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 February 22nd, 2011

On Fasting and Prayer

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 22, 2011

Sexagesima Sunday was often used to instruct the faithful regarding fasting and prayer. The following excerpts come from the Catechism of the Council of Trent.

Excerpted from PART IV
Be it ours, therefore, to emulate the fervour of holy men in prayer; and to prayer let us unite thanksgiving, imitating the example of the Apostles, who, as may be seen in the Epistles of St. Paul, always observed this salutary practice. To prayer let us unite fasting and alms- deeds. Fasting is most intimately connected with prayer: When cloyed with meat and drink, the mind is so pressed down as not to be able to raise itself to the contemplation of God, or comprehend the utility of prayer. Alms-deeds have also an intimate connexion with prayer. What pretension has he to charity, who, blessed with the means of affording relief to those who depend for subsistence on the bounty of others, refuses to stretch forth the hand of mercy to a neighbour and a brother? With what countenance can he, whose heart is devoid of charity, demand assistance from the God of charity, unless he, at the same time, implore the pardon of his sins, and humbly beg of God to infuse into his soul A triple re- the divine virtue of charity? This triple remedy was, therefore, appointed by God to aid man in the attainment of salvation. When we offend God by sin, wrong our neighbour, or injure ourselves, we appease the wrath of God by prayer: by alms-deeds we redeem our offences against man; and by fasting we appease God, and efface from our own souls the stains of sin. Each of these remedies, it is true, is applicable to every sort of sin: they are, however, peculiarly adapted to those which we have specially mentioned.

Excerpted from PART IV.
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD~We, also, ask our daily bread, that is to say, necessary sustenance, and, under the name of bread, whatever is necessary for food and raiment. In this sense Elizeus (Elisha) makes use of the word, when admonishing the king to give bread to the Assyrian soldiers, who received a considerable quantity of flesh meat (2 Kings 6:22) and of Christ our Lord it is written, that he entered into the house of a certain prince of the Pharisees on the Sabbath-day, to eat bread (Luke 14:1); that is to say, to eat and drink. To comprehend fully the meaning of the petition, it is also to be observed, that by the word bread, we are not to understand a profusion of exquisite meats, and of rich clothing, but what is in its quality simple, and in its object necessary, according to these words of the Apostle: Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content (1 Tim 6:8); and of Solomon, as already quoted: Give me only the necessaries of life (Prov 30:8).  Of this frugality in diet and clothing, we are admonished in the next word of the prayer: when we say our, we pray for the means of satisfying the necessary wants of nature, not of upholding extravagance, or pampering voluptuousness. Note. We do not, however, by using the word our, imply that of ourselves, and independently of God, we can acquire these means: All expect of thee, says David, that thou give them food in season: what thou givest to them they shall gather up: when thou openest thy hand, they shall all be filled with good (Ps 104:27).  And again, The eyes of all hope in thee, O Lord; and thou givest them meat in due season (Ps 145:15).  Why, then, do we call that for which we pray our bread? The reason is, because it is necessary for our sustenance, and is given to us by God, the universal Father, whose providence feeds all living creatures; and, also, because we are to obtain it, lawfully, not by fraud, or injustice, or theft. Whatever we obtain by fraudulent means is not our property; it is the property of another; and it very generally happens that the injustice is embittered by the acquijition,
the enjoyment, or, at least, by the loss of such ill-gotten property; whilst, on the contrary, the fruits of honest industry are enjoyed in peace and happiness; Thou shall eat the labours of thy hands, says the prophet; blessed art thou, and it shall be well with thee (Ps 128:2). To those, then, who strive,
by honest industry, to procure the means of subsistence, God promises the fruit of his blessing in these words: The Lord will send forth a blessing on thy storehouses, and on all the works of thy hands and will bless thee (Isa 5:8).
The object of the petition, however, is not solely to beg of God to grant us to
make use of the fruits of our labour and industry, and of his bounty: these we truly call ours; but we also pray that he may grant us enlightened judgment, to use with prudence and propriety what we have acquired by honesty and industry.

Daily. This word also conveys an admonition to frugality, This word of which we spoke in the preceding paragraph. We do not pray for delicacy, or variety of meats: we pray for that alone which satisfies the necessary demands of nature; and the Christian should blush, who, loathing with fastidious palate ordinary meat and drink, looks for the rarest viands and the richest wines.

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Bishop Knecht’s Practical Commentary on the Parable of the Sower, Luke 8:4-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 22, 2011

Note: This commentary combines elements from all three synoptic accounts of the parable of the sower (also sometimes called Parable of the Seed). Red numbers in the Scripture text are to footnotes which follow immediately after the text. The commentary follows the footnotes.

ONE day when Jesus was near the lake of Genesareth, great crowds came to hear Him; and, sitting down on the shore, He began to teach. But the multitude still increasing, He went into a boat, and thence spoke to the people. And He taught and spoke to them in parables 1.

The Text: “The sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns growing up with it choked it. And some fell upon good ground, and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundred-fold. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” 2

And His disciples asked Him what this parable might be. To whom He said: “To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to the rest in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And they by the wayside are they that hear; then the devil cometh, and taketh the word of God out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock 3 are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no roots; who believe for awhile, and in time of temptation fall away 4. And that which fell among thorns are they who have heard, and going their way are choked with the cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.”

1 Parables. A parable is the narrative of some event in nature or human life, either true or possible, under the form of which some moral or religious truth is taught. Most of our Lord’s parables begin by the words: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto” such and such a thing. Therefore, to understand His parables rightly, we must first know what He meant by “the kingdom of heaven”. The meaning was threefold. Firstly, He meant His external and visible kingdom, or, in other words, His Church ; secondly, His interior and invisible kingdom, or His reign in the souls of men by His grace and truth; and thirdly, He sometimes meant the eternal happiness of heaven, to which His kingdom upon earth is intended to lead us.
2 Let him hear. By these words our Lord shows that he treats in this parable of truths which ought to be taken very seriously to heart.
3 They upon the rock. Those in whose case the seed of the divine word falls on stony ground, which does not allow the seed to take root.
4 Fall away. From faith in the doctrines of Christianity.

COMMENTARY: The different ways of receiving the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, through the apostles and their successors, proclaims the word of God. The field is the heart of man, for which the divine seed is destined. The chief lesson contained in the parable is that the effect of God’s word upon the soul depends entirely on the preparation and disposition of him who hears it, just as the fruitfulness of the natural seed depends on the cultivation and quality of the earth in which it is sown. The three cases mentioned in which the seed brought forth no fruit, point out the chief hindrances which man puts in the way of the efficacy of God’s word.

The first class are those in whom there is wanting a good will to receive God’s word with faith. They hear it indeed, but they will not open their hearts to it, because the devil and his human agents have succeeded by scorn, prejudice and false explanations in so setting them against everything supernatural, that they utterly refuse to believe. Take, for instance, the Pharisees in our Lord’s time, and also the so-called “enlightened” men of the present day.

The second class have a good will and are religious-minded people, but they are shallow and weak in character. They receive the word of God eagerly, but their faith does not penetrate to the depths of their heart and will, and lacks firmness and steadfastness. Therefore they fall away as soon as trials and persecution put their faith to the test. Remember the Israelites in the desert!

The third class are those who have faith and hold fast to it, but who do not live up to it, being quite absorbed in the things of this world. They give themselves up to the concupiscence of the eyes, the concupiscence of the flesh, and the pride of life, and bring forth no fruits worthy of faith. They have faith, but it is dead.

The three principal enemies of faith and the life of faith are, therefore: 1. the devil and his allies, who seek to deprive men of the willingness to believe, 2. weakness and vacillation of heart and will, 3. the three evil passions which govern the world.

The word of God bears fruit in those only who, besides accepting it willingly, cherish it in a heart purified by faith, and patiently and perseveringly live up to their faith.

Religion and grace are, therefore, affairs, not of reason, but chiefly of the heart and will. A powerful understanding is not necessary or even sufficient for salvation, or to enable us to lead a life according to faith. What is indispensable is a good heart, willing to receive what is great and supernatural.

APPLICATION. You see by this parable how necessary it is that your heart should be well prepared for receiving the word of God. Have you always had a desire to hear God’s word? Have you kept what you have heard in your heart, and made corresponding resolutions? Have you thought your religious instruction tedious? To which of the four classes described by our Lord do you think you belong? Pray fervently to the Holy Ghost before you hear any sermon, and listen attentively to it, with the resolve to take to heart and carry out what you hear.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 8:4-15 Sexagesima Sunday

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 22, 2011

Ver  4. And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spoke by a parable:5. A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.6. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.8. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit a hundred-fold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.9. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?10. And he said, to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.11. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.12. Those by the way side are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.13. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.14. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.15. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

THEOPHYL. That which David had foretold in the person of Christ, I will open my mouth in parables, the Lord here fulfills; as it is said, And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spoke by a parable. But the Lord speaks by a parable, first indeed that He may make His hearers more attentive. For men were accustomed to exercise their minds on dark sayings, and to despise what was plain; and next, that the unworthy might not receive what was spokes mystically.

ORIGEN; And therefore it is significantly said, When much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city. For not many but few there are who walk the strait road, and find the way which leads to life. Hence Matthew says, that He taught without the house by parables, but within the house explained the parable to His disciples.

EUSEBIUS; Now Christ most fitly puts forth His first parable to the multitude not only of those who then stood by, but of those also who were to come after them, inducing them to listen to His words, saying, A sower went out to sow his seed.

THEOPHYL; The sower we can conceive to be none other but the Son of God, Who going forth from His Father’s bosom, whither no creature had attained, came into the world that He might bear witness to the truth.

CHRYS, Now His going, Who is every where, was not local, but through the vale of the flesh He approached us. But Christ fitly denominates His advent, His going forth. For we were aliens from God, and cast out as criminals, and rebels to the king, but he who wishes to reconcile man, going out to them, speaks to them without, until having become meet for the royal presence, He brings them within; so also did Christ.

THEOPHYL. But He went out now, not to destroy the husbandmen, or to burn up the earth, but He went out to sow. For oftimes the husbandman who sows, goes out for some other cause, not only to sow.

EUSEBIUS; Some went out from the heavenly country and descended among men, not however to sow, for they were not sowers, but ministering Spirits sent forth to minister. Moses also and the prophets after him did not plant in men the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but by keeping back the foolish from the error of iniquity, and the worship of idols, they tilled as it were the souls of men, and brought them into cultivation. But the only Sower of all, the Word of God, went out to sow the new seed of the Gospel, that is, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

THEOPHYL. But the Son of God never ceases to sow in our hearts, for not only when teaching, but creating, He sows good seed in our hearts.

TIT. BOST. But He went out to sow His seed, He receives not the word as borrowed, for He is by nature the Word of the living God. The seed is not then of Paul, or of John, but they have it because they have received it. Christ has His own seed, drawing forth His teaching from His own nature. Hence also the Jews said, How knows this man letters, having never learned?

EUSEBIUS; He teaches therefore that there are two classes of those who received the seed; the first, of those who have been made worthy of the heavenly calling, but fall from grace through carelessness and sloth; but the second, of those who multiply the seed bearing good fruit. But according to Matthew he makes three divisions in each class. For those who corrupt the seed have not all the same manner of destruction, and those who bear fruit from it do not receive an equal abundance. He wisely sets forth the cases of those who lose the seed. For some though they have not sinned, have lost the good seed implanted in their hearts, through its having been withdrawn from their thoughts and memory by evil spirits, and devils who fly through the air; or deceitful and cunning men, whom He calls the birds of the air. Hence it follows, And as he sowed, some fell by the way side.

THEOPHYL. He said not that the sower threw some on the way side, but that it fell by the way side. For he who sows taught the right word, but the word falls in different ways upon the hearers, so that some of them are called the way side: and it was trodden down, and the birds of the air devoured it.

CYRIL; For every way side is in some measure dry and uncultivated, because it is trodden down by all men, and no seed gains moisture on it. So the divine warning reaches not the unteachable heart, that it should bring forth the praise of virtue. These then are the ways frequented by unclean spirits. There are again some who bear faith about them, as if it consisted in the nakedness of words; their faith is without root, of whom it is added, And some fell upon a rock, and as soon as it sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

THEOPHYL; The rock, he says, is the hard and unsubdued heart. Now the moisture at the root of the seed is the same as what is called in another parable, the oil to trim the lamps of the virgins, that is, love and steadfastness in virtue.

EUSEBIUS; There are also some who through covetousness, the desire of pleasure and worldly cares, which indeed Christ calls thorns, suffer the seed which has been sown in them to be choked.

CHRYS. For as the thorns do not let the seed grow up, but when it has been sown choke it by thickening round it, so the cares of this present life permit not the seed to bear fruit. But in things of sense the husbandman must be reproved who would sow amid thorns on a rock and the way side, for it is impossible that the rocks should become earth, the way not be a way, the thorns not be thorns. But in rational things it is otherwise. For it is possible that the rock should be converted into a fruitful soil, the way not be trodden down, the thorns dispersed.

CYRIL; Now the rich and fruitful ground is the honest and good hearts which receive deeply the seeds of the word, and retain them and cherish them. And whatever is added to this, And some fell upon good ground and springing up, brought forth fruit a hundred-fold. For when the divine word is poured into a soul free from all anxieties, then it strikes root deep, and sends forth as it were the ear, and in its due season comes to perfection.

THEOPHYL; For by fruit a hundred-fold, he means perfect fruit. For the number ten is always taken to imply perfection, because in ten precepts is contained the keeping, or the observance of the law. But the number ten multiplied by itself amounts to a hundred; hence by a hundred very great perfection is signified.

CYRIL; But what the meaning of the parable is, let us hear from him who made it, as it follows, And when he had said these things, he cried, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

BASIL; Hearing has reference to the understanding. By this then our Lord stirs us up to listen attentively to the meaning of those things which are spoken.

THEOPHYL; For as often as the admonition occurs either in the Gospel or the Revelation of St. John, it signifies that there is a mystical meaning in what is said, and we must inquire more closely into it. Hence the disciples who were ignorant ask our Savior, for it follows, And his disciples asked him, &c. But let no one suppose that as soon as the parable was finished His disciples asked Him, but, as Mark says, When he was alone they asked him.

ORIGEN; Now a parable is a narration of an action as done, yet not done according to the letter, though it might have been, representing certain things by means of others which are given in the parable. An enigma is a continued story of things which are spoken of as done, and yet have not been done, nor are possible to be done, but contains a concealed meaning, as that which is mentioned in the Book of Judges, that the trees went forth to anoint a king over them. But it was not literally a fact as is said, A sower went out to sow, like those facts related in history, yet it might have been so.

EUSEBIUS; But our Lord told them the reason why He spoke to the multitudes in parables, as follows, And he said, to you it is given to know the mysteries of God.

GREG. NAZ. When you hear this you must not entertain the notion of different natures, as certain heretics do, who think that some men indeed are of a perishing nature, others of a saving nature, but that some are so constituted that their will leads them to better or worse. But add to the words, To you it is given, if willing and truly worthy.

THEOPHYL. But to those who are unworthy of such mysteries, they are obscurely spoken. Hence it follows, But to the rest in parables, that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. For they think they see, but see not, and hear indeed, but do not understand. For this reason Christ hides this from them, lest they should beget a greater prejudice against them, if after they had known the mysteries of Christ, they despised them. For he who understands and afterwards despises, shall be more severely punished.

THEOPHYL; Rightly then do they hear in parables, who having closed the senses of their heart, care not to know the truth, forgetful of what the Lord told them. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

GREG. But our Lord condescended to explain what He said, that we might know how to seek for explanation- in those things which He is unwilling to explain through Himself. For it follows, Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

EUSEB. Now He says, that there are three reasons why men destroy the seed implanted in their hearts. For some destroy the seed that is hid in them by lightly giving heed to those that wish to deceive, of whom He adds, Those by the way side are they that hear: their comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts. .

THEOPHYL; Who in truth deign to receive the word which they hear with no faith, with no understanding at least with no attempt to test the value of it.

EUSEB. But some there are who having not received the word in any depth of heart, are soon overcome when adversity assails them, of whom it is added, They on the rock are they which when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

CYRIL; For when the, enter the Church they gladly wait on the divine mysteries, but with infirmity of purpose. But when they leave the Church they forget the sacred discipline, and as long as Christians are undisturbed, their faith is lasting; but when persecution harasses, their heart fails them, for their faith was without root.

GREG. Many men propose to begin a good work, but as soon as they have become annoyed by adversity or temptation, they abandon what they had begun. The rocky ground then had no moisture to carry on to constancy fruit which it had put forth.

EUSEB. But some choke the seed which has been deposited in them with riches and vain delights, as if with choking thorns, of whom it is added, And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches of this life, &c.

GREG. It is wonderful that the Lord has represented riches as thorns, for these prick, while those delight, and yet they are thorns, for they lacerate the mind by the prickings of their thoughts, and whenever they entice to see they draw blood, as if inflicting a wound. But there are two things which He joins to riches, cares and pleasures, for they oppress the mind by anxiety and unnerve it by luxuries, but they choke the seed, for they strangle the throat of the heart with vexatious thoughts, and while they let not a good desire enter the heart, they close up as it were the passage of the vital breath.

EUSEB. Now these things were foretold by our Savior according to His foreknowledge, and that their case is so, experience testifies. For in no wise do men fall away from the truth of divine worship, but according to some of the causes before mentioned by Him.

CHRYS. And to sum up many things in a few words. Some indeed as careless hearers, some as weak, but others as the very slaves of pleasure and worldly things, hold aloof from what is good. The order of the way side, the rock, and the thorns is well, for we have first need of recollection and caution, next of fortitude, and then of contempt of things present. He therefore places the good ground in opposition to the way, the rock, and the thorns. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, &c. For they who are on the way side keep not the word, but the devil takes away their seed. But they who are on the rock sustain not patiently the assaults of temptation through weakness. But they who are among thorns bear no fruit, but are choked.

GREG. The good ground then beans fruit through patience, for nothing we do is good unless we endure patiently our closest evils. They therefore bear fruit through patience, who when they bear strifes humbly, are after the scourge received with joy to a heavenly rest.

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Bishop Knecht’s Practical Commentary on Matt 6:24-34

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 22, 2011

Note: The numbers in the text of scripture are footnote references. These footnotes will follow immediately after the text of scripture and the post will conclude with the commentary.

Matt 6:24-34~”No man can serve two masters 2; you cannot serve God and mammon 3. Therefore 4, I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment? 5 Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns : and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you 6 of much more value than they? Consider the lilies 7 of the field how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. And if the grass of the field, which is to-day and to-morrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith? 8 Be not solicitous, therefore, saying: What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek you, therefore, first the kingdom of God, and His justice 9, and all these things shall be added 10 unto you.”

Footnotes~2 Two masters, i. e. two whose interests are opposed to each other and who require different services of you.
3 Mammon. i. e. riches.
4 Therefore. That you may not fall into worshipping mammon by reason of an over-anxiety about the needs of this life.
5 The raiment. God, having given you the greater things, such as your body and your life, will surely also provide for such lesser things as food, clothing &c.
6 Are not you? Shall not God provide for you who do sow and reap?
7 The lilies. These grow by the wayside in Palestine, and are of the most brilliant colours.
8 O ye of little faith. Who have so little and such weak faith, and so little confidence in God’s Providence.
9 His justice. All that makes you just before God, i. e. grace and virtue.
10 Be added. Whatever is necessary for this earthly life shall be given to
you as well.

What This Passage Teaches Us.

The Goodness of God. God provides for all His creatures. He feeds the birds of the air and adorns the flowers of the field with beautiful colours. He is the most loving Father to us men, and Him we have to thank for body and life, food and drink, dwelling and raiment.

Confidence in God. Are we, then, to take no thought for the things
of this life, such as food and clothing? Yes; we must, according to
our abilities, provide for them, but we are not to be over-anxious, and
must trust in the goodness, wisdom and power of God. We must work,
but we must also pray; for all our efforts will be quite useless without
the blessing of God.

Care for our salvation must be our chief concern as Christians.
Before everything else we must try to attain to the kingdom of heaven,
i. e. to save our souls, and for this end we must live in the grace of
God and strive ceaselessly after His “justice”. A true love of ourselves
demands this of us, for our soul is more precious than our body, and
we ought to seek its interests first.

Covetousness, or the worship of mammon. He who “serves” mammon
is the man who fondly considers the gaining and increasing of riches to
be the greatest business of life, and neglects the worship of God and
the care of his own soul, not even shrinking from such sins as theft,
usury and perjury, if they will enable him to add to his wealth.

The right use of worldly possessions consists in using them for God
and in the practice of good works. Holy men, such as Abraham, Job
and Tobias, possessed great riches, but they were not slaves to them.
On the contrary, they made their wealth serve them, and expended it
in the service of God and their neighbour.

Good works. All good works, such as works of piety, mortification
and brotherly love, are treasures laid up in heaven. When we die, we
must leave all earthly things, even our very bodies, behind us: only our
good works will go with us, and procure for us a favourable judgment.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 6:24-34

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 22, 2011

Ver 24. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: The Lord had said above, that he that has a spiritual mind is able to keep his body free from sin; and that he who has not, is not able. Of this He here gives the reason, saying, “No man can serve two masters.”

Gloss., non occ.: Otherwise; it had been declared above, that good things become evil, when done with a worldly purpose. It might therefore have been said by some one, I will do good works from worldly and heavenly motives at once. Against this the Lord says, “No man can serve two masters.”

Chrys., Hom xxi: Or otherwise; in what had gone before He had restrained the tyranny of avarice by many and weighty motives, but He now adds yet more. Riches do not only harm us in that they arm robbers against us, and that they cloud our understanding, but they moreover turn us away from God’s service.

This He proves from familiar notions, saying, “No man can serve two masters;” two, He means, whose orders are contrary; for concord makes one of many. This is proved by what follows, “for either he will hate the one.” He mentions two, that we may see that change for the better is easy. For if one were to give himself up in despair as having been made a slave to riches, namely, by loving them, he may hence learn, that it is possible for him to change into a better service, namely, by not submitting to such slavery, but by despising it.

Gloss., non occ.: Or; He seems to allude to two different kinds of servants; one kind who serve freely for love, another who serve servilely from fear. If then one serve two masters of contrary character from love, it must be that he hate the one; if from fear, while he trembles before the one, he must despise the other. But as the world or God predominate in a man’s heart, he must be drawn contrary ways; for God draws him who serves Him to things above; the earth draws to things beneath; therefore He concludes, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Jerome: “Mammon,” – riches are so termed in Syriac. Let the covetous man who is called by the Christian name, hear this, that he cannot serve both Christ and riches. Yet He said not, he who has riches, but, he who is the servant of riches. For he who is the slave of money, guards his money as a slave; but he who has thrown off the yoke of his slavery, despenses them as a master.

Gloss. ord.: By “mammon” is meant the Devil, who is the lord of money, not that he can bestow them unless where God wills, but because by means of them he deceives men.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 14: Whoso serves “mammon,” (that is, riches,) verily serves him, who, being for desert of his perversity set over these things of earth, is called by the Lord, “The prince of this world.”

Or otherwise; who the two masters are He shews when He says, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” that is to say, God and the Devil. “Either” then man “will hate the one, and love the other,” namely, God; “or, he will endure the one and despise the other.” For he who is mammon’s servant endures a hard master; for ensnared by his own lust he has been made subject to the Devil, and loves him not. As one whose passions have connected him with another man’s handmaid, suffers a hard slavery, yet loves not him whose handmaid he loves. But He said, “will despise,” and not “will hate,” the other, for none can with a right conscience hate God. But he despises, that is, fears Him not, as being certain of His goodness.

Ver 25. “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 15: The Lord had taught above, that whoso desires to love God, and to take heed not to offend, should not think that he can serve two masters; lest though perhaps he may not look for superfluities, yet his heart may become double for the sake of very necessaries, and his thoughts bent to obtain them.

“Therefore I say unto you, Be not ye careful for your life what ye shall eat, or for your body what ye shall put on.”

Chrys.: He does not hereby mean that the spirit needs food, for it is incorporeal, but He speaks according to common usage, for the soul cannot remain in the body unless the body be fed.

Aug.: Or we may understand the soul in this place to be put for the animal life.

Jerome: Some manuscripts, add here, “nor what ye shall drink.” [ed. note, b: vid. Exod. xv. 34. and infra v. 31. The clause is also omitted by other versions, by Erasmus, Mill, and Bengel. Wetstein retains.] That which belongs naturally to all animals alike, to brutes and beasts of burden as well as to man, from all thought of this we are not freed. But we are bid not to be anxious what we should eat, for in the sweat of our face we earn our bread; the toil is to be undergone, the anxiety put away. This “Be not careful,” is to be taken of bodily food and clothing; for the food and clothing of the spirit it becomes us to be always careful.

Aug., De Haeres., 57: There are certain heretics called Euchitae [ed. note, c: The Euchites, who were so called from their profession of prayer, were properly fanatical Monks of the fourth and following centuries, but their name is often taken as synonymous with Mystics. They were of oriental origin, and disparaged, if not denied, the efficacy of Baptism.], who hold that a monk may not do any work even for his support; who embrace this profession that they may be freed from necessity of daily labour.

Aug., De Op. Monach. 1 et seq.: For they say the Apostle did not speak of personal labour, such as that of husbandmen or craftsmen, when he said, “Who will not work, neither let him eat.” [2 Thes 3:10] For he could not be so contrary to the Gospel where it is said, “Therefore I say unto you, Be not careful.” Therefore in that saying of the Apostle we are to understand spiritual works, of which it is elsewhere said, “I have planted, Apollos watereth.” [1Co_3:6]

And thus they think themselves obedient to the Apostolic precept, interpreting the Gospel to speak of not taking care for the needs of the body, and the Apostle to speak of spiritual labour and food. First let us prove that the Apostle meant that the servants of God should labour with the body. He had said, “Ye yourselves know how ye ought to imitate us in that we were not troublesome among you, nor did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but travailing in labour and weariness day and night, that we might not be burdensome to any of you. Not that we have not power, but that we might offer ourselves as a pattern to you which ye should imitate. For when we were among you, this we taught among you, that if a man would not work, neither should he eat.”

What shall we say to this, since he taught by his example when he delivered in precept, in that he himself wrought with his own hands. This is proved from the Acts [Act_18:3], where it is said, that he abode with Aquila and his wife Priscilla, “labouring with them, for they were tent-makers.”

And yet to the Apostle, as a preacher of the Gospel, a soldier of Christ, a planter of the vineyard, a shepherd of his flock, the Lord had appointed that he should live of the Gospel, but he refused that payment which was justly his due, that he might present himself an example to those who exacted what was not due to them. Let those hear this who have not that power which he had; namely, of eating bread for nought, and only labouring with spiritual labour. If indeed they be Evangelists, if ministers of the Altar, if dispensers of the Sacraments, they have this power.

Or if they had in this world possessions, whereby they might without labour have supported themselves, and had on their turning to God distributed this to the needy, then were their infirmity to be believed and to be borne with. And it would not import whatever place it was in which he made the distribution, seeing there is but one commonwealth of all Christians.

But they who enter the profession of God’s service from the country life, from the workman’s craft, or the common labour, if they work not, are not to be excused. For it is by no means fitting that in that life in which senators become labourers, there should labouring men become idle; or that where lords of farms come having given up their luxuries, there should rustic slaves come to find luxury.

But when the Lord says, “Be not ye careful,” He does not mean that they should not procure such things as they have need of, wherever they may honestly, but that they should not look to these things, and should not for their sake do what they are commanded to do in preaching the Gospel; for this intention He had a  little before called the eye.

Chrys.: Or we may connect the context otherwise; When the Lord had inculcated contempt of money, that none might say, How then shall we be able to live when we have given up our all? He adds, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life.”

Gloss. interlin.: That is, Be not withdrawn by temporal cares from things eternal.

Jerome: The command is therefore, “not to be anxious what we shall eat.” For it is also commanded, that in the sweat of our face we must eat bread. Toil therefore is enjoined, carking forbidden.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Bread may not be gained by carefulness of spirit, but by toil of body; and to them that will labour it abounds, God bestowing it as a reward of their industry; and is lacking to the idle, God withdrawing it as punishment of their sloth. The Lord also confirms our hope, and descending first from the greater to the less, says, “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”

Jerome: He who has given the greater, will He not also give the less?Pseudo-Chrys.: For had He not willed that which was should be preserved, He had not created it; but what He so created that it should be preserved by food, it is necessary that He give it food, as long as He would have it to be preserved.

Hilary: Otherwise; Because the thoughts of the unbelievers were ill-employed respecting care of things future, cavilling concerning what is to be the appearance of our bodies in the resurrection, what the food in the eternal life, therefore He continues, “Is not the life more than food?” He will not endure that our hope should hang in care for the meat and drink and clothing that is to be in the resurrection, lest there should be affront given to Him who has given us the more precious things, in our being anxious that He should also give us the lesser.

Ver 26. “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?27. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Having confirmed our hope by this arguing from the greater to the less, He next confirms it by an argument from less to greater, “Behold the fowls of the air, they sow not, neither do they reap.”

Aug., De Op. Monach., 23: Some argue that they ought not to labour, because the fowls of the air neither sow nor reap. Why then do they not attend to that which follows, “neither gather into barns? Why do they seek to have their hands idle, and their storehouses full? Why indeed do they grind corn, and dress it? For this do not the birds.

Or even if they find men whom they can persuade to supply them day by day with victuals ready prepared, at least they draw water from the spring, and set on table for themselves, which the birds do not. But if neither are they driven to fill themselves vessels with water, then have they gone one new step of righteousness beyond those who were at that time at Jerusalem, [margin note: see Act_11:29] who of corn sent to them of free gift, made, or caused to be made, loaves, which the birds do not. But not to lay up any thing for the morrow cannot be observed by those, who for many days together withdrawn from the sight of men, and suffering none to approach to them, shut themselves up, to live in much fervency of prayer.

What? will you say that the more holy men become, the more unlike the birds of the air in this respect they become? What He says respecting the birds of the air, He says to this end, that none of His servants should think that God has no thought of their wants, when they see Him so provide even for these inferior creatures. Neither is it not God that feeds those that earn their bread by their own labour; neither because God hath said, “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee,” [Psa_50:15] ought the Apostle therefore not to have fled, but to have remained still to have been seized, that God might save him as He did the Three Children out of the midst of the fire.

Should any object in this sort to the saints in their flight from persecution, they would answer that they ought not to tempt God, and that God, if He pleased, would so do to deliver them as He had done Daniel from the lions, Peter from prison, then when they could no longer help themselves; but that in having made flight possible to them, should they be saved by flight, it was by God that they were saved. In like manner, such of God’s servants as have strength to earn their food by the labour of their hands, would easily answer any who should object to them this out of the Gospel concerning the birds of the air, that they neither sow nor reap; and would say, If we by sickness or any other hindrance are not able to work, He will feed us as He feeds the birds, that work not. But when we can work, we ought not to tempt God, seeing that even this our ability is His gift; and that we live here we live of His goodness that has made us able to live; He feeds us by whom the birds of the air are fed; as He says, “Your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much greater value?”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 15: Ye are of more value, because a rational animal, such as man is, is higher in the scale of nature than an irrational, such as are the birds of the air.

Aug., City of God, xi, 16: Indeed a higher price is often given for a horse than a slave, for a jewel than for a waiting maid, but this not from reasonable valuation, but from the need of the person requiring, or rather from his pleasure desiring it.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For God created all animals for man, but man for himself; therefore by how much the more precious is the creation of man, so much the greater is God’s care for him. If then the birds without toiling find food, shall man not find, to whom God has given both knowledge of labour and hope of fruitfulness?

Jerome: There be some who, seeking to go beyond the limits of their fathers, and to soar into the air, sink into the deep and are drowned. These will have the birds of the air to mean the Angels, and the other powers in the ministry of God, who without any care of their own are fed by God’s providence.

But if this be indeed as they would have it, how follows it, said to men, “Are not ye of more worth than they?” It must be taken then in the plain sense; If birds that today are, and tomorrow are not, be nourished by God’s providence, without thought or toil of their own, how much more men to whom eternity is promised!

Hilary: It may be said, that under the name of birds, He exhorts us by the example of the unclean spirits, to whom, without any trouble of their own in seeking and collecting it, provision of life is given by the power of the Eternal Wisdom. And to lead us to refer this to the unclean spirits, He suitably adds, “Are not ye of much more value than they?” Thus shewing the great interval between piety and wickedness.

Gloss., non occ.: He teaches us not only by the instance of the birds, but adds a further proof, that to our being and life our own care is not enough, but Divine Providence therein works; saying, “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?”

Pseudo-Chrys.: For it is God who day by day works the growth of your body, yourself not feeling it. If then the Providence of God works thus daily in your very body, how shall that same Providence withhold from working in necessaries of life? And if by taking thought you cannot add the smallest part to your body, how shall you by taking thought be altogether saved?

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 15: Or it may be connected with what follows it; as though He should say, It was not by our care that our body was brought to its present stature; so that we may know that if we desired to add one cubit to it, we should not be able. Leave then the care of clothing that body to Him who made it to grow to its present stature.

Hilary: Otherwise; As by the example of the spirits He had fixed our faith in the supply of food for our lives, so now by a decision of common understanding He cuts off all anxiety about supply of clothing. Seeing that He it is who shall raise in one perfect man every various kind of body that ever drew breath, and is alone able to add one or two or three cubits to each man’s stature; surely in being anxious concerning clothing, that is, concerning the appearance of our bodies, we offer affront to Him who will add so much to each man’s stature as shall bring all to an equality.

Aug., City of God, book xxii, ch. 15: But if Christ rose again with the same stature with which He died, it is impious to say that when the time of the resurrection of all shall come, there shall be added to His body a bigness that it had not at His own resurrection, (for He appeared to His disciples with that body in which He had been known among them,) such that He shall be equalled to the tallest among men.

If again we say that all men’s bodies, whether tall or short, shall be alike brought to the size and stature of the Lord’s body, then much will perish from many bodies, though He has declared that “not a hair shall fall.” It remains therefore that each be raised in his own stature – that stature which he had in youth, if he died in old age; if in childhood that stature to which he would have attained had he lived. For the Apostle says not, ‘To the measure of the stature,’ but, “To the measure of the full age of Christ.” [Eph_4:13] For the bodies of the dead shall rise in youth and maturity to which we know that Christ attained.

Ver 28. “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:29. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”

Chrys.: Hom., xxii: Having shewn that it is not right to be anxious about food, He passes to that which is less; (for raiment is not so necessary as food;) and asks, “And why are ye careful wherewith ye shall be clothed?” He uses not here the instance of the birds, when He might have drawn some to the point, as the peacock, or the swan, but brings forward the lilies, saying, “Consider the lilies of the field.” He would prove in two things the abundant goodness of God; to wit, the richness of the beauty with which they are clothed, and the mean value of the things so clothed with it.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 15: The things instanced are not to be allegorized so that we enquire what is denoted by the birds of the air, or the lilies of the field; they are only examples to prove God’s care for the greater from His care for the less.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For lilies within a fixed time are formed into branches, clothed in whiteness, and endowed with sweet odour, God conveying by an unseen operation, what the earth had not given to the root. But in all the same perfectness is observed, that they may not be thought to have been formed by chance, but may be known to be ordered by God’s providence. When He says, “They toil not,” He speaks for the comfort of men; “Neither do they spin,” for the women.

Chrys.: He forbids not labour but carefulness, both here and above when He spoke of sowing.

Gloss, non occ.: And for the greater exaltation of God’s providence in those things that are beyond human industry, He adds, “I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Jerome: For, in sooth, what regal purple, what silk, what web of divers colours from the loom, may vie with flowers? What work of man has the red blush of the rose? the pure white of the lily? How the Tyrian dye yields to the violet, sight alone and not words can express.

Chrys.: As widely as truth differs from falsehood, so widely so our clothes differ from flowers. If then Solomon, who was more eminent than all other kings, was yet surpassed by flowers, how shall you exceed the beauty of flowers by your garments? And Solomon was exceeded by the flowers not once only, or twice, but throughout his whole reign; and this is that He says, “In all his glory;” for no one day was he arrayed as are the flowers.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or the meaning may be, that Solomon though he toiled not for his own raiment, yet he gave command for the making of it. But where command is, there is often found both offence of them that minister, and wrath of him that commands. When then any are without these things, then they are arrayed as are the lilies.

Hilary: Or; By the lilies are to be understood the eminences of the heavenly Angels, to whom a surpassing radiance of whiteness is communicated by God. “They toil not, neither do they spin,” because the angelic powers received in the very first allotment of their existence such a nature, that as they were made so they should ever continue to be; and when in the resurrection men shall be like unto Angels, He would have them look for a covering of angelic glory by this example of angelic excellence.

Pseudo-Chrys.: If God then thus provides for the flowers of the earth which only spring up, that they may be seen and die, shall He overlook men whom He has created not to be seen for a time, but that they should be for ever?

Jerome: Tomorrow in Scripture is put for time future in general. Jacob says, “So shall my righteousness answer for me tomorrow.” [Gen_30:33] And in the phantasm of Samuel, the Pythoness says to Saul, “Tomorrow shalt thou be with me.” [1Sa_28:19]

Gloss: Some copies have “into the fire,” or, “into an heap,” which has the appearance of an oven.

Chrys.: He calls them no more lilies, but “the grass of the field,” to shew their small worth; and adds moreover another cause of their small value; “which today is.” And He said not, “and tomorrow is not,” but what is yet greater fall, “is cast into the oven.” In that He says “How much more you,” is implicitly conveyed the dignity of the human race, as though He had said, You to whom He has given a soul, for whom He has contrived a body, to whom He has sent Prophets and gave His Only-begotten Son.

Gloss: He says, “of little faith,” for that faith is little which is not sure of even the least things.

Hilary: Or, under the signification of grass the Gentiles are pointed to. If then an eternal existence is only therefore granted to the Gentiles, that they may soon be handed over to the judgment fires; how impious it is that the saints should doubt of attaining to eternal glory, when the wicked have eternity bestowed on them for their punishment.

Remig.: Spiritually, by the birds of the air are meant the Saints who are born again in the water of holy Baptism; [ed. note: Vid. the Breviary Hymn, Magnae Deus Potentiae] and by devotion raise themselves above the earth and seek the skies. The Apostles are said to be of more value than these, because they are the heads of the Saints.

By the lilies also may be understood the Saints, who without the toil of legal ceremonies pleased God by faith alone; of whom it is said, “My Beloved, who feedeth among the lilies.” [Cant 2:16] Holy Church also is understood by the lilies, because of the whiteness of its faith, and the odour of its good conversation, of which it is said in the same place, “As the lily among the thorns.”

By the grass are denoted the unbelievers, of whom it is said, “The grass hath dried up, and the flowers thereof faded.” [Isa_40:7]

By the oven eternal damnation; so that the sense be, If God bestows temporal goods on the unbelievers, how much more shall He bestow on you eternal goods!

Ver 31. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Gloss, non occ.: Having thus expressly cut off all anxiety concerning food and raiment, by an argument drawn from observation of the inferior creation, He follows it up by a further prohibition; “Be not ye therefore careful, saying, What shall we eat, what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?”

Remig.: The Lord repeated this, that He might shew how highly necessary this precept is, and that He might inculcate it more strongly on our hearts.

Rabanus: It should be observed that He does not say, Do not ye seek, or be thoughtful for, food drink, and raiment, but “what ye shall eat, what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed.” Wherein they seem to me to be convicted, who, using themselves the usual food and clothing, require of those with whom they live either greater sumptuousness, or greater austerity in both.

Gloss, non occ.: There is also a further needless solicitude wherein men sin, when they lay by of produce or money more than necessity requires, and leaving spiritual things, are intent on these things, as though despairing of the goodness of God; this is what is forbidden; “for after all these things do the Gentiles seek.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Since their belief is that it is Fortune and not Providence that has place in human affairs, and think not that their lives are directed by God’s counsel, but follow the uncertain chance, they accordingly fear and despair, as having none to guide them. But he who believes that he is guided by God’s counsel, entrusts his provision of food to God’s hand; as it follows, “for your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”

Chrys.: He said not ‘God knoweth,’ but, “Your Father knoweth,” in order to lead them to higher hope; for if He be their Father, He will not endure to forget his children, since not even human fathers could do so. He says, “That ye have need of all these things,” in order that for that very reason, because they are necessary, ye may the more lay aside all anxiety. For he who denies his son bare necessaries, after what fashion is he a father? But for superfluities they have no right to look with the like confidence.

Aug., De Trin., xv, 13: God did not gain this knowledge at any certain time, but before all time, without beginning of knowledge, foreknew that the things of the world would be, and among others, both what and when we should ask of Him.

Aug., City of God, xii, 18: As to what some say that these things are so many that they cannot be compassed by the knowledge of God; they ought with like reason to maintain further that God cannot know all numbers which are certainly infinite. But infinity of number is not beyond the compass of His understanding, who is Himself infinite.

Therefore if whatever is compassed by knowledge, is bounded by the compass of him that has the knowledge, then is all infinity in a certain unspeakable way bounded by God, because it is not incomprehensible by His knowledge.

Nemesius, De Nat. Hom., 42: That there is a Providence, is shewn by such signs as the following; The continuance of all things, of those things especially which are in a state of decay and reproduction, and the place and order of all things that exist is ever preserved in one and the same state; and how could this be done unless by some presiding power? But some affirm that God does indeed care for the general continuance of all things in the universe, and provides for this, but that all particular events depend on contingency.

Now there are but three reasons that can be alleged for God exercising no providence of particular events; either God is ignorant that it is good to have knowledge of particular things; or He is unwilling; or He is unable. But ignorance is altogether alien from blessed substance; for how shall God not know what every wise man knows, that if particulars were destroyed, the whole would be destroyed? But nothing prevents all individuals from perishing; when no power watches over them. If again, He be unwilling, this must be from one of two reasons; inactivity, or the meanness of the occupation. But inactivity is produced by two things; either we are drawn aside by some pleasure, or hindered by some fear, neither of which can be piously supposed of God. If they affirm that it would be unbecoming, for that it is beneath such blessedness to stoop to things so trifling, how is it not inconsistent that a workman overseeing the whole of any machine, leaves no part however insignificant without attention, knowing the whole is but made up of the parts, and thus pronounce God the Creator of all things to be less wise than craftsmen? But if it be that He is unable, then is He unable to bestow benefits on us. But if we are unable to comprehend the manner of special Providence, we have not therefore any right to deny its operation; we might as well say that, because we did not know the number of mankind, therefore there were no men.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Thus then let him who believes himself to be under the rule of God’s counsel, commit his provision into God’s hand; but let him meditate of good and evil, which if he do not, he will neither shun the evil, nor lay hold of the good.

Therefore it is added, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” The kingdom of God is the reward of good works; His righteousness is the way of piety by which we go to that kingdom. If then you consider how great is the glory of the Saints, you will either through fear of punishment depart from evil, or through desire of glory hasten to good. And if you consider that is the righteousness of God, what He loves, and what He hates, the righteousness itself will shew you His ways, as it attends on those that love it. And the account we shall have to render is not whether we have been poor or rich, but whether we have done well or ill, which is in our own power.

Gloss., interlin.: Or, He says “his righteousness,” as though He were to say, ‘Ye are made righteous through Him, and not through yourselves.’

Pseudo-Chrys.: The earth for man’s sin is accursed that it should not put forth fruit, according to that in Genesis, “Cursed is the ground in thy works;” [Gen_3:17] but when we do well, then it is blessed. Seek righteousness therefore, and thou shalt not lack food. Wherefore it follows, “and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 16: To wit, these temporal goods which are thus manifestly shewn not to be such goods as those goods of ours for the sake of which we ought to do well; and yet they are necessary. The kingdom of God and His righteousness is our good which  we ought to make our end.

But since in order to attain this end we are militant in this life, which may not be lived without supply of these necessaries, He promises, “These things shall be added unto you.” That He says, “first,” implies that these are to be sought second not in time, but in value; the one is our good, the other necessary to us.

For example, we ought not to preach that we may eat, for so we should hold the Gospel as of less value than our food; but we should therefore eat that we may preach the Gospel. But if we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” that is, set this before all other things, and seek other things for the sake of this, we ought not to be anxious lest we should lack necessaries; and therefore He says, “All these things shall be added unto you;” that is, of course, without being an hindrance to you: that you may not in seeking them be turned away from the other, and thus set two ends before you.

Chrys.: And He said not, Shall be given, but, “Shall be added,” that you may learn that the things that are now, are nought to the greatness of the things that shall be.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 17: But when we read that the Apostle suffered hunger and thirst, let us not think that God’s promises failed him; for these things are rather aids. That Physician to whom we have entirely entrusted ourselves, knows when He will give and when He will withhold, as He judges most for our advantage. So that should these things ever be lacking to us, (as God to exercise us often permits,) it will not weaken our fixed purpose, but rather confirm it when wavering.

Ver 34. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Gloss., ap. Anselm: Having forbid anxiety for the things of the day, He now forbids anxiety for future things, such a fruitless care as proceeds from the fault of men, in these words, “Be not ye anxious about the morrow.”

Jerome: Tomorrow in Scripture signifies time future, as Jacob in Genesis says, “Tomorrow shall my righteousness hear me.” [Gen_35:33] And in the phantasm of Samuel the Pythoness says to Saul, “Tomorrow shalt thou be with me.” [1Sa_28:19]

He yields therefore unto them that they should care for things present, though He forbids them to take thought for things to come. For sufficient for us is the thought of time present; let us leave to God the future which is uncertain. And this is that He says, “The morrow shall be anxious for itself;” that is, it shall bring its own anxiety with it. “For sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” By evil He means here not that which is contrary to virtue, but toil, and affliction, and the hardships of life.

Chrys.: Nothing brings so much pain to the spirit as anxiety and cark. That He says, “The morrow shall be anxious for itself,” comes of desire to make more plain what He speaks; to that end employing a prosopopeia of time, after the practice of many in speaking to the rude populace; to impress them the more, He brings in the day itself complaining of its too heavy cares. Has not every day a burden enough of its own, in its own cares? why then do you add to them by laying on those that belong to another day?

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; By “today” are signified such things as are needful for us in this present life; “Tomorrow” denotes those things that are superfluous. “Be not ye therefore anxious for the morrow,” thus means, Seek not to have aught beyond that which is necessary for your daily life, for that which is over and above, i.e. Tomorrow, shall care for itself.

“Tomorrow shall be anxious for itself,” is as much as to say, when you have heaped up superfluities, they shall care for themselves, you shall not enjoy them, but they shall find many lords who shall care for them. Why then should you be anxious about those things, the property of which you must part with?

“Sufficient for the day is its own evil,” as much as to say, The toil you undergo for necessaries is enough, do not toil for things superfluous.

Aug.: Or otherwise; Tomorrow is said only of time where future succeeds to past. When then we work any good work, we think not of earthly but of heavenly things. “The morrow shall be anxious for itself,” that is, Take food and the like, when you ought to take it, that is when necessity begins to call for it.

“For sufficient for the day is its own evil,” that is, it is enough that necessity shall compel to take these things; He calls it “evil,” because it is penal, inasmuch as it pertains to our mortality, which we earned by sinning. To this necessity then of worldly punishment, add not further weight, that you may not only fulfil it, but may even so fulfil it as to shew yourself God’s soldier.

But herein we must be careful, that, when we see any servant of God endeavouring to provide necessaries either for himself, or those committed to his care, we do not straight judge him to sin against this command of the Lord in being anxious for the morrow. For the Lord Himself, to whom Angels ministered, thought good to carry a bag for example sake. And in the Acts of the Apostles it is written, that food necessary for life was provided for future time, at a time when famine threatened. What the Lord condemns therefore, is not the provision of these things after the manner of men, but if a man because of these things does not fight as God’s soldier.

Hilary: This is further comprehended under the full meaning of the Divine words. We are commanded not to be careful about the future, because sufficient for our life is the evil of the days wherein we live, that is to say, the sins, that all our thought and pains be occupied in cleansing this away. And if our care be slack, yet will the future be careful for itself, in that there is held out to us a harvest of eternal love to be provided by God.

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Feb 22: Benedict XVI’s General Audience on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 22, 2011


Wednesday, 22 February 2006

“On this rock I will build my Church’

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, the Latin-rite liturgy celebrates the Feast of the Chair of St Peter. This is a very ancient tradition, proven to have existed in Rome since the fourth century. On it we give thanks to God for the mission he entrusted to the Apostle Peter and his Successors.

“Cathedra” literally means the established seat of the Bishop, placed in the mother church of a diocese which for this reason is known as a “cathedral”; it is the symbol of the Bishop’s authority and in particular, of his “magisterium”, that is, the evangelical teaching which, as a successor of the Apostles, he is called to safeguard and to transmit to the Christian Community.

When a Bishop takes possession of the particular Church that has been entrusted to him, wearing his mitre and holding the pastoral staff, he sits on the cathedra. From this seat, as teacher and pastor, he will guide the journey of the faithful in faith, hope and charity.

So what was the “Chair” of St Peter? Chosen by Christ as the “rock” on which to build the Church (cf. Mt 16: 18), he began his ministry in Jerusalem, after the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost. The Church’s first “seat” was the Upper Room, and it is likely that a special place was reserved for Simon Peter in that room where Mary, Mother of Jesus, also prayed with the disciples.

Subsequently, the See of Peter was Antioch, a city located on the Oronte River in Syria, today Turkey, which at the time was the third metropolis of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria in Egypt. Peter was the first Bishop of that city, which was evangelized by Barnabas and Paul, where “the disciples were for the first time called Christians” (Acts 11: 26), and consequently where our name “Christians” came into being. In fact, the Roman Martyrology, prior to the reform of the calendar, also established a specific celebration of the Chair of Peter in Antioch.

From there, Providence led Peter to Rome. Therefore, we have the journey from Jerusalem, the newly born Church, to Antioch, the first centre of the Church formed from pagans and also still united with the Church that came from the Jews. Then Peter went to Rome, the centre of the Empire, the symbol of the “Orbis” – the “Urbs”, which expresses “Orbis”, the earth, where he ended his race at the service of the Gospel with martyrdom.

So it is that the See of Rome, which had received the greatest of honours, also has the honour that Christ entrusted to Peter of being at the service of all the particular Churches for the edification and unity of the entire People of God.

The See of Rome, after St Peter’s travels, thus came to be recognized as the See of the Successor of Peter, and its Bishop’s “cathedra” represented the mission entrusted to him by Christ to tend his entire flock.

This is testified by the most ancient Fathers of the Church, such as, for example, St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, but who came from Asia Minor, who in his treatise Adversus Haereses, describes the Church of Rome as the “greatest and most ancient, known by all… founded and established in Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul”; and he added:  “The universal Church, that is, the faithful everywhere, must be in agreement with this Church because of her outstanding superiority” (III, 3, 2-3).

Tertullian, a little later, said for his part:  “How blessed is the Church of Rome, on which the Apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood!” (De Praescriptione Hereticorum, 36).
Consequently, the Chair of the Bishop of Rome represents not only his service to the Roman community but also his mission as guide of the entire People of God.

Celebrating the “Chair” of Peter, therefore, as we are doing today, means attributing a strong spiritual significance to it and recognizing it as a privileged sign of the love of God, the eternal Good Shepherd, who wanted to gather his whole Church and lead her on the path of salvation.

Among the numerous testimonies of the Fathers, I would like to quote St Jerome’s. It is an extract from one of his letters, addressed to the Bishop of Rome. It is especially interesting precisely because it makes an explicit reference to the “Chair” of Peter, presenting it as a safe harbour of truth and peace.

This is what Jerome wrote:  “I decided to consult the Chair of Peter, where that faith is found exalted by the lips of an Apostle; I now come to ask for nourishment for my soul there, where once I received the garment of Christ. I follow no leader save Christ, so I enter into communion with your beatitude, that is, with the Chair of Peter, for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built” (cf. Le lettere I, 15, 1-2).

Dear brothers and sisters, in the apse of St Peter’s Basilica, as you know, is the monument to the Chair of the Apostle, a mature work of Bernini. It is in the form of a great bronze throne supported by the statues of four Doctors of the Church:  two from the West, St Augustine and St Ambrose, and two from the East:  St John Chrysostom and St Athanasius.

I invite you to pause before this evocative work which today can be admired, decorated with myriads of candles, and to say a special prayer for the ministry that God has entrusted to me. Raise your eyes to the alabaster glass window located directly above the Chair and call upon the Holy Spirit, so that with his enlightenment and power, he will always sustain my daily service to the entire Church. For this, as for your devoted attention, I thank you from my heart.

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Feb 22, Feast of the Chair of St Peter: Bishop MacEvily on Today’s First Reading (1 Pet 5:1-4)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 22, 2011

Note: This post includes the bishop’s analysis of all of chapter 5, followed by his commentary on verses 1-4. The text in purple which immediately follows the biblical passages he is commenting on are the bishop’s paraphrase. Text in red, if any, are my additional notes.

Analysis of 1 Peter 5~In this chapter, the Apostle addresses himself to the pastors of the Church, and points out the mode in which they should tend the flocks committed to their care, and acquit themselves of their pastoral functions. They should, in tending their flocks, shun three vices directly at variance with their exalted calling; these are, firstly, the performance of their functions not cheerfully, but with restraint arising from the necessity they were under of procuring thereby the necessaty means of support, so opposed to the cheerfulness which springs from viewing their flocks, according to God; secondly, the base vice of sordid avarice, so opposed to liberal and generous disinterestedness (2); and thirdly, domineering pride, so opposed to the example of humility, which every pastor is bound to give (3). By avoiding these vices and practising the opposite virtues, the pastors will
merit to obtain, on the day of judgment, from Jesus Christ, the unfading crown of eternal life (4).

He next points out the reciprocal duties of the laity towards their pastors. They should be subject and obedient to them.

All, both pastors and people, should clothe themselves with humility, as their chief adornment (5). He tells them to humble themselves before God, in order that he may exalt them, by the effusion of the heavenly graces which he has in store,onlyfor the humble—and, this humility they should manifest, by laying aside all anxious cares, and casting themselves on the Fatherly Providence of God (6, 7). He, next, recommends them to practise
the virtues of sobriety and vigilance—two virtues most necessary for a soldier on guard, in order to defeat the stratagems and assaults of a powerful and subtle foe, such as the devil, the sworn enemy of man, is. They should courageously resist him, by the unshaken firmness of their faith (8, 9). He next promises them the powerful protection of God to guard them, and bring them to a happy end (10).

He closes the Epistle with informing them, that Silas is the bearer of this Epistle to them; they will thus be secured against the imposition often practised by false teachers, in substituting counterfeit Epistles. He ends with the usual salutation.

1Pe 5:1  The ancients therefore that are among you, I beseech who am myself also an ancient and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as also a partaker of that glory which is to be revealed in time to come:

Since, therefore, the just man will be saved only with great difficulty, and God’s judgment is to commence with his own house (see 1 Pet 4:17-18), I, who am myself a fellow-bishop and pastor, a witness also of the sufferings of Christ, to be a sharer in that glory to be revealed at a future day, implore and exhort the bishops and pastors who preside over you;

The ancients, therefore, that are among you.”  “Therefore,” is not in some
Greek copies. It is found in the Alexandrian and Vatican MSS. It may be connected with the foregoing, as in Paraphrase:—therefore, since judgment commences first with God’s house (1 Pet 4:17), and in a special manner with the pastors of God’s people, it is meet, they should prepare for this responsibility. “The ancients.” The Greek word, πρεσβυτερους, viewed according to etymology, means elderly men, or men advanced in years but since the word is employed in Scripture to designate offices and dignity rather than age (the signification which the word bears here, as is
clear from verses 2 and 4), the office has been expressed in the Paraphrase, bishops and pastors, or priests of the first order; for to them alone, strictly speaking, could be applied the words (verse 2), “feed the flock,” &c., in the fullest and most exalted sense. Of course, the admonition contained here applies also to the priests of the second order, charged with the care of souls. That the Greek word for “ancients,” includes not only priests of the second order, but of the first order, or bishops also, is clear from Epistle to Titus (Tit 1:. 5, 7). ‘”That are among you,” that is, that preside over you. “I beseech.” Ihe Greek word, παρακαλω), means also, I exhort. “Who
am myself also an ancient.” The Greek word, συμπρεσβυτερος, means, who am a co-presbyter; or, fellow-bishop; the word expresses the Episcopal office. Although, as Prince of the Apostles, he might call himself, chief of bishops; still, from a feeling of humility, he places himself on an equality with them. The same feeling of humility is observable in all the documents addressed by St. Peter’s successors, the Sovereign Pontiffs, to the other bishops, during the different ages of the Church: Servus Servorum
Dei, (Servant of the Servants of God) they take as their ordinary title. “And a witness of the sufferings of Christ,” may mean (as in Paraphrase), that he witnessed all that Christ endured, both through life and in his sacred passion—or, a witness or martyr (by my sufferings), to the sufferings of Christ, and to the faith founded thereon. This latter mterpretation is grounded on the signification of  “witness,” in Greek, martyr. They were called martyrs, who, by their own sufferings, bore the sincerest testimony to the truth of the Christian faith. The antithesis which exists between this and the following member of the sentence, renders this latter interpretation very probable; the Apostle, by referring to his own sufferings, wishes to animate his brethren to the faithful discharge of their pastoral fuuctions,
notwithstanding the violence of persecution.  “And also a partner of that glory,” &c. This may express merely a strong Christian hope, or it may be the result of some revelation with which God had favoured him. (It may be an allusion to the transfiguration, see 2 Pet 1:16-18).

1Pe 5:2  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking care of it, not by constraint but willingly, according to God: not for filthy lucre’s sake but voluntarily:

Feed, with the wholesome pastures of spiritual knowledge, with the heavenly graces imparted through the sacraments, the flock of God, over whom you have charge, superintending and caring it, not from feelings of co-action, as if force thereunto by the mercenary motive of securing the necessary means of support; but with cheerfulness, regarding it according to the will of God, which is, to promote its spiritual good, and in view of a spiritual reward–not with the sordid view of acquiring thereby wretched pelf, more enlarged incomes, but with feelings of generous and cheerful disinterestedness.

‘Feed the flock of God.” They are charged with the flock of another, to whom
they shall render an account of their stewardship. “Feed,” ποιμανατε. This word is employed to signify, govern, direct, &c. It expresses a charge analogous to that which shepherds have over their flocks.  “Which is among you,” or which is given in charge to you; each one is responsible for that portion ot God’s flock, confided to his care.  “Taking care of it.” The Greek word, επισκοπουντες, literally means, Episcopizing, or superintending it; it expresses the vigilant care, which a pastor of souls should use, in guarding and tending his flock.  “Not by constraint,” from the necessity you are under of doing so in order to acquire a livelihood, while you would otherwise neglect them; “but willingly, according to God.” The words “according to God,” are not in the Greek. They are found in the Alexandrian MS. They explain more fully what the word, “willingly,” means, viz., with that cheerfulness which the consideration of the exalted nature of your functions, viewed according to God and his holy will—and that is, that we should advance the spiritual interests of souls, with a view to a spiritual
reward—is apt to engender.  “Not for filthy lucre sake,” that is, from motives of sordid avarice, a vice so disgraceful in a pastor of souls; the effect of which is to harden his heart, to inspire him with low, grovelling ideas, to make him prostitute the most exalted mysteries of his sacred calling to the gratification of this wretched and unmeaning passion, and even at the awful moment of death, to blind him against the terrors of approaching judgment. “But voluntarily,” from feelings of liberal and generous disinterestedness. Detachment from early treasures should be a distinguishing characteristic
of him, who, at his first step mto the sanctuary, takes God for his inheritance. “Dominus pars hereditatis mea et calicis mei, &c.,” are the words of the Cleric on his first entrance into the sanctuary. (The Latin translate as The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup. See Psalm 16:5)

1Pe 5:3  Neither as lording it over the clergy but being made a pattern of the flock from the heart.

Neither acting as persons lording it over the flocks specially entrusted to each; but exhibiting yourselves as patterns and models to them in all sincerity and truth, and with a view of advancing their spiritual interests.

Neither as lording it over the clergy.” By “clergy,” are meant, according to
some, the subordinate ministers of religion, subject to the bishop. The Greek word, however, των κληρων, lot or inheritance, renders the opinion which understands it of the particular congregations which fell to the lot of each pastor to superintend, by far the more probable interpretation. In it is contained an allusion to the usage observed among the Jews of old, of receiving by lot their different inheritances. Hence, the word, clergy, is generally applied to the sacred ministers who are especially the inheritance of the Lord.  “A pattern” (in Greek τυποι, types or patterns) “of the
flock;” these latter words show that it is to the flock, the word “clergy” refers here.  “From the heart,” is not found in the Greek. It means, not by a false, hypocritical show of virtues; but by an exhibition of real, genuine virtues, or from a sincere regard for their spiritual welfare and the glory of God.

1Pe 5:4  And when the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory.

And when the prince of pastors, Jesus Christ, by whom both pastors and people were purchased, shall appear, to pass sentence on all mankind, you shall receive an unfading, ever-blooming crown of glory–or, the glorious crown of eternal life.

And when the prince of pastors,” Jesus Christ, to whom belong pastors and
people, purchased by his blood, “shall appear,” come in his glory to judge the world, to reward and punish, according to man’s deserts, “you shall receive a never fading crown of glory.”  A crown, the reward of merit, “never-fading,” αμαραντινον, the amaranth, a flower so called, because it never fades, is employed as an image of heavenly bliss, unlike the crown given to the victors in the Grecian games, made of bay, laurel, &c., this shall always remain the same, ever-blooming and unfading (see 1 Cor 9:24-27). Such is the reward which the Apostle wishes the ministers of the gospel ever to keep in view in the discharge of the arduous and exalted functions of their sacred ofhce. It is disputed whether the “crown of glory” regards the essaitial happiness of the blessed, the “corona justitice” which St. Paul expected (2 Tim 4:8), or, the aureola, or accidental reward, which in heaven is reserved for the Doctors, who, after instructing many unto justice, ”shall shine as stars for ever.”’—(Daniel). In the preceding passage, can be seen how strongly the Apostle enjoins on pastors the avoidance of three vices, so much at variance with the pastoral state, viz., performing their spiritual functions
solely with the view of avoiding poverty; avarice (verse 2), and pride (verse 3); or, it should rather have been said, that he points out the vicious ends and motives that destroy the good effects of the pastoral ministry.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on 1 Peter, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

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