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 March 5th, 2011

This Week’s Posts: Sunday, Feb 27-Saturday, March 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 5, 2011

Some posts are scheduled in advance and will not become available until the time indicated. Posts without time indicators are already available, regardless of the day they’re listed under. On certain day’s-usually in the afternoon/evening-posts may be added. These will be marked UPDATE.

SUNDAY, FEB 27
EIGHT WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Resources for Sunday Mass, Feb 27. A weekly feature of this blog. Resources for next Sunday’s Mass will be posted on Wednesday.

Last Week’s Posts: Sunday, Feb 20-Saturday, Feb 26.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 7:21-27 for Sunday Mass, March 6.
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MONDAY, FEB 28
EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Readings.

Pope Benedict’s Homily on Today’s Gospel (Mark 10:17-27). 12:00 AM EST.

Another Homily on Mark 10:17-27 by Pope Benedict. 12:02 AM EST.

Maldonado on Mtt 7:21-27 for Sunday Mass, March 6. 12:05 AM EST.

Bishop MacEvily on Rom 3:21-25, 28 for Sunday Mass, March 6. 12:10 AM EST.

UPDATE: Bernardin de Piconio on 1 Cor 13:1-13 for Quinquagesima Sunday Mass, March 6 (Extraordinary Form).

UPDATE: Father Callan on 1 Cor 13:1-13 for Quinquagesima Sunday Mass, March 6 (Extraordinary Form).
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TUESDAY, MARCH 1
EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Readings.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 10:28-31). 12:05 AM EST.

St Catherine of Siena on Today’s Gospel (Mark 10:28-31. 12:10 AM EST. A brief excerpt from her Dialogues.

St Augustine on Today’s Psalm (50). 12:15 AM EST. This post is on the entire Psalm.

St Cyril of Alexandria on Luke 18:31-43 for Sunday Mass, March 6 (Extraordinary Form). 12:20 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 18:31-43 for Sunday Mass, March 6 (Extraordinary Form). 12:25 AM EST.

UPDATE: Fr. Rickaby on 1 Cor 13:1-13 for Sunday Mass, March 6 (Extraordinary Form).

UPDATE: Fr. Callan on Romans 3:21-25, 28 for Sunday Mass, March 6. Actually, this post is on verses 21-31.
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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Readings.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 10:32-45). 12:05 AM EST.

The Catechism on Today’s Gospel Mark 10:32-45). 12:10 AM EST.

Pope St Gregory the Great on Luke 18:31-43 for Sunday Mass, March 6 (Extraordinary Form). 12:15 AM EST.

Resources for Sunday Mass, March 6 . This post was updated Wednesday afternoon and I hope to update it again before Sunday.
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THURSDAY, MARCH 3
EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Readings.

Pope John Paul II on Today’s Psalm (33). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 10:46-52). 12:10 AM EST.

Suggested Readings For Lent.
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FRIDAY, MARCH 4
EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Readings.

Pope John Paul II on Today’s Psalm (149). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 11:11-26). 12:10 AM EST.

Part 1: My Notes on the Passion According to John (18:1-3). The first in what I hope will be a series of short posts on St John’s Passion narrative.
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SATURDAY, MARCH 5
EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Readings.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 11:27-33). 12:05 AM EST.

Part 2: My Notes on the Passion According to John (18:4-9).

 

 

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on Mark, Notes on Romans, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, PAPAL COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS, Quotes, Scripture, SERMONS, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

My Notes on the Passion According to John Part 2 (18:4-9)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 5, 2011

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep (Jn 10:11). Image by Bernhard Plockhorst (1825-1907)

To see the first post in this series (on Jn 18:1-3) go here. Image source.

Joh 18:4  Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth and said to them: Whom seek ye?

In my previous post I mentioned some of the significance of the movement of characters. “He (Jesus) went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where there was a garden, into which he entered with his disciples” (ver. 1).  “And Judas also, who betrayed him, knew the place: because Jesus had often resorted thither together with his disciples” (ver. 2).  “Judas therefore having received a band of soldiers and servants from the chief priests and the Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons” (ver. 3). As I noted in the first post, the purpose of these parallel movements was to show that Judas was no longer a disciple. On the night he betrayed Jesus, Judas does not enter into the garden with Him as one of the disciples. On that night he “resorted tither” not with Jesus but, rather, he “cometh tither” with soldiers and servants of the priests who were armed with weapons.

Another point of the movement is to show that our Lord is in control of his own destiny; as he had previously stated: Therefore doth the Father love me: because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it away from me: but I lay it down of myself. And I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father (Jn 10:17-18). It is precisely because of this that Jesus and St John can speak of his “hour.” This is not the first time the authorities sought his arrest  (Jn 7:32), but they were thwarted because “His hour had not yet come” (Jn 7:30; 8:20).  Because he had committed himself to the Father’s timetable it was, on occasion, necessary for him to move about discreetly (Jn 7:10), and hide himself (Jn 8:59). But now, his hour having arrived (Jn 13:1), Jesus deliberately went forth to confront those who had cometh thither to arrest him. This, the text tells us he did with full knowledge: Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth and said to them: Whom seek ye?

Judas knew the place to find Jesus (ver. 2), but his knowledge is no match for the Lord’s.  As already mentioned, the Lord knew his hour had come (Jn 13:1), just as he knew who would betray him (Jn 13:11). But know his question suggests ignorance: Whom seek ye? The answer makes it clear whose ignorance is being highlighted

Joh 18:5 (to the question ‘whom seek ye?’) They answered him: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith to them: I am he. And Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them.

Judas must have been in the forefront of the mob since he both knew what Jesus looked like and where he would be. I suspect that those immediately following Judas would have been the servants of the priests, since at least some of these would have recognized him, having heard him speak while attempting to arrest him on an earlier occasion (Jn 7:32, 45).  The Roman soldiers, masters of law enforcement and apprehension, were probably bringing up the rear since their function was consequent upon the identity of the “perpetrator.” If this be so, why is it that to the question “whom seek ye,” they respond by saying “Jesus of Nazareth” rather than “you”?

Those who thought they knew Jesus in reality knew nothing. But we know this man, whence he is (i.e., where he is from): but when the Christ cometh, no man knoweth, whence he is.  Jesus therefore cried out in the temple, teaching and saying: You both know me, and you know whence I am. And I am not come of myself: but he that sent me is true, whom you know not.  I know him, because I am from him: and he hath sent me (Jn 7:27-29). They have come for Jesus of Nazareth, but who he really is, and where he is really from, is lost to them, hence his utterance of the divine name: I am He (literally, “I Am”. In Greek, εγω ειμι; in Hebrew, היה, see Ex 3:14).  In two brief words he both identifies himself as the one they are looking for, and indicates that they do not really know who he is. His enemies will crucify him as “Jesus of Nazareth” (Jn 19:19), but he had already told them When you shall have lifted up, the Son of man, then shall you know that I am he (Jn 8:28).

And Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them.  The reference to Judas in this verse is unnecessary since we already know he  was present. The reference is also grammatically clumsy, raising the question: why is he referenced here at all? The question is answered in the next verse.

Joh 18:6  As soon therefore as he had said to them: I am he; they went backward (Greek: απηλθον εις τα οπισω) and fell to the ground.

On one occasion (Jn 4:4-39) our Lord, “worked out” from his labors (as the Greek text says) came to a field in Samaria and sat down.  On this occasion he spoke of the food he had to eat: My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, that I may perfect his work (Jn 4:34).  The instruments by which he accomplished this will and work was his flesh and blood (see Heb 10:5-10; Ps 40:7-9) which becomes food he gives to us: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.  He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.  For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever (Jn 6:53-58). It was on the occasion of this promise that many of his disciples went away backwards (literal rendering of απηλθον εις τα οπισω), and, also, it was on this occasion that Judas’ planned treachery was revealed for the first time: Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve? And one of you is a devil. Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray him, whereas he was one of the twelve (Jn 6:70-71).  This event and the Judas prophecy are here in Jn 18:6 being recalled. Recalled also is the actual separation of Judas from Jesus and the twelve: He therefore, having received the morsel, went out (εξηλθεν) immediately. And it was night. When he therefore was gone out (εξηλθεν), Jesus said: Now is the Son of man glorified; and God is glorified in him (Jn 13:30-31). Both  εξηλθεν and απηλθον are from the same root verb, ἔρχομαι.

The irony is that the one who ate Jesus’ food and then lifted his heel against him (Jn 13:18, 26-27)-as if to trip Jesus up-has himself fallen to the ground along with those he is leading.  Jesus had told his Apostles: Are there not twelve hours of the day? If a man walk in the day he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world:  But if he walk in the night, he stumbleth, because the light is not in him (Jn 11:9-10). But Judas was in the night (Jn 13:30), and walking by a false light (Jn 18:3). He and his companions thus suffer the fate of the enemies of the confident righteous: They will dwell and hide themselves: they will watch my heel (as if looking for an opportunity to trip Jesus up) As they have waited for my soul, For nothing shalt thou save them: in thy anger thou shalt break the people in pieces. O God,  I have declared to thee my life: thou hast set me tears in thy sight, As also in thy promise. Then shall my enemies be turned back. In what day soever I shall call upon thee, behold I know thou art my God…Because thou hast delivered my soul from death, (delivered) my feet from falling: that I may please in the sight of God, in the light of the living (Ps 56:6-10, 13).  The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid? Whilst the wicked draw near against me, to eat my flesh. My enemies that trouble me, have themselves been weakened, and have fallen.  If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear. If a battle should rise up against me, in this will I be confident (Ps 27:1-3).

Joh 18:7  Again therefore he asked them: Whom seek ye? And they said: Jesus of Nazareth.
Joh 18:8  Jesus answered: I have told you that I am he. If therefore you seek me, let these go their way,
Joh 18:9  That the word might be fulfilled which he said: Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost any one

His first question and his response to his enemies’ reply in verse 5 manifested his divine person and power. Here, the repetition of the question/response manifests his willingness to surrender himself. At the same time it recalls his warning to his opponents: I said to you that you shall die in your sins. For if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sin (see Jn 8:21-30).

In surrendering himself so that his disciples might “go their way” Jesus is showing himself to be the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep; the sheep who have heard his voice and followed him, thus enjoying his protection (Jn 10:27-28). He is also calling to mind something he had said in his High Priestly Prayer: While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. Those whom thou gavest me have I kept: and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition (Judas): that the scripture may be fulfilled (Jn 17:12). These are the ones who have accepted the testimony of the Jesus regarding the divine name and all that it implies (Jn 17:1 ff).

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

March 7: Catholic Encyclopedia on Saints Perpetua and Felicity

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 5, 2011

Felicitas and Perpetua, Saints
Martyrs, suffered at Carthage, 7 March 203, together with three companions, Revocatus, Saturus, and Saturninus. The details of the martyrdom of these five confessors in the North African Church have reached us through a genuine, contemporary description, one of the most affecting accounts of the glorious warfare of Christian martyrdom in ancient times. By a rescript of Septimus Severus (193-211) all imperial subjects were forbidden under severe penalties to become Christians. In consequence of this decree, five catechumens at Carthage were seized and cast into prison, viz. Vibia Perpetua, a young married lady of noble birth; the slave Felicitas, and her fellow-slave Revocatus, also Saturninus and Secundulus. Soon one Saturus, who deliberately declared himself a Christian before the judge, was also incarcerated. Perpetua’s father was a pagan; her mother, however,and two brothers were Christians, one being still a catechumen; a third brother, the child Dinocrates, had died a pagan.

After their arrest, and before they were led away to prison, the five catechumens were baptized. The sufferings of the prison life, the attempts of Perpetua’s father to induce her to apostatize, the vicissitudes of the martyrs before their execution, the visions of Saturus and Perpetua in their dungeons, were all faithfully committed to writing by the last two. Shortly after the death of the martyrs a zealous Christian added to this document an account of their execution. The darkness of their prison and the oppressive atmosphere seemed frightful to Perpetua, whose terror was increased by anxiety for her young child. Two deacons succeeded, by sufficiently bribing the jailer, in gaining admittance to the imprisoned Christians and alleviated somewhat their sufferings. Perpetua’s mother also, and her brother, yet a catechumen, visited them. Her mother brought in her arms to Perpetua her little son, whom she was permitted to nurse and retain in prison with her. A vision, in which she saw herself ascending a ladder leading to green meadows, where a flock of sheep was browsing, assured her of her approaching martyrdom.

A few days later Perpetua’s father, hearing a rumour that the trial of the imprisoned Christians would soon take place, again visited their dungeon and besought her by everything dear to her not to put this disgrace on her name; but Perpetua remained steadfast to her Faith. The next day the trial of the six confessors took place, before the Procurator Hilarianus. All six resolutely confessed their Christian Faith. Perpetua’s father, carrying her child in his arms, approached her again and attempted, for the last time, to induce her to apostatize; the procurator also remonstrated with her but in vain. She refused to sacrifice to the gods for the safety of the emperor. The procurator thereupon had the father removed by force, on which occasion he was struck with a whip. The Christians were then condemned to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, for which they gave thanks to God. In a vision Perpetua saw her brother Dinocrates, who had did at the early age of seven, at first seeming to be sorrowful and in pain, but shortly thereafter happy and healthy. Another apparition, in which she saw herself fighting with a savage Ethiopian, whom she conquered, made it clear to her that she would not have to do battle with wild beasts but with the Devil. Saturus, who also wrote down his visions, saw himself and Perpetua transported by four angels, towards the East to a beautiful garden, where they met four other North African Christians who had suffered martyrdom during the same persecution, viz. Jocundus, Saturninus, Artaius, and Quintus. He also saw in this vision Bishop Optatus of Carthage and the priest Aspasius, who prayed the martyrs to arrange a reconciliation between them. In the meanwhile the birthday festival of the Emperor Geta approached, on which occasion the condemned Christians were to fight with wild beasts in the military games; they were therefore transferred to the prison in the camp. The jailer Pudens had learnt to respect the confessors, and he permitted other Christians to visit them. Perpetua’s father was also admitted and made another fruitless attempt to pervert her.

Secundulus, one of the confessors, died in prison. Felicitas, who at the time of her incarceration was with child (in the eighth month), was apprehensive that she would not be permitted to suffer martyrdom at the same time as the others, since the law forbade the execution of pregnant women. Happily, two days before the games she gave birth to a daughter, who was adopted by a Christian woman. On 7 March, the five confessors were led into the amphitheatre. At the demand of the pagan mob they were first scourged; then a boar, a bear, and a leopard, were set at the men, and a wild cow at the women. Wounded by the wild animals, they gave each other the kiss of peace and were then put to the sword. Their bodies were interred at Carthage. Their feast day was solemnly commemorated even outside Africa. Thus under 7 March the names of Felicitas and Perpetua are entered in the Philocalian calendar, i.e. the calendar of martyrs venerated publicly in the fourth century at Rome. A magnificent basilica was afterwards erected over their tomb, the Basilica Majorum; that the tomb was indeed in this basilica has lately been proved by Pere Delattre, who discovered there an ancient inscription bearing the names of the martyrs.

The feast of these saints is still celebrated on 7 March. The Latin description of their martyrdom was discovered by Holstenius and published by Poussines. Chapters iii-x contain the narrative and the visions of Perpetua; chapters xi-ciii the vision of Saturus; chapters i, ii and xiv-xxi were written by an eyewitness soon after the death of the martyrs. In 1890 Rendel Harris discovered a similar narrative written in Greek, which he published in collaboration with Seth K. Gifford (London, 1890). Several historians maintain that this Greek text is the original, others that both the Greek and the Latin texts are contemporary; but there is no doubt that the Latin text is the original and that the Greek is merely a translation. That Tertullian is the author of these Acts is an unproved assertion. The statement that these martyrs were all or in part Montanists also lacks proof; at least there is no intimations of it in the Acts.

Posted in Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Quotes | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

My Notes on Isaiah 58:1-9a for the Friday After Ash Wednesday, and on Isaiah 85:9b-14 for the Saturday After Ash Wednesday

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 5, 2011

The first reading for the Friday after Ash Wednesday in on Isaiah 58:1-9a, and the reading for Saturday after Ash Wednesday in on Isaiah 58:9b-14This post contains commentary for both readings.

Isa 58:1 Call with the throat, restrain not, As a trumpet lift up thy voice, And declare to My people their transgression, And to the house of Jacob their sins;

The first two verses of our passage are spoken by God and addressed to the prophet. Verse 1 issues some imperatives (call, restrain not, lift up thy voice, declare); followed by their purpose: to make clear the fact that God knows the transgression and sins of his people.

Call with the throat. “Cry out” would be a better translation in light of the phrase with the throat, which here means a full, loud voice. The word “call” (cry out) sometimes has a beastly nuance. I rather think the intention here is to draw a contrast with the blind leaders (chapter 56:10) who are described as dumb(i.e., mute) dogs~His watchmen are all blind, they are all ignorant: dumb dogs not able to bark, seeing vain things, sleeping and loving dreams.

As a trumpet lift up thy voice. The trumpet was often sounded to alert people to impending danger (see Jer 6:1), this is precisely what the prophet is being bidden to do, such was his duty as a prophet and leader of the people (see Ezek 33:1-9). It is for this reason we are bidden to pray for our leaders in the Church: By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit: and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints: And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in a chain: so that therein I may be bold to speak according as I ought (Eph 6:18-20).

Pope St Pius X~Our soul is fearful of the strict rendering that We shall one day be called upon to make to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Pastors, concerning the flock He entrusted to Our care. We pass each day with great solicitude in preserving as much as possible the faithful from the dangerous evils that afflict society at the present time. Therefore, We consider addressed to Us the words of the Prophet: “Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet” . Accordingly, sometimes by speech and sometimes by letter We constantly warn, beseech, and censure, arousing, above all, the zeal of Our Brethren in the Episcopate so that each one of them will exercise the most solicitous vigilance in that portion of the flock over which the Holy Spirit has placed him.

And declare to My people their transgression, And to the house of Jacob their sins. As will become obvious, the danger the people face is their hypocrisy.

Isa 58:2 For they seek me from day to day, and desire to know my ways, as a nation that hath done justice, and hath not forsaken the judgment of their God: they ask of me the judgments of justice: they are willing to approach to God.

For they seek me from day to day…and hath not forsaken the judgment of their God. The word “For” would be better translated as “Yet,” as in the RSV. These words,  the entire first part of the verse, are to be taken as sarcasm. The word seek (דּרשׁ dârash) means literally “to tread” and it came to designate a thing done repeatedly, or to a place frequented often. The word came to be applied to seeking God in worship in the temple (Ps 24:6), but also to seeking from him a judgment against enemies. However, in light of the sins of the people narrated in Isa 57:3-11, and the opening word “Yet,” the words are, as I just noted, to be taken as sarcasm in my opinion.

They ask of me the judgments of justice: they are willing to approach to God. As is clear however, their attitude and practice is far removed from that of a righteous Israelite portrayed in Psalm 15: Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle? or who shall rest in thy holy hill? He that walketh without blemish, and worketh justice: He that speaketh truth in his heart, who hath not used deceit in his tongue: Nor hath done evil to his neighbour: nor taken up a reproach against his neighbours.  In his sight the malignant is brought to nothing: but he glorifieth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his neighbour, and deceiveth not; He that hath not put out his money to usury, nor taken bribes against the innocent: He that doth these things, shall not be moved for ever.

Rather, they are more like Herod. He knew John the Baptist was a righteous man and he liked to listen to him, however, he refused to put his admonitions into practice and so, unlike the righteous man of the Psalm he was “moved” by the will of his scheming, wrongly gotten wife (see Mark 6:17-29). Such an attitude is dangerous in the extreme: “As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, `Come, and hear what the word is that comes forth from the LORD.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with their lips they show much love, but their heart is set on their gain.  And, lo, you are to them like one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. When this comes (i.e., punishment) — and come it will! — then they will know that a prophet has been among them” (Ezek 33:30-33. RSV, text in red is mine).

Isa 58:3 Why have we fasted, and thou hast not regarded: have we humbled our souls, and thou hast not taken notice? Behold in the day of your fast your own will is found, and you exact of all your debtors.

Why have we fasted…and thou hast not taken notice? They think that on the basis of their false piety they can lay their demands on God. Their complaint is similar to the attitude condemned in Malachi 3:14. The righteous Psalmist says something similar, (Ps 73:13-14) but his underlying attitude is very different (Ps 73:15-17.).

Behold in the day of your fast your own will is found, and you exact of all your debtors. Pope St Gregory the Great: “But, on the other hand, the abstinent are to be admonished ever anxiously to look out, lest, while they fly the vice of gluttony, still worse vices be engendered as it were of virtue lest, while they macerate the flesh, their spirit break out into impatience; and so there be no virtue in the vanquishing of the flesh, the spirit being overcome by anger. Sometimes, moreover, while the mind of the abstinent keeps anger down, it is corrupted, as it were by a foreign joy coming in, and loses all the good of abstinence in that it fails to guard itself from spiritual vices. Hence it is rightly said through the prophet, In the days of your fasts are found your wills ([LXX] Is 58,3, lxx).. And shortly after, Ye fast for debates and strifes, and ye smite with the fists (Ibid).. For the will pertains to delight, the fist to anger. In vain, then, is the body worn by abstinence, if the mind, abandoned to disorderly emotions, is dissipated by vices. And again, they are to be admonished that, while they keep up their abstinence without abatement, they suppose not this to be of eminent virtue before the hidden judge; lest, if it be perchance supposed to be of great merit, the heart be lifted up to haughtiness. For hence it is said through the prophet, (Is it such a fast that I have chosen! But break thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the wanderers into thine house.”

You exact of all your debtors. The Jerome Biblical Commentary~”Fasting should unite rich and poor, so that all taste the dust out of which each was made (Gen 3:19).  Only the wealthy can fast; they alone have something of which they can deprive themselves.  In fasting, they share the lot of the poor who are always hungry.  To fast and yet to neglect the poor is a perverted form of conceit.”

Isa 58:4 Behold you fast for debates and strife, and strike with the fist wickedly. Do not fast as you have done until this day, to make your cry to be heard on high.
Isa 58:5 Is this such a fast as I have chosen: for a man to afflict his soul for a day? is this it, to wind his head about like a circle, and to spread sackcloth and ashes? wilt thou call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord?

Behold, you fast for debates and strife. A shocking statement. By this “devotion” of fasting they seek to gain the upper hand with God against the very people they are oppressing. How can such a day of fast be a day acceptable to the Lord?

Isa 58:6 Is not this rather the fast that I have chosen? loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden.

Is not this rather the fast I have chosen? What is about to be said stands in marked opposition to what was said in verse 3~Behold, in the day of your fast your own will is found. It is also a response the the question of verse 5~Is this such a fast as I have chosen.

Loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden. The words spoken here call to mind the prophecy of Isaiah which our Blessed Lord saw as the program of his ministry. Shortly after his forty day fast Jesus declared that these words of Isaiah were fulfilled in him: The spirit of the Lord is upon me. Wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart, to preach deliverance to the captives and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of reward (see Luke 4:16-21, and Isa 61:1-2).

One cannot shirk one’s obligations of Justice, mercy and love towards others by using devotion as an excuse or an escape: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! (Matt 23:23-24. RSV).

Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes: This council exhorts Christians, as citizens of two cities, to strive to discharge their earthly duties conscientiously and in response he Gospel spirit. They are mistaken who, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one which is to come,(Heb 13:14) think that they may therefore shirk their earthly responsibilities. For they are forgetting that by the faith itself they are more obliged than ever to measure up to these duties, each according to his proper vocation(2 Thess 3:6-13; Eph 4:28) Nor, on the contrary, are they any less wide of the mark who think that religion consists in acts of worship alone and in the discharge of certain moral obligations, and who imagine they can plunge themselves into earthly affairs in such a way as to imply that these are altogether divorced from the religious life. This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age. Long since, the Prophets of the Old Testament fought vehemently against this scandal(Isa 58:1-12) and even more so did Jesus Christ Himself in the New Testament threaten it with grave punishments (see Matt 23:3-23; Mark 7:10-13) Therefore, let there be no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and religious life on the other. The Christian who neglects his temporal duties, neglects his duties toward his neighbor and even God, and jeopardizes his eternal salvation. Christians should rather rejoice that, following the example of Christ Who worked as an artisan, they are free to give proper exercise to all their earthly activities and to their humane, domestic, professional, social and technical enterprises by gathering them into one vital synthesis with religious values, under whose supreme direction all things are harmonized unto God’s glory (Art. 43).

Isa 58:7 Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh.

Deal thy bread to the hungry. Literally, divide up thy bread among the hungry. What is the point of keeping bread your not eating during a fast? Those who have “stuff” by the bounty of God ought to share it with those who have not. The devout man should be a horn of plenty to others. On The Development Of Peoples, art. 23~“If someone who has the riches of this world sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 Jn 3:17). It is well known how strong were the words used by the Fathers of the Church to describe the proper attitude of persons who possess anything towards persons in need. To quote Saint Ambrose: “You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his. For what has been given in common for the use of all, you have arrogated to yourself. The world is given to all, and not only to the rich.”

Despise not thy own flesh. Your fellow man of flesh and blood.

Isa 58:8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily arise, and thy justice shall go before thy face, and the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up.

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning. Light here probably means prosperity (see Isa 9:1, 60:1-3; Job 11:17).    2 Cor 9:6-10~The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.  As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.”  He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

And thy health shall speedily arise. The word translated here as health refers to the healing of a wound, probably a reference to the ending of God’s punishment (see the image of punishment in Isa 1:5-6).

And thy justice shall go before thy face, and the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up. “Thy justice” is a reference to God, “the Lord our righteousness” (see Jer 23:6; 33:16).  The phrases “go before thy face”  and “the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up” suggest the protection of the the divine presence (see Isa 52:12; Ex 13:21-22). Further, the phrase “gather thee up” conveys a rear guard military action, thus God will be both before your face and at your back, prtecting your coming and your going, surrounding you.  “When Israel busies itself with works of compassionate love, then it is like an army on the march, or a caravan, for which the righteousness that has become its own shows the way and makes a road, and which the glory of God (symbolized by the cloud and the pillar of fire in Exodus) protects and brings to its goal” (International Critical Commentary, page 362. Text in red my addition).

Isa 58:9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou wilt take away the chain out of the midst of thee, and cease to stretch out the finger, and to speak that which profiteth not.

Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry and he shall say, Here I am. God has now given in the previous verses the answer to the people’s question in the first part of verse 3 where they asked, Why have we fasted, and thou hast not regarded: have we humbled our souls, and thou hast not taken notice?

If thou wilt take away the chain out of the midst of thee. These chains are the bands of wickedness with which they strapped the bundles of oppression and other burdens onto people (see verse 6).

And cease to stretch out the finger, and to speak that which profiteth not. According to St Jerome stretching out the finger was used as a sign of contempt or a threat. The reference to finger and speech calls to mind proverbs 6:12-13 which describes the acts of an apostate: A man that is an apostate, an unprofitable man, walketh with a perverse mouth,  He winketh with the eyes, presseth with the foot, speaketh with the finger. (see also Isa 57:4)

Isa 58:10 When thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and shalt satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noonday.

When thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry. The word translated here as soul has a broad range of meaning and is perhaps better translated as “life.” Many translations amend the text to read “When thou shalt pour out thy bread to the hungry,” but this means amending the actual text. It seems to me however that “life” can make good sense  here; by sharing the basic necessities of life (such as bread) with the hungry you are pouring out your own life to them. To the ancients, sharing food was sharing life. Notice the close connection between laying down one’s life and sharing the basic necessities of life in 1 John 3:15-18~Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in himself.  In this we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  He that hath the substance of this world and shall see his brother in need and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him?  My little children, let us not love in word nor in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

And shalt satisfy the afflicted soul. Recalls verse 5~Is this such a fast as I have chosen: for a man to afflict his soul for a day? What good does it do a man to voluntarily afflict his soul (life) with the devotion of fasting when those around him are afflicted with real hunger and he does nothing about it?  And if a brother or sister be naked and want daily food: And one of you say to them: Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit? (James 2:15-16).

Then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noonday. Recall the words of verse 8 and the comments offered there. The word “then” indicates that what is being promised here will be an effect if one pours out his soul to the hungry and satisfies the afflicted soul.

Isa 58:11 And the Lord will give thee rest continually, and will fill thy soul with brightness, and deliver thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a fountain of water whose waters shall not fail.

Once again see the comments on verse 8.

And the Lord will give thee rest continually. “And” would be better translated as “then,” for it continues the series of promised effects for helping the hungry and afflicted (see previous comment).

Like a watered garden. An image of God’s blessings (Jer 31:12).  Like a fountain of water whose waters shall not fail. The one who pours out his soul (life, see verse 10 and notes there) as if it were water shall be abundantly blessed, and always remain a source of refreshment for those in need.

Isa 58:12 And the places that have been desolate for ages shall be built in thee: thou shalt raise up the foundation of generation and generation: and thou shalt be called the repairer of the fences, turning the paths into rest.

Once again “and” would be better translated as “then,” and for the same reason as given in previous comments.

And (then) the places that have been desolate for ages shall be built in thee.  This prophecy is concerned with the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and (possibly) the rebuilding of the temple, destroyed in 587 BC by the Babylonians. The temple was rebuilt after the Babylonian Exile, around 515 BC (Ezra 6:16). The walls were rebuilt in 445 BC (see Nehemiah 6:15).  Since the temple is not explicitly mentioned here the latter time period is probably in view.

Thou shalt raise up the foundation of generation and generation. The foundations of the city which were generations old was all that was left amid the ruins; these shall once again serve the purpose for which they were intended. Jerusalem will be rebuilt, founded on true devotion of the heart.

And thou shalt be called the repairer of the fences. The term “repairer of fences” is from the Greek Septuagint and is probably to be taken as “repairer of walls.” The Hebrew has “repairer of the breach,” a reference to the walls that were breached by the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:4).

(And thou shalt be called)…turning they paths into rest. The phrase strikes modern scholars as odd and has led to the emendation of the text. For example, the RSV reads: (you shall be called)…”the restorer of streets to dwell in”.  The city and its streets, once enclosed, would again become safe places to dwell.

Isa 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy own will in my holy day, and call the sabbath delightful, and the holy of the Lord glorious, and glorify him, while thou dost not thy own ways, and thy own will is not found, to speak a word:
Isa 58:14 Then shalt thou be delighted in the Lord, and I will lift thee up above the high places of the earth, and will feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it
.

we saw earlier that on their days of fast the people were following their own will rather than being concerned with devotion (see verse 3 and commentary). Here we see that they were doing the same on the Sabbath.

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy own will in my holy day. In the words of Proverbs 4:27: Turn thy foot from evil, i.e,, do not continue to go astray in this matter. Isaiah 56:2 contains a blessing upon those who respect the Sabbath: Blessed is the man that doth this, and the son of man that shall lay hold on this: that keepeth the sabbath from profaning it, that keepeth his hands from doing any evil.

(If thou_…call the sabbath delightful, and the holy of the Lord glorious. Typical Hebrew parallelism; “the holy of the Lord” is simply another designation for “sabbath.” Some found the Sabbath a burden, perhaps because it got in the way of making money or, even more likely, it burdens the conscience: “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great, and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and sell the refuse of the wheat?” (Amos 8:5-6).

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How We Should Serve God on the Lord’s Day: A Meditation For Quinquagesima Sunday From St Thomas Aquinas

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 5, 2011

The following is excerpted from St Thomas Aquinas’ lectures ON THE DECALOGUE.

HOW WE SHOULD SERVE GOD ON THE LORD’S DAY
Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath Day Ex 20:8.

Man is bound to keep feast days holy. Now a thing is said to be holy in one of two ways, either because the thing is itself unspotted or because it is consecrated to God. We must say something then of the kind of works from which we should abstain on such days and also of the kind with which we should occupy ourselves.

1. Sacrifices. In Sacred Scripture (Num 28:3) it is related how God commanded that every day, in the morning and again in the evening, a
lamb should be offered up, but that on the sabbath this offering should be doubled. This teaches us that we too ought on the sabbath to offer a
sacrifice, a sacrifice taken from all that we possess.

A.  We ought to make an offering of our soul, lamenting our sins and giving thanks for the benefits we have received. Let my prayer, Lord, be directed as incense in thy sight (Ps 141:2). Feast days are instituted to give us spiritual joy, and the means to this is prayer. Whence on such days we should multiply our prayers.

B.  We should offer our body. I beseech you therefore brethren, says St. Paul, by the mercy of God, that you offer your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God (Rom 12:1). And we should give praise to God. The psalm says, The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me (Ps 50:23). Wherefore on feast days hymns should be numerous.

C.  We should offer our goods, and this by giving alms by giving on feast days a double amount, for these are times of universal rejoicing.

2.  Study of the word of God. This indeed was the practice of the Jews, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (13:27). The voices of the prophets, which are read every sabbath. Christians therefore, whose spiritual state should be more perfect than that of the Jews, ought on such days to meet together for sermons and for the Church’s office. And likewise for profitable conversation. Here are two things truly profitable for the soul of the sinner, sure means
to his amendment. For the word of God instructs the ignorant and stirs up those that are lukewarm.

3. Direct occupation with the things of God. This do those who are perfect. In the psalms (e.g., 34:9) we read, Taste and see that the Lord is
sweet, and this because He gives rest to the soul. For just as the body worn out with toil craves for rest, so too does the soul. Now the soul’s place is God. Be thou unto me a God, a protector and a place of refuge, is written in the Psalms (Ps 31:3). And St. Paul, too, says, There remaineth therefore a day of restfor the people of God; for he that is entered into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, as God aid from his (Heb 4:9, 10). Again in
the book of Wisdom ((Wis 8:16), When I go into my house, that is, my conscience, I shall repose with her, that is, with Wisdom.

But before the soul can attain to this peace, it must already have found peace in three other ways.

It must have peace from the uneasiness of sin.  The heart of the wicked man is like a raging sea, which cannot rest (Isa 57:20).

It must have peace from the attractions of bodily desires. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh (Gal 5:17).

It must have peace from the cares of everyday life. Martha, Martha, thou art careful and art troubled about many things (Luke 10:41).

But after these are attained the soul shall truly rest in God. If thou call the sabbath delightful… then shalt thou be delighted in the Lord (Isa 58:14).
It is for this that the saints have left all things, for this is that treasure which a man having found, hid it, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he
hath, and buyeth (Matt 13:44). For this is the peace of eternal life and of the joy that shall last for ever, This is my rest for ever and ever: here
I will  dwell, for I have chosen it (Ps 132:14).

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 9:22-25

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 5, 2011

This post includes commentary on verses 26-27.

22. (Jesus) Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and Chief Priests and Scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

CYRIL; It was the duty then of the disciples to preach Him throughout the world. For this was the work of those who were chosen by Him to the office of the Apostleship. But as holy Scripture bears witness, There is a time for every thing. For it was fitting that the cross and resurrection should be accomplished, an d then should follow the preaching of the Apostles; as it is spoken, saying, The Son of man must needs suffer many things.

Ver  23. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.24. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.25. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?26. For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.27. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

CYRIL; Great and noble leaders provoke the mighty in arms to deeds of velour, not only by promising them the honors of victory, but by declaring that suffering is in itself glorious. Such we see is the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. For He had foretold to His disciples, that He must needs suffer the accusations of the Jews, be slain, and rise again on the third day. Lest then they should think that Christ indeed was to suffer persecution for the life of the world, but that they might lead a soft life, He shows them that they must needs pass through similar struggles, if they desired to obtain His glory. Hence it is said, And he said to all.

THEOPHYL; He rightly addressed Himself to all, since He treats of the higher things (which relate to the belief in His birth and passion) apart with His disciples.

CHRYS. Now the Savior of His great mercy and loving kindness will have no one serve Him unwillingly and from constraint, but those only who come of their own accord, and are grateful for being allowed to serve Him. And so not by compelling men and putting a yoke upon them, but by persuasion and kindness, He draws to Him every where those who are willing, saying, If any man will, &c.

BASIL; But He has left His own life for an example of blameless conversation to those who are willing to obey Him; as He says, Come after me, meaning thereby not a following of His body, for that would be impossible to all, since our Lord is in heaven, but a due imitation of His life according to their capacities.

THEOPHYL; Now unless a man renounces himself, he comes not near to Him, who is above him; it is said therefore, Let him deny himself.

BASIL; A denial of one’s self is indeed a total forgetfulness of things past, and a forsaking of his own will ill anti affection

ORIGEN; A man also denies himself when by a sufficient alteration of manners or a good conversation he changes a life of habitual wickedness. He who has long lived in lasciviousness, abandons his lustful self when he becomes chaste, and in like manner a forsaking of any crimes is a denial of one’s self.

BASIL; Now a desire of suffering death for Christ and a mortification of one’s members which are upon the earth, end a manful resolution to undergo any danger for Christ, and an indifference towards the present life, this it is to take up one’s cross. Hence it is added, And let him take up his cross daily.

THEOPHYL. By the cross, He speaks of an ignominious death, meaning, that if any one will follow Christ, he must not for his own sake flee from even an ignominious death.

GREG. In two ways also is the cross taken up, either when the body is afflicted through abstinence, or the mind touched by sympathy.

GREEK EX. He rightly joins these two, Let him deny himself, and let him take up his cross, for as he who is prepared to ascend the cross conceives in his mind the intention of death, and so goes on thinking to have no more part in this life, so he who is willing to follow our Lord, ought first to deny himself, and so take up his cross, that his will may be ready to endure every calamity.

BASIL; Herein then stands a man’s perfection, that he should have his affections hardened, even towards life itself, and have ever about him the answer of death, that he should by no means trust in himself. But perfection takes its beginning from the relinquishment of things foreign to it; suppose these to be possessions or vain-glory, or affection for things that profit not.

THEOPHYL; We are bid then to take up the cross of which we have above spoken, and having taken it, to follow our Lord who bore His own cross. Hence it follows, And let him follow me.

ORIGEN; He assigns the cause of this when He adds, For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; that is, whosoever will according to the present life keep his own soul fixed on things of sense, the same shall lose it, never reaching to the bounds of happiness. But on the other hand He adds, but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, shall save it. That is, whosoever forsakes the things of sense looking upon truth, and exposes himself to death, as it were losing his life for Christ, shall the rather save it. If then it is a blessed thing to save our life, (with regard to that safety which is in God,) there must be also a certain good surrender of life which is made by looking upon Christ. It seems also to me from resemblance to that denying of one’s self which has been before spoken of, that it becomes us to lose a certain sinful life of ours, to take up that which is saved by virtue.

CYRIL; But that incomparable exercise of the passion of Christ, which surpasses the delights and precious things of the world, is alluded to when he adds, What is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world and lose himself, or be a cast away? As if he says, When a man, through his looking after the present delights, gains pleasure, and refuses indeed to suffer, but chooses to live splendidly in his riches, what advantage will he get then, when he has lost his soul? For the fashion of this world passes away, and pleasant things depart as a shadow. For the treasures of ungodliness shall not profit, but righteousness snatches a man from death.

GREG. Since then the holy Church has one time of persecution, another time of peace, our Lord has noticed both times in His command to us. For at the time of persecution we must lay down our soul, that is our life, which He signified, saying, Whosoever shall lose his life. But in time of peace, those things which have the greatest power to subdue us, our earthly desires, must be vanquished; which He signified, saying, What does it profit a man, &c. Now we commonly despise all fleeting things, but still we are so checked by that feeling of shame so common to man, that we are yet unable to express in words the uprightness which we preserve in our hearts.

But to this wound the Lord indeed subjoins a suitable application, saying, For whoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed.

THEOPHYL. He is ashamed of Christ who says, Am I to believe on Him that is crucified? He also is ashamed of His words who despises the simplicity of the Gospel. But of him shall the Lord be ashamed in His kingdom, in the same manner as if a master of a household should have a bad servant, and be ashamed to have him.

CYRIL; Now he strikes fear into their hearts, when He says that He will descend from heaven, not in His former humility and condition proportioned to our capacities for receiving Him, but in the glory of the Father, with the Angels ministering to Him. For it follows, When he shall come in his own glory, and his Father’s, and of the holy angels. Awful then and fatal will it be, to he branded as an enemy, and slothful in business, when so great a Judge shall descend with the armies of Angels standing round Him. But from this you may perceive, that though He has taken to Himself our flesh and blood, the Son is no less God, seeing that He promises to come in the glory of God the Father, and that Angels shall minister to Him as the Judge of all, Who was made man like to us.

AMBROSE; Now our Lord while He ever raises us to look to the future reward of virtue, and teaches us how good it is to despise worldly things, so also He supports the weakness of the human mind by a present recompense. For it is a hard thing to take up the cross, and expose your life to danger and your body to death; to give up what you are, when you wish to be what you are not; and even the loftiest virtue seldom exchanges things present for future. The good Master then, lest any man should be broken down by despair or weariness, straightway promises that He will be seen by the faithful, in these words, But I say to you, There are some standing here who shall not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God.

THEOPHYL. That is, the glory in which the righteous shall be. Now He said this of His transfiguration, which was the type of the glory to come; as if He said, There are some standing here, Peter, James, and John, who shall not reach death before they have seen at the time of My transfiguration what will be the glory of those who confess Me.

GREG. Or, by the kingdom of God in this place, is meant the present Church; and some of His disciples were to live in the body up to that time, when they should behold the Church of God built and raised up against the glory of the world.

AMBROSE; If then we also wish not to fear death, let us stand where Christ is. For they only cannot taste death who are able to stand with Christ, wherein we may consider from the nature of the very word, that they will not experience even the slightest perception of death, who are thought worthy to obtain union with Christ. At least let us suppose that the death of the body is tasted by touch, the life of the soul preserved by possession; for here not the death of the body, but of the soul, is denied.

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March 5: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 11:27-33)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 5, 2011

Ver 27. And they come again to Jerusalem: and as He was walking in the temple, there come to Him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,28. And say unto Him, “By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?”29. And Jesus answered and said unto them, “I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.30. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.”31. And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?32. But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.33. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, “Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Theophylact: They were angry with the Lord, for having cast out of the temple those who had made it a place of merchandize, and therefore they come up to Him, to question and tempt Him.

Wherefore it is said: “And they come again to Jerusalem: and as He was walking in the temple, there come to Him the Chief Priests, and the Scribes, and the elders, and say unto Him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee authority to do these things?”

As if they had said, Who art thou that doest these things? Dost thou make thyself a doctor, and ordain thyself Chief Priest?

Bede: And, indeed, when they say, “By what authority doest thou these things,” they doubt its being the power of God, and wish it to be understood that what He did was the devil’s work. When they add also, “Who gave thee this authority,” they evidently deny that He is the Son of God, since they believe He works miracles, not by His own but by another’s power.

Theophylact: Further, they said this, thinking to bring Him to judgment, so that if He said, by mine own power, they might lay hold upon Him; but if He said, by the power of another, they might make the people leave Him, for they believed Him to be God. But the Lord asks them concerning John, not without a reason, nor in a sophisticated way, but because John had borne witness of Him.

Wherefore there follows: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of me? answer me.”

Bede: The Lord might indeed have  confuted the cavils of his tempters by a direct answer, but prudently puts them a question, that they might be condemned either by their silence or their speaking, which is evident from what is added, “And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?”

As if He had said, He whom you confess to have had his prophecy from heaven bore testimony of Me, and ye have heard from him, by what authority I do these things.  It goes on: “But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people.”

They saw then that whatever they answered, they should fall into a snare; fearing to be stoned, they feared still more the confession of the truth.  Wherefore it goes on: “And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell.”

Pseudo-Jerome: They envied the Lamp, and were in the dark, wherefore it is said, “I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed; his enemies will I clothe with shame.” [Psa_131:17-18]

There follows: “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Bede: As if He had said, I will not tell you what I know, since ye will not confess what ye know. Further, we must observe that knowledge is hidden from those who seek it, principally for two reasons, namely, when he who seeks for it either has not sufficient capacity to understand what he seeks for, or when through contempt for the truth, or some other reason, he is unworthy of having that for which he seeks opened to him.

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