Posted by Dim Bulb on August 13, 2016
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 28, 2016
Am 6:1 Woe to those who dwell in ease at Zion, and to the ones who think themselves secure on the mountain of Samaria, leaders of the first of th nations to whom the people of Israel come!
Am 6:2 Go over to Calneh and see, pass on from there to Hamath the great, and from there go down to Gath of the Philistines! Are you superior to these kingdoms? Are your borders greater than their borders?
Am 6:3 You would put far from you the evil day, yet you bring on quickly the reign of violence. (My Translation)
This is the beginning of the third woe oracle (see Am 5:1, 7) and is directed to the leaders of the people. Here the oracle is directed not only to the leaders of Israel but to the leaders of Judah as well. At this time Judah was in vassalage to the Israel which is described somewhat sarcastically as the first of nations, and it appears that the primary focus of the oracle is Israel. The fact is that both Judah and Israel were small, neither being much bigger than the nations and peoples they had subjugated. Their presumed military might seems silly in the face of rising Assyrian power but the leaders were unconcerned, trusting in their armies. In their carelessness and unconcern for the growing threat of Assyria they have, put far from themselves the evil day, yet their slovenly luxury will be their downfall for it brings on quickly the reign of violence.
Am 6:4 Woe to you who recline on beds of ivory and stretch out in comfort upon couches to dine upon lambs from the flock and calves from the stall
Am 6:5 as you compose songs to the tune of a harp and, like David, improvise the accompaniment;
Am 6:6 all the while drinking wine from bowls and anointing yourselves with fine oil, not at all sickened by the demise of Joseph!
Am 6:7 For this reason, you will be the first to go into exile, your unseemly celebrations shall come to an end. (My Translation)
The prophet now shows us how the people have put far from themselves the evil day (vs 3). It would appear that they were engaging in escapism through luxury, giving no thought, paying no heed to the moral decay in their own lives and in their nation. Food, finery, and freedom from manual labor would be their undoing. The reference to beds of ivory reminds us of what was said about the destruction of the houses of ivory in Am 3:15. The reference to couches is a reminder of what was said in Am 3:12: “Thus says the Lord: As a shepherd grabs from the lion’s mouth two legs, or a portion of an ear, so shall the sons of Israel be saved with a corner of a couch, or a portion of a bed” (my translation).
The attitude of these people reminds one of our Lord’s description of the people in Noah’s day as the flood approached (see Matt 24: 37-39).
Am 6:8 The Lord God has sworn by his own self, ‘I the Lord, the God of hosts say, the arrogance of Jacob I loathe, his strongholds I detest, and his city I shall deliver up with all that it contains.
Am 6:9 If ten men remain in a single house, then surely these shall die too.
Am 6:10 A handful will remain to dispose of the dead that are in the houses, and if one these should say to a survivor in a house “is anyone in there with you?” he shall respond “not one;” and he shall say “Quiet! The name of the Lord we must not speak.” (My translation)
Once again the prophet returns to the theme of the military invasion and defeat of Israel (see Am 2:13-16; and Am 3:11-15). Israel, under Jeroboam the second had grown strong militarily and had expanded its borders, but without God it would be no match for the might of the Assyrian empire, the nu-named but obvious threat the prophet has in mind. Once again we see that the devastation will be immense.
A relative fulfilling his familial obligations is portrayed as calling into a house for possible survivors and finds that only one is alive. The command not to speak the Lord’s name is probably connected to the fact that contact with the dead constituted ritual impurity.
Am 6:11 Because the Lord commands it, the great house shall be struck into fragments, and the small house into rubble
Am 6:12 Do horses run across the rocky heights? Does a man furrow the sea with his oxen? Yet you have turned justice into something toxic. You have made the fruit of righteousness sour.
Verse 8 attributed the judgement described in verses 9 and 10 to the arrogance of Jacob. Verses 11 reiterates that such judgement is commanded by the Lord, and verse 12 attributes the judgement to the perversion of righteousness, surely a sign of the arrogance of Jacob. Just as it is unthinkable that horses would run across rocky heights, or that a man would furrow the sea with oxen, so too is the perversion of justice unthinkable, but the people have done it.
Am 6:13 Yet you glorify yourselves over Lodebar, saying, ‘did we not, by virtue of our own strength, take to ourselves Karnaim?’
Am 6:14 Look out! I will raise against you a people, O house of Israel, says the the Lord, the God of hosts, and they will oppress you from the opening of Hamath to the brook of Arabah. (My translation)
Lodebar and karnaim were two Ammonite cities. The name of the first means “nothing,” and that of the second means “two horns,” a symbol of strength. In other words, the people are glorifying themselves with the taking of “nothing.” They are celebrating their strength by the taking of “two horns.” Horns were not only a symbol of strength, they were also found on altars. If one whose life was in danger could seize these horns he would be safe (see 1 Kings 2:28). The people trust that their own strength, by which they took Karnaim (two horns) will be their protection and salvation, but such is not the case. the opening of Hamath and the brook of Arabah defined the borders of the kingdom. The entire nation will be afflicted.
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016
TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Note: we are in Year C
MONDAY OF THE TWENTY-EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Father Boylan’s Introduction and Commentary on Psalm 113. Entire psalm.
St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 113. Entire psalm.
St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 11:29-32. Somewhat fragmented on verses 29-36.
TUESDAY OF THE TWENTY-EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 119. Brief introduction to the entire psalm.
Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 11:37-41. On 37-46.
WEDNESDAY OF THE TWENTY-EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 11:42-46. On 37-46.
THURSDAY OF THE TWENTY-EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
FRIDAY OF THE TWENTY-EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Father Bertrand’s Commentary on Ephesians 1:11-14. On 7-14. Commentary begins on page 2 (Pdf document).
St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 12:1-7. On 11:52-12:7.
SATURDAY OF THE TWENTY-EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Aquinas’ Lectures on Ephesians 1:15-23. Read lectures 6-8 on chapter 1.
TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Note: we are in Year C
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016
TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
READINGS AND OFFICE:
Today’s Mass Readings (NABRE). Translation used in the USA.
Today’s Mass Readings (NJB). Scroll down slightly. The NJB is used in most other English speaking countries.
COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Exodus, 17:8-13.
COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8.
COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2.
COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL READING: Luke 18:1-8.
St Augustine’s Homily on Luke 18:1-8. St Joe of O Blog.
Sacred Page Blog: Prayer as Warfare. Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergma’s take on the readings.
Sancrucensis: The Spiritual Sense 0f Amalek. Some brief sermon notes. Point made could be used for meditation or discussion in a lectionary based bible study.
Franciscan Sister’s Bible Study Podcast. Archive page. The study for a coming Sunday is usually posted on Thursdays.
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016
Arg. Thomas. That Christ, unsleeping, may overshadow and guard Jerusalem. The Voice of the Church to the Apostles. The Voice of the Church concerning the Prophets or the peoples to Christ.
Ven. Bede. At the first step the Prophet, set in trouble, after the example of that publican who beat his breast and dared not lift up his eyes to heaven, besought that he might be delivered from unrighteous lips and a deceitful tongue. But now, taking breath on the second step, he lifted up his eyes unto the hills; that is, to the interceding Saints, by whose prayers he hoped to attain heavenly gifts. The Prophet speaks thus in his own person, being nevertheless himself a mountain and a wondrous patriarch, but for that very reason he has narrated how he successfully climbed up by these steps, to show us in clear recital the kinds of heavenly virtues of which we are ignorant.
The Prophet, as we have said, ascending to the heavenly Jerusalem, in the first clause saith that he hath lifted up his eyes to the merits of the Saints, that he might be helped by their prayers; lest his soul should give way to the attack of the enemy. I have lifted up mine eyes. In the second place he undoubtingly promises himself what he knows he has fittingly asked for; teaching us that what good things soever we ask for with a steady heart, we are to believe without doubt will be given to us. The Lord is my keeper, &c.
Eusebius of Cæsarea. The Return from Babylon and from the dispersion.
Syriac Psalter. Anonymous. One of the songs of the going-up from Babylon, and promises of good things.
S. Athanasius. A Psalm of thanksgiving.
1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills: from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh even from the Lord: who hath made heaven and earth.
This Psalm, as already noted, is a song for the march of the caravan of pilgrims to Jerusalem, as they lift their eyes from the plains of Babylon to the mountain-ranges which gird their native land. The meaning of the two verses is best brought out by reading the latter clause of the first verse as an interrogation;* and the force will then be, I will make the needful effort to reach my home, I will survey the mountains which are interposed between it and me, looking round for aid, and will breast and climb them from the valley below, be they never so high and steep, till I find a pass, and reach the other side. But the task is a hard one, Whence shall come my help to fulfil it? And then the second verse supplies the answer. The mountains thus denote the kingdoms and mighty ones of this world, attempting to bar the way of the Church, or of the individual Saint, but doomed to be made low in order to prepare the way of the Lord.* And so it is written, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain.”* Or the mountains may be looked at not in the light of obstacles,* but refer to the hills about Jerusalem itself, including Zion and Moriah;* and the verses will then allude indirectly to the Temple, out of which, on its mountain site, the help of God will come to the aid of His servant.* And in this second sense the mystical import will be given us by the words of the Apostle, “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God,”* and by the words of the Priest in the beginning of the Canon in the Liturgy, “Lift up your hearts,” whereupon we answer, in the spirit of the Psalmist, “We lift them up unto the Lord.” S. Hilary takes the mountains in two senses: (H.) of the books of prophecy, or, as a later writer will have it, the two Testaments, with their lofty and difficult secrets, admirably fitted to raise the soul from earth, and likened to rich veins of precious metal, for which men toil eagerly; and of the holy angels,* as subjects for thought and imitation in their purity and obedience; (Cd.) but adds that not even from these, as mere ministers of another’s will, does our help come, but from the Lord Himself. S. Augustine, (A.) on the other hand, takes the mountains as the Apostles, and explains that help did come from them, on whom the light of heaven shone first, to those in the valleys below them, by their preaching of the Gospel, itself sent directly from God to them, that God who made those Apostolic heavens themselves,* whence the refreshing rains of doctrine came down upon the parched and sterile earth of the Gentile world below, not less the work of His hands. The far inferior sense of confidence in the intercession of the Saints,* as the secondary sources of our help, given by Venerable Bede, (G.) is followed by several of the mediæval commentators;* though Richard of Hampole is careful to add, after saying that the Psalmist lifts up his eyes to contemplate that glory of the Saints which he yearns to share, “But it is not from these mountains that my help shall come, since my hope is not to be placed in them, for my help is from the Lord,* the Mountain of mountains Himself, from Whom alone comes the light which shines on those lofty summits, (A.) dark without Him, the True Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world,”* Who hath made heaven to be the reward of His valiant soldiers,* and earth to be the lists for their combat.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: and he that keepeth thee will not sleep.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel: shall neither slumber nor sleep.
As the foot is that member of the body which carries it about to the scenes of its actions, (H.) so its spiritual signification is the motions and advances of the mind. (A.) And pride was the motion which moved Satan from heaven and man from Paradise. God keeps the feet of His Saints safe from this, but gives them the motion of love, that instead of falling they may walk, (Ay.) advance, and go up in the right way. He kept the feet of His Apostles, that no toils or terrors might daunt them from preaching His Gospel in all lands. He that keepeth thee will not sleep. As in the previous clause there is probably a reference to God’s guidance of the pilgrim in the right road to Jerusalem, so here is the night-watch around the sleeping caravan.* God does not slumber, as one fatigued, nor sleep, as needing, like man, nightly rest and refreshment of the frame. Spiritually, they tell us that God sleeps in the heart of His servants when their faith grows cold and languid,* and that we have here the promise of the Holy Spirit that no such calamity shall come upon the steadfast pilgrim. (G.) And in the next clause we have the Godhead and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus shadowed out. He, the true Keeper of Israel, did indeed sleep in the grave, but He did not remain sleeping, but arose again, waking in the morn of the Resurrection, so that “death hath no more dominion over Him.”* And not only so, but even when the Manhood slept in that brief slumber, the ever-wakeful Godhead kept watch over Israel still. There is thus a peculiar fitness in the embodiment of the idea of this verse in the Compline Hymn of the Western Church at Eastertide:
Jesu, Redeemer of the earth,*
Eternal Word of God most High,
Light which from Light Unseen hast birth,
Our Keeper of unsleeping eye:
Thou Who the universe hast made,
Who rulest change of time and tide,
Our toil-worn, weary bodies aid,
And peaceful rest by night provide.
That whilst in earthly forms below
A little time our stay we mate,
Our flesh may take its slumber so
That unto Christ the soul may wake.
“It is necessary,”* observes S. Bernard, “that He who keepeth Israel should neither slumber nor sleep, for he who assails Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. And as the One is anxious about us, so is the other to slay and destroy us, and his one care is that he who has once been turned aside may never come back.”* There is a stress, they remind us, on Israel, (D. C.) to whom alone this unceasing ward is given, teaching us that it is he who sees God, and wrestles with Him in prayer, who may surely look for His protection. “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and on the Israel of God.”*
5 The Lord himself is thy keeper: the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand;
6 So that the sun shall not burn thee by day: neither the moon by night.
The force and beauty of the connection between these two verses is obscured by the rendering defence,* which ought to be shade, and the mention of the right hand points to the geographical sense of that term in the Old Testament, where it denotes the south, the quarter from which the burning rays of the midday sun pour their heat and glare. The full force of these words can only be known by those who hare had to make forced marches across a bare Syrian plain in the midst of the summer heats. Some, however, separate the two clauses, and treat them independently, The Lord is thy shade, and the Lord is at thy right hand as a defence, but the continued reference to the sun and moon disposes of this view, since sun-stroke, with its frequent result of death, and moon-stroke, often credited in the East with causing ophthalmia and madness, keep before the mind the thought of the need of shelter, and do not bring in any other idea. God’s standing at the right hand, to the apparent exclusion of the left, (H.) is variously explained of His strengthening our power of action, and therefore of resistance in spiritual combat against the enemies of our soul, or to His gift of things eternal, denoted by the right hand, (A.) while the left holds only the temporal bounties of this life. Of the next clause S. Hilary remarks that it is impossible to take it literally, (H.) because so long as our bodies continue what they are, and the laws of nature remain unchangeable as we see them, the sun and moon will produce their usual effects upon us; and that we must therefore look forward to the blessedness of that heavenly country, wherein there will be no bodily infirmity, no cold or heat, no night and change, but perpetual mildness under the rays of the Sun of Righteousness, typified of old by the pillar of fire and cloud which tempered severally the heat of day and the darkness of night. S. Augustine, more boldly, tells us that the Sun is Christ’s Godhead, the moon, the Church, deriving all its light from Him, and waxing and waning here, while the night is that Flesh of Christ wherein the Sun is hid, and wherein the Moon shines, because faith in the Incarnation is the very life and sphere of the Church; so that the verse is a promise to the faithful that they shall not be offended either in Christ or in the Church; in Christ by making difficulties, as heretics do, in accepting the true doctrine of His Person; or in the Church, as schismatics do, by refusing to acknowledge her unity or obey her precepts. Several commentators, however,* prefer to understand the moon in the night as Christ’s bodily presence in the world, and explain these words therefore of doubt as to His being Very Man;* while others again follow the more obvious allegory of protection amidst the prosperity and adversity of mortal life.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.
It is no promise, comments S. Hilary, (H.) of warding off the common evils of the body, want, weakness, death, since were that so, we should not read of Abel’s slaughter, of Job’s sufferings, of Peter’s lack of silver and gold for alms. But these are no real evils, and it is the faithful soul which the Lord will keep, that the moth of the evil one may not corrupt it, the thief not creep upon it, the wolf not tear it, the bear not rage against it, the leopard not spring upon it, the tiger not fly at it, the lion not destroy it. For all these are instruments of the evil one, all these are works of his in this life, to eat the soul away with sin, to creep upon it with flattery, to tear it with allurements, to spring upon it with ambition, to fly upon it with lusts, to destroy it with all his power. It is against evils such as these that we are to look for defence from God. (A.) Thus it was that again and again He kept the souls of His martyrs safe, while suffering their bodies to be the prey of the torturer. And God’s ways of keeping are fourfold;* as a watchman, seeing that no enemy approaches the city which He guards; as a defender, standing with shield and sword in the battle at the right hand of His warriors; as a porter, opening the gate of mercy to every one that knocks; as a physician, tending and binding up the wounds of a sufferer.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy coming in: from this time forth for evermore.
God keeps the going out of His Saints from sin, or from bondage, in an enemy’s country, as He kept Abraham in his quitting the heathen land of Haran, (H.) and Abraham’s distant posterity in their exodus from Egypt, and also keeps their coming in to the Land of Promise. And therefore the words may be most truly taken of His protection of the soul in its hour of departure from the prison of this world, and in its happy entrance into the Paradise of rest. “Therefore,” prays the Western Church over her dying children,* “as thy soul goeth forth from the body, let the bright host of angels meet thee; let the Apostles who shall judge the world come unto thee; let the conquering army of white-robed martyrs welcome thee; let the lily-crowned band of shining Confessors compass thee; let the choir of rejoicing Virgins greet thee; let the Patriarchs receive thee to rest happily in their bosom; let Christ Jesus look upon thee in gentleness and joy, and set thee for ever amongst them who stand before Him.” Yet another sense of going out and coming in, very frequent in Scripture,* is the march of a hostile expedition into an enemy’s country,* and the safe return of the army home; so that the meaning in that case will be God’s aid in enabling us to overcome temptations boldly, and to avoid the faults of pride or dangerous security after the victory and the quiet which follows it. (G.)
The Vulgate inverts the order of the words,* putting coming in first and going out last, and this has occasioned some difference in the mode of interpretation. (A.) Coming in, they tell us, is entering into battle in the Church Militant, going out, returning from it into the Church Triumphant, and God keeps our coming in when He takes care that we are not exposed to a temptation too powerful for us to overcome, (for it is written, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation,”*) and our going out by granting us perseverance and means of escape, for “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation make a way to escape, (ἔκβασιν, exitum,) that ye may be able to bear it.”* He kept the coming in of His martyrs when they were brought for His sake before kings and governors,* giving them boldness and speech which their enemies could not gainsay or resist;* He kept their going out when they were led to their death,* and continued in the confession of the faith to the very end. He keeps the first beginnings of our yet weak faith when we are entering in to a knowledge of Him, and preserves it to the close, that at our going out of the world we may die as true subjects of His,* in the confession of His Name. (G.) And the words have also a special meaning for those who take upon them any office in the Church, and hearken to that saying of the Lord, “I am the door; by Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”* Entering in to thy closet, and shutting the door, in prayer thou wilt find pasture, the affection and influence of prayer itself, when thy Father which heareth in secret will give thee unspeakable consolations for thine unspeakable groans; and then going out for the discharge of any ministry, whether thou teachest with doctrine,* or rulest with diligence, or showest mercy with cheerfulness, or givest with simplicity, thou wilt find pasture in such goings out, namely, such effects of thy ministry, that men seeing thee will glorify the Father in Heaven, the glorifying of whose Name, not praise for thyself, nor human favour, nor any desire of gain or honour, is the true food of thy soul.
Glory be to the Father, Who made heaven and earth; Glory be to the Son,* Who is the shade upon our right hand; Glory be to the Holy Ghost, Who shall keep our soul.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end. Amen.
Gregorian. Monday: Vespers. [Prayer on Mount of Olives: II. Noct. Office of Dead: Vespers. Little Office B.V.M.: Terce.]
Monastic. Week-days: Terce.
Ambrosian. Monday: Vespers.
Parisian. Monday: Vespers. [Maundy Thursday: Vespers.]
Lyons. Monday: Vespers.
Quignon. Tuesday: Sext.
Gregorian. Whence shall come * my help? [Prayer on Mount of Olives: It came to pass in those days that Jesus went up into a mountain to pray, and was all night in prayer to God. Office of Dead: The Lord shall keep thee from all evil * yea it is even the Lord that shall keep thy soul.]
Monastic. As Psalm 120.
Ambrosian. Thy right hand shall help us, O Lord.
Parisian. I have lifted up mine eyes unto the hills * my help is from the Lord. [Maundy Thursday: He was offered, because He willed it, and He will bear the sin of many.]
My help is from the Lord * Who hath made heaven and earth.
O Lord God, (Lu.) Keeper of Israel, Who neither slumberest nor sleepest, keep Thy people, and that we be not burned by day, defend us from the scandals of this world. (1.)
Unwearied Keeper of Israel, (D. C.) God, Who neither slumberest nor sleepest, be, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our constant protection, keeping us from all evil, and ordering the coming in of our faith and the going out of our life for evermore. (1.)
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016
This post contains a sermon on Luke 12:8-10.
12:8-10. And I say unto you, that whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God. But he that shall deny Me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him.
HERE too, you who love to hear, replenish yourselves with the words of holiness: receive within you the knowledge of the sacred doctrines, that advancing prosperously in the faith, you may obtain the crown of love and steadfastness in Christ. For He bestows it, not upon those whose heart is faint and easily shaken, but rather on those who can with fitness say; “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” For those who live holily, live unto Christ; and those, who for piety towards Him, endure dangers, gain the life incorruptible, being crowned by His decree before the judgment seat of God. And this He teaches us, saying; “Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God,”
It is then a thing above all others worthy of our attention to see who it is that confesses Christ, and in what way one may rightly and blamelessly confess Him. Most wise Paul, therefore writes to us, “Say not in yours heart, Who shall ascend unto heaven? that is to bring Christ down: or who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring Christ up from the dead. But what says the Scripture? The Word is nigh you, in your mouth and in your heart; that is, the Word of faith which we preach: because if you shall say with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and shall believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall live. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth |404 confession is made unto salvation.” In which words the mystery of Christ is most excellently explained. For first of all it is our duty to confess that the Son, Who sprang from God the Father, and Who is the Only-begotten of His substance, even God the Word, is Lord of all: not as one on whom lordship has been bestowed from without, and by imputation, but as being by nature and in truth Lord, as the Father also is. And next we must believe, that ” God raised Him from the dead,” that is, when having become man, He had suffered in the flesh for our sakes: for so He arose from the dead. The Son therefore is, as I said, Lord; yet must He not be reckoned with those other lords, to whom the name of lordship is given and imputed: for He alone, as I said, is Lord by nature, being God the Word, Who transcends every created thing. And this the wise Paul teaches us saying; “That though there be in heaven or in earth certain Gods many, and Lordships many: yet to us there is one God the Father, from Whom is everything and we from Him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom is everything and we by Him.” But even though there be but one God, Whose name is the Father; and one Lord, Who is the Son; yet neither is the Father put aside from being Lord, by reason of His being God by nature: nor docs the Son cease from being God, because He is Lord by nature. For perfect freedom is the attribute of the divine and supreme substance only, and to be entirely separate from the yoke of servitude: or rather, to have the creation put in subjection under Its feet. And therefore, though the Only-begotten Word of God became like unto us, and, as for as regarded the measure of the human nature, was placed under the yoke of slavery:—-for He purposely paid the Jewish tax-gatherers the two drachms according to the law of Moses; —-yet He did not conceal the splendour of the glory that dwelt in Him. For He asked the blessed Peter; “The kings of the earth, of whom do they receive tribute and poll-tax; of their own children, or of strangers? And when he had said, Of strangers: Then, said He, are the children free.” The Son therefore is in His own nature Lord as being free: as the wise Paul has again taught us, thus writing: “But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same likeness, from glory to glory, as by |405 the Lord, the Spirit.” “Now the Spirit is the Lord: but where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Observe therefore how he affirms that the Spirit is Lord: not as possessed of sonship; for He is the Spirit, and not the Son; but as being co-essential with the Son, Who is Lord and free, and proved by this natural equality with Him to possess that freedom which befits God.
Whosoever therefore confesses Christ before men, as God and Lord, shall be acknowledged by Him before the angels of God. But where and how? Evidently at that time, when He shall descend from heaven in the glory of His Father with the holy angels at the end of this world: then shall He crown His true confessor, who possessed an unwavering and genuine faith, and so made profession. There also shall the company of the holy martyrs shine, who endured the conflict even unto life and blood, and honoured Christ by their patient endurance: for they denied not the Saviour, nor was His glory unknown to them, but they kept their fealty to Him. Such shall be praised by the holy angels; and shall themselves glorify Christ the Saviour of all, for bestowing upon the saints those honours which especially are their due. And so the Psalmist also declares, “And the heavens shall declare His righteousness; because God is judge.” And such then shall be the lot of those who confess Him.
But the rest, those who denied and despised him, shall be denied: when the Judge shall say to them that, as it were, which was spoken by the holy prophets to certain of old; “As you have done, it shall be done unto you; and your requital shall be requited upon yours own head;” and shall deny them in these words: “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, I know you not.” And who then are they that shall be denied? First of all, those who when persecution was pressing upon them, and tribulation had overtaken them, deserted the faith. The hope of such shall depart utterly from its very root: for such no human words can suffice; for wrath and judgment and the unappeasable fire shall receive them.
And in like manner both the followers and teachers of heresy deny him. For they venture to say that the Only-begotten Word of God is not by nature and in truth God; and they |406 traduce His ineffable generation, by saying that He is not of the substance of the Father: yes rather, they count among things created Him Who is the Creator of all, and wickedly class with those who are under the yoke Him Who is Lord of all; although Paul affirms, that we must say that “Jesus is Lord.”
The disciples also of the vain babbling of Nestorius deny Him by acknowledging two sons, one false, and one true; the true one, the Word of God the Father: the false one, to whom the honour and name of a son belongs by imputation only, who in their phrase is the son only, and sprung from the seed of the blessed David, according to the flesh. Most heavy is the judgment of these also; for they have denied “the Lord Who bought them.” They have not understood the mystery of His dispensation in the flesh: for “there is one Lord, one faith,” as it is written. For we do not believe in a man and a God, but in one Lord, the Word Who is from God the Father, Who became man, and took upon Him our flesh. And thus then these also are numbered among those Who deny Him.
And that blasphemy is a most wicked crime for men to commit, He has further taught us by saying, “that whosoever shall speak a word against the son of man”, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven.” And in what way is this too to be understood? Now if the Saviour means this, that if any scornful word be used by any one of us towards some more man, he will obtain forgiveness if he repent, the matter is free from all difficulty. For as God is by nature good, He will free from blame all those who repent. But if the declaration |407 has reference to Christ himself, the Saviour of all, how can he he innocent, or secure from condemnation, who has spoken against Him? What then we say is this; that whenever any one, who has not yet learnt the meaning of His mystery, nor understood that being by nature God, He humbled Himself to our estate, and became man, speaks anything against Him, blasphemous to a certain extent, but yet not so wicked as to pass forgiveness, such things God will pardon in those who have sinned from ignorance. And to explain my meaning by an example; Christ somewhere said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” Because therefore some did not know His glory, but thought that he was a mere man, they said, “Is not this the carpenter’s son, Whose father and mother we know? How does He now say that I came down from heaven?” And again, He was once standing teaching in a synagogue, and was wondered at by them all. But some, it tells us, said, “How knows this man learning, having never been taught?” For of course they knew not that “in Him are all the treasures of wisdom, and the hidden things of knowledge.” Such things might well be forgiven, as being spoken inconsiderately from ignorance.
But for those who have blasphemed the Godhead itself, condemnation is inevitable, and the punishment eternal both in this world and in that which is to come.
For by the Spirit He here means not only the Holy Spirit, but also the whole nature of the Godhead, as understood (to consist) in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the Saviour Himself also somewhere said, “God is a Spirit.” Blasphemy therefore against the Spirit, is against the whole supreme substance: for as I said, the nature of the Deity, as offered to our understanding in the holy and adorable Trinity, is one.
Let us therefore, as the writer of the book of Proverbs says, “put a door and a bar to the tongue,” and draw near to the God over all, thus saying, “Set a watch, O Lord, upon my mouth; and a door of safety about my lips; incline not my heart to wicked words;” for those are wicked words which are against God. And if thus we rightly fear Him, Christ |408 will bless us: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. (source)
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Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016
This post includes Fr. Callan’s summary of the greeting (Eph 1:1-2); the dogmatic part of the Epistle (Eph 1:3-3:21), and his summary of Eph 1:3-14.
INSCRIPTION AND EPISTOLARY GREETING
A Summary of Eph 1:1-2~St. Paul addresses his readers in the usual manner, asserting his divine election and commission to preach the Gospel of Christ, and wishing them grace and peace, which divine favors are respectively the source and the fruit of their supernatural union with God through Christ.
1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.
Paul. It is to be noted that, whereas in the other Captivity Epistles Timothy’s name is associated with Paul’s, here, as in Rom., Gal., and the Pastoral letters, only the name of Paul is mentioned. As Timothy had been with Paul at Ephesus and was therefore well
known to the Ephesians, the omission of his name in the greeting of this Epistle is taken as an argument that the letter was not directed to the Church of Ephesus (see Introduction, No. IV).
Apostle, that is, a legate to whom is committed a mission with power and authority. Hence, the term implies more than messenger and it is applied in the New Testament to those who have been designated to preach the Gospel. By this title, therefore, Paul claims to be Christ’s legate, sent and commissioned by Christ to preach the Gospel. Thus, our Lord said : “As thou hast sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:18).
By the will of God, that is, Paul’s mission is both gratuitous and divine, and not the result of his own merits or choice. He has not taken the honor to himself, but has been called by God, as Aaron was (cf. Heb. 5:4).
To all the Saints. The omnibus of the Vulgate is not represented in the Greek. “Saints,” that is, those who by Baptism have been consecrated to God and live in union with Jesus Christ.
At Ephesus. These words are wanting in some of the best MSS., and are omitted by Origen, Basil, and other Fathers; they are probably not authentic. Tertullian tells us that Marcion in the second century knew this letter as the Epistle “To the Laodiceans,” which may have been the correct inscription (see Introduction, No. IV).
Faithful. This is a term frequently used by St. Paul. It designates those who with mind and heart have freely embraced the faith of Christ, subjecting themselves to His will and service.
2. Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace . . . peace. This is Paul’s usual salutation. Grace, God’s special help and favor, is the root and source of our supernatural union with Him and with Christ, and peace is the blessed fruit of that same union.
From God the Father, etc. In these words we have indicated the author and the fountain-head of the blessing which the Apostle imparts. Since the same divine favor is asked from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, we have here a proof of the divinity of our Lord: He and the Father are one (John 10:30).
THE DOGMATIC PART OF THE EPISTLE
A Summary of Eph 1:3-3:21~These three chapters constitute a sublime hymn of praise to God for the special divine blessings that have been vouchsafed to the whole world through Christ, our Redeemer and the Head of the Church. The Apostle begins with an act of thanksgiving, which recalls God’s eternal decree of love in our behalf (Eph 1:3-14); then he considers this decree as fulfilled in the Church, where the distinction between Jews and Gentiles has been blotted out (Eph 1:15-2:22); next he reflects on the special part that has fallen to him in revealing this mystery to the Gentiles (Eph 3:2-13); finally, he utters the prayer for the “Ephesians,” begun in iii. i and continued in Eph 3:14-19 after being interrupted by the digression of Eph 3:2-13, and closes with a doxology (Eph 3:20-21).
A HYMN OF PRAISE TO GOD FOR THE BLESSINGS WE HAVE RECEIVED THROUGH CHRIST
A Summary of Eph 1:3-14~In St. Paul’s time it was the custom to begin an ordinary letter with thanksgiving and prayer. The Apostle conformed to this convention in opening his Epistles, varying as a rule the wording of the formula.
This whole section in the original forms but one sentence, consisting of a long chain of clauses and constituting a sort of hymn in three parts, of which each ends with the refrain, “to the praise of his glory” (verses 3-6, 7-12, 13-14)? Verse 3 is an outburst of praise to God for all the blessings conferred on us in Christ, and the following verses are an amplification of this central thought as it unfolds in meditation. As his conceptions evolve, the Apostle ascribes to each of the three divine Persons of the most holy Trinity the action which by appropriation belongs to Him in the work of our redemption. Thus, in Eph 1:3-6 he speaks of the eternal Father who from eternity chose us as His adopted children; in Eph 1:7-13a he considers the execution of this eternal decree in time towards Jews and Gentiles through the meritorious blood of Christ; and in Eph 1:13b- 14 he turns to the Holy Ghost who through grace applies redemption to all, and whom believing we have received as the pledge of our eternal inheritance.
3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ:
Blessed, i.e., worthy of praise.
The God and Father, etc. More probably both “God” and “Father”—and not the word “Father” only—govern the genitive case that follows, because in Greek there is just one article, modifying “God,” and none before “Father”; so that the sense is: “Blessed be our God and Father, who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Cf. John 20:17: “I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God.”
Who blessed us, i.e., you Gentiles and us Jews, all of whom are made partakers of the blessings of the Gospel. The reference is to God’s eternal purpose towards the elect, and hence we should read, “Who blessed us,” the definitely past tense.
With all spiritual blessings. The blessings now conferred on the faithful in Christianity are spiritual, as opposed to carnal and terrestrial goods, and as coming from the Holy Ghost and pertaining to man’s higher nature, such as redemption, remission of sins, filiation, and the like. In the Old Testament the rewards promised were temporal (cf. Gen 22:17; Deut 28:1-13, etc.).
In heavenly places (literally, In the heavenlies) . This unusual phrase occurs four more times in this Epistle (Eph 1:20, Eph 2:6, Eph 3:10, Eph 6:12), but nowhere else; and each time there is question of locality, save the last, perhaps. These blessings therefore come from heaven and lead to heaven, they are both present and future; and they are given “in Christ”—that is, through Christ, by virtue of our union with Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life that lead to the Father. Christ is the head, and we are the members of His mystical body, the Church; we share in His life. This doctrine of the union of the faithful with Christ, their mystical head, is uppermost in this section and throughout the whole Epistle. The phrase “in Christ” is found twenty-nine times in the Pauline Epistles, and only three times elsewhere, and that in 1 Peter. In forty-three other passages of St. Paul we find the enlarged phrase, “in Christ Jesus,” and four times “in the Christ.” Everywhere these phrases denote our close union with Christ as members of His mystical body.
4. As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity.
The Apostle now begins to explain God’s eternal decree in behalf of Christians. The Eternal Father chose us from eternity, that we might be holy and immaculate in His eyes, and out of love for us He freely predestined us to be His adopted children through His beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (ver. 4-6).
As. This word connects the preceding verse with the present one, and the meaning is that the spiritual blessings which Christians now enjoy are the logical consequence of God’s eternal decree in their regard.
He chose us, i.e.. He selected Christians, apart from the rest of mankind, to be His special people, “the Israel of God” (Gal 6:16).
In Him, i.e., in Christ, as members of His mystical body. Christians are not conceived apart from Christ, their mystical head, either in God’s eternal decree or in time.
Before the foundation, etc., i.e., prior to all creation, from everlasting.
That we should be holy, that is, graced with virtues and free from vice. The reference is to an actual state of moral rectitude, and not to a future condition, nor to a merely external and imputed justice.
In his sight, i.e., in the eyes of God, who reads the secrets of the heart, to whom nothing is hid (Ps 7:9; Matt 5:48, Matt 6:4, Matt 6:6, Mat 6:18; Heb 4:13).
In charity, i.e., in love. Whether this love is divine or human, depends on the connection of this phrase with what precedes in the verse or with what follows. Some authorities connect it with “chose,” and so there would be question of God’s love which chose us; but this explanation is not likely, as the verb “chose” is too far separated from the phrase “in charity.” Many others, ancient and modern, connect the phrase with “holy and unspotted,” and thus the meaning would be that charity is the formal cause of our sanctification, and that charity is at once the bond and the crown of Christian virtues. St. Jerome and St. John Chrysostom, however, make the connection with what follows in the next verse, “predestinated,” and hence make the love of God for us the supreme cause of our predestination to be His adopted children. In this whole section the Apostle seems to be saying that love for us has been at the bottom of God’s free choice of us, and the motive of our predestination. Thus also St. John says: “God so loved the world, as to give His only-begotten Son, etc.” (John 3:16). Our adoption as children through Christ, therefore, is due only to God’s paternal love for us.
5. Who predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself: according to the purpose of his will:
Who predestinated us. Those who connect “in charity” of the preceding verse with this verse read as follows: “Who predestinated us in charity.” According to our way of thinking, predestination presupposes election, and election presupposes love. Thus, God first loved us, then chose us, and then predestined us. It is to be noted that there is question here, directly, only of predestination to faith and grace in this life; but of course, since faith and grace are themselves ordained to eternal salvation and given for that purpose, there would be also question here, indirectly, of predestination to final salvation. In either sense the predestination is gratuitous, in no way dependent on our merits.
Unto the adoption, etc. The proximate purpose of divine predestination was that we might become adopted children of God. The Son of God became man that men might become the sons of God, as St. Augustine says (cf. Gal 4:4-6). Perfect adoption consists in our transformation into the likeness of the glorious risen Saviour in the life to come, and presupposes as a means to this great end our present transformation by virtue into the likeness of Jesus. The use of the term “adoption” as applied to Christians is peculiarly Pauline. It is found five times in his Epistles (Gal 4:5; Rom 8:15, Rom 8:23, Rom 9:4; Eph 1:5), and nowhere else in the Bible.
Through Jesus Christ. Our adoption as sons of God is conferred through our Lord, as our Redeemer and Mediator: “You are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26).
Unto himself, i.e., unto the Father, Our redemption originated with the Father and goes back to Him as its end. The eternal purpose of the Father was “that we should be called, and should be the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). A less probable interpretation refers “unto himself” to the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
According to the purpose, etc. Better, “according to the good pleasure, etc.” Here we have indicated the radical reason and the true efficient cause of our redemption, election, etc., namely, the gratuitous will of God. Hence St. Thomas says: “Praedestinationis divinae nulla alia causa est, nec esse potest, quam simplex Dei voluntas. Unde patet etiam, quod divinse voluntatis praedestinantis non est alia ratio, quam divina bonitas filiis communicanda.”
The will of God is “the ultimate account of all divine procedure, from the creature’s point of view. Nothing in that Will is capricious; all is supremely wise and good. But it enfolds an ‘unseen universe’ of reasons and causes wholly beyond our discovery; and here precisely is one main field for the legitimate exercise of faith; personal confidence as to the unknown reasons for the revealed action of a Known God” (Bishop Moule, Epistle to the Ephesians, hoc loco).
6. Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he graced us in the beloved.
Unto the praise, etc. Now the Apostle points out the final cause of God’s love, choice, predestination and adoption of us Christians. The divine will actuated by love was the prime moving cause on God’s part, and His glory is the final cause of the whole divine process in our regard. “Grace” here means not so much the supernatural gift of grace as the fountain of God’s gifts, or His liberality and benevolence; and this benevolence of God towards us is described as shining, or gloriously manifesting itself. Hence, the final cause of our adoption as sons of God through Christ—that to which our adoption was ordained as regards God—is praise, or the public and jubilant exaltation in the sight of men and angels of the divine munificence gloriously manifesting itself towards us (Voste, Epist. ad Eph.).
By which, etc. The preposition in of the Vulgate should be omitted here, as it is not represented in the best Greek MSS., where we read ης (a genitive by attraction of the preceding noun χαριτος, for the accusative or the dative). We should therefore translate: “By which, etc.”
He graced us. The verb here is aorist, referring to a definitely past action. It is a rare verb which is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in Luke 1:28, and its meaning here goes back to the corresponding word in the verse, χάρις, which we said meant benevolence. Therefore the sense of the verb εχαριτωσεν in this passage is to pursue with benevolence. Hence the meaning is that God, pursuing us with His benevolence, has rendered us lovable or gracious. Explaining this verb St. Chrysostom says: “He not only delivered us from sin, but He made us lovable”; and Theodoret has: “The death of the Lord made us worthy of love.”
In the beloved (εν τω ηγαπημενω) . In the Vulgate the words filio suo are added as an explanation of dilecto. The meaning is given by Monod: “The Son, lovable in Himself, is essentially The Beloved; we, unlovable in ourselves, are accepted because of, and in, the Beloved; and if we are called beloved in our turn, it is because God sees us in His Son” (Aux Ephes., quoted by Moule, op. cit, hoc loco). Thus, the grace of adoption has come to us, not on account of any merit of ours, but only through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of God. It is to be noted that St. Paul is everywhere insistent on the mediatorial merits of Christ.
7. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace,
Having considered the eternal decree by which God chose and predestined us to be His adopted children, the Apostle now proceeds (Eph 1:7-14) to speak of the execution of this decree in time. “Loving us from eternity. He has rendered us lovable in time” (Corluy). Jesus, the Incarnate Word, has redeemed us from sin by His blood (Eph 1:7); in consequence we have received in the supernatural order all wisdom and prudence (Eph 1:8), the supreme mystery of the will of God to unite all things in Christ being made known (Eph 1:9-10). All these things have happened to Jews and Gentiles, called together into the New Israel (Eph 1:11-13a), the Holy Spirit, the pledge of our eternal inheritance, being poured out on all (Eph 1:13b-14). Cf. Voste, op. cit., hoc loco.
In whom, i.e., in the beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ. In virtue of our union with Him “we have redemption, etc.,” that is, liberation from the devil and sin, and from the anger of God, which redemption our Saviour has purchased for us by the shedding of His blood for us on the cross (Matt 20:28; Col 1:14, Col 1:20; 1 Pet 1:18 ff; 1 Cor 6:20, etc.). Our redemption has been effected by the voluntary offering on the part of Christ of His life as a ransom-price for our souls; Christ died that we might live.
The remission of sins. This explains in what our redemption consisted, namely, in the forgiveness of our sins (or, literally, trespasses of all kinds).
According to the riches, etc. This is a favorite phrase with St. Paul, by which he wishes to show the immensity of God’s goodness and love towards us. It would have been a great favor merely to have received God’s forgiveness, and a still greater favor to have received it through the giving of His divine Son for us; but to be forgiven at the price of the pouring out of the very blood of God’s only Son, this manifests a love for us on the part of the Eternal Father which surpasses all bounds, and which is, therefore, “according to the riches of His grace.” The shedding of blood was an acknowledgment of God’s supreme dominion over life and death which sin had challenged, suffering made atonement for transgression, and merit won back the graces lost (cf. Hitchcock, op. cit., hoc loco).
8. Which he caused to abound in us in all wisdom and prudence;
Which he caused to abound in us. The Greek here reads: ης επερισσευσεν, the genitive of attraction ης being used for the accusative ην. The subject of the verb is God, understood. Hence we should read: “Which (grace) he (God) caused to abound in us.”
In all wisdom, etc. The grace of God which has abounded in our favor has not only procured for us remission of sins, but it has also given us insight into the mysteries of the divine will.
“Wisdom” (σοφια) means a knowledge of principles, and here it has reference to a speculative knowledge of the great mysteries of faith. “Prudence,” or “intelligence” (φρονησει) , pertains to actions, and is a practical knowledge of good to be done or evil to be avoided; prudence or intelligence is the wisdom of the just (Luke 1:17). Some expositors think there is question here of the wisdom and prudence which God has exercised, rather than of the wisdom and prudence which He has communicated to the faithful; but the common opinion and the context of verse 9 favor the latter view.
9. Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in him,
The Apostle now proceeds to show how God has made His grace to abound in all wisdom and prudence in the saints, namely, by making known to them and helping them to understand the divine purpose, long concealed but now revealed through the Incarnation, of uniting all things in Christ.
Having made known, etc. γνωρισας is from the Greek word (γνωρίζω) implies the revelation of hidden truths, and it occurs frequently in St. Paul. The time referred to is the actual revelation of the Gospel.
The mystery, etc., i.e., the hidden secret of His will or purpose to unite all, Jews and Gentiles, in Christ—to make Christ the term and, as it were, the synthesis of the whole re-established supernatural order (Voste). The word μυστηριον occurs twenty-one times in St. Paul, and six times in this Epistle. In the Vulgate it is rendered eight times by sacramentum (including the present passage), and at other times by mysterium. It would be better to translate it everywhere by mysterium, and thus avoid the confusion arising from the technical meaning now given to the word sacrament.
According to his good pleasure, i.e., according to the good pleasure of the Father who has made known to the saints the hidden purpose of His will.
Which he purposed in him, i.e., in the Son (εν αυτω), the Messiah. The Father’s purpose was in Christ, the Son, inasmuch as it was to be realized through the Son (omnia per Ipsum facta sunt, et iterum omnia per Ipsum reconcilianda et restituenda sunt).
10. In the dispensation of the fullness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in him.
In the dispensation, etc. The Greek word οικονομιαν, here rendered “dispensation,” really means stewardship, house-management; and the sense of this passage, in connection with the preceding verse, is that, when sin had disrupted the primitive harmony of creation, the Eternal Father purposed or decreed to send His Son into the world when the time determined by Himself had arrived, and to make Him the supreme head and administrator of all things in His spiritual household, the Church, for the purpose of reuniting and reconciling all things to Himself through this same divine Son. This work of recapitulating and reconciling all things in Christ began with the Incarnation, but it will not be completed till the end of the world, at the general resurrection.
All things, etc., i.e., men and angels, the material universe and the spiritual, are all made subject to Christ, the supreme head of the supernatural order, and all are to be reunited and reconciled to the Father through Christ, since all are in need of this reunion and reconciliation, all having been thrown into disharmony by sin. The Greek verb here translated “to re-establish” means “to restore,” “to reunite.” In the beginning all creatures—angels, men and the physical world—formed one grand, harmonious family all subject to God. But sin disrupted this primeval unity and subordination of part to part and of the whole to the Creator; and so the Eternal Father sent His Son to reunite the dissevered parts of His Creation and to restore the original harmony between the rational and the irrational, earth and heaven, men and angels (cf. Rom 8:19 ff.). Thus, the redemption equals creation in its extension. All things were created through the Word, and all things must be summed up and reconciled to the Father through the Word.
In him, i.e., in Christ, a repetition for the sake of emphasis; but the phrase ought to be connected with the following verse.
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016
CHRISTIANITY IS A NEW DISPOSITION REPLACING THE OLD ONE
A Summary of Galatians 4:21-30.
The greatest argument for the observance of the Law was, from the Jewish standpoint, that the Scripture itself seemed to declare it to be a perpetual ordinance. St. Paul has already refuted this error in a general way by showing that the Law was only a guide, a pedagogue, with a temporary mission. But now, in order to turn against the Judaizers their own argument, he draws from Scripture a proof that the Law was not intended in the designs of God to be an enduring provision. A first, imperfect disposition engendering servitude, it was to be followed by another which would be perfect, making us children of the promise and sons of God.
Gal 4:22. For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, and the other by a freewoman.
Two sons, namely, Ismael by the bondwoman Agar, and Isaac by the freewoman Sara.
Bondwoman (παιδισκης = paidiske) means “maid servant,” “slave,” in the New Testament. Cf. Gen. 16:15; 21:2.
Gal 4:23. But he who was of the bondwoman, was born according to the flesh: but he of the freewoman was by promise.
But he, i.e., Ismael, was born according, etc., i.e., according to the ordinary laws of nature: but he, i.e., Isaac, was by promise, i.e., was born in virtue of the promise. Isaac’s birth was miraculous inasmuch as, owing to the advanced age of Abraham and the sterility of Sara, it would have been physically impossible without a divine intervention.
There are then two differences between the two sons of Abraham: Ismael was of a slave and according to the flesh; Isaac was of a freewoman and in virtue of the promise. Cf. Gen. 17:16, 19; 18:10.
Gal 4:24. Which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from mount Sina, engendering unto bondage; which is Agar:
Which things are said, etc., i.e., those circumstances concerning the two sons of Abraham have, besides their historical and literal sense, a spiritual meaning, which the Apostle is now going to point out.
For these, i.e., these two women, Agar and Sara.
Are, i.e., represent two testaments, i.e., two covenants. The first was from Mt. Sinai, where it was contracted between God and Israel.
Engendering, i.e., bring forth unto bondage, i.e., for obedience to the Law.
Which is Agar, i.e., Agar was the type of the first covenant, because like it she brought forth unto bondage.
Gal 4:26. But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free: which is our mother.
In contrast to “the one” (covenant) of verse 24 we should expect St. Paul here to speak of the other covenant; but instead he takes up the contrast to the present Jerusalem, and speaks of the Jerusalem above. By above he does not mean only the Church Triumphant, for he says she is our mother, i.e., the mother of us Christians living yet on earth. And this Jerusalem is free, i.e., not subject to the Law; she is the Kingdom of God, governed by God’s Holy Spirit.
Gal 4:27. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband.
St. Paul now cites the LXX of Isaias (liv. 1) to prove that the fecundity of the Jerusalem which is above, i.e., of the Messianic Kingdom, was foretold by the Prophet and miraculously ordained by God. Literally the Prophet’s words refer to the earthly Jerusalem which, although bereft of her inhabitants during the Babylonian captivity, would one day be more populous than ever. But spiritually the reference is to the heavenly Jerusalem, the Messianic Kingdom, which, born at the time of the
promise made to Abraham (Cornely), or existing only in the designs of God (Lagrange), remained sterile, until the death of Christ, when her children became far more numerous than were the children of the earthly city.
Agar was a fitting type of the old Jerusalem, of the Synagogue; as Sara was of the Messianic Kingdom, the Church of Christ. And this the Prophet seems to have had in mind, for a few chapters ahead (Isa 51:1 ff.) he had invited the Jews to imitate the faith of Abraham and Sara, whose children they were. St. Paul makes the application more definite.
The words barren, break forth, desolate refer literally to Jerusalem during the captivity (or to Sara, in the Apostle’s application); but spiritually to the reign of Christ and His Church. She that hath a husband in the Prophet’s literal meaning referred to Jerusalem before the captivity (as applied by St. Paul, to Agar); spiritually the reference is to the Old Covenant, the Synagogue, which had the Law as a husband.
PRACTICAL CONCLUSIONS ARE NOW DEDUCED FROM THE PRINCIPLES
A Summary of Galatians 4:31-5:12.
In commencing the new section with Gal 4:31 we are following the division made by Bousset, Lagrange and Zahn. The recurrence of the word freedom joins it with what precedes, as a result with its sources. Many critics see in Gal 4:31 the last word of the allegory illustrating the two alliances, rather than the beginning of a practical conclusion. But the allegory was really concluded in Gal 4:28, and is presupposed in Gal 4:29-30. It seems better then to regard 31 as the point of transition between what has preceded and the section that now follows (Lagrange).
In the first place the Galatians must make their choice, either of the whole Law without Christ, or of the faith of Christ accompanied by charity without the Law. If they choose the Law, they must renounce Christ; if they wish to be Christians, then the Law must be abandoned (Gal 4:31-5:6). Having pointed out the dangers to which they are exposed, St. Paul next warns the Galatians to beware of false leaders who are courting a just and severe chastisement (Gal 5:7-12).
Gal 4:31. So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.
So then (810). Better, “Hence,” or “consequently.” The general principle of the whole Epistle is here resumed under the color of the allegory, and the practical result of our being Christians is restated, namely, that we are free by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free, i.e., we are sons of the free woman and enjoy a freedom which we owe to Christ, the author of our liberty. This is the reading of the Vulgate, and the easiest for this clause. In the best MSS., however, and according to the Greek Fathers, this final clause of the present verse belongs to the first verse of the following chapter, and the meaning is probably: “Christ has liberated us for freedom, in order that we may be and may remain free”; or, if we join “stand” to “freedom,” we shall have: “Stand firm to the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.”
Gal 5:1. Stand fast, and be not held again under the yoke of bondage.
Stand fast, i.e., in the liberty of the Gospel, as opposed to the slavery of your former condition in paganism and under the Law.
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016
This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief summary of chapter 4, followed by his comments on today’s reading. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF GALATIANS CHAPTER 4
The Apostle commences this chapter by pointing out the preposterous conduct of the Galatians in submitting to the Jewish ceremonies. Their conduct in this respect is, he says, precisely similar to that of an heir, who, after attaining his majority, renounces his privileges—viz., the free and uncontrolled administration of his property, and submits anew to the control of the pedagogue, and the slavish drudgery of magisterial discipline. In order the more clearly to show this, he compares the Jewish people under the Old Law, which was composed of sensible, material signs and carnal ceremonies, to an heir in the state of nonage or of infant minority, deprived of all administration of his property, and in this respect nowise better than a servant, perfectly under the control of teachers and guardians (Gal 4:1–4). The Galatians reached their majority when, the term fixed upon by God for sending his Son having expired, he introduced them at once into the glorious adoption of full-grown sons of God, and into the full enjoyment of his heavenly inheritance, by anticipation here on earth (Gal 4:4–7). He next refers to their former state of idolatry, and insinuates, that, although their ignorance might then be pleaded in extenuation of their guilt, now, after having been introduced into the clear knowledge of the true God, and after having been so highly favoured by him, they had no such extenuation for recurring to the elements of Jewish infancy, one of which he instances in their observance of the Jewish festival days (Gal 4:8–10). He expresses his fears regarding them (Gal 4:11), and exhorts them to follow his own example in neglecting Jewish ceremonies (Gal 4:12). He endeavours to soften the ascerbity of his rebuke, by reminding them that they gave him no personal grounds for embittered feelings, as they treated him with the greatest kindness and respect. He points out the authors of whatever feelings of enmity they might entertain against him—viz., the false teachers, and he gives expression to his ardent paternal affection for the Galatians, and the consideration with which he longs to address them (Gal 4:13–22). He undertakes to prove from the Old Testament, that by subjecting themselves to the Law of Moses, they would be excluded from the Church and its inheritance. He quotes the history of Genesis, in which is recorded the birth of Abraham’s two sons, one born of the bond-woman, the other of the free-woman (Gal 4:21–23). He points out the allegorical meaning of these historical facts, and shows that those two wives of Abraham represented the Old and New Testaments. The old, which took its rise from Sinai, was represented by Agar. And he shows how fit a place Sinai was to originate the old covenant of fear (Gal 4:24-25). He leaves it to be inferred that Sara represents the new covenant, and points out the wonderful fecundity of the Church represented by her (Gal 4:26-27). He applies the allegory, in the three following verses.
Gal 4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman and the other by a free woman.
For, it informs you of this fact, that Abraham had two sons—Ismael, whom he begot of Agar, a bond-woman, and Isaac, whom he begot of Sara, a free-woman.
“For,” is a proof of the implied proposition, viz., that the Law transfers them to Christ. “It is written.”—(Genesis, 16, 21)
Gal 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh: but he of the free woman was by promise.
But Ismael, the son of the bond-woman, was born according to the natural course of things—his mother being young and prolific—whereas, Isaac, the son of the free-woman, was born of her—when old and sterile—in virtue of God’s promise on the subject.—(Genesis, 17:17).
“But he of the free-woman, was by the promise.”—(Genesis, 17:17).
Gal 4:24 Which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from Mount Sina, engendering unto bondage, which is Agar.
Now, these historical facts, besides their literal signification, convey a still more profound and allegorical meaning, which consists in this: These two marriages, or wives of Abraham, signify two covenants, the one taking its rise from Mount Sina, and bringing forth children into the servitude of the Mosaic law—of which the precepts are so numerous, and the spirit, that of fear; this covenant is represented by Agar.
Which things are said by allegory; literally, ἅτινα ὲστιν ἀλληγορούμενα (hatina estin allegoroumena), which things are allegorized, i.e., the things narrated in Genesis regarding the sons and marriages of Abraham, signifying at the same time other things altogether different from themselves. By an allegory, writers on rhetoric understand a lengthened or continued metaphor. Ecclesiastical writers generally understand it to denote a figure in things, by which one thing is employed to typify or signify another of quite a different nature. “For these,” αὗται γὰρ, i.e., the marriages, or, according to others, the two wives of Abraham. “Are,” i.e., signify “the two Testaments”—viz., the New and the Old. “The one indeed from Mount Sina.” The Old Testament took its rise from Mount Sina; because, there was promulgated the Law, the observance of which was among the primary conditions of the Old Covenant. “Which bringeth forth into bondage.” The Old Testament brought forth children into the bondage of the Mosaic Law, a law of servitude, both on account of the multitude of its precepts, which neither the Jews nor their fathers could bear, as also on account of the spirit of fear which it inspired. “Which is Agar;” and this covenant is represented by Agar.
Gal 4:26 But that Jerusalem which is above is free: which is our mother.
But the heavenly Jerusalem—viz., the Church, of which Sara, the free-woman was a type, is not, like he Synagogue, in servitude, but free. She is also fruitful in free children, among whom we are to be numbered; and hence, she is our mother.
The Apostle omits referring to the typical or allegorical signification of Sara, which he supposes to be clearly deducible from the anathesis between her and Agar. As Agar represented the Old Testament, so must Sara represent the other, viz., the New, which he supposes to bear the same near relation of signification to the heavenly Jerusalem, that the covenant established on Sina bears to the earthly. For, in heaven it took its rise; from heaven it descends; and from heaven its animating principle—viz., faith, hope, and charity (the soul of the Church), is derived. Of it, he merely says, that it is not, like the present Jerusalem, in servitude, but “free,” and also fruitful in free children—(the children always following the condition of the mother). In this respect also it differs from the other, which “is in bondage with her children.” In this respect also, it differs from the other, which “is in bondage with her children.”
“Which is our mother.” We all, both Jews and Gentiles, are among the free children, whom she has begotten to God.
Gal 4:27 For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband.
This wonderful fecundity of the Church was foretold by the Prophet Isaias, when he called upon this sterile woman, the Church of God among the Gentiles, to burst forth into shouts of joy and exultation, because, although hitherto barren and husbandless, she had now more children than the Synagogue, which had a husband.
He proves this wonderful fecundity of the Church from the Prophet Isaias (54:1). This quotation from Isaias refers to the state of the Church before the coming of Christ. Before that period, the Church had but few children among the Gentiles; hence, termed “barren” by the Prophet. But, now, she begets more children than the Synagogue “that hath a husband”—that was espoused to the Mosaic Law, or to God himself, as a fearful master. This fecundity of the Church above the Synagogue is clear from the fact, that the children of the Synagogue were confined to the Jewish people alone, and her spiritual children fewer still; while the Church extends to all nations, and her spiritual children are beyond numbering.
OBJECTION.—How could the Church be called “barren,” &c., before the coming of Christ, since she had no existence then? Should it be said, that she had existence in the faithful Jews, who lived before Christ, might it not rather be said that these were children of the Synagogue, begotten of her husband, the law? And, moreover, in the alleged supposition, where could be found the opposition referred to by the Prophet and quoted by the Apostle?
RESPONSE.—In the first place, it may be answered, that the few just men, who lived under the Patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations, constituted the Church of Christ; since it was only through the grace of the New Law they were enabled to fulfil all their duties. And, then, the opposition or antithesis instituted by the Apostle, shall be made to consist between these few just men—(so few, that their mother, the Church of Christ, by whose aids they fulfilled their duties, might be justly termed “barren”); and the whole bulk of the Jewish nation united to the Synagogue, by the external subjection to the law, which could not of itself justify them.
In the second place, the Apostle may be said to refer here to the Church of God among the Gentiles, which, compared with the Synagogue, had but few children, and hence, termed “barren.” And, then, the opposition is between the Church as made up of but a few followers among the Gentiles, and the external followers of the Synagogue. For, although the Jews were among the first, nay, the very first, openly to join the Church of Christ; still, the Church was chiefly composed of the Gentiles, compared with whom, the Jewish converts were, in point of numbers, almost a mere nothing. This Church of the Gentiles, now far and wide extended, and embracing within its pale, almost all the nations was confined, of old, to a small number—viz., the few just.
Gal 4:31 So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.
We should, therefore, bear in mind, brethren, that we are not the children of the bond-woman—the Synagogue—bound to the Law of Moses; but of the free-woman, viz., the Church of Christ; and hence, we are ourselves free, after the condition of our mother. But this liberty was procured for us by Christ, who, by his grace, freed us from the yoke of the Law, which he abrogated.
“Then, brethren, we are not the children of the bond-woman.” It is not easy to see the connexion of the word, “then,” or, therefore, unless it be with the words of verse 26:—“But that Jerusalem which is above is our mother.” It is, however, generally understood by Commentators to have the force of exhortation, having reference to the following chapter, rather than of argumentative conclusion. The word “brethren,” which is commonly employed by the Apostle in cases of moral exhortation, renders this view the more probable. “By the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.” These words are made, in the ordinary Greek text, the commencement of chapter 5 verse 1. The Codex Vaticanus follows the Vulgate arrangement, and commences chapter 5 with the words, “stand fast,” &c.
Gal 5:1 Stand fast and be not held again under the yoke of bondage.
Persevere firmly in the Gospel liberty which Christ has secured for you (4:31), and suffer not yourselves to be again held under the yoke of servitude—viz., the yoke of the Mosaic law.
“Stand fast.” These words are, in the ordinary Greek and Syriac versions, joined with the words of the preceding verse, thus: stand fast (therefore) in the freedom with which Christ made us free. The meaning is the same as in our construction, which is that of St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and several old Greek editions. From the words, “stand fast,” some interpreters infer that the Galatians had not lost the faith. From verse 4, it appears, however, that some had, and the words, “stand fast,” are, probably, addressed to those who persevered. The words, “stand fast,” probably contain a military metaphor, in allusion to their persevering under the banner of Christ.
“And be not held again,” &c., i.e., be not tied down and held fast under another yoke of bondage. “Again” is used in reference to bondage in general; they were before under the bondage of idolatry. He now refers to bondage of a different kind viz., that of the Mosaic law.—(See 4:9).
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2016
Text in red are my additions.
The Danger of Riches
Matthew 19:16-30 parallels in Mark 10:17-31 and Luke 18:18-30. All three Gospels have the same three sections on this episode in the same order: (a) the incident of the rich young man (Mt 19:16-22); (b) the conversation on the danger of riches (Mt 19:23-26); (c) the reward promised by Christ to those who leave all for His sake (Mt 19:27-30).
Mt 19:16 And behold, a certain man came to him and said, “Good Master, what good work shall I do to have eternal life?”
A certain man: Luke calls him “a certain ruler,” which may mean either “a ruler of a synagogue” or, more probably, “a member of the Sanhedrin.” Matthew alone calls him a “young man” (20), but this Greek word was used for any man who had not reached middle age. That he was no longer young seems clear from the fact that he was a “ruler” and that he says, “From my youth” (according to the Greek of Mark and Luke). In Matthew the best Greek manuscripts have simply Master; the preceding word Good was probably taken over into the First Gospel from the other two.
Mt 19:17 He said to him, “Why dost thou ask me about what is good? One there is who is good, and he is God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”
The words that is God are not in the Greek text and represent a correct gloss added to the Latin text. In Matthew the sense of our Lord’s answer is, “No action is morally good except in relation to the One who is good,” i.e., the mere observance of the Law as such cannot give justice and eternal life (cf. Gal. 3, 21b); the formal reason why the observance of the commandments leads to eternal life is because they are the will of God and the norms by which man imitates God’s own goodness. In the other two Gospels a somewhat different answer of Christ is recorded, on the meaning of which see Commentary on Mark 10, 18. But these two answers are not at all contradictory, and undoubtedly both were given by Christ.
Mt 19:18* He said to him, “Which?” And Jesus said, “Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Mt 19:19* Honor thy father and mother, and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
The order of the commandments as cited by Christ differs somewhat in each of the Gospels and there is still further confusion in the manuscripts. Cf. Ex. 20, 12-16; Deut. 5, 17-20. In all three Gospels the fourth commandment is placed after the others. In Matthew alone is Lev. 19, 18 cited, while in Mark alone occur the words “Thou shalt not defraud,” which probably refers to Deut. 24, 14.
Mt 19:20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept; what is yet wanting to me?”
.It seems clear from the context that the young man was sincere in what he said
Mt 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Sell . . . and give: cf. Luke 12, 33. Treasure in heaven: cf. 6, 20. If thou wilt be perfect: these words make a clear distinction between what is obligatory for all (18 f) and what is recommended by Christ to those who would be His closer followers, i.e., the counsels of perfection. This passage is rightly considered the principal basis for the three traditional vows of religious life: poverty (sell what thou hast, and give to the poor), obedience (come, follow me), and chastity, since any one pledged to absolute poverty cannot raise a family (cf. also 19, 12).
Mt 19:22 But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he had great possessions.
This verse provides a transition to what follows in Mt 19:23-26.