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 December 21st, 2010

This Weeks Posts: Sunday, Dec 19-Saturday, Dec 25

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2010

Many of the posts are prepared in advance and will not become available until the time indicated.

SUNDAY, DEC 19
FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Last Weeks Posts: Sunday Dec 12-Saturday, Dec 18.

Resources for Today’s Mass (Dec 19). A weekly feature of this blog. I will be posting a Resources for Christmas Mass latter today or tomorrow, and a resource post for next Sunday’s Mass will be posted on Wednesday.

St John Chrysostom on the Coming Judgment. A timely excerpt for the late Advent season.

An Introduction to Psalm 24 (23).

MONDAY, DEC 20
FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT

Today’s Readings.

Father Maas on Today’s First Reading (Isaiah 7:10-14) PDF document.

Aquinas on Today’s Psalm 24 (23). Available 12:01 AM EST.

Father Callan on Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:26-38. Available 12:05 AM EST.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Today’s Psalm 24 (23). Available 12:05 AM EST.

TUESDAY, DEC 21
FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT

Today’s Readings.

Cornelius a Lapide on Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:39-45). 12:03 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:39-45). 12:05 AM EST.

Pope John Paul II on Today’s Psalm 33 (32). 12:10 AM EST.

UPDATE: Resources for Christmas Masses.

WEDNESDAY, DEC 22
FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT

Today’s Readings.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:46-56). 12:05 AM EST.

Cornelius a Lapide on Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:46-56). 12:10 AM EST.

Pope John Paul II on Today’s Psalm (Canticle of Hannah, 1 Sam 2). 12:15 AM EST.

Resources for Sunday Mass. Pending.

THURSDAY, DEC 23
FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT

Some Rambling Thoughts on Psalm 2512:05 AM EST. “Off the top of my head” reflections on St John the Baptist in relation to today’s first reading (the Baptist is the focal point of both the first and Gospel readings today).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:57-66). 12:10 AM EST.

FRIDAY, DEC 24
FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT

Readings.

Pope John Paul on Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:67-79).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:67-79). 12:05 AM EST.

Resources for the Christmas Vigil Mass. Post includes resources for Christmas Day Masses also.

SATURDAY, DEC 25
CHRISTMAS DAY

Resources for Christmas Day Masses. Includes the Vigil Mass.

 

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, John Paul II Catechesis, liturgy, Meditations, Notes on Acts of Apostles, Notes on Hebrews, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on Matthew, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Notes on Titus, PAPAL COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS, Quotes, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Pope John Paul II on Psalm 98 (97)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2010

GENERAL AUDIENCE OF JOHN PAUL II
Wednesday 6 November 2002

“May Your Kingdom Come”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. Psalm 97[98], just proclaimed, belongs to a kind of hymn we have already met during the spiritual journey we are undertaking in the light of the Psalter.

This is a hymn to the Lord King of the universe and of history (cf. v. 6). It is described as a “new song” (cf. v. 1), which, in biblical language, means a perfect, full, solemn song accompanied by festive music. In fact, in addition to the choral song, the Psalmist evokes “the melodious sound” of the lyre (cf. v. 5), the trumpet and the horn (cf. v. 6), and also a kind of cosmic applause (cf. v. 8).

Moreover, the name of the “Lord” resounds repeatedly (six times), invoked as “our God” (v. 3). Hence, God is at the centre of the scene in all his majesty, while he carries out salvation in history and is awaited to “govern” the world and the peoples (cf. v. 9). The Hebrew verb that indicates “judgment” also means “to govern”: so all await the effective action of the Sovereign of the entire earth who will usher in peace and justice.

2. The Psalm opens with the proclamation of divine intervention at the heart of the history of Israel (cf. vv. 1-3). The images of the “right hand” and the “holy arm” refer to Exodus, to the deliverance from the slavery of Egypt (cf. v. 1). Instead, the covenant with the chosen people is remembered through the two great divine perfections: “love” and “faithfulness” (cf. v. 3).

These signs of salvation are revealed “before the eyes of the peoples” and to “all the ends of the earth” (vv. 2.3) so that all humanity may be attracted to God the Saviour and open to his word and to his saving work.

3. The reception reserved for the Lord, who intervenes in history is marked by a universal praise: in addition to the orchestra and the hymns of the Temple of Zion (cf. vv. 5-6), the universe, as a kind of cosmic temple, also participates.

There are four singers of this immense choir of praise. The first is the roaring sea, that seems to be the constant basso of this grandiose hymn (cf. v. 7). The earth and the entire world (cf. vv. 4.7) with all its inhabitants follow united in solemn harmony. The third personification is that of the rivers, that are considered the arms of the sea which, with their rhythmic flow, seem to clap hands in applause (cf. v. 8). Finally, there are the mountains that seem to dance for joy before the Lord, even though they are the most massive and imposing creatures (cf. v. 8; Ps 28[29],6; 113[114],6).

So we have a colossal choir that has only one purpose: to exalt the Lord, King and just Judge. As mentioned, the end of the Psalm, in fact, presents God, “who comes to govern (and to rule) the earth … with justice and equity” (Ps 97 [98],9).

This is our great hope and our petition: “Your Kingdom come” – a kingdom of peace, justice, and serenity, that will re-establish the original harmony of creation.

4. In this Psalm, with deep joy the Apostle Paul has recognized a prophecy of the work of God in the mystery of Christ. Paul made use of verse 2 to express the theme of his important Letter to the Romans: in the Gospel, the “justice of God is revealed” (cf. Rom 1,17), “is manifested” (cf. Rom 3,21).

Paul’s interpretation confers on the Psalm a greater fullness of meaning. Read in the perspective of the Old Testament, the Psalm proclaims that God saves his people and that all the nations, seeing this, are in admiration. However, in the Christian perspective, God works salvation in Christ, Son of Israel; all the nations see him and are invited to benefit from this salvation, since the Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, for the Jew first, and then for the Greek”, namely the pagan (Rom 1,16). Moreover, “all the ends of the earth” not only “have seen the victory of our God” (Ps 97[98],3), but have received it.

5. In this perspective, Origen, a Christian writer of the third century, in a text quoted by St Jerome, interprets the “new song” of the Psalm as an anticipated celebration of the Christian newness of the crucified Redeemer. Now let us listen to his commentary in which he combines the song of the Psalmist with the proclamation of the Gospel.

“A new song is the Son of God who was crucified – something that had never before been heard of. A new reality must have a new song. “Sing to the Lord a new song’. He who suffered the Passion is in reality a man; but you sing to the Lord. He suffered the Passion as a man, but saved as God”. Origen continues: Christ “did miracles in the midst of the Jews: he healed paralytics, cleansed lepers, raised up the dead. But other prophets also did this. He changed a few loaves into an enormous number, and gave countless people something to eat. But Elisha did this. Now, what new thing did he do to merit a new song? Do you want to know what new thing he did? God died as a man so that men might have life; the Son of Man was crucified to raise us up to heaven” (74 Omelie sul libro dei Salmi [74 Homilies on the Book of Psalms], Milan, 1993, pp. 309-310).

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, John Paul II Catechesis, liturgy, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, PAPAL COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 22 Comments »

Father Boylan’s Commentary on Hebrews 1:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2010

I’ve included Father Boylan’s notes on verse 7 & 8 into this post.

Contrast between the revelation given by, Christ and that given in the old dispensation; the superiority of Christ to the angels, Heb 1:1—4.

(1) God having spoken of olden time to the fathers througb
the prophets by many partial revelations, and. various methods of
revelation, (2) hath spoken to us in this End-period by one who
is Son, whom He hath set up as heir of all things; by whom also
He created the worlds (or, ‘ages’). (3) He being the flashing-forth of His glory,, and the very expression of His being, sustaineth all things by His (God’s), word of power: and having achieved purification from sin, hath taken His seat at the right hand of Majesty on high, (4) having attained a rank as much superior to the angels as the name whjch He hath inherited surpasseth them.

1—4.  The revelation of the old dispensation was given fragmentarily, piecemeal, by many different kinds of messengers-prophets,, seers, legislators, etc. — and by a great variety of manifestations – words, dreams, visions, symbolical actions, etc. — but the new revelation has been given all at once, and completely, by a single Messenger, who was not a mere prophet, poet, or lawgiver,, but the very Son of God Himself. This complete revelation forms a turning point in the history of the. world:, it brings to, a close the period of the prophets, and begins the Messianic age.

As Demiurgos the Son has been made sovereign disposer and dispenser of all things. He is more than a messenger of God, for He is the the very copy, the
manifest expression of God’s substance, the irradiation of God’s glory. He did not merely preach against sin, like the prophets, but effected its removal; and having; performed this divine act,’ He was entitled to take His place at the right hand of God as the equal in divinity of His Father.

The revelation of Christ has been so complete because He is a complete and all-sided showing forth of the Father. Christ is not a mere link, or Mediator
between God and men. He is Creator of the world, and conserves it. He can purify from sin. Hence He is, in the fullest sense, divine, and, therefore, rightly takes His place at His Father’s side. The servants and messengers of God stand before Him, but the Son sits at the right hand of God. (Cf. Ps 110.) The revelation on Sinai was given, according, to Jewish belief, by angels; but Christ, with His, name of Son is far above the angels, and, therefore, His revelation must be greater than theirs. (Cf. Acts 7:38. 53; Gal 3:19.)

Scriptural proof of Christ’s superiority to the angels. 1:5—14.
(Cf. Col 1:16, 2:8; Heb 13:8).

(5) For to which of the angels hath He ever said: ‘Thou art my Son; this day I have begotten Thee’; and again; ‘I will be to him Father, and he will be to Me Son’; (6) and again, when He bringeth the Firstborn into the world, He saith: ‘All the angels of God shall worship him.’ (7) And of the angels He saith: ‘Who maketh His angels winds, and His servants flames of fire.’ (8) But of the Son (He saith): ‘Thy throne, o God, is forever; a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of thy sovereignty. Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity; hence hath God, thy God, anointed thee more than thy fellows with the oil of gladness.’

5—8. The glory of Christ as the bearer of the new revelation is the chief thought of this section; We have here again the same succession of ideas as in
verses 1-4, the Sonship of Christ, His glory, and His rewards of royal splendour in heaven.

The arguments for the superiority of Christ to the Angels are:

(a). Though the angels are at times called sons of God, they are never so called in the same way in which Psalm 2 gives the title of ‘Son’ to Christ.

The second psalm is taken Messianically throughout the , New Testament.
See Acts 4:25, 28; 13:33; Rev 2:27 ff; 12:5; 19:15. The quotation, ‘I will
be to him father, etc’ is taken from 2 Sam 7:14. The words are the divine promise given to David by the prophet Nathan. The ‘him’ refers primarily to the successors of David, but indirectly to the Messias.

(b). The second argument is that God commands the angels to worship
Christ. The text referred to is, probably, Ps. 97:7 — Adorate emn omnes angeli ejus (Adore him, all you his angels). The bringing of the Firstborn into the world may refer to the description of the coming of the Lord to Judgment which is contained in Ps. 96. (Cf. also Deut 32:43 in Septuagint.)

(c). The angels are put on the same level as the inanimate things of nature; they are mere instruments of God, like lightning and wind, and the other blind powers of nature, ready for all kinds of service, essentially changeable in character. (Ps 104:4.) But of the Son it is said (Ps. 45:7) that His throne abides for ever; and He Himself is called God. He is an eternal ruler like God Himself. God has anointed him with the oil of gladness, an oil of coronation that will bring more gladness than it usually brings to kings anointed.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on Hebrews, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Bishop MacEvily on Acts 13:16-17, 22-25 for Christmas Vigil Mass

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2010

Act 13:16  Then Paul rising up and with his hand bespeaking silence, said: Ye men of Israel and you that fear God, give ear.

And you that fear God. By those are most probably meant the class termed, Proselytes of the gate, who had not been as yet incorporated with the Jews, by circumcision; but, having renounced the worship of idols, adored God, and were admitted to the Synagogues. There was another class of Proselytes, viz., Proselytes of justice. This latter class were incorporated with the Jews by circumcision. They were bound to the observance of the entire Mosaic Law. Not so, the Proselytes of the gate, who were bound only by the precepts given to Noah.

Act 13:17  The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers and exalted the people when they were sojourners in the land of Egypt: And with an high arm brought them out from thence:

This is the first discourse recorded by St. Luke in the Acts, as uttered by St. Paul. Every word of it is thoroughly in harmony with his writings in his Epistles. Between it and the discourses of St. Peter and St. Stephen addressed to the Jews, who had not at the time, embraced the Faith, the greatest analogy is clearly discernible. St. Paul seems to adopt the same course that they followed in order to bring around their conversion. In this discourse, instead of proclaiming at once the Divinity of our Lord and the necessity of believing in Him, which might occasion a cry of opposition against Him, he gives a brief account of the History of the Jews, their special election by God, till he comes down to the time of King David, from whose seed our Saviour had sprung. Then briefly alluding to His Death and Resurrection all in accordance with the ancient prophecies he points out what he intended to be the main object of his discourse, viz. : the necessity of believing in Him, in order to obtain Salvation (38, 39). He also warns them against the disastrous consequences of unbelief (vv. 40, 41).

The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers. This exordium was calculated to secure him an attentive hearing.

Exalted the people when they were sojourners in the land of Egypt. By multiplying them, asserting them into liberty from a state of degrading bondage, working great prodigies of power in their behalf, humbling their enemies.

Act 13:22  And when he had removed him, he raised them up David to be king: to whom giving testimony, he said: I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to my own heart, who shall do all my wills.

And when he had removed him.  Deprived him of the Royal dignity (1 Kings 31:1-6).

Giving testimonyaccording to my own heart, very pleasing to me, such a man as my heart desires and wishes for.  My wills execute my mandates. This testimony is found substantially in (1 Kings 13:14, 16:1; Ps 38). David may have deflected from the right path betimes but, his public kingly life was uniformly good; and, after he fell, his repentance was remarkable. His reign, as king, was good, obedient to God s will, unlike Saul, who proved to be perverse.

David is commended for having promoted the worship of God among the people (1 Kings 14:8, 9; 15:3-5) and contrasted with Jeroboam and Abias.

Act 13:23  Of this man’s seed, God, according to his promise, hath raised up to Israel a Saviour Jesus:

Of this man’s seed, posterity. Our Lord is everywhere known by the designation, Son of David.

God, according to His promise, viz., the promises generally made to Abraham and David, that the Messiah would be born of their seed (Gal 3:15) which he confirms in verse 32.

Hath raised up to Israel, a Saviour, Jesus.  Instead of raised up, the reading best supported by a preponderance of MSS., and generally preferred, has,
broughtforth to Israel.  It refers not to our Lord’s Incarnation; but, to his having been publicly declared by God, at the commencement of his ministry, at his Baptism, by John, to be the Saviour of all Israel Hence, aptly called Jesus. The reference here made to the precursory ministry and testimony of John shows there is question of our Lord s coming forth to exercise His ministry.

Act 13:24  John first preaching, before his coming, the baptism of penance to all the people of Israel.

John first preaching, or, as the Greek has it, having previously preachedbefore his coming, or His public appearance to exercise His ministry.

In v. 23, the Apostle introduces the chief point of his discourse, that Jesus was the promised Messiah, who was to redeem the world. The mention of the word Jesus, so odious to the Jews, and calculated to beget a prejudice, is introduced with great judgment, the promises regarding which, already laid before them, the Jews could not gainsay. With great tact he avails himself of the allusion to David to introduce the mention of the Messiah, who was to be of the seed of David.

The meaning of verses 23-24, then, is: God, conformably to His promise has declared, pointed out unto Israel Jesus as Saviour, the descendant of King David, after John had prepared the ways for His entry into the functions of His ministry, by preaching the Baptism of Penance unto all the people.

Act 13:25  And when John was fulfilling his course, he said: I am not he whom you think me to be. But behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

Fulfilling his course. When in the act of discharging his duties as precursor, he said I am not he, (see Gospels Matthew 3 Luke 3:15; John 1:27).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on Acts of Apostles, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 1:1-18 for Christmas Mass During the Day

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2010

Ver 1a. In the beginning was the Word,

CHRYS. While all the other Evangelists begin with the Incarnation, John, passing over the Conception, Nativity, education, and growth, speaks immediately of the Eternal Generation, saying, In the beginning was the Word.

AUG. The Greek word “logos” signifies both Word and Reason. But in this passage it is better to interpret it Word; as referring not only to the Father, but to the creation of things by the operative power of the Word; whereas Reason, though it produce nothing, is still rightly called Reason.

AUG. Words by their daily use, sound, and passage out of us, have become common things. But there is a word which remains inward, in the very man himself; distinct from the sound which proceeds out of the mouth. There is a word, which is truly and spiritually that, which you understand by the sound, not being the actual sound. Now whoever can conceive the notion of word, as existing not only before its sound, but even before the idea of its sound is formed, may see enigmatically, and as it were in a glass, some similitude of that Word of Which it is said, In the beginning was the Word. For when we give expression to something which we know, the word used is necessarily derived from the knowledge thus retained in the memory, and must be of the same quality with that knowledge. For a word is a thought formed from a thing which we know; which word is spoken in the heart, being neither Greek nor Latin, nor of any language, though, when we want to communicate it to others, some sign is assumed by which to express it. . . Wherefore the word which sounds externally, is a sign of the word which lies hid within, to which the name of word more truly appertains. For that which is uttered by the mouth of our flesh, is the voice of the word; and is in fact called word, with reference to that from which it is taken, when it is developed externally.

BASIL; This Word is not a human word. For how was there a human word in the beginning, when man received his being last of all? There was not then any word of man in the beginning, nor yet of Angels; for every creature is within the limits of time, having its beginning of existence from the Creator. But what says the Gospel? It calls the Only-Begotten Himself the Word.

CHRYS. But why omitting the Father, does he proceed at once to speak of the Son? Because the Father was known to all; though not as the Father, yet as God; whereas the Only-Begotten was not known. As was meet then, he endeavors first of all to inculcate the knowledge of the Son on those who knew Him not; though neither in discoursing on Him, is he altogether silent on the Father. And inasmuch as he was about to teach that the Word was the Only-Begotten Son of God, that no one might think this a possible generation, he makes mention of the Word in the first place, in order to destroy the dangerous suspicion, and show that the Son was from God impassibly. And a second reason is, that He was to declare to us the things of the Father. But he does not speak of the Word simply, but with the addition of the article, in order to distinguish It from other words. For Scripture calls God’s laws and commandments words; but this Word is a certain Substance, or Person, an Essence, coming forth impassibly from the Father Himself.

BASIL; Wherefore then Word? Because born impassibly, the Image of Him that begat, manifesting all the Father in Himself; abstracting from Him nothing, but existing perfect in Himself.

AUG. As our knowledge differs from God’s, so does our word, which arises from our knowledge, differ from that Word of God, which is born of the Father’s essence; we might say, from the Father’s knowledge, the Father’s wisdom, or, more correctly, the Father Who is Knowledge, the Father Who is Wisdom. The Word of God then, the Only-Begotten Son of the Father, is in all things like and equal to the Father; being altogether what the Father is, yet not the Father; because the one is the Son, the other the Father. And thereby He knows all things which the Father knows; yet His knowledge is from the Father, even as is His being: for knowing and being are the same with Him; and so as the Father’s being is not from the Son, so neither is His knowing. Wherefore the Father begat the Word equal to Himself in all things as uttering forth Himself. For had there been more or less in His Word than in Himself, He would not have uttered Himself fully and perfectly. With respect however to our own inner word, which we find, in whatever sense, to be like the Word, let us not object to see how very unlike it is also. A word is a formation of our mind going to take place, but not yet made, and something in our mind which we toss to and fro in a slippery circuitous way, as one thing and another is discovered, or occurs to our thoughts. When this, which we toss to and fro, has reached the subject of our knowledge, and been formed therefrom, when it has assumed the most exact likeness to it, and the conception has quite answered to the thing; then we have a true word. Who may not see how great the difference is here from that Word of God, which exists in the Form of God in such wise, that It could not have been first going to be formed, and afterwards formed, nor can ever have been unformed, being a Form absolute, and absolutely equal to Him from Whom It is. Wherefore; in speaking of the Word of God here nothing is said about thought in God; lest we should think there was any thing revolving in God, which might first receive form in order to be a Word, and afterwards lose it, and be canted round and round again in an unformed state.

AUG. Now the Word of God is a Form, not a formation, but the Form of all forms, a Form unchangeable, removed form accident, from failure, from time, from space, surpassing all things, and existing in all things as a kind of foundation underneath, and summit above them.  BASIL; Yet has our outward word some similarity to the Divine Word. For our word declares the whole conception of the mind; since what we conceive in the mind we bring out in word. Indeed our heart is as it were the source, and the uttered word the stream which flows therefrom.

CHRYS. Observe the spiritual wisdom of the Evangelist. He knew that men honored most what was as most ancient, and that honoring what is before every thing else, they conceived of it as God. On this account he mentions first the beginning, saving, In the beginning was the Word.

ORIGEN; There are many significations of this word beginning. For there is a beginning of a journey, and beginning of a length, according to Proverbs, The beginning of the right path is to do justice. There is a beginning too of a creation, according to Job, He is the beginning of the ways of God. Nor would it be incorrect to say, that God is the Beginning of all things. The preexistent material again, where supposed to be original, out of which any thing is produced, is considered as the beginning. There is a beginning also in respect of form: as where Christ is the beginning of those who are made according to the image of God. And there is a beginning of doctrine, according to Hebrews; When for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God. For there are two kinds of beginning of doctrine: one in itself, the other relative to us; as if we should say that Christ, in that He is the Wisdom and Word of God, was in Himself the beginning of wisdom, but to us, in that He was the Word incarnate. There being so many significations then of the word, we may take it as the Beginning through Whom, i.e. the Maker; for Christ is Creator as The Beginning, in that He is Wisdom; so that the Word is in the beginning, i.e. in Wisdom; the Savior being all these excellences at once. As life then is in the Word, so the Word is in the Beginning, that is to say, in Wisdom. Consider then if it be possible according to this signification to understand the Beginning, as meaning that all things are made according to Wisdom, and the patterns contained therein; or, inasmuch as the Beginning of the Son is the Father, the Beginning of all creatures and existences, to understand by the text, In the beginning was the Word, that the Son, the Word, was in the Beginning, that is, in the Father.

AUG. Or, In the beginning, as if it were said, before all things.

BASIL; The Holy Ghost foresaw that men would arise, who should envy the glory of the Only-Begotten, subverting their hearers by sophistry; as if because He were begotten, He was not; and before He was begotten, he was not. That none might presume then to babble such things, the Holy Ghost says, In the beginning was the Word.

HILARY; Years, centuries, ages, are passed over, place what beginning you will in your imagining, you grasp it not in time, for He, from Whom it is derived, still was.

CHRYS. As then when our ship is near shore, cities and port pass in survey before us, which on the open sea vanish, and leave nothing whereon to fix; the eye; so the Evangelist here, taking us with him in his flight above the created world, leaves the eye to gaze in vacancy on an illimitable expanse. For the words, was in the beginning, are significative of eternal and infinite essence.

AUG. They say, however, if He is the Son, He was born. We allow it. They rejoin: if the Son was born to the Father, the Father was, before the Son was born to Him. This the Faith rejects. Then they say, explain to us how the Son could; be born from the Father, and yet be coeval with Him from whom He is born: for sons are born after their fathers, to succeed them on their death. They adduce analogies from nature; and we must endeavor likewise to do the same for our doctrine. But how can we find in nature a coeternal, when we cannot find an eternal? However, if a thing generating and a thing generated can be found any where coeval, it will be a help to forming a notion of coeternals. Now Wisdom herself is called in the Scriptures, the brightness of Everlasting Light, the image of the Father. Hence then let us take our comparison, an from coevals form a notion of coeternals. Now no one doubts that brightness proceeds from fire: fire then we may consider the father of the brightness. Presently, when I light a candle, at the same instant with the fire, brightness arises. Give me the fire without the brightness, and I will with you believe that the Father was without the Son. An image is produced by a mirror. The image exists as soon as the beholder appears; yet the beholder existed before he came to the mirror. Let us suppose then a twig, or a blade of grass which has grown up by the water side. Is it not born with its image? If there had always been the twig, there would always have been the image proceeding from the twig. And whatever is from another thing, is born. So then that which generates may be coexistent from eternity with that which is generated from it. But some one will say perhaps, Well, I understand now the eternal Father, the coeternal Son: yet the Son is like the emitted brightness, which is less brilliant than the fire, or tile reflected image, which is less real than the twig. Not so: there is complete equality between Father and Son. I do not believe, he says; for you have found nothing whereto to liken it. However, perhaps we can find something in nature by which we may understand that the Son is both coeternal with the Father, and in no respect inferior also: though we cannot find any one material of comparison that will be sufficient singly, and must therefore join together two, one of which has been employed by our adversaries, the other by ourselves. For they have drawn their comparison from things which are preceded in time by the things which they spring from, man, for example, from man. Nevertheless, man is of the same substance with man. We have then in that nativity an equality of nature; an equality of time is wanting. But in the comparison which we have drawn from the brightness of fire, and the reflection of a twig, an equality of nature you cost not find, of time you lost. In the Godhead then there is found as a whole, what here exists in single and separate parts; and that which is in the creation, existing in a manner suitable able to the Creator.

EX GESTIS CONCILII EPHESINI; Wherefore in one place divine Scripture calls Him the Son, in another the Word, in another the Brightness of the Father; names severally meant to guard against blasphemy. For, forasmuch as your son is of the same nature with yourself, the Scripture wishing to show that the Substance of the Father and the Son is one, sets forth the Son of the Father, born of the Father, the Only-Begotten. Next, since the terms birth and son, convey the idea of passibleness, therefore it calls the Son the Word, declaring by that name the impassability of His Nativity. But inasmuch as a father with us is necessarily older shall his son, lest thou should think that this applied to the Divine nature as well, it calls the Only-Begotten the Brightness of the Father; for brightness, though arising from the sun, is not posterior to it. Understand then that Brightness, as revealing the co-eternity of the Son with the Father; Word as proving the impassability of His birth, and Son as conveying His consubstantiality.

CHRYS. But they say that In the beginning does not absolutely express in eternity: for that the same is said of the heaven and the earth: In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. But are not made and was, altogether different For in like manner as the word is, when spoken of man, signifies the present only, but when applied to God, that which always and eternally is; so too was, predicated of our nature, signifies the past, but predicated of God, eternity.

ORIGEN; The verb to be, has a double signification, sometimes expressing the motions which take place in time, as other verbs do; sometimes the substance of that one thing of which it is predicated, without reference to time. Hence it is also called a substantive verb.

HILARY; Consider then the world, understand what is written of it. In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. Whatever therefore is created is made in the beginning, and you would contain in time, what, as being to be made, is contained in the beginning. But, lo, for me, an illiterate unlearned fisherman is independent of time, unconfined by ages, advances beyond all beginnings. For the Word was, what it is, and is not bounded by any time, nor commenced therein, seeing It was not made in the beginning, but was.  ALCUIN. To refute those who inferred from Christ’s Birth in time, that He had not been from everlasting, the Evangelist begins with the eternity of the Word, saying, In the beginning was the Word.

Ver 1b. And the Word was with God.

CHRYS. Because it is an especial attribute of God, to be eternal and without a beginning, he laid this down first: then, lest any one on hearing in the beginning was the Word, should suppose the Word Unbegotten, he instantly guarded against this; saying, And the Word was with God.

HILARY; From the beginning He is With God: and though independent of time, is not independent of an Author.

BASIL; Again he repeats this, was, because of men blasphemously saying, that there was a time when He was not. Where then was the Word? Illimitable things are not contained in space. Where was He then? With God. For neither is the Father bounded by place, nor the Son by aught circumscribing.

ORIGEN; It is worth while noting, that, whereas the Word is said to come [be made] to some, as to Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, with God it is not made, as though it were not with Him before. But, the Word having been always with Him, it is said, and the Word was with God: for from the beginning it was not separate from the Father.

CHRYS. He has not said, was in God, but was with God: exhibiting to us that eternity which He had in accordance with His Person.

THEOPHYL. Sabellius is overthrown by this text. For he asserts that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one Person, Who sometimes appeared as the Father, sometimes as the Son, sometimes as the Holy Ghost. But he is manifestly confounded by this text, and the Word was with God; for here the Evangelist declares that the Son is one Person, God the Father another.

Ver 1c. And the Word was God.

HILARY; You will say, that a word is the sound of the voice, the enunciation of a thing, the expression of a thought: this Word was in the beginning with God, because the utterance of thought is eternal, when He who thinks is eternal. But how was that in the beginning, which exists no time either before, or after, I doubt even whether in time at all? For speech is neither in existence before one speaks, nor after; in the very act of speaking it vanishes; for by the time a speech is ended, that from which it began does not exist. But even if the first sentence, in the beginning was the Word, was through your inattention lost upon you, why dispute you about the next; and the Word was with God? Did you hear it said, “In God,” so that you should understand this Word to be only the expression of hidden thoughts? Or did John say with by mistake, and was not aware of the distinction between being in, and being with, when he said, that what was in the beginning, was not in God, but with God? Hear then the nature and name of the Word; and the Word was God. No more then of the sound of the voice, of the expression of the thought. The Word here is a Substance, not a sound; a Nature, not an expression; God, not a nonentity.

HILARY; But the title is absolute, and free from the offense of an extraneous subject. To Moses it is said, I have given you for a god to Pharaoh: but is not the reason for the name added, when it is said, to Pharaoh? Moses is given for a god to Pharaoh, when he is feared, when he is entreated, when he punishes, when he heals. And it is one thing to be given for a God, another thing to be God. I remember too another application of the name in the Psalms, I have said, you are gods. But there too it is implied that the title was but bestowed; and the introduction of, I said, makes it rather the phrase of the Speaker, than the name of the thing. But when I hear the Word was God, I not only hear the Word said to be, but perceive It proved to be, God.

BASIL; Thus cutting off the cavils of blasphemers, and those who ask what the Word is, he replies, and the Word was God.

THEOPHYL. Or combine it thus: From the Word being with God, it follows plainly that there are two Persons. But these two are of one Nature; and therefore it proceeds, In the Word was God: to show that Father and Son are of One Nature, being of One Godhead.

ORIGEN; We must add too, that the Word illuminates the Prophets with Divine wisdom, in that He comes to them; but that with God He ever is, because He is God. For which reason he placed and the Word was with God, before and the Word was God.

CHRYS. Not asserting, as Plato does, one to be intelligence, the other soul; for the Divine Nature is very different from this. . . But you say, the Father is called God with the addition of the article, the Son without it. What say you then, when the Apostle writes, The great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; and again, Who is over all, God; and Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father; without the article? Besides, too, it were superfluous here, to affix what had been affixed just before. So that it does not follow, though the article is not affixed to the Son, that He is therefore an inferior God.

Joh 1:2  Ver  2. The same was in the beginning with God.

HILARY; Whereas he had said, the Word was God, the fearfulness, and strangeness of the speech disturbed me; the prophets having declared that God was One. But, to quiet my apprehensions, the fisherman reveals the scheme of this so great mystery, and refers all to one, without dishonor, without obliterating [the Person], without reference to time , saying, The Same was in the beginning with God; with One Unbegotten God, from whom He its, the One Only-begotten God.  THEOPHYL. Again, to stop any diabolical suspicion, that the Word, because He was God, might have rebelled against His Father, as certain Gentiles fable, or, being separate, have become the antagonist of the Father Himself, he says, The Same was in the beginning with God; that is to say, this Word of God never existed separate from God.  CHRYS. Or, lest hearing that In the beginning was the Word, you should regard It as eternal, but yet understand the Father’s Life to have some degree of priority, he has introduced the words, The Same was in the beginning with God. For God was never solitary, apart from Him, but always God with God. Or forasmuch as he said, the Word was God, that no one might think the Divinity of the Son inferior, he immediately subjoins the marks of proper Divinity, in that he both again mentions Eternity, The Same was in the beginning with God; and adds His attribute of Creator, All things were made by Him.  ORIGEN; Or thus, the Evangelist having begun with those propositions, reunites them into one, saying, The Same was in the beginning with God. For in the first of the three we learnt in what the Word was, that it was in the beginning; in the second, with whom, with God; in the third who the Word was, God. Having, then, by the term, The Same, set before us in a manner God the Word of Whom he had spoken, he collects all into the fourth proposition, viz. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; into, the Same was in the beginning with God. It may be asked, however, why it is not said, In the beginning was the Word of God, and the Word of God was with God, and the Word of God was God? Now whoever will admit that truth is one, must needs admit also that the demonstration of truth, that is wisdom, is one. But if truth is one, and wisdom is one, the Word which enuntiates truth and develops wisdom in those who ho are capable of receiving it, must be One also. And therefore it would have been out of place here to have said, the Word of God, as if there were other words besides that of God, a word of angels, word of men, and so on. We do not say this, to deny that It is the Word of God, but to show the use of omitting the word God. John himself too in the Apocalypse says, And his Name is called the Word of God.  ALCUIN; Wherefore does he use the substantive verb, was? That you might understand that the Word, Which is coeternal with God the Father, was before all time.

Ver  3a. All things were made by him.

ALCUIN; After speaking of the nature of the Son, he proceeds to His operations, saying, All things were made by him, i.e. every thing whether substance, or property.

HILARY; Or thus: [It is said], the Word indeed was in the beginning, but it may be that He was not before the beginning. But what says he; All things were made by him. He is infinite by Whom every thing, which is, was made: and since all things were made by Him, time is likewise.

CHRYS. Moses indeed, in the beginning of the Old Testament, speaks to us in much detail of the natural world, saying, In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth; and then relates how that the light, and the firmament, and the stars, and the various kinds of animals were created. But the Evangelist sums up the whole of this in a word, as familiar to his hearers; and hastens to loftier matter, making the whole of his book to bear not on the works, but on the Maker.

AUG. Since all things were made by him, it is evident that light was as also, when God said, Let there be light. And in like manner the rest. But if so, that which God said, viz. Let there be light, is eternal. For the Word of God, God with God, is coeternal with the Father, though the world created by Him be temporal. For whereas our when and sometimes are words of time, in the Word of God, on the contrary, when a thing ought to be made, is eternal; and the thing is then made, when in that Word it is that it ought to be made, which Word has in It neither when, or at sometime, since It is all eternal.

AUG. How then can the Word of God be made, when God by the Word made all things? For if the Word Itself were made, by what other Word was It made? If you say it was the Word of the Word by Which That was made, that Word I call the Only-Begotten Son of God. But if thou cost not call It the Word of the Word, then grant that that Word was not made, by which all things were made.

AUG. And if It is not made, It is not a creature; but if It is not a creature, It is of the same Substance with the Father. For every substance which is not God is a creature; and what is not a creature is God.

THEOPHYL. The Arians are wont to say, that all things are spoken of as made by the Son, in the sense in which we say a door is made by a saw, viz. as an instrument; not that He was Himself the Maker. And so they talk of the Son as a thing made, as if He were made for this purpose, that all things might be made by Him. Now we to the inventors of this lie reply simply: If, as you say, the Father had created the Son, in order to make use of Him as an instrument, it would appear that the Son were less honorable than the things made, just as things made by a saw are more noble than the saw itself; the saw having been made for their sake. In like way do they speak of the Father creating the Son for the sake of the things made, as it; had He thought good to create the universe, neither would He have produced the Son. What can be more insane than such language? They argue, however, why was it not said that the Word made all things, instead of the preposition by being used. For this reason, that you might not understand an Unbegotten and Unoriginate Son, a rival God.

CHRYS. If the preposition by perplex you, and you would learn from Scripture that the Word Itself made all thin as, hear David, You, Lord, in the beginning has laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. That he spoke this of the Only-Begotten, you learn from the Apostle, who in the Epistle to the Hebrews applies these words to the Son.

CHRYS. But if you say that the prophet spoke this of the Father, and that Paul applied it to the Son, it comes to the same thing. For he would not have mentioned that as applicable to the Son, unless he fully considered that the Father and the Son were of equal dignity. If again you dream that in the preposition by any subjection is implied, why does Paul use of the Father? as, God is faithful, by Whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son; and again, Paul an Apostle by the will of God.

ORIGEN; Here too Valentines errs, saying, that the Word supplied to the Creator the cause of the creation of the world. If this interpretation is true, its should have been written that all things had their existence from the Word through the Creator, not contrariwise, through the Word from the Creator.

Ver Joh_1:3b. And without him was not any thing made.

CHRYS. That you may not suppose, when he says, All things were made by Him, that he meant only the things Moses had;, spoken of, he seasonably brings in, And without Him was not any thing made, nothing, that is, cognizable either by the senses, or the understanding. Or thus; Lest you should suspect the sentence, All things were made by Him, to refer to the miracles which the other Evangelists had related, he adds, and without Him was not any thing made.

HILARY; Or thus; That all things were made by him, is pronouncing too much, it may be said. There is an Unbegotten Who is made of none, and there is the Son Himself begotten from Him Who is Unbegotten. The Evangelist however again implies the Author, when he speaks of Him as Associated; saying, without Him was not any thing made. This, that nothing was made without Him, I understand to mean the Son’s not being alone, for ‘by whom’ is one thing, ‘not without whom another.

ORIGEN: Or thus, that you might not think that the things made by the Word had a separate existence, and were not contained in the Word, he says, and without Him was not any thing made: that is, not any thing was made externally of Him; for He encircles all things, as the Preserver of all things.

AUG. Or, by saying, without Him was not any thing made, he tells us not to suspect Him in any sense to be a thing made. For how can He be a thing made, when God, it is said, made nothing without Him?

ORIGEN; If all things were made by the Word, and in the number of all things is wickedness, and the whole influx of sin, these too were made by the Word; which is false. Now ‘nothing’ and ‘a thing which is not,’ mean the same. And the Apostle seems to call wicked things, things which are not, God calls those things which be not, as though they were. All wickedness then is called nothing, forasmuch as it is made without the Word. Those who say however ever that the devil is not a creature of God, err. In so far as he is the devil, he is not a creature of God; but he, whose character it is to be the devil, is a creature of God. It is as if we should say a murderer is not a creature of God, when, so far as he is a man, he is a creature of God.

AUG. For sin was not made by Him; for it is manifest that sin is nothing, and that men become nothing when they sin. Nor was an idol made by the Word. It has indeed a sort of form of man, and man himself was made by the Word; but the form of man in an idol was not made by the Word: for it is written, we know that an idol is nothing. These then were not made by the Word; but whatever things were made naturally, the whole universe, were; every creature from an angel to a worm.ORIGEN; Valentinus excludes from the things made by the Word, all that were made in the ages which he believes to have existed before the Word. This is plainly false; inasmuch as the things which he accounts divine are thus excluded from the “all things,” and what he deems wholly corrupt are properly ‘all things!’

AUG. The folly of those men is not to be listened to, who think nothing is to be understood here as something because it is placed at the end of the sentence: as if it made so any difference whether it was said, without Him nothing was made, or, without Him was made nothing.

ORIGEN; If ‘the word’ be taken for that which is in each man, inasmuch as it was implanted in each by the Word, which was in the beginning then also, we commit nothing without this ‘word’ [reason] taking this word ‘nothing’ in a popular sense. For the Apostle says that sin was dead without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived; for sin is not imputed when there is no law. But neither was there sin, when there was no Word, for our Lord says, If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin. For every excuse is without drawn from the sinner, if, with the Word present, and enjoining what is to be done, he refuses to obey Him. Nor is the Word to be blamed on this account; any more than a master, whose discipline leaves no excuse open to a delinquent pupil on the ground of ignorance. All things then were made by the Word, not only the natural world, but also whatever is done by those acting without reason.

Ver  4a. In him was life.

BEDE; The Evangelist having said that every creature was made by the Word, lest perchance any one might think that His will was changeable, as though He willed on a sudden to make a creature, which from eternity he had not made; he took care to show that, though a creature was made in time, in the Wisdom of the Creator it had been from eternity arranged what and when He should create.

AUG. ‘The passage can be read thus: What was made in Him was life. Therefore the whole universe is life: for what was there not made in Him? He is the Wisdom of God, as is said, In Wisdom have You made them all. All things therefore are made in Him, even as they are by Him. But, if whatever was made in Him is life, the earth is life, a stone is life. We must not interpret it so unsoundly, lest the sect of the Manicheans creep in upon us, and say, that a stone has life, and that a wall has life; for they do insanely assert so, and when reprehended or refuted, appeal as though to Scripture, and ask, why was it said, That which was made in Him. was life?

Read the passage then thus: make the stop after What was made, and then proceed, In Him was life. The earth was made; but, the earth itself which was, as made is not life. In the Wisdom of God however there is spiritually a certain Reason after which the earth is made. This is Life. A chest in workmanship is not life, a chest in art is, inasmuch as the mind of the workman lives wherein that original pattern exists. And in this sense the Wisdom of God, by Which all things are made, contains in art ‘all things which are made, according to that art.’ And therefore whatever is made, is not in itself life, but is life in Him.

ORIGEN; It may also be divided thus: That which was made in him; and then, was life; the sense being, that all things that were made by Him and in Him, are life in Him, and are one in Him. They were, that is, in Him; they exist as the cause, before they exist in themselves as effects. If you ask how and in what manner all things which were made by the Word subsist in Him vitally, immutably, causally, take some examples from the created world.

See how that all things within the arch of the world of sense have their causes simultaneously and harmoniously subsisting in that sun which is the greatest luminary of the world: how multitudinous crops of herbs and fruits are contained in single seeds: how the most complex variety of rules, in the art of the artificer, and the mind of the director, are a living unit, how an infinite number of lines coexist in one point. Contemplate these several instances, and you will be able as it were on the wings of physical science, to penetrate with your intellectual eye the secrets of the Word, and as far as is allowed to a human understanding, to see how all things which were made by the Word, live in Him, and were made in Him.

HILARY; Or it can be understood thus. In that he had said, without Him was not anything thing made, one might have been perplexed, and have asked, Was then any thing made by another, which yet was not made without Him? If so, then though nothing is made without, all things are not made by Him: it being one thing to make, another to be with the maker.

On this account the Evangelist declares what it was which was not made without Him, viz. what was made in Him. This then it was which was not made without Him, viz. what was made in Him. And that which was made in Him, was also made by Him. For all things were created in Him and by Him. Now things were made in Him, because He was born God the Creator. And for this reason also things that were made in Him, were not made without Him, viz. that God, in that He was born, was life, and He who was life, was not made life after being born. Nothing then which was made in Him, was made without Him, because He was life, in Whom they were made; because God Who was born of God was God, not after, but in that He was born.

CHRYS Or to give another explanation. We will not put the stop at without Him was not any thing made, as the heretics do. For they wishing to prove the Holy Ghost a creature, read, That which was made in Him, was life. But this cannot be so understood. For first, this was not the place for making mention of the Holy Ghost. But let us suppose it was; let us take the passage for the present according to their reading, we shall see that it leads to a difficulty. For when it is said, That which was made in Him, was life; they say the life spoken of is the Holy Ghost. But this life is also light; for the Evangelist proceeds, The life was the light of men.

Wherefore according to them, he calls the Holy Ghost the light of all men. But the Word mentioned above, is what he here calls consecutively, God, and Life, and Light. Now the Word was made flesh. If follows that the Holy Ghost is incarnate, not the Son. Dismissing then this reading, we adopt a more suitable one, with the following meaning: All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made which was made: there we make a stop, and begin a fresh sentence: In Him was life. Without Him was not any thing made which was as made; i.e. which could be made. You see how by this short addition, he removes any difficulty which might follow. For by introducing without Him was not any thing made, and adding, which was made, he includes all things invisible, and excepts the Holy: Spirit: for the Spirit cannot be made.

To the mention of creation, succeeds that of providence. In Him was life. As a fountain which produces vast depths of water, and yet is nothing diminished at the fountain head; so works the Only-Begotten. How great soever His creations be, He Himself is none the less for them. By the word life here is meant not only creation, but that providence by which the things created are preserved. But when you are told that in Him was life, do not suppose Him confounded; for, as the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself. As then you would not call the Father compounded, so neither should you the Son.

ORIGEN; Or thus: Our Savior is said to be some things not for Himself, but for others; others again, both for Himself and others. When it is said then, That which was as made in Him was life; we must inquire whether the life is for Himself and others, or for others only; and if for others, for whom? Now the Life and the Light are both the same Person: He is the light of men: He is therefore their life. The Savior is called Life here, not to Himself, but to others; whose Light He also is. This life is inseparable from the Word, from the time it is added on to it.

For Reason or the Word must exist before in the soul, cleansing it from sin, till it is pure enough to receive the life, which is thus engrafted or inborn in every one who renders himself fit to receive the Word of God. Hence observe, that though the Word itself in the beginning was not made, the Beginning never having been without the Word; yet the life of men was not always in the Word. This life of men was made, in that It was the light of men; and this light of men could not be before man was; the light of men being understood relatively to men. And therefore he says, That which was made in the Word was life; not That which was in the Word was life. Some copies read, not amiss, “That which was made, in Him is life.” If we understand the life in the Word, to be He who says below, ‘I am the life,’ we shall confess that none who believe not. in Christ live, and that all who live not in God, are dead.

Ver  4b. And the life was the light of men.

THEOPHYL. He had said, In him was life, that you might not suppose that the Word was without life. Now he shows that that life is spiritual, and the light of all reasonable creatures. And the life was the light of men: i.e. not sensible, but intellectual light, illuminating the very soul.

AUG. Life of itself gives illumination to men, but to cattle not: for they have not rational souls, by which to discern wisdom: whereas man, being made in the image of God, has a rational soul, by which he can discern wisdom. Hence that life, by which all things are made, is light, not however of all animals whatsoever, but of men.

THEOPHYL. He said not, the Light of the Jews only, but of all men: for all of us, in so far as we have received intellect and reason, from that Word which created us, are said to be illuminated by Him. For the reason which is given to us, and which constitutes us the reasonable beings we are, is a light directing us what to do, and what not to do.

ORIGEN; We must not omit to notice, that he puts the life before the light of men. For it would be a contradiction to suppose a being without life to be illuminated; as if life were an addition to illumination. But to proceed: if the life was the light of men, meaning men only, Christ is the light and the life of men only; an heretical supposition. It does not follow then, when a thing is predicated of any, that it is predicated of those only; for of God it is written, that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and yet He is not the God of those fathers only. In the same way, the light of men is not excluded from being the light of others as well. Some moreover contend from , Genesis, Let us make man after our image, that man means whatever is made after the image and similitude of God. If so, the light of men is the light of any rational creature whatever.

Ver  5. And the light shines in darkness.

AUG. Whereas that life is the light of men, but foolish hearts cannot receive that light, being so encumbered with sins that they cannot see it; for this cause lest any should think there is no light near them, because they cannot see it, he continues: And the light shines in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. For suppose a blind man standing in the sun, the sun is present to him, but he is absent from the sun. In like manner every fool is blind, and wisdom is present to him; but, though present, absent from his sight, forasmuch as sight is gone: the truth being, not that she is absent from him, but that he is absent from her.

ORIGEN; This kind of darkness however is not in men by nature, according to the text in the Ephesians, You were some time darkness, but now are you light in the Lord.

ORIGEN; Or thus, The light shines in the darkness of faithful souls, beginning from faith, and drawing onwards to hope; but the deceit and ignorance of undisciplined souls did not comprehended the light of the Word of God shining in the flesh. That however is an ethical meaning. The metaphysical signification of the words is as follows. Human nature, even though it sinned not, could not shine by its own strength simply; for it is not naturally light, but only a recipient of it; it is capable of containing wisdom, but is not wisdom itself. As the air, of itself, shines not, but is called by the name of darkness, even so is our nature, considered in itself; a dark substance, which however admits of and is made partaker of the light of wisdom. And as when the air receives the sun’s rays, it is not said to shine of itself, but the sun’s radiance to be apparent in it; so the reasonable part of our nature, while possessing the presence of the Word of God, does not of itself understand God, and intellectual things, but by means of the divine light implanted in it. Thus, The light shines in darkness: for the Word of God, the life and the light of men, ceases not to shine in our nature; though regarded in itself, that nature is without form and darkness. And forasmuch as pure light cannot be comprehended by any creature, hence the text: The darkness comprehended it not.

CHRYS. Or thus: throughout the whole foregoing passage he, had been speaking of creation; then he mentions the spiritual; benefits which the Word brought w with it: and the life was the light of men. He said not, the light of Jews, but of all men without exception; for not the Jews only, but the Gentiles also have come to this knowledge. The Angels he omits, for he is speaking of human nature, to whom the Word came bringing glad tidings.

ORIGEN; But they ask, why is not the Word Itself called the light of men, instead of the life which is in the Word? We reply, that the life here spoken of is not that which rational and irrational animals have in common, but that which is annexed to the Word which is within us through participation of the primeval Word. For we must distinguish the external and false life, from the desirable and true. We are first made partakers of life: and this life with some is light potentially only, not in act; with those, viz. who are not eager to search out the things which appertain to knowledge: with others it is actual light, those who, as the Apostle said, covet earnestly the best gifts, that is to say, the word of wisdom. (If the life and the light of men are the same, whoso is in darkness is proved not to live, and none who lives abides in darkness.)

CHRYS. Life having come to us, the empire of death is dissolved; a light having shone upon us, there is darkness no longer: but there remains ever a life which death, a light which darkness cannot overcome. Whence he continues, And the light shines in darkness: by darkness meaning death and error, for sensible light does not shine in darkness, but darkness must be removed first; whereas the preaching of Christ shone forth amidst the reign of error, and caused it to disappear, and Christ by dying changed death into life, so overcoming it, that, those who were already in its grasp, were brought back again. Forasmuch then as neither death nor error has overcome his light, which is every where conspicuous shilling forth by its own strength; therefore he adds, And the darkness comprehended it not.

ORIGEN; As the light of men is a word expressing two spiritual things, so is darkness also. To one who possesses the light, we attribute both the doing the deeds of the light, and also true understanding, inasmuch as he is illuminated by the light of knowledge: and, on the other hand, the term darkness we apply both to unlawful acts, and also to that knowledge, which seems such, but is not. Now as the Father is light, and in Him is no darkness at all, so is the Savior also. Yet, inasmuch as he underwent the similitude of our sinful flesh, it is not incorrectly said of Him, that in Him there was some darkness; for He took our darkness upon Himself, in order that He might dissipate it. This Light therefore, which was made the life of man, shines in the darkness of our hearts, when the prince of this darkness wars with the human race. This Light the darkness persecuted, as is clear from what our Savior and His children suffer; the darkness fighting against the children of light. But, forasmuch as God takes up the cause, they do not prevail; nor do they apprehend the light, for they are either of too slow a nature to overtake the light’s quick course, or, waiting for it to come up to them, they are put to flight at its approach. We should bear in mind, however, that darkness is not always used in a bad sense, but sometimes in a good, as in Psalm xvii. He made darkness His secret place: the things of God being unknown and incomprehensible. This darkness then I will call praiseworthy, since it tends toward light, and lays hold on it: for, though it were darkness before, while it was not known, yet it is turned to light and knowledge in him who has learned.

AUG. A certain Platonist once said, that the beginning of this Gospel ought to be copied in letters of gold, and placed in the most conspicuous place in every church.

BEDE; The other Evangelists describe Christ as born in time; John witnesses that He was in the beginning, saying, In the beginning was the Word. The others describe His sudden appearance among men; he witnesses that He was ever with God, saying, And the Word was with God. The others prove Him very man; he very God, saying, And the Word was God. The others exhibit Him as man conversing with men for a season; he pronounces Him God abiding with God in the beginning, saying, The Same was in the beginning with God. The others relate the great deeds which He did amongst men; he that God the Father made every creature through Him, saying, All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any shiny made.

Ver 6. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.7. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.8. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

AUG. What is said above, refers to the Divinity of Christ. He came to us in the form of man, but man in such sense, as that the Godhead was concealed within Him. And therefore there was sent before a great man, to declare by his witness that He was more than man. And who was this? He was a man.

THEOPHYL. Not an Angel, as many have held. The Evangelist here refutes such a notion.

AUG. And how could he declare the truth concerning God, unless he were sent from God.

CHRYS. After this esteem nothing that he says as human; for he speaks not his own, but his that sent him. And therefore the Prophet calls him a messenger, I send My messenger, for it is the excellence of a messenger, to say nothing of his own. But the expression, was sent, does not mean his entrance into life, but to his office. As Esaias was sent on his commission, not from any place out of the world, but from where he saw the Lord sitting upon His high and lofty throne; in like manner John was sent from the desert to baptize; for he says, He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, Upon Whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost.

AUG. What was he called? whose name was John?

ALCUIN. That is, the grace of God, or one in whom is grace, who by his testimony first made known to the world the grace of the New Testament, that is, Christ. Or John may be taken to mean, to whom it is given: because that through the grace of God, to him it was given, not only to herald, but also to baptize the King of kings.

AUG. Wherefore came he? The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light.

ORIGEN; Some try to undo the testimonies of the Prophets to Christ, by saying that the Son of God had no need of such witnesses; the wholesome words which He uttered and His miraculous acts being sufficient to produce belief; just as Moses deserved belief for his speech and goodness, and wanted no previous witnesses. To this we may reply, that, where there are a number of reasons to make people believe, persons are often impressed by one kind of proof; and not by another, and God, Who for the sake of all men became man, can give them many reasons for belief in Him. And with respect to the doctrine of the Incarnation, certain it is that some have been forced by the Prophetical writings into an admiration of Christ by the fact of so many prophets having, before His advent, fixed the place of His nativity; and by other proofs of the same kind. It is to be remembered too, that, though the display of miraculous powers might stimulate the faith of those who lived in the same age with Christ, they might, in the lapse of time, fail to do so; as some of them might even get to be regarded as fabulous. Prophecy and miracles together are more convincing than simply past miracles by themselves. We must recollect too that men receive honor themselves from the witness which they bear to God. He deprives the Prophetical choir of immeasurable honor, whoever denies that it was their office to bear witness to Christ. John when he comes to bear witness to the light, follows in the train of those who went before him.

CHRYS. Not because the light wanted the testimony, but for the reason which John himself self gives, viz. that all might believe on Him. For as He put on flesh to save all men from death; so He sent before Him a human preacher, that the sound of a voice like their own, might the readier draw men to Him.BEDE; He says not, that all men should believe in him; for, cursed be the man that trusts in man; but, that all men through him might believe; i.e. by his testimony believe in the Light.

THEOPHYL. Though some however might not believe, he is not accountable for them. When a man shuts himself up in a dark room, so as to receive no light from the sun’s rays, he is the cause of the deprivation, not the sun. In like manner John was sent, that all men might believe; but if no such result followed, he is not the cause of the failure.

CHRYS. Forasmuch however as with us, the one who witnesses, is commonly a more important, a more trustworthy person, than the one to whom he bears witness, to do away with any such notion in the present case the Evangelist proceeds; He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. If this were not his intention, in repeating the words, to bear witness of that Light, the addition would be superfluous, and rather a verbal repetition, than the explanation of a truth.

THEOPHYL. But it will be said, that we do not allow John or any of the saints to be or ever to have been light. The difference is this: If we call any of the saints light, we put light without the article. So if asked whether John is light, without the article, you may allow without hesitation that he is: if with the article, you alloy it not. For he is not very, original, light, but is only called so, on account of his partaking of the light, which comes from the true Light.

Ver 9. That was the true Light which lights every man that comes into the world.

AUG. What Light it is to which John bears witness, he shows himself, saying, That was the true Light.

CHRYS. Or thus; Having said above that John had come, and was sent, to bear witness of the Light, lest any from the recent coming of the witness, should infer the same of Him who is witnessed to, the Evangelist takes us back to that existence which is beyond all beginning, saying, That was the true Light.

AUG. Wherefore is there added, true? Because man enlightened is called light, but the true Light is that which lightens. For our eyes are called lights, and yet, without a lamp at night, or the sun by day, these lights are open to no purpose. Wherefore he adds: which lightens every man: but if every man, then John himself. He Himself then enlightened the person, by whom He wished Himself to be pointed out. And just as we may often, from the reflection of the sun’s rays on some object, know the sun to be risen, though we cannot fool; at the sun itself; as even feeble eyes can look at an illuminated wall, or some object of that kind: even so, those to whom Christ came, being too weak to behold Him, He threw His rays upon John; John confessed the illumination, and so the illuminator Himself was discovered. It is said, that comes into the world. Had man not departed from Him, he had not had to be enlightened; but therefore is he to be here enlightened, because he departed thence, when the might have been enlightened.

THEOPHYL. Let the Manichean blush, who pronounces us the creatures of a dark and malignant creator: for we should never be enlightened, v ere we not the children of the true Light.

CHRYS. Where are those too, who deny Him to be very God? We see here that He is called very Light. But if He lightens every man that comes into the world, how is it that so many have gone on without light? For all have not known the worship of Christ. The answer is: He only enlightens every man, so far as pertains to Him. If men shut their eyes, and will not receive the rays of this light, their darkness arises not from the fault of the light, but from their own wickedness, inasmuch as they voluntarily deprive themselves of the gift of grace. For grace is poured out upon all; and they, who will not enjoy the gift, may impute it to their own blindness.

AUG. Or the words, lightens every man, may be understood to mean, not that there is no one who is not enlightened, but that no one is enlightened except by Him.

BEDE; Including both natural and divine wisdom; for as no one can exist of himself, so no one can be wise of himself.

ORIGEN; Or thus: We must not understand the words, lightens every man that comes into the world, of the growth from hidden seeds to organized bodies, but of the entrance into the invisible world, by the spiritual regeneration and grace, which is given in Baptism. Those then the true Light lightens, who come into the world of goodness, not those who rush into the world of sin.

THEOPHYL. Or thus: The intellect which is given in us for our direction, and which is called natural reason, is said here to be a light given us by God. But some by the ill use of their reason have darkened themselves.

Ver 10. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

AUG. The Light which lightens every man that comes into the world, came here in the flesh; because while He was here in His Divinity alone, the foolish, blind, and unrighteous could not discern Him; those of whom it is said above, The darkness comprehended it not. Hence the text; He was in the world.

ORIGEN; For as, when a person leaves off speaking, his voice ceases to be, and vanishes; so if the Heavenly Father should cease to speak His Word, the effect of that Word, i.e. the universe which is created in the Word, shall cease to exist.

AUG. You must not suppose however, that He was in the world in tile same sense in w which the earth, cattle, men, are in the world; but in the sense in which an artificer controls his own work; whence the text, And the world was made by Him. Nor again did He make it after the manner of all artificer; for whereas an artificer is external to what he fabricates, God pervades the world, carrying on the work of creation in every part, and never absent from any part: by the presence of His Majesty He both makes and controls what is made. Thus He was in the world, as He by Whom the world w as made.

CHRYS. And again, because He was in the world, but not coeval with the world, for this cause he introduced the words, and the world was made by Him: thus taking you back again to the eternal existence of the Only-Begotten. For when we are told that the whole of creation was made by Him, we must be very dull not to acknowledge that the Maker existed before the work.

THEOPHYL. Here he overthrows at once the insane notion of the Manichaean, who says that the world is the work of a malignant creature, and the opinion of the Arian, that the Son of God is a creature.

AUG. But what means this, The world was made by Him? The earth, sky, and sea, and all that are therein, are called the world. But in another sense, the lovers of the world are called the world, of whom he says, And the world knew Him not. For did the sky, or Angels, not know their Creator, Whom the very devils confess, Whom the whole universe has borne witness to? Who then did not know Him? Those who, from their love of the world, are called the world; for such live in heart in the world, while those who do not love it, have their body in the world, but their heart in heaven; as said the Apostle, our conversation is in heaven. By their love of the world, such men merit being called by the name of the place where they live. And just as in speaking of a bad house, or good house, we do not mean praise or blame to the walls, but to the inhabitants; so when we talk of the world, we mean those who live there in the love of it.

CHRYS. But they who were the friends of God, knew Him even before His presence in the body; whence Christ said below, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day. When the Gentiles then interrupt us with the question, Why has He come in these last times to work our salvation, having neglected us so long? we reply, that He was in the world before, superintending what He had made, and was known to all who were worthy of Him; and that, if the world knew Him not, those of whom the world was not worthy knew Him. The reason follows, why the world knew Him not. The Evangelist calls those men the world, who are tied to the world, and savor of worldly things; for there is nothing that disturbs the mind so much, as this melting with the love of present things.

Ver 11. He came to his own, and his own received him not.12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:13. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the wild of man, but of God.

CHRYS. When He said that the world knew Him not, he c referred to the times of the old dispensation, but what follows H has reference to the time of his preaching; He came to his own.

AUG. Because all things were made by Him.

THEOPHYL. By his own, understand either the world, or Judea, which He had chosen for His inheritance.

CHRYS. He came then to His own, not for His own good, but for the good of others. But whence did He Who fills all things, and is every where present, come? He came out of condescension to us, though in reality He had been in the world all along. But the world not seeing Him, because it knew Him not, He deigned to put on flesh. And this manifestation and condescension is called His advent. But the merciful God so contrives His dispensations, that we may shine forth in proportion to our goodness, and therefore He will not compel, but invites men, by persuasion and kindness, to come of their own accord: and so, when He came, some received Him, and others received Him not. He desires not an unwilling and forced service; for no one who comes unwillingly devotes himself wholly to Him. Whence what follows, And his own received him not. He here calls the Jews His own, as being his peculiar people; as indeed are all men in some sense, being made by Him. And as above, to the shame of our common nature, he said, that the world which was made by Him, knew not its Maker: so here again, indignant at the ingratitude of the Jews, he brings a heavier charge, viz. that His own received Him not.

AUG But if none at all received, none will be saved. For no one will be saved, but he who received Christ at His coming; and therefore he adds, As many as received Him.

CHRYS. Whether they be bond or free, Greek or Barbarian, wise or unwise, women or men, the young or the aged, all are made meet for the honor, which the Evangelist now proceeds to mention. To them gave He power to become the sons of God.

AUG. O amazing goodness! He was born the Only Son, yet would not remain so; but grudged not to admit joint heirs to His inheritance. Nor was this narrowed by many partaking of it.

CHRYS. He said not that He made them the sons of God, but gave them power to become the sons of God: showing that there is need of much care, to preserve the image, which is formed by our adoption in Baptism, untarnished: and showing at the same time also that no one can take this power from us, except we rob ourselves of it. Now, if the delegates of worldly governments have often nearly as much power as those governments themselves, much more is this the case with us, who derive our dignity from God. But at the same time the Evangelist wishes to show that this grace comes to us of our own will and endeavor: that, in short, the operation of grace being supposed, it is in the power of our free will to make us the sons of God.

THEOPHYL. Or the meaning is, that the most perfect sonship will only be attained at the resurrection, as said the Apostle, Wailing for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. He therefore gave us the power to become the sons of God, i.e. the power of obtaining this grace at some future time.

CHRYS. And because in the matter of these ineffable benefits, the giving of grace belongs to God, but the extending of faith to man, He subjoins, even to those who believe on his name. Why then declare you not, John, the punishment of those who received Him not? Is it because there is no greater punishment than that, when the power of becoming the sons of God is offered to men, they should not become such, but voluntarily deprive themselves of the dignity? But besides this, inextinguishable fire awaits all such, as will appear clearly farther on.

AUG. To be made then the sons of God, and brothers of Christ, they must of course be born; for if they are not born, how can they be sons? Now the sons of men are born of flesh and blood, and the will of man, and the embrace of wedlock; but how these are born, the next words declare: Not of bloods; that is, the male’s and the female’s. Bloods is not correct Latin, but as it is plural in the Greek, the translator preferred to put it so, though it be not strictly grammatical, at the same time explaining the word in order not to offend the weakness of one’s hearers.

BEDE; It should be understood that in holy Scripture, blood in the plural number, has the signification of sin: thus in the Psalms, Deliver me from blood-guiltiness.

AUG. In that which follows, Nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, the flesh is put for the female; because, when she was made out of the rib, Adam said, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. The flesh therefore is put for the wife, as the spirit sometimes is for the husband; because that the one ought to govern, the other to obey. For what is there worse than a house, where the woman has rule over the man? But these that we speak of are born neither of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God.

BEDE; The carnal birth of men derives its origin from the embrace of wedlock, but the spiritual is dispensed by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

CHRYS. The Evangelist makes this declaration, that being taught the vileness and inferiority of our former birth, which is through blood, and the will of the flesh, and understanding the loftiness and nobleness of the second, which is through grace, we might hence receive great knowledge, worthy of being bestowed by him who begat us, and after this show forth much zeal.

Ver 14a. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us

AUG. Having said, Born of God; to prevent surprise and trepidation at so great, so apparently incredible a grace, that men should be born of God; to assure us, he says, And the Word was as made flesh. Why marvel you then that men are born of God? Know that God Himself was born of man.

CHRYS. Or thus, After saying that they were born of God, who received Him, he sets forth the cause of this honor, viz. the Word being made flesh, God’s own Son was made the son of man, that he might make the sons of men the sons of God. Now when you hear that the Word was made flesh, be not disturbed, for He did not change His substance into flesh, which it were indeed impious to suppose; but remaining what He was, took upon Him the form of a servant. But as there are some who say, that the whole of the incarnation was only in appearance, to refute such a blasphemy, he used the expression, was made, meaning to represent not a conversion of substance, but an assumption of real flesh. But if they say, God is omnipotent; why then could He not be changed into flesh? we reply, that a change from an unchangeable nature is a contradiction.

AUG. As our word becomes the bodily voice, by its assumption of that voice, as a means of developing itself externally, so the Word of God was made flesh, by assuming flesh, as a means of manifesting Itself to the world. And as our word is made voice, yet is not turned into voice; so the Word of God was made flesh, but never turned into flesh. It is by assuming another nature, not by consuming themselves in it, that our word is made voice, and the Word, flesh.

EX GESTIS CONC. EPH. The discourse which we utter, which we use in conversation with each other, is incorporeal, imperceptible, impalpable; but clothed in letters and characters, it becomes material, perceptible, tangible. So too the Word of God, which was naturally invisible, becomes visible, and that comes before us in tangible form, which was by nature incorporeal.

ALCUIN. When we think how the incorporeal soul is joined to the body, so as that of two is made one man, we too shall the more easily receive the notion of the incorporeal Divine substance being joined to the soul in the body, in unity of person; so as that the Word is not turned into flesh, nor the flesh into the Word; just as the soul is not turned into body, nor the body into soul

THEOPHYL. Apollinarius of Laodicea raised a heresy upon this text; saying, that Christ had flesh only, not a rational soul; in the place of which His divinity directed and controlled His body.

AUG. If men are disturbed however by its being said that the Word was made flesh, without mention of a soul; let them know that the flesh is put for the whole man, the part for the whole, by a figure of speech; as in the Psalms, Unto you shall all flesh come; and again in Romans, By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified. In the same sense it is said here that the Word was made flesh; meaning that the Word was made man.

THEOPHYL. The Evangelist intends by making mention of the flesh, to show the unspeakable condescension of God, and lead us to admire His compassion, in assuming for our salvation, what was so opposite and incongenial to His nature, as the flesh: for the soul has some propinquity to God. If the Word, however, was made flesh, and assumed not at the same time a human soul, our souls, it would follow, would not be yet restored: for what He did not assume, He could not sanctify. What a mockery then, when the soul first sinned, to assume and sanctify the flesh only, leaving the weakest part untouched! This text overthrows Nestorius, who asserted that it was not the very Word, even God, Who the Self-same was made man, being conceived of the sacred blood of the Virgin: but that the Virgin brought forth a man endowed with every kind of virtue, and that the Word of God was united to him: thus making out two sons, one born of the Virgin, i.e. man, the other born of God, that is, the Son of God, united to that man by grace, and relation, and love. In opposition to him the Evangelist declares, that the very Word was made Man, not that the Word fixing upon a righteous man united Himself to him.

CYRIL; The Word uniting to Himself a body of flesh animated with a rational soul, substantially, was ineffably and incomprehensibly made Man, and called the Son of man, and that not according to the will only, or good-pleasure, nor again by the assumption of the Person alone. The natures are different indeed which are brought into true union, but He Who is of both, Christ the Son, is One; the difference of the natures, on the other hand, not being destroyed in consequence of this coalition.

THEOPHYL; From the text, The Word was made flesh, we learn this farther, that the Word Itself is man, and being the Son of God was made the Son of a woman, who is rightly called the Mother of God, as having given birth to God in the flesh.

HILARY; Some, however, who think God the Only-Begotten, God the Word, Who was in the beginning with God, not to be God substantially, but a Word sent forth, the Son being to God the Father, what a word is to one who utters it, these men, in order to disprove that the Word, being substantially God, and abiding in the form of God, was born the Man Christ, argue subtilely, that, whereas that Man (they say) derived His life rather from human origin than from the mystery of a spiritual conception, God the Word did not make Himself Man of the womb of the Virgin; but that the Word of God was in Jesus, as the spirit of prophecy in the Prophets. And they are accustomed to charge us with holding, that Christ was born a Man, not of our body and soul; whereas we preach the Word made flesh, and after our likeness born Man, so that He Who is truly Son of God, was truly born Son of man; and that, as by His own act He took upon Him a body of the Virgin, so of Himself He took a soul also, which in no case is derived from man by mere parental origin. And seeing He, The Self-same, is the Son of man, how absurd were it, besides the Son of God, Who is the Word, to make Him another person besides, a sort of prophet, inspired by the Word of God; whereas our Lord Jesus Christ is both the Son of God, and the Son of man.

CHRYS. Lest from it being said, however, that the Word was made flesh, you should infer improperly a change of His incorruptible nature, he subjoins, And dwelt among us. For that which inhabits is not the same, but different from the habitation: different, I say, in nature; though as to union and conjunction, God the Word and the flesh are one, without confusion or extinction of substance.

ALCUIN; Or, dwelt among us, means, lived amongst men.

Ver  14b. And we saw his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

CHRYS. Having said that we are made the sons of God and in no other way than because the Word was made flesh; he mentions another gift, And we saw His glory. Which glory we should not have seen, had He not, by His alliance with humanity, become visible to us. For if they could not endure to look on the glorified face of Moses, but there was need of a veil, how could soiled and earthly creatures, like ourselves, have borne the sight of undisguised Divinity, which is not vouchsafed even to the higher powers themselves.

AUG. Or thus; in that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, His birth became a kind of ointment to anoint the eyes of our heart, that we might through His humanity discern His majesty; and therefore it follows, And we saw His glory. No one could see His glory, who was not healed by the humility of the flesh. For there had flown upon man’s eye as it were dust from the earth: the eye had been diseased, and earth was sent to heal it again; the flesh had blinded you, the flesh restores you. The soul by consenting to carnal affections had become carnal; hence the eye of the mind had been blinded: then the physician made for thee ointment. He came in such wise, as that by the flesh He destroyed the corruption of the flesh. And thus the Word was made flesh, that you might be able to say, We saw His glory.

CHRYS. He subjoins, As of the Only-Begotten of the Father: for many prophets, as Moses, Elijah, and others, workers of miracles, had been glorified, and Angels also who appeared to men, shining with the brightness belonging to their nature; Cherubim and Seraphim too, who were seen in glorious array by the prophets. But the Evangelist withdrawing our minds from these, and raising them above all nature, and every preeminence of fellow servants, leads us up to the summit Himself; as if he said, Not of prophet, or of any other man, or of Angel, or Archangel, or any of the higher powers, is the glory which we beheld; but as that of the very Lord, very King, very and true Only-Begotten Son.

GREG. In Scripture language as, and as it were, are sometimes put not for likeness but reality; whence the expression, As of the Only-Begotten of the Father.

CHRYS. As if he said: We saw His glory, such as it was becoming and proper for the Only-Begotten and true Son to have. We have a form of speech, like it, derived from our seeing kings always splendidly robed. When the dignity of a man’s carriage is beyond description, we say, In short, he went as a king. So too John says, We saw His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father. For Angels, when they appeared, did every thing as servants who had a Lord, but He as the Lord appearing in humble form. Yet did all creatures recognize their Lord, the star calling the Magi, the Angels the shepherds, the child leaping in the womb acknowledged Him: yes the Father bore witness to Him from heaven, and the Paraclete descending upon Him: and the very universe itself shouted louder than any trumpet, that the King of heaven had come. For devils fled, diseases were healed, the graves gave up the dead, and souls were brought out of wickedness, to the utmost height of virtue. What shall one say of the wisdom of precepts, of the virtue of heavenly laws, of the excellent institution of the angelical life?

ORIGEN; Full of grace and truth. Of this the meaning is twofold. For it may be understood of the Humanity, and the Divinity of the Incarnate Word, so that the fullness of grace has reference to the Humanity, according to which Christ is the Head of the Church, and the first-born of every creature: for the greatest and original example of grace, by which man, with no preceding merits, is made God, is manifested primarily in Him. The fullness of the grace of Christ may also be understood of the Holy Spirit, whose sevenfold operation filled Christ’s Humanity. The fullness of truth applies to the Divinity but if you had rather understand the fullness of grace and truth of the New Testament, you may with propriety pronounce the fullness of the grace of the New Testament to be given by Christ, and the truth of the legal types to have been fulfilled in Him.

THEOPHYL. Or, full of grace, inasmuch as His word w as gracious, as said David, Full of grace are your lips; and truth, because what Moses and the Prophets spoke or did in figure, Christ did in reality.

Ver 15. John bore witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred before me, for he was before me.

ALCUIN; He had said before that there was a man sent to bear witness; now he gives definitely the forerunner’s own testimony, which plainly declared the excellence of His Human Nature and the Eternity of His Godhead. John bore witness of Him.

CHRYS. Or he introduces this, as if to say, Do not suppose that we bear witness to this out of gratitude, because we were with Him a long time, and partook of His table; for John who had never seen Him before, nor tarried with Him, bore witness to Him. The Evangelist repeats John’s testimony many times here and there, because he was held in such admiration by the Jews. Other Evangelists refer to the old prophets, and say, This was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet. But he introduces a loftier, and later witness, not intending to make the servant vouch for the master, but only condescending to the weakness of his hearers. For as Christ would not have been so readily received, had He not taken upon Him the form of a servant; so if he had not excited the attention of servants by the voice of a fellow-servant beforehand, there would not have been many Jews embracing the word of Christ. It follows, And cried; that is, preached with openness, with freedom, without reservation. He did not however begin with asserting that this one was the natural only-begotten Son of God, but cried, saying, This was He of whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me. For as birds do not teach their young all at once to fly, but first draw them outside the nest, and afterwards try them with a quicker motion; so John did not immediately lead the Jews to high things, but began with lesser flights, saying, that Christ was better than he; which in the mean time was no little advance. And observe how prudently he introduces his testimony; he not only points to Christ when He appears, but preaches Him beforehand; as, This is He of whom I spoke. This would prepare men’s minds for Christ’s coming: so that when He did come, the humility of His garb would be no impediment to His being received. For Christ adopted so humble and common an appearance, that if men had seen Him without first healing John’s testimony to His greatness, none of the things spoken of Him would have had any effect. THEOPHYL. He said, Who comes after me, that is, as to the time of His birth. John was six months before Christ, according to His humanity.

CHRYS. Or this does not refer to the birth from Mary; for Christ was born, when this was said by John; but to His coming for the work of preaching. He then said, is made before me; that is, is more illustrious, more honorable; as if he said, Do not suppose me greater than He, because I came first to preach.

THEOPHYL. The Arians infer from this Word, that the Son of God is not begotten of the Father, but made like any other creature.

AUG. It does not mean – He was made before I was made, but He is preferred to me.

CHRYS. If the words, made before me, referred to His coming into being, it was superfluous to add, For He was before me. For who would be so foolish as not to know, that if He was made before him, He was before him. It would have been more correct to say, He was before me, because He was made before me. The expression then, He was made before me, must be taken in the sense of honor: only that which was to take place, he speaks of as having taken place already, after the style of the old Prophets, who commonly talk of the future as the past.

Ver 16. And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.17. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

ORIGEN; This is to be considered a continuation of the Baptist’s testimony to Christ, a point which has escaped the attention of many, who think that from this to, He has declared Him, St. John the Apostle is speaking. But the idea that on a sudden, and, as it would seem, unseasonably, the discourse of the Baptist should be interrupted by a speech of the disciple’s, is inadmissible. And any one, able to follow the passage, will discern a very obvious connection here.

For having said, He is preferred before me, for He was before me, he proceeds, From this I know that He is before me, because I and the Prophets who preceded me have received of His fullness, and grace for grace, (the second grace for the first.) For they too by the Spirit penetrated beyond the figure to the contemplation of the truth. And hence receiving, as we have done, of his fullness, we judge that the law was given by Moses, but that grace and truth were made, by Jesus Christ – made, not given: the Father gave the law by Moses, but made grace and truth by Jesus.

But if it is Jesus who says below, I am the Truth, how is truth made by Jesus? We must understand however that the very substantial Truth, from which First Truth and Its Image many truths are engraver on those who treat of the truth, was not made through Jesus Christ, or through any one; but only the truth which is in individuals, such as in Paul, e.g. or the other Apostles, was made through Jesus Christ.

CHRYS. Or thus; John the Evangelist here adds this testimony to that of John the Baptist, saying, And of his fullness have we all received. These are not the words of the forerunner, but of the disciple; as if he meant to say, We also the twelve, and the whole body of the faithful, both present and to come, have received of His fullness.

AUG. But whet have you received? Grace for grace. So that we are to understand that we have received a certain something from His fullness, and over and above this, grace for grace; that we have first received of His fullness, first grace; and again, we have received grace for grace. What grace did we first receive; Faith: which is called grace, because it is given freely. This is the first grace then which the sinner receives, the remission of his sins. Again, we have grace for grace; i.e. instead of that grace in which we live by faith, we are to receive another, viz. life eternal: for life eternal is as it were the wages of faith. And thus as faith itself is a good grace, so life eternal is grace for grace. There was not grace in the Old Testament; for the law threatened, but assisted not, commanded, but healed not, showed our weakness, but relieved it not.

It prepared the way however for a Physician who was about to come, with the gifts of grace and truth: whence the sentence which follows: For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth were made by Jesus Christ. The death of your Lord has destroyed death, both temporal and eternal; that is the grace which was promised, but not contained, in the law.

CHRYS. Or we have received grace for grace; that is, the new in the place of the old. For as there is a justice and a justice besides, an adoption and another adoption, a circumcision and another circumcision; so is there a grace and another grace; only the one being a type, the other a reality. He brings in the words to show that the Jews as well as ourselves are saved by grace: it being of mercy and grace that they received the law. Next, after he has said, Grace for grace, he adds something to show the magnitude of the gift; For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth were made by Jesus Christ. John when comparing himself with Christ above had said, He is preferred before me: but the Evangelist draws a comparison between Christ, and one much more in admiration with the Jews than John, viz. Moses.

And observe his wisdom. He does not draw the comparison. between the persons, but the things, contrasting grace and truth to the law: the latter of which he says was given, a word only applying to an administrator; the former made, as we should speak of a king, who does every thing by his power: though in this King it would be with grace also, because that with power He remitted all sins. Now His grace is shown in His gift of Baptism, and our adoption by the Holy Spirit, and many other things; but to have a better insight into what the truth is, we should study the figures of the old law: for what was to be accomplished in the New Testament, is prefigured in the Old, Christ at His Coming filling up the figure. Thus was the figure given by Moses, but the truth made by Christ.

AUG. Or, we may refer grace to knowledge, truth to wisdom. Amongst the events of time the highest grace is the uniting of man to God in One Person; in the eternal world the highest truth pertains to God the Word.

18. No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.

ORIGEN; Heracleon asserts, that this is a declaration of the disciple, not of the Baptist: an unreasonable supposition; for if the words, Of His fullness have we all received, are the Baptist’s, does not the connection run naturally, that he receiving of the grace of Christ, the second in the place of the first grace, and confessing that the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ; understood here that no man had seen God at any time, and that the Only Begotten, who was in the bosom of the Father, had committed this declaration of Himself to John, and all who with him had received of His fullness? For John was not the first who declared Him; for He Himself who was before Abraham, tells us, that Abraham rejoiced to see His glory.

CHRYS. Or thus; the Evangelist after showing the great superiority of Christ’s gifts, compared with those dispensed by Moses, wishes in the next place to supply an adequate reason for the difference. The one being a servant was made a minister of a lesser dispensation: but the other Who was Lord, and Son of the King, brought us far higher things, being ever coexistent with the Father, and beholding Him. Then follows, No man has seen God at any time, &c.

AUG. What is that then which Jacob said, I have seen God face to face; and that which is written of Moses, he talked with God face to face; and that which the prophet Isaiah said of himself, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne?

GREG. It is plainly given us to understand here, that while we are in this mortal state, we see God only through the medium of certain images, not, in the reality of His own nature. A soul influenced by the grace of the Spirit may see God through certain figures, but cannot penetrate into his absolute essence. And hence it is that Jacob, who testifies that he saw God, saw nothing but an Angel: and that Moses, who talked with God face to face, says, Show me Your way, that I may know You: meaning that he ardently desired to see in the brightness of His own infinite Nature, Him Whom he had only as yet seen reflected in images.

CHRYS. If the old fathers had seen That very Nature, they would not have contemplated It so variously, for It is in Itself simple and without shape; It sits not, It walks not; these are the qualities of bodies. Whence he said through the Prophet, I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the Prophets: i.e. I have condescended to them, I appeared that which I was not. For inasmuch as the Son of God was about to manifest Himself to us in actual flesh, men were at first raised to the sight of God, in such ways as allowed of their seeing Him.

AUG. Now it is said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God; and again, When He shall appear, we shall be like to Him, for we shall see Him as He is. What is the meaning then of the words here: No man has seen God at any time? The reply is easy: those passages speak of God, as to be seen, not as already seen. They shall see God, it is said, not, they have seen Him: nor is it, we have seen Him, but, we shall see Him as He is. For, No man has seen God at any time, neither in this life, nor yet in the Angelic, as He is; in the same way in which sensible things are perceived by the bodily vision.

GREG. If however any, while inhabiting this corruptible flesh, can advance to such an immeasurable height of virtue, as to be able to discern by the contemplative vision, the eternal brightness of God, their case affects not what we say. For whoever sees wisdom, that is, God, is dead wholly to this life, being no longer occupied by the love of it.

AUG. For unless any in some sense die to this life, either by leaving the body altogether, or by being so withdrawn and alienated from carnal perceptions, that he may well not know, as the Apostle says, whether he be in the body or out of the body, he cannot be carried away, and borne aloft to that vision.

GREG. Some hold that in the place of bliss, God is visible in His brightness, but not in His nature. This is to indulge in over much subtlety. For in that simple and unchangeable essence, no division can be made between the nature and the brightness.

AUG. If we say, that the text, No one has seen God, at any time, applies only to men; so that, as the Apostle more plainly interprets it, Whom no man has seen nor can see, no one is to be understood here to mean, no one of men: the question may be solved in a way not to contradict what our Lord says, Their Angels do always behold the face of My Father; so that we must believe that Angels see, what no one, i.e. of men, has ever seen.

GREG. Some however there are who conceive that not even the Angels see God.CHRYS. That very existence which is God, neither Prophets, nor even Angels, nor yet Archangels, have seen. For inquire of the Angels; they say nothing concerning His Substance; but sing, Glory to God in the highest, and Peace on earth to men of good will. Nay, ask even Cherubim and Seraphim; you will hear only in reply the mystic melody of devotion, and that heaven and earth are full of His glory.

AUG. Which indeed is true so far, that no bodily or even mental vision of man has ever embraced the fullness of God; for it is one thing to see, another to embrace the whole of what you see. A thing is seen, if only the sight of it be caught; but we only see a thing fully, when we have no part of it unseen, when we see round its extreme limits.

CHRYS. In this complete sense only the Son and the Holy Ghost see the Father. For how can created nature see that which is uncreated? So then no man knows the Father as the Son knows Him: and hence what follows, The Only-Begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared, Him. That we might not be led by the identity of the name, to confound Him with the sons made so by grace, the article is annexed in the first place; and then, to put an end to all doubt, the name Only-Begotten is introduced.

HILARY; The Truth of His Nature did not seem sufficiently explained by the name of Son, unless, in addition, its peculiar force as proper to Him were expressed, so signifying its distinctness from all beside. For in that, besides Son, he calls Him also the Only-Begotten, he cut off altogether all suspicion of adoption, the Nature of the Only-Begotten guaranteeing the truth of the name.

CHRYS. He adds, Which is in the bosom of the Father. To dwell in the bosom is much more than simply to see. For he who sees simply, has not the knowledge thoroughly of that which he sees; but he who dwells in the bosom, knows every thing. When you hear then that no one knows the Father save the Son, do not by any means suppose that he only knows the Father more than any other, and does not know Him fully. For the Evangelist sets forth His residing in the bosom of the Father on this very account: viz. to show us the intimate converse of the Only-Begotten, and His co-eternity with the Father.

AUG. In the bosom of the Father, i.e. in the secret Presence of the Father: for God has not the fold on the bosom, as we have; nor must be imagined to sit, as we do; nor is He bound with a girdle, so as to have a fold: but from the fact of our bosom being placed innermost, the secret Presence of the Father is called the bosom of the Father. He then who, in the secret Presence of the Father, knew the Father, the same has declared what He saw.

CHRYS. But what has He declared? That God is one. But this the rest of the Prophets and Moses proclaim: what else have we learnt from the Son Who was in the bosom of the Father? In the first place, that those very truths, which the others declared, were declared through the operation of the Only Begotten: in the next place, we have received a far greater doctrine from the Only Begotten; viz. that God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth; and that God is the Father of the Only Begotten.

BEDE; Farther, if the word declared have reference to the past, it must be considered that He, being made man, declared the doctrine of the Trinity in unity, and how, and by what acts we should prepare ourselves for the contemplation of it. If it have reference to the future, then it means that He will declare Him, when He shall introduce His elect to the vision of His brightness.

AUG. Yet have there been men, who, deceived by the vanity of their hearts, maintained that the Father is invisible, the Son visible. Now if they call the Son visible, with respect to His connection with the flesh, we object not; it is the Catholic doctrine. But it is madness in them to say He was so before His incarnation; i.e. if it be true that Christ is the Wisdom of God, and the Power of God. The Wisdom of God cannot be seen by the eye. If the human word cannot be seen by the eye, how can the Word of God?

CHRYS. The text then, No man has seen God at any time, applies not to the Father only, but also to the Son: for He, as Paul said, is the Image of the invisible God; but He who is the Image of the Invisible , must Himself also be invisible.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 2:15-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2010

Ver 15. And it came pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.16. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.17. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.18. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.19. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.20. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told to them. (For verse 21 see below).

GREEK EX. The shepherds were filled with astonishment at the things that they saw and heard, and so they left their sheepfolds, and set out by night to Bethlehem, seeking for the light of the Savior; and therefore it is said, They spoke one to another, &c.

THEOPHYL; As men who were truly watching, they said not, Let us see (the child; but) the word which has come to pass, i.e. the Word which was from the beginning, let us see how it has been made flesh for us, since this very Word is the Lord. For it follows, Which the Lord has made, and has shown to us; i.e. Let us see how the Lord has made Himself, and has shown His flesh to us.

AMBROSE; How remarkably Scripture weighs the import of each word. For when we behold the flesh of the Lord, we behold the Word, which is the Son. Let not this seem to you a slight example of faith, because of the humble character of the shepherds. For simplicity is sought for, not pride. It follows, And they came in haste. For no one indolently seeks after Christ.

ORIGEN; But because they came in haste, and not with loitering steps, it follows, They found Mary, (i.e. her who had brought Jesus into the world,) and Joseph, (i.e. the guardian of our Lord’s birth,) and the babe lying in the manger, (i.e. the Savior Himself.)

THEOPHYL; It seems to succeed in due order, that after having rightly celebrated the incarnation of the Word, we should at length come to behold the actual glory of that Word. Hence it follows: But when they saw it, they made known the word which had been spoken to them.

GREEK EX. Beholding with hidden faith indeed the happy events which had been told them, and not content with marveling at the reality of those things which at the very first they saw and embraced when the Angel told them, they began to relate them not only to Mary and Joseph, but to the others also (and what is more they impressed them on their minds,) as it follows, And all who heard it marveled. For how could it be otherwise, at the sight of one of the heavenly host upon earth, and earth in peace reconciled to heaven; and that ineffable Child binding together in one, by His divinity, heavenly things, by His humanity, earthly things, and by this conjunction of Himself ejecting a wonderful union!

GLOSS. Not only do they marvel at the mystery of the incarnation, but also at so wonderful an attestation of the shepherds, men who could not have devised these unheard of things, but were with simple eloquence proclaiming the truth.

AMBROSE; Esteem not the words of the shepherds as mean and despicable For from the shepherds Mary increases her faith, as it follows: Mary kept all these sayings, and pondered them in her heart. Let us learn the chastity of the sacred Virgin in all things, who no less chaste in her words than in her body, gathered up in her heart the materials of faith.

THEOPHYL; For keeping the laws of virgin modesty, she who had known the secrets of Christ would divulge them to no one, but comparing what she had read in prophecy with what she now acknowledged to have taken place, she did not utter them with the mouth, but preserved them shut up in her heart.

GREEK EX. Whatever the Angel had said to her, whatever she had heard from Zacharias, and Elisabeth, and the shepherds, she collected them all in her mind, and comparing them together, perceived in all one harmony. Truly, He was God who was born from her.

ATHANAS. But every one rejoiced in the nativity of Christ, not with human feelings, as men are wont to rejoice when a son is born, but at the presence of Christ and the luster of the Divine light. As it follows: And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for every thing they had heard, &c.

THEOPHYL; That is to say, from the Angels, and had seen, i.e. in Bethlehem, as it was told them, i.e. they glory in this, that when they came they found it even as it was told them, or as it was told them they give praise and glory to God. For this they were told by the Angels to do, not in very word commanding them, but setting before them the form of devotion when they sung glory to God in the highest.

THEOPHYL; To speak in a mystery, let the shepherds of spiritual flocks, (nay, all the faithful,) after the example of, these shepherds, go in thought even to Bethlehem, and celebrate the incarnation of Christ with due honors. Let us go indeed casting aside all fleshly lusts, with the whole desire of the mind even to the heavenly Bethlehem, (i.e. the house of the living bread,) that He whom they saw crying in the manger we may deserve to see reigning on the throne of His Father. And such bliss as this is not to be sought for with sloth and idleness, but with eagerness must we follow the footsteps of Christ. When they saw Him they knew Him; and let us haste to embrace in the fullness of our love those things which were spoken of our Savior, that when the time shall come that we shall see with perfect knowledge we may be able to comprehend them.

THEOPHYL; Again, the shepherds of the Lord’s flock by contemplating the life of the fathers who went before them, (which preserved the bread of life,) enter as it were the gates of Bethlehem, and find therein none other than the virgin beauty of the Church, that is, Mary; the manly company of spiritual doctors, that is, Joseph; and the lowly coming of Christ contained in the pages of Holy Scripture, that is, the infant child Christ, laid in the manger.

ORIGEN; That was the manger which Israel knew not, according to those words of Isaiah, The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib.

THEOPHYL; The shepherds did not hide in silence what they knew, because to this end have the Shepherds of the Church been ordained, that what they have learned in the Scriptures they might explain to their hearers.

THEOPHYL; The masters of the spiritual flocks also, while others sleep, at one time by contemplation enter into the heavenly places, at another time pass around them by seeking the examples of the faithful, at another time by teaching return to the public duties of the pastoral office.

THEOPHYL; Every one of us, even he who is supposed to live as a private person, exercises the office of shepherd, if, keeping together a multitude of good actions and pure thoughts, he strive to rule them with due moderation, to feed them with the food of the Scriptures, and to preserve them against the snares of the devil.

Ver 21. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

THEOPHYL; Having related our Lord’s nativity, the Evangelist adds, And after that eight days were accomplished for the circumcision of the child.

AMBROSE; Who is this Child, but He of whom it was said, Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given? For He was made under the law, that He might redeem them who were under the law.

EPIPH. Now the followers of Ebion and Cerinthus say, “It is enough for a disciple if he be as his Master. But Christ circumcised Himself. Be you therefore circumcised.” But herein do they deceive themselves, destroying their own principles; for if Ebion should confess that Christ as God descended from heaven and was circumcised on the eighth day, it might then afford the ground of an argument for circumcision; but since he affirms Him to be mere man, surely as a boy he cannot be the cause of Himself being circumcised, as neither are infants the authors of their own circumcision. But we confess that it is God Himself who has descended from heaven, and that enclosed in a virgin’s womb, He abode there the whole time necessary for her delivery, until He should perfectly form to Himself of the virgin’s womb a human body; and that in this body He was not in appearance but truly circumcised on the eighth day, in order that the figures having come to this spiritual fulfillment, both by Himself and His disciples, might now be spread abroad no longer the figures but the reality.

ORIGEN; As we have died with Him at His death, and risen together with Him at His resurrection, so with Him have we been circumcised, and therefore need not now circumcision in the flesh.

EPIPHAN. Christ was circumcised for several reasons. First indeed to show the reality of His flesh, in opposition to Manichaus and those who say that He came forth in appearance only. Secondly, that He might prove that His body was not of the same substance with the Deity, according to Apollinaris, and that it descended not from heaven, as Valentinian said. Thirdly, to add a confirmation to circumcision which He had of old instituted to wait His coming. Lastly, to leave no excuse to the Jews. For had He not been circumcised, they might have objected that they could not receive Christ uncircumcised.

THEOPHYL; He was circumcised also that He might enjoin upon us by His example the virtue of obedience and might take compassion on them who being placed under the law, were unable to bear the burdens of the law, to the end that He who came in the likeness of sinful flesh might not reject the remedy with which sinful flesh was wont to be healed. For circumcision brought in the law the same assistance of a saving cure to the wound of original sin which Baptism does in the time of the grace of revelation, except that as yet the circumcised could not enter the gates of the heavenly kingdom, but comforted after death with a blessed rest in Abraham’s bosom, they waited with a joyful hope for their entrance into eternal peace.

ATHAN. For circumcision expressed nothing else, but the stripping off of the old birth, seeing that part was circumcised which caused the birth of the body. And thus it was done at that time as a sign of the future baptism through Christ. Therefore as soon as that of which it was a sign came, the figure ceased. For since the whole of the old man Adam is taken away by baptism, there remains nothing which the cutting of a part prefigures.

CYRIL; It was the custom on the eighth day to perform the circumcision of the flesh. For on the eighth day Christ rose from the dead, and conveyed to us a spiritual circumcision, saying, Go and teach all nations, baptizing them.

THEOPHYL; Now in His resurrection was prefigured the resurrection of each of us both in the flesh and the Spirit, for Christ has taught us by being circumcised that our nature must both now in itself be purged from the stain of vice, and at the last day be restored from the plague of death. And as the Lord rose on the eighth day, i.e. the day after the seventh, (which is the Sabbath,) so we also after six ages of the world and after the seventh, which is the rest of souls, and is now carrying on in another life, shall rise as on the eighth day.

CYRIL; But according to the command of the law, on the same day He received the imposition of a name, as it follows, His name was called Jesus which is interpreted Savior. For He was brought forth for the salvation of the whole world, which by His circumcision He prefigured, as the Apostle says to the Colossians, “you are circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the stripping off of the body of the flesh, to wit, the circumcision of Christ.”

THEOPHYL; That upon the day of His circumcision He also received the imposition of the name was likewise done in imitation of the old observances. For Abraham, who received the first sacrament of circumcision, was on the day of his circumcision thought worthy to be. blessed by the increase of his name.

ORIGEN; But the name of Jesus, a glorious name and worthy of all honor, a name which is above every other, ought not first to be uttered by men, nor by them be brought into the world. Therefore significantly the Evangelist adds, which was called of the Angel, &c.

THEOPHYL; Of this name the elect also in their spiritual circumcision rejoice to be partakers, that as from Christ they are called Christians, so also from the Savior they may be called saved, which title was given them of God not only before they were conceived through faith in the womb of the Church, but even before the world began.

 

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Titus 3:4-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2010

Note: This post includes Father Callan’s summary of Titus 3:1-11, the commentary on today’s reading follows. Text in red, if any, are my notes.

WHAT THE CRETANS ARE TO DO, WHAT THEY ARE TO AVOID.
A Summary of Titus 3:1-11.

In this last section of his letter St. Paul gives Titus certain counsels which he is to set before all the faithful of Crete. They are to be obedient to authority, helpful to others, and considerate of outsiders, remembering their former sinful state out of which God’s pure mercy and grace delivered them, thus making them heirs of eternal life (ver. 1-7). Titus must insist that being a Christian carries with it the obligation of producing fruit in good works. Useless discussions are to be avoided, and those who persist in them are to be shunned (ver. 8-1 1).

4. But when the kindness and love for men of God our Saviour appeared,

Over against the malice and hatefulness of men (verse 3) St. Paul sets the kindness and love of God. We have revised the wording of the verse in accordance with the Greek, and the Vulgate should be likewise changed.

Concerning the malice and hatefulness of men see 1 Cor 6:9-11; Eph 2:1-3, 4:17-19, 5:8; Col 3:5-7; 1Pet 4:3.

God our Saviour is here applied to God the Father, as in 1 Tim 1:1. The goodness and love of the Eternal Father towards us have been manifested in the Incarnation of our Lord and in our justification.

5. Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us by the laver of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost;

Before describing the works of God’s love in our behalf the Apostle affirms their absolute gratuitousness, stating that our justification and salvation are not due to any meritorious works done by us, whether in the state of nature or under the Mosaic Law, but only and entirely to the pure mercy of God (cf. Rom 3:20 ff.; 2 Tim 1:9; Eph 2:8-10); and the medium or instrumental cause
employed by Almighty God to confer on us the graces of justification and salvation is “the laver of regeneration and renovation,” i.e., the Sacrament of Baptism.

Of the Holy Ghost, to whom is attributed the work of our spiritual regeneration and renovation, as being a work of love. See on 2 Tim 1:9.

6. Whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour,

Since the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son by way of love, we attribute to Him works of love; but that our justification and salvation are in reality the work of the whole Divine Trinity is evident from this verse.

Whom means the Holy Ghost, of whom there has just been question; and “he” means God the Father, who is the subject of the whole sentence, God the Father in Baptism has abundantly poured into our souls the Holy Ghost, i.e., sanctifying grace and the other gifts of the Divine Spirit, which Jesus Christ by His sufferings and death has merited for us.

7. That, being justified by his grace, we might be heirs according to hope of life everlasting.

That indicates the final purpose of the justification we have received through the rich outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon our souls in Baptism, which is to make us “heirs of life everlasting.” This final and glorious issue of our spiritual lives we now possess in hope.

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Pope John Paul II on Psalm 97 (96) for Christmas Mass at Dawn

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2010

Note: this talk was not delivered specifically for Christmas.

JOHN PAUL II
GENERAL AUDIENCE

Wednesday 3 April 2002

Psalm 96 [97]
The Glory of the Lord, Judge of the world

1. The light, joy and peace that fill the community of the disciples of Christ at Easter and that spread throughout creation, pervade our gathering that is taking place during the joyful days of the Octave of Easter. In these days it is Christ’s triumph over evil and death that we celebrate. With His Death and Resurrection the Kingdom of justice and love that God desires is definitively established.

Today we will focus on the Kingdom of God in our catechesis given over to a reflection on Psalm 96 [97]. The Psalm begins with the solemn announcement: “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad”, and is defined as a celebration of the divine King, the Lord of the cosmos and of history. We could say that this is an “Easter” Psalm.

We know the importance that Jesus attached to the proclamation of the Kingdom of God in his preaching. It is not just the creature’s recognition of his dependence on his Creator; it is also the conviction that within history there is at work a plan, a design, a strategy of harmony and good desired by God. The Paschal Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus have brought this to fulfillment.

2. Let us now read through the Psalm that the liturgy presents for our celebration of Lauds. Immediately after the acclamation to the Lord as King that rings out like a trumpet blast, a great divine epiphany unfolds before the person at prayer. Resorting to the use of quotations, allusions to other passages of the psalms or of the prophets, especially Isaiah, the psalmist describes the coming of the great King onto the world scene who appears surrounded by a series of cosmic ministers or attendants:  clouds, thick darkness, fire, lightning.

Alongside of them, another series of attendants personifies his action in history:  justice, right and glory. Their entry onto the scene makes all creation quake. The earth rejoices everywhere, including the islands, considered the most remote region (cf. Ps 96 [97],1). Flashes of light light up the whole world and an earthquake makes the world tremble (cf. v. 4). The mountains, that, according to biblical cosmology, incarnate the most ancient and solid reality, melt like wax (cf. v. 5), as the Prophet Micah sang:  “Behold, the Lord is coming forth out of his place … and the mountains will melt under him and the valleys will be cleft, like wax before the fire” (Mi 1,3-4). Angels fill the heavens with songs of praise that exalt justice, the work of salvation brought about by the Lord for the just. Finally, all humanity contemplates the revelation of the divine glory, the mysterious reality of God (cf. Ps 96 [97],6), while the “enemies”, the wicked and the unjust, give way before the irresistible power of the judgement of the Lord (cf. v. 3).

3. After the theophany of the Lord of the universe, the Psalm describes two kinds of reaction to the great King and his entry into history. On the one hand, idolaters and idols topple to the ground shamed and defeated; on the other, the faithful, who have gathered in Zion for the liturgical celebration in honour of the Lord, joyfully raise a hymn of praise. The scene of the “worshippers of idols” (cf. v. 7-9) is essential; the idols bow down before the one God and their followers are covered with shame. The just exult in the divine judgement that does away with lies and false piety, sources of moral misery and slavery. They intone a profession of clear faith:  “For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods” (v. 9).

4. Against the picture showing the victory over the idols and their worshippers there is set the portrayal of what could be called, the splendid day of the faithful (v. 10-12). Indeed a light that dawns for the just person is described (cf. v. 11):  it is the rising of a dawn of joy, festivity and hope, because – as is well known – light is a symbol of God (cf. I Jn 1,5).

The Prophet Malachi declared, “For you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays” (Ml 3,20). Light and happiness go together:  “Joy for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!” (Ps 96 [97],11-12).

The Kingdom of God is a source of peace and serenity that overpowers the empire of darkness. A Jewish community in the time of Jesus sang:  “Godlessness draws back before justice, just as darkness shrinks from light; godlessness will vanish forever and justice, like the sun, will be shown to be the beginning of the order of the world” (Libro dei misteri di Qumrln [Book of the Mysteries of Qumran]:  1Q 27, I, 5-7).

5. However, before we leave Psalm 96 [97], it is important that we rediscover, along with the face of the Lord the King, the profile of the faithful. Seven features are described, the sign of perfection and fullness. Those who await the coming of the great divine King hate evil, love the Lord, are the hasîdîm, the faithful (cf. v. 10), who walk in the path of justice, are upright of heart (cf. v. 11), rejoice in the works of God and give thanks to the holy name of the Lord (cf. v. 12). Let us ask the Lord to make these spiritual features shine in our faces.

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Devotional Resources, John Paul II Catechesis, liturgy, Meditations, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, PAPAL COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Notes on John 1:1-18 for Christmas Mass During the Day

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2010

Sorry, I did not have much time to edit this post.

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word Was God.

in principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum.

In the beginning.  these words most probably mean here, as in Gen 1:1, at the beginning of all created things; in other words, when time began.  Their meaning must always be determined by the context.  Thus we know from the context in Acts 11:15, that St Peter there uses them in reference to the beginning of the Gospel.  Similarly, the context here determines the reference to be to the beginning of creation; for He who is here said to have been in the beginning, is declared in verse 3 to be the creator of all things, and must therefore have already been in existence at their beginning.

Others, however, have interpreted the words differently.  Many of the fathers understood them to mean: in the Father, and took this first clause of vs 1 as a declaration that the w=Word was in the Father.  But, though it is quite true to say that the Word was and is in the Father (10:38), both being consubstantial, still such does not seem to be the sense of the phrase before us.  Had St John meant to state this, surely he would have written: In God, or in the Father, was the Word.  He names God in the next two clauses: And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Why then should he at the risk of being misunderstood, refer to Him in this first clause under another name?  Besides, if this first clause state the Word’s consubstantiality with the Father, the third clause: And the Word was God, would then be tautological.

Many of the commentators also urge against this view, that if the first clause meant in God (or, in the Father) was the Word, the second clause would be merely a repetition.  But we cannot assent to this, since we shall see, the second clause would add the important statement of the Word’s distinct personality.  However, the view seems to us improbable for the other reasons already stated.

Other take “beginning” here to mean eternity, so that we should have in this first clause a direct statement of the Word’s eternity.  But against this is the fact that arche (beginning) nowhere else bears this meaning, and can be satisfactorily explained in a different sense here.  Hence, as already explained, “in the beginning” means: when time began.

was.  (Greek: en) I.e., was already in existence.  Had St John meant to declare that at the dawn of creation the Word began to exist, he would have used engeneto as he does in verse 3 regarding the beginning of the world, and again in verse 6 regarding the coming of the Baptist.  This cannot fail to be clear to anyone who contrasts verses 1, 2, 3, and 9 of this chapter with verses 3, 6, and 14.  In the former en is used throughout in reference to the eternal existence of the Word; in the latter egeneto, when there is a question of the beginning of created things (3), or of the coming of the Baptist (6), or of the asumption by the Word of human nature at the incarnation (14).  At the beginning of creation, then, the Word was already in existence; and hence it follows that He must be uncreated, and therefore eternal.  St John’s statement here that the Word was already in existence in the beginning, is accordingly, equivalent to our Lord’s claim to have existed before the world was (17:5), and in both instances the Word’s eternity, though not directly stated, follows immediately.  Hence we find that the Council of Nice and the fathers generally inferred, against the Arians, the eternity of the Son of God from this first clause of verse 1.  “If He was in the beginning,” says St Basil, “when was He not?”

The Word.  (ho logos).  St John here, as well as in his First Epistle 1:1, and in the Apocalypse 19:13, designates by this term the Second Divine Person.  That he speaks of no mere abstraction, or attribute of God, but of a Being who is a distinct Divine Person, is clear.  For this “Word was with God, was God, was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us,” and in the person of Jesus Christ was witnessed to by the Baptist (1:1, 14, 15, 29, 30).  Outside the writings of St John there is no clear instance in either the Old or New Testaments of this use of the term logos.  Throughout the rest of the Scriptures its usual meaning is speech or word.

What, then, we may ask, led our Evangelist, in the beginning of his Gospel, to apply this term rather than Son, or Son of God, to the Second Divine Person?  Why did he not say: In the beginning was the Son?

Apart from inspiration, which, of course, may have extended to the suggestion of an important word like the present, apart also from the appropriateness of the term, of which we shall speak in a moment, it seems very probable that St John was impelled to use the term logos because it had been already used by the heretics of the time in the expression of their errors.  Endowed, too, as St John was, like the other Apostles, with a special understanding of the Sacred Scriptures (Lk 24:46), and privileged as he had been on many occasions to listen to the commentaries of Christ Himself on the Old Testament, he may have been able, where we are not, to see clearly in the Old Testament instances in which logos refers to the Son of God; e.g., Ps 32:6.

One thing, at all events, is quite plain, that, whatever may be said regarding his reason for the application of this term to the Son of God, St John did not borrow his doctrine regarding the logos from Plato or Philo or the Alexandrian School.  For though the term is frequently met with in the writings of both Plato and Philo, yet Plato never speaks of it as a person, but only as an attribute of God; and Philo, though in our opinion, he held the distinct personality of the Word, yet denied that he was God, or the creator of amtter, which latter Philo held to be eternal.  As to the Alexandrian School, to which Philo belonged, and of whose doctrines he is the earliest witness, there is not a shadow of foundation for saying that any of its doctors held the same doctrine as St John regarding the Divine Word.

From the teaching of Christ, then, or by inspiration, or in both ways, our Evangelist received the sublime doctrine regarding the logos with which his Gospel opens.

Having now inquired into the origin of the term logos as applied to the Son of God, and having learned the source whence St John derived his doctrine regarding this Divine Word, let us try to understand how it is that the Son of God could be appropriately referred to as the Word (ho logos).  Many answers have been given, but we will confine ourselves to the one that seems to us most satisfactory.

We believe, and profess in the Athanasian Creed (Filius a Patre solo est non factus, nec creatus, sed genitus), that the Son is begotten by the Father; and it is the common teaching that He is begotten through the Divine intellect.  Now, this mysterious procession of the Son from the Father through the intellect, is implied here in His being called the Word.  For, as our word follows, without passion or carnal feeling, from our thought, as it is the reflex of our thought, from which it detracts nothing, and which it faithfully represents; so, only in an infinitely more perfect way, the Son of God proceeded, without passion or any carnal imperfection, through the intellect of the Father, detracting nothing from Him who begot Him, being   the image of the Father, “the figure of His substance” (Heb 1:3). “‘Augustine says (De Trin. vi, 11): “By Word we understand the Son alone.’  Word,” said of God in its proper sense, is used personally, and is the proper name of the person of the Son. For it signifies an emanation of the intellect: and the person Who proceeds in God, by way of emanation of the intellect, is called the Son; and this procession is called generation, as we have shown above (Question 27, Article 2). Hence it follows that the Son alone is properly called Word in God. (ST 1.34, art. 2)

And the Word was with God (pros ton Theon).  pros here signifies not motion towards, but a living union with, God.  God refers not to the Divine Nature, but to the Divine Person of the Father (see 1 Jn 1:2); otherwise the Word would be unnecessarily and absurdly said here to be with Himself, since He is the Divine Nature terminated in the Second Person.  Many commentators are of the opinion that  the use of pros (with), and not en (in) proves that the Word is not a mere attribute of the Father, but s distinct Person.  So St John Chrysostom, St Cyril, Theophylact, Cornelius a Lapide, Patrizi, M’Evilly.

And the Word was God.  As our English version indicates, Word is the subject of this clause, God the predicate, for in the Greek logos has the article, Theos (God) wants it; and besides, as appears from the whole context, St John is declaring what the Word is, not what God is.  A desire to begin this clause with the last word of the preceding clause-a favorite construction with St John (see vss 4 and 5)-may have led to the inversion of the original.  Or the inversion may have been intended  to throw the Divinity of the Word into greater prominence by placing the predicate before the verb.

Some, like Corluy, refer God, in this third clause, to the Divine Nature, which is common to the three Divine Persons; others, as Patrizi, to the Divine Nature as terminated in the Second Divine Person.  We prefer the latter view, but in either interpretation we have in this clause a declaration of the Divinity of the Word, a proof that cannot be gainsaid of His essential unity with the Father.  Nor does the absence of the Greek article before “God” in this third clause, when taken in conjunction with its presence in the second, imply, as the Arians held, that the Word is inferior to the Father.  For our Evangelist certainly refers sometimes to the Supreme Deity without the article (1:6, 12, 18); and the absence of the article is sufficiently accounted for in the present case by the fact that Theos (God) is a predicate standing before the copula.

1:2  The same was in the beginning with God.
Hoc erat in principio apud Deum.

To emphasize the three great truths contained in verse 1: namely, the Word’s eternity, His distinct personality, and essential unity with the Father, they are repeated in verse 2.  The same, that is, this Word who is God, was in the beginning, and was with God.

Various attempts have been made by the Unitarians to escape the invincible argument for a Second Divine Person which these opening verses of our Gospel contain.  Thus, they put a full stop after the last “erat” of verse 1; and taking the words in the order in which they occur in the Greek and Latin, make the sense of the third clause: And God was.  Then they join “verbum,” the last word of verse 1, with verse 2: This Word was in the beginning with God.  But even if we granted to the Unitarians this punctuation of the verses, the sense of the third clause would still be that the Word was God, and not that God existed.  For “Deus” (Greek: Theos=God, without the article), in the beginning of the third clause ought still to be regarded as the predicate, with “verbum” (Word) of the preceding clauses as the subject.  This follows not merely from the absence of the Greek article already alluded to, but also from the absurdity of the Unitarian view, which supposes that St John thought it necessary, after telling us that the Word was with God, to tell us that God exists!

Others have tried to explain away the text thus: At the beginning of the Christian dispensation the Word existed, and the Word was most intimately united to God by love.  But, (1) they have still to explain how this Wrod is declared Creator in verses 3 and 10; (2) The statement in verse 14: “And the Word was made flesh,” implies transition of the Word to a state different from that in which He existed “in the beginning;” but the time of the transition is just the commencement of the Christian dispensation, which cannot, therefore, be the time referred to in verse 1 as “the beginning.”

1:3  All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.

Omnia per ipsum facta sunt: et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est,

St John passes on to the relations of the Word with creatures.  all things (παντα= τα παντα in 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16).  The passages indicated, as well as verse 10 of this chapter: the world was made by Him, make it clear that the Son of God created all things.  Nor could this doctrine be more plainly stated than in the words before us: All things were made by Him, &c. How absurd, then, is the Socinian view, according to which St John merely tells us here that all Christian virtues were introduced, and the whole moral world established by Christ!

Were made γίνομαι (ginomai), i.e., got their whole being from Him, and not merely were fashioned by Him from pre-existing matter.  The Cerinthian theory, that the world was made by an inferior being, is here rejected.  By Him δι αυτου (dia autos).  We are not to suppose that the Word was an instrument in the hands of the Father, or inferior to the Father, as the Arians held.  The preposition dia (Lat.: per; Eng.: by) is often used in reference to a principal efficient cause.  Thus, St Paul says of the Father: “God is faithful, by whom you are called unto the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord” (1 Cor 1:9.  See also 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 4:27; Heb 2:10).  And since our Evangelist has just declared in verse 1 the Word’s divinity, and knew Him to be one with the Father (10:30), it cannot be implied here that the Word is inferior to the Father.  Some commentators hold that there is no special significance in the use here of the preposition dia, while others see in ti an allusion to the fact that the Son proceeds from the Father, and derives from Him His creative power, together with His essence, from the Father, and is not, therefore, like the Father, “Principium sine principio.”

Others think that since all things were created according to the Divine idea, i.e., according to the Divine and eternal wisdom, and since the Word is that wisdom, therefore all things are rightly said to have been created through the Word.  So St Thomas on this verse:-”Sic ergo Deus nihil facit nisi per conceptum sui intellectus, qui est sapientia ab aeterno concepta, scilicet Dei Verbum, et Dei Filius; et ideo impossible est quod alquid faciat nisi per Filium.”  In this view, which seems to us the most probable, though like all the Divine works that are “ad extra,” i.e., do not terminate in God Himself, creation is common to the three Divine Persons, yet, for the reason indicated, it is rightly said to be through the Son.

And without him was made nothing (εν  ουδε = not anything.  Emphatic for ονδεν = nothing) that was made (Gr.: hath been made).  By a Hebrew parallelism the same truth is repeated negatively: all things were made by Him, and nothing was made without Him.  To this negative statement, however, there is added, according to the method of pointing the passage common at present, an additional clause which gives us the meaning: nothing was made without Him, of all the things that have been made.  This restrictive clause may then be understood to imply that, together with the Word, there was something else uncreated, that is to say (besides the Father, whose uncreated existence would be admitted by all) the Holy Ghost also.

In this way, after the Macedonian heresy arose in the middle of the fourth century, and blasphemously held that the Word had made the Holy Ghost, because without Him was made nothing, many of the Fathers replied : Nothing was made without the Word, of the things that were made; but the Holy Ghost was not made at all, and is therefore not included among the things made by the Word. However, this restriction is not necessary to defend the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. Even though we understand it to be stated absolutely that nothing was made without the Son, no difficulty can follow; for the Holy Ghost was not made (egeneto), but was (en) from all eternity, as is clearly implied elsewhere. John xvi. 13, 14. On dogmatic grounds, therefore, there is no necessity for connecting: Quod factum, est in the end of verse 3, with the preceding. And, as a matter of fact, all the writers of the first three centuries seem to have connected these words with verse 4, and it appears to us very likely, that it was because of the Macedonian heresy they began to be connected with verse 3. St. Chrysostom certainly is very strong in connecting them with verse 3, but the reason is because the heretics of the time were abusing the other connection to support their errors.  “neither will we,”; he says, “put a full stop after that nothing, as the heretics” (Chrysostom on John, Hom. v). We must not, however, conclude, from this remark of St. Chrysostom that it was the heretics alone who did so; for, as we have said already, such was the ordinary way of connecting the clauses during the first three centuries ; and it is supported not only by the
Fathers, but by the oldest Latin MSS., and by some of the oldest Greek MSS. And that the usage of his time was against him, and that it waseven after the Macedonian heretics had abused this passage to blaspheme the Holy Ghost, the old pointing, or to speak more correctly the old method of connecting the clauses, remained the more common.! Not only did Cyril of Alexandria, and Augustine, and Venerable Bede, and St. Thomas, and a host of others read in this way, but Maldonatus, who himself prefers the connection in our English version: “Without Him was made nothing that was made”, admits then the practice to put a full stop after “nothing”: “Without Him was made nothing.”
Nor can the Sixtine or Clementine edition of the Vulgate be appealed to in favour of our present pointing. As a matter of fact, the Sixtine edition rejected it, printing thus : “Et sine ipso factum est nihil: quod factum est in ipso vita erat;” while the Clementine Bible left the matter undecided by printing thus: “Et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est, in ipso vita erat,” &c. We cannot, therefore, understand to what Roman Bibles A Lapide refers when he says that the Bibles corrected at Rome connect thus: “And without Him was made
nothing that was made.”

We think it extremely probable, then, that the words: Quod factum est (that was made, or, as we shall render in our interpretation; what was made), standing at present in the end of verse 3, are to be connected with verse 4 Some may be inclined to blame us for departing from what is at present the received connection of the words in such a well-known passage as this. Let usj therefore, sum up briefly the evidence that has forced us, we may say reluctantly, to connect the words with verse 4.  Verse 4 reads: In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (1). Though Maldonatus tries to throw doubt upon the fact, this is the connection adopted by practically all, if not all, the Fathers and other writers of the first three centuries, and by the majority of writers afterwards down to the sixteenth century.  (2). It is supported by the oldest MSS. of the Vulgate, and, what is more remarkable, by some of the oldest Greek MSS., notwithstanding the fact that St. Chrysostom was against it.  (3). The parallelism in the verse is better brought out: All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing.
(4).  If Quod factum est were intended to be connected with the preceding, the clause would be certainlyunnecessary, and apparently useless, because it is plain without it that the Evangelist is speaking of what was made, and not including any uncreated Being, like the Father or the Holy Ghost.

We prefer, then, to connect: Quod factum est, with what follows. But it still remains for us to inquire in what way precisely the connection is to be made, for various views have been held upon the subject.

A. Some connect thus: What was made in (i.e. by) Him, was life, and the life was the light of men. B. Others thus : What was made was life in Him, and the life was the light of men. C. Others again, adopting the same punctuation as in the preceding-, but understanding differently: What was made , in it was the Life, and the Life was the Light of men.

The last seems to us the correct view. For A is improbable, inasmuch as it either declares all things to have life, or implies that though what was made by the Word had life, yet there were other things wanting life, which proceeded, as the Manichaeans held, from the evil principle. Nor can we accept B, even as explained by St. Augustine in the sense that all created things are in the mind of God, as the house before building is in the mind of the architect; and that being in the mind of God they are God Himself, and “life in Him.”  For though this is in a certain sense true, yet it seems to us unnatural to suppose that St. John here, in this sublime exordium, thinks it necessary or useful to tell us that the archetypes of created things lived in the Divine Mind. C then appears to us to be the more probable view regarding the passage: “What was made, in it was the Life ;” or, more plainly: “In that which was made was the Life;” forhere,as elsewhere, St. John begins with the relative (see i. 45, i John i. i); so that, in this view, the Evangelist after telling us the relations of the Word to all things at their beginning: “All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing,” now goes on to point out His relations to them after their creation: first, His relations with things generally: “In that which was made was the Life,” then his relations with man in the supernatural order: “And the Life was the Light of men.”

1:4  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
in ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum
:

Adopting this view as to the connection between verses 3 and 4, St. Cyril of Alexandria thus explains: “The Life, that is to say, the Only-begotten Son of God, was in all things that were made. For He, being by nature life itself, imparts being, and life, and motion to the things that are … In all things that were made was the Life, that is, the Word which was in the beginning. The Word, being essential life, was mingling Himself by participation with all existing things.”

If it be objected to this interpretation that the first zoe (life) of verse 4, not having the article, cannot mean the Eternal Life, i.e. the Divine Word, we reply that St. Cyril, one of the greatest of the Greek Fathers, thought differently; and moreover, that very many of the commentators who are against us in the interpretation of this passage, are yet with us in referring zoe here to the uncreated life of the Divine Word.

But if we follow what is at present the common punctuation, and read: “In Him was life,” this is commonly interpreted to mean thatthe Word is the source of supernatural life  toman. (Thus S.Amb., S.Ath., Tol.,Maid., A Lap., Patr., Beel).

But this view is not without difficulty. For, first, if it be merely meant that life comes to man through the Word, we might rather expect that the preposition dia of the preceding verse would have been retained. Secondly, if there be question here of the Word as the life of man, how is it that it is only in the next clause that man is first mentioned? Surely, if the opinion we are considering were correct, we should rather expect St. John to have written: “In Him was the life of man, and the life was the light.” For these reasons, and because of what we have stated already in favour of connecting Quod factum est” with what follows, we prefer to understand this passage, with St. Cyril, as a statement that the Word, the Essential Life, was present in all things, conserving them in existence.

And the Life was the Light of men. In our view the meaning is that the Word, the Life, who conserved all things in existence, was, more over, in the case of men, their Light the source and author of their faith. Hence, we suppose St. John, after referring to the creation of all things, in verse 3, and the conservation of all things, in the beginning of verse 4, to pass on now in the end of verse 4 to speak of that new creation that is effected in man by means of a spiritual illumination: “All things were made by (or through) Him, and without Him was made nothing.  In that which was made was the Life, and the Life was the Light of men.” Those who interpret the beginning of the verse to mean that the spiritual life of man comes through the Word, take the present clause as explaining how that was so, how the Word was the Life ; namely, inasmuch as He was the Light.  He was the source of our life of grace here and glory hereafter, inasmuch as He was the source of our light, that is to say, our faith.   And some of them, as Patrizi, hold that the order of the terms in this clause is inverted, and that we should read: “the light of men was the life,” “light of men” being the subject.

Maldonatus tells us that almost all writers before his time understood “light of men” in reference to the light of reason. However, this view is now generally abandoned, and rightly, for that man owed his reason to the Word has been already implied in verse 3: “All things were made by Him.”  Besides, the “light” of this fourth verse is doubtless the same as that of verse 5, which men did not receive, and of verse 7, to which the Baptist was to bear witness.  But in neither of the latter verses can there be question of the light of reason; hence, neither is there in verse 4. The meaning, then, is that He who was the preserver of all things was moreover the source of the spiritual light of men.

1:5. And the light shineth.  The meaning is, that the Word, as the source and author of faith, was always, as far as in Him lay, enlightening men. Shineth-the present tense is used, though the latter part of the verse shows that the past also is meant: “The light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”  Probably the Evangelist avoids using the past tense, lest it might be inferred that the Word had ceased to shine. Besides, the present is more appropriate, seeing that, in the sense explained, the Word shines throughout all time.  From the beginning the Word shone, as far as in Him lay.  If men generally were not enlightened, it was their own fault. But all who were saved from the beginning, were saved through faith, and no one ever received the gift of faith except in view of the merits of the Word Incarnate.  “Nulli unquam contigit vita nisi per lucem fidei, nulli lux fidei nisi intuitu Christi” (St. August.)

The darkness is man shrouded in unbelief. See Luke 1:79, Eph 5:8.

And the darkness did not comprehend it.  As we have just said, the meaning is, that unbelieving men refused to be enlightened. Ordinarily, indeed, light cannot shine in darkness without dispelling it; but in this case the darkness was man, a free agent, capable of rejecting the light of faith through which the Eternal Word was shining. In telling us that men refused to be enlightened, the Evangelist is stating what was the general rule, to which at all times there were noble exceptions.

1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Johannes.

The correct reading is: There came () a man, sent by God, whose name was John.  This reference to the Baptist in the middle of this sublime exordium is surprisng, and has ben variously accounted for.  Some think that our Evangelist, after having treated of the Divinity of the Word, merely wishes, before going on to speak of the incarnation, to refer to the precursor.  But it seems most probable that the Evangelist wished to remove at once the error of those who, impressed by the austerity and sanctity of the Baptist’s life, had looked upon him as the Messiah.  If any of them still remained at the time when St John wrote, or should arise afterward, they are here told that the Baptist, though having his mission from Heaven, was only a man intended to bear witness to Christ.  Thus the superior excellence of Christ is thrown into relief from the fact that a great saint like the Baptist was specially sent by Heaven to be His herald.  The reference in this verse to the Baptist’s coming into the world, at his concenption, rather than to the beginning of his preaching, for at the moment of his conception, he came, sent by God to be the herald of Christ (see Lk 1:13-17).

John is the same as jochanan, which is itself a shortened form of Jehochanan = “God hath had mercy.”  This name was appointed for the Baptist, before his conception, by the Archangel Gabriel (Lk 1:13).

1:7  This man came fof a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him.
Hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum:

This man came for witness, namely, in order that he might bear witness of the light, that is to say, the Incarnate Word, to the end that through him all might believe in the Word.

1:8  He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.
Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine.

He was not the light (του φωτος = ho photos = the light), that is, he was not the great uncreated light which enlighteneth all men; though, in his own way, the Baptist too was a light, nay, as Christ Himself testified “the lamp that burneth and shineth” (5:35). ινα (hina) depends on (ἔρχομαι =erchmai=he came), which is to be understood from the preceding verse.

1:9  That was the true light, which enlightenes every man that cometh into this world.
Erat lux vera, quae illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum.

“That was the true light” (or, there was the true light), “whhich enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.”  The Greek of this verse may be construed and translated in three different ways:-1. By connecting εἰμί (ἦν = was) with ἔρχομαι (erchomai =coming): “The true light, which enlighteneth every man, was coming into the world.  2. By taking ἔρχομαι (erchomai =coming) as a nominative agreeing with φῶς  (phos=light): There was the true light which at its coming into the world enlighteneth every man (see 3:19).  3. By connecting ἔρχομαι (erchomai =coming), as in the Vulgate and our English version.  This is far the most probable view.  In favor of it we have all the Latin Fathers, all the Greek Fathers except one, and all ancient versions.  Besides erchomai is thus connected with the nearest substantive with which it agrees in form.  Add to this that the second opinion, the more probable of the other two, would seem to signify that the Word was not a light to all men before His coming, but only at His coming; and this, as we have explained above on verse 5, is false.  The meaning then is that the Word was the true, i.e., the perfect light, and as far as in Him lies, enlighteneth at all times every man that cometh into this world, be he Jew or Gentile.  That cometh into this world, is in our view a Hebrew form of expression equivalent to: that is born.  It is used only here in the New Testament, but “to be born” was commonly expressed by the Jewis Rabbins ****(to come into the world).  Note: I am unable to reproduce the Hebrew letters, hence the ****.

1:10  he was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
In mundo erat et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit.

The Word, not the light, is the subject here, as is proved by the masculine pronoun autos towards the end of the verse.  It is disputed to what presence of the Word in the world there is reference here.  Almost all the Fathers understood the reference to be to the presence of the Word in the world before the incarnation.  According to this view, which is held also by Lapide, the Word was in the world, in the universe, conserving what He had created, “sustaining all things by the word of His power” (Heb 1:3).  God is everywhere present by His essence, by His knowledge, and by His power; but it is of the latter presence, which could be known, that the view we are considering understands the clause.

Maldonatus, though he admits the Fathers are against him, holds that the reference is to the mortal life of the Word Incarnate.  He argues from the fact that the world is blamed, in the next clause, for not having known the Word; bu knowledge of the Word was impossible before the Incarnation.  It was possible indeed to know there was a God, but impossible to know the Second Divine Person, the Word.  Whatever may be thought of the probability of this second view, the arguments ordinarily adduced against it, from the use of the imperfect erat (Latin, en in Greek), and from the alleged fact that all the preceding verses refer to the Word before His Incarnation, have no weight.  For the imperfect may be used not in reference to Christ’s existence before His incarnation, but to show that He not merely appeared among men, but continued to dwell for a time among them; and the statement that everything before this verse refers to the Word before His incarnation, cannot be sustained.  For the “Light” to which the Baptist came to bear witness (vs 7) was not the Word before His incarnation, but the Word Incarnate, as is evident.  According to this second opinion, verse 11 “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not,” merely emphasizes the ingratitude of the world towards the incarnate Word by declaring that He was rejected even by His own chosen people.

And the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.  Those who interpret the first clause of this verse of the existence of the Word in the world before the incarnation, understand the world to be blamed, in the remainder of the verse, for its ignorance of its Creator.  The world is not blamed, they say, for not knowing the Word as the Second Divine Person, for such knowledge it could not have gathered from the works of creation, but for not knowing God (Rom 1:20), who is one in nature with the Word.

Those who interpret the first part of the verse of the presence of Christ on earth during His mortal life, hold that in the remainder the world is blamed for not recognizing the Word Incarnate as the Son of God, and the Second Divine Person.  The meaning of the whole verse then, in this view, is: That though the Son of God, who created the world, deigned to live among men, yet they refused to recognize Him as God.

1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt.

It is clear from what we have said on the preceding verse, that some take this to be the first reference to the presence on earth of the Word Incarnate; while others regard it as merely repeating the idea of the preceding verse, with the additional circumstance that even His own refused to recognize Christ.  Some few have held that the reference here is to the transient coming of the Word in the apparitions of the Old Testament.  But all the Fathers understood the verse of the coming of the Word as man, and the verses that follow prove their view to be correct.  His own is understood by many of His own world, which He had created; but we prefer to take it as referring to His own chosen people, the Jews.

And his own received him not.  That is to say, believed not in Him, but rejected Him.  This was the general rule, to which, of course, there were exceptions, as the following verse shows.  These words together with the two following verses, we take to be a parenthetic reflexion on the reception of Christ met with, and the happy consequences to some.

12. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.
Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his qui credunt in nomine eius.

There were some, how ever, who believed in Him, or, according to the Hebraism, in His name, and to these, whether Jews or Gentiles, He gave power to become adopted children of God.  That is to say, after they had co-operated with His grace and believed, He mercifully gave them further grace whereby they could be justified, and thus be God s adopted children.  The last words of this verse: To them that believe in His name, explain what is meant in the beginning of the verse by receiving Him.

13. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt.

Some commentators have found great difficulty in this verse, because they supposed that those who in the preceding verse are said to have got the power to become children of God are here said to have been already born of God.  But the difficulty vanishes, it seems to us, if verse 13 be taken as explaining not what those who believed were before they became sons of God, but the nature of the filiation, to which those who believed got power to raise themselves.  It is not faith that makes them sons of God, but through faith (not as a meritorious cause, but as a condition) they attained to charity, which made them children of God. This too is all that is meant in 1 Jn 5:1.  It is not meant that by believing they are eo ipso, through faith alone, sons of God.  Faith, as the Council of Trent lays down, is the root of justification, but it is not the formal nor even the meritorious cause of justification; it is a condition “sine qua non.”  And just as St. Paul attributes justification to faith without meaning that it is of itself sufficient, so St. John (1 Jn 5:1) attributes to faith Divine sonship without meaning that it comes from faith alone. See Decrees of the Council of Trent, Sess. VI. Chaps, VI. and VIII. The meaning of the two verses, according to this view, is, that as many as received Christ by believing in Him, got power to become children of God, children who were born, not of bloods nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  Thus verse 13 explains that these sons of God were born not in a carnal but in a spiritual manner.  Tria hie de generatione humana sic exponit St Thomas: ex sanguinibus, ut ex causa materiali; ex voluntate Garnish ut ex causa efficiente quantum ad concupiscentiam (in qua est voluntas sensitiva) ; ex voluntate viri, ut ex causa efHciente intellectuali (libere actum conjugalem perficiente).”

To be “born of God,” implies that we are transferred into a new life wherein we become in some sense partakers of the Divine nature (2 Pet. i. 4).  Some early authorities make Christ the subject of this verse; so commonly in the second century.

1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.
Et Verbum caro fctum est, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam eius, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis.

After the reflexion in verses 12 and 13 on the way Christ was received by men, the Evangelist now states the manner in which He came; namely, by taking human nature. According to some, the first “and” is equivalent to “for.”  “After He had said that those who received Him are born of God and sons of God, He adds the cause of this unspeakable honour, namely, that the Word was made flesh” (St John Chrysostom).  Others, however, think that “and” has merely its ordinary conjunctive force.  Note that ho logos (the Word), not mentioned since verse 1, is again named, for emphasis, and to put it beyond doubt or cavil that it is the same Eternal God of verse 1 who is declared in verse 14 to have become man. 

Flesh is a Hebraism for rnan. See also Gen 6:12; Isa 40:5; Ps 55:5; John 17:2. Probably it is used here specially against the Docetae, heretics who denied that Christ had really taken flesh, which they contended was essentially polluted and corrupt.

And dwelt. Many think, with St Chrysostom and St Cyril, that the Greek verb used is employed specially to indicate that the Word did not cease to be God when He became man, but dwelt in His humanity as in a tent among men.

And we saw. The Greek verb signifies to behold with attention.  St John here claims to have been an eyewitness of Christ s glory (doxa, the solemn
scriptural term for the glorious majesty of God), to have beheld it, not in mental vision, but literally and historically. θεάομαι (Theoamai = beheld) is not used in the New Testament of mental vision.  It is used only of bodily vision.

The glory as it were
(Greek: ὡς; Latin: quasi =”as it were”) of the only begotten; i.e., glory such as was becoming the only-begotten, &c.  Beware of taking the meaning to be: a glory like that of the Son of God, but not His.  As St Chrys. points out, the ὡς here expresses not similitude, but the most real identity: “As if he said: We have seen His glory such as it was becoming and right that the only begotten and true Son of God should have.”  Of the Father should be from the Father, and may be joined either with “glory” or with “only begotten”.


Full of grace and truth
.  ( πλήρης = Latin: Plenum = “full”,  in the nominative, is the correct reading).   This is to be connected closely with
the beginning of the verse: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth,” and the other clause, And we saw His glory, &c. , is parenthetic, thrown in to prove the preceding statement.

Christ is said to have been full of grace and truth, not merely in Himself, but also, as the following verses prove, in reference to men with whom He freely shared them.  Kuinoel, followed by Patrizi, understands by “grace and truth” true grace or true benefits. But it is more natural to take grace and truth as two distinct things, seeing that they are again mentioned separately (η χαρις και η αληθεια) in verse 17.  Grace may be understood in its widest sense; for not only had Christ the “gratia unionis,” as it is called, whereby His humanity was hypostatically united to the Divinity; but, moreover, His human soul was replenished to its utmost capacity with created grace, which not only sanctified Him, but was also through Him a source of sanctification to us.  See St Thomas, p. 2, sec. 7, 8.  Christ is said to be “full of truth,” not only because “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him” (Col 2:3), but also because, as verse 17 states, He gave us the knowledge of the true faith and true way of salvation.

1:15  John beareth witness of him, and crieth out, saying: This was he of whom I spoke: He that shall come after me, is preferred before me : because, he was before me.
loannes testimonium perhibet de ipso, et clamat, dicens: Hie erat quem dixi: Qui post me venturus est, ante me factus est:quia prior me erat.

John. The Baptist (for it is he who is meant:comp. with John 1:27; Mark 1:4, 7; Luke 3:2, 16) is now referred to parenthetically, as confirming what our Evangelist has said, namely, that the eternal Word dwelt among men.
Crieth out. (The Greek construction implies the giving of solemn, public testimony).

This was he of whom I spoke (rather, said). Some, like Patrizi, think that the testimony of the Baptist here referred to is a distinct testimony not mentioned elsewhere.  Others, and with more probability, hold that the Evangelist mentions here by anticipation the same testimony whose circumstances he describes in verses 29 and 30.

He that shall come after me, in His public ministry, is preferred before me, because he was before me. Some commentators, as Kuinoel and Patrizi, understand “before” in both cases of “time”: is before Me, because He is eternal; others, as St Chrysostom and Toletus, in both cases of dignity: is preferred before Me, because really preferable; and others, as our English version, with St Augustine, St Thomas, Beelen, Alford, in the former case of dignity in the latter of time is preferred before Me, because He is eternal. The last seems the correct interpretation, and in it the past tense “is preferred” (ante me factus est) is used prophetically for the future, or may be explained as a past: has been preferred in the designs of God.

1:16 And of his fulness we all have received, and grace for grace.
Et de plenitudine eius nos omnes accepimus, et gratiam pro gratia.

After the parenthetic clause contained in verse 15, the Evangelist, not the Baptist, continues regarding the Word.  And of his fulness (see verse 14) we have all received, and grace for grace. The second “and” is explanatory. Grace for grace; i.e. (1) the grace of eternal life following on the grace of justification here; or (2) abundant grace, according as the grace given to Christ was abundant: gratia nobis pro gratia Christi (Rom 5:155); or (3) the more perfect grace of the New Law, instead of that given under the Old Law (Chrysostom, Cyril, Patrizi); or (4), and best, by a Hebraism, abundant grace.  “αντι dicitur de successione, gratiam unam post aliam (gratiam cumulatam).”(Beel., Gr. Gram., 5 1A.) So also Kuinoel.

1:17 For the law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Quia lex per Moysen data est, gratia et veritas per lesum Christum facta est.

The Evangelist confirms what is stated in verse 16, and at the same time takes occasion to prefer Christ to Moses, as he has already preferred Him to the Baptist. Moses, was but the medium of communicating to the Jews the Mosaic Law, which only pointed out man s duty, without enabling him to fulfil it (Rom 7:7, 8); but Christ was the source and author of grace and truth to us; of all the graces whereby we are to merit heaven, and of the perfect knowledge of the true faith. This is, doubtless, directed against some of the Judaizers, who held that sanctification through the Mosaic Law was at all times possible, even after the Christian religion was established.

1:18  No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Deum nemo vidit unquam : unigenitus Filius, qui est in sinu Patris, ipse enarravit.

There is considerable difference of opinion as to the drift or bearing of this verse. Some think that a reason is given why only Christ could give the truth, because only He saw God in His essence.  Others, that a reason is given why the gifts of Christ mentioned in the preceding verse, are superior to the Law given by Moses, namely, because Moses never saw God in His essence. Others, that the evangelist explains how he and his fellow Apostles received of Christ s fulness, not only through what Christ did (17), but through what He taught (18); and the necessity for such a Divine teacher is shown by the fact that no one but He ever saw God.   So St. Thomas.

Others as Maldonatus and Patrizi, hold that the Evangelist is here adding to his own testimony, and that of the Baptist, the testimony of our Lord Himself, in favor of all that he has said regarding our Lord in this sublime prologue; the meaning being: What I have said regarding the eternity, personality, and Divinity of the Word, regarding His power as creator and regenerator, and regarding His incarnation, I have neither seen with my own eyes, nor learned from anyone who saw, for “no man hath seen God at any time,” but Jesus Christ Himself explained these things to me.

No man hath seen God at any time. If understood of the vision of comprehension this is universally true of every creature, man or angel; if of seeing God in His essence without comprehending Him, it is true of all while they are here below.  The latter is the sense here, for the Evangelist wishes to signify that he could not have learned from any mere mortal the foregoing doctrine.  The saints in heaven see God in His essence, for as our Evangelist tells us in his First Epistle: “We shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2. See also John 17:3).


The only- begotten Son
.  Instead of: “The only-be gotten Son,” the reading: “God only-begotten” is found in very many ancient authorities, and is almost equally probable.  Were it certain, it would be an additional proof of Christ s Divinity.  Christ is the only-begotten Son of God, because while He is the natural Son of God, all others are but adopted sons.

Who is in the bosom of the Father (εις τον κολπον του πατρο). This means that the Son is consubstantial with the Father: “In illo ergo sinu, id est in occultissimo paternae naturae et essentiae, quae excedit omnem virtutem creaturae,est unigenitus Filius, et ideo consubstantialis est Patri” (St Thomas).

He hath declared him.  “Him” is not represented in the original; and if our view of the verse is the correct one, the object of the verb “hath declared” is not so much the Word as the doctrine contained in this prologue concerning Him.

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Pope John Paul II on Psalm 96 (95)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2010

Note: This commentary/meditation was delivered as part of Pope John Paul’s Wednesday Audiences and was part of a series on the morning and evening prayers of the Divine Office,it was not prepared specifically in relation to Christmas.

GENERAL AUDIENCE OF JOHN PAUL II
Wednesday 18 September 2002

Psalm 95[96]
The Lord reigns from the Cross

1. “Say among the nations “the Lord reigns!'”. This exhortation of Psalm 95 (v. 10), just proclaimed, sets the tone that colours the whole hymn. Indeed, it is one of the “Psalms of the Lord’s Kingship” that include Psalms 95-98[96-99] as well as 46[47] and 92[93].

In the past we have already had the chance to pray and comment upon Psalm 92[93] and we know that these canticles are centred on the great figure of God who rules the whole universe and governs human history.

Psalm 95[96] exalts both the Creator of beings and the Saviour of the peoples:  God “establishes the world, it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity” (v. 10). Indeed, in the original Hebrew, the verb translated as “judge” means “govern”:  thus we are certainly not left to the mercy of the dark forces of chaos or chance, but are always in the hands of a just and merciful Sovereign.

2. The Psalm begins with a joyful invitation to praise God, that opens immediately on to a universal perspective:  “Sing to the Lord, all the earth!” (v. 1). The faithful are invited to “declare his glory among the nations”, and then to tell “of his marvellous deeds” (v. 3). Indeed, the Psalmist directly calls on the “families of the peoples” (v. 7) to invite them to glorify the Lord. Lastly, the Psalmist asks the faithful to “say among the nations, “the Lord reigns!'” (v. 10), and explains that the Lord “judges the peoples” (v. 10), and the whole “world” (v. 13). This universal opening on the part of a small nation squeezed between two great empires is very important. This people know that their Lord is God of the universe and that “all the gods of the nations are nothing” (v. 5).

The Psalm is substantially composed of two scenes. The first part (cf. vv. 1-9) portrays a solemn epiphany of the Lord “in his sanctuary” (v. 6), that is, the Temple of Zion. It is preceded and followed by the songs and sacrificial rites of the congregation of the faithful. The current of praise flows steadily before the divine majesty:  “Sing to the Lord a new song … sing … sing … bless … tell of his salvation … tell God’s glory … declare his marvellous works … ascribe to the Lord glory and power … give to the Lord the glory … bring offerings … bow down before him!” (vv. 1-3.7-9).

The fundamental gesture before the Lord King who manifests his glory in the history of salvation is therefore the hymn of adoration, praise and blessing. These attitudes must also be present in our daily liturgy and in our personal prayer.

3. At the heart of this choral song of praise, we find an anti-idolatrous declaration. Thus prayer is revealed as a way of reaching the purity of faith, according to the well known affirmation lex orandi, lex credendi: the norm of true prayer is also the norm of faith and is a lesson on divine truth. Indeed, the latter can really be discovered through the intimate communion with God achieved in prayer.

The Psalmist proclaims: “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are nothing; but the Lord made the heavens” (vv. 4-5) Through the liturgy and prayer, the faith of every generation is purified, the idols to which one sacrifices so easily in daily life are abandoned, and we pass from fear of the transcendent justice of God to a living experience of his love.

4. So we come to the second scene, the one that opens with the prolamation of the Lord’s kingship (cf. vv. 10-13). It is now the universe that sings, even through its most mysterious and dark elements, such as the sea, in accord with the ancient biblical concept: “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, let the sea and what fills it resound; let all the plains exult, and all that is in them! Then let all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth” (vv. 11-13).

As St Paul will say, even nature with the human person, “waits with eager longing … [to] be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the sons of God” (Rom 8, 19.21).

And at this point we would like to make room for the Christian re-reading (rilettura) of the Psalm by the Fathers of the Church, who saw in it a prefiguration of the Incarnation and Crucifixion, a sign of the paradoxical lordship of Christ.

5. Thus at the beginning of his address in Constantinople, on Christmas Day in 379 or 380, St Gregory Nazianzen uses some expressions of Psalm 95:  “Christ is born:  glorify him! Christ comes down from heaven: go to meet him! Christ is on earth:  Be exalted! “Sing to the Lord, all the earth!’ (v. 1) and, to combine the two concepts, “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice’ (v. 11), because of Him who is of heaven and then of earth” (Omelie sulla natività, Discorso 38, 1, Rome 1983, p. 44; Oration 38 on the Birthday of Christ, 1., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol 7, p. 345, reprinted by Eerdmans March, 1989).

In this way the mystery of the divine lordship is manifested in the Incarnation. Indeed, he who reigns by “becoming earthly”, reigns precisely in humiliation on the Cross. It is significant that many of the ancients interpreted v. 10 of this Psalm with a thought-provoking Christological integration:  “The Lord reigned from the tree”.

Thus the Letter of Barnabas taught that “the kingdom of Jesus is on the wood [of the cross]” (VIII, 5: I Padri Apostolici, Rome 1984, p. 198; The Apostolic Fathers, p. 282, Thomas Nelson, 1978) and the martyr St Justin, quoting almost the whole of the Psalm in his First Apology, ended by inviting all the Gentiles to rejoice because “the Lord hath reigned from the tree” of the Cross (Gli apologeti greci, Rome 1986, p. 121; The First Apology, chapter 41, p.78, Writings of St Justin Martyr, CUA Press).

From this terrain sprang the hymn Vexilla regis (The Royal Banners of the King, used in Passion week) written by the Christian poet, Venantius Fortunatus, that exalts Christ who reigns from the height of the Cross – a throne of love and not of dominion:  Regnavit a ligno Deus (God has reigned from the tree). Indeed, already during his earthly life, Jesus warned:  “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For indeed, the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10,43-45).

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