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

Commentaries for Lectionary Year II (Includes Commentaries for Sundays A, B, and C)

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 4, 2017

The new  Liturgical Year and Letionary Cycle began on Dec. 3, 2017 and ends on Dec. 1, 2018.

ADVENT SEASON

First Week of Advent.
Second Week of Advent.
Third Week of Advent.
Fourth Week of Advent.

CHRISTMAS SEASON TO EPIPHANY
Note: Traditionally Epiphany is celebrated on January 6. In the USA it is celebrated on the Sunday following January 6.

Dec. 25. Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec 24).
Dec. 25. Mass During the Night: The Nativity of the Lord (Midnight Mass).
Dec. 25. Mass at Dawn: The Nativity of the Lord.
Dec. 25. Mass During the Day: The Nativity of the Lord.

Sunday Within the Octave of Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family). If a Sunday does not fall between Dec. 26 and Dec 31 then the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on Dec. 30.

Dec. 26. The Feast of St Stephen, the Church’s First Martyr.
Dec. 27. The Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist.
Dec 28. Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs.
Dec. 29. Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas.
Dec. 30. Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas. See next note.
!!! Dec 30. Feast of the Holy Family (Non-Sunday). If a Sunday does not fall between Dec 26-31 then the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on this date.
Jan 1. Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
Jan. 2. Memorial of St Basil the Great and St Gregory Nanzianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church.
Jan. 3. Christmas Weekday.
Jan . 4. Memorial St Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious.
Jan. 5. Memorial of St John Nuemann, Bishop.
Jan. 6. Christmas Weekday. Traditionally this is Epiphany. In the USA the Epiphany is celebrated on the first Sunday after Jan 6. For commentary on the Epiphany readings see below, following Jan 8.
Jan. 7. Christmas Weekday. NOTE: in 2018 this date falls on the Sunday after Jan 6. IN the USA this Sunday is celebrated as the Epiphany. See the link for the Epiphany below, following Jan 8.
Jan 8.

!!! The Epiphany of the Lord.

ORDINARY TIME, INCLUDING THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
Note: Scroll down for the seasons that interrupt Ordinary Time.

First Week in Ordinary Time, Year II. Includes the Baptism of the Lord.
Second Week in Ordinary Time, Year II.
Third Week in Ordinary Time, Year II.
Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II.
Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II.
Sixth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II. In 2018 the Lenten season begins during this week. See LENTEN SEASON below.
Seventh Week in Ordinary Time.
Eighth Week in Ordinary Time.
Ninth Week in Ordinary Time.
Tenth Week in Ordinary Time.
Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time.
Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time.
Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time.
Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time.
Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time.
Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time.
Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time.
Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time.
Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time.
Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time.
Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time.
Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time.
Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time.
Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time.
FINAL WEEK! Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time. (Includes First Sunday of Advent).

NEXT YEARS POSTS. The new lectionary year will begin December 2, 2018. At that time this new list will replace the current static post.

LENTEN SEASON

Ash Wednesday.
Thursday After Ash Wednesday.
Friday After Ash Wednesday.
Saturday After Ash Wednesday.
First Week of Lent.
Second Week of Lent.
Third Week of Lent.
Fourth Week of Lent.
Fifth Week of Lent.
Holy Week.

EASTER SEASON

Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday (Octave Week of Easter).
Second Week of Easter.
Third Week of Easter.
Fourth Week of Easter.
Fifth Week of Easter.
Sixth Week of Easter.
Seventh Week of Easter.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 2:23-3:6

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 14, 2018

Ver 23. And it came to pass, that He went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.24. And the Pharisees said unto Him, “Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?”25. And He said unto them, “Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?26. How he went into the house of God, in the days of Abiathar the High Priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?”27. And He said unto them, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:28. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The disciples of Christ, freed from the figure, and united to the truth, do not keep the figurative feast of the sabbath.  Wherefore it is said, “And it came to pass, that He went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.”

Bede, in Marc., 1, 13: We read also in the following part, that they who came and went away were many, and that they had not time enough to take their food, wherefore, according to man’s nature, they were hungry.

Chrys., see Hom. in Matt., 39: But being hungry, they ate simple food, not for pleasure, but on account of the necessity of nature. The Pharisees however, serving the figure and the shadow, accused the disciples of doing wrong.  Wherefore there follows, “But the Pharisees said unto Him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful.”

Augustine, de Op. Monach., 23: For it was a precept in Israel, delivered by a written law, that no one should detain a thief found in his fields, unless he tried to take something away with him. For the man who had touched nothing else but what he had eaten they were commanded to allow to go away free and unpunished. Wherefore the Jews accused our Lord’s disciples, who were plucking the ears of corn, of breaking the sabbath, rather than of theft.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But our Lord brings forward David, to whom it once happened to eat though it was forbidden by the law, when he touched the Priest’s food, that by his example, He might do away with their accusation of the disciples.   For there follows, “Have ye never read, &c.”

Theophylact: For David, when flying from the face of Saul [1 Sam 21] went to the Chief Priest, and ate the shew-bread, and took away the sword of Goliath, which things had been offered to the Lord. But a question has been raised how the Evangelist called Abiathar at this time High Priest, when the Book of Kings calls him Abimelech.

Bede: There is, however, no discrepancy, for both were there, when David came to ask for bread, and received it: that is to say, Abimelech, the High Priest, and Abiathar his son; but Abimelech having been slain by Saul, Abiathar fled to David, and became the companion of all his exile afterwards. When he came to the throne, he himself also received the rank of High Priest, and the son became of much greater excellence than the father, and therefore was worthy to be mentioned as the High Priest,  even during his father’s life-time.  It goes on: “And He said to them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”

For greater is the care to be taken of the health and life of a man, than the keeping of the sabbath. Therefore the sabbath was ordered to be observed in such a way, that, if there were a neccesity, he should not be guilty, who broke the sabbath-day; therefore it was not forbidden to circumcise on the sabbath, because that was a necessary work. And the Maccabees, when necessity pressed on them, fought on the sabbath-day.

Wherefore, His disciples being hungry, what was not allowed in the law became lawful through their necessity of hunger; as now, if a sick man break a fast, he is not held guilty in any way.  It goes on: “Therefore the Son of man is Lord, &c.” As if He said, David the king is to be excused for feeding on the food of the Priests, how much more the Son of man, the true King and Priest, and Lord of the sabbath, is free from fault, for pulling ears of corn on the sabbath-day.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He calls himself properly, Lord of the sabbath, and Son of man, since being the Son of God, He deigned to be called Son of man, for the sake of men. Now the law has no authority over the Lawgiver and Lord, for more is allowed the king, than is appointed by the law. The law is given to the weak indeed, but not to the perfect and to those who work above what the law enjoins.

Bede: But in a mystical sense the disciples pass through the corn fields, when the holy doctors look with the care of a pious solicitude upon those whom they have initiated in the faith, and who, it is implied, are hungering for the best of all things, the salvation of men.

But to pluck the ears of corn means to snatch men away from the eager desire of earthly things. And to rub with the hands is by example of virtue to put from the purity of their minds the concupiscence of the flesh, as men do husks. To eat the grains is when a man, cleansed from the filth of vice by the mouths of preachers, is incorporated amongst the members of the Church.

Again, fitly are the disciples related to have done this, walking before the face of the Lord, for it is necessary that the discourse of the doctor should come first, although the grace of visitation from on high, following it, must enlighten the heart of the hearer. As well, on the sabbath-day, for the doctors themselves in [p. 53] preaching labour for the hope of future rest, and teach their hearers to toil over their tasks for the sake of eternal repose.

Theophylact: Or else, because when they have rest from their passions, then are they made doctors to lead others to virtue, plucking away from them earthly things.

Bede: Again, they walk through the corn fields with the Lord, who rejoice in meditating upon His sacred words. They hunger, when they desire to find in them the bread of life; and they hunger on sabbath days, as soon as their minds are in a soothing rest, and they rejoice in freedom from troubled thoughts; they pluck the ears of corn, and by rubbing, cleanse them, till they come to what is fit to eat, when by meditation they take to themselves the witness of the Scriptures, to which they arrive by reading, and discuss them continually, until they find in them the marrow of love; this refreshment of the mind is truly unpleasing to fools, but is approved by the Lord.

Ver 1. And He entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.2. And they watched Him, whether He would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse Him.3. And He saith unto the man which had the withered hand, “Stand forth.”4. And He saith unto them, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?” But they held their peace.5. And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He saith unto the man, “Stretch forth thine hand.” And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

Theophylact: After confounding the Jews, who had blamed His disciples, for pulling the ears of corn on the sabbath day, by the example of David, the Lord now further bringing them to the truth, works a miracle on the sabbath; shewing that, if it is a pious deed to work miracles on the sabbath for the health of men, it is not wrong to do on the sabbath thing necessary for the body.

He says therefore, “And He entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched Him, whether He would heal him on the sabbath-day; that they might accuse Him.”

Bede, in Marc., 1, 14: For, since He had defended the breaking of the sabbath, which they objected to His disciples, by an approved example, now they wish, by watching Him, to  calumniate Himself, that they might accuse Him of a transgression, if He cured on the sabbath, of cruelty or of folly, if He refused.  It goes on: “And He saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand in the midst.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Chrys, Hom. in Matt., 40: He placed him in the midst, that they might be frightened at the sight, and on seeing Him compassionate him, and lay aside their malice.

Bede: And anticipating the calumny of the Jews, which they had prepared for Him, He accused them of violating the precepts of the law, by a wrong interpretation.  Wherefore there follows: “And He saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-day, or to do evil?”

And this He asks, because they thought that on the sabbath they were to rest even from good works, whilst the law commands to abstain from bad, saying, “Ye shall do no servile work therein;” [Lev 23:7] that is, sin: for “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” [John 8:34]

What He first says, “to do good on the sabbath-day or to do evil,” is the same as what He afterwards adds, “to save a life or to lose it;” that is, to cure a man or not. Not that God, Who is in the highest degree good, can be the author of perdition to us, but that His not saving is in the language of Scripture to destroy.

but if it be asked, wherefore the Lord, being about to cure the body, asked about the saving of the soul, let him understand either that in the common way of Scripture the soul is put for the man; as it is said, “All the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob;” [Ex 1:5] or because He did those miracles for the saving of a soul, or because the healing itself of the hand signified the saving of the soul.

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 35: But some one may wonder how Matthew could have said, that they themselves asked the Lord, if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath-day; when Mark rather relates that they were asked by our Lord, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-day, or to do evil?”

Therefore we must understand that they first asked the Lord, if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath-day, then that understanding their thoughts, and that they were seeking an opportunity to accuse Him, He placed in the middle him whom He was about to cure, and put those questions, which Mark and Luke relate. We must then suppose, that when they were silent, He propounded the parable of the sheep, and concluded, that it was lawful to do good on the sabbath-day.  It goes on: “But they were silent.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: For they knew that He would certainly cure him.  It goes on: “And looking round about upon them with anger.”

His looking round upon them in anger, and being saddened at the blindness of their hearts, is fitting for His humanity, which He deigned to take upon Himself for us. He connects the working of the miracle with a word, which proves that the man is cured by His voice alone.

It follow therefore, “And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” Answering by all these things for His disciples, and at the same time shewing that His life is above the law.

Bede: But mystically, the man with a withered hand shews the human race, dried up as to its fruitfulness in good works, but now cured by the mercy of the Lord; the hand of man, which in our first parent had been dried up when he plucked the fruit of the forbidden tree, through the grace of the Redeemer, Who stretched His guiltless hands on the tree of the cross, has been restored to health by the juices of good works.

Well too was it in the synagogue that the hand was withered; for where the gift of knowledge is greater, there also the danger of inexcusable guilt is greater.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else it means the avaricious, who, being able to give had rather receive, and love robbery rather than making gifts. And they are commanded to stretch forth their hands, that is, “let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hand the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” [Eph 4:28]

Theophylact: Or, he had his right hand withered, who does not the works which belong to the right side; for from the time that our hand is employed in forbidden deeds, from that time it is withered to the working of good. But it will be restored whenever it stands firm in virtue; wherefore Christ saith, “Arise,” that is, from sin, “and stand in the midst;” that thus it may stretch itself forth neither too little nor too much.

Ver 6. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him

Bede, in Marc., 1, 15: The Pharisees, thinking it a crime that at the word of the Lord the hand which was diseased was restored to a sound state, agreed to make a pretext of the words spoken by our Saviour.  Wherefore it is said, “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.”

As if every one amongst them did not greater things on the sabbath day, carrying food, reaching forth a cup, and whatever else is necessary for meals. Neither could He, Who said and it was done, be convicted of toiling on the sabbath day.

Theophylact: But the soldiers of Herod the king are called Herodians, because a certain new heresy had sprung up, which asserted that Herod was the Christ. For the prophecy of Jacob intimated that when the princes of Judah failed then Christ should come; because therefore in the time of Herod none of the Jewish princes remained, and he, an alien, was the sole ruler, some thought that he was the Christ, and set on foot this heresy. These, therefore, were with the Pharisees trying to kill Christ.

Bede: Or else he calls Herodians the servants of Herod the Tetrarch, who on account of the hatred which their lord had for John, pursued with treachery and hate the Saviour also, Whom John preached.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, fathers of the church, Notes on Mark, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 13

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 13, 2018

PSALM 13
A prayer in tribulation

Ps 13:1 How long, O Lord, wilt thou forget me unto the end? how long dost thou turn away thy face from me?

When the sinful desires are very powerful, God seems to forget and to desert the soul; when the understanding is obscured by darkness, he seems to turn from the soul. He, being the light, illuminates, when he shows his face, and leaves all in darkness when he turns it away. The man under temptation then exclaims, in reference to the first, “how long, O Lord, wilt thou forget me unto the end?” And in reference to the second, “How long dost thou turn away thy face from me?”

Ps 13:2 How long shall I take counsels in my soul, sorrow in my heart all the day? 

Inverting the order, he complains, first, of the darkness he is wrapt in; secondly, of the sinful desires he is unwillingly subject to. In consequence of the obscurity of my understanding, “How long shall I take counsels in my soul?” That is to say, devise various plans to deliver myself from the evil; and, again, looking at these wicked desires that infest my heart, “How long shall I have sorrow in my heart all the day?” How long shall I have sorrow and grieve, for fear I may have offended God; and do so daily, that is, the whole day, without intermission.

Ps 13:3 How long shall my enemy be exalted over Me? 

Both evils are here comprehended. For the “Enemy is then exalted” over man, when he oppresses him, both by the suggestion of sinful thoughts, which he cannot banish; and by involving him in darkness he cannot dissipate; and thus, as if he were suffering grievously, he cries to God, “How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”

Ps13:4 Consider, and hear me, O Lord, my God. Enlighten my eyes, that I never sleep in death: 

He next invokes the divine assistance against both evils. “Consider,” that is, turn your face, “and hear me,” that is, don’t forget, don’t desert, help me; I entreat you, “Enlighten my eyes.” The same prayer more clearly expressed and repeated, “Enlighten:” banish the darkness of my mind, by turning to, and regarding me, “That I may never sleep in death:” that by consenting to my evil desires, my soul may not be lost. The death of the soul or body is not uncommonly called sleep in the Scriptures, because God can as easily wake one from either, as we can wake the sleeping. The words that “I may never sleep,” signify that man, when he yields to temptation, sleeps as it were, and feels no further torment from the temptation: but as rest of that sort, so far from being wholesome, is fatal, the words “In death” are appended. Man, then, may be freed from temptation in two ways, either by banishing the tempter, through the grace of God; or by indulging his passions, by consenting to the sin: he prays here to be freed in the first manner, for fear, to his serious cost, he may be freed in the second manner; that is, by sleeping in the consent to sin, and he gives a reason for desiring to be freed from temptation in the next verse.

Ps 13:5 Lest at any time my enemy say: I have prevailed against him. They that trouble me, will rejoice when I am moved: 

The devil certainly would exult on having conquered a servant of God, a thing that would tend to lessen God’s glory. A reason assigned for his praying, “Lest at any time my enemy say: I have prevailed against him.” For “They that trouble me will rejoice when I am moved;” that is, they will do so, not only on my entire prostration, but even on my appearing to be slightly shaken; for, as “there is joy in heaven, for one sinner that does penance, more than for ninety nine just that do not need penance;” so the evil spirits more exult in even the approach to sin of one perfect man, than they would in the reveling of confirmed sinners in the most grievous sins. Hence it would appear that David, in writing this Psalm, had merely in view the delivery of the just man from the temptation of the devil; and not, as some would have it, his own delivery from Saul’s persecution. During that persecution, he was daily obliged to move about, in which case the words, “They will rejoice when I am moved,” as if he considered it of great importance not to move, would be quite inapplicable.

Ps 13:6 But I have trusted in thy mercy. My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation: I will sing to the Lord, who giveth me good things: yea, I will sing to the name of the Lord, the most high.

Another reason why the just man should be helped by God, because, “trusting in his mercy,” and not relying on his own strength, he resisted the tempter. The last reason he assigns for moving God to help him, is a promise that when freed from the temptation, he will not prove ungrateful to his liberator, but will thank God for the benefit, in heart, words, and deeds. “My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” My heart shall bound with joy, on attaining salvation, attributing the whole to you, and praising you for it. The mouth will do its duty, for, “I will sing to the Lord, who giveth me good things.” Deeds are comprehended in the expression, “I will sing;” for the word sing properly means in the Hebrew, to strike the harp. Hence the Scripture says, “David sang with his hands,” 1 Sam 18, and in Psalm 145:9, “With a psaltry of ten strings will I sing unto thee.” He therefore promises, that he will exult in his heart, will sing with his mouth and strike the harp with his hands, that his entire body and soul may be engaged in celebrating God’s praises. “I will sing to the name” means, to chant the praises of God.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture, St Robert Bellarmine | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 21:28-32

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 7, 2018

28 But what think you? A certain man had two sons: and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29 And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went.
30 And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering said: I go, Sir. And he went not.
31 Which of the two did the father’s will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came to you in the way of justice: and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him.

Affecting ignorance of what they knew well, as to whether John’s baptism was from Heaven or not, the Pharisees would not answer our Redeemer’s question. He, then, before dismissing the allusion to John the Baptist, takes occasion, from their evasive answer, to propose a parable, the application of which was quite evident, and while He supposed the Divine mission of John, clearly proved them guilty of incredulity, the imputation of which they were anxious to avoid. He wishes to humble their pride, who were inflated with a sense of their own dignity, and the affectation of superior knowledge, and false science. This He does in a most telling way, by proposing a case, or a question, in the form of a parable, the answer to which, as well as its application to themselves, was quite clear. Out of their own mouth, He condemns them, and shows that “the publicans and harlots shall precede them in the kingdom of God.” The parable, in its literal meaning, is quite clear. Its application is equally so. The man in question refers to Almighty God, the common Father of all. The two sons refer to the Pharisees, on the one hand, and the public sinners among the Jews, as is clear from verse 31, “the publicans and harlots,” &c. The son who refused to obey his father’s injunctions, in the first instance, but afterwards obeyed in act, refers to the “publicans and harlots,” the public sinners of either sex among the Jews, who, by their sins, disobeyed God, refused to observe His law, rejected His call to cultivate, by penance, the spiritual vineyard of their souls, but afterwards were converted to penance, and embraced God’s holy law. The son who promised obedience, in the first instance, but afterwards disobeyed, in act, represented the Pharisees, who had always on their lips the law of God, made an external profession of piety, but were destitute of its spirit, failed in its practices, disobeyed God’s law preached to them by John the Baptist, despised his baptism, and refused to believe in Christ, to whom he bore testimony.

(verse 31) “Jesus said to them, Amen I say to you,” &c. Without dwelling on the meaning of the parable, which clearly applied to the Pharisees, our Redeemer at once announced the conclusion to be derived from their own admission. The man who did, in act, what His Father commanded, obeyed; while the other, who promised obedience in word, but did not carry it out in act, disobeyed. Hence, “the publicans and harlots”—the public sinners of either sex among the Jews—“shall go into the kingdom of God before you,” that is, shall be admitted into the enjoyment of God’s bliss, before you, who, having refused the way of penance, preached by John the Baptist, shall be altogether excluded from that kingdom of bliss, to which penance conducts. The same is conveyed in the parable of the two sons, in the Gospel of St. Luke (15:11), where the younger son represented the public sinners. The same are represented here by the first-born, because such sinners, on doing penance, are first before God, and precede those who seem to themselves just. Thus, “the last shall be first,” &c. The Greek for, “Go before you,” is, “shall precede you,” as if conveying, that they go before them in the road to heaven, by penance and faith, and shall be admitted there before them. For, they shall be utterly excluded.

The parable may also, in a secondary sense, regard the Gentile and Jewish peoples; the former, represented by those among the Jews, who were converted from their sins, and did not promise to obey God’s word, but did so, in act; the latter, by those who remained obstinate, after having promised to Moses (Exod. 19:8), “all whatsoever, the Lord shall speak to us, we shall do,” still continued obstinate in their incredulity, and resistance to God’s law. Theirs was only lip service, without obedience in act, depending solely on the justice of the law, and not on faith. Hence, they arrived not at the law of justice, but stumbled against the rock of offence (Rom. 9:30), &c.

(Verse 32) “John came to you,” in preference to all other peoples, “in the way of justice,” exhibiting true justice, by a holy, irreproachable life, exemplifying in his conduct, the lessons of penance and humility which he taught, thus showing himself what all, except the haughty Pharisees, believed him to be, viz., a Prophet, truly sent from God.

You did not believe him,” either by obeying the precepts of penance, which he announced, or by receiving the Messiah, to whom he bore testimony.

But the publicans and harlots believed him,” which adds to the condemnation of the Pharisees, who, not only were unmoved by the holy life and teaching of John, but still remained obstinate, and refused to enter on a life of penance, even after the example of these sinful men and women was placed before them, to stimulate them.

You … did not even afterwards repent,” that is, you did not follow their example, whom you should precede, in doing penance, “that”—under the influence of holy penance—“you might believe him,” and thus follow his precepts, and admit his testimony regarding the Son of God.

Our Redeemer censures two things in the Pharisees—their incredulity in regard to the testimony of John, and their contumacious obstinacy in that incredulity, even after the example of the greatest sinners, who became converted, had been placed before them.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 21:28-32

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 7, 2018

Final Encounter with the Pharisees and their Rejection, 21:23–23:39

In this section we have first the history preparatory to the last contest with the scribes and Pharisees, 21:23–22:14; secondly, the formal contest, 21:15–46; thirdly, the formal rejection of the scribes and Pharisees, 13:1–39.

1. Events preparatory to the last contest [21:23–22:14] are first the Pharisees’ question after our Lord’s authority, 21:23–27; secondly, the parable of the two sons, 21:28–32; thirdly, the parable of the wicked husbandmen, 21:33–46; fourthly, the parable of the marriage feast, 22:1–14. Throughout this part the position of Jesus in regard to the scribes and Pharisees grows clearer.

28 But what think you? A certain man had two sons: and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29 And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went.
30 And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering said: I go, Sir. And he went not.
31 Which of the two did the father’s will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came to you in the way of justice: and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him.

Parable of two sons. In the first case the evangelist marks the contrast between the kind address, “son,” of the father, and the rude answer, “I will not,” of the son. The “sir” of the second son illustrates his hypocritical reverence for his father. Before making the application of the parable, Jesus tasks the Pharisees themselves to give their judgment concerning the sons. Instead of “the first” some codd. read “the last”; if this reading be adhered to, in spite of its being wrong, the Pharisees must be said to have intentionally given the wrong answer, in order to frustrate the effect of the parable. The two sons do not signify the Pharisees who despised the preaching of John and were converted later on, and the publicans and sinners who first listened to the Baptist but did not enter the kingdom [cf. Hil.]; nor do they represent the Gentiles who first refused to obey the natural law, but then entered the kingdom, and the Jews who first promised obedience [Ex. 19:6], and then refused to enter the kingdom [Orig. Chrys. Jer. Theoph. Euth. Bed. Rab. op. imp. etc.]; but they represent the publicans and sinners, on the one hand, and the scribes and Pharisees, on the other [Theoph. in cat. Br. Caj. Jans. Mald. Lap. Lam. Arn. Bisp. Schegg, Schanz, Fil. Knab. etc.]. That this is the true meaning is clear from the words of Jesus, “The publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom before you”; a converted publican was among the twelve, and Lk. 7:50 tells of the true conversion of a harlot. The manner in which the sinners precede the Pharisees is described by the words: “For John came to you in the way of justice,” not merely living according to the just prescriptions of the Mosaic law, and according to the highest principles of the inner life [cf. Chrys. Theoph. Euth. Mald.; 2 Pet. 2:21], but also teaching you the way of justice [cf. Lk. 3:12 ff.] and of inward sanctity [cf. Mt. 3:8]; “and you did not believe him,” though his teaching was confirmed by his example, while the “publicans and the harlots believed him.” By way of moral application, the meaning of this parable may be extended to Gentiles and Jews; to priests and laymen; to religious and seculars [cf. Orig. Theoph. Jans. Lap. Salm. tom. vii. tract. 35]. The words “shall go into the kingdom of God before you” show that there is hope left for the persons Jesus addresses [cf. Chrys. Theoph.], and admit even that the Jews will enter after the fulness of the Gentiles, but they do not expressly state this doctrine [cf. Orig. Alb.].

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

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 80

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 6, 2018

Note: verse numbers may be one behind some modern translations due to the fact that some of these assign a verse number to the psalm titles. The psalm titles (or superscriptions) given by the psalmist are not treated by St Robert. He dealt with the titles in his  individual introductions to the psalms (not reproduced here).

PSALM 80
An invitation to a solemn praising of God

1 Rejoice to God our helper: sing aloud to the God of Jacob.

The prophet exhorts us, when we praise God, that we should do it with great interior joy; “for God loveth a cheerful giver;” and if he loves the one who gives cheerfully, much more does he love him who praises cheerfully. Cheerfulness comes from love and from desire; and, therefore, he who sings moodily, and who looks upon the divine office as an intolerable burden, rather than a sweet canticle, gives to understand that he has very little affection for him whose praises he chants. “Rejoice to God our helper.” Praise God in great exultation, for it is he who can help us on all occasions. “Sing aloud to the God of Jacob;” give your mind to it, and sing his praises with a loud voice.

2 Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel: the pleasant psaltery with the harp.
3 Blow up the trumpet on the new moon, on the noted day of your solemnity.

He tells them when they are especially to sing their hymns of praise, at the time of new moon; for then the Jews began the month, and held their festivals. “On the noted day of your solemnity,” which some will have to be the new moon of September, the most solemn feast of the Jews, while others will have it to be the first of each month; but it matters little which, as the sense is the same.

4 For it is a commandment in Israel, and a judgment to the God of Jacob.
5 He ordained it for a testimony in Joseph, when he came out of the land of Egypt: he heard a tongue which he knew not.

He assigns a reason for singing with such joy, and bringing in the aid of musical instruments, and that is, because God himself commanded it, when he brought the people out of Egypt. For God, who needs nothing, still wishes for such tribute of praise, and that we should keep up the memory of his benefits. “For it is a command in Israel.” We must sing and play on musical instruments, as a mark of joy and thanksgiving, because it has been commanded by God, and the commandment is kept in Israel by God’s people, who are so called from their parent Israel. “And a judgment to the God of Jacob;” a repetition of the same idea, for judgment and commandment, and Israel and Jacob, are frequently used in the Scriptures, to express the same idea. He ordained it for a testimony in Joseph, “when he came out of the land of Egypt;” another repetition, testimony, commandment, and judgment, signifying the same thing, as is also the case with Israel, Jacob, and Joseph. “He heard a tongue which he knew not;” for, up to the delivery of the commandments on mount Sinai, the people never heard the voice of God speaking to them.

6 He removed his back from the burdens: his hands had served in baskets.

Another favor conferred by God on the Jews in their departure from Egypt. They had been compelled by the Egyptians to the severest labor, in making and burning brick; that was “removed from their backs,” they were no longer obliged to bear the heavy loads they had been subjected to in brick making. “His hands had served in baskets,” fetching the clay, from which slavery God delivered them.

7 Thou calledst upon me in affliction, and I delivered thee: I heard thee in the secret place of tempest: I proved thee at the waters of contradiction.

From this verse to the end, God alternately puts before them his own kindness and their ingratitude. “Thou callest upon me in affliction; and I delivered thee;” when you were laboring under most grievous persecutions in Egypt you called upon me, and I heard you, and I delivered you from such slavery, and brought you out of the country. “I heard thee in the secret place of tempest.” I heard you, not only when you dreaded Pharao’s anger; but also when you dreaded the tempests and plagues you saw inflicted on the Egyptians, for then I put you in a secret place, and protected you, so that the plagues did not harm you. Others will apply it to the invisible protection afforded by God in their passage through the Red Sea, and afterwards in the desert. “I proved thee at the waters of contradiction.” After such great favors I tried you, in order to prove your patience and fidelity, by depriving you of water, and I found you impatient and unfaithful, see Num. 17 and 20, where God deprived them of water for a short time, and, when they murmured and became seditious, brought an abundance of it from the rock for them. The place was called “The waters of contradiction,” the people having rebelled against Moses, and contradicted him there.

8 Hear, O my people, and I will testify to thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken to me,
9 there shall be no new god in thee: neither shalt thou adore a strange god.
10 For I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

The prophet, speaking in the person of God, relates what fair conditions he offered, and what ample promises he made his people, if they would adhere to their promises, from which we can judge of the unspeakable goodness of God. “Hear,” you Jews, who are “my people,” and I will tell you plainly, “I will testify to thee” what I require of you, and what I will give you in return. This much I require of you, and beyond and above all things command, “There shall be no new god in thee,” no god who was not worshipped by your fathers. “Neither shalt thou adore a strange god;” a repetition of the same thing. “For I am the Lord God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt.” No better reason could be assigned for the Jewish people not worshipping strange gods, for it was he who redeemed them from captivity, and transferred them from the bondage of Pharao, to be his own servants. A consideration that should weigh much more powerfully with Christians and attach them to that God who delivered them from the slavery of the devil, and brought them into the kingdom of his beloved Son. “Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.” A most ample promise, on the part of God, to those who serve him. “Open your mouth” as wide as you can, and the jaws of your desires, and I will satisfy the cravings of your hunger with most delicious food. God alone could make such promise, for nothing created can satisfy the cravings of man’s heart. The sight and enjoyment of God, who is the infinite good, and comprehends all good, can thoroughly satisfy us.

11 But my people heard not my voice: and Israel hearkened not to me.

God now complains of the ingratitude of his people, in not accepting such favorable offers. And how truly wonderful is it not, that slaves in this world will fawn to such an extent upon their masters, and think it great condescension on his part to speak to them, or even to look upon them; and yet, Israel, dust and ashes, will not condescend to hear or to attend to the Lord of Lords? How truly, then, he said, in Lk. 16, “For the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.”

12 So I let them go according to the desires of their heart: they shall walk in their own inventions.

A dreadful, but most just, scourge is here held out by God, to those who despise him; and that is, that sin shall be the punishment of sin to them; that means, they will be suffered continually to lapse into greater sins, until they shall have, at length, come to the lowest depths of misery, of which the Apostle thus speaks, Rom. 1, “Wherefore, God gave them up to the desires of their hearts;” and immediately after he adds, “For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections;” and again, “God delivered them up to a reprobate sense to do those things which are not convenient.” This is the hardness of heart, of which Eccli. chap. 7, speaks, “Consider the works of God, that no man can correct whom he hath despised.” “So I let them go according to the desires of their own hearts.” I let them walk and work, in accordance with their own concupiscence; gave them no discipline, as I would to a child; but, as strangers, I allowed them to tumble down the precipice and be destroyed. “They shall walk in their own inventions.” They will not follow the paths of their fathers, nor the straight ways of my law, but they will follow whatever their own inventions or human curiosity may suggest, in the worship of false gods, and will thus fall into all the vices that disgrace human nature, when they are not directed by God’s light, supported by his hand, or assisted by his efficacious grace.

13 If my people had heard me: if Israel had walked in my ways:
14 I should soon have humbled their enemies, and laid my hand on them that troubled them.

To show the abundance of the innate mercy of God, he returns now to the promises he made them, which, in the Hebrew, are accompanied by a wish, as if he said, Oh, that my people had heard me; for truly God is “the Father of mercies, and the God of all consolation.” Had they heard me, I would have humbled and cast down all those that now afflict her, in such a way that they would never be able to raise their heads again.

15 The enemies of the Lord have lied to him: and their time shall be for ever.

The prophet speaks here, and confirms what God had asserted, “But my people heard not my voice.” By his enemies he means the Jews, who from children became enemies, especially when they denied, in presence of Pilate, that Christ was their king; on which Daniel distinctly says, chap. 9, “And the people that shall deny him shall not be his.”—“The enemies of the Lord (the rebellious, incredulous Jews) have lied to him;” for they promised, at the foot of mount Sinai, that they would carry out all his commands; for “the people answered with one voice: We will do all the words of the Lord, which he hath spoken,” Exod. 24; and yet they did not do one of them; “and their time shall be;” their punishment will be everlasting, for the fire of hell will never be extinguished.

16 And he fed them with the fat of wheat, and filled them with honey out of the rock.

Behold the great ingratitude of the Jews, who had received so many favors from God, and still “have lied to him.” These words may have reference, to the manna that rained down to them in the desert, and the water that gushed from the rock; for that food might have been properly called “the fat of wheat;” because it was the bread of Angels, as it is called in Psalm 78; and it had, as we read in Wisdom 16, “The sweetness of every taste;” the honey out of the rock may have been the water; which, to the thirsty Hebrews, was then sweeter than any honey. The whole verse may refer to the land of promise, which, though rocky and mountainous, abounded in wheat, wine, and oil; so Moses writes, Deut. 32, “He sat him upon the high land, that he might eat the fruits of the fields, that he might suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the hardest stone.” The fat of wheat and the honey out of the rock are, however, in much more esteem with Christians, who have, under the appearance of bread, the body of the Redeemer, and the honey of heavenly wisdom from the rock, no other than the same Christ; and yet, how many, after renouncing the devil, his works, and his pomps in baptism, prove false to God, by returning to those very things they renounced; and, after partaking of bread from heaven, and honey from the rock, returns like unclean dogs, to their vomit. They ought to fear the eternity of the punishment in store for them, of the fire that will never be extinguished, of the worm that will never die.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture, St Robert Bellarmine | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 145

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 6, 2018

PSALM 145
A psalm of praise, to the infinite majesty of God

1 I will extol thee, O God my king: and I will bless thy name for ever; yea, for ever and ever.
2 Every day will I bless thee: and I will praise thy name for ever; yea, for ever and ever.

The two first verses contain a preface, in which the prophet tells us what he proposes singing of in this Psalm, and he does so in a poetical manner by addressing himself directly to God. “I will extol thee;” I will celebrate thee in these my verses, in order that, supreme as you are, you may be looked upon and considered as the most supreme by men. He styles God “his King,” either to show that, king as he was himself, he still had God as a King, who rules all, and is ruled by none over him, or because he was about to praise God for the works and attributes that pertained to him as King and Governor of mankind and of all created things. “And I will bless thy name,” which is no more than a repetition of the previous sentence; and he adds, “forever, yea, forever and ever,” to give us to understand that his praise would be everlasting, commencing with himself and continued by the succeeding generations, who were to chant his Psalms to the end of the world, and after that without end in the country above, as he says in Psalm 84, “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord; they shall praise thee forever and ever.” This is more clearly repeated and explained in verse 2, where he says, “Every day will I bless thee;” I will praise thee forever, whether in prosperity or in adversity, while I am here below, and hereafter in heaven. “I will praise thy name forever and ever.”

3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: and of his greatness there is no end.

Greatness consists in breadth, length, height, and depth, which, to a certain extent, exist in God, according to the Apostle, “That you may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth, and height, and depth,” etc. The prophet then commences by praising God by reason of his greatness, and if we apply it to his divine essence, he is great therein in breadth, because it is immense; in length, because it is everlasting; in height, because it is most sublime; and in depth, because it is incomprehensible. Or if you will have the prophet call him great by reason of his sovereign power, he is great as to breadth or extent, inasmuch as all created things, from the highest Angel to the crawling insect, are subject to him; as to length, because his kingdom is to last forever; as to height, because he rules everything with supreme and absolute power; and as to depth, because he not only rules our bodies, but also our hearts with its most intimate and secret thoughts and affections; and, finally, there is nothing so secret or so hidden, that the scepter of his kingdom does not reach. Therefore, “great is the Lord,” and on that account, “greatly to be praised,”—“and of his greatness there is no end.” Whether as to length, breadth, height, or depth. God’s greatness, then, is infinite, and therefore, quite incapable of being investigated by us, who are finite beings; which does not imply that we are thoroughly ignorant of God’s greatness, for we know him to be great, and that there is no end of his greatness, though we cannot take it in or comprehend it. This infinite greatness of God admonishes us, that as well as his greatness has no end, so our praises should have no end. It also reminds us that we should not be satisfied with moving in the narrow limits in which we are placed here below, but that we should daily endeavor to increase in that real greatness that arises from virtue, as Psalm 84, has it. “In his heart he hath disposed to ascend by steps in the vale of tears; they shall go from virtue to virtue,” for they who seek to increase in riches and in power, that they may get above others, they, instead of being great, are only swollen; instead of being full of juice, they are only distended with wind, for pride and magnanimity are two very different things.

4 Generation and generation shall praise thy works: and they shall declare thy power.
5 They shall speak of the magnificence of the glory of thy holiness: and shall tell thy wondrous works.

He passes now from the essence of the great king, which is inscrutable, to his wonderful works, that convey some idea of his power; and he does not say, I will praise thy works, but, “generation and generation shall praise thy works.” I, of myself, am inadequate to praise your works, but generations unborn will praise them, for there never will be wanting souls to reflect on them, admire them, and praise them, “and they shall declare thy power.” The unborn generations who shall study your works, will constantly proclaim the power that shines forth in them.

6 And they shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and shall declare thy greatness.

Having spoken, in general, of the wonderful works of God, he now distinguishes three sorts of his works, some of them glorious and beautiful, and therefore, wonderful, by reason of their surpassing beauty and splendor; some of them terrible, and therefore, very wonderful, by reason of the great terror inspired by them; and some of them most lovely, and from their being the channels of conveying God’s kindness to us, no less wonderful than the others. In this verse, then, the works that are wonderful, by reason of their splendor and beauty, are praised, such as the heavens, than which nothing more beautiful can be imagined, and speaking of which he says in another Psalm, “The heavens show forth the glory of God,” as also the sun, moon, and the other heavenly bodies, whose number, variety, splendor, and perpetual motion, without fatigue or labor, are truly wonderful. “They shall speak of the magnificence of the glory of thy holiness.” All future generations shall speak in praise of the excellence of the glorious works of your magnificence, and in thus praising them, “shall tell thy wondrous works,” that appear so numerous and so conspicuous therein.

7 They shall publish the memory of the abundance of thy sweetness: and shall rejoice in thy justice.

This is the second sort of God’s works, in which the fear of the divine majesty, in punishing the wicked, is shown, “And they shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts,” they shall be talking of the dreadful and severe scourges with which you chastised the wicked, such as the deluge, the destruction of whole cities by fire from heaven, the plagues of Egypt and of Pharao, the opening of the earth to swallow Dathan and Abiron alive; and finally, the earthquakes, plagues, thunderbolts, inundations, and storms, which frequently express God’s anger to man.

8 The Lord is gracious and merciful: patient and plenteous in mercy.

Here is the third sort of God’s works that appertain to mercy, which is expressed at greater length, and more redolent of gratitude, as all God’s faithful servants should be. “They shall publish the memory of the abundance of thy sweetness;” that is to say, all generations having been filled with the abundance of the sweetness and the kindness of thy mercy, for “the earth is full of God’s mercy,” such abundance will cause them to publish the memory of the sweetness that so abounds, or in other words, they will hand down to posterity the record of so many and so great favors conferred on them; and they will not confine themselves to so publishing the memory of these favors, but they will, themselves, “rejoice in thy justice,” by reason of your having so faithfully carried out what you promised. To this class of favors belong the innumerable gifts of providence bestowed so bountifully on man, such as the alternations of night and day, the rains of heaven, the fruitfulness of the earth, the countless multitude of cattle, birds, and fish, designed for the use and behoof of man, the verdant groves and beautiful gardens, the seas and the rivers, that serve for transport, and many other blessings beside. And all those, nothing, positively nothing, as compared with the gifts of grace; for instance, the Incarnation of the Divine Word, the passion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the sending of the Holy Ghost, the calling of the gentiles, the preaching, the promise, and the publication of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone devoutly meditate on these points, and it will be truly wonderful, if in his fullness he will not “publish the memory of the abundance of the sweetness” of God.

9 The Lord is sweet to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
10 Let all thy works, O lord, praise thee: and let thy saints bless thee.

Not content with having said that such was the abundance of God’s sweetness that all generations would publish the memory of it, he comes out the first to publish and to proclaim it, saying, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, patient, and plenteous in mercy.” He is the Lord because he removes all troubles, by forgiveness, by justification, by glorification; and he is not only “gracious,” but he is “merciful,” as merciful as a father; and, furthermore, he is “patient,” which means that his mercy is continuous; for no matter how often we may provoke him, he will not turn to anger at once, but rather waits to see would we do penance; and finally, such mercy is not small, confined, or illiberal, but on the contrary, “most plenteous.” That is most fully explained in the next verse, where he says, “The Lord is sweet to all;” and so he is to those who can appreciate his sweetness; and he is not only sweet and kind to all, and merciful too, but “his tender mercies, are over all his works;” for there is no one of his works, however insignificant, to which he does not extend his mercy. The expression, “The Lord is sweet to all,” is absolutely true, because God “maketh his sun to rise upon the good and the bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust;” and in Psalm 86, we read, “For thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild, and plenteous in mercy, to all that call upon thee;” and again, in Psalm 103, “For according to the height of the heaven above the earth, he hath strengthened his mercy to those that fear him. As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him. But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity and unto eternity upon them that fear him;” which the blessed Virgin also expressed, when she said, “And his mercy is from generation to generation to them that fear him.”

11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom: and shall tell of thy power:
12 To make thy might known to the sons of men: and the glory of the magnificence of thy kingdom.
13 Thy kingdom is a kingdom of all ages: and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. The Lord is faithful in all his words: and holy in all his works.

Having hitherto sung of the glorious, terrible, and lovely works of God, he now comes to describe his kingdom, and then the virtues peculiar to the King himself. “Let all thy works, O Lord, praise thee.” Let all the works for which I have been hitherto praising you, now unite with me in praising you; for the productions of an artist, when they are beautiful, redound to his praise and glory, and God’s works are such as to admit of no improvement, either by adding or taking from them. “And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good;” and in Psalm 111, “Great are the works of the Lord sought out according to all his wills.” These words may be considered as a conclusion to the first part of the chapter, as he now enters on a different subject with the words, “and let thy saints bless thee;” that is to say, generations unborn will praise thee by reason of the works that are visible to all, but it is the saints alone, through the revelation of the Holy Ghost, that are aware of the nature of your kingdom I am now about to speak of; and, therefore, “let thy saints,” to whom it has been revealed by the Holy Ghost, “bless thee,” which means praise thee; and he tells for what, when he adds, “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and shall tell of thy power.” The glory of a kingdom is synonymous with its power. The power of a kingdom consists in the number of its subjects, and the sufficiency of its revenue, to maintain them. Now, the glory, or the power of God’s kingdom, may be inferred from the difference between it and that of man. There are four points of difference. First, the kings of this world have but few subjects, without much wealth; not more than the population and wealth of one kingdom, or one province, while God reigns over all Angels, all men, all demons, and all the wealth on land, in the sea, or in the air, belong to him. There is another difference, that while the kings of this world rule their subjects, they are still ruled by them, they are dependent on them, can do nothing without them; and, however, abundant their revenues may be, they are generally in want, nay even in debt, and, consequently, always calling for fresh tributes and taxes; but God, while he governs all, is subject to none, because he needs nobody’s help or assistance; instead of being in want, he abounds in everything, because he could, in one moment, bring from nothing much more than he now beholds or enjoys. The third difference is a consequence of the second, while the kings of this world seem so to enjoy their honors and dignities, they are, at the same time, suffering acutely from interior fears, doubts, and cares, which have sometimes been so burdensome, as to cause them to abdicate altogether. God never suffers such pressure, is subject to no fear, no misgivings, but reigns absolutely in perfect tranquillity. The fourth difference, an essential one, is, that the kings of this world reign but for a time; but God reigneth forever. Now, the first difference is touched upon in the verse, “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and shall tell of thy power;” your saints will proclaim the power and the glory of your kingdom, which consists in the number of your subjects, and the inexhaustible abundance of your wealth. The second and third are included in the words, “To make thy might known to the sons of men, and the glory of the magnificence of thy kingdom,” which indicate an immense difference between the kingdom of God and any human kingdom, for he says, “To make known to the sons of men,” to make them understand that their kingdoms are a mere nothing as compared with that of God, and not content with having said, “To make thy might known,” he adds, “and thy glory;” and not content with that even, he adds again, “of the magnificence of thy kingdom,” or the glory of your most magnificent kingdom. The fourth difference is apparent in the verse, “thy kingdom,” etc. “The Lord is faithful in all his words, and holy in all his works.” He now enters on the virtues that belong to a king, that are so conspicuous in God, and in Christ, as man, and which all kings, and all in power, should constantly look to and seek to imitate. The first virtue that should distinguish a king is uprightness, with a strict adherence to truth, for the king’s example is all powerful, and of Christ, the King, we read, “Who did no sin, neither was guilt found in his mouth,” nearly word for word with what the prophet says here, “The Lord is faithful in all his words;” that is to say, truthful, no liar, no deceiver, observing all his promises most faithfully; “and holy in all his works;” or in other words, “Innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,” and immaculate in all his actions.

14 The Lord lifteth up all that fall: and setteth up all that are cast down.

Here is the second virtue that should adorn a king and a pastor, for both should rule in such a manner that their subjects may not fall; and if they chance to fall, that they should be prompt in raising them. That virtue is called mercy, and one essential to all in power. The expression “lifteth up,” in the Hebrew, conveys the idea not only of lifting up, but enabling the person so lifted to keep up, as we read in another Psalm, “Being pushed I was overturned, that I might fall, but the Lord supported me.” But is it true that God lifts up all that fall, when we daily see many falling without being lifted, either as regards soul or body? God is said to lift up all that fall, inasmuch as those who fall not when tempted, keep up, through God’s grace; and they who rise after falling, are set up by God’s grace; while they who fall, or do not rise after falling, must blame themselves for it, and not God, which Osee expresses in different language, when he says, “Destruction is thy own, O Israel, thy help is only in me.” That David did not mean to say absolutely that all, without any exception, that may chance to fall would be raised, is clear from the following expression, where he says, “And setteth up all that are cast down.” For if God were to support all that were about to fall, he would have no occasion to set up anyone, or nobody would fall; how, then, is it true that he “setteth up all that are cast down”? These words are to be taken in a spiritual sense. As to the actual falling of anyone, it remains to be said that God is naturally inclined to raise and to set up all; and if he does not do so by all, nay, more, if he sometimes precipitates and brings them down, he does so either with a view to prove them and to crown them, as he does to the just, in which case it proves a raising up rather than a taking down, or he does so in order to punish and chastise, and that when the sins of the parties themselves call for it, and thus the very first root of the evil springs from ourselves, and thus what Osee said, “Destruction is thy own, O Israel, thy help is only in me,” will always be true.

15 The eyes of all hope in thee, O Lord: and thou givest them meat in due season.
16 Thou openest thy hand, and fillest with blessing every living creature.

Liberality is the third virtue that should adorn a king. Kings should not fleece their subjects, and seek to squeeze money out of them under various pretences, and thus, perhaps, reduce them to poverty; on the contrary, they should deal liberally with them, supporting them, as if they were their own children; but, yet, taking care not to allow them to eat to excess, or spend whole days in feasting. “The eyes of all hope in thee, O Lord.” The eyes of all living things look to thee, expecting food from thee, that they may be supported by it, and keep up their life, “and thou givest them meat;” and you, through the agency of the creatures subject to you, the earth, the sun, and the rain, produce fruits in abundance, as meat for all living creatures, and that “in due season,” when they have need of it, for they should not be always eating; and thus, they who eat to excess, have not their meat from God, but from their own gluttony. “In due season” also implies when hunger calls for it, when it is useful or necessary; and therefore, they who accumulate and hoard up their superfluities, steal so much from the community; and it cannot be a matter of surprise to find so many in dire necessity. He also gives it “in due season,” when it is right to give it, because sometimes it is better to withhold it, because man’s sins deserve it, as the physician will sometimes prescribe total abstinence from food and strong drink; and hence God, not infrequently, visits sinners with dearth and famine, in punishment of their sins. “In due season” also expresses the variety of food that God provides for us in the various seasons. That we may carry with us the fact of God’s liberality, being the primary source of all our blessings, he next adds, “Thou openest thy hand, and fillest with blessing every living creature,” every word of which is expressive of profuse liberality. “Thou openest thy hand.” It is not with a closed but an open hand that you give to your creatures; it is with extreme liberality; “and fillest,” satisfy to the fullest extent of their desires, “every living creature,” not only man, but all living things; “with blessing,” in the most abundant manner; such is the sense in which St. Paul uses the word blessing, when he writes to the Corinthians to have the alms collected, “to be ready, so as a blessing, not as covetousness;” that is, that their alms should be liberal. But if God fills every living thing so abundantly, whence have we so many beggars, so many poor, hungry, thirsty? We have already observed that a good deal of it arises from the injustice of the rich, who either hoard up, or sinfully squander, what they should share with the poor; and we added, that such often arises from the just punishment of God, that is called for by the sins of the parties themselves; and finally, we may add, that the very poor in question are often themselves the cause of it, either because they depend more on their scheming than they do on God, or because they cannot content themselves with the food and raiment befitting their station in life, or because they will often spend in one day’s debauch what they may have been earning for an entire week.

17 The Lord is just in all his ways: and holy in all his works.

Justice is the fourth virtue befitting a sovereign, and one of absolute necessity, in order to ensure peace and tranquillity among the people. “The Lord is just in all his ways.” The Lord displays extreme justice in his external acts, by which alone we can form an idea of his justice; for he renders to all what is due to them, and he repeats the same in the next sentence when he says, “and holy in all his works.”

18 The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him: to all that call upon him in truth.

The fifth virtue becoming a king consists in his being easy of access to all who come to him looking for assistance. This God does to a wonderful extent, for “he is nigh unto all them that call upon him;” no matter how high above the heavens he may be, he comes nigh at once to all that call upon him, never refusing an audience to anyone. Hence, Moses boasts in Deuteronomy, “Neither is there any other nation so great, that hath gods so nigh them, as our God is present to all our petitions;” and he tells us how we are to understand the expression, “to all that call upon him,” when he repeats it with the addition of “in truth,” for that expression comprehends all the conditions that are necessary for prayer. He that prays without faith does not pray “in truth,” because, instead of calling on God, he calls on the idol of his own brain. He that prays without hope does not pray “in truth,” because, he cannot be serious in praying to anyone by whom he does not hope to be heard. And he who prays without charity, or, at least, without inchoate love, does not invoke God “in truth,” because nobody will seriously pray to one whom he hates, and who, he has reason to think, hates him. They, too, who pray without affection and desire, such as those who recite the Psalms or any other prayers, without any desire of obtaining what they ask, though they appear to do so, “do not invoke God in truth.” They also who pray without attention, without knowing what they are saying, pray merely with their lips, and they also “do not call upon him in truth,” because, instead of calling on him, they only show an empty appearance of calling on him.

19 He will do the will of them that fear him: and he will hear their prayer, and save them.

Benignity, or kindness, is the sixth royal attribute, by virtue of which the king not only admits his subjects to an audience, but graciously grants all their petitions, provided it be right for him to grant them. “He will do the will of them that fear him;” on having heard their prayer, he will do what they want, but he qualifies it by adding, “of them that fear him,” for it is but fair that God should do the will of those only that do his will; and those who have a holy horror of offending God, and would lose the whole world rather than his grace, are the people that do his will. That, as usual, he repeats, when he says, “and he will hear their prayer.” He finally adds, “and save them,” to give us to understand how God always hears the prayers of those that fear him. God frequently appears not to hear the prayers of such people, as when he would not deliver St. Paul from “the sting of his flesh,” though he had prayed three times to be delivered from it; and still he really hears the principal desire of such people, which consists in a desire of eternal salvation. For, as the Lord ordered to “seek first the kingdom of God and his justice,” or in other words, his glory and his grace; thus all they who fear God with the holy fear becoming him, will first and principally, in every prayer of theirs, ask for inchoate salvation or grace; and then for perfect salvation which is glory. God, then, always hears those that fear him, for “he will save them;” that is to say, he hears them in the time and the mode most conducive to their salvation.

20 The Lord keepeth all them that love him; but all the wicked he will destroy.

The last but most necessary virtue for a king is that of providence, by virtue of which he protects the just from oppression on the part of the wicked, and prevents the wicked, if not from injuring the just, at least from injuring them to the extent of their wishes. For though he sometimes allows the just to suffer much from sinners, still he so protects them, that such suffering cannot harm them; nay more, that it turns to their advantage. God suffered the holy martyrs to be flogged and to be slain, but he “kept them,” by the gift of constancy, in their faith, and patience in their sufferings, with a view to securing glory to their souls, and a glorious and immortal body, and thereby realizing the truth of the promise, “A hair from your head shall not be lost.” As to the sentence, “but all the wicked he will destroy;” the truth of that will appear either because the wicked will be converted, and will then not be there, as wicked, for destruction; or because they persevere in final wickedness, and will then be scattered by being consigned to hell, so that they can never again come near the just.

21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name forever; yea, for ever and ever.

He now concludes the Psalm by uniting the first and last verses, as if he said, In consequence of all I have stated regarding the greatness of God, of his works, of the perpetuity of his kingdom, of his royal qualities that are so numerous and so perfect in him, “My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord” forever. And I not only mean to do so myself, but I earnestly desire that “all flesh,” that every human being, everything that lives and breathes, should praise the name of the Lord forever.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture, St Robert Bellarmine | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 85

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 6, 2018

PSALM 85
The coming of Christ to bring peace and salvation to man

1 Lord, thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.

The prophet, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, discloses the eternal decree of God regarding the future salvation of man, in the beginning of the Psalm, telling us the first cause and ultimate effect of such salvation. Love was the first cause—that love through which God loved mankind. For no reason can be assigned why “God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son,” John 3, through whom we may be redeemed, “and blessed with all spiritual blessings,” Ephes. 1, but the will of God alone, or, rather, his good pleasure and mercy. The ultimate effect of such salvation will consist in complete delivery from captivity, which will be thoroughly accomplished in the resurrection only, when we shall arrive at the liberty of the glory of the children of God. We are at present only partially free; but we are in expectation of the redemption of our bodies that is to set us free from all corruption and necessity. He, therefore, begins by saying, “Lord, thou hast blessed thy land;” you cursed the land you created and gave to man to inhabit, on account of the sin of the first man; but I know, from revelation, that you also, in your own mind, by your own decree, “blessed thy land;” decreed in your own good pleasure to visit and bless it with all manner of blessings and graces, by sending your only begotten, “full of grace and truth,” into that land which you created. “Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.” In the same eternal decree, having been appeased by the death of your Son, which you foresaw, thou hast turned away, or put an end to the captivity of Jacob, your people, so that they may thenceforth enjoy the liberty of the glory of the children of God. By Jacob the prophet means, not only the people of Israel, but the whole human race, “who are, like the branches of the wild olive tree, engrafted into the good olive tree;” and, like “living stones, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets.”

2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people: thou hast covered all their sins.

He now explains the manner in which God, by his blessing the land, put an end to the captivity of Jacob, and says it was by remitting the sins of his people. For, as sin was the cause of their being held in bondage, the remission of the sin procured their liberty. “Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people.” In your own mind, and by your own decree, thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, for which iniquity you had given them up to the devil, as you would to the minister of justice. “Thou hast covered all their sins;” the same idea repeated; “thou hast covered;” hidden them, wrapt them up, so that you may not see and punish them: but, as nothing can be hid or concealed from God, when he, therefore, forgives sin, he extinguishes it altogether; so that it has no longer any existence whatever; and when God is said to cover sin, he does so, not as one would cover a sore with a plaster, thereby merely hiding it only; but he covers it with a plaster that effectually cures and removes it altogether. “All their sins;” to show it was not one sin, such as original sin, common to all, that was forgiven, but that the personal and peculiar sins of each individual were included

3 Thou hast mitigated all thy anger: thou hast turned away from the wrath of thy indignation.

He now assigns a reason for God’s having forgiven the iniquity of his people, and says it arose from his having been appeased, and having laid aside his anger. For, as it was anger that prompted God thus to revenge himself, so, when he was appeased, he was led to forgive us; and that was effected “by the lamb that was slain from the beginning of the world;” and that immaculate Lamb was given to us through the good pleasure and mercy of him “who so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son for it.” Here, then, is the order of our redemption. The benediction, or the good pleasure of God, gave us his Son as a Savior; the son, by his death, appeased God’s anger, and made satisfaction to his justice for the sins of the whole world; God, having been thus appeased, forgave the sins, and the remission of the sins put an end to the captivity; and the Holy Ghost revealed the whole of this mystery, so concealed in the mind of God, to his prophet; and he describes it to us in those three verses. The expression, “all thy anger,” signifies that the redemption effected by our Savior was all sufficient and most effectual, and it also conveys that the liberty we shall enjoy hereafter will be most full, complete, and entire, leaving not a trace of punishment or misery, for such proceed from God’s anger. “Thou hast turned away from the wrath of thy indignation,” is a repetition of the same idea.

4 Convert us, O God our saviour: and turn off thy anger from us.

The prophet, speaking in the person of God’s people, begins now to pray for the execution and completion of the divine decree, and first begs of God to mitigate his anger; the first effect of which would be the beginning of our salvation; that is to say, his divine assistance, through which our conversion to God commences; for we cannot be converted to God, unless his grace go before us, and by calling, enlightening, assisting, and moving, convert us. He, therefore, says, “Convert us, O God our Savior.” O God our Savior, begin the work of our salvation, by inspiring us with the holy desire of conversion. And that, in your mercy, you may commence it, “turn off thy anger from us.” Be reconciled to us, and forget the offences that have estranged us from you.

5 Wilt thou be angry with us for ever: or wilt thou extend thy wrath from generation to generation?

He perseveres in the petition, saying, we have borne your anger long enough; do not defer the gift of your mercy, and the restoration of your peace. “Wilt thou be angry with us?” Will your enmity to the human race be everlasting? “or wilt thou extend thy wrath from generation to generation?” a thing that does not accord with your infinite clemency.

6 Thou wilt turn, O God, and bring us to life: and thy people shall rejoice in thee.

He tells us the effects that will follow from being reconciled with God; to man will come life, to God praise. “Thou wilt turn, O God;” by laying aside your anger, and on being reconciled, will “bring us to life;” for “the wages of sin is death; but the grace of God everlasting life, in Christ Jesus our Lord;” “and thy people,” come to life and strength through so great a favor, “shall rejoice in thee,” and joyously chant your praise.

7 Shew us, O Lord, thy mercy; and grant us thy salvation.

Having asked that the divine wrath may be mitigated; and having asked for that reconciliation and regeneration that always accompanies remission of sin, he now asks for the coming of the Savior, through whom we were brought clearly to see and to behold God’s kindness and mercy to us, of which the Apostle says, “The grace of God hath appeared to all men;” and again, “the goodness and kindness of our Savior God appeared.” For who can for a moment doubt of the care that God has for mankind, and the extent of his warmest love, when he sent his only begotten Son to redeem us by his precious blood from the captivity of the devil? “Show us, O Lord, thy mercy;” make us plainly see and feel by experience, that mercy through which you determined in your mind, from eternity, to bless thy land; “and grant us thy salvation.” Send us your Son for a Savior, for then you will clearly show unto all the extent of your mercy, goodness, and grace. St. Augustine, taking a moral view of this passage, says that God shows us his mercy when he persuades us, and makes us see and understand that we are nothing, and can do nothing, of ourselves; but that it is through his mercy we exist at all, or can do anything we go through; we thus are neither proud nor puffed up, but are humble in our own eyes; and it is to such people the Savior gives his grace.

8 I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me: for he will speak peace unto his people: And unto his saints: and unto them that are converted to the heart.

To convince us of the truth of what he now means to express, the prophet here reminds us that he speaks not from himself, but what has been revealed to him, and that he is only announcing what he has heard from the Lord. “I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me;” that is, I will tell whatever I shall hear; and, therefore, having laid my petition before him, I will hear his answer to make it known to others. “What he will speak in me;” to give us to understand that when God speaks to the prophet, he does it interiorly, and spiritually. For the Holy Ghost, who abides in the prophets, speaks to them through their heart, and then, through their tongues, to the ears of mankind. The expression, “I will hear,” besides attention, signifies a desire to hear as it were, to say, I will most willingly and attentively hear; for God usually says nothing but what is good and useful; “for he will speak peace unto his people.” The reason I have for hearing him with pleasure and with attention is, because I know he will speak peace to his people. The summary, then, of God’s message to his people is the announcement and promise of peace through the coming of the Messias, for which the prophet asked when he said, “Show us, O Lord, thy mercy, and grant us thy salvation.” God, then, will grant a Savior, and through him, will announce and establish a most perfect peace; hence he is styled “the Prince of Peace;” and, as the Apostle says, “making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in heaven.” Now peace comprehends all God’s favors; and we shall never be in perfect possession of it until we shall have arrived at the heavenly Jerusalem, which is interpreted the vision of peace. Peace is opposed to war, in which we shall be mixed up, until “death is swallowed up in victory, and this mortal shall have put on immortality.” Then there will be an end to that war with our vices and concupiscences, with the princes of darkness, with all our difficulties and necessities. For, while we live here below, “the life of man is a warfare upon earth,” however we may desire, as far as in ourselves lies, to be at peace with all men. “And unto his saints, and unto them that are converted to the heart. He now explains the expression, “to his people;” God promised peace to his people, but not to the whole of them; for they are composed of good and bad, and the bad can have no peace. For, “much peace have they that love thy law;” while, “the wicked have no peace, saith the Lord;” and, when he says, “unto them that are converted to the heart,” he tells us who the saints are to whom peace is promised. For sanctity, and consequently peace, then begins when man turns from exterior to interior matters; and, therefore, Isaias says, “Return ye transgressors to the heart;” and of the prodigal son is said, “and returning to himself, he said.” Man begins to return to himself, or to return, if you will, to his heart, when he begins to reflect within himself on the vanity of all things here below, and how trifling and how short lived is the pleasure to be derived from sin; and on the contrary, how noble virtue is, and of what value are the goods of eternity. In a little while man begins to advance by degrees, when he comes to consider and judge of externals, not by the aid of his own sense, or the discourses of the children of the world; but, “returning to his heart,” he consults sound reason on everything, consults the faith that has been divinely inspired, consults the truth itself, which is God. Finally, that man is truly converted to the heart, and begins to taste that peace “that surpasses all understanding,” who raises a tabernacle in his heart to God, and, on the wings of contemplation, rises from the image, the soul of man, to the reality, God himself; and there, beholding the infinite beauty of his Creator, is so inflamed and carried away by his love as to despise the whole world beside, and unite himself to God exclusively in the bonds of love, totally indifferent to, and forgetful of, the whole world. No pressure from abroad can disturb one so disposed.

9 Surely his salvation is near to them that fear him:that glory may dwell in our land.

On the coming of the Messias peace will be preached, but the establishment will be delayed for some time. However, salvation, which means the power of healing and of performing other miracles, will be always at hand, and available to those who believe in him, and have a pious and reverential fear of him. Hence, great glory will accrue to God, for all who see his wonderful works will praise and magnify him; many proofs of which can be read in the Gospels; and it is to it the prophet alludes when he says, “Surely his salvation is near to them that fear him;” that is to say, the salvation of God, or Christ himself, the Savior, will be at hand to save, through his power, all that fear him; all that worship him with a holy fear; “that glory may dwell in our land;” those numerous miracles will be performed with a view to make God’s glory known, and to dwell in that land of promise to which the Savior will be sent specially. And if the salvation of the body be near to them that fear him, and God’s glory be thereby greatly augmented, with much more reason will the salvation of the soul be near to those that fear him. “For to those who will receive him, he will give power to become sons of God,” 1 John; and thence his glory will be made manifest, “as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

10 Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed.

He now reveals another mystery that will be accomplished on the coming of the Messias; that is, the union of mercy and justice, which seem so opposed to each other; the one prompting to punish, the other to forgive; for Christ’s passion and suffering was meant to deliver the human race in mercy, while it made the fullest satisfaction to the divine justice. “Mercy and truth have met each other.” They met in the time of the Messias, whereas at other times they seemed to move in contrary directions. “Justice and peace have kissed;” the justice that inflicts punishment, previously called truth and peace, which then was called mercy, will be joined in the bonds of the strictest friendship; and, as it were, kissed each other.

11 Truth is sprung out of the earth: and justice hath looked down from heaven.

He now touches on the mystery of the Incarnation, making use of the past for the future tense, as is usual with the prophets. “Truth is sprung out of the earth.” Christ, who is the truth, will be born of the Virgin Mary, “and justice hath looked down from heaven.” Then also justice from heaven will be made manifest, because, on the birth of Christ, true justice began to come down from heaven, and man began to be justified by faith in Christ; as also, because by the coming of Christ, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all impiety and injustice,” for the extent of God’s anger and hatred of sin would never have been thoroughly known, had not God decreed that it should be expiated by the death of his only Son; and, even, we should never have known the extent of God’s anger to the sinner on the day of judgment, had we not seen the amount and the extent of Christ’s sufferings in atoning for the sins of others, “For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?” says our Lord, Luke 23.

12 For the Lord will give goodness: and our earth shall yield her fruit.

He still treats of the mystery of the Incarnation, showing that truth could spring out of the earth; not in the manner of the seed that we sow and cultivate, but in the manner of the natural flowers that grow spontaneously, with no other culture than the beams of the sun, and the rains of heaven. “For the Lord will give goodness,” he will send his Holy Spirit from heaven, who will overshadow a virgin, and thus our land, which was never ploughed nor sown, and was altogether an untouched virgin, will yield her fruit. Hence, he says, in the canticle of canticles, “I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys.”

13 Justice shall walk before him: and,shall set his steps in the way.

The prophet concludes by showing that Christ would be so replete with justice and sanctity, that the rays of his justice would go before him, and by their light shed the way to complete progress in this gloomy valley of our mortality. “Justice shall walk before him.” Christ, the sun and true light of the world, will send the rays of his justice and wisdom before him, as it is in Psalm 89, “Mercy and truth shall go before thy face;” and in Isaias 58, “And thy justice shall go before thy face;” and thus “shall set his steps in the way,” shall enter on his pilgrimage to bring many pilgrims back to their country.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture, St Robert Bellarmine | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 126

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 6, 2018

PSALM 126
The people of God rejoice at their delivery from captivity

1 When the Lord brought back the captivity of Sion, we became like men comforted.

When we first heard of the decree of our emancipation, and of our return to our country, we could, through joy, hardly believe it; and we were like those who, when in great affliction and trouble, get some comforting news, becoming, all at once blithe and merry, from being grave and sad. And this self same unspeakable consolation is always felt by those who are seriously converted to God, and, despising the hopes of this world, and abandoning all desire for the goods of this world, “direct their steps in the path of peace.” They know the value of being rescued from the captivity of the devil, from the depths of the pit, and the being prepared for the enjoyment of true liberty and everlasting peace, through the call and the guidance of the Almighty. Interior joy will not fail to show itself externally, which it does by the expression of joy on the countenance and gladness on the tongue. “Then,” when we got the good news of our delivery, “was our mouth filled with gladness,” our face appeared blithe and merry, and “our tongue, with joy,” burst out into expressions of joy and gladness. “Then shall they say among the gentiles.” The news of said emancipation not only gladdened the hearts of the emancipated, but it even astonished the gentiles when they heard it, and they could not help exclaiming, “The Lord hath done great things for them;” the Lord has behaved most magnificently to his people; for though it was Cyrus that liberated the Jews after so long a captivity, we can easily understand that he was prompted thereto by God, for he did it at the very time Jeremias prophesied it would be done, after seventy years; and Cyrus himself avowed that he got his power and command from heaven, and that he got an order from heaven to let the people go, and to build the temple in Jerusalem; and, finally, it could not be expected that any king would let so many thousand captives go free without the smallest ransom, and not only so dismiss them, but load them with presents on their departure, had he not felt himself constrained thereto from above. The gentiles, then, could not help attributing the whole to divine interposition.

2 Then was our mouth filled with gladness; and our tongue with joy. Then shall they say among the Gentiles: The Lord hath done great things for them.
3 The Lord hath done great things for us: we are become joyful.

The emancipated, quite pleased with the gentiles’ notions on the matter being only in accordance with the facts, thus reply. It is the fact that the Lord dealt nobly with us, beyond our merits and our expectations, when he brought us from a miserable captivity to this our sweetest native land; and thus “we are become joyful;” we who had hitherto been groaning in sorrow, captives as we were.

4 Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as a stream in the south.

As all the captives did not come home together—for some came, in the first instance, with Esdras, and then another party with Nehemias—the first party, then, pray to God for the return of all the captives, and they take up the simile of a torrent that is wont to run with great force and violence in a southerly gale; hence they say, “Turn again, O Lord, our captivity.” Bring back our captives, the majority of whom are still in the land of the stranger; and bring them back at once, as quickly “as a stream in the south;” for when the wind blows from the south, the rain falls, the streams and the rivers rise, and the great flood rolls rapidly on to the ocean, and that without delay or obstruction. If the exiles, on their return, prayed to God so earnestly, what amount of earnestness will not be required of us, still exiles as we are? For though some have got home, have come to their country, yet many are still in exile, on the road, nay more, many are quite reconciled to the captivity, and have become so attached to the things of this world that they don’t bestow even a thought on their country; it was, then, absolutely necessary that the Lord, with all the violence of a torrent, when the south wind blows, should force them and compel them to ascend. In conclusion, then, the former, as well as the latter, are, to a certain extent, captives; for “all expect that every creature shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption;” and even the blessed in heaven included. It is for this perfect liberty of the children of God, of which St. Paul treats in Rome, chap. 8, that we most properly pray when we say, “Turn again our captivity as a stream in the south.” The south means the south wind that usually preceded rain, and caused the streams and rivers to fill and run with rapidity; most expressive of the tide of captives returning back again in crowds and in haste to their beloved country.

5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

Having asked God to bring back all the captives to their country, he now addresses the captives themselves, and exhorts them not to be deterred by the labor of the journey, or to be detained by regard for any property they may have acquired in a foreign land, as they were sure to have much more and more valuable property in their own; and most happily compares them to the sower and the reaper; the one ordinarily does his work in grief and sorrow, being obliged to put his corn into the ground without having any certainty of ever getting the smallest return from it; and, therefore, seems to labor and to tire himself in order to lose what he has; but when the harvest comes, he reaps with great joy when he sees the corn that, to all appearance, was lost, is now, instead of being lost, returned to him with an enormous increase. This applies peculiarly to us, pilgrims as we are; for those who are content with their captivity, and are so engaged by the love of this world as never to think on their country, heaven; they look upon the road adopted by the just to be nothing better than a positive loss and an injury. While the true exiles make all the haste they can to their country above; they freely give to the poor, who will never return what is given; they labor, without fee or reward, in teaching their brethren, as did the Apostles; they freely renounce all manner of pleasure; all which seems the height of folly to those who know not what is to come of it, while, in reality, it is “sowing in tears,” that they may afterwards, in due time, “reap in joy.” And if they who are still so attached to their captivity, would seriously reflect on this, they certainly would change their mind, would begin to go up, and, no matter what it may cost them, they would sow the seed, that they may soon after reap it in joy in the kingdom of heaven.

6 Going they went and wept, casting their seeds.
7 But coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves.

He now describes, at greater length, the process of sowing and reaping. “Going they went;” the laborers and farmers went from their house to the field; “and wept, casting their seeds;” had much pain and trouble while shaking the seed, from the uncertainty of their ever having any return. But, in harvest time, when coming home, “they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves;” bringing back whole armsfull in return for a few grains. This so peculiarly applies to the virtue of almsgiving that it cannot but be of use to consider in what respect the seed may be compared with alms, in the hope that they “who have in their heart disposed to ascend by steps” may be more encouraged to divide freely with the poor. The grain that is sown is very small, and yet produces such a number of grains as to seem almost incredible; thus it is with alms, a small thing, a poor thing as being a human act; but when properly sown, produces, not money, nor food, nor clothes, but an eternal kingdom; Just as if the grain of wheat that we sow should produce an ear of gold instead of an ear of wheat, studded with precious stones instead of grains of wheat. Then, the grain put into the ground must corrupt and die or else it will not sprout, as our Lord has it in the Gospel, “Unless the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, itself remaineth alone;” thus alms must be freely bestowed as a right, and not as a loan, and to those only who cannot return it; and it must be given to corrupt and perish, that is, without the slightest hope of getting it back in this world; for when thus lost and corrupted, it will not fail to shoot out again, and produce much fruit in life everlasting. Again, the grain put into the ground needs both sun and rain to germinate; and so with alms, which, as well as all other good works, needs the sun of divine grace, and the showers of the blood of the Mediator; that is, in order to become meritorious, they must spring from the grace of God, that has its source in the blood of Christ; for then a matter of the greatest insignificance becomes one of the greatest value, by reason of the stamp impressed upon it by grace; and thus merits, not only as a favor, but as a right, the grace of life everlasting. There is this difference between the sowing of the seed and the distribution of alms, that many things may occur to the former that may prevent the reaping in gladness, though they may have sowed in tears; because the seed may not sprout for want of rain; or it may be cut down, after sprouting, by slugs and worms; or, even after ripening, it may he stolen or burned. But alms, when given with a proper intention, is always safe; for it is stored up in heaven, where neither moths, nor flies, nor thieves can come near it. They, then, who sow such spiritual seed in tears, will unquestionably reap fruit in great joy.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture, St Robert Bellarmine | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 147

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 6, 2018

PSALM 147
The church is called upon to praise God for his peculiar graces and favors to his people. In the Hebrew this psalm is joined to the foregoing

1 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem: praise thy God, O Sion.

Jerusalem is a holy city, the more noble part of which is mount Sion, where the temple of the Lord was built, and is often used to express the city itself; and, therefore, “praise the Lord, O Jerusalem,” and “praise thy God, Sion,” signify one and the same thing. If it be referred to the Jerusalem above, nothing more appropriate could be applied to it; for in that heavenly city no one need be occupied in it providing for their personal wants, or those of their neighbors, there being no poor, no needy, to be found therein, and can, therefore, devote their whole time, as they really do, in praising God. Most justly, then, does he address the city, saying, “Praise the Lord,” for you have nothing else to do; for you are specially bound thereto by reason of the signal favors he has conferred on you; and, finally, because it has been your great good fortune to get so close a view of the beauty and the excellence of the Lord. The Church, in her exile, should also praise the Lord; but the whole Church cannot, nor can the Church at all times do it, in the midst of the cares and troubles that frequently disturb her. And if the Church cannot accomplish it, much less can the synagogue.

2 Because he hath strengthened the bolts of thy gates, he hath blessed thy children within thee.

The reason why Jerusalem should bless the Lord arises from the fact of his having conferred on her that abundance and security of which human happiness consists. Security, without abundance, is no better than poverty, and abundance, without security, is replete with fear and danger. God, therefore, so strengthened the bolts of the gates of Jerusalem that they could not possibly be stormed, and those inside are quite safe, inasmuch as no enemy can enter, no friend will be excluded; nothing bad can come in, nothing good will go out; and the divine blessing brought an abundance of all good things into this highly fortified city; for it was not a particular blessing that God gave the holy city, but a general, an absolute one, to use the expression of the Apostle, “Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” These two things perfectly apply to the Jerusalem above, where the security is eternal, and the blessing consists in the enjoyment of the supreme good. They also apply, to a certain extent, to the Church in her exile, though not so entirely; “for the gates of hell will not prevail against her,” and she has many blessings within her; but, meanwhile, many wicked enter into her, and good revolt from her; she has the chaff mixed with the grain, the good with the bad fish, the kids with the lambs. There are other points of agreement also with the earthly Jerusalem, inasmuch as by reason of her being situated in the mountains, she appeared to be well fortified, and abounded, at one time, with inhabitants and with wealth; but, as she was more than once sacked and destroyed, it does not appear that the expression, “he hath strengthened the bolts of thy gates,” is quite applicable to her. One would rather say the expression in Lament. 2 was, “Her gates are sunk into the ground: he hath destroyed and broken her bars; and the bulwark hath moved; and the wall hath been destroyed together.” Nor was there such an abundance in the city at the same time, when we read, “They said to their mothers, where is corn and wine? when they fainted away as the wounded in the streets of the city, when they breathed out their souls in the bosoms of their mothers.”

3 Who hath placed peace in thy borders: and filleth thee with the fat of corn.

Not only is the holy city of Jerusalem highly fortified, but it is even exempt from the dangers of war, hence its name, Jerusalem, which signifies “The vision of peace,” and the first that attempted to disturb that peace was expelled with such violence as to cause the Lord to say, “I saw Satan as lightning falling from heaven.” “Who hath placed peace in thy borders;” who hath established universal peace through the length and breadth of Jerusalem. And further, not only does this city enjoy abundance, but even the most exquisite dainties, as conveyed in the expression, “the fat of corn;” and these without limit, as we can infer from the expression, “who filleth.” All this applies to our heavenly country in the strict sense of the words, for there alone will our inferior be in strict peace with our superior parts, and our superior parts with God; and there, too, will be strict peace between the citizens of all grades, high and low; for there will be one heart, one soul, and as the Lord expresses it, Jn. 7, “Made perfect in one.” There, too, “will all be filled with the fat of corn,” for truth and wisdom being the food of the soul, they will have actual truth as it is in itself, and not in figures or enigmas, and they will taste of the sweetness of the Word Eternal without being enveloped by the sacraments or the Scriptures; they will drink of the fountain of wisdom, instead of applying to the streams that flow from it, or to the “showers falling gently upon the earth.” They will be so filled that they will never again hunger nor thirst for all eternity. In the Church militant also, which, to a certain extent, is the Jerusalem, we have peace with God, though we, at the same time, suffer pressure from the world. We do what we can to keep in peace with all; but we are in the midst of those who hate peace, and, therefore, “Combats without, fears within,” are never wanting, and though we may feed on “the fat of corn,” it is enveloped by too many coverings. We have the Word of God, but in the flesh; and though we eat of the flesh it is covered by the sacrament. We drink of the waters of wisdom, but it is from the shower of the Scriptures, and we are, therefore, never so satiated with those blessings as to make our happiness consist in hungering and thirsting for more. Much less applicable is all this to the earthly Jerusalem, the old synagogue of the Jews, to which it was applicable in a figurative sense only.

4 Who sendeth forth his speech to the earth: his word runneth swiftly.

Having exhorted the holy city to thank God for the favors conferred on itself, he now exhorts it to praise God for the favors conferred on other nations, from which they may learn how much more liberal he has been in their regard. He, therefore, exhorts them to praise that God, “who sendeth forth his speech to the earth,” who issues the precepts and decrees of his providence to the whole world; and “his word runneth quickly;” such precepts and decrees are borne with the greatest expedition to all created beings, penetrate all things, and are put into immediate execution. These words explain the order of divine providence that extends itself to everything, and that with the greatest velocity because God is everywhere, “upholding all things by the word of his power,” Heb. 1; and “reaches from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly,”—Wisdom 8. Hence, David says, in Psalm 119, “All things serve thee.”

5 Who giveth snow like wool: scattereth mists like ashes.
6 He sendeth his crystal like morsels: who shall stand before the face of his cold?

From God’s universal providence he now takes up one particular effect of it, in which the admirable power and wisdom of God are most conspicuous, and for which he deserves merited praise, even from the citizens above, exempt as they are from such changes. The wonderful effects of God’s power and wisdom, which, however, are most familiar and visible to us all, are to be found in his creation of heat and cold in the air. In certain countries, snow, frost, and ice will so abound, at certain times, that lakes, rivers, and even seas will become so congealed, that wagons, heavily laden, will be carried over them, as they would through so many roads or fields. The ice becomes so hard that bars of iron will hardly break it; and yet, God, when it pleaseth him, by a simple change in the wind, in one instant causes all to melt, and streams of water flow down from the housetops, from the hills, and the mountains. Thus, God, in one moment, converts the extreme cold into a most agreeable warmth. To enter into particulars. “Who giveth snow like wool;” who rains down snow in such abundance, that every flake of it looks like flocks of wool, not only by reason of its whiteness, but also of its size. “Scattereth mists like ashes;” raises mists so dense, that they seem more like a cloud of ashes than of vapor. “He sendeth his crystal like morsels;” who congeals the water when forming it into hail, so as to appear in small crystals like crumbs of bread. “Who shall stand before the face of his cold?” An apostrophe of the prophet in admiration of God’s great power in producing so much cold; as much as to say, who can stand or bear so much cold?

7 He shall send out his word, and shall melt them: his wind shall blow, and the waters shall run.

Having described the extreme cold caused by the snow, frost, and ice, he now shows with what ease and celerity God causes them all to disappear. “He shall send out his word,” his simple command, “and shall melt them,” the snow, frost, and ice, and, at once, the cold disappears; and he explains how simply God effects that, when he adds, “His wind shall blow, and the waters shall run;” at his command the wind shifts to the south, causing the snow and the ice to thaw, and thus converting them into water.

8 Who declareth his word to Jacob: his justices and his judgments to Israel.
9 He hath not done in like manner to every nation: and his judgments he hath not made manifest to them. Alleluia.

He concludes by showing how differently God, in his providence, deals with his own people, and with other nations, because he instructed other nations, merely by natural causes and effects, so as to know their Creator through the things created by him; but he taught his own people through the prophets. “Who declareth his word to Jacob;” that is to say, Jerusalem praise that Lord, “who declared his word to his people Jacob,” by speaking to them through Moses, and the prophets, and who pointed out “his justices and his judgments to Israel,” through the same Moses, to whom he gave the law, in order to hand it over to his people of Israel, and from it you will be able to understand “that he hath not done in like manner to every nation,” because to you alone, and to none others, “hath he made manifest his judgments,” meaning his laws. All this applies literally to the Jerusalem on earth, to whom God sent his prophets to announce his words, and explain his laws; but it is much more applicable to the spiritual Jerusalem, the Church, that received the incarnate word of God himself, through the preaching of the Apostles, and learned a much more sublime law, judgments and justifications. It is more applicable, again, to the Jerusalem above, to which God openly announces his word; and in his word all its inhabitants behold the judgments of God, the order, disposition, and secrets of his divine providence, that to us are a great abyss.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture, St Robert Bellarmine | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 118

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 6, 2018

PSALM 118
The psalmist praises God for his delivery from evils; puts his whole trust in him, and foretells the coming of Christ

1 Give praise to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

David invites all to praise God, and assigns a reason for their doing so, “for he is good;” nothing more brief, and at the same time more sublime, could be said of him, for God alone can be said to be intrinsically good, and it is such goodness only that deserves to be praised; he adds, “for his mercy endureth forever;” to show that God, even in his actions, is good, and as such, is deserving of praise; for the wretched have no better way of coming at a knowledge of God’s goodness than through his mercy. For it was his mercy that created, redeemed, protects, and will crown us; and, thus, “his mercy endureth forever.”

2 Let Israel now say, that he is good: that his mercy endureth for ever.
3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
4 Let them that fear the Lord now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

He tells who he had invited to praise God, namely, the people of Israel first, from whom the Apostles were descended, and who were the first believers in Christ. He names the house of Aaron in the second place, next to the Apostles, “A great multitude of the priests obeyed the faith,” Acts 6; and all the gentiles, finally, who believed and united with the rising Church. He thus invites the whole Church, formed of Jews and gentiles, to praise God.

5 In my trouble I called upon the Lord: and the Lord heard me, and enlarged me.

He now begins to tell what he is going to praise God for, and it is for his having been in trouble, or, as the Hebrew has it, angustiated, or compassed in a narrow place, and that when he prayed to God he was heard at once, and was enlarged. “In my trouble I called upon the Lord;” without boasting of my own merits, or complaining of being unjustly persecuted, I had recourse to God’s mercy; “and the Lord heard me, and enlarged me,” by delivering me from all the dangers that encompassed me. Anyone reading Psalms 17 and 33, will at once see how applicable all this was to David himself; and it is equally so to the Church, because in its infancy, when Herod threw St. Peter, the chief head and pastor of the Church into prison, “and when prayer was made without ceasing by the Church to God for him,” it was heard at once, and by a most wonderful miracle it was enlarged from the depth of tribulation to the fullest extent of peace and consolation; and as often as the same Church was delivered from the persecutions of Nero, Decius, and Diocletian, and such persecutors, it might exclaim with David, “In my trouble I called upon the Lord; and the Lord heard me, and enlarged me.”

6 The Lord is my helper: I will not fear what man can do unto me.
7 The Lord is my helper: and I will look over my enemies.

David, or God’s people, if you will, being taught by experience, exults in great confidence, but does not say, the Lord is my helper, and I shall suffer no more, knowing that while he is a pilgrim here below he will have much to suffer from his daily enemies; but be says, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man can do unto me.” I will not be troubled in regard of any annoyance I may meet with from man, because the Lord will turn all such things to good, for so he reminded us when he said, “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do;” and again, “A hair from your head shall not perish;” and the Apostle tells us, “For our present tribulation, which is momentary and light, worketh for us above measure, exceedingly, an eternal weight of glory.” He, therefore, justly adds, “and I will look over my enemies;” for their persecutions only tend to increase my glory.

8 It is good to confide in the Lord, rather than to have confidence in man.
9 It is good to trust in the Lord, rather than to trust in princes.

He draws a useful admonition from what he has said, on placing all our hope in God, and not in man, however powerful. For God is always both able and willing to help those who put their trust in him; while men are very often unable, or when they are able, being influenced by various passions, are unwilling to offer any help. David knew that by experience, for he confided in Saul his king, at another time in Achis, the Certhean, at another time in Achitophel, his own most prudent minister, besides several others, and they all failed him, but he never confided in God, without feeling the benefit of it. He, therefore, says, strongly advising all, “It is good to confide in the Lord, rather than to have confidence in men.” Such a comparison is just suited to man’s infirmity, as we are well acquainted with the power of man, and especially of princes; while God’s power is hidden to many, who neither see it, nor reflect upon it; perhaps, even disbelieve God’s greatness, otherwise he should have had to say, it is good to hope in the Lord, and evil to hope in man. So Jeremias says, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.” It is not, however, sinful to put our trust, to a certain extent, in the help of the Angels, or of pious people, because such hope has reference to God, who helps those who trust in him, not only directly through himself; but also indirectly through others.

10 All nations compassed me about; and, in the name of the Lord I have been revenged on them.
11 Surrounding me they compassed me about: and in the name of the Lord I have been revenged on them.
12 They surrounded me like bees, and they burned like fire among thorns: and in the name of the Lord I was revenged on them.

From his own example, he shows the advantage of putting one’s trust in God; for it was not once, but several times, that he was beset by a most powerful enemy on all sides, and was most miraculously so rescued by God, as to behold them all laid prostrate about him. If we refer the passage to David, everyone knows how often he was overpowered by Saul with a numerous army, and most unexpectedly and miraculously rescued; and it is better known how often God’s people have suffered the direst persecutions from powerful kings and innumerable people, and seen God’s vengeance wreaked on the instigators of such persecutions. To show it was no ordinary persecution, he adds, “Surrounding me, they compassed me about,” so as to leave no chance of escape, “They surrounded me like bees,” to show their number and their fury; for bees surrounding a hive can scarcely be numbered; and to show their fury, he says, “They burned like fire among thorns,” that can scarcely be checked or extinguished once it gets a hold of them, and destroys them in a minute.

13 Being pushed I was overturned that I might fall: but the Lord supported me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my praise: and he is become my salvation.

Having hitherto expatiated on the multitude and the atrocity of his enemies, he now acknowledges his own weakness, as being quite unable to compete with them, that God may thus have greater glory in the matter. I was unable to resist such violence; and thus these attacks of the enemy had nigh accomplished my ruin, had not the Lord, coming in at the proper time, “supported me.” This may have reference to the various dangers David had from time to time to encounter; and it may also refer to the spiritual dangers of temptation, to which the early Christians were subject when they suffered so much persecution, under which they would have succumbed, had they not been imbued with the spirit of those verses, “The Lord is my strength and my praise.” “The Lord is my strength;” because it is through him I conquer; “and my praise,” because I am always bound to praise him; “and he is become my salvation;” has been my Savior.

15 The voice of rejoicing and of salvation is in the tabernacles of the just.

The just who heard of David’s liberation rejoiced much thereat; but much more so, on the delivery of the early Christians from persecution, was there the voice of rejoicing and the voice of salvation announcing, in the tabernacles of the just, the joyful news of salvation.

16 The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength: the right hand of the Lord hath exalted me: the right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength.

The voice of rejoicing and salvation that resounded in the tabernacles of the just is that “the right hand of the Lord,” the might and power of the Son of God, “hath wrought strength;” has done its work bravely and powerfully; for the Son of God is called in Scripture the arm, or the right hand of the Lord, because it is through the Son that the Father has done, and still does, everything. “All things were made by him,” Jn. 1; “By whom also he made the world,” Heb. 1; “Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Isaias 53; “He hath shown might in his arm,” Lk. 1; “The right hand of The Lord hath exalted me.” Herein hath the right hand of the Lord wrought strength, inasmuch as it exalted me, and lowered my enemies, which is just as applicable to the Church as to David. The repetition of “the right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength,” is for the sake of expressing his joy and gladness.

17 I shall not die, but live: and shall declare the works of the Lord.
18 The Lord chastising hath chastised me: but he hath not delivered me over to death.

The same David, or, if you will, God’s people, goes on in recording God’s mercy, who permits them to suffer persecution as a father; and not as an enemy, for the purpose, not of destroying, but of purging them. As much as to say, however great the persecutions I have suffered, and am still suffering, “I shall not die but live.” I will not be utterly exterminated, as my enemies desire; but I will hold out, “and shall declare the works of the Lord,” “who chastising, chastised me” with the rod of a father; “but he hath not delivered me to death.”

19 Open ye to me the gates of justice: I will go in to them, and give praise to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord, the just shall enter into it.

The favors he received having inspired him with the courage of aiming at higher ones, he demands an introduction to the heavenly Jerusalem, where no sinners are to be found. “Open ye to me the gates of justice,” the gates of the kingdom of heaven which is all justice, for justice is the gate of glory: “Seek (says our Lord) just the kingdom of God and his justice.”—“I will go into them, and give praise to the Lord,” because, according to Psalm 83, “They that dwell in thy house, O Lord, shall praise thee forever and ever.”—“This is the gate of the Lord, the just shall enter into it.” This gate of justice is the true gate, the only gate that leads to the Lord, and, therefore, it is only the just shall enter by it.

21 I will give glory to thee because thou hast heard me: and art become my salvation.

He now explains the expression, “I will go into them and give praise to the Lord,” for he says, “I will give glory to thee,” when I shall have entered the heavenly Jerusalem, through the gates of justices, “because thou hast heard me;” for though the just ask for many and various things in this world, they all tend to one petition, of which Psalm 26, says, “One thing I have asked of the Lord, this I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” Concerning this petition, then, he says, “I will give glory to thee because thou hast heard me,” which be explains more fully when he adds, “and art become my salvation;” you that were my hope have become my salvation; you who fed me on the way are now my reward in heaven.

22 The stone which the builders rejected; the same is become the head of the corner.
23 This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful in our eyes.

Christ having repeatedly quoted this passage in reference to himself, St. Peter having done the same, in which he has been followed by St. Paul, there can be no doubt of its applying solely and exclusively to Christ. David, then, having sung of his own delivery, and of the delivery of God’s people from their temporal calamities, and having asked for his own and their admission to eternal happiness, explains now how God opened the way to it; and, undoubtedly, hurried away by an increased light of prophecy, exclaims, “The stone which the builders rejected the same is become the head of the corner;” that is to say, God sent a living, precious, chosen stone on earth, but the Jews, who then had the building of the Church, rejected that stones and said of it, “This man, who observeth not the sabbath is not of God;” and “We have no king but Caesar;” and, “That seducer said, I will rise after three days;” and many similar things beside. But this stone, so rejected by the builders as unfit for raising the spiritual edifice, “Is become the head of the corner;” has been made by God, the principal architect, the bond to connect the two walls and keep them together, that is to say, has been made the head of the whole Church, composed of Jews and Gentiles; and such a head, that whoever is not under him cannot be saved; and whoever is built under him, the living stone, will certainly be saved. Now all this “is the Lord’s doing,” done by his election and design, without any intervention on the part of man, and, therefore, it is wonderful in our eyes.” For who is there that must not look upon it as a wonderful thing, to find a man crucified, dead and buried, rising, after three days, from the dead, immortal, with unbounded power, and declared Prince of men and Angels, and a way opened through him for mortal man, to the kingdom of heaven, to the society of the Angels, to a happy immortality?

24 This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us be glad and rejoice therein.

“This day” on which such a thing was accomplished, is really the day “which the Lord hath made.” and, therefore, for such a favor “let us be glad and rejoice therein.” The day of the resurrection, beyond doubt, for, though from his very conception, the Lord Jesus was the Christ, and the head of the Church, hence we find the Angel saying to the shepherds—“I bring you tidings of great joy, for this day is born to you a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord, in the city of David;” still, it was necessary for him, first, to be rejected by men, to be humbled, even to the death of the cross; then to be exalted, through his resurrection, then to be declared the chief corner stone, and to have it preached through all nations, “that there was salvation in none other;” hence, he said, “All power is given me in heaven, and on earth, go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The day of the resurrection is called “the day which the Lord hath made,” either because Christ, by his resurrection, as a Sun of Justice, made that day in a new manner, or because he specially consecrated that day to his service, or because he set it aside, “that we may be glad and rejoice therein.”

25 O Lord, save me: O Lord, give good success.
26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord. We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.

These are the very praises that the crowd saluted our Savior with on the day of the palms, with the exception of their making use of the word “Hosanna,” instead of, “O Lord, save me,” as we have it here. Thus, the Lord on that day wished to make a visible exhibition of, and to anticipate the invisible triumph he was about to enjoy on the day of his resurrection. Nor could it be fairly objected to him that he was enjoying a triumph before he obtained the victory, because he was most certain of the victory, and the Prophet, as well as he, foresaw and foretold that Christ would be rejected as the corner stone at the time of his passion, and that he would be afterwards exalted in his resurrection, so as to become the head of the corner, so he also foresaw and foretold the very words the crowd would make use of on the day of Christ’s triumph, the day of the palms by which the triumph of the resurrection was signified, and turns to account the fact of both having occurred on the same day, namely, the Lord’s day. He, therefore, says, “Let us be glad, and rejoice on this day,” saying, “O Lord, save me, O Lord, give good success” in the commencement of your reign. “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord;” may the Messias, our King, now become the head of the corner, be blessed by all, “that cometh in the name of the Lord,” that does not come of himself, an usurper like Antichrist, but comes, having been sent by his Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, as Christ himself explains, in Jn. 5. “We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.” Having explained the whole prophecy regarding the coming of Christ and his triumph, the Prophet now addresses the people, and exhorts them to celebrate a solemn festival in thanksgiving, “We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.” We, prophets, have blessed you, a faithful people, by announcing to you those divine mysteries that lead to your salvation.

27 The Lord is God, and he hath shone upon us. Appoint a solemn day, with shady boughs, even to the horn of the altar.

This is, as it were, a summary of all, as much as to say, our Lord is the true God, and he hath shone upon us by showing us the light of his mercies. Therefore, appoint a solemn shady day, by bringing in lots of green branches to ornament the temple to the very horn of the altar. That is variously interpreted, according to the ceremonies of the Jews, that do not concern us at present.

28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, and I will exalt thee. I will praise thee, because thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
29 O praise ye the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

These verses are only a repetition of the preceding, in order to express the vehement affections of the prophet.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, St Robert Bellarmine | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: