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 August 23rd, 2010

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel, Matt 23:13-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 23, 2010

Ver 13. “But woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”

Origen: Christ is truly the Son of that God Who gave the Law; after the example of the blessings pronounced in the Law, did Himself pronounce the blessings of them that are saved; and also after the cursings of the Law, He now sets forth a woe against sinners; “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” They who allow that it is compatible with goodness to utter these denunciations against sinners, should understand that the purpose of God is the same in the cursings of the Law. Both the cursing there and the woe here fall upon the sinner not from Him who denounces, but from themselves who commit the sins which are denounced, and worthily bring upon themselves the inflictions of God’s discipline, appointed for the turning of men to good. So a father rebuking a son utters words of cursing, but does not desire that be should become deserving of those curses, but rather that he should turn himself from them.

He adds the cause of this woe, “Ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, nor suffer them that are entering to go in.” These two commandments are by nature inseparable; because not to suffer others to enter in, is of itself enough to keep the hinderer out.

Pseudo-Chrys.: By “the kingdom of heaven” is meant the Scriptures, because in them the kingdom of heaven is lodged; the understanding of these is the door.

Or “the kingdom of heaven” is the blessedness of heaven, and the door thereof Christ, by Whom men enter in. The door-keepers are the Priests, to whom is committed the word of teaching or interpreting Scripture, by which the door of truth is opened to men. The opening of this door is right interpretation. And observe that He said not, “Woe unto you,” for ye open, but, “for ye shut up;” the Scriptures then are not shut up, though they are obscure.

Origen: The Pharisees and the Scribes then would neither enter in, nor hear Him who said, “By me if any man enter in he shall be saved;” [Joh_10:9] nor would they suffer those to enter in, who were able to have believed through the things which had been spoken before by the Law and the Prophets concerning Christ, but shut up the door with every kind of device to deter men from entering. Also they detracted from His teaching, denied all prophecy concerning Him, and blasphemed every miracle as deceitful, or wrought by the Devil. All who in their evil conversation set an example of sinning to the people, and who commit injustice, offending the weak, seem to shut up the kingdom of heaven before men. And this sin is found among the people, and chiefly among the doctors, when they teach men what the Gospel righteousness requires of them, but do not what they teach.

But those who both teach and live well open to men the kingdom of heaven, and both enter in themselves, and invite others to enter in. Many also will not suffer those who are willing to enter into the kingdom of heaven, when they without reason excommunicate out of jealousy others who are better than themselves; thus they refuse them entrance, but these of sober spirit, overcoming by their patience this tyranny, although forbidden, yet enter in and inherit the kingdom. Also they who with much rashness have set themselves to the profession of teaching before they have learned, and following Jewish fables, detract from those who search out the higher things of Scripture; these do, as far as in them lies, shut out men from the kingdom of heaven.

Ver 14. “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”

Chrys., Hom. lxxiii: Next the Lord rebukes them for their g1uttony, and what was the worst, that not from the rich but from widows they took wherewith to fill their bellies, thus burdening the poverty of those whom they should have relieved.

Gloss., interlin.: “Devour widows’ houses,” that is, your superstitions have this only aim, namely, to make a gain of the people that are put under you.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The female sex is imprudent, as not contemplating with reason all that it sees or hears; and weak, as being easily turned either from bad to good, or from good to bad. The male sex is more prudent and hardy. And therefore pretenders to holiness practise most upon women, who are unable to see their hypocrisy, and are easily inclined to love them on the ground of religion.

But widows they chiefly choose to attempt; first, because a woman who has her husband to advise her is not so readily deceived; and secondly, she has not the means of giving, being in the power of her husband.

The Lord then, whilst He confounds the Jewish Priests, instructs the Christian that they should not frequent widows rather than others, for though their purpose may not be bad, it gives occasion to suspicions.

Chrys.: The manner of this plundering is grievous, for they make long prayers. Every one who does evil deserves punishment; but be who takes occasion for his offence from religion, deserves more severe punishment; “Therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: First, for that ye are wicked, and then because ye put on the cloak of sanctity. Your covetousness you dress up in the colour of religion, and use God’s arms in the Devil’s service, that iniquity may be loved while it is thought to be piety.

Hilary: Or, because their observance of the kingdom of heaven proceeds hence, that they may keep up their practice of going about to widows’ houses, they shall therefore receive the heavier judgment, as having their own sin and the ignorance of others to answer for.

Gloss., interlin.: Or, because “the servant that knew his Lords will and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.” [Luk_12:47]

Ver 15. “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

Chrys.: This the next charge against them is, that they are unequal to the salvation of many, seeing they need so much labour to bring one to salvation; and not only are they slack in conversion, but destroy even those whom they do convert, by corrupting them by example of evil life.

Hilary: That they compass sea and land signifies that throughout the whole world they shall be enemies of Christ’s Gospel, and shall bring men under the yoke of the Law against the justification of faith. There were proselytes made into the Synagogue from among the Gentiles, the small number of whom is here denoted by what is said “one proselyte.” For after the preaching of Christ there was no faith left in their doctrine, but whoever was gained to the faith of the Jews became a child of hell.

Origen: For all who Judaize since the coming of the Saviour, are taught to follow the temper of those who cried at that time, “Crucify, crucify him.”

Hilary: And be becomes the child of a twofold punishment, because he has not obtained remission of his Gentile sins, and because he has joined the society of those who persecuted Christ.

Jerome: Or otherwise; The Scribes and Pharisees compassed the whole world to make proselytes of the Gentiles, that is, to mix the uncircumcised stranger with the people of God.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And that not of compassion from desire to save him whom they taught, but either from covetousness, that the greater number of worshippers might increase the number of offerings made in sacrifice, or out of vain glory. For he who sinks himself in a slough of sins, how should he be desirous to rescue another out of them? Will a man be more merciful to another than to himself? By a man’s actions therefore it may be known whether he seeks another’s conversion for God’s sake, or out of vain glory.

Greg., Mor. xxxi, 9: But forasmuch as hypocrites though they do ever crooked things, yet cease not to speak light things, and thus by their good instructions beget sons, but are not able to bring them up by good life, but the more they give themselves up to worldly works, the more willingly do they suffer those whom they have begotten to work the same. And because their hearts are hardened, these very sons whom they have begotten they do not own by any sign of the affection due.

Wherefore it is here said of the hypocrites, “And when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

Aug., cont. Faust., xvi, 29 (et cf cont. Adimant. 16): This He said not because proselytes were circumcised, but because they imitated the lives of those from following whom He bad prohibited His disciples, saying, “Do ye not after their works.” [Mat_23:3]

Two things are observable in this command; first, the honour shewn to Moses’ teaching, that even wicked men when sitting in his seat are compelled to teach good things; and that the proselyte is made a child of hell, not by bearing the words of the Law, but by following their doings. And twofold more than they for this reason, that he neglects to fulfil what he had undertaken of his own choice, having been not born a Jew, but of free will become a Jew.

Jerome: Or, because before while he was a Gentile he erred in ignorance, and was only a child of hell; but seeing the vices of his masters, and understanding that they destroyed in their actions what they taught in words, he returns to his vomit, and becoming a Gentile, he is worthy of greater punishment as one that has deserted his cause.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, because while he was a worshipper of idols, he observed righteousness even because of men; but when he became a Jew, prompted by the example of evil teachers, he became worse than his teachers.Chrys.: For a disciple imitates a virtuous master, but goes beyond a vicious one.

Jerome: He is called a child of hell in the same way as one is said to be a child of perdition, and a child of this world; every man is called the son of him whose works he does.

Origen: From this place we learn that there will be a difference of torment in hell, seeing one is here said to be singly a child of hell, another twofold. And we ought to consider here whether it is possible that a man should be generally a child of hell, as a Jew, suppose, or a Gentile, or whether specially so in consequence of some particular sins; that as a righteous man is increased in glory by the abundance of his righteousness, so a sinner’s punishment is increased manifold by the number of his sins.

Ver 16. “Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, ‘Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!’17. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?18. And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.19. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?20. Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.21. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.22. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.”

Jerome: As by making broad phylacteries and fringes they sought after the reputation of sanctity, and made this again a means of gain, so now He charges them with being teachers of wickedness by their fraudulent pretence of tradition. For when in any dispute or quarrel, or ambiguous cause, one swore by the temple, and was afterwards convicted of falsehood, he was not held guilty. This is what is meant by that, “Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing,” that is, be owes nothing, But if he had sworn by the gold, or by the money which was offered to the Priests in the temple, he was immediately compelled to pay down that by which be had sworn.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The temple pertains to God’s glory, and to man’s spiritual salvation, but the gold of the temple though it pertains to the glory of God, yet does it more so to the delight of man, and the profit of the Priests. The Jews then pronounced the gold which delighted them, and the gifts which fed them, to be more holy than the temple, that they might make men more disposed to offer gifts, than to pour out prayers in the temple. Whence the Lord suitably reproves them in these words.

Yet have some Christians at present an equally foolish notion. See, they say, in any suit if one swear by God, it seems nought; but if one swear by the Gospel, he seems to have done some great thing. To whom we shall say in like manner, “Ye fools and blind!” the Scriptures were written because of God, God is not because of the Scriptures. Greater therefore is God, than what is hallowed by Him.

Jerome: Again, if one swore by the altar, none held him guilty of perjury; but if be swore by the gift or the victims or the other things which are offered to God upon the altar, this they exacted most rigorously. And all this they did not out of fear of God, but out of covetousness. Thus the Lord charges them with both folly and fraud, inasmuch as the altar is much greater than the victims which are sanctified by the altar.

Gloss., non occ.: And lest their infatuation should go so far, that they should affirm that the gold was more holy than the temple, and the gift than the altar, He argues on another ground, that in the oath which is sworn by the temple and the altar is contained the oath by the gold or by the gift.

Origen: In like manner the custom which the Jews had of swearing by the Heaven He reprobates. For they did not, as they supposed, avoid the danger of taking an oath by God, because, “Whoso sweareth by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.”Gloss., ord.: For whoso swears by the creature that is subject, swears by the Divinity that rules over the creation.

Origen: Now an oath is in confirmation of somewhat that has been spoken. The oath here then may signify testimony of Scripture which we produce in confirmation of that word which we speak. So that Divine Scripture is the temple of God, the gold is the meaning which it contains. As the gold which is outside the Temple is not sanctified, so all thoughts which are without divine Scripture, however admirable they may seem, are not hallowed. We ought not therefore to bring any speculations of our own for the confirmation of doctrine, unless such as we can shew are hallowed by being contained in divine Scripture.

The altar is the human heart, which is the chief thing in man. The offerings and gifts that are bid upon the altar, are every thing which are done in the heart, as to pray, to sing, to do alms, to fast. Every offering of a man then is sanctified by his heart, by which the offering is made. There cannot therefore be a more honourable offering than the heart of man, out of which the offering proceeds. If then one’s conscience does not smite him, he has confidence towards God, not by reason of his gifts, but so to speak because be has rightly ordered the altar of his heart.

Thirdly, we may say that over the temple, that is over every Scripture, and over the altar, that is over every heart, there is a certain meaning which is called the Heaven, the throne of God Himself, in which we shall be able to see the things that are revealed face to face, when that which is perfect is come.

Hilary: For since Christ is come, reliance upon the Law is vain; for not Christ by the Law, but the Law by Christ, is sanctified, in whom it rests as on a seat or throne; so are they fools and blind, who, overlooking the sanctifier, pay honour to the things sanctified.

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 34: The temple and altar we may also understand of Christ Himself; the gold and the gifts, of the praise and sacrifice of prayer which we offer in Him and through Him. For not He by them, but they by Him, are sanctified.

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Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 23, 2010

I’ve included the Bishop’s brief summary of all of chapter 1, along with his paraphrasing (in purple) of the text he is commenting on. Notes in red are my additions.

In this chapter the Apostle, after the usual Apostolic salutation, returns thanks to God for the exalted virtues of faith and charity which his grace enabled the Thessalonians to display in the midst of sufferings and persecution (1-5). He consoles them, in the next place, by pointing to the rich rewards in store for them—to attain which, however, suffering is necessary—and to the heavy anger reserved, as is meet, for their persecutors on the day of judgment, when Christ will come in majesty to judge the world (5-8). He describes the coming of the Judge for the twofold purpose of punishing his enemies and rewarding his faithful servants, in whose exaltation, after suffering persecutions and humiliations, he shall be glorified, and his power and goodness rendered conspicuous—(8-10). Lastly, he prays God to grant the Thessalonians perseverance, and the grace to perform good works worthy of their vocation.

2Th 1:1  Paul and Sylvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians. In God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

Paul, Silas, and Timothy (salute) the Church or congregation of the faithful at Thessalonica, established by the power of God our Father, and by the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“In God our Father.” This shows the dignity of our vocation, which renders
us the adopted sons of God, and brethren of Christ, his Sort by nature.

To the church of the Thessalonians. the definite article “the” is not found in the Greek text which reads “To the church of Thessalonians”. By adding it (as many translations do) the impression is given that St Paul is employing a genitive of possession (i.e., “the church belonging to the Thessalonians”). Many translations translate “to the church at Thessalonica,” this is more in keeping with Paul’s normal way of addressing a church but it is not what the text reads.  Only here and in 1 Thessalonians does St Paul address a church by using a noun (Thessalonians), rather than a place name (Thessalonica).  I suspect this was done in the first letter to emphasize the Gentile make up of the church in Thessalonica in light of the comparison St Paul makes between them and their countrymen, and Jewish Christians and their countrymen in 2:14: “For you, brethren, are become followers of the churches of God which are in Judea, in Christ Jesus: for you also have suffered the same things from your own countrymen, even as they have from the Jews“. The usage carried over into this letter.

2Th 1:2  Grace unto you: and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The usual form of Apostolical salutation. The opening of this is the same as
that of the first Epistle, except in the words, “our Father” (verse 1), which in the first Epistle is, “the Father.”

When St Paul uses “grace and peace” in the salutation the words basically indicate his wish that the addressees be given the fullness of God’s salvific bounty. Since St Paul is Jewish these words should be seen in relation to (but not restricted to) their Old Covenant usage.  Grace is being used in the sense of the Hebrew hen: “May the fullness of God’s covenant blessings be yours.” Peace reflects the Hebrew shalom: “may God bestow on you a total state of well being.” Of course, these concepts were greatly enriched in relation to Christ and his revelation.

2Th 1:3  We are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith groweth exceedingly and the charity of every one of you towards each other aboundeth.

We are bound always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is meet and just, because your faith is greatly augmented and confirmed, and the charity of each of you towards his neighbor, more and more enlarged and intensified.

“As it is fitting,” i.e., meet and due, as an obligation of justice, “your faith
groweth,” both in fervour and intensity, as was proved by their constancy in enduring persecution on account of it. And “their charity abounded,” as their kindness to one another had shown. In the first Epjstle, the Apostle recommended the Thessalonians for their faith and charity. In this, he commends them for the increase of both, “of every one of you.” In Greek, of every one of you all.

Paul is bound to give thanks to God for what He (God) has done for the converts at Thessalonica. He goes on to describe this as fitting. The reason he is bound is because the converts faith groweth exceedingly and the charity of every one of them towards each other aboundeth. The two verbs for growth prepare for what is said in the next verse which begins with the conjunctive hoste (“So that”).

2Th 1:4  So that we ourselves also glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith, and in all your persecutions and tribulations: which you endure.

So that we ourselves make you the subject of our boasting with the other churches of God, on account of your faith, and of your patience, under persecutions and tribulations.

Instead of regretting and bewailing the tribulations of the Thessalonians, he
thanks God for them, and makes these tribulations the subject of his boasting with the other Churches, to whom he proposes the Thessalonians, as models for imitation in this respect. He joins “faith” to “patience,” because nothing so strongly animates us to endure the evils of this life with patience, as the faith of Christ, and the hope of future goods. “And in all our persecutions,” &c. ” And” is wanting in the Greek.

So that we ourselves also glory in you in the churches of God, &c. Their growth in faith and abundance of charity (verse 3) are reasons for glorying (literally, boasting) of them before to Christians in other places (see 1 Thess 2:19). This growth/abundance and glorying in their faith and endurance takes place in spite of the fact that they are suffering persecution and tribulation. This growth, abundance, faith and endurance under tribulationand persecution is divine in nature and not human accomplishment. For this reason, plus its intended outcome, (“that you man be counted worth of the kingdom”, vs 5),  St Paul is bound to give thanks as is fitting.

2Th 1:5  For an example of the just judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which also you suffer.

Which you endure, and which God permits to befall you, to serve as a demonstrative proof beforehand, that he will one day exercise just judgment upon your enemies; and that you may be rendered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you suffer (and which no man shall ever enter, according to the decrees of God, without suffering).

“For an example of the just judgment of God.” ” For ” is wanting in the Greek, which runs thus: an example of the just, &c. There is a diversity of opinion
regarding the meaning of the word “example.” If we look to the meaning of the Greek word, ἔνδειγμα (endeigma), it means a demonstration or proof beforehand, as if the Apostle meant to convey that the sufferings referred to were permitted by God for a twofold end: first, that these sufferings, or the men themselves thus afflicted, might serve as a convincing demonstration or proof even beforehand, that God would, one day, exercise a just judgment on their persecutors. For, “if such things are done in the green
wood, what shall be done in the dry?” And if judgment has been thus severely dealt out on the house of God—1 Peter, 4.—what shall be the rigours of the punishment which awaits the impious?—and secondly, that by their suffering, they might render themselves worthy of the kingdom of God, since, according to the decrees of Providence, in the present order of things, no one can enter glory but as Christ did, i.e., by suffering. This is the interpretation which best accords with the following verses “worthy of the kingdom of God.” The Vulgate is, “worthy in the kingdom of God.”

For an example of the just judgment of God. In his paraphrase the Bishop shows that he understands the just judgment to refer to God’s punishment of enemies: “that he will one day exercise just judgment upon your enemies.” Many scholars are of the same opinion and will often appeal to a passage like Philippians 1:28 for support. The thought here, however, is very different. God’s just judgment is here concerned with believers. The fact that they are experiencing growth in faith, abundance in charity, patience and endurance in spite of persecution and suffering-all the product of grace-is an indication of God’s just, favorable judgment towards them.  In verses 5, 6 and 7 St Paul sandwiches God’s just but unfavorable judgment of persecutors between his just, favorable judgment of believers:

2Th 1:5  For an example of the just judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which also you suffer.

2Th 1:6  Seeing it is a just thing with God to repay tribulation to them that trouble you:

2Th 1:7  And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with the angels of his power:

2Th 1:11  Wherefore also we pray always for you: That our God would make you worthy of his vocation and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness and the work of faith in power:

Wherefore, we always pray for you, that our God may render you worthy of his call (to this glory) by giving you perseverance to the end of your life, and so may fulfill the benevolent designs of his will (in electing you), and perfect by his all-powerful grace the work of your faith (by consummating it in glory).

“Wherefore,” i.e., in order that you may arrive at this exalted glory. We pray
him so to perfect in you the work of faith, &c. ” Of his vocation.” In Greek, of the vocation, referred to.

Wherefore also we pray always for you. This provides a connection with verse 3:  We are bound to give thanks always to God for you. What Paul has given thanks for he also prays will continue to develop.

That our God would make you worthy of his vocation.  The word worthy here (Greek, axioō), connects this verse with verse 5: “that you may be counted worthy (kataxioō) of the kingdom of God.”

2Th 1:12  That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And that our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you may in turn be glorified, and this owing to the gratuitous goodness of our God, and the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.” The final end of his prayer is, that Christ would be glorified in them; and the secondary end is, that they would be glorified in Christ, as the glory and dignity of the master tends to render the servant exalted and glorious.

“According to the grace of our God,” &c., lest they might attribute anything to themselves, the Apostle refi;rs all the praise of these blessings and favours to the gratuitous bounty of God.

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Bernardin de Piconio on Romans 12:1-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 23, 2010

For more on Romans by Piconio and others see here.

1. I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, through the mercy of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, your reasonable service.
2, And refuse to be conformed to this world, but be transformed in the newness of your sense: that you may prove what is the good will of God, well-pleasing and perfect

Chapter 12. Having stated and explained the doctrine which it is the object of this Epistle to enforce, justification by faith, the Apostle proceeds to show what should be its practical effect. Men redeemed by Christ, and who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, the adoption of the sons of God, and the hope of eternal glory, should present themselves a living sacrifice to God, and live as in the hope of a better and nobler life to come. And for this he lays down rules and directions, general and detailed.

1. I beseech you by the mercy of God. A strong form of adjuration, intended to express the earnestness of his entreaty. Offer to God, not sheep and cattle killed in sacrifice, but your own bodies, a living sacrifice. He makes no special mention of the soul, for soul and body are one man, and the sacrifice of the body involves that of the soul and will, and would be impossible without it. The body, made holy, will be a pleasing and acceptable sacrifice.
This is the reasonable service, the worship due from the intelligent and rational creature to the Creator. The Syriac has: made acceptable to God by rational ministry, or spiritual worship. This sacrifice of the body appears to be what our Lord referred to when he said, worship him in spirit, in the due supremacy of the spirit over the flesh, and in truth, in Catholic belief (see John 4:23-24).

Saint Thomas observes that man has a threefold gift from God: his soul, his body, and his outward possessions. His soul, the Christian should sacrifice to God by the humility of devotion and contrition: his goods, by liberal almsgiving: his body, by mortification. It is this last to which the Apostle particularly refers in this passage. Of this Christian and spiritual sacrifice, the spirit is the priest; our heart, the altar; contrition and mortification, the two-edged sword that slays the victim; charity the fire that consumes it. The victim is the body, under sentence of death for sin, yet living to God, and animated by a pure and holy mind, which directs and offers itself, its body, and all its body’s actions, for the glory of God.

The Jew or the pagan may offer dumb and irrational victims, incapable of praising God or pleasing him. The Christian offers his own body, living, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost in Baptism.

How shall the body be made a victim? asks Saint Chrysostom. Let the eye look not at evil, and it is made a victim. Let the tongue speak no word of shame, and it is an oblation. Let the hand do no injustice, and it becomes a holocaust. This is not all. Let the hand give alms. Let the tongue bless those who curse us. Let the ear be always open to the words of God. Such a victim as this has no blemish; it includes the first fruits of all others. Hands, feet, mouth, all the members of the body, yield all as first fruits due to God.

2. Be not conformed to this world. The Greek: be not made like the figure of this world. The Syriac: be not assimilated to this world. Live not as those live whose hopes and aims are bounded by anything on this side of the grave. Saint Chrysostom and Theodoret remark that Saint Paul speaks of all things belonging to this world, its wealth, power, honours, as figures, because they pass away. The fashion of the world passes. But he speaks of what belongs to the spirit as form, because this alone is true, solid, permanent. This distinction is founded on the Greek text, and does not appear in the Vulgate. We are not to be transfigured into the image of the world by following its desires, but transformed into the likeness of Christ by charity. In the newness of your sense, the freshness of all that you now feel and know, as if a new world was opened to your view.

That you may prove what is the will of God. That the will of God is the rule, measure, source, and origin of all sanctity. This knowledge results from the interior renovation just spoken of. The more we are reformed in the spirit of our mind, the more we are enlightened by God to see and understand what is good, for beginners; what is well-pleasing, for the more experienced; what is perfect, for those who see perfection before them, and strive to attain it.

The rules and principles laid down in this and the following three chapters, are rules for the secular, not the religious life. They are addressed to men of all degrees and orders, living in the world. There is the more reason to guard against being transfigured into its image, sharing its paltry and finite aspirations, and its sordid aims and hopes.

3. I say, therefore, through the grace which is given to me, to all who are among you, not to be wiser than you ought, but to be wise to sobriety: and to each one according as God has divided the measure of faith.
4. For as in one body we have many members, but all our members have not the same action:
5. So we many are one body in Christ, and each members of one another

3. I say, therefore, as the first point to be noticed in the will of God, and speaking by the authority of my apostolic ministry, that none among you, Jew or Gentile—a distinction entirely effaced by the gift of justification by
faith in Christ—ought to think too highly of himself, or set himself above others by the assumption of superior wisdom. Let each keep within the measure of the gifts God has imparted to him, whether the invisible gift of
faith, or the visible and miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are not imparted indiscriminately to all.

4. In the human body, St. Thomas observes, there are: 1. Unity of the body. 2. Plurality of members. 3. Diversity of function. So in the Church, which is the mystical body of Christ, there are: a. The multitude of believers. b. Union with Christ and with one another, internally by faith and charity, externally by the Sacraments. c. Difference of functions and offices, all tending to the utility and advantage of the whole. These are distinguished into various gifts and graces, to which the Apostle refers further on. Each, therefore, should be contented with his own place and function; all should
depend on Christ their head: all should seek the profit and welfare of the whole.

6. And having gifts differing according to the grace which is given to us, whether prophecy, according to the reason of faith.
7. Or ministry in ministration, or he who teaches in doctrine;
8. Who exhorts in exhorting, who distributes in simplicity,
who rules in solicitude, who compassionates in hilarity

6. Having different gifts, distributed to us by God’s grace and kindness (understand) let us use these graces with moderation and for the benefit and advantage of the Church.

Prophecy, or the interpretation of the Scriptures, should be kept carefully within the reason or rule of faith.

Ministry in the ecclesiastical order, should be administered with due care for the welfare and edification of the Church. He who teaches and explains the doctrine of the Gospel, to children, converts or catechumens; and he,
whose function is to exhort to holiness of life, are to discharge these functions with sobriety and modesty. Those whose duty it is to distribute the alms of the Church, entrusted for that purpose, to the poor, must do so with rectitude and impartiality. The prelate should be ever solicitous for the safety of his flock.

He who shows mercy, relieves the temporal wants of the poor, should do so with alacrity and cheerfulness. In so doing, says Saint Chrysostom, you will relieve his selfrespect as much as his passing wants. There is nothing
so humiliating as to accept relief from charity, unless the frankness and cheerfulness of the giver obliterates the sense of inferiority. Unless you seem ,to receive more than you give, you will cast down the receiver more than you comfort him. And there is every cause for hilarity on your own account. Who would look gloomy, receiving a kingdom? Who is sad at obtaining the remission of his sins? Do not think of the value of what you give, but of what it will bring you in. If the sower of a field is glad when it is sown, though uncertain of the future, much more should he be glad who has heaven for his field.

In all thy gifts show a cheerful countenance (Ecclus 35:2) Give in gladness of heart: in cheerfulness of countenance: in affability of words.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 14:1, 7-14 for Sunday Mass, August 29

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 23, 2010

Text in red, if any, represent my additions.

Ver 1. And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

CYRIL; Although our Lord knew the malice of the Pharisees, yet He became their guest, that He might benefit by His words and miracles those who were present. Whence it follows, And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him; to see whether He would despise the observance of the law, or do any thing that was forbidden on the sabbath day. When then the man with the dropsy came into the midst of them, He rebukes by a question the insolence of the Pharisees, who wished to detect Him (see verses 2-6, not part of today’s reading.Verse 1 is in fact an introduction to all that transpires at the meal; notice how verse 1 speaks of the Pharisees watching Jesus, while in verse 7 it is stated that Jesus is “marking (paying attention to) how they chose the first seats.” Our Lord has turned the table on them).

Ver  7. And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying to them,8. When you are bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honor man than you be bidden of him;9. And he that bade you and him come and say to you, Give this man place; and you begin with shame to take the lowest room.10. But when you are bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade you comes, he may say to you, Friend, go up higher: then shall you have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with you.11. For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.

AMBROSE; First the dropsical man is cured, in whom the abundant discharges of the flesh crushed down the powers of the soul quenched the ardor of the Spirit. Next, humility is taught, when at the nuptial feast the desire of the highest place is forbidden. As it is said, And he spoke, Sit not down in the highest room.

CYRIL; For to rush forward hastily to honors which are not fitting for us, indicates rashness. and casts a slur upon our actions. Hence it follows, lest a more honorable man than you be invited, &c.

CHRYS. And so the seeker of honor obtained not that which he coveted, but suffered a defeat, and busying himself how he might be loaded with honors, is treated with dishonor. And because nothing is of so much worth as modesty, He leads His hearer to the opposite of this; not only for- him to seek the highest place, but bidding him search for the lowest. As it follows; But when you are bidden go and sit down in the lowest room.

CYRIL; For if a man wishes not to be set before others, he obtains this honor according to the divine word. As it follows; That when he that bade you comes, he may say to you, Friend, go up higher. In these words He does not harshly chide, but gently admonishes; for a word of advice is enough for the wise. And thus for their humility men are crowned with honors; as it follows, Then shall you have worship.

BASIL; To take then the lowest place at a feast, according to our Lord’s command, is becoming to every man, but again to rush contentiously after this is to be condemned as a breach of order and cause of tumult; and a strife raised about it, will place you on a level with those who dispute concerning the highest place. Wherefore, as our Lord here says, it becomes him who makes the feast to arrange the order of sitting down. Thus in patience and love should we mutually bear ourselves, following all things decently according to order, not for external appearance or public display; nor should we seem to study or affect humility by violent contradiction, but rather gain it by condescension or by patience. For resistance or opposition is a far stronger token of pride than taking the first seat at meat, when we obtain it by authority.

THEOPHYL. Now let no one deem the above precepts of Christ to be trifling, and unworthy of the sublimity and grandeur of the Word of God. For you would not call him a merciful physician who professed to heal the gout, but refilled to cure a scar on the finger or a tooth-ache. Besides, how can that passion of vainglory appear slight, which moved or agitated those who sought the first seats. It became then the Master of humility to cut off every branch of the bad root. But observe this also, that when the supper was ready, and the wretched guests were contending for precedency before the eyes of the Savior, there was a fit occasion for advice.

CYRIL; Having shown therefore from so slight an example the degradation of the ambitious and the exaltation of the humble-minded, He adds a great thing to a little, pronouncing a general sentence, as it follows, For every one who exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. This is spoken according to the divine judgment, not after human experience, in which they who desire after glory obtain it, while others who humble themselves remain inglorious.

THEOPHYL. Moreover, he is not to be respected in the end, nor by all men, who thrusts himself into honors; but while by some he is honored, by others he is disparaged, and sometimes even by the very men who outwardly honor him.

BEDE; But as the Evangelist calls this admonition a parable, we must briefly examine what is its mystical meaning. Whosoever being bidden has come to the marriage feast of Christ’s Church, being united to the members of the Church by faith, let him not exalt himself as higher than others by boasting of his merits. For he will have to give place to one more honorable who is bidden afterwards, seeing that he is overtaken by the activity of those who followed him, and with shame he occupies the lowest place, now that knowing better things of the others he brings low whatever high thoughts he once had of his own works. But a man sits in the lowest place according to that verse, The greater you are, humble yourself in all things. But the Lord when He comes, whomsoever He shall find humble, blessing him with the name of friend, He will command him to go up higher. For whoever humbles himself as a little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. But it is well said, Then shall you have glory, that you may not begin to seek now what is kept for you in the end. It may also be understood, even in this life, for daily does God come to His marriage feast, despising the proud; and often giving to the humble such great gifts of His Spirit, that the assembly of those who sit at meat, i.e. the faithful, glorify them in wonder. But in the general conclusion which is added, it is plainly declared that the preceding discourse of our Lord must be understood typically. For not every one who exalts himself before men is abased; nor is he who humbles himself in their sight, exalted by them. But whoever exalts himself because of his merits, the Lord shall bring low, and him who humbles himself on account of his mercies, shall He exalt.

Ver  12. Then said he also to him that bade him, When you make a dinner or a supper, call not your friends, nor your brethren, neither your kinsmen, nor your rich neighbors; lest they also bid you again, and recompense be made you.13. But when you makes a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:14. And you shall be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

THEOPHYL. The supper being composed of two parties, the invited and the inviter, and having already exhorted the invited to humility, He next rewards by His advice the inviter, guarding him against making a feast to gain the favor of men. Hence it is said, Then said he also to him that bade him, When you makes a dinner or a supper, call not your friends.

CHRYS. Many are the sources from which friendships are made. Leaving out all unlawful ones, we shall speak only of those which are natural and moral; the natural are, for instance, between father and son, brother and brother, and such like; which He meant, saying, Nor your brethren, nor your kinsmen; the moral, when a man has become your guest or neighbor; and with reference to these He says, nor your neighbors.

BEDE; Brothers then, and friends, and the rich, are not forbidden, as though it were a crime to entertain one another, but this, like all the other necessary intercourse among men, is strewn to fail in meriting the reward of everlasting life; as it follows, Lest perchance they also bid you again, and a recompense be made you. He says not, “and sin be committed against you.” And the like to this He speaks in another place, And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thank have you? There are however certain mutual feastings of brothers and neighbors, which not only incur a retribution in this life, but also condemnation hereafter. And these are celebrated by the general gathering together of all, or the hospitality in turn of each one of the company; and they meet together that they may perpetrate foul deeds, and through excess of wine be provoked to all kinds of lustful pleasure.

CHRYS. Let us not then bestow kindness on others under the hope of return. For this is a cold motive, and hence it is that such a friendship soon vanishes. But if you invite the poor, God, who never forgets, will be your debtor, as it follows, But when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind.

CHRYS. For the humbler our brother is, so much c the more does Christ come through him and visit us. For he who entertains a great man does it often from vainglory. And elsewhere, But very often interest is his object, that through such a one he may gain promotion. I could indeed mention many who for this pay court to the most distinguished of the nobles, that through their assistance they may obtain the greater favor from the prince. Let us not then ask those who can recompense us, as it follows, And you shall be blessed, for they cannot recompense you. And let us not be troubled when we receive no return of a kindness, but when we do; for if we have received it we shall receive nothing more, but if man does not repay us, God will. As it follows, For you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

BEDE; And though all rise again, yet it is called the resurrection of the just, because in the resurrection they doubt not that they are blessed. Whoever then bids the poor to his feast shall receive a reward hereafter. But he who invites his friends, brothers, and the rich, has received his reward. But if he does this for God’s sake after the example of the sons of Job, God, who Himself commanded all the duties of brotherly love, will reward him.

CHRYS. But you say, the poor are unclean and filthy. Wash him, and make him to sit with you at table. If he has dirty garments, give him clean ones. Christ comes to thee through him, and do you stand trifling?

GREG. NYSS. Do not then let them lie as though they were nothing worth. Reflect who they are, and you will discover their preciousness. They have put on the image of the Savior. Heirs of future blessings, bearing the keys of the kingdom, able accusers and excusers, not speaking themselves, but examined by the judge.

CHRYS. It would become you then to receive them above in the best chamber, but if you shrink, at least admit Christ below, where are the menials and servants. Let the poor man be at least your door keeper. For where there is alms, the devil durst not enter. And if you sit not down with them, at any rate send them the dishes from your table.

ORIGEN; But mystically, he who shuns vain-glory calls to a spiritual banquet the poor, that is, the ignorant, that he may enrich them; the weak, that is, those with offended consciences, that he may heal them; the lame, that is, those who have wandered from reason, that he may make their paths straight; the blind, that is, those who discern not the truth, that they may behold the true light. But it is said, They cannot recompense thee, i.e. they know not how to return an answer

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