master to deal with such little infants [Chrysostom, Theophylact, Opus Imperfectum, Paschasius, Jansenius, Maldonado, Lapide, Fillion], or because they did not wish the Master to be too much molested in this manner [Berradas, Bede, Rabanus, Alb. Thomas Aquinas, Schanz, Grimm, v. p. 263].

Mat 19:14  But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.
Mat 19:15  And when he had imposed hands upon them, he departed from thence.

“But Jesus said to them” may be compared with Mk. 10:14, where it is stated that Jesus was indignant over the apostles’ behavior. The parents are encouraged in their attempt by the words “suffer the little children …,” and they must have felt most consoled when they heard “for the kingdom of heaven is for such,” i. e. not only for those like children in simplicity and humility [cf. Chrysostom, Theophylact,  Euthymius, Opus Imperfectum, Paschasius, St Bruno, Alb. Thomas Aquinas, Jerome, Rabanus, Ambrose], but also for the children themselves [cf. Chrysostom, Schanz, Knabenbauer]. Lk. 18:17 and Mk. 10:15 add here in a somewhat different form the exhortation on spiritual childhood given Mt. 18:3. The present passage shows that little children are capable of receiving spiritual blessings, and therefore admonishes parents not to delay their baptism, without which they cannot be saved [cf. Jn. 3:5]. “When he had imposed hands upon them” is supplemented by Mk. 10:16, according to which passage he embraced the children. “He departed from hence” implies that he left the house in which the children had been presented [cf. Mk. 10:10 f.; 10:17].

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 12:49-53

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013


Luk 12:49  I am come to cast fire on the earth. And what will I, but that it be kindled?

“I am come,” &c. These words may have been spoken by our Lord at a different time, from the foregoing; and we need not trouble ourselves, with tracing any consecutive connexion between them; as St. Luke is wont to string together several things spoken by our Lord on different occasions. Others (Jansen. Gandav.) trace a connexion in this way: our Lord had been, in the foregoing, encouraging the Apostles to the faithful performance of their duties, from the consideration that they were His stewards, the dispensers of His goods—an office entailing the heaviest responsibility. He now points out what He expects from them, and how they are to dispense His goods, viz., in propagating the Gospel; in suffering for it; thus, producing abundant fruit.

By “fire,” some understand the Holy Ghost and His gifts; especially charity, fervour, zeal (Cant. 8:6), and to this, the Church refers, on the Saturday after Pentecost, “illo nos igne … quem Dominus noster, misit in terram et voluit vehementer accendi,” and this fire of Divine love embraces the fire of tribulation also. The Apostles inflamed with Divine love, braved and overcame all tribulations and sufferings, in the cause of the Gospel, of which our Lord forewarned them, as near at hand (A. Lapide). Others understand it, of the fire of Evangelical preaching, which the Holy Ghost inflames. Hence, He descended on the Apostles, about to enter on this duty, in the form of tongues of fire. This Evangelical preaching, unlike the Old Law, or any human doctrine, which is cold and inoperative, set in a blaze the hearts of men; pervading all places, it purged the elect, and fired the impious with an unjust hatred against the Gospel (Psalm 118) “ignitum eloquium tuum,” &c. “Sermo Domini ut ignis exestuans in cordo meo” (Jeremiah 0:9). This fire our Lord brought from heaven, and He wished His Apostles to enkindle it on throughout the earth (Jansen. Gandav.).

Others, understand it of the fire of persecution, which they say is more in accordance with the context, “I have a baptism,” &c. According to these, our Lord wishes to fortify His Apostles against the persecutions they were to be subject to. And to inspire them with greater fortitude, He says, He Himself was the first to pass through the ordeal. In the same sense, He says, He came to bring “not peace, but the sword” (Matthew 10:34); and He predicts, that, considering human depravity, the preaching of the Gospel would be the occasion of great divisions, of great sufferings and persecutions, for those who preach and for those who embrace it. It was, however, by such sufferings and persecutions, that, our Lord meant to break down the power of Satan. These alone were the means for securing heaven. This is the meaning of “fire” in many parts of Scripture (Psalm 66:12; Isaiah 43:2; Ecclesiastes 51:6). This is the interpretation of Tertullian, followed by Maldonatus, Calmet, Lucas Brugensis, &c.

“And what will I?” &c. I am anxious that these embers of charity be enkindled in the hearts of all men, or that these sufferings and persecutions—the portion of my elect—be enkindled everywhere by the preaching of the Gospel, when my Apostles shall enter the lists with the enemies of man, the world, the devil, and the flesh, and shall have to suffer in consequence, persecutions which await myself in the first instance, and await all, who wish to live piously here below (1 Tim. 3:12). But, it is by means of the sufferings which my followers bravely endure, the powers of the enemy are to be utterly defeated and destroyed.

Instead of, “what will I but that it be enkindled” (Vulgate), “quid volo nisi ut accendatur?” in the Greek it is, “what will I, since it has been already enkindled,” ει ηδη ανηφθη. This is interpreted by some, thus: Since it has been already enkindled in the hearts of my disciples and throughout Judea—“what will I,” but that it be enkindled still more, throughout the earth? According to this interpretation, adopted by St. Cyril and by Cajetan, the sentence, as it stands, is imperfect till the words, “but that it be enkindled,” &c., are added, to complete the sense. By others (Theophylact, &c.), they are interpreted thus: Since it is already enkindled, I have no other wish. In this is implied the desire that it be more and more enkindled. Of the words understood in this sense, the Vulgate “quid volo,” &c., is a clear expression. My only desire is, that this fire which I sent upon the earth be enkindled more and more by you in every place. Euthymius interprets it thus: If the fire which I came to send be enkindled, as it really is in you, what more do I desire in this world? What more am I waiting for? The time for returning to my Father is, therefore, just at hand.

Luk 12:50  And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized. And how am I straitened until it be accomplished?

“And I have a baptism,” &c. For, “and,” the Greek is, δε, but, as if He said; but before this fire,—whether understood of Divine love or suffering,—can be fully scattered on the earth, I must first suffer, in order to give an example of suffering to others, and induce them to scatter the fire of persecution throughout the earth after my example—or to scatter this fire of divine love; since it is, by My blood of the cross, that the fire of Divine love and charity is to be lit up, as well by the grace which My suffering merited, as by the considerations which it suggests in the minds of all men. “Baptism” signifies suffering; because, our Lord was to be fully immersed in His own blood, as the body in baptism is immersed in water; and He was baptized in another sense; because, He was to be wholly immersed, plunged in suffering, “as the man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmities.” Moreover, water, according to the prevalent notions, was expressive of suffering. (See Matthew 20:22, &c.)

“And how am I straitened?” &c. These words express not His fears, as is supposed by some, but His anxious, longing desire to redeem mankind by His sufferings and death of the cross. As “hope deferred afflicts the soul” (Proverbs 13:12); so also, do deferred desires. Our Lord thus anxiously wished for His own death, not for His own sake, but for ours, to save us from sin and to satisfy His Father’s justice. His fear of death at His Passion took place in the inferior part of His soul; the present desire, in the superior (see Matthew 26:38).

Luk 12:51  Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation.

As the fire which our Lord came to scatter on the earth, would be the occasion of disturbances, divisions and persecutions, He forewarns His disciples of this in time, lest they should be hereafter disturbed. (See Matthew 10:34, &c.)

Luk 12:52  For there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided: three against two, and two against three.
Luk 12:53  The father shall be divided against the son and the son against his father: the mother against the daughter and the daughter against her mother: the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law and the daughter-in-law law against her mother-in-law.

“Henceforth,” after the promulgation of the Gospel, where union reigned, such as can exist among unbelievers. “Five shall be divided, three against two.” (53.) “Shall be divided.” When three of five embrace the faith, they shall be divided against the two unbelievers; and this will of course reciprocally provoke, or rather entail the division of two against three; or if two embrace the faith, while three remain in a state of infidelity, the result shall be the same. The “five,” are “father,” “mother,” “son,” “daughter,” “daughter-in-law.” For “mother,” includes the relation of “mother-in-law” towards her son’s wife, supposed to be living in the same house. Our Lord here predicts the most dreadful domestic divisions between those most closely united, in consequence of the spread of the Gospel, when one party would give up every earthly feeling and his natural affections sooner than abandon the faith, while unbelievers shall rage against those who, embracing the faith of Christ, have abandoned the false religion of their fathers.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 12:49-53

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013


12:49-53. I am come to cast fire upon the earth: and what will I, if already it be kindled? And I have a baptism to be baptized with: and how am I straitened, until it be accomplished! You think that I am come to give peace upon earth: I tell you, Nay, but division. For henceforth there shall be five in one house divided; three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.

GOD the Father for the salvation of all sent down for us the Son from heaven. For to the Israelites indeed He gave the law to be their helper, according to the Scripture; and also spoke to them by the holy prophets such things as were profitable for their salvation, promising them the deliverance that is by Christ. But when the season had arrived, in which those things that had been prophesied of old were to be accomplished, He Who is God and Lord shone forth upon us. And He tells us the cause thereof in these words; “I am come to cast fire upon the earth; and what will I if already it be kindled? Come therefore, and let us examine of what nature is this fire, concerning which He here speaks. Is it useful for those upon earth? Is it for their salvation? Or does it torture men, and cause their perdition, like that which is prepared for the devil and his angels?

We affirm therefore that the fire which is sent forth by Christ is for men’s salvation and profits’: God grant that all |436 our hearts may be full thereof. For the fire here is, I say, the saving message of the Gospel, and the power of its commandments; by which all of us upon earth, who were so to speak cold and dead because of sin, and in ignorance of Him Who by nature and truly is God, are kindled unto a life of piety, and made “fervent in spirit,” according to the expression of the blessed Paul. And besides this we are also made partakers of the Holy Spirit, Who is as fire within us. For we have been baptized with fire and the Holy Spirit. And we have learnt the way thereto, by what Christ says to us: for listen to His words; “Verily I say unto you, that except a man be born of water and spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

It is the custom moreover of the divinely inspired Scripture to give the name of fire sometimes to the divine and sacred words, and to the efficacy and power which is by the Holy Spirit, and whereby we are made, as I said, “fervent in spirit.” For one of the holy prophets thus spoke as in the person of God respecting Christ our common Saviour: “The Lord, Whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, Whom you desire: behold He comes, says the Lord. And who shall endure the day of His coming? or who shall stand at the sight of Him? For lo! He comes like the fire of a furnace, and like the sulphur of the bleacher. And He shall sit, like one that smelts and purifies as silver and as gold.” Now by the temple he here means the body, holy of a truth and undefiled, which was born of the holy virgin by the Holy Spirit in the power of the Father. For so was it said to the blessed virgin, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you.” And he styles Him the Messenger of the covenant,” because He makes known and ministers unto us the good-will of the Father. For He has Himself said to us, “All things that I have heard of the Father, 1 have made known unto you.” And the prophet Isaiah also thus writes respecting Him; “Unto us a Child is born; yes, unto us a Son is given: and His government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called, The Messenger of the great counsel.” Just therefore as those who know how to refine gold and silver, melt out the dross contained in them by the use of fire; so also the Saviour |437 of all cleanses by the doctrines of the Gospel in the power of the Spirit, the mind of all those who have believed in Him.

And further the prophet Isaiah also said, that “He saw the Lord of Sabaoth sitting upon a throne high, and lifted up: and around Him stood the Seraphim, praising Him. Then said He to himself, Alas for me a sinner, for I repent me: in that being a man, and of unclean lips, I dwell among a people of unclean lips, and have seen with my eyes the King, the Lord of Sabaoth.” But to this he adds, that ” one of the Seraphim was sent unto me, and in his hand he had a live coal, which he had taken with the tongs from the altar, and he touched with it my mouth, and said, Lo! this has touched your lips, and it shall take away your sins, and cleanse you of your iniquities.” What interpretation then are we to put upon the coal which touched the prophet’s lips, and cleansed him from all sin? Plainly it is the message of salvation, and the confession of faith in Christ, which whosoever receives with his mouth is forthwith and altogether purified. And of this Paul thus assures us; “that if you say with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”

We say then that the power of the divine message resembles a live coal and fire. And the God of all somewhere said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Behold, I have made My words in your mouth to be fire, and this people to be wood, and it shall devour them.” And again, “Are not My words as burning fire, says the Lord? Rightly therefore did our Lord Jesus Christ say unto us, “I am come to throw fire upon earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled!” For already some of the Jewish crowd believed on Him, whose first-fruits were the divine disciples: and the fire being once kindled was soon to seize upon the whole world, immediately that the whole dispensation had attained to its completion: as soon, that is, as He had borne His precious passion upon the cross, and had commanded the bonds of death to cease. For He rose on the third day from the dead.

And this He teaches us by saying, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished!” And by His baptism He means His death in the |438 flesh: and by being straitened because of it He means, that He was saddened and troubled until it was accomplished. For what was to happen when it was accomplished? That henceforth not in Judaea only should the saving message of the Gospel be proclaimed: comparing which to fire He said, “I am come to send fire upon earth:”—-but that now it should be published even to the whole world. For before the precious cross, and His resurrection from the dead, His commandments and the glory of His divine miracles, were spoken of in Judaea only. But because Israel sinned against Him, for they killed the Prince of Life, as far as they were concerned, even though He arose having spoiled the grave: then immediately He gave commandment to the holy apostles in these words: “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; and teaching them to observe all those things which I have commanded you.” Behold therefore, yes see, that throughout all nations was that sacred and divine fire spread abroad by means of the holy preachers.

And of the holy apostles and evangelists Christ somewhere spoke by one of the prophets: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will make the heads of the thousands of Judaea like a firebrand among wood, and like a fiery lamp among reeds; and they shall devour on the right hand and on the left all the nations round about.” For, so to speak, like fire they ate up all the nations, and fed upon the whole earth, kindling all its inhabitants, who as I said were cold, and had suffered the death of ignorance and sin.

Would you like to see the effects of this divine and rational fire? hear then again His words: “Or think you that I am come to give peace upon earth? I tell you, no, but division.” And yet Christ is our peace, according to the Scriptures. “He has broken down the middle wall: He has united the two people in one now man, so making peace: and has reconciled both in one body unto the Father.” He has united the things below to them that are above: how therefore did He not come to give peace upon earth? What then say we to these things? |439

That peace is an honourable and truly excellent thing when given by God. For the prophets also say; “Lord, grant us peace: for You have given us all things.” But not every peace necessarily is free from blame: there is sometimes, so to speak, an unsafe peace, and which separates from the love of God those who, without discretion or examination, set too high a value upon it. As for instance: the determination to avoid evil men. and refuse to be at peace with them;—-by which I mean the not submitting to entertain the same sentiments as they do;—-is a thing profitable and useful to us. And in like manner the opposite course is injurious to those who have believed in Christ, and attained to the knowledge of His mystery: to such it is unprofitable to be willing to follow the same sentiments as those who wander away from the right path, and have fallen into the net of heathen error, or been caught in the snares of wicked heresies. With these it is honourable to contend, and to set the battle constantly in array against them, and to glory in holding opposite sentiments; so that even though it be a father that believes not, the son is free from blame who contradicts him, and resists his opinions. And in like manner also the father, if he be a believer, and true unto God, but his son disobedient and evilly disposed, and that opposes the glory of Christ, is also free from blame, if he disregard natural affection, and disowns him as his child. And the same reasoning holds with respect to mother and daughter: and daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. For it is right that those who are in error should follow those who are sound in mind: and not, on the contrary, that those should give way whose choice is to |440 entertain correct sentiments, and who have a sound knowledge of the glory of God.

And this Christ has also declared to us in another manner; “He that loves father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me: and he that loves son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me.” When therefore you deny an earthly father for your piety’s sake towards Christ, then shall you gain as Father Him “Who is in heaven. And if you give up a brother because he dishonours God, by refusing to serve Him, Christ will accept you as His brother: for with His other bounties He has given us this also, saying; “I will declare Your Name unto My brethren.” Leave your mother after the flesh, and take her who is above, the heavenly Jerusalem, “which is our mother:” so will you find a glorious and mighty lineage in the family of the saints. With them you will be heir of God’s gifts, which neither the mind can comprehend, nor language tell. Of which may we too be counted worthy by the grace and loving-kindness of Christ, the Saviour of us all; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |441 (source)

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 12:49-53

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013


Luk 12:49  I am come to cast fire on the earth. And what will I, but that it be kindled?

The Arabic has, “What will I but that it be kindled?” So the Egyptian, Ethiopic, and Persian. It is uncertain whether Christ said this at the same time as the preceding. For S. Luke joins the words of Christ together, although spoken at different times. It may be connected with the preceding and following thus: Christ after much teaching of the Apostles and faithful, may, at last, have stated the primary duty that He was sent into the world by the Father to fulfil, namely, that He should send fire from heaven on the Apostles, that they, when inflamed by it, might kindle it in the rest of the other faithful; for by this the Apostles would fully and efficaciously perform the work that had been given them by Christ of evangelising the whole world and converting it to Him, and the faithful would exactly carry on the instructions of the Apostles.

Symbolically, S. Ambrose, on Ps. cxix. (Serm. viii.) says: “God is a light to lighten and a fire to burn up the chaff of men’s vices.” “He is light,” he says, “to shine like a lantern for one who is walking in darkness, so that whoever seeks it in its brightness cannot err. He is fire to consume the straw and chaff of our works, as gold, the more it is refined, is better proved.” So Clement of Alexandria in his exhortations to the Gentiles: “The Saviour has many voices and methods of man’s salvation. In threatening He admonishes; by prohibitions He converts; with tears He pities; (in songs) He speaks through the cloud; (in songs) by fire He strikes terror. The flame is a mark at once of grace and of fear. If you be obedient it is a light—if disobedient, a consuming fire.”

It may be asked—What is this fire? Firstly, Tertullian (Against Marcion, IV. xxix.), Maldonatus, and F. Lucas answer that it is hatred dissensions, tribulations, and persecutions by unbelievers of the faith and of the Apostles, and the faithful of Christ. These, indirectly, and occasionally, Christ and the Apostles raised by preaching the Gospel and the new religion of the crucified Saviour. “Christ,” says Tertullian, “will better interpret the quality of this fire, ver. 51, ‘Think you that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division, for there shall be from henceforth,’ &c. Christ means then the fire of destruction when He refuses peace: such as the conflict was, such will the burning be by which Christ will overthrow idolatry and all (manners of) wickedness, and will reduce them to ashes. Hence He would stir up all the nations that were addicted to their own idols against Himself and the Apostles, to extinguish by every means this new instrument of destruction of their ancient superstition. To this applies all that Christ subjoins in explanation of this fire, verses 50-53.”

Secondly, and more fitly, S. Cyril in the Catena, and Jansenius think this fire to be the preaching of the Gospel, for Christ directly wished for this, that by its means He might warm the hearts of men by divine fire, as Ps 119:140, “Thy Word is very pure” (Vulgate, ignitum).

Thirdly, and best, S. Ambrose and Origen on this passage, S. Athanasius on the Common Essence of Father and Son, S. Cyril (Book iv. on Leviticus), S. Jerome (Book ii Apol. against Ruffinus), S. Augustine (Serm. 108 de Tempore), S. Gregory (Hom. 30 in Evang.), by “fire” understand the Holy Ghost and His gifts, especially charity, devotion, fervour, zeal, which; say Euthymius and Theophylact, “He kindles in the souls of the faithful.” This fire also kindles the lamps of the faithful, according to the words, “Love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave, the coals thereof are coals of fire which hath a most vehement flame.” Song viii. 6. See what has been said thereon. The Church so explains it when on the Saturday after the Pentecost she prays thus in the Mass, “We beseech Thee, 0 Lord, may the Holy Spirit inflame us without fire which our Lord Jesus Christ sent upon earth and earnestly desired might be enkindled.”

“By this fire,” says S. Ambrose, “was Cleophas incited when he said, “Did not our heart burn within us, while He spake to us in the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:32. Thus this fire of love and ardour embraces that of tribulation which has the first place. For this fire, the Apostles, inflamed with the love of Christ, overcame; and so provoked it, for it pressed upon them, as Christ foretold in the following, Luke 12:49. So said also S. Paul, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . I am persuaded that neither death nor life,” Rom 8:35-38. By the same fire was Ignatius urged in his Epistle to the Romans: “I wish,” he said, “that I may enjoy the beasts that await me, which I pray may be swift for my destruction and my punishment, and may be allured to devour me. I am the wheat of Christ, to be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may be found the bread of the world.” This desire Christ fulfilled when He sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and faithful, in the form of tongues of fire at Pentecost, Acts 2:3 Upon which S. Chrysostom says (Hom. iv.). “This fire has burnt up the sins of the world like fire;” and again, as we may suppose: “As a man on fire (igneus homo) if he falls into the midst of stubble will not be hurt, but will rather exert his strength, so it happens here,” that the Apostles as men on fire with the Spirit (homines ignei) should not be hurt by their persecutors, but rather convert them to the faith of Christ and inflame them. See the gifts of fire which I have counted up—enumerated and applied to the Love of God, Lev 9:23, and Acts xxiii. and Act_2:3, and Dionysius on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy xv., where he shows by many analogies that fire is the most apt symbol and hieroglyphic of God and the angels, and most fitly represents their similitude in imitating Him, according to the words of Deut 4:24: “Thy God is a consuming fire;” and Heb 1:7, “Who maketh His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” With this fire burned Elijah, of whom it is written, “and Elias the prophet stood up as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch,” Sirach48:1, and therefore he was carried up into heaven in a chariot of fire; and Elisha cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.” Consumed by this fire the martyrs despised their lives, nay, rather courted the flames, either because they did not feel them, like the three children in the furnace at Babylon, or that they overcame them by their heroic virtue, as did S. Laurence, of whom it is sung, Ps 17:3, “Thou hast visited me in the night (Vulg.) with fire.” Hard indeed and bitter was this test of fire, but the love of God conquered the pain; the torments of the Lamb overcame the torment of the fire; the memory of Christ, I mean, who suffered for us still more bitterly. “The fire of love could not be mastered by thy flames, 0 tyrant,” said S. Leo in his sermon on S. Laurence. “The fire that burnt outwardly was more sluggish than that which burnt within. Thou ragedst, as a persecutor against the Martyr thou ragedst, and increased his palm whilst thou augmented his punishment;” and S. Augustine on Laurence: “The blessed Laurence was consumed by this fire, but he felt not the heat of the flames, and whilst he burnt with the love of Christ, he regarded not the punishment of the persecutor.” So S. Ignatius, writing to the Romans, “Let fire,” he says, “the breaking of my limbs by wild beasts, the dismembering of my body, the breaking to pieces of my whole frame, and all the torments of the devil come upon me, so only that I may have enjoyment of Christ.” Of the same kind were also the Christians in the time of Tertullian, who (in 50 chap. Apol.) writes thus to the Gentiles: “Although you now call us Sarmentitii because we are burnt at the stake by a heap of faggots (sarmentorum), and Senarii because we are broken on the wheel, yet this is the garment of our victory, this our robe of glory, in this chariot we triumph.” Are not these terrestrial seraphim more brave and ardent than the celestial? The latter abound with the fire of love only, the former with that of pain and martyrdom also, for they are living holocausts of God. In our own age, in the same fire, were and are consumed the Japanese, who were burnt to death in a slow fire for many hours, and remained in them unsubdued and unconquered like adamant, to death. Many of them were of our society, standard-bearers as it were of (the) faith; among them was R. P. Camillus Constantius of Italy, who remained for three hours in the fire immovable, nay, even joyful and exulting; (continually) crying out to God with a loud voice, or animating his companions to constancy, or stirring up the people, a thing we have not hitherto read of in the lives of the Martyrs, until the flames seized on his inner organs, and deprived him at once of voice and life, that so he might die a glorious victim of a holocaust to God.

Hail, heroes of illustrious souls, champions of the faith, a spectacle to God, to angels, and to men. Burning with divine fire you resigned, for the faith of Christ, your bodies to the flames, and your souls to God; and from amidst those flames, rejoicing with the voice of swans, you covered yourselves with merits, amazed the tyrants, filled and adorned Japan with Christians, your society with heroic virtues, the world with fame, the Church with glory, the heavens with the laurels of fresh champions. For ever live your glory, your unconquered fortitude, your fire and ardour of heart, by which you will have illuminated and inflamed Japan, as long as the course of ages shall endure.

Thus thinking, S. Eulatia, burning with the desire of martyrdom, proceeded, without the knowledge of her parents, to her conflict, and, as Prudentius tells us in his hymn 3, when she was being consumed by the flames, she sang a hymn “On the Crowns:”—

Come, thou tormentor, come and burn,
And cut, and wound, and slay,
Dissever thou these limbs of mine,
Joined but by feeble clay.

How easy ’tis, so frail a thing,
Entirely to destroy;
Tormenting pain can never touch
My inner spirit’s joy.

And thus, in the thirteenth year of her age, surrounded by flames,

For speedy death the Virgin wish’d,
And with a joyful smile
The bitter cup of death she drank,
Upon the funeral pile.

The martyr, in the form of a dove, flew up to heaven.

And what will I, but that it be kindled? The Arabic has, “What will I but its kindling?”  S. Jerome to Nepotian, “How I long for it to be kindled!” Origen (Hom. v. on Ezekiel), “I would it were kindled;” Philaster on the Heresies (cap. ult.), “How I wish that it were kindled;” that is, as the Syriac reads, “If now at length it were kindled.” SS. Hilary on Ps. cxx., Theophylact, Euthymius, and Cyril in the Catena, “I wish nothing but that this fire were at length kindled; if it were, there is nothing else I desire, this is my one only prayer.” Both readings amount to the same thing—”I came to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I if it is already kindled?”—that everywhere throughout the world He might kindle the earthly, lukewarm, frigid, nay, rocky, ice-cold, and rigid hearts of men, by His words and example, with the fierce heat of fervour, and turn them into the fire of love. So did our own S. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus. But to accomplish this there is need of much warmth and zeal. He, therefore, who would inspire others with this fire, must first kindle it strongly in himself.

Wouldst thou enkindle others’ hearts?
—then burn,
0 Orator, thyself.

Luk 12:50  And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized. And how am I straitened until it be accomplished?

I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized. The Arabic says, “I have a baptism, and I shall be baptized with it:” That is, By the decree of God and of My own will and determination I owe (debeo) to be baptized.

And how am I straitened until it be accomplished! “This fire of love and zeal of the Holy Spirit, cannot break forth unless the flint of My body be first struck upon the cross, or rather, until I am baptized in the font of My own blood.” This is like some fountains into which if we plunged a torch, by the wonderful power of nature, and an antiperistasis, it is lighted. Such, according to Pliny, is the fountain of Dodona (bk. ii. chap. 103). Our brethren of Coimbra, in Meteora (tract. ix. chap. 7), say that there is another in Epirus, and a third in India, the waters of which burn; another, again, which formerly took its name from Jupiter Ammon. This just before the dawn is tepid, at midday it becomes cold, it is warm in the evening, and it boils at midnight. Similar springs are found near Naples, in France, and other places. Our Lord, then, compares His passion to these. This is like a boiling fountain which has aroused, and still arouses, the fire of love in the minds of the faithful. For equally by the merit of the cross and passion of Christ and by His example does this fire burst forth. He calls His death and passion a baptism, because He was clearly sunk and overwhelmed in it, as says the Psalm, “I sink in deep mire where there is no standing, I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me,” Ps 69:2.

And how am I straitened until it be accomplished? That is, “I am afflicted and tormented by the longing to die for the salvation of men and by My death to kindle this flame.” Euthymius: “I am anxious because of its slowness;” and Theophylact: “How am I straitened,” that is, how anxious and oppressed am I until it be performed, “for I thirst for death for the good of all men.” So S. Ambrose, Bede, and others. The Arabic has, “I am narrowed for its performance.” S. Irenæus 1. 18 reads, “I earnestly hasten to it.” For the hearts of the anxious are wont to be contracted and as it were compressed by such, whilst those of the joyful are expanded and dilated. De Lyra, therefore, renders it amiss, “I am narrowed,” he says, “that is, I am filled with dread, according to the words, ‘My soul is sorrowful even unto death.’” This, indeed, was a feeling natural to the soul of Christ, but He quelled and overcame it when He said, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”

Morally: Observe how great was the zeal of Christ, how great His love, how deep His thirst for our salvation. For it was this that raised in Him so great a thirst for His Passion, death, and crucifixion, cruel as they were, so that His heart, between their infliction and the waiting for them, was compressed, as between the two stones of a mill, and brought into the greatest straits; or placed, as it were, in a vice and compressed with anguish, lest what He loved should be refused or delayed. Christ then was urged and, as it were, burnt up by the utmost longing to offer Himself up to God as a holocaust on the altar of the cross, that, as far as in Him lay, He might sanctify, save, and bless all men.

This zeal, His thirst, He impressed upon the Apostles and apostolic men, who thirsted for crosses, labours, pains, torments, and martyrdoms, for the glory of God: that they might propagate the gospel of Christ throughout the whole world and save as many as they could. This is the holiness of the Gospel, this is the perfection of virtue, this is the crown of the Apostleship.  S. Andrew’s salutations of the cross, and his earnest longing for it, are known. “Hail, precious cross, long desired, and at last ready for my longing soul! Secure and rejoicing I come to thee; do thou with joy accept me, and through Thyself do Thou receive me who by dying for me hast redeemed me.”  S. Laurence said to the Emperor Valerian, when he showed to him with threats, flames, wheels, scorpions, wild beasts: “For this table I hunger, I thirst. There is no famished man who desires food, there is no one perishing of thirst who craves for water, as greedily as I court and covet all these torments, that I may repay to Christ my Saviour, pain for pain, death for death.” S. Vicentius to Dacian: “No one living has conferred on me greater gifts than thou, who torturest and crucifiest me, for with as many tortures as thou afflictest me with—with so many crowns of martyrdom dost thou adorn me.” And to the executioners, “How slow are ye, how slothful!”

S. Agatha to Quintianus, “Why are you so slow? What do you wait for?—scourge, lacerate, burn, cut down, mangle, slay my body, for the more you crucify me, the more good you confer upon me, and the more favour and grace shall I receive from my spouse Jesus Christ.” Such were the vows and such the words of SS. Agnes, Lucia, Dorothea, Cœcilia, and other Martyrs.

Luk 12:51  Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation.

See what I have said Matt 10:34. Here is what Father Lapide wrote in his commentary on Matt 10:34:

Think ye that I am come to give peace, &c., that is to say, earthly peace: for Christ promised by Isaiah (Isa 9:6-7, and Isa 45:25), that He would bring spiritual peace of mind, the peace of the union of the faithful among themselves, and with God and His Angels, which leads to peace and everlasting felicity in Heaven.

But a sword: i.e., “separation,” as S. Luke has (Luke12:51), discord in faith and religion. He means that He will separate His faithful people by reason of their faith from unbelievers. But the unbelievers will on their part take occasion to separate themselves from the faithful, and will hate them, and will deprive them of liberty and goods and life. This is what Christ especially refers to in what follows; and this too entirely answers to the words of Micah (Mic 7:6) from which Christ here quotes.

Luk 12:52  For there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided: three against two, and two against three.
Luk 12:53  The father shall be divided against the son and the son against his father: the mother against the daughter and the daughter against her mother: the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law and the daughter-in-law law against her mother-in-law.

Five, that is—Father, son, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, for mother-in-law is the same as mother. So S. Ambrose. And this is plain from what follows. In the same house three unbelievers shall rise against two believers, or two unbelieving against three faithful, or father and son, who do not believe in Christ, shall rise against mother, daughter, and daughter-in-law who, do believe in Him, or the contrary.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 12:32-48

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 7, 2013


The following post contains three sermons by St Cyril of Alexandria wherein he treats Luke 12:32-48:

Sermon 91 on Luke 12:32-34.
Sermon 92 on Luke 12:35-40.
Sermon 92 on Luke 12:41-48.

SERMON NINETY-ONE
On Luke 12:32-34

12:32-34. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,. Sell your possessions, and give alms: make you purses that do not grow old: and a treasure in heaven that does not fail, where no thief approaches, nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

AGAIN the Saviour deigns to bestow upon us a pathway to eternal life, and opens wide the door of salvation; that travelling thereon, and adorning the soul with every virtue, we may attain to the city which is above, and of which the prophet Isaiah also bore witness, saying; “Your eyes shall see Jerusalem, the wealthy city, even the tents that shake not.” For immoveable is that tabernacle which is in heaven, and unending joy is the lot of those that dwell therein. And the nature of the way that leads us thereto He shows us, by saying; “Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” This therefore is indeed spiritual consolation, and the pathway that leads us to assured faith.

I think, however, that I ought first of all to show you the reason why the Saviour spake words such as these; for so the full signification of the passage before us will become the more plain to the hearers. In teaching therefore His disciples not to be covetous of wealth, He also withdraws them from worldly anxiety, and from vain toils and luxury and splendour of attire, and whatsoever evil habits follow upon these things: and bids them rather courageously be earnest in the pursuit of these things, [which 1 are good and more excellent, by saying; "Be not anxious for your life, what you shall eat: nor for your body, what you shall put on. For the life is more than meat, and the body than raiment?" And He also] added to this, that “your Father which is in heaven knows that these things are needed by you.” And, so to |420 speak, He enounced as a general law, useful and necessary for salvation, not only to the holy apostles, but to all who dwell upon the earth, that men must seek His kingdom, as being sure that what He gives will be sufficient, so as for them to be in need of nothing. For what does He say? “Fear not, little flock.” And by Do not fear, He means that they must believe that certainly and without doubt their heavenly Father will give the means of life to them that love Him. He will not neglect His own: rather He will open unto them His hand, which ever fills the universe with goodness.

And what is the proof of these things? “It is,” He says, “your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” And He Who gives things thus great and precious, and bestows the kingdom of heaven, what unwillingness can there be on His part to be kind towards us; or how will He not supply us with food and clothing? For what earthly good is equal to the kingdom of heaven? or what is worthy to be compared with those blessings, which God is about to bestow, and which neither the understanding can conceive, nor words describe? “For eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.” When you praise earthly wealth, and admire worldly power, these things are but as nothing compared with that which is in store. “For all flesh,” it says, “is grass: and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.” And if you speak of temporal affluence and luxuries and banquets, yet “the world,” it says, “passes away, and the desire thereof.” The things therefore which are of God surpass in an incomparable degree ought which this world possesses. If therefore God bestow the kingdom of heaven upon those that love Him, how can He be unwilling to give food and raiment?

And He calls these on earth a “little flock.” For we are inferior to the multitude of the angels, who are innumerable, and incomparably surpass in might our mortal things. And this too the Saviour has Himself taught us, in that parable in the Gospels so excellently framed for our instruction: for He said, “What man of you, that has a hundred sheep, and one of them go astray, will not leave the ninety and nine upon the mountains, and go to seek that which has strayed? And |421 if he chance to find it, verily I say unto you, that he will rejoice in it more than in the ninety and nine which went not astray.” Observe therefore, that while the number of rational created beings extends to ten times ten, the flock that is upon earth is but as one out of a hundred. But though it is little, both by nature and number and dignity, compared with the countless troops of the spirits that are above, yet has the goodness of the Father, which surpasses all description, given also to it the portion of those transcendent spirits, I mean the kingdom of heaven: for permission is given to whosoever will to attain thereunto.

2 [And the means by which we may attain to it, we learn from the Saviour's words: for He says, "Sell that you have, and give alms." And this perchance] is a commandment hard and difficult for the rich to endure: for so He Himself has somewhere said; “That hardly shall they that have riches enter the kingdom of God.” And yet the commandment is not impossible for them that are of perfect mind. For come, let me address a few words to those who are rich. Withdraw your attention a little from these temporal things; cease from too worldly a mind; fix the eye of the understanding upon the world that is to be hereafter: for that is of long duration; but this is limited and short: the time of every individual’s life here is allotted by measure; but his life in the world to come is incorruptible and enduring. Let our earnestness therefore after things to come be unwavering: let us store up as our treasure the hope of what will be hereafter: let us gather beforehand for ourselves those things, by which we shall even then be counted worthy of the gifts which God bestows.

To persuade us, however, to take due care of our souls, come, and let us consider the matter among ourselves with reference to men’s ordinary calculations. Suppose one of us wanted to sell a fertile and productive farm, or, if you will, a |422 very beautifully-built house; and so one of you, who had plenty of gold and plenty of silver, were to conceive the desire of purchasing it; would be not feel pleasure in buying it, and readily give the money that was laid up in his coffers, and even add to what he had by him other money on loan? Of this I think there can be no doubt, and that he would feel pleasure in giving it: for the transaction would not expose him to loss, but rather the expectation of his future gains would make him in a flutter of joy. Now what I say is somewhat similar to this. The God of all offers to sell you paradise. There you will reap eternal life; an unending joy; an honourable and glorious habitation. Once there, right blessed will you be, and will reign with Christ. Draw near therefore with eagerness: purchase the estate: with these earthly things obtain things eternal: give that which abides not, and gain that which is secure: give these earthly things, and win that which is in heaven: give that which you must leave, even against your will, that you may not lose things hereafter: lend to God your wealth, that you may be really rich.

And the way in which to lend it He next teaches us, saying; “Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make you purses that grow not old: and a treasure that fails not, eternal,3 in “heaven.” And the very same the blessed David also teaches us in the Psalms, where he says by inspiration of every merciful and good man: “He has dispersed, and given to the poor, and his righteousness is stored up for ever.” For worldly wealth has many foes: for thieves are numerous, and this world of ours is full of oppressors; of whom some are wont to plunder by secret means, while others use violence, and tear it away even from those who resist. But the wealth that is laid up above in heaven, no one injures: for God is its Keeper, Who sleeps not.

And besides it is a very absurd thing, that while we often entrust men of probity with our earthly wealth, and feel no fear lest any loss should result from our confidence in the uprightness of those who receive it; we will not trust it to God, |423 Who receives from us these earthly things, so to speak, as a loan, and promises to give us things eternal, and that with usury. “For good measure,” He says, “and pressed close, and weighing down the scale, and running over, shall they give into your bosom.” And for the measure to run over, is a direct proof of its great abundance. Away then with this pleasure-loving wealth; this parent of base lusts; this inciter to carnal impurity; this friend of covetousness; this worker of boasting: which, as with indissoluble bonds, chains the human mind in effeminacy and indolence towards all that is good, and stretches out, so to speak, a stiff and haughty neck against God: for it yields not itself to that yoke which would lead it unto piety. And be gentle, and merciful, ready to communicate, and courteous. For the Lord is true, Who says; “that where your treasure is, there is your heart also.” For the whole earnestness of those who value these temporal things is set upon them; while those who wish for that which is in heaven, direct thither the eye of the mind. Bo therefore, as I said, friendly to your companions, and merciful. And the blessed Paul makes me speak unto you, where he writes; “Charge them who are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in riches, wherein is no reliance, but on God, Who gives us all things richly to enjoy: that they do good: that they be rich in good works, ready to give, and willing to share with others; laying up for themselves treasures that shall be a good foundation for that which is to come, that they may lay hold upon true life.” These are the things which, if we earnestly practise, we shall become heirs of the kingdom of heaven, by Christ; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and over, Amen. |424

SERMON NINETY-TWO
On Luke 12:35-40

12:35-40. Let your loins be girt, and your lamps burning, and be like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the banquet: that when he has come and knocked they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom their lord at his coming shall find watching. Verily I say unto you, that he will gird up his loins, and make them sit down to meat, and pass by and minister unto them. And if he come in the second watch, or if he come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief would come, he would be awake, and not have suffered his house to be dug through. Be you therefore also ready, for in an hour that you expect not the Son of man cometh.

THE Psalmist has somewhere said unto Christ, the Saviour of all; “Your commandment is exceeding broad.” And any one may see if he will from the very facts that this saying is true: for He establishes for us pathways in countless numbers, so to speak, to lead us unto salvation, and make us acquainted with every good work, that we, winning for our heads the crown of piety, and imitating the noble conduct of the saints, may attain to that portion which is fitly prepared for them. For this reason He says, “Let your loins be girt, and your lamps burning.” For He speaks to them as to spiritually-minded persons, and describes once again things intellectual by such as are apparent and visible.

For let no one say, that He wishes us to have our bodily loins girt, and burning lamps in our hands:—-such an |425 interpretation would suit only Jewish dullness:—-but our loins being girt, signifies the readiness of the mind to labour industriously in every thing praiseworthy; for such as apply themselves to bodily labours, and are engaged in strenuous toil, have their loins girt. And the lamp apparently represents the wakefulness of the mind, and intellectual cheerfulness. And we say that the human mind is awake when it repels any tendency to slumber off into that carelessness, which often is the means of bringing it into subjection to every kind of wickedness, when being sunk in stupor the heavenly light within it is liable to be endangered, or even already is in danger from a violent and impetuous blast, as it were, of wind. Christ therefore commands us to be awake: and to this His disciple also arouses us by saying; Be awake: be watchful.” And further, the very wise Paul also says; “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall give you light.”

It is the duty therefore of those who would be partakers of eternal life, and firmly believe that in due season Christ will descend from heaven as Judge, not to be lax, and dissolved in pleasures; nor, so to speak, poured out and melted in worldly dissipation: but rather let them have their will tightly girt, and distinguish themselves by their zeal in labouring in those duties with which God is well pleased. And they must further possess a vigilant and wakeful mind, distinguished by the knowledge of the truth, and richly endowed with the radiance of the vision of God; so as for them, rejoicing therein, to say, “You, O Lord, will light my lamp: You, my God, will lighten my darkness.”

Quite unbefitting is an expression like this for heretics, whether they be the sectaries or the teachers. For as Christ Himself said, “Darkness has blinded their eyes.” And this Paul explains to us, saying, that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not, that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ may not shine upon them.” It is our duty therefore carefully to avoid their false speaking, |426 and not to turn aside from the doctrines of the truth; and admit into our minds the darkness of the devil; but rather to draw near to the true light, even Christ, praising Him in psalms and sayings “Lighten mine eyes, that I sleep not for death.” For it is in very deed death, and that not of the body, but of the soul, to fall from the uprightness of true doctrines, and choose falsehood instead of the truth. Let therefore our loins be girt, and our lamps burning, according to what has here been spoken unto us.

And let us know that the law also of the very wise Moses is found to have commanded something of the kind to the Israelites. For a lamb was sacrificed on the fourteenth day of the first month, as a type of Christ. “For our passover, Christ is sacrificed,” according to the testimony of most sacred Paul. The hierophant Moses then, or rather God by his means, commanded them, when eating its flesh, saying, “Let your loins be girt, and your shoes on your feet, and your staves in your hands.” For I affirm that it is the duty of those who are partakers of Christ, to beware of a barren indolence; and yet further, not to have as it were their loins ungirt and loose, but be ready cheerfully to undertake whatever labours become the saints; and to hasten besides with alacrity whithersoever the law of God leads them. And for this reason He very appropriately made them wear [at the passover] the garb of travellers.

And that we ought to look for the coming again of Christ from heaven;—-for He will come in the glory of the Father with the holy angels;—-He has taught us saying, “That we must be like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the banqueting-house, that when he has come and knocked, they may open to him immediately.” For Christ will return as from a feast: by which is plainly shown, that God over dwells in festivals, such as befit Him. For above |427 there is no sadness whatsoever: since nothing can grieve That nature Which is incapable of passion, and of being affected by anything whatsoever of this kind.

When therefore He comes and finds us girt and wakeful, and with our heart enlightened, then forthwith He will make us blessed: for “He will gird up His loins, and serve them.” By which we learn that he will requite us proportionately: and because we are as it were weary with toil, He will comfort us, setting before us spiritual banquets, and spreading the abundant table of His gifts.

“And whether He come in the second watch, it says, or whether He come in the third watch, blessed are they.” Here observe I pray, the breadth of the divine gentleness, and the bountifulness of His mildness towards us. For verily He knows our frame, and the readiness with which man’s mind wanders into sin. He knows that the power of fleshly lust tyrannizes over us, and that the distractions of this world even, so to speak, against our will drag us on by force, leading the mind into all that is unseemly. But in that He is good, He does not leave us to despair, but on the contrary, pities us, and has given us repentance as the medicine of salvation. For this reason He says, that “whether He come in the second watch, or whether He come in the third watch, and find them so doing, blessed are they.” Now the meaning of this you will certainly wish clearly to understand. Men therefore divide the night into three or four watches. For the sentinels on city walls, who watch the motions of the enemy, after being on guard three or four hours, deliver over the watch and guard to others. So with us there are three ages: the first, that in which we are still children; the second, in which we are young men; and the third, that in which we come to old age. Now the first of these, in which we are still children, is not called to account by God, but is deemed worthy of pardon, because of the imbecillity as yet of the mind, and the weakness of the understanding. But the second and the third, the periods of manhood and old age, owe to God obedience and piety of life, according to His good pleasure. Whosoever therefore is found watching, and, so to speak, well girt, whether, if it so chance, he be still a young man, or one who has arrived at old age, |428 blessed shall he be. For he shall be counted worthy of attaining to Christ’s promises.

And in commanding us to watch, He adds further for our safety a plain example, which very excellently shows that it is dangerous to act otherwise. For He says, “that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief would come, he would be awake, and not have suffered his house to be dug through. Be you therefore also ready, for in an hour that you expect not, the Son of man comes.” For as His disciple said, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief, in which the heavens shall suddenly pass away, and the elements being on fire shall melt, and the earth, and the works that are therein shall be utterly burned. But we look for new heavens and a new earth, and His promises.” And to this he adds, “Since then all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be found, being holy and without blame before Him? ” For no one at all knows the time of the consummation of all things, at which Christ shall appear from above, from heaven, to judge the world in righteousness. Then shall He give an incorruptible crown to them that are watching; for He is the Giver, and Distributor, and Bestower of the Divine gifts: by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |429

SERMON NINETY-THREE
On Luke 12:41-48

12:41-48. And Peter said, Lord do You speak this parable unto us, or also unto all? And the Lord said, Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall set over his household, to give the portion of food in its season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord at his coming shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will appoint him over all that he has. But if that servant say in his heart, My lord delays his coming, and begin to beat the men servants and female servants, and to eat and drink, and be drunken: the lord of that servant shall come in a day that he expects not, and at an hour of which he is not aware, and will cut him asunder, and give him a portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his lord’s will, and did it not, neither prepared according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But He who knew it not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will require the more.

IT is a good and saving thing for us to direct the penetrating glance of the mind unto the words of God. For it is written of the words which God speaks, “Who is wise, and he will understand them? or prudent, and he will know their meaning?” For simply to hear, and receive the spoken word in the ear, is common to all men, both to the wise, and to those who are not so: but the habit of penetrating deep into profitable thoughts is found only with those who are truly wise. Let us therefore ask this of Christ: let us imitate the blessed Peter, that chosen disciple, that faithful steward and true believer; who, when he had heard Christ say somewhat highly advantageous for their benefit, prayed that it might be explained to him, and did not allow it to pass by, because he had not as yet clearly understood it. For he said, “Lord, speak You this parable unto us, or also unto all? Is it, he asks, a general law, and |430 one that appertains in equal measure to all, or is it fitting for those only who are superior to the rest? What then was it which troubled the wise disciple, or what led him to wish to learn things such as this from Christ? This point then we will first discuss.

There are then some commandments which befit those who have attained to apostolic dignities, or possess a more than ordinary knowledge, and the higher spiritual virtues; while others belong to those in an inferior station. And that this is true, and according to my words, we may see from what the blessed Paul wrote unto certain of his disciples, “I have given you milk to drink, and not meat: for you were not as yet strong enough, nor even yet could you bear it.” “For solid food belongs to them that are full grown, who by reason of perfectness have the senses of the heart exercised for the discerning of good and evil.” For just, for instance, as very heavy burdens can be carried by persons of a very powerful frame, to which men of weaker stature are unequal, so those of a vigorous mind may justly be expected to fulfil the weightier and more excellent commands among those which become the saints; while such as are, so to speak, simple, and quite easy, and free from all difficulty, suit those who have not yet attained to this spiritual strength. The blessed Peter therefore, considering with himself the force of what Christ had said, rightly asked, which of the two was meant; whether the declaration referred to all believers, or only to them; that is, to those who had been called to the discipleship, and especially honoured by the grant of apostolic powers?

And what is our Lord’s reply? He makes use of a clear and very evident example, to show that the commandment especially belongs to those who occupy a more dignified position, and have been admitted into the rank of teachers. “For who, He says, is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord will set over his household, to give the allowance of food at its |431 season,” ‘Let us suppose, He says, a householder; who being about to go upon a journey,, has entrusted to one of his faithful slaves the charge of all his house, to give his household, that is, his servants, their allowance of corn at its due season. When therefore, He says, he shall return, if on coming to his house he shall find him so doing as he commanded, very blessed shall that servant be. For he will set him, He says, over all that he has. But if he be neglectful and indolent, and take pleasure in oppressing his fellow-servants, eating and drinking, and given up to self-indulgent voluptuousness, he will be cut asunder, that is, will have to bear the severest punishment, when his lord shall come to him in a day that he expects not, and at an hour of which he is not aware.’

Such then is the simple and plain meaning of the passage: but if we now fix our mind accurately upon it, we shall see what is signified by it, and how useful it is for their benefit who have been called to the apostleship, to the office, that is, of teacher. The Saviour has ordained as stewards, so to speak, over his servants;—-that is, over those who have been won by faith to the acknowledgment of His glory;—-men faithful and of great understanding, and well instructed in the sacred doctrines. And He has ordained them, commanding them to give their fellow-servants their allowance of food; and that not simply and without distinction, but rather at its proper season: by which is meant such food, I mean spiritual food, as is sufficient and fitting for each individual. For it is not fitting to address simply to all who have believed in Christ instruction upon all points; for it is written, “With knowledge learn the souls of your flock.” For very different is the way in which we establish in the paths of truth one who has but just now become a disciple, using simple teaching, in which there is nothing profound nor difficult to understand, counselling him to escape from the error of polytheism, and fittingly persuading him to discern by the beauty of things created, the universal Creator and Artificer, Who is One by nature, and verily God: from the way in which we instruct those who are more confirmed in mind, and able to understand what is the height and depth, and what the length and breadth, of the definitions of |432 the supreme Godhead. For as we have already said, ” Solid meat belongs to them that are full grown.”

Whoever therefore shall wisely in due season, and according to their need, divide to his fellow-servants their portion, that is, their food, very blessed shall he be, according to the Saviour’s word. For he shall be counted worthy of still greater things, and shall receive a suitable recompense for his fidelity. “For he will set him, He says, over all that he has.” And this the Saviour has elsewhere taught us, where praising the active and faithful servant, He said, “O good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over few things, I will set you over many things: enter into the joy of your lord.”

But if, He says, neglecting the duty of being diligent and faithful, and despising watchfulness in these things as superfluous, he let his mind grow intoxicated with worldly cares, and is seduced into improper courses, dragging by force, and oppressing those who are subject to him, and not giving them their portion, in utter wretchedness shall he be. For this I think, and this only, is the meaning of his being cut asunder. “And his portion too,” He says, “shall be with the unbelievers.” For whosoever has done wrong to the glory of Christ, or ventured to think slightingly of the flock entrusted to his charge, differs in no respect whatsoever from those who know Him not: and all such persons will justly be counted among those who have no love for Him. For Christ even once said to the blessed Peter, ” Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? feed My sheep; feed My lambs.” If therefore he who feeds his flock loves it, then of course he that neglects it, and leaves the flock that has been entrusted to him without oversight, hates it: and if he hate it he will be punished, and be liable to the condemnation pronounced upon the unbelievers, as being convicted by the very facts of being negligent and contemptuous. Such was he who received the talent to trade with in things spiritual, and did not do so, but on the contrary brought that which had been given him without increase, saying, “Lord, I knew that you are a hard man, that you reap where others have sown, and gather whence others have scattered; and I was afraid, and hid the talent: lo! you have what is yours.” But those who had |433 received the five talents, or even yet more, and laboured and loved service, were honoured with glorious dignities. For they heard, the one of them, “Be you over ten,” and the other, “Be you over five cities:” while that contumelious and slothful servant suffered the severest condemnation. To be negligent therefore in discharging the duties of the ministry is everywhere dangerous, or rather, brings upon men perdition: but to perform them with unwearying zeal earns for us life and glory. And this means to discourse to our fellow servants correctly and without error the things which relate to God, and whatsoever is able to benefit them in attaining both to the knowledge and the ability to walk uprightly. And the blessed Paul [Peter] also writes to certain persons, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you may receive your reward.” And as knowing that slothfulness is the door of perdition, he again said, “Woe is me, if I preach not.”

And that bitter and inevitable punishment is threatened against those who are slothful in this duty, the Saviour immediately showed, by adding to what had been already said two examples one after the other. “For the servant,” He says, “who knew his master’s will, and did it not, neither prepared according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes: but he who knew it not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.” Now the guilt is indisputable in the case of him who knew his master’s will, but afterwards neglected it, and did nothing that was fitting, and which it was his duty to do. For it is manifest contumely, and therefore the many stripes. But for what reason were the few stripes inflicted on him who neither knew nor did his master’s will? For some one, for instance, may say, How can he who knew it not be guilty? The reason is, because he would not know it, although it was in his power to learn. But if he who is. entirely ignorant of it does not escape from anger, because when it was his duty to know he neglected the means of learning, what plea can deliver him from justly bearing many stripes, who knew, and disregarded it?For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will require the more.” |434

Very severe therefore is the condemnation of those who teach. And this Christ’s disciple shows us, saying, “Let there not be many teachers among you, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” For abundant is the bestowal of spiritual gifts upon those who are the chiefs of the people: for so the wise Paul also somewhere wrote to the blessed Timothy; “The Lord shall give you wisdom in every thing.” And, “Despise not the gift that is in you, which was given you by the laying on of my hands.” From such as these then, the Saviour of all, in that He has given them much, requires much in return. And what are the virtues He requires? Constancy in the faith; correctness in teaching; to be well grounded in hope; unwavering in patience; invincible in spiritual strength; cheerful and brave in every more excellent achievement: that so we may be examples to others of the evangelic life. For if we will thus live, Christ will bestow upon us the crown; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |435  (source)

 

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 81 (A Hymn for the Feast of Tabernacles)

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 3, 2013


A HYMN FOR THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES

IT is generally held by commentators that this psalm is a hymn composed for use at the Feast of Tabernacles (15th to the 22nd of Tishri, the first month of the civil, and the seventh of the ecclesiastical year). It is not a difficulty against this view that the psalm seems to begin with a priestly exhortation to the people to join in the festivities of the New Moon ceremonial, for the New Moon in question is that of the New Year, of Tishri, and the first fortnight of Tishri was celebrated as a sort of continuous festival leading up to Tabernacles. The blowing of the trumpet, or horn, at the New Moon of Tishri could be spoken of, therefore, as a part of the ritual of Tabernacles, and the hymn may be regarded as a New Year’s Hymn and a hymn for Tabernacles at the same time. Tabernacles was intended, primarily, to be a commemoration of Exodus, and of the years when the Israelites dwelt in tents in the wilderness: but it was also celebrated as a sort of thanksgiving-service at the close of the vintage season (which may account, perhaps, for the phrase, ‘For the wine-presses,’ of the title). Thus the Feast celebrated the mercies of God both in history and in nature.

The psalm begins with an address from a choir of priests exhorting the people (verse 2), the Levites (verse 3) and the priests (verse 4) to join with full heart in the ceremonial of song and music at the Feast of Tabernacles, and reminding them that the Feast is of divine origin, and that all Israel is bound to observe it (2-6a).

In the second part of verse 6 a single speaker comes forward (as in Ps 83:9; Ps 93:8 ff.; Amos 7:10; Isa 5), and, as it were, interrupting the festive music, sings in prophetic style a message which he has received, or, repeats, as a prophetic messenger, what he has heard the Lord say. This prophetic singer represents Yahweh as reminding His people of the freedom which He had given them at the Exodus, and of the blessings with which He had favoured them in the desert (7-8).

In verses 9 to 11 the words of the Lord deal with the greatest of His mercies towards Israel—the giving of the Law, the manifestation of Himself as the God and Father and Leader of His people. This manifestation demands the unswerving loyalty of Israel to Yahweh; and the complete rejection of all forms of heathen worship.

Yet, in spite of the love and favours of the Lord, Israel forgot Him, and followed after other deities. As a punishment for this Yahweh left them to themselves, withdrawing His support. Deserted by their God the Israelites fell under the power of the heathens, and became their bondsmen. Even now Israel is not altogether loyal, and the stranger god, and the stranger ruler have influence among the people (12-13). How splendid it would be if only Israel would now turn wholeheartedly to its God! Its enemies would be quickly broken, and their defeat would continue as long as Israel remained loyal. Every blessing promised in the Law would be poured out upon the nation. It is only a loyal Israel which can truly join in the celebration of Tabernacles. It is useless for a people that hankers after strange faiths and heathen customs to join in songs of thanksgiving for the liberation from Egypt. This is the lesson of the prophetic message, and it is an appropriate lesson for the season which began with New Year’s Day, included the penitential Day of Atonement (10th of Tishri) and closed with the rejoicings of Tabernacles (15-22 of Tishri).

It has been often maintained that there is no real connection between verses 2-6a and the rest of the psalm, and that, therefore, we must regard the two parts 2-6a and 6b-17 as having been originally portions of distinct poems which were brought together because of the reference to the Exodus in verses 6a and 7. There can be no doubt that verse 6b marks a completely new section in the psalm, and that 6b-17 is not intrinsically related to 2-6a. The prophetic singer in 6b appears as a sort of foreign element in the midst of the celebrations of the Feast. Yet, though his words stand out in striking contrast with the joyous summons to celebrate the festival (2-6a), they help to bring home to the minds of the people the implications of the Feast, and can thus be brought into relation with the first part of the psalm. That it was sometimes customary to construct feast-hymns of elements thus apparently unrelated we can see also from Ps 93. If we read Ps 81 in the quasi-dramatic fashion suggested in the translation, there will be no need to look on it as an artificial and casual fusion of unrelated fragments.

The date of the psalm is uncertain, but the best modern critics agree in regarding it as pre-Exilic.

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St Cyril of alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 12:13-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2013


12:13-21. And one of the multitude said unto Him, Teacher, bid my brother divide with me the inheritance. But He said unto him, Man, who made Me a judge or a divider over you? And He said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all greediness: for a man’s life is not from his possessions by reason of his having a superfluity. And He spoke a parable unto them, saying, The land of a certain rich man brought forth unto him plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have not where to gather my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my storehouses, and build greater: and there will I gather all my crops and my goods. And I will say to myself, Self you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy thyself But God said unto him, You fool, this night they demand of you your soul. But whose shall those things be which you have provided? So is he that lays up treasures for himself, and is not rich toward God.

PAUL, as a wise man, recommends constancy in prayer: for he said, “Pray without ceasing.” And in very truth it is a thing full of benefit. But I say this, that whosoever draws near unto God, ought not to do so carelessly; nor may he offer unbefitting petitions. And one may very justly affirm, of a multitude of petitions, that they are unbefitting, and such as are not suitable for God to give, nor beneficial for us to receive. And if we will direct the penetrating glance of the mind upon the passage before us, we shall see without difficulty the truth of what I have said. For a certain man drew near to Christ, the Saviour of us all, and said, “Teacher, bid my brother divide with me the inheritance. But He said unto him, Man, who set Me as judge or divider over you?” For the Son indeed, when He appeared in our likeness, was set by God the Father as “Head and King over Sion, His holy mount,” according to the Psalmist’s words: and the nature |410 of His office He again Himself makes plain, “For I am come, He says, to preach the commandment of the Lord.” And what is this? Our virtue-loving Master wishes us to depart far from all earthly and temporal matters; to flee from the love of the flesh, and from the vain anxiety of business, and from base lusts; to set no value on hoards, to despise wealth, and the love of gain; to be good and loving unto one another; not to lay up treasures upon earth; to be superior to strife and envy, not quarrelling with the brethren, but rather giving way to them, even though they seek to gain an advantage over us; “for from him, He says, who takes away what is yours, demand it not again;” and rather to strive after all those things which are useful and necessary for the salvation of the soul. And for those who habitually thus live, Christ lays down laws by which they become illustrious and praiseworthy. For He said, “Possess neither silver nor gold: nor two coats, nor scrip, nor brass in your purses.” And again, “Make for yourselves purses that grow not old: a treasure that does not fail for ever in heaven.” And when a young man drew near saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” “Go, He answered, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven, and come after Me.” To those therefore who bow down to Him the obedient neck of their minds, He both gives commandments and appoints laws: He lays down for them precepts, distributes to them the heavenly inheritance, gives them spiritual blessings, and is a storehouse for them of never-failing gifts. While for those who think only of earthly things, and whose heart is set on wealth, and their mind hardened, and unmerciful, and without gentleness or love for the poor, to such He will justly say, ” Who set Me as ruler or divider over you? He rejects the man therefore as troublesome, and as having no desire to learn ought fitting for him to know.

But He does not leave us without instruction: for having found, so to speak, a seasonable opportunity, He frames a profitable and saving discourse; and protesting as it were against them, declares, “Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness.” He showed us that pitfall of the devil, |411 covetousness, a thing hateful to God, and which the wise Paul even calls idolatry, perhaps as being suitable for those only who know not God, or as being equal in the balance with the defilement of those men who choose to serve stocks and stones. It is a snare of evil spirits, by which they drag down man’s soul to the meshes of hell. For this reason He says very justly, as setting them on their guard, “Take heed and keep yourselves from all covetousness:” that is, from great and small, and from defrauding any one whoever he may be. For as I said, it is a thing hateful to God and men. For who does not flee from him who uses violence, and is rapacious and greedy, and ready for iniquity in those things to which he has no right, and who with avaricious hand gathers that which is not his? What beast of prey does not such a man surpass in savageness? Than what rocks is he not more hard? For the heart of him who is defrauded is torn, and even melted sometimes by the penetrating pain as it were by fire: but he takes pleasure therein, and is merry, and makes the pains of them that suffer a cause of rejoicing. For the wronged man is sure generally to be one without power, who can but raise his eyes to Him Who alone is able to be angry for what he has suffered. And He, because He is just and good, accepts his supplication, and pities the tears of the sufferer, and brings punishment on those who have done the wrong.

And this you may learn from what He Himself says thereupon by the mouth of the holy prophets; “Therefore because you have bruised the heads of the poor, and taken from them chosen gifts, you shall build houses of carved stone, but you shall not dwell therein: and you shall plant desirable vineyards, but you shall not drink of their wine. For I know |412 your many wickednesses, and mighty are your sins.” And again, “Woe unto those who add house to house, and join field to field, that they may take away something from their neighbour. Will you dwell alone in the earth? For these things have been heard in the ears of the Lord of hosts. For though your houses be many, they shall be a desolation: though they be great and fair, there shall be none to inhabit them. For the ground that ten yoke of oxen till shall produce one pitcher full: and he that sows six artabae shall gather three measures,” Although therefore houses and fields may be the fruit of the oppression of others, yet these, He says, shall lie waste, without inhabitants, and shall yield no profit whatsoever to those who will act wickedly, because the just wrath of God is poured out upon them. In every way therefore there is no profit in covetousness.

And to view it in yet another light; it avails nothing, because a man’s life, as He says, is not from his possessions, by reason of his having a superfluity. And this is plainly true: for the duration of a man’s life is not extended in proportion to his wealth, nor does the sum of his life run parallel with that of his wicked gains. And this the Saviour has clearly and manifestly shown us, by very excellently adding the present parable in connexion with His previous argument. “For the ground, He said, of a certain rich man brought forth abundant crops.” Consider it exactly, that you may admire the beautiful art of the discourse. For He has not pointed out to us an estate of which one portion only brought forth abundant harvests; but the whole of it was fertile for its owner, showing thereby the vastness of his wealth. Similar to this is that passage of one of the holy apostles; “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped your land, which is of you kept back by fraud, cries out: and the supplications of those that reaped have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” The Saviour therefore said that all his estate brought forth abundant harvests. |413

What therefore does the rich man do, surrounded by a profusion of so many blessings beyond all numbering? In distress and anxiety he utters the words of poverty. “For what, he says, shall I do? The man who is in want of necessaries constantly ejaculates this miserable language: but lo! one here of boundless wealth uses similar expressions. He determined then to build more spacious storehouses: he purposed to enjoy for himself alone those revenues that were sufficient for a populous city. He looks not to the future; he raises not his eyes to God; he does not count it worth his while to gain for the mind those treasures which are above in heaven: he does not cherish love for the poor, nor desire the estimation to be gained thereby: he sympathizes not with suffering; it gives him no pain, nor awakens his pity. And what is still more irrational, he settles for himself the duration of his life, as if he would reap this too from the ground: for he says, “I will say to myself, Self, you have goods laid up for many years; eat, drink, enjoy thyself.” ‘But, O rich man, one may say, you have indeed storehouses for your fruits, but from where will you obtain your many years? for by the decree of God your life is shortened. For God, it tells us, said unto him, You fool, this night they shall require of you your soul. But whose shall these things be that you have prepared?’

It is true therefore, that a man’s life is not from his possessions, by reason of his having a superfluity: but very blessed, and of glorious hope is he who is rich towards God. And who is he? Evidently one who loves not wealth, but virtue rather, and to whom few things are sufficient: and whose hand is open to the necessities of the indigent, comforting the sorrows of those in poverty, according to his means, and the utmost of his power. It is he who gathers in the storehouses that are above, and lays up treasures in heaven. Such a one shall find the usury of his virtue, and the recompense of his upright and blameless life; Christ shall bless him: by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |414  (source)

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 12:13-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2013


Luk 12:13  And one of the multitude said to him: Master, speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me.

St. Luke does not record the circumstances of this difference among the brothers, nor the merits of the case which our Lord was called upon to settle; nor does he say whether both parties appealed to Him either as umpire, arbitrator, or Judge—or only one party appealed to Him, on account of His influence among the people. We need not suppose the party spoken of regarded our Lord as the promised Messiah, who was to be the protector of the poor (Psalm 72:1-2). According to the law of inheritance among the Jews, the first-born was to obtain a double portion of his father’s property (Deut. 21:17). Some authors hold, that in the case of inheritance by the mother, the property was to be divided equally among all (Selden de Success. in bona, c. 5, 6).

Luk 12:14  But he said to him: Man, who hath appointed me judge or divider over you?

Our Lord, seeing that this man was more intent on earthly gain than on heavenly treasures, or, on the attainment of these spiritual joys, of which He had been treating, at once refuses to take up the case; and in His reply, He denies, while reprehending this man for his unseasonable interruption, that it was any business of His to interfere in such matters. They had civil judges to go to, to arrange their differences. “Man”—a form of expression used to denote, He knew him not (chap. 22:58–60). Our Lord does not here deny His judicial power, or His right, or that of His Church—in which point the Anabaptists err—to interfere if He pleased, since He was constituted “King of kings and Lord of lords,” &c., and He, also, gave His Church the plenitude of His authority; but, He here wishes to convey, that the primary end of His mission was not, to arrange temporal disputes, or to interfere in secular matters; thus, teaching His followers and the ministers of His Gospel, that spiritual matters should primarily engross all their attention; and temporal matters should be embarked in only as a secondary concern, and subordinate, as means, to the spiritual and eternal welfare of souls. He also desired not to favour the opinions of the carnal Jews, who expected in their Messiah, a powerful, earthly Prince and Conqueror. Circumstances do sometimes arise, rendering it imperative on those engaged in the Sacred Ministry, to embark in temporal concerns, as a necessary means of advancing the spiritual welfare of their people, and of averting great spiritual evils and dangers.

He who had come on earth for Divine purposes, properly declined meddling in earthly strife, and having to judge the living and the dead, and to pass sentence on them according to their deserts, He does not vouchsafe to be judge of lawsuits and to act as umpire in regard to possessions (St. Ambrose, Lib. 7, in Luc. n. 121). “Bene terrena despicit, qui propter divina descenderat,” (Well then does He avoid earthly things who had descended for the sake of divine things) says the same Father (hic).

Luk 12:15  And he said to them: Take heed and beware of all covetousness: for a man’s life doth not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth.

Taking occasion from this man’s petition, which seemed to savour of avarice, He now warns His followers against “all covetousness,” not only as regards the desire of other men’s property; but, also as regards an excessive attachment to one’s own. Hence, the words, “all covetousness.” “He said to them,” His disciples and the crowd that was present. It may be, He addressed the two brothers, if present, who were contending about the inheritance. “Take heed and guard against all covetousness.” From the present case, take a lesson, and beware of all inordinate love for riches and earthly possessions. “For a man’s life, &c.” The happiness and prolongation of man’s life in this world are not brought about by the possession of riches; but, rather the contrary; that is to say, corroding cares and shortening of one’s days, owing to the temptations to commit excess, are produced by earthly possessions.

Luk 12:16  And he spoke a similitude to them, saying: The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits.

To illustrate His precepts on the subject of avarice, and to show the utter folly of excessive attachment to the things of this earth and over-confidence in riches, as the means of prolonging life, or rendering it happy, our Lord proposes a very striking and startling similitude, founded on an event which might have happened, or, at least, which was possible.

“The land.” The Greek word means, “farm,” or large number of fields, like those of the men reproached by Isaiah5:8. “Brought forth plenty of fruit,” yielded an abundant produce.

Luk 12:17  And he thought within himself, saying: What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
Luk 12:18  And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns and will build greater: and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me and my goods.

The increase of riches produced not peace, but anxiety and disquietude. St. Basil (Hom. de Avaritia), observes, that this rich man, in the midst of his riches, felt all the disquietude of the poor, when they are in want of bread or necessary subsistence. He never thought of bestowing his superfluities on the poor. His ears were deaf to their cries. Instead of destroying his granaries to enlarge them, he should have opened them to the poor, to feed the hungry, and like Joseph of old, should have proclaimed to all who were in want to come and receive aid at his hands.

“And my goods,” refers to those already stored there. “All things that are grown to me,” the increased produce of the present year.

Luk 12:19  And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years. Take thy rest: eat, drink, make good cheer.

“My soul,” an emphatic expression for, myself. It refers to the prolongation of his life. “My soul.” The following is the soliloquy of this rich man with himself: “for many years;” but who promised him “many years,” nay, a single day to enjoy them?

“Take thy rest,” &c. Indulge in all kinds of animal gratification, and enjoy all kinds of sensual delight, deny thyself no pleasure. “O, singular, egregious folly,” cries out St. Basil, “if you had the soul of a hog, what else could you enunciate?”

Luk 12:20  But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee. And whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?

The rich man thus pondered secretly in his own mind; for, “he thought within himself” (v. 17). But, his thoughts were heard and examined in Heaven, which is not slow in pronouncing judgment on him. “But God said to him,” either by some secret inspiration, or some sudden mortal stroke, sending him a mortal disease, which was taking him out of life and thus showing his folly; or by an angel, “thou fool,” while thou hast not a day which thou canst call thine own, thou promisest thyself many years, on which all thy calculations of long happiness are based. Such is the judgment, not of man, but of Divine wisdom regarding him, and, indeed, it is not difficult even for man, enlightened by faith, to pronounce the same.

“This night.” This very night on which thou dost calculate on a long life, “they require” a form of personal for impersonal, by no means rare, either in Greek or Hebrew, signifying, “shall be required,” thy soul shall be required. It may also be understood personally, of God and His angels. The angels, as ministers of God’s decree, by a just judgment, “require his soul,” and cut short the thread of his life, that very night. “Require that soul,” about whose enjoyments during many long years to come, the rich man was so solicitous.

“And whose shall the things be,” &c. Certainly not thine own, since thy works alone shall accompany thee. They may, possibly, come to some worthless heir; to the very man whom thou abhorrest most. Thou canst not say, to whom they may fall, whether to stranger or relative, friend or foe (Ecclesiastes 11:19). (Psalm 38:7), “He knoweth not for whom he shall gather those things.”

Luk 12:21  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God.

This is the moral conclusion from the above. Such shall be the end and sad fate of him who, engrossed with acquiring and accumulating temporal wealth for his own selfish purposes, for his own pleasure and gratification—“for himself” (only), is opposed to “towards God”—is regardless of acquiring true riches for himself. “Not rich towards God,” rich in good works, which please God, especially in distributing our wealth to the needy poor, His representatives on earth, and thus having our treasures laid up in heaven. “Rich towards God,” means rich in good works; “rich” in bestowing our goods on God, who will reward us liberally hereafter. The man who makes God his heir, need not fear if suddenly called out of this life; he is prepared; he has sent his treasures before him, securely laid up for him in heaven. The Greek word for “rich,” πλουτων, is a participle, signifying “making himself rich in God,” by the practice of those virtues, especially charity to the poor, and by the acquisition of merits, which constitute riches in God.

 

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 12:13-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2013


Luk 12:13  And one of the multitude said to him: Master, speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me.

And one of the multitude said to Him. My brother is injuring me, for he wishes to seize the whole of our father’s property, and he will give me no share of it. Command him therefore to do me justice, for Thou by Thy authority canst do this with a word, which I cannot effect by many suits and much litigation. For it is Thy office to defend the right and assist the oppressed, for Thou art the Lord of justice.

Luk 12:14  But he said to him: Man, who hath appointed me judge or divider over you?

The word “man” is a Hebraism for an unknown person, as in Luke  22:58, Peter said, “Man, I am not,” and Luk_22:60, “Man, I know not what thou sayest.” The meaning is, This is a matter of the courts which dispose of secular questions: it has no part in Me, who teach and dispense a heavenly heritage. Christ does not here deny that He has judicial power, for He was the King of kings and the Lord of lords; but He wished to use His power over a covetous man to cure him of his greed, and to teach him to prefer heavenly to earthly things, and to give way willingly to them, according to His own words, vi. 29, “From him that taketh away thy cloke withhold not thy coat also.” “He rightly sets aside earthly things,” says S. Ambrose, “who came down to us for heavenly ones. Hence this brother is rebuked not undeservedly, for he would fain have occupied the dispenser of heavenly things with those of earth.” At the same time He taught that ecclesiastics and spiritual persons ought not to meddle with secular things, but to employ themselves in divine ones, as S. Paul says, 2 Tim 2:4, “No ma, being a soldier of God, entangleth himself with secular business.” So S. Ambrose, Euthymius, Bede, and de Lyra from S. Augustine (serm. 196)—that is, unless the faithful have any suit; secular Bishops in former ages used to settle these, as S. Augustine says that he has done. Lib. de Opere Monachor, c. 29.

Luk 12:15  And he said to them: Take heed and beware of all covetousness: for a man’s life doth not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth.

and he said to them, “as well to His disciples,” the Syriac says, “as to the multitude,” especially to him who had spoken about his brother dividing the property, Take heed. In this contention of brothers how much ill was caused by avarice. Whilst one from avarice refused to divide the inheritance, the other, with too much cupidity and out of all season, urged the division. Strife and dissention arose among them. Not only should we guard against the lust of seizing what is another’s, but also from too great cupidity to get possession of what is our own, for they who are too eager for earthly riches, neglect heavenly ones. S. Augustine, in his 28th Sermo. De diversis: “Not only is he avaricious who seizes what is another’s, but he also who covetously keeps his own.” The Arabic has, “See and beware of all evil—for avarice is the cause of all evil,” as in 1Tim 6:10, “The desire of money is the root of all evils.”

For a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. That is, it is not because a man abounds in riches that his life is abundant, so as to be longer and happier on that account, for it is shortened and made unhappy from the anxiety and luxury which attend upon great wealth. The Syriac version has, “Life is not in the abundance of riches;” the Arabic, “Man has not abundance in his much wealth”—that is, abundance does not prolong our lives, but rather shortens them. Theophylact says, “The measure of life is not contained in its abundance. For he who has great possessions does not live longer for them, nor does length of life attend upon the multitude of his riches;” and Euthymius, “Not because a man abounds in riches, does his life abound from such abundance. The measure of his life does not depend upon this.” The meaning is, Thou, 0 man, who greedily seekest a heritage from thy brother, seekest it that thou mayest live long and comfortably. But thou errest; for the rich, from their cares and the gluttony they indulge in, often pass short and miserable lives. If thou wouldest live long and profitably, despise money, be poor in spirit, entrust thy hopes and wealth to God alone, for He is the only giver of length of life and happiness. To show this Christ adds the following parable. S. Augustine, On Abel and Cain, i. 5, at the end: “If thou seek treasures, choose the unseen and hidden, those which are to be found in the highest heavens, not sought in the veins of the earth. Be poor in spirit and thou shalt be rich by every reckoning; for the life of man consists not in the abundance of his wealth, but in virtue and faith. These riches make us rich indeed, if we be rich in God.”

Luk 12:16  And he spoke a similitude to them, saying: The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits.

And he spoke this similitude (parable) unto them, saying: the land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits. The ground in the Greek (χώζα) means a large extent of land, a number of fields.

Luk 12:17  And he thought within himself, saying: What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do? &c. Behold the care, behold the poverty of this rich man—he who is overflowing with wealth and receptacles has need of some place in which to store his goods. He is in doubt and perplexity, says Euthymius, as if he were really poor, though he is in truth wealthy. And S. Basil, in his homily on these words of Christ: “The earth did not return fruits but lamentations; for this unhappy man is afflicted quite as much as they who are oppressed by want, and he cries out saying, ‘What shall I do?’ Does not he who is in straits from his poverty utter the same words? and he who has to beg?” From all the good things that flowed in upon him he derived no gratification. They rather annoyed his mind and troubled him.

I have no room where to bestow my fruits.  “Did he not,” says S. Basil, “collect his crops and incur the reputation of avarice when he called them his own (i.e., ‘my fruits’)?” For how many dangers are there before the harvest is gathered in. The hail often beats it down, and the heat snatches it out of the very grasp, and rains suddenly rush down from the mountains and sweep it away

Luk 12:18  And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns and will build greater: and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me and my goods.

And he said, This will I do, I will pull down my barns, &c. All the harvests collected in past years. He took counsel of his cupidity, not of his charity, which would have said to him, “Spend them on the poor.” “Dost thou want barns? Thou hast them in the bellies of the poor,” says S. Basil; and S. Ambrose (Lib. de Naboth, cap. vii.), “Thou hast storehouses; the bosoms of the poor, the houses of widows and orphans, the mouths of infants. Let these be thy barns, and they will last thee for ever.”  S. Basil again, in the homily above: “He is a despoiler who, when he receives what he ought to dispense, considers it as his own. The bread thou hast is the bread of the famishing, thy robe is the robe of the naked, thy silver that is buried in the ground is the silver of the indigent: wherefore dost thou wrong so many poor whom thou mightest support?” He adds, “And, when thou hast filled thy barns, what wilt thou do with the harvest of the following year? Wilt thou pull them down again and build new ones for ever? Thou wilt always be consuming thy substance and thy wealth in pulling down the old and building new, that the fruits which sprang from the earth may return to it again. Thou wilt not bestow them upon the poor, because thou enviest others the use of them, and thus, when earth restored them again to thee, thou deprivest all men of their benefit, nay even thyself; for as corn, falling into the ground, brings gain to the sower, so thy bread, if thou gavest it to the hungry, would bring thee much profit hereafter.”

Luk 12:19  And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years. Take thy rest: eat, drink, make good cheer.

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years. This rich man again errs and commits sin. First, in promising himself very many years, when he was to die that night. He who promised himself a long life did not see the following day,” says S. Gregory (22 Moral chap. 6). And S. Cyril, in the Catena, “Thou hast fruits in thy barns, 0 rich man, but whence hast thou many years?” Secondly, in giving himself up to gluttony and luxury, saying, “Eat, drink, and be merry like an Epicurean.” For after death is no enjoyment.

Take thy rest. To the plague of avarice is joined that of sloth, says the Gloss. “If you had the soul of a sow,” says S. Basil, “what else could you propose for yourself?—you are so brutish, so ignorant of the soul’s good, that you indulge it in carnal gratification.” Being wholly of the flesh, you make yourself a slave to its lusts. An appellation worthy of you, was bestowed upon you, “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee.”

S. Ambrose (Lib. ii. de Interpell. in Job c. 5) says wisely, “A great incitement to fall away is an influx of prosperity. It makes us supine, puffs us up, causes forgetfulness of its author.”

Luk 12:20  But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee. And whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?

But God said to him. God said this, not in word but in deed, sending him a fever or some other mortal disease, and causing his conscience by this means to speak thus to him. “God said this to the rich man,” says Euthymius, “through his conscience, which, as he felt death coming upon him, said this to him.”

Thou fool. Because in thy plan, in which thou appearedst to thyself wise, thou now perceivest that thou wast a fool.

This night. “His soul, which would take no heed of light, and which was tending on to Gehenna, was taken in the night.” Gregory, Moral., lib. xv. xi. II.

(this night) do they require thy soul of thee. (Repetunt, απαιτου̃σιν, Greek). They require: that is, God and His angels, who are His instruments, not by misfortune but by the just judgment of God, as if against His will.

Thy soul. “That thou mayest give account of all thy fruits and of the riches and other property which God has given to thee.” So Toletus. They seek it again, because thy soul does not die with the body, but is immortal; thy soul, too, is not thy own, but God’s, who breathed it into thee and entrusted it to thee as a sacred gift. Rightly, therefore, does He now seek it of thee again by a sudden death. Hear S. Jerome on the death that is imminent on all (Ep. iii. to Heliodorus): “Xerxes, that most mighty king, who overthrew mountains, who controlled seas, when he had viewed from a lofty place an infinite multitude of men and an immense army, is said to have wept, because after a hundred years none of those whom he then saw would be surviving. Oh, if we could ascend such a tower from which we could see the whole earth under our feet! I would show you the ruins of the world—nations in strife with nations—kings with kings—and, not the army of Xerxes alone, but the inhabitants of the entire globe, who are now alive, in a short space of time, passed away.”

And whose shall those things be which thou hast provided (for thyself)? “They shall not only not belong to thee,” says Euthymius, “they shall not be thine; but thou dost not know whose they will be—whether thy heir’s or a stranger’s, a friend’s or an enemy’s;—and this increases thy grief.” S. James says, “They shall eat your flesh as fire” (v. 3); and S. Ambrose, “The things that we cannot carry with us are not our own. Virtue alone is the companion of the dead. Mercy alone follows us—and mercy alone gains abodes for the departed.”  S. Augustine: “The purse contains that which Christ receives not” (Hom. 48, inter. 50). Well says the wise man, “What fortune has lent let her take, what nature has changed let her seek again, what virtue has gained she will retain.” See what I have collected from the Fathers on vanity and the perniciousness of riches on Isaiah v. 9.

Luk 12:21  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God.

So is he that layeth up treasure for himself. Such an end and such a death did the rich covetous man meet who had not laid up treasure toward God. It will be asked, Who is rich towards God? I answer—He who has by alms and other good works many merits and safeguards hidden up as treasures before God, and who day by day hides more, as the apostle teaches at length, 1 Tim 6:17 and following. See what is said thereon.

Secondly, “He is rich in God who studies to please God alone, who fixes all his hope and love on God, who rests wholly on Him, that he may be blessed by Him and made eternally happy.” “He is rich,” says the Gloss, “whose expectation is the Lord, and whose substance is with God.” “The rich in God,” says S. Augustine, “is poor in gold” (Serm. xxviii. de verb. Apostoli)—that is, poor in spirit, as St. Peter was when he said to the lame man, “Silver and gold have I none; but what I have, that I give thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk,” Acts 3:6 On Ps. xl. he says, “When Christ was rich He became poor, that by His poverty He might make you rich. He enriches the truly poor, He brings the falsely rich to poverty. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,’” Matt 5:3. “Let us endeavour,” says Theophylact, “to be made rich in God, that is, to have trust in Him, that He may have our wealth and the granary of it, and not call our goods our own but God’s, and if they are God’s, let us not deprive Him of His own. This is to be rich in God, to believe that if I give Him all things and empty myself, nothing that is needful for my good shall ever fail me. God is my storehouse, which I will open and take from it all of which I have need.”

Thirdly, He who is rich, that is liberal, in God, is charitable to the poor. For what is done to them God holds to be done to Himself and rewards it. “Let him,” says Bede, “who wishes to be rich in God, not lay up treasure to himself, but distribute his possessions among the poor.” The meaning is good, but it is not complete: for Christ is not speaking here exclusively of almsgiving, but of the true riches, which He declares to be not the fruits of the ground and the wealth of mines, but virtues and good works, for these procure us long life and blessing, as well in this world as in the world to come.

Fourthly, S. Augustine, in his 44th Discourse on the Temptation, teaches that “he is rich to God who is full of love and therefore of God.” “God is love and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him,” 1 John 4:16. “If you have love you have God. What has the rich man if he have not love? If a poor man have love, what has he not? You think him rich perhaps whose chest is full of gold; and is he not so whose conscience is full of God? He is truly rich in whom God deigns to dwell.” S. Augustine.

Lastly, The rich man toward God is one who abounds in every virtue. So S. Ambrose explains at length (lib. iv. epis. 27), to Simplicianus, whose words I have cited on 1 Peter 3:4, “That which is not corruptible, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

In allegory. The rich toward God are the blessed who enjoy God and all His works. S. Augustine (Serm. 74 de Temp.) teaches that the blessed alone are happy, both because they possess God, and want nothing. “He,” he says, “is truly rich who wants nothing, but the blessed alone want nothing—the blessed alone are truly happy.” He says in the preface of Psalm 41, “Christ was rich to the Father, and poor to us—rich in heaven, poor on earth—rich as God, poor as man.”

St Ambrose in his Epistle to Demetrias, wisely says, “By what price can the repose of this world be more fitly purchased than by the restoration to the world itself of all riches, all dignities, and all desires; and the purchase of Christian liberty by a holy and happy community by which the sons of God, from having been poor will be made rich, from patient will become brave, from humility be exalted?”

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A Patrsitic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 66

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 4, 2013


Come and see the works of God; who is terrible in his counsels over the sons of men. Who turneth the sea into dry land, in the river they shall pass on foot: there shall we rejoice in him-Psalm 66:5-6

Come and see the works of God; who is terrible in his counsels over the sons of men. Who turneth the sea into dry land, in the river they shall pass on foot: there shall we rejoice in him-Psalm 66:5-6

At the end of this post you will find a list of some traditional liturgical usage made of Psalm 66, along with traditional antiphons and collects. Text in red are my additions.

PSALM 66

TITLE: To the Chief Musician; A Song or Psalm. LXX. and Vulgate: To the end; a Song of a Psalm of Resurrection.

ARGUMENT

ARG. THOMAS. That CHRIST is to be adored by all nations. The Voice of the Apostles. The Voice of Paul and of all Apostles for the edification of the people. Then, the Voice of the Martyrs. The Voice of the Apostles to the People. The Voice of the Church praising GOD.

VEN. BEDE. The title is distinct, implying the joy of the LORD’S Resurrection, not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. Contrary to the persuasion of the Jews, who alleged that they alone of all belonged to the life of blessedness; our Mother, the Church, joyously chants her hope of the General Resurrection, interposing three pauses. In the first portion she exhorts all men to rejoice together in the LORD’S Resurrection, which should bring eternal rewards to all the faithful. O be joyful in God, all ye lands. In the second place, she invites all to come to the contemplation of GOD’S works, that one belief may unite those whom one reward awaits. O come hither, and behold the works of God. Thirdly, she again warns the Gentiles to bless the LORD, Who, though He try us with divers troubles, will yet bring us to the rest of His mercy. O praise our God, ye people. In the fourth part, she again invites all, that advised by the example of her deliverance, they may trust the LORD more fully, blessing Him because He has vouchsafed to hear her prayer. O come hither, and hearken, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you.

SYRIAC PSALTER. Uncertain. Of Sacrifice, and burnt-offering, and incense of rams. Spiritually, the calling of the Gentiles, and preaching.

EUSEBIUS OF CÆSAREA. The calling of the Gentiles, and the preaching of the Apostles.

S. ATHANASIUS. A Psalm of rejoicing and of the Resurrection.

COMMENTARY

The occasion of this Psalm, as of the preceding one, is the subject of much doubt. A few commentators ascribe it to the later years of David; the Greek Fathers generally to the return from Babylon, perhaps at the dedication of the Second Temple; others count it as a Maccabee thanksgiving; and others again, followed by some modern critics, assume it to speak of the deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib. The words of the LXX. and Vulgate title, Of the Resurrection, are not in the Hebrew or Chaldee, and Leo Castro charges the Jews with erasing them. But although they are cited by various early Fathers, yet their absence from S. Hilary’s Psalter and from the Hexapla seems to mark them as a late addition. They are, however, much commented on by the ancient and mediæval expositors, who interpret the whole Psalm by them as a key.

1–2 O be joyful in GOD, all ye lands: sing praises unto the honour of his Name, make his praise to be glorious.

S. Hilary, commenting on the word ἀλαλάξατε, (H.) with which the LXX. opens this Psalm, reminds us that it is a battle-cry, and calls on all the Christian world to do its duty manfully in the fight, that it may chant the song of victory at the end. (Michael Ayguan)-And because it is CHRIST’S Resurrection which hath put the enemy to flight, let His Name be praised, and give the glory to His praise alone, and not to any works of man. But the praise must be the active praise of holy works, (Dionysius)-not merely the recitation of holy words.

3 Say unto GOD, O how wonderful art thou in thy works: through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies be found liars unto thee.

For wonderful, the early versions read terrible. And fitly, however we regard those works. Terrible in the expulsion from Eden, terrible in the Flood, (Dionysius) terrible in the overthrow of the Egyptians. More terrible still in the stupendous mystery of the Incarnation (Pope St Leo), whereby the Creator of Angels endured to become a mortal, invisible in Himself, visible in our nature; Incomprehensible, Who willed to be comprehended; before all time, yet beginning to be in time. (Parez) Terrible in the eclipse of the sun at His crucifixion, the three hours’ darkness, and the rent rocks; terrible in the broken gates and bars of hell; (Augustine) terrible in His Resurrection. Not less so in the judgment by which He broke off the branches of His own olive-tree, that the wild Gentile boughs might be graffed in, an awful warning to us not to be high-minded, but to fear, and not to boast ourselves either against Jews, broken off of old, or against heretics, fallen later. We pray you to beware, says S. Augustine, whosoever ye are in the Church, do not revile them that are not within; but pray ye rather, that they too may be within; for GOD is able to graff them in again. Thine enemies shall be found liars. (Dionysius) As when they ascribed the greatness of CHRIST’S power to diabolic agency, saying “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub, (Ayguan) the prince of the devils” (Matt 12:24). And yet again when they bribed the soldiers to spread a false report of the stealing of His Body from the sepulchre (Matt 28:12). Still more in our own day, when the very existence of CHRIST as a personage belonging to history has been denied, on the express ground of the miraculous acts ascribed to Him.

4 For all the world shall worship thee: sing of thee, and praise thy Name.
5 O come hither, and behold the works of GOD: how wonderful he is in his doing toward the children of men.

At the end of the third verse some copies of the LXX. and the Roman Psalter add, O most Highest. (Augustine)-Vain have been the lies of the Jews; He Whom they branded as a deceiver is worshipped and praised over all the Gentile world, and not only there, but in the courts of heaven, because His Name is above every name. A little before, most lowly, now Most Highest; most lowly in the hands of lying enemies, Most Highest above the heads of praising Angels. Come hither, (Dionysius) then, to hear the word of GOD: come to His Church, and behold, by truer contemplation, by the light of Faith, by the irradiation of the HOLY GHOST, (Cassiodorus) how wonderful He is in His doing towards those Apostles whom He made the channels of His miracles; wonderful in His election to grace; wonderful in His judgment of sinners in the rejection of the Jews, (Augustine) in the call of the Gentiles.

6 He turned the sea into dry land: so that they went through the water on foot; there did we rejoice thereof.

Spoken first of the Red Sea triumph, (Augustine) it tells of a greater triumph of GOD’S power and grace. The world, notes S. Augustine, was a sea, bitter with saltness, troubled with tempest, raging with waves of persecution. Truly, the sea hath been turned into dry land, and now, the world that was filled with salt water thirsteth for water that is sweet, so that now the Gentile world cries: “My soul gaspeth unto Thee as a thirsty land” (Ps 143:6). What He did for all the world He does for every soul flooded with the salt sea of penitential tears, drying it up, (Ayguan) and making it able to bear fruit for Him. Next, the Vulgate reads, They shall go through the river on foot. And it is spoken of the courage with which the faithful shall pass through this life, (Augustine) not affected by the flood of worldliness, and yet on foot, because lowly, and not lifted up with pride, thus following more safely Him of Whom it is written in mystery: “With my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands” (Gen 32:10). He went with His Cross alone, and returned LORD of Jews and Gentiles, of the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant, of men and angels. We did rejoice at the exodus from Egypt, at the entrance into Canaan; (Dionysius) we shall rejoice, as the Vulgate reads, far more truly in passing from the way to our Country, from the waters of sin to the haven of quiet and safety. (Augustine) For even if we are joyous now, in hope we are joyous, but then in Him shall we be joyous. Even now in Him, yet through hope, but then “face to face” (1 Cor 13:12).

7 He ruleth with his power for ever; his eyes behold the people: and such as will not believe shall not be able to exalt themselves.

So He joins the two ideas Himself, (Hilary) “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the FATHER, and of the SON, and of the HOLY GHOST (Matt 28:18). And thus His beholding is the look of compassion which He turns on His suffering people. Such as will not believe. (Dionysius). The LXX. and Vulgate have, They that embitter, or that exasperate, the A. V. more exactly, the rebellious. They cannot exalt themselves, because a “haughty spirit goeth before a fall” (Prov 16:18), and “the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, the same reproacheth the LORD, and shall be cut off from among His people” (Num 15:30). But they may be exalted by Him Who beareth His people on His wings (Deut 32:12).

8 O praise our GOD, ye people: and make the voice of his praise to be heard;

Make it heard, by declaring it to others, that he who loves GOD may show his love to his neighbour also (Peter Lombard), by bringing him profitable tidings. Wherefore the priests bless GOD in the churches with a loud voice. For which reason it is said, “Behold now, praise the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD ye that by night stand in the house of the LORD” (Ps 134:1) S. Augustine reads, Hear ye the voice of His praise, listen to the glad news of His Gospel.

9 Who holdeth our soul in life: and suffereth not our feet to slip.

The Vulgate runs, Who hath set my soul unto life. And that not only by breathing into man the breath of life (Theodore of Mopsuestia) but by giving him the natural law, which, had Adam kept it, would have preserved him alive. (Parez) More than this, He set our soul unto the higher life of grace and glory, by means of faith. Nay, more than all, He has made us look to Himself, Who is emphatically the Life (St Albert Magnus). And suffereth not our feet to slip, because He hath set those feet upon a Rock, firm and unshaken, and ordered our goings thereon. Not like Cain (Origen), who “went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod” (Gen 4:16), which means wandering, but like Moses, to whom was said, “Stand thou here by Me” (Deut 5:31), and of whom those words were then true, “His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold” Song of Songs 5:15).

10 For thou, O GOD, hast proved us: thou also hast tried us, like as silver is tried.

With fire, first of persecutions and sufferings, and then with the more searching fire of heavenly love. For the odour of a saintly life needs the divine fire to make its perfume known (St Cyril of Alexandria), as incense requires glowing coals to quicken its properties. As silver, which is purified by heat, not as stubble, which is burnt up by it. (Augustine) And note, that the precise moment when silver is truly refined, is that in which the finer can see his face exactly mirrored in the molten surface. Whereby we know that our purification is complete, when CHRIST can see His Image reflected in our hearts. And as earthen vessels continue porous and friable till they are baked, (Remigius) so we, who are earth in the hand of the potter, need fire to make us fit to be the receptacles of grace. The early Fathers, holding the doctrine of a purgatorial fire through which the very Saints (St Ambrose), and even the Mother of GOD herself, must pass at the Last Day, dwell on this verse, and compare it with that saying of S. Paul, “The fire shall try every man’s work” (1 Cor 3:13).

11 Thou broughtest us into the snare: and laidest trouble upon our loins.

Being crafty, He caught us with guile, and when He had so taken us, He put His yoke on our shoulders, and His burden on our backs, that in this world we might have tribulation. And literally, (H.),. (C.) His martyrs were brought into the snare of dungeons, chains, and strangulation, and had scourges, heavy weights, and even plates of red-hot metal, laid upon their sides as they were extended upon the rack St Hilary and Cassiodorus).

12 Thou sufferedst men to ride over our heads: we went through fire and water, and thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

It is spoken of the persecuting Emperors, and of evil rulers, temporal and spiritual, (Lorinus) in all ages. Lorinus, writing at a time when the Turkish corsairs ravaged the Mediterranean coasts, and even at times the shores of Northern Europe, applies the text to the hard lot of the Christian captives in Algiers and Morocco. Through fire and water. Again we are told of the sufferings of the martyrs, some winning their crown in fire, like S. Polycarp; some in water, as S. Clement of Rome. Or you may take it, as S. Ambrose does, of the first purification of the soul in Baptism,* and the second cleansing by the fire of purgatory. Or it may be explained, with S. Augustine, (A.) of the mingled sorrows and pleasures of this life. S. Bernard expands this idea,* and observes of a Saint lately departed, “He passed over right manfully, yea, and happily; he passed over through fire and water, he whom sorrow could not break, nor ease delay. The knowledge of good and evil lies in this mean, and this is to make trial here of pleasure and of trouble. Happy is that soul, which passes through both alike, neither clinging to pleasure, nor failing in trouble.” Once more, the water of penitential tears, and the fire of divine love, are the fit preparation for entrance into the wealthy place of unity with GOD. A wealthy place. The Vulgate reads, a cool place (see note).  And it will then tell us of that shelter with Him Who is a refuge from the heat, the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, of those cool waters and green pastures which wait for the Saints who have followed their Shepherd in this life. But if we take our English reading, a wealthy place, it will tell of that field of the Church wherein the treasure of grace is hidden, and of that more glorious Church where the treasure is no more hid, but open to all gazing eyes. Note: the Hebrew רויה is derived from רוה which refers to the slaking of thirst. The word implies an abundance of anything that alleviates. Modern translations read “freedom” (NAB), “a spacious place” (RSV), “a place of abundance” (LEB). The Vulgate’s a cool place relates nicely as a contrast to the image of testing by fire in verse 10, along with the fire mentioned in this current verse. Modern translations implying freedom and spaciousness contrast with the captivity and oppression mentioned in the first part of verse 12: Thou hast set men over our heads.

About the Holy City rolls a flood
Of molten crystal,* like a sea of glass;
On which bright stream a strong foundation stood,
Of living diamonds the building was;
That all things else it wholly did surpass,
Her streets, the stars, instead of stones, did pave,
And little pearls for dust it seemed to have,
On which soft streaming manna like pure snow did wave
(“Christ’s Victorie and Triumph,” Giles Fletcher, Protestant poet).

The two preceding verses of the Psalm have been applied with much ingenuity to the vocation for the claustral life. Thou hast brought us into the snare of the cloister, binding us with the threefold cord of the monastic vow (Alvarez), and laidest trouble, the regular tasks and enforced duties of the convent, upon our loins. Thou hast set men, abbots and prelates, over our heads, whom we must obey: we go through fire and water in the various trials of that obedience, and then Thou hast brought us into a cool place, where we are free from the heat and anxiety of this world, and look forward to the coolness of the life to come.

13–14 I will go into thine house with burnt-offerings: and will pay thee my vows, which I promised with my lips, and spake with my mouth, when I was in trouble.

Into Thine house, (Dionysius) either by withdrawing into myself for secret communion with Thee, remembering that my body is the temple of the HOLY GHOST, or into the place of Thy public worship, (Augustine) or at last into the heavenly City. With burnt-offerings, having consumed all that is mine, by victory over self, and leaving only what is GOD’S. So the Paris Breviary, singing of Confessors:

Corpus subegit castitas,*
Et liberam mentem fides;
Amor supernis ignibus
Totam litavit hostiam.
(Hymn. in Comm. Just.)

It is true of the Martyrs also, (St Hilary) and chiefly of Him, their King, (Parez) Who ascended into the Holy of holies with the whole burnt-offering of Himself. My vows, whether of baptism, of the religious or priestly life, or of self-dedication of any kind. And the word pay marks that such vows are debts (Genebrardus), not mere voluntary offerings which need not be made. Which I promised with my lips. The Vulgate reads, which my lips distinguished (i.e. articulated.) Where note, says Ayguan, that he distinguishes his vows, who vows discreetly, but he who vows indiscreetly, does not distinguish, because distinguishing belongs to discretion, and he distinguishes his vows of GOD’S praise, who says in his heart that he is nothing, and GOD is all, that he needs GOD, not GOD him. And spake with my mouth, implying a distinct contract made with GOD, not a mere passing resolution of the mind, but a positive action of the will, binding itself to future performance. When I was in trouble. So the Patriarch, “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If GOD will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my GOD” (Gen 28:2). And to all this He answers, to the first request, “When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee” (Isa 43:2); to the second, “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way” (Ex 23:20); to the third He replies, “The bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51). For raiment, He declares, “Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment” (Zech 3:4), and will say to His servants, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him” Lk 15:22); and last of all, that we may come to our FATHER’S House in peace, He says, “In My FATHER’S house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn 14:2).  Wherefore let us keep the vow, and have the LORD for our GOD.

15 I will offer unto thee fat burnt-sacrifices, with the incense of rams: I will offer bullocks and goats.

The LXX. and Vulgate read here marrowy burnt-offerings. Within may I keep Thy love, comments S. Augustine, it shall not be on the surface, in my marrow it shall be that I love Thee. For there is nothing more inward than our marrow; the bones are more inward than the flesh, the marrow is more inward than those same bones. Whosoever therefore on the surface loveth GOD, desireth rather to please men, but having some other affection within, he offereth not holocausts of marrow (Theodore of Mopsuestia). The fat burnt-offerings are also explained of the Martyrs, as strong and resolute under torture. With the incense of rams. The rams are the rulers of the Church; the whole Body of CHRIST is speaking, this is what it offereth to GOD. (Ayguan) The incense of rams is therefore the prayer offered as incense before GOD by the rulers of the Church. Bullocks, which labour in the LORD’S field, signify doctors and preachers; while the goats are repentant sinners. Sinners, because of the LORD’S own distinction between sheep and goats; repentant ones (Origen), because goats were the victims used in sin-offerings.

16 O come hither, and hearken, all ye that fear GOD: and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul.

He calls not only the living (Theodore of Mopsuestia), but the Patriarchs and Prophets of old time, who longed to see these things, to hearken to the Gospel tidings, (Lorinus) and to rejoice with us. The Gentiles who serve GOD by the law of nature, are also summoned in these words to join the Church, that the law of grace may be explained to them. The soul which has been healed is eager to point out the Great Physician to those which are still suffering from disease.

17 I called unto him with my mouth: and gave him praises with my tongue.

I, a man, was crying to a stone, I was crying to a deaf stock, (Augustine) to idols deaf and dumb I was speaking; now, the image of GOD hath turned to the Creator thereof; I that was “saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth” (Jer 2:27), now say, “Our FATHER, “Which art in heaven” (Mt 6:9).  I called unto Him with my mouth. With my mouth now, not with the mouth of another. When I was crying to stones in the “vain conversation received by tradition from the fathers” (1 Pet 1:18), with the mouth of others I was crying; when I have cried unto the LORD with that cry which Himself hath given, which Himself hath inspired, I called unto Him with my own mouth. And gave Him praises with my tongue. The LXX. and Vulgate read, And have exalted Him under my tongue. That is, notes S. Augustine, confessed Him secretly in my heart, as well as preached Him openly. Many Psalters, and the majority of mediæval expositors read, I have exulted under my tongue. And they explain it of spiritual joy within the heart. (Gerhohus) It is like the Bride, says one, “Honey and milk are under thy tongue;” so that my tongue may be busied with the praise of GOD and with holy prayers, and my spirit within rejoice in GOD my SAVIOUR. I exulted under my tongue, while that tongue was the pen of a ready writer uttering good words without (see Ps 45:2), and within my heart was inditing a good word wholly in harmony with those outer words. The Hebrew would be more closely rendered, A song of praise was under my tongue, and it will then imply the absolute certainty of GOD’S answer to prayer, and that the believer has his thanksgiving ready even while he is uttering his cry of supplication.

18 If I incline unto wickedness with mine heart: the LORD will not hear me.

Not merely, notes S. Hilary, if I have actually done an evil deed, but if I have thought on it with pleasure, and given the assent of my will. And the Vulgate puts this very forcibly, If I have beheld iniquity in my heart.

19 But GOD hath heard me: and considered the voice of my prayer.
20 Praised be GOD who hath not cast out my prayer: nor turned his mercy from me.

Because I have not inclined to wickedness with my heart, for thus speaks the Apostle, (Ludolphus) “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards GOD. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him” (1 Jn 3:21); and it therefore urges us to perseverance. Not to vain confidence, for GOD, notes Lorinus, sometimes does cast out prayer. Moses was not heard for his sister, nor Samuel for Saul, nor Antiochus for himself, and there is a sin unto death, for which it is not said that we are to pray (1 Jn 5:16). Praised be God. Let all His Angels and Saints praise Him; (Gerhohus) heaven and earth, the sea and all that is therein. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, for He hath given me perseverance in crying unto Him, and turned not His mercy far from my prayer, and I have found it true, that, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt 7:7).

Wherefore: Glory be to the FATHER, Who hath heard my prayer; and to the SON, my Resurrection and Life, through Whose mediation my prayer hath reached the FATHER; and to the HOLY GHOST, the Mercy of FATHER and SON, which hath not been turned from me as I prayed. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

VARIOUS USES

Gregorian. Wednesday. Matins.

Monastic. Wednesday. Matins. [Transfiguration. I. Nocturn.]

Parisian. Sunday. Matins. III. Nocturn.

Lyons. Thursday. Terce.

Ambrosian. Monday of Second Week. Matins. II. Nocturn.

Quignon. Sunday. Lauds.

Eastern Church. Saturday. Nocturns.

ANTIPHONS

Gregorian. O bless * our GOD, ye people.

Monastic. [Transfiguration. The disciples, coming to the LORD JESUS, fearing the Voice of the FATHER, fell on their faces.]

Parisian. O come * hearken, and I will tell you what He hath done for my soul.

Ambrosian. First verse of the Psalm.

Mozarabic. Sing a Psalm to His Name, give glory to His praise, say unto GOD, O how terrible are Thy works.

COLLECTS

Instil into my mind,* O LORD, the glory of Thy praise, that while we shun the burnings of this world, we may, under Thy guidance, be carried into eternal refreshment. (If the Collect be addressed to GOD the FATHER, the proper ending is: Through JESUS CHRIST our LORD, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the HOLY GHOST, One GOD, world without end. Amen)

Grant,* O LORD, that we who, believing in Thee, go into Thine house with burnt-offerings, may serve Thee with dedication of our works and sanctification of the body, that so Thou mayest not cast out our prayers, nor turn Thy mercy from us, whilst Thou dost inspire us to seek that which Thou knowest to be good for us. (The Mozarabic ending is—at the conclusion of the prayer, without any other termination: Amen. Through Thy mercy, O our GOD, Who art blessed, and livest and governest all things, to ages of ages. Amen)

Let all the earth worship Thee,* O LORD, and sing to Thee, being made partaker of incorrupt life; that as all things are framed by Thy handiwork, they may likewise be submitted to Thy sway. (The Mozarabic ending same as above)

O GOD,* Who hast willed that Thy Saints should be tried on earth by Thy wonted loving probation, but not that they should be tempted above the gift of endurance which Thou seest to be in them by Thy bounty, deliver us from all temptation, lest it overcome our mind; that serving Thee faithfully in well-pleasing obedience, Thou wouldst suffer us to be so tried, that temptation lead us not into the confusion of error, but bind us firmly in the embrace of truth. (The Mozarabic ending same as above)

O GOD,* to Whom all the earth sings loud praise in rejoicing, and Whose glory it proclaims with the tuneful voice of a psalm, Whose awful might in Thy works it confesses, grant that our voices may yield Thee acceptable praise, and our prayers give Thee a perfect psalm, and celebrate Thee, the Maker of all powers; and inasmuch as Thine eyes behold the nations, and invisibly search the inmost parts of all things; we beseech Thee so to look on us graciously with Thine eyes, and to correct us so in mercy, that Thou mayest not pour Thy wrath upon us, angered by our misdeeds, nor restrain Thy mercy when Thou art intreated. And grant, that our very fear of Thee for our sins may be our chastisement, and our belief and confession of Thy Godhead, the reward of our pardon. Set our souls then, O LORD, unto life, that we may weep here for our doings, and win that grace which we have lost through sin. (The Mozarabic ending same as above)

We humbly beseech Thee,* O LORD, open Thine ears to our prayers, and, granting us pardon of our sins, deliver us from our present troubles, and making us, by the death of our vices, a pure burnt-offering to Thee, unite us to the company of the Saints. (If the Collect be addressed to GOD the FATHER, the proper ending is: Through JESUS CHRIST our LORD, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the HOLY GHOST, One GOD, world without end. Amen)

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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