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Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 1:1-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014

Mk 1:1 THE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Most writers regard this verse as the title of the book.

Gospel, i.e. the tidings of salvation, or the story of the life of Jesus
Christ (see Intro., p. 15).

Concerning the word “Gospel” the Glossary of the Catechims of the Catholic Church notes:

“GOSPEL: The “good news” of God’s mercy and love revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is this Gospel or good news that the Apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the entire world (571, 1946). The Gospel is handed on in the apostolic tradition of the Church as the source of all-saving truth and moral discipline (75). The four Gospels are the books written by the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John which have for their central object Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son: his life, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Church’s beginnings under the Spirit’s guidance (124, 514).”

Jesus = Saviour. Christ = Anointed. Kings, priests and prophets were anointed, and Jesus was all three.

Concerning the name Jesus see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 430-435 (hereafter CCC). Concerning the title Christ see CCC 436-440. Concerning “Son of God” see CCC 441-445.

Mk 1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee.

As it is written in Isaiah:  St Mark actually begins by a quotation from Malachi: Behold, I send My angel, and he shall -prepare the way before My face (Mal 3:1). Our Lord Himself applies these words to St John. This is he of whom it is written: Behold, I send, etc. (St Matt. 11:10.). For the Isaiah quotation see on verse 2.

The texts of Malachi and Isaiah are similar inasmuch as they both allude to the Exouds with it’s reference to an angel which will go before the people (Ex 23:20). Both also speak about preparing the way before the Lord.

St Mark, as historian, only quotes the Old Testament twice; here and in Mk 15:28, And with the wicked He was reputed. The passage concerning the angel who should prepare the way, referred primarily to the return of the Jews from their exile in Babylon, but the doctors of the law saw in this prophecy a secondary allusion to the Messiah.

Mk 1:3 A voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight his paths.

A voice of one crying. A reference to a herald preceding a monarch and proclaiming his coming.

in the desert. The desert in which St John preached, was a tract of very thinly-inhabited land, lying east of Jerusalem and north of the Dead Sea.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord. St John exhorted his hearers to do this, by confessing their sins and bringing forth worthy fruits of penance. See Mk 1:5 and especially Luke 3:3, 7-14.

make straight his paths. An allusion to the Eastern custom of sending out workmen to prepare the roads for the passage of a monarch. It consisted in filling valleys, levelling hills, and making devious paths straight and even.

Isaiah 40:3 is almost certainly a mockery of the gods of Babylon. In ancient times highways were rebuilt for kings and gods (idols) so that they might enter their capital city in splendor, often as a celebration for the victory of the king and his gods over foreign people and their gods. The people of God and the utensils of worship taken from the Jerusalem Temple at the time of the Babylonian conquest and the exile that followed were, no doubt, led along such a road as they entered Babylon, with their conquerors celebrating their and their god’s victory over them and their God. Of course, they failed to understand that what they deemed the defeat of Israel’s God was, in fact, part of a plan orchestrated by him. The King of Babylon, like the King of Assyria before him, thought that he had conquered just another god, and for this both suffered the consequences (Isa 10:10-11; 14:13-15). Here God is declaring that he will have his own victory procession, triumphantly leading his people out of the pagan city he-not the gods of Babylon-had led them into. On this processional highway “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed” and “all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken”  (verse 5). His word stands forever (unlike “flesh”, see Isa 40:6-8) and accomplishes his will (Isa 55:10-11). Thus at the beginning of Mark’s Gospel we see a note of triumph and victory hinted at. Jesus will be confronted by Satan, the prince of demons and the one whose power is behind every false god, and He will be victorious (implied in Mk 1:12-13; explicit in Mt 4:1-11, Lk 4:1-13).

For the use of the Isaiah passage in reference to John the Baptist here and in Matt 11:10 see the CCC 719. One may also wish to consult the footnote to Mk 1:2-3 in the NABRE.

Mk 1:4 John was in the desert, baptizing and preaching the baptism of penance, unto remission of sins.

baptizing. The use of the present participle denotes an action frequently repeated. John was extremely busy with baptizing and preaching given the huge numbers who went out to him (see the next verse; also Mt 3:5 and note the reference to “crowds” [plural] in Luke 4:7, 10).

preaching. St John preached before he baptized; the order is here inverted. Baptizing was the characteristic feature of his ministry.

baptism of penance. Not the Sacrament of Baptism but a penitential rite to prepare them for the preaching of our Lord. This “baptism of penance” could not, of itself, take away sin.

Mk 1:5 And there went out to him all the country of Judea and all they of Jerusalem and were baptized by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

all the country, etc. This is one of St Mark s graphic touches. The other Gospels mention the various classes of people who listened to St John soldiers, tax-gatherers (St Luke 3:10-14).

river of Jordan = the river Jordan.

confessing their sins, i.e. “declaring their deeds.” These words do not refer to the Sacrament of Penance, which was not then instituted. The Law of Moses prescribed a detailed confession of certain sins, e.g. unjust or rash oaths. Leviticus: Let him do penance for his sin, and offer of the flocks an ewe lamb or a she-goat, and the priest shall pray for him and for his sin (Lev 5:5-6).

Mk 1:6 And John was clothed camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins: and he ate locusts and wild honey.

camel’s hair. A. rough cloth made from coarse camel s hair. St John the
Baptist led a life of penance, hence his clothes and food were of the poorest.

leathern girdle. The rich wore expensive girdles; the poor used a plain leathern strap such as the Arabs of the desert still wear. Recall Jesus’ words in reference to the Baptist in Mt 11:8~But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings. The Baptist’s dress calls to mind the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8).

locusts. A rather large-winged insect considered “clean” by the Jews. The food of the poor. The locusts were dried in the sun and sometimes made into cakes.

wild honey was found in quantities in the clefts of the rocks in the desert, or the term may mean the tree-honey, a gum found exuding from certain trees.

Mk 1:7 And he preached, saying: There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.

after me. St John the Baptist was born about six months before our Lord. As no Jew was allowed to preach before his thirtieth year, Jesus began His public life about six months later than St John. I doubt the phrase there cometh after me one, &c, has anything to do with age. More likely it’s picking up on the theme of “before” in verses 2~Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee. John is prophesying the coming fulfillment of the foundational purpose of his ministry. Indeed, in Mk 1:9 Jesus will come to the already ministering  Baptist, be baptized by him and then start his own ministry for which the Baptist’s was a prelude.

mightier than I. Note the Baptist’s humility, Jesus is “the Mighty One.” The Greek word ισχυροτερος (ischyroteros) means mighty or powerful one. As the Mighty One Jesus has come to subdue “the strong man” (ισχυρου = ischyrou) Satan (see Mk 3:23-27).

to stoop down. A minute detail proper to St Mark.

and loose. To loose and carry the shoes was the work of the slave, who performed this office for his master, when the latter entered a temple or banqueting hall.

Mk 1:8 I have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

I have baptised you with water, etc. The Baptist exalts Christ’s baptism, which conferred the Holy Ghost, and regenerated the soul.


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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 1:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014

This post contains commentary on Philippians 1:1-11 along with two introductory summaries. The fist on Phil 1:1-2; the second on Phil 1:3-11. Underlined words indicate that a definition or note will be given. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

 A Summary of Philippians 1:1-2

St. Paul together with Timothy, his trusted companion and probably his amanuensis at this time, addresses in artless and affectionate terms the beloved faithful of Philippi and their spiritual leaders, wishing them, in combined Greek and Hebrew forms, grace and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus, their Saviour.

amanuensis: one who writes down the dictation of another; a secretary.

artless: simple, natural, unpretentious.

Phil 1:1. Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ; to all the saints in Christ Jesus, who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.

Paul, the author of this letter. He omits the title “apostle” here because there is no reason to require insistence on his divine authority and mission. See on Rom 1:1. There Fr. Callan writes:

Called to be an apostle, i.e., called by a special vocation (κλητός= klētos) to go and preach the Gospel. The term “apostle” means one sent, as a messenger, a commissioned agent. Thus all the Apostles were messengers sent by Christ to announce the kingdom of God, to proclaim the good tidings of redemption and salvation. St. Paul was equal in dignity to the twelve, because like them, he was called and instructed immediately by Christ Himself (Gal 1:1). Sometimes in an opening address St Paul had to insist on his apostolic status because of trouble makers in the church (e.g., 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:1). Sometimes it was more directly necessitated by the fact that he was not acquainted firsthand with the church he is writing to (e.g., Rom 1:1-7; Col 1:1).  In these two letters both issues may have contributed. The greeting in the two letters to Thessalonica have no descriptive title at all. Here in Philippians he describes himself as a slave or servant of Jesus Christ because he wishes to associate the Phillippians service to him with his own service (see Phil 1:3-7, 29-30; 2:25, 29-30).

Timothy, who was with Paul at this time and perhaps wrote down the present Epistle, and who had helped the Apostle in founding the Church at Philippi (Acts 16:1ff). For further particulars about Timothy, see Introduction to 1 Timothy in this volume.

Servants. Literally, “slaves,” but in a redeemed and figurative sense of that degrading word.

Jesus Christ. There is more evidence for the reverse order of these terms, “Christ Jesus.” This title of our Lord is peculiarly Pauline, occurring in the two orders about 165 times in his Epistles.

All the saints, i.e., all those who by their religious profession have separated themselves from the world and consecrated themselves to God. The Apostle says “all,” showing no distinction, and no cause of distinction, such as factions or sects.

Philippi. See Introduction, No. 1. Read it here.

With the bishops, etc. This is the only time St, Paul mentions the clergy in the inscription of a letter. In early times the title “bishop” was given to the heads of the various local churches, whether they were bishops In the strict sense of the word or only priests; the term here being in the plural doubtless means priests or presbyters. See Acts 21:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Tim. 3:1-13, 5:17, where the terms “bishops” and “presbyters” are interchanged. St. Paul names the bishops and deacons most likely because they took the principal part in sending gifts and helps to him.

Phil 1:2. Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace . . . peace. See on Eph. 1:2.

God our Father, etc. The Father is the ultimate source of all blessings, and Christ, His co-equal Son, is the medium and channel. See also on Eph. 1:2.

A Summary of  Philippians 3:3-11

Here the Apostle begins to speak in the first person singular, showing that the letter is his own, and not a joint work between him and Timothy. He thanks God for the part the Philippians have had in the work of the Gospel and in the merits of his sufiferings (Phil 1:3-8), and he prays that they may continually progress in spiritual knowledge and in the grace of Him to whom they owe their spiritual life, so as to be perfect when the heavenly Bridegroom comes to call them to their eternal rewards (Phil 1:9-1 1).

3. I give thanks to my God in every remembrance of you,
4. Always in all my prayers, making supplication for you all, with joy,

3-4. The Apostle assures his readers that in all his remembrance of them he thanks God, who is the source of all their spiritual blessings, and that in all his petitions it is a cause of joy to him to make requests for them.

In all my prayers. Better, “In every request of mine.”

5. For your communication in the gospel of Christ from the first day unto now,

He assigns the reason for his supplication with joy In their behalf, namely, their “communication in the gospel, etc.,” i.e., their co-operation with him in the work of spreading the Gospel from the first day they heard it preached up to the time this letter was written. The reference is to the devotedness, labors, sufferings, gifts, etc., by which they had participated with the Apostle in the propagation and furtherance of the Gospel.

6. Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.

The Apostle now tells the Philippians that he feels certain that God the Father who began in them the work of their redemption and sanctification will complete the process, bringing it to perfection against the day of their deliverance from the present life. Thus, he teaches the necessity of grace, not only to begin a good work in the supernatural order, but also to continue it and to persevere in it until death (cf. Conc. Trid., sess. VI, cap. 13).

A good work, i.e., their conversion to Christianity, which was followed by their labor and zeal in behalf of the Gospel and St. Paul.

The day of Christ Jesus is a frequent expression with St. Paul, and refers to our Lord’s coming in judgment, whether at the death of the individual or at the end of time to judge the world. The similar expression of the Old Testament, “the day of the Lord,” meant the day of God’s visitation of the earth in judgment and redemption.

7. Indeed it is right for me to be so minded in regard of you all, for that I have you in my heart; that in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace.

He gives the reason for the confidence expressed in the preceding verse. It is perfectly right and natural that he should feel thus toward the Philippians, because of his intimate and tender love for them, and because, through the help they have given him, they are sharers in the “grace” of his apostolate, whether exercised in “bonds,” i.e., in prison, or in “defence” of himself and of his preaching against the accusations and calumnies of the Jews, or “in confirmation of the gospel,” i.e., in explaining and proving the truth of the Gospel before Jews and Gentiles (Acts 28:23 ff.). “For that I have you in my heart” may also be rendered “for that you have me in your heart,” i.e., he is mindful of them because they also remember him.

The gaudii mei of the Vulgate should be gratiæ meæ, to agree with the Greek.

8. For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the heart of Christ Jesus.

As a proof of his ardent love for the faithful of Philippi St. Paul now invokes God, who reads the heart, as his witness; he loves them all with the love wherewith Christ loves them; his heart is one with the heart of his Master.

In visceribus of the Vulgate means with the most ardent love, the Greek of which is properly rendered in English by “heart,” as it refers to the seat of tender and noble affections. The Greek also reverses the order of Jesu Christi of the Vulgate here.

9. And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all discernment,

In verse 4 the Apostle told his readers that he prayed for them all with joy. Now he tells them what he requested for them, namely, that their “charity” (i.e., their love of God and their neighbor) might continually increase and become ever more perfect “in knowledge,” i.e., in full, developed understanding (επιγνωσει) of Christian virtues, and “in all discernment,” i.e., practical judgment (αισθησει) as to the application of those virtues in dealing with their neighbor.

10. That you may approve the better things, that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ,

This full knowledge and judgment St. Paul requests for the Philippians in order that they may be able to appraise things according to their true worth; that, distinguishing between the moral values of their actions, they “may approve, etc.,” i.e., that they may test and choose those which are more excellent, with the result that they “may be sincere” (i.e., pure and innocent in the sight of God) “and without offence” (i.e., that their conduct may be no obstacle or stumbling block to their neighbor).

Unto the day of Christ, i.e., when the Lord comes to judge and reward them according to their works. See on verse 6 above.

11. Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The Apostle wishes the faithful not only to be innocent and blameless, but also to be “filled with the fruit of justice,” i.e., with good works, which can be done only through the grace of Christ. “Justice” here is better rendered “justness” or “righteousness,” which implies a complete harmony between the soul and God; it is given through Christ. “Only so far as the life of the believer is absorbed in the life of Christ, does the righteousness of Christ become his own” (Lightfoot). Hence our Lord said: “I am the true vine, etc.” (John 15:1 ff.).

Unto the glory, etc. The glory and praise of God is the last end and true goal of all our charity, justice, good works, etc., as the Apostle here reminds us.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 144

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014

1. The title of this Psalm is brief in number of words, but heavy in the weight of its mysteries. “To David himself against Goliath.” This battle was fought in the time of our fathers, and ye, beloved, remember it with me from Holy Scripture.… David put five stones in his scrip, he hurled but one. The five Books were chosen, but unity conquered. Then, having smitten and overthrown him, he took the enemy’s sword, and with it cut off his head. This our David also did, He overthrew the devil with his own weapons: and when his great ones, whom he had in his power, by means of whom he slew other souls, believe, they turn their tongues against the devil, and so Goliath’s head is cut off with his own sword.

2. “Blessed be the Lord my God, who teacheth my hands for battle, my fingers for war” (ver. 1). These are our words, if we be the Body of Christ. It seems a repetition of sentiment; “our hands for battle,” and “our fingers for war,” are the same. Or is there some difference between “hands” and “fingers”? Certainly both hands and fingers work. Not then without reason do we take “fingers” as put for “hands.” But still in the “fingers” we recognise the division of operation, yet still a sort of unity. Behold that grace! the Apostle saith,6 To one, this; to another, that; “there are diversities of operations; all these worketh one and the self-same Spirit;” there is the root of unity. With these “fingers” then the Body of Christ fighteth, going forth to “war,” going forth to “battle.” … By works of Mercy our enemy is conquered, and we could not have works of mercy unless we had charity, and charity we could have none unless we received it by the Holy Ghost; He then “teacheth our hands for battle, and our fingers for war:” to Him rightfully do we say, “My Mercy,” from whom we have also that we are merciful: “for he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy.”7

3. My Mercy and my Refuge, my Upholder and my Deliverer” (ver. 2). Much toileth this combatant, having his flesh lusting against his spirit. Keep what thou hast. Then shalt thou have in full what thou wishest, when “death shall have been swallowed up in victory;”8 when this mortal body has been raised, and is changed into the condition of the angels, and rises aloft to a heavenly quality.… There is life, there are good days, where nought lusteth against the spirit, where it is not said, “Fight,” but “Rejoice.” But who is he that lusteth for these days? Every man certainly saith, “I do.” Hear what followeth. I see that thou art toiling, I see that thou art engaged in battle, and in danger; hear what followeth: … “Depart from evil, and do good:” let not the poor first weep under thee, that the poor may rejoice through thee. For what reward, since now thou art fighting? “Seek peace, and ensue it.” Learn and say, “My Mercy and my Refuge, mine Upholder and my Deliverer, my Protector:” “mine Upholder,” lest I fall; “my Deliverer,” lest I stick; “my Protector,” lest I be stricken. In all these things, in all my toil, in all my battles, in all my difficulties, in Him have I hoped, “who subdueth my people under me.” Behold, our Head speaketh together with us.

4. “Lord, what is man, that Thou hast become known unto him?” (ver. 3). All is included in “that Thou hast become known unto him.” “Or the son of man, that Thou valuest him?” Thou valuest him, that is, Thou makest him of such importance, Thou countest him of such price, Thou knowest under what Thou placest him, over what Thou placest him. For valuing is considering the price of a thing. How greatly did He value man, who for him shed the blood of His only-begotten Son! For God valueth not man in the same way as one man valueth another he, when he findeth a slave for sale, giveth a higher price for a horse than for a man. Consider how greatly He valued thee, that thou mayest be able to say, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” And how greatly did He value thee, “who spared not His own Son”? “How shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?”1 He who giveth this food to the combatant, what keepeth He in store for the conqueror?…

5. “Man is made like unto vanity: his days pass away like a shadow” (ver. 4). What vanity? Time, which passeth on, and floweth by. For this “vanity” is said in comparison of the Truth, which ever abideth, and never faileth: for it too is a work of His Hand, in its degree. “For,” as it is written, “God filled the earth with His good things.”2 What is “His”? That accord with Him. But all these things, being earthly, fleeting, transitory, if they be compared to that Truth, where it is said, “I Am That I Am,”3 all this which passeth away is called “vanity.” For through time it vanisheth, like smoke into the air. And why should I say more than that which the Apostle James said, willing to bring down proud men to humility, “What is,” saith he, “your life? It is even a vapour, which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”4 … Work then, though it be in the night, with thine hands, that is, by good works seek God, before the day come which shall gladden thee, lest the day come which shall sadden thee. For see how safely thou workest, who art not left by Him whom thou seekest; “that thy Father which seeth in secret may reward thee openly.”5 …

6. “Lord, bow Thy heavens, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke” (ver. 5). “Flash Thy lightning, and Thou shalt scatter them; send forth Thine arrows, and Thou shalt confound them” (ver. 6). “Send forth Thy Hand from above, and deliver me, and draw me out of many waters” (ver. 7). The Body of Christ, the humble David, full of grace, relying on God, fighting in this world, calleth for the help of God. What are “heavens bowed down”? Apostles humbled. For those “heavens declare the glory of God;” and of these heavens declaring the glory of God it is presently said, “There is neither speech nor language, but their voices are heard among them,” etc.6 When then these heavens sent forth their voices through all lands, and did wonderful things, while the Lord flashed and thundered from them by miracles and commandments, the gods were thought to have come down from heaven to men. For certain of the Gentiles, thinking this, desired even to sacrifice to them.… But they commended to these the Lord Jesus Christ, humbling themselves, that God might be praised; because “the heavens” were “bowed,” that “God” might “come down.” … “Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.” So long as they are not touched, they seem to themselves great: they are now about to say, “Great art Thou, O Lord:”7 the mountains also are about to say, “Thou only art the Most Highest over all the earth.”8

7. But there are some that conspire, that “gather themselves together against the Lord, and against His Christ.”9 They have come together, they have conspired. “Flash forth Thy lightnings, and Thou shalt scatter them.” Abound with Thy miracles, and their conspiracy shall be broken.… “Send forth Thine arrows, and Thou shalt confound them.” Let the unsound be wounded, that, being well wounded, they may be made sound; and let them say, being set now in the Church, in the Body of Christ, let them say with the Church, “I am wounded with Love.”10 “Send forth Thine Hand from on high.” What afterward? What in the end? How conquereth the Body of Christ? By heavenly aid. “For the Lord Himself shall come with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God shall He descend from heaven,”11 Himself the Saviour of the body, the Hand of God. What is, “Out of many waters”? From many peoples. What peoples? Aliens, unbelievers, whether assailing us from without, or laying snares within. Take me out of many waters, in which Thou didst discipline me, in which Thou didst roll me, to free me from my filth. This is the “water of contradiction.”12 … “From the hand of strange children.” Hear, brethren, among whom we are, among whom we live, from whom we long to be delivered. “Whose mouth hath spoken vanity” (ver. 8). All of you to-day, if ye had not gathered yourselves together to these divine shows1 of the word of God, and were not at this hour engaged in them, how great vanities would ye be hearing! “whose mouth hath spoken vanity:” when, in short, would they, speaking vanity, hear you speaking vanity? “And their right hand is a right hand of iniquity.” What doest thou among them with thy pastoral scrip with five stones in it? Say it to me in another form: that same law which thou hast signified by five stones, signify in some other way also. “I will sing a new song unto Thee, O God” (ver. 9). “A new song” is of grace; “a new song” is of the new man; “a new song” is of the New Testament. But lest thou shouldest think that grace departeth from the law, whereas rather by grace the law is fulfilled, “upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing unto Thee.” Upon the law of ten commandments: therein may I sing to Thee; therein may I rejoice to Thee; therein may “I sing to Thee a new song;” for, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.”2 But they who have not love may carry the psaltery, sing they cannot. Contradiction cannot make my psaltery to be silent.

8. “Who giveth salvation to kings, who redeemeth David His servant” (ver. 10). Ye know who David is; be yourselves David. Whence “redeemeth He David His servant”? Whence redeemeth He Christ? Whence redeemeth He the Body of Christ? “From the sword of ill intent deliver me.” “From the sword” is not sufficient; he addeth, “of ill intent.” Without doubt there is a sword of good intent. What is the sword of good intent? That whereof the Lord saith, “I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword.”3 For He was about to separate believers from unbelievers, sons from parents, and to sever all other ties, while the sword cut off what was diseased, but healed the members of Christ. Of good intent then is the sword twice sharpened, powerful with both edges, the Old and New Testaments, with the narration of the past and the promise of the future. That then is the sword of good intent: but the other is of ill intent, wherewith they talk vanity, for that is of good intent, wherewith God speaketh verity. For truly “the sons of men have teeth which are spears and arrows, and their tongue is a sharp sword.”4 “From” this “sword deliver me” (ver. 11). “And take me out of the hand of strange children, whose mouth hath spoken vanity:” just as before. And that which followeth, “their right hand is a right hand of iniquity,” the same he had set down before also, when he called them “many waters.” For lest thou shouldest think that the “many waters” were good waters, he explained them by the “sword of ill intent.”

9. “Whose sons are like young vines firmly planted in their youth” (ver. 12). He wisheth to recount their happiness. Observe, ye sons of light, sons of peace: observe, ye sons of the Church, members of Christ; observe whom he calleth “strangers,” whom he calleth “strange children,” whom he calleth “waters of contradiction,” whom he calleth a “sword of ill intent.” Observe, I beseech you, for among them ye are in peril, among their tongues ye fight against the desires of your flesh, among their tongues, set in the hand of the devil wherewith he fighteth.5 … What vanity hath their mouth spoken, and how is their right hand a right hand of iniquity? “Their daughters are fitted and adorned after the similitude of a temple.” “Their garners are full, bursting out from one store to another: their sheep are fruitful, multiplying in their streets” (ver. 13): “their oxen are fat: their hedge is not broken down, nor their road, nor is their crying in their streets” (ver. 14). Is not this then happiness? I ask the sons of the kingdom of heaven, I ask the offspring of everlasting resurrection, I ask the body of Christ, the members of Christ, the temple of God. Is not this then happiness, to have sons safe, daughters beautiful, garners full, cattle abundant, no downfall, I say not of a wall, but not even of a hedge, no tumult and clamour in the streets, but quiet, peace, abundance, plenty of all things in their houses and in their cities? Is not this then happiness? or ought the righteous to shun it? or findest thou not the house of the righteous too abounding with all these things, full of this happiness? Did not Abraham’s house abound with gold, silver, children, servants, cattle? What say we? is not this happiness? Be it so, still it is on the left hand. What is, on the left hand? Temporal, mortal, bodily. I desire not that thou shun it, but that thou think it not to be on the right hand.… For what ought they to have set on the right hand? God, eternity, the years of God which fail not, whereof is said, “and Thy years shall not fail.”6 There should be the right hand, there should be our longing. Let us use the left for the time, let us long for the right for eternity. “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.”7 …

10. “They have called the people blessed who have these things” (ver. 15). O men that speak vanity! They have lost the true right hand, wicked and perverse, they have put on the benefits of God inversely. O wicked ones, O speakers of vanity, O strange children! What was on the left hand, they have set on the right. What dost thou, David? What dost thou, Body of Christ? What do ye, members of Christ? What do ye, not strange children, but children of God.… What say ye? Say ye with us, “Blessed is the people whose Lord is their God.”

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 6:1-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014

This post opens with Fr. Callan’s brief summary of Ephesians 6:10-20, followed by his comments on the individual verses.

A Summary of Ephesians 6:10-20.

After giving particular precepts for the home circle, St. Paul now passes to the outer world and admonishes all Christians to be ready for the warfare which must be waged against the enemies of their salvation. He first exhorts his readers to prepare for the conflict (Eph 6:10-13); then describes the armor of the Christian warrior (Eph 6:14-17); and finally reminds them of the necessity of continual prayer and vigilance as the means of vanquishing Satan and his hosts, and asks in particular that they would pray unceasingly for himself and the spread of the Gospel (Eph 6:18-20).

Eph 6:10. Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power.

Finally. Literally, “For the rest,” i.e., as to what remains to be said regarding necessary precepts.

Brethren is wanting in the best MSS., and is probably not authentic, as it does not occur elsewhere as here used in this Epistle.

In the Lord, the one source of spiritual strength.

And in the might of his power, i.e., in His omnipotent power.

Eph 6:11. Put you on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.

The armor of God, i.e., the spiritual panoply which God has provided for our spiritual warfare and by which the necessary strength is given us to win the combat against the secret attacks of the devil.

To stand, i.e., to resist his wiles and temptations.

The devil. See on Eph 2:2. That passage reads: “Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh on the children of unbelief.” Commenting on this Fr. Callan wrote:

Wherein, etc., i.e., in which state of moral death you lived and wrought in your pagan past.

According to the course of this world, i.e., according to the evil principles and customs of this present order of things, which is under the sway and influence of Satan, who is “the prince of the power of the air” (i.e., who is the ruler of the authority of the air, or the evil ruler whose sphere of authority is the air, and who exercises his nefarious influence “on the children, etc.,” on those who refuse to believe, or who reject the Gospel). Among the Jews the air was popularly regarded as the abode of evil spirits, as heaven was God’s abode and the earth the place of man’s sojourn. Moreover, Satan’s legitimate sphere of activity is no longer in heaven (Rev 12:9; Luke 1018); nor is it on the earth, which has been reclaimed by the Death and Resurrection of Christ. Hence, the Apostle speaks of it figuratively as being between heaven and earth—in the air.

Power is more probably to be taken in an abstract sense for domination, and “spirit,” a genitive in Greek, is governed by “prince,” and means the mind or tendency by which the evil spirit, Satan, is actuated.

Children of unbelief, or better, “sons of disobedience,” is a Hebraism to signify all those who do not accept the Gospel.

Eph 6:12. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

It is necessary that our armor be strong, for our struggle “is not against flesh and blood,” i.e., against weak mortal men, “but against principalities, etc.,” i.e., against the evil spirits of darkness; “against the rulers of the world, etc.,” i.e., against the demons who are the leaders of the world of sin and moral darkness; “against the spirits of wickedness,” i.e., evil spiritual beings and forces, “in the high places,” i.e., in the place where these evil spirits dwell and where our battle with them is waged (see on Eph 1:3, 2:2). For other allusions to the Evil One and his mysterious authority over the world of men, see Luke 4:6; John 14:30, 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:18.

Eph 6:13. Therefore take unto you the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.

Therefore, i.e., since our fight is so unequal, being against evil spiritual forces and powers, the Apostle urges that we take up “the armor of God,” i.e., that we make use of grace and the spiritual resources at our disposal, so as to be “able to resist in the evil day,” i.e., at the time and moment of temptation and hostile attack, with the result that when the struggle passes we may be able “to stand in all things perfect,” i.e., firm and immovable in grace and virtue, ready for the next attack.

Eph 6:14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice,

The Apostle now begins to describe the various parts of the Christian soldier’s equipment, and his imagery is drawn partly from the dress of the Roman soldiers who in turn had charge of him in prison, and partly from two passages in Isaias where the Messiah is described as a warrior (Isa. 11:4, 49:17). He speaks first (Eph 6:14-17) of defensive and then of offensive arms, giving a spiritual meaning to each of the arms and each article of dress of the Roman soldier. The Christian soldier must “stand” (i.e., be ready for the conflict), having “truth” (i.e., sincerity and moral rectitude) for belt, and “justice” (i.e., loyalty in word and action to the law of God) as breastplate; for shoes he must have readiness and alacrity of soul to affirm “the gospel of peace”; “faith” must be his shield, and the inspired “word of God” his sword.

Eph 6:15. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace:

Preparation. The Greek for this word occurs here only in the New Testament, and it most probably means readiness and alacrity of soul to preach the Gospel. Spiritual equipment gives the meaning of the term as well as anything. St. Chrysostom says: “The preparation of the gospel is nothing else than the best life.”

Eph 6:16. In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

In all things, etc. A lesser reading has “above all things, etc.,” which would mean that, besides all that has been just said, we should take the shield of faith, etc. But “in all things, etc.” is the better reading; and it means that in all the circumstances of our life of warfare faith is our shield, the heavy armor of our souls, by which we can ward off “the fiery darts of the wicked one,” i.e., of Satan.

Eph 6:17. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).

“The helmet of salvation” means our salvation, the salvation offered us by Christ (Cajetan), or the hope of salvation (1 Thess. 5:8). The helmet protects the head, and the salvation offered us by our Lord is the pledge of our eternal inheritance. The “sword of the Spirit” is “the word of God,” i.e., the utterance of
God; the two phrases are in apposition here, and they explain each other: “The word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12).

Eph 6:18. By all prayer and supplication, praying at all times in the spirit, and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints:

Here the Apostle admonishes that we must pray at all times, in all places, and for all persons, as a means of making really effectual the foregoing helps in the battle for salvation. All our help comes from God, and prayer opens the door to God’s treasure-house of graces.

Prayer and supplication are perhaps used together here for the sake of emphasis, though the former word can be distinguished from the latter as meaning a general offering of our thoughts and desires, while the latter has reference to our special petitions.

The Spirit. Literally, “in spirit,” i.e., in the fervor of our souls as animated and inspired by the Spirit of God.

For all the saints, as all are members of the same mystical body whose head is Christ.

Eph 6:19. And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel.
Eph 6:20. For which I am an ambassador in a chain, so that therein I may be bold to speak according as I ought.

The Apostle now asks a part in the prayers of his readers that he may be able courageously and efficaciously to preach “the mystery of the gospel,” i.e., the perfect equality of Jews and Gentiles in the Messianic kingdom, the universality of the salvation of Christ. It was for preaching this equal salvation for all men in Christ that the Apostle was cast into prison ; and this made him, though a prisoner, the representative of Christ the King in the imperial city, “an ambassador in a chain,” i.e., coupled by a chain around his right wrist to the left of a Roman soldier in his hired lodging in Rome.




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Commentaries for the Second Sunday of Advent, Year B

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014


Word-Sunday Notes on Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11.

My Notes on Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 45.

Pending: St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 85.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 85. Concerns the entire Psalm.

My Notes on Psalm 85. Brief notes on the entire Psalm. Today’s reading consists of verses 9-14.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 85.


Pending: My Notes on 2 Peter 3:8-14.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on 2 Peter 3:8-14.

Word-Sunday Notes on 2 Peter 3:8-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Peter 3:8-14.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast Study on 2 Peter 3:8-14. The study actually begins with verse 5.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 1:1-8.

Word-Sunday Notes on Mark 1:1-8.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 1:1-8.

Pending: My Notes on Mark 1:1-8.

Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 1:1-8. With some additional notes by me.

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Commentaries for the First Sunday of Advent, Year B

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7.

My Notes on Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7.

Word-Sunday Notes on Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 80.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 80.

My Notes on Psalm 80.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 80.


St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on 1 Cor 1:3-9. Actually, this lecture begins with verse 1.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. Actually, this post begins with verse 1.

Father MacEvily’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:3-9.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Cor 1:3-9. This post is actually on all of chapter 1.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. Actually this post begins with verse 1.

Word-Sunday Notes on 1 Corinthians 1:3-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:3-9.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast on 1 Corinthians 1. On line audio. Contains some introductor material followed by study of 1 Cor 1:1-9.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 13:33-37.

Word-Sunday Notes on Mark 13:33-37.

My Notes on Mark 13:33-37.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 13:33-37.

Jesus, the Temple and the End in Mark 13. .

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Commentaries for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 18, 2014


Navarre Bible Commentary on Genesis 3:9-15, 20.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Ps 98).

Pope John Paul II on Today’s Psalm (98).

Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12. 3-14.

Father Wilberforce on Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12:

Navarre Bible Commentary on Ephesians 1:3-6 11-12.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:26-38.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.


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Commentaries for the Feast of the Holy Innocents

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 18, 2014


St Augustine’s Homily on 1 John 1:5-2:2.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 1:5-2:2.

Pending: Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 John 1:5-2:2.

Word-Sunday Notes on 1 John 1:5-2:2.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 John 1:5-2:2.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 124.

Pope Benedict XVI on Psalm 124.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 124.


Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 2:13-18.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 2:13-18. On 13-23.

My Notes on Matthew 2:13-18.

Word-Sunday Notes on Matthew 2:13-28.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 2:13-28.

More posts pending.

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Commentaries for the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 18, 2014


Word-Sunday Notes on Number 6:22-27.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Numbers 6:22-27.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 67.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 67.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 67.

A Lectio Divina Commentary on Psalm 67.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 67.


St John Chrysostom on Galatians 4:4-7. Actually, the post is on verses 1-7, the reading used in the Extraordinary Form.

Aquinas’ Lectures on Galatians 4:1-7.  Links below. Not lite reading.

Bernardin De Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians 4:4-7. Actually, the post is on verses 1-7, the reading used in the Extraordinary Form.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 4:4-7. Actually, the post is on verses 1-7, the reading used in the Extraordinary Form.

Word-Sunday Notes on Galatians 4:4-7.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Galatians 4:4-7.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 2:16-21.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 2:16-21. This post actually begins with verse 15.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 2:16-21.

Word-Sunday Notes on Luke 2:16-21.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 2:16-21.

(1) A Brief Homily on Today’s Readings by Pope Benedict XVI.

(2) Another Brief Homily on Today’s Readings by Pope Benedict XVI.

(3) A Slightly longer Homily on Today’s Readings by Pope Benedict XVI.

Sermon by Pope John Paul II.

Haydock’s Commentary on Today’s Readings. The text of the Douay-Rheims Challoner translation followed by notes on the readings from the old Haydock Commentary. Previously posted.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 2:16-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 18, 2014

Lk 2:16 And they came with haste: and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.

“With haste,” from a burning desire, inspired by the grace of God, to see their infant Saviour, and then to return at once to their flocks.

“They came.” The cave, it is supposed, was a mile distant. “They came in haste.”

“They found Mary”—who brought Him forth in full vigour of health—“and Joseph,” the guardian of His birth, both spending the night in holy contemplation and prayer, “and the infant lying in the manger,” as they had been told beforehand by the Angel. What a consoling spectacle, to behold, for the first time, the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. How the souls of the shepherds must be inflamed with divine love, at beholding this Trinity of persons on earth, who most faithfully represented the Trinity of the Godhead in heaven. Happy we, if in spirit, we often visit the Holy Family, and merit to be visited by them, at the awful and decisive moment of death.

Lk 2:17 And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child.

“And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them.” “Understood,” may mean, they saw, with their own eyes, that the “word,” or announcement, made to them by the Angel was literally true, just as St. John says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon,” &c. (1 John 1:1).

The Greek word for “understood,” εγνωρισαν (egnorisan), may also mean to divulge, to noise abroad, which sense accords well with what follows. The shepherds, doubtless, told, not only Mary and Joseph, of the Angel’s announcement, and the hymns of celestial melody chanted in the skies by multitudes of angels, but others also, as appears from the words of following verse, “And all that heard wondered,” &c.

Lk 2:18 And all that heard wondered: and at those things that were told them by the shepherds.

“And all that heard wondered.” It is likely, that many on hearing the accounts given of what occurred, went themselves to the stable, and saw with their own eyes, the truth of what was narrated. Some, probably, believed whom God enlightened; others, probably, remained in their incredulity, offended by the lowly appearance and condition of the Divine Infant.

“And at those things that were told them,” &c. The Greek and Syriac have not “and.” Of those who retain it, some understand it to mean, “that is,” at the things, &c. Others, understand it literally, and interpret the words thus, they admired the event of the birth of the Son of God, and, the other circumstances connected with it, which had been told them by the shepherds, such as the announcement made to them by the Angel, and the appearance of multitudes of angels praising God, &c.

Lk 2:19 But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

“Mary kept all these words.” While all others were loud in speaking of the wonderful things they saw and heard, and, probably, Joseph too spoke of what he himself knew, as well from the declaration of the Angel regarding the Divinity of the child, as also from what he himself knew in connexion with His birth, thus strengthening the faith of the shepherds, and others who came to the crib; “Mary,” as modest in regard to her tongue, as she was in body, displaying consummate prudence and humility,

“Kept all these words,” that is to say, things spoken of in her heart. “Pondering them,” putting them together (Bloomfield), comparing the past with the present, the oracles of the prophets regarding the birth of the Saviour from a virgin, and in a determinate place, and other oracles regarding Him, with their full accomplishment; the announcement made to herself by the Angel, regarding the Son to be born of her, with that made to the shepherd, regarding His actual birth. These things she pondered over, and derived from them fresh arguments, to confirm her faith, and “kept them in her heart,” treasured them up in her memory, to be disclosed, at God’s appointed time, to the world, to be made known to His Apostles, and especially to the Evangelist, St. Luke, by whom they are here recorded in detail.

Lk 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

“The shepherds,” after being fully satisfied from the testimony of their own senses of the truth of the announcement made by the Angel, now “returned” to the discharge of their duty of tending their flocks, “praising and glorifying God, for all the things they had heard,” and had not only heard, but “seen as it was told to them.” These latter words, “as it was told,” &c., affect the words, “had seen.”

Lk 2:21 And after eight days were accomplished, that the child should be circumcised, his name was called JESUS, which was called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

“And after eight days were accomplished that the child should be circumcised.” The words, “after eight days,” do not convey, that the period of eight days had elapsed; and after that, circumcision took place. For, it was on the eighth day, after the birth of a child, this was to take place according to the law of Moses; and here, the words, “that the child should be circumcised,” or, as was appointed by law for His circumcision, show, there is reference to the eighth day commenced but not ended. It is usual in SS. Scripture, to describe as happening after a time, what took place towards the close of it, and before the time had expired. Thus, of our Lord it is said, that “He was to rise after three days;” although, from the context, it is clear it was meant, that this would happen on the third day. So also (Genesis 41:18, 19, 20), where a thing is said to occur “after three days” (18, 19), which occurred “on the third” (v. 20). Here, then, the words mean, after seven days had passed and the eighth had arrived, on which, according to law, the child was to be circumcised. The Evangelist does not expressly say, He was circumcised; but, he implies it, by a reference to the time and law of circumcision, which He submitted to, who came “to fulfil all justice.” Our Lord voluntarily submitted to the painful rite of circumcision; although, not bound to do so, being Himself the legislator; and moreover, the reason of its application to Him did not exist at all, as He was free from all sin, of which circumcision was the type. He submitted to it, however, for several reasons, viz., to give an example of obedience; to take away every pretext from the Jews of rejecting Him, as not being a true son of Abraham; to show, that He assumed a real body on this earth; to approve of the rite of circumcision; to submit to the law, that being “made under the law, He would redeem those who were under the law.” (Gal. 4)

It is likely, He was circumcised in the stable, not by Joseph, but by some Priest or Levite, so that there would be an authentic record of the fact. See Lk 1:59.)

“His name was called Jesus,” by Mary and Joseph, according to the command given from Heaven to both (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31.) The Greek has, “And His name was called Jesus.” “And” may mean, also, or then. It is omitted by the Vulgate interpreter as superfluous. “Which was called by the Angel,” enjoined on them by the Angel to bestow on Him.

“Before He was conceived in the womb.” It was only after the close of the Annunciation, and the consent of the Virgin, that our Lord was conceived in her sacred womb. It was also given Him after He was conceived (Matthew 1:21).

For the meaning and derivation of the word “Jesus” (see Matthew 1:21). The rite of circumcision was most painful to the Divine Infant, who began to suffer thus early for our sakes. It was also most humiliating, even more so still, than His birth in a stable. In the latter case, He took on Himself the form of a man; in the former, of a sinner. But, in reward for this humiliation, He received an exalted name, at the sound of which every knee in heaven, earth, and hell, must bend. And, indeed, in almost every case, where our Lord endured any signal humiliation, His Heavenly Father bestowed on Him some compensation and mark of honour. In the stable, the angels sang hymns of praise; here, He received the most exalted of names; when the Scribes blasphemed His Divine works, the people would exalt Him; at His final humiliation and death, all nature, the sun, the rocks, the very dead, did Him honour, to convey to us, that if we wish to be exalted, we must first be humbled. Such is the disposition of Divine economy established in the present order of things. It is only in the adorable Sacrament of His abiding love on our altars, when He is truly a hidden God, and where He permanently submits to the greatest outrages for our sakes to the end of time, that He receives no proportionate sensible compensation from His Heavenly Father. Hence, the obligation on the part of His faithful, to whom His Heavenly Father intrusts Him, to make, as far as possible, some reparation to Him in this Divine institution, where He is our food during life, our solace at death, the last friend we hope to accompany us, when all others must leave us, our Viatic, guide and support when entering the gates of Eternity, whence we are never to return.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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