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 June 11th, 2011

This Weeks Posts: Sunday, June 12-Saturday, June 18

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 11, 2011

Unless otherwise noted, all post and links listed below are currently available. The Divine Office site allows you to view the prayers of a given day (e.g., Wednesday) one day before, the day of, and the day after (e.g., Tues., Wed., Thurs.). Updates will be added during the week and will be marked UPDATE.


Resources for Pentecost Sunday. Includes resources for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite.

Today’s Divine Office.

Last Weeks Posts: Sunday, June 5–Saturday, June 11.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 6:1-10).

St John Chrysostom’s Exegetical Homily on Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 6:1-10).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 5:38-42).

St John Chrysostom’s Exegetical Homily on Today’s Gospel (Matt 5:38-42).

St Augustine’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 5:38-42).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 5:38-42).

Juan de Maldonado’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 5:38-42).

Catholic Encyclopedia on St Anthony of Padua.

Pope Benedict XVI on St Anthony of Padua.

The Chronicle of St Anthony. Online book.

A Dissertation on the Homiletic and Exegetical Method of St Anthony.

The Spirituality of St Anthony.

Sermons of St Anthony of Padua for Sundays and Festivals. For purchase from Amazon.

UPDATE: St John Chrysostom’s Homily on John 3:16-18 for Next Sunday, June 19.

UPDATE: St Gregory Nanzianzus’ Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (Matt 28:18-20).


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 8:1-9).

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 8:1-9).

UPDATE: St John Chrysostom’s Exegetical Commentary Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 8:1-9).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 5:43-48).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 5:43-48).

St John Chrysostom’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 5:43-48).

UPDATE: Juan de Maldonado’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 5:43-48).


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 9:6-11).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 9:6-11).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 6:1-6, 16-18).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 6:1-6, 16-18).

UPDATE: Resources for Sunday Mass, June 19~Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 11:1-11).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 6:7-15). Previously posted.

St John Chrysostom on Today’s Gospel (Matt 6:7-15). St John Chrysostom begins looking at today’s text at article # 5. Previously posted.

St Augustine on Today’s Gospel (Matt 6:7-15). From his work THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. Read chapters 3-11.

St Cyprian on the Lord’s Prayer.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catechetical Instructions on the Lord’s Prayer. A more conveniently arranged presentation (divided into sections) of the instructions can be found here (scroll down to bottom of page for the links).

Various Catechisms on the Petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. Aquinas, Trent, Baltimore, Pius X, Catechism of the Catholic Church. Conveniently arranged.

UPDATE: Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 2 Cor 13:11-13 for Sunday Mass, June 19.

UPDATE: Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Cor 13:11-13 for Sunday Mass, June 19.

UPDATE: Haydock’s Commentary on 2 Cor 13:11-13 for Sunday Mass, June 19.

UPDATE: St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on 2 Cor 13:11-13 for Sunday Mass, June 19.

UPDATE: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 2 Cor 13:11-13 for Sunday Mass, June 19.

UPDATE: Resources for Sunday Mass, June 19~Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). In case you missed the link under Wednesday.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 11:18, 21-30).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 6:19-23).

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Resources for Pentecost Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Rite)

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 11, 2011

This post contains (1). general resources, i.e., homilies ancient and modern; (2). resources for the Pentecost Vigil Mass of the Ordinary Form; (3). Resources for the Pentecost Sunday Mass (mostly biblical commentary, ancient and modern); (4). Resources for the Pentecost Sunday Mass of the Extraordinary Form (biblical commentaries). For brief background on the Forms of the Rite read the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite.  Please be aware that the readings for the Vigil Mass (OF) include several possible first readings from the Old Testament. Also, the Sunday Gospel in the OF differs from that used in  the EF.


St Thomas Aquinas’ Homily For Pentecost SundayA complete sermon, a rarity.

Pentecost, Homiletic sketch (Word) Pentecost, Homiletic sketch (PDF)

Pentecost, Doctrinal Sermon (PDF)

Pentecost, Symbolic Sermon (Word)  Pentecost, Symbolic Sermon (PDF)

Pentecost, Moral Sermon (Word)  Pentecost, Moral Sermon (PDF) SOURCE.

Catechism of the Catholic ChurchContains links to all the articles on the Holy Spirit.

Catholic Encyclopedia.

St Ambrose On The Holy Spirit From Bk. 3 of his famous treatise De Spiritu Sancto.

St Basil On The Holy Spirit.

Pentecost Tongues and the Universal Church. Excerpt from an anonymous African Father of the 6th century.

Pope St Leo’s First Sermon on Pentecost.

Pope St Leo’s Third Sermon on Pentecost.

Pope John Paul II’s Catechesis on the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit:

Pope Benedict’s Homily for Pentecost (June, 2006).

Pope Benedict’s Homily for Pentecost (May, 2008).

St Gregory Nanzianzen’s Pentecost Oration (Oration 41).

UPDATE: The Church and the Mystery of Pentecost. Online audio by Catholic Biblical scholar Dr. Brante Pitre.

***********************Vigil Mass For Pentecost**********************

Vigil Mass Readings. Please be aware that for the Vigil Mass there are 4 possible OT reading. See the next four links.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Genesis 11:1-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20b.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Ezekiel 37:1-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Joel 2:28-32. NOTE: This passage is numbered 3:1-5 in the NAB.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 8:22-27. Commentary actually begins with verse 18 in this post.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 8:22-27.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 8:22-27.

Father’s Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on John 7:37-39.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 7:37-39.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 7:37-39.

UPDATE: Let the Fire Fall! Reflections on the Readings for Pentecost. From Catholic biblical Scholar Dr. John Bergsma.

*******************Pentecost Mass During The Day*******************

Mass Readings.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 2:1-11.

Navvare Bible Commentary on Acts 2:1-11.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on(1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 20:19-23.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 20:19-23.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 20:19-23.

Father MacIntyre’s Commentary on John 20:19-23.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 20:19-23.

**********************EXTRAORDINARY FORM**********************

Roman Missal. Latin and English side by side. Contains the readings, prayers, etc.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 2:1-11.

Navvare Bible Commentary on Acts 2:1-11.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 14:23-31.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 14:23-31.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

This Weeks Posts: Sunday, June 5-Saturday, June 11

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 11, 2011

Unless otherwise noted, all posts listed below are currently available, regardless of the day they are listed under. During the course of any day more post may be added, these will be marked UPDATE.


Resources for Today’s Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Ascension Resources. For those celebrating the Ascension this Sunday. There is some overlap with resources in the above post link.

Today’s Divine Office.

Last Weeks Posts: Sunday, May 29-Saturday, June 4.

Reading Acts From Ascension to Pentecost. A blog post by Catholic biblical scholar Dr. Peter Williamson.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (Acts 19:1-8).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Psalm (68).

Fathers Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 16:29-33).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 16:29-33).

UPDATE: St Thomas Aquinas’ Sermon for the Feast of Pentecost. Contains both his sermon for the day and his evening collatio, preached at the evening prayer (i.e., Vespers).  Only a handful of St Thomas’ sermons have survived.

UPDATE: At War With Babel. How did church steeples originate, and what did they come to symbolize?

UPDATE: Pope Benedict’s Homily for Pentecost (June, 2006).

UPDATE: Pope Benedict’s Homily for Pentecost (May, 2008).

UPDATE: St Gregory Nanzianzen’s Pentecost Oration (Oration 41).

UPDATE: Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (Acts 20:17-27).

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 17:1-11a). Previously posted.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 17:1-11a).

St John Chrysostom’s Exegetical Homily on Today’s Gospel (John 17:1-11a). Previously posted.

UPDATE: Father’s Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on John 7:37-39 for the Vigil of Pentecost.

UPDATE: Father Callan on the First Reading for Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:1-11).

UPDATE: Father Callan’s Commentary on the Second Reading for Pentecost Sunday (1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13).

UPDATE: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on the Second Reading for Pentecost Sunday (1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13).

UPDATE: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on the Gospel for Pentecost Sunday (John 20:19-23).

UPDATE: St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on the Gospel for Pentecost Sunday (John 20:19-23).


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (Acts 20:28-38).

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 17:11b-19).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 17:11b-19).

Fathers Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 17:11b-19).

UPDATE: Resources for Pentecost Sunday Mass, June 12.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (Acts 22:30, 23:6-11).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Today’s Psalm (16). Previously posted.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 17:20-26). Previously posted.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 17:20-26). Previously posted.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 17:20-26). Previously posted.

Father’s Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 17:20-26).

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7.

UPDATE: Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (Acts 25:13b-21).

UPDATE: Fathers Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 21:15-19).

UPDATE: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 21:15-19).

UPDATE: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 21:15-19).

UPDATE: My Notes on Today’s Gospel (John 21:15-19).

UPDATE: The Church and the Mystery of Pentecost. Online Audio lecture by Catholic Biblical scholar Dr. Brante Pitre.

More posts pending.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (Acts 11:21b-26, 12:1-3).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel Reading (John 21:20-25).

Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel Reading (John 21:20-25).

More posts pending.

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Friday, June 17: Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 11:18, 21-30)

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 11, 2011

This post includes Father Callan’s Summary of 2 Corinthians 11:16-33. The notes on the first reading for the day follow.


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 11:16-33~The Apostle passes now from the severe condemnation just uttered against his adversaries to a further commendation of his own life and labors. Again (cf. verse 1), therefore, he craves the indulgence of his readers to hear him patiently, although he may seem to speak foolishly. He is simply forced to boast of himself because of the boasting of others and the toleration that has been given them. If those others can boast, then he also can boast. They glory in their Jewish origin, but he too is of the seed of Abraham; they vaunt their dignity as ministers of Christ, but he more than they is a minister of Christ. His greater sufferings and labors in behalf of the Gospel and the Churches are witnesses to his life and character.

18. Seeing that many glory according to the flesh, I will glory also.

A first reason for his self-praise is given.

Many ( πολλοι) seems to include more than the false teachers alone.

According to the flesh, i.e., in exterior, worldly things, such as, birth, wealth, learning, circumcision, Hebrew parentage and the like (St. Chrys.). In these things the false teachers gloried.

I will glory also. The Apostle will show his readers that these things were not wanting to him either.

21. I speak according to dishonour, as if we had been weak in this part.
Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also.

The Apostle sarcastically admits that he and his companions were inferior to the Judaizers in certain respects, such as, in bringing the Corinthians into bondage, in robbing them, and the like. With biting sarcasm he confesses his dishonour, i.e., his disgrace, in being so weak in matters like these.

Wherein if any man, etc. Rather, “Wherein any man dare,” etc. Casting aside all sarcasm now St. Paul says that if there is question of real boldness, at any time, or on the part of any person, he also is bold. He thus asserts his equality with any of his enemies, although his humility makes him call this assertion foolish.

The words in this part (Vulg., in hac parte) are not represented in the best MSS.

22. They are Hebrews: so am I. They are Israelites: so am I. They are the seed of Abraham: so am I.

To show that he is in nowise inferior to his adversaries St. Paul now takes up the various points which they, no doubt, had been urging in their own favor. They were Hebrews, i.e., descendants of the Hebrew race (Gen 11:14 ff.) ; they were
Israelites, i.e., from among the chosen people of God (Ex 19:5, 6; Rom 9:4); they were of the seed of Abraham, to whom the Messianic promises had been made (Rom 9:5, 7, 8; Gal 3:16). To all these distinctions the Apostle asserts his
equal claim.

23. They are the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise): I am
more; in many more labours, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often.

The false teachers had boasted that they were in a special sense ministers of Christ, but St. Paul affirms that he is much more so. They pretended to be  διακονοι χριστου (diakonoi christou), but he was so in reality.

I speak as one less wise. Literally, “I speak as one beside himself.” He apologizes for language which his readers may think extravagant.

The Apostle’s greater labors and sufferings are a proof of his superior claims. He labored more abundantly, he was imprisoned more frequently, he was scourged more often, he was exposed to death on more occasions.

St. Paul does not mean his words to be taken in a relative sense, as if implying that his opponents had labored, were imprisoned, had been scourged, etc., but that he had done and suffered more: his words here express an absolute, and not merely a relative excess.

One instance of imprisonment before this Epistle is given in Acts 16:23 ff.; but Clement of Rome (1 Cor. 5) speaks of seven in all. From the Acts and the Epistles we know definitely of only four: the one at Philippi, one at Caesarea, and two in Rome.

24. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes, save one.

The Apostle here and in the following verse gives some examples of his sufferings and exposure to death. He was scourged five times by the Jews. Each scourging consisted, according to law, of forty stripes (Deut 25:3); but in order not to exceed the number the Jews usually administered only thirty-nine, thirteen on the bare breast, and thirteen on each shoulder. The scourge was made of leather thongs. Sometimes these severe floggings resulted in death.

Of these scourgings of the Apostle by the Jews we have no other record.

25. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered
shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea.

Beating with rods was a Roman form of punishment, and there was no legal limit to the number of blows. Only one of these beatings of St. Paul has been recorded by St. Luke in the Acts (Acts 16:22, 23). Our Lord was scourged according to the Roman method (John 19:1).

Stoned, at Lystra (Acts 14:18).

Thrice I suffered shipwreck. We have no other record of
this. The shipwreck on the way to Rome was several years
later (Acts xxvii. 41 ff.).

A day (νυχθημερον) means a full day of twenty-four hours.

I was. Literally, “I have passed” (πεποιηκα) , as in Acts 20:3.

The depth of the sea (εν τω βυθω). Better, “In the sea.” The term βυθω means the deep, the sea. We know nothing further of this incident, but perhaps Theodoret gives the right explanation: “The hull of the vessel went to pieces, and all night and day I spent, being carried hither and thither by the waves.” He was likely clinging to pieces of the wreckage.

26. In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren.

The general meaning is that St. Paul was often in divers perils throughout his journeyings. Much of the countries through which he passed, especially in Asia Minor (Strabo) was beset with robbers. Waters. Literally, “rivers.” Bridges and ferries were rare in those times, and floods were frequent.

False brethren doubtless refers chiefly to the Judaizers (Gal 2:4).

27. In labour and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

He now enumerates a number of sufferings which resulted from his poverty.

Labour and painfulness very probably refer to earning his own living by manual work (1 Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3:8).

Fastings coming immediately after hunger and thirst which must have been involuntary afflictions, doubtless means “fastings” freely suffered.

In cold and nakedness, as when robbed, cast into prison, and drenched by floods, storms and the like.

28. Besides those things which are without: my daily instance, the solicitude for all the churches.

Those things which are without (των παρεκτος). This is a strange expression. The word παρεκτος occurs elsewhere only in Matt 5:32; Acts 26:29, where it has the sense of exception. The meaning here, then, is perhaps: “things left unmentioned” (St. Chrys., and other Greeks). St. Paul, therefore, is speaking of three classes of sufferings: those which he has mentioned, those which he omits, and those which he is about to mention (Plum.).

My daily instance, i.e., that which daily presses upon me. This seems to be the meaning of επιστασις, the best Greek reading here, followed by fu>C. In classical Greek επιστασις means a halt, a stopping for rest (Xen., Anab. II. iv. 26). The Apostle is referring to the ceaseless daily appeals for help, advice, decision in difficulties and the like, made to him by the faithful (Cornely, Bisping, etc.).

The solicitude, etc., his watchful care of all the Churches which he has founded.

All (πασων) might even embrace other Churches than those founded by St. Paul, but certainly can not mean that he had supreme jurisdiction over all Christendom.

29. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire?

Two illustrations are now given of the Apostle’s solicitude for the Churches. New converts were sometimes naturally weak in faith, conduct or the like (1 Cor 8:10, 13), and St. Paul made their trials his own in order to strengthen them. Some, too, were easily scandalized, i.e., led into sin by others’ example, and this gave the ardent Apostle intense pain (1 Cor 12:26). We have to determine the exact meaning of  πυρουμαι, I am on fire, from the context, which here is in favor of keen pain rather than of indignation, although the latter is not excluded.

30. If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my

The present verse is closely connected with what has preceded (verses 23-29) and with what follows, and it refers to both. Since his adversaries, by their own conduct, force the Apostle to boast, he will not glory, as they do, in his birth, prosperity, ancestry, or the like, but rather in his infirmities.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on 2 Corinthians, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Thursday, June 16: Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 11:1-11)

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 11, 2011

In this chapter the Apostle asserts and proves his own authority as a teacher of the faith, in contrast to his opponents, whose real character he exposes.

1. I would you could endure my folly a little while; yet also bear with me.

It is a mark of folly for a man to praise himself, but yet I wish you could be persuaded to put up with this folly in me for a little while, for I do it only under the pressure of absolute necessity. Therefore bear with me, and you will find that in my case self-assertion is in this instance wisdom, and not folly.

2. For I am jealous of you with a jealousy of God. For I have betrothed you to one husband, to present you a chaste virgin to Christ.

I am jealous of you.  I have contracted you in marriage to Christ, and am jealous for His sake. God also uses this language: The Lord thy God is jealous (Ex 20:5). But Saint Paul is not jealous for himself, but for God, with a jealousy of God.

3. But I fear lest, as the serpent seduced Eve by his craft, so your senses be corrupted, and fall away from the simplicity which is in Christ.

I fear that as Satan, concealed under the figure of the serpent, tempted Eve, and led her astray by his great craft and cunning; so he may also corrupt your faith and fill your minds with error, by means of his false apostles, the teachers of heresy, and thus you may fall away from the pure faith which I have delivered to you, unmixed with error, and which alone is, in truth and reality, faith in Christ. The words, and fall away, are not in the Greek, and appear to have been added by the translator of the Vulgate for the sake of clearness.

4. For if he who comes, preaches another Christ, whom we preached not; or you receive another Spirit, whom you received not; or another Gospel, which you accepted not; you will rightly bear with him.
5. For I think I did nothing less than the great Apostles,

If the new teacher who has replaced me, and intruded into my labours, tells of another Saviour than the Saviour we preached to you; if under his instruction you receive another Holy Spirit, and a better Gospel than you received from us, you would in such a case be right in listening to him. But this is not so. The Saviour I made known to you, the Spirit I was the means of imparting to you, the Gospel I taught you, were all the same whom the great Apostles, Peter, John, James, proclaim and serve. You cannot point to any circumstance in what I said and did in which I am inferior to them. In the former Epistle (1 Cor 15:9) he had said: I am not worthy to be called an Apostle; for which reason he here explains that in office and administration he was not inferior to the others. This is the interpretation which St. Chrysostom and all the ancient writers put upon the words. Many modern writers consider the great Apostles, or Apostles in the highest degree, as in the Greek, to be said in irony, of the heretical teachers.

6. For though I am unskilful in speaking, yet not in knowledge, and in all we were made manifest to you.

Though I am unskilful in speaking, or am said to be; at any rate, I am not without experience in the knowledge of God. He implies here that his opponents were, however fluently they discoursed in the language of the Greek philosophy, which Saint Paul evidently despised. And I have dealt openly with you, and kept
nothing in reserve; whereas they had concealed the poison of their heresy, and unfolded it only by degrees. Saint Paul’s skill in the use of the Greek language to convey his thoughts is questioned by Origen and Saint Jerome, who acknowledge from his writings that he was rude of speech, though his style is undoubtedly nervous, forcible, and expressive in a very high degree. Saint Augustine fully acknowledged and admired his wonderful eloquence. There seems no ground for the impression some have derived from this verse, that he stammered, or was afflicted with any physical impediment of speech.

7. Or have I done any sin, humbling myself, that you may be exalted? Because I taught you the Gospel of God for nothing.
8. I spoiled other Churches, taking pay for your service.
9. And when I was with you, and in want, I was a burden to no one; for what I wanted, the brethren supplied who came from Macedon; and throughout I kept myself, and will keep myself, from being a burden to you. 

The heretics made it matter of offence that Saint Paul had not, as they did, lived upon the alms of the Christians of Greece. Is this, he asks, a sin in me? He was perfectly free in this respect, and his determined resolution to take nothing from the Greeks was perhaps founded on his knowledge of the wealth of the residents  of Corinth, and the sources whence the riches of the city were in great measure derived; lest it should be said he was attracted to that country by hope of gain. I was a burden to no one. In Greek, κατεναρκησα, said by Saint Jerome to be a Cicilian idiom, of Saint Paul’s native
land. Quæst ad Algas, 10.

10. There is truth of Christ in me, that this boast shall not be checked in me, in the climes of Achaia.
11. Why? Because I love you not? God knows.

There is truth of Christ in me. This is an oath! As Christ’s truth is in me. This boast shall not be checked, stopped, or dammed up, like the course of a river. My boast shall flow forth unchecked through the provinces of Achaia. It is not because I do not love you that I refuse your gifts, God knows. But those who blame me shall either cease their invective, or they shall do as I do, preach their doctrine at their own expense. Saint Chrysostom thinks they made a pretence of doing so, but received large presents secretly from the more wealthy of their adherents and supporters. It seems, however, more probable from verse 20 that they received this assistance openly, and were vexed with the Apostle because he would not do the same.

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

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary Matt 6:1-6, 16-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 11, 2011

Mat 6:1  Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven.

Take heed. &c. Instead of alms, some Greek Codices read δικαιοσύνην, righteousness, or justice. This is the reading of the Syriac and the Latin Vulgate. The Complutensian, Royal, and other Greek Codices read alms. The Arabic translates mercy—of which the Saviour speaks next. For this is in Scripture κατ ε̉ξοχην, or par excellence, a common word for righteousness, as I have shown on 2Co_9:10. Hence S. Chrysostom reads justice, understanding alms. After Christ in the preceding chapter had expounded one by one the precepts of the Law, which prescribe all righteousness, i.e., whatever is just, and right, and holy, or all good works, now, in this chapter He proceeds to teach the way of doing things holily and rightly, that we should do them with a right intention, and with the desire of pleasing God, not man. He begins with alms. Then He teaches how we ought to pray, and next how to fast; for with these three vain glory is wont chiefly to be bound up, says S. Chrysostom.

To be seen by them. The word that denotes the intention and the end. “Do not do holy and just works with this intention and object, to be seen and praised of men, for this is vain ostentation.” But Christ does not here forbid them to be done publicly, and advantageously, that men may see them and glorify God. Whence S. Gregory says, “Let thy works be so done openly that thy intention may remain in secret, and that we may afford an example of good works to our neighbours, so that yet with our intentions, by which we seek to please God only, we may always desire secrecy.”

Moreover, vain glory eats out all the dignity, worth, and merit of good works, like the worm the gourd (Jonah 4).

You shall not have a reward, &c. The reward of vain glory is the applause and favour of men. He who seeks to please men displeases God. For God, forasmuch as He is the author of good works, desires to be the object and end of the same, that we should do them for God, and refer them to His glory. Wherefore S. Paul says, “For if I yet pleased men I should not be the servant of Christ.”

S. Basil (in Constit. Monast. c. 11) calls vain glory the robber of good works. “Let us fly from vain glory,” he says, “the insinuating spoiler of good works, the pleasant enemy of our souls, the moth of virtues, the flattering ruin of our good things, who colours the poison with the honeyed mixture of her deceit, and who holds out to the souls of men her deadly cup. And I think she does this that men may the more greedily drink her down, and never be satiated with her. How sweet a thing is human glory to those who have not had experience of it!”

Mat 6:2  Therefore when thou dost an alms-deed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.

When thou doest an alms-deed, sound not a trumpet before thee. Syr. do not blow a horn. When the Scribes and Pharisees were about to give away alms in the public streets they either sent a trumpeter before them, or else blew a horn themselves, under the pretext of drawing together by that means crowds of poor persons, who might run and receive alms, but in reality out of ostentation, and that their liberality might be seen and talked of by those who flocked together.

Observe that Holy Scripture, the prophets, but above all Christ, detest hypocrisy and hypocrites, who intend one thing in their heart, and pretend something else outwardly. For Christ is truth, simplicity, sincerity itself; wherefore He hates all falsehood and duplicity.

Moreover, hypocrites are like the monstrous beasts which S. John saw in the Apocalypse (chap. 9.), for they had the faces of women and the tails of scorpions. In the same manner hypocrites smile with their faces, and flatter with their mouths, but at the last they secretly strike and sting. Yet these very hypocrites, whilst they wish to hurt others, hurt themselves far more, “for there is nothing hid which shall not be revealed.” Wherefore their hypocrisy and fraud is easily detected, by which means they are confounded and lose their fame and credit, and become hateful unto all men. Wherefore David prays against hypocrites, and at the same time threatens them with most dreadful punishments (Ps 120): “Deliver my soul, 0 Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue. What reward shall be given or done unto thee, 0 thou false tongue? Even mighty and sharp arrows with hot burning coals.”

They have their reward—their, i.e., their own, viz., what they sought for. Again, their own is what is agreeable and congruous with their vanity, that of which alone they are worthy, that, like chameleons with wind, they may feed upon fleeting popular breath. How foolish are merchants like these, who, when by alms they might buy heavenly and eternal riches, neglecting these, prefer to buy the empty praise of men, that is, vain words, which beat the air, and then pass away!

Mat 6:3  But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth.

But when thou doest  alms, &c. Omitting various explanations which are here collected by Maldonatus, I would say briefly, the meaning is as follows:—Avoid ostentation in thine alms and thy virtue, and as far as thou canst, seek for secrecy, that thou mayest not be seen of men, nor thy virtue talked about, that if, per impossibile, thy left hand could have eyes, it should not be able to see what good thy right hand doth, what, or how great alms thou dost bestow. It is a parabolical hyperbole common among the Syrians. Thus S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others. And as S. Jerome says in his Epitaph of Fabiola, “Virtue which is concealed rejoices in God as her judge.”

Mat 6:4  That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee.

That thy alms, &c. “Openly”, i.e., says S. Augustine at the Resurrection, “Thou shalt be blessed, because the poor have not wherewith to recompense thee; but there shall be a recompense given thee at the Resurrection of the just, when the Lord, as the Apostle says, ‘shall reveal the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart, and then shall every man have praise of God.'” Just and congruous reward of secret work is public praise in the judgment. For Christ will reward thy secret work publicly in the judgment before God, angels, and men with eternal glory. Thus when S. Martin had divided his cloak, and given half of it to a poor man, in the night following, Christ appeared to Martin, clad in the same cloak, and praised him in the presence of the angels, saying, “Martin, while yet a catechumen, has clothed Me with this garment.”

But if thou make a show of thine alms, or any good work, God will hide it so that no one may behold, admire, or remember it: but if thou hide it God will manifest it to the whole world, especially in the Day of judgment. Thus S. Gregory gave alms to an angel in form of a shipwrecked sailor. He gave him large alms, again and again, when the angel asked them, but always in secret. But through this he gained the very summit of public glory; for the angel afterwards revealed that it was for this cause Gregory had deserved the chief bishopric of the Church. So Christ, in the form of a ragged beggar, asked of S. Catherine of Sienna first her tunic, then her cape, then her gloves, all of which she freely and secretly gave Him. On the following night He appeared to her, showing her the tunic bespangled with jewels, and promising that he would give her an invisible gown, which would preserve her from all cold (wherefore in future she never felt any cold), and in heaven public and illustrious glory. (So Raymund in her Life.)

Mat 6:5  And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.

And when ye pray, &c. Foolish and imprudent was this vanity and ostentation of the Scribes by which they affected the public streets, where was a greater crowd of people, that they might stand before them, and exhibit their prayers and devotion, when they ought rather to have sought for a secret place for prayer, in which they might collect their thoughts, and converse with God alone without distraction. What therefore is commonly said of three places unfit for study, that it is useless at a window, in the street, by the hearth, because of the various distractions which occur at those places, may be even more truly said of prayer. Prayer is useless at a window, in the street, by the hearth.

That love to stand and pray. From this and other passages Jansen is of opinion that the Jews stood, not knelt, to pray. But I say that the Priests and Levites sacrificed and sang Psalms to God standing, and the people who were present also stood, because if they had knelt they would have been unable to witness the sacrifices, especially in a great press of people, on account of the screen, three cubits in height, interposed between them and the altar. Again the people stood to hear a sermon, or to receive benediction, as in Solomon’s case; also in a solemn thanksgiving for victory, or any similar benefit, as we stand when a Te Deum is sung. S. Azarias and his fellows stood and sang the Benedicite in the fiery furnace of Babylon.

But at other times, the Jews prayed kneeling, especially in acts of adoration or penitence. Especially Solomon at the Dedication of the Temple prayed and worshipped kneeling. For—mark this, ye courtiers and delicate ones, who like the Jews, bend one knee to Christ—he kneeled with both his knees upon the ground. (1 Kings 8:54). So Daniel kneeled down three times a day and worshipped God. So Micah 6:6. “I will bow my knees to the Most High God.” For this is the manner of adoration among all nations. Hence the words, “I will leave me seven thousand men in Israel, whose knees have not been bowed to Baal.” And God says (Isa 45:23), “Every knee shall bow to me.” And (2 Chron 29:30), “They bowed their knee and worshipped.” This standing then to pray on the part of the Scribes and Pharisees was a part of their pride and vanity. They thought themselves to be worthier and holier than the rest of the people.

As for Christians, from the very beginning they have been accustomed to kneel down to pray. For when Christ was near to die, he prayed, kneeling down; yea, prostrating Himself upon the earth. See also S. Peter (Acts 9:40), and S. John
(Rev 19:10, Rev 22:8); and S. Paul (Acts 20:36; and Eph 3:14, “For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”). Christians, therefore, in memory of the fall of Adam and his posterity, pray kneeling at all times except Sundays and the Paschal season, when they pray standing, in honour and as a figure of the Resurrection of Christ, as S. Justin teaches (Quæst. 115), “Whence is this custom in the Church? Because we ought to retain in everlasting remembrance both our fall through sin, and the grace of our Christ by which we have risen again from our fall. So for six days we kneel in token of our fall through sin, and on the Lord’s Day we stand in token of our deliverance from sin and death.” S. Irenæus teaches that this practice began in the time of the Apostles. (Lib. de Paschat.) Tertullian enjoins the same custom. (Lib. de Corona Militis. c. 3.)

Mat 6:6  But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret, and thy father who seeth in secret will repay thee.

But thou . . . enter into thy chamber. Gr. ταμει̃ον, i.e., any private place such as thy bedchamber; Vatablus renders, thy cell.

SS. Augustine, Jerome, and Ambrose understand by closet the heart or the mind, and their privacy, as though he who prays should enter there and shut it, so that no distractions may creep in to draw away the soul from God. As S. Jerome says: “Shut the door—i.e., shut thy lips and pray inwardly in thy mind, as Hannah, the mother of Samuel, did” (1 Sam 1:13). Hear S. Ambrose: “The Saviour says, Enter into thy chamber, not that which is enclosed by walls which shuts up thy bodily limbs, but the closet which is within thee, in which thy thoughts are enclosed. This closet for prayer is ever near thee, and ever private, of which there is no witness or judge but God alone.” “God who,” says S. Cyprian (Tract. de Orat.), “is the hearer of the heart, not of the voice.” It was a saying of Francis, that “the body is a cell, and the soul a hermit, which tarries in its cell wheresoever it may be, even among men, to pray to the Lord, and meditate upon Him. Cassian gives another reason (Collat. 9, c. 34): “We must pray in silence, that the intention of our prayer may not become known to our enemies the demons, lest they should hinder it.”

This meaning is true, but mystical rather than literal. But there is no reason why closet here should not be understood in its plain ordinary sense, of any private place. Hear S. Cyprian: “The Lord bids us pray secretly in hidden places apart, in our very chambers, because it is more agreeable to faith, in order that we may know God is everywhere present, hears and sees all, and in the plenitude of His majesty penetrates the most hidden and secret places, as it is written. “Am I a God nigh at hand, and not a God afar off.” (Jer. 23)

So, then, Christ does not here condemn public prayer in church, which has been the common laudable practice both of Jews and Christians, as is plain from 1 Kings 8:29, Acts 1:24. Tertullian (in Apol. c. 30.) writes. “Looking up thitherwards (to heaven), we Christians pray, with hands expanded as innocuous, with head uncovered, because we are not ashamed.” For the Jews, especially the priests, were wont to pray with their heads covered, as I have said on the Pentateuch. Our missionaries also in China cover their heads when saying mass, in accordance with an Indult of Pope Paul V., because among the Chinese it is a mark of disgrace to uncover the head. “Finally,” proceeds Tertullian, “we pray without a prompter, because we pray from the heart.” Lastly, the temple is the proper place of prayer, in which one and all may pray to God as secretly as though they were praying in their own bedchambers.

That is indeed a ridiculous heresy which has sprung up lately in Holland, from a wrong understanding of this passage by a certain innovator, who rejects all temples, and holds the conventicles of his sect nowhere but in bedrooms. The Calvinists, too, when they ask a blessing before meat, cover their faces with their hats, that they may pray in secret; but then a hat is not a bedchamber, as is very plain.

Mat 6:16  And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.

And when you fast, &c. Christ has taught the way to pray, He now teaches how to fast, because prayer without fasting is weak, as S. Chrysostom says. He teaches that it should be in earnest, and in secret, not with the object of pleasing men but God. For sad, the Greek has σκυθρωτοὶ, i.e., with a severe and lowering countenance, which is in opposition to being ίλαροὶ, or pleasant and joyful; σκυθρωποὶ is derived from σκυθροὶ, sad, disagreeable, and ώπα, the face.

Disfigure, Gr. α̉φανίζουσι, which S. Jerome translates by demoliuntur, S. Hilary by conficiunt, and S. Chrysostom by corrupt; others better, obscure their faces, i.e., by affecting, putting on severity, pallor, sadness of countenance. Others translate labefaciant, obliterant, perdunt, and velut e medio tollunt: i.e., make their face as it were not to appear, which the Vulgate represents by exterminate. For α̉φάνιζειν is, to make to vanish, to take the face out of sight, as those who use varnish; such are they who by a pretended emaciation and sorrowful pallor feign sanctity. Such are hypocrites, as the scribes were. Hear S. Jerome, “Exiles exterminantur, who are sent away extra terminos, beyond the boundaries of their country.” Then he explains exterminate by demoliuntur. “The hypocrite demolishes his countenance that he may feign sadness: and when perchance his mind is joyful he may carry grief in his face.”

Mat 6:17  But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face;
Mat 6:18  That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee.

But thou . . . Father in secret. Who hides His essence and His majesty, and who is as much in secret as in public places, and who sees as clearly the hidden things of the heart as the manifest things of our works.

It was a practice with the inhabitants of Palestine, in common with other Orientals, on holy days and other joyful occasions, especially at feasts, to anoint and wash the face, both for purposes of refreshment, for beauty, and for a sweet smell. Palestine being a very hot country the climate occasions profuse perspiration. They wash the face then to wipe away the perspiration, and anoint to banish unpleasant odours. This is clear from Ruth 3:3, Judith 10:3, 2 Sam 12:20, Luke 7:46. When the Magdalene anointed Christ the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. (John 12:3.) Therefore in times of affliction and mourning they abstained from anointing and washing.

Observe here a catachresis, similar to that in Matt 3:6, and elsewhere. For Christ does not here command any actual anointing, but joyfulness and the putting away all outward signs of fasting. Anoint thine head, i.e., be joyful, and present the appearance of hilarity, as though thou wert anointed with oil, which is the symbol and the cause of gladness, according to the words “That he may make his face joyful with oil.” (Ps 104:15) Yea, that thou shouldst so conceal thy fasting, as to put on the symbol of feasting, namely, anointing and washing. Thus S. Jerome. With this agrees that golden saying of S. Syncletica, preserved in the Lives of the Fathers, “As a treasure manifested is quickly spent, so virtue which is made known, or becomes public, is destroyed. For as wax rnelteth at the face of the fire so does a soul become worthless by praise, and lose the vigour of its virtues.”

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 6:1-6, 16-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 11, 2011

Ver 1. “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in Heaven.”

Gloss., non occ.: Christ having now fulfilled the Law in respect of commandments, begins to fulfil it in respect of promises, that we may do God’s commandments for heavenly wages, not for the earthly which the Law held out. All earthly things are reduced to two main heads, viz. human glory, and abundance of earthly goods, both of which seem to be promised in the Law. Concerning the first is that spoken in Deuteronomy, “The Lord shall make thee higher than all the nations who dwell on the face of the earth.” [Deut 28:1] And in the same place it is added of earthly wealth, “The Lord shall make thee abound in all good things.” Therefore the Lord now forbids these two things, glory and wealth, to the attention of believers.

Chrys., Hom. xix: Yet be it known that the desire of fame is near a kin to virtue.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For when any thing truly glorious is done, there ostentation has its readiest occasion; so the Lord first shuts out all intention of seeking glory; as He knows that this is of all fleshly vices the most dangerous to man. The servants of the Devil are tormented by all kinds of vices; but it is the desire of empty glory that torments the servants of the Lord more than the servants of the Devil.

Aug., Prosper. Lib. Sentent. 318: How great strength the love of human glory has, none feels, but he who has proclaimed war against it. For though it is easy for any not to wish for praise when it is denied him, it is difficult not to be pleased with it when it is offered.

Chrys.: Observe how He has begun as it were describing some beast hard to be discerned, and ready to steal upon him who is not greatly on his guard against it; it enters in secretly, and carries off insensibly all those things that are within.Pseudo-Chrys.: And therefore he enjoins this to be more carefully avoided, “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men.” It is our heart we must watch, for it is an invisible serpent that we have to guard against, which secretly enters in and seduces; but if the heart be pure into which the enemy has succeeded in entering in, the righteous man soon feels that he is prompted by a strange spirit; but if his heart were full of wickedness, he does not readily perceive the suggestion of the Devil, and therefore He first taught us, “Be not angry, Lust not,” for that he who is under the yoke of these evils cannot attend to his own heart.

But how can it be that we should not do our alms before men. Or if this may be, how can they be so done that we should not know of it. For if a poor man come before us in the presence of any one, how shall we be able to give him alms in secret? If we lead him aside, it must be seen that we shall give him. Observe then that He said not simply, “Do not before men,” but added, “to be seen of them.” He then who does righteousness not from this motive, even if he does it before the eyes of men, is not to be thought to be herein condemned; for he who does any thing for God’s sake, sees nothing in his heart but God, for whose sake he does it; as a workman has always before his eyes him who has entrusted him with the work to do.

Greg., Mor., viii, 48: If then we seek the fame of giving, we make even our public deeds to be hidden in His sight; for if herein we seek our own glory, then they are already cast out of His sight, even though there be many by whom they are yet unknown. It belongs only to the thoroughly perfect, to suffer their deeds to be seen, and to receive the praise of doing them in such sort that they are lifted up with no secret exultation; whereas they that are weak, because they cannot attain to this perfect contempt of their own fame, must needs hide those good deeds that they do.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 1: In saying only, “That ye be seen of men,” without any addition, He seems to have forbidden that we should make that the end of our actions. For the Apostle who declared, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ;” [Gal 1:10] says in another place, “I please all men in all things. [1 Cor 10:33] This he did not that he might please men, but God, to the love of whom he desires to turn the hearts of men by pleasing them. As we should not think that he spoke absurdly, who should say, In this my pains in seeking a ship, it is not the ship I seek, but my country.

Aug., Serm. 54. 2: He says this, “that ye be seen of men,” because there are some who so do their righteousness before men that themselves may not be seen, but that the works themselves may be seen, and their Father who is in heaven may be glorified; for they reckon not their own righteousness, but His, in the faith of whom they live.

Aug., Serm. in Mont.: That He adds, “Otherwise ye shall not have your reward before your Father who is in heaven,” signifies no more than that we ought to take heed that we seek not praise of men in reward of our words.

Pseudo-Chrys.: What shall you receive from God, who have given God nothing? What is done for God’s sake is given to God, and received by Him; but what is done because of men is cast to the winds. But that wisdom is it, to bestow our goods, to reap empty words, and to have despised the reward of God? Nay you deceive the very man for whose good word you look; for he thinks you do it for God’s sake, otherwise he would rather reproach then command you.

Yet must we think him only to have done his work because of men, who does it with his whole will and intention governed by the thought of them. But if an idle thought, seeking to be seen of men, mount up in any one’s heart, but is resisted by the understanding spirit, he is not thereupon to be condemned of man-pleasing; for that the thought came to him was the passion of the flesh, what he chose was the judgment of his soul.

Ver 2. “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:4. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 2: Above the Lord had spoken of righteousness in general. He now pursues it through its different parts.

Pseudo-Chrys., Hom. xv: He opposes three chief virtues, alms, prayer, and fasting, to three evil things against which the Lord undertook the war of temptation. For He fought for us in the wilderness against gluttony; against covetousness on the mount; against false glory on the temple. It is alms that scatter abroad against covetousness which heaps up; fasting against gluttony which is its contrary; prayer against false glory, seeing that all other evil things come out of evil, this alone comes out of good; and therefore it is not overthrown but rather nourished of good, and has no remedy that may avail against it but prayer only.

Ambrosiaster, Comm. in Tim. 4, 8: The sum of all Christian discipline is comprehended in mercy and piety, for which reason He begins with almsgiving.Pseudo-Chrys.: The trumpet stands for every act or word that tends to a display of our works; for instance, to do alms if we know that some other person is looking on, or at the request of another, or to a person of such condition that he may make us return; and unless in such cases not to do them.

Yea, even if in some secret place they are done with intent to be thought praiseworthy, then is the trumpet sounded.

Aug.: Thus what He says, “Do not sound a trumpet before thee,” refers to what He had said above, “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men.”

Jerome: He who sounds a trumpet before him when he does alms is a hypocrite. Whence he adds, “as the hypocrites do.”

Isid., Etym. x. ex Aug. Serm.: The name ‘hypocrite’ is derived from the appearance of those who in the shows are disguised in masks, variously coloured according to the character they represent, sometimes male, sometimes female, to impose on the spectators while they act in the games.

Aug.: As then the hypocrites, (a word meaning ‘one who feigns,’) as personating the characters of other men, act parts which are not naturally their own – for he who personates Agamemnon, is not really , but feigns to be so – so likewise in the Churches, whosoever in his whole conduct desires to seem what he is not, is a hypocrite; he feigns himself righteous and is not really so, seeing his only motive is praise of men.

Gloss., non occ.: In the words, “in the streets and villages,” he marks the public places which they selected; and in those, “that they may receive honour of men,” he marks their motive.

Greg., Mor., xxxi, 13: It should be known, that there are some who wear the dress of sanctity, and are not able to work out the merit of perfection, yet who must in no wise be numbered among the hypocrites, because it is one thing to sin from weakness, another from crafty affectation.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 2: And such sinners receive from God the Searcher of hearts none other reward than punishment of their deceitfulness; “Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.”

Jerome: A reward not of God, but of themselves, for they receive praise of men, for the sake of which it was that they practised their virtues.

Aug.: This refers to what He had said above, “Otherwise ye shall have no reward of your Father which is in heaven;” and He goes on to shew them that they should not do their alms as the hypocrites, but teaches them how they should do them.

Chrys.: “Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth,” is said as an extreme expression, as much as to say, If it were possible, that you should not know yourself, and that your very hands should be hid from your sight, that is what you should most strive after.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The Apostles in the book of the Constitutions, interpret thus; The right hand is the Christian people which is at Christ’s right hand; the left hand is all the people who are on His left hand. He means then, that when a Christian does alms, the unbeliever should not see it.

Aug.: But according to this interpretation, it will be no fault to have a respect to pleasing the faithful; and yet we are forbidden to propose as the end of any good work the pleasing of any kind of men. Yet if you would have men to imitate your actions which may be pleasing to them, they must be done before unbelievers as well as believers.

If again, according to another interpretation, we take the left hand to mean our enemy, and that our enemy should not know when we do our alms, why did the Lord Himself mercifully heal men when the Jews were standing round Him? And how too must we deal with our enemy himself according to that precept, “If thy enemy hunger, feed him.” [Pro_25:21]

A third interpretation is ridiculous; that the left hand signifies the wife, and that because women are wont to be more close in the matter of expense out of the family purse, therefore the charities of the husband should be secret from the wife, for the avoiding of domestic strife. But this command is addressed to women as well as to men, what then is the left hand, from which women are bid to conceal their alms? Is the husband also the left hand of the wife? And when it is commanded such that they enrich each other with good works, it is clear that they ought not to hide their good deeds; nor is a theft to be committed to do God service.

But if in any case something must needs be done covertly, from respect to the weakness of the other, though it is not unlawful, yet that we cannot suppose the wife to be intended by the left hand here is clear from the purport of the whole paragraph; no, not even such an one as he might well call left. But that which is blamed in hypocrites, namely, that they seek praise of men, this you are forbid to do; the left hand therefore seems to signify the delight in men’s praise; the right hand denotes the purpose of fulfilling the divine commands.

Whenever then a desire to gain honour from men mingles itself with the conscience of him that does alms, it is then the left hand knowing what the right hand, the right conscience, does. “Let not the left hand know,” therefore, “what the right hand doeth,” means, let not the desire of men’s praise mingle with your conscience.

But our Lord does yet more strongly forbid the left hand alone to work in us, than its mingling in the works of the right hand. The intent with which He said all this is shewn in that He adds, “that your alms may be in secret;” that is, in that your good conscience only, which human eye cannot see, nor words discover, though many things are said falsely of many. But your good conscience itself is enough for you towards deserving your reward, if you look for your reward from Him who alone can see your conscience. This is that He adds, “And you Father which seeth in secret shall reward you.” Many Latin copies have, “openly.” [ed. note: “openly” omit Clement. Hom. iii. 56. on verse 6. Origen on v. 6 (in Ezek. viii. 12) but retains in Joan. tom. 13. n. 45, Jerome in loc. &c. vid. Wetstein in loc. Augustine adds that the Greek manuscripts omit, but all the present Greek manuscripts retain. He omits it also in v. 18]

Pseudo-Chrys.: For it is impossible that God should leave in obscurity any good work of man; but He makes it manifest in this world, and glorifies it in the next world, because it is the glory of God; as likewise the Devil manifests evil, in which is shewn the strength of his great wickedness.

But God properly makes public every good deed only in that world the goods of which are not common to the righteous and the wicked; therefore to whomsoever God shall there shew favour, it will be manifest that it was as reward of his righteousness. But the reward of virtue is not manifested in this world, in which both bad and good are alike in their fortunes.

Aug.: But in the Greek copies, which are earlier, we have not the word, “openly.”

Chrys.: If therefore you desire spectators of your good deeds, behold you have not merely Angels and Archangels, but the God of the universe.

Ver 5. “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Solomon says, “Before prayer, prepare thy soul.” This he does who comes to prayer doing alms; for good works stir up the faith of the heart, and give the soul confidence in prayer to God. Alms then are a preparation for prayer, and therefore the Lord after speaking of alms proceeds accordingly to instruct us concerning prayer.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 3: He does not now bid us pray, but instructs us how we should pray; as above He did not command us to do alms, but shewed the manner of doing them.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Prayer is as it were a spiritual tribute which the soul offers of its own bowels. Wherefore the more glorious it is, the more watchfully ought we to guard that it is not made vile by being done to be seen of men.

Chrys.: He calls them hypocrites, because feigning that they are praying to God, they are looking round to men; and He adds, “they love to pray in the synagogues.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: But I suppose that it is not the place that the Lord here refers to, but the motive of him that prays; for it is praiseworthy to pray in the congregation of the faithful, as it is said, “in your Churches bless ye God.” [Ps 68:26]

Whoever then so prays as to be seen of men does not look to God but to man, and so far as his purpose is concerned he prays in the synagogue. But he, whose mind in prayer is wholly fixed on God, though he pray in the synagogue, yet seems to pray with himself in secret. “In the corners of the streets,” namely, that they may seem to be praying retiredly, and thus earn a twofold praise, both that they pray, and that they pray in retirement.

Gloss. ord.: Or, “the corners of the streets,” are the places where one way crosses another, and makes four cross-ways.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He forbids us to pray in an assembly with the intent of being seen of that assembly, as He adds, “that they may be seen of men.” He that prays therefore should do nothing singular that might attract notice; as crying out, striking his breast, or reaching forth his hands.

Aug.: Not that the mere being seen of men is an impiety, but the doing this, in order to be seen of men.

Chrys.: It is a good thing to be drawn away from the thought of empty glory, but especially in prayer. For our thoughts are apt to stray of themselves; if then we address ourselves to prayer with this disease upon us, how shall we understand those things that are said by us?

Aug.: The privity of other men is to be so far shunned by us, as it leads us to do any thing with this mind that we look for the fruit of their applause.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward,” for every man where he sows there he reaps, therefore they who pray because of men, not because of God, receive praise of men, not of God.

Chrys.: He says, have received, because God was ready to give them that reward which comes from Himself, but they prefer rather that which comes from men. He then goes on to teach how we should pray.

Jerome: This if taken in its plain sense teaches the hearer to shun all desire of vain honour in praying.

Pseudo-Chrys.: That none should be there present save he only who is praying, for a witness impedes rather than forwards prayer.

Cyprian, Tr. vii. 2: The Lord has bid us in His instructions to pray secretly in remote and withdrawn places, as best suited to faith; that we may be assured that God who is present every where hears and sees all, and in the fulness of His Majesty penetrates even hidden places.

Pseudo-Chrys.: We may also understand by “the door of the chamber,” the mouth of the body; so that we should not pray to God with loudness of tone, but with silent heart, for three reasons. First, because God is not to be gained by vehement crying, but by a right conscience, seeing He is a hearer of the heart; secondly, because none but thyself and God should be privy to your secret prayers; thirdly, because if you pray aloud, you hinder any other from praying near you.

Cassian, Collat. ix, 35: Also we should observe close silence in our prayers, that our enemies, who are ever most watchful to ensnare us at that time, may not know the purport of our petition.

Aug.: Or, by our chambers are to be understood our hearts, of which it is spoken in the fourth Psalm; “What things ye utter in your hearts, and wherewith ye are pricked in your chambers.” [Psa_4:4] “The door” is the bodily senses; without are al worldly things, which, enter into our thoughts through the senses, and that crowd of vain imaginings which beset us in prayer.

Cyprian, Tr. vii, 20: What insensibility is it to be snatched wandering off by light and profane imaginings, when you are presenting your entreaty to the Lord, as if there were aught else you ought rather to consider than that your converse is with God! How can you claim of God to attend to you, when you do not attend to yourself? This is altogether to make no provision against the enemy; this is when praying to God, to offend God’s Majesty by the neglectfulness of your prayer.

Aug.: The door then must be shut, that is, we must resist the bodily sense, that we may address our Father in such spiritual prayer as is made in the inmost spirit, where we pray to Him truly in secret.

Remig.: Let it be enough for you that He alone know your petitions, who knows the secrets of all hearts; for He Who sees all things, the same shall listen to you.

Chrys.: He said not ‘shall freely give thee,’ but, “shall reward thee;” thus He constitutes Himself your debtor.

Ver 16. “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Forasmuch as that prayer which is offered in a humble spirit and contrite heart, shews a mind already strong and disciplined; whereas he who is sunk in self-indulgence cannot have a humble spirit and contrite heart; it is plain that without fasting prayer must be faint and feeble; therefore, when any would pray for any need in which they might be, they joined fasting with prayer, because it is an aid thereof. Accordingly the Lord, after His doctrine respecting prayer, adds doctrine concerning fasting, saying, “When ye fast, be not ye as the hypocrites, of sad countenance.” The Lord knew that vanity may spring from every good thing, and therefore bids us root out the bramble of vain-gloriousness which springs in the good soil, that it choke not the fruit of fasting. For though it cannot be that fasting should not be discovered in any one, yet is it better that fasting should shew you, than that you should shew your fasting.

But it is impossible that any in fasting should be gay, therefore He said not, Be not sad, but “Be not made sad;” for they who discover themselves by any false displays of their affliction, they are not sad, but make themselves; but he who is naturally sad in consequence of continued fasting, does not make himself sad, but is so.

Jerome: The word, “exterminare,” so often used in the ecclesiastical Scriptures though a blunder of the translators, has a quite different meaning from that in which it is commonly understood. It is properly said of exiles who are sent beyond the boundry of their country. Instead of this word, it would seem better to use the word, “demoliri,” ‘to destroy,’ in translating the Greek . The hypocrite destroys his face, in order that he may feign sorrow, and with a heart full of joy wears sorrow in his countenance.

Greg., Mor., viii, 44: For by the pale countenance, the trembling limbs, and the bursting sighs, and by all so great toil and trouble, nothing is in the mind but the esteem of men.

Leo, Serm. in Epiph., iv, 5: But that fasting is not pure, that comes not of reasons of continence, but of the arts of deceit.

Pseudo-Chrys.: If then he who fasts, and makes himself of sad countenance, is a hypocrite, how much more wicked is he who does not fast, yet assumes a fictitious paleness of face as a token of fasting.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 12: On this paragraph it is to be specially noted, that not only in outward splendor and pomp, but even in the dress of sorrow and mourning, is there room for display, and that the more dangerous, inasmuch as it deceives under the name of God’s services. For he who by inordinate pains taken with her person, or his apparel, or by the glitter of his other equipage, is distinguished, is easily proved by these very circumstances to be a follower of the pomps of this world, and no man is deceived by any semblance of a feigned sanctity in him. But when any one in the profession of Christianity draws men’s eyes upon him by unwonted beggary and slovenliness in dress, if this be voluntary and not compulsory, then by his other conduct may be seen whether he does this to be seen of men, or from contempt of the refinements of dress.

Remig.: The reward of the hypocrites’ fast is shewn, when it is added, “That they may seem to men to fast; verily I say unto you, They have their reward;” that is, that reward for which they looked.

Ver 17. “But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;18. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”

Gloss. ap. Anselm: The Lord having taught us what we ought not to do, now proceeds to teach us what we ought to do, saying, “When thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face.”

Aug.: A question is here wont to be raised; for none surely would literally enjoin, that, as we wash our faces from daily habit, so we should have our heads anointed when we fast; a thing which all allow to be most disgraceful.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Also if He bade us not to be of sad countenance that we might not seem to men to fast, yet if anointing of the head and washing of the face are always observed in fasting, they will become tokens of fasting.

Jerome: But He speaks in accordance with the manner of the province of Palestine, where it is the custom on festival days to anoint the head. What He enjoins then is, that when we are fasting we should wear the appearance of joy and gladness.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Therefore the simple interpretation of this is, that is added as an hyperbolical explanation of the command; as though He had said, Yea, so far should ye be from any display of your fasting, that if it might be (which yet it may not be) so done, ye should even do such things as are tokens of luxury and feasting.

Chrys., Hom. xx: In almsgiving indeed, He did not say simply, ‘Do not your alms before men,’ but added, ‘to be seen of them.’ But in fasting and prayer He added nothing of this sort; because alms cannot be so done as to be altogether hid, fasting and prayer can be so done. The contempt of men’s praise is no small fruit, for thereby we are freed from the heavy slavery of human opinions, and become properly workers of virtue, loving it for itself and not for others. For as we esteem it an affront if we are loved not for ourselves but for others’ sake, so ought we not to follow virtue on the account of these men, nor to obey God for men’s sake but for His own.

Therefore it follows here, “But to thy Father which seeth in secret.”

Gloss.: That is, to thy heavenly Father, who is unseen, or who dwells in the heart through faith. He fasts to God who afflicts himself for the love of God, and bestows on others what he denies himself.

Remig.: For it is enough for you that He who sees your conscience should be your rewarder.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Spiritually interpreted – the face may be understood to mean the mental conscience. And as in the eyes of man a fair face has grace, so in the eyes of God a pure conscience has favour. This face the hypocrites, fasting on man’s account, disfigure, seeking thereby to cheat both God and man; for the conscience of the sinner is always wounded. If then you have cast out all wickedness from your heart, you have washed your conscience, and fast well.

Leo, Serm. in Quadr., vi, 2: Fasting ought to be fulfilled not in abstinence of food only, but much more in cutting off vices. For when we submit ourselves to that discipline in order to withdraw that which is the nurse of carnal desires, there is no sort of good conscience more to be sought than that we should keep ourselves sober from unjust will, and abstinent from dishonourable action. This is an act of religion from which the sick are not excluded, seeing integrity of heart may be found in an infirm body.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Spiritually again, “thy head” denotes Christ. Give the thirsty drink and feed the hungry, and therein you have anointed your head, that is, Christ, who cries out in the Gospel, “In that ye have done this to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me.” [Mat_25:40]

Greg., Hom. in Ev., xvi, 6: For God approves that fasting, which before His eyes opens the hands of alms. This then that you deny yourself, bestow on another, that wherein your flesh is afflicted, that of your needy neighbour may be refreshed.

Aug.: Or; by the head we rightly understand the reason, because it is preeminent in the soul, and rules the other members of the man. Now anointing the head has some reference to rejoicing. Let him therefore joy within himself because of his fasting, who in fasting turns himself from doing the will of the world, that he may be subject to Christ.

Gloss. ord.: Behold how every thing in the New Testament is not to be taken literally. It were ridiculous to be smeared with oil when fasting; but it is behoveful for the mind to be anointed with the spirit of His love, in whose sufferings we ought to partake by afflicting ourselves.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And truly we ought to wash our face, but to anoint, and not to wash, our head. For as long as we are in the body, our conscience is foul with sin. But Christ who is our head has done no sin.

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Cornelius a Lapde’s Commentary on 2 Cor 9:6-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 11, 2011

2 Cor 9:6  Now this I say: He who soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly: and he who soweth in blessings shall also reap blessings.

He who soweth in blessings shall also reap blessings, i.e., liberally scatters, as it were, seeds among the poor, shall reap of them again. For God, who reckons that to be done to Himself which is done to the poor, does not suffer Himself to be surpassed in liberality, but to the liberal is far more liberal, and repays them in greater abundance, both corporal and spiritual gifts. For parallel expressions, cf. Josh 15:19;  1 Sam 25:27;  Gen 48:25. In this last passage, Jacob hints at the reason why the Hebrew calls beneficence blessing. It is because, by a pious form of speech, they wish to point out that the beneficence of God, which is the fount and origin of all ours, flows from His benediction. With God to bless is to do, and is the same as to benefit, and therefore God by His word alone bestows on us all good things. (2.) Another reason is that the Patriarchs and early Christians, such as the hermits and other Saints of the New Testament, were wont to distribute the gifts with solemn prayer and blessing, and for this reason to call them by the name of ευ̉λογία. (3.) A third reason is that it is pleasanter, both to giver and receiver, to call the gift an act of benediction rather than of beneficence. Hence poor honest men, when asking for alms, call them benedictions, extenuating their importance, and rich givers in their turn do the same. Theophylact adds that S. Paul by this word stimulates them to cheerful giving, reminding them by it that what they give is a blessing to him that gives and him that takes. No one is saddened by giving such a blessing, but cheerfully imparts it. Cf. also Pror 22:9; Ecc 11:1.

Notice also the use of the words “sow” and “reap.” Almsgiving, like other good works, is a seed which produces a harvest of grace, and even of temporal good things, as is explained in vers. 8 and 10. Hence you may infer against Calvin that good works effect and merit a reward, for seed, by its natural powers, produces its proper fruit at harvest-time; therefore almsgiving produces truly its reward, not physically, as is evident, but meritoriously.

2 Cor 9:7  Every one as he hath determined in his heart, not with sadness or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Not with sadness or of necessity. Avarice makes reluctance, and regard for one’s reputation induces constraint. Let each man give what he likes, not influenced or compelled by my authority or that of Titus, and not because regard for his honour makes him ashamed of giving less than others.

For God loveth a cheerful giver. Quoted from Prov 22:9, LXX. On cheerfulness in giving, see Rom 12:8.  S. Augustine (Enarr. in Ps. xliii.) says beautifully: “If you give your bread grudgingly, you lose both your bread and your reward.” And again (Serm. 45): “If good works are good seeds, why are they sown in tears?” S. Chrysostom (Hom. on 1 Cor 11:19) says: “If we give cheerfully, our reward will be twofold, one for giving and one for giving cheerfully.” S. Gregory (Morals, 21, c. 11, on Job 31:16) says: “Job thus acted that he might increase his merits, not only by giving but also by the promptitude with which he gave his good things.” Cf. Prov 3:28, Sirach 35:9. Alms then should be given with cheerful mind, not sadly, reluctantly, and tardily. Thus shall we imitate God, who cheerfully distributes His gifts.

The heathen depict the Graces as three sisters, embracing one another but looking in different directions. They meant by this to signify how gifts should be distributed. The first, named Aglaia, denotes generosity, it being better to give than to receive. “For he who receives a kindness sells his freedom,” says the jester of P. Syrus. The second is called Thalia, i.e., flourishing in the midst of the course. The third is called Euphrosyne, or joy; for both he that gives and he that receives rejoice in the kindness done—God loveth a cheerful giver. Cf. Seneca (de Beneficiis).

2 Cor 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound in you: that ye always, having all sufficiently in all things, may abound to every good work,

And God is able to make all grace abound in you. This is an answer to an objection: You will say to me, If I give much, I shall become poor, I shall be unable for the future to help my servants and others who are in more need (Theophylact). To this the Apostle answers: Do not be afraid of that; believe and hope in God, who is able to make all grace (or beneficence—Syriac) abound toward you, so that you shall always have a sufficiency of goods, out of which you may abound in every good work. God can and does enrich those that give alms, so that they have always means to spend, and so can abound in works of charity.

God is able denotes not only the power but also the act of God. The phrase is a meiosis. Similarly, a king might say to his commander-in-chief: “Go, end the war, spare no expense. I am able to bear it, and to enrich you as well.”

In the Greek there is a beautiful use of the word all, which is three times repeated in the last clause of this verse, “always having all sufficiency in all things.” Not in some particular necessity, but in all; not at one time, but always; not some sufficiency but all sufficiency will God give you, to enable you to succour others.

Again, S. Paul does not here speak of abundance, says Theophylact, but sufficiency, enough for one’s self and one’s own. Perhaps he means to imply that he who is content with his lot, and has enough for himself and his family, desires no more. God alone is properly said to be self-sufficient, being One who has no need of any one, and rests wholly in Himself. An almsgiver partakes of the same character. An avaricious man, on the other hand, is never satisfied—”the more that waters are drunk the more are they thirsted for;” and so it is with riches. Hence the avaricious man is always in need. But self-sufficiency, as Clement (Pædag. lib. ii. c. 12) says, is a virtue which makes us contented; or it is a habit of mind that is content with such things as are needful, and which by itself acquires those things which belong to the life of bliss. Hippias (Suidas, sub Verbo Hippias) made self-sufficiency or a contented mind the end of all good. Moreover, Epicurus used to say that “sufficiency is the richest possession” (Clement, Strom. lib. vi.). In the same sense Cicero said (Paradox 1) that “to live happily, contentment was virtue enough.” Socrates, too (apud Plat. Dial 3 de Legibus), thus prays: “Let me have as much gold as a temperate man can bear.” For further notes on this subject, cf. 1 Tim 6:6, and Philippians 4:11.

2 Cor 9:9  As it is written: He hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor: his justice remaineth for ever.

As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad (Psa 112:9). In all necessities, in all places, and at all times, a merciful man, such as S. Laurence, of whom the Church sings, distributes his goods and his alms; in the same way he who sows scatters his seed. The Apostle wishes to prove that God makes all grace to abound towards almsgivers, and gives them full sufficiency for that grace (beneficence). He proves this from the fact that the giver of alms of his sufficiency distributes his alms, disperses them as seed on every side, not among his boon-companions or free-lovers, but among the poor. Œcumenius says that the word “dispersed” denotes the largeness of the alms given. It also implies that these alms are not wasted or thrown away.

His justness remaineth for ever. Remains in God’s memory and in its eternal reward, as in its harvest. So, too, when the husbandman scatters his seed he does not lose it, but entrusts it to the ground, that he may receive a hundred-fold in return. Almsgiving, therefore, is everlasting, and blesses the giver with everlasting glory. Hence the Psalmist also says: “The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance; he shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his horn” (his dignity, strength, and, as Theodoret says, his power) “shall be exalted with honour;” in other words, it shall daily increase until it be exalted in the highest in celestial glory.

His justness or his beneficence does not perish, but remains before God to be rewarded here and hereafter.  S. Chrysostom (Hom. 9 de Pænit.) says: “Heaven is to be gained by merchandise and trafficking. Give bread and you will receive paradise; give a little and gain much; give what is mortal and you will receive what is immortal.

Observe that in Scripture almsgiving, which is an act of mercy, is called righteousness, both because it forms a large part of righteousness in general, which embraces all virtues, as also because it is a mark of righteousness and holiness. The Saints are merciful, “but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov 12:10). A third reason is that it disposes to righteousness, and merits it, firstly, de congruo, and secondly, de condigno, as increasing righteousness. Hence, it is to the merciful alone that Christ gives the crown of righteousness (S. Matt 25:35). Hence, too, those that are hardened in evil must be exhorted as a last remedy to give alms, as Daniel did Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:24).

2 Cor 9:10  And he that ministereth seed to the sower will both give you bread to eat and will multiply your seed and increase the growth of the fruits of your justice:

And he that ministereth seed to the sower. This again is an answer to an objection which might be urged from the Psalm quoted. It might be said. You prove clearly enough, Paul, that alms remain in their heavenly reward, but I do not yet see how you prove from that that we ought not to impoverish ourselves. You have, therefore, given no answer to my first objection that if, I give alms liberally I shall make myself poor, and be unable for the future to give help to others.  S. Paul’s answer to this is, that the contrary is implied in the verse of the Psalm he has just quoted. As a master who supplies his husbandman with seed to sow his field, provides him also with bread to eat, and multiplies his seed, that is the grain sown, at harvest times, so that for one bushel he receives three, which he can sow again, and receives still more at the next harvest, and so on from year to year—so much more shall God, who gives to almsgivers goods to disperse to the poor, give them bread and all other necessaries of life; nay, more, He shall multiply their seed or goods to sow again and disperse to the poor. For God is our Master; we are His husbandmen: His field is the poor, and alms are the seed. God, then, wishes us as His husbandmen, to scatter His seed (alms) over His field (the poor). Much more, if we do that, will He give us nourishment and a harvest of goods to sow again. Let rich men remember that their riches are given them as seed to disperse to the poor, not to store up in their coffers or to be spent on costly clothing or luxurious living. “It is,” says Cicero, “a work of liberality to sow seeds of kindness, so as to be able to reap a harvest from them.”

Gregory of Tours (Hist. Gallic. lib. v. c. 38) highly praises the Christian Emperor Tiberius for his almsgiving, and says that he uttered the following words, worthy of an emperor: “There will be no deficiency in our treasury so long as the poor receive alms, and captives are redeemed. For if we do these things, great will be our treasure, according to the words of the Lord, ‘Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.’ Let us then lay up in store in heaven by the hands of the poor from what God has given us, that the Lord may vouchsafe to increase our goods on earth.” No wonder that God increased his wealth. He saw one day a cross engraved on the pavement, and when, out of veneration for it, he ordered the stone to be taken up, he found under it a vast treasure, containing more than 100,000 pieces of gold. Then, when, according to his wont, he distributed of it largely to the poor, God gave him another treasure already amassed for him by Narsetes, Duke of Italy. This was found in a cistern, in which, when they opened it, they found so much gold and silver that it took several days to carry it away. Cf. Baronius (Annals, A.D. 582).

Will both give you bread to eat. The Latin version with the Syriac gives the future, shall give, instead of the optative. Theophylact, Erasmus, and Vatablus read the optative. The future is better, because, as I said, Paul is endeavouring to banish from their minds all fear of poverty. But this is not to be done by wishing, but by making assertions and promising bread, seed, and fruits.

Will increase your seed. Your temporal goods. S. Basil (Hom. 13 de Eleemos.) says: “As seed cast into the ground brings forth fruit an hundredfold, so do alms given to the poor. If you have then but one loaf, and it be asked for at the door, take it and lift up your hands to heaven and say, ‘Of my little I give to my brother, and do Thou, 0 Lord, supply my want.’ Then doubt not that the bread given out of your poverty will abundantly minister you seed for sowing.” And again, commenting on S. Luke 12:18, he says: “As wells that are continuously drawn from send forth a sweeter and more copious supply of water, while if neglected and undisturbed they soon grow foul, so are riches when stored up useless, but when transferred to the poor they bring forth fruit.” Clement of Alexandria (Pædag. lib. iii. c. 7) uses this same simile of a well, and adds another. He says. “As milk commonly flows into those breasts that are sucked, so does wealth flow to those who spend it.” S. Cyprian says the same (Tract. de 0pere et Eleemos.), and adds that the best inheritance that parents can leave their children is alms given, and the more children there are the more liberal should the almsgiving be. He proves this by the example of the widow of Sarepta (1 Kings 7) and from Tob. 4:7. Cf. Prov 28:27, and Psa 37:26.

Very many remarkable examples are given by Leontius, in his “Life of John the Almoner,” who, like the Emperor Titus, bewailed that he had lost a day because he had given no alms. “Even if the world,” he said, “were to come into Alexandria, it would not narrow my liberality and wealth.” This he learnt from a vision he saw of a certain virgin named Mercy, who, standing before God, seemed to obtain from Him all that she asked for. Hence this holy man John, when he had nothing to spend, would frequently, in his love of almsgiving, change miraculously tin or honey into cold. The more he gave the more was brought to him to spend; and so he seemed to strive with God and God with him which should be the most bountiful. When he at length died, he had half a piece of money left, and he ordered this to be given to his brethren and masters, the poor, that all he had might be restored to Christ.

Sophronius, in his Pratum Spirituale, a work mentioned with approval by the Second Council of Nice (Gen. Act. iv. c. 185), narrates that a wife gave to her husband, who wished to increase his wealth, the advice to sell what he had and give it to the poor, and he would find that he would receive it again with interest. He did so, and distributed his whole estate to the poor, and for fifty he received three hundred.

Sophronius has a still more beautiful example (c. 195) in the philosopher Evagrius, who, having heard in church that almsgiving was rewarded a hundredfold in heaven, gave £60 to the Bishop, Synesius, to be distributed among the poor, and received from him a written promise that for each he should receive a hundred in heaven. When he was dying, he ordered his sons to place this writing in his hand when he was buried. This having been done, Evagrius, on the third day after death, appeared to the Bishop in a dream, and said: “Go to my tomb and take back your handwriting, for I have received a hundredfold what I gave, according to Christ’s promise and yours.” In the morning the Bishop went with his clergy to the tomb, and took from the hand of Evagrius a letter, of which this was the tenor: “Evagrius the philosopher to his Bishop. I am unwilling for you, my father, to be ignorant that I have received according to your promise the money that I gave you in my lifetime, and received for it a hundredfold; therefore you are not bound to me by any debt.”

Similar examples are found in the life of S. Liduina and other Saints. Hence Chrysostom says that “alms have the name of seed, because they are not so much expended as returned.”  S. Deusdedit well understood this, for, as the Roman Martyrology records (Aug. 10th), although he was a poor man yet he gave to the poor every Saturday all that he had earned during the week, looking only to obtain the heavenly reward.

“If you have any care for your children, leave them a written deed in which you have God as your debtor,” says S. Chrysostom, referring to money left for the poor by will. A famous example of this occurs in Sophronius (c. 201), in the case of a nobleman of Constantinople, who, when dying, left all his goods to the poor and his son to the care of Christ. Nor was he disappointed of his hope; for Christ gave his son a wife, who was at once noble, rich, and pious.  S. Chrysostom wrote at the head of his Thirty-third Homily to the people, “that almsgiving is the most profitable of all occupations.” Cf. Prov 19:17.

And increase the growth of the fruits of your justice. God will increase the outgoings of your righteousness and charity, ie., He will give an increase of grace here and of glory hereafter (Theophylact). “By fruits,” says Anselm, “he means God’s eternal reward.” The Apostle seems here to speak of three fruits of almsgiving: (1.) when he says, “Shall minister seed to the sower;” (2.) when he says, “And multiply your seed sown;” (3.) when he says, “And increase the fruits of your righteousness.” In this sense S. Anselm, as related by Edinerus in his Life, when he entered Canterbury on a visit to Archbishop Lanfranc and was honourably and lovingly received by the citizens, said, when he was explaining to them the glory and merit of charity, that “those who do works of charity have something greater than those who are recipients of charity. For the one receives a temporal benefit only, but the other spiritual; and they look besides for eternal thanks from God.” Christ said the same thing in His paradox on the rich of this world: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Anselm again understands this passage to refer simply to the fruits of temporal goods. God will make your fruits and riches to increase, that you may have ever more and more to give in alms, and He will increase the fruits of your righteousness. In other words, He will give much more abundant increase to those fruits of yours which your righteousness gains for you; for it is only just that, since God gives to man all that he has, man should from it give to him who is in need. If we do this, our fruits will he increased by God. Hence almsgiving is rightly called seed, because he who sows once will reap twice, once in earth and once in heaven. This is Anselm’s comment, and he seems to be right; for the Apostle is explaining the words, “shall multiply your seed,” and is impressing on the Corinthians that alms do not impoverish but enrich the giver, that so he may remove from their minds and from the minds of all Christians all fear of poverty, which so frequently deters men from almsgiving, and which is given as an objection so often to the admonitions of those who urge the duty.

Nevertheless, it is simpler to understand fruits of your justice of the wealth which God gives to the beneficent as a harvest for what they have sown. The increase of these fruits is nothing else but the harvest that follows on the seed. Since, therefore, it is evident that when the Apostle said, “shall multiply your seed sown,” he meant by seed the money spent on the poor, it is also evident that here he means the same thing. As is the seed, so is the harvest. The one is correlative with the other, as are merit and reward. This, then, seems to be the drift of the Apostle’s words.

Lastly, we should observe that he alludes to the fields and estates of the rich. Beneficence, he says, is like a field, or a very fertile farm, which brings forth to the almsgiver plentiful and never-failing fruits from the seed of his alms. (1.) It gives bread or food. (2.) It multiplies his seed, or money to be dispersed again among the poor. (3.) It also increases his fruits, and enriches his family. These three things a temporal lord gives to his husbandman if he is faithful and diligent; much more will God do the same.

2 Cor 9:11  That being enriched in all things, you may abound unto all simplicity which worketh through us thanksgiving to God.

You may abound unto all simplicity. Or liberality. This simplicity or liberality of yours brings it to pass that I and all my companions, nay, all Christians amongst whom I speak of it, give thanks to God for having instilled into you such feelings of piety and mercy.

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Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 2 Cor 9:6-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 11, 2011

6. But I say this: Who sows sparingly shall sparingly also reap; and who sows in blessings, in blessings also shall reap.

Alms are seed sown in the hands of the poor, as God’s field. The harvest will be gathered in his embrace. He who sows but little, will also reap little, in comparison with him who, with equal opportunities, sows much; but the reward will in any case be great, in comparison with the value that is given. He who sows in benedictions, spends his money liberally and syste natically for the relief of the poor, will reap a large and plentiful harvest of the benediction of God. Yet the value is estimated by the intention of the giver, rather than the value of the gift. The widow gave all she had, but it was but two half farthings.

7. Every one as he has destined in his heart, not of sadness, or necessity: for a glad giver God loves.

But above all, the gift should be voluntary, not compulsory. If you are sorry to part with your money, keep it. If you only give because others do, you are not in the least compelled to follow their example. A glad giver is what God loves, approves, rewards. In all thou givest, make thy countenance glad (Sirach 35:9). He who gives bread to a poor man sadly, loses both the merit, says St. Augustine, and the bread.

8. And God is able to make all grace abound in you; that in all things, at all times, having all sufficiency, you may abound to every good work.

Do not be under any apprehension that if you give too freely and largely, you yourself may possibly come to want. God is at least as generous as you, and more powerful; He is able to make all grace abound to you, temporal as well as spiritual. For this mortal life you shall always have what is sufficient wherever you may be, whatever you may stand in need of, for as long as you require it. And more, you shall have abundance for works of charity. The less we spend on ourselves, the more we have to give to others. Saint Chrysostom takes this as a prayer. He asks for them, in carnal things, what is sufficient; in spiritual things, abundance.

9. As it is written : He has dispersed, He has given tothe poor; His justice endures for ever and ever.

Ps 112:9, His justice remains for ever. That is, his alms. Alms is called justice, because it makes the just man more just; and obtains remission of sin. Take heed
that you do not your justice before men (Matt 6:1). Seed sown in the ground does not perish, but remains, and bears fruit; so does the alms of the just given to the poor. For ever and ever. In time and in eternity. In time, for God’s blessing will give you larger means for the exercise of your bounty; in eternity it will have an eternal reward. You need not, therefore, be under any apprehension about giving more than is prudent, for what you give is not lost, but remains. It seems marvellous, says St. Chrysostom, that all we keep perishes, and all we give remains, for time and eternity. Saint Basil (on Luke. xii.)
compares riches to a well. A spring always flowing is continually renewed, but if still it stagnates. Wealth hoarded is useless; given to the poor it becomes fruitful.
When the infant sucks the breast, says Saint Clement of Alexandria, the milk will flow; and when riches are spent on the poor, the supply, by God’s promises, is unfailing.

10. And He Who administers seed to the sower, will both supply bread to eat, and multiply your seed, and augment the increase of the fruit of your justice.

The Greek text, as we now have it, the Arabic version, Saint Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Theophylact, all read these words in the optative mood, as a prayer. May God supply you with bread, and increase the fruits of your justice. The Vulgate, and the Syriac and Ethiopic versions, take it in the future indicative, as above. The figure used by the Apostle is intended to illustrate what
he said in verse 8 that it is in God’s power to do, and in verse 9 that He ordinarily does; give to the just sufficiency for their own life, and abundance for the poor. A landlord gives the cultivator seed to sow, and bread for himself to eat until the crop grows up. And he gives him also a share in the crop itself when the harvest comes. That share gives him a larger supply of seed for the next sowing, so that he can extend the breadth of his operation for the next, and more and more in future years. Thus God gives to the giver of alms, who is His cultivator, the temporal goods which he is to bestow in alms, and which are the seed he has to sow. 2. He also gives him what is necessary for his own subsistence. 3. He multiplies the seed, by increasing the means at his disposal for liberality; and 4. He will augment the increase of the fruit of justice, give a spiritual and eternal reward immeasurably great, beginning in this life and continued hereafter, the recompense of charity. Alms are the seed of a threefold harvest, the multiplication of temporal goods, the increase of grace and sanctity, the merit of everlasting glory. As Christ said (Acts 20:35), It is happier to give than to receive. The reward is given certainly in the life to come, also ordinarily in this: for the givers of alms are ordinarily better off than the avaricious. But God’s providence is not in this invariable and always the same, for sometimes, for the trial of faith, and greater glory to the just, it happens otherwise.

11. That enriched in all things, you may abound to all simplicity, which operates through us thanksgiving to God.

Enriched in all things, in what is sufficient for this life, and the treasures of the life to come. You may abound in simplicity—that is, as Saint Chrysostom understands, in munificence. This gives us cause of thanksgiving to God; of which the Apostle always speaks as if it were a good in itself, owing to the kindness of God, who is pleased with our thanks. God’s gifts proceed from His bounty, and return to Him in thanksgiving.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Matthew 5:43-48

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 11, 2011

Matt 5:43-45  “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them which despitefully use you: bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you. That ye may become like your Father which is in Heaven; for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

See how He hath set the highest pinnacle on our good deeds. For this is why He teaches not only to endure a blow, but to offer the right cheek also; not only to add the cloak to the coat, but to travel also two miles with him who compels thee to go one; in order that thou mightest receive with all facility that which is much more than these. “But what,” one may say, “is more than these?” Not even to count as an enemy him who is doing these things: or rather even somewhat else more than this. For He said not, “do not hate,” but “love;” He said not, “do not injure,” but “do good.”

And if any one should examine accurately, he will see that even to these things somewhat is added, much greater than they are. For neither did He simply command to love, but to pray.

Seest thou how many steps He hath ascended, and how He hath set us on the very summit of virtue? Nay, mark it, numbering from the beginning. A first step is, not to begin with injustice: a second, after he hath begun, to vindicate one’s self by equal retaliation; a third, not to do unto him that is vexing us the same that one hath suffered, but to be quiet; a fourth, even to give one’s self up to suffer wrongfully; a fifth, to give up yet more than the other, who did the wrong, wishes; a sixth, not to hate him who hath done so; a seventh, even to love him; an eighth, to do him good also; a ninth, to entreat God Himself on his behalf. Seest thou, what height of self-command? Wherefore glorious too, as we see, is the reward which it hath. That is, because the thing enjoined was great, and needed a fervent soul, and much earnestness, He appoints for it also such a reward, as for none of the former. For He makes not mention here of earth, as with respect to the meek; nor of comfort and mercy, as with regard to the mourners and the merciful; nor of the kingdom of Heaven; but of that which was more thrilling than all; our becoming like God, in such wise as men might become so. For He saith, “That ye may become like unto your Father which is in Heaven.”

And observe, I pray thee, how neither in this place, nor in the preceding parts, doth He call Him His own Father, but in that instance, “God,” and “a great King,” when he was discoursing about oaths, and here, “their Father.” And this He doth, as reserving for the proper season what He had to say touching these points.

Then, bringing the likeness yet closer, He saith,

(verse 45).  “Because He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain upon just and unjust.”

“For He too, so far from hating.” so He speaks, “even pours benefits on those that insult Him.” Yet surely in no respect is the case parallel, not only because of the surpassing nature of His benefits, but also by reason of the excellence of His dignity. For thou indeed art despised by thy fellow-slave, but He by His slave, who hath also received ten thousand benefits from Him: and thou indeed givest words, in praying for him, but He, deeds, very great and marvellous, kindling the sun, and giving the annual showers. “Nevertheless, even so I grant thee to be mine equal, in such wise as it is possible for a man so to be.”

Hate not then the man that doeth thee wrong, who is procuring thee such good things, and bringing thee to so great honor. Curse not him that uses thee despitefully; for so hast thou undergone the labor, but art deprived of the fruit; thou wilt bear the loss, but lose the reward; which is of the utmost folly, having borne the more grievous, not to bear what is less than it. “But how,” saith one, “is it possible for this to take place?” Having seen God become man, and descend so far, and suffer so much for thy sake, dost thou still inquire and doubt, how it is possible to forgive thy fellow-servants their injuriousness? Hearest thou not Him on the cross, saying, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do?”(Matt 5:45). Hearest thou not Paul, when he saith, “He who is gone up on high, and is sitting on the right hand intercedeth for us?” (Lk 23:34) Seest thou not that even after the cross, and after He had been received up, He sent the apostles unto the Jews that had slain Him, to bring them His ten thousand blessings, and this, though they were to suffer ten thousand terrors at their hands?

But hast thou been greatly wronged? Nay, what hast thou endured like thy Lord, bound, beaten with whips, with rods, spit upon by servants, enduring death, and that death, which is of all deaths the most shameful, after ten thousand favors shown? And even if thou hast been greatly wronged, for this very cause most of all do thou do him good, that thou mayest both make thine own crown more glorious, and set thy brother free from the worst infirmity. For so too the physicians, when they are kicked, and shamefully handled by the insane, then most of all pity them, and take measures for their perfect cure, knowing that the insult comes of the extremity of their disease. Now I bid thee too have the same mind touching them that are plotting against thee, and do thou so treat them that are injuring thee. For it is they above all that are diseased, it is they who are undergoing all the violence. Deliver him then from this grievous contumely, and grant him to let go his anger, and set him free from that grievous demon, wrath. Yea, for if we see persons possessed by devils, we weep for them; we do not seek to be ourselves also possessed.

Now let us do this too likewise with respect to them that are angry; for in truth the enraged are like the possessed; yea rather, are more wretched than they, being mad with consciousness of it. Wherefore also their frenzy is without excuse. Trample not then on the fallen, but rather pity him. For so, should we see any one troubled with bile, blinded and giddy, and straining to east up this evil humor, we stretch forth a hand, and continue to support him through his struggles, and though we stain our garments, we regard it not, but seek one thing only, how we may set him free from this grievous distress. This then let us do with respect to the angry also, and continue to bear them up when vomiting and struggling; nor let him go, until he put from him all the bitterness. And then shall he feel toward thee the greatest thankfulness; when he is at rest, then he will know clearly from how great trouble thou hast released him.

But why do I speak of the thanks from him? for God will straightway crown thee, and will requite thee with ten thousand honors, because thou hast freed thy brother from a grievous disease; and that brother too will honor thee as a master, ever reverencing thy forbearance.

Seest thou not the women that are in travail, how they bite those that stand by, and they are not pained? or rather they are pained, but bear it bravely, and sympathize with them who are in sorrow and are torn by those pangs. These do thou too emulate, and prove not softer than women. For after these women have brought forth (for these men are more feeble minded than women), then they will know thee to be a man in comparison (Rom 8:34).

And if the things enjoined be grievous, consider that to this end Christ came, that He might implant these things in our mind, that He might render us profitable both to enemies and friends. Wherefore also He commands us to have a care of both these: of our brethren, when He saith, “If thou bring thy gift;” of our enemies, when He makes a law both to love them, and to pray for them.

And not only from the example they have in God, doth He urge them on to this, but also from the contrary.

“For if ye love those,” saith He, “that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” This Paul also saith, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” (Matt 5:46) If then thou doest these things, thou hast taken thy stand with God; but if thou forsakest them, with the publicans. Seest thou how that the interval between the commandments is not so great as the difference between the persons? Let us not therefore infer this, “the injunction is hard;” but let us consider also the reward, and think whom we are like, if we duly perform it, and to whom equal, if we wander from it.

Thus then to our brother He commands us to be reconciled, and not to desist till we have removed the enmity: but when He is discoursing of persons generally, He subjects us no longer to this necessity, but requires only what is on our part; in this way also making the law easy. For inasmuch as He had said, “They persecuted the prophets which were before you;” lest on occasion of those very words they should be unfavorably disposed towards them, He bids them not only to endure such as do so, but even to love them.

Seest thou how He pulls up by the roots wrath, and sensual lusts, as well as that of riches, that of glory, all that belongs to this life? For this he had done indeed from the first, but much more now. For the poor, and the meek, and the mourner, empties himself of his anger; the just and the merciful, of the lust of riches; the pure in heart is delivered from wicked lusts; he that is persecuted and suffers insults, and is evil spoken of, is practising of course entire contempt of things present, and is clear from pride and vainglory.

Having therefore loosed the hearer from these bonds, and having anointed him for the conflicts, again in another way He roots up these passions, and with increased strictness. For having begun by anger, and having cut out on every side the sinews of this passion; having said, “he that is angry with his brother,” and “he that calleth fool,” or “Rata,” let him be punished: and “he that is offering his gift, let him not approach the table until he have done away the enmity;” and “he that hath an adversary, before he see the tribunal, let him make the enemy a friend:” He makes a transition to lust again, and saith, “he that beholds with unchaste eyes, let him be punished as an adulterer;” whoso is offended by an unchaste woman, or by a man, or by any other of those belonging to him, let him cut off all these; “he that hath a woman by law of marriage, let him never cast her out, and look to another.” For hereby He hath pulled up the roots of wicked lust. Then after this He restrains the love of riches, commanding neither to swear, nor to lie, nor to keep hold of the very cloak with which one may chance to be clad, but rather to give up one’s coat too, to him who would have it, and one’s bodily services; completely and more than completely taking away our longing for riches. Then after all these things, and the varied garland of these commandments, He goes on to say “pray for them which despitefully use you:” leading us up to the very highest summit of self-control.

For as being meek is not so much as to take smiting, nor being merciful, as to give one’s coat also together with one’s cloak, nor being just, as to bear injury, nor being a peacemaker, as to follow even when smitten and compelled; so also to suffer persecution is not so much as to bless when persecuted. Seest thou how by degrees He leads us up into the very arches, of Heaven?

What then can we deserve, who are commanded to emulate God, and are perhaps in a way not so much as to equal the publicans? For if “to love them that love us” be the part of publicans, sinners, and heathens: when we do not even this (and we do it not, so long as we envy our brethren who are in honor), what penalty shall we not incur, commanded as we are to surpass the scribes, and taking our place below the heathens? How then shall we behold the kingdom, I pray thee? how shall we set foot on that holy threshold, who are not surpassing even the publicans? For this He covertly signified, when He said, “Do not even the publicans the same?”

And this thing most especially we may admire in His teaching, that while in each instance He sets down with very great fullness the prizes of the conflicts; such as “to see God,” and “to inherit the kingdom of Heaven,” and “to become sons of God,” and “like God,” and “to obtain mercy,” and “to be comforted,” and “the great reward:” if anywhere He must needs mention things grievous, He doth this in a subdued tone. Thus in the first place, the name of hell He hath set down once only in so many sentences; and in some other instances too, it is with reserve that He corrects the hearer, and as though he were managing His discourse rather in the way of shaming than threatening him; where He saith, “do not even the publicans the same?” and, “if the salt have lost its savor;” and, “he shall be called least in the kingdom of Heaven.”

And there are places where He puts down the sin itself by way of punishment, leaving to the hearer to infer the grievousness of the punishment: as when He saith, “he hath committed adultery with her in his heart;” and, “he that putteth away causeth her to commit adultery;” and, “That which is more than these is of the evil one.” For to them that have understanding, instead of the mention of the punishment, the very greatness of the sin is sufficient for correction.

Wherefore also He here brings forward the heathens and the publicans, by the quality of the person putting the disciple to shame. Which Paul too did, saying, “Sorrow not, even as the rest which have no hope” (Heb 12:4); and, “Even as the Gentiles which know not God.”

And to signify that He requires nothing very overpowering, but a little more than was accustomed, He saith,

“Do not even the Gentiles the same?”  Yet nevertheless He stops not the discourse at this, but makes it end with His rewards, and those good hopes, saying,

“Be ye therefore perfect, as your Heavenly Father.”

And He intersperses everywhere abundantly the name of the heavens, by the very place thoroughly elevating their minds. For as yet, I know not how, they were somewhat weak and dull.

Let us then, bearing in mind all the things which have been said, show forth great love even towards our enemies; and let us east away that ridiculous custom, to which many of the more thoughtless give way, waiting for those that meet them to address them first. Towards that which hath a great blessing, they have no zeal; but what is ridiculous, that they follow after.

Wherefore now dost thou not address him first? “Because he is waiting for this,” is the reply. Nay, for this very reason most of all thou shouldest have sprung forward to him, that thou mightest win the crown. “No,” saith he, “since this was his object.” And what can be worse than this folly? That is, “Because this,” saith he, “was his object;—to become procurer of a reward for me;—I will not put my hand to what he has thus suggested.” Now if he first address thee, thou gainest nothing, even though thou accost him. But if thou be first to spring forward and speak to him, thou hast made thyself profit of his pride, and hast gathered in a manner abundant fruit from his obstinacy.28 What is it then but the utmost folly, when we are to reap so large fruit from bare words, to give up the gain; and condemning him, to stumble at the very same thing? For if thou blamest him for this, that he first waits to be addressed by another, wherefore dost thou emulate that same thing which thou accusest? That which thou saidst was evil, why art thou to imitate the same as good? Seest thou how that nothing is more senseless than a man who associates with wickedness? Wherefore, I entreat, let us flee this evil and ridiculous practice. Yea, for ten thousand friendships hath this pestilence overthrown, many enmities hath it wrought.

For this cause then let us anticipate them. Since we who are commanded to take blows, and be compelled to journey,29 and to be stripped by enemies, and to bear it; what kind of indulgence should we deserve, exhibiting so great contentiousness in a mere formal address?

“Why,” saith one, “we are despised and spit upon, the moment we have given him up this.” And in order that man may not despise thee, dost thou offend God? And in order that thy frenzied fellow servant may not despise thee, dost thou despise the Lord, who hath bestowed on thee benefits so great? Nay, if it be amiss that thine equal should despise thee, how much more that thou shouldest despise the God that made thee?

And together with this, consider that other point also; that when he despises thee, he is at that very moment employed in procuring to thee a greater reward. Since for God’s sake thou submittest to it, because thou hast hearkened to His laws. And this, to what kind of honor is it not equal? to how many diadems? Be it my portion both to be insulted and despised for God’s sake, rather than to be honored by all kings; for nothing, nothing is equal to this glory.

This then let us pursue, in such wise as Himself commanded, and making no account of the things of men, but showing forth perfect self restraint in all things, let us so direct our own lives. For so even now, from this very timer we shall enjoy the good things of the heavens, and of the crowns that are there, walking as angels among men, going about in the earth like the angelic powers, and abiding apart from all lust, from all turmoil.

And together with all these things we shall receive also the unutterable blessings: unto which may we all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory, and power, and worship, with the unoriginate Father, and the Holy and Good Spirit, now and always, even forever and ever. Amen.

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