The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for January, 2010

Aquinas’ Advice Concerning Study

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2010

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(Completed) My Notes On Today’s Gospel (January 31, 2010)p

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2010

Readers of this post may be interested in another post on this site: Resources For Sunday Mass, January 31.

This post contains background and context for today’s Gospel reading, along with a few notes.  Please pay attention to the color coded words in paragraph’s 1, 3 and 4 as they help to establish a connection between today’s reading and previous parts of Luke.  The Scripture quotations are taken from the RSV.

Background/Context: The broader background/context for this passage is two-fold: first is the so-called infancy narrative (1:5-2:52), which situated our Blessed Lord’s divine identity within the context of his human origins and relationships.  The second consists of 3:1-4:13, which might be called “The Preparation Narrative.”   In this section Jesus’ mission is (a) set within the context of the prophetic history of the past and of his own day [3:1-22, John’s prophetic ministry fulfilling older prophecies]; (b) within the context of human history [3:23-38, the genealogy going back through Adam to God]; and (c) within the context of Israel’s battle against evil (4:1-13).

There is also, of course, a more immediate context to today’s reading, 4:1-21, which was the Gospel reading for last week’s Mass.  Note that last week’s reading ended where this week’s begins: at 4:21.

Last week’s reading, like the infancy narrative, set our Lord’s mission in the context of his human relations-His hometown and the synagogue where he was accustomed to worship.  However, the text ended (vs 21) within the context of past and present prophetic history. “Today” Jesus fulfills ancient prophecy.

This weeks reading (4:21-30) begins in the context of past and present prophetic history and relates it to the context of human history.  Luke has traced the genealogy of  our Lord back to Adam, therefore we should not be surprised to find him appealing to God’s care for people outside the confines of the Jewish race.  The reaction of our Blessed Lord’s fellow townspeople highlights the need of a savior, and the dangers of assumptions and complacency regarding the will and word of God.


4:21.  And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The phrase “he began to say” implies that he was unable to finish speaking to them because he was interrupted.  Indeed, the next 2 verses imply that the people were more intent on speculation and wonder regarding him than on his actual teaching.  Earlier in the narrative people came to John the Baptist-apparently on their own terms-and received a stinging rebuke: “Brood of vipers! who has shown you how to flee from the coming wrath?” (3:7).

There is a temptation among some who read Luke’s Gospel to merely see “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” but this-Luke’s  programmatic first episode in the Lord’s public ministry-should disabuse people of that notion.  True, our Lord does leave out the reference to “the day of vengeance of our God” from his quotation of Isaiah 61:1-2, but this is only because mercy and vengeance belong to two different time periods.  There is a time of mercy, an invitation from our God to respond to his will and word with repentance, but there is also a time  of vengeance which demands that we not treat his mercy in a fast and loose manner: “but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk 13:3.  See also 10:8-16).  We must look at “Today” Jesus speaks of (vs 21) as the day of our visitation (see Lk 19:41-44).

4:22  Is not this Joseph’s son?

We who have read the previous three chapters know the answer to this question.  Luke has already indicated that Jesus’ ministry is already well known (4:14-15), and will indicate in verse 23 that the activity of Jesus was certainly not unknown to his fellow townspeople.  They should have been prepared to break out of the narrow confines of their own assumptions…so too must we.

4:23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, `Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here also in your own country.'”

The proverb mentioned is found in various forms in both Jewish and Greek literature.  Today it is often used in response to someone who is being hypocritical, but its usage in this passage is different.  “Physician, heal yourself” stands in parallel with “what…you did at Capernuam,do also here in  your own country.”  They seem to think that their relationship with Jesus means they have a greater claim on him and, consequently, that he has a greater obligation towards them.  “(C)ure Thine own people and Thine own country, which should be as dear to Thee as Thyself; cure Thy fellow Nazarenes, as Thou hast cured the Capernamites” (Cornelius a Lapide).  The irony is that the obligation they attempt to lay upon Jesus on the basis of their relationship…this obligation they are unwilling to lay upon themselves, as the ending of the reading makes clear.  Do unto others, as you would have them do to you.  Do not demand from others what you will not demand of yourself.

4:24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.

Our Lord counters the perceived proverb of the previous verse with one of his own.  Note the irony.  Jesus came “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (vs 19) but ends up finding no acceptance among his own.  This passage points back to the prophecy of Simeon: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:34-35).  See also 11:49-50 and 13:33.

4:25-27  But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

See 1 Kings 17 and 2 Kings 5:1-14

But in truth.  Emphasizes the validity of the comparison it introduces.

We first meet Elijah in 1 Kings 17 when he encounters a pagan widow who places faith in the words of the prophet, spoken in the name of “the Lord, the God of Israel” (1 Kings 17:14).  She stands in marked contrast to most of the prophet’s own people who were worshiping Baal, and who needed to see a miracle in order to return to their God (1 Kings 18).  But even with this it seems their return was short lived (1 Kings 19:1-10).

4:28-30 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.  And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But passing through the midst of them he went away.

The eyes of all in the synagogue had been on Jesus (vs 20), and all had spoken well of Him (vs 22), now all are filled with wrath and seek to kill him.  Thus at the very beginning of his narration of our Lord’s public ministry, Luke foreshadows His passion and resurrection.

And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong.

Contrasts with the “heal thyself” proverb and emphasizes the proverb about a prophet being unacceptable among his own.  As noted earlier, this relates to the theme of Simeon’s prophecy; likewise, it prepares for Our Lord’s teaching about what his followers will encounter: Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three;  they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Lk 12:51-53)

The [New] Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted. Notice of copyright must appear on the title or copyright page of the work as follows:

“Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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Aquinas’ Sermon Notes On The Epistle For Septuagesima Sunday

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 30, 2010

To see many other resources for this Sunday’s Mass (January 31, 2010), go here.

Sunday, January 31 2010 is Septuagesima Sunday according to the Extraordinary form of the rite. The Epistle reading in this Rite is 1 Cor 9:24-10:5.  Very few of St Thaoms Aqunas’ sermons have survived, however, about 100 of his sermon notes have come down to us, including the one below on the Epistle reading just mentioned.  The points covered in these notes can be used for meditation and further study.


So run, that ye may obtain~1 Cor 9:24.

The Apostle sets before us two things in this Epistle.  Firstly, he exhorts us to run-“run.”  Secondly, he points out the end of running-“that ye may obtain.”

I.  On the first head it is to be noted that the course to be run is threefold [nature, sin, grace].

(1) The first is the course of nature-“My days are swifter than a post” i.e., a runner, sprinter, (Job 9:25).  “Their course is evil” (Jer 23:10).  “I therefore run not as uncertainly” (1 Cor 9:26).

The course of nature is threefold, for naturally the creature runs in a threefold way.  Firstly, they run in serving men-“Swift is the sun in his course” (Ezra 4:34), for it travels in order that it may serve man.  Secondly, in punishing the wicked- “The water of the sea shall rage against them, and the rivers shall run together in a terrible manner: a mighty wind shall stand up against them, and as a whirlwind shall divide them”  (Wis 5:25).  Creatures were naturally created to punish those who rebelled against their Creator-“For the creature serving Thee, the Creator, is made fierce  against the unjust for their punishment” (Wis 26:24).  Thirdly, they hasten in having aimed at nothing, when the creatures, who are naturally from nothing by themselves, strain after nothing.  St Austin asks, “What is the present life save a kind of passage to death?”

(2)  The course of sin is likewise threefold.

Firstly, the course of pride-“He hath run against him with his neck raised up, and is armed with a fat neck” (Job 15:26 Vulg.).  Secondly, of avarice-“Their feet run to evil” (PRov 1:16).  It is said of the covetous, “When thou sawest a theif, thou consented with him” (Ps 50:18).  Thirdly, of luxury-“I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart snares and nets, and her hands as bands” (Eccles 7:26).  As sheep are led to the slaughter, so are men by luxury.

(3)  The course of grace is likewise threefold.

Firstly, a course of doctrine-“I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that Gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain” (Gal 2:2).  Secondly, of mercy-“Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good…and set it before them” (Gen 18:7-8).  Thirdly, of perseverance-“I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Tim 4:7).

II.  On the second head it is to be noted that the end of running so as to gain the reward implies three conditions.  (1) we must run cautiously, lest we fall or tumble down into the pitfall of sin-“See that ye walk circumspectly” (Eph 5:15).  (2) we must run quickly, lest another overtakes us, or lest we should become torpid through sloth-“Let us labor to enter into this rest” (Heb 4:11).  (3) We must run perseveringly, so that we forsake not the course, nor fail of well-doing–“He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt 19:13).  Patience is chiefly needed to enable us to persevere, and to bear all the troubles which come upon us in this world-“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus” (Heb 12:1).

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(Updated/Corrected)January 31: Resources For Sunday Mass, Both forms of the Rite

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 30, 2010

Note: this post contains links to resources relating to BOTH the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite (i.e., “the Novo Ordo,” the “Mass of Vatican II”) and the Extraordinary Form (i.e., “The Latin Mass.”  All resources in English).  Concerning the two forms see here.

Correction: In the Extraordinary Form of the Rite this Sunday is Septuagesima Sunday, not the 4th Sunday after Epiphany.  I’ve corrected the links.

Ordinary FormFourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

ReadingsNew American Bible.

Readings With Haydock CommentaryReadings of the Douay-Rheims Translation followed by the Haydock Commentary .

Sunday Gospel Scripture StudyExcellent!  Online video, 55 minutes.  The Following notations were posted with this weeks presentation: Msgr. Mueggenborg introduces today’s Scripture Study as the Third Sunday. He misspoke. He is discussing the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Navarre Bible Commentary.  Includes RSVCE translation:

Prepare For MassMostly short musical and inspirational videos related to the readings.

Word Sunday.  Site contains more resources than those listed below.

  • FIRST READING In the first chapter of Jeremiah, YHWH commissioned the prophet to speak to the people without fear. In prophecy, he would be rejected, but his words would stand strong.
  • PSALM Psalm 71 was a prayer for the elderly. As the strength of youth slips away, the elderly only has its wisdom and honor. Friends and family might fade away, but God would always be present and faithful.
  • SECOND READING In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul defined the Church in terms of what will last: charity.
  • GOSPEL Luke presented Jesus as the successful son who returned home. But, when Jesus announced the fulfillment of Scripture about the Messiah and pointed that fulfillment towards himself, the people of Nazareth turned against him. Even their rejection, according to Luke, confirmed his status as the Christ.

Lector NotesProvides brief summaries of the readings followed by short but useful explanations of the historical and theological or liturgical setting.  Also provides brief suggestions on how a lector should “proclaim” (i.e., read) the text.  Printed, the content could serve as a handout inserted into the parish bulletin or for discussion groupsSite includes links to the readings according to the Jerusalem Bible Translation.

My Notes On Today’s Gospel.

Working With The WordConnects first reading with Gospel.

Thoughts From The Early ChurchExcerpt From St Cyril of Alexandria.

Scripture In DepthGives a good treatment of connection between the readings.

Sunday Bible Reflection.  3 minute audio by Dr Scott Hahn.  As usual, he does a good job of bringing out the common or related theme(s) of the readings.

Extraordinary FormSeptuagesima Sunday.  Note that the readings of the EF are not the same as the OF.

Online Missal For 4th Sunday After Epiphany.

Devout Instructions On the Epistle And GospelContains all that the previous link has, along with commentary, reflections.

Homily On The EpistlePrefaced by Epistle reading.

Homily On The GospelFollows previous homily.  refaced by Gospel reading.

Pope St Gregory On The GospelPrefaced by Gospel.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Sermon Notes On the EpistleFor meditation and further study.

The following links contain outlines for sermons based upon the Epistle and Gospel reading.  The points put forth in these outlines can be used for meditation or study.

God Favors His PeopleOn the Epistle.

The Three Enemies Of The SoulOn the Epistle.

The Call To God’s ServiceOn the Gospel.

The Unequal Distribution Of God’s GiftsOn the Gospel.  Note: the text uses the word “penny,” Bible translations may use another word, such as “denarius.”

Posted in Audio/Video Lectures, Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Ralph McInerny (1929-2010) Rest In Peace (UPDATED)

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 29, 2010

Catholic Philosopher and novelist Ralph McInerny has died.  First Things has a wonderful tribute posted here.  One of the most popular posts I ever produced was this one, which is a collection of videos featuring excerpts of Dr. McInerny speaking on various philosophical subjects.

His Wikipedia Biography can be read here.

His Book A History Of Western Philosophy can be read online here.

A short article Aquinas On Divine Omnipotence.

A somewhat longer article: Natural Law And Human Rights.

Video Excerpt: Newman and Kierkegaard.

Lecture Notes: Introduction To St Thomas Aquinas.

Lecture Notes: Metaphysics.

Lecture Notes: Ancient and Medieval Philosophy.

Lecture Notes: Newman and Kierkegaard.

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Podcast: Does “Nature” Have Rights?

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 29, 2010

Can trees, rivers and dogs bring lawsuits?  Ecuador and about a dozen US municipalities think so.  This 5 minute podcast comes from Wesley J. Smith of the Secondhand Smoke blog, hosted by First Things.

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More Stuff On The State Of The Union

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2010

As I noted in a previous post the AP did a fact check on some of the claims the President made in his speech last night.  Some “facts” however didn’t get “checked”.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “By the time I took office, we had a one year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door.”

Noel Sheppherd of NewsBusters begs to differ.

President Obama:  Last Week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests-including foreign companies-to spend without limit in our elections.”

The Reality:  The ruling had nothing to do with federal election laws concerning foreign entities a fact recognized by David Kirkpatrick on the New York Times blog THE CAUCUS.  Linda Greenhouse a Pulitzer Prize winning author who was on the New York Times Supreme Court beat for 20 years also notes the error.  Of course, both these authors mitigate the President’s action.  Greenhouse called his words “imprecise” and Kirkpatrick wrote: “The president appeared to have mischaracterized the Supreme Court’s decision…”

And while I’m on the subject (more or less) of the NYT, be sure to check out Paul Krugman’s take on Obama’s “spending freeze” proposal.

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Resources For The Memorial Of St Thomas Aquinas

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2010

The following have all been previously posted on this site.  I may update this post this afternoon or evening.  Other resources can be found in the link field under this blog’s header and in the left-hand sidebar.

Online: The Cambridge Companion To Aquinas, Plus A Video Lecture

Aquinas: On Being and Essence

Audio Lectures From Christendom College (Updated)

Videos: Introduction To St Thomas Aquinas’ Metaphysics

Videos: Ralph McIrnerry On Aquinas, Metaphysics, and Morality

Videos: Anthony Kenny On Aquinas And Medieval Philosophy

Devout Commentary On EphesiansA devotional work base upon Aquinas’ commentary.

An Introduction To The Philosophy Of St Thomas Aquinas.

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First Responses To Obama’s Address

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2010

If you want the progressive response you can just tune into one of the Obama news networks (i.e., any major outlet NOT Fox News).  The AP does have up a fact check on Obama’s speech, but they will not follow it us, and the ONN’s will not carry it.

Keep in mind that most of these were posted during/immediately after the speech, some are background to the speech.


Not The Change America Wanted. Editorial piece by Clifford Orwin.

When Conventional Liberalism Fails, What NextCommentary by Jennifer Rubin (haven’t read it yet).


Heritage Foundation Response. I suspect that in the coming days that the Heritage Foundation blog, THE FOUNDRY, will have a great deal of insightful commentary and critique.

NewsBusters Live ChatMostly brief quips from regular people.  In coming days NB’s will be posting on the media’s handling (read “selling”) of the speech.

Gateway Pundit.  Several posts are up.  The first is rather lengthy post consisting of some introductory material followed by the author’s live time responses to various parts of the speech. The second deals with the Republican response.

Red State.  Takes on this statement from the speech (which even I knew was crap): “And that’s why we’ve excluded lobbyists from policy-making jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions.

The Anchoress.  She has a couple of posts up.  The first includes her live time responses during the speech.  Her second post includes mostly links to other responses.  Be sure to check out her link “Justice Alito mouthed ‘not true.'”

Michelle MalkinOpen ThreadSub-heading of the post is: Blame the lobbyists!  Fund high-speed rail boondoggles! Spending freeze plan met with near-silence, laughter; disses SCOTUS in front of SCOTUS.

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Notes On John 1:19-28 (Nolan and Brown)

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2010

Notes in red are mine.  For previous notes click on the “Notes On John” link below the blog’s title, or go here.

1:19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and levites to him, to ask him : Who art thou ?
Et hoc est testimonium loannis, quando miserunt ludaei ab Jerosolymis sacerdotes et Levitas ad eum, ut interrogarenteum : Tu quis es ?

The Evangelist now records, with its various circumstances, one of the most solemn testimonies borne by the Baptist to Christ. The “Jews” are probably the Sanhedrim, whose duty it was to inquire into the credentials of preachers. The deputation was, therefore, a most solemn one, sent by the Sanhedrim, from the Jewish capital, composed of Priests and Levites, to make inquiries regarding a momentous question.
1:20   And he confessed, and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.
Et confessus est, et non negavit: et confessus est: Quia non sum ego Christus.

The Baptist first confesses what he is not, and what many at the time believed him to be, namely, the Christ (Luke iii. 15).  Note the solemn and insistent nature of the disavowal: “he confessed, and did not deny: and he confessed…”  The Baptist did not come preaching himself, or in his own name (see Jn 5:32-35, 43).  The word “confess” (homologeo) occurs only two other times in this gospel, at 9:22 and 12:42.  These two latter verses deal with a fear of confessing Jesus becuase of the possibility of persecution.  The Baptist’s refusal here to identify himself as the Christ should be seen as an example of not seeking glory. Also, a refusal to confess who Jesus is should be seen as a seeking after glory in some sense: “Even so, many of the authorities believed in Him, but out of fear of the pharisees they did not confess it, so as not to be put out of the synagogue.  They loved the praise of man more than the praise of God” (12:42-43).
1:21. And they asked him: What then ? Art thou Elias (Elijah)? And he said:I am not.  Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No.
Et interrogaverunt eum: Quid ergo?  Elias es tu? Et dixit: Non sum.  Propheta es tu? Et respondit: Non.

Art thou Elias? This question arose from a misunderstanding of Mal 4:5 (3:23 in some translations). Art thou the prophet? as foretold by Moses (Deut 18:15). These interrogators evidently regarded “the prophet” as different from theMessias, though in reality they were the same. See Acts 3:22-24.

1:22  They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself?
Dixerunt ergo ei: Quis es, ut responsum demus his qui miserunt nos? quid dicis de teipso?

Throughout this Gospel the same demand will be made of our Blessed Lord: What do you have to say for yourself?  Who do you claim to be?  Note the insistence of the priests and levites that the Jerusalem officials who sent them must have an answer from John concerning himself.  At several points later in the Gospel, the Jerusalem authorities will deliberately try to avoid having an answer to the questions about Jesus (see 8:12-59; 9:35-10:39).

1:23  He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias.
Ait: Ego vox clamantis in deserto: Dirigite viam Domini, sicut dixit Isaias propheta.

The Baptist with striking humility replies that he is merely a voice, a passing
sign yet that voice spoken of by Isaias, which was to call upon men to prepare their hearts to receive Christ. The Hebrew of Isaias may be rendered: “The voice of one that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord (Jehovah), make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”  Or, as is more
probable from the Hebrew parallelism: “The voice of one that crieth: Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”  The Baptist, in applying to himself this prophetic
passage, which is also applied to him by the three Synoptic Evangelists (Matt 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4), gives merely the substance of the original.  It is disputed whether Isaias refers in the literal sense to preparing the roads by which the people should return from the Babylonian Captivity, and only in the mystical sense to the preparation for the Messias, or directly and literally to the preparation for the Messias.  The latter seems the more probable view. At any rate the words as applied here mean that the Baptist is the voice to which Isaias referred (in some sense literal or mystical), and that the burden of his cry in the desert of Judea is, that men who heard him in the desert should prepare their hearts for Christ.

The language is metaphorical, and alludes to the custom prevalent in those days of sending forward couriers to get the roads ready for advancing princes.

1:24  And they that were sent were of the Pharisees.
Et qui missi fuerant, erant ex Pharisaeis.

The Pharisees were a sect among the Jews, so called according to some from their founder, Pharos, or more probably,  perhaps, from the Hebrew verb “pharash,” to separate, as though they were separated from and above ordinary men, owing to their strict observance of the Law. Yet thev held many erroneous tenets: thus (1) They relied for God s favour upon their carnal descent from Abraham. (2) They taught that no oath was binding in
which the name of God or the gold of the temple was not expressly invoked. (3) That internal sins were not forbidden; and (4) some of their schools admitted the right of arbitrary divorce. See Matt 5:33-36; 19:3; 23.

The New American Bible translates 1:24 as “Now some pharisees had also been sent.”  See footnote #18 to verse 24 here for the reason.

1:25 And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet?
Et interrogaverunt eum, et dixerunt ei: Quid ergo baptizas, si tu non es Christus, neque Elias, neque propheta?

Being Pharisees, and therefore versed in the Law, they knew from Ezeck 36:25, and Zach 13:1, that in the time of the Messias there was to be a baptism unto the remission of sins.  They concluded, then, that only the Messias, or some of those that were to accompany Him, could confer this baptism; and, not understanding the import of the Baptist s answer, verse 23, in which he really declared himself the herald of Christ’s coming, they ask why he presumes to baptize.

1:26  John answered them, saying: I baptize with water; but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not.
Respondit eis loannes, dicens: Ego baptize in aqua: medius autem vestrum stetit, quern vos nescitis.

The Baptist answers that his is not the baptism foretold by the Prophets, which was to cleanse the sinner, but as he had declared at the beginning
of his preaching, a baptism unto penance (Matt 3:21).  John s baptism consisted in an ablution of the body, accompanied by the profession of a
penitential spirit, preparatory to the coming of Him who was to baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire (Matt 3:11).  It could in no sense be said to remit sin; while the baptism of Christ really remits sin (Acts 3:38). Hence the
Council of Trent defined: “Si quis dixerit baptismum Joannis habuisse eamdem vim cum baptismo Christi anathema sit.” (Sess. 7, Can. 1. De Bapt).

There hath stood; rather there standeth, the perfect of this verb having a
present signification.  Many authorities indeed read the later present (στηκει).   The meaning is not that our Lord was then actually present in the
crowd, else St. John would probably have pointed him out, as he did on the following day (v. 29), but that He was already present among the Jewish people, was already living among them.

1:27  The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose sandal I am not worthy to loose.
Ipse est qui post me venturus est, qui ante me factus est: cuius ego non sum dignus ut solvam eius corrigiam calceamenti.

Many authorities omit the words: “The same is,” and also: “who is preferred
before me,” and then connect with the preceding thus: “But there hath stood One in the midst of you whom you know not, even He that shall come (rather, that cometh) after me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose.”  It is not easy to explain why the words are wanting in so many MSS., if they were written by St John; certainly it is easier to believe that they were inserted by some scribe to bring the verse into closer resemblance to 15 and 30.

In the latter part of the verse, the Baptist declares himself unworthy to perform the lowest menial service for Christ.  To loose the sandals of their masters was the business of slaves; yet for even such service to Christ the
great Prophet confesses him self unfit.

1:28  These things were done in Bethania beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Haec in Bethania facta sunt trans Iordanem, ubi erat Ioannes baptizans.

Bethania, here mentioned, was situated in Peraea, east of the Jordan, and must be carefully distinguished from the town of the same name, in which Lazarus lived, about two miles east of Jerusalem, but west of the Jordan. Many ancient authorities read Bethabara, instead of Bethania.  Origen, though admitting that nearly all the MSS of his time read Bethania, changed it, on topographical grounds, for Bethabara, in his edition of our Gospel.  Bethania, according to some, means the house of a ship while Bethabara means the house of a ferry-boat; so that, perhaps, they may have been different names for the same place on the Jordan.~Nolan And Brown

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