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

Posts Tagged ‘liturgy’

My Notes on 1 Kings 17:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 8, 2014

BACKGROUND:

I tend to agree with those scholars who see the Elijah-Elisha narrative as consisting of 1 Kings 16:29-2 Kings 13:25,  rather than with the more common view that it consists of 1 Kings 17:1-2 Kings 8:15.  In the common view Elisha’s appearances in 2 Kings 9:1-3 and 2 Kings 13:14-21 are often treated as parts of other narratives. In the other view, chapters 9-13 of 2 Kings describes the aftermath of what was set in motion by the rest of the Elijah-Elisha narrative and are therefore integral to it.

1 Kings 16:29-34, which immediately precedes today’s reading, introduces us to two primary characters in the Elijah-Elisha stories; namely, Ahab, King of Israel, and Jezebel, his Pagan wife. Ahab is portrayed as exceeding the sins of predecessors by adopting the worship of Baal, the preferred god of his wife Jezebel, with the result that: Achab [i.e., Ahab] did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, than all the kings of Israel that were before him” (1 Kings 16:33, Douay-Rheims). In a brief snippet we are also informed that a certain man named Hiel: “In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho; he laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his first-born, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun” (1 Kings 16:34 RSVCE).

To anyone who reads through the Elijah-Elisha narrative it is plainly obvious why Ahab and Jezebel are the focus in the introduction-they are integral to the story. But why is Hiel and his rebuilding of Jericho-resulting in the death of his sons-mentioned? The key is to be found in Joshua 6:26 which details “the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua, the son of Nun.” There we read these words of Joshua: “Cursed be the man before the Lord, that shall raise up and build the city of Jericho. In his firstborn may he lay the foundation thereof, and in the last of his children set up its gates.” God’s commands, God’s promises, and his power to fulfill them are major themes in the narrative. That obeying God’s word leads to the preservation of life for one’s self or one’s children is also a major theme which, of course, contrasts with Hiel’s actions resulting in the death of his two sons.

COMMENTS:

1 Kings 17:1  AND Elias [Elijah] the Thesbite [Tishbite], of the inhabitants of Galaad [Gilead], said to Achab [Ahab]: As the Lord liveth, the God of Israel, in whose sight I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but [except] according to the words of my mouth.

Elijah the Tishbite. Elijah is introduced suddenly, suggesting that by the time of the writing of First Kings he was quite well known in the tradition as a prophet of God. His name is a kind of confession, meaning: “YHWH (the LORD) is my God.” His very name introduces a theme into the narrative, namely who is Israel’s God? Is it Baal, or YHWH? The people appear to have been undecided, caught up in their syncretism; a fact that didn’t sit well with God or Elijah: “How long do you halt between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word” (1 Kings 18:21).

As the Lord liveth, the God of Israel. As opposed to Baal who is not Israel’s God, does not live, and cannot give life. Ultimately, this is the whole point of chapters 17-18.

In whose sight I stand. I stand ready to hear his counsel, obey his word, embrace his will.

There shall be no dew or rain these years, but [except] according to the words of my mouth. Baal was a fertility God and the rain was  conceived of as his seed whereby he impregnated the earth and made it fertile. God, by giving his prophet-a human being-control of the rain, he shows forth his own power and existence at the expense of the god of Ahab, Baal.

1 Kings 17:2 And the word of the Lord came to him, saying:
1 Kings 17:3 Get thee hence, and go towards the east, and hide thyself by the torrent of Carith
[Cherith], which is over against the Jordan;
1 Kings 17:4 And there thou shalt drink of the torrent: and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
1 Kings 17:5 So he went, and did according to the word of the Lord: and going, he dwelt by the torrent Carith
[Cherith], which is over against the Jordan.
1 Kings 17:6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the torrent
.

These verses are in two parts. The first part consist of God issuing a command (2-3), coupled with a promise (4). The second part consists of the prophet’s fulfillment of God’s command (5), and God’s fulfillment of his promise (6). Tomorrow’s first reading (1 Kings 17:7-16) will have the same basic format but with some added nuance.

Many scholars insist that the reason for the command to hide is due to the fact that the prophet’s life is in danger as a result of the word he spoke to Ahab in verse 1, but nothing is said about Ahab’s response to these words, and the prophet’s life is not here said to be in danger. Other scholars see in the command a preparation of the prophet to trust in God’s providential, protective care, for the time will come when his life is in danger and he flees (1 Kings 19:1-3), becoming dependent on God’s care to maintain his life (1 Kings 19:4-8). This second interpretation makes better sense to me.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Notes on 1 Kings, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

This week’s Commentaries and Posts: Sunday, May 18–Sunday, May 25, 2014

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 17, 2014

SUNDAY, MAY 18, 2014
FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

COMMENTARIES AND RESOURCES FOR SUNDAY MASS: Fifth Sunday of Easter.

Last Week’s Commentaries and Posts.

MONDAY, MAY 19, 2014
MONDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 14:5-18.

St John Chrysostom’ Commentaries Acts 14:5-18:

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 114 & 115. Why the two are combined is explained in a brief note.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 115.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 115.

My Notes on Psalm 115.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 14:21-26.

Fathers Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on John 14:21-26.

St John Chrysostom’S Homiletic Commentary on John 14:21-26.

St Augustine’s Tractate on John 14:21-26.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures John 14:21-26Scroll down and read lectures 5 & 6.

St Cyril of Alexandria Homiletic Commentary on John 14:21-26.

TUESDAY, MAY 20, 2014
TUESDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 14:19-28.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Acts 14:19-28.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 145.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm145.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 145.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 14:27-31a.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures on John 14:27-31a. Read lectures 7 & 8.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 14:27-31a.

St Augustine’s Tractate on John 14:27-31a.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on John 14:27-31a.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 2014
WEDNESDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 15:1-6.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 122.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 122.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 122.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 122.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 15:1-8.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on John 15:1-8.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 15:1-8.

St Augustine’s Tractate on John 15:1-8.

THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2014
THURSDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 15:7-21.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 96. Previously posted.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 15:9-11.

St Cyril of Alexandria’S Homiletic Commentary on John 15:9-11.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 15:9-11.

St Augustine’s Tractate on John 15:9-11.

FRIDAY, MAY 23, 2014
FRIDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 15:22-31.

Pending: Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 57.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 57.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 57.

Fathers Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on John 15:12-17.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on John 15:12-17.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 15:12-17.

St Augustine’s Tractates on John 15:12-17. On 11-19.

SATURDAY, MAY 24, 2014
SATURDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 16:1-10.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 100.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 100.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 100.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 100.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 15:18-21.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary John 15:18-21.

Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on John 15:18-21.

SUNDAY, MAY 25, 2014
SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

COMMENTARIES AND POSTS FOR THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, Christ, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 4:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 7, 2014

1 THEN Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.

“Then,” immediately after His baptism and the descent of the dove (c. 3:17). St. Mark says (1:12), “And immediately the Spirit drove Him,” &c.

“Jesus was led.” The Greek, ἀνηχθη means, led apart. St. Mark has (1:12), “the Spirit drove Him out.” The words “drive,” &c., denote the active energy of the Holy Ghost, and the alacrity with which our Redeemer freely yielded to His impulses, by whom He was guided from His infancy, and who now more and more manifests Himself in Him, making Him appear a new man.

“By the Spirit,” the holy Fathers (among them, Jerome, Chrysostom, Hilary, Gregory, &c.), commonly understood the Holy Ghost, the Spirit immediately spoken of, in the foregoing (3:16). This is the invariable meaning of “Spirit” in SS. Scriptures, when used absolutely and emphatically with the article. Here, we have τοῦ. πνεύματος. St. Luke says of Him, “plenus Spiritu sancto” (4:1). If “Spirit” referred to the devil, then, in the following words, the Evangelist should have written, not as he has done, “to be tempted by the devil,” which would be a mere repetition, but, “to be tempted BY HIM.”

“Into the desert.” The interior of the desert that lay close by, where John was baptizing. It was afterwards called “Quarantania,” from our Saviour’s fast of forty days there. It is said by writers on the Holy Land to be situated convenient to where the Jordan disembogues itself into the Dead Sea, a mountainous range north of the road between Jerusalem and Jericho St. Mark gives an idea of its desolateness (1:13), “He was with the beasts,” having no human habitation.

“To be tempted by the devil.” This is the chief reason of our Lord being impelled by the Holy Ghost to go into the desert, that as a consequence of it, the devil finding Him there would tempt Him, and entering into single combat, would receive a signal overthrow from our Lord, which, like all His public acts, was intended for our instruction, when placed in circumstances of temptation. There are several other reasons and motives besides, assignable for His having gone into the desert, encountering the devil, in solitude, while engaged in fasting and praying, intended for the instruction and guidance of the Church in general, and of each individual in particular, and also for the period of forty days’ fast which He had undergone before He was tempted. He, the Captain of our warfare, wished to show us the effectual means of overcoming our enemy, viz., fasting, solitude, prayer. He also wished to inspire us with courage for the combat, since He, our Head, had, unlike Eve, by these means manfully resisted the tempter’s suggestions and signally discomfited him.

“That He might be tempted,” &c. “That” signifies the consequence, or result, not the direct end. For there is question here not of temptation of trial merely, whereby the devil would find out if our Lord were the Son of God (although he had this also in view), but also of temptation of deceit, whereby the devil sought to induce Him to commit sin. It might be admitted, that our Lord meant to be tempted by the devil, whom He came to overthrow, knowing His own power and invincibility. This, however, would not warrant us, who are so weak and liable to sin, to expose ourselves unnecessarily to temptation. For, “he who loves the danger, shall perish in it.” Our Lord might have been privately tempted by the devil during His education at Nazareth. But whether tempted publicly (as here), or privately, all temptations must be external, from without, either from the devil or men, that is, the world. But, He could, by no means, be tempted inwardly, from His own flesh, any more than Adam could while in a state of innocence before he lost sanctifying grace. “All this diabolical temptation was from without; not, from within” (St. Greg. Hom. 16).

“The devil” (διαβολος), strictly means, a slanderer—the great enemy of the human race—“the accuser of his brethren” (Apoc. 12:10), whom he wishes to make hateful to God, by impelling them to sin. Probably, allusion is made to Lucifer; “the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41; Apoc. 12:9).

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry.

“And when He had fasted forty days,” &c. In imitation of Moses before giving the Old Law, and of Elias before repairing or reforming it, our Redeemer wishes before explaining the New Law, to retire for forty days, and after fasting and prayer, to come forth to preach. The number, FORTY, in SS. Scripture, from the earliest history of the world, marks several events of the utmost importance to man, from the forty days of the deluge to the forty days’ fast of our Divine Redeemer. To His fast of “forty days” is also added, “and forty nights,” to distinguish it, from the Jewish fasts which were confined to the day only. At night, they could use food. His fast did not exceed forty natural days, including days and nights, lest He might not be be regarded as human; since no other human being, not even Moses or Elias, exceeded that term in fasting. In this forty days’ fast, our Lord left us an example of how we ought to prepare to overcome the devil, who, in some instances, is overcome only by “prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:28). He also wished to leave the Church an example of that Lent, which she was to institute, of forty days of Lent, as we are told by the holy Fathers. (St. Jerome Ep. ad Marcellum; St. Augustine ad Januarium; St. Ambrose Serm. 39, de Quadriges., &c.) It cannot be doubted that this fast of Lent was always regarded to be of Apostolical origin. Our Lord, no doubt, devoted those forty days to prayer and constant communing with His Heavenly Father.

“He was afterwards hungry.” Although the soul of Jesus enjoyed, without intermission, the beatific vision, and was supremely happy; still, He allowed the inferior faculties to suffer. As He voluntarily submitted to the other feelings and sensations of human nature, so He now allowed Himself to feel the pangs of hunger, to prove His humanity, and give the devil an opportunity of tempting Him, as he formerly tempted Eve. During these forty days His Divinity sustained His humanity against the consequences of this long fast. Possibly, our Lord may have Himself communicated to the devil, His state of suffering from the pangs of hunger, by some external act, such as seeking for food, or in some other way. St. Chrysostom says, it was the Son of God Himself that made known His hunger to the devil, to entice Him to the combat, and thus receive a signal overthrow. St. Jerome, in almost the same words, says (in hunc locum), Permittitur esurire corpus, ut Diabolo tentandi occasio prœbeatur.

3 And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

“The tempter coming said to Him.” The same who is called the “devil”—the chief of the infernal hosts, Lucifer—is here, as well as 1 Thess. 3, called “the tempter,” by excellence, being the principal and chief enemy of salvation, who solicits man to evil. The world and the flesh also tempt us; but the devil ever uses these to solicit us to evil. Temptation has different meanings in SS. Scripture. 1st. Temptation of trial, which has for object, to try and find out a thing, and prove us. In this sense, God often tempts man, not that He wants to know anything; but, He wishes to let us see what we are. In this way, He tempted Abraham, &c. There is also temptation of deceit, which has for object, to induce us to commit sin. In this sense, “God tempts no one.” (St. James 1) In this latter sense, the devil is called “the tempter” (see 6:13) “coming,” most likely, in the shape of a man. This is the common opinion. He wishes to be adored, and if he came in any other form, the Evangelists would probably have said so. The word “coming” implies, in a sensible, visible form. Hence, like that of our first parents, who, being in original justice, could not be interiorly tempted, this temptation was exterior.

“Said to Him.” Many think that the devil had blandly addressed our Redeemer and spoke of His being so long in that frightful desert; of the sufferings He was now enduring; of the testimony lately rendered to Him, that He was the Son of God, &c.; and, then, proceeded to tempt Him, and try if He was really such as is here recorded by St. Matthew. From St. Mark (1) and St. Luke (4:2), it would seem, that the devil had frequently tempted Him during the forty days’ fast. But now, seeing Him suffer from hunger, and show the effects of human weakness, he makes his grand assault, “If Thou be the Son of God, command,” &c. It is the opinion of some theologians, that Lucifer’s fall arose from his jealousy at the dignity of the human nature, which was to be assumed in time by the eternal Word. Hence, aspiring after it himself, he refused to obey Christ and God. Hearing, then, the testimony borne lately to Christ by John the Baptist, and also the testimony from heaven, he may have suspected He was the Son of God, whose time for assuming human nature, according to the prophecies, had now arrived. On the other hand, seeing Him, like others among the crowd, poor, of humble, plebeian rank, and now suffering the pangs of hunger, he doubts if He be the natural Son of God, consubstantial and co-eternal with the Father. Hence, he is anxious to find it out, in order to mar as far as possible, His beneficent designs of redemption.

“If Thou be the Son of God.” as was lately testified regarding you, “command,” by the same Omnipotent Power, which “spoke and all things were made.” No need to have recourse to God by prayer—“command,” immediately, without the intervention of any other power (he does not say, do it; but, “command it”), that these stones which lie scattered about, be converted into bread, so as to appease your hunger, which you have no other means of relieving in this frightful solitude. St. Ambrose, commenting on the cunning of the devil, says, “He so tempts, as to explore; he so explores, as to tempt. While our Redeemer deludes him, so as to conquer; He so conquers, as to delude him.” The tempter assails our Redeemer in what he conceives to be His weak point, under the circumstances, viz., gluttony; not that it would be gluttony for a hungry man to appease his hunger by means of bread lawfully procured; but, it would be gluttony in our Divine Redeemer to appease His hunger by means of bread procured through illicit means; and He surely would have employed illicit means, were He to exert His Divine power, in procuring bread at the suggestion of Satan. He would commit a sin against religion, by holding communication with the fiend; and so He would procure bread by illicit means. He would, moreover, be partly guilty of a sin of vain glory, by a vain ostentation of His power, and distrust in God’s paternal providence. Similar was the successful temptation of our first parents. It would have boon an undoubted proof of Divine power to change the stones instantly into bread, by His more word; “dic ut hi lapides panes fiant.” “Thou art caught in thy own words, O haughty tempter,” cries St. Jerome. “For, if He have power to change the stones, in vain wouldst thou tempt such power; and if He have not the power, vain would it be for you to suspect and flatter Him, as Son of God.” Some understand “if” to mean since, whereas, Thou art the Son of God. Then, the devil would have attempted to flatter Him, and so induce Him to commit sin. Probably, his pride so blinded Lucifer, that he thought he could succeed in this. It seems, most likely, that Lucifer knew our Redeemer to be God. This would seem probable from many parts of the Gospel. Whether he knew it at this time for certain, before this temptation, may be doubted. That the issue of the temptation may have removed his doubts seems probable. But from other parts of the Gospel, subsequent to this, it seems most likely he afterwards knew our Lord to be the Son of God. “Art Thou come hither before the time to torment us?” (8:29). Nor are the words of St. Paul (1 Cor. 2:8) opposed to this. St. Paul does not say, the devil did not know Him to be “the Lord of Glory.” He only says, he did not know the wisdom of the mystery of Christ’s death. For, had he known it, he would never have instigated the Jews to crucify Him, because he was thus bringing about what he wished to prevent, viz., the redemption of man, through the death of Christ. It is to be borne in mind, that our Saviour could not be internally tempted, nor even externally, except under the control of His own will.

4 Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.

“It is written,” in the Holy Scriptures, which are, by excellence, called the writing; and with the learned Jews the usual form of referring to the inspired Scriptures was to say, “It was written.” Here, our Redeemer opposes to the human prudence, which suggested the temptation of the devil, the Word of God, “the sword of the Spirit,” which, at once, without having recourse to subtle reasonings, helps us to dispel the attacks of our spiritual enemies. Our Lord so answers, that He neither asserts nor denies His Divinity; and, although He might, by the exercise of His Divine power, have at once put to flight His tempter, He prefers to do so, for our instruction in circumstances of temptation, by the power of His human nature, by meekness, humility, and constancy; and this also renders the humiliation of the demon the greater, when vanquished by weak man, rather than by an effort of Divine omnipotence.

“Not in bread alone,” &c. And if this be true of man in general, how much more so of the Son of God. Our Redeemer deludes the demon, who addressed Him as “Son of God,” by merely placing Himself on a level with other men, and quoting, in justification of His own mode of acting, and of His reliance on God’s providence, what is meant for man in general. “Bread” is used in Scripture to signify all kinds of aliment, which nourishes and sustains human life. The Greek for, “doth live” (ζησεται, shall live), is a Hebrew form of potential, denoting what is confined to no definite time, but is permanently such—will be able to live. Hence, lives, in the present tense, better expresses the meaning intended.

“But in every word that proceedeth,” &c. “Word” is not in the original Hebrew (of Deut. 8:3). But the Septuagint interpreters and the Vulgate translators have added it, as explanatory. The Hebrew is, “by every thing that proceeds from the mouth of God,” “omni egrediente de ore Dei.” The meaning is, that man’s corporal life is sustained, not merely by these elements in common use, denoted by “bread;” but, by whatever means God’s holy will and providence may appoint. He may, if He chooses, support them without any food, for any period He pleases, as He did Moses, &c., or He may render stones, iron, or any other substance nutritious for man’s support; and hence, it was sheer folly in the demon to ask of Him to work a useless miracle, when God’s providence, on which He placed such unhesitating reliance, had other means at its disposal to appease His hunger and prolong His life. The words, “not in bread alone doth man live,” are taken from Deut. 8:3, where Moses, recounting the benefits conferred by God on the Jews, tells them that when they were straitened from want, God sent them manna from heaven for their support, to teach them, that it was not on bread alone (which failed them in the desert) man’s life depended; but that God may adopt any means He may think proper to support man (as in the case of the manna), “sed, in omni egrediente de ore Dei.” Every thing proceeding from His mouth, means every thing God may wish or please to do, or command, for any purpose. Here, our Lord opposes the word of truth, to the seductive words and suggestions of the father of lies.

5 Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple,

“Took Him.” Most probably, carried Him in the air. It could be no more unbecoming in our Lord (as St. Gregory observes, Hom. 16), to submit to this, than it was to allow Himself voluntarily to be crucified by the members of the devil, viz., the Jews, and their instigators, “the world and the princes of this world.” (1 Cor. 2, &c.) Some (with Maldonatus), think the devil “led” Him (St. Luke 4:5). But the distance between the desert near Jericho and Jerusalem was too long a journey to be performed on foot in less than eight or nine hours. In that case, our Lord’s fast would exceed “forty days.” For, it was after He had fasted forty days, the devil came to tempt Him (v. 2), and He gave over fasting only after the threefold temptation, which must occupy, therefore, only a very small space of time. St. Thomas and St. Chrysostom observe, that although our Lord was taken bodily and visibly, still, He so baffled the devil, that without the latter knowing it, He was invisible in His passage, as He was on other occasions (Luke 4:30; John 8:59). The reasons given by Maldonatus against this opinion, viz., that by such an exercise of power, the devil would have discovered himself, when he should rather, on the occasion, have transformed himself “into an Angel of light,” proves nothing; as the carrying of a man through the air, would not exceed the powers of “an Angel of light,” any more than it did those of the angel of darkness.

“Then the devil took Him,” &c. Hence, most likely, the order of the temptations is given more accurately here than in St. Luke (4), who gives a different order; but, does not use “then,” “afterwards,” indicating order of time or occurrence. St. Luke, most probably, gives the substance, not the order of the temptations.

“Up into the Holy City,” Jerusalem (as is expressly said by St. Luke), called “holy,” on account of the holy temple, and its being the seat of true religion of God at the time.

“The pinnacle of the temple.” Some commentators say this referred to the part in front of the temple, over the Sanctum and Sanctum Sanctorum, which alone was covered—the rest of the temple had no covering or roof—and that this part culminated in a “pinnacle” which, however, had at its very summit a pretty large square or plain place, where workmen could stand for repairs and for cleaning the adjoining elevations. Others (among them Maldonatus), say that all the houses in Judea had flat roofs, where one could walk, sleep, &c., on which account it was prescribed (Deut. 22:8), there should be a bulwark of a certain height. Here, then, the word, “pinnacle,” refers to a lofty part of this protecting wall, more elevated, probably, than the adjoining parts. On this, the devil placed our Lord, so that He might precipitate Himself into the hall below, where the priests and pious worshippers there assembled could see Him, and have ocular demonstration of the Divine protection granted Him.

6 And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone.

“If thou be the Son of God,” &c. Seeing himself baffled in the preceding temptation to gluttony, by our Lord’s unshaken reliance on God’s providence, which he proves from Holy Scripture, the devil has now recourse to the same Holy Scripture to tempt Him to presumption, to vain and excessive confidence, of which the sacred text here quoted would seem to be suggestive. The temptation to gluttony failing, he now tries vain glory. This temptation of ambition and vain glory often succeeds with those who have mastered the grosser passions; and although the preceding temptation involves vain glory indirectly, it is primarily and directly suggested here. If He be the Son of God, the promised Messiah of the Jews, lot Him now show it by precipitating Himself; and thus secure the homage of the assembled priests and people. It is observed by commentators that the words, “cast Thyself down,” are worthy of the devil, who, having by pride, cast himself down from his heavenly eminence, now wishes to cast men down from grace and God’s friendship, to the very depths of sin. “For it is written” (Psa. 91:11, 12). The devil here misquotes Scripture—a thing not unusual with his children, the heretics, in their attacks on the Church, which is His body. The words of the Psalmist had reference to those just men, who are, from necessity, thrown into circumstances of danger, out of which God’s providence, in His own good time, is pledged, if expedient, for their salvation, to rescue them. But the words were never intended to apply to the case of those who voluntarily throw themselves into manifest and certain danger, whether moral or physical, out of which it would require a miracle from God to rescue them. Such would have been the condition in which our Lord would have placed Himself, had He yielded to the temptation of the devil, in this instance.

“He hath given His Angels charge over Thee.” St. Luke adds, “that they keep Thee.” Even according to St. Luke’s account, the devil does not quote the whole text of the Psalm, which has, “that they may keep Thee in all Thy ways.” Probably, he omitted these latter words designedly; because, they indicate that it was to men who, acting prudently in the discharge of their ordinary duties, are cast into circumstances of danger, and not to the rash and presumptuous, who voluntarily cast themselves into the precipice, the Divine promise of protection, referred to by the Psalmist, is made. And hence, these words would in no way serve his purpose and designs against our Divine Redeemer.

“His Angels,” probably has reference to the Angel guardian whom God has placed to watch over and guard each of His faithful servants.

“In their hands,” &c., expresses great care and solicitude.

7 Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

“It is written again.” “Again” may mean, on the contrary, on the other hand, as if in opposition to what the misquoted text of the devil suggested; or, it may mean, also, in the sense just given. SS. Scripture best explains itself, and our Lord points out to His Church, when assailed with corrupted and perverted quotations of Scripture by heretics, the course to be pursued, viz., to oppose true Scripture, properly applied, to Scripture perverted and misapplied.

“Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Without giving the devil any insight into His Divinity, our Lord baffling him, quotes SS. Scripture, as any just man might do. These words are taken from Deuteronomy (6:16). “Thou shall not,” &c. is written in the plural number in the Hebrew, “non tentabitis,” &c., “ye shall not tempt,” &c. However, the singular is included in the plural. Hence, the Septuagint and Vulgate versions have the singular. The words, “to tempt God,” have different significations in the SS. Scripture. Among the rest, it signifies to provoke to anger (Psa. 77:56; Acts 15:10). But, it more generally signifies, to make an unnecessary, useless trial of any of God’s attributes; to put, unnecessarily, to the test, His power, wisdom, mercy, &c.; to place oneself in such circumstances unnecessarily, either in the moral or physical order, as would require a miracle from God to rescue him from corporal or spiritual ruin. This forbidden trial of God’s attributes may arise from excessive vain confidence, as, in the natural order, in the case of a man who would, unnecessarily east himself down a precipice (as here) in the hope that God would work a miracle to deliver him; or, of a man who, neglecting study, would expect that God would extraordinarily endow him with knowledge, to be acquired only with care and labour; or, of a man who would neglect to sow, in the hope that crops would miraculously spring up. In the spiritual order, in the case of a man who would live in the immediate and certain external occasion, of sin, hoping to receive extraordinary grace from God.

It may also arise from diffidence, as in the case of those who, in their straits and necessities, would murmur against God’s will, and would expect an untimely manifestation of His providence, when such might neither contribute to His glory, nor to our ultimate good (Exod. 17; Psa. 77:17, 18). Such temptation of God is always a grievous sin, always prohibited. But, to hope that God would wonderfully exert His power and goodness in our favour, when we are involuntarily, through no fault of ours, placed in desperate circumstances, and to pray to Him to do so, if it be agreeable to His holy will, is no sin. Neither is it a sin to throw oneself into a lesser precipice to avoid a greater, as choosing the lesser of two necessary evils. Thus, some holy virgins, to avoid the greater evil of loss of chastity, precipitated themselves into the water. They regarded the loss of virginity a greater evil than the loss of life. Our Lord, by throwing Himself down, as suggested, would be doing what in other men would be a tempting of God; He would be making an unnecessary trial of His power and providence; and He did not choose to tell the tempter that He was God. He only answered according to the dictates of human prudence; and in reply to the text which the tempter applied to Him only as a just man, when He said, “Angelis suis mandavit de Te,” &c., He defeats him with his own weapons.

8 Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,

“Again the devil took Him up.” By our Lord’s permission, the devil carried Him bodily through the air, from the pinnacle of the temple (as v. 5). The particles, “again,” “then” (v. 5), would show that St. Matthew gives the order of the temptations, which is neglected by St. Luke, who uses no such particles, denoting order or succession. The words, “Begone, Satan” (v. 10), also would indicate this to be the closing or last temptation.

“Into a very high mountain.” What this “mountain” was, the Gospel does not say; nor can we know for certain. Probably, it was some mountain not far from Jerusalem. Some say it was the mountain in the desert, Quarautania, where our Lord had fasted. It was afterwards called, Mons Diaboli.

“And showed Him all the kingdoms of the world,” &c. St. Luke adds (4:5), “in a moment of time.” There is a diversity of opinion as to how the tempter did this. It does not seem likely that our Lord permitted the demon to act on His imagination. Hence, it must be done externally. Neither does it seem likely that it was merely on a painted chart it was done, as this could be done, in the plain or desert, without the demon taking Him to “a high mountain,” which the Evangelists carefully record. Hence, it is paid, with great probability, by many expositors, that the tempter, “in a moment” (St. Luke), that is, in the shortest space of time, from the height of the mountain, pointed with his finger in the direction where most of the kingdoms of the world were situated. “There, lies Asia; there, Europe; there, Syria; there, Rome;” &c.

“All the kingdoms of the world,” most likely, refers to the greater part, or chief kingdoms among them.

“And the glory of them.” While with his finger he pointed to the situation of the thief kingdoms of the world, he, most likely, by word of mouth, described “their glory,” that is, their wealth, population, military powers, the attractive and seductive splendours of the palaces and retinue of their kings. As St. Luke pointedly states, that, he did this “in a moment of time;” hence, he probably refers to the exercise of some peculiar diabolical agency or power. It may be, that the devil painted in the surrounding air the several kingdoms, and exhibited a panoramic view of all their worldly splendour and resources.

9 And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me.

“All these will I give Thee” &c. It is remarked by commentators, that the devil does not, in this third temptation, say, “If Thou he the Son of God,” because, in the two preceding temptations, he suggested, under the pretext of benevolence, what “the Son of God” might not feel it repugnant to do. Whereas, here, he proposes what “the Son of God” could not possibly do. In the first temptation, “the concupiscence of the flesh” had failed; so had “the pride of life,” in the second. The devil now tries “the concupiscence of the eyes,” that is, avarice, ambition, which prevail over many who are victorious over the two other principles which domineer in the world (1 John 2:16); he primarily and directly sought, in the two preceding temptations, to find out if He was “the Son of God,” and wished to obtain this knowledge, by inducing our Redeemer to do what was sinful; and hence, the Demon indirectly tempted Him to commit sin; in this, he primarily and directly wished Him to commit a most heinous crime, utterly opposed to the character of the Son of God, and thus indirectly wished to find out if He were “the Son of God.” He calculated, that, by making such a proposition to Him, if he were the Son of God, He would at once indignantly repel the temptation by a declaration of His Divine rights, so arrogantly invaded. As in the first temptation to gluttony, was included a temptation to vain glory; and in the second, with vain glory was united the tempting of God; so, in this third temptation to avarice and ambition is included that of idolatry.

“All these will I give Thee.” St. Luke (4:6), adds, “for to me they are delivered, and to whom I will, I give them.” The demon now once more arrogates these Divine rights which occasioned his original fall, when he aspired “to be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14). As he could not elicit from our Lord whether He was the Son of God, now being rendered more insolent and haughty from our Saviour’s modesty and humility, he imagines Him to be a mere man, and feigns himself to be the Son of God, the view of whose glory in time to come was the source of envy and of his fall—that Son to whom “were given the nations for inheritance,” and the possession of “all power in heaven and on earth,” and as such, he claims supreme adoration.

The tempter lied in saying, “to me they are delivered,” &c. (Luke). For, to God alone, does it belong to bestow kingdoms on whom He wills—“Per me reges regnant,” &c. (Prov. 21); “Non est potestas nisi a Deo” (Rom. 13)—not to the demon, whose power is restricted in this world, as appears from the history of Job, and his asking permission to enter the herd of swine (c. 8:31). He is termed “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), and “the prince of this world;” because, of the power which, by Divine permission, he is allowed to exercise over the children of unbelief and sin, who are his slaves. But, he has no power to bestow kingdoms, as he falsely asserts here. He does not even mention the name of God. “They are given to me,” he don’t say, by God, this name being so hateful to him. It is remarked by Toletus, that this promise was mendacious, as he did not intend giving them; false, he could not; arrogant, they were not his; deceitful, he promises to give in future; “dabo,” for a present service which he could not repay. Similar are his delusions practised on youth, to indulge present pleasure with a prospect of penance in old age, which is uncertain and cannot be insured. Neither can he give or take away temporal goods save by Divine permission.

“If falling down,” in the attitude of adoration, “Thou wilt adore me,” as God, and pay me Divine honours, as the bestower of these kingdoms and honours. It is remarked by commentators that our Redeemer was tried with all kinds of temptations which influence men to abandon God. All are reduced to “the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 John 2 &c.) Hence, St. Luke says of the close, “And when all the temptation was ended” (4:13). Our Redeemer by His example, teaches us that the first temptation—of the flesh and of hunger—is to be overcome by hope in God’s providence; the second—of pride and presumption—by the fear of God; the third—of avarice and ambition—by magnanimity and contempt of the world, its riches and honours. This triple temptation exhibited the three fountains of all vice—“the concupiscence of the flesh,” perfected in the flesh and its five senses; “of the eyes,” curiosity, perfected in the intellect; “pride of life,” in the will. Here we have an example what to do: “Resist the devil, and he will fly from you” (James 4:7).

10 Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.

Our Lord had borne with patient meekness the contumely offered Himself in the preceding temptations, but now, on seeing His Father sacrilegiously and impiously assailed, He indignantly repels the offers and seductive promises of the tempter.

“Begone, Satan.” The evil one is, in this chapter, designated by a threefold epithet. “The tempter” (v. 1), whose whole wicked occupation is to tempt men. He is indefatigable; he never sleeps or rests in waging a fiendish war against them.

“The devil,” the accuser of his brethren. “Satan,” a Hebrew word, to mean adversary, hater, enemy. (1 Peter 5) He is the sworn enemy of the human race, whom, like a roaring lion, he is ever going about seeking to devour, and precipitate with himself into hell.

“It is written;” with the same weapons, “the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God,” which He had so successfully wielded in the preceding temptations, our Redeemer now finally put His enemy to flight.

“The Lord thy God thou shalt adore” (Deut. 6:13). For “adore,” the Hebrew has “fear.” But, with the Hebrews, “fear” denoted reverence, adoration, and every kind of worship due to God. From the context in Deuteronomy, it is clear that “fear” involved Divine worship. For, adoration is but the external sign of reverence and fear, and in SS. Scripture, under the fear of God, is contained all worship due to Him.

“And Him only shall thou serve.” “Only,” is not in the Hebrew, but it is implied. Hence, our Redeemer quoted the words according to their meaning, which the arrogant assumption of Satan suggested. From the prohibition contained in the verse (14), immediately following (Deut. 6:14), “You shall not go after strange gods,” it is clear “only” is implied in the words of the preceding verse (13), “and Him (only) shalt thou serve.”

The word, “serve” (λατρευσεις) although, according to etymology, applicable to all kinds of service and respect, as well that paid to men, princes, &c., as that paid to God, and employed in reference to creatures by the Septuagint and St. Paul—a servile work is called λατρεια (Lev. 23:7)—still, both the Septuagint and St. Paul commonly apply it to the service rendered to God; and we are informed by St. Augustine (Lib. x. de Civitate Dei, c. 1), that λατρεια is used by the holy Fathers to denote the service and worship due to God alone. Hence, the distinction commonly made by divines between the worship due to God alone, Latria, and that paid the saints, Dulia, and that paid the Queen of the saints, Hyperdulia.

In like manner the word, “adore,” (προσκυνησεις) although, of itself, only signifying veneration, accompanied with external prostration of the body, and hence applied in SS. Scripture to creatures (3 Kings 1:16. 23, 31), still, from usage, it is employed to denote interior veneration, accompanied with its exterior expression, due to God alone—the Supreme, the highest Majesty.

In the words, “Begone, Satan, thou shalt adore the Lord thy God,” our Lord still keeps the knowledge of His Divinity a secret from Satan. He does not say, thou shalt adore Me. But, like any other just man quoting Scripture, He says, “Adore God alone.” Neither does it seem that He banished him by His Divine power. Satan left Him freely, after being discomfited in the contest. Now, seeing, from his having been addressed as “Satan,” adversary, that he was discovered, he felt himself fully vanquished, and left more and more in perplexity and doubt as to the nature and Divinity of our Lord.

11 Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.

St. Luke says, he left Him (“for a time”), with the intention of returning at some befitting opportunity. He did return again at His Passion, “hæc est hora vestra et potestas tenebarum,” and by his instruments sought to destroy Him.

“And behold, Angels came;” not only one Angel, but many. This shows the superior dignity of Christ, “to whom the Angels ministered,” as servants to their Master; creatures to their Creator; messengers to Him, that commissioned them. They came visibly and supplied Him with food to appease His hunger. When we are engaged in the manly struggle with the devil, and gain the victory over him, aided by God’s grace, then, we cause to rejoice the Angels of God and the whole court, who will minister to our spiritual strength and aid us in our victory. But, as the devil only retires “for a time” from our Lord to return again, as he did, particularly at His Passion, which he instigated the world, i.e., wicked men, and “the princes of the world,” his own satellites, the devils, to inflict; so, we, too, must be always on the alert, and prepared to our last gasp for temptation, so as to be warranted with our Divine Redeemer in saying in the end, “The prince of this world has come, and in me he has found nothing” that he might call his own, deserving of reprehension. We must never cease praying each day fervently and perseveringly for the great and special gift of final perseverance, “magnum donum perseverantiæ usque in finem” (Council of Trent, §§ vi. Canon xvi.), so as finally to overcome the temptations of the devil. If we obtain this gift, our salvation is secure. If we fail to obtain it, our perdition is inevitable. This is a point of faith defined by the Council of Trent. (§§ vi. Can. xxii.) This great gift cannot be strictly merited. It can be obtained only by humble prayer, “suppliciter emereri potest” (St. Augustine). We should never cease to pray, “Lord, grant us the great gift of final perseverance.”

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 55

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2014

1. Of this Psalm the title is: “At the end, in hymns, understanding to David himself.” What the “end” is, we will briefly call to your recollection, because ye have known it. “For the end of the Law is Christ, for righteousness unto every man believing.”6 Be the attention therefore directed unto the End, directed unto Christ. Wherefore is He called the end? Because whatever we do, to Him we refer it, and when to Him we shall have come home, more to ask we shall not have. For there is an end spoken of which doth consume, there is an end spoken of which doth make perfect. In one sense, for instance, we understand it, when we hear, there is ended the food which was in eating; and in another sense we understand it when we hear, there is ended the vesture which was in weaving: in each case we hear, there is ended; but the food so that it no longer is, the vesture so that it is perfected. Our end therefore ought to be our perfection, our perfection Christ. For in Him we are made perfect, because of Himself the Head, the Members are we. And he hath been spoken of as “the End of the Law,” because without Him no one doth make perfect the Law. When therefore ye hear in the Psalms, “At the end,”—for many Psalms are thus superscribed,—be not your thought upon consuming, but upon consummation.

2. “In hymns:” in praises. For whether we are troubled and are straitened, or whether we rejoice and exult, He is to be praised, who both in tribulations doth instruct, and in gladness doth comfort. For the praise of God from the heart and mouth of a Christian man ought not to depart; not that he may be praising in prosperity, and speaking evil in adversity; but after the manner that this Psalm doth prescribe, “I will speak good of the Lord in every time, alway the praise of Him is in my mouth.” Thou dost rejoice; acknowledge a Father indulging: thou art troubled; acknowledge a Father chastening. Whether He indulge, or whether He chasten, He is instructing one for whom He is preparing an inheritance.

3. What then is, “Understanding to David himself”? David indeed was, as we know, a holy prophet, king of Israel, son of Jesse:7 but because out of his seed there came for our salvation after the flesh the Lord Jesus Christ,8 often under that name He is figured, and David instead of Christ is in a figure set down, because of the origin of the Flesh of the Same. For after some sort He is Son of David, after some sort He is the Lord of David; Son of David after the flesh, Lord of David after the divinity. For if by Him have been made all things,9 by Him also David himself hath been made, out of whose seed He came to men. Moreover, when the Lord had questioned the Jews, whose Son they affirmed Christ to be, they made answer, “David’s:” where the Lord chides the Jews, when they said that He was the Son of David.10 He saw that they had stayed at the flesh, and had lost sight of the divinity; and He reproveth them by propounding a question: “How then doth David himself in spirit call Him Lord, ‘The Lord hath said unto my Lord, … If then He in spirit calleth Him Lord, how is He is Son?”11 A question He propounded; His being Son He denied not. Ye have heard “Lord;” say ye how He is his “Son:” ye have heard “Son;” say how He is “Lord.” This question the Catholic Faith solveth. How “Lord”? Because “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”1 How “Son”? Because “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”2 Because then David in a figure is Christ, but Christ, as we have often reminded your Love, is both Head and Body; neither ought we to speak of ourselves as alien from Christ, of whom we are members, nor to count ourselves as if we were any other thing: because “The two shall be in one flesh.”3 “This is a great Sacrament,” saith the Apostle, “but I speak in regard of Christ and the Church.”4 Because then whole Christ is “Head and Body;” when we hear, “Understanding to David himself,” understand we ourselves also in David. Let the members of Christ understand, and Christ in His members understand, and the members of Christ in Christ understand: because Head and Members are one Christ. The Head was in heaven, and was saying, “Why dost thou persecute Me?”5 We with Him are in heaven through hope, Himself is with us on earth through love. Therefore “understanding to David himself.” Be we admonished when we hear, and let the Church understand: for there belongeth to us great diligence to understand in what evil we now are, and from what evil we desire to be delivered, remembering the Prayer of the Lord, where at the end we say, “Deliver us from evil.”6 Therefore amid many tribulations of this world, this Psalm complaineth somewhat of understanding. He lamenteth not with it, who hath not understanding. But furthermore, dearly beloved, we ought to remember, that after the image of God we have been made, and that not in any other part than in the understanding itself. For in many things by beasts we are surpassed: but when a man knoweth himself to have been made after the image of God,7 therein something in himself he acknowledgeth to be more than hath been given to dumb animals. But on consideration of all those things which a man hath, he findeth himself in this thing peculiarly distinguished from a dumb animal, in that he hath himself an understanding. Whence certain men despising in themselves that peculiar and especial thing which from their Maker they had received, the Maker Himself reproveth, saying, “Do not become like horse and mule, in which there is no understanding.”8 …

4. “Hear Thou, O God, my entreaty, and despise not my prayer: give heed unto me, and hearken unto me” (ver. 1). Of one earnest, anxious, of one set in tribulation, are these words. He is praying, suffering many things, from evil yearning to be delivered: it remaineth that we hear in what evil he is, and when he beginneth to speak, let us acknowledge there ourselves to be; in order that the tribulation being shared, we may conjoin prayer. “I have been made sad in my exercise, and have been troubled” (ver. 2). Where made sad, where troubled? “In my exercise,” he saith. Of evil men, whom he suffereth, he hath made mention, and the same suffering of evil men he hath called his “exercise.” Think ye not that without profit there are evil men in this world, and that no good God maketh of them. Every evil man either on this account liveth that he may be corrected, or on this account liveth that through him a good man may be exercised. O that therefore they that do now exercise us would be converted, and together with us be exercised! Nevertheless, so long as they are such as to exercise, let us not hate them: because in that wherein any one of them is evil, whether unto the end he is to persevere, we know not; and ofttimes when to thyself thou seemest to have been hating an enemy, thou hast been hating a brother, and knowest not. The devil and his angels in the holy Scriptures have been manifested to us, that for fire everlasting they have been destined. Of them only must amendment be despaired of.… Therefore since this rule of Love for thee is fixed, that imitating the Father thou shouldest love an enemy: for, He saith, “love your enemies:”9 in this precept how wouldest thou be exercised, if thou hadst no enemy to suffer? Thou seest then that he profiteth thee somewhat: and let God sparing evil men profit thee, so that thou show mercy: because perchance thou too, if thou art a good man, out of an evil man hast been made a good man: and if God spared not evil men, not even thou wouldest be found to return thanks. May He therefore spare others, that hath spared thee also. For it were not right, when thou hadst passed through, to close up the way of godliness.

5. Whence then doth this man pray, set among evil men, with whose enmities he was being exercised? Why saith he, “I have been made sad in my exercise, and have been troubled”? While he is extending his love so as to love enemies, he hath been affected with disgust, being bayed at all around by the enmities of many men, by the frenzy of many, and under a sort of human infirmity he hath sunk. He hath seen himself now begin to be pierced through with an evil suggestion of the devil, to bring on hatred against his enemies: wrestling against hatred in order to perfect love herself, in the very fight, and in the wrestling, he hath been troubled. For there is his voice in another Psalm, “Mine eye hath been troubled, because of anger.” And what followeth there? “I have waxen old among all mine enemies.”10 As if in storm and waves he were beginning to sink, like Peter.1 For he doth trample the waves of this world, that loveth enemies. Christ on the sea was walking fearless, from whose heart there could not by any means be taken away the love of an enemy, who hanging on the Cross did say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”2 Peter too would walk. He as Head, Peter as Body: because, “Upon this rock,” He saith, “I will build My Church.”3 He was bidden to walk, and he was walking by the Grace of Him bidding, not by his own strength. But when he saw the wind mighty, he feared; and then he began to sink, being troubled in his exercise. By what mighty wind? “By the voice of the enemy, and by the tribulation of the sinner” (ver. 3). Therefore, in the same manner as he cried out on the waves, “Lord, I perish, save me,”4 a similar voice from this man hath preceded, “Hearken unto me.” Wherefore? For what sufferest thou? Of what dost thou groan? “I have been made sad in my exercise.” To be exercised indeed among evil men Thou hast set me, but too much they have risen up, beyond my powers: calm Thou one troubled, stretch forth a hand to one sinking. “For they have brought down upon me iniquity, and in anger they were shadowing me.” Ye have heard of waves and winds: one as it were humbled they were insulting, and he was praying: on every side against him with the roar of insult they were raging, but he within was calling upon Him whom they did not see.…

6. But this man being troubled and made sad was praying, his eye being disturbed as it were on account of anger.5 But the anger of a brother if it shall have been inveterate is then hatred. Anger doth trouble the eye, hatred doth quench it: anger is a straw, hatred is a beam. Sometimes thou hatest and chidest an angry man: in thee is hatred, in him whom thou chidest anger: with reason to thee is said, “Cast out first the beam from thine own eye, and so thou shall see to cast out the straw from thy brother’s eye.”6 For that ye may know how much difference there is between anger and hatred: day by day men are angry with their sons, show me them that hate their7 sons! This man being troubled was praying even when made sad, wrestling against all revilings of all revilers; not in order that he might conquer any one of them by giving back reviling, but that he might not hate any one of them. Hence he prayeth, hence asketh: “From the voice of the enemy and from the tribulation of the sinner.” “My heart hath been troubled in me” (ver. 4). This is the same as elsewhere hath been said, “Mine eye because of anger hath been troubled.”8 And if eye hath been troubled, what followeth? “And fear of death hath fallen upon me.” Our life is love: if life is love, death is hatred. When a man hath begun to fear lest he should hate him that he was loving, it is death he is fearing; and a sharper death, and a more inward death, whereby soul is killed, not body. Thou didst mind a man raging against thee; what was he to do, against whom thine own Lord had given thee security, saying, “Fear not them that kill the body”?9 He by raging killeth body, thou by keeping hatred hast killed soul; and he the body of another, thou thine own soul. “Fear,” therefore, “of death hath fallen upon me.”

7. “Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and darkness hath covered me” (ver. 5). “And I have said,” “He that hateth his brother, is in darkness until now.”10 If love is light, hatred is darkness. And what saith to himself one set in that weakness and troubled in that exercise? “Who shall give me wings as to a dove, and I shall fly and shall rest?” (ver. 6). Either for death he was wishing, or for solitude he was longing. So long, he saith, as this is the work with me, as this command is given me, that I should love enemies, the revilings of these men, increasing and shadowing me, do derange mine eye, perturb my sight, penetrate my heart, slay my soul. I could wish to depart, but11 weak I am, lest by abiding I should add sins to sins: or at least may I be separated for a little space from mankind, lest my wound suffer from frequent blows, in order that when it hath been made whole it may be brought back to the exercise. This is what takes place, brethren, and there ariseth ofttimes in the mind of the servant of God a longing for solitude, for no other reason than because of the multitude of tribulations and scandals, and he saith, “Who shall give me wings?” Doth he find himself without wings, or rather with bound wings? If they are wanting, be they given; if bound, be they loosed; because even he that looseth a bird’s wings, either giveth, or giveth back to it its wings. For it had not as though its own them, wherewith it could not fly. Bound wings make a burden. “Who,” he saith, “shall give me wings as to a dove, and I shall fly and shall rest?” Shall rest, where? I have said there are two senses here: either, as saith the Apostle, “To be dissolved and to be with Christ, for it is by far the best thing.”12 … Even he that amended cannot be, is thine, either by the fellowship of the human race, or ofttimes by Church Communion; he is within, what wilt thou do? whither wilt go? whither separate thyself, in order that these things thou mayest not suffer? But go to him, speak, exhort, coax, threaten, reprove. I have done all things, whatever powers I had I have expended and have drained, nothing I see have I prevailed; all my labour hath been spent out, sorrow hath remained. How then shall my heart rest from such men, except I say, “Who shall give me wings?” “As to a dove,” however, not as to a raven. A dove seeketh a flying away from troubles, but she loseth not love. For a dove as a type of love is set forth, and in her the plaint is loved. Nothing is so fond of plaints as a dove: day and night she complaineth, as though she were set here where she ought to complain. What then saith this lover? Revilings of men to bear I am unable, they roar, with frenzy are carried away, are inflamed with indignation, in anger they shadow1 me; to do good to them I am unable; O that I might rest somewhere, being separated from them in body, not in love; lest in me there should be troubled love itself: with my words and my speech no good can I do them, by praying for them perchance I shall do good. These words men say, but ofttimes they are so bound, that to fly they are not able. For perchance they are not bound with any birdlime, but are bound by duty. But if they are bound with care and duty, and to leave it are unable, let them say, “I was wishing to be dissolved and to be with Christ, for it is by far the best thing: to abide in the flesh is necessary because of you.”2 A dove bound back by affection, not by cupidity, was not able to fly away because of duty to be fulfilled, not because of little merit. Nevertheless a longing in heart must needs be; nor doth any man suffer this longing, but he that hath begun to walk in that narrow way:3 in order that he may know that there are not wanting to the Church persecutions, even in this time, when a calm is seen in the Church, at least with respect to those persecutions which our Martyrs have suffered. But there are not wanting persecutions, because a true saying is this, “All that will godly to live in Christ, shall suffer persecution.”4 …

8. “Behold I have gone afar fleeing, and have abode in the desert” (ver. 7). In what desert? Wherever thou shalt be, there will gather them together other men, the desert with thee they will seek, will attach themselves to thy life, thou canst not thrust back the society of brethren: there are mingled with thee also evil men; still exercise is thy due portion, “Behold I have gone afar, and have abode in the desert.” In what desert? It is perchance in the conscience, whither no man entereth, where no one is with thee, where thou art and God. For if in the desert, in any place, what wilt thou do with men gathering themselves together? For thou wilt not be able to be separated from mankind, so long as among men thou livest.5 …

9. “I was looking for him that should save me from weakness of mind and tempest” (ver. 8). Sea there is, tempest there is: nothing for thee remaineth but to cry out, “Lord, I perish.”6 Let Him stretch forth hand, who doth the waves tread fearlessly, let Him relieve thy dread, let Him confirm in Himself thy security, let Him speak to thee within, and say to thee, “Give heed to Me, what I have borne:” an evil brother perchance thou art suffering, or an enemy without art suffering; which of these have I not suffered? There roared without Jews, within a disciple was betraying. There rageth therefore tempest, but He doth save men from weakness of mind, and tempest. Perchance thy ship is being troubled, because He in thee is sleeping. The sea was raging, the bark wherein the disciples were sailing was being tossed; but Christ was sleeping: at length it was seen by them that among them was sleeping the Ruler7 and Creator of winds; they drew near and awoke Christ;8 He commanded9 the winds, and there was a great calm. With reason then perchance thy heart is troubled, because thou hast forgotten Him on whom thou hast believed: beyond endurance thou art suffering, because it hath not come into thy mind what for thee Christ hath borne. If unto thy mind cometh not Christ, He sleepeth: awake Christ, recall faith. For then in thee Christ is sleeping, if thou hast forgotten the sufferings of Christ: then in thee Christ is watching, if thou hast remembered the sufferings of Christ. But when with full heart thou shalt have considered what He hath suffered, wilt not thou too with equanimity endure? and perchance rejoicing, because thou hast been found in some likeness of the sufferings of thy King. When therefore on these things thinking thou hast begun to be comforted and to rejoice, He hath arisen, He hath commanded the winds; therefore there is a great calm. “I was looking for Him that should save me from weakness of mind and tempest.”

10. “Sink, O Lord, and divide the tongues of them” (ver. 9). He is referring to men troubling him and shadowing him, and he hath wished this thing not of anger, brethren. They that have wickedly lifted up themselves, for them it is expedient that they be sunk. They that have wickedly conspired, it is expedient for them that their tongues should be divided: to good let them consent, and let their tongues agree together. But if to one purpose10 there were a whispering against me,11 he saith, all mine enemies, let them lose their “one purpose” in evil, divided be the tongues of them, let them not with themselves agree together. “Sink, O Lord, and divide the tongues of them.” Wherefore “sink”? Because themselves they have lifted up. Wherefore “divide”? Because for an evil thing they have united. Recollect that tower of proud men made after the deluge: what said the proud men? Lest we perish in a deluge, let us make a lofty tower.1 In pride they were thinking themselves to be fortified, they builded up a lofty tower, and the Lord divided the tongues of them. Then they began not to understand one another; hence arose the beginning of many tongues. For before, one tongue there was: but one tongue for men agreeing was good, one tongue for humble men was good: but when that gathering together did into a union of pride fall headlong, God spared them; even though He divided the tongues, lest by understanding one another they should make a destructive unity. Through proud men, divided were the tongues; through humble Apostles, united were the tongues. Spirit of pride dispersed tongues, Spirit Holy united tongues. For when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, with the tongues of all men they spake,2 by all men they were understood: tongues dispersed, into one were united. Therefore if still they rage and are Gentiles, it is expedient for them divided to have their tongues. They would have one tongue; let them come to the Church; because even among the diversity of tongues of flesh, one is the tongue in faith of heart.

11. “For I have seen iniquity and contradiction in the city.” With reason this man was seeking the desert, for he saw iniquity and contradiction in the city. There is a certain city turbulent: the same it was that was building a tower, the same was confounded and called Babylon, the same through innumerable nations dispersed:3 thence is gathered the Church into the desert of a good conscience. For he saw contradiction in the city. “Christ cometh.”—“What Christ?” thou contradictest.—“Son of God.”—“And hath God a Son?” thou contradictest.—“He was born of a virgin, suffered, rose again.”—“And whence is it possible for this to be done?” thou contradictest.—Give heed at least to the glory of the Cross itself. Now on the brow of kings that Cross hath been fixed, over which enemies insulted. The effect hath proved the virtue.4 It hath subdued the world, not with steel, but with wood. The wood of the Cross deserving of insults hath seemed to enemies, and before the wood itself standing they were wagging the head, and saying, “If Son of God He is, let Him come down from the Cross.”5 He was stretching forth His hands to a people unbelieving and contradicting. For if just he is that of faith liveth,6 unjust he is that hath not faith. By that which here he saith “iniquity,” I understand unbelief. The Lord therefore was seeing in the city iniquity and contradiction, and was stretching forth His hands to a people unbelieving and contradicting: and nevertheless waiting for these same, He was saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”7 Even now indeed there rage the remnant of that city, even now they contradict. From the brows of all men now He is stretching forth hands to the remnant unbelieving and contradicting.

12. “Day and night there will compass it upon the walls thereof iniquity, and labour.”8 “Upon the walls thereof;” upon the fortifications thereof, holding as it were the heads thereof, the noble men thereof. If that noble man were a Christian, not one would remain a pagan! Oft-times men say, “no one would remain a pagan, if he were a Christian.” Ofttimes men say, “If he too were made a Christian, who would remain a pagan?” Because therefore not yet they are made Christians, as if walls they are of that city unbelieving and contradicting. How long shall these walls stand? Not always shall they stand. The Ark is going around the walls of Jericho: there shall come a time at the seventh going round of the Ark, when all the walls of the city unbelieving and contradicting shall fall.9 Until it come to pass, this man is being troubled in his exercise; and enduring the remains of men contradicting, he would choose wings for flying away, would choose the rest of the desert. Yea let him continue amid men contradicting, let him endure menaces, drink revilings, and look for Him that will save him from weakness of mind and tempest: let him look upon the Head, the pattern for his life,10 let him be made calm in hope, even if he is troubled in fact. “Day and night there will compass it upon the walls thereof iniquity; and labour in the midst thereof and injustice.” And for this reason labour is there, because iniquity is there: because injustice is there, therefore also labour is there. But let them hear him stretching forth hands. “Come unto Me, all ye that labour.”11 Ye cry, ye contradict, ye revile: He on the contrary, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour,” in your pride, and ye shall rest in My humility. “Learn of Me,” He saith, “for meek I am and humble in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”12 For whence do they labour, but because they are not meek and humble in heart? God humble was made, let man blush to be proud.

13. “There hath not failed from the streets thereof usury and deceit” (ver. 11). Usury and deceit are not hidden at least, because they are evil things, but in public they rage. For he that in his house doth any evil thing, however for his evil thing doth blush: “In the streets thereof usury and deceit.” Money-lending1 even hath a profession, Money-lending also is called a science; a corporation is spoken of, a corporation as if necessary to the state, and of its profession it payeth revenue; so entirely indeed in the streets is that which should have been hidden. There is also another usury worse, when thou forgivest not that which to thee is owed; and the eye is disturbed in that verse of the prayer, “Forgive us our debts—as we too forgive our debtors.”2 For what there wilt thou do, when thou art going to pray, and coming to that same verse? An insulting word thou hast heard: thou wouldest exact the punishment of condemnation. Do but consent to exact just so much as thou hast given, thou usurer of injuries! With the fist thou hast been smitten, slaying thou seekest. Evil usury! How wilt thou go to prayer? If thou shall have left praying, which way wilt thou come round unto the Lord? Behold thou wilt say: “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven so on earth.” Thou wilt say, “Our daily bread give us to-day.” Thou wilt come to, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.”3 Even in that evil city let there abound these usuries; let them not enter the walls where the breast is smitten! What wilt thou do? because there thou and that verse are4 in the midst? Petitions for thee hath a heavenly Lawyer composed.5 He that knew what used there to be done, said to thee, “Otherwise thou shall not obtain.” “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that if ye shall have forgiven men sins, they shall be forgiven you; but if ye shall not have forgiven sins unto men, neither will your Father forgive you.”6 Who saith this? He that knoweth what there is being done, in the place whereat thou art standing to make request. See how Himself hath willed to be thy Advocate; Himself thy Counsellor,7 Himself the Assessor of the Father Himself thy Judge hath said, “Otherwise thou shalt not receive.” What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not receive, unless thou shall speak; wilt not receive if falsely thou shall speak. Therefore either thou must do and speak, or else what thou askest thou wilt not earn; because they that this do not do, are in the midst of those evil usuries. Be they engaged therein, that yet do idols either adore or desire: do not thou, O people of God, do not thou, O people of Christ, do not thou the Body of Him the Head! Give heed to the bond8 of thy peace, give heed to the promise of thy life. For what doth it profit thee, that thou exactest for injuries which thou hast endured? doth vengeance refresh thee? Therefore, over the evil of another shalt thou rejoice? Thou hast suffered evil; pardon thou; be not ye two.9 …

14. “For if an enemy had upbraided me” (ver. 12). And indeed above he was “troubled in his exercise” by the voice of the enemy and by the tribulation of the sinner, perhaps being placed in that city, that proud city that was building a tower, which was “sunk,”10 that divided might be the tongues: give heed to his inward groaning because of perils from false brethren. “For if an enemy had upbraided me, I would have undergone it assuredly, and if he that did hate me had over me spoken great words,” that is, through pride had on me trampled, did magnify himself above me, did threaten me all in his power: “I would hide myself assuredly from him.” From him that is abroad, thou wouldest hide thyself where? Amid those that are within. But now see whether anything else remaineth, but that thou seek solitude. “But thou,” he saith, “man of one mind, my guide and my friend” (ver. 13). Perchance sometimes good counsel thou hast given, perchance sometimes thou hast gone before me, and some wholesome advice thou hast given me: in the Church of God together we have been. “But thou.… that together with me didst take sweet morsels” (ver. 14). What are the sweet morsels? Not all they that are present know: but let them not be soured that do know, in order that they may be able to say to them that as yet know not: “Taste ye and see, how sweet is the Lord.”11 “In the House of God we have walked with consent.”12 Whence then dissension? Thou that wast within, hast become one without. He hath walked with me in the House of God with consent: another house hath he set up against the House of God. Wherefore hath that been forsaken, wherein we have walked with consent? wherefore hath that been deserted, wherein together we did take sweet morsels?

15. “Let there come death upon them, and let them go down unto Hell living” (ver. 15). How hath he cited and hath made us call to mind that first beginning of schism, when in that first people of the Jews certain proud men separated themselves, and would without have sacrificed? A new death upon them came: the earth opened herself, and swallowed them up alive.1 “Let there come,” he saith, “death upon them, and let them go down into Hell living.” What is “living”? knowing that they are perishing, and yet perishing. Hear of living men perishing and being swallowed up in a gulf of the earth, that is, being swallowed up in the voraciousness of earthly desires.2 Thou sayest to a man, What aileth thee, brother? Brethren we are, one God we invoke, in one Christ we believe, one Gospel we hear, one Psalm we sing, one Amen we respond, one Hallelujah we sound, one Easter we celebrate: why art thou without and I am within? Ofttimes one straitened, and perceiving how true are the charges which are made, saith, May God requite our ancestors! Therefore alive he perisheth. In the next place thou continuest and thus givest warning. At least let the evil of separation stand alone, why dost thou adjoin thereto that of rebaptism? Acknowledge in me what thou hast; and if thou hatest me, spare thou Christ in me. And this evil thing doth frequently and very greatly displease them.… Because they themselves have the Scriptures in their hands, and know well by daily reading how the Church Catholic through the whole world is so spread, that in a word all contradiction is void; and that there cannot be found any support for their schism they know well: therefore unto the lower places living they go down, because the evil which they do, they know evil to be. But the former a fire of divine indignation consumed. For being inflamed with desire of strife, from their evil leaders they would not depart. There came upon fire a fire, upon the heat of dissension the heat of consuming. “For naughtiness is in their lodgings, in the midst of them.” “In their lodgings,”3 wherein they tarry and pass away. For here they are not alway to be: and nevertheless in defence of a temporal animosity they are fighting so fiercely. “In their lodgings is iniquity; in the midst of them is iniquity:” no part of them is so near the middle of them as their heart.

16. “Therefore to the Lord I have cried out” (ver. 16). The Body of Christ and the oneness of Christ in anguish, in weariness, in uneasiness, in the tribulation of its exercise, that One Man, Oneness in One Body set, when He was wearying His soul in crying out from the ends of the earth; saith, “From the ends of the earth to Thee I have cried out, when My heart was being vexed.”4 Himself one, but a oneness5 that One! and Himself one, not in one place one, but from the ends of the earth is crying as one. How from the ends of the earth should there cry one, except there were one? “I to the Lord have cried out.” Rightly do thou cry out to the Lord, cry not to Donatus: lest for thee he be instead of the Lord a lord, that under the Lord would not be a fellow-servant.

17. “In evening, in morning, at noon-day I will recount and will tell forth, and He shall hearken to my voice”6 (ver. 18). Do thou proclaim glad tidings, keep not secret that which thou hast received, “in evening” of things gone by, “in morning” of things to be, at “noonday” of things ever to be. Therefore, to that which he saith “in evening” belongeth that which he recounteth: to that which he saith, “in morning,” belongeth that which he telleth forth: to that which he saith “at noon-day,” belongeth that wherein his voice is hearkened to. For the end is at noon-day; that is to say, whence there is no going down unto setting. For at noon-day there is light full high, the splendour of wisdom, the fervour of love. “In evening and in morning and at noon-day.” “In evening,” the Lord on the Cross; “in morning,” in Resurrection; “at noon-day,” in Ascension. I will recount in evening the patience of Him dying, I will tell forth in morning the life of Him rising, I will pray that He hearken at noon-day sitting at the right hand of the Father. He shall hearken to my voice, That intercedeth for us.7 How great is the security of this man. How great the consolation, how great the refuge “from weakness of mind and tempest,” against evil men, against ungodly men both without and within, and in the case of those that are without though they had been within.

18. Therefore, my Brethren, those that in the very congregation of these walls ye see to be rebellious men, proud, seeking their own, lifted up; not having a zeal for God that is chaste, sound, quiet, but ascribing to themselves much; ready for dissension, but not finding opportunity; are the very chaff of the Lord’s floor.8 From hence these few men the wind of pride hath dislodged: the whole floor will not fly, save when He at the last shall winnow. But what shall we do, save with this man sing, with this man pray, with this man mourn and say securely, “He shall redeem in peace my soul” (ver. 18). Against them that love not peace: “in peace He shall redeem my soul.” “Because with those that hated peace I was peace-making.”9 “He shall redeem in peace my soul, from those that draw near to me.” For from those that are afar from me, it is an easy case: not so soon doth he deceive me that saith, Come, pray to an idol: he is very far from me. Art thou a Christian? A Christian, he saith. Out of a neighbouring place he is my adversary, he is at hand. “He shall redeem in peace my soul, from those that draw near to me: for in many things they were with me.” Wherefore have I said, “draw near to me”? Because “in many things they were with me.” In this verse two propositions occur. “In many things they were with me.” Baptism we had both of us, in that they were with me: the Gospel we both read, they were in that with me: the festivals of martyrs we celebrated, they were there with me: Easter’s solemnity we attended, they were there with me. But not entirely with me: in schism not with me, in heresy not with me. In many things with me, in few things not with me. But in these few things wherein not with me, there is no profit to them of the many things wherein they were with me. For see, brethren, how many things hath recounted the Apostle Paul: one thing, he hath said, if it shall have been wanting, in vain are those things. “If with the tongues of men and of angels I shall speak,” he saith, “if I have all prophecy, and all faith, and all knowledge; if mountains I shall remove, if I shall bestow all my goods upon the poor, if I shall deliver my body even so that it be burned.”1 How many things he hath enumerated! To all these many things let there be wanting one thing, charity; the former in number are more, the latter in weight is greater. Therefore in all Sacraments they are with me, in one charity not with me: “In many things they were with me.” Again, by a different expression: “For in many things they were with me.” They that themselves have separated from me, with me they were, not in few things, but in many things. For throughout the whole world few are the grains, many are the chaffs. Therefore he saith what? In chaff with me they were, in wheat with me they were not. And the chaff is nearly related to the wheat, from one seed it goeth forth, in one field is rooted, with one rain is nourished, the same reaper it suffereth, the same threshing sustaineth, the same winnowing awaiteth, but not into one barn entereth.

19. “God will hear me, and He shall humble them That is before ages” (ver. 19). For they rely on some leader or other of theirs that hath begun but yesterday. “He shall humble them That is before ages.” For even if with reference to time Christ is of Mary the Virgin, nevertheless before ages: “In the beginning He is the Word and the Word with God, and the Word God.”2 “He shall humble them That is before ages. For to them is no changing:” of them I “speak to whom is no changing.” He knew of some to persevere, and in the perseverance of their own wickedness to die. For we see them, and to them is no changing: they that die in that same perverseness, in that same schism, to them is no changing. God shall humble them, shall humble them in damnation, because they are exalted in dissension. To them is no changing, because they are not changed for the better, but for the worse: neither while they are here, nor in the resurrection. For all we shall rise again, but3 not all shall be changed. Wherefore? Because “To them is no changing: and they have not feared God.” …

20. “He stretcheth forth His hand in requiting” (ver. 20). “They have polluted His Testament.” Read the testament which they have polluted: “In thy seed shall be blessed all nations.”4 Thou against these words of the Testator sayest what? The Africa of holy Donatus hath alone deserved this grace, in him hath remained the Church of Christ. Say at least the Church of Donatus. Wherefore addest thou, of Christ? Of whom it is said, “In thy seed shall be blessed all nations.” After Donatus wilt thou go? Set aside Christ, and then secede. See therefore what followeth: “They have polluted His Testament.” What Testament? To Abraham have been spoken the promises, and to his seed. The Apostle saith, “Nevertheless, a man’s testament confirmed no one maketh void, or superaddeth to: to Abraham have been spoken the promises, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as if in many; but as if in one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ.”5 In this Christ, therefore, what Testament hath been promised? “In thy seed shall be blessed all nations.” Thou that hast given up the unity of all nations, and in a part hast remained, hast polluted His Testament.…

21. “And His heart hath drawn near” (ver. 22). Of whom do we understand it, except of Him, by the anger of whom they have been divided? How “hath his heart drawn near”? In such sort, that we may understand His will. For by heretics hath been vindicated the Catholic Church, and by those that think evil have been proved those that think well. For many things lay hid in the Scriptures: and when heretics had been cut off, with questions they troubled the Church of God: then those things were opened which lay hid, and the will of God was understood.6 Thence is said in another Psalm, “In order that they might be excluded that have been proved with silver.”7 For let them be excluded, He hath said, let them come forth, let them appear. Whence even in silver-working men are called “excluders,” that is, pressers out of form from the sort of confusion of the lump. Therefore many men that could understand and expound the Scriptures very excellently, were hidden among the people of God: but they did not declare the solution of difficult questions, when no reviler again urged them. For was the Trinity perfectly treated of before the Arians snarled thereat? Was repentance perfectly treated of before the Novatians opposed? So not perfectly of Baptism was it treated, before rebaptizers removed outside1 contradicted; nor of the very oneness of Christ were the doctrines clearly stated which have been stated, save after that this separation began to press upon the weak: in order that they that knew how to treat of and solve these questions (lest the weak should perish vexed with the questions of the ungodly), by their discourses and disputations should bring out unto open day the dark things of the Law.2 … This obscure sense see in what manner the Apostle bringeth out into light; “It is needful,” he saith, “that also heresies there be, in order that men proved may be made manifest among you.”3 What is “men proved”? Proved with silver, proved with the word. What is “may be made manifest”? May be brought out.4 Wherefore this? Because of heretics. So therefore these also “have been divided because of the anger of His countenance, and His heart hath drawn near.”
22. “His discourses have been softened above oil, and themselves are darts” (ver. 21). For certain things in the Scriptures were seeming hard, while they were obscure; when explained, they have been softened. For even the first heresy in the disciples of Christ, as it were from the hardness of His discourse arose. For when He said, “Except a man shall have eaten My flesh and shall have drunk My blood, he shall not have life in himself:” they, not understanding, said to one another, “Hard is this discourse, who can hear it?” Saying that, “Hard is this discourse,” they separated from Him: He remained with the others, the twelve. When they had intimated to Him, that by His discourse they had been scandalized, “Will ye also,” He saith, “choose to go?” Then Peter: “Thou hast the Word of life eternal: to whom shall we go?”5 Attend, we beseech you, and ye little ones learn godliness. Did Peter by any means at that time understand the secret of that discourse of the Lord? Not yet he understood: but that good were the words which he understood not, godly he believed. Therefore if hard is a discourse, and not yet is understood, be it hard to an ungodly man, but to thee be it by godliness softened: for whenever it is solved, it both will become for thee oil, and even unto the bones it will penetrate.

23. Furthermore, just as Peter, after their having been scandalized by the hardness, as they thought, of the discourse of the Lord, even then said, “to whom shall we go?” so he hath added, “Cast upon the Lord thy care, and He shall Himself nourish thee up” (ver. 22). A little one thou art, not yet thou understandest the secret things of words: perchance from thee the bread is hidden, and as yet with milk thou must be fed:6 be not angry with the breasts: they will make thee fit for the table, for which now little fitted thou art. Behold by the division of heretics many hard things have been softened: His discourses that were hard have been softened above oil, and they are themselves darts. They have armed men preaching the Gospel: and the very discourses are aimed at the breast of every one that heareth, by men instant in season and out of season: by those discourses, by those words, as though by arrows, hearts of men unto the love of peace are smitten. Hard they were, and soft they have been made. Being softened they have not lost their virtue, but into darts have been converted.… Upon the Lord cast thyself. Behold thou wilt cast thyself upon the Lord, let no one put himself in the place of the Lord. “Cast upon the Lord thy care.” …

24. But to the others what? “But Thou, O God, shalt bring them down unto the pit of corruption” (ver. 23). The pit of corruption is the darkness of sinking under. When blind leadeth blind, they both fall into a ditch.7 God bringeth them down into the pit of corruption, not because He is the author of their own guilt, but because He is Himself the judge of their iniquities. “For God hath delivered them unto the desires of their heart.”8 For they have loved darkness, and not light; they have loved blindness, and not seeing. For behold the Lord Jesus hath shone out to the whole world, let them sing in unity with the whole world: “For there is not one that can hide himself from the heat of Him.”9 But they passing over from the whole to a part, from the body to a wound, from life to a limb cut off, shall meet with what, but going into the pit of corruption?

25. “Men of bloods and of deceitfulness.” Men of bloods, because of slayings he calleth them: and O that they were corporal and not spiritual slayings. For blood from the flesh going forth, is seen and shuddered at: who seeth the blood of the heart in a man rebaptized? Those deaths require other eyes. Although even about these visible deaths Circumcelliones armed everywhere remain not quiet. And if we think of these visible deaths, there are men of bloods. Give heed to the armed man, whether he is a man of peace and not of blood. If at least a club only he were to carry, well; but he carrieth a sling, carrieth an axe, carrieth stones, carrieth lances; and carrying these weapons, wherever they may they scour, for the blood of innocent men they thirst.1 Therefore even with regard to these visible deaths there are men of bloods. But even of them let us say, O that such deaths alone they perpetrated, and souls they slew not. These that are men of bloods and of deceit, let them not suppose that we thus wrongly understand men of bloods, of them that kill souls: they themselves of their Maximianists2 have so understood it. For when they condemned them, in the very sentence of their Council they have set down these words: “Swift are the feet of them to shed the blood” (of the proclaimers3), “tribulation and calamity are in the ways of them, and the way of peace they have not known.”4 This of the Maximianists they have said. But I ask of them, when have the Maximianists shed the body’s blood; not because they too would not shed, if there were so great a multitude as could shed, but because of the fear in their minority rather they have suffered somewhat from others, than have themselves at any time done any such thing. Therefore I question the Donatist and say: In thy Council thou hast set down of the Maximianists, “Swift are the feet of them to shed blood.” Show me one of whom the Maximianists have hurt so much as a finger! What other thing to me is he to answer, than that which I say? They that have separated themselves from unity,5 and who slay souls by leading astray, spiritually, not carnally, do shed blood. Very well thou hast expounded, but in thy exposition acknowledge their own deeds. “Men of bloods and of deceitfulness.” In guile is deceitfulness, in dissimulation, in seduction. What therefore of those very men that have been divided because of the anger of His countenance? They are themselves men of bloods and of deceit.

26. But of them he saith what? “They shall not halve their days.” What is, “They shall not halve their days”? They shall not make progress as much as they think: within the time which they expect, they shall perish. For he is that partridge, whereof hath been said, “In the half of his days they shall leave him, and in his last days he shall be an unwise one.”6 They make progress, but for a time. For what saith the Apostle? “But evil men and seducers shall make progress for the worse, themselves erring, and other men into error driving.”7 But “a blind man leading a blind man, together into a ditch they fall.”8 Deservedly they fall “into the pit of corruption.” What therefore saith he? They shall make progress for the worse: not however for long. For a little before he hath said, “But further they shall not make progress:”9 that is, “shall not halve their days.” Let the Apostle proceed and tell wherefore: “For the madness of them shall be manifest to all men, as also was that of the others.” “But I in Thee will hope, O Lord.” But deservedly they shall not halve their days, because in man they have hoped. But I from days temporal have reached unto day eternal. Wherefore? Because in Thee I have hoped, O Lord.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 44

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 15, 2014

AWAKE, O GOD OF ISRAEL

THIS is a national poem composed at a time when the Hebrews had been defeated in battle, and were somehow enslaved politically by their foes. For the psalmist the shame of his nation is unworthy of its glorious history; and unworthy, too, of the God who fought its victorious battles long ago. It was God s power, and not the strength of Israel s arm, that vanquished the heathen peoples of Palestine in the time of the Conquest. Has He forgotten the people He used to love?–Even now the psalmist will trust in the help of the Lord even now, when Israel, that crushed the heathen in the great days of old, is in bondage to the heathens of the present: and with bitterness, the singer adds: “It is the Lord who has sold us into bondage, and poor is the price He has received.” Yet why has the Lord abandoned us? We have not turned aside from His Covenant, nor chosen other gods. It is indeed for the very name and sake of the Lord that Israel has been brought to defeat and disgrace. “Arise, then, O Lord,” pleads the psalmist passionately; awake from this sleep of forgetfulness. Thine own honour is at stake. Turn Thy face on us, for we are humbled to the dust!

An ancient theory assigned this psalm to the Maccabean period, and this is the theory now most widely accepted. The poem emphasises the absence of all idolatry from among the people, and describes the sufferings of the nation as a veritable martyrdom as endured for the sake of the Lord and His covenant.

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This Week’s Commentaries and Posts: Sunday, January 5-Sunday, January 12, 2014

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 4, 2014

SUNDAY, JANUARY 5, 2014
SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

Commentaries and Resources for Today’s Mass.

MONDAY, JANUARY 6, 2014
MONDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Jn 3:22-4:6).

Update: Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Jn 3:22-4:6).

Father Maas’ Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Ps 2).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Ps 2).

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 2).

My Notes on Psalm 2.

Aquinas Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 4:12-17, 23-25). On 12-25.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 4:12-17, 23-25). On 12-25.

My Notes on Today’s Gospel (Matt 4:12-17, 23-25). On 12-25.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2014
TUESDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

St Augustine’s Exegetical Homily on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Jn 4:7-10).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Jn 4:7-10).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Jn 4:7-10).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Ps 72).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 72).

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 72).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 72).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 6:34-44).

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2014
WEDNESDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

St Augustine’s Homiletic Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Jn 4:11-18).

Update: Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Jn 4:11-18).

Update: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Jn 4:11-18).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Ps 72).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 72).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 72).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 6:45-52).

THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 2014
THURSDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

St Augustine’s Exegetical Homily on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Jn 4:19-5:4).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Ps 72).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 72).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 72).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 4:14-22).

FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014
FRIDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Jn 5:5-13).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial in Two Parts:

Part 1 of Ps 147. On verses 1-11.

Part 2 of Ps 147. On verses 12-20.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 5:12-16).

St Cyril of Alexandria on Today’s Gospel (Luke 5:12-16).

SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 2014
SATURDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Jn 5:14-21).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 149).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 3:22-30).

Nolan and Brown on Today’s Gospel (John 3:22-30).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 3:22-30).

SUNDAY, JANUARY 12, 2014
FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

COMMENTARIES AND RESOURCES FOR TODAY’S MASS.

Next week’s Posts.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 118

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2013

1. … We are taught in this Psalm, when we chaunt Allelujah, which meaneth, Praise the Lord, that we should, when we hear the words, “Confess unto the Lord” (ver. 1), praise the Lord. The praise of God could not be expressed in fewer words than these, “For He is good.” I see not what can be more solemn than this brevity, since goodness is so peculiarly the quality of God, that the Son of God Himself when addressed by some one as “Good Master,” by one, namely, who beholding His flesh, and comprehending not the fulness of His divine nature, considered Him as man only, replied, “Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.”3 And what is this but to say, If thou wishest to call Me good, recognise Me as God? But since it is addressed, in revelation of things to come, to a people freed from all toil and wandering in pilgrimage, and from all admixture with the wicked, which freedom was given it through the grace of God, who not only doth not evil for evil, but even returneth good for evil; it is most appropriately added, “Because His mercy endureth for ever.”

2. “Let Israel now confess that He is good, and that His mercy endureth for ever” (ver. 2). “Let the house of Aaron now confess that His mercy endureth for ever” (ver. 3). “Yea, let all now that fear the Lord confess that His mercy endureth for ever” (ver. 4). Ye remember, I suppose, most beloved, what is the house of Israel, what is the house of Aaron, and that both are those that fear the Lord. For they are “the little and the great,”4 who have already in another Psalm been happily introduced into your hearts: in the number of whom all of us should rejoice that we are joined together, in His grace who is good, and whose mercy endureth for ever; since they were listened to who said, “May the Lord increase you more and more, you and your children;”5 that the host of the Gentiles might be added to the Israelites who believed in Christ, of the number of whom are the Apostles our fathers, for the exaltation of the perfect and the obedience of the little children; that all of us when made one in Christ, made one flock under one Shepherd, and the body of that Head, like one man, may say, “I called upon the Lord in trouble, and the Lord heard me at large” (ver. 5). The narrow straits of our tribulation are limited: but the large way whereby we pass along hath no end. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?”6

3. “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear what man doeth unto me” (ver. 6). But are men, then, the only enemies that the Church hath? What is a man devoted to flesh and blood, save flesh and blood? But the Apostle saith, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against,” … he saith, “spiritual wickedness in high places;”7 that is, the devil and his angels; that devil whom elsewhere he calleth “the prince of the power of the air.”8 Hear therefore what followeth: “The Lord is my helper: therefore shall I despise mine enemies” (ver. 7). From what class soever my enemies may arise, whether from the number of evil men, or from the number of evil angels; in the Lord’s help, unto whom we chant the confession of praise, unto whom we sing Allelujah, they shall be despised.

4. But, when my enemies have been brought to contempt, let not my friend present himself unto me as a good man, so as to bid me repose my hope in himself: for “It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put any confidence in man” (ver. 8). Nor let any one, who may in a certain sense be styled a good angel, be regarded by myself as one in whom I ought to put my trust: for “no one is good, save God alone;”9 and when a man or an angel appear to aid us, when they do this of sincere affection, He doth it through them, who made them good after their measure. “It is” therefore “better to trust in the Lord, than to put any confidence in princes” (ver. 9). For angels also are called princes, even as we read in Daniel, “Michael, your prince.”10

5. “All nations compassed me round about, but in the Name of the Lord have I taken vengeance on them” (ver. 10). “They kept me in on every site, they kept me in, I say, on every side; but in the Name of the Lord have I taken vengeance on them” (ver. 11). He signifieth the toils and the victory of the Church; but, as if the question were asked how she could have overcome so great evils, he looketh back to the example, and declareth what she had first suffered in her Head, by adding what followeth, “They kept me in on every side:” and the words, “All nations,” are with reason not repeated here, because this was the act of the Jews alone. There that very religious nation (which is the body of Christ, and in behalf of which was done all that was done in mortal form with immortal power, by that inward divinity, through the outward flesh), suffered from persecutors, of whose race that flesh was assumed and hung upon the cross.

6. “They came about me as bees do a hive, and burned up even as the fire among the thorns: and in the Name of the Lord have I taken vengeance on them” (ver. 12). Here then the order of the words corresponds with the order of events. For we rightly understand that our Lord Himself, the Head of the Church, was surrounded by persecutors, even as bees surround a hive. For the Holy Spirit is speaking with mystic subtlety of what was done by those who knew not what they did. For bees make honey in the hives: while our Lord’s persecutors, unconscious as they were, rendered Him sweeter unto us even by His very Passion; so that we may taste and see how sweet is the Lord,1 “Who died for our sins, and arose for our justification.”2 But what followeth, “and burned up even as the fire among the thorns,” is better understood of His Body, that is, of a people spread abroad, whom all nations compassed about, since it was gathered together from all nations. They consumed this sinful flesh, and the grievous piercings of this mortal life, in the flame of persecution. “Taken vengeance on them:” either because they themselves, that wickedness, which in them persecuted the righteous, having been extinguished, were joined with the people of Christ; or because the rest of them, who have at this time scorned the mercy of Him who calleth them, will at the end feel the truth of Him who judgeth them.

7. “I have been driven on like a heap of sand, so that I was falling, but the Lord upheld me” (ver. 13). For though there were a great multitude of believers, that might be compared to the countless sand, and brought into one communion as into one heap; yet “what is man, save Thou be mindful of Him?”3 He said not, the multitude of the Gentiles could not surpass the abundance of my host, but, “the Lord,” he saith, “hath upheld me.” The persecution of the Gentiles succeeded not in pushing forward, to its overthrow, the host of the faithful dwelling together in the unity of the faith.

8. “The Lord is my strength and my praise, and is become my salvation” (ver. 14). Who then fall, when they are pushed, save they who choose to be their own strength and their own praise? For no man falleth in the contest, except he whose strength and praise faileth. He therefore whose strength and praise is the Lord, falleth no more than the Lord falleth. And for this reason He hath become their salvation; not that He hath become anything which He was not before, but because they, when they believed on Him, became what they were not before, and then He began to be salvation unto them when turned towards Him, which He was not to them when turned away from Himself.

9. “The voice of joy and health is in the dwellings of the righteous” (ver. 15); where they who raged against their bodies thought there was the voice of sorrow and destruction. For they did not know the inward joy of the saints in their future hope. Whence the Apostle also saith, “As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing;”4 and again, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also.”5

10. “The right hand of the Lord hath brought mighty things to pass” (ver. 16). What mighty things? saith he. “The right hand of the Lord,” he saith, “hath exalted me.” It is a mighty thing to exalt the humble, to deify the mortal, to bring perfection out of infirmity, glory from subjection, victory from suffering, to give help, to raise from trouble; that the true salvation of God might be laid open to the afflicted, and the salvation of men might remain of no avail to the persecutors. These are great things: but what art thou surprised at? hear what he repeateth: “The right hand of the Lord hath brought mighty things to pass.”

11. “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord” (ver. 17). But they, while they were dealing havoc and death on every side, thought that the Church of Christ was dying. Behold, he now declareth the works of the Lord. Everywhere Christ is the glory of the blessed Martyrs. By being beaten He conquered those who struck Him; by being patient of torments, the tormentors;6 by loving, those who raged against Him.

12. Nevertheless, let him point out to us, why the body of Christ, the holy Church, the people of adoption, suffered such indignities. “The Lord,” he saith, “hast chastened and corrected me, but He hath not given me over unto death” (ver. 18). Let not then the boastful wicked imagine that aught hath been permitted to their power: they would not have that power, were it not given them from above. Oft doth the father of a family command his sons to be corrected by the most worthless slaves; though he designeth the heritage for the former, fetters for the latter. What is that heritage? Is it of gold, or silver, or jewels, or farms, or pleasant estates? Consider how we enter into it: and learn what it is.

13. “Open me,” he saith, “the gates of righteousness” (ver 19). Behold, we have heard of the gates. What is within? “That I may,” he saith, “go into them, and give thanks unto the Lord.” This is the confession of praise full of wonder, “even unto the house of God, in the voice of joy and confession of praise, among such as keep holiday:”1 this is the everlasting bliss of the righteous, whereby they are blessed who dwell in the Lord’s house, praising Him for evermore.2

14. But consider how the gates of righteousness are entered into. “These are the gates of the Lord” he saith, “the righteous shall enter into them” (ver. 20). At least let no wicked man enter there, that Jerusalem which receiveth not one uncircumcised, where it is said, “Without are dogs.”3 Be it enough, that in my long pilgrimage “I have had my habitation among the tents of Kedar:”4 I endured even unto the end the intercourse of the wicked, but “these are the gates of the Lord: the righteous shall enter into them.”

15. “I will confess unto Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation” (ver. 21). How often is that confession proved to be one of praise, that doth not point out wounds to the physician, but giveth thanks for the health it hath received. But the Physician Himself is the Salvation.

16. But who is this whom we speak of? “The Stone which the builders rejected” (ver. 22); for “It hath become the head Stone of the corner;” to “make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body;”5 circumcision, to wit, and uncircumcision.

17. “By the Lord was it made unto it” (ver. 23): that is, it is made into the head stone of the corner by the Lord. For although He would not have become this, had He not suffered: yet He became not this through those from whom He suffered. For they who were building, refused Him: but in the edifice which the Lord was secretly raising, that was made the head stone of the corner which they rejected. “And it is marvellous in our eyes:” in the eyes of the inner man, in the eyes of those that believe, those that hope, those that love; not in the carnal eyes of those who, through scorning Him as if He were a man, rejected Him.

18. “This is the day which the Lord hath made” (ver. 24). This man remembereth that he had said in former Psalms, “Since He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live;”6 making mention of his old days; when

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St Jerome on Daniel 1:1-6, 8-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 23, 2013

Verse 1. (p. 495) (623) “In the third year of the reign of Joacim (Jehoiakim) king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.” Jehoiakim, son of the Josiah in whose thirteenth regnal year Jeremiah began to prophesy, and under whom the woman Hulda prophesied, was the same man as was called by the other name of Eliakim, and reigned over the tribes of Judah and Jerusalem eleven years. His son Jehoiachin [misprinted "Joachim" for "Joachin"; cf. IV Reg. 24:6 in the Vulgate] surnamed Jeconiah, followed him in the kingship, and on the tenth day of the third month of his reign he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar’s generals and brought to Babylon. In his place his paternal uncle Zedekiah, a son of Josiah, was appointed king, and in his eleventh year Jerusalem was captured and destroyed. Let no one therefore imagine that the Jehoiakim in the beginning of Daniel is the same person as the one who is spelled Jehoiachin [Lat. Joachin] in the commencement of Ezekiel. For the latter has “-chin” as its final syllable, whereas the former has “-kim.” And it is for this reason that in the Gospel according to Matthew there seems to be a generation missing, because the second group of fourteen, (A) extending to the time of Jehoiakim, ends with a son of Josiah, and the third group begins with Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim. Being ignorant of this factor, Porphyry formulated a slander against the Church which only revealed his own ignorance, as he tried to prove the evangelist Matthew guilty of error.

Verse 2. “And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand.” (B) The fact that Jehoiachim is recorded to have been given over shows that it was not a victory for the might of his enemies but rather it was of the will of the Lord. “.. .and some of the vessels of the house of God, and he brought them to the land of Shinar (C) to the house of his god, and he conveyed them into the treasure house of his god” (Gen. 11). The land of Shinar is a region of Babylon in which the plain of Dura |20 was located, and also the tower which those who had migrated from the East attempted to build up to heaven. From this circumstance and from the confusion of tongues the region received the name Babylon, which, translated into our language, means “confusion.” At the same time it ought to be noted, by way of spiritual interpretation [anagogen], that the king of Babylon was not able to transport all of the vessels of God, and place them in the idol-house which he had built himself, but only a part of the vessels (624) of God’s house. By these vessels we are to understand the dogmas of truth. For if you go through all of the works of the philosophers, you will necessarily find in them some portion of the vessels of God. For example, you will find in Plato that God is the fashioner of the universe, in Zeno the chief of the Stoics, that there are (p. 496) inhabitants in the infernal regions and that souls are immortal, and that honor is the one (true) good. But because the philosophers combine truth with error and corrupt the good of nature with many evils, for that reason they are recorded to have captured only a portion of the vessels of God’s house, and not all of them in their completeness and perfection. Verse 3. “And the king said to Ashpenaz the overseer of his eunuchs, (D) that he should out of the number of the children of Israel and, of the royal seed and (the seed of) the rulers [tyrannorum, Jer.'s rendering of Heb. partemim, "nobles"] bring in some young lads who were free from all blemish.” Instead of Ashpenaz (“Asphanez”) I found Abriesdri written in the Vulgate [i.e., the LXX] edition. For the word phorlhommin which Theodotion uses, the Septuagint and Aquila translated “the chosen ones,” whereas Symmachus rendered “Parthians,” understanding it as the name of a nation instead of a common noun. This is in disagreement with the Hebrew edition as it is accurately read; I have translated it as “rulers,” especially because it is preceded by the words “of the seed royal.” From this passage the Hebrews think that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were eunuchs, thus fulfilling that prophecy which is spoken by Isaiah regarding Hezekiah: “And they shall take of thy seed and make eunuchs of them in the house of the king (E) of Babylon” (Isa. 37: 7). If however they were of the seed royal, there is no doubt but what they were of the line of David. But perhaps the following words are opposed to this interpretation: “… lads, or youths, who |21 were free from all blemish, in order that he might teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.” Philo supposes that Chaldee is the same thing as the Hebrew language, because Abraham came from the Chaldeans. But if we accept this we must ask how the Hebrew lads could now be bidden to be taught a language which they already knew; unless, perchance, we should say, as some believe, that Abraham was acquainted with two languages.

Verse 7. “And the overseer of the eunuchs imposed names upon them, calling Daniel Belteshazzar (Balthasar), and Hananiah Shadrach, and Mishael Meshach, and Azariah (625) Abednego.” It was not only the overseer or master of the eunuchs (as others have rendered it, the “chief-eunuch”) who changed the names of saints, but also Pharaoh called Joseph in Egypt (Gen. 41) (F) Somtonphanec [Heb.: Zaphenath-paaneah], for neither of them wished them to have Jewish names in the land of captivity. Wherefore the prophet says in the Psalm: “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Ps. 136:4). Furthermore the Lord Himself changes names benignly, and on the basis of events imposes names of special significance, so as to (p. 497) call Abram Abraham, and Sarai Sarah (Gen. 17). Also in the Gospel, the former Simon received the name of Peter (Mark 3), (A) and the sons of Zebedee are called “sons of thunder”—-which is not boanerges, as most people suppose, but is more correctly read benereem [a reading for which there is no manuscript support, but which would be the Hebrew for "sons of thunder"].

Verse 8. “Daniel, however, purposed in his heart that he would not be defiled by food from the king’s table, nor by the wine which he drank, and he asked the chief of the eunuchs that he might not be polluted.” He who would not eat or drink of the king’s food or wine lest he be denied (especially if he should be aware that the wisdom and teaching of the Babylonians is mistaken), would never consent to utter what was wrong. On the contrary they [i.e., the Hebrew youths] speak it forth, not that they may follow it themselves, but in order to pass judgment upon it and refute it. Just as anyone would expose himself to ridicule if he being untrained in mathematics should desire to write in confutation of mathematicians, or, being ignorant of the teachings of philosophers should desire to write in opposition to |22 philosophers. Hence they [i.e., the Hebrew youths] study the teaching of the Chaldeans with the same intention as Moses studied the wisdom (B) of the Egyptians.

Verse 9. “God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the prince of eunuchs. . . . He who was taken into captivity on account of the sins of his forebears received an immediate recompense for the magnitude of his own virtues. For he had purposed in his heart that he would not be denied by food from the king’s table, and preferred humble fare to royal delicacies; therefore by the bounteous bestowal of the Lord he received favor and compassion in the sight of the prince of the eunuchs. By this we may understand that if ever under pressing circumstances holy men are loved by unbelievers, it is a matter of the mercy of God, not of the goodness of perverted men.

Verse 12. “I beg thee, try us thy servants for ten days, (C) and let pulse be given us to eat and water to drink.” His faith was so incredibly great that he not only promised he would be in good flesh by eating the humbler food, but he even set a time-limit. Therefore it was not a matter of temerity but of faith, for the sake of which he despised the sumptuous fare of the king.

Verse 17. “But God gave these lads knowledge and learning in every book and branch of wisdom, and He gave to Daniel besides an understanding of all visions and dreams.” Note that God is said to have given the holy lads knowledge and learning in secular literature, in every book and branch of wisdom. Symmachus rendered this by “grammatical art,” implying that they understood everything they read, and by the Spirit of God could make a judgment concerning the lore of the Chaldeans. But Daniel had an outstanding gift over and above the three lads, in that he could astutely discern the significance of visions and dreams in which things to come are shown forth by means of certain symbols and mysteries. Therefore that which others saw only in a shadowy appearance he could perceive clearly with the eyes of his understanding.

Verse 18. “Therefore when the days had been completed at the end of which the king had bidden them to be presented to him, the chief of the eunuchs presented them in the presence of Nebuchadnezzar.” By the “completed days” |23 understand the period of three years which the king had appointed (p. 498), so that after they had been nourished and trained for three years, they should then stand in the presence of the king.

Verse 20. “And every word of wisdom and understanding the king inquired of them, he found it in them ten times as great as all the soothsayers and magicians put together who were to be found in his entire realm.” For “soothsayers” and “magicians” the Vulgate edition [i.e., of the Septuagint] translated “sophists” and “philosophers”—-terms to be understood not in the sense of the philosophy and sophistic erudition which Greek learning holds forth, but rather in the sense of the lore of a barbarian people, which the Chaldeans pursue as philosophy even to this day.

“Daniel therefore continued unto the first year of Cyrus the king.” In the later discussion we shall explain how it was that Daniel who is here described as having continued till the first year of king Cyrus afterwards held office in the third year of that same Cyrus and is even recorded to have lived in the first year of Darius. |24

(Source)

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, fathers of the church, Notes on Daniel, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 13:11-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 16, 2013

Text in red are my additions.

11. And that knowing the season, that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we believed.

Punctuate: And that, knowing the season, that it is now the hour, &c.

And that. Cf. note on Rom 6:6, And that, knowing. Also 1Cor. 6:6, 8; Heb. 11:12 (και τουτο = kahee houtos). In his comments on Romans 6:6 to which he here refers, Father Rickaby notes that the pronoun (“that”) in the idiomatic construction και τουτο, is intended to connect to what has preceded it. In the current context, what Paul is about to say about the nearness of  salvation should be seen in close connection with what he has just said concerning love (verses 8-10). What is said in verses 11-14 is to be understood as giving additional circumstances for the exhortation to love one another. But one should also note that we are being taken all the way back to Romans 12:1-2 where we are told to present out bodies as living sacrifices and bidden not to be conformed to this age. We are not to be conformed to “this age” because we know “the season” and “the hour.” Because we are called upon to offer our bodies as sacrifices we must not make “provisions for the flesh and its concupiscences” (verse 14, below). Everything that is said between the exhortations Rom 12:1-2 and Rom 13:11-14 should be seen in relation to them.

The season, or as we should say now, the situation. The Greek word καιρον (kairon) refers to an occasion, a set or appropriate time.

Now our salvation (our final deliverance in soul and body) is nearer than when we believed (επιστευσαμεν = episteusamen the inceptive aorist, like ébasileusen, reigned, i.e. came to the throne, 1 Kings 11:43; 14:20, 31, &c.: here it means, than when we first came to the faith). Our final deliverance in soul is when we die and are admitted into heaven: in body, at the day of the resurrection. Both events are nearer now than on the day when we were baptized the former much nearer, relatively to the time yet to be run; the latter perhaps not much nearer. Of St. Paul’s ignorance of the time of the Second Coming (he knew no more of that than we do, Mark 13:32), of his and conjectures thereupon, see notes on 1 Cor. 15:50,
seq.; 7:29-31; 2 Cor. v. 1-4. He must have reflected at times that the conversions which announced to take place before that last consummation of all things (Rom 11:25, 26), must needs take years, perhaps centuries, to effect. The Apostles were inspired to utter their anticipations on this head, while warning their hearers that they were not certainties and definitions: so 2 Pet. 3. Our Lord would have us live in constant looking for the day of judgment (Matt. 24:36 47). As for St. Paul’s prophecy just referred to (see note on Rom 11:27 see below), which seems to give the present world a long lease to run, it is, like other prophecies, not without its obscurities. Origen writes: “God only knows, and His only-begotten Son, and any friends that may be privy to His secrets, what is all Israel that is to be saved, and what is the fulness of the gentiles that is to come in.”

Father Rickaby’s Note on Rom 11:27~And this is to them my covenant (from Isaiah 59:21): when I shall take away their sins (from Isaiah 27:9, where we read in the Septuagint: And this is his -Jacob’s- blessing, when I shall take away his sin).

In these verses, 25-27, we have three unfulfilled prophecies, two of them of the highest interest:-

(a) That before the end of the world, all nations of the Gentiles shall be converted to Christianity, that is to say, such a large portion of every nation, that will be morally true to say that the nation has been converted.

The fulness of the gentiles,” says St. Thomas, “is not some individuals from the Gentiles, as converts were being made then, but it stands for the whole or the greater part of all nations.”

(b) That before the end of the world, the Jews, as a people, shall become Christian. This does not mean that each and every Jew will be converted, any more than it is meant that there will be no outstanding pagans among the Gentiles.

(c) That the general conversion of the Gentiles will happen before the general conversion of the Jews. The Jews will be the last to be converted; and the conversion of the rest of the world will provoke them to emulation
(παραζηλωσαι = parazelosai, see above, Rom 11:11, 14, and Rom 10:19).

These prophecies should be pondered by all who feel tempted to announce the immediate advent of the Day of Judgment. See however note on Rom 13:11.

12. The night is passed, and the day is at hand: let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.

The night is past, προεκοψεν = proekopsen, say, the night is far advanced. Some of the old Latin versions read processit, a correct rendering of the Greek, as above. Processit has got altered into præcessit, an error. If a train had passed you all but the guard’s carriage, you might say, processit, it is well on its way: not præcessit, it is past. St. Paul’s idea is of rising just before daybreak.

The day is the day of the Lord (On the day of the Lord see 2 Thess. 2:2: the brightness of his coming (επιφανεια = epiphaneia, appearance, 2 Thess 2:8), the Sun of Justice appearing in judgment. Hence all the time before the judgment day is comparatively night. Now however that our Lord has come for the first time as Saviour, we may say that the night is well on (προεκοψεν = proekopsen,), that its darkest hours are past, and that the day of full salvation is at hand.

In John 9:4, the metaphor is inverted. The working time of this life is the day; and the night cometh, when we die and do no more work of merit or demerit.

The works of darkness. Cf. Eph. 5:11-12: For the things that are done by them in secret (the unfruitful works of darkness0, it is a shame even to speak of. Works of darkness are then in the first place works of indecency and shame, referred to in verse 13. Secondly, they are works of ignorance, often culpable ignorance, of God, and the blindness of the sensual man to the things of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14). Thirdly, they are eminently unchristian works, works that our Lord came into this world to scatter and expel (John 1:9 13; 3:19; Luke 1:79; 11:33, 36). One of the early names of baptism is illumination: cf. Eph. 5:14, probably a quotation from an early Christian hymn.

Put on the armour of light, Eph. 6:13 17. A man puts on his clothes, or his armour, it he is a soldier in the field at rising. It is called the armour of light, because it suits the coming light, and prepares one to go abroad without shame. A man would not walk in the light of day in a night-dress.

13. Let us walk honestly as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy:

Let us walk honestly, ευσχημονως = euschemonos, decently, no reference to commercial dealings. Such too is the meaning of the Latin honeste: cf. 1 Cor. 7:35; 12:24.

Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, the text that converted St. Augustine, as he relates in his Confessions, 1. viii. c. 12.

Rioting, the κωμοις = komois, the last stage of a Greek drinking-bout, when they went out singing in the streets: cf. Gal. 5:21.

14, But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.

Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, like baptized persons, Gal. 3:27: cf. also Gal. 2:20, and above, Rom 6:4, 12, with notes.

Here is Father Rickaby’s notes on Rom 6:4~We are buried together with him. Baptism in the Apostolic age was commonly by immersion; and the Church still insists that the water shall flow over the head of the child. St. Chrysostom explains the rite: “When our head is plunged into the water, as into a tomb, the old man is buried and entirely submerged: then, as we emerge, the new man rises.” Thus, alike by the external rite and by the inward spiritual change wrought by that rite, on the principle that “sacraments effect what they signify,” baptism represents in us the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is a resurrection, and therefore a regeneration, or new birth (John 3:5; Titus 3:5).

Here is what he wrote on Rom 6:12~Let not sin reign, i.e. concupiscence, the effect of sin. A king reigns by the consent of his people. Concupiscence may attempt to tyrannize, but reign it cannot without the man’s consent.

In your mortal body, because being mortal, the body is obnoxious to concupiscence, from which Adam s body, while it was deathless, was free.

In its concupiscences: εις επιθυμιας = eis epithumias, unto lusts.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, Notes on Romans, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

My Notes on Wisdom 6:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 11, 2013

The brief introduction and outline that opens this post also opened my notes on Monday’s reading (1:1-7).

The Book of Wisdom is generally divided into three major sections (see the Introduction to the Book of Wisdom in the NAB). Today’s reading is taken from the first major section (Wis 1:1-6:21) which can be divided into five parts written in the form of a reverse parallel (technically known as a chiamus).

A1) An Exhortation to practice righteousness and a warning for those who refuse (Wis 1:1-15).

B1) The words of the wicked against the just man and a condemnation of their thoughts by the author (Wis 1:16:2:24).

C) Triumph of the just, punishment of the wicked (Wis 3:1-5:1).

B2) The words of the wicked acknowledging their foolishness in opposing the just man followed by a confirmation of their thoughts by the author (Wis 5:2-23).

A2) Closing exhortation to seek wisdom, and a warning to those who refuse (Wis 6:1-21).

Such a structure has a twofold purpose, to establish connections between the parallel sub-sections (A1 with A2, B1 with B2), but also to indicate that the entire section (1:1-6:21) is a unity. Today’s reading (Wis 6:1-11) is taken from the A2 sub-section (Wis 6:1-21), and in my notes I’ll try to bring out some connections with the A1 section and the unit as a whole.

Wis 6:1  Hear, therefore, ye kings, and understand, learn ye that are judges of the ends of the earth.
Wis 6:2  Give ear, you that rule the people, and that please yourselves in multitudes of nations:

Hear…Give ear is an exhortatory call to attention found throughout both the wisdom literature and the prophets to introduce instructions or warnings (often the two go hand in hand). Therefore is a conjunctive providing a connection with what has preceded. Those who judge (rule) over the earth were called upon to love justice and to seek the Lord in simplicity (integrity) of heart (Wis 1:1). The faithless testing of God, perversity of counsel,the plotting of evil and deceit are acts of injustice and will be punished (Wis 1:2-5). Injustice is an attack on just men and God loathes it (passim Wis 1:1-6:21). When judgment comes rulers who act unjustly will come to realize that the just have God as their protector, and that their arrogance, pride, wealth, and low esteem for the just will come to nought (Wis 5:1-13). They will see that their wickedness was a sorry basis for hope (Wis 5:14-15). These kings and rulers will become as insignificant as chaff and smoke driven by the wind, but by a marvelous reversal, the just will receive a kingdom of glory, and a crown of beauty at the hand of the Lord: for with his right hand he will cover them, and with his holy arm he will defend them (Wis 5:16). No wonder then that the rulers are called upon to hear, understand, and learn.

That please yourselves in the multitude of nations. You who pleased yourselves by following your own vain wisdom, living lives of wantonness, luxury and oppression (Wis 1:16-2:24)

Wis 6:3  For power is given you by the Lord, and strength by the most High, who will examine your works: and search out your thoughts:
Wis 6:4  Because being ministers of his kingdom, you have not judged rightly, nor kept the law of justice, nor walked according to the will of God.

For power is given you by the Lord, &c. The word for is a conjunctive and introduces the reasons (in this and the following verses) for the call to attention in verses 1-2. Their power and strength to rule came not from themselves but from God, and he will demand an accounting. He will examine their works to determine if they were in accordance with his will? He will search their thoughts to see if they were in accord with the wisdom of God which they should have sought (Wis 2:21-22; Wis 3:1-11). He will thus reveal to them what he already knows! Being ministers of his kingdom they have not judged rightly, nor kept the law of justice, nor walked according to the will of God.

Note the parallel structure of the following verses:

Wis 6:5  Horribly and speedily will he appear to you: for a most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule.

Wis 6:6  For to him that is little, mercy is granted: but the mighty shall be mightily tormented.

Wis 6:7  For God will not except any man’s person, neither will he stand in awe of any man’s greatness: for he made the little and the great, and he hath equally care of all.

Wis 6:8  But a greater punishment is ready for the more mighty.

Verses 5 & 8 (verses 6 and 7 will be treated below) For a most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule….neither will he stand in awe of any man’s greatness.  Greater gifts bring greater responsibilities, and a greater judgment. See Luke’s parable is Lk 12:41-48.

“But in order that justice may be retained in government it is of the highest importance that those who rule States should understand that political power was not created for the advantage of any private individual; and that the administration of the State must be carried on to the profit of those who have been committed to their care, not to the profit of those to whom it has been committed. Let princes take example from the Most High God, by whom authority is given to them; and, placing before themselves His model in governing the State, let them rule over the people with equity and faithfulness, and let them add to that severity, which is necessary, a paternal charity. On this account they are warned in the oracles of the sacred Scriptures, that they will have themselves some day to render an account to the King of kings and Lord of lords; if they shall fail in their duty, that it will not be possible for them in any way to escape the severity of God: “The Most High will examine your work and search out your thoughts: because being ministers of his kingdom you have not judged rightly… Horribly and speedily will he appear to you, for a most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule… For God will not accept any man’s person, neither will he stand in awe of any man’s greatness; for he made the little and the great, and he hath equally care of all. But a greater punishment is ready for the more mighty” (Encyclical Letter of Pope Leo XIII, Diuturnum).

“They, therefore, who rule should rule with evenhanded justice, not as masters, but rather as fathers, for the rule of God over man is most just, and is tempered always with a father’s kindness. Government should, moreover, be administered for the well-being of the citizens, because they who govern others possess authority solely for the welfare of the State. Furthermore, the civil power must not be subservient to the advantage of any one individual or of some few persons, inasmuch as it was established for the common good of all. But, if those who are in authority rule unjustly, if they govern overbearingly or arrogantly, and if their measures prove hurtful to the people, they must remember that the Almighty will one day bring them to account, the more strictly in proportion to the sacredness of their office and preeminence of their dignity. “The mighty shall be mightily tormented” (2 ) . Then, truly, will the majesty of the law meet with the dutiful and willing homage of the people, when they are convinced that their rulers hold authority from God, and feel that it is a matter of justice and duty to obey them, and to show them reverence and fealty, united to a love not unlike that which children show their parents. (Encyclical Letter Immortale Dei, Pope Leo XIII).

Wis 6:7For to him that is little, mercy is granted: but the mighty shall be mightily tormented.
Wis 6:8  For God will not except any man’s person, neither will he stand in awe of any man’s greatness: for he made the little and the great, and he hath equally care of all.

All human beings have been created by God, and those humans who rule over others do so by the grace and will of God, not by right of their own power and authority which they do not possess. No ruler can count on his/her greatness when the time for judgement comes: for he made the little and the great, and he hat equally care of all.

Wis 6:9  To you, therefore, O kings, are these my words, that you may learn wisdom, and not fall from it.
Wis 6:10  For they that have kept just things justly, shall be justified: and they that have learned these things, shall find what to answer.
Wis 6:11  Covet ye, therefore, my words, and love them, and you shall have instruction.

An exhortation to embrace the teaching of chapters 1-6.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Notes on the Lectionary, Notes on Wisdom | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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