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 November, 2010

Photo Slideshow

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2010

Okay, so I’m not much of an artist, still, some of these aren’t that bad. Three of the photos are not mine but were acquired from the public domain: the black and white drawing of the prophet Amos, the altar with the ornate spires, and St Paul with the sword

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Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2010

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Nov 30: Advent Meditation by St Alphonsus~Motives of Confidence that are given to us by the Incarnation of the Word

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2010

Motives of Confidence that are given to us by the Incarnation
of the Word.
Quomodo non etiam cum illo omnia nobis donavit?
How hath he not also, with him, given us all things?
Rom 8:32.


Consider, my soul, that the eternal Father, in giving us his beloved Son for our Redeemer, could have given us no stronger motives for confiding in his mercy and loving his infinite bounty; for he could have given us no more certain token of the desire he has for our good, and of the immense love which he bears us, inasmuch as in giving us his Son, he has nothing left to give us. Let all men, therefore, O eternal God, praise Thy infinite charity.


How hath He not also, with Him, given us all things? Since God has given us his Son, whom he loved as himself, how can we fear that he will deny us any other good that we ask of him? If, therefore, he has given us his Son, he will not refuse us pardon for the offences which we have committed against him, provided we detest them; he will not refuse us the grace to resist temptations, if we implore it of him; he will not refuse us his holy love, if we desire it; he will not, finally, refuse us Paradise, if we do not render ourselves unworthy of it by falling into sin. Behold how Jesus himself assures us of this: If you ask the Father anythitig in My name, He will give it you (Jn 16:23)

Encouraged, therefore, O my God, by this promise, I beg of Thee, for the love of Jesus Thy Son, to pardon me all the injuries that I have done Thee; give me holy perseverance in Thy grace until death; give me Thy holy love; may I detach myself from everything to love Thee alone, O infinite Goodness; give me Paradise in order that I may come and love Thee there with all my strength, and forever, without fear of ever ceasing to love Thee.


In a word, the Apostle says that, having obtained Jesus Christ, we have been enriched with every good, so that there is no grace wanting to us: In all things you are made rich in Him . . ., so that nothing is wanting toyou in any grace (1 Cor 1:5).

Yes, my Jesus, Thou art every good; Thou alone sufficest me; for Thee alone do I sigh; if once I drove Thee away from me by my sins, I repent of it now with my whole heart. Forgive me, and return to me, O Lord; and if Thou art already with me, as I hope, leave me not again, or, rather, suffer me not to drive Thee away from my soul again. My Jesus, my Jesus, my treasure,
my love, my All, I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee, and will love Thee forever. O Mary, my hope, make me always to love Jesus.

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Nov 30: Christians Ought to Desire Christ’s Last Advent

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2010

Tuesday after the First Sunday of Advent.
Christians ought to desire Christ s last Advent.


“When these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand” (Luke 21:25).

What joy, what consolation for the just to see, in the glory of His majesty, Jesus Christ, whom they have followed and loved in the humility of His flesh; to see Him as the Supreme Judge of those who had unjustly condemned Him; to contemplate with their eyes His sacred humanity, the precious ark of our salvation (Ps 131:8), His adorable body, His life-giving wounds, whence will flow unceasingly, as from an inexhaustible source of love, the balm of heavenly sweetness. What a happiness, above all, to know with certainty that theywill be forever inseparably united to their Beloved! O ye heavens, we shall see in our flesh (Job 19:27), and with our own eyes Jesus, our God and our Saviour! That sweet and delicious hope which consoled the patience of Job, and which he preserved in his heart, can sustain us also in the trials of this life.


Jesus, called “the desire of the everlasting hills” (Gen 49:26), should be the constant object of our desires; we ought to love His last coming (2 Tim 4:8); we should ask for it often with the saints, because on that day He will place all things directly under His power; He will overcome all His enemies and will ruleover them. On that day also the glory and the beatitude of the saints will be perfect, because their bodies will rise again, and “death will be swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15:54). The soul and body, which had been separated for a time, will be re-united to enjoy together the possession of God, and to bless and praise Him eternally. Lift up your hearts and rejoice on this day (Matt 5:12). Lord, may this blessed day not tarry, may Thy kingdom come! Come, Lord Jesus (Apoc 22:20), live and reign in us forever.


Since Jesus is our sovereign Good, our only happiness consists in being united to Him; and since it is our greatest and an inconceivable misfortune to be separated from Him, we ought, then, to desire the former as much as we should fear the latter. We ought, above all things, to avoid offending so good a God, and constantly endeavor to please Him; we ought to tremble at the
very approach or shadow of sin, which alone can cause
us to lose Him. This fear is not only for sinners, but for the just also, as long as they are upon earth. “Fear the Lord, all ye that are His saints” said David (Ps 33:10); for, adds Job, even the pillars of heaven tremble and shudder before Him (Job 26:11 ). We should also attach ourselves to Him in this life with a
faithful and constant love, if we wish to possess Him forever in eternity; since, according to the saying of the apostle, “There is now, therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not accord ing to the flesh” (Rom8:1).~By a Monk of Sept-Fonts.

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Juan de Maldonado on Matt 11:2-10 for the 2nd Sunday of Advent (Extraordinary Form)

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2010

This post contains commentary on the Gospel Reading used for the Second Sunday of Advent in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This reading differs from that used in the Ordinary Form of the Rite. The Epistle Reading is the same, and commentary on it can be found here and here.

Mat 11:2  Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples he said to him:

Maldonado offers no comment on this verse, he does however treat of the verse in relation to the following verse.

Mat 11:3  Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another?

Art thou He that art to come? The passage is difficult, because a doubt is apt to arise as to how John, who had confessed Christ to be the Lamb of God before He had done any miracles, could appear really to doubt after so many. S. Justin Martyr, indeed (or whoever is the author), in the 38th question to the Orthodox, and Tertullian (iv., Against Marcion), do not hesitate to say that John did really doubt. Tertullian adds what is worse, that he doubted because the spirit of prophecy had passed from him to Christ. Some, as this was most senseless, have sought another explanation: that John did not doubt whether Christ were the Lamb of God and the true Messiah, such as he had before testified him to be, but whether He would die and descend into hell. To this opinion, for want of a better, the greatest number of the Ancients incline (S. Ambrose, vii.. On S. Luke; Eusebius, Einissa Hom.; Jul. Pomerius, book iii., Cont. Jnd.; Venantius, On the Apostles’ Creed; S. Gregory, Horn. 1. on  Ezekiel). S. Chrysostom (Hom. xxxvii.), also, and Theophylact (Comment., in loc) speak of it, but they both rightly refute it. For how could John be ignorant of the death of Christ, and His descent into hell, of which no
prophet, and no man of learning who had studied the works of the prophets, was ignorant?

The opinion therefore of S. Hilary, S. Chrysostom, The Author, S. Cyril of Alexandria (2 Thesauri., iv.), Euthymius, Theophylact, Rupertus, that John himself had no doubts, but that his disciples had some, is true. For they so loved their own master, that though he preferred Christ far before himself, and declared that he was not worthy to loose His shoestrings, they would not believe him. They thought, perhaps, that John spoke from modesty, not
truth, and, as much less as he made himself than Christ, so much the greater they believed him to be. Hence came their jealousy of Christ (S. John 3:26). When, then, John saw his death to be at hand, and he heard of these miracles
which must have caused even the hardest to believe, he sent his disciples to Him, that, as they had not believed himself, they might believe Christ’s miracles. He sent them, therefore, as if he himself doubted, because they would never have ventured to ask Christ in their own names. So the most skilful physician feigns himself sick to cure those that are sick (2 Cor 11:29). “Who is weak, and I am not weak?” It is clear that this is the true meaning
from the reason given in verse 2. “When John had heard in the prison the works of Christ.” What works? His miracles. Did the miracles of Christ cause doubt in him who not only believed in Him, but also proclaimed Him before any of them were done? He sent his disciples, therefore, that they might see them and cease to doubt.

S. Jerome and Bede add something further: that the disciples of John did not doubt whether Christ was the true Redeemer, but whether He would undergo death and descend into hell; and they were sent to Him to learn this. But the idea does not agree with the context. For how would they learn from the miracles whether Christ would die and go down into hell?

Mat 11:4  And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen.

Relate to John. Christ knew that they came to ask for themselves, not for
John; but He would not show this, lest He should seem to accuse them of unbelief and simulation. He said, therefore, “Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen”. Or perhaps they thought that John doubted truly, and not merely in pretence. For it is not to be believed that he said this to the disciples that they might question Christ the more freely, and that, the master believing afterwards the more easily, and, as it were, changing his
opinion, they also must change theirs. When we descend to vice we are willing to be leaders. We are ashamed to turn to virtue without a leader.

Christ knew that they came to ask for themselves, not for John; but He would not show this, lest He should seem to accuse them of unbelief and simulation. He said, therefore, “Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen”. Or perhaps they thought that John doubted truly, and not merely in pretence. For it is not to be believed that he said this to the disciples that they might question Christ the more freely, and that, the master believing afterwards the more easily, and, as it were, changing his opinion, they also must change theirs. When we descend to vice we are willing to be leaders. We are ashamed to turn to virtue without a leader.

What you have heard and seen.  “You have heard of some of my miracles from those who saw them, and some you have seen yourself’ For S. Luke (7:21) writes that Christ healed many blind before them, and cured many that were afflicted with various diseases, and cast out many devils. But why did not Christ answer plainly that He was the Christ, when He said so to the woman of Samaria though she did not ask Him? (S.John 4:26). S. Chrysostom and Rupertus reply that He would convince unbelievers by deeds, not words
(as S. John 5:33-36, and 10:37, 38, and 15:24). Why, then, did He say that He was Christ to the Samarian woman? Because He knew, as the result proved, that she would easily believe His words?

Mat 11:5  The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them.

The poor have the Gospel preached to them. Theophylact and Euthymius take the verb actively, as if they said: The poor preach the Gospel; for they say that the Apostles are called the poor, because they were in a
humble and poor condition; and the verb ευαγγελιζονται  is not always used in a passive sense, as has been said in the Preface. But sometimes it is so (as Heb 4:2; 1 Pet 1:25; 4:6); and this is the only meaning to be given to it here. For while the Gospel should be preached to all alike, Christ mentions only the poor: firstly, because this was to be numbered among the miracles; for what is more wonderful than that a poor man should be made a King? and secondly, that He might make allusion to the Prophet Isa 61:1), and show that He was the Christ of whom the Prophet spoke.

Mat 11:6  And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me.

That shall not be scandalized in me. Whoever did not derive death from the source whence he ought to have gained life, and whoever was moved to
belief by the miracles, would not have been moved to accuse Him, like the Scribes and Pharisees, who said that He cast out devils by the prince of the devils. For He was a rock of offence and a stone of stumbling (Isa 8:14; Rom 9:33), and placed for the ruin of many (S. Luke 2:34), but not for those who believe. To these He was the chief corner-stone elect—as 1 Pet 2:6, 7. S. Jerome and Bede think that by these words Christ meant to mark the disciples of John who did not believe.

Mat 11:7  And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind?

And when they went their way. Why not before? S, Chrysostom and Euthymius answer that Christ would not appear to praise and flatter John before His disciples.

Jesus began to say. Why? Lest they who were present and had heard of
the message of John should think that he had changed his former opinion of Christ from which he had borne such exalted testimony to Him, or had really begun to doubt, and they also should waver in faith—as S. Jerome, S. Chrysostom, Cyril (lib. ii., cap. 4), Bede, The Author, Theophylact, and Euthymius have observed, and which the following comparison of the “reed” confirms. As if He had said: “John was not a man of light mind, and apt to
change his opinion like a reed “.

Mat 11:8  But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings.

What went ye out to see? Why did not Christ say rather: “What manner of man do you think John?” in allusion to what had been said (3:5, and S. Luke 3:7?; as if He should say: “There is no reason why you should regret having gone out to see a man of singular character, as if he had changed for the worse; for he is greater than you thought him when you went out to see him”.

Mat 11:9  But what went you out to see? A prophet? Yea I tell you, and more than a prophet.

Maldonado offers no specific, separate comment on this verse, but see the next comment.

Mat 11:10  For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before my face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

For this is he. He proves what He had said before, that John was greater than a prophet; for He was in a manner an angel, and not an ordinary angel, but that most noble one of which God had said through Malachi: “Behold, I send My angel, and he shall prepare the way before My face” (3:1). Other prophets and priests are called angels and prophets by the same Prophet (2:7, and Acts 7″53), but in another sense than John. They because they were sent to men; John because He was sent to Christ, that is, to God Himself. And even before His face; that is, to go most immediately before Him, which is the privilege of the most honoured friend; other servants following and not going before the Master, as has been observed by S. Chrysostom and The Author.

In this sense is to be understood John’s denial that he was a prophet (S. John 1:21); for he was not one like the rest, who foretold the coming long after of Christ. He was not a prophet, because he did not foretell Christ as about to come, but he pointed Him out with his finger as present. He was a prophet, as having recognised Christ by the Holy Spirit, when no one had pointed Him out; although Christ denied him to be a prophet in one sense, and he denied himself to be one in another,—Christ to show that he was greater, he himself to show that he was less, but each with the same end; because he was not a prophet like the rest.

Why he should be more than a prophet is not difficult to be understood. For his life was most notable; and though he did no miracle, he was himself a perpetual miracle. Conceived by miracle, recognising his coming Lord while yet in the womb, and pointing Him to his mother; by miracle loosing his father’s tongue when circumcised; living by miracle among the wild beasts; and, as The Author writes, not only equalling angels, but even surpassing them; who when he was a man and not an angel led an angelic and not a human life, so that even Jews, and not wholly without reason, thought that he was a true angel, as Eusebius (De Demons, ix. 8) says.

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Nov 30: Juan de Maldonado on Today’s Gospel (Matt 4:18-22)

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2010

Mat 4:18  And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishers).

By the sea of Galilee. This was not a sea, but a lake formed by the influx of
the Jordan into a lower basin. It was called a sea from the Hebrew custom, as we learn from S. Jerome, of terming every collection of water such. It bears the title of Galilee, because it is situated on the confines of the two Galilees;
formerly, according to Pliny, it was called Tarichea. It had the name of Tiberias from a city which Herod had built on its coast not long before, and called Tiberias, from his desire to secure the favour of the Emperor Tiberius, as we learn from Josephus (Antiq., xviii. 3). It was called the Lake of Gennesareth, because, according to Hcgesippus, the whole region was termed Gennesareth. Strabo, Pliny, and Hegesippus have given descriptions of it.

Peter and Andrew. The different Evangelists relate the calling of SS. Peter
and Andrew in different ways. S. Mark (3:13) and S. Luke (6:13) seem to speak as if all the Apostles had been called at once; S. John (1:40, 41) signifies that S. Andrew was called first, and then S. Peter; S. Luke (5:10) says that S. Peter was called in another manner; for Christ when not passing by, but preaching from the ship of Peter, and astonishing him by the miraculous draught of fishes, called Peter: no mention being made of S. Andrew.

The first question is easily answered. SS. Mark (3:13) and Luke (6:13) do not speak of the call of the Apostles as to follow Christ, but that they might be made Apostles: for they were first disciples, and then apostles, from the
number of the disciples—that is, they were chosen to be masters to teach others; for they were chosen as bishops are now from the body of presbyters.

The second question is more difficult. It is difficult to see how they who say that SS. Peter and Andrew were called only once can prove their point. It is easily explained if we say that there were two callings of SS. Peter and Andrew—one in which they were admitted, not as disciples and companions, but as simple hearers, of which S. John speaks (1:41); the other when they were so called that they left all things and followed Christ for good, as S. Augustin (Tract, on S. John vii.), S. Chrysostom (Hom.XIV. on S. Matt) Euthymius, and Theophylact explain it. Still more easy is it if we hold three callings—the first that of S. John, the second of S. Luke, the third of S. Matthew. The first two were not to the office of Apostles, but of friendship; the third was of Discipleship and Apostleship. N. de Lyra was of this opinion, of which I most thoroughly approve. Nor does it appear probable that any was called by Christ for any other purpose than that he might be made an
Apostle, and leave all and follow Christ. If so, the two first should rather be termed admonitions than calls, and, as it were, preparations for the future call, lest the two greatest of the Apostles should appear to have been too
little obedient to the call of Christ, when we read that the other Apostles at the first invitation left all and followed. In fact, none of the other Evangelists style the two first “calls”. In S. John (1:42) Christ only foretold to Peter what he should be, and S. Luke (5:11) does not say that they were called by Christ, but that when they saw the miracle of the fishes, they brought their ships to land and left all and followed Christ. We may explain this, not as if these things were wholly left and abandoned then—as when finally called they gave up and forsook everything, as S. Peter afterwards said (S. Matt 19:27)—but that they left their ships and nets, as the Samaritan woman left her waterpot, and came to the city, and said to the people, “Come, see a man who has told me all things whatsoever I have done” (S. Jolin 4:28, 29). S. Matthew says here that they were called, because he relates the actual calling in which they left all things and followed Christ.

Mat 4:19  And he saith to them: Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men.

Come ye after Me. A Hebraism, that is, “follow Me”.

Fishers of men. The allusion is to their former employment (Ps 7:70,
71). At the same time the work of the Apostles is described to be to fish for men and bring them to Christ, the chief Fisherman. For it is He who casts the nets into the sea, and gathers fish of every kind (13:47); for by His word and power the fish are taken, and without Him they labour in vain throughout the whole night (S. Luke 5:5). Christians are the fish, for they arc born in the waters of baptism. Christ was therefore called by the Ancients ἰχθύς, a fish: whose anagram is “Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ,” Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour, on which we have a poem of the Erythraean Sibyl (Tertullian, De Baptismo; S. Augustin, xviii. 23; Prosper, De Promiss. ct Prced. ii. 39). For a good explanation of the fish as the a symbol of the fish see here.

Mat 4:20  And they immediately leaving their nets, followed him. Mat 4:21  And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets: and he called them.
Mat 4:22  And they forthwith left their nets and father, and followed him.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 11:2-11 for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, Dec 5 (Extraordinary Form)

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 29, 2010

Please note that this reading will be used next week for the Ordinary Form of the Rite and so will be published again.

Ver 2. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,3. And said unto him, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?”4. Jesus answered and said unto them, “Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:5. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.6. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

Gloss, non occ.: The Evangelist had shewn above how by Christ’s miracles and teaching, both His disciples and the multitudes had been instructed; he now shews how this instruction had reached even to John’s disciples, so that they seemed to have some jealousy towards Christ; “John, when he had heard in his bonds the works of Christ, sent two of his disciples to say unto him, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?

Greg., Hom in Ev. vi. 1: We must enquire how John, who is a prophet and more than a prophet, who made known the Lord when He came to be baptized, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sine of the world! — why, when he was afterwards cast into prison, he should send his disciples to ask, “Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?”

Did he not know Him whom he had pointed out to others; or was he uncertain whether this was He, whom by foretelling, by baptizing, and by making known, he had proclaimed to be He?

Ambrose, Ambros., in Luc 7:19: Some understand it thus; That it was a great thing that John should be so far a prophet, as to acknowledge Christ, and to preach remission of sin; but that like a pious prophet; he could not think that He whom he had believed to be He that should come, was to suffer death; he doubted therefore though not in faith, yet in love. So Peter also doubted, saying, “This be far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee.” [Mat_16:22]

Chrys.: But this seems hardly reasonable. For John was not in ignorance of His death, but was the first to preach it, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh. away the sins of the world.” For thus calling Him the Lamb, he plainly shews forth the Cross; and no otherwise than by the Cross did He take away the sins of the world. Also how is he a greater prophet than these, if he knew not those things which all the prophets knew; for Isaiah says, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter.” [Isa_53:7]

Greg.: But this question may be answered in a better way if we attend to the order of time. At the waters of Jordan he had affirmed that this was the Redeemer of the world: after he was thrown into prison, he enquires if this was He that should come — not that he doubted that this was the Redeemer of the world, but he asks that he may know whether He who in His own person had come into the world, would in His own person descend also to the world below.

Jerome: Hence he frames his question thus, “Art thou he that is to come?” Not, Art Thou He that hast come? And the sense is, Direct me, since I am about to go down into the lower parts of the earth, whether I shall announce Thee to the spirits beneath also; or whether Thou as the Son of God may not taste death, but will send another to this sacrament?

Chrys.: But is this a more reasonable explanation than the other? for why then did he not say, Art Thou He that is coming to the world beneath? and not simply, “Art thou he that is to come?”

And the reason of his seeking to know, namely, that he might preach Him there, is even ridiculous. For the present life is the time of grace, and after death the judgment and punishment; therefore there was no need of a forerunnner thither. Again, if the unbelievers who should believe after death should be saved, then none would perish; all would then repent and worship; “for every knee shall bow, both of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth.” [Phi_2:10]

Gloss, non occ.: But it ought to be observed, that Jerome and Gregory did not say that John was to proclaim Christ’s coming to the world beneath, to the end that the unbelievers there might be converted to the faith, but that the righteous who abode in expectation of Christ, should be comforted by His near approach.

Hilary: It is indeed certain, that he who as forerunner proclaimed Christ’s coming, as prophet knew Him when He stood before him, and worshipped Him as Confessor when He came to him, could not fall into error from such abundant knowledge. Nor can it be believed that the grace of the Holy Spirit failed him when thrown into prison, seeing He should hereafter minister the light of His power to the Apostles when they were in prison.

Jerome: Therefore he does not ask as being himself ignorant. But as the Saviour asks where Lazarus is buried, [margin note Joh_11:23] in order that they who shewed Him the sepulchre might be so far prepared for faith, and believe that the dead was verily raised again — so John, about to be put to death by Herod, sends his disciples to Christ, that by this opportunity of seeing His signs and wonders they might believe on Him, and so might learn through their master’s enquiry.

But John’s disciples had somewhat of bitterness and jealousy towards the Lord, as their former enquiry shewed, “Why do thee and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

Chrys.: Yet whilst John was with them he held them rightly convinced concerning Christ. But when he was going to die, he was more concerned on their behalf. For he feared that he might leave his disciples a prey to some pernicious doctrine, and that they should remain separate from Christ, to whom it had been his care to bring all his followers from the beginning.

Had he said to them, Depart from me, for He is better than me, he would not have prevailed with them, as they would have supposed that he spoke this in humility, which opinion would have drawn them more closely to him. What then does he? He waits to hear through them that Christ works miracles.

Nor did he send all, but two only, (whom perhaps he chose as more ready to believe than the rest,) that the reason of his enquiry might be unsuspected, and that from the things themselves which they should see they might understand the difference between him and Jesus.

Hilary: John then is providing not for his own, but his disciples’ ignorance; that they might know that it was no other whom he had proclaimed, he sent them to see His works, that the works might establish what John had spoken; and that they should not look for any other Christ, than Him to whom His works had borne testimony.

Chrys.: So also Christ as knowing the mind of John, said not, I am He; for thus He would have put an obstacle in the way of those that heard Him, who would have at least thought within themselves, if they did not say, what the Jews did say to Christ, “Thou bearest witness of thyself.” [Joh_6:13]

Therefore He would have them learn from His miracles, and so presented His doctrine to them more clear, and without suspicion. For the testimony of deeds is stronger than the testimony of words. Therefore He straightway healed a number of blind, and lame, and many other, for the sake not of John who had knowledge, but of others who doubted; as it follows, “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and tell John what ye have heard and seen; The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the Gospel preached to them.”

Jerome: This last is no less than the first. And understand it as if it had been said, Even “the poor;” that so between noble and mean, rich and poor, there may be no difference in preaching. This approves the strictness of the master, this the truth of the teacher, that in His sight every one who can be saved is equal.

Chrys.: “And blessed is he who shall not be offended in me,” is directed against the messengers; they were offended in Him. But He not publishing their doubts, and leaving it to their conscience alone, thus privately introduced a refutation of them.

Hilary: This saying, that they were blessed from whom there should be no offence in Him, shewed them what it was that John had provided against in sending them. For John, through fear of this very thing, had sent his disciples that they might hear Christ.

Greg., Hom in Ev., vi. 1: Otherwise; The mind of unbelievers was greatly offended concerning Christ, because after many miracles done, they saw Him at length put to death; whence Paul speaks, “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block.” [1Co_1:23]

What then does that mean, “Blessed is he who shall not be offended in me,” but a direct allusion to the humiliation of His death; as much as to say, I do indeed wonderful works, but do not disdain to suffer humble things, Because then I follow you in death, men must be careful not to despise in Me My death, while they reverence My wonderful works.

Hilary: In these things which were done concerning John, there is a deep store of mystic meaning. The very condition and circumstances of a prophet are themselves a prophecy.

John signifies the Law; for the Law proclaimed Christ, preaching remission of sins, and giving promise of the kingdom of heaven. Also when the Law was on the point of expiring, (having been, through the sins of the people, which hindered them from understanding what it spake of Christ, as it were shut up in bonds and in prison,) it sends men to the contemplation of the Gospel, that unbelief might see the truth of its words established by deeds.

Ambrose: And perhaps the two disciples sent are the two people; those of the Jews, and those of the Gentiles who believed.

Ver 7. And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?8. But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.9. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.10. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”

Chrys., Hom xxxvii: Sufficient had been now done for John’s disciples; they returned certified concerning Christ by the wonderful works which they had seen. But it behoved that the multitude also should be corrected, which had conceived many things amiss from the question of John’s disciples, not knowing the purpose of John in sending them. They might say, He who bare such witness to Christ, is now of another mind, and doubts whether this be He. Doth he this because he hath jealousy against Jesus! Has the prison taken away his courage? Or spake he before but empty and untrue words?

Hilary: Therefore that this might not lead them to think of John as though he were offended concerning Christ, it continues, “When they had gone away, Jesus began to speak to the multitudes concerning John.”

Chrys.: “As they departed,” that He should not seem to speak flattery of the man; and in correcting the error of the multitude, He does not openly expose their secret suspicions, but by framing his words against what was in their hearts, He shews that He knows hidden things. But He said not as to the Jews, “Why think ye evil in your hearts? though indeed it was evil that they had thought; yet it proceeded not from wickedness, but from ignorance; there- fore He spake not to them harshly, but answered for John, shewing that he had not fallen from his former opinion. This He teaches them, not by His word only, but by theirown witness, the witness of their own actions, as well as their own words.

“What went ye out into the wilderness to see?” As much as to say, Why did ye leave the towns and go out into the wilderness? So great multitudes would not have gone with such haste into the desert, if they had not thought that they should see one great, and wonderful, one more stable than the rock.

Pseudo-Chrys.: They had not gone out at this time into the desert to see John, for he was not now in the deaert, but in prison; but He speaks of the past time while John was yet in the desert, and the people flocked to him.

Chrys.: And note that making no mention of any other fault, He clears John of fickleness, which the multitude had suspected him of, saying, “A reed shaken by the wind?”

Greg., Hom in Ev. vi. 2: This He proposes, not to assert, but to deny. For if but a breath of air touch a reed, it bends it one way or other; a type of the carnal mind, which leans to either side, according as the breath of praise or detraction reaches it.

A reed shaken by the wind John was not, for no variety of circumstance bent him from his uprightness. The Lord’s meaning then is,

Jerome: Was it for this ye went out into the desert to see a man like unto a reed, and carried about by every wind, so that in lightness of mind he doubts concerning Him whom once he preached? Or it may be he is roused against Me by the sting of envy, and he seeks empty honour by his preaching, that he may thereof make gain. Why should he covet wealth? that he may have dainty fare? But his food is locusts and wild honey. That he may wear soft raiment? But his clothing is camel’s hair. This is that He adds, “But what went ye out for to see a man clothed in soft raiment?

Chrys.: Otherwise; That John is not as a waving reed, yourselves have shewn by going out unto the desert to him. Nor can any say that John was once firm, but has since become wilful and wavering; for as some are prone to anger by natural disposition, others become so by long weakness and indu1gence, so in inconstancy, some are by nature inconstant, some become so by yielding to their own humour and self-indulgence. But John was neither inconstant by natural disposition; this he means by saying, “What went ye out for to see, a reed shaken by the wind?” Neither had he corrupted an excellent nature by  self-indulgence, for that he had not served the flesh is shewn by his raiment, his abode in the desert, his prison. Had he sought soft raiment, he would not have dwelt in the desert, but in kings’ houses; “Lo they that are clothed in soft raiment, are in kings’ houses.”

Jerome: This teaches that an austere life and strict preaching ought to shun kings’ courts and the palaces of the rich and luxurious.

Greg., Hom in Ev., vi., 3: Let no one suppose that there is nothing sinful in luxury and rich dress; if pursuit of such things had been blameless, the Lord would not have thus commended John for the coarseness of his raiment, nor would Peter have checked the desire of fine clothes in women as he does, “Not in costly raiment.” [1Pe_3:3]

Aug., Doctr. Christ., iii, 12: In all such things we blame not the use of the things, but the lust of those that use them. For whoever uses the good things in his reach more sparingly than are the habits of those with whom he lives, is either temperate or superstitious. Whoever again uses them in a measure exceeding the practice of the good among whom he lives, either has some [margin note: aliquid] meaning therein, or else is dissolute.

Chrys.: Having described his habits of life from his dwelling-place, his dress, and the concourse of men to hear him, He now brings in that he is also a prophet, “But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.”

Greg, Hom. in Ev., vi. 5: The office of a prophet is to foretel things to come, not to shew them present. John therefore is more than a prophet, because Him whom he had foretold by going before Him, the same he shewed as present by pointing Him out.

Jerome: In this he is also greater than the other prophets, that to his prophetic privilege is added the reward of the Baptist that he should baptize his Lord.

Chrys.: Then he shews in what respect He is greater, saying, “This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my angel before thy face.”

Jerome: To add to this great worthiness of John, He brings a passage from Malachias, in which he is spoken of as an Angel. [ref Mal_3:1] We must suppose that John is here called an Angel, not as partaking the Angelic nature, but from the dignity of his office as a forerunner of the Lord.

Greg.: For the Greek word Angel, is in Latin Nuntius, ‘a messenger.’ He therefore who came to bear a heavenly message is rightly called an Angel, that he may preserve in his title the dignity which he performs in his office.

Chrys.: He shews wherein it is that John is greater than the Prophets, namely, in that he is nigh unto Christ, as he says, “I send before thy face,” that is, near Thee, as those that walk next to the king’s chariot are more illustrious than others, so likewise is John because of his nearness to Christ.Pseudo-Chrys.: Also the other Prophets were sent to announce Christ’s coming, but John to prepare His way, as it follows, “who shall make ready thy way before thee;”

Gloss, interlin.: That is, shall open the hearts of Thy hearers by preaching repentance and baptizing.

Jerome: Mystically; The desert is that which is deserted of the Holy Spirit, where there is no habitation of God; in the reed is signified a man who in outward show lives a pious life, but lacks all real fruit within himself, fair outside, within hollow, moved with every breath of wind, that is, with every impulse of unclean spirits, having no firmness to remain still, devoid of the marrow of the soul; by the garment wherewith his body is clothed is his mind shewn, that it is lost in luxury and self-indulgence. The kings are the fallen angels; they are they who are powerful in this life, and the lords of this world. Thus, “They that are clothed in soft raiment are in kings’ houses;” that is, those whose bodies are enervated and destroyed by luxury, it is clear are possessed by demons.

Greg.: Also John was not “clothed in soft raiment,” that is, he did not encourage sinners in their sinful life by speaking smooth things, but rebuked them with sharpness and rigour, saying, “Generation of vipers, &c.” [Mat_3:7]

Ver 11. “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Chrys.: Having first delivered the Prophet’s testimony in praise of John, He rested not there, but added His own decision respecting him, saying, “Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist.”

Raban.: As much as to say; What need to recount one by one the praises of John the Baptist; “I say verily unto you, Among them that are born of women, &c.” He says women, not virgins. If the same word, mulier, which denotes a married person, is any where in the Gospels applied to Mary, it should be known that the translator has there used ‘ mulier’ for ‘femina;” as in that, “Woman, behold thy son!” [Joh_19:26]

Jerome: He is then set before all those that are born in wedlock, and not before Him who was born of the Virgin and the Holy Spirit; yet these words, “there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist,” do not imply that John is to be set above the Prophets and Patriarchs and all others, but only makes him equal to the rest; for it does not follow that because others are not greater than him, that therefore he is greater than others.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But seeing that righteousness has so great deepness that none can be perfect therein but God only, I suppose that all the saints tried by the keenness of the divine judgment, rank in a fixed order, some lower, some before other. Whence we understand that He that hath none greater than Himself, is greater than all.

Chrys.: That the abundance of this praise might not beget a wrong inclination in the Jews to set John above Christ, he corrects this, saying, “He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Aug., Cont. Adv. Leg. et Proph., ii, 5: The heretic [margin note: Manichee or Marcionite] argues from this verse to prove that since John did not belong to the kingdom of heaven, therefore much less did the other Prophets of that people, than whom John is greater. But these words of the Lord may be understood in two ways. Either the kingdom of heaven is something which we have not yet received, that, namely, of which He speaks, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom,” [Mat_25:34] because they in it are Angels, therefore the least among them is greater than a righteous man who has a corruptible body. Or if we must understand the kingdom of heaven of the Church, whose children are all the righteous men from the beginning of the world until now, then the Lord speaks this of Himself, who was after John in the time of His birth, but greater in respect of His divine nature and supreme power. According then to the first interpretation it will be pointed, “He who is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he;” according to the second, “He who is less than he, is in the kingdom of heaven greater than he.”

Chrys.: The kingdom of heaven, that is, in the spiritual world, and all relating thereto. But some say that Christ spoke this of the Apostles.

Jerome: We understand it simply, that every saint who is already with the Lord is greater than he who yet stands in the battle; for it is one thing to have gained the crown of victory, another to be yet fighting in the field.

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Bishop MacEvily on Matt 11:2-11 for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, Dec 5 (Extraordinary Form)

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 29, 2010

This post includes the Bishop’s brief analysis of chapter 11; the commentary on the reading follows. It should also be noted that this Gospel reading will be used in the Ordinary Form of the Rite next week.

ANALYSIS OF MATTHEW, CHAPTER 11~In this chapter, we have an account of the embassy from John in prison, consisting of two of his disciples, to inquire of our Redeemer if He were the long-expected Messiah. Our Redeemer s reply, who knew well the spirit that dictated this on the part of John, who had in view to remove and cure all feelings of jealousy on the part of His followers (1-6). Our Redeemer s encomiums on John, after his disciples had left; He praises his unchanging firmness, which luxurious livingdid not enervate (7-8); his prophetical character, angelic life, long before the subject of prophecy (9-10); his singular worth and sanctity ; his success in preparing men for the Gospel ; his having discharged the office of Elias (11-14). By a familiar similitude, He reproaches the Scribes and Pharisees with their obstinate resistance to the preachers of God s kingdom, Himself and the Baptist, in whatever character they might appear, whether austere, or mild and condescending (16-19). He next upbraids the cities, specially favoured with His miracles and preaching, with neglect and obstinate resistance to God’s grace, and He points out the heavy punishments in store for them (20-24). He glorifies His Eternal Father for His wonderful dispensation in regard to the humble, to whom, in His mercy, He imparts Divine knowledge, and the proud and haughty, from whom, in His justice, He withholds it (25-26) . This wonderful economy was common to Himself and His Father, with whom He possesses perfect equality (27). He invites all, Jews and Gentiles, to approach Him, and thus receive rest and respite in their spiritual miseries and disquietude (28) . He invites them to take up His yoke and learn
of Him to practise, in particular, the virtues of humility and meekness, the surest means of bearing the yoke patiently, or to approach and learn from their experience of Him, that He is not a repulsive tyrant, but a benign, affable, condescending Master. For, His yoke is sweet and His burden is light

Mat 11:2  Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples he said to him:

John had heard from his disciples (Luke vii. 18). From this, it would appear, that the embassy from John to Christ, is not recorded here in its proper place by St. Matthew, since it occurred before the mission of the twelve Apostles, as we learn from St. Luke, who narrates this embassy (ch. 7), and the mission of the Apostles, (ch. 10.)

In prison. John was cast into prison by Herod, for having, fearlessly, in vindication of the sanctity of God s law, upbraided him with the scandalous, adulterous state of incest, in which he lived with Herodias, the wife of his brother, Philip (Mark 6:16, 17). Imbued with that spirit oi intrepidity, which he carried from his mother s womb, which was strengthened and guarded by a life of austerity and self-denial, he feared not the countenance of the mighty; knowing no distinction between a royal sinner and his subjects, whom he upbraided with their vices, as, Brood of vipers when they came out in crowds to his preaching and baptism on the banks of the Jordan (Matt 3); reckless of the consequences, which he knew would cost him his head, he upbraided the kingly adulterer to his face, it is not lawful for thee to
have, i.e., to live on terms of intimacy with your brother’s wife (Mark 6:18). The consequence was he was cast into prison.

The works of Christ; the many splendid miracles performed by Him (Luke 7).

Sending two of His disciples &c. There is a diversity of opinion as to the
purpose of this message from the Baptist. One thing is certain, that it did not proceed from any doubts which the Baptist himself this  more than a Prophet, who had no greater among the born of women entertained regarding our Lord’s Divinity. He proclaimed Him from His mother s womb (Luke 1:41). He witnessed the descent of the Holy Ghost, and heard the testimony of the heavenly Father proclaiming Him as His beloved Son, on the banks of the Jordan (Matt 3:17). He himself publicly bore testimony to His superiority, declaring himself unworthy to perform the most menial offices in His regard (Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16), before our Lord had performed any public miracles. The most probable and best founded reason for this embassy seems to have its origin in the jejilousy, which John knew to exist in the minds of his disciples towards our Lord and His disciples. Strangers to that spirit of generosity which animated St. Paul, who cared not who preached, provided Christ was preached (Phil 1:18), they complained that Jesus baptized, and their master was deserted (John 3:26); and St. Luke tells us (7:18). that, it was on the occasion of his disciples coming, and manifesting feelings of jealous envy of our Lord s wonderful works, John sent this message. It is likely also that, contrasting the ascetic and austere life of the Baptist and his disciples with the absence of all such austerity on the part of our Redeemer and His followers (Mat 9:14), and perhaps offended with the lowness of his station in life, to which our Redeemer probably alludes (v. 6), his disciples regarded John’s exalted testimony, concerning our Redeemer, as spoken out of humility; and that, therefore, they might have been disposed to prefer the Precursor to the Lord Himself. Hence, in order to cure this growing evil, John sends two of his disciples, in his own name, for the purpose of investing this embassy with greater solemnity, to question our Redeemer on the subject of his Divine mission. In order to cure their infirmity, he feigns their disease, quis infirmatur et ego non infirmor? (2 Cor 11:29) Knowing also that his days in this world were fast drawing to a close, it is most likely that the Baptist had
in view to introduce his disciples to our Redeemer in person, to attach them to Him after his own death.

Mat 11:3  Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another?

Art thou He that is to come? &c., which is understood by St. Jerome to mean, art thou He, that is to come to Limbo, whither I am shortly to go? St. Jerome adopts this meaning, because, our Lord had already come into this world. But the most probable meaning is; art thou that distinguished Prophet, that Redeemer, whom the Jewish people, following the predictions and promises of the Prophets, are daily expecting as their Messiah? ο ερχομενος, ille venturus. The Greek does not refer to any future coming, art thou He who was to come.  He could not be expected to come in future and be present at the same time.

Mat 11:4  And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen.

Go-return-and relate to John, &c. Our Redeemer, who knew well the mind of John, in proposing this question, in His own name (for, John himself had no doubt whatever, verses 7, 8, &c.), employs the same heavenly prudence displayed by John, and wishes to have the disciples cured of their doubts and hesitancy, the more effectually through the master to whom they were so much attached, and to whose words and opinions they would naturally attach much weight. He answers them, as if they had merely represented the feelings of John, though He knew well this was not really the case. He also refers them to a testimony less questionable than any testimony conveyed by words, the testimony of works For, we are told by St. Luke (7:21), that He had, at the moment, wrought miracles in their presence.

What you have seen and heard, that is to say, the miracles you have seen, per formed by Me, in your presence, and the preaching of My doctrine, which you have heard; or, rather, the other miracles, of which you have heard an account from the people who saw them, but, which you did not witness, such as, the dead arise. This they did not see; but, only heard spoken of.

The Greek has, which you see and hear, in the present. This may be verified
of the miracles wrought in their presence (Luke 7:21), and the accounts of other miracles given at the moment, by the people; or, hearing, may be understood of our Redeemer’s preaching. You see may be also verified of the prophecy of Isaias, which they saw with their eyes to be fulfilled in Him.

Mat 11:5  The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them.

The blind see &c. The first part of this verse is allusive to Isaias (35:4, 5, 6). The second, the poor have the Gospel preached to them, to Isaias (61:1)
This passage of Isaias regarding the preaching of the Gospel to the poor is applied by our Redeemer to Himself (Luke 4:18). His answer is, that John would clearly see that in Him were fully fulfilled the prophetic words of Isaias when describing beforehand the distinctive qualities and actions, that would characterize the future Messiah.

The poor have the Gospel, &c. In Isaias (61:1), for poor, it is to preach to
the meek.  But the two words refer to the same class, the poor being generally meek and forbearing, in contrast with the rich, who are generally haughty and disdainful. There is but very little difference in. the corresponding  Hebrew words, ani (poor), and anau (meek). Hence, St. Luke (4:18), quoting Isaias, has, to preach the Gospel to the poor He hath sent me, the two words poor and meek being nearly the same in Hebrew.

The Gospel preached to them. The Jews held that the Messiah was to found a kingdom. It was a wonderful thing, that this kingdom should be proposed to the poor; that beggars should, in a spiritual sense, become kings, was a wonderful thing, a wonderful feature of the Christian religion. It was different with those Jews and Pagans who courted the rich and despised the poor. While the rich are not excluded, the poor are specially referred to in the prophecy; and the rich must become poor in spirit to become fit subjects for receiving the Gospel, and partaking of its rich spiritual blessings.

Mat 11:6  And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me.

And blessed is he, that is, he who does not depart from Me. who am the
Saviour of mankind, and author of life, is so far blessed, and in the way of salvation; while he that does is, so far, unfortunate.

That shall not be scandalized in me.  The word, scandal in its literal
signification, denotes an obstacle or impediment in the way, which may cause us to fall. Transferred to a spiritual signification, it denotes whatever may cause our fall, or that of our neighbour; or turn us aside from the path of Christian faith or morals, be it word, deed, or omission. Hence, scandal is
described by divines, after St. Thomas to be, a word, deed, or emission, which is the occasion of the spiritual ruin of our neighbor,  either because such things are sinful; or, has the appearance of being so. That things only apparently sinful may be a subject of scandal is clear from Romans (ch. 7). Our Redeemer was to the wicked and incredulous a stone of offence and a rock of scaudal, and set for the fall, as well for the resurrection of many (Luke  2:34), through their own fault and malice.

These words are spoken in allusion to the incredulity and jealousy of the disciples of John, who probably were offended at our Redeemer not living apart from the crowd, and His not leading the same austere, ascetical life as their master led, as if He said, blessed is he, to whom My doctrines, My life, My Cross shall not prove a stumbling block, or rock of offence, as we are assured by the Apostle, they were to the unbelieving Jews (1 Cor 1); and, as a melancholy experience teaches us, they are, practically at least, to a great number of those who profess themselves Christians.

Here also we see the wonderful benignity and prudent forbearance of our Divine Redeemer in displaying to the disciples of John His Divine power of searching into their hearts, and knowing their thoughts, without disclosing their latent feelings to the multitude by any personal allusion, or particular address. He thus leaves them to their own conscience, so that, from this occult reproach, they might see His Divinity and benignity, and be thus induced, after the Baptist s death, to adhere to Him.

Mat 11:7  And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind?

After the disciples of John had gone away, and no sooner, lest any praise of
John in the presence of his followers might savour of adulation.

Jesus began to say to the multitudes &c. Having cured the disciples of John of their incredulity, our Redeemer now prudently takes care to cure the multitude of any false notions this embassy from John might engender in their minds regarding John’s constancy, and the unhesitating firmness of his belief in our Lord’s Divinity, as if this message proceeded from any change of opinion on the part of John.

What went you out into the desert to see? He appeals to their own opinion of John, when leaving their homes, the towns and cities, they flocked into the desert, and to the banks of the Jordan, to hear this wonderful man, and be baptized by him, (ch. 3)

A reed shaken, &c. A man of a fickle inconstant character, blown to this side and that by every blast of human opinion; now holding this; and again that; now proclaiming Christ to be the Messiah the eternal Son of God; again, doubting it, as the embassy and words of his disciples would seem to imply. The well-known sanctity of the Baptist precluded any such suspicions so disparaging to his character. They regarded him rather as a man of unshaken firmness immovable as the sturdy pak who, at the cost of his head, would not fail fearlessly to proclaim the truth, for which he was now suffering in chains. Some take the word reed, in its natural sense; did they come out to the banks of the Jordan, to enjoy its scenery and the numerous reeds growing on its banks? However, it is clear from the context, that the metaphorical meaning, as above, is the one intended.

Mat 11:8  But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings.

Perhaps, luxurious living, a spirit of accommodation to the whims and caprices of the great, with whose livery he was clad, at whose tables he was the welcome and accepted minister; perhaps, the badges of courtly ignominy in which he was clad–the price of his criminal connivance at the domestic and public villanies of the great–so wrought on him as to make him changeable in his opinions, and now, to gratify their caprices, not only make him a dumb dog, unable to bark, but also cause him to revoke the testimony he before rendered to the Divinity of Jesus. His place of abode from childhood–the desert–his coarse dress, the prison where he just now was, preclude any such supposition; neither luxurious effeminacy, nor ambitious, or self-interested motives could cause any change of opinion in him. They that are clothedin soft garments do not make the desert their place of abode; nor are they, for the bold announcement of unpalatable truths, cast into chains. They are to be found in the houses of kings, the obsequious instruments of their capricious whims and tyrannical behests. John was firm and constant, and had all the qualities necessary to witness to the Divinity of our Lord.

According to Calmet, John only meant to enquire, if the man who wrought the wonders, of which he heard so much, was the Messiah, the same of whom he himself had before borne testimony. So that, according to him, John’s object merely was to ascertain the identity of our Saviour’s person.

Mat 11:9  But what went you out to see? A prophet? Yea I tell you, and more than a prophet.

Having shown what John was not, our Redeemer now shows, what he was.

A Prophet! All held John an a Prophet. (21:26). This was the popular
opinion regarding him, and this opinion our Redeemer confirms, Yea; I tell you. For John knew our Lord by Divine instinct, and pointed Him out as Son of God, and so, he was a Prophet. But did not John himself deny this (John 1:21)? Yes; out of humility, and he might say so, with all truth in one sense, looking to the primary and ordinary signification of the word, Prophet viz., one who predicts future events to be fulfilled after a long interval. But, John pointed Him out as present, and called on the people to prepare His ways by works of penance, who was the term of all the prophecies, and so he was more than a Prophet. He was also more than a Prophet, for other reasons, grounded on the circumstances of his miraculous birth, and angelic life. Moreover, he was himself the subject of prophecy, in which he is placed on a level with the celestial spirits, an Angel,  who was immediately to precede his Lord, to be His Precursor and Paranymph. It is this latter reason our Redeemer specially has in view when He says he was more than a ProphetAn Angel in virtue of his office, not by nature.

Mat 11:10  For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before my face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

Behold . . . before Thy face, &c. (Mal 3:1)  In Malachy it is, MY face.
The Evangelists have, THY face. But, the sense is no way affected by this difference or change of person ; St. Jerome remarks (in Isaias, Lib. 3, c. 7),
“that, in their quotations from the Books of the Old Testament, the Apostles and Evangelists attended more to the sense, than to the precise order of the words.”  Here, our Redeemer clearly represents the Heavenly Father, as speaking of His Son, before THY face, in Malachy. St. Jerome understands the words of Malachy to refer to Christ, speaking of Himself ; and then, His Divinity is clearly demonstrated. For, in Mal 3:6, He says, I am the Lord, and am not changed. If the words of Malachy be understood of God the Father, the consequence is just the same, as showing the identity of nature in Christ
and in His Father. For, it was Christ that John preceded as Precursor; and
speaking of Him whom John preceded, the Lord says, MY face, therefore, implying that, He was in the Father and the Father in Him, both having the same nature. In truth, Christ or the Messiah was the Lord, whom the Jews expected to come to His temple in Jerusalem; for whom John was to prepare the way. It is the same that speaks of Himself in the first person, I send MY Angel and in the third, and presently shall come to His temple the Lord whom you seek (see Mal 3:1). If we suppose that it is God the Father that speaks in Malachy (3); then, the change of person, I send, the Lord shall come, &c., is intended to convey, that although identical in nature with the Son; still it was not the person of God the Father that came to save us. The same is conveyed in the change of person given by the Evangelists, before
THY facebefore THEE.

My Angel, by office, but not by nature; as some hold, which is clearly refuted in the Gospel there was A MAN sent by God, &c. (John 1.) The angelic life led by the Baptist would entitle him to be called an Angel.

Who shall prepare Thy way, &c., is allusive to the custom of preparing the ways, and removing every obstacle at the coming of kings into any part of their dominions. John, by his preaching and baptism, removed every obstacle to the proper reception of Christ; by his austere and heavenly life, by his preaching of the penance which he practised, he prepared the people for the doctrine of our Redeemer.

Mat 11:11  Amen I say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

He proves, that John was greater than a Prophet. There hath not risen, that is, appeared, among them that are born of women, a greater,  &c. Risen is a term peculiar to prophets. St. Luke (7:28) says, there is not a greater Prophet than John the Baptist;  hence, the comparison is not between John and all other men, but between him andthe Prophets of old. This, however, will make but very little  Difference, and the sense is fully given by St. Matthew; for, among men, the Prophets were deemed the most holy, and the word Prophet was, in a general and more tended sense, applied to holy men. The words, then, taken in a positive, affirmative sense–for this is necessary in order to show that John is more than a Prophet–mean, that John the Baptist was the most holy and exalted of all the men that appeared before him, whether we consider the exalted prerogatives bestowed on him– his miraculous birth, the loosing of his father’s tongue, his angelic life,his
sanctification in his mother’s womb, his being predicted by other Prophets, called an Angel, &c.; or, whether we regard the more abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed on him. Other Prophets became such in course of life; he, from his birth, was such. He leaped with joy in his mother s womb, at the presence cf his Blessed Saviour (Luke 1:41). Although there arose no other Prophet in Israel (Dent 34:10, &c.), which has reference merely to his seeing God, and working wonderful prodigies; still, John was greater in the several prerogatives already referred to.

It is between the ancient Prophets only and John this comparison is instituted, neither the Blessed Virgin, nor the Apostles are included, who, on account of their Apostolic dignity, and immediate association with Christ, are greater than John. Our Redeemer Himself can, by no means, be included, even supposing the comparison to be between John and all others, because He was not born of woman, the sense here referred to, in the natural way; nor can the Blessed Virgin, either; for, it is between men the comparison is instituted.

Yet, he that is lesser, &c., according to some, means, the least saint reigning in glory is greater than John; because, the former possesses the crown of glory, the battling for it (St. Jerome); and, in this interpretation, our Redeemer’s object would be, to stimulate men to labour earnestly for the kingdom of heaven by enterring the Church which is the gate to it. Others say the words mean, the least in the Church, the leastof those who embrace the Gospel, is greater than John–ratione status noræ legis–considering his state, is greater than anyone outside the Church, greater than John who was nearest to it–the connecting link between the Old Law and the New. It tells against this interpretation, that the comparison would not be between John and others, but between the New Law and other dispensations. Nor can it be seen what our Redeemer’s object, in using the words, according to this
interpretation, would be, unless, possibly, to stimulate men to enter the Church, and embrace the Gospel.

Others maintain, that our Redeemer, in this, was referring to Himself, thus:
do not imagine that, in bestowing these magnificent eulogiums on John, I include Myself in the comparison, or prefer him to Myself. Out of modesty, He would speak of Himself in the third person.

In the kingdom of heaven, may be joined with lesser thus: He who is lesser in the Church of the just, in point of age and in the opinion of men; or lesser later in preaching the kingdom of God, is greater than he. Or, they may be joined to the following words, greater than he, in the kingdom of heaven, greater than he in spiritual gifts, which appertain to heaven; or, reputed greater in heaven by God and His holy angels, who know how infinitely our Lord is placed above John, as the Creator above the creature.

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sex and Contemporary Culture

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 29, 2010

David at Cosmos~Liturgy~Sex wrote the following on Oct 27:

OK, so we are at it again.  Tonight (actually in a about an hour and a half) we will begin our new 8 part series which uses JPII’s TOB to discuss the issue of sex in contemporary culture.  Here is a great flyer promoting it (and you will quickly see I had no part in the artwork).

If you are San Antonio and have cable, you can watch it on CTSA or listen to it on Guadalupe Radio (89.7 FM).  If you are outside of the South Texas listening area of 89.7, you can listen to it streamed live here (and click on “Open South Texas in Windows Media Player”–the second link down).

It will run on Wednesday evenings at 8pm Central for the next 8 weeks on the show called Catholicism Live.

We are always looking for callers…

Here is audio/video for the shows that have been done so far:

  1. Made for Greatness: The Meaning of the Human Person: click here to download.
  2. Electricity: The Significance of Sex Difference: click here to download.
  3. Marriage: Made for One Another: click here to download.

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Aquinas’ Homily Notes on the Advent of Justice

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 29, 2010

These homily notes are on Luke 15:25 which formed part of the Gospel reading for the second Sunday of Advent in Aquinas’ day. They can be used as resources for points of meditation or further study.  His homily notes on the Epistle-which is still used on the Second Sunday of advent-can be found here: Part 1Part 2.

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.”
S. Luke xv. 25.

WE spoke in the Gospel of the preceding Sunday of the mercy of Our Lord’s second coming; we will now treat of the justness of His Advent. It appertains to justice to punish the evil, and to reward the good; and therefore both
these acts are treated of in this Gospel. The former (punish the evil) in the words of the text, “And there shall be signs;” and the latter (reward the good) in the second part of this Gospel, “Look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.”

About the punishment of the wicked, the Gospel shows that the Creator and the creature unite for their punishment. This creature, which meets together for the punishment of the wicked, is three-fold: (1) spiritual, (2) corporeal, and (3) composite.

The spiritual creature is an angel; the composite creature is a man; the corporeal creature is two-fold, superior and inferior the former being the heavenly bodies, the latter being the elements. Therefore the Lord points out in this Gospel that the wicked receive punishment (1) from Him, (2) by angels, (3) by corporeal creatures, and (4) from themselves.

Note the color coding I’ve used in the paragraph above and below. Although Aquinas notes above that “the wicked receive punishment” from him, angels, heavenly bodies, and themselves; however, below he  notes five manifestations of this punishment.  The reason for this is that, as was said above, “the corporeal creature is two-fold, superior and inferior the former being the heavenly bodies, the latter being the elements.” As a consequence, the third and fourth manifestations are both colored green; the third being  the corporeally superior heavenly bodies, the latter being the corporeally inferior elements.

Firstly, they shall see the Son of Man; secondly, the powers of heaven (i.e., the angels) shall be shaken; thirdly, there will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; fourthly, the sea and waves roaring; fifthly, men’s hearts failing them for fear.

Of the first, it is known that in a three-fold manner God will afflict the wicked: firstly, in awarding; secondly, in convicting; thirdly, in condemning.

  • Of the first, “I have been naked;”
  • Of the second, “Since ye have not done it unto Me,” &c.; of the least of these, &c.;
  • Of the third, “Depart from Me, ye wicked.”

As in a three-fold manner the Son of Man afflicts the wicked, so do the angels also.

  • In the first place by drawing the wicked to judgment;
  • In the second place by separating them from the good;
  • In the third place by consigning them to eternal fire.

S. Matt, (13:41,42) speaks of this three-fold office of the angels, “The Son of Man shall send forth His angels,” &c.  “They shall gather out of His kingdom,” and so draw the wicked to judgment, since with their heavy bodies they cannot move so quickly as the angels.  “All things that offend and them which do iniquity, and so they will separate the evil from the midst of the just.” “And shall cast them into a furnace of fire.”

The celestial body shall in the same way in a three-fold manner afflict the wicked.

  • In the first place, by frightening them with signs;
  • In the second place, by afflicting them with darkness;
  • In the third place, by discovering their wickedness.
  • Of the first, there shall be signs in the sun, moon, and stars, “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke” (Joel 2:30, 31).
  • Of the second,  “The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light” (Matt 24:29).
  • Of the third.  “The heavens shall reveal his iniquity” (Job 20:27).

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, Meditations, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, SERMONS, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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