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 March 15th, 2010

Bernardine de Picquigny on Philippians 3:8-14 for the 5th Sunday in Lent

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 15, 2010

To view many other online resources for this Sunday’s Mass, including bible studies, click here.

Bernardine de Picquigny (1633-1709) was a Capuchin Monk, theologian and exegete.

3:7  But the things which were gain to me, these I judged to be loss on account of Christ.
3:8  And indeed I consider all things loss on account of the eminent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord: for whose sake I have made all things loss, and consider them as refuse, that I may gain Christ,

The things that were gain to me, all these privileges of Jewish religion and nationality, on which I once set so high a value, appeared to me, not only worthless, contemptible, and insignificant, as soon as I knew Jesus Christ, but actually loss and injury, as keeping me away from him, and from the faith which was to unite me with him.  And not these things only, but all things which this world contains or offers, its wealth, distinction, even life itself, appeared to me worse than worthless, positive evils which it were desirable to be rid of, compared with the eminent knowledge, in the Greek excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.  And to attain this knowledge I have, in actual fact, made all things loss, or lost all things, thrown away all advantages, prospects, privileges in present enjoyment, dreams of ambition for the future-and the worldly prospects of St Paul were of a singularly brilliant kind, as will be evident to any reader of the Acts of the Apostles, and his change of faith so disappointed and embittere his fellow-countrymen that they sought his life, with the utmost resolution and pertinacity, for years together-and counted them as merely refuse.  The Greek word σκύβαλον is said to be derived from εἰς κύων βάλλω, food which is only good to be thrown to dogs.   The Vulgate has stercora, dung or filth, which is worse than refuse, for it defiles and pollutes, occasions sickening and disgust.  But the Greek writers, Photius and Theodoret, understand by this word straw, and think the Apostle is referring to the Judaic law, which became useless and was thrown aside, when Christ, the grain which it produced, was threshed out of it.  Photius says: The stalk and the blade are necessary, until the wheat is formed in it, and taken from it, and as long as Christ, the real grain of wheat, was not yet born, and still lay concealed in the husk, the law had its use.  But when, through his passion and resurrection, the grain was gathered, and by his ascension on high, laid up in his heavenly Father’s granary, the stalk was henceforth useless, except to be trodden into straw.  St Chrysostom admits this interpretation as possible, but thinks it more probable that the Apostle is speaking, not of the law, but of earthly riches, power, influence, and similar advantages, which, compared to the knowledge of Christ, are vain, unsatisfying, valueless, and useless, and not goods in any real sense whatever.  That I may gain Christ. To gain Christ is to gain his grace, his justice, the participation of his merits in this life, the enjoyment of his presence in eternity.  To gain this also, in measure, in this life, by communion with him and confidence in his care and love.

3:8  And indeed I consider all things loss on account of the eminent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord: for whose sake I have made all things loss, and consider them as refuse, that I may gain Christ,

3:9  and be found in him, not having my justice which is of the law, but that which is of faith of Christ Jesus; which is from God, justice in faith.

And be found in him, exist or find myself in him, belonging to him as a member of the body of which he is the head.  Or else, be found in him at the judgment of the last day.  Not having my justice, or more literally, justice of my own, that which proceeds from knowledge and observance of the law, without the spirit of faith and grace; but having the justice which comes through faith of Christ.  The name Jesus in here omitted in the Greek, but inserted in the Vulgate.  The justice which begins with justification or remission of sins, and proceeds to the sanctification of soul and body through the grace of the Holy Spirit.  This is the only justice which can avail salvation, because it is the justice which comes from God, and proceeds from the grace of God, in faith, or as the Greek text has it, upon faith, built upon the foundation of faith in Christ.  The justice of the law, the justice of the Pharisees, was human and external only, founded exclusively in works and obedience within the compass of the natural powers of man and subject to human observation.  This can justify only politically,, and in the sight of man, not in the sight of God.  Such exterior justice as this, St Paul calls Justice of my own, because it proceeds from merely human choice, power, or resolution.  It is not Christian justice, for the law is observed neither in the spirit of Christ, or by faith in Christ.

3:10  To know him, and the virtue of his resurrection, and the association with his sufferings; being made like his death:

To know him, and the virtue of his resurrection. These words are joined by St Chrysostom and Theodoret to those which immediately precede.  The justice of God proceeds from the faith by which Christ is known, and the power of his resurrection understood, and a share in his sufferings communicated to the believer.  But they are more conveniently understood as the continuation of what was said in verse 8.  I count all earthly things as valueless and worse, for the knowledge of Christ, to be found in him, and to know him.  To know who he is, how great he is, what he is like.  That he is God and man, the only Savior of  the world.  This  speculatively.  Practically, to know him, as the soul of one man knows the soul of another, as a child knows its parents, as friend knows friend, by personal acquaintance and interchange of thought and sentiment.  This knowledge does not, however, necessarily lead to salvation, for there must be a corresponding disposition or goodwill in the receiver.  Judas knew Christ intimately, and did not love him.  Evil spirits said, We know who thou art, the Holy of God.  Another said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know, (Acts 19:15).  To St Paul, this knowledge appeared the only object which made existence worth having.  But he was not satisfied with such knowledge of Christ as the Apostles possessed during his mortal life.  He had seen him, for a moment, in the glory of the life of the resurrection, and the desire of his heart was to penetrate the mystery of that immortal life in which Christ lives for ever, and learn the secret of its undying strength, undecaying energy, unceasing vigor, indescribable beauty, gladness, and splendor.  To know him, and the power of his resurrection. But in the nature of that life itself, there was something that showed that it was only attained through suffering, and suffering of which only the perfect nature of Christ was capable.  This suffering, therefore, the Apostle earnestly desired to share, so far as imperfect mortality could share it.  Being made like his death.  Conformed or configured to his death; my own life a representation of acting over again the suffering and death of Christ.  The suffering and death of Christ turned into, or developed into, the joy of the resurrection, as night turns to morning, and all sorrow, generously borne, will turn to joy.  All suffering which was like the suffering of Christ, the Apostle was willing, and much more than willing, to encounter, if by such means, and that he was to be in the nature of things, and by God’s economy the only means, he could attain to that glorious state and condition in which Christ had appeared to him. 

3:11  If in any way I may arrive at the resurrection which is from the dead.

If by any means I can arrive at the resurrection from the dead.  And the glory of that vision, and the attractions of that thought, so filled his imagination and overwhelmed his heart, that compared with it all the riches of the world, all the renown and fame of its greatest men, the splendor of all the kingdoms of the earth, appeared of no more value in his sight than the glimmer of the rushlight in the blaze of the noon-day sun.

The expression if in any way appears to indicate some uncertainty and some difficulty.  In 1 Cor 9:27 St Paul expresses the fear that after having preached to others, he may himself be reprobate.  Yet St Paul, on the testimony of Christ himself, was a vessel of election (Acts 9:15).  The inference is, in opposition to the doctrine of Calvin, that God’s election does not make the final attainment of the glory of the resurrection a matter of absolute certainty.  The Greek word here used for resurrection is ἐξανάστασις, a resurrection complete and final, glorious and heavenly, to be followed by no decay or death.  To this great end we are conducted through two means, faith in Christ, and conformity with his sufferings.  The first renders us fervent in affection, and raises us already, in desire and hope.  The second will endow us with the merits of Christ, and renders us worthy of our glorious destiny.  These are the two wings on which we are to rise from  earth to heaven.

3:12  Not that already I have received, or am already made perfect: but I follow if by any means I may lay hold of that in which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

Not that I have already received the prize at which I aim, or reached the goal to which my course is directed.  But Christ, when he appeared to me on the road to Damascus, took me as it were by the hand and placed me on the course, with that prize full in view, and all my efforts and exertions ever since are directed to attain and lay hold of it.  He caught me in his net, says Theodoret, I was a fugitive, and he seized me.  Now I follow him, striving to lay hold on him, lest I fall away from his salvation.

Neither am I already perfect.  This verse probably refers to another error of the heretics which the Apostle more distinctly formulates in 2 Tim 2:18.  Hymenæus and Philetus asserted that the resurrection is past already, and no further change is to be looked for, the saints of God being already made perfect.  Some of the Christians of Philippi may have been puzzled by this opinion, especially if it was advanced cautiously and tentatively, and with less confidence than was displayed by Hymenæus and Philetus seven years later, and the Apostle here expressly contradicts it.

3:13  Brethren, I consider not myself to have laid hold: but one thing, forgetting what is indeed behind, but stretching myself out to those things which are before,

I do not regard myself as having already laid hold on the reward of eternal life.  One thing absorbs all my energies, faculties, endeavors.  I do not regard, or recall, or regret what I have surrendered and sacrificed for Christ.  I do not dwell on what I have already done or suffered for His sake.  But I stretch out my hands, and use my feet, extend my hopes and desires, labor, suffer, and serve God, for that which is before me.  This was the crown of martyrdom, the great object of his ambition and longing.

3:14  I follow on to the destined end, to the prize of the calling of God that is above, in Christ Jesus.

I press onward to the mark, destination, the prize of life eternal at the resurrection from the dead, the call from heaven to rise to heaven.  The call is from God, the answer on my part is my faith in Christ.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on Philippians, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

My Notes on Isaiah 43:16-21 for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 15, 2010

To see many online resources for this Sunday’s Mass click here (link updated 3-14-2013).


Isaiah is commonly divided into three major parts know as First Isaiah, or Proto-Isaiah (1-39); Second Isaiah or Deutero-Isaiah (40-55); and Third Isaiah or Trito-Isaiah (56-66).  This Sunday’s reading is taken from Second Isaiah which “has for its theme the deliverance of Jewish exiles from Babylonian oppression which Yahweh will effect in the immediate future through his chosen instrument, Cyrus. The argument frequently takes the form of a judicial contest between Yahweh and the pagan deities. As in the past so also in the present Yahweh alone predicts and performs. The idols know nothing and do nothing. The work is divided into two parts, 40:1-49:13 and 49:14-55:13. In the first the prophet addresses himself to Jacob and Israel, in the second to Sion and Jerusalem. The new exodus from Babylon is celebrated in both parts but the future glories of Sion in the second replace the exploits of Cyrus and the fall of Babylon in the first. The unity of plan is remarkable and makes it easy to recognize that the four poems on the Servant of Yahweh, 42:1-7; 49:1-9a; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12, are a subsequent addition, composed apparently by the author but inserted by a redactor. They depict the future Messias, not as king and conqueror, but as worker and sufferer. The first two Servant songs interrupt very evidently the context of prophecies in which they were unskilfully inserted. The last two were located more naturally between separate prophecies with which however they have no connexion: (Catholic Commentary On Holy Scripture).

Today I’ll be using the RSV, see the copyright notice at the end of the post.

16 Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, 17 who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: 18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 20 The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21 the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

Introduces three major themes of Second Isaiah: (1) that God is the powerful creator who keeps creation at his beck and call; (2) That He is the savior of His people who will (3) lead them back from Exile as He had once led them to freedom in the Exodus.

God had warned His people that if they did not obey His covenant in the Promised Land they would be exiled (Deut 28:58-69).  This threat was fulfilled in part, in 722 BC when the northern Kingdom of Israel was taken into exile by Assyria; and fulfilled completely in 587 BC when the southern Kingdom of Judah was exiled into Babylon (see 2 Kings 17 and 2 Chronicles 36:15-21).

The punishment of exile was meant to be medicinal, in order to lead the people to repentance (see Deut 30).  According to Isaiah 40:2 the Exile has had its effect, and so God has initiated a new Exodus (40:3-5; 42:), whereby He manifests his power as both Creator and Savior (40:12-17), and this in marked contradiction to the useless gods of the Pagans (40:18-31).

17.  who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick.  What God once did to the army of Pharaoh (Ex 14:1-15:21) He will again do to the oppressors of His repentant people.  Note the present tense of the words, this indicates that God is always ready to unleash His saving power upon those who repent (see the previously referred to text of Deut 30.  Also, recall the parable of the Prodigal Son from last Sunday’s Gospel reading).

18.  Remember not the former things &c.  19. Behold, I am doing a new thing &c. As the Protestant Commentators Keil and Delitzsch put it:  “for the redemption out of Egypt was a type and pledge of the deliverance to be looked for out of Babylon. The participles must not be rendered qui dedit, eduxit; but from the mighty act of Jehovah in olden time general attributes are deduced: He who makes a road in the sea, as He once showed. The sea with the tumultuous waters is the Red Sea.”

20 The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21 the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.  These words recall the opening prophecy of the Book of Isaiah (1:2-3): “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: ‘Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.  The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand.’ ”  The attitude of the people towards God has changed as a result of His punishment and His grace, and so, therefore, the lot of the people has been changed by God as well.

RSV Copyright Notice:

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.”

Posted in Bible, Catholic, liturgy, NOTES ON ISAIAH, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Notes on John 8:46-59 for Passion Sunday, March 21st (Extraordinary Form of the Rite)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 15, 2010

In the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite the fifth Sunday of Lent is called Passion Sunday.  For information on the two forms of the Roman Rite see here.

This Sunday, in both forms of the Rite, the Gospel reading is taken from the 8th chapter of St John.  In the Ordinary Form the reading is 8:1-11 and I’ve already published two posts on it; see here and here.  The Following notes on 8:46-59 are taken from Cornelius a Lapide, a famed Jesuit scholar.  Being a bit pressed for time I have not inserted the biblical text into the commentary, so you may wish to have a bible with you as you read through the post. All resources for this Sunday’s Mass will be found on this page, but most of the content wont be available until later in the week (Thurs. or Fri.).

Ver. 46.—Which of you, &c. This is to anticipate an objection of the Jews. For they might say, “We do not believe thee, because thou art a violater of our law, in healing the sick on the Sabbath-day.” Produce any other charge against Me, and I will submit to your disbelieving Me. My healing on the Sabbath was not a violation, but a sanctification of the Sabbath. I leave any further charge to be decided by you who are my sworn enemies. So confident was Christ in His innocence that no one could lay anything to His charge which bore the slightest resemblance to sin. For He was Himself sinless, both on account of the Beatific Vision which He enjoyed, as the Blessed in heaven are incapable of sin for the same reason (for seeing God to be the Supreme Good, they necessarily love Him with all their strength, and hate whatever displeases Him) and likewise from the hypostatical union with the Word. For because His humanity existed in the Person of the Word, the Word kept His humanity free from all sin, and in perfect holiness. For if the humanity of Christ had sinned, the Person of the Word would have sinned; which is impossible. For virtuous or vicious actions relate to persons, and are attributed to them. Hence S. Ambrose (on Ps. xl. 13) brings in God the Father thus addressing Christ, “Thou wert conversant with sinners, Thou didst take on Thee the sins of all, Thou wast made sin for all, but yet no practice of sin could reach Thee. Thou didst dwell among men, as if among angels, Thou madest earth to be like heaven, that even there also Thou mightest take away sin.”
If I say the truth, &c. He here shuts out another objection of the Jews. For they could have said, We believe Thee not, not for any sin which Thou hast committed, but because the things Thou sayest and teachest are not true.” Christ meets the. objection by saying, “I have proved to you My doctrine by so many arguments and miracles, that no prudent person who is not blinded by hatred could question its perfect truth. If then My life is most innocent, and My doctrine most true, why do ye not believe Me?” Receive then the truth not as a bare assertion, but as demonstrated by reason.
Ver. 47.—He that is of God, &c. He here assigns the true reason for the unbelief of the Jews, because they were born not of God, but of the devil; that is, ye do not listen to the spirit and instinct of God, but of the devil. For the devil has blinded your hearts with covetousness, hatred, and envy of Me. And ye therefore listen not to the words of God which I, who am sent from Him, announce to you, because ye will not hear and understand them. Because then ye are not the children of God who is true, but of the devil who is a liar, ye listen to his lying suggestions, but will not give a hearing to the true words of God which are uttered by Me.
Moreover S. Augustine and S. Gregory (Hom. xviii.) understand these words of the elect and reprobate. He who is predestinated and elected hears the words of God, ye hear them not because ye are reprobate. But this is not the literal and genuine sense of the word, but merely an adapted one. For as Toletus and Maldonatus observe, many of those who at that time did not believe in Christ afterwards believed at the preaching of S. Peter and the Apostles; and on the other hand, some who then believed in Christ afterwards fell away from the faith, and became reprobates (see Joh_6:67).
Lastly, the Manichees inferred wrongly from the passage (as S. Augustine asserts) that some men are good by their own nature, as created by the good God, but others are naturally evil, as created by the evil principle.
Morally:—S. Gregory infers thus from this saying of Christ: “Let each one ask himself if he takes in the word of God with the ear of his heart, and he will understand whence it is. The truth bids us long for the heavenly country, to crush the desires of the flesh, to shun the glory of the world, not to covet others’ goods, to be liberal with one’s own. Let each one of you consider with himself if this voice of God has prevailed in the ear of his heart, and he will acknowledge that it is from God.” And just below, “There are some who willingly listen to the words of God so as to be moved by compunction even to tears, but who after their tears go back again to their sin. And these assuredly hear not the words of God, because they scorn to carry them out in deed.” Hence S. Gregory infers that it is a mark of divine predestination if a man obeys the holy inspirations of God, and of reprobation if he rejects them (see Pro_1:24). And Joh_10:27, “My sheep hear My voice.” They who hear the voice of Christ their Shepherd are saved, they who hear not are devoured by the devil. So too Christ says plainly, “Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luk_11:25). And S. Bernard (Serm. 1, in Septuag.) tells his monks that the greatest proof of predestination is the profitable hearing of the word of God. For it was their constant food, by reading and meditation and prayer, to examine whatever proceeds from the mouth of God, and to fulfil it in their lives.
Ver. 48.—The Jews answered and said, &c. They used to say it, though it is written nowhere else. But why did they call Him a Samaritan? (1.) Because He associated with the Samaritans. (2.) Because He came from Galilee, which was near Samaria. (3.) Because the Samaritans were partly Jews and partly Gentiles, and Christ seemed to them to be the same as bringing in a new faith and religion; and He thus seemed to be mixing up the traditions of the elders with the Gospel. (4.) And lastly, because He seemed to be making a schism, like the Samaritans. A Samaritan was, moreover, a term of reproach.
And has a devil. (1.) Because they said He cast out devils through Beelzebub, the chief of the devils. (2.) Because He made Himself God, transferring to Himself the glory due to God, as Lucifer strove to do. So Leontius. Our Lord so understood it, and answered, “I seek not My own glory.” (3.) Thou art mad, like lunatics, and those possessed with devils (see x. 20, and vii. 20). This was an atrocious blasphemy. How wondrous, then, the patience of Christ! For He answered,
Ver. 49.—I have not a devil, &c. As loving truth He denies the false charge, but though all-powerful He returns not their reproach. “God, though receiving an injury, replies not with words of contumely; and thou, when insulted by thy neighbours, shouldest abstain from their evil words, lest the exercise of just reproof should be turned into weapons of anger.” And Chrysostom, “When it was necessary to teach, and to inveigh against their pride, He was severe. But in bearing with those who reproached Him, He exercised great gentleness, to teach us to resent any wrongs done to God, to overlook the wrongs done to ourselves.” And S. Augustine, “Let us imitate His patience, that we may attain to His powers.”
Christ took no notice of the term Samaritan, because it was a reproach directed only against Himself, and not against God. He refused therefore to avenge His own wrongs, but would defend the honour of God. All knew He was a Galilean, and not a Samaritan, and by saying that He had not a devil, He refuted at the same time the charge of being a Samaritan. For the Samaritans, as schismatics, were the bond slaves of the devil. S. Gregory (Hom. xviii.) gives a mystical reason for His silence. “A Samaritan,” he says, “means a guardian, and He is truly our guardian, of whom the Psalmist speaks, ‘Except the Lord keep the city, they watch in vain who guard it’ (Psa_127:2); to whom moreover it is said by Isaiah, ‘Watchman, what of the night?’ He would not therefore say, ‘I am not a Samaritan,’ lest he should deny also that He was our guardian.”
I have not a devil. But ye have one. So far from detracting from the glory of God, or claiming it for Myself, as Lucifer did, I continually honour the Father and say that I derive everything from Him, that I am sent from Him, that I obey Him in all things, that I refer everything I have to Him, and direct everything to His honour and glory. But ye rather dishonour God the Father, because ye dishonour Me, and assail Me with most bitter reproaches, though I am His Son, and His ambassador in the world. So Leontius. Others explain it more generally of sin— I honour My Father by good works, ye dishonour Him by your sins. So S. Augustine.
Ver. 50.—I seek not, &c. It is God the Father who will most sharply punish those who seek not My glory, but in every way dishonour and discredit Me. S. Chrysostom.
It may be said, “This is contrary to what Christ says (v. 22), The Father judgeth man.” But there Christ speaks of the public and general judgment, here He speaks of the private and daily judgment with which He avenges the wrongs done to His Son and His saints, as by the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus for the death of Christ; as He here seems to hint. So Maldonatus and others.
But the Gloss says, “There is one that judgeth who distinguishes My glory from yours; as David says, ‘Judge Me, 0 God, and distinguish My cause from that of the ungodly people'” (Psa_43:1, Vulg.)
Ver. 51.—Verily, verily, I say. He says this not from indignation but from pity of the Jews, showing that He is seeking not His own glory, but their salvation. “I say in very truth,” and as S. Augustine thinks, he means I swear, “that if ye keep My commandments ye shall never die the death of the soul; ye shall never sin, for sin is the death of the soul. But ye shall ever live, here in the grace of God, and in heaven in His glory. Ye shall die indeed in the body, but I will raise you up in the day of judgment, and ye shall live in happiness of body and spirit for all eternity.” So S. Augustine.
Ver. 52.—Now we know, &c. “The devil suggests to Thee such proud and absurd boasting, that Thy word will drive away death from those who believe in Thee, when we see that Prophets and holy men, as Abraham, all died. But as says S. Gregory (Hom. xviii.), looking only to the death of the body, they were dark to the word of truth. For as Bede saith, “Abraham, though dead in the body, was alive in his soul.” Learn from this, thou Religious, thou Preacher, thou Christian, from thy Master to receive calumnies for thy good deeds, curses and ill-will for thy kindnesses. Learn also to be good to the ungrateful. For Christ, though unweariedly teaching the Jews, healing them, delivering them from evil spirits, yet patiently endured these contumelies and reproaches, ingratitude in return for kindnesses, blasphemies for miracles, and for His teaching derision and reprehension, and yet did not cease to benefit those who were ungrateful, the very highest point of patience and charity.
Abraham is dead, &c. Thou blasphemest then, in making thyself greater than Abraham and the Prophets, yea, even greater than God Himself, since the word of God could not deliver Abraham and the Prophets from death. But yet the word of God, promulged by the lips of Christ, was more powerful than the word of God which was uttered to Abraham and the Prophets. And, moreover, Abraham and the Prophets were not dead in their souls, and though dead in the body were to be raised up by Christ to eternal life.
Ver. 53.—Art thou greater? &c. They considered it most absurd, and even blasphemous, for Christ to prefer Himself to Abraham, as He really did; for He was both God and man, though the Jews knew it not, or rather refused to believe it.
Ver. 54.—Jesus answered, &c. This was in answer to their question, Whom makest thou Thyself? He refers all His glory to His Father from whom He is, and who is God. What I say of Myself is of no value or weight, and that not only with you, as S. Chrysostom says, but with others. For in every court no one is believed on his own word but on the testimony of others, who witness for him (see chap. v. 31). Solomon also says, “Let another praise thee, and not thine own lips” (Pro_27:2). The Arians objected that the Father glorifies the Son. He is therefore greater than the Son. S. Augustine replies, “Thou heretic, readest thou not that the Son Himself said that He glorifies His Father? But He also glorifies the Son, and the Son glorifies the Father. Put aside thy pernicious teaching, acknowledge their equality, correct thy perversity.”
Ver. 55.—Yet ye have not known Him, &c. (1.) Ye know not the true God whom ye worship; ye know Him not to be one in essence and threefold in person, for ye think Him to be one in Person, as He is one in essence. Ye know not that God is a Father, and that He begat Me His Son, and that we two by our Breath produced the Holy Ghost. For had ye known it, ye would certainly have known and believed Me to be the Messiah, the Son of God; and conversely, “if ye had known Me, ye would assuredly have known My Father,” says S. Chrysostom.
(2.) S. Augustine says, Ye believe that there is one God, though ye neither see nor hear Him (see chap. v. 37). Ye ought therefore equally to believe in Me His Son, on account of the many signs and wonders which I work, though ye see not the Godhead which is hid within. (3.) Ye have not known Him, ye have not believed His testimony, This is My beloved Son; for ye knew not, or rather would not know, that this was the true voice of God. (4.) Euthymius explains, “Ye have not shown that ye know Him, because ye live wickedly, not as worshippers of God, but like idolatrous Gentiles, professing, as S. Paul says, to know Him (Tit, i. 16), but in works denying Him.”
And if I say, &c. Maldonatus thinks that Christ called the Jews “liars,” because they said to Him, “Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil.” For these were two most gross falsehoods, nay even blasphemies. But S. Chrysostom, Ammonius, and Theophylact are more to the point in asserting that they were called “liars,” because they lied in saying that they knew God. For they believed not that He had a Son, and was threefold in His personality.
But I know Him, &c. Theophylact explains it thus, “I show by my life and conduct that I know, reverence, and worship God, because I reverently observe and constantly fulfil His word. Or it may be explained, even better, in this way. Because I acknowledge God the Father, and clearly perceive His Majesty, Power, and Holiness; I therefore, as man, greatly reverence Him, and clearly and fully observe His precept, which ye Jews do not observe, because ye know not nor comprehend His Majesty, and therefore do not reverence it.” So Theophylact. Moreover, S. Augustine says, “He spake as the Son, the Word of the Father, and was the very Word of the Father Who spake to men.” And He fitly said the “word,” not the “precept,” because He Himself was the Word of the Father, and the Father had ordered Him to announce to men that very truth, that they should acknowledge, believe, and worship God the Father and God the Son.
Ver. 56.—Your father Abraham, &c. He longed for it with exulting mind; “He feared not, but exulted,” says S. Augustine. “Believing he exulted with hope, that he might see by understanding.” It is a catachresis. But what day?  S. Augustine understands by it, that day of all eternity, wherein from all eternity the Son was begotten of the Father. “He wished to know My eternal generation and My Godhead, that he might believe in it, and be thereby saved.” “He saw,” says S. Augustine, “My day because he acknowledged the mystery of the trinity.” (Bede follows him, as usual.) S. Jerome (on Dan. viii.) and S. Gregory (in loc.) say that it was the day when, by the three angels that appeared to him, only one of whom spoke to him, the mystery of the Trinity was by symbols revealed to him; he saw three but adored one (Gen. xviii. 2).
(1.) But others generally refer it to the day of His Humanity, and thus understand it of the day of His Passion, Crucifixion, and death. See S. Chrysostom, &c. (2.) It is more simple to understand it of the day of His Incarnation. For all the Prophets and Patriarchs earnestly longed for the coming of Christ, to free them from their sins and from their imperfect state (limbo). “To see” (says John Alba) “is to enjoy the happiness and blessings brought by Christ.” The word has often that meaning, as in the Psalm “to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” i.e., to enjoy it.
He saw it. By faith, and again in a figure when he was commanded by God to offer up his son Isaac, which was a type of Christ’s offering on the Cross. So S. Chrysostom and S. Augustine, and S. Bernard (Serm. vi. de. Vigil Natalis) adds that by smiting on his thigh he signified that Christ was to come from his race.
(2.) He knew by prophetical revelation. But this would not be “seeing.”
(3.) The genuine meaning is, he saw from his own place (in limbo). He knew the day when Christ was incarnate and was born, not only from what Simeon told him, when he met him in the place below (in limbo), but also from what Anna the Prophetess, Zacharias, Anna the Virgin’s Mother, and S. John the Baptist told him, but he saw it by intuitive perception. He saw all, just as the Blessed in heaven behold all things on earth and under the earth, and as S. Anselm saw with his eyes lifted up by God what was doing behind a wall. Abraham longingly desired to see this, as if present. For the promise that Christ should be born of him had been frequently made him by God. And it was due to him, in consequence of his faith, obedience, and many merits, that as the father of the faithful, who for so long a time, without any fault of his own, was so long detained in prison (limbo), most eagerly looking for Christ to deliver him, might for his own consolation, and that of his fellow-patriarchs, and in solace of their long and anxious expectation, know the very day when Christ was Incarnate and born. For two thousand years had he eagerly waited for Christ and sighed for His birth. And therefore God revealed it to him by His Spirit, and then Abraham and all the Saints in prison rejoiced and were glad. So Jansen, Maldonatus, and others. Lastly, the angels who comfort souls in Purgatory, much more consoled the souls of Abraham and the Patriarchs (in limbo), even as the same angels announced that much longed-for birth to the shepherds. Christ said this, (1.) To show that He was greater than Abraham, and that He was God, (2.) to show how highly He was valued, though absent, by Abraham, though the Jews despised Him when present among, them. (3.) And also to prick their consciences indirectly in this way: “Abraham had so great a longing for Me, but ye have rejected Me. Ye are therefore not true children of Abraham, but spurious and degenerate.” He says “Abraham your father,” whose children ye glory in being, though I do not glory in him, but he rather glories and exults in Me.
Ver. 57.—Thou art not yet, &c. So that Abraham on his part could have seen Thee, and rejoiced at the sight. Irenæus hence infers that Christ lived fifty years on earth (adv. Hær. ii. 39, 40). But it is the common opinion that He was on earth for only thirty four (and those not complete) years. S. Chrysostom and Euthymius read forty years, but the common reading is fifty. The Jews seem to have been thinking of the jubilee. “Thou hast not reached one jubilee, how then canst Thou say that Thou hast seen Abraham, who lived forty jubilees before?” (So Severus of Antioch in Catena.) But Euthymius thinks that Christ seemed to the Jews, by reason of the maturity of His judgment and the gravity of His bearing, and also from the labours He had undergone in journeying and preaching, to be fifty years old. But you may easily say that the Jews, in order to avoid exception or mistake, put His age much higher than they knew He had attained to.
Ver. 58.—Jesus said, &c. That is, I am God. The word am denotes eternity, which is ever present, and has no past or future. I am eternal, immutable, and ever the same. So S. Augustine, Bede, S. Gregory. I as God exceed the age of Abraham not by fifty years, but by infinite durations of years. For as Tertullian (de Trinit.) says, unless He had been God, He could not, as being descended from Abraham, have been before him. Hear S. Augustine on this passage, “Before Abraham was made, that refers to human nature, but I am pertains to the Divine Substance; was made (Vulg.), because Abraham was a creature. He said not, ‘Before Abraham was, I am,’ but Before Abraham was made, I am. Nor did He say, ‘Before Abraham was made, I was made.’ For in the beginning God made heaven and earth; for in the beginning was the Word. Before Abraham was made, I am. Acknowledge the Creator, distinguish the creature. He who spake was made of the seed of Abraham; and in order that Abraham might he made, He was (existed) before Abraham.”
Ver. 59.—Then they look up, &c., as a blasphemer, who placed Himself above Abraham, and made Himself equal to God. Blasphemers were ordered to be stoned (Lev_24:16). It is clear that these Jews were not those who were said to have believed in Him (as Theophylact supposes), but the others who were opposed to Christ. “And to what should such hardness betake itself but to stones?” says S. Augustine (in loc.) “They sought to crush Him, whom they could not understand,” says S. Gregory (Hom. xviii.)
But Jesus hid Himself, &c. He made Himself invisible, and thus passed unharmed through the midst of them. So Leontius and others. S. Gregory says, “Had He willed to exercise His power, He would have bound them in their sins, or would have plunged them into the pains of eternal death. But He who came to suffer, would not exercise judgment.” And S. Augustine, “He would rather commend to us His patience, than exercise His power. He forsakes them, since they would not accept His correction. He hides not Himself in a corner of the temple, as if afraid, or running into a cottage, or turning aside behind a wall or column: but by .His Divine Power making Himself invisible, He passed through their midst. As man He fled from the stones, but woe to them from whose stony hearts God flies away.
Morally, we are taught by this example (says S. Gregory) humbly to avoid the anger of the proud, even when we have the power to resist them.

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(Updated) 5th Week of Lent, March 21, Resoruces for Sunday Mass (Both Forms of the Rite)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 15, 2010

This post is now complete.  It contains links to online resources for both Forms of the Rite for this Sunday’s Mass

Ordinary Form Of The Rite:

Readings From The New American Bible:

Sunday Gospel Scripture StudyThis weeks study not yet posted, keep trying. Excellent resource!  Audio or video available.

Navarre Bible Commentary.  Contains text of the readings in RSVCE translation followed by commentary from the famous study aid, the brain child of St Jose Marie Escriva.

Word Sunday. Popular and literal translation of the readings followed by notes.  Site includes more than what’s listed below.

My Notes on Isaiah 43:16-21.

Notes on Philippians 3:8-14By Bernardine de Picquigny, a Capuchin Friar.

My notes on Philippians 3:8-14. Not yet complete.  I hope to show the relation between this passage and the Kenotic (emptying) Hymn of Phil 2:6-11

Catena Aurea on John 8:1-11“The Golden Chain” of St Thomas Aquinas.  A running commentary he collected from the works of the Early Church Fathers.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Notes on John 8:1-11Father Lapide was one of the most famed biblical scholars of his day.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on John 8:1-11From his popular 19th century commentary.

Lector NotesThese notes try to serve the Church by helping lectors prepare to proclaim the Scriptures in our Sunday assemblies. For each day’s first and second readings (and occasionally for the gospel), the Notes give the historical and theological background, plus suggestions on oral interpretation.

Reading With Haydock CommentaryText of the readings from the Douay-Rheims translation followed by notes from the old Haydock Commentary.

Prepare For MassMostly short inspirational and music videos relating to the theme(s) of the Mass.

Thoughts From The Early ChurchAn excerpt from St Augustine on the Gospel.

Scripture In Depth.

Extraordinary Form Of The Rite: Epistle Reading (Heb 9:11-15).  Gospel Reading (John 8:46-59).

Devout Instruction On the Gospels And EpistlesContains the readings along with brief notes, prayers, etc.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Notes on John 8:46-59.

Podcasts on Hebrews.  By Father Philips.

Homily On The Epistle. By Bishop Bonomeli, a famed preacher in his day.

Homily On The GospelBy Bishop BonomeliScroll down to middle of page.

On The Nature Of SinA homily on the Gospel by another famed preacher, the Dominican Father Augustine Wirth.

The Danger Of Delaying RepentanceOn the Gospel, by Fr. Augustine Wirth.

Homily By St AugustineScroll down to middle of the page.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture On Hebrews 9:11-14.

Aquinas’ Sermon Notes on the Epistle and GospelOften provides points for meditation or further study.  This post contains his notes on both readings.

Newman’s Sermon Notes On The EpistleSome may find points in these notes useful for meditation or further study.

The High-Priesthood And Sacrifice Of Christ. A homiletic sketch on the Epistle.

Explanation Of The Gospel And Lessons From ItA homiletic sketch on the Gospel.

On ConfessionA dogmatical sketch on the Gospel.  Scroll down to bottom of page.

The Celebration Of Passion SundayA liturgical sketch.  Scroll to bottom of page.

The Way Of The CrossA moral sketch on the Gospel.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 8:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 15, 2010

Catena Aurea means “the golden chain,” and is a running commentary on the Four Gospels compiled by St Thomas Aquinas from the writings of the Church Fathers.

Joh 8:1-11
Ver 1. Jesus went to the mount of Olives.2. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him; and he sat down, and taught them.3. And the Scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,4. They say to him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.5. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what say you?6. This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.7. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.8. And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.9. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even to the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.10. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are those your accusers? has no man condemned you?11. She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.

ALCUIN. Our Lord at the time of His passion used to spend the day in Jerusalem, preaching in the temple, and performing miracles, and return in the evening to Bethany, where He lodged with the sisters of Lazarus. Thus on the last day of the feast, having, according to His wont, preached the whole day in the temple, in the evening He went to the mount of Olives.

AUG. And where ought Christ to teach, except

on the mount of Olives; on the mount of ointment, on the mount of chrism. For the name Christ is from chrism, chrism being the Greek word for unction. He has anointed us, for wrestling with the devil.

ALCUIN. The anointing with oil is a relief to the limbs, when wearied and in pain. The mount of Olives also denotes the height of our Lord’s pity, olive in the Greek signifying pity. The qualities of oil are such as to fit in to this mystical meaning. For it floats above all other liquids: and the Psalmist says, Your mercy is over all Your works. And early in the morning, He came again into the temple: i.e. to denote the giving and unfolding of His mercy, i.e. the now dawning light of the New Testament in the faithful, that is, in His temple. His returning early in the morning, signifies the new rise of grace.

BEDE. And next it is signified, that after He began to dwell by grace in His temple, i.e. in the Church, men from all nations would believe in Him: And all the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them.

ALCUIN. The sitting down, represents the humility of His incarnation. And the people came to Him, when He sat down, i.e. after taking up human nature, and thereby becoming visible, many began to hear and believe on Him, only knowing Him as their friend and neighbor. But while these kind and simple persons are full of admiration at our Lord’s discourse, the Scribes and Pharisees put questions to Him, not for the sake of instruction, but only to entangle the truth in their nets: And the Scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say to Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, if the very act.

AUG. They had remarked upon, Him already, as being over lenient. Of Him indeed it had I been prophesied, Ride on because of the word of truth, of meekness, and of righteousness. So as a teacher He exhibited truth, as a deliverer meekness, as a judge righteousness. When He spoke, His truth was acknowledged; when against His enemies He used no violence, His meekness was praised. So they raised the scandal on the score of justice For they said among themselves, If He decide to let her go He will not do justice; for the law cannot command what is unjust: Now Moses in the law commanded as, that such should be stoned: but to maintain His meekness, which has made Him already so acceptable to the people, He must decide to let her go. Wherefore they demand His opinion: And what say You? hoping to find an occasion to accuse Him, as a transgressor of the law: And this they said tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him. But our Lord in His answer both maintained His justice, and departed not from meekness. Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground.

AUG. As if to signify that such persons were to be written in earth, not in heaven, where He told His disciples they should rejoice they were v written. Or His bowing His head (to write on the ground), is an expression of humility; the writing on the ground signifying that His law was written on the earth which bore fruit, not on the barren stone, as before.

ALCUIN. The ground denotes the human heart, which yields the fruit either of good or of bad actions: the finger jointed and flexible, discretion. He instructs us then, when we see any faults in our neighbors, not immediately and rashly to condemn them, but after searching our own hearts to begin with, to examine them attentively with the finger of discretion.

BEDE. His writing with His finger on the ground perhaps showed, that it was He who had written the law on stone. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted Himself up.

AUG. He did not say, Stone her not, lest He should seem to speak contrary to the law. But God forbid that He should say, Stone her; for He came not to destroy that which He found, but to seek that which was lost. What then did He answer? He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. This is the voice of justice. Let the sinner be punished, but not by sinners; the law carried into effect, but not by transgressors of the law.

GREG. For he who judges not himself first, cannot know how to judge correctly in the case of another. For though He know what the offense is, from being told, yet He cannot judge of another’s deserts, who supposing himself innocent, will not apply the rule of justice to himself.

AUG. Having with the weapon of justice smitten them, He deigned not even to look on the fallen, but averted His eyes: And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

ALCUIN. This is like our Lord; while His eyes are fixed, and He seems attending to something else, He gives the bystanders an opportunity of retiring: a tacit admonition to us to consider always both before we condemn a brother for a sin, and after we have punished him, whether we are not guilty ourselves of the same fault, or others as bad.

AUG. Thus smitten then with the voice of justice, as with a weapon, they examine themselves, find themselves guilty, and one by one retire: And they which heard it, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest.

GLOSS. The more guilty of them, perhaps, or those who were more conscious of their faults.

AUG. There were left however two, the pitiable, and the pitiful, And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst: the woman, you may suppose, in great alarm, expecting punishment from one in whom no sin could be found. But He who had repelled her adversaries with there word of justice, lifted on her the eyes of mercy, and asked; When Jesus had lifted Himself up, and saw none but the woman, He said to her, Woman, where are these your accusers? Has no man condemned you? She said, No man, Lord. We heard above the voice of justice; let us hear now that of mercy: Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you; I, who you feared would condemn you, because You found no fault in me. What then Lord? Do You favor sin? No, surely. Listen to what follows, Go, and sin no more. So then our Lord condemned sin, but not the sinner. For did He favor sin, He would have said, Go, and live as you will: depend on my deliverance: howsoever great your sins be, it matters not: I will deliver you from hell, and its tormentors. But He did not say this. Let those attend, who love the Lord’s mercy, and fear His truth. Truly, Gracious and righteous is the Lord.

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 8:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 15, 2010

The following is from Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on The Gospel Of St John, written in late 16th-early 17th century.

Joh 8:1  And Jesus went unto mount Olivet.

On the last day of the Feast Jesus had taught in the temple, and confuted the Pharisees, while they, after their wont, returned home to a sumptuous banquet. But no one showed hospitality to Jesus for fear of the rulers and Pharisees. He went therefore probably to Gethsemane, to continue there all night in prayer (see Joh_18:1-2, and Mat_26:36). Food was either secretly sent Him by Martha from Bethany, or bought by the disciples at Jerusalem. He selected this spot as His nightly refuge, or rather His place of prayer, six months before His death, and used to retire there to pray by night (see Mat_26:36). The Mount of Olives was a type of Christ’s sorrow, when He there prayed for the pardon of sinners: as the feast of tabernacles signified that He and His people are but strangers and pilgrims here, on their way to their heavenly country, travelling from the wealthy and splendid city Jerusalem, to the mountain of heavenly refreshment.

Joh 8:2  And early in the morning he came again into the temple: and all the people came to him. And sitting down he taught them.

He gave the night to prayer, the day to teaching, setting an example to apostolic men, as S. Paul, S. Francis Xavier, and others.

Joh 8:3  And the scribes and Pharisees bring unto him a woman taken in adultery: and they set her in the midst,
Joh 8:4  And said to him: Master, this woman was even now taken in adultery.
Joh 8:5  Now Moses in the law commanded us to stone such a one. But what sayest thou?

But the Scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery, &c. Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such should be stoned. This story is not found in the Greek Fathers, but as it is found in the Vulgate and thus approved by the Council of Trent, Cornelius à Lapide regards it as canonical.

Here note that the Mosaic law ordered adulteresses to be killed. But the rulers ordered them to be stoned, according to the Rabbinical tradition. For the Law ordered a betrothed woman should be stoned, if she had committed adultery, and thence the Scribes extended this punishment to an adulterous wife. But the punishment of stoning (Lev_20:10) is to be extended to all the cases mentioned in that chapter. (See also Eze_16:38-40.) And this is clear from the History of Susanna, where, by the law of requital, her false accusers were stoned. This was also the punishment of adulteresses in many heathen nations. (See notes on Gen_38:24, and Num. v. ad fin.)

Joh 8:6  And this they said tempting him, that they might accuse him. But Jesus bowing himself down, wrote with his finger on the ground.

Ver. 6.—This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him, as being opposed to the law, if He said that she was not to be stoned, but as cruel and harsh if He said otherwise. But they rather supposed He would not order her to be stoned, “in order to keep up His appearance of gentleness, and not to lose the favour of the people.” So Rupertus, Bede, and S. Augustine, who says, “They saw that He was very gentle; they said therefore among themselves, If He rules that she be let go, He will not observe that righteousness which the Law enjoins. But not to lose His (character for) gentleness, by which He has already won the love of the people, He will say that she ought to be released. And we shall hence find occasion to accuse Him. But the Lord in His answer both observed justice, and did not forego His gentleness.” They thought to accuse Him of violating the law by her acquittal, and would say to Him, says S. Augustine, “Thou art an enemy of the law, thou judgest contrary to Moses, or rather against Him who gave the law. Thou art guilty of death, and must be stoned together with her.”

But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground. To turn away His face, not so much from the adulteress as from her accusers, as if to say, “Why do ye bring her before Me, who am not a civil judge, but the physician and Saviour of sinners?” So S. Augustine. Some Greek MSS. add μὴ πζοσποιούμενος, not attending to them and their accusations. Though Toletus and others translate, “not pretending, but really writing on the ground.” Either meaning is suitable.

(2.) Christ refers to Jer 17:1. “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond,” and as S. Augustine, S. Jerome and others say more fittingly on verse 13, “They that depart from thee, shall be written in the earth.” Jeremiah has here painted you, 0 Scribes, to the life. Ye accuse this adulteress, but ye have committed greater sins than hers; ye deserve punishment rather than she doth; ye deserve to be stoned more than she does, even to be cast into hell. For your sins of rebellion, unbelief, obstinacy, and persecution against Me are indelible, written as it were with a pen of iron, and the point of a diamond, because ye have forsaken the Lord and turned your back upon Him, therefore has He in His turn turned His back upon you.” (See Jer 18:17.) Ye have neglected heavenly, and followed after worldly goods, and therefore ye will speedily pass away with them, just as that which is written in the earth soon comes to nothing by a breath of wind, and by the foot passing over it. Ye have departed from God, and therefore ye will not be written in Heaven, but on the earth, yea in its very centre, in hell itself. (See S Augustine Lib. iv. de. Consen. Evang., cap. 10.) And S. Ambrose (Ep. lxxvi. ad Studitem) says, “He wrote on the ground, for sinners are written on the earth, the just in heaven.” Symbolically, S. Augustine (as above) gives two other reasons. (1.) To show that He worked miracles on earth, for, though God, He humbled Himself to become man, for miracles are signs which are wrought on earth. (2.) To point out that the time had now come for His law to be written on the fruitful earth, not on barren stones. (3.) He adds here (Tract. xxxiii.) a third reason, that it was to signify that it was He who had written the old law on tables of stone, but that the new law was to be written on the productive earth. But what did Christ write? He could not in the paved court of the temple cut out the shape of the letters, but merely delineate them with His finger. But He seems to have marked out something to put them to shame, or to expose their sin. For He added, in explanation of what He had done, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” S. Jerome even says that He wrote the mortal sins of the Scribes and of all men (Lib. ii. Contra Pelag.), S. Ambrose (Ep. lvi.) that He wrote Jer 22:29; and (Epist. lxxix.) that He wrote among other words, Thou seest the mote in thy brother’s eye, but seest not the beam in thine own. Others think that He wrote “Mene, Mene” (Dan 5:25). But nothing certain can be stated.

Joh 8:7  When therefore they continued asking him, he lifted up himself and said to them: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

When therefore they continued asking Him. Because they did not see clearly what He had written, or pretended they did not. They therefore urge Him to reply explicitly to their captious question, believing that He could not escape from the horns of a dilemma by going against the law if He acquitted the woman or against His own compassion, were He to condemn her.
He lifted up Himself and said, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. Ye Scribes and Pharisees have committed greater sins than this woman, as your conscience testifies; do not therefore so rigidly and importunately urge her condemnation, but rather have pity for her, as sinners for a sinner, as guilty for a guilty one, as criminals for a criminal. For otherwise, if ye condemn her, ye ought to condemn yourselves; if ye wish to stone her, ye yourselves ought to be stoned, nay more, to be burned. Observe Christ’s prudence. He maintains the law in conceding that an adulteress was guilty of death, but adds that the Scribes should not so pertinaciously urge her death, but rather have compassion on her, since outwardly professing sanctity, but inwardly conscious of greater sins, they should wish indulgence to be shown to themselves both by God and man. So S. Augustine. “Ye have heard, Let the law be fulfilled, let the adulteress be stoned. But in punishing her must the law be fulfilled by those who deserve punishment?” And again, “Jesus said not, Let her not be stoned; lest He should seem to speak against the law. But be it far from Him to say, Let her be stoned; for He came not to destroy that which He had formed, but to save that which had perished. What then answered He? ‘He who is without sin of you,’ &c 0 answer of wisdom! How did He make them look unto themselves! They brought charges against others, they did not carefully search out themselves within.” “What more divine,” says S. Ambrose, “than that saying, that He should punish sin who is Himself devoid of it? For how couldest thou endure one who punishes another’s sin, and defends his own? For does he not condemn himself the more, who condemns in another what he himself commits?”

But thou wilt say Christ here seems to do away with the use of tribunals of justice, and their strictness. But I answer, Christ launched not this sentence against judges, but only against the Scribes, who as private persons contended that Christ should take on Himself to judge the adulteress, and condemn her according to law. This He refused to do, and having been sent to save, and not to condemn sinners, He retorted it upon themselves, as follows; “If ye are not judges, and yet are so desirous of punishing this adultery, take it upon yourselves, stone the adulteress, if ye are so pure and holy as not to have committed adultery, or any other sin;” for if the Scribes had condemned her to be stoned, Jesus would not have freed her from the punishment she justly deserved. Moreover, it is the judge’s duty to condemn a criminal, when convicted, though conscious that he is himself guilty of the same or a similar offence. And yet, if guilty himself it is unseemly in him to condemn another for a like offence.

Christ then in these words quietly advises judges to lead innocent lives themselves. As a moral rule, Christ teaches us that we ought to judge ourselves before we judge others. S. Gregory (Moral. Lib. 13. cap. iv.) gives the reason. “For he who judges not himself in the first place, knows not how to pass right judgment on another. For his own conscience supplies no rule to go by. These Scribes then are summoned first to look within, and find out their own faults, before reproving others.” On which head there are well known proverbs. “First prune thy own vineyards,” &c.

Joh 8:8  And again stooping down, he wrote on the ground.

And again stooping down He wrote on the ground. Both to inspire them with shame, and also to give the Scribes time to withdraw creditably. So S. Jerome (Lib. ii contra Pelag.), and Bede, who adds, “He saw that they were staggered, and would be more likely to retire at once than to put any more questions.”

Joh 8:9  But they hearing this, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest. And Jesus alone remained, and the woman standing in the midst.

Ver. 9.—But on hearing this they went out one by one. Some Greek copies add, “Convicted by their own conscience,” as being adulterers, or even worse. For what Jesus said was true, and ought to strike home to them. And hence S. Augustine says (Epist. liv.), “Methinks that even the husband himself who had been wronged, would on hearing these words have shrunk back from his desire for punishment.”

Went out. “By their very withdrawal,” says S. Augustine, “confessing that they were guilty of like offences. For they were smitten with a keen sense of justice on looking within, and finding themselves guilty.” They feared also lest Christ should proceed still further to expose their crimes.

Beginning at the eldest. As being more inveterate sinners, like the false accusers of Susanna, or because they first felt the force of His words. As says S. Ambrose, “They first felt the strength of His answer, which they could not reply to, and being quicker of apprehension, they were the first to go away.”
And He was left alone, &c. “Two were left,” says S. Augustine, “misery and commiseration;” deep calling upon deep, the depth of her misery on the depth of His compassion. But she fled not, as having experienced His grace, and hoping for more.

Joh 8:10  Then Jesus lifting up himself, said to her: Woman, where are they that accused thee? Hath no man condemned thee?

Then Jesus lifting up Himself, &c. Lifting up on her His eyes of gentleness, as He had repulsed His adversaries with the words of righteousness, as saith S. Augustine. He spoke to her, (1.) to show that He had driven away her accusers, and that she could acknowledge what Jesus had, in His mercy, done for her, and ask pardon from Him of her sin. (2.) That He might the more readily absolve her, because her accusers had withdrawn their charge, and had fled away, as doubting the justice of their cause.

Joh 8:11  Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more.

Ver. 11.—She said, No man, Lord, &c. I who am alone free from all sin, and appointed by God to judge the world, might most justly condemn thee. But I do not, because I came not to judge, but to save the world. Thus S. Ambrose; “See how He moderated His answer, so that the Jews could not accuse him for acquitting her; but rather throw it back on themselves, if they chose to complain. For she is dismissed, not absolved; inasmuch as no one accused her, she was not acquitted as innocent. Why then should they complain who had already withdrawn from prosecuting the charge and from enforcing the punishment? Moreover Christ by these words absolved the woman not only in open court before the people, but in the court of heaven, before God, as is plain from what He subjoins. Go, as being certain that I have forgiven thy adultery. As He said to the Magdalene, “Go in peace” (Luke 7:50). But Christ says not that openly, but secretly; lest the Pharisees should have something to carp at. Christ therefore inspired in her secret sorrow for her sins and an act of contrition, and then pardoned her sins, condoning her sin and its punishment together. “He condemns not,” says S. Ambrose, “as being our Redemption, but reproves her as our life, and cleanses her as our fountain.” And Euthymius, “Such an exposure and shame before so many adversaries was a sufficient punishment, more especially when He knew that she was heartily penitent.” So Jansen and others.

And sin no more. Returning as a dog to its vomit. For thou wilt thus in thy ingratitude sin more grievously, and wilt defile thy soul; and though I do not condemn thee, yet will I certainly condemn thee in the day of judgment. Hear S. Augustine. “What means, I will not condemn thee? Dost Thou, 0 Lord, favour sin? Assuredly not; for listen to what follows, Go and sin no more. The Lord therefore condemned the sin, but not the person. For else He would have said, Go and live as thou wilt, being sure of my forgiveness.” To which Bede adds, “Since He is pitiful and tender He forgives the past; but as just, and loving justice, He forbids her sin any more.”

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Romans 1 of ?

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 15, 2010

The first in a series of talks on Paul’s most famous Epistle. This is introductory in nature.

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Overview of the Acts of the Apostles,

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 15, 2010

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For those interested in the Acts of the Apostles I would recommend the following:

1. Acts Of The Apostles By Dennis Hamm, Volume 5 of the New Collegeville Commentary on the New Testament. St John’s Abbey in Collegeville Minnesota published their first commentary series on the Bible in the early 1960’s and it was highly successful and well received. Apparently, the second round of publication in the early 1980’s was not as well received. I’ve seen most of the volumes from both series and found the second series to be not to my liking. This third series, to which Dennis Hamm’s contribution belongs, looks rather promising to me, though I’ve only seen this volume and the one on Revelation so far.

2. Witness Of The Messiah by Stephen Pimentelm published by Emmaus Roads Publishing. This work is deals with chapters 1-15 of the AoA and is designed for both personal and small group study. Emmaus Road Publishing has a number of fine commentaries of this design.

3. Acts of Apostles in the Ignatius Study Bible, by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. Not so much a commentary as a booklet with extensive footnotes. For those who have never study the AoA this would be a good place to start.

4. Acts Of Apostles in the Navarre Bible. When it comes to the New Testament of the Navarre Bible I suggest buying the individual volumes rather than the compiled texts. Sure, you can save a little money by buying the the Gospels and The Acts in a single volume, but the commentary is not as extensive as if you bought the individual volumes.

5. Acts Of Apostles by Luke Timothy Johnson. Part of the Sacra Pagina Commentary series. Some of the volumes in the Sacra Pagina series trouble me, but I can recommend this.

6. Acts Of Apostle podcast by Father Phillips. Father Phillips is Pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Church in San Antonio, and he has some very good podcast available on his parish website and via iTunes. The web address for the podcasts is

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