The Divine Lamp

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 LECTIONARY CYCLE A. I’ll be adding to this from to time to time. It will contain both free online resources and books for purchase, all relating to the biblical books which will be used in the Sunday Lectionary.


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 that falls between Jan. 2 and 8 (inclusively).

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.

NOTE: In the USA and some other countries the Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday that falls between Jan 2 and 8 (inclusively). For commentaries on the days following a Sunday Epiphany celebration see the link below marked “!!! The Epiphany  to the Baptism of the Lord” (Just before the heading “ORDINARY TIME.”

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.
Jan. 7. Christmas Weekday.

The Epiphany of the Lord.

!!! Epiphany to the Baptism of the Lord. NOT APPLICABLE IN 2023. SKIP DOWN TO ORDINARY TIME AND CLICK ON THE 1ST WEEK YEAR. In the General Calendar the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6, however, in the USA and some other countries it is celebrated on the Sunday following January 1. In 2023 it will be celebrated on Sunday, January 8. The Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the first Sunday after January 6, however, when this is superseded by Epiphany–as is the case this year–the Baptism of the Lord will be celebrated on Monday January 9. Skip down to the next link (Year 1).

Each week contains the beginning and ending Sundays (e.g., the 4th week contains Sundays 4 and 5). .

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.


The Easter season ends with Pentecost Sunday, but I have included Trinity Sunday and the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood under the “Easter Season” heading. They are also listed below under the “Solemnities and Feasts” heading.

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
Trinity Sunday: Year C. Years A and B pending.
Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood.

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.

VARIES: Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood. Traditionally falls on a Thursday, 60 days after Easter. In some place however it is transferred to the Sunday Following Trinity Sunday.

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Bible Study 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A by Fr. Cielo R Almazan

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 24, 2023

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 20:1-16

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 22, 2023

Mt 20:1. The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 

The kingdom of Heaven is like. That is, God acts in the kingdom of Heaven like a master hiring labourers into his vineyard; for strictly speaking, the kingdom of Heaven is not like the householder himself, but like his house and family.

Christ’s purpose is by means of this parable to prove the truth of His last saying in the preceding chapter, many that are first shall be last, &c., and to shew that by the grace of God, without any injustice or injury to anyone it will come to pass that those who here seemed to have the first place will in the Day of Judgment have the last, and those who seemed to have the last will then have the first; that is, that the Apostles and the despised faithful who followed Christ will in the kingdom of Heaven be preferred to the Scribes and Pharisees; and the believing Gentiles to the Jews, who were called by the Lord that they might obtain the first place in the kingdom of God, that is, in the Church both militant and triumphant; or, that the Sons of the New Testament, and especially the Apostles who are to sit on twelve thrones in the Day of Judgment, will be preferred to the Sons of the Old Testament, who under the shadows of legal sacrifices performed a laborious service, because, trusting to the works of the Law, they falsely claimed the kingdom of God for themselves, and rejected Christ. Whence they deservedly lost the kingdom; while the others submitted with humility to Christ, and zealously co-operated with Him, and therefore were elected in preference to the Jews both to grace and glory. That this is the scope of the parable is evident, 1. From the saying which precedes and follows it, many that are first, &c. 2. From S. Luke, who in chap. 13:29, 30, explains these same words of the admission of the Gentiles and the exclusion of the Jews. 3. Because otherwise we cannot explain the murmuring of those who were first called, for in Heaven among the blessed there is no murmuring, but only in hell among the damned.

By the vineyard we are to understand the Church; by the market place the world; by those called at the first, third, and sixth hour, the Jews, called in their fathers, Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, to the faith and worship of God; by those called at the eleventh hour, we are to understand the Gentiles; by the evening, the Day of Judgment, in which each will receive his reward, either already given in this life (as it was given to the Jews), or to be then given, as in the case of the Gentiles in Heaven.

By the penny (denarius) is signified a whole day’s pay. The denarius was a common coin, of which there were many different kinds; for there was the copper, the silver, and the gold denarius. And it is clear that the pay given to the labourers was unequal, because the last were preferred to the others who came at the first, third, and sixth hour, for although the latter had laboured for a longer time, yet the former had laboured with greater grace, diligence and zeal.

You will say then, that to the greater labourer the less reward is given. I answer: True, but not to the greater merit; for to this a greater reward is always due, and is always given, Moreover, it is not the greater labourer that makes the merit greater, but grace, and co-operation with grace. The Apostles had greater grace than the Scribes, Christians than Jews, and co-operated more with grace, and therefore the greater denarius, i.e., the greater reward was promised them. For to the Jews the denarius promised by God was a temporal reward, an abundance of temporal blessings; but to the Gentile Christians was promised by Christ a denarius far more noble, namely eternal life. The Jews therefore received a denarius of copper or silver, the Christians one of gold. For otherwise if the denarius signified exactly the same reward, it would not agree with the words which precede and follow the parable—the first shall be last, and the last first.

In a word, the parable signifies that the Gentiles who believe in Christ will be preferred to the Jews who despise Christ. And this is what S. Paul teaches in many places, and especially in his Epistle to the Romans. And Christ Himself says, The publicans and harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you. (See also S. Matt. 8:11, 12, and S. Luke 13:28, 30.)

According to this sense, the first will be saved, the last will be damned. But in another sense, the first who will be the last arc those who were first called but arrive at their reward last; while the last who will be the first are those who though called last become the first in reward. Whence the Fathers, doctors, and schoolmen commonly explain this parable as if Christ intended to say that the first as well as the last, i.e., Jews as well as Christians, who serve God, will receive the same eternal life; nor will it be to the injury of anyone that he has been called at the end of the world or of his own life; yea, rather he will be preferred in heavenly glory before others who were called long before, if with greater labour and zeal he co-operated with the greater grace given him by God. This is the interpretation of S. Jerome, S. Augustine, S. Chrysostom, S. Thomas, Maldonatus, Gregorius de Valentia, Bellarmine (lib. iii. de Justificatione, cap. 16), and Suarez. And this interpretation is very probable, and it is much in its favour, that it is better explained in this way how the same denarius is given to all the labourers. For the Fathers everywhere by the denarius understand eternal life.

You will say, how is it that in this denarius the first and the last are equal, since the first excel the last in the felicity and glory of eternal life? I answer, that the same denarius denotes the same blessing generically and objectively, i.e., the same Divine essence which constitutes the blessedness of the saints; for this is one and the same, but nevertheless the fruition of it is different according to their different degrees of merit; for those who have served God with greater grace and labour, as those did who were called last, will behold God in a clearer and more perfect vision, and therefore will have a fuller fruition of His love, and will be more blessed than those who served God with less grace and labour. So S. Gregory, S. Augustine, S. Jerome, S. Thomas (Part I., quæst. 15, art. 6), and others explain it. To these may be added Bellarmine in the place already quoted, for that denarius, he says, signifies an equality of eternity, not of glory. Again, this opinion is favoured by the words of Christ (chap. 19:21, and following), which are closely connected with this parable. And now to explain the several points of the parable according to this sense: By the day is to be understood the course of this world; by the various hours the different ages of the world; so that the first hour is the age from Adam to Noah, the second that from Noah to Abraham, the third from Abraham to Moses, the sixth from Moses to Christ, the eleventh from Christ to the end of the world. Thus S. Hilary, S. Gregory, and Theophylact explain it. Or the day is the life of each man; the first hour being infancy; the third, youth; the sixth, manhood; the ninth, old age; the eleventh, decrepitude. So S. Jerome and S. Basil explain it. By the murmuring, understand with Theophylact, Suarez, and others, the surprise of the saints when those who shall be less in glory, and yet (as the Jews) had laboured more here will wonder that others, who laboured less here, but excelled them in the measure of grace, are preferred to them in glory. To conclude: the sense will be complete and adequate, if this second meaning is taken in conjunction with the first; for as I said at the end of the preceding chapter, the last can be taken in both ways—either as meaning the last, in the sense of the damned, or the last in Heaven itself, and therefore saved. The first sense applies to those who were first called, and clearly explains their murmuring; while the second sense applies to those last called, and in their case clearly explains the denarius, how the same denarius—i.e., eternal life—is given to all. Wherefore, the second sense supplies the first, and the first supplies what is wanting in the second.

Tropologically. The vineyard is the soul which each man has to cultivate. Morally, therefore, we learn that we are called to labour in the vineyard, i.e., our own souls and the Church of God. The cultivators of this vineyard are not held in honour for the time during which they have laboured, but for the diligence, the zeal, and the spirit with which they have laboured. S. Jerome (Epist. 13, ad Paul): Hence the Spouse in the Canticles says, They have made me keeper of the vineyards, mine own vineyard have I not kept. The essence of the soul is the vineyard, planted in the soil of the body; its faculties are the vines, and works of charity are its wine; the vines are to be fastened to the Cross, at the foot of which we make a grave, against the approach of our death and burial. This vineyard must be kept from the wild boar out of the wood (Ps. 80)—i.e., from lustful pleasure; and from the singular wild beast (Vulg.)—i.e., from the sin of pride, which makes a man singular; from the fox of cunning flattery; from the wolf of greediness; from the dog of detraction. We must pray the Lord to send upon this His vineyard the rain of His doctrine, and the warmth of His charity, and dung—i.e., the memory of the death of His Son and of the holy martyrs. The soul is green like a vineyard with flowers and leaves, that is, with holy desires and edifying speech; it pours forth the tears of compunction; it sheds forth the sweet odour of virtue; it bears the ripe grapes of good works. Again, the faithful man performs in his own soul the same works as the vine-dresser in the vineyard. He prunes, hoes, transplants, disentangles, &c.; the faithful does the same mystically in his own soul.

Mt 20:2 And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And now to explain each verse briefly. Verse 2. Having agreed with the labourers. Jovian and Calvin have asserted that all the just are equal in reward, i.e., in the denarius of eternal life, and that therefore they are equal in merit, and all good works are equal. But I have already answered that all are equal generally in eternal life; but in this there will be degrees, for some will have a clearer and others a dimmer vision of God, and therefore the one will be more and the others less blessed and glorious.

Mt 20:3. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle. 

And he went out about the third hour. The Romans and the Jews used to divide the night as well as the day into twelve hours reckoned in four periods which in the night were called watches. The first hour began at sunrise, the sixth at midday. Again, in winter the hours were shorter in the day and longer in the night, and the reverse in summer.

Mt 20:4. And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.

And He said to them, go you also. To these He does not promise a denarius, but what is right (just, Vulg.) By this is signified the merit of good works, which according to justice merits a reward, which God promises to each work according to distributive justice.

Mt 20:5. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. 

And again He went out. This shews the carefulness of God who is desirous that all men should be workers in the vineyard of their own souls, and of the Church, that both may be adorned with fruits of every kind.

Mt 20:6. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle?

About the eleventh hour. This is the last hour of the day, and those called at this hour are Christians. Origen says that Adam was called at the first hour, Paul at the eleventh.

Mt 20:7. They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go ye also into my vineyard.

Because no man hath hired us. This is the vain excuse, S. Chrysostom says, of slothful men; for God calls all to virtue from childhood. But again S. Chrysostom says the hiring is the promise of eternal life: but the Gentiles knew neither God nor the promises of God, so they say that they had not been hired, or called, though they had been called by the law and light of nature.

Mt 20:8. And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.

And when the evening was come. The evening is the end of the world and the Day of Judgment.

Symbolically, Origen understands by the steward the holy Angels, as S. Michael; but Remigius understands Christ, Who as man is the steward of God the Father, and in His name will judge the quick and dead. Irenæus (lib. iv. contr. hær. c. 70) understands the Holy Spirit who dispenses both gifts and graces, and glory and rewards.

The Gentiles had more grace, and co-operated with grace more than the Jews who were first called, and therefore they obtain a higher place in Heaven. We may learn from this that a man may easily gain an increase of merit and glory if he practise frequent acts of charity, and perform all external works from charity and the love of God; for thus he will merit more even than the religious who undergo hard penances, if he practise his works with greater charity than they do, although they be less difficult,

Beginning from the last. S. Gregory says, Those who are called at the end of life are often times rewarded before others, inasmuch as they depart out of the body into the kingdom before those who were called in childhood.

Mt 20:9. When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 
Mt 20:10. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: And they also received every man a penny.

When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour; they received every man a penny. This penny (denarius) was, as I have said above, in kind the same, but in appearance different. The meaning is that the Apostles and Christians called in the last age of the world have received a better denarius, and one that corresponds (congruentem) and is due to their labour and merit.

You will say that the first called, murmured and said, Thou hast made them equal to us, and therefore the same denarius was given to both; for if it had been a better one, they would have said, Thou hast made them superior to us, and they would have murmured much more.

I answer, that the day’s hire is given to workmen in the evening, and therefore those who come last could not easily perceive what sort of denarius was given to those who preceded them, but they only heard the steward say to each, receive your denarius: or if they did see it, they could not clearly perceive in the darkness that they had received a copper denarius, while the others had received a gold one. For copper (aurichaleum) resembles gold in glow and brightness, so that they thought the same denarius was given to them as themselves, and were offended. All this parabolically signifies the envy of the Jews against the Gentiles, for they were offended because the Gentiles were made equal to them in the grace and glory of their Messiah: for they thought that these things were due properly and entirely to them alone, but to the Gentiles only by a certain gratuitous dispensation. Whence arose that contention of the Jews against S. Peter for preaching the Gospel to Cornelius; and that more vehement contention against S. Paul, as is clear from the Acts of the Apostles.

If you ask why Christ did not say expressly that those who came at the eleventh hour received a greater denarius, I answer that Christ was not here treating of that point, but He only intended to eradicate from the Jews their prejudice, and arrogant claim to the first place in the kingdom of Heaven. In opposition to this therefore He teaches that the first shall be last and the last first. For He wishes to confirm His promise made to the Apostles (S. Matt. 19:28). For thus the Apostles will be first in Heaven, inasmuch as they will be the judges of the rest, but the Jews will be the last, as they are to be judged by them.

Morally, S. Chrysostom says, they are called at the eleventh hour who are called in old age; so that this parable was spoken to quicken the zeal of those who are converted in extreme old age, so that they may not suppose that they shall have any less than others.

Mt 20:11. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, 

They murmured. By the murmuring, S. Chrysostom says, is signified the greatness of the reward and glory, which in the Apostles is so great that the rest of the elect and blessed from among the Jews would envy them and would murmur, if envy and murmuring were possible among the blessed. In a different way, S. Gregory says, Because the Fathers before Christ were not brought to the kingdom; this is to have murmured. Lastly, S. Chrysostom thinks that this murmuring is only an ornament of (a point introduced into) the parable, and therefore not to be applied to the thing signified by it.

Mt 20:12. Saying: These last have worked but one hour. and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats. 

We have borne the burden of the day and the heats. That is, we have toiled under the burden of the Law. The Scribes and Pharisees used to fast twice in the week, give tithes of all things to God, teach the people, compass sea and land to make one proselyte; so that they had a weight of labours, but often an unprofitable one.

Mt 20:13. But he answering said to one of them: friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny?

But He answering, &c. An evil eye is an envious eye. The sense is, Since I have bestowed a favour of grace on those who came at the eleventh hour by giving them a denarius, I have done thee no wrong. The Master might have made answer to the murmurer, Those who came at the eleventh hour worked with greater grace and zeal, and accomplished more in one hour than thou didst in the whole day, and therefore merited more, as the first have received a better denarius. But it did not become the Master to contend on an equality with His servant, but rather to silence his murmuring by asserting his own right of ownership, liberality, and grace.

You will object, that S. Prosper here seems to take away all merit; for (lib. 2, de Vocal. Gent. c. 5) speaking of this parable, he says: “We read that the same reward was given to all the labourers, in order that those who laboured much without receiving more than the last might understand that they had received a gift of grace, not a reward of work.” Bellarmine answers: “S. Prosper considers eternal life is the reward which is the same and equal in the case of all the blessed: and God bestows this eternal life as a gift of grace, not a reward of works, in that sense of which S. Augustine speaks, ‘God crowns His own gifts, not thy merits;’ and therefore He willed to bestow eternal life on those who had laboured much and on those who had laboured little; that those who labour much may not glory in their own strength.”

Mt 20:14. Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee.

Take that thine is. Take, O Pharisee, thy wealth and honours which I have given thee in this life and which thou didst desire more than eternal life; be content with them, and go thy way. But Remigius explains the words thus: “Take thy reward, and enter into glory.”

I will also give to this last (i.e., the Gentiles), according to his merit, even as to thee. But Origen says: “Perhaps He says to Adam, Friend, I do thee no wrong, &c.” One may reasonably suppose that this last is the Apostle Paul, who laboured one hour. Others interpret: “Take thy damnation due to thee on account of thy murmuring, and go thy way to hell.”

Mt 20:15. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good?+

Lapide offers no comment on this verse, but see the comments on verse 13 where he has alluded to it.

Mt 20:16. So shall the last be first and the first last. For many are called but few chosen.

So the last shall be first. According to the first sense of the parable, the last who will be the first in Heaven are the elect; but the first who will be the last are the called only, who have not followed their calling or who have abandoned it, and are therefore damned. These are many, if they are compared with the elect, who are few (S. Matthew 7:14). But according to the second sense, which I have given above, it is not easy to connect the latter clause, “Many are called, &c.,” with the first, “so the last shall be first.” Maldonatus thus connects them: “From the particular sentence in which He said that the first should be last and the last first, He draws a more general conclusion—that not all who are called will receive a reward, because very many when called will not come.” Suarez considers that it is an argument a fortiori—You will not be astonished that the first will be last and the last first, since many are called but few chosen, and therefore all the rest will be damned, which is more to be wondered at and dreaded; for if many are called who are not saved, what wonder is it that many are called who are not first in reward, although they may obtain something?

Again many, i.e., all are called to eternal life, yet He says many, because all are many and because He opposes them to the few who are elect: “live therefore like the few,” says Cassian, “that with the few you may merit election and a place in Heaven.”

Lastly, some explain thus, many, i.e., all are called to grace and to the keeping of the commandments, but few are chosen to extraordinary grace, and to the keeping of the Evangelical counsels.

Of this opinion are those schoolmen who hold that there are two classes of the elect. I. The ordinary class consisting of those who upon the pre-knowledge of their merits are elected to glory; the other, consisting of those who are elected to glory before their merits are pre-known, whom they call extraordinarily predestinated and suppose to be here intended, when it is said, “few are chosen.” Among these few are the Blessed Virgin, the Apostles, and a few others; but the former are far more numerous, and therefore of them it is, many are called.

The Arabic version renders How many are called, &c., as if the words were an exclamation of Christ moved with wonder and pity at the multitude of the called and the fewness of the elect, and consequently at the multitude of the damned.

Here is brought to conclusion the narration of the events of the third year of Christ’s ministry; for a short time after this He raised Lazarus, which event took place in March, after which in the same month and year He was crucified.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Fr. Lapide, Latin Mass Notes, Notes on Matthew, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 13:31-35

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 22, 2023

Mt 13:31. (Fourth Parable.) This is the fourth parable, which in St. Mark (4:30), is thus introduced: “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? or to what parable shall we compare it?”

The spread of the Church, and the Gospel doctrine—the meaning of, “kingdom of heaven”—is, “like to a grain of mustard seed,” &c.

Mt 13:32. “Which is indeed the least of all seeds.” There are some smaller seeds. The words mean, it is one of the least of all seeds. It is quite a common form of expression, when speaking of something small, to speak of it in the superlative, and to say of it, it is the least, or, a very small, thing. “But when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs.” In hot countries, the mustard seed grows into a small tree, exceeding in height the human stature (Lucas Brugensis), “so that the birds of the air come and dwell,” that is, perch, “in the branches thereof.” The Greek word, κατασκηνοῦν, would convey the idea, of nestling, or fixing their abode. But the word, “dwell,” may mean, to rest, or perch, on the branches.

The parable of the mustard seed, exhibits the great virtue and active efficacy of the Gospel doctrine. It was a proverbial kind of saying among the Jews, when they spoke of anything very small, to compare it to a mustard seed. The parable of the mustard seed is not explained by our Divine Redeemer. We are left to explain it ourselves. The holy Fathers understand it, of the spread of the faith and of the Gospel. It exhibits to us also the great virtue and active efficacy of the Gospel doctrine. This doctrine of the Gospel, whereby the Church was founded, and gathered together, was, from a human point of view, the meanest and most contemptible of all other doctrines, whether we regard the subjects it propounded—the mysterious doctrines of original sin, and the other mysteries impervious to human reason—its maxims so opposed to flesh and blood; or, its original Founder, a crucified Man, the preaching of whose Divinity scandalized the Jews, and made the Gentiles cry, “folly;” or, the instruments employed in its propagation—a few illiterate, ignorant fishermen, without knowledge, station, or influence, who were to combat the wisdom of the philosopher, and the eloquence of the rhetorician; and yet, notwithstanding these obstacles, humanly speaking, insuperable, this small grain of mustard seed, after being some time buried in the earth, extended itself far and wide, encircling the habitable globe, covering, with its ample shade, the great ones of the world; those elevated above their fellows in learning, such as the philosophers; in power and station, such as kings and princes. Or, “birds,” may rather signify those elevated souls, whose aspirations tended aloft towards the happiness of heaven. This Gospel doctrine, after extending itself to the entire earth, produced numberless saints, out of all conditions of life, who exhibited the most striking examples of heroic virtue; so that the Church, propagated by this doctrine, far exceeds, in point of extent, permanency, and splendour, every sect existing in this world (Mauduit).

This parable represents the increase of the Church, by means of the Gospel doctrine. For, the Church—“the kingdom of heaven”—like to a grain of mustard, the least of seeds, which grows into a tree, was first very small when planted by Christ on earth; but, glowing with charity, it became a great tree, like that described by Daniel (4:7).

Mt 13:33. (Fifth Parable.) This parable has the same scope and object as the preceding. It shows the great and active efficacy of the Gospel doctrine, and the wonderful spread of the Church, from very small beginnings. The word, “leaven,” is often taken in a bad sense in Scripture. (Mark 8; Gal. 5; 1 Cor. 5) On account of its different properties of infecting the thing with which it is mixed up, it is susceptible of a good or bad signification. Hence, it is taken sometimes, as here, in a good signification.

“Which a woman took and hid.” It was the women that baked bread among the Jews (Lev. 26:26)

“In three measures”—“in tribus satis.” What quantity each of these measures in question contained, we cannot precisely know, as we have no corresponding measures. It was the seah of the Jews, the third part of an epha, containing, probably, about ten pints, the ordinary quantity baked at a time (Gen. 18:6).

The scope of the parable is to convey, that as the leaven, however small in quantity, affects the entire mass of the flour with which it is mixed, and fermenting the dough by its activity, makes it rise and become more savoury, so as to become wholesome nutriment for man; so, in like manner, the Gospel doctrine, however humble in its accompaniments, preached by a few fishermen, and embraced at first by only the lowly and the humble, shall, by its occult power, change and ferment the entire world, or whole human race, and, imbuing them with its own nature, and filling them with the love of God, shall make them fit subjects for heaven. As the preceding parable denoted the external and visible effects of the Gospel on the hearts of men; so does this, most probably, denote its internal and invisible effects, its fermentation and the active love of God, which it produces in the heart of man.

By the “woman,” referred to here, St. Jerome understands, the Church gathered from all nations. St. Augustine (Lib. 1, quest. Evan.), the power and wisdom of God.

Mt 13:34. “Spoke in parables,” to which Mark adds (Mk 4:33), “according as they were able to hear,” which, by some, is understood to mean, according as they were worthy of instruction. For, as the Scribes and Pharisees listened solely with the view of catching Him in His words; He, therefore, on account of their unworthiness, spoke to them in an obscure way; otherwise, they would have derived detriment, rather than profit, from His words, and would have treated them disrespectfully. This is in accordance with Mt 13:12.

Others give the words a favourable interpretation. He accommodates Himself to the capacity of the simple people, by proposing, under the images of things with which they were conversant in their daily course of life, His abstruse doctrines, which they could not otherwise comprehend; and this form of conveying ideas in parables would stimulate the people to seek, from competent persons, the meaning of what they heard. According to this interpretation, another reason is assigned for the use of parables, quite different from that assigned Mt 13:12.

“And without parables He did not speak to them,” may mean, that, generally speaking, parabolic language was mixed up with all the addresses of our Redeemer to the multitude; or the words may mean, that, on that occasion, at that time, He did not speak to them except in parables. For, on many other occasions, He discoursed to them in the simplest literal language. St. Mark says, “but apart He explained all things to His disciples,” as if to show, that all things our Redeemer then spoke to the multitude were in parables, requiring explanation, which was given to the disciples. In truth, parabolic language was not the mode of instruction ordinarily employed by our Redeemer.

Mt 13:35. The result of our Redeemer’s addressing the people in parables was: that He fulfilled, and verified what was spoken by the Prophet mystically in his sacred Person. The Prophet, while primarily referring to the events recorded in the Psalm, represented Christ, and spoke, in His Person, in a mystical and still more recondite sense—the sense principally intended by the Holy Ghost—of the great blessings bestowed on the human race by the Gospel and the great work of Redemption.

“I will open my mouth,” a Hebrew form, for, “I will speak,” denoting, at the same time, some obscure and important subject, “in parables.” “I will utter things hidden from the foundation,” &c. The Septuagint of Psalm 78, to which reference is made, runs thus: “I shall utter problems from the beginning.” The Hebrew has, “I shall utter enigmata (chidoth) from of old.” The words, problems and enigmata, which the Vulgate renders “propositiones,” have their meaning well conveyed in our version, “things hidden;” for, both problems and enigmata, and parables, agree in this: that they contain and suggest some obscure and latent meaning besides what the words literally express; and, then, “from the beginning,” is well expressed in the words, “from the foundation of the world.” These mysteries of grace and glory, revealed by Christ to His Church, were known to but few from creation. This is well expressed by the Apostle (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:1).

The 78th Psalm, whoever was its author, whether spoken, in the first instance, in the person of David himself, or in that of Asaph, in its primary and literal sense, commemorated the benefits of God bestowed on the Hebrew people, “from the beginning,” from the first time He set them apart as His chosen inheritance, and from their egress out of Egypt—which is specially mentioned in this Psalm (Ps 78:12-13)—to the time of David himself. This was done with the view of inspiring them with feelings of love and gratitude to God. But, in their mystical and more recondite sense—the sense principally intended by the Holy Ghost—the Psalm referred to the great benefits conferred by our Blessed Lord—of whom the Prophet exhibited a type—in the New Law, and to the chief features of His providential dealings with the human race. Indeed, it may be said, that, as “all things happened”—that ancient people—“in figure” (1 Cor. 10:6), the events recorded in Psalm 77 and the blessings there commemorated, from their egress out of Egypt, to the days of David, were so many types of the blessings conferred on the spiritual Israel of the New Law; and in recording these, the Prophet or Psalmist announced parables, in the general acceptation of the term.

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Suggested Resources for Studying the Sunday Lectionary, Year A

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 21, 2023

I will be updating this post with new resources throughout the year and the new content will be dated so you can easily find the most recent content.


Catholic Bible Dictionary. Edited by Dr Scott Hahn.

McKenzie’s Dictionary of the Bible. Fr. John McKenzie. Somewhat outdated now but still highly useful (published 1965).

Harper/Collins Bible Dictionary. Ecumenically oriented with Roman Catholic, Jewish, mainline Protestant and Evangelical contributors.

 A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: Old Testament. By Dr. John Bergsma and Dr. Brant Pitre. Highly recommended. A volume on the NT is planned.

Bible Basics for Catholics: Examines salvation history through the covenants of the Old and New Testaments. Dr. John Bergsma. A good foundational introduction to some major themes unifying the two testaments; especially written for newcomers to bible study.

God’s Word to Israel. Fr. Joseph Jensen. Introduction to the OT.

Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction. Fr. Lawrence Boadt.

GENERAL RESOURCES: Typically these resources cover the three Sunday readings and, sometimes, the responsorial. Works specifically on the Gospel of Matthew and other biblical books used prominently this lectionary cycle are or will be listed further below under individual headings (e.g., “Resources on the Gospel of Matthew”).

The Word of the Lord, Year A. Dr. John Bergsma. Part of an outstanding 4 volume set by a Catholic biblical scholar (see next link).

The Word of the Lord: Solemnities and Feasts. Dr. John Bergsma.

Breaking the Word, Year A. By Fr. Dr. Michael Kodzo Mensah. A very basic presentation of “what catches the eye of the biblical scholar when he reads these texts.”

The Liturgical Year (3 volumes). By Adrien Nocent. Vol 1. Advent-Epiphany. Vol 2. Lent-Easter Season. Vol 3. Ordinary Time.

Footprints on the Mountain: Preaching and Teaching the Sunday Readings. Fr. Ronald J Faley. Succinct commentary on the readings, prefaced by a suggested theme and followed by meditative reflection by a Catholic biblical scholar.

RESOURCES ON THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW: Works marked with 3 asterisks (***) indicate a resource devoted to the matthean texts used in the lectionary. All other resources treat the Gospel as a whole.

*** Come Follow Me: Discipleship Reflections on the Sunday Gospel Readings for Liturgical Year A. Fr. Daniel Mueggenborg.

*** This is the Gospel of the Lord, Year A. Fr. Francis J Moloney. A Catholic biblical scholars reflections on the Gospel readings.

Matthew: New Testament Message Series, Vol. 3. Fr. John P Meier.

The Mystery of the Kingdom: On the Gospel of Matthew. Edward Sri. This simple commentary provides a good theological introduction to the dominant themes of kingdom and kingship.

The Gospel of Matthew (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture). Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri. Part of an outstanding commentary series on the NT.

The Gospel of Matthew: Interpreting Biblical Text Series. Fr. Donald Senior. Part of an ecumenical series employing Catholic, Protestant and Jewish scholars.

The Great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide on Matthew’s (and Mark’s) Gospel. I’ve linked to the kindle edition which combines three volume (on Matthew and Mark) into one. Father Lapide was a 17th century Jesuit scholar who wrote a massive (“great”) commentary on the Catholic bible. Several NT volumes were translated into English by the Anglican scholars Thomas W Mossman, who joined the Oxford Movement the same year John Henry Newman converted to Catholicism. Mossman converted shortly before his death. His (abridged) translation of Lapide’s commentary is presented here (unfortunately it uses the Protestant AV bible translation). A Catholic publishing house, Loretto Publishing, has revised and completed Mossman’s abridgement. Their hardcover editions are finely made and, therefore, expensive. They offer the commentary on Matthew in two volumes (1, 2) at $50.00 each. They also offer an online edition of Lapide’s commentary on all four gospels for $40.00.

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Father Boylan’s Commentary on Hebrews 6:7-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 15, 2023

Text in red are my additions. Links are to the English Standard Version.

(Heb 6:7) For a soil which hath drunk in the abundant rain that has fallen on it, and bringeth forth useful produce for those by whom it is tilled, receiveth a blessing from God. (Heb 6:8) But if it beareth thorns and thistles, it is worthless, and is nigh unto a curse and its end is to be burned.

(Heb 6:9) But we are persuaded. Beloved, of better things in your regard; and of things helping towards salvation — even when we speak thus. (Heb 6:10) For God is not unjust so as to forget your works and the love which ye have shown towards His name, when ye ministered, and minister to the saints.

The sense of the comparison is that the readers who have received the rich gifts of God’s grace, receive still greater gifts when they bear a harvest of faith and love. But when, in spite of graces received, they bring forth naught but sin, they are Valueless in God’s sight, and, in the end, God’s curse will fall upon them. (Cf. Genesis 1:11; 3:17f.) The nearness of the curse implies that it is not yet quite at hand. (Cf. Matt. 1:12, 31.)

Note on Heb 6:8. Note that ἀδόκιμος (adokimos = worthless) is a genuinely pauline word.

Note on Heb 6:9. What he has said is Only a warning against what might happen, not a threat of something immediately impending. The writer’s hope in his readers is still strong. It is. based on their generous charity, which shows the genuineness of their faith.

The address ‘Beloved’ is intended to remove the sting of hardness and severity in the preceding.

The ‘better things’ and the ‘things helping to salvation’ refer to the general religious condition of the readers. They are like the fruitful” soil, and they are not nigh unto a curse. The writer is convinced that there is some relation between the, works of men and the grace of God; and that God cannot forget their charity towards the ‘Saints’. The motive ,of’ charity shown towards the Saints must ultimately be the love of God (love of His name). It has been suggested that there might be here some implication of a collection made by. -the readers for the Christians of Jerusalem. , But these were not the only Christians who were called ‘saints’. Cf. Heb 10:32—34.

(Heb 6:11) we desire that each one of you should show the same zeal in regard to the fulness of hope to the end, (Heb 6:12) that ye may not grow dull, but rather be imitators of those who by faith and perseverance inherit the promises.

Those addressed are good in many ways. Yet they need to be more zealous. They are somewhat indifferent, and they are dull in spiritual comprehension. Hence the example of genuinely earnest Christians is held up before them. The readers are exhorted to be as confident in hope as they are zealous and energetic in works of charity. They are exhorted to put unquestioning trust in the promises of God, imitating thus the heroes of faith in the Old Dispensation, and the fervent followers of Christ in the New. They must look beyond the trials of this life to the certain hope of the future, keeping up thus ‘the boasting of their hope’.

(Heb 6:13) For when God gave Abraham a promise, since He could swear by no greater one He sware by Himself

There cannot be any ground of fear lest the blessings of the Christian Dispensation should prove unattainable. They can surely be attained by patient fidelity in the things of the Christian life. In this Abraham is an example. He was the first to receive explicitly the promise — the promise which contained in itself all the others. God strengthened His promise by an oath : and as He was Himself supreme above all things, He swore by Himself.

(Heb 6:14) saying: ‘I will surely bless thee, and I will surely multiply thee’. (Heb 6:15) And so he, after patient waiting, attained the promise.

God promised Abraham blessing and increase. Abraham enduring in hope lived to see the promise, in part at least, fulfilled. For the promises made to Abraham see Gen. 12, 2f.; 13:16; 15:5ff.; 17:5ff.; 22:16f. The words of the oath in Gen. 22:16 are not here exactly quoted.

In verse 14 the Latin nisi represents the Greek Εἰ μὴν (ei men = surely), which is frequent in the Septuagint: it is the vulgar form of the classical ἡ μὴν (he men): it would seem as if it were intended to reproduce an ‘im lo of the Hebrew (though this is not in the Masoretic text of Gen. 22:16 f.) — which would correctly introduce an affirmative oath.

(Heb 6:16) For men swear by a greater one, and the oath is to them a surety beyond all contradiction. (Heb 6:17) Hence God, wishing to put before the heirs of the promise still more clearly the unchangeableness of His will, gave guarantee with an oath. (Heb 6:18) So that by two unchangeable things, in which God cannot by any possibility Speak falsely, we have a sure consolation when we have sought refuge in seizing the hope offered (to us): (Heb 6:19) in which we have a sure anchor of the soul which reacheth even behind the veil, (Heb 6:20) whither, as Forerunner Jesus for us hath entered in, having become a High Priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.

An oath among men has two results, a negative, and a positive. On the one hand it puts an end to all contradiction or gainsaying. On the other hand it confirms that in favour of which it is pronounced. The oath of God referred to here is the same as that in Heb 6:14. The two unchangeable things are the promise and the oath. The will, or plan, of God here spoken of, is the plan to give a blessing to all through the seed of Abraham.

Heb 6:18: ‘When we have sought refuge in seizing etc.’, that is, ‘when we fled for refuge (at the due moment) to take hold of.’ We cast aside, every consideration except that of laying hold of the hope which Jay before us. (Cf. Heb 12:1-2.)

Heb 6:18-19: Hope in the fulfilment of God’s word is compared with an anchor which reaches over into the unseen world, and unites us firmly with it. That other world is not a mere fancy: it is a reality, since Jesus has entered into it as our, Forerunner. Moreover He helps us to arrive there, acting for” us as a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. The veil behind which the hope reaches is the veil which . shuts us out from the presence of God — like the veil which hung before, the Most Holy Place. Into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly Tabernacle our hope reaches, and thither Jesus helps us to come by offering to God His sacrifice of Himself.

Here we have arrived again at the theme broached in Heb 5:10, — the Melchizedek-like High Priesthood of Jesus. The three following chapters will treat of this theme. The thought of Jesus as Priest is mainly connected with His self-oblation on Calvary. That sacrifice marked the beginning of a new epoch, and it was, therefore, natural that the author should look for a type of Christ’s Priesthood outside, and beyond, the limits of the Aaronite priesthood.

In Heb 4:14-5:10 it was shown that Jesus possesses the qualities of a High Priest, and now the author goes on to show how greatly the Priesthood of Jesus exceeded that of the Jews. It is a new Priesthood, typified and symbolised, not by the Levitical priesthood’ but by that of Melchizedek. The figure of Melchizedek appears here enveloped in mystery.

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Father Boylan’s Commentary on Hebrews 4:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 7, 2023

Text in red are my additions.


Heb 4:1 LET us fear therefore lest, the promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should be thought to be wanting.
Heb 4:2 For unto us also it hath been declared in like manner as unto them. But the word of hearing did not profit them, not being mixed with faith of those things they heard.
Heb 4:3 For we, who have believed, shall enter into rest; as he said: As I have sworn in my wrath: If they shall enter into my rest; and this indeed when the works from the foundation of the world were finished.
Heb 4:4 For in a certain place he spoke of the seventh day thus: And God rested the seventh day from all his works.
Heb 4:5 And in this place again: If they shall enter into my rest

As the Israelites of old had received a promise of Rest, which was still unfulfilled, that promise still holds good. Hence the Rest may be forfeited now as then. Let them take care that no one of them hear from the Judge the sentence: ‘Too late!’

The Christians are, as regards the promise of the Rest, in the same position as the ancient Israelites, and what happened of’ old  to the Israelites may happen now to the Christians. To make the promise of the Rest effective the Christian must take it to himself by faith, for without that faith the word of the new preaching may remain as external to the Christians as was the message of the ancient preaching to the Israelites.

Heb 4:3-4 show ‘that the ‘Rest’ still really existed. At the close of the work of creation God entered on His Rest, and since God swore concerning His Rest during the time of the desert wanderings, that Rest must have still existed at that time. It cannot be said that the Israelites failed to enter into the Rest because the latter did not exist: it existed, in fact, from the close of the Creation.

Since, then, those to whom the Rest was offered did not accept it, it remains still accessible, for, as we can infer from His oath, God does not wish to keep His Rest altogether for Himself.

Heb 4:1.  ὑστερηκέναι·(hysterekenai, “be wanting”) means to come too late, or to fall short of — Cf. Heb 12:15. δοκῇ (doke) has here an objective sense — ‘be found to be’ (not ‘think themselves to be’).

Heb 1:2. [In the manuscripts]  there are several readings. The translation here given renders the reading συγκεκερασμένους (synkekerasmenous = “being mixed with” in the above translation, “united” in the link translation). The ‘word’ was not fully assimilated with those who heard it: τῇ πίστει (te pistei = “by faith”–see link) is the instrumental dative. The word would be assimilated by faith (better than “with faith” in the above translation).

Heb 4:6 Seeing then it remaineth that some are to enter into it, and they to whom it was first preached did not enter because of unbelief:
Heb 4:7 Again he limiteth a certain day, saying in David; Today, after so long a time as it is above said: To day if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Heb 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest he would never have afterwards spoken of another day. 

It is clear that the Rest is intended for some at least, and it is also clear that those for whom the Rest was first intended did not enter into it. Hence we find God again, long subsequently to the period of the Exodus, speaking of a new time-limit for entering the Rest, and issuing, as it were, a new invitation to men to enter His Rest. The ‘Today’ of the Psalm passage is spoken of in the Davidic period, which was several centuries later than the Mosaic period. It must, therefore, refer to a date much later than that of the warning given in the desert.

The rest n question could not be merely the occupation of Palestine, for while that occupation was carried out in the time of Josue, the Psalm text shows that long after the time of Josue, the Rest was still spoken of as not yet attained.

Heb 4:9 There remaineth therefore a day of rest for the people of God.
Heb 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, as God did from his.
Heb 4:11 Let us hasten therefore to enter into that rest: lest any man fall into the same example of unbelief.

The Sabbath-rest is kept, then, for the Messianic age. That Sabbath rest is a sharing in the Sabbath-rest of God which began with the close of Creation. Just as God’s Rest followed His labour, so the Sabbath-rest to be reached by Christians can only be secured by labour: it is not, therefore, a privilege belonging inalienably to everyone who has accepted the faith. It is to be noted that in contemporary Jewish theology the Messianic time was usually compared to a Sabbath-rest.

In verse 11 the exhortation of verse 1 is repeated. By disobedience the desert-generation came to destruction. Let not a similar misfortune befall us.

Note how the ‘Rest’ comes to be identified with the σαββατισμὸς (sabbatimos = sabbath in verse 9). The ‘To-day- of verse 7 is, the ‘To-day’ of Ps. 95, and the ‘To-day’ still holds good for the time between David and the present (Christian) period. The reasoning implies the Messianic character of Ps. 95. The ‘Rest’ of the period following the occupation of Palestine, though it was not the genuine ‘Rest’ of God, was symbolical of that ‘Rest’. The true ‘Rest’ is a sharing in the Sabbath of the Creator.

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Father Boylan’s Commentary on Hebrews 3:7-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 6, 2023

Heb 3:7 Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith: To-day if you shall hear his voice,
Heb 3:8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the desert,
Heb 3:9 Where your fathers tempted me, proved and saw my works,
Heb 3:10 Forty years: for which cause I was offended with this generation, and I said: They always err in heart. And they have not known my ways.
Heb 3:11 As I have sworn in my wrath: If they shall enter into my rest.
Heb 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest perhaps there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God.
Heb 3:13 But exhort one another every day, whilst it is called to day, that none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ: yet so, if we hold the beginning of his substance firm unto the end.

Even though the Israelites had seen  the wonders performed by God in the desert for 40 years, they still failed in loyalty, and tried to frustrate the plans of God. Similarly the Christians have seen the wonders that accompanied the first preaching of the Faith, and yet are inclined. to despair and rebel. The murmurers in Israel were shut out from the ‘Rest’ of the Promised Land as a punishment for their failure to understand God’s ways. This should serve as a warning to Christians.  The danger against which each one of them is warned is that of falling away from God. It is, further, pointed out that each one has a responsibility for his brother in this matter. Each must encourage his brother so long as it is still ‘Today” —  that is, the interval between cortversion and judgment. The ‘deceit of sin’ is the attempt of sin to conversion them that it is folly to hold fast to Christ. It is only by holding firmly to Christ that the wiles of sin can be defeated, and Christians be shown to be true comrades of Christ.

In the Hebrew text exacerbatio (= strife, contention) and tentatio (= testing) appear as place-names, Meribah and Massah (cf. Ps. 95:8; Ex. 17:1—7; Num. 20:1-13; Num. 14) and in Psalm 95 the 40 years appears as the time during which God was angry, rather than as the time during which God dispensed His mercies. It has been often suggested that the reference to 40 years here is a hint that these words were written at the close of the period 40—70 A. D.

The κατάπαυσίν (“Rest”), the occupation of Palestine, was a precondition of Messianic salvation, but not that salvation itself. The ‘Rest’ is still to be secured. If the present generation sins, it also may be shut out from the ‘Rest’.

ὑποστάσεως (substance) in verse 14 means confident expectation….The ‘beginning of confidence (substance)’ means ‘beginning in confidence;’ i.e.. Christian life must begin with confidence in Christ, and that confidence must go on to the end.

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Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 3:13-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 3, 2023

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan, unto John, to be baptized by him.

Then cometh Jesus, &c. Then, when the Baptist was stirring up all to repentance, and baptizing as a preparation for receiving the grace of Christ, then, I say, Christ came, that Him whom he had commended when absent, he might point out being present, even as the day-star goes before and indicates the rising of the sun.

From Galilee, or as S. Mark says from Nazareth, where he had lived with His mother in a private station until He was thirty years of age. Then He came to John, that He might be by him declared to be the Messiah, that is, the Teacher and Redeemer of the world: and that He might, upon John’s testimony, inaugurate His public office of teaching, and bringing in the Evangelical Law, for which He had been sent by the Father.

To be baptized. You will ask, what were the causes of John’s preaching and baptism, and why did Christ wish to be baptized by him? There was a threefold reason, says S. Jerome. 1. That because He was born a man, he might fulfil all the righteousness and humility of the law. 2. That He might give a sanction to John’s baptism. 3. That sanctifying the waters of Jordan by the descent of the Dove, He might show the coming of the Holy Ghost to the laver of the faithful.

4. A fourth reason was that by the Holy Spirit’s coming down upon Christ in the form of a dove, and by the Father thundering from heaven, He might afford Himself an irrefragable testimony. So S. Jerome.

5. Christ, by receiving baptism from John, would allure all men to His own Baptism, and would show them its benefit, viz. the coming and gift of the Holy Ghost.

6. Christ took our sins upon Him. Therefore as guilty and a penitent He stood before John, that He might wash away and cleanse our sins in Himself. Whence Nazianzen says (Orat. in sancta luminaria), “John baptizes, and Jesus comes to him, sanctifying even him who baptizes, that especially He may bury the old Adam in the waters.” And again, “Jesus ascended up out of the water, drawing and lifting up with Himself a drowned world.”

7. That Christ, who had determined to found the new commonwealth of Christians, in which none should be admitted except by baptism, should Himself, their Chief, be baptized, that He might in all things except sin, be made like unto His brethren. That is a famous saying of Cato, “Submit to the law, which thou thyself hast enacted.”

8. As Abraham formerly, by God’s command, instituted the sign of circumcision, so Christ would give a new pledge to His Church by sanctioning baptism. Thus S. Thomas thinks (3 p., q. 66, art. 2) that when Christ was baptized, He instituted the Sacrament of Baptism, not in words, but in deed. For then there appeared all the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, in whose name we are baptized. The Father was manifested by His Voice, the Son appeared in Jordan, the Holy Ghost was seen in the form of a Dove.

But it is more correct to say that Christ when He was baptized only directed attention to His own Sacrament, and its matter, water; but that He instituted it shortly afterwards, when He began to preach publicly. For He does not seem to have instituted Baptism publicly at the time He said to Nicodemus coming to Him privately and by night, “Except any one be born of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” And this is the opinion of S. Chrysostom, S. Augustine (Serm. 36 & 37, de Tempore), S. Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. in S. Nativit.), and others, who at the same time assert that Christ by His Baptism sanctified all water, and by His corporeal contact with it endued it with regenerating power, not as though He infused into water any physical, but only a moral quality, because water was then, ipso facto, by the intention of Christ, designed for the sanctification of men by washing them in the Sacrament of Baptism.

Tropologically, Christ by His Baptism at this time wished to teach us that a holy and perfect life must begin with baptism, and that this should be the great object of all who teach others, such as doctors and preachers.

14 But John stayed him, saying: I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me?

But John stayed him. John recognized Christ by a secret instinct and revelation of God, by which he knew Him as to his face, which he had seen and known thirty years before, when he leapt in his mother’s womb for joy. You may ask, “Why then was there a sign given to the Baptist (John 1:33) by which he was to recognize Christ, viz., the descending and abiding of the Holy Ghost upon Him?” I reply, This sign was given to the Baptist, not that he should for the first time know Christ, but that it should more fully confirm him in that faith and knowledge, and that by the same, as by a sure testimony of God, he should point out and commend Christ to the people.

I ought to be baptized, &c. That is, to be spiritually washed from my sins, and perfected by the Spirit of Thy grace. Have need here does not signify an obligation of precept, as though the Baptist was obliged to receive the baptism of Christ. For this precept of baptism was given and promulged by S. Peter on the Day of Pentecost, and therefore after John’s death. Some gather from this place that John was soon afterwards baptized by Christ Himself, as were also the Blessed Virgin Mary, SS. Peter, James, and John, and the rest of the Apostles. This is stated by S. Evodius, who succeeded S. Peter in the Chair of Antioch, in an Epistle of his, entitled τὸ φώς. In favour of this idea are also Nazian. (Orat. 39 towards the end); “Christ knew,” he says, “that He would Himself shortly afterwards baptize the Baptist; also S. Chrysostom, who says, “John baptized Christ with water, but Christ baptized John with the Spirit.” Whence the author of the Imperfect Comment. says, “It is plainly written in apocryphal writings, that John baptized Christ with water, but He baptized John with the Spirit.”

Abulensis thinks, on the other hand, that John was not baptized by Christ. And he proves it by the marvelling of John’s disciples, who soon afterwards told John that Christ, whom he had baptized, was Himself baptizing, and that all men were coming unto Him. For this would have been needlessly told to John if he had been baptized by Christ, and he would have given this reply to his disciples. So that it is a doubtful point whether John was baptized by Christ or not.

15 And Jesus answering, said to him: Suffer it to be so now. For so it becometh us to fulfil all justice. Then he suffered him.

And Jesus answering said, &c. It becometh us, i.e., Me to receive, thee to confer, baptism. Others understand us in this way: “It behoves us who are teachers to set an example in ourselves. Nothing, however apparently unimportant, must be omitted. I shall institute baptism. It is the part of him who commands, to do before others what he commands.” Whence S. Luke says of Christ (Acts 1:1), “Jesus began both to do and to teach.” “This is righteousness,” saith S. Ambrose, “that what you wish another to do, you should yourself first begin, and encourage others by your own example.” Whence S. Gregory, “Of true humility is ever sprung secure authority.

Moreover, not only Christ receiving, but John conferring baptism fulfilled all righteousness, because, contending in humility with Christ, he suffered himself to be vanquished, by being as it were put upon an equality with Christ. And so he, as it were, being vanquished by Christ in humility, vanquished Christ by yielding to Him and obeying Him. As S. Dominic, wishing to give his right hand to S. Francis, whilst Francis opposed it and strove to take his left, said at length, “You overcome me in humility; I conquer you by obedience.”

It is very probable that in the act of baptism John pointed out Christ to the people, since the form of John’s baptism would be something of this kind: “I baptize thee in the Name of Him who is to come;” or, “Believe in Messiah who is about to come.” This is inferred from chap. 19:4. Thus it would seem that when Christ came, and was being baptized, John would say, “This is Messias of whom I said that He was about to come.”

S. Jerome observes—“Beautifully is it said, ‘Suffer it now,’ that it might be shown that Christ was baptized with water, and that John was about to be baptized by Christ with the Spirit. And by-and-by Christ might say, ‘Thou baptizest Me in water, that I may baptize thee in thine own blood shed for Me.’ ”

For so it becometh us to fulfil (Arabic, to perfect) all righteousness. Instead of righteousness the Syriac has all rectitude, i.e., whatever is just, right, holy, and pleasing unto God. And it is not right to decline or depart from such things, even though they seem lowly and abject; and even though they be not provided for by any precept, but are matters of counsel only. But again, all righteousness is whatsoever God the Father hath commanded. So Vatabl. For that is righteous which God sanctions and commands. And it would seem that as God the Father commanded Christ to die, so also He gave Him a precept to submit to John’s baptism.

Hence, secondly, the Gloss says, humility is all righteousness—humility which subjects itself to all—superiors, equals, and inferiors. On the contrary, pride, by which a man prefers himself to all, not only inferiors and equals, but superiors, is all unrighteousness. For it takes away their just rights, and deprives them of the subjection which is their due. For as in every act of righteousness, i.e., of virtue, humility comes in, in that a man submits himself to reason and virtue, so pride mixes itself up with every act of sin, in that a man prefers himself, and his own will and desire, to the law and will of God. Humility therefore fulfils all righteousness, because it is the head of all right and justice which a man owes to God, his neighbour, and himself. He submits himself to God by religion, to his neighbour by charity. He subjects the body to the soul, the soul to the law of God. Wherefore the humble hath peace with all; the proud with all hath strife and war. At this present day how many lawsuits and contentions are there between clergy and prelates for places, titles, precedence! How both sides pertinaciously contend for what is due to each, to the great scandal of the laity, and with little gain of victory to either side. For what dost thou gain if thou over-comest in the lawsuit, save some small worthless point of honour, and in the meanwhile makest a far greater loss of reputation, peace, and conscience? Learn from Christ, O Christian, to believe in, yea, even to be ambitious of the lowest place, so shalt thou be exalted with Christ and deserve the highest. For Christ, subjecting Himself to John, was declared by John, yea, by all the Holy Trinity, to be greater than John, to be the Son of God. Say, therefore, with Christ, “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” S. Ignatius, the founder of our Society, was a follower of Christ when he gave this golden axiom:

“With e’en the least, let no true Christian fight,
But still to yield be e’er his chief delight.”

For the grace, honour, and glory of a Christian is humility, that is to say, to yield, to suffer himself to be vanquished, to yield the place of honour to another. Wherefore the greater is he who is the humbler. For, as S. Gregory says, “Pride is the place of the wicked, humility the place of the good.” Christ here teaches us to follow an ordinary life, not to seek exemption from the common law and lot, and to be accounted as one of the common people, according to the words in Ecclus. 3:20, “If thou wouldst be famous, be as one of the flock;” yea, descend to the lowest place, and prefer all men to thyself.

3. All righteousness, i.e. the highest justice. Thus God says to Moses (Exod. 33:10), “I will shew thee all,” i.e. the highest “good” (Vulg.) namely, Myself. For the lowest degree of righteousness is to submit oneself to a superior, the middle degree to submit to an equal, the highest to an inferior, even as Christ submitted Himself to John. Christ, I say, who is the Holy of Holies, bowed His head to John for baptism, as though seeking from him sanctification and purification, like the rest, who were sinners, who came to his baptism.

Excellently says S. Gregory (3 p. Pastor. Admonit. 18), “Let the humble hear that the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; let those who are lifted up hear that pride is the beginning of all sin. Let the humble hear that our Redeemer humbled Himself, being made obedient even unto death; let the proud hear what is written of their head, ‘He is a king over all the children of pride.’ The pride of the devil was made the occasion of our ruin, the humility of God was found to be the assurance of our redemption. Let the humble therefore be told that when they abase themselves they rise to the likeness of God; but let it be said to the proud that when they lift up themselves they sink down to the likeness of the apostate angel. What then is more base than to be haughty? And what is more exalted than humility; which, while it puts itself in the lowest place, is united to its Maker in the very highest?”

S. Gregory says elsewhere: “This is the highest righteousness and sanctity, when we are in respect of our virtue the loftiest, in respect of our humility the lowliest.” S. Thomas Aquinas, being asked by what mark a really holy and perfect person might be known, answered, “By humility, by contempt of himself, contempt of honour and praise, by bearing ignominy and reproach.” “For if,” he said, “you see any one, when he is neglected and despised, and has others preferred before him, show a sense of pain or indignation, to be of a downcast countenance, to turn up his nose, wrinkle his forehead, you may be very sure he is not a saint, even though he should work miracles. For when he is neglected he shows his pride, anger, impatience, and so makes himself vile and contemptible.”

4. All righteousness, i.e., every increase of righteousness, that is to say, of virtue and sanctity. Christ indeed could not increase in interior grace, for with that He was always perfectly filled from the first moment of His Conception and union with the Word; but He showed daily ever greater and greater signs of virtue, and ever more and more humbled Himself. For Christ came down from heaven into the Virgin’s womb, from the womb to the manger, from the manger to Jordan, from Jordan to the Cross, as He would teach us in Ps. 84:8: “They shall go from strength to strength: the God of gods shall be seen in Sion.” (Vulg.) So S. Augustine (Epist. 50, ad Dioscorum), “I would, my Dioscorus, that thou shouldst in all piety subject thyself to Christ and the Christian discipline, nor fortify for thyself any other way of reaching and obtaining the truth than that which has been fortified for us by Him who knoweth the infirmity of our footsteps, forasmuch as He is God. And so it is said of that most famous orator Demosthenes, that when he was asked what was the first rule to be observed in oratory, he replied, Pronunciation; and when he was asked what was the second, replied, Pronunciation; and being asked what was the third, still answered, Pronunciation. So if thou shouldst ask and ask again concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, I should answer that nothing else but humility would make you perfectly fulfil their obligations, although, perchance, I might be obliged to speak of other duties. To this most salutary humility, which, that our Lord Jesus Christ might teach us, He humbled Himself, to this, the greatest adversary is, if I may so say, a most uninstructed science.”

Lastly, he fulfils all righteousness who endures the unpleasant ways and manners and tempers of others, according to those words of St. Paul, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” He who loves those who hate him, blesses those who curse him, does good to those who injure him, honours those who despise him, vanquishes his enemies by the warmth of his love, who with Paul desires to be anathema for his enemies, and to be all things to all men that he may gain all for Christ, he is truly humble and is like Christ.

Then he suffered him. That is, when he heard this, John yielded and baptized Christ. “If God received baptism from man, no one need disdain to receive it from his fellow-servant,” says S. Jerome. And S. Ambrose says, “Let no one refuse the laver of grace, when Christ refused not the laver of penance.” Beautifully, too, says S. Bernard, “John acquiesced and obeyed; he baptized the Lamb of God, and washed Him in the waters; but we, not He, were washed, because, for washing us, the waters are known to be of cleansing power.”

S. Augustine (Serm. 154 de Temp.) says that the day on which Christ was baptized was a Sunday, though John Lucidus (lib. 7, c. 2) was of opinion that the day was Friday. What is certain from tradition is, that Christ was baptized on the 6th day of January, the same day of the month on which he had been adored by the Magi thirty years before. Whence the Church commemorates the event on that day. The Ethiopians on the 6th of January, in memory of Christ’s Baptism, not only sprinkle themselves with water, but immerse themselves in it. The faithful in Greece also were accustomed, about midnight before the 6th of January, to draw water from the nearest river or fountain, which, by the gift of God, remained sweet for many years, as S. Chrysostom expressly testifies (Hom. de Baptism. Christiano, tom. 5, Opp. Græc). S. Epiphanius (Hæres. 51) adds, that on that day the Nile was turned into wine. “About the 11th day of the month Tybus (our 6th of January) Christ’s first miracle was wrought in Cana of Galilee, when water was made wine. Wherefore in various places, until this very time, the same thing takes place as a divine sign for a testimony to unbelievers. Various rivers and fountains which are turned into wine are the proof of this. Cibyris, a fount of a city of Caria, becomes wine at the very hour in which Christ said ‘Draw out now, and bear to the governor of the feast.’ Gerasa in Arabia is another example. I myself have drunk of the fountain of Cibyris, and our brethren of the fount of Gerasa, which is in a temple of the Martyrs. Many testify the same concerning the Nile.”

Moreover, that the water of Jordan received by reason of Christ’s Baptism in it the gift of incorruption, Gretser testifies. “Let us add this,” he says, “that the waters of Jordan, after Christ had consecrated them by His Baptism in them, have been endowed with the gift of incorruption. That illustrious prince, Nicolas Christopher Radzivil, in his Hodæporicum Hierosolymit., says, “The water of the Jordan is extremely turbid, but very wholesome, and when kept in vessels does not become putrid. This I have found to be the case with some which I have brought with me.”

Christ appears to have been baptized and washed by John, not only as to His head, but with respect to the rest of His body. I think so, because such was the manner of the Jews, who were accustomed to denude themselves of their clothes, and undergo their ceremonial baptisms and lustrations naked. Jesus therefore condescended to appear naked before John, and he underwent this indignity for our sakes, that Adam’s and our nakedness and shame, induced by sin, He might clothe and cover by His grace. Whence also, as Bede testifies, a church was erected by the faithful on the spot where the clothes of Christ were deposited when He was baptized. Bede adds, that the same place was adorned with a noble monastery and church which was dedicated in honour of John the Baptist.

Gregory of Tours (lib. de Gloria Martyr., c. 17) writes about the same place: “There is a place by Jordan where the Lord was baptized. The water flows into a certain bay, in which, even now, lepers are cleansed. When they be come thither, they wash frequently until they are cleansed from their infirmity. As long as they remain there they are fed at the public expense. When they are cleansed they depart to their own homes. This spot is five miles from where the Jordan loses itself in the Dead Sea.”

The place is called in S. John’s Gospel Ænon, near to Salim. It was not far from Zarthan and Jericho, where the children of Israel under Joshua passed over on dry ground, that it might be signified that the same Christ, who once led the Israelites over Jordan into the land of promise, will, by baptism, bring His faithful people to heaven. “And as under Joshua the waters were driven back, so under Christ, as our baptized Leader, are our sins turned back,” says S. Augustine. Again, Elias divided the waters of Jordan when he was about to be taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire, that it might be signified that those who pass through the waters of Christ’s baptism shall have an entrance into heaven opened to them by the fire of the Holy Ghost. Thus S. Thomas.

16 And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened to him: and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him.

And Jesus being baptized, &c. Luke adds, Jesus being baptized and praying. Whence it is plain that not by virtue of John’s baptism, but by the merit of Christ’s humility and prayer, the heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him.

Straightway. This word is best referred, not to the words coming up out of the water, but to the heavens were opened.

Lo! the heavens were opened. Mark has, He saw the heavens opened. He—that is, Jesus—John too, and others who were present, doubtless saw them, since it was for their sakes this was done. Whence Matthew says, They were opened, i.e., unto him or for him. This is, they were seen to be opened in His honour, that God might make manifest that heaven is open unto all through Christ, says S. Chrysostom.

Also that the heavenly power of baptism might be pointed out, because by it carnal men become heavenly and spiritual, and by it are called and, as it were, taken by the hand to heaven. So S. Thomas.

You will inquire, in what way were the heavens opened unto Christ? It is replied, it was not the actual substance (soliditatem, Lat.) of the sky which was opened and rent in twain, for this is naturally impossible and supernaturally unneeded. Neither were the heavens opened by a merely imaginary vision, as they were opened to Ezekiel (1:1); but there was in the upper region of the air a hiatus visible to the senses, from which visible aperture both the Dove and the Voice of the Father appeared to come down upon Christ. Such hiatuses appear not unfrequently in the atmosphere, concerning which see Aristotle on meteors.

Hieron. Prado, the Jesuit, on the words the heavens were opened, says, “There was an appearance as though the sky were opened and divided by thunders and lightnings, and from the opening the Father’s voice burst forth as thunder. For thunder is always accompanied by lightning; indeed, lightning is the cause of thunder, although the thunder is always heard after the lightning, because sound travels more slowly than light.”

And saw (Syriac, looked up at) the Spirit of God descending as a dove (Egyptian, in the form of a dove). You will ask first, was this a true and real dove, or was it only the appearance and likeness of a dove? SS. Jerome, Anselm, and Thomas, Salmeron, and others, think that it was a real dove; and this is probable. It is, however, equally, or rather, more probable that it was not a real dove, but only the shape of a dove, formed by an angel, agitated and moved so that it should descend upon Christ. The reason is that all the Evangelists seem to indicate this. S. Matthew says, as if a dove; Mark, as it were a dove; John, like a dove; Luke, in a bodily shape like a dove. There was therefore the appearance and similitude only, not the reality of a dove. Nor was there any need of a real dove, but of its likeness for a symbolical signification, that by such a symbol those gifts of Christ of which I shall speak presently might be designated. In such wise were the heavens opened, not in reality, but in appearance, as I have already said. This was the opinion of S. Augustine, S. Ambrose, S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Lyra, &c.

You will urge, Was it then a phantasm, a merely fancied dove? I reply, By no means. It was a real, solid body, having the form of a dove, as S. Augustine teaches, de Doctr. Christian. c. 22; not indeed assumed, hypostatically, by the Holy Spirit, as the Humanity of Christ was assumed by the Word, as Tertullian appears to have thought, lib. de Carne Christi., c. 3. But it was only an index and a symbol of the Holy Ghost. It was thus taken because the dove is a most meek, simple, innocent, fruitful bird, very amiable, but very jealous. Such in like manner is the Holy Ghost, who endowed the soul of Christ at the very moment of His conception with these qualities of meekness and the rest. And what was now done was, by this sign of the dove, to signify that the Holy Ghost had done this, and to declare it to the people publicly.

You will inquire in the next place, why the Holy Ghost descended upon Christ in the form of a dove, upon Apostles in the shape of tongues of fire? S. Chrysostom answers, 1. Because Christ came in the flesh, and into the world, meek like a dove, for the remission of sins, and for the release of sinners. But in the Day of Judgment, He will come as a severe Judge, to punish the wicked. 2. And more literally, the Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles in the likeness of fire, because He endued them with fervour and ardour in preaching. (S. Augustine, Tract. 6 in Joan.)

Again, the dove represented excellently well the Holy Sevenfold Spirit, or His sevenfold gifts which He poured upon Christ as Isaiah predicted (11:2), “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and godliness, and shall fill him with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.” All these gifts are appositely signified by the dove. For as S. Thomas expounds (3 p., q. 39, art. 6, ad. 4), the dove tarries by flowing streams, and when in the waters she beholds the reflection of a hawk she is able to escape it. Here is the gift of wisdom. 2. The dove selects the best grains of corn, and places them by themselves in a heap. Here is the gift of understanding. 3. The dove brings up the young of others. Behold the gift of counsel. 4. The dove does not tear with her beak. Behold the gift of knowledge. 5. The dove is without gall and bile. Lo! the gift of piety or godliness. 6. The dove maketh her nest in the rocks. See the gift of true strength. 7. The dove utters a mournful plaint instead of a song. Behold the gift of fear, wherewith Christ and His saints wail for sins, whether their own, or those of others.

Again, the dove is the symbol of the reconciliation and renewal of the world, which the Holy Spirit has wrought through Christ. Hence His symbol was a dove, bearing a green olive-branch to Noah, signifying that the Deluge and God’s anger were at an end.

Lastly, because the dove is an amicable and social bird, it denotes the union of the faithful in the Church, which the Holy Spirit effects through the baptism of Christ. So S. Thomas. In fine, the dove is very fair, it delights in sweet odours, and it dearly loves its young. So too Christ is most fair, He delights in the odour of virtues, and dearly loves His children.

As the Holy Spirit thus descended upon Christ, so has He often descended in the form of a dove upon illustrious Christians, more especially upon doctors, bishops, and pontiffs of the Church, and thus, as it were, consecrated them. S. Eleucadius, the disciple of S. Apollinaris, Apostle of Ravenna, when a dove had flown upon his head, was ordained Bishop of Ravenna. After a life illustrious for sanctity he migrated to heaven, a.d. 115. (Philip Ferrar in his Catalogue of the Saints of Italy.)

Thus a dove flew down upon the head of S. Aderitus, in the presence of the clergy, and designated him the successor of S. Apollinaris, and second Bishop of Ravenna.

S. Marcellinus in like manner, was designated Bishop of the same city, a.d. 230.

S. Fabian, in consequence of a dove lighting upon his head, was elected Bishop of Rome.

When S. Gregory was writing his works, the Holy Spirit, in the likeness of a dove, was seen to instil into his ear what he wrote.

So S. Basil, who wished to be baptized in the same river Jordan as Christ was, in celebrating Mass, was surrounded by a celestial light, and gave orders for a dove to be made of pure gold, and a portion of the consecrated Host to be placed in it, and suspended it above the altar. So Amphilochius. He adds that S. Ephrem saw the Holy Ghost, in the likeness of a dove of fire, sitting upon S. Basil, wherefore he exclaimed, “Truly is Basil a column of fire; truly the Holy Ghost speaks by his mouth.”

Flavian the patriarch, by the command of an angel, consecrating S. John Chrysostom to be a priest, beheld a white dove fly down upon his head. Leo Augustus relates this in his life of S. Chrysostom. (See Baronius, a.d. 456, n. 7.)

This was the reason why the impostor Mahomet tamed a dove, and accustomed it to fly to him, by placing in his ear grains of corn, which the dove picked and ate, and by this means he persuaded the people that the Holy Spirit was his friend, and dictated the Koran to him, and revealed the most secret purposes of God. He also caused the dove to bring him a scroll, on which was written in letters of gold, “Whosoever shall tame a bull, let him be king.” But he had brought up a bull, which of course he easily tamed, and was thereupon saluted as king by the foolish people. So the authors of the Life of Mahomet.

And coming upon him. Piously says S. Bernard (Serm. 1 de Epiphan.), “Not unsuitably came a dove, to point out the Son of God; for nothing so well corresponds to a lamb as a dove. As the lamb among beasts, so is the dove among birds. There is the utmost innocence in each, the utmost gentleness, the utmost guilelessness. What is so opposed to all malice as a lamb and a dove? They know not how to injure or do harm.”

17 And behold a voice from heaven saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

And behold a voice, &c. From the opened heaven a dove glided down upon the head of Christ, and whilst it sat upon Him, there came the voice, “This is my Son.” The voice explained the symbol of the dove, that it had reference to Christ, and to Him alone. This voice, “in the Person of the Father, was framed by the ministry of angels,” say Victor Antioch. (in c. 1 S. Marc.). Here was first revealed to the world the mystery of the Holy Trinity, which had been darkly indicated to the Jews. The Father manifested Himself by a voice, the Son was seen in the flesh, the Holy Ghost was visible in the form of a dove, that it might be signified that the faith of the Holy Trinity was about to be unfolded, and that the baptism of Christ was conferred in Their Name. For although all these things—viz., heaven opened, the forming of the voice, the descent of the dove—were, as regards operations, ad extra, as theologians say, common to the whole Trinity, yet each several Person was represented by the aforenamed symbols. (See S. Augustine, Serm. 38 de Temp.)

This is my beloved Son. Greek ὁ υἱὸςi.e., the Son of God the Father, by nature, not by adoption, as the angels and holy men are sons of God. Therefore the Son of God is not a creature, but the Creator, consubstantial with God the Father, as was defined by the Nicene Council.

Mark and Luke have, in different words, but with the same meaning, “Thou art my Son.” And it is probable that these last were the exact words used, not merely because of the consensus of two Evangelists, but because, when Jesus was looking up into heaven, and praying to the Father, it is probable that the words would be immediately and directly addressed to Him. So Jansen, Maldonatus, and others.

My beloved Son. Gr. ὁ αγαπητός, i.e., only and chiefly beloved, through whom all others are beloved. For no one is beloved by God save those whom Christ loves. The Syriac has most beloved.

In whom I am well pleased. As it were, “Thou only, O Christ, art perfectly, in all things, and infinitely pleasing unto Me; and no one is pleasing unto Me save through Thee. For by Thee I am well pleased with all the human race, with whom I was offended because of Adam’s sin.” The Heb. רצה signifies both to please and to be propitious, or reconciled.

“Because Thou art the Brightness of My glory and the express Image of My substance (Heb. 1:3.), Thou art immeasurably pleasing unto Me. In Thee nothing ever displeases, but all things please Me. Thou art He in whom I have always delight. And for Thy sake all Thy disciples and followers—that is to say, all holy Christians—are pleasing unto Me.” There is an allusion to Noah, who alone of his generation pleased God. (See Gen. 6:9; 8:20.)

As, therefore, Noah was well-pleasing unto God—especially when he offered the sacrifice unto Him, with which He was propitiated, and promised that He would no more destroy the world by the waters of a flood—so, much more, when Christ offered Himself to God as a peculiar and special victim, did He cause God to be propitious to the whole human race. “By this Voice was Christ constituted by God the Father the universal Doctor and Legislator of the world.”

The voice added, Hear ye him. “Hear Christ, believe in Him, obey Him. He hath come forth from My bosom. He will show you My mysteries, things kept secret from the foundation of the world. He will open to you the way of peace, the way to heaven, the way to happiness. He will preach to you the glad tidings of the kingdom of heaven, even such divine things as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have they come into the heart of man.” Hence, when the Magdalen sat at the feet of Jesus, and diligently listened to Him, it was said to her, “Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken from her.”

Very well saith S. Leo (Serm. de Transfigurat.): “This is My Son who is from Me, and with Me from everlasting. This is My Son, who is not separated from Me in Deity, divided in power, severed by eternity. This is My Son, My very own, not created of any other substance, but begotten of Myself. This is My Son, by whom all things were made. This is My Son, who sought not by robbery that equality which He hath with Me. He attained it by no presumption, but, abiding in the form of My glory, and in order that He might fulfil Our common purpose for the restoration of the human race, He bowed down the unchangeable Godhead, even to the form of a servant. In Him, therefore, I am in all things well pleased, and by His preaching I am manifested, and by His humility I am glorified. Hear ye Him, therefore, without delay, for He is the Truth and the Life. He is My strength and My wisdom. Hear Him of whom the lips of the prophets sung. Hear Him who hath redeemed the world by His Blood; who by His Cross hath prepared for you a ladder by which ye may ascend up to heaven.”

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Father John McIntyre’s Commentary on John 1:35-42

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 2, 2023

 Text in red are my additions.

Jn 1:35 The next day again John stood and two of his disciples.

Jn 1:35. Two of his disciples. One of these was the Apostle Andrew (Jn 1:40); the other, whose name is not given, was the evangelist himself. The incidents here recorded took place before these disciples were called to be apostles of Christ (see Jn 3:11).

Jn 1:36 And beholding Jesus walking, he saith: Behold the Lamb of God.

Beholding. The Greek word ἐμβλέψας (emblepas) suggests an intense, fixed gaze and thus implies deep insight. It will be used again in reference to Jesus looking at Peter in Jn 1:42.

Jn 1:37 And the two disciples heard him speak: and they followed Jesus.

Jn 1:38 And Jesus turning and seeing them following him, saith to them: What seek you? Who said to him: Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest thou?.

Jn 1:39 He saith to them: Come and see. They came and saw where he abode: and they stayed with him that day. Now it was about the tenth hour.

 Jn 1:39. The tenth hour. According to the Jewish mode of reckoning this would be about two hours before sunset—for they divided the time between sunrise and sunset into twelve hours. The length of the hour consequently varied considerably, being longer in summer and shorter in winter. According to our method of reckoning it would be about 10 a.m. The words, “and they stayedd with him that day,” are favourable to this second interpretation. But against this must be set the fact that in so interpreting we make the evangelist’s language quite abnormal. Throughout the rest of the New Testament the Jewish method is observed, as it is also observed in the writings of Josephus. See note on Jn 19:14.

Here is Fr. McIntyre’s comment on Jn 19:14~about the sixth hour. According to St. Mark’s narrative, “It was the third hour, and they crucified him.… And when the sixth hour was come there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour” (Jn 15:25, 33). From this it is evident either that the two evangelists do not follow the same system of reckoning the hours (see on 1:39), or that a copyist’s error has crept into one of the two Gospels. We cannot accept the very common hypothesis of a copyist’s error. It is quite true that, if the ancient sign for the numeral three was Γ, and the sign for six was F, one might often be taken for the other; but it is hard to believe that the same error should have crept into so many independent authorities as to have infected almost all the best MSS. and the most ancient versions. Some ancient authorities, it is true, give ‘the third hour’ in the text of St. John; but in some instances this reading is demonstrably an attempt to bring the text of St. John into harmony with that of St. Mark. In these circumstances we do not feel warranted in accepting this very facile solution, which compels us to alter the text of St. John’s Gospel. The difficulty, after all, is not a formidable one, and arises chiefly from our modern familiarity with clocks and watches, and a scientific precision in counting minutes and seconds. Ordinary people in ancient times designated the hours with a generous largeness of spirit, as ordinary people in Ireland still generously compute mileage. To reckon the hours of the day the Jews had only three fixed points—sunrise, mid-day, and sunset. The hours, as we before said, varied considerably in length. Twelve hours were reckoned between sunrise and sunset on the shortest day in winter, as well as on the longest day in summer. To name an hour a man had to guess vaguely at this or that twelfth part of the total sunlight. So necessarily indeterminate was the mode of reckoning the hours that witnesses were legally held not to disagree if one said the third hour and another said the fifth, because both hours were on the same side of mid-day; but the witnesses were held to disagree if one said the fifth hour and another said the seventh, because these hours were on different sides of mid-day. Outside the three fixed points all reckoning of hours was large and liberal. The language of both evangelists would thus correspond to any point from about 9.30 to 11.30 a.m.

This reckoning of the hours must not be confused with the limits of each day. Romans, as well as Jews, counted the hours from sunrise; but while Jews reckoned the day from sunset to sunset, Romans reckoned from midnight to midnight. Pliny says, “Ipsum diem alii aliter observavere. Babylonii inter duos solis exortus, Athenienses inter duos occasus, Umbri a meridie in meridiem, vulgus omne a luce ad tenebras, sacerdotes romani et qui diem finiere civilem, item Ægyptii et Hipparchus a media nocte in mediam” (Nat. Hist. ii. 79 [77]): see Knabenbauer, ‘St. Mark,’ pp. 414–418. Translation: “Others observed the same day differently. The Babylonians between the two sunrises, the Athenians between the two sunsets, the Umbrians from south to south, the common people from light to darkness, Roman priests and those who end the civil day, likewise the Egyptians and Hipparchus from midnight to midnight”

Jn 1:40. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. This designation of Andrew shows how very much more prominent Peter was in the eyes of the Church.

Jn 1:41. He findeth first his brother Simon. This implies that the evangelist had also sought his brother, though, with his usual reticence about himself, he does not mention the fact; but Andrew was the first to be successful in the search. As Peter was near at hand, although a Galilean, it may be inferred that he was a disciple of the Baptist.

We have found the Messias. There is an indication of over-abounding joy in Andrew’s eager words. The Baptist’s testimony had been powerfully confirmed by our Lord during the time that Andrew “staid with him.”

which is, being interpreted, the Christ. The article should be omitted; it is not in the Greek. The words ‘Messiah’ and ‘Christ,’ the one Hebrew and the other Greek, mean ‘anointed’ (see Psa. 2:2; Dan. 9:24, 25). The name implies that Christ was emphatically the Anointed One—King and Priest and Prophet (see Acts 4:27; 10:38; cf. 1 Sam. 10:1; Num. 3:3; Isa. 61:1).

Jn 1:42. And Jesus looking upon him (ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ). It denotes a fixed look of close attention. Jesus, who read men’s hearts and “knew what was in man” (Jn 2:25), immediately shows what that glance of interest portended.

Thou art Simon the son of Jona. The true reading here, as in Jn 21:15–17 and Matt. 16:17, is ‘John.’ Where ‘Jona’ appears in the MSS. it is an apocopated form of Johanan (John).

thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter (i.e., Rock). The term πέτρος is common enough among classical writers (not, however, in Homer) in the sense of ‘a rock,’ not merely ‘a stone’ as in A.V. (R.V.M. has “rock” or “stone”). Hence in Matt. 16:18, where it is a question rather of the thing signified than of the name, the form used is πέτρα, which only means Rock. The name Peter is here only promised to Simon, its actual bestowal came later (Mark 3:16), and its explanation later still (Matt. 16:18). Like Abraham, Sarah, and Israel, Peter really became what his name signified (John 21:15–17). Our Lord at His first meeting with Nathanael (Jn 1:47–49) and with the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:16–19) gave them a sign of His Divine mission by a display of superhuman knowledge. We may, therefore, conclude that our Lord intended to give a similar sign by an immediate indication of Simon’s name and parentage—“Thou art Simon, son of John.”

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Father John McIntyre’s Commentary on John 1:19-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2023

Jn 1:19. And this is the testimony. These words look back to Jn 1:15 (“John beareth witness”). ‘And now this is what John testified.’

the Jews. St. John uses this term more than sixty times, and generally in the spirit of one who now looks upon them as an alien race, and who is writing for those to whom the Jews are strangers both in faith and in blood. As the deputation consisted of priests and levites, it came probably from the Sanhedrin or Great Council. The Sanhedrin, which was the supreme tribunal of the Jews, consisted of 71 members (some passages of the Mishna mention 72). These members belonged to three orders. The leading order was that of the ἀρχιερεῖς—the Chief Priests past and present, with whom were joined the chief of the twenty-four priestly families. The next order was that of the γραμματεῖς—professional lawyers and theologians. The third order was that of the πρεσβύτεροι and ἄρχοντες—leading men, either priests or laymen, whose qualifications marked them out for public duties (see Matt. 27:41; Mark 11:27; 14:53; Luke 23:13; 24:20). To this supreme court it belonged to pass judgment on false prophets and false teachers. But the deputation may not have been a formal one from the whole tribunal. John belonged to a priestly family; and those who came were priests and levites—those who perhaps felt a special interest in the Baptist, and had therefore arranged with the rulers for a deputation to interrogate him. The levites, who accompanied the priests, were official teachers of the people (2 Chron. 35:3; Neh. 8:7–9). Whether, then, the deputation was formal or no, its coming was a solemn and important event. It was a means for making John’s testimony to Jesus more widely known. Even before the baptism of our Lord the people had begun to think that John was perhaps the Christ—the Anointed and Promised One (Luke 3:15). Hence, when asked “Who art thou?” his first thought turned to the common suspicion, and he at once replied, “I am not the Christ” (v. 20). From the order or the words the emphasis falls on the pronoun “I,” as though John said, ‘You are now seeking the Christ; but I am not He’: thus implying that he knew of another who was the Christ. John, however, had made too deep an impression on the conscience of the nation for men to be satisfied with a bare denial of what he was not. The priests, therefore, continue, not without anger—

Jn 1:21. What then? Art thou Elias? The scribes taught that Elias would usher in the Messianic kingdom (see Matt. 17:10; Mark 9:10). But this opinion arose from a false interpretation of Malachias 4:5 (3:23 in some translations), in which passage the prophet speaks of the Second Advent. The question runs thus: “You say you are not the Christ: what, then, is the meaning of your conduct? Are you Elias?” They were thinking of the literal Elias; and St. John could answer, ‘I am not’; though in a figurative sense he was Elias (Matt. 11:14; 17:12; Luke 1:17).

Art thou the prophet? The article marks some well-known but unnamed prophet. This can only be the unnamed prophet who was promised by Moses (Deut. 18:15), and who was really identical with the Messiah (John 1:45; 6:14; Acts 3:22). After these denials, which have been growing in abruptness, the priests demand a positive answer.

Jn 1:22. Who art thou? St. John, quoting the words of Isaiah 40:3, in which reference is made to the coming of the Redeemer (words, too, which are applied to John by the first three evangelists), says that he is only a herald who runs before the King to announce His coming. “I am a voice,” &c.

Jn 1:24. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. St. John had clearly testified that he was the forerunner of the Christ. His questioners, however, could not, or would not, understand; but being “of the Pharisees” they proceeded to put to him a further question characteristically Pharisaic. The words ‘and they that were sent, were of the Pharisees,’ point forward, and explain why the question which follows was put.

Jn 1:25. Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? The Jewish custom of baptizing proselytes seems not to have arisen till after the destruction of Jerusalem. John’s innovation, therefore, accompanied as it was by the preaching of repentance and by the confession of sins (Matt. 3:2, 5, 6), appeared to the Pharisees an unwarranted step of gravest moment. It was, indeed, of gravest moment; but not unwarranted. According to the prophets, repentance was the preparation for the Messianic kingdom (Ezek. 16:61–63; Mich. 7:9), and in the days of the Messiah there was to be a true baptism (Ezek. 36:25; Zech. 13:1), of which John’s baptism was the preparation. Hence it was by command of God Himself that John baptized (Jn 1:33). His baptism, therefore, had a Messianic import; and to this John refers in his reply.

Jn 1:26. I baptize with water (ἐν ὕδατι), i.e., my baptism is only a baptism of water, a symbolic action pointing to a greater reality (see Jn 1:33 and Matt. 3:11).

but there hath stood (στήκει = “standeth,” R.V.) one in the midst of you, whom you know not. There is a double emphasis; the one on ‘I,’ and the other on ‘water.’ Christ is the antithesis.

Jn 1:27. [The same is] he that shall come after me (ἐρχόμενος: as in Jn 1:15) [who is preferred before me]. The words in brackets are omitted in the oldest MSS. They have probably slipped in from v. 15.

The latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. This, then, is the sense: My baptism is only a preparation for the true baptism of Him who is already in your midst—of Him who cometh after me; whose slave I am not worthy to be.

Jn 1:28. These things were done in Bethania beyond the Jordan. Testimony so important as that given by John to the deputation demanded a definite statement of the place where it had been given. The evangelist therefore tells us that it was given in “Bethania beyond the Jordan,” i.e., to the east of the river, in Peræa. There was another Bethania near Jerusalem (Jn 11:18). Many ancient authorities read Bethabarah or Betharabah. Currency was given to this mistake by Origen, who thought that the Bethabarah of his day marked the site of Bethania. The site, however, has not yet been identified; and the derivation of the name is altogether doubtful.

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