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 14th, 2011

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 25:31-46)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 14, 2011

Ver 31. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:32. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:33. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.34. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:36. Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.37. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?38. When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?39. Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?40. And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.41. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:42. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:43. I was a stranger, and ye took me not in naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.44. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?45. Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”

Raban.: After the parables concerning the end of the world the Lord proceeds to describe the manner of the judgment to come.

Chrys., Hom. lxxix: To this most sweet section of Scripture which we cease not continually to ponder, let us now listen with all attention and compunction of spirit, for Christ does indeed clothe this discourse with more terrors and vividness. He does not accordingly say of this as of the others, “The kingdom of heaven is like,” but shews of Himself by direct revelation, saying, “When the Son of man shall come in his majesty.”

Jerome: He who was within two days to celebrate the passover, to be delivered to the cross, and mocked by men, fitly now holds out the glory of His triumph, that He may overbalance the offences that were to follow by the promise of reward. And it is to be noted, that He who shall be seen in majesty is the Son of Man.

Aug., in Joan Tr., 21: The wicked and they also who shall be set on His right hand shall see Him in human shape, for He shall appear in the judgment in that form which He took on Him from us; but it shall be afterwards that He shall be seen in the form of God, for which all the believers long.

Remig.: These words overthrow the error of those who said that the Lord should not continue in the same form of a servant. By “his majesty,” He means His divinity, in which He is equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Origen: Or, He shall come again with glory, that His body may be such as when He was transfigured on the mount. “His throne” is either certain of the more perfect of the Saints, of whom it is written, “For there are set thrones in judgment;” [Psa_122:5] or certain Angelic Powers of whom it is said, “Thrones or dominions.” [Col_1:16]

Aug., City of God, book xx, ch. 24: He shall come down with the Angels whom He shall call from heavenly places to hold judgment.

Chrys.: “For all his Angels shall be with him” to bear witness to the things wherein they have administered to men’s salvation at His bidding.

Aug., Serm. 351, 8: Or, by Angels here He means men who shall judge with Christ; for Angels are messengers, and such we rightly understand all who have brought tidings of heavenly salvation to men.

Remig.: “And all nations shall be gathered before Him.” These words prove that the resurrection of men shall be real.

Aug., City of God, book xx, ch 24: This gathering shall be executed by the ministry of Angels, as it is said in the Psalm, “Gather to him his saints.” [Psa_50:5]

Origen: Or, we need not understand this of a local gathering together, but that the nations shall be no more dispersed in divers and false dogmas concerning Him. For Christ’s divinity shall be manifested so that not even sinners shall any longer be ignorant of Him. He shall not then shew Himself as Son of God in one place and not in another; as He sought to express to us by the comparison of the lightning. So as long as the wicked know neither themselves nor Christ, or the righteous “see through a glass darkly,” [1Co_13:12] so long the good are not severed from the evil, but when by the manifestation of the Son of God all shall come to the knowledge of Him, then shall the Saviour sever the good from the evil; for then shall sinners see their sins, and the righteous shall see clearly to what end the seeds of righteousness in them have led.

They that are saved are called sheep by reason of that mildness which they have learnt of Him who said, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly,” [Mat_11:29] and because they are ready to go even to death in imitation of Christ, who “was led as a sheep to the slaughter.” [Isa_53:7]

The wicked are called goats, because they climb rough and rugged rocks, and walk in dangerous places.

Chrys.: Or, He calls the one sheep and the other goats, to denote the unprofitableness of the one, and the fruitfulness of the other, for sheep are greatly productive in fleece, milk, and lambs.

Gloss., non occ.: Under the figure of a sheep in Scripture is signified simplicity and innocence. Beautifully then in this place are the elect denoted by sheep.

Jerome: Also the goat is a salacious animal, and was the offering for sins in the Law; and He says not ‘she goats’ which can produce young, and “come up shorn from the washing. [Son_4:2]

Chrys.: Then He separates them in place.

Origen: For the Saints who have wrought right works, shall receive in recompense of their right works the King’s right hand, at which is rest and glory; but the wicked for their evil and sinister deeds have fallen to the left hand, that is, into the misery of torments. Then shall the King say to those who are on “his right hand, Come,” that in whatsoever they are behind they may make it up when they are more perfectly united to Christ. He adds, “ye blessed of my Father,” to shew how eminently blessed they were, being of old “blessed of the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” [Psa_115:15]

Raban.: Or, they are called “blessed,” to whom an eternal blessing is due for their good deserts. He calls it the kingdom of His Father, ascribing the dominion of the kingdom to Him by whom Himself the King was begotten. For by His royal power, with which He shall be exalted alone in that day, He shall pronounce the sentence of judgment, “Then shall the King say.”

Chrys.: Observe that He says not ‘Receive,’ but “possess,” or “inherit,” as due to you from of old.

Jerome: This “prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” is to be understood as of the foreknowledge of God, with whom things to come are as already done.

Aug., City of God, book xx, ch. 9: Besides that kingdom of which He will say in the end, “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you,” though in a very inferior manner, the present Church is also called His kingdom, in the which we are yet in conflict with the enemy until we come to that kingdom of peace, where we shall reign without an enemy.

Aug., Serm. 351, 8: But one will say, I desire not to reign, it is enough for me that I be saved. Wherein they are deceived, first, because there is no salvation for those whose iniquity abounds; and, secondly, because if there be any difference between those that reign, and those that do not reign, yet must all be within the same kingdom, lest they be esteemed for foes or aliens, and perish while the others reign. Thus all the Romans inherit the kingdom of Rome, though all do not reign in it.

Chrys.: For what the Saints obtain the boon of this heavenly kingdom He shews when He adds, “I was an hungred, and ye gave me to eat.”

Remig.: And it is to be noted, that the Lord here enumerates six works of mercy which whoso shall study to accomplish shall be entitled to the kingdom prepared for the chosen from the foundation of the world.

Raban.: Mystically, He who with the bread of the word and the drink of wisdom refreshes the soul hungering and thirsting after righteousness, or admits into the home of our mother the Church him who is wandering in heresy or sin, or who strengthens the weak in faith, such an one discharges the obligations of true love.

Greg., Mor. xxvi, 27: These, to whom as they stand on His right hand the Judge at His coming shall say, “I was an hungred &c.” are they who are judged on the side of the elect, and who reign; who wash away the stains of their life with tears; who redeem former sins by good deeds following; who, whatever unlawful thing they have at any time done, have covered it from the Judge’s eyes by a cloak of alms. Others indeed there are who are not judged, yet reign, who have gone even beyond the precepts of the Law in the perfection of their virtue.

Origen: It is from humility that they declare themselves unworthy of any praise for their good deeds, not that they are forgetful of what they have done. But He shews them His close sympathy with His own.

Raban.: “Lord, when saw we thee &c.” This they say not because they distrust the Lord’s words, but they are in amaze at so great exaltation, and at the greatness of their own glory; or because the good which they have done will seem to them to be so small according to that of the Apostle, “For the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.” [Rom_8:18]

Jerome: It were indeed free to us to understand that it is Christ in every poor man whom we feed when he is hungry, or give drink to when he is thirsty, and so of other things; but when He says, “In that ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren,” He seems to me not to speak of the poor generally, but of the poor in spirit, those to whom He pointed and said, “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother.” [Mat_12:50]

Chrys.: But if they are His brethren, why does He call them “the least?” Because they are lowly, poor, and outcast. By these He means not only the monks who have retired to the mountains, but every believer though he should be secular, though an hungred, or the like, yet He would have him obtain merciful succours, for baptism and communication of the Divine mysteries makes him a brother.

Origen: As He had said to the righteous, “Come ye,” so He says to the wicked, “Depart ye,” for they who keep God’s commandment are near to the Word, and are called that they may be made more near; but they are far from it, though they may seem to stand hard by, who do not His commands; therefore it is said to them, “Depart ye,” that those who seemed to be living before Him, might be no more seen.

It should be remarked, that though He had said to the Saints, “Ye blessed of my Father,” He says not now, “Ye cursed of my Father,” because of all blessing the Father is the author, but each man is the origin of his own curse when he does the things that deserve the curse. They who depart from Jesus fall into eternal fire, which is of a very different kind from that fire which we use. For no fire which we have is eternal, nor even of any long continuance.

And note, that He does not say, ‘the kingdom prepared for the Angels,’ as He does say “everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels;” because He did not, as far as in Him lay, create men to perdition, but sinners yoke themselves to the Devil, so that as they that are saved are made equal to the holy Angels, they that perish are made equal with the Devil’s Angels.

Aug., City of God, xxi, 10: It is hence clear, that the same fire will be appropriated to the punishment of men and of daemons. If then it inflicts pain by corporeal touch, so as to produce bodily torment, how will there be in it any punishment for the evil spirits, unless the daemons have, as some have thought, bodies composed of gross and fluid air. But if any man asserts that the daemons have no bodies, we would not pugnaciously contend the point. For why may we not say, that truly, though wonderfully, even incorporeal spirit can feel pain of corporeal fire? If the spirits of men, though themselves incorporeal, can be now inclosed in bodily limbs, they can then be inseparably attached to the bonds of body. The daemons then will be united to a body of material fire, though themselves immaterial, drawing punishment from their body, not giving life to it. And that fire being material will torture such bodies as ours with their spirits; but the daemons are spirits without bodies.

Origen: Or it may be that fire is of such nature that it can burn invisible substances, being itself invisible, as the Apostle speaks, “The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” [2Co_4:18] Wonder not when you hear that there is afire which though unseen has power to torture, when you see that there is an internal fever which comes upon men, and pains them grievously.

It follows, “I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat.” It is written to the believers, “Ye are the body of Christ.” [1Co_12:27] As then the soul dwelling in the body, though it hungers not in respect of its spiritual substance, yet hungers for the food of the body, because it is yoked to the body; so the Saviour suffers whatever His body the Church suffers, though He Himself be impassible.

And observe how in speaking to the righteous He reckons up their good deeds under their several kinds, but to the unrighteous He cuts short the description under the one head, “I was sick and in prison, and ye visited me not,” because it was the part of a merciful Judge to enlarge and dwell upon men’s good deeds, but to pass lightly and cursorily over their evil deeds.

Chrys.: Observe how they had failed in mercifulness, not in one or two respects only, but in all; not only did they not feed Him when He was hungry, but they did not even visit Him when He was sick, which was easier. And look how light things He enjoins; He said not, “I was in prison,” and ye did not set me free, but, and “ye visited me not.” Also His hunger required no costly dainties, but necessary food.

Each of these counts then is enough for their punishment. First, the slightness of His prayer, viz. for bread; secondly, the destitution of Him who sought it, for He was poor; thirdly, the natural feelings of compassion, for He was a man; fourthly, the expectation of His promise, for He promised a kingdom; fifthly, the greatness of Him who received, for it is God who receives in the poor man; sixthly, the preeminent honour, in that He condescended to take of men; and, seventhly, the righteousness of so bestowing it, for what He takes from us is our own. But avarice blinds men to all these considerations.

Greg.: They to whom this is said are the wicked believers, who are judged and perish; others, being unbelievers, are not judged and perish; for there is no examination of the condition of such as appear before the face of an impartial Judge already condemned by their unbelief; but those who hold the profession of the faith, but have not the works of their profession, are convicted that they may be condemned. These at least bear the words of their Judge, because they have at least kept the words of His faith. The others hear no words of their Judge pronouncing sentence of condemnation, because they have not paid Him honour even in word. For a prince who governs an earthly kingdom punishes after a different manner the rebellion of a subject and the hostile attempts of an enemy; in the former case, he recurs to his prerogative; against an enemy he takes arms, and does not ask what penalty the law attaches to his crime.

Chrys.: Thus convicted by the words of the Judge, they make answer submissively, “Lord, when saw we thee &c.”

Origen: Mark how the righteous dwell upon each word, while the unrighteous answer summarily, and not going through the particular instances; for so it becomes the righteous out of humility to disclaim each individual generous action, when imputed to them publicly; whereas bad men excuse their sins, and endeavour to prove them few and venial.

And Christ’s answer conveys this. And to the righteous He says, “In that ye did it to my brethren,” to shew the greatness of their good deeds; to the sinners He says only, “to one of the least of these,” not aggravating their sin. For they are truly His brethren who are perfect; and a deed of mercy shewn to the more holy is more acceptable to God than one shewn to the less holy; and the sin of overlooking the less holy is less than of overlooking the more holy.

Aug., City of God, book xx, ch. 1: He is now treating of the last judgment, when Christ shall come from heaven to judge the quick and dead. This day of the Divine judgment we call the Last Day, that is, the end of time; for we cannot tell through how many days that judgment will be prolonged; but day, as is the use of holy Scripture, is put for time. And we therefore call it the last or latest judgment, because He both now judges and has judged from the beginning of the human race, when He thrust forth the first man from the tree of life, and spared not the Angels that sinned. But in that final judgment both men and Angels shall be judged together, when the Divine power shall bring each man’s good and evil deeds in review before his memory, and one intuitive glance shall present them to the perception, so that at once we shall be condemned or acquitted in our consciences.

Ver 46. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

Aug., de Fid. et Op. 15: Some deceive themselves, saying, that the fire indeed is called everlasting, but not the punishment. This the Lord foreseeing, sums up His sentence in these words.

Origen: Observe that whereas He put first the invitation, “Come, ye blessed,” and after that, “Depart, ye cursed,” because it is the property of a merciful God to record the good deeds of the good, before the bad deeds of the bad; He now reverses the order, describing first the punishment of the wicked, and then the life of the good, that the terrors of the one may deter us from evil, and the honour of the other incite us to good.

Greg., Mor. xv, 19: If he who has not given to others is visited with so heavy a punishment, what shall he get who is convicted of having robbed others of their own.Aug., City of God, book xix, ch. 11: Eternal life is our chief good, and the end of the city of God, of which the Apostle speaks, “And the end everlasting life.” [Rom_6:22] But because eternal life might be understood by those who are not well versed in Holy Scripture, to mean also the life of the wicked, because of the immortality of their souls, or because of the endless torments of the wicked; therefore we must call the end of this City in which the chief good shall be attained, either peace in life eternal, or life eternal in peace, that it may be intelligible to all.

Aug., de Trin. i, 8: That which the Lord spoke to His servant Moses, “I am that I am,” [Exo_3:14] this we shall contemplate when we shall live in eternity. For thus the Lord speaks, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true [p. 869] God. [Joh_17:3] This contemplation is promised to us as the end of all action, and the eternal perfection of our joys, of which John speaks, “We shall see him as he is.” [1Jo_3:2]

Jerome: Let the thoughtful reader observe that punishments are eternal, and that that continuing life has thenceforward no fear of fall.

Greg., Mor xxxiv, 19: They say that He held out empty terrors to deter them from sin. We answer, if He threatened falsely to check unrighteousness, then He promised falsely to promote good conduct. Thus while they go out of the way to prove God merciful, they are not afraid to charge Him with fraud. But, they urge, finite sin ought not to be visited with infinite punishment; we answer, that this argument would be just, if the righteous Judge considered men’s actions, and not their hearts. Therefore it belongs to the righteousness of an impartial Judge, that those whose heart would never be without sin in this life, should never be without punishment.

Aug., City of God, book xxi, ch. 11: And the justice of no law is concerned to provide that the duration of each man’s punishment should be the same with the sin which drew that punishment upon him. There never was any man, who held that the torment of him, who committed a murder or adultery, should be compressed within the same space of time as the commission of the act. And when for any enormous crime a man is punished with death, does the law estimate his punishment by the delay that takes place in putting him to death, and not rather by this, that they remove him for ever from the society of the living? And fines, disgrace, exile, slavery, when they, are inflicted without any hopes of mercy, do they not seem like eternal punishments in proportion to the length of this life? They are only therefore not eternal, because the life which suffers them is not itself eternal.

But they say, How then is that true which Christ says, “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again,” [Mat_7:2] if temporal sin is punished with eternal pain? They do not observe that this is said with a view, not to the equality of the period of time, but of the retribution of evil, i.e. that he that has done evil should suffer evil. Man was made worthy of everlasting evil, because he destroyed in himself that good which might have eternal.

Greg.: But they Say, no just man takes pleasure in cruelties, and the guilty servant was scourged to correct his fault. But when the wicked are given over to hell fire, to what purpose shall they burn there for ever? We reply, that Almighty God, seeing He is good, does not delight in the torments of the wretched; but forasmuch as He is righteous, He ceases not from taking vengeance on the wicked; yet do the wicked burn not without some purpose, namely, that the righteous may acknowledge how they are debtors for eternity to Divine grace, when they see the wicked suffering for eternity misery, which themselves have escaped only by the assistance of that Divine grace.

Aug., City of God, book xxi, ch. 3: But, they assert, nobody can be at once capable of suffering pain, and incapable of death. It must be that one live in pain, but it need not be that pain kill him; for not even these mortal bodies die from every pain; but the reason that some pain causes their death is, that the connection between the soul and our present body is such that it gives way to extreme pain. But then the soul shall be united to such a body, and in such a way, that no pain shall be able to overcome the connection. There will not then be no death, but an everlasting death, the soul being unable to live, as being without God, and equally unable to rid itself of the pains of body by dying. Among these impugners of the eternity of punishment, Origen is the most merciful, who believed that the Devil himself and his Angels, after sufferings proportioned to their deserts, and a long endurance, should be delivered from those torments, and associated with the holy Angels.

But for these and other things he was not undeservedly rebuked by the Church, because even his seeming mercy was thrown away, making for the saints real pains in which their sins were to be expiated, and fictitious blessedness, if the joys of the good were not to be secure and endless.

In quite another way does the mercy of others err through their humane sympathies, who think that the sufferings of those men who are condemned by this sentence will be temporal, but that the happiness of those who are set free sooner or later will be eternal. Why does their charity extend to the whole race of man, but dries up when they come to the angelic race?

Greg.: But they say, How can they be called Saints, if they shall not pray for their enemies whom they see then burning? They do indeed pray for their enemies so long as there is any possibility of converting their hearts to a profitable penitence, but how shall they pray for them when any change from their wickedness is no longer possible?

Aug., City of God, book xxi, ch. 19, 20, &c.: So some there are who hold out liberation from punishment not to all men, but to those only who have been washed in Christ’s Baptism, and have been partakers of His Body, let them have lived as they will; because of that which the Lord speaks, “If any man eat of this bread, he shall not die eternally.” [Joh_6:51] Again, others promise this not to all who have Christ’s sacrament, but to Catholics only, however ill their lives, who have eaten Christ’s Body, not in sacrament only, but in verity, (inasmuch as they are set in the Church, which is His Body,) even though they should afterwards have fallen into heresy or idolatry of the Gentiles.

And others again, because of what is written above, “He that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved,” [Matt 24:!3] promise this only to those who persevere in the Catholic Church, that by the worthiness of their foundation, that is, of their faith, they shall be saved by fire. All these the Apostle opposes when he says, “The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, uncleanness, fornication, and the like; of which I tell you before, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Whoever in his heart prefers temporal things to Christ, Christ is not his foundation, though he seem to have the faith of Christ. How much more then is he, who has committed things unlawful, convicted of not preferring Christ, but preferring other things to Him? I have also met with some who thought that only those would burn in eternal torments who neglected to give alms proportioned to their sins; and for this reason they think that the Judge Himself here mentions nothing else that He shall make enquiry of, but of the giving or not giving alms. But whoso gives alms worthily for his sins, first begins with himself; for it were unmeet that he should not do that to himself which be does to others when be has heard the words of God, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” [Mat_22:39] and hears likewise, “Be merciful to thy soul in pleasing God?” [Ecc_30:24]

He then who does not to his own soul this alms of pleasing God, how can he be said to give alms meet for his sins? Why we are to give alms thenis only that when we pray for mercy for sins past, we may be heard; not that we may purchase thereby license for continuing in sin.

And the Lord forewarns us that He will put alms done on the right hand, and on the left alms not done, to shew us how mighty are alms to do away former sins, not to give impunity to a continuance in sin.

Origen: Or, It is not one kind of righteousness only that is rewarded, as many think. In whatsoever matters any one does Christ’s commands, be gives Christ meat and drink, Who feeds ever upon the truth and righteousness of His faithful people. So do we weave raiment for Christ when cold, when taking wisdom’s web, we inculcate upon others, and put upon them bowels of mercy. Also when we make ready with divers virtues our heart for receiving Him, or those who are His, we take Him in a stranger into the home of our bosom. Also when we visit a brother sick either in faith or in good works, with doctrine, reproof, or comfort, we visit Christ Himself. Moreover, all that is here, is the prison of Christ, and of them that are His, who live in this world, as though chained in the prison of natural necessity. When we do a good work to these, we visit them in prison, and Christ in them.

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March 14: Meditation for the First Monday of Lent

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 14, 2011

He was in the desert forty days and forty nights : and
was tempted by Satan. Mark 1:13

1. It was by Christ s own will that he was exposed to the temptation by the devil, as it was also by his own will that he was exposed to be slain by the limbs of the devil. Had He not so willed, the devil would never have dared to approach him.

The devil is always more disposed to attack those who are alone, because, as is said in Sacred Scripture, If a man shall prevail against one, two shall withstand him easily (Eccles 4:12). That is why Christ went out into the desert, as one going out to a battle-ground, that there he might be tempted
by the devil. Whereupon St. Ambrose says that Christ went into the desert for the express purpose of provoking the devil. For unless the devil had fought, Christ would never have overcome him for me.

St. Ambrose gives other reasons too. He says that Christ chose the desert as the place to be tempted for a hidden reason, namely that he might free from his exile Adam who, from Paradise, was driven into the desert; and again that he did it for a reason in which there is no mystery, namely to show us that the devil envies those who are tending towards a better life.

2. We say with St. Chrysostom that Christ exposed himself to the temptation because the devil most of all tempts those whom he sees alone. So in the very beginning of things he tempted the woman, when he found her away from her husband. It docs not however follow from this that a man ought to throw himself into any occasion of temptation that presents itself.

Occasions of temptation are of two kinds. One kind arises from man’s own action, when, for example, man himself goes near to sin, not avoiding the occasion of sin. That such occasions are to be avoided we know, and Holy Scripture reminds us of it. Stay not in any part of the country round about Sodom (Gen 19:17). The second kind of occasion arises from the devil’s constant envy of those who are tending to better things, as St. Ambrose says, and this occasion of temptation is not one we must avoid. So, according to St. John Chrysostom, not only Christ was led into the desert by the Holy Ghost, but all the children of God wiio possess the Holy Ghost are led in like manner. For God’s children are never content to sit down with idle hands, but the Holy Ghost ever urges them to undertake for God some great work. And this, as far as the devil is concerned, is to go into the desert, for in the desert there is none of that wickedness which is the devil s delight. Every good work is as it were a desert to the eye of the world and of our flesh, for good works are contrary to the desire of the world and of our flesh.

To give the devil such an opportunity of temptation as this is not dangerous, for it is much more the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, who is the promoter of every perfect work, that prompts us than the working of the devil who hates them all.

The above is based upon the Summa Theologiæ, Tertia Pars, Q. 41, art. 2. It was prepared by Fr. Philip Hughes and is in the public domain.

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Juan de Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 17:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 14, 2011

Mat 17:1  And after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart:

After six days. REFERRING to the same period, S. Mark (9:2) and S. Luke (9:28) say that these events took place after eight days. The difficulty is answered by S. Jerome, S. Chrysostom, Bede, Theophylact, and Euthymius on the passage, and by S. Augustin (De Consens., ii. 56) by the assertion that S. Matthew and S. Mark have not counted the day on which the events happened, but S. Luke has ; that S. Matthew and S. Mark count the time exclusively and S. Luke inclusively of the two days on which the events happened ; or that possibly S. Luke only wrote generally, and therefore said “about eight days”.

Taketh. Many questions may here be asked.

1. Why Christ chose to be transfigured? To this question S. Hilary, S. Chrysostom, and Euthymius reply that it was to console the disciples when they should be grieved at His death; Theophylact, that it was to preserve the truth of His words (21:27), that He would come in the glory of His Father. Either of these opinions is more probable than that of the heretics, that Christ wished to show that His death would not be by compulsion, but of His own free-will, as He was the Lord of so much glory.

2. The next question is, why He was not transfigured in the sight of all the disciples ? The answer is easily seen in verse 9, where He commanded those three Apostles, who had seen His glory, not to inform any person of the vision till the Son of man had risen from the dead ; for Christ would not have His glory published for the reasons there given.

3. The third question is, why was His glory shown to three witnesses, and neither more nor fewer ? Probably because He wished that there should be some witnesses of His future glory ; for “in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall stand” (Dent, 29:15; Matt, 18:16). In addition, it may be said that He had three disciples more especially capable of receiving His secrets. These three He used to take with Him on His more private occasions (as in Matt 16:37).

4. The fourth question is, why He pleased to show this spectacle to these rather than to the others ? One reason has already been given; another is that Peter was both the first of the Apostles and loved Him most of all. He Himself loved S. John the most. S. James was the next after S. Peter, and the most ardent in faith. As such, he was the first put to death by Herod (Acts 12:2). This reason is given by Origen (Tract, iii. on S. Matt.}, S. Ambrose (On S. Luke ix.), S. Augustin (On Galat. ii.), S. Jerome, Theophylact, and Euthymius (in their Commentaries). SS. Ambrose and Augustin are mistaken in saying that this James was the brother of the Lord ; for the Evangelist says that He was the brother of John, and the son of Zebedee.

Into a high mountain. The Evangelists do not say what mountain this was, nor apparently does any ancient author of credit. It was long the opinion that it was Mount Tabor, which S. Jerome says, in his Loc. Hebr,, was in the midst of the plains of Galilee, and was very lofty and round in shape. Whether it were this or some other, we may ask why Christ went up into a mountain to display His glory ? One reason is found in 5. Luke 9:28. He says that Christ went up to pray. He was accustomed, for this purpose, to ascend mountains, where the solitude was greater and more complete, and there was a wider view of the heavens (S. Mark 6:46 ; 5. Luke 6:12). The words of S. Luke, “He went up to pray,” are not perhaps to be taken as if He went up with that intention, but because in all events of great importance it was His custom to commence with prayer ; and He probably did not inform the Apostles when He went apart from them that He was going up the mountain for His Transfiguration, but for prayer, lest He might give occasion for envy to those who were left below. The glory of God has most frequently been shown from mountains, which are nearer to heaven and more remote from men. So the majesty of God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exod 19:11), and was, as S. Hilary says, a type of the Transfiguration.

Mat 17:2  And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow.

And He was transfigured before them. We should observe, as S. Jerome says, that Christ did not change the nature of His body, but only the external form and appearance.

As snow. Almost all the Greek copies read, “as light,” our version says, “as snow” as do some Greek copies. This reading is probably the correct one, both because S. Mark (9:3) has it, and S. Hilary and almost all ancient writers concur, and because the comparison is more just and more common. For we do not compare whiteness to the sun, but to snow; and what is bright to the sun. The glory of the blessed also is prefigured by white robes, as in Apoc. 1:14; 3:4, 5, 18 ;  4:4 ; 6:11 ; 7:9, 13 ; 19:14.

Mat 17:3  And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him.

Moses and Elias. We may reasonably enquire why Christ wished for the presence of these witnesses from the other world. S. Hilary says that it was to confirm the doctrine of the Resurrection, by the restoration to life of Moses. But the question here was not of the Resurrection, but of the future kingdom of Christ. There appear to have been two reasons : one, that the Apostles might not think the thing a fiction ; the other, that the future kingdom of Christ might be represented to the life, at the advent of which two witnesses are mentioned by S. John (Apoc 11:3) as about to be sent. The reason of these two having been chosen rather than any others, is held by all ancient authors to have been that the Law might be represented by Moses, and the Prophets by Elias ; and that the Law and the Prophets tend towards Christ, and have their fulfilment and termination in Him. So Tertullian, iv., Cont Marcion. From this he refutes these heretics, showing that Christ was not contrary to the Law and the Prophets. S. Hilary, S. Jerome, Bede, Euthymius (in loc.)  S. Ambrose (On S. Luke ix.), S. Augustin (De Quinq. Hæres., vii.), and in another place S. Chrysostom and Euthymius, give as reasons that both Moses and Elias worked many miracles, and that, as some said that Christ was Elias, others one of the ancient prophets, and Moses was the most ancient, Christ, to show that He was the Lord of life, brought up the still living Elias, and Moses, who was dead, as His witnesses. It is probable, as S. Jerome says, that Christ was willing to gratify the Scribes and Pharisees who had demanded a sign from heaven, and He, therefore, called Elias from heaven, and Moses from Hades (de Inferno]. Others, as Euthymius, say that the disciples might imiate the meekness of Moses and the zeal of Elias. Tertullian (Adv. Prax) thinks that the promise of God in Numbers 12:8, that He would speak with Moses face to face, was fulfilled here.

The truest reason of the appearance of Moses and Elias would, perhaps, appear to be that which a learned Doctor of the Church of our own times has signified : that Christ was to represent the image of His second coming. But before this, Moses and Elias would come, as is clearly to be gathered from Apoc 9:3: “And I will give unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire shall come out of their mouths, and shall devour their enemies ; and if any man will hurt them, in this manner must he be slain. These have power to shut heaven that it rain not in the days of their prophecy, and they have power over waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues as often as they will.” In these words Moses is openly described.

We may ask whether they truly appeared ? That they did so is the opinion of all the authorities except Strabus and S. Thomas. The former (On S. Luke ix.), thinks that the appearance was not of themselves, but of their similitudes. The latter, in his comments on the passage, imagines that Elias, indeed, who was not dead, was truly present ; but that Moses, who was dead, did not appeartruly and perfectly, but that his soul alone did so, taking not his own but some other body. The opinion of all others is more probable, that each was present truly and each wholly. It was not fitting that the truth should be
proved by a falsehood ; and it is agreeable to reason that as Christ showed not a false and shadowy, but His true and express glory, so that it should be confirmed not by false and imaginary, but by true witnesses. It has been asked how the Apostles could recognise Moses and Elias, whom they had never seen ? Euthymius answers that their forms had been well described in the ancient books of the Hebrews, or were familiar from tradition. Theophylact supposes that the Apostles might have known them from the conversations they carried on. Moses might have said:”Thou art He whose Passion I prefigured in the Lamb which was slain, and in the Passover which I celebrated”. And Elias, perhaps: “Thou art He whose Resurrection I foreshadowed in the widow s son whom I raised to life”. S. Luke (9:30, 31) relates that there were conversations among them, but not on these subjects:

“And behold two men were talking with Him, and they were Moses and Elias appearing in majesty, and they spoke of His decease which He should accomplish in Jerusalem”. They did this probably to confirm what Christ had said just before of His coming death, and that the Apostles might no longer be offended. Again, it may have been, as many think, that the Apostles knew them by inward inspiration. S. Luke says that Peter and they who were with him were heavy with sleep, which S. Chrysostom supposes to have been not true sleep, but a stupor closely resembling sleep ; for how could they sleep in the midst of so much glory ? Unless, perhaps, in the meantime they began to sleep, whilst Christ was praying, as they did at the Passover ; and by divine permission, that in the mean while Moses and Elias might come. S. Luke appears to point to this when he says: “And waking, they saw His glory, and the two men that stood with Him”.

Mat 17:4  And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

Answering, Let us make here three tabernacles. “Answering” is a Hebraism for “speaking”. S. Peter said nothing of himself or the other Apostles, he only spoke of Christ, Moses, and Elias. It has been doubted why he wished to make tabernacles there, and to remain in the place. S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius say that it was for fear of the Jews, lest Christ, as He had said before, should fall into their hands, whilst they would be safe on the top of the mountain, and, if needs were, be defended by Moses and Elias, the former of whom destroyed the Egyptians and Amalekites, and the latter two or three centurions, with their soldiers, by calling down fire from heaven. But this idea seems hardly worthy of S. Peter. The true reason seems to have been that which S. Peter himself gave: It is good for us to be here”. Some explain the word “good” as used here, as meaning not useful and safe, but pleasant. The glorious company of Christ, Moses, and Elias pleased S. Peter, and he supposed that he himself and the other two would enjoy it, if they remained on the mountain always. There seems another reason. S. Luke (9:33) says that S. Peter said this when he saw Moses and Elias departing, and he was grieved, and wished to remain there always.

Mat 17:5  And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him.

Behold a bright cloud. The majesty of God is frequently revealed from clouds (Exod 16:10; 19:9, et passim ; and David, Ps 1075). To vindicate His majesty, Christ will come on the clouds to judgment (sup., xxiv. 30 ; xxvi. 64).

It is easy to see why this should be so. A. cloud is of heaven. The divine majesty was therefore declared by a cloud, that so God who spoke, and who is the ruler of the heavens, might be shown to be true, and not false nor earthly. This is the reason why the cloud here descended, that the voice which said from heaven, “This is My beloved Son,” might be believed to have been no other than the voice of God, as Euthymius says. It might have been, as S. Ambrose suggests, a cloud interposed between the Apostles and heaven, to enable them to endure the majesty of God speaking to them, as was the case with Moses when God spoke to him through a cloud. S. Chrysostom and Theophylact have observed that this cloud was bright, and not like that in the Old Testament, dark and black, because God came down now, not to terrify, but to teach. It may more probably have been because the brightness might agree with the subject in hand, the glory and transfiguration of Christ.

And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying. S. Chrysostom rightly observes that this cloud was sent after Moses and Elias had departed, that without doubt it might be referred to no other than Christ.

This is My beloved Son. SS. Ambrose and Jerome think that there should be an emphasis on the word “This,” as if the meaning were, “Not Moses, and not Elias, but this is My beloved Son”. There seems indeed to be an emphasis on the word, but a different one. For the Apostles did not doubt that not Moses, nor Elias, but Christ, was the Son of the living God, when a little before, when they had not yet beheld the glory of Christ, Peter had confessed it. There was no need, therefore, that Christ should be distinguished from Moses and Elias by a voice from heaven.

The emphasis, then, is as follows. This that is, He whom you have seen like the sun and full of glory is My Son. For this voice was not sent to teach the disciples that Christ was the Son of God, but to show them in what likeness He would come again, and to confirm what Christ had said (Matt 16:27): “The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels”; and to approve the confession of S. Peter (v. 16) : “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,” that he might be a more sure witness of the future kingdom of Christ; as he himself testifies (2 Pet. i. 18): “This voice we heard brought from heaven when we were with Him in the holy mount”.

Hear ye Him. God appointed, or at least showed, that Christ was their Lawgiver, and was to be obeyed. “To hear” means, in Hebrew, “to obey” (Heb. 1:6). Tertullian (v., Marcion, lib. iv.) explains it thus: “Hear Him, that is, not Moses nor Elias, as if in this place the Law and the Prophets were done away”. The followers of Calvin would have us fix these words in our minds as if we should listen to none besides, but to Christ Himself only. It were to be wished that their advice were followed more carefully, and that men would listen to no heretics at all. We should never have any such, then, for our guides, and they would have none to listen to them.

Mat 17:6  And the disciples hearing fell upon their face, and were very much afraid.
Mat 17:7  And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them: Arise, and fear not.

Mat 17:8  And they lifting up their eyes, saw no one, but only Jesus

Fell upon their face. The followers of Calvin explain this wrongly. They say that the Apostles fell on their faces to pay worship, for the Hebrew words nâphal pânı̂ym  mean this. This is frequently the case, but not always. For (1 Sam 17:49) Goliath fell on his face, but not to worship, but as dying; and Daniel (8:18; 10:9) did the same, but not to worship, but as amazed and terrified by the vision. In the present instance this meaning cannot be received; for the Evangelist (verse 7) has stated why they so fell. Hence it is clear that they were as lifeless, or half-dead ; and Christ is said to have touched them, as we touch those who are in great prostration, to restore them to themselves. They fell down, then, from fear, not veneration. But why did they fear? Who that heard God speaking would not fear? (Ps 38:4, 5, 6; Amos 3:8).

Mat 17:9  And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.

Verse 9. Tell the vision to no man. They were probably prohibited, as S. Jerome and Bede think, from speaking of what had happened, that they might not inform the people at large of it; for no evil could have happened from the other Apostles knowing of it ; and there would have been this good, that they would have been the more confirmed in faith, whilst if the multitude had been informed of it, the unhappy result might have followed which has been mentioned before (16:20). For they who had heard of Christ s glory, if they had subsequently beheld His Crucifixion, might have thought themselves deceived as it were by a false report of His glory, and have fallen away from faith. So think S. Chrysostom, Euthymius, S. Jerome, Bede, and Theophylact. It appears more in accordance with the Gospel that Christ did not desire even the other Apostles to know it. (Vide Mark 9:1o; Luke 9:36.)

Till the Son of man be risen from the dead. Why this was not to be revealed before has been explained already. Why Christ wished it to be known afterwards is clear. The evil that might have happened before could not have happened subsequently, and the Gospel was then to be published everywhere.

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Maldonado Commentary on Matthew 25:31-46)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 14, 2011

I’m using in this post the text of the RSV which is under copyright:

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Mat 25:31  And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty.

When the Son of man shall come in His majesty. Such seems to be the explanation of the foregoing parable. Christ says that in the judgment He will take account of His servants (Matt 25:19). Why Christ is called the Son of man has been explained (see commentary on Matt 8:20).

In His majesty. That is, to show His majesty, which, when He spoke these words, He had not shown. Christ here contrasts the present with the future, and His second coming with His first. What SS. Chrysostom and Jerome say is very probable, that Christ spoke of His future majesty and glory because He was to come long after His death, so as that these might compensate for His present weakness, and that He might elevate the minds of His disciples, lest they should fail in faith, which, as has before been observed, they had done.

And all the angels with Him. Christ says this both to show that all the angels were His, and to place the majesty of His future coming before the eyes of the disciples. For as all the ministers precede the king when he is going on a procession of state, so all the angels will accompany Christ when He comes to judgment. They will all come, as S. Chrysostom thinks, as witnessing the actions of those who are to be called to judgment; as S. Paul says (Heb 1:14).

Then shall He sit. This does not mean that He will not so sit before: for He is sitting even now at the right hand of the Father, which is the seat of majesty; but it is an antithesis between the time of the second advent and the first, when these words were spoken. For He had not then sat on the seat of His majesty. He spoke not of truth, but of the future demonstration! of His majesty; but He is truly sitting now. Men do not see Him sitting; but they shall see Him then, and thus it is that He says, Then shall He sit.

Upon the seat of His majesty. δοξης αυτου; of His glory: a Hebraism for His glorious seat. Origen (Tract xxxiv. on S. Matt.) takes the seat to be either the perfection and virtues of the saints, because Christ will come accompanied by them, an opinion which is approved by The Author; or the angels, who are, therefore, called Thrones (Col 1:16; Ps 99:1; Ps 80:2; Ps 18:11). Bede thinks it the Church as being Christ’s tribunal. These views have an air of probability, but they are rather allegorical than literal.

The meaning may be that Christ will sit upon some bright cloud, because (1st) He was so taken up into heaven (Acts 1:9), and it was said that He would so come again; though this may possibly refer not so much to the manner of His return as to its truth; (2nd) because it is everywhere said that He would come on the clouds of heaven (Matt 24:30; Matt 26:64); and (3rd) because the Divine Majesty seems always to have been shown through a cloud; as Matt 17:5; Ex 16:10.

Mat 25:32  And all nations shall be gathered together before him: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats:

And all nations shall be gathered together before Him. Origen raised the question whether all nations will be gathered together, or only those who were then among the living, or only Christians; and, if these, whether all or only those then living? He and Euthymius think that it will be only Christians, because the rest have already been judged; as S. John 3:18, He that doth not believe is already judged, says. Bede thinks that there are four classes of men. 1. Some who will not be judged, but will judge, as the Apostles, to whom it was said (Matt 19:28): I say to you that you, who have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of His majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel; and S. Paul says (1 Cor 6:3), Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?

2. Others who will be judged, but will not judge, yet they will be saved; as those to whom it was said, Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

3. Those who will neither judge, nor be judged, but will perish; of whom it was said (Ps 1:5), Therefore the wicked shall not rise again in judgment, nor sinners in the council of the just.

4. Those who will not judge but will be judged, and being condemned in the judgment, will perish, of whom will be said (verses 41, 42): Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave Me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me not to drink.

Scripture says everywhere that all men shall appear before the judgment-seat of Christ (Rom 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10). The words of S. John, He that believeth not is condemned already (Jn 3:18), signify merely that his case is so clear that there is no need for his being brought to judgment at all: for in not believing he condemns himself; as in Titus 3:11. It has been objected that such sayings as (Matt 25:35) For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in, and the opposite (verses 42, 43) cannot apply to all men: for many will be condemned who never saw Christ hungry, and who never knew Him, and were ignorant that the poor represented Him; and again, that infants who must either be saved or not, and who will not be saved because they fed Christ when He was hungry, nor be condemned for not having done so, will not therefore be brought into judgment. There is one easy and obvious answer to this and all such questions. Christ here puts one class for the whole race, as we often do; and thus He will not say to all who will be saved, I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat, nor to all who will be condemned the contrary, but only to some; for by this example He intended to teach simply that He will neither save nor condemn men rashly, nor without most just reasons, declared openly and publicly, and before all men. Infants, therefore, and all men, believers or not, will be judged, and the reason of the salvation or condemnation of each will be given. If it is asked why Christ said  all nations, rather than all men, the reason may be that all nations may have been used to give weight to the assertion, and to show not only numbers but varieties, as in tending to increase the majesty of the Judge when it will be seen that He comes as the Judge of all the different nations.

Mat 25:33  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on His left. Beyond question, the sheep are the good, and the goats the wicked; but why they should be so seems doubtful. Origen, Euthymius, and Theophylact think the sheep are the good, as being gentle; and the goats the wicked because they are rough, and climb precipitous places, that is, do not walk in the straight paths. SS. Hilary and Chrysostom, Euthymius and Theophylact, think that the sheep are the good, because they are profitable, and the goats are the contrary. It may be because Christ had before used the figure of sheep and goats, as He had in the preceding verse, All nations shall be gathered together before Him, and He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: understanding the good by the sheep, and the evil by the goats, because sheep are better than goats. For the same reason He says that He will place the sheep on the right hand, as the place of honour, and the goats on the left; as S. Hilary says, whose opinion seems preferable to that of Origen, S. Jerome, Bede, and The Author, who think that the good are placed on the right hand and the evil on the left, because, in Holy Scriptures, the good is signified by the right, and the evil by the left; as in Ecclesiastes 10:2: The heart of a wise man is in his right hand, and the heart of a fool in his left hand.

The question is often asked where those infants will be who die unbaptised, and who would be condemned, not for any works of their own, but from their sinful origin. They will assuredly be placed on the left hand, as the others, who will be placed on the right, will be saved, not for their own good works, but because of the grace of their baptism. But in the judgment, as appears ex sententia, the question will be only of good and evil works. This I firmly deny, for the merits of each will be weighed, and these do not always consist of acts done, but sometimes in intention alone, or in grace alone. But, as has been said, it was not the intention of Christ to explain all the reasons of the salvation of some and the condemnation of others, but to give an example only of one kind from which the rest may be concluded.

Mat 25:34  Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Then shall the king say, Christ has not called Himself a king before, but a man, or the Son of man; and, in S. Luke 14:12, a nobleman, who was going to a far country to obtain a kingdom. But He now calls Himself a king, because He is speaking of the time when He will have received the kingdom and come back again; and, again, because He had not spoken of royal dignity before; now that He has done so, He rightly styles Himself a king.

To them that shall be at His right hand. Christ begins from the more honourable, as observing the custom of men: or, as The Author says, He begins with those who are on the right hand, that is, with the good, because He is more ready to save than to condemn.

Come. Christ calls them to Him, because He wishes to make them partakers of His kingdom; as in S. John 12:26. Because then He had received possession of His Father’s kingdom, He calls His servants to the same; for He speaks as if immediately about to return to Him, and He desires His servants to follow Him.

Ye blessed of My Father. Some explain this to mean those on whom the Father has heaped many blessings, because to bless most frequently means in Scripture to confer blessings on. But this does not seem satisfactory, because it does not seem possible to understand the words of past blessings, which may perhaps have been given in greater abundance to many of the condemned; but they apparently refer to the future glory to which Christ invites them. It is the same, then, as if Christ had said, Blessed of My Father, and as such to have the gift of eternal life; as Matt 21:9. When the people said to Christ, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, they did not speak of grace received, but they prayed for that which was to be given to them by God. Nor does their opinion seem sound who refer the words to predestination, as if the reason of their salvation were tacitly implied, that they are blessed of the Father because they were predestinated by Him.

Possess you the kingdom prepared for you.  κληρονομησατε; that is, possess you your inheritance. The followers of Calvin speak as if these words destroyed all idea of merit. For they say, if it is heirship, it is not reward (merces), and is not given to labour or merit, but to birth (origini) as we are the sons of God, and if sons, then heirs (Rom 8:17). We are sons by faith, but with them heresy is faith, and thus everything falls in nihilum.

But these cannot deny that eternal life is called in Scripture reward; so Matt 5:12; Matt 6:1, Matt 10:41-42; Matt 20:8; 1 Cor 3:8; 1 Cor 3:141 Cor 9:18; Rev 11:18; Rev 22:12. They answer that it is called reward not because it is such, but because it is given like a reward after labour; but given post laborem, non propter laborem, after labour, not because of labour.

If there were no other passage but this, it would be clear that eternal life is given not only post opera (after work), but propter opera (because of), and is therefore truly and properly a reward. In the same manner, in the same context, in the same words, in the same sense, it is said to the good, Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and ye gave Me to eat, &c. And to the wicked, Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry, and ye gave Me not to eat, &c. It is clear that not merely the consequence, as the above heretics say, but the true cause is shown. They are condemned because they truly and properly deserved it; for when Christ was hungry they fed Him not. When, therefore, it is said to the good, Come, ye blessed of the Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you: for I was hungry, and ye gave Me to eat, not only the consequence, but the cause and merit are given, as may indeed be proved more clearly from some other passages. For that it is properly a reward the heretics themselves are forced to confess, and given not only post (after) but propter laborem (because of  work). That it is so given we know from the fact that to the greater labour is given the greater reward, and to the less labour the less reward. S. Paul testifies that in this way life eternal is given (1 Cor 3:8): Everyone shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. What is this but to say that he who has laboured more shall receive a greater, and he who has laboured less shall receive a less, reward? Besides, when Christ said (Matt 10:41), He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive the reward of a prophet, who in his senses can doubt that He distinguished between a greater and a less reward in the reception of a prophet and a righteous man, as it is an act of greater merit to receive a prophet than a righteous man? These persons, then, should have no difficulty in understanding why eternal life is called both a reward and an heirship reward, because given to desert: heirship, because given to sons. But they are deceived by thinking God to be like men, among whom heirships are often given rashly, and without judgment, to good sons and to bad sons. But God does not act thus. He gives the kingdom of heaven only to His sons, because His sons only have merited it; and not only as they are sons, but as they are worthy. He, therefore, does not give an equal part to all; but the better part to the more deserving, as a wise father does. S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius have observed that the word κληρονομησατε has the force, not of the receipt of a thing in any manner whatever, but as an heirship, as a proprium, as a debitum, because they assert the freedom of the will and the merits of good works. Calvin often calls them philosophers.

The kingdom prepared for you. That is, predestinated, as in Matt 20:23, where the pronouns vobis, “to you”, and quidas,  “for whom”, have the same force as vobis, “for you,” here ; so that the meaning is for you merit it, as there, for whom it is prepared, that is, for those who merit it; for the causal particle for in the next verse is to be referred, as is thought, here,  For I was hungry: the meaning being,  “Possess ye the kingdom which the Father hath prepared for you, because I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat,” as S. Chrysostom and S. Jerome explain. But the subject of Christ’s words is rather the cause of the glorification of the saved than of their predestination, as the antithesis shows: Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. But Christ does not say here why fire was prepared for these from eternity, but why they were sent into it. In fact He says that the fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. In the same manner are to be understood the words following: Come, possess ye the kingdom, for I was hungry.

Mat 25:35  For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:
Mat 25:36  Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.

In what follows Maldonado focuses on the theme of hunger, but what he says in reference to the hungry should be seen in relation to the thirsty, stranger, naked, sick and imprisoned as well.

For I was hungry. It has been made a question whether Christ will speak these actual words when He comes to judgment. We may think that He will say not only these, but others not uttered by Him, or recorded by the Evangelists; for, as beforesaid, not all who will receive the kingdom will receive it as having fed Christ when He was hungry. And we may believe that the reason will be given to each why he is admitted to the kingdom of heaven; for to do so would pertain both to the dignity of the judge and the glory of the blessed. Why, then, did He speak only of those who gave Him meat when He was hungry? It has been shown above that He gave one case as an example of the whole; and He gave this rather than any other, because nothing is so praiseworthy in us than that charity to our neighbours which, though it takes many forms, appears in none to more advantage than in the feeding of the hungry poor, as Euthymius has observed. Matt 25:37  Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry and fed thee: thirsty and gave thee drink?

Then shall the just answer Him, Lord, when did we see Thee hungry? Origen and The Author think that the just said this, not from forgetfulness, but from humility, as if not admitting that they had that grace of charity for which Christ praised them. It may be rather that they answer thus because they did not understand the words of Christ, for they could not be ignorant that they had at times fed the poor of Christ, but because He will not say, The poor were hungry, and you fed them, but I was hungry, and you fed Me, and they will know that they had never fed Christ Himself, therefore they will ask, When saw we Thee hungry? It seems to be thus from Christ’s explanation,
verse 40.

Mat 25:38  Or when did we see thee a stranger and took thee in? Or naked and covered thee?
Mat 25:39  Or when did we see thee sick or in prison and came to thee?
Mat 25:40  And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

εφ οσον As far as you did it to one of these, My least brethren, you did it to Me: that is, what you did to them, you did to Me; as verse 45.

Mat 25:41  Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels.

You cursed. Origen and S. Chrysostom observe that Christ did not say, Cursed of My Father, as He had said to the just, Blessed of My Father (verse 34), because God is the author, not of cursing, but of blessing: not of punishment, but of reward. Not that He is not also the author of punishment, but He has prepared rewards freely, and out of the inclination of His own mind. He prepared punishments unwillingly, as it were, and to satisfy His justice.

Into everlasting fire. These words confute the opinion of the followers of Origen, who denied the eternity of the punishment of hell, against whom Bede and Theophylact argue on this passage. Origen himself, in his Tractat. xxxiv., speaks very soundly on it.

It has been doubted whether it will be a true and literal fire. Two things are certain on the subject: 1. That the Faith teaches us that the punishment will be a true one, felt not in thought only, but in sense and contact. 2. There is another less certain, not taught by the Faith, but held by almost all ancient authorities, that the fire would not be of the same nature as ours. So say Origen (Hom, ad Diversos., and Tract, xxxiv. on S. Matt.), S. Ambrose (Comment, on S. Luke xiv.), S. Jerome (On Isa. Ixv., Ixvi.), Damascene (De Fid., iv., last chapter, ad fin).

But it does not follow from this that it is not true fire; and we cannot safely deny that it is, because Scripture everywhere calls the pains of hell, fire. If this were a metaphor and not the literal truth, they would sometimes be described otherwise, and not so frequently termed fire.

Which was prepared for the devil and his angels.  Christ does not say, Which was prepared for you, as of the kingdom of heaven (verse 34, and 1 Tim 2:4; Wis 1:13; Eccles 7:29). God prepared the kingdom of heaven for all men, if they will be saved from all eternity: but eternal fire only by necessity and a kind of compulsion to punish the wickedness of the angels. So say Origen, S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius. For the same reason, perhaps, He did not say, Which is prepared from the foundation of the world, as He had said of the kingdom of heaven (verse 34): because He had prepared the kingdom of heaven, which He made of His own will, for men from the beginning of the world, that is, before He created men themselves. He prepared the fire only from compulsion, and, therefore, not from the foundation of the world, but after this, and after sin.

Mat 25:42  For I was hungry and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty and you gave me not to drink.
Mat 25:43  I was a stranger and you took me not in: naked and you covered me not: sick and in prison and you did not visit me.
Mat 25:44  Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to thee?
Mat 25:45  Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen: I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.
Mat 25:46  And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

Maldonado offers no commentary on these verses perhaps because, as the antithesis of the previous verses they are self-explanatory.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:8b-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 14, 2011

This post includes Father Callan’s summary of 2 Tim 1:3-14, followed by his notes on today’s reading.

A Summary of 2 Tim 1:3-14

St. Paul first thanks the God of his forefathers for Timothy’s faith, asserting his remembrance of him in his prayers and his desire to see his devoted son (ver. 3-5). He then exhorts him to rekindle the grace of his ordination and to be courageous in laboring and suffering for the Gospel, relying on that divine power whereof God has already given us a manifestation in the gratuitous salvation imparted to the world through Christ (ver. 6-10). For his election to preach the Gospel and his faithful discharge of his duty Paul now languishes in prison and faces death, but his faith is undaunted. Let Timothy likewise hold fast to the faith taught him, and be true to his trust (ver. 11-14).

8. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but endure your share of suffering for the gospel, according to the power of God;

Timothy must not be ashamed to bear witness to Christ in preaching the Gospel; nor should he be ashamed of his master who is in prison for preaching the Gospel. On the contrary, he must be willing to endure his share of suffering, along with Paul, for the sake of the Gospel, not trusting in his own strength, but in the “power of God,” which will never fail him.

The collabora of the Vulgate does not express the sense of the Greek, which means “suffer with,” i.e., to take one’s share in suffering for the Gospel. The word is found only here and in 2:3 below in the Greek Bible.

9. Who hath saved us and called us by his holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the times of the world,

A proof that God will never fail His faithful followers is to be seen in the fact that it is He who has already freely saved us from our sins and called us to holiness of life. All this He has done, not in virtue of any works or merits of ours, but in virtue of His own eternal plan and purpose and by the help of His saving grace, which from eternity He determined to carry out and bestow on us in Christ. The Apostle here indicates the two causes of our salvation, namely, the eternal cause, which was divine predestination, or God’s eternal purpose to show us mercy; and the temporal cause, which is sanctifying grace (St. Thomas).

Not according to our works. This phrase at once tempers the stress put on good works in the Pastoral Letters and shows against the Pelagians the existence and the gratuitousness of the grace by which we are led to faith and salvation.

But according to his own purpose, etc. From all eternity God predestined our salvation and the means to that end, which means were the merits and grace of Christ. Hence it was that the Incarnation of Christ was predestined from all eternity, and that in Christ from all eternity God prepared for us the grace which is at length conferred, and by which we are sanctified and saved in time. See on Eph 1:3-6; Tit 3:5; Rom 8:30, 9:12.

10. But is now made manifest by the illumination of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath destroyed death, and hath brought to light life and incorruption by the gospel:

God’s eternal purpose and the grace He prepared for us from eternity have now been made manifest to us “by the illumination, etc.,” better, “by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ,” i.e., through the Incarnation of our Lord in time, who by His passion and death for us on the cross has satisfied God for our sins, and has destroyed sin and death, the eflfect of sin (Rom 6:23), thus making known to us through the revelation of the Gospel the spiritual life of the soul and the future resurrection of the body.

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