The Divine Lamp

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

Posted by carmelcutthroat 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.

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On Christian Hope: A Dogmatical Homily on John 16:5-14 for the Fourth Sunday After Easter (Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite)

Posted by carmelcutthroat on April 30, 2023

Dogmatic Homily
Christian Hope
It is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go, I will send him to you.—John 16:7.

In the gospel of this day our Lord assigns the reason why his departure would be expedient for his disciples, for on it would depend the coming of the Holy Ghost. But why could not the Holy Ghost come before the departure of Christ? Because the work of Redemption was not yet accomplished. It was necessary that Jesus should first redeem men by his death and then the Holy Ghost would come down and apply to them the fruits of Redemption. Thus what grieved the Apostles most was to them the greatest blessing: for the departure of Christ brought to them and to all mankind the Holy Ghost and with him the grace of sanctification. It is so to-day. In our short-sightedness we frequently regard something as a great evil, lament, mourn and weep, but this imaginary misfortune brings us, as we afterwards find out ourselves, many benefits and blessings. We must place all our hope and confidence in our Lord and expect from him all that is expedient and salutary for time and eternity. To this I will encourage you to-day by speaking of Christian hope.

I.      Its glorious effects;
II.      The sins against it.

Part I Christian Hope: Its Glorious Effects

The effects of Christian hope are glorious, for—

1. It strengthens us in temptation. Our life here is a warfare; we are obliged to fight with interior and exterior enemies, with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The exertions of these, our bitterest enemies, are indefatigable and aim at nothing less than our eternal perdition. At the same time, we are weak ourselves, and of our own strength are not able to resist their temptations. We are like a reed which bends to the ground with the wind that veers and blows from all quarters. What can bear us up in these struggles and dangers to salvation, so that we may not lose courage, and in the knowledge of our weakness conclude an ignominious peace with our enemies? Nothing but hope; it holds us fast, as the anchor does the ship in the storm, that we may not waver; it points to the grace which is strong in the weak, so that we may say with the Apostle: “I can do all things in him who strengthened me.”—Phil. 4:13. Firmly trusting in assistance from above, we fear no enemy, dread no danger; as children for whose protection the arm of the Father is raised, we feel courage, and fight with perseverance for the salvation of our soul.

2. It nourishes in us the heavenly spirit. Faith teaches us that the earth is only our temporary abode, in which, as in an educational institute, we are to prepare ourselves for a better life. Hope continually points to this destiny and encourages us to disregard temporal things and to long for the eternal. We do not however give up our temporal vocation; we fulfil the duties of our state of life with conscientious fidelity and care for the necessaries of life; we have no inordinate love for anything earthly, but share the thoughts of the Apostle, saying: “The time is short; it remaineth, that they also who have wives be as if they had none. And they that weep, as though they wept not, and they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not, and they that buy, as though they possessed not, and they that use the world, as if they used it not; for the fashion of this world passeth away.”—1 Cor. 7:29–31. How differently do those think and act in whom Christian hope is wanting. As they expect no better goods hereafter, their hearts and affections are set upon the things of this world, they have no other desire than to have a good time here; they give full scope to their passions and dread no vice, if it appears necessary to them for the gratification of their base desires and the accomplishment of their wicked designs.

3. It enlivens in us the zeal for virtue. Hope is to man what horses are to the wagon, steam to the engine, or the pendulum to the clock. It is his great motive power, it urges and impels him on to put his hand to the work and to dread no exertion to the object of his desire. It was thus that Jacob served Laban fourteen years, in order to obtain Rachel for a wife. What do not men do in the various avocations of life, e.g., the farmer, the soldier, the merchant, the scholar, to realize their hopes? Now if temporal hope exercises so wonderful a power over man, what will not heavenly hope achieve? What sacrifice will become too difficult to the Christian when he looks at the immense reward which God holds out to him in heaven!

Examples: St. Paul, who, in the preaching of the gospel, took upon himself so many persecutions and sufferings because he hoped to acquire heaven by 1 Cor. 9:23. St. Francis Xavier, who encouraged himself with the words: “Sweat for your Lord. He will hereafter wipe your brow and not deprive you of the promised reward.” The martyrs, hermits, monks, etc. Let us think frequently of heaven, which God has promised to his faithful servants, that we may preserve Christian fervor and not grow weary of leading’ a virtuous life.

4. It consoles us in sufferings and makes us bear them not only patiently, but also with joy. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you untruly for my sake. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.”—Matt. 5:11, 12. According to these words of Christ, the Apostles were to endure all sufferings and persecutions with joy in prospect of the great reward which was awaiting them in heaven. So they did.—Acts 5:41. St. Paul consoles himself and the faithful in tribulations and persecutions with the hope of a reward hereafter. He says: “In all things we suffer tribulation, but are not distressed; we are straitened, but are not destitute; we suffer persecution but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we perish not. Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.”—2 Cor. 4:8–10. And shortly afterwards: “We know, if our earthly house of this habitation be dissolved, that we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in heaven.”—2 Cor. 5:1. It was hope that sustained pious Job in the days of the hardest trial. “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth, and I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my God.”—Job 19:25–27. It was hope that crowned the Christian martyrs, gave the palm to the virgins, and infused courage into the confessors; it was hope that fortified all pious Christians with strength to bear with joy and constancy the various tribulations of life. Why should not we cheerfully pass a short time in this valley of tears amidst sufferings and hardships, remembering the certain hope which we have of heaven?

5. Lastly, it sweetens death. The hour of death is indeed ineffably bitter to the wicked man because of his hopeless state. “When the wicked man is dead, there shall be no hope any more.”—Prov. 11:7. But the just man expects his last hour with consolation and calmness; he even longs for death, and says with the Apostle: “I have a desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ.”—Phil. 1:23. Hope renders death easy and desirable to him, for he can say to himself: Only a little while, and I shall see my God, the only object of my desire and love; I shall possess him for ever. How did the cup-bearer of Pharaoh rejoice when he heard from Joseph that he would soon be delivered from prison and reinstated in the service of the king! Should not my soul, which loves God so much, rejoice when she hears that she will soon exchange the prison of this earth for the enjoyments of heaven?

Part II Sins Against Christian Hope

We sin against hope by hoping either too little or too much.

1. We hope too little if we despair of our salvation. Despair is the giving up of all hope. It has reference— (a.) Either to the person himself who is to hope. God wills the salvation of all men; therefore he gives to all men the grace necessary to work out their salvation. We must absolutely not doubt this truth of our faith. Now, if we accept and make use of this proffered grace, we must be saved. The thought whether we shall make use of this grace or not, and persevere to the end, may suggest some fear. This fear is not wrong, but salutary, because it preserves us from tepidity, and urges us diligently to employ this grace in the practice of virtue. But if we obstinately assert that all graces are unprofitable to us because we could not co-operate with them or persevere to the end in good, we should make ourselves guilty of the sin of despair. In this case the despair would refer to ourselves, because we believed that we could not work out our salvation by the aid of grace.

(b.) Or to that which we are to hope for. The object of our hope is heaven and whatever is necessary to it, namely, the forgiveness of sins and divine grace. He therefore, who for whatever reason gives up all hope of being saved, despairs. He despairs who no longer hopes for the forgiveness of bis sins. Examples: Cain and Judas, who believed their sins to be greater than God could forgive. How foolish and impious! Can the greatness and multitude of sins make void God’s power, goodness and fidelity? Does not the Sacred Scripture assure us many times that God is ready to pardon all penitent sinners, no matter how much and how grievously they may have sinned? and have we not numerous instances of the greatest sinners finding mercy and pardon? Many despair also of divine grace. Among these may be numbered those who no longer make use of the means of grace, pray no more and cease to receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Blessed Eucharist, imagining that they are already lost, that therefore no means of grace can be of any benefit to them. These unfortunates disregard entirely the words of the Apostle: “Where sin abounded, grace did more abound.”—Rom. 5:20.

(c.) Or to God, from whom we must hope. This is the case when a person believes that God can not or will not forgive him any more; that he has already rejected him. Such a one sins, not only against hope, but also against faith, because he denies the omnipotence and goodness of God. Despair is one of the most grievous sins and leads to impenitence and frequently to suicide.

2. We hope too little—If we do not hope with confidence that which we are to hope from God. This is diffidence, which lies between hope and despair; for whilst despair is the giving up of all hope, diffidence is a wavering hope. Diffidence may be sinful or not sinful.

(a.) When the diffidence relates to God, that is, when a person doubts whether God will forgive him his sins, or give him the grace necessary for salvation, it is sinful: for by such doubts an injury is offered to God, for he has assured us of eternal salvation and the means of obtaining it. If a truthful man feels himself offended when no credit is given to his word, how much more God, who is the eternal, infallible truth. How displeasing to God such an imperfect confidence is we see in the Israelites in the desert.—Ex. 16, and Numb. 20.

(b.) If the diffidence does not refer to God, but to ourselves, that is, if we feel a certain disquietude because we fear that we might not employ the grace of God for our salvation or persevere to the end, it is not a sin, because we must not trust in ourselves. This diffidence is good and salutary in itself, because it is founded on humility and induces us to be watchful, to persevere in prayer, and, in general to employ diligently the means of grace.

3. We hope too much—(1.) If we hope presumptuously, that is, when we take occasion from the divine mercy to sin and to persevere in sin. Such presumptuous sinners think: God is infinitely merciful, I may sin on and on as much as I please, for he pardons me a hundred or more sins as easily as one. It is not necessary now to repent, since he is ready at all times to forgive, as the example of the thief on the cross proves; God does not make much of a sin, and it is impossible for his fatherly goodness to condemn for ever a person who by nature is so much inclined to evil. Such presumption is a shameful abuse of the goodness and longanimity of God and therefore very sinful. God is merciful to the penitent, but not to the impenitent. To those who heedlessly persevere in sin, presuming on God’s mercy, the words apply: “Because I called, and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and there was none that regarded. You have despised all my counsel, and have neglected my reprehensions. I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock when that shall come to you which you feared.”—Prov. 1:24–26.

(2.) If we put a false trust in God, by hoping for something from him in any other way than that in which he is willing to grant it.

(a.) Owing to their false confidence all those sin who, without using ordinary and natural means, expect to obtain from God what they ask for by a miracle, or in some other extraordinary manner. Example: A man who is dangerously ill refuses to send for a physician, or to take the prescribed medicine, saying: “I expect God to cure me, and I will hope in him.”

(b.) Those who without necessity expose themselves to danger of body or soul and expect that God will defend them from danger by extraordinary means. To this class belong those who are not determined to shun the proximate occasion of sin.

(c.) Those who hope for the forgiveness of sin without being willing to forsake sin. They confess without contrition and a firm resolution of amendment, and cannot resolve to give up their sinful company, to restore ill-gotten goods, to break off their bad habits; nevertheless they trust in their confessions, and think that God would forgive them their sins if they only could find a confessor who would absolve them. They delude themselves to their own eternal perdition. The same may be said of those who put their confidence in certain devotions and prayers, pilgrimages and blessed things, and believe that they will procure for them a happy death, without an amendment of life. These things are good and salutary, but they have not the virtue of saving an impenitent sinner.


You know now the sins against hope. Beware of them. Never allow a single thought of diffidence or despair to arise in your hearts. Be convinced that God does everything to save you, and that there is no possible case in which man cannot work out his salvation. Beware of presumption and false confidence. God indeed wills all men to be saved, but only on condition that they love him, and keep his commandments. Away, then, with all levity and presumption; “trust in God and do right,” employ his grace for the acquisition of virtue, and serve him faithfully all the days of your lives. Only in such a way will your hope rest on a solid basis; you will obtain what you hope for—the forgiveness of your sins here, and life everlasting hereafter. Amen.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Extraordinary Form, Fr. Zollner, homilies, Latin Mass Notes, Notes on the Gospel of John, Scripture, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Departure of Christ and the Coming of the Holy Ghost: A Homiletic Sketch on John 16:5-14 for the FourthSunday After Easter By Fr. Johann Evangelist Zollner

Posted by carmelcutthroat on April 30, 2023

Homiletic Sketch on John 16:5-14
The Departure Of Christ to His Father and The Coming of the Holy Ghost

We celebrate today the fourth Sunday after Easter, and within three weeks we shall keep two great festivals—the Ascension, and Pentecost. The Church reminds us of these feasts today, so that we may prepare ourselves properly for them. For this reason she reads to us a portion of the farewell discourse of Christ, in which he speaks of his departure to the Father and of the coming of the Holy Ghost. Let us make a short meditation on the gospel of this day. As I have already indicated, it treats—

I.      Of the departure of Christ to his Father;

II.      Of the coming of the Holy Ghost. 

Part I Of the Departure of Christ to His Father

1. Jesus said to his disciples: I go to him that sent me, and none of you asketh me: Whither goest thou? But because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

(a.) When Christ says that he goes to him that sent him, he speaks, first of all, of his Ascension. He does not mention his passion and death, which preceded his Ascension. Why does he do this? Undoubtedly to assuage the sorrow which his departure would cause them. Loving him affectionately, they had every reason to console themselves for his departure, because he exchanged this painful earthly life for the felicity of heaven. In like manner we have no reason to mourn at the departure of our friends, if they have lived piously and entitled us to hope that they have made a good end. For this reason the early Christians celebrated the death-day of the holy martyrs, not as a day of mourning, but as a day of joy. We are not doing wrong when we pay tribute to nature by mourning over the death of dear friends. It should, however, be done with moderation and resignation to the will of God, wherefore the Apostle exhorts us not to be sorrowful concerning them that are asleep, as those who have no hope.—1 Thess. 4:12. Parents, particularly, should not grieve immoderately when a child, even if it be their only one, is taken away from them by death, remembering the words of the wise man: “He was taken away lest wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul, for the bewitching of vanity obscureth good things, and the wandering of concupiscence overturneth the innocent mind. Being made perfect in a short space, he fulfilled in a long time: for his soul pleased God, therefore he hastened to bring him out of the midst of iniquities.”—Wis. 4:11–14.

(b.) Christ does not find fault with the Apostles for not asking him—Whither goest thou?—but for becoming sorrowful as often as he spoke of his departure. Many Christians who in calamities and tribulations become sad and dejected deserve the same rebuke; whereas their faith tells them, “that to them that love God, all things work together unto good” (Rom. 8:28), and that sufferings and tribulations are very profitable to us by detaching our hearts from earthly things, by infusing into our souls a desire for the eternal goods, and by affording us an opportunity for the practice of various virtues and the increase of our merits for heaven. Being wanderers upon earth, and not having a lasting city here, it is natural for us to ask ourselves the question: Whither goest thou? Whither do you go with the body? Into the grave, into which neither money nor lands, neither honor nor reputation, neither joy nor pleasure, will follow you, in which your body will fall into dust, hereafter rising again, either for eternal joy or eternal torments. Reflect seriously on this—Whither goest thou with thy soul? To judgment, and thence either to heaven or hell. Both will last forever. What an infinitely important step! And many of us are indifferent about this step, which perhaps we shall be obliged soon to make. Is not this a most culpable negligence? If you go to work, to rest, to your meals, to an enjoyment, to prayer, to confession, ask yourselves the question, Whither goest thou?—and at every step have God before your eyes, that you may do all things well.

2. But I tell you the truth: It is expedient to you that I go, for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him. to you.

(a.) Why does Christ assure his Apostles that it was expedient to them that he should go? First of all, because by his going to the Father he accomplished the work of our Redemption. If he had not died on the cross and ascended into heaven, we should not be redeemed from sin and eternal damnation, and heaven would be barred against us. But the going of Christ was especially expedient for the Apostles. They, like the rest, had an erroneous opinion of the Messias and his mission; they thought that he would establish a temporal kingdom, and make the Jews the mightiest and most prosperous nation on the earth. By separating himself from them it became evident that his kingdom was not of this world, and that the work of Redemption referred, not to temporal evils, but to sin and damnation. To this must be added, that the faith of the Apostles was still weak, and their love entirely human and sensual. Only after Christ had risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven, was their faith to become immovable and their love pure and spiritual. Lastly, as long as Christ was with them they depended wholly on him and did nothing of any importance; but when he was no longer in their midst, they worked with indefatigable zeal for the conversion of the world. Therefore what the Apostles considered an evil was in reality a blessing to them.

Why do we frequently think that to be useful which is really injurious, and that to be injurious which is truly useful? Because we are short-sighted and do not know the good or the bad consequences which may result from it. Witnesses: Joseph in Egypt. That he was sold into Egypt and then cast into prison, was, according to human judgment, something terrible, but in reality it was a blessing for him, his family and all Egypt.—Gen. 41. Rachel, Jacob’s wife, deemed herself most unhappy because she was barren, and thought she would die of grief unless she became a mother, but she died in travail at her second delivery.—Gen. 35. Witness Dives and poor Lazarus. Let us consider that what God does is always good and salutary, though it may sometimes appear repugnant and displeasing to our sensual nature, and let us in good as well as in evil days say: “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

(b.) Our Lord makes the coming of the Holy Ghost depend on his departure, chiefly because the mission of the Holy Ghost and his graces are a fruit of the passion of Christ. He had to accomplish the work of our Redemption by his passion and death before the Holy Ghost could come and apply the merits of this work to men for their sanctification. It was, moreover, not becoming that the members should be crowned before the head, that is, that men should be filled with the Holy Ghost before Christ, who had merited this grace for them, had entered into his glory. Lastly, the Apostles were still too earthly-minded, and therefore not fit to receive the fulness of the Holy Ghost; this could be the case only after the departure of Christ, when they began to love their Lord and Master with a more spiritual love.

Here we see again that the greatest blessings are frequently attached to great trials and sufferings. Thus the saints arrived, through various trials, at a higher degree of Christian perfection and to a contemplative life. Mortification and the patient endurance of afflictions and difficulties are the most necessary means for obtaining eternal salvation. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”—Matt. 16:24. “Whosoever doth not carry his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”—Luke 14:27. There is but one heaven, and that is not here, but hereafter. He who seeks and finds it here will lose it hereafter. 

Part II Of the Coming of the Holy Ghost

Our Lord speaks of the coming of the Holy Ghost and of the effects which he will produce.

1. When he is come, he will convince the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment. Of sin, because they believed not in me. And of justice, because I go to the Father, and you shall see me no longer. And of judgment, because the prince of this world is already judged.

(a.) By the world, which the Holy Ghost will convince, are to be understood, first, the Jews and then all mankind. The sin of which the Holy Ghost will convince the world, is unbelief because it is the origin of evil, and the source of all sins. The Holy Ghost convinces the world of sin through the gospel which the Apostles and their successors preach; through the holiness of their lives and the miracles which they work he brings men to the knowledge of the grievousness of their sin in not believing in Christ. The Holy Ghost effected this conviction on the feast of Pentecost, when, at the sermon of St. Peter, three thousand Jews were converted; and he continues to effect it to the end of time, through the Catholic Church, which unceasingly announces the Christian doctrine, proving its truth and divinity by countless miracles.

(b.) The Holy Ghost will convince the world of justice, i. e., the Holy Ghost will convince the people that I was just and that all who believe in me are brought to justice. The Holy Ghost again effected this conviction by the gospel which the Apostles and their successors preached, by the great miracles with which the preaching of that same gospel was accompanied at all times, and by the holiness to which the gospel leads all who receive it with a believing heart, and make it the rule of their lives. Let us, then, do “what may be good not only before God, but also before men” (2 Cor. 8:21); for this is one of the most effectual means of convincing the world of the divinity of Christianity and of the justice of Christ.

(c.) When Christ says that the Holy Ghost will convince the world of judgment, it meant that the Holy Ghost will convince men by his wonderful effects, viz., the power of Satan broken, his kingdom destroyed, and he and his associates delivered to eternal damnation. The Apostles and their successors by the vocation of the holy Name of Jesus expelled the evil spirits from the pagan temples, from the bodies and the hearts of men, destroyed the kingdom of the devil, and established everywhere the kingdom of God. We are also redeemed from the slavery of the devil and called to the liberty of the children of God. Let us avoid sin, in which we had the misfortune to be born, so that we may not relapse into his slavery.

2. I have yet many things to say to you; but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak, and the things that are to come he shall show you. He shall glorify me, because he shall receive of mine and shall show it to you.

(a.) Christ tells his Apostles that he had yet many things to say to them, but that in consequence of their not being able to bear the recital of all his truths and to comprehend them all at once, he was obliged to keep silence with regard to them, and would not broach them now, but he refers them directly to the Holy Ghost, who would come down upon them and teach them all truth, and bring all things to their remembrance whatsoever he had said unto them. By the truth here spoken of we are to understand, not natural, but supernatural truths, truths concerning God, the Church, and the salvation of men. It was not necessary that they should be men learned in worldly things, versed in natural and scientific truths, but spiritual men knowing everything pertaining to and necessary for their own sanctification, as well as for that of others, and for their vocation as preachers of the divine word. Speaking of natural and scientific truths, it is a remarkable fact in the history of the Church that the successors of the Apostles never treated them in such a way as to error bring themselves into disrepute. The progress of literature and natural science formed one of the principal objects of their constant attention. Many of the Popes were, as Protestant historians admit, the most learned men of the times in which they lived, and by encouraging the genius of others in eloquence and poetry, art and science, have deserved well of mankind But it was in the sublime heights of supernatural science that they received from the Holy Ghost the light necessary to know and rightly to conceive the entire doctrine of Christ, and were preserved from all error in the preaching of it, being enabled fully to develop the truths and lessons which Christ had only indicated, to discover all errors, and infallibly to define what men must believe and do, in order to be saved.

Such a teacher of truth was the Holy Ghost, not only to the Apostles, but also to their successors, the bishops in union with the Pope; constituting what we call the teaching Church. This teaching Church enjoys the constant assistance of the Holy Ghost, and is therefore as infallible in matters of Christian faith and morals as were the Apostles themselves. We are therefore strictly bound to subject ourselves with heart and mind to the ordinances of the teaching Church. If we refuse to do so, the words of Christ apply to us: “If he will not hear the Church let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.”—Matt. 18:17.

(b.) Christ had declared (John 7:16) that the doctrine he preached was not his, but the doctrine of Him who sent him. In the same sense the words of Christ are to be understood, viz., that the Holy Ghost shall not speak of himself, but what things soever he shall hear he shall speak. The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, and is sent by both. The doctrine which he brings is properly not his own, but that of the Son, which again is the doctrine of the Father. The Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son, receives his essence and doctrine from the Father and the Son. Whatever Christ preached whilst sojourning on earth, the Holy Ghost continues to teach to the end of time. Our faith, therefore, originates from the Most Holy Trinity. What the Father has taught, his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, has revealed to men; and what Christ has revealed, the Holy Ghost continues to teach by the mouth of the Church, with whom he remains to the end of time. Thus God has made provision in order that the people of all times may come to the knowledge of the truth, and work out their salvation. How happy must we deem ourselves that we are within the pale of the Catholic Church, from which we receive everything that is required for our purification, sanctification and salvation.


Let us thank God for this grace and employ it for the salvation of our souls. Let us frequently ask ourselves the question, Whither goest thou?—and never lose sight of our eternal end. Let us serve God with fervor and perseverance, so that we may be able to say at the end of our life: I go to him who sent me. Let us employ these three weeks before Pentecost in preparing for that festival. And since the Holy Ghost does not enter into a heart defiled by sin, let us shun every sin, especially pride, impurity and uncharitableness; let us practice interior solitude and prayer, so that the Holy Ghost may come and communicate his graces to us. Amen.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Extraordinary Form, Fr. Zollner, homilies, Notes on the Gospel of John, Scripture, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

All Good Gifts Come From God: A Homily on James 1:17-21 for the Fourth Sunday After Easter (Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite)

Posted by carmelcutthroat on April 30, 2023

The following comes from Father Johann Evangelist Zollner’s THE PULPIT ORATOR, VOLUME 3.

Fourth Sunday After Easter

Epistle. James 1:17–21. Dearly beloved: Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration. For of his own will hath he begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of his creatures. You know, my dearest brethren, and let every man be quick to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to anger. For the anger of man worketh not the justice of God. Wherefore casting away all uncleanness, and abundance of malice, with meekness receive the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

Homiletic Sketch
All Good Gifts Come From God. Lessons Therefrom

The epistle, of which I have read a small portion to you, has St. James, a relative of our Lord, for its author. To distinguish him from another James, who also was an apostle, and a son of Zebedee and brother of St. John, he is surnamed the LESS, probably because he was younger. He was the first bishop of Jerusalem, and led a very austere life; he ate no meat, drank no wine and prayed so much that his knees had a thick, hard skin like a camel’s. On account of his righteousness, which even the Jews admired in him, he was called the “just man.” In the year of our Lord 64 he was accused by the Pharisees, those archenemies of Christianity, as a transgressor of the law, and was stoned. St. James wrote an epistle to the faithful in which he teaches them several truths, specially insisting upon the necessity of a living faith; reproves them on account of certain abuses and sins prevalent among them, earnestly exhorts them to patience, and gives them very important rules for the regulation of their life. We will consider the contents of the epistle of this day a little more closely; the apostle states therein—

I.      The truth, that all good gifts come from God, and draws from it—
II.      Some lessons which we should follow.

Part I The Truth, That All Good Gifts Come From God

1. Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.

(a.) By the expression: Every good gift, we first understand all natural goods, such as life, health, food, raiment, prosperity, reason, liberty of will. All these are good gifts, because, coming from God, the Supreme Good, they are good in themselves, and are to serve for the glory of God and the salvation of our souls. By the words every perfect gift, the apostle indicates especially the supernatural goods or the gifts of grace, such as faith, hope and charity and all other virtues, the holy sacrifice of the mass, the holy sacraments, the grace of aid and sanctifying grace, in short, all those blessings which God communicates to us for our eternal salvation on account of the merits of Christ. The supernatural gifts are called perfect, partly because they are far more valuable than natural goods, partly because they are a free gift of God, whilst natural goods, although also free and undeserved, are gifts belonging to, and necessary for our human nature.

(b.) All natural and supernatural good gifts are from above, that is, from God. “What hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”—1 Cor. 4:7. From this arises a double obligation for us; first, we must be thankful to God for all that we have and are; and secondly, we should employ all goods and gifts according to his will and guard against abusing them by sin. How many sins are committed against this double obligation! Resolutions.

(c.) God is called the Father of lights, because he is in himself the most perfect, holy, and best being, and the source of all goodness. All corporeal light comes from him, the sun, the moon, and the stars, and all other light-giving bodies, as gas, wax, oil. All spiritual light comes from God, all the knowledge, and science of men and angels. In knowledge and science the angels surpass all men more than the greatest sage surpasses an ignorant child. How great must be the knowledge of the angels! All supernatural light comes from God. His holy word, which teaches us all that we must believe, hope for and do, in order to become holy and to be saved; then interior lights and inspirations and the gifts of the holy Ghost. God is however called Father of lights, because the Son, who is “the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world,” is begotten of him.—John 1:10. Let us make good use of every light which comes to us from the Father of lights; of the corporeal light, to admire God’s works in the creation and to praise and glorify him, the Creator; of the spiritual light, to fulfil conscientiously the duties of our religion and state of life; of the supernatural light, to perfect and sanctify yourselves more from day to day.

2. With God there is no change, nor shadow of alteration. God is ever the same from eternity to eternity; he is the highest and most perfect good, and, consequently, unchangeable. God never changes his will; he is not as men, who frequently do not will to morrow what they will to day: what he once wills, he always and eternally wills. God is unchangeable; let us trust to him in every circumstance of life; he does not abandon us, though all may turn from us, if we do not abandon him. God is unchangeable; let us also be unchangeable in his holy service, considering the words of the prophet: If the just man shall turn away from his justice, and shall commit iniquity … he shall die in his sins, and his justices which he hath done shall not be remembered.”—Ezek. 3:20. God is unchangeable; let us also be unchangeable towards our fellow-men; let us, in our intercourse with them, show ourselves just, merciful, kind, even though they commit faults and offend us, that we “may be children of our Father, who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good and the bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.”—Matt. 5:45.

3. For of his own will hath he begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of his creatures. The apostle now appeals to Christianity as the best gift, to prove that all good gifts come from God.

(a.) He says: God of his own will has called us to Christianity and to the graces connected with it. The vocation of man to the holy faith is a pure grace, which no one can merit. But God, being all goodness and mercy, gives to all men the graces necessary for salvation; he who nevertheless perishes has no reason to complain, for his perdition has its cause either in not using the proffered graces, or in abusing them. Let us daily thank God that we are Catholics, and cling to the Church with filial affection, especially at the present time, when she has so many enemies; let us defend her rights and interests and show by a faithful performance of our religious duties the purity of our faith and morals.

(b.) God hath begotten us. The apostle means to say: God has made us new creatures, has given us the means to be spiritually regenerated. Hitherto we were ignorant of all things relating to our eternal salvation, but now we are enlightened and know the way which leads to God and to heaven; formerly we were sinners and were in the slavery of Satan, and heaven was barred against us; now we are justified and sanctified, made children of God and heirs of heaven; formerly we were impotent to do anything profitable and meritorious, now with the grace of God we are able to work out our salvation and merit heaven. The apostle in saying, God hath begotten us, reminds us of all these graces.

(c.) This important begetting or regeneration is effected by the word of truth, that is, by the gospel and the means of grace which are included in it. For if a man receives the gospel or the doctrine preached by Christ and his Church, with a believing heart, and lives according to it, and worthily receives the means of grace, that is, the sacraments, he is spiritually regenerated, purified and sanctified. The gospel is called the “word of truth” because it comes from God, the eternal, infallible truth, and because all that it contains, promises, or threatens, is based upon truth and is fulfilled. The word of truth is here placed in opposition to the word of untruth. The devil spoke to Eve the word of untruth, and because she believed and followed him, sin and death came upon her and her posterity; but Christ spoke to us the word of truth, and justification, life and salvation come upon all that believe in him. Therefore Christ says: “He that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live; and every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever.”—John 11:25, 26. In our time many Catholics no longer appreciate the grace of the gospel. Some parents do not even bring their children to be baptized; some get married before the “Justice of the Peace,” or even before an heretical minister, despising the Sacrament of Matrimony; there are many Catholics who never go to church, or receive the sacraments, living and dying in unbelief and disobedience. What a terrible judgment will come upon such apostate Catholics 1

(d.) By the beginning of his creatures, St. James means the Jews, for these were the first that were received into the Church and were made partakers of the grace of Christianity. These Christians from Judaism he designates as the firstlings of the creation of God, for only those Christians who are born again of water and the Holy Ghost are pre-eminently considered creatures of God, whilst all others who are not Christians, and, consequently, not regenerated, or who are Christians, but have lost the grace of regeneration and perish, are, as it were, no longer looked upon as creatures of God. We belong to this creation of God or to these new men who are created according to God in true holiness and justice.—Eph. 2:10; 4:24. Shortly after our birth we all received holy baptism, in which we have been spiritually regenerated and sanctified. Let us preserve the grace of baptism with the greatest care, and should we be so unfortunate as to lose it by mortal sin, let us by true repentance recover it, for we must bring it before the tribunal of God, if we wish to be saved. “Receive this white garment, and see thou carry it without stain before the judgment-seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou mayest have eternal life.”

Part II Some Lessons Which We Should Follow in Light of the Above Truth

To the truth, that all good gifts, especially Christianity, with all its graces and blessings, come from God, the apostle adds some lessons which we must follow.

1. Let every man be quick to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to anger, for the anger of man worketh not the justice of God.

(a.) What is it that we must be quick to hear? The word of truth, the word of God; we must hear it quickly, that is, willingly and fervently. How anxious are people for the daily papers, to hear what happens in the world, which properly does not concern us, or has influence only upon our earthly life. Why should we not hear with zeal and joy the word of God, which contains lessons and truths, upon the faithful acceptance and following of which depends our eternal salvation? We are anxious to hear about things that we like; it is therefore a good sign when we like to hear the word of God, a sign that we love the Word of God and are solicitous for our salvation. What we do not love we do not like to hear; it is therefore a bad sign when we do not hear the word of God at all, or without interest, or with disgust, a sign that we do not care for God and neglect the business of our salvation. How is it with you? Do you love to hear the word of God or not? Examine yourselves, and see whether you are of God or not.

(b.) “We must be slow to speak. Before we speak, we must consider calmly and conscientiously before God whether what we intend to say is right and proper; whether it is not suggested by vanity, by envy, or enmity, by falsity, or other culpable passions; whether it is necessary, useful, and prudent. Oh, how many sins, how many scandals and evils could be avoided if all would be slow to speak! In order not to sin in speaking it is necessary, above all things, to cleanse our heart from all inordinate inclinations and passions, for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matt. 12:34) Again we must speak with deliberation and circumspection, for it frequently happens that we have reason to regret what we say inconsiderately. We must also make in the morning and frequently during the day, especially if we have an occasion to converse and speak with different persons, good resolutions to be prudent in speaking—lastly, to speak as little as possible. To keep silence, and to speak little, were characteristic traits of all the saints. Let us not forget that we must give an account of every idle word. The Apostle wishes us especially to speak of religious things with seriousness and reverence. Many take upon themselves to be masters and teachers in these things, although they do not understand anything about them. Be not guilty of this fault, and have nothing to do with people who censure and reject this or that which the Church ordains and teaches; tell them that Christ has not appointed, them teachers, but the Apostles and their successors, who should be heard, according to his words: “He that heareth you, heareth me.”—Luke 10:16.

(c.) We must be slow to anger. What does this mean? We must first reflect whether we have just cause for anger; for to be angry without such cause is always sinful; secondly, whether, and in how far, the thing is worthy of anger: thirdly, whether he that has offended or injured us has done or omitted something that displeases us, through inadvertency, surprise, hastiness, or awkwardness; or with deliberation, ill-will, or malice. To be slow to anger means also that we should not speak or act upon the first impulse, but recollect ourselves and then speak or act as may bo necessary or desirable under the circumstances. Therefore an old philosopher gives this rule: “When angry do and say nothing until you have repeated the whole alphabet.”

(d.) St. James assigns as a reason why we must be slow to anger, Because the anger of man worketh not the justice of God. How many things are done in a rage that are afterwards bitterly regretted! Example: Alexander the Great, who stabbed his best friend Klitus whilst in a passion; whereupon he almost became insane. Louis the Severe, who in a fit of anger became the murderer of his innocent wife and of several other persons, an act which caused him so much grief that the hair of his head turned grey in one night. Oh, how many sins could be avoided if people would always be slow to anger! Make good resolutions.

2. Wherefore, casting away all uncleanness, and abundance of malice, with meekness receive the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

(a.) The Apostle exhorts Christians, being regenerated by the word of truth, and made children of God, to cast away all uncleanness and abundance of malice. By uncleanness we understand particularly all interior sins by which the heart is defiled, also all voluntary bad thoughts and desires. God looks into the heart, and if all is not in order there he is displeased with us, though our exterior conduct be blameless and praiseworthy. Therefore our Lord compares the Scribes and Pharisees to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men’s bones, and of all filthiness. See particularly that your heart is well disposed; suffer no sinful inclinations to dwell there, no pride, no envy, no impurity, no uncharitableness; rejoice in virtue, hate and detest sin, and mean well with every one. If the heart be well disposed, all is well; but if otherwise, all is wrong, even the most beautiful virtues and the most heroic actions are but hypocrisy and without value before God. By abundance of malice we understand every outward sin committed in word or action, especially all sins against Christian meekness. If the seed of weeds is in a field it will spring up, and bring, not wheat, but cockle, for the plants have always the nature of the seed. It is the same in the human heart. The evil inclinations and passions prevalent in it are the seed that bring forth sins and vices, wherefore Christ says: “From the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts false testimonies, blasphemies.”—Matt. 15:19.

Lastly, the apostle exhorts us to receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save our souls. This word is the word of God. St. James calls this word engrafted, because men have it not of themselves, but it is communicated to them by Christ, and it is continually communicated by his Church. The apostle chooses the expression engrafted, to indicate that the word of God, as Christ himself says, is to work in us as the seed which is sowed in good ground and brings forth abundant fruit. We must receive the word of God with meekness. Meekness means interior calmness, a heart which is free from immoderate cares, sinful desires and passions. Immoderate cares, sinful desires, and the passions are the thorns which choke the seed of the word of God, so that it cannot grow and bring forth fruit. If we receive the word of God with a perfectly tranquil, believing heart, and with a pious mind, regulating our life according to it, it will save our souls, it will make us holy and pleasing to God and will therefore lead us to salvation.


Follow the lessons which St. James gives you in the epistle of this day. Love to hear the word of God, which is preached to you; this word is of the greatest importance, because it shows you the way you must go to please God and to obtain your final reward. Be circumspect in speaking; consider always beforehand whether that which you intend to say is right, so that you may never have reason to regret having spoken. Think twice before you speak once. Never act in the first impulse of passion or anger, so that you may not transgress the limits of reason, and thereby sin. Cleanse your heart from all inordinate inclinations, and lead a pious and blameless life before God and man, in order that you may show yourselves worthy of the graces and benefits which so abundantly flow to you from the hand of God, and thus work out your salvation. Amen.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Extraordinary Form, Fr. Zollner, homilies, Scripture, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Augustine’s Homily on John 16:8-11

Posted by carmelcutthroat on April 30, 2023

[I] 1. WHEN our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was speaking at length of the coming of the Holy Ghost, He said among the rest, “He shall convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”2 Nor when He had said this, did He pass on to another subject; but vouchsafed to convey a somewhat more explicit notice of this same truth. “Of sin,” said He, “because they believed not on Me. Of righteousness, because I go to the Father. Of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged already.”3 There arises therefore within us a desire of understanding, why as if it were men’s only sin, not to believe on Christ, He said it of this alone, that the Holy Ghost should convince the world; but if it is plain that besides this unbelief there are manifold other sins of men, why of this alone should the Holy Ghost convince the world? Is it because all sins are by unbelief retained, by faith remitted; that therefore God imputeth this one above all the rest, by which it comes to pass that the rest are not loosed, so long as proud man believes not in an Humbled God? For so it is written; “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”4 Now this grace of God is a gift of God. But the greatest gift is the Holy Ghost Himself; and therefore is it called grace. for forasmuch “as all had sinned, and needed the glory of God; because by one man sin entered into the world, and death by his sin in whom all have sinned;”5 therefore is it grace because given gratuitously. And therefore is it given gratuitously, because it is not rendered as a reward alter a strict scrutiny of deserts, but given as a gift after the pardon of sins.

[II] 2. Therefore of sin are unbelievers, that is, the lovers of the world, convinced; for they are signified by the name of the world. For when it is said, “He will convince the world of sin;” it is of none other sin than that they have not believed on Christ. For if this sin exist not, no sins will remain, because when the just man lives by faith, all are loosed. Now the difference is great as to whether one believe that Jesus is Christ, or whether he believe on Christ. For that Jesus is Christ even the devils believed, and yet the devils believed not on Christ. For he believeth on Christ, who both hopeth in Christ and loveth Christ. For if he have faith without hope and love, he believeth that Christ is, but he doth not believe on Christ. Whoso then believeth on Christ, by believing on Christ, Christ cometh unto him, and in a manner uniteth Himself to him, and he is made a member in His Body. Which cannot be, but by the accession of hope and love.

3. What mean again His words, “Of righteousness, because I go to the Father”? And first must we enquire, if the world is convinced of sin, why it is also of righteousness? For who can rightly be convinced of righteousness? Is it indeed that the world is convinced of its own sin, but of Christ’s righteousness? I do not see what else call be understood; since He saith, “Of sin, because they believed not on Me. Of righteousness, because I go to the Father.” They believed not, He goeth to the Father. Their sin therefore, and His righteousness. But why would He name righteousness in this only, that He goeth to the Father? Is it not righteousness also that He came hither from the Father? Or is that rather mercy, that He came from the Father to us, and righteousness, that He goeth to the Father?

[III] 4. So, Brethren, I think it expedient, that in so profound a depth of Scripture, in words, wherein peradventure there lies some hidden truth which may in due season be laid open, we should as it were together enquire faithfully, that we may attain6 to find healthfully. Why then doth He call this righteousness, in that He goeth to the Father, and not also in that He came from the Father? Is it that in that it is mercy that He came, therefore it is righteousness that He goeth? that so in our own case too we may learn that righteousness cannot be fulfilled in us, if we are slow to give a place first1 to mercy, “not seeking our own things, but the things of others also.” Which advice when the Apostle had given, he immediately joined to it the example of our Lord Himself; “Doing nothing,” saith he, “through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind, each esteeming the other better than themselves. Not looking every man on his own things, but also on the things of others.” Then he added immediately, “Let this mind be in each of you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the Form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man; He humbled Himself, having become obedient even unto death, yea the death of the cross.”2 This is the mercy whereby He came from the Father. What then is the righteousness whereby He goeth to the Father? He goes on and says; “Wherefore God also hath exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name; that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the Glory of God the Father.” This is the righteousness whereby He goeth to the Father.

[IV] 5. But if He Alone goeth to the Father, what doth it profit us? Why is the world convinced by the Holy Ghost of this righteousness? And yet if He did not Alone go to the Father, He would not say in another place, “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He That descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.”3 But the Apostle Paul also says, “For our conversation is in heaven.”4 And why is this? Because he also says, “If ye be risen with Christ, seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Mind the things which are above, not those which are upon the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”5 How then is He Alone? Is He therefore Alone because Christ with all His members is One, as the Head with His Body? Now what is His Body, but the Church? As the same teacher says, “Now ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular.”6 Forasmuch then as we have fallen, and He descended for our sakes, what is, “No man hath ascended, but He That descended;” but that no man hath ascended, except as made one with Him, and as a member fastened into His Body who descended? And thus He saith to His disciples, “Without Me ye can do nothing.”7 For in one way is He One with the Father, and in another one with us. He is One with the Father, in that the Substance of the Father and the Son is One; He is One with the Father, in that, “Being in the Form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” But He was made One with us, in that “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant;” He was made one with us, according to the seed of Abraham, “in whom all nations shall be blessed.” Which place when the Apostle had brought forward, he said, “He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ.”8 And for that we too belong to that which is Christ, by our incorporation together, and coherence to That Head, It is One Christ. And also for that he says to us too, “Therefore are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.”9 For if the seed of Abraham be One, and That One Seed of Abraham can only be understood of Christ; but this seed of Abraham we also are; therefore This Whole, that is, the Head and the Body, is One Christ.

[V] 6. And therefore we ought not to deem ourselves separated from that righteousness, which the Lord Himself makes mention of, saying, “Of righteousness, because I go to the Father.” For we too have risen with Christ, and we are with Christ our Head, now for a while10 by faith and hope; but our hope will be completed in the last resurrection of the dead. But when our hope shall be completed, then shall our justification be completed also. And the Lord who was to complete it showed us in His Own Flesh (that is, in our Head), Wherein He rose again and ascended to the Father, what we ought to hope for. For that thus it is written, “He was delivered for our sins, and rose again for our justification.”11 The world then is convinced “of sin” in those who believe not on Christ; “and of righteousness,” in those who rise again in the members of Christ. Whence it is said, “That we may be the righteousness of God in him.”12 For if not in Him, in no way righteousness. But if in Him, He goeth with us Whole to the Father, and this perfect righteousness will be fulfilled in us. And therefore “of judgment” too is the world convinced, “because the prince of this world hath been judged already;” that is, the devil, the prince of the unrighteous, who in heart inhabit only in this world which they love, and therefore are called “the world;” as our conversation is in heaven, if we have risen again with Christ. Therefore as Christ together with us, that is His Body, is One; so the devil with all the ungodly whose head he is, with as it were his own body, is one. Wherefore as we are not separated from the righteousness, of which the Lord said, “Because I go to the Father;” so the ungodly are not separated from that judgment, of which He said, “Because the prince of this world hath been judged already.”

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St Augustine’s Homily on John 16:7

Posted by carmelcutthroat on April 30, 2023


1. THE medicine for all the wounds of the soul, and the one propitiation for the offences of men, is to believe on Christ; nor can any one be cleansed at all, whether from original sin which he derived from Adam, in whom all men have sinned, and become by nature children of wrath; or from the sins which they have themselves added, by not resisting the concupiscence of the flesh, but by following and serving it in unclean and injurious deeds: unless by faith they are united and compacted into His Body, who was conceived without any enticement of the flesh and deadly pleasure, and whom His Mother nourished in her womb without sin, and “Who did no sin, neither was deceit found in His Mouth.” They verily who believe on Him, become the children of God; because they are born of God by the grace of adoption, which is by the faith of Jesus Christ our Lord. Wherefore, dearly Beloved, it is with good reason that the same Lord and our Saviour mentions this one sin only, of which the Holy Ghost convinces the world, that it believeth not on Him. “I tell you the truth,” He saith, “It is expedient for you that I go away. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He shall come, He will convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they believe not on Me. Of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye shall see Me no more. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is already judged.”

2. Of this one only sin then He would have the world to be convinced, that they believe not on Him; to wit, because by believing on Him all sins are loosed, He would have this one imputed by which the rest are bound. And because by believing they are born of God, and become children of God; “For,” saith he, “to them gave He power to become the sons of God, to them that believe on Him.” Whoso then believeth on the Son of God, in so far as he adhereth to Him, and becometh himself also by adoption a son and heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ, in so far he sinneth not. Whence John saith, “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not.” And therefore the sin of which the world is convinced is this, that they believe not on Him. This is the sin of which He also saith, “If I had not come, they had not had sin.” For what! had they not innumerable other sins? But by His coming this one sin was added to them that believed not, by which the rest should be retained. Whereas in them that believe, because this one was wanting, it was brought to pass that all should be remitted to them that believe. Nor is it with any other view that the Apostle Paul saith, “All have sinned, and have need of the glory of God;” that, “whosoever believeth on Him, should not be confounded;” as the Psalm also saith, “Come ye unto Him, and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be confounded.” Whoso then glorieth in himself shall be confounded; for he shall not be found without sins. Accordingly he only shall not be confounded who glorieth in the Lord. “For all have sinned, and have need of the glory of God.” And so when he was speaking of the infidelity of the Jews, he did not say, “For if some of them have sinned, shall their sin make the faith of God of none effect?” For how should he say, “If some of them have sinned;” when he said himself, “For all have sinned”? But he said, “If some of them believed not, shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect?” That he might point out more expressly this sin, by which alone the door is closed against the rest that they by the grace of God should not be remitted. Of which one sin by the coming of the Holy Ghost, that is by the gift of His grace, which is granted to the faithful, the world is convinced, in the Lord’s words, “Of sin, because they believed not on Me.”

3. Now there would be no great merit and glorious blessedness in believing, if the Lord had always appeared in His Risen Body to the eyes of men. The Holy Ghost then hath brought this great gift to them that should believe, that Him whom they should not see with the eyes of flesh, they might with a mind sobered from carnal desires, and inebriated with spiritual longings, sigh after. Whence it was that when that disciple who had said that he would not believe, unless he touched with the hands His Scars, after he had handled the Lord’s Body, cried out as though awaking from sleep, “My Lord and my God;” the Lord said to him, “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” This blessedness hath the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, brought to us, that the form of a servant which He took from the Virgin’s womb, being removed from the eyes of flesh, the purified eye of the mind might be directed to This Form of God, in which He continued equal with the Father, even when He vouchsafed to appear in the Flesh; so as that with the Same Spirit filled the Apostle might say, “Though we have known Christ after the flesh; yet now we know Him so no longer.” Because even the Flesh of Christ he knew not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, who, not by touching in curiosity, but in believing assured, acknowledgeth the power of His Resurrection; not saying in his heart, “Who hath ascended into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down; or, Who hath descended into the deep? that is, to bring back Christ from the dead.” “But,” saith he, “the word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, that Jesus is the Lord; and if thou shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” These, Brethren, are the words of the Apostle, pouring them forth with the holy inebriation of the Holy Ghost Himself.

4. Forasmuch then as we could in no way have had this blessedness by which we see not and yet believe, unless we received it of the Holy Ghost; it is with good reason said, “It is expedient for you that I go away. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.”4 By His Divinity indeed He is with us always; but unless He had in Body gone away from us, we had always seen His Body after the flesh, and never believed after a spiritual sort; by the which belief justified and blessed we might attain5 with cleansed hearts to contemplate the Very Word, God with God, “by whom all things were made,” and “who was made Flesh, that He might dwell among us.” And if not with the contact of the hand, but “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;” with good reason is the world, which will not believe save what it sees, convinced of our righteousness. Now that we might have that righteousness of faith of which the unbelieving world should be convinced, therefore said the Lord, “Of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye shall see Me no more.” As if He had said, “This shall be your righteousness, that ye believe on Me, the Mediator, of whom ye shall be most fully assured that He is risen again and gone to the Father, though ye see Him not after the Flesh; that by Him reconciled, ye may be able to see God after the Spirit.” Whence He saith to the woman who represents the Church, when she fell at His Feet after His Resurrection, “Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to the Father.”6 Which expression is understood mystically, thus. “Believe not in Me after a carnal manner by means of bodily contact; but thou shalt believe after a spiritual manner; that is, with a spiritual faith shalt touch Me, when I shall have ascended to the Father.” For, “blessed are they who do not see, and believe.” And this is the righteousness of faith, of which the world, which hath it not, is convinced of us who are not without it; for “the just liveth by faith.”7 Whether it be then that as rising again in Him, and in Him coming to the Father, we are invisibly and in justification perfected; or that as not seeing and yet believing we live by faith, for that “the just liveth by faith;” with these meanings said He, “Of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye shall see Me no more.”

5. Nor let the world excuse itself by this, that it is hindered by the devil from believing on Christ. For to believers the prince of the world is cast out,8 that he work no more in the hearts of men whom Christ hath begun to possess by faith; as he worketh in the children of unbelief,9 whom he is constantly stirring up to tempt and disturb the righteous. For because he is cast out, who once had dominion interiorly he wageth war exteriorly. Although then by means of his persecutions, “the Lord doth direct the meek in judgment;”10 nevertheless in this very fact of his being cast out, is he “judged already.” And of this “judgment” is the world convinced; for in vain doth he who will not believe on Christ complain of the devil whom, judged, that is, cast out, and for the exercising of us allowed to attack us from without, not only men, but even women, and boys, and girls, Martyrs have overcome. Now in whom have they overcome, but in Him on whom they have believed, and whom seeing not, they loved, and by whose dominion in their hearts they have got rid of a most oppressive1 lord. And all this by grace, by the gift, that is, of the Holy Ghost. Rightly then doth the Same Spirit convince the world, both of “sin,” because it believeth not on Christ; “and of righteousness,” because they who have had the will have believed, though Him on whom they believed they saw not; and by His Resurrection have hoped that themselves also should be in the resurrection perfected; “and of judgment,” because if they had had the will to believe, they could be hindered by none, “for that the prince of this world hath been judged already.”

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St Augustine’s Homily on John 16:16-23

Posted by carmelcutthroat on April 30, 2023

John 16:16–23.

1. These words of the Lord, when He says, “A little while, and ye shall no more see me: and again a little while, and ye shall see me; because I go to the Father,” were so obscure to the disciples, before what He thus says was actually fulfilled, that they inquired among themselves what it was that He said, and had to confess themselves utterly ignorant. For the Gospel proceeds, “Then said some of His disciples among themselves, What is this that He saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again a little while, and ye shall see me; and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that He saith, A little while? we know not what He saith.” This is what moved them, that He said, “A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again a little while, and ye shall see me.” For in what precedes, because He had not said, “A little while,” but only, “I go to the Father and ye shall see me no more,”2 He appeared to them to have spoken, as it were, quite plainly, and they had no inquiry among themselves regarding it. But now, what was then obscure to them, and was shortly afterwards revealed, is already perfectly manifest to us: for after a little while He suffered, and they saw Him not; again, after a little while He rose, and they saw Him. But how the words are to be taken that He used, “Ye shall no more see me,” inasmuch as by the word “more”3 He wished it to be understood that they would not see Him afterwards, we have explained at the passage where He said, The Holy Spirit “shall convince of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye shall see me no more;”4 meaning thereby, that they would never afterwards see Christ in His present state of subjection to death.

2. “Now Jesus knew,” as the evangelist proceeds to say, “that they were desirous to ask Him, and said unto them, Ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again a little while, and ye shall see me. Verily verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy:” which may be understood in this way, that the disciples were thrown into sorrow over the death of the Lord, and straightway were filled with joy at His resurrection; but the world, whereby are signified the enemies that slew Christ, were, of course, in a state of rapture over the murder of Christ, at the very time when the disciples were filled with sorrow. For by the name of the world the wickedness of this world may be understood; in other words, those who are the friends of this world. As the Apostle James says in his epistle, “Whosoever will be a friend of this world, is become the enemy of God;”5 for the effect of that enmity to God was, that not even His Only-begotten was spared.

3. And then He goes on to say, “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” Nor does the metaphor here employed seem difficult to understand; for its key is at hand in the exposition given by Himself of its meaning. For the pangs of parturition are compared to sorrow, and the birth itself to joy; which is usually all the greater when it is not a girl but a boy that is born. But when He said, “Your joy no man taketh from you,” for their joy was Jesus Himself, there is implied what was said by the apostle, “Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more; and death shall have no more dominion over Him.”1

4. Hitherto in this section of the Gospel, whereon we are discoursing to-day, the tenor of everything has been, I may say, of easy understanding: a much closer attention is needful in connection with the words that follow. For what does He mean by the words, “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing”? The verb to ask, used here, means not only to beg of, but also to question; and the Greek Gospel, of which this is a translation, has a word that may also be understood in both senses, so that by it the ambiguity is not removed;2 and even though it were so, every difficulty would not thereby disappear. For we read that the Lord Christ, after He rose again, was both questioned and petitioned. He was asked by the disciples, on the eve of His ascension into heaven, when He would be manifested, and when the kingdom of Israel would come;3 and even when already in heaven, He was petitioned [asked] by St. Stephen to receive his spirit.4 And who dare either think or say that Christ ought not to be asked, sitting as He does in heaven, and yet was asked while He abode on earth? or that He ought not to be asked in His state of immortality, although it was men’s duty to ask Him while still in His state of subjection to death? Nay, beloved, let us ask Him to untie with His own hands the knot of our present inquiry, by so shining into our hearts that we may perceive what He saith.

5. For I think that His words, “But I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you,” are not to be referred to the time of His resurrection, and when He showed them His flesh to be looked at and handled;5 but rather to that of which He had already said, “He that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”6 For He had already risen, He had already shown Himself to them in the flesh, and He was already sitting at the right hand of the Father, when that same Apostle John, whose Gospel this is, says in his epistle, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”7 That vision belongs not to this life, but to the future; and is not temporal, but eternal. “And this is life eternal,” in the words of Him who is that life, “that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.”8 Of this vision and knowledge the apostle says, “Now we see through a glass, in a riddle; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”9 At present the Church is in travail with the longing for this fruit of all her labor, but then she shall bring to the birth in its actual contemplation; now she travails in birth with groaning, then shall she bring forth in joy; now she travails in birth through her prayers, then shall she bring forth in her praises. Thus, too, is it a male child; since to such fruit in the contemplation are all the duties of her present conduct to be referred. For He alone is free; because He is desired on His own account, and not in reference to aught besides. Such conduct is in His service; for whatever is done in a good spirit has a reference to Him, because it is done on His behalf; while He, on the other hand, is got and held in possession on His own account, and not on that of aught besides. And there, accordingly, we find the only end that is satisfying to ourselves. He will therefore be eternal; for no end can satisfy us, save that which is found in Him who is endless. With this was Philip inspired, when he said, “Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” And in that showing the Son gave promise also of His own presence, when He said, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?”10 Of that, therefore, which alone sufficeth us, we are very appropriately informed, “Your joy no man taketh from you.”

6. On this point, also, in reference to what has been said above, I think we may get a still better understanding of the words, “A little while, and ye shall no more see me: and again a little while, and ye shall see me.” For the whole of that space over which the present dispensation extends, is but a little while; and hence this same evangelist says in his epistle, “It is the last hour.”11 For in this sense also He added, “Because I go to the Father,” which is to be referred to the preceding clause, where He saith, “A little while, and ye shall no more see me;” and not to the subsequent, where He saith, “And again a little while, and ye shall see me.” For by His going to the Father, He was to bring it about that they should not see Him. And on this account, therefore, His words did not mean that He was about to die, and to be withdrawn from their view till His resurrection; but that He was about to go to the Father, which He did after His resurrection, and when, after holding intercourse with them for forty days, He ascended into heaven.1 He therefore addressed the words, “A little while, and ye shall no more see me,” to those who saw Him at the time in bodily form; because He was about to go to the Father, and never thereafter to be seen in that mortal state wherein they now beheld Him when so addressing them. But the words that He added, “And again a little while, and ye shall see me,” He gave as a promise to the Church universal: just as to it, also, He gave the other promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”2 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise: a little while, and we shall see Him, where we shall have no more any requests to make, any questions to put; for nothing shall remain to be desired, nothing lie hid to be inquired about. This little while appears long to us, because it is still in continuance; when it is over, we shall then feel what a little while it was. Let not, then, our joy be like that of the world, whereof it is said, “But the world shall rejoice;” and yet let not our sorrow in travailing in birth with such a desire be unmingled with joy; but, as the apostle says, be “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation;”3 for even the woman in travail, to whom we are compared, has herself more joy over the offspring that is soon to be, than sorrow over her present pains. But let us here close our present discourse, for the words that follow contain a very trying question, and must not be unduly curtailed, so that they may, if the Lord will, obtain a more befitting explanation.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 16:16-22

Posted by carmelcutthroat on April 30, 2023

16. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
17. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?
18. They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.
19. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?
20. Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
21. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
22. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxix.) Our Lord after having relieved the spirits of the disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit, again depresses them: A little while, and ye shall not see Me. He does this to accustom them to the mention of His departure, in order that they may bear it well, when it does come. For nothing so quiets the troubled mind, as the continued recurrence to the subject of its grief.

BEDE. (Hom. 1. Dom. See. Par. Oct. Pasch.) He saith, A little while, and ye shall not see Me, alluding to His going to be taken that night by the Jews, His crucifixion the next morning, and burial in the evening, which withdrew Him from all human sight.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxix. 1.) But then, if one examines, these are words of consolation: Because I go to the Father. For they shew that His death was only a translation: and more consolation follows: And again, a little while, and ye shall see Me: an intimation this that He would return, and after a short separation, come and live with them for ever.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. c. 1.) The meaning of these words however was obscure, before their fulfilment; Then said some of His disciples among themselves, What is this that He saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me: and, Because I go to the Father.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxix. 1.) Either sorrow had confused their minds, or the obscurity of the words themselves prevented their understanding them, and made them appear contradictory. If we shall see Thee, they say, how goest Thou? If Thou goest, how shall we see Thee? What is this that He saith unto us, A little while? We cannot tell what He saith.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. ci. 1.) For above, because He did not say, A little while, but simply, I go to the Father, He seemed to speak plainly. But what to them was obscure at the time, but by and by manifested, is manifest to us. For in a little while He suffered, and they did not see Him; and again, in a little while He rose again, and they saw Him. He says, And ye shall see Me no more; for the mortal Christ they saw no more.

ALCUIN. Or thus, It will be a little time during which ye will not see Me, i. e. the three days that He rested in the grave; and again, it will be a little time during which ye shall see Me, i. e. the forty days of His appearance amongst them, from His Passion to His ascension. And ye shall see Me for that little time only, Because I go to the Father; for I am not going to stay always in the body here, but, by that humanity which I have assumed to ascend to heaven. It follows; Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask Him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament. Their merciful Master, understanding their ignorance and doubts, replied so as to explain what He had said.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. ci.) Which must be understood thus, viz. that the disciples sorrowed at their Lord’s death, and then immediately rejoiced at His resurrection. The world (i. e. the enemies of Christ, who put Him to death) rejoiced just when the disciples sorrowed, i. e. at His death: Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

ALCUIN. But this speech of our Lord’s is applicable to all believers who strive through present tears and afflictions to attain to the joys eternal. While the righteous weep, the world rejoiceth; for having no hope of the joys to come, all its delight is in the present.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxix.) Then He shews that sorrow brings forth joy, short sorrow infinite joy, by an example from nature; A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. ci.) This comparison does not seem difficult to understand. It was one which lay near at hand, and He Himself immediately shews its application. And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice. The bringing forth is compared to sorrow, the birth to joy, which is especially true in the birth of a boy. And your joy no man taketh from you: their joy is Christ. This agrees with what the Apostle saith, Christ being risen from the dead dieth no more. (Rom. 6:9)

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxix.) By this example He also intimates that He loosens the chains of death, and creates men anew. He does not say however that she should not have tribulation, but that she should not remember it; so great is the joy which follows. And so is it with the saints. He saith not, that a boy is born, but that a man, a tacit allusion to His own resurrection.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. ci. 6.) To this joy it is better to refer what was said above, A little while and ye shall not see Me, and again, a little while and ye shall see Me. For the whole space of time that this world continues is but a little while. Because I go to the Father, refers to the former clause, a little while and ye shall not see Me, not to the latter, a little while and ye shall see Me. His going to the Father was the reason why they would not see Him. So to them who then saw Him in the body He says, A little while and ye shall not see Me; for He was about to go to the Father, and mortals would thenceforth never see Him again, as they saw Him now. The next words, A little while and ye shall see Me, are a promise to the whole Church. For this little while appears long to us while it is passing, but when it is finished we shall then see how little a time it has been.

ALCUIN. The woman is the holy Church, who is fruitful in good works, and brings forth spiritual children unto God. This woman, while she brings forth, i. e. while she is making her progress in the world, amidst temptations and afflictions, hath sorrow because her hour is come; for no one ever hated his own flesh.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. ci. 6.) Nor yet in this bringing forth of joy, are we entirely without joy to lighten our sorrow, but, as the Apostle saith, we rejoice in hope: (Rom. 12:12) for even the woman, to whom we are compared, rejoiceth more for her future offspring, than she sorrows for her present pain.

ALCUIN. But as soon as she is delivered, i. e. when her laborious struggle is over, and she has got the palm, she remembereth no more her former anguish, for joy at reaping such a reward, for joy that a man is born into the world. For as a woman rejoiceth when a man is born into the world, so the Church is filled with exultation when the faithful are born into life eternal.

BEDE. (in Hom. Dom. Sec. post. vet. Pasch.) Nor should it appear strange, if one who departeth from this life is said to be born. For as a man is said to be born when he comes out of his mother’s womb into the light of day, so may he be said to be born who from out of the prison of the body, is raised to the light eternal. Whence the festivals of the saints, which are the days on which they died, are called their birthdays.

ALCUIN. I will see you again, i. e. I will take you to Myself. Or, I will see you again, i. e. I shall appear again and be seen by you; and your heart shall rejoice.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. ci. 5.) This fruit indeed the Church now yearneth for in travail, but then will enjoy in her delivery. And it is a male child, because all active duties are for the sake of devotion; for that only is free which is desired for its own sake, not for any thing else, and action is for this end. This is the end which satisfies and is eternal: for nothing can satisfy but what is itself the ultimate end. Wherefore of them it is well said, Your joy no man taketh from you.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 87

Posted by carmelcutthroat on April 29, 2023

The glory of the church of Christ

Ps 87:1 The foundations thereof are the holy mountains:

The prophet commences by praising the city, by reason of the holy mountains it has for a foundation. He names not the city, so wrapt in admiration is he with the beauty of the new city he sees descending from heaven, the Church of Christ, whose foundations may be considered in various lights. If we regard the first founders and propagators of the Christian religion, the foundations signify the twelve Apostles, as we read in Apoc. 21, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.” If we consider the doctrine on which the faith of the Church is founded, the foundations are the Apostles and the prophets, who were the immediate ministers of the word of God, of whom the Apostle says, “Built upon the foundations of the Apostles and the prophets.” Finally, if we regard ecclesiastical power and authority, according to which the foundation in a house corresponds with the head in a body, Christ and Peter are the foundations, Christ being the primary. Of Christ the Apostle says, “For no one can lay any other foundation but that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus;” and of Peter, Christ himself says “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.” Those, then, are the holy mountains, upon which the city of God is built, getting the name of mountains by reason of their altitude and excellence; and holy, for their elevation is not by reason of their pride, but by reason of their sanctity, wisdom, and authority. The objection of Christ’s being called the cornerstone surmounting the edifice, viz., “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner;” and also, “Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone,” is of no consequence, for there are two cornerstones, one in the foundation, the other in the summit of the building, and both connecting two walls; and though, in an ordinary building, the same stone cannot be in the foundation supporting the entire building, and on the top supported by the building; still, in the spiritual edifice, one and the same stone, that is, one and the same prelate, supports and bears the whole edifice by his authority, while, at the same time, he presides over and is borne, through obedience, by the whole edifice, by all the living stones, which two duties apply principally, to Christ, who is absolutely the head and ruler of the whole Church; and they also apply to the supreme pontiff, who is Christ’s vicar on earth; and, to a certain extent, to all prelates, in regard of those over whom they preside, for all prelates should bear and be borne; bear with the infirmities of those over whom they are placed, and be borne with when they correct or command. The city has another subject of praise in its gates.

Ps 87:2 The Lord loveth the gates of Sion above all the tabernacles of Jacob.

Having said that the city of God had holy mountains for its foundations, so that there was no fear of its falling, like buildings erected on sand; he now adds, that, with its being exempt from danger on that score, it also is incapable of being stormed by the enemy, so strongly are the gates of it fortified; Psalm 147 saying of them “because he hath strengthened the bolts of thy gates.” “The Lord loveth the gates of Sion,” by reason of the strength of its gates, that render it impregnable “above all the tabernacles of Jacob;” loves those gates more than the tabernacles of Jacob; for, however beautiful and elegantly laid out those tabernacles may have been when the Jews were on their journey from Egypt to the land of promise, still they had neither gates nor foundations, and, therefore, were frail and temporary. These words refer to the stability and permanence of the Church, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail; and especially to the time when it shall arrive at its heavenly country, for which the patriarch sighed, and of whom the Apostle says, “For he looked for a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God;” and, in the Apocalypse, the new Jerusalem is said to have “twelve gates, and in the gates twelve Angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.” By the twelve gates we understand the twelve Apostles; for it is through their true and sound preaching that we all enter into the Church of God: their being called the foundations in another place is of no moment, for they are gates and foundations together; gates by their preaching, foundations by their support of the faithful. Christ, to be sure, said, “l am the gate;” Christ is the gate, no doubt, because it is through his merits we all enter, and are saved; but the city has twelve gates and one gate, as well as it has one foundation and twelve foundations, for Christ was in the Apostles, and spoke through the Apostles, as St. Paul says, “Do you seek a proof of Christ who speaketh in me?” Thus, when we enter through the Apostles, we enter through Christ, because the Apostles did not preach up themselves, but through Christ, and Christ preached through them; and, when we are founded and built upon the Apostles, we are founded and built on Christ. The names of the twelve tribes of Israel being written on the gates signifies that the first members of the Church came from the children of Israel, to whom the Apostles themselves belonged; then came the fullness of the gentiles. In the Apocalypse, when mention is made of the elect, and of those to be saved, mention is first made of twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel; and then follows “a great multitude; which no man could number, of all nations and tribes, and peoples, and tongues.”

Ps 87:3 Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God.

The prophet, as it were, intoxicated with the spirit, as he began abruptly by admiring the excellence of the city, saying, “The foundations thereof are in the holy mountain,” now just as abruptly changes his mode of speech and addresses the city itself, saying, “Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God;” as much as to say, Holy city, don’t wonder if I began incoherently, for I am overwhelmed by the multitude of your praises; for the Holy Ghost has been telling me many glorious, grand, and wonderful things about you. And, in fact, who could observe any order in narrating the praises of a city where God will be all unto all, and where those blessings are reserved for the elect, “which eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, and which hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive.” And though, strictly speaking, the city of God in heaven, and, to a certain extent, his Church, spread over the earth, are alluded to here, even of that earthly Jerusalem, type, as it was, of the Church, “glorious things are said.” It was a royal and sacerdotal city, the temple of the Lord, the Ark of the covenant, and many things belonging to both were there; and what is more, there it was that the King of Angels and the Lord of all nature gave his instructions, performed his miracles, effected the redemption of the human race, was buried there, sent the Holy Ghost from heaven there, and there laid the foundations of his Church to endure.

Ps 87:4 I will be mindful of Rahab and of Babylon knowing me. Behold the foreigners, and Tyre, and the people of the Ethiopians, these were there.

He now praises the holy city, by reason of the number and the variety of the nations who inhabit it, for it is not confined to the Jews alone, as was the case in the Old Testament; but all nations are to inhabit the Catholic Church, which is the true Jerusalem, so praised in this Psalm. He mentions Rahab and Babylon, Palestine, Tyre, and the Ethiopians, all gentiles, but well known to the Jews. Rahab means proud, and by it he means the Egyptians; and the meaning is, in calling and enrolling the elect of the new Jerusalem, I will bear in mind, not only the Jews, but even the Egyptians and Babylonians, who know me through faith and religious worship. For behold, the foreigners, the nations of Palestine, and the people of Tyre, and the Ethiopians “were there,” that is, those nations called and invited by me, will be there too; for he makes use, of the past tense, as usual, to signify the future.

Ps 87:5 Shall not Sion say: This man and that man is born in her? and the Highest himself hath founded her.

The prophet now adds, as the chief praise of Sion, that the Highest, the Son of God, who founded her, was born in her. For the most glorious thing that could be said of her was, that he who, in his divine nature, founded her, chose, in his human nature, to be born in her. The text should be read thus, according to the Hebrew, “Shall not this man say to Sion?” Is it possible that any one will say to Sion a thing so wonderful and so unheard of, “that a man is born in her; and the Highest himself hath founded her?” will anyone tell Sion that there is one born in her, her very Creator? This very evident prophecy has been carped at by the Jews, who cannot possibly get over it. Christ, however, was born in Bethlehem, and not in Sion; to which we reply, that the Sion spoken of here means the Church of God’s people, and that Christ, as man, was born therein, while, as God, he is the founder of it. It may also be fairly said that Christ was born in Sion, inasmuch as his parents, Solomon and David, his ancestors, belonged to Sion.

Ps 87:6 The Lord shall tell in his writings of peoples and of princes, of them that have been in her.

He answers the question he put when he said, “Will any one say to Sion?” for he says the Lord himself will put the question; nay more, in order that it may be kept in eternal memory, that he will write it in the book in which are the people and the princes, who through regeneration have been in the city. “The Lord shall tell;” will announce that in Sion one has been born who is the very founder of the city of Sion; and he will tell it “in his writings of peoples and of princes;” in the rolls of those people and princes who have been regenerated in the city, for he who is the head of them all, is also the founder of the city; and will, therefore, be written in the head of the book. That book will be published on the day of judgment, for then the books will be opened with another book, the book of life, of which our Savior says, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” By princes we understand the Apostles whom God appointed princes over all the earth.

Ps 87:7 The dwelling in thee is as it were of all rejoicing.

The conclusion of the Psalm, declaring the supreme happiness of all the inhabitants of that city, whose foundations were alluded to in the beginning of the Psalm; for the peculiar happiness of the holy city of Jerusalem is, that in it no poor, no sad, no miserable person is to be found, for “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;” and though this is to be accomplished in the heavenly Jerusalem only, still in the Church militant, those who are enrolled citizens in heaven are all rejoicing in hope, and to them the Savior says, “Nobody shall take your joy from you;” and the Apostle, “Always rejoicing;” and in fact, if God’s servants rejoice even in tribulation, when can they be sad? St. Augustine remarks that the Psalmist does not use the word “rejoicing” absolutely, but “as it were of all rejoicing,” lest we should suppose that the joy spoken of here was such as we see with the children of this world, who rejoice in the acquisition of gold or silver, or in carnal pleasures, or the like. The dwelling in the heavenly Jerusalem will be, to a certain extent, like a dwelling where a banquet or a wedding feast is celebrated with music, songs, and pleasure; but no such things will have a place there, nor will the cause be the same for such joy and gladness.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 42

Posted by carmelcutthroat on April 29, 2023

The fervent desire of the just after God: hope in afflictions

 Ps 42:2 As the hart panteth after the fountains of water; so my soul panteth after thee, O God.

Love is a fiery affection, and, therefore, cannot be restrained, but breaks forth in words and sighs. To express his love somehow, David compares himself to a thirsty stag, saying, “As the hart panteth after the fountains of waters;” a most happy and expressive simile. The stag is noted for four peculiarities. It is a deadly enemy to serpents, and constantly at war with them. When it is pursued by the hunters, it betakes itself to the highest mountains as quickly as possible. By some natural instinct, they singularly carry out the advice of the Apostle, “Bear ye each other’s burdens;” for, according to St. Augustine, when they move in a body, or swim across a lake, the weaker ones rest their heads on the stronger, and are thus helped along. Finally, when they are tired after a combat with serpents, or a flight to the mountain, or from helping each other along, they seek to refresh themselves by copious droughts of water, from which they cannot be tempted or deterred. Such is a most perfect idea of the true lover of God. He has to wage a continued war against the serpents of his evil desires. When he is nigh overcome by temptation, or by persecutions, he flies away to the mount of contemplation, bears his neighbor’s infirmities with the greatest patience, and, above all, thirsts ardently for God, from whom he will not be held back by any earthly happiness or trouble. Such was David, though a soldier; so was Paul, Peter, and the other Apostles and martyrs; such were all who felt they were, while here below, in exile, and, through good and evil days, never lost sight of that country, the supreme object of their wishes.

Ps 42:3 My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God?

He explains the meaning of “panting after God,” and why he should be so sought after. St. Chrysostom observes, that three things usually excite our love, and through it our thirst and desires; and these are the beauty of the object, favors conferred on us, and love itself, for beautiful objects almost compel one to love them; favors conferred, lead us to love the giver; and love on their part provokes mutual love. Should these three things be united in one person, that is, could there be found or imagined any one of surpassing beauty, conferring boundless favors daily on another, for whom they feel the most intense and ardent love, how could the latter possibly stand by not ardently loving the former in return? David shows here that these three things are united in God, in regard of himself; and, therefore, states that “he thirsts after him;” that is, he is inflamed by love and desire towards him. “My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God,” as the most beautiful, most noble, most excellent of all things; comprising all good, “strong,” not transitory or perishable, but permanent, everlasting. “Living,” active, intelligent, loving, pouring down continual favors on us, having great regard for us, boundless love for us. Such thirst after what is so good, so kind, so loving of me, forces me, from my whole heart, to exclaim, “When shall I come and appear before the face of the Lord?” When will there be an end to my pilgrimage, when the commencement of any joys?

Ps 42:4 My tears have been my bread day and night, whilst it is said to me daily: Where is thy God?

He that will reflect attentively on the three points already alluded to, namely, the incomprehensible beauty of God, the multitude of his favors, and the extent of his love that caused him to deliver up his only begotten Son for us, cannot but burst into tears in his desire for getting the full possession of so great a good. David seriously reflected on these points, and, he, therefore, adds, “My tears have been my bread day and night.” My tears were my only food, I lived on them day and night; that is, during the whole term of my pilgrimage, whether in the days of prosperity, or the nights of adversity, my soul not only refused to be gladdened by any earthly consolation, or to be saddened by any temporal mishap; but, at all times, my tears have been my meat and my drink. “Whilst it is said to me daily,” by the wicked and the incredulous, “Where is thy God?” that means, while I wander about daily, “seeking whom my soul loveth,” my thoughts and my spirit said to me, “Where is thy God?” all those things you have seen in your search for him are beautiful, to be sure, but not like thy God. Where, then, is your God? Where will you look for him? When will you come and see the face of your God?

Ps 42:5 These things I remembered, and poured out my soul in me: for I shall go over into the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God: With the voice of joy and praise; the noise of one feasting.

He goes on with the expression of his desires, “he poured out his soul,” which may be interpreted in three ways. First, when about to enter the wonderful tabernacle, the very house of God. I cleared, banished all earthly delights out of my soul, that I may fill it with the delights of my Lord.

Second, I extended, expanded my soul to be able to contain the immense good to be had in that wonderful tabernacle; where there is the “never failing plenty of the house of the Lord.” Third, “I poured out my soul:” rose above it in contemplation, as it is expressed in Lam. 3, “He shall sit solitary, and hold his peace; because he hath taken it upon himself.” And, in fact, in this our exile there is no more ready way of getting up to the “wonderful tabernacle,” and the actual house of God, than through our own soul, which is the image of God. It is more sublime than the heavens, and deeper than the abyss; and he who can steady his own soul and rise above it, will rise to him whose image it is, and he “will go over to the place of the wonderful tabernacle and the house of God.” To touch briefly on this ascent, let us consider: the soul is a spirit, and, therefore, far exceeds all things corporeal; and thus, God being a spirit, and the Creator, not only of bodies but of spirits, therefore, far exceeds not only bodies, but even spirits. Again, the soul, however simple and indivisible, is yet entire in the body and in all its parts; filling all the members, yet occupying none exclusively; thus, God, while he is one, and indivisible, still fills the whole world and all created things, everywhere entire, present everywhere, confined nowhere. Thirdly, the soul does not move about in the body, still carries it, guides it, governs it, quickens and enlivens it, as we see from the death of any one; for, the moment the soul departs, the body falls down at once, and in one moment loses all power of motion, sense, beauty, everything. Now, what the soul is to the body, God is to the universe; not that God is the soul of the universe, as some philosophers vainly imagined; but, because he seems to have a certain resemblance to the soul in these respects; for, while he remains fixed and unmoved in himself, “upholding all things by the word of his power,” and, “in him we live, move, and have our being.” Fourthly, the soul is intelligent, and our intellect has cognizance of all the senses, and knows many things beside, which no corporal sense can comprehend. So God is all intellect preeminently, replete with the knowledge of all men and Angels, and of infinitely more matters, far beyond our understanding. Fifthly, the soul knows many things not only in theory but even practically; hence, the endless productions of human ingenuity, in the various arts, trades, and manufactures; so exquisitely wrought as nearly to vie with nature; so also with the understanding of God, both in theory and practice, who without tools, without trouble, in a moment, by his sole word, from nothing made the universe. Sixthly, the soul is endowed with free will, and, therefore, moves the members of the body at its pleasure. Thus God, at his pleasure, governs all created things; and, therefore, David, in Psalm 119 says, “for all things serve thee.” And, not only is the soul, in its essence, the image of God, but in a remote sense it is the image of the Trinity; for there is in the soul intelligence representing the Father; knowledge derived therefrom, representing the Word of the Father; and love, springing from such intelligence, and knowledge, representing the Holy Ghost. There is also in the soul memory, intellect, and will, which, to some extent, represent the three divine Persons. “The soul then is poured in itself,” and rises over itself in contemplation, that it may be enabled to pass over to the “wonderful tabernacle;” and, therefore, the prophet adds, “for I shall go over to the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God.” By the place of the wonderful tabernacle is meant, the heavenly Jerusalem, the tabernacle in heaven not made by human hands, where the house of God is, of which he said in Psalm 27, “One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life.”—“With the voice of joy and praise, the noise of one feasting.” He tells us now, that in that ecstasy in which “he poured out his soul,” and in contemplation arrived at the site of “the wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God,” that he did not do so in silence, but in loud acclamations, in admiration, and praise, in such joy and jubilee, as those enjoying a banquet cheerful and glad, such as is meet for the soul wrapt up in contemplation of the joys of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Ps 42:6 Why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou trouble me? Hope in God, for I will still give praise to him: the salvation of my countenance,

With such spirits and mental consolation he seeks to dry up his tears, saying, “Why art thou sad, O my soul?” Why should tears be your bread day and night? Why will you by such incessant tears so “trouble me?” “Hope in God,” though you don’t see him, you so ardently long for, yet hope in him, “for I will still give praise to him;” that means, though the time has not yet come, it will come when before his face I will praise God, and declare his mercies, and say to him, “the salvation of my countenance;” that is, you are my salvation, for you brighten up my countenance by your light, and my face to behold yours, “and I will know as I am known;” and from a clear knowledge I will say, “thou art my God.”

Ps 42:7 And my God. My soul is troubled within my self: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan and Hermon, from the little hill.

He now tells the alternations of sadness and consolation that were wont to seize him; sadness, in fear of the dangers of this life; consolation, from the hope and promise of the future. “My soul is troubled within myself.” Though I told my soul “to hope in God,” yet, when I looked in upon my weakness, and the little light and strength I possess, I was seized with great fear, and “my soul was troubled;” to cure which fear and terror I said, “I will remember thee from the land of Jordan and Hermoniim, from the little hill.” I will take my eyes off myself, and fix them on you, instead of fixing my eyes on the Jordan before me; I will think of the river “that gladdens your city, and the torrent of thy pleasure,” enjoyed by those who are there with you; and from this little hill Hermoniim, before me, I will remember your holy mountain, in which you dwell with your holy Angels; and with such recollections I will console my soul and my desires. Whether Hermoniim be a different mountain from Mount Hermon is not very clear; most probably it is, for Hermoniim is here spoken of as a small, whereas Hermon was a very large mountain.

Ps 42:8 Deep calleth on deep, at the noise of thy flood-gates. All thy heights and thy billows have passed over me.

He goes on with an account of the dangers and temptations of this life, comparing them to an inundation, alluding to that of Noe. “Deep calleth on deep.” An immense mass of water came rolling over me, and the moment it passed, another came in succession, as if called by the first. And those vast inundations poured in “at the noise of thy flood gates;” with such a noise and such a clamor, as if the flood gates of heaven were opened. “All thy heights,” all the lofty breakers, “and thy billows have passed over me;” the whole inundation, the universal deluge, passed over me. He alludes, as we said before, to the general deluge, when “the cataracts of heaven were opened;” that is, the quantity of rain that fell was such that would lead one to think some cataracts in heaven were opened, and that all the water burst forth with an unheard of force and violence, from which foundation arose the great abyss, an immense depth and quantity of water. This metaphor is used here to give an idea of the great dangers and temptations to which God will sometimes expose his elect. Men such as David, truly spiritual, alone are aware of the extent and magnitude of these temptations; for it is such people only know the boundless machinations of the enemy, and how grievous a matter it is to fall away from the grace of God.

Ps 42:9 In the daytime the Lord hath commanded his mercy; and a canticle to him in the night. With me is prayer to the God of my life.

After having described the extraordinary amount of temptation endured by him, he now tells us how he was in turn relieved by the consolations he got. “In the day time the Lord hath commanded his mercy,” which means, after those inundations of waters, and those dreadful abysses had cleared away; “in the day time” of prosperity, “the Lord hath commanded his mercy” to visit and console me; “and a canticle to him in the night,” in the night of tribulation and temptation; even “his canticle” will not cease, for I will, even in the night, sing his praises, thank and glorify him. “With me is prayer to the God of my life.” My song at night shall be in the secret of my heart, speaking with it rather than with my lips, looking upon him as the source of my salvation and my life, I will say to him,

Ps 42:10 I will say to God: Thou art my support. Why hast thou forgotten me? and why go I mourning, whilst my enemy afflicteth me?
He now admires the vicissitudes of the divine providence in governing us. If, O God, thou art really “my support, why hast thou forgotten me?” How does it come to pass that I should be overwhelmed by so many temptations and tribulations, that so pour down upon me, that, though you are my hope and my strength, you seem to have forsaken me? How does it happen again, that “I go mourning whilst my enemy afflicteth me?” while you are my helper and my protector.

Ps 42:11 Whilst my bones are broken, my enemies who trouble me have reproached me; Whilst they say to me day be day: Where is thy God?
Ps 42:12 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me? Hope thou in God, for I will still give praise to him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God. 

Not only has my enemy “afflicted me” before your face, you who are “my support,” but even “whilst my bones are broken,” come to such a pitch of debility and infirmity, that I can scarce resist temptation. “My enemies who trouble me have reproached me,” asking me incessantly, “Where is thy God?” The very enemies who persecute and harass me, reproach me with the confidence I have in you, as if the confidence were of no avail, for they constantly ask, “Where is thy God?” who you boasted was “your helper and protector.” So Tobias was reproached, “where is thy hope for which thou gavest alms and buried the dead?” and again, “It is evident thy hope is come to nothing, and thy alms now appear.” So the Jews upbraided Christ on the cross, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he will.” Thus also, his incredulous enemies insulted David in his troubles, but though he was for the moment “saddened and disquieted,” he only reproved himself, saying, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me? Hope thou in God, for I will still give praise to him;” words we have already explained in verses 4 and 5 of this Psalm.

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Liturgical Bible Study Guide: 4th Sunday of Easter, Year A

Posted by carmelcutthroat on April 25, 2023

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