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

Father Charles Callan’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 25, 2011

Note: This post contains a very brief summary of Romans 13:8-14 followed by commentary on the Romans 13:8-10.

THE NECESSITY OF CHARITY AND VIGILANCE
A Summary of Romans 13:8-14

That which is fundamental to all our duties to all men, whether superiors or equals, is charity, the distinctive mark of the Christian. In it are summed up all the precepts of the Decalogue. There is special need for us to practice this virtue, since our lives are drawing to a close.

8. Owe no man anything, but to love one another. For he that loveth his neighbour, hath fulfilled the law.

Owe no man anything, etc., i.e., have no debt to any man, except the debt of love or charity. All other debts besides this latter can be paid finally and completely, so as no longer to exist; but the debt of charity, however constantly paid, is ever due, because it rests on God’s abiding precept and upon the relations of nature and of grace that we have in common with our neighbor. Semper autem debeo caritatem quae sola etiam reddita definet redditorem (St. Aug.). St. Thomas gives the reasons why we can never pay our debt of charity to our neighbor: “First, because we owe our neighbor love for the sake of God, whom we can never sufficiently recompense (1 John 4:21); secondly, because the motive of love always remains, being likeness in
nature and grace (Ecclus 13:19) ; thirdly, because charity does not diminish, but increases by love (Phil 1:9).”

He that loveth his neighbour, hath fulfilled the law, because the love of one’s neighbor is founded on the love of God (John 15:17), and the love of God implies the fulfillment of all the precepts of “the law” of Moses. Cf. Matt 22:35 ff.; Gal 5:14; 1 John 4:20, 21.

9. For Thou shalt not commit adultery: Thou shalt not kill: Thou shalt not steal: Thou shalt not bear false witness: Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

This verse proves that “law” of the preceding verse meant the Law of Moses, of which only certain precepts are here cited. St. Paul does not recite the whole Decalogue, but only those precepts of it regarding the neighbor which one might fail to see were involved in the general precept of charity. That he
did not wish the other Commandments regarding God and the neighbor to be omitted is evident from the words, “and if there be any other commandment,” etc. The order here differs from the Hebrew text in Exod 20:13 ff.; Deut 5:17 ff.; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.

Thou shalt not bear false witness. These words are omitted in the best Greek copies, but they are included in the statement, and if there be any other commandment, etc.

Thou shalt love thy neighbour, etc. These words are taken from Lev 19:18, and signify that we should love all men with the same kind of love with which we love ourselves.

The instauratur of the Vulgate would better be recapitulatur (St. Jer., St. Aug.).

10. The love of our neighbour worketh no evil. Love therefore is the fulfilling of the law.

Summing up what he has said about charity the Apostle observes that love of our neighbour worketh no evil to the neighbour, as it is in the Greek. That over and above this negative good it works positive good to the neighbor is clear from what follows in the verse, which is a repetition of the end of verse 8. To love perfectly is to fulfil the law, because, as said above, the love of the neighbor is based on the love of God, and this, when perfect,
means the fulfilling of all the precepts of the law.

In the Vulgate dilectio proximi should be dilectio proximo, according
to the Greek.

5 Responses to “Father Charles Callan’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10”

  1. […] Father Callan on Romans 13:8-10. […]

  2. […] Father Callan on Romans 13:8-10 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form). […]

  3. […] Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10. […]

  4. […] Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10. […]

  5. […] Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10. […]

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