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 Weekdays (Years I and II) and Sundays (Years A, B and C) and Solemnities

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 22, 2018

NOTE: Solemnities and feasts are listed at the end of this post. This part is not yet complete. If you are looking for commentaries on the Sunday readings in the Extraordinary Form go here.


Suggested Resources for the Gospel of Mark. The gospel primarily used in Year B.

Suggested Recourses on the Sunday Epistle Readings for Ordinary Time, Year B.


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

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.
Epiphany to the Baptism of the Lord.

Each week contains the beginning and ending Sundays (e.g., the 4th week contains Sundays 4 and 5). We are currently in daily cycle 1 and Sunday cycle B. The new Sunday cycle always begins on the First Sunday of Advent; and the daily cycle on the next day.

1st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
2nd WEEK: Year 1Year 2.
3rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
4th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
5th WEEK: Year 1Year 2.
6th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
7th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
8th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
9th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
10th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
11th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
12th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
13th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
14th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
15th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
16th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
17th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
18th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
19th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
20th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
21st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
22nd WEEK:  Year1Year 2.
23rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
24th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
25th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
26th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
27th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
28th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
29th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
30th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
31st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
32nd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
33rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
34th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.


Ash Wednesday Through Second Sunday of Lent.
Second Week of Lent.
Third Week of Lent.
Fourth Week of Lent.
Fifth Week of Lent.
!!! Holy Week.


Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter).
Second Week of Easter.
Third Week of Easter.
Fourth Week of Easter.
Fifth Week of Easter.
Sixth Week of Easter. Includes Ascension Thursday.
Seventh Week of Easter. Includes Pentecost.

Some of these are also listed above (e.g., during the Christmas season).

December 8. Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Dec 12. Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Dec 24-25. Christmas: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. 4 Masses below.

Dec 26. Feast of St Stephen the Proto-Martyr.

Dec 27. Feast of St John the Evangelist.

Dec 28. Feast of the Holy Innocents.

Jan 1. Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Mother of God (Octave of Christmas).

Jan 6. Solemnity of the Epiphany.

Jan 25. Feast of the Conversion of St Paul.

Feb 2. Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

Feb 22. Feast of the Chair of St Peter.

Mar 19. Feast of St Joseph, Husband of Mary.

Mar 25. Feast of the Annunciation.

Apr. 25. Feast of St Mark the Evangelist.

May 1. Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

May 3. Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles.

May 14. Feast of St Matthias, Apostle.

May 31. Feast of the Visitation.

Second Friday After Pentecost: Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Year A.  Year B.  Year C.

Jun 24. Vigil and Mass of the Day. Feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist.

Jun 29. Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles.

Jul 3. Feast of St Thomas the Apostle.

Jul 22. Feast of St Mary Magdalene.

Jul 25. Feast of St James the Elder, Apostle.

Aug 6. Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Year A.

Aug 10. Feast of St Lawrence the Deacon.

Aug 15. Vigil and Mass of the Day. Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Aug 24. Feast of St Bartholomew, Apostle.

Sept 8. Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sept 14. Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Sept 21. Feast of St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.

Sept 29. Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels.

Oct 18. Feast of St Luke the Evangelist.

Oct 28. Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles.

Nov 1. Solemnity of All Saints.

Nov 2. The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.

Nov 9. Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

Nov 30. The Feast of St Andrew, Apostle.

Last Sunday of the Year: Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Always falls on last Sunday of the Year.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 13:31-35

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 17, 2021

Mt 13:31. Another parable he proposed unto them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field.
Mt 13:32. Which is the least indeed of all seeds; but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come, and dwell in the branches thereof.

Another parable he proposed unto them.] 3. The mustard seed. Here our Lord begins to set forth the power of the kingdom manifested first by its great extension. This manifestation is calculated to console and reassure the apostles, who might have been discouraged by the foregoing predictions of coming evil. Here again the similitude lies between what occurs in the kingdom of heaven and the whole contents of the parable. The mustard-tree can hardly be the “salvadora persica,” which is rare in Palestine, but must refer to the garden plant [sinapis nigra] which in the fertile soil of the Holy Land reached the height of several feet, and exceeded all other garden plants [Barradas]; Maldonado, does not wish to insist on these minutiæ of the parable. The mustard seed is not the least of all seeds botanically, but it was so either practically in the Holy Land [cf. Schaff], or at least proverbially [Lightfoot, Hor. hebr. in 1.; Buxtorf, Lexic. chald. talmud. p. 822]. Our Lord describes in this passage the small and humble beginnings of the Messianic kingdom [cf. Ezech. 17:23]; we need not recall the particulars of Christ’s humility and poverty, and of the apostles’ lowly condition [cf. Chrysostom, Jerome, Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan, Jansenius]. What is said by some commentators [cf. Jansenius, Sylveira, Lapide] about the various medicinal properties of the mustard seed, or about the birds of heaven and the branches of the mustard-tree, hardly belongs to the genuine meaning of the parable, though it may be regarded as an accommodation of the passage.

Mt 13:33. Another parable he spoke to them: The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.

Another parable he spoke to them.] 4. The leaven. Here our Lord shows the intensive efficacy of the kingdom, as he illustrated its extensive efficiency in the foregoing parable. The “three measures,” or three seahs, are equivalent to an ephah or bath, which is equal to 7 gals. and 4.5 pts. [ Ant. XI. iv. 5]. The number “three” has wonderfully exercised the ingenuity of commentators: it signifies “multitude” in general [Chrysostom, Euthymius, Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan]; or the law, the prophets, and the gospel [Hillary, Ambrose Chrysologos]; or the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost [Hillary]; or the Semites, Chamites, and Japhetites [Hillary]; or Asia, Africa, and Europe [Bruno, Faber Stapulensis, Jansenius, Lapide]; or the Jews, Samaritans, and Greeks [Euthymius]; or our reasonable, concupiscible, and irascible faculties, in other words, the spirit, the soul, and the flesh [Jerome, Bede Rabanus, Paschasius, Dionysius the Carthusian, Ambrose]; or the moral, intellectual, and heroic virtues [Alb.]; or our heart, our soul, and our strength [Thomas Aquinas]; or the life of prelacy, of contemplation, and of action [id.]; or the thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and hundred-fold fruit [id.]; Jesus appears to have spoken of three measures in allusion to Gen. 18:6; Judg. 6:19; 1 Kings. 1:24 [Jansenius, Knabenbauer, etc.], so that the quantity suffices for a copious meal. Since in the figurative language of the Jews [Weber, System, etc. 221], as well as in the New Testament [Mk. 8:15; Mt. 16:6], “leaven” usually signifies something evil, its occurrence in the present passage must not refer to its substance, but only to its hidden, almost irresistible manner of acting and to its result. It would lead us too far, were we even to delineate the similarity of action and of result on the part of the Messianic message [cf. Euthymius, Dionysius the Carthusian. Jansenius].

Mt 13:34. All these things Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes: and without parables he did not speak to them.
Mt 13:35. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world. 

All these things Jesus spoke in parables.] 5. Explanation of the second parable. The evangelist here interrupts the series of parables by inserting the explanation of the second parable, and by drawing attention to a fulfilment of prophecy in our Lord’s parable discourse. The appeal to prophecy holds a place in the series of parables similar to that in the series of miracles [cf. Mt. 8:17; 12:18], and cannot therefore be set aside as an interpolation [cf. Weiss.], a. Appeal to prophecy. “Without parables he did not speak to them” at this period of the public life, when the conversion of the mass of the people had become hopeless [Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Dionysius the Carthusian, Jansenius, De Wette, Arnoldi, etc.], though in his earlier career he spoke to the people in plain language [cf. Schegg]. “That it might be fulfilled” does not admit of mere accommodation [Maldonado] of the Psalmist’s prediction to the ministry of our Lord; since Jesus was the anti-type of the Old Testament, not merely in his character of priest and king, but also of prophet, the typical prophetic actions, e.g. their teaching in parables, must find their parallel in the teaching of our Lord [cf. Mt. 5:12; 23:30; Lk. 13:33; Knabenbauer]. As, therefore, Asaph the Seer [2 Par. 29:30] appeals in Ps. 77, [78,] to certain facts of the nation’s history as to “parables” containing a moral doctrine, and as to “things hidden” expressing beside their obvious meaning the secrets of divine providence regarding the theocracy, so Jesus must in real parables describe the mysteries of the Messianic kingdom [cf. Col. 1:26; Jerome, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan, Jansenius, Arnoldi, Schegg, Fillion, Knabenbauer etc.]. The first half of the evangelist’s quotation follows the Greek version, the second half gives the Hebrew original [Ps. 87:2]. At the time of the Psalmist the passage was a warning against apostasy, at the time of Isaias it was an indication of the judgment against Juda, at the time of our Lord it points to the alternative of salvation or rejection [cf. Schanz].

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The Compassion of Jesus Christ

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 11, 2021




The following is based upon Logos’ Thematic Outlines (HUSSER, LYDIA, Thematic Outlines: Dataset Documentation, Faithlife, Bellingham, WA 2017.)

Compassion of Jesus Christ

Synopsis: Jesus Christ’s pity and loving concern for the lowly and the needy. His words and deeds show God’s merciful and gracious nature in action.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Christ’s compassion towards men. (Read all 6 articles).
God’s compassion, 270
man’s compassion in forgiveness, 2843

Jesus Christ shows the compassion of God: 2 Co 1:3. See also 2 Ch 36:15; Ps 86:15; Ho 11:4; Ho 11:8–9; Lk 1:72; Lk 1:78; Lk 15:20

The compassion of Jesus Christ is the basis of Christian confidence: Heb 4:14–16 The Greek word here translated “sympathise” has the sense of “be compassionate towards”.

The demonstration of Jesus Christ’s compassion:

In supporting the weak: Mt 12:20 . See also Is 42:3; Mt 19:14

In healing the sick: Mt 14:14. See also Mt 20:34; Mk 1:41; Lk 13:12

In comforting the bereaved: Lk 7:13. See also Lk 8:50; Jn 11:33–35; Jn 19:25–27; Jn 20:14–16

In feeding the hungry: Mt 15:32. See also Mt 14:16

In finding and forgiving lost sinners: Mt 9:36. See also Is 40:11; Mt 18:14; Mt 23:37–38; Lk 7:47–48; Jn 8:10–11

In giving rest to those who are burdened or abandoned: Mt 11:28–29. See also Mk 1:40–41; Lk 11:46; Lk 15:1–2; Lk 17:12–14

Jesus Christ’s compassion is a model for Christians to follow: Lk 10:36–37. See also Jn 13:34; Jn 17:18; Php 2:1


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The Topic of Shepherd in the Bible

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 11, 2021

The following was excerpted from Naves Topical Bible (Protestant reference work. Public domain).

One who cares for flocks: Gen 31:38-40; Psa 78:52-53; Jer 31:10; Am 3:12; Luk 2:8
David, the shepherd, defends his flock against a lion and a bear: 1 Sam 17:34-35
Causes the flock to rest: Ps 23:2; Song 1:7; Jer 33:12
Numbers the flock: Lev 27:32; Jer 33:13
Knows his flock by name: Jn 10:3-5
Keeps the sheep and goats apart: Mat 25:32
Waters the flocks: Gen 29:2-10
Keeps the flocks in folds: Num 32:16; 1 Sam 24:3; 2 Sam 7:8; Jn 10:1
Watch towers of: 2 Ch_26:10; Mic 4:8
Dogs of: Job 30:1
Was an abomination to the Egyptians: Gen 46:34
Angels appeared to: Lk 2:8-20
Instances of:

Abel: Gen 4:2
Rachel: Gen 29:9
Daughters of Jethro: Ex 2:16
Moses: Ex 3:1
David: 1 Sam 16:11; 2 Sam 7:8; Psa_78:70


General references: Gen 49:24
Of God’s care: Ps 23:1-6; Ps 78:52; Ps 80:1
Of prophets, priests, Levites, and civil authorities: Ezek 34
Of Christ: Zec 13:7; Mat 26:31; John 10:1-16; Heb 13:20; 1 Pet 2:25
Name given to Jesus: Isa 40:11; Mk 14:27; Jn 10:11; 1 Pet 2:25; 1 Pet 5:4
Name given to Cyrus: Isa 44:28

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St Leo the Great’s Sermon on Matthew 5:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 5, 2021

ST. MATT. 5:1–9

I. Introduction of the subject

When our LORD Jesus Christ, beloved, was preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and was healing divers sicknesses through the whole of Galilee, the fame of His mighty works had spread into all Syria: large crowds too from all parts of Judæa were flocking to the heavenly Physician7. For as human ignorance is slow in believing what it does not see, and in hoping for what it does not know, those who were to be instructed in the divine lore8, needed to be aroused by bodily benefits and visible miracles: so that they might have no doubt as to the wholesomeness of His teaching when they actually experienced His benignant power. And therefore that the LORD might use outward healings as an introduction to inward remedies, and after healing bodies might work cures in the soul, He separated Himself from the surrounding crowd, ascended into the retirement of a neighbouring mountain, and called His apostles to Him there, that from the height of that mystic seat He might instruct them in the lottier doctrines, signifying from the very nature of the place and act that He it was who had once honoured Moses by speaking to him: then indeed with a more terrifying justice, but now with a holier mercifulness, that what had been promised might be fulfilled when the Prophet Jeremiah says: “behold the days come when I will complete a new covenant1 for the house of Israel and for the house of Judah. After those days, saith the LORD, I will put My laws in their minds2, and in their heart will I write them3.” He therefore who had spoken to Moses, spoke also to the apostles, and the swift hand of the Word wrote and deposited the secrets of the new covenant4 in the disciples’ hearts: there were no thick clouds surrounding Him as of old, nor were the people frightened off from approaching the mountain by frightful sounds and lightning5, but quietly and freely His discourse reached the ears of those who stood by: that the harshness of the law might give way before the gentleness of grace, and “the spirit of adoption” might dispel the terrors of bondage6.

II. The blessedness of humility discussed

The nature then of Christ’s teaching is attested by His own holy statements: that they who wish to arrive at eternal blessedness may understand the steps of ascent to that high happiness. “Blessed,” He saith, “are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven7.” It would perhaps be doubtful what poor He was speaking of, if in saying “blessed are the poor” He had added nothing which would explain the sort of poor: and then that poverty by itself would appear sufficient to win the kingdom of heaven which many suffer from hard and heavy necessity. But when He says “blessed are the poor in spirit,” He shows that the kingdom of heaven must be assigned to those who are recommended by the humility of their spirits rather than by the smallness of their means. Yet it cannot be doubted that this possession of humility is more easily acquired by the poor than the rich: for submissiveness is the companion of those that want, while loftiness of mind dwells with riches8. Notwithstanding, even in many of the rich is found that spirit which uses its abundance not for the increasing of its pride but on works of kindness, and counts that for the greatest gain which it expends in the relief of others’ hardships. It is given to every kind and rank of men to share in this virtue, because men may be equal in will, though unequal in fortune: and it does not matter how different they are in earthly means, who are found equal in spiritual possessions. Blessed, therefore, is poverty which is not possessed with a love of temporal things, and does not seek to be increased with the riches of the world, but is eager to amass heavenly possessions.

III. Scriptural examples of humility

Of this high-souled humility the Apostles first9, after the LORD, have given us example, who, leaving all that they had without difference at the voice of the heavenly Master, were turned by a ready change from the catching of fish to be fishers of men, and made many like themselves through the imitation of their faith, when with those first-begotten sons of the Church, “the heart of all was one, and the spirit one, of those that believed10:” for they, putting away the whole of their things and possessions, enriched themselves with eternal goods, through the most devoted poverty, and in accordance with the Apostles’ preaching rejoiced to have nothing of the world and possess all things with Christ. Hence the blessed Apostle Peter, when he was going up into the temple, and was asked for alms by the lame man, said, “Silver and gold is not mine, but what I have that I give thee: in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk11.” What more sublime than this humility? what richer than this poverty? He hath not stores of money12, but he hath gifts of nature. He whom his mother had brought forth lame from the womb, is made whole by Peter with a word; and he who gave not Cæsar’s image in a coin, restored Christ’s image on the man. And by the riches of this treasure not he only was aided whose power of walking was restored, but 5,000 men also, who then believed at the Apostle’s exhortation on account of the wonder of this cure. And that poor man who had not what to give to the asker, bestowed so great a bounty of Divine Grace, that, as he had set one man straight on his feet, so he healed these many thousands of believers in their hearts, and made them “leap as an hart” in Christ whom he had found limping in Jewish unbelief.

IV. The blessedness of mourning discussed

After the assertion of this most happy humility, the LORD hath added, saying, “Blessed are they which mourn, for they shall be comforted13.” This mourning, beloved, to which eternal comforting is promised, is not the same as the affliction of this world: nor do those laments which are poured out in the sorrowings of the whole human race make any one blessed. The reason for holy groanings, the cause of blessed tears, is very different. Religious grief mourns sin either that of others’ or one’s own: nor does it mourn for that which is wrought by GOD’S justice, but it laments over that which is committed by man’s iniquity, where he that does wrong is more to be deplored than he who suffers it, because the unjust man’s wrongdoing plunges him into punishment, but the just man’s endurance leads him on to glory.

V. The blessedness of the meek

Next the LORD says: “blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth by inheritance1.” To the meek and gentle, to the humble and modest, and to those who are prepared to endure all injuries, the earth is promised for their possession. And this is not to be reckoned a small or cheap inheritance, as if it were distinct from our heavenly dwelling, since it is no other than these who are understood to enter the kingdom of heaven. The earth, then, which is promised to the meek, and is to be given to the gentle in possession, is the flesh of the saints, which in reward for their humility will be changed in a happy resurrection, and clothed with the glory of immortality, in nothing now to act contrary to the spirit, and to be in complete unity and agreement with the will of the soul2. For then the outer man will be the peaceful and unblemished possession of the inner man: then the mind, engrossed in beholding GOD, will be hampered by no obstacles of human weakness nor will it any more have to be said, “The body which is corrupted, weigheth upon the soul, and its earthly house presseth down the sense which thinketh many things3:” for the earth will not struggle against its tenant, and will not venture on any insubordination against the rule of its governor. For the meek shall possess it in perpetual peace, and nothing shall be taken from their rights, “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality4:” that their danger may turn into reward, and what was a burden become an honour5.

VI. The blessedness of desiring righteousness

After this the LORD goes on to say: “blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied6.” It is nothing bodily, nothing earthly, that this hunger, this thirst seeks for: but it desires to be satiated with the good food of righteousness, and wants to be admitted to all the deepest mysteries, and be filled with the LORD Himself. Happy the mind that craves this food and is eager for such drink: which it certainly would not seek for if it had never tasted of its sweetness. But hearing the Prophet’s spirit saying to him: “taste and see that the LORD is sweet7;” it has received some portion of sweetness from on high, and blazed out into love of the purest pleasure, so that spurning all things temporal, it is seized with the utmost eagerness for eating and drinking righteousness, and grasps the truth of that first commandment which says: “Thou shalt love the LORD thy GOD out of all thy heart, and out of all thy mind, and out of all thy strength8:” since to love GOD is nothing else but to love righteousness9. In fine, as in that passage the care for one’s neighbour is joined to the love of GOD, so, too, here the virtue of mercy is linked to the desire for righteousness, and it is said:

VII. The blessedness of the merciful:

“Blessed are the merciful, for GOD shall have mercy on them10.” Recognize, Christian, the worth of thy wisdom, and understand to what rewards thou art called, and by what methods of discipline thou must attain thereto. Mercy wishes thee to be merciful, righteousness to be righteous, that the Creator may be seen in His creature, and the image of GOD may be reflected in the mirror of the human heart expressed by the lines of imitation. The faith of those who do good11 is free from anxiety: thou shalt have all thy desires, and shalt obtain without end what thou lovest. And since through thine almsgiving all things are pure to thee, to that blessedness also thou shalt attain which is promised in consequence where the LORD says:

VIII. The blessedness of a pure heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see GOD1.” Great is the happiness, beloved, of him for whom so great a reward is prepared. What, then, is it to have the heart pure, but to strive after those virtues which are mentioned above? And how great the blessedness of seeing GOD, what mind can conceive, what tongue declare? And yet this shall ensue when man’s nature is transformed, so that no longer “in a mirror,” nor “in a riddle,” but “face to face2” it sees the very Godhead “as He is3,” which no man could see4; and through the unspeakable joy of eternal contemplation obtains that “which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man5.” Rightly is this blessedness promised to purity of heart. For the brightness of the true light will not be able to be seen by the unclean sight: and that which will be happiness to minds that are bright and clean, will be a punishment to those that are stained. Therefore, let the mists of earth’s vanities be shunned and your inward eyes purged from all the filth of wickedness, that the sight may be free to feed on this great manifestation of GOD. For to the attainment of this we understand what follows to lead.

IX. The blessedness of peace-making

“Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the sons of GOD6.” This blessedness, beloved, belongs not to any and every kind of agreement and harmony, but to that of which the Apostle speaks: “have peace towards GOD7;” and of which the Prophet David speaks: “Much peace have they that love Thy law, and they have no cause of offences8.” This peace even the closest ties of friendship and the exactest likeness of mind do not really gain, if they do not agree with GOD’S will. Similarity of bad desires, leagues in crimes, associations of vice, cannot merit this peace. The love of the world does not consort with the love of GOD, nor doth he enter the alliance of the sons of GOD who will not separate himself from the children of this generation9 Whereas they who are in mind always with GOD, “giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace10,” never dissent from the eternal law, uttering that prayer of faith, “Thy will be done as in heaven so on earth11.” These are “the peacemakers,” these are thoroughly of one mind, and fully harmonious, and are to be called sons “of GOD and joint-heirs with Christ12,” because this shall be the record of the love of GOD and the love of our neighbour, that we shall suffer no calamities, be in fear of no offence, but all the strife of trial ended, rest in GOD’S most perfect peace, through our LORD, Who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 John 5:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 5, 2021

1 Jn 5:1 WHOSOEVER believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. And every one that loveth him who begot, loveth him also who is born of him.

The Apostle here inculcates brotherly love, on the ground, that our brethren are sons of God, but this does not exclude from our love such of them as are not sons of God; for, these are to be loved so as to be made sons of God and true brethren in Christ. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ,” that is, the long-expected Messiah, and of course reduces this faith to practice; “is born of God,” has received of him the new spiritual birth through sanctifying grace which imparts to him a new essence, and makes him “partaker of the divine nature,” (2 Peter, 1). Under the faith that “Jesus is the Christ,” is most probably contained the belief in all the other points of revealed doctrine; and the truths of Christ’s divine mission is prominently put forward, because called in question by the heretics of the day. “Is born of God;” this being an affirmative proposition, of course, only implies, that he is such, all other conditions being observed; “and every one that loveth him who begot,” that is, the Father, “loveth him also who is born of him,” viz., the Son, be he natural or adopted. Some persons restrict the words, “him who is born of him,” to Christ, the natural Son of God. It is better, however, to give it a general signification of an adage or maxim, in use among men, referring to fathers and sons generally.

1 Jn 5:2 In this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep his commandments.

The Apostle, in this verse, applies to a particular case, viz., as regards the children of God, the adage employed in a general sense, as regarding all fathers and sons in the preceding. In the foregoing part of this Epistle, he gave it as a sign and argument of our loving God, if we loved our neighbour. Now, by an argument, e converso, he shows, that if we love God, we love our neighbour, the love of both being inseparable; for, the motive of both is the very same, as has been shown (4:12). It may often happen, that the love of God may be better known at one time, and the love of our neighbour at another, according to the nature of our immediate occupation; according as we may be engaged in acts immediately affecting the divine honour, or, in relieving human misery. “And keep his commandments;” this he adds to the words, “we love God,” lest any person should deceive himself by imagining that he can love God, without fulfilling his precepts.

1 Jn 5:3 For this is the charity of God: That we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not heavy.

The best proof we can afford that we love God is to keep his commandments; for, whosoever sincerely loves God, will, influenced by that love, observe all his other precepts. And lest any one should be disheartened by the test of God’s love required by the Apostle, he says, “his commandments are not heavy,” which words are understood by some, in a relative sense, as compared with the heavy yoke of the Ceremonial Law of the Jews, “which neither they nor their fathers could bear,” and was abrogated by Christ; the precepts of the New Law are not heavy. Or, although many precepts in the New Law be repugnant to the feelings of corrupt nature (v.g.)—taking up our cross, renouncing ourselves, losing our lives, &c.; still, they are rendered light by God’s grace, and the stimulating examples of Christ and his saints. Moreover, it is likely, as appears from the entire context, that the Apostle refers to such as are sons of God, and in sanctifying grace, and love him; and to such, persons nothing is “heavy,” or burdensome. Hence, St. Paul calls all present tribulations, as compared with eternal bliss, “light and momentary” (2 Cor. 4:17). If the commandments of God are not “heavy,” none of them, therefore, is impossible, as has been taught by Jansenius.

1 Jn 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world. And this is the victory which overcameth the world: Our faith.

“For whatsoever is born of God.” “Whatsoever,” that is, every description of persons born of God—and this favours the interpretation of the preceding verse, which understands it of all the sons of God—“overcometh the world,” with all its temptations, seductive maxims, and ruling principles, “the concupiscence of the flesh,” &c. (2:16). To such, therefore, the commandments of God are not heavy. He next points out the source of victory, viz., “our faith,” since faith alone is the foundation of all those graces which enable us to overcome the world; it alone obtains for us those necessary graces; without it no one can ever have the means necessary for overcoming the world.

1 Jn 5:5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

“Who is he that overcometh the world,” &c.—In other words, no one can have the faith whereby the world is overcome except he who believes “that Jesus is the Son of God.” The Apostle shows, in this verse, what the faith is, to which he refers, it is the faith of which the belief in Christ’s Divinity is the foundation. Of course, he supposes this Christian, victorious faith, to be an operative faith, a faith enlivened by charity, and he refers to the article regarding the Divinity of Christ in a special manner, both here and in other parts of this Epistle, in consequence of the leading errors of the day being specially levelled against this—the foundation of the Christian religion.

1 Jn 5:6 This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ: not by water only but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit which testifieth that Christ is the truth.

The Apostle here proves, that Christ is the long expected Messiah, the Son of God. “Jesus Christ,” God and man, the Saviour of the world, who, as the prophets predicted, was about to redeem mankind by his blood, and expiate their sins in the waters of Baptism (Ezechiel, 36:25, &c., 47; Zach. 12:13). “This is he that came” (or, as the Greek, ὅ ἐλθων implies, this is the man long expected to come), “by water and blood,” to redeem the world, and spiritually regenerate mankind “by water” of baptism “and blood” of his passion, of which the baptism in water, and purifications by the shedding of blood, among the Jews, were so many significant types and figures. “Not by water only,” in which allusion is evidently made to the Baptist, of whom it is everywhere pointedly asserted by the Evangelist—and the same is repeatedly asserted by himself—that he came to baptize in water only, and that he was sent by God for this purpose, and his baptism did not of itself remit sin, as it most probably, was a mere preparation for penance, and for the true baptism instituted by Christ. “But by water and blood.” He came “by water,” because he instituted baptism of water, whereof that which issued from his side while hanging on the cross was a sign; and “by blood,” poured forth on the cross, from which baptism, and all the other channels of divine grace, derive their efficacy. “And it is the Spirit that testifieth, that Christ is the truth”; to the testimony of the water and blood, the Apostle adds that of the Holy Ghost, who testified to the Divinity of Christ, during his sacred life, working wonders in proof thereof; and after his death and resurrection, when descending on the Apostles, in the form of fiery tongues, he filled them with his graces, he also bore testimony to the same, in the many gifts which he bestowed on the faithful. In the Greek reading the words run thus: καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα ἐστιν τὸ μαρτυροῦν, ὅτι τὸ πνεῦμα εστιν, η ἀληθεια “and it is the Spirit that testifieth, because the Spirit is truth,” according to which the meaning is: the Holy Ghost also bears testimony, that Christ is the expected Messiah and Saviour of the world, and this testimony is of the greatest weight, because the Holy Ghost is essential truth. The Vulgate reading is, however, preferable, since the question regards the truth of Christ’s Divinity and Humanity; both of which are necessary to constitute him the true Saviour of the world.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 3:17-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 14, 2021

JOHN 3:17.
“For God sent not His Son2 to condemn the world, but to save the world.”3

[1.] MANY of the more careless sort of persons, using the lovingkindness of God to increase the magnitude of their sins and the excess of their disregard, speak in this way, “There is no hell, there is no future punishment, God forgives us all sins.” To stop whose mouths a wise man says, “Say not, His mercy is great, He will be pacified for the multitude of my sins; for mercy and wrath come from Him, and His indignation resteth upon sinners” (Ecclus. 5:6): and again, “As His mercy is great, so is His correction also.” (Ecclus. 16:12.) “Where then,” saith one, “is His lovingkindness, if we shall receive for our sins according to our deserts?” That we shall indeed receive “according to our deserts,” hear both the Prophet and Paul declare; one says, “Thou shalt render to every man according to his work” (Ps. 62:12, LXX.); the other, “Who will render to every man according to his work.” (Rom. 2:6.) And yet we may see that even so the lovingkindness of God is great; in dividing our existence4 into two periods,5 the present life and that which is to come, and making the first to be an appointment of trial, the second a place of crowning, even in this He hath shown great lovingkindness.
“How and in what way?” Because when we had committed many and grievous sins, and had not ceased from youth to extreme old age to defile our souls with ten thousand evil deeds, for none of these sins did He demand from us a reckoning, but granted us remission of them by the washing6 of Regeneration, and freely gave us Righteousness and Sanctification. “What then,” says one, “if a man who from his earliest age has been deemed worthy of the mysteries, after this commits ten thousand sins?” Such an one deserves a severer punishment. For we do not pay the same penalties for the same sins, if we do wrong after Initiation.7 And this Paul declares, saying, “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the Covenant an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:28, 29.) Such an one then is worthy of severer punishment.8 Yet even for him God hath opened doors of repentance, and hath granted him many means for the washing away his transgressions, if he will. Think then what proofs of lovingkindness these are; by Grace to remit sins, and not to punish him who after grace has sinned and deserves punishment, but to give him a season and appointed space for his clearing.9 For all these reasons Christ said to Nicodemus, “God sent not His Son to condemn the world, but to save the world.”

For there are two Advents of Christ, that which has been, and that which is to be; and the two are not for the same purpose; the first came to pass not that He might search into our actions, but that He might remit; the object of the second will be not to remit, but to enquire. Therefore of the first He saith, “I came not to condemn the world, but to save the world” (c. 3:17); but of the second, “When the Son shall have come in the glory of His Father,1 He shall set the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left.” (Matt. 25:31 and Matt. 25:46.) And they shall go, these into life; and these into eternal punishment. Yet His former coming was for judgment, according to the rule of justice. Why? Because before His coming there was a law of nature, and the prophets, and moreover a written Law, and doctrine, and ten thousand promises, and manifestations of signs, and chastisements, and vengeances, and many other things which might have set men right, and it followed that for all these things He would demand account; but, because He is merciful, He for a while pardons instead of making enquiry. For had He done so, all would at once have been hurried to perdition. For “all,” it saith, “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23.) Seest thou the unspeakable excess of His lovingkindness?

Ver. 18. “He that believeth on the Son,2 is not judged;3 but he that believeth not, is judged already.”
Yet if He “came not to judge the world,” how is “he that believeth not judged already,” if the time of “judgment” has not yet arrived? He either means this, that the very fact of disbelieving without repentance is a punishment, (for to be without the light, contains in itself a very severe punishment,) or he announces beforehand what shall be. For as the murderer, though he be not as yet condemned by the decision of the judge, is still condemned by the nature of the thing, so is it with the unbeliever. Since Adam also died on the day that he ate of the tree; for so ran the decree, “In the day that ye eat of the tree, ye shall die” (Gen. 2:17, LXX.); yet he lived. How then “died” he? By the decree; by the very nature of the thing; for he who has rendered himself liable to punishment, is under its penalty, and if for a while not actually so, yet he is by the sentence.

Lest any one on hearing, “I came not to judge the world,” should imagine that he might sin unpunished, and should so become more careless, Christ stops4 such disregard by saying, “is judged already”; and because the “judgment” was future and not yet at hand, He brings near the dread of vengeance, and describes the punishment as already come. And this is itself a mark of great lovingkindness, that He not only gives His Son, but even delays the time of judgment, that they who have sinned, and they who believe not, may have power to, wash away their transgressions.
“He that believeth on the Son, is not judged.” He that “believeth,” not he that is over-curious: he that “believeth,” not the busybody. But what if his life be unclean, and his deeds evil? It is of such as these especially that Paul declares, that they are not true believers at all: “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him.” (Tit. 1:16.) But here Christ saith, that such an one is not “judged” in this one particular; for his works indeed he shall suffer a severer punishment, but having believed once, he is not chastised for unbelief.

[2.] Seest thou how having commenced His discourse with fearful things, He has concluded it again with the very same? for at first He saith, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God”: and here again, “He that believeth not on the Son, is judged already.” “Think not,” He saith, “that the delay advantageth at all the guilty, except he repent, for he that hath not believed, shall be in no better state than those who are already condemned and under punishment.”

Ver. 19. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.”
What He saith, is of this kind: “they are punished, because they would not leave the darkness, and hasten to the light.” And hence He goes on to deprive them of all excuse for the future: “Had I come,” saith He, “to punish and to exact account of their deeds, they might have been able to say, ‘this is why we started away from thee,’ but now I am come to free them from darkness, and to bring them to the light; who then could pity one who will not come from darkness unto light? When they have no charge to bring against us, but have received ten thousand benefits, they start away from us.” And this charge He hath brought in another place, where He saith, “They hated Me without a cause” (John 15:25): and again, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin.” (John 15:22.) For he who in the absence of light sitteth in darkness, may perchance receive pardon; but one who after it is come abides by the darkness, produces against himself a certain proof of a perverse and contentious disposition. Next, because His assertion would seem incredible to most, (for none would prefer “darkness to light,”) He adds the cause of such a feeling in them. What is that?

Ver. 19, 20. “Because,” He saith, “their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”

Yet he came not to judge or to enquire, but to pardon and remit transgressions, and to grant salvation through faith. How then fled they?5 Had He come and sat in His Judgment seat, what He said might have seemed reasonable; for he that is conscious to himself of evil deeds, is wont to fly his judge. But, on the contrary, they who have transgressed even run to one who is pardoning. If therefore He came to pardon, those would naturally most hasten to Him who were conscious to themselves of many transgressions; and indeed this was the case with many, for even publicans and sinners sat at meat with Jesus. What then is this which He saith? He saith this of those who choose always to remain in wickedness. He indeed came, that He might forgive men’s former sins, and secure them against those to come; but since there are some so relaxed,1 so powerless for the toils of virtue, that they desire to abide by wickedness till their latest breath, and never cease from it, He speaks in this place reflecting2 upon these. “For since,” He saith, “the profession of Christianity requires besides right doctrine a sound conversation also, they fear to come over to us, because they like not to show forth a righteous life. Him that lives in heathenism none would blame, because with gods such as he has, and with rites as foul and ridiculous as his gods, he shows forth actions that suit his doctrines; but those who belong to the True God, if they live a careless life, have all men to call them to account, and to accuse them. So greatly do even its enemies admire the truth.” Observe, then, how exactly He layeth down what He saith. His expression is, not “He that hath done evil cometh not to the light,” but “he that doeth it always, he that desireth always to roll himself in the mire of sin, he will not subject himself to My laws, but chooses to stay without, and to commit fornication without fear, and to do all other forbidden things. For if he comes to Me, he becomes manifest as a thief in the light, and therefore he avoids My dominion.” For instance, even now one may hear many heathen say, “that they cannot come to our faith, because they cannot leave off drunkenness and fornication, and the like disorders.”
“Well,” says some one, “but are there no Christians that do evil, and heathens that live discreetly?”3 That there are Christians who do evil, I know; but whether there are heathens who live a righteous life, I do not yet know assuredly. For do not speak to me of those who by nature are good and orderly, (this is not virtue,) but tell me of the man who can endure the exceeding violence of his passions and (yet) be temperate.4 You cannot. For if the promise of a Kingdom, and the threat of hell, and so much other provision;5 can scarcely keep men in virtue, they will hardly go after virtue who believe in none of these things. Or, if any pretend to do so, they do it for show; and he who doth so for show, will not, when he may escape observation, refrain from indulging his evil desires. However, that we may not seem to any to be contentious, let us grant that there are right livers among the heathen; for neither doth this go against my argument, since I spoke of that which occurs in general, not of what happens rarely.

And observe how in another way He deprives them of all excuse, when He saith that, “the light came into the world.” “Did they seek it themselves,” He saith, “did they toil, did they labor to find it? The light itself came to them, and not even so would they hasten to it.” And if there be some Christians who live wickedly, I would argue that He doth not say this of those who have been Christians from the beginning, and who have inherited true religion from their forefathers, (although even these for the most part have been shaken from6 right doctrine by their evil life,) yet still I think that He doth not now speak concerning these, but concerning the heathen and the Jews who ought to have come7 to the right faith. For He showeth that no man living in error would choose to come to the truth unless he before had planned8 for himself a righteous life, and that none would remain in unbelief unless he had previously chosen always to be wicked.
Do not tell me that a man is temperate, and does not rob; these things by themselves are not virtue. For what advantageth it, if a man has these things, and yet is the slave of vainglory, and remains in his error, from fear of the company of his friends? This is not right living. The slave of a reputation9 is no less a sinner than the fornicator; nay, he worketh more and more grievous deeds than he. But tell me of any one that is free from all passions and from all iniquity, and who remains among the heathen. Thou canst not do so; for even those among them who have boasted great things, and who have, as they say,10 mastered avarice or gluttony, have been, most of all men, the slaves of reputation,11 and this is the cause of all evils. Thus it is that the Jews also have continued Jews; for which cause Christ rebuked them and said, “How can ye believe, which receive honor from men?” (c. 5:44.)

“And why, pray, did He not speak on these matters with Nathanael, to whom He testified of the truth, nor extend His discourse to any length?” Because even he came not with such zeal as did Nicodemus. For Nicodemus made this his work,1 and the season which others used for rest he made a season for hearing; but Nathanael came at the instance of another. Yet not even him did Jesus entirely pass by, for to him He saith, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (c. 1:51.) But to Nicodemus He spake not so, but conversed with him on the Dispensation and on eternal life, addressing each differently and suitably to the condition of his will. It was sufficient for Nathanael, because he knew the writings of the prophets, and was not so timid either, to hear only thus far; but because Nicodemus was as yet possessed by fear, Christ did not indeed clearly reveal to him the whole, but shook his mind so as to cast out fear by fear, declaring that he who did not believe was being judged,2 and that unbelief proceeded from an evil conscience. For since he made great account of honor from men, more than he did of the punishment; (“Many,” saith the Evangelist, “of the rulers believed on Him, but because of the Jews they did not confess”—c. 12:42;) on this point Christ toucheth him, saying, “It cannot be that he who believeth not on Me disbelieveth for any other cause save that he liveth an unclean life.” Farther on He saith, “I am the Light” (c. 8:12), but here, “the Light came into the world”; for at the beginning He spoke somewhat darkly, but afterwards more clearly. Yet even so the man was kept back by regard for the opinion of the many, and therefore could not endure to speak boldly as he ought.

Fly we then vainglory, for this is a passion more tyrannical than any. Hence spring covetousness and love of wealth, hence hatred and wars and strifes; for he that desires more than he has, will never be able to stop, and he desires from no other cause, but only from his love of vainglory. For tell me, why do so many encircle themselves with multitudes of eunuchs, and herds of slaves, and much show? Not because they need it, but that they may make those who meet them witnesses of this unseasonable display. If then we cut this off, we shall slay together with the head the other members also of wickedness, and there will be nothing to hinder us from dwelling on earth as though it were heaven. Nor doth this vice merely thrust its captives into wickedness, but is even co-existent3 with their virtues, and when it is unable entirely to cast us out of these, it still causeth us much damage in the very exercise of them, forcing us to undergo the toil, and depriving us of the fruit. For he that with an eye to this, fasts, and prays, and shows mercy, has his reward. What can be more pitiable than a loss like this, that it should befall man to bewail4 himself uselessly and in vain, and to become an object of ridicule, and to lose the glory from above? Since he that aims at both cannot obtain both. It is indeed possible to obtain both, when we desire not both, but one only, that from heaven; but he cannot obtain both, who longs for both. Wherefore if we wish to attain to glory, let us flee from human glory, and desire that only which cometh from God; so shall we obtain both the one and the other; which may we all enjoy, through the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, fathers of the church, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture, SERMONS, St John Chrysostom | Leave a Comment »

St Augustine’s Tractate 12 on the Gospel of John (3:6-21)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 14, 2021

CHAPTER 3:6–21.

WE observe, beloved, that the intimation with which we yesterday excited your attention has brought you together with more alacrity, and in greater number than usual; but meanwhile let us, if you please, pay our debt of a discourse on the Gospel Lesson, which comes in due course. You shall then hear, beloved, as well what we have already effected concerning the peace of the Church, and what we hope yet further to accomplish. For the present, then, let the whole attention of your hearts be given to the gospel; let none be thinking of anything else. For if he who attends to it wholly apprehends with difficulty, must not he who divides himself by diverse thoughts let go what he has received? Moreover, you remember, beloved, that on the last Lord’s day, as the Lord deigned to help us, we discoursed of spiritual regeneration. That lesson we have caused to be read to you again, so that what was then left unspoken, we may now, by the aid of your prayers in the name of Christ, fulfill.

Spiritual regeneration is one, just as the generation of the flesh is one. And Nicodemus said the truth when he said to the Lord that a man cannot, when he is old, return again into his mother’s womb and be born. He indeed said that a man cannot do this when he is old, as if he could do it even were he an infant. But be he fresh from the womb, or now in years, he cannot possibly return again into the mother’s bowels and be born. But just as for the birth of the flesh, the bowels of woman avail to bring forth the child only once, so for the spiritual birth the bowels of the Church avail that a man be baptized only once. Therefore, in case one should say, “Well, but this man was born in heresy, and this in schism:” all that was cut away, if you remember what was debated to you about our three fathers, of whom God willed to be called the God, not that they were thus alone but because in them alone the figure of the future people was made up in its completeness. For we find one born of a bond woman disinherited, one born of a free woman made heir: again, we find one born of a free woman disinherited, one born of a bond woman made heir. Ishmael, born of a bond woman, disinherited; Isaac, born of a free woman, made heir: Esau, born of a free woman, disinherited; the sons of Jacob, born of bond women, made heirs. Thus, in these three fathers the figure of the whole future people is seen: and not without reason God saith, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: this,” saith He, “is my name for ever.”1 Rather let us remember what was promised to Abraham himself: for this was promised to Isaac, and also to Jacob. What do we find? “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.”2 At that time the one man believed what as yet he saw not: men now see, and are blinded. What was promised to the one man is fulfilled in the nations; and they who will not see what is already fulfilled, are separating themselves from the communion of the nations. But what avails it them that they will not see? See they do, whether they will or no; the open truth strikes against their closed eyes.

It was in answer to Nicodemus, who was of them that had believed on Jesus, that it was said, And Jesus did not trust Himself to them. To certain men, indeed, He did not trust Himself, though they had already believed on Him. Thus it is written, “Many believed in His name, seeing the signs which He did. But Jesus did not trust Himself to them. For He needed not that any should testify of man; for Himself knew what was in man.” Behold, they already believed on Jesus, and yet Jesus did not trust Himself to them. Why? because they were not yet born again of water and of the Spirit. From this have we exhorted and do exhort our brethren the catechumens. For if you ask them, they have already believed in Jesus; but because they have not yet received His flesh and blood, Jesus has not yet trusted Himself to them. What must they do that Jesus may trust Himself to them? They must be born again of water and of the Spirit; the Church that is in travail with them must bring them forth. They have been conceived; they must be brought forth to the light: they have breasts to be nourished at; let them not fear lest, being born, they may be smothered; let them not depart from the mother’s breasts.

No man can return into his mother’s bowels and be born again. But some one is born of a bond woman? Well, did they who were born of bond women at the former time, return into the wombs of the free to be born anew? The seed of Abraham was in Ishmael also; but that Abraham might have a son of the bond maid, it was at the advice of his wife. The child was of the husband’s seed, not of the womb, but at the sole pleasure of the wife. Was his birth of a bond woman the reason why he was disinherited? Then, if he was disinherited because he was the son of a bond woman, no sons of bond women would be admitted to the inheritance. The sons of Jacob were admitted to the inheritance; but Ishmael was put out of it, not because born of a bond woman, but because he was proud to his mother, proud to his mother’s son; for his mother was Sarah rather than Hagar. The one gave her womb, the other’s will was added: Abraham would not have done what Sarah willed not: therefore was he Sarah’s son rather. But because he was proud to his brother, proud in playing, that is, in mocking him; what said Sarah? “Cast out the bond woman and her son; for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.”1 It was not, therefore, the bowels of the bond woman that caused his rejection, but the slave’s neck. For the free-born is a slave if he is proud, and, what is worse, the slave of a bad mistress, of pride itself. Thus, my brethren, answer the man, that a man cannot be born a second time; answer fearlessly, that a man cannot be born a second time. Whatever is done a second time is mockery, whatever is done a second time is play. It is Ishmael playing, let him be cast out. For Sarah observed them playing, saith the Scripture, and said to Abraham, “Cast out the bond woman and her son.” The playing of the boys displeased Sarah. She saw something strange in their play. Do not they who have sons like to see them playing? She saw and disapproved it. Something or other she saw in their play; she saw mockery in it, observed the pride of the slave; she was displeased with it, and she cast him out. The children of bond women, when wicked, are cast out; and the child of the free woman, when an Esau, is cast out. Let none, therefore, presume on his birth of good parents; let none presume on his being baptized by holy men. Let him that is baptized by holy men still beware lest he be not a Jacob, but an Esau. This would I say then, brethren, it is better to be baptized by men that seek their own and love the world, which is what the name of bond woman imports, and to be spiritually seeking the inheritance of Christ, so as to be as it were a son of Jacob by a bond woman, than to be baptized by holy men and to become proud, so as to be an Esau to be cast out, though born of a free woman. Hold ye this fast, brethren. We are not coaxing you, let none of your hope be in us; we flatter neither ourselves nor you; every man bears his own burden. It is our duty to speak, that we be not judged unhappily: yours to hear, and that with the heart, lest what we give be required of you; nay, that when it is required, it may be found a gain, not a loss.

The Lord says to Nicodemus, and explains to him: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Thou, says He, understandest a carnal generation, when thou sayest, Can a man return into his mother’s bowels? The birth for the kingdom of God must be of water and of the Spirit. If one is born to the temporal inheritance of a human father, be he born of the bowels of a carnal mother; if one is born to the everlasting inheritance of God as his Father, be he born of the bowels of the Church. A father, as one that will die, begets a son by his wife to succeed him; but God begets of the Church sons, not to succeed Him, but to abide with Himself. And He goes on: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” We are born spiritually then, and in spirit we are born by the word and sacrament. The Spirit is present that we may be born; the Spirit is invisibly present whereof thou art born, for thou too must be invisibly born. For He goes on to say: “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The Spirit bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest its voice, but knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth.” None sees the Spirit; and how do we hear the Spirit’s voice? There sounds a psalm, it is the Spirit’s voice; the gospel sounds, it is the Spirit’s voice; the divine word sounds, it is the Spirit’s voice. “Thou hearest its voice, and knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.” But if thou art born of the Spirit, thou too shalt be so, that one who is not born of the Spirit knows not, as for thee, whence thou comest, or whither thou goest. For He said, as He went on, “So is also every one that is born of the Spirit.”

“Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, How can these things be?” And, in fact, in the carnal sense, he knew not how. In him occurred what the Lord had said; the Spirit’s voice he heard, but knew not whence it came, and whither it was going. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?” Oh, brethren! what? do we think that the Lord meant to taunt scornfully this master of the Jews? The Lord knew what He was doing; He wished the man to be born of the Spirit. No man is born of the Spirit if he be not humble, for humility itself makes us to be born of the Spirit; “for the Lord is nigh to them that are of broken heart.”1 The man was puffed up with his mastership, and it appeared of some importance to himself that he was a teacher of the Jews. Jesus pulled down his pride, that he might be born of the Spirit: He taunted him as an unlearned man; not that the Lord wished to appear his superior. What comparison can there be, God compared to man, truth to falsehood? Christ greater than Nicodemus! Ought this to be said, can it be said, is it to be thought? If it were said, “Christ is greater than angels,” it were ridiculous: for incomparably greater than every creature is He by whom every creature was made. But yet He rallies the man on his pride: “Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?” As if He said, Behold, thou knowest nothing, thou art a proud chief; be thou born of the Spirit: for if thou be born of the Spirit, thou wilt keep the ways of God, so as to follow Christ’s humility. So, indeed, is He high above all angels, that, “being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant, being made into the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man: He humbled Himself, being made obedient unto death” (and lest any kind of death should please thee), “even the death of the cross.”2 He hung on the cross, and they scoffed at Him. He could have come down from the cross; but He deferred, that He might rise again from the tomb. He, the Lord, bore with proud slaves;3 the physician with the sick. If He did this, how ought they to act whom it behoves to be born of the Spirit!—if He did this, He who is the true Master in heaven, not of men only, but also of angels. For if the angels are learned, they are so by the Word of God. If they are learned by the Word of God, ask of what they are learned; and you shall find, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The neck of man is done away with, only the hard and stiff neck, that it may be gentle to bear the yoke of Christ, of which it is said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

And He goes on, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not; how shall ye believe, if I tell you heavenly things?” What earthly things did He tell, brethren? “Except a man be born again;” is that an earthly thing? “The Spirit bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest its voice, and knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth;” is that earthly? For if He spoke it of the wind, as some have understood it, when they were asked what earthly thing the Lord meant, when He said, “If I told you earthly things, and ye believe not; how shall ye believe, if I tell you heavenly things?”—when, I say, it was asked of certain men what “earthly thing” the Lord meant, being in difficulty, they said, What He said, “The Spirit bloweth where it listeth,” and “its voice thou hearest, and knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth,” He said concerning the wind. Now what did He name earthly? He was speaking of the spiritual birth; and going on, saith, “So is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Then, brethren, which of us does not see, for example, the south wind going from south to north, or another wind coming from east to west? How, then, know we not whence it cometh and whither it goeth? What earthly thing, then, did He tell, which men did not believe? Was it that which He had said about raising the temple again? Surely, for He had received His body of the earth, and that earth taken of the earthly body He was preparing to raise up. They did not believe Him as about to raise up earth. “If I told you earthly things,” saith He, “and ye believe not; how shall ye believe if I tell you heavenly things?” That is, if ye believe not that I can raise up the temple cast down by you, how shall ye believe that men can be regenerated by the Spirit?

And He goes on: “And no man hath ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” Behold, He was here, and was also in heaven; was here in His flesh, in heaven by His divinity; yea, everywhere by His divinity. Born of a mother, not quitting the Father. Two nativities of Christ are understood: one divine, the other human: one, that by which we were to be made; the other, that by which we were to be made anew: both marvellous; that without mother, this without father. But because He had taken a body of Adam,—for Mary was of Adam,—and was about to raise that same body again, it was an earthly thing He had said in saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” But this was a heavenly thing, when He said, “Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he shall not see the kingdom of God.” Come then, brethren! God has willed to be the Son of man; and willed men to be sons of God. He came down for our sakes; let us ascend for His sake. For He alone descended and ascended, He who saith, “No man hath ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven.” Are they not therefore to ascend into heaven whom He makes sons of God? Certainly they are: this is the promise to us, “They shall be equal to the angels of God.”1 Then how is it that no man ascends, but He that descended? Because one only descended, only one ascends. What of the rest? What are we to understand, but that they shall be His members, that one may ascend? Therefore it follows that “no man hath ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” Dost thou marvel that He was both here and in heaven? Such He made His disciples. Hear the Apostle Paul saying, “But our conversation is in heaven.”2 If the Apostle Paul, a man, walked in the flesh on earth, and yet had his conversation in heaven, was the God of heaven and earth not able to be both in heaven and on earth?

Therefore, if none but He descended and ascended, what hope is there for the rest? The hope for the rest is this, that He came down in order that in Him and with Him they might be one, who should ascend through Him. “He saith not, And to seeds,” saith the apostle, “as in many; but as in one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” And to believers he saith, “And ye are Christ’s; and if Christ’s, then are Abraham’s seed.”3 What he said to be one, that he said that we all are. Hence, in the Psalms, many sometimes sing, to show that one is made of many; sometimes one sings, to show what is made of many. Therefore was it only one that was healed in the pool; and whoever else went down into it was not healed. Now this one shows forth the oneness of the Church. Woe to them who hate unity, and make to themselves parties among men! Let them hear him who wished to make them one, in one, for one: let them hear him who says, Be not ye making many: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. But neither he that planteth is anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”4 They were saying, “I am of Paul, I of Apollos, I of Cephas.” And he says, “Is Christ divided?” Be ye in one, be one thing, be one person: “No man hath ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven.” Lo! we wish to be thine, they said to Paul. And he said to them, I will not that ye be Paul’s, but be ye His whose is Paul together with you.

For He came down and died, and by that death delivered us from death: being slain by death, He slew death. And you know, brethren, that this death entered into the world through the devil’s envy. “God made not death,” saith the Scripture, “nor delights He in the destruction of the living; but He created all things to be.” But what saith it here? “But by the devil’s envy, death entered into the whole world.”5 To the death offered for our entertainment by the devil, man would not come by constraint; for the devil had not the power of forcing, but only cunning to persuade. Hadst thou not consented, the devil had brought in nothing: thy own consenting, O man, led thee to death. Of the mortal are mortals born; from immortals we are become mortals. From Adam all men are mortal; but Jesus the Son of God, the Word of God, by which all things were made, the only Son equal with the Father, was made mortal: “for the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

He endured death, then; but death He hanged on the cross, and mortal men are delivered from death. The Lord calls to mind a great matter, which was done in a figure with them of old: “And as Moses,” saith He, “lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up; that every one who believeth on Him may not perish, but have everlasting life.” A great mystery is here, as they who read know. Again, let them hear, as well they who have not read as they who have forgotten what perhaps they had heard or read. The people Israel were fallen helplessly in the wilderness by the bite of serpents; they suffered a great calamity by many deaths: for it was the stroke of God correcting and scourging them that He might instruct them. In this was shown a great mystery, the figure of a thing to come: the Lord Himself testifies in this passage, so that no man can give another interpretation than that which the truth indicates concerning itself. Now Moses was ordered by the Lord to make a brazen serpent, and to raise it on a pole in the wilderness, and to admonish the people Israel, that, when any had been bitten by a serpent, he should look to that serpent raised up on the pole. This was done: men were bitten; they looked and were healed.1 What are the biting serpents? Sins, from the mortality of the flesh. What is the serpent lifted up? The Lord’s death on the cross. For as death came by the serpent, it was figured by the image of a serpent. The serpent’s bite was deadly, the Lord’s death is life-giving. A serpent is gazed on that the serpent may have no power. What is this? A death is gazed on, that death may have no power. But whose death? The death of life: if it may be said, the death of life; ay, for it may be said, but said wonderfully. But should it not be spoken, seeing it was a thing to be done? Shall I hesitate to utter that which the Lord has deigned to do for me? Is not Christ the life? And yet Christ hung on the cross. Is not Christ life? And yet Christ was dead. But in Christ’s death, death died. Life dead slew death; the fullness of life swallowed up death; death was absorbed in the body of Christ. So also shall we say in the resurrection, when now triumphant we shall sing, “Where, O death, is thy contest? Where, O death, is thy sting?,”2 Meanwhile brethren, that we may be healed from sin, let us now gaze on Christ crucified; for “as Moses,” saith He, “lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth on Him may not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just as they who looked on that serpent perished not by the serpent’s bites, so they who look in faith on Christ’s death are healed from the bites of sins. But those were healed from death to temporal life; whilst here He saith, “that they may have everlasting life.” Now there is this difference between the figurative image and the real thing: the figure procured temporal life; the reality, of which that was the figure, procures eternal life.

“For God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him may be saved.” So far, then, as it lies in the physician, He is come to heal the sick. He that will not observe the orders of the physician destroys himself. He is come a Saviour to the world: why is he called the Saviour of the world, but that He is come to save the world, not to judge the world? Thou wilt not be saved by Him; thou shalt be judged of thyself And why do I say, “shall be judged”? See what He says: “He that believeth on Him is not judged, but he that believeth not.” What dost thou expect He is going to say, but “is judged”? “Already,” saith He, “has been judged.” The judgment has not yet appeared, but already it has taken place. For the Lord knoweth them that are His: He knows who are persevering for the crown, and who for the flame; knows the wheat on His threshing-floor, and knows the chaff; knows the good corn, and knows the tares. He that believeth not is already judged. Why judged? “Because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.”

“And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” My brethren, whose works does the Lord find to be good? The works of none: He finds the works of all evil. How is it, then, that some have done the truth, and are come to the light? For this is what follows: “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” In what way have some done a good work to come to the light, namely, to Christ? And how have some loved darkness? For if He finds all men sinners, and healeth all of sin, and that serpent in which the Lord’s death was figured healed them that were bitten, and on account of the serpent’s bite the serpent was set up, namely, the Lord’s death on account of mortal men, whom. He finds unrighteous; how are we to understand that “this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil”? How is this? Whose works, in fact, are good? Hast Thou not come to justify the ungodly? “But they loved,” saith He, “darkness rather than light.” There He laid the emphasis: for many loved their sins; many confessed their sins; and he who confesses his sins, and accuses them, doth now work with God. God accuses thy sins: and if thou also accusest, thou art united to God. There are, as it were, two things, man and sinner. That thou art called man, is God’s doing; that thou art called sinner, is man’s own doing. Blot out what thou hast done, that God may save what He has done. It behoves thee to hate thine own work in thee, and to love the work of God in thee. And when thy own deeds will begin to displease thee, from that time thy good works begin, as thou findest fault with thy evil works. The confession of evil works is the beginning of good works. Thou doest the truth, and comest to the light. How is it thou doest the truth? Thou dost not caress, nor soothe, nor flatter thyself; nor say, “I am righteous,” whilst thou art unrighteous: thus, thou beginnest to do the truth. Thou comest to the light, that thy works may be made manifest that they are wrought in God; for thy sin, the very thing that has given thee displeasure, would not have displeased thee, if God did not shine into thee, and His truth show it thee. But he that loves his sins, even after being admonished, hates the light admonishing him, and flees from it, that his works which he loves may not be proved to be evil. But he that doeth truth accuses his evil works in himself, spares not himself, forgives not himself, that God may forgive him: for that which he desires God to forgive, he himself acknowledges, and he comes to the light; to which he is thankful for showing him what he should hate in himself. He says to God, “Turn away Thy face from my sins:” yet with what countenance says it, unless he adds, “For I acknowledge mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me?”1 Be that before thyself which thou desirest not to be before God. But if thou wilt put thy sin behind thee, God will thrust it back before thine eyes; and this He will do at a time when there will be no more fruit of repentance.

Run, my brethren, lest the darkness lay hold of you. Awake to your salvation, awake while there is time; let none be kept back from the temple of God, none kept back from the work of the Lord, none called away from continual prayer, none be defrauded of wonted devotion. Awake, then, while it is day: the day shines, Christ is the day. He is ready to forgive sins, but to them that acknowledge them; ready to punish the self-defenders, who boast that they are righteous, and think themselves to be something when they are nothing. But he that walks in His love and mercy, even being free from those great and deadly sins, such crimes as murder, theft, adultery; still, because of those which seem to be minute sins, of tongue, or of thought, or of intemperance in things permitted, he doeth the truth in confession, and cometh to the light in good works: since many minute sins, if they be neglected, kill. Minute are the drops that swell the rivers; minute are the grains of sand; but if much sand is put together, the heap presses and crushes. Bilge-water neglected in the hold does the same thing as a rushing wave. Gradually it leaks in through the hold; and by long leaking in and no pumping out, it sinks the ship. Now what is this pumping out, but by good works, by sighing, fasting, giving, forgiving, so to effect that sins may not overwhelm us? The path of this life, however, is troublesome, full of temptations: in prosperity, let it not lift us up; in adversity, let it not crush us. He who gave the happiness of this world gave it for thy comfort, not for thy ruin. Again, He who scourgeth thee in this life, doeth it for thy improvement, not for thy condemnation. Bear the Father that corrects thee for thy training, lest thou feel the judge in punishing thee. These things we tell you every day, and they must be often said, because they are good and wholesome.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 3:14-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 10, 2021

Text in red, if any, are my additions.

Jn 3:14. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert.” The desert refers to the desolate district south of Mount Horeb, near Edom. In the preceding verse, our Lord instructs Nicodemus regarding His Divinity. Here, He speaks of His humanity.

Allusion is made to Numbers 21:9, etc., where it is recorded that Moses, by the command of God, raised up, on an elevated pole, to be visible to all, a brazen serpent, so that such as would look upon it, would be cured of the effects of the bite of the poisonous serpent; and such as would refuse doing so, would be left to perish.

“So the Son of man must be lifted up.” By the Divine decree, our Lord must be raised aloft on the cross and put to death. This is the meaning of the words, “lifted up,” in several passages of this Gospel (Jn 8:2812:32–34). Those who will look upon Him by faith, will be saved from the effects of the bite of the infernal serpent, from sin and its consequences, temporal and everlasting. But, as in the case of those bitten by the fiery serpent, such as either refused or neglected looking on the brazen serpent were sure to die of the effects of this bite; so, those who refuse or neglect to look up to our Lord hanging on the cross, and believe in Him, will, surely, be lost for ever.

Jn 3:15. “That whosoever believeth in Him,” etc., looks up to Him suspended on the cross, by faith in His Divinity and humanity “may not perish,” etc. This faith, in order to secure, “life everlasting,” must be animated by charity and good works; since, our Lord declares elsewhere, that, in order to gain eternal life, we must keep the Commandments. The proposition, “faith saves us,” like every other affirmative proposition, has its attribute taken, as logicians term it, particularly, implying, that other essential conditions are present or attended to.

Jn 3:16. In this verse our Lord, as if answering an objection which might present itself to Nicodemus, viz., why should the Son of God be suspended on an ignominious gibbet, assigns the true, efficient cause, viz., the boundless love of God for man. Every word is expressive and suggestive. “So,” to such a boundless extent, with such mighty effort and vehemence, “did God,” not a king or emperor, but, God, this Infinite Being—Infinite in all perfections—“love” freely and gratuitously. without any claim on Him, “the world,” all mankind, His enemy by sin (Rom. 5:6–9), “as to give,” deliver over to torture and punishment, not for His own, but for their outrages and sins, “His only begotten (His natural) Son.” What a mystery of godliness. God becoming man. The Highest and the lowest united. The Great Creator showing His love for a wretched, sinful worm of the earth, by submitting to excruciating, ignominious tortures. “Laudetur in eternum Summa Dei Majestas. Venite, adoremus et procidamus ante Deum.”

The cause of the Incarnation and death of the Son of God was the boundless and incomprehensible love of God for the world.

The end was, not to exercise justice in condemning, but mercy in saving.

The fruit, was the saving of man from perishing eternally, and bestowing on him life eternal through faith, accompanied by the observance of God’s commandments.

Jn 3:17. This is explanatory of the last verse in regard to God’s object in sending His Son, which was to bestow on them “everlasting life.” For, although looking to God’s justice, the world would deserve condemnation for its sins; still, it was not to display His justice, in judging and condemning the world that God sent His Son in the first instance, but to exercise His mercy, which is over all His works, “that the world may be saved by Him,” by rescuing them from everlasting death, and bestowing on them, everlasting life. Hence, God wills, by a sincere antecedent will, the salvation of all mankind. Such of them as are lost, are lost through their own fault. No doubt, at His second coming on the day of judgment, the Son of God will display His justice, rewarding and punishing men, according to their deserts, judging every man, according to his works.

Jn 3:18. In this verse is proved by a kind of implied dilemma, that God did not send His Son “to judge the world.” For, either a man believes in Him, or refuses to do so. If he believes; then, he is not judged; but is rescued and saved by the mercy of God and the superabundant merits of our Saviour, from the general condemnation, in which all men would be involved, and receives abundance of grace.

If he believes not; then, no further sentence is needed. He remains in the state of damnation, in which all men are involved, as “children of wrath.” He is condemned by the original decree of God and his own determined obstinacy of will to persevere in his unbelief, “because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God,” thus rejecting the only means instituted by God, to save and rescue him from damnation.

St. Augustine (Tract 12), illustrates this by the example of a physician who comes to cure all the infirm. Such as refuse his ministrations, die; not on account of the physician, as if he came to cause their death; but, on account of the infirmities already contracted by them, which they refuse to have cured by the physician.

Jn 3:19. “This is the judgment.” The cause of judgment or condemnation, “because the light,” which is our Lord Himself, who enlightens every man, whether naturally or supernaturally, “is come into the world” to dissipate, by the diffusion of true doctrine, the darkness of infidelity and sin. “He was the light of the world” (Jn 8:12), “and men,” wallowing in the mire of corruption, culpably, “loved the darkness” of infidelity, in which they were enveloped, “rather than the light,” which, by a little inquiry, they might easily ascertain to be the true light. They then acted perversely. For, had they embraced the light and true teaching of Christ, they would be compelled to abandon their present evil courses, which they were determined on pursuing. “Their works are evil.” They shun the light, lest they should be convicted by the light, which the teaching of Christ would shed upon them.

Moral perversity is, ordinarily, the cause, why men persevere in rejecting the teachings of truth.

The words of the verse may also mean: the judgment of condemnation which they pass on themselves consists in this; that, having a full opportunity of walking in the light, performing the works of light, they prefer remaining in darkness, “for, their deeds,” in which they glory and mean to persevere, “are evil.”

Jn 3:20. “For every one that doth evil,” and perversely means to persevere in its commission, “hateth the light, and cometh not,” etc., because the effect of the light would be, to expose his wicked works, which he would fain conceal. They would show him to be deserving of reprehension, “that his works be not reproved,” not to speak of their generating remorse of conscience (Eph. 5:11–13).

Jn 3:21. “Doth truth.” There is question of practical truth, of actions or works done in accordance with the law of rectitude and justice—“doth,” sincerely intends and purposes to do good works, to do what is right and true. Such a man, unlike him who means to persevere in his perversity, far from flying and shunning the light, “cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest,” that his future works, which he means to perform in the new course of life which the light will point out to him, may “be done in God,” done in accordance with the will and commands of God.

The words may also have reference to his past works, done in grace, before embracing the light of faith. Pagans may do good works, aided by grace, before embracing the faith. The proposition, “Faith is the first grace,” was condemned by Pius VI. in the Bull, AUCTOREM FIDEI, (see Denzinger 1522) as put forward in the Schismatical Council (Synod) of Pistoia, under its Bishop, Scipio Ricci.

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Confraternity Commentary on Ephesians 2:4-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 10, 2021

 Eph 2:1-10: All Brought into Christ’s Life. The recipients of this Epistle to whom St. Paul adverts principally are converted pagans. He draws of the pagan society from which they came a picture something like that of Rom. 1:18-32

Eph 2:2-3. They were before their conversion subject to the prince of the power of the air about us, i.e., the devil. They had been subject not only to him, but to the desires of their own unregenerate nature. Hence they were children of wrath, i.e., the wrath of God was upon them. But not only the Gentiles, but the Jews also had incurred the wrath of a just God. 

Eph 2:4-7But God who is rich, in mercy, by reason of the great love wherewith he has loved us, even when we were dead (spiritually) by reason of our sins, brought us to life together with Christ. Those who are thus quickened share in the privileges of their divine Head. They sit with Him in heavenly places: already their glorification has begun. The Apostle, however, has said that we are called to holiness (Eph 1:4). Here he tells us that we must bring forth good fruits: God has made good works ready beforehand that we might walk therein. 

Eph 2:8By grace we are saved and not through works. We are not justified by the observance of the Mosaic Law or of any other law. Nothing done before we became Christians could save us from wrath. A soul in mortal sin cannot merit. It cannot of itself even believe: the very beginnings of faith require grace. Once justified, however, men are able to perform meritorious works and St. Paul constantly urges us to live worthy of the vocation to which we are called (Eph 4:1). If our natural works had been enough to transfer us from the state of sin to the state of grace, we might be proud of ourselves. But St. Paul insists that we should not boast (1 Cor. 1:29).

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Confraternity Commentary on John 3:9-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 10, 2021

Jn 3:9-15 Nicodemus, still doubting what he cannot comprehend, is now instructed in the necessity and motives of belief: (a) As a teacher in Israel he should have expected that spiritual infusion of new life promised in Ezek 11:1936:26 f; Joel 2:28-29. (b) Christ as a teacher from God merits belief as supreme witness (1 John 1:1-5). The plural we is that of solemn attestation, (c) Even less would such be inclined to believe His revelation of still higher truths. The rebirth, being an induction into the Kingdom in this life, might be called an earthly thing if compared with such heavenly things as the nature and attributes of God. (d) Since no one has ascended into heaven, man must rely for divine truth on Him who alone descended from heaven, (e) The required faith is the means of eternal life for man. Here (as less explicitly in Jn 8:28 and Jn 12:32) the brazen serpent of the desert marches (Num. 21:8-9) is appealed to as a type of the saving power of the Passion of Christ. 

Jn 3:16-21 may be understood as John’s observations on the theme of the interview. 

Jn 3:16Gave his only-begotten Son measures the divine love by the completeness of its offering, in pursuance of the thought of Jn 3:14-15

Jn 3:17To judge the world in these verses means to condemn it, since he who believes is not judged

Jn 3:18. To refuse belief is to bring judgment on oneself. 

Jn 3:19-21. The cause of unbelief (as in Jn 1:10-11) is opposition to the light. One guilty of evil avoids the light as tending to expose him (1 John 1:6), while the clear conscience welcomes its revelation. Jesus thus becomes the occasion of a division of men into two groups, those whose belief in Him wins them eternal life, and those whose rejection of Him destines them to judgment. Hereafter the Gospel keeps these two groups in view, and shows their gradual progress in opposite directions.

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