The Divine Lamp

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Archive for July, 2011

Friday, August 5: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 16:24-28)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2011

Ver 24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.25. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

Chrys., Hom. iv: Peter had said, “Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee;” and had been answered, “Get thee behind me, Satan;” but the Lord was not satisfied with this rebuke, but over and above desired to shew the impropriety of those things which Peter had said, and the fruit of His own passion; whence it is added, “Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me;” as much as to say, You say unto me, “Be it far from thee;” but I say unto you, that not only is it harmful for you to hinder Me from My Passion, but yourself will not be able to be saved unless you suffer and die, and renounce your life always.

And note, that He does not speak of it as compulsory, for He does not say, Though ye will not yet must ye suffer this, but, “If any man will.” By saying this He rather attracted them; for he who leaves his auditor at liberty, attracts him the more; whereas he that uses violence oftentimes hinders him.

And He proposes this doctrine, not to His disciples only, but in common to the whole world, saying, “If any man will,” that is, if woman, if man, if king, if free, if slave; there are three things mentioned; “let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

Gregory, Hom. in Ev., xxxii, 2: For unless a man departs from himself, he does not draw near to Him who is above him. But if we leave ourselves, whither shall we go out of ourselves? Or if we have forsaken ourselves, who is it then that goes? Indeed, we are one thing when fallen by sin, another thing as we were made by nature. It is therefore then that we leave and deny ourselves, when we avoid that which we were of old, and strive towards that to which we are called in newness.

Greg., in Ezech., Hom. i, 10: He denies himself whosoever is changed for the better, and begins to be what he was not, and ceases to be what he was.

Greg., Mor., xxxiii, 6: He also denies himself, who having trode under foot the risings of pride, shews himself in the eyes of God to be estranged from himself.

Origen: But though a man may seem to keep from sin, yet if he does not believe in the cross of Christ, he cannot be said to be crucified with Christ; whence it follows, “And take up his cross.”

Chrys.: Otherwise; He that disowns another, whether a brother, or a servant, or whosoever it be, he may see him beaten, or suffering aught else, and neither succours nor befriends him; thus it is He would have us deny our body, and whether it be beaten or addicted in any other way, not to spare it. For this is to spare. So parents do then most spare their children when they hand them over to tutors, bidding them not to spare them. And that you should not think that this denial of self extends only to words or affronts, he shews to what degree we should deny ourselves, namely, to death the most shameful, even that of the cross; this He signifies when He says, “And take up his cross, and follow me.”

Hilary: We are to follow our Lord by taking up the cross of His passion; and if not in deed, yet in will, bear Him company.

Chrys.: And because malefactors often suffer grievous things, that you should not suppose that simply to suffer evil is enough, He adds the reason of suffering, when He says, “And follow me.” For His sake you are to endure all, and to learn His other virtues; for this is to follow Christ aright, to be diligent in the practice of virtues, and to suffer all things for His sake.

Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxii, 3: There are two ways of taking our cross; when the body is afflicted by abstinence, or when the heart is pained by compassion for another. Forasmuch as our very virtues are beset with faults, we must declare that vainglory sometimes attends abstinence of flesh, for the emaciated body and pale countenance betray this high virtue to the praise of the world. Compassion again is sometimes attended by a false affection, which is hereby led to be consenting unto sin; to shut out these, He adds, “and follow me.”

Jerome: Otherwise; He takes up his cross who is crucified to the world; and he to whom the world is crucified, follows his crucified Lord.

Chrys.: And then because this seemed severe, He softens it by shewing the abundant rewards of our pains, and the punishment of evil, “He that will save his life shall lose it.”

Origen: This may be understood in two ways. First thus; if any lover of this present life spares his life, fearing to die, and supposing that his life is ended with this death; he seeking in this way to save his life, shall lose it, estranging it from life eternal. But if any, despising the present life, shall contend for the truth unto death, he shall lose his life as far as this present life is concerned, but forasmuch as he loses it for Christ, he shall the more save it for life eternal.

Otherwise thus; if any understand what is true salvation, and desire to obtain it for the salvation of his own life, he by denying himself loses his life as to the enjoyments of the flesh, but saves it by works of piety. He shews by saying, “For he that will,” that this passage must be connected in sense with that which went before. If then we understand the first, “Let him deny himself,” of the death of the body, we must take this that follows of death only; but if we understand the first of mortifying the propensities of the flesh, then, to lose his life, signifies to give up carnal pleasures.

Ver 26. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?27. For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.28. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

Chrys.: Because He had said, Whoso will save, shall lose, and whoso will lose shall save, opposing saving to losing, that none should hence conclude that there was any equality between the losing on one side, and the saving on the other, He adds, “What does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his soul?” As though He had said, Say not that he who escapes the dangers which threaten him for Christ’s sake, saves his soul, that is, his temporal life; but add to his temporal life the whole world, and what of all these things will profit a man if his soul perishes for ever?

Suppose you should see all your servants in joy, and yourself placed in the greatest evils, what profit would you reap from being their master! Think over this within your own soul, when by the indulgence of the flesh that soul looks for its own destruction.

Origen: I suppose also that he gains the world who does not deny himself, nor loses his own life as to carnal pleasures, and thence suffers the loss of his soul. These two things being set before us, we must rather choose to lose the world, and gain our souls.

Chrys.: But if you should reign over the whole world, you would not be able to buy your soul; whence it follows, “Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” As much as to say, if you lose goods, you may have it in your power to give other goods to recover them; but if you lose your soul, you can neither give another soul, nor any thing else in ransom for it. And what marvel is it if this happen in the soul, when we see the same happen in the body; for if you should surround a body afflicted with an incurable disease with ten thousand diadems, they would not heal it.

Origen: And at first sight indeed the ransom of the soul might he supposed to be in his substance, that a man should give his substance to the poor, and so should save his soul. But I suppose that a man has nothing that giving as a ransom for his soul he should deliver it from death. God gave the ransom for the souls of men, namely the precious blood of His Son.

Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxii, 4: Or the connexion may be thus; The Holy Church has a period of persecution, and a period of peace; and our Redeemer accordingly distinguishes between these periods in His commands; in time of persecution the life is to be laid down; but in time of peace, those earthly lusts which might gain too great power over us are to be broken through; whence He says, “What does it profit a man?”

Jerome: Having thus called upon His disciples to deny themselves and take up their cross, the hearers were filled with great terror, therefore these severe tidings are followed by more joyful; “For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy Angels.” Dost thou fear death? Hear the glory of the triumph. Dost thou dread the cross? Hear the attendance of the Angels.

Origen: As much as to say; The Son of Man is now come, but not in glory; for He ought not to have been ordained in His glory to bear our sins; but then He shall come in His glory, when He shall first have made ready His disciples, being made as they are, that He might make them as He is Himself, in the likeness of His glory.

Chrys.: He said not in such glory as is that of the Father, that you might not suppose a difference of glory, but He says, “The glory of the Father,” that it might be shewn to be the same glory. But if the glory is one, it is evident that the substance is one. What then fearest thou, Peter, hearing of death? For then shalt thou see Me in glory. But if I be in glory, so also shall ye be. But in making mention of His glory, He mingleth therewith things terrible, bringing forward the judgment, as it follows, “And then shall he render to each man according to his works.”

Jerome: For there is no difference of Jew or Gentile, man or woman, poor or rich, where not persons but works are accepted.

Chrys.: This He said to call to their minds not only the punishment of sinners, but the prizes and crowns of the righteous.

Jerome: But the secret thought of the Apostles might have suffered an offence of this sort; The killings and deaths you speak of as to be now, but the promise of your coming in glory is put off to a long distant time. He that knows secret things therefore, seeing that they might object this, requites a present fear with a present reward, saying, “Verily I say unto you, There be some of those standing here that shall not taste death until the Son of Man come in his kingdom.”

Chrys., Hom. lvi: Willing to shew what is that glory in which He shall come hereafter, He revealed it to them in this present life, so far as it was possible for them to receive it, that they might not have sorrow in their Lord’s deathRemig. see Bed. in Luc. 9, 27: What is here said, therefore, was fulfilled in the three disciples to whom the in Lord, when transfigured in the mount, shewed the joys of the eternal inheritance; these saw “Him coming in His kingdom,” that is, shining in His effulgent radiance, in which, after the judgment passed, He shall be beheld by all the saints.

Chrys.: Therefore He does not reveal the names of those who should ascend into the mount, because the rest would be very desirous to accompany them whither they might look upon the pattern of His glory, and would be grieved as though they were passed over.

Greg.: Or, by the kingdom of God is meant the present Church, and because some of His disciples were to live so long in the body as to behold the Church of God built up and raised against the glory of this world, this comfortable promise is given them, “There be some of them standing here.”

Origen: Morally; To those who are nearly brought to the faith, the Word of God wears the form of a servant; but to those that are perfect, He comes in the glory of the Father. His angels are the words of the Prophets, which it is not possible to comprehend spiritually, until the word of Christ has been first spiritually comprehended, and then will their words be seen in like majesty with His. Then will He give of His own glory to every man according to his deeds; for the better each man is in his deeds, so much the more spiritually does he understand Christ and His Prophets. They that stand where Jesus stands, are they that have the foundations of their souls rested upon Jesus; of whom such as stood firmest are said not to taste death till they see the Word of God; which comes in His kingdom when they see that excellence of God which they cannot see while they are involved in divers sins, which is to taste death, forasmuch as the soul that sinneth, dies.

For as life, and the living bread, is He that came down from heaven, so His enemy death is the bread of death. And of these breads there are some that eat but a little, just tasting them, while some eat more abundantly. They that sin neither often, nor greatly, these only taste death; they that have partaken more perfectly of spiritual virtue do not taste it only, but feed ever on the living bread. That He says, “Until they see,” does not fix any time at which shall be done what had not been done before, but mentions just what is necessary; for he that once sees Him in His glory, shall after that by no means taste death.

Raban., e Bed. in Luc., 9: It is of the saints He speaks as tasting death, by whom the death of the body is tasted just as it were sipping, while the life of the soul is held fast in possession.

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Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Luke 16:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2011

 

Luk 16:1  And (but) he said also to his disciples: There was a certain rich man who had a steward: and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods.

1. It is disputed among Commentators, whether the following parable was spoken immediately after the three preceding ones, at the same time and in the same place. The common opinion, to which the adversative and connecting particle, δέ (de = but), adds much force, is, that it was uttered immediately after them. By a very natural connection, our Lord, after having reproved the Pharisees, who murmured at His mild treatment of sinners, now directly addressing His followers in general, unto the end of time, points out, how wealth should be employed; that almsdeeds are to be added to penance, in order to obtain the grace of repentance for sinners, and perseverance for the just, almsdeeds being obligatory on all. This was, no doubt, indirectly intended for the Pharisees, whose griping avarice, which made them “deride Him” (see vs. 14), He censures in this parable. By the example of the unjust steward, He wishes to show the avaricious Pharisees and all rich men, to the end of time, the prudence they should practise in regard to spiritual matters, the alacrity with which they should shut up “alms in the heart of the poor, as it shall obtain help against all evil” (Eccles. 29:15).

The word, “steward,” as appears from the Greek—οἰκονόμος (oikonomos)—means, a dispenser, who has charge of all his master’s goods. The Vulgate term, ilvillicus,” would refer to a land-steward in charge of the farm. Here it is taken in a wider signification (vers. 5-7). “Was accused.” The Greek word means, denounced, charged.

“Wasted,” by luxurious living; or, byill-conoeived generosity in bestowing presents and the like. It need hardly be remarked that, in their spiritual application, the words, “the rich man ” denotes Almighty God, the Sovereign Lord and Master of all, to whom belongs every thing, the earth and its fulness.

By “the steward” is meant, man, His creature, to whom He confided His goods, whether gifts of fortune, of nature, or of grace, to be employed, not for man’s own individual advantage; but, for the benefit of His Master, whose steward he is, in the manner He enjoins, and for His honour and glory. From this entire passage, we can clearly see, that in relation to God, whatever may be said of rights secured by human law—no man is absolute proprietor or master of anything he possesses. He is a mere steward or dispenser, and in order to discharge the first duty of every steward, viz., fidelity (1 Cor. 4:2), he must employ his master’s goods solely for his master’s profit. From this, we may also see, that the more God has entrusted to us, the greater the goods of fortune, the gifts of nature or grace confided to our stewardship, the greater shall be the return we must make Him, the heavier our accountability, and the stricter the account demanded at our hands; so that, instead of glorying in the magnitude or multitude of the talents bestowed on us, we should rather tremble at the account we are one day to render of them.

Luk 16:2  And he called him and said to him: How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be steward no longer.

2. The master summons his accused steward, states the charge made against him, and calls for an account of his stewardship.

“For, now thou canst be steward no longer” which may mean, that unless, after due investigation, he cleared himself of these charges, in the act of rendering an account, he shall be discharged—Justice would demand he should not be condemned, before due inquiry—or, it may mean, that the notoriety and certainty of his guilt involved dismissal on the spot, and the feelings of the steward himself (verse 3), would convey that, he knew his own guilt, which involved consequent dismissal. In their spiritual application, these words refer to the dread summons issued to every one at the hour of death, to part for ever with their temporal goods, and render an account of their administration. What a dreadful summons to us all! What a momentous account, on the issue of which will depend an eternity of happiness or woe!

Luk 16:3  And the steward said within himself: What shall I do, because my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed.
Luk 16:4  I know what I will do, that when I shall be removed from the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

3-4. Here we have, without any very direct bearing or significance in the aim of the parable,—what, probably, should be regarded as ornamental,—the ingenious contrivance which occurred to the steward for providing against the evil day, when dismissed from the office of steward, upon which, most likely, his livelihood depended. He promptly resolves on a course which, although a fresh proof of his dishonesty, shows, at the same time, his worldly prudence and tact in providing against the evil day. “They may receive me” that is, give me support and maintenance in my necessities.

How applicable are the words, “To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed,” to the sad, desolate condition of those who, from their own misconduct and misuse of God’s gifts, spiritual and corporal, are painfully deprived of those occupations, as well sacred as profane, on which their livelihood depended. Having been once “the salt of the earth” and having “lost savour” they are cast out and utterly degraded, being trodden under the feet of men.

Luk 16:5  Therefore, calling together every one of his lord’s debtors, he said to the first: How much dost thou owe my lord?
Luk 16:6  But he said: An hundred barrels of oil. And he said to him: Take thy bill and sit down quickly and write fifty.

5-6. This shows he had general charge of his master’s goods. “Every one of his lord’s debtors.” So that his fraudulent conduct would be less liable to suspicion than if he only called some, and that all might be under obligation to treat him kindly and generously in the day of need. These two debtors mentioned in verses 5-7, are only examples of all the rest; for he called “every one of his lord’s debtors,” and, no doubt, treated all in the same way, proportionally, as he treated these two. “Anhundred barrels of oil” ” B’arrets,” Greek—βάτος (batos)—a word derived from the Hebrew; in Syriac Matreion, derived from the Greek. “Barrel”—βάτος—was of equal measure with an Ephi—Batus, for liquids; Ephi, for solids—and each contained the tenth part of a koros, or quarter, as in next verse (See Ezechiel 45:5, 11).

Luk 16:7  Then he said to another: And how much dost thou owe? Who said: An hundred quarters of wheat. He said to him: Take thy bill and write eighty.

7. ” An hundred quarters of wheat.” “Quarters,” in Greek, κόρος (koros). Every corut (“quarter”) was equivalent to ten cadi (“barrels”) in liquids, and ten Ephi, in solids. Hence, the stewards remitted more to the second debtor, to whom he remitted but twenty quarters out of the hundred, than he did to the former, although he remitted fifty out of the hundred, since twenty cori, or “quarters,” contained far more than was contained in fifty cadi or ” barrels.”

“Take thy bill,” in Greek, γράμμα (gramma), his note of hand, the written instrument securing payment, kept in the hands of the steward. This note of hand, the steward hands back to each debtor, for the purpose of destroying it and writing out a new one containing a lesser amount. He tells him to do that “quickly,” implying secrecy, and everyone to do it, implying, that it was done by each one separately.

Luk 16:8  And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.

“And the lord commended,” &c, that is, “the lord” of the unjust steward, whose goods were squandered, on learning how prudently he acted from a worldly, selfish point of view, although naturally indignant at the injustice committed against himself, and this fresh proof of his steward’s dishonesty, still could not help commending the dexterous cunning—”acted wisely”—displayed by him with a view to his own future interests. “The lord” refers to the injured master of the steward, and not to our Lord Jesus Christ, as appears from the next verse, where our Lord speaks of Himself “I say to you,” &c, in pointing out the moral of the parable.

The force of the conclusion would be greater in the interpretation, which understands “Lord” of the injured master of the steward. For, then it would be an argument a minori ad majus, as St. Augustine understands it to be (Lib. 2, Qusest. Evangel. Qusest. 34), conveying, that if the rich man praised the dexterity of his unjust steward, how much more will God commend and reward His faithful servants, who dispense the goods He confided to them according to His good will and pleasure.

Observe, the commendation of the master has not for object the dishonest act of his unjust servant. It is exclusively confined to the prudence he displayed in it. He commended him, “because he had done wisely.” “What is commended, then, on the part of the unjust steward, is his cunning, his cleverness, and this by his temporal lord only. If it be said that at least his example is proposed by our Lord, for our imitation, we answer, not in all respects, and only inasmuch as he showed great prudence and zeal in gaining his end. The steward acted unjustly; and no one was less likely to praise him for that, than the master whose good he wasted; but he acted also prudently, cleverly, according to the wisdom of the flesh, determined, as far as he could, not to lose all when deprived of his place ; and for that foresight, he is praised even by his injured master. When St. Paul calls on the Eomans to serve justice unto sanctification with the same zeal with which they served iniquity before (Rom. 6:19), does he thereby approve of the object of their former zeal? We may praise the actor’s skill without approving the play, or the robber’s courage without extolling felony, or even the duellist’s aim without extenuating the fearful guilt of murder. It is the prudence of the steward, and that alone, and not his unjust conduct, that is eulogized. The wisdom of the children of this world is praised, not the end to which that wisdom is directed, as is more evident still from what follows. The enemies of Christianity labour, therefore, in vain to find in these words any commendation of injustice” (Dr. MacCarthy, in hunc locum).

“For the children of this world,” a Hebrew phrase, as are also the words, “children of light.” These are the words of our Redeemer, conveying to us, that the votaries of this darksome world, and those who live according to its ideas and maxims—so opposed to truth and “light”—”are wiser in their generation,” in adopting means for attaining their worldly ends, and securing perishable riches—the only thing worldlings value and esteem—”than the children of light ” the sons of God, who profess to live by the light of the Gospel, which God has mercifully shed upon them, are,in the adoption of proper means for securing their end, the enjoyment of imperishable goods and eternal happiness. Our Lord adds this, lest He might appear to commend the dishonest conduct of the steward. He only refers to the steward’s conduct, in order to stimulate His followers to greater zeal in attaining their end, than worldlings do in attaining theirs. By contrasting the prudence of worldlings, “the wisdom of the flesh, which is death” with the prudence of His followers; or “the children of light,” which is “the wisdom of the spirit, which is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6), our Lord wishes His followers to display greater zeal in their way, than wordlings do in theirs. Here naturally suggests itself the solemn reflection on the wisdom of salvation. As the wise man refers the sluggard to the industry of the little ant, so our Lord refers us to the industry and care which worldlings employ in their business in attaining their worldly ends. What is every other wisdom, but folly, unless it conducts us to the end of our creation? What can everything else avail, if we miss this? “Quid prodest homini si universum mundum?” &c. What comparison between the passing gratification of the brutal passions of the body, in which we are become like the brute beasts, “the horse and mule that have no understanding”—gratification, which lasts but a moment, and is succeeded by bitterness and remorse—and the eternal enjoyment of the spiritual and heavenly delights, for which the immortal soul of man is made?

Luk 16:9  And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity: that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.

9. “And I say unto you.” This is the conclusion drawn from the above parable by our Lord for the guidance of His followers at all times. “I” and “you,” are very emphatic. The steward said to himself, I know what I shall do; I shall make friends for myself of my master’s debtors. I say also to you, imitating the steward’s cunning and prudence, do you also make friends for yourselves out of the unjust, unrighteous mammon, which your Sovereign Master has deposited in your hands, to be dispensed by you, as faithful stewards, according to His will, by laying up your riches in the bosom of the poor, “that when you shall fail,” and shall be deprived of the stewardship at the hour of death, when you shall be called upon to render an account of your dispensation, “they” like the master’s debtors, whom the steward desired to conciliate in order to be admitted into their houses, “may receive you into” their houses, in the kingdom which is properly theirs (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20), houses, or “tabernacles,” which are to endure for ever.

“Mammon of iniquity,” a common Hebraism for unrighteous, iniquitous mammon. “Mammon ” is a Syriac word, signifying riches (Matthew 6:24). Riches are termed iniquitous or unjust for several reasons, either, because they are, generally speaking, the fruit of injustice on the part of our forefathers, by rapine, plunder, &c, or, on our own part. Hence, the common phrase, “dives aut injustus aut hæres injusti,” quoted by St. Jerome (Ep. 1, ad Hebridiam, Qusest. 1), and as the heir of injustice knows not precisely to whom he should make restitution, he should give it to the poor; or, because they occasion injustice in their possessors, unless greatly on their guard, such as pride, avarice, luxury. In this way St. Paul terms concupiscence “sin” being the cause and effect of sin, “quod habitat in me peccatum” (Rom. 7:17); or, because, it is the unrighteous or unjust alone, that regard riches as their sovereign good, place their whole trust in them, and value them unduly, although false, deceitful, and transitory, never satisfying the human heart; the just, on the other hand, in possessing riches, regard them as transitory, and value heavenly riches alone; or, because, men often regard the riches they possess as absolutely their own, whereas, in reality they are God’s, to whom belongs the earth and its fulness. Men, in reference to God, hold them by the mere title of dispensation or stewardship. This latter meaning well suits the parable, in which God is signified by the “rich man.” We are only stewards, who unjustly employ for our own selfish ends what belongs to Him. Riches are not unjust or unrighteous of themselves, but only in their abuse.

“When you fail.” When at death, you are called upon to render an account of your stewardship, now to be taken away from you.

“They may receive you,” or, rather, God shall admit you, owing, in some cases, to their intercession, into His heavenly kingdom, which is peculiarly the inheritance of the poor; but He shall do so, especially in consideration of the pure motive of charity, which dictates the giving of alms to the poor, which are, therefore, given to Himself, whom they represent. This latter reason will hold, whether there be question of the faithful and just poor, themselves occupants of heaven, or of the unjust poor excluded from it, when we relieve them for God’s sake, whom in their poverty they represent.

“Into everlasting dwellings,” which peculiarly belong to the poor, as such. No doubt, many among the poor shall be excluded, who die impenitent, and many among the rich admitted, who shall merit by their charity the graces necessary to fulfil the other precepts of God. For, mere alms-giving will not save; but, alms-giving will move God to grant forgiveness of sin and the graces necessary for salvation. The rich have great difficulties in gaining heaven ; and from this passage, it is clear, that unless they discharge the duty of alms-giving they shall be excluded from God’s everlasting kingdom. “Everlasting” solid, enduring mansions, in opposition to these dwellings “made with hands ” in this world, whose duration is but temporary.

From this entire passage is clearly seen the duty of relieving the poor by almsgiving under pain of exclusion from the kingdom of heaven. We are mere stewards of the goods we possess in this world. If we appropriate them to our own use, instead of dispensing them according to the will and for the interests of our Master, we act the part of unjust, unfaithful stewards; and we shall be excluded from God’s everlasting mansions, when the accounting day arrives.

The precept of alms-giving may be also clearly seen from the providence of God in the present order of things. While arranging the unequal distribution of earthly goods, He appoints the rich as His own stewards and representatives in regard to His poor. In order to bind together more firmly the several members of the great human family, He has ordered that they should mutually depend on each other, as He had done in regard to the several members of the human body; and He has made the reciprocal exhibition of love, the great bond of indissoluble union. When the rich, then, neglect to succour their indigent brethren, and follow not the example of Him whose place they hold, Who “opens His hand and fills every animal with benediction;” Who “makes His sunfrom heaven rise on the good and bad, and rains upon thejust and the unjust,” they become instrumental in subverting the order of Providence, established by God. Through them His name is blasphemed; and an order of things established directly at variance with His divine ordinances; and their neglect made chargeable, with wicked men, on His infinite goodness and wisdom. Hence, our Lord regards the salvation of a rich man as so very difficult; because, it is so hard to find a rich man who complies, to the requisite extent, with the precept of relieving the poor.

The same precept is clearly referred to (1 John 3:17), where He condemns
those who, having a knowledge of their neighbour’s wants, and the means of relieving him, still neglect doing so. Also, James 1:13-27; 2:15; Matthew 25:34-46. The same may be also clearly seen from the fate of the hard-hearted rich man, whose history and miserable end are given towards the close of this chapter, vv. 19-31.

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Online Books by and About St Alphonsus

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2011

This post contains a list of online book by and about St Alphonsus Ligouri.

BOOKS BY ST ALPHONSUS:

The Way of Salvation and Perfection.

The Great Means of Salvation and Perfection.

The Incarnation, Birth, and Infancy of Jesus Christ.

The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Eucharist.

Victories of the Martyrs.

Dignity and Duties of the Priest.

The Holy Mass.

The Glories of Mary.

Sermons for All Sunday of the Year.

Vol. 1. History of Heresies and their Refutation.

Vol. 2. History of Heresies and their Refutation.

The Divine Office.

Preaching.

Miscellany.

1. Letters.

2. Letters.

3. Letters.

4. Letters.

5. Letters.

Uniformity to God’s Will.

BOOKS ABOUT ST ALPHONSUS:

The Life of St Alphonsus. By Antonio Tannoja.

The Life of St Alphonsus. By Austin Carrol.

Catholic Encyclopedia on St Alphonsus.

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UPDATED: Sunday, July 31: Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2011

This post contains resources (mostly commentaries and  homilies) for the readings used in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. The readings in the two forms differ. Updates may be added to this list later in the week.

ORDINARY FORM
EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Mass Readings.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Psalm (145).

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary/Meditation on Today’s Psalm (145).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Psalm (145).

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Todays’ Second Reading (Rom 8:35, 37-39).

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s Second Reading (Rom 8:35, 37-39).

Father Maas’ Commentary on the Gospel (Mat 14:13-21).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on the Gospel (Matt 14:13-21).

UPDATE: The Bread of Berith: The Readings of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time. A post from The Sacred Page blog by Catholic biblical scholar John Bergsma.

UPDATE: St John Chrysostom’s Homily on the Gospel. This homily comments on verses 13-22.

UPDATE: St Ephraim’s Hymn Number 3. Many allusions to the Eucharist can be found in this hymn.

Word Sunday:

  • MP3 PODCAST In this week’s audio podcast, we consider our need to expect an invitation to the Kingdom.
  • FIRST READING Second Isaiah answered a question of the forlorned exiles in Babylon. Where could they find heaven on earth? Where was God’s banquet? The prophet pointed to home, to Jerusalem.
  • PSALM Psalm 145 was a hymn of praise where style trumped substance. Yet, the focus was on worship.
  • SECOND READING In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul asked a question: who can get in the way of Christ’s love for us? Of course that was a rhetorical question. Through his love, we have direct access to the Father.
  • GOSPEL In Matthew 14, Jesus fed the multitude with fish and bread. This miracle foreshadowed the bread of the Kingdom and the promise of eternal life.
  • CHILDREN’S READING In the story for the first reading, Sammy got a secret invitation to a big party, just like God invited his people to a big party in their honor. In the story for the gospel, Sasha packed a picnic only to share that food with a hungry woman and her child. We, too, share the little we have with each other, just like the fish and bread Jesus was given. But it was enough. It was enough to feed 5000.
  • FAMILY ACTIVITY This week, plan a simple meal that will help your family members see beyond selfishness to real need.

Haydock Bible Commentary. Originally posted in 2008.

Navarre Bible Commentary.

The Athenaeum Exegesis. Brief overview and interpretation of the readings.

Sunday Gospel With Meditations.

Daily Gospel. Commentary on the Gospel from Pope Benedict XVI.

Thoughts From the Early Church. A brief excerpt from the diatessaron of St Ephrem.

The Scripture in Depth.

Catholic Matters. The readings followed by brief explanations.

Parish Bible Study. Notes on the readings from St Charles Borromeo Parish.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background. Can be printed out for use as a bulletin insert.

Dr Scott Hahn’s Podcast. Brief audio. Highlights major theme(s) of the readings.

St Martha’s Podcast. Looks at all the readings in some detail.

Fr Robert Barron’s Podcast Homily.

EXTRAORDINARY FORM
SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

Roman Missal. Latin and English. Contains readings, prayers, etc.

Bernardin De Piconio’s Commentary on the Epistle (Rom 6:19-23).

Father Callan’s Commentary on the Epistle (Rom 6:19-23).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on the Gospel (Matt 7:15-21). Previously posted.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 7:15-21). Previously posted.

Homily on the Epistle.

Homily on the Gospel.

St Alphonsus Ligouri’s Homily on the Gospel.

(1) Homiletic Sketch: Sin and Justice. On the Epistle.

(2) Homiletic Sketch: What We Must Avoid And What We Must Do In Order To Enter Heaven. On the Gospel.

(3) Dogmatic Sketch: We Can And Must Keep The Commandments. Gospel.

(4) Liturgical Sketch: Feasts Of Our Lady.

(5) Symbolic Sketch: Man, A Tree. Gospel.

(6) Moral Sketch: Without Prayer No One Can Be Saved. Gospel.

(7) Moral Sketch: Hypocrisy As An Abominable Vice. Gospel.

The following four homily notes can be used for sermon ideas, points of meditation, further study.

Reparation For Sin. Epistle Theme.

Hell. Epistle Theme.

Good Works. Gospel Theme.

The Will of God. Gospel Theme.

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Saturday, August 6: Feast of the Transfiguration~Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on the Second Reading (2 Pet 2:16-19)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2011

Bishop MacEvily provides an analysis of 2 Peter 1 which I have reproduced below. The commentary on today’s second reading follows. The Bishop also gives  an interpretive paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on. These paraphrases are in purple text. For a somewhat different interpretation of the reading see my notes on this passage (pending, will provide link when finished).

The Apostle commences this chapter with the usual form of apostolical salutation (verses 1, 2), In the first place he exhorts the faithful, seeing that God has bestowed on them the most exalted gifts (3, 4), to correspond with his gracious designs, by performing, on their part, aided by divine grace, the good works necessary for securing the end of salvation, and by practising, in an exalted degree, the Christian virtues, of which he points out, in a beautiful order, a perfect series or gradation. In this chain of virtues, the first link is the virtue of faith; the last, charity (5-7). He points out the good effect of cultivating, in a perfect degree, these exalted virtues (8); and, on the other hand, he shows the great evils which their absence entails on a Christian, who, without them, is blind and groping in the dark (9).

He next exhorts them to insure, by good works, the object of their vocation and election (10). And he points out the end and glorious rewards to which perseverance in good will conduct them (11). He declares his determination to instruct them in these truths; this he considers a matter of duty, during the short time he had to live; that his continuance in life was to be very brief, he knew from revelation (12-14).

He expresses his anxiety to take some steps, whereby they may be enabled, even after his death, to call these truths to mind, probably, by leaving his written Epistles, or, “by commending these things to faithful men,” as did St. Paul (2. Tim 2) No wonder, he should be anxious to impart to them his doctrine; for, he received it not from any false or erroneous source; he only declared concerning Christ’s glory, what he, himself was an eyewitness of, at the transfiguration, a type of the glory to be displayed at his second coming (16). He refers, also, to the splendid testimony rendered to him by God the Father (17); a testimony which St. Peter, together with John and James, heard when they were with him on Mount Thabor (17-18).

He next adduces the testimony of the prophets, which, in the mind of the Jews, carried greater weight with it, than any attestation of the Apostles; and, he commends them for attending to this testimony, until they are firmly established in the faith (19).

He tells them, in attending to the oracles of sacred Scripture, to bear in mind, that the sacred Scriptures are to be interpreted, not by any private exposition; but  to be explained by the same spirit, by which they were origi7ially dictated (20, 21).

2Pe 1:16  For we have not by following artificial fables made known to you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ: but we were eyewitnesses of his greatness.

This doctrine, even now on the point of death, we wish firmly to impress upon your minds; it deserves at all times to be cherished by you; for it was not in following learned and cunningly devised fables, that we have made known to you the powerful and glorious coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to judge the world; but, we have told you that, of which we ourselves have been immediate eye-witnesses. (The glory of his transfiguration was a type of the glory and power, which he will display when he shall come to judge the world).

The connexion is given in the Paraphrase. At the very point of death he is not afraid to inculcate these doctrines, of future punishment, and they are so important, that even after death he would wish to impress them on their minds. For, it was not in following “artificial fables,” such as the false teachers, among the Jews and Gentiles, dealt out for truths, and for which they will one day render a most rigorous account, “made known to you the power and presence,” (in Greek, παρουσιαν, coming) “of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Most likely he refers to the second coming of  Christ, which is to be in “power,” (his first coming was in infirmity); and this second was the coming which was questioned by many, to whom St. Peter refers (chapter 3,) “saying where is he coming?” Of this coming, Christ’s transfiguration, to which the Apostle refers immediately after, was a type and figure. “Having been made eyewitness of his majesty.” The Greek word for “eye-witnesses” εποπται, means immediate lookers-on. He refers to the transfiguration, with the sight of which he himself, and James, and John, were favoured. The Apostle selects this from among the other miracles of our divine Redeemer, in order to silence the injurious suspicions of certain persons, who wished to call in question all that the Apostles had taught regarding Christ’s glorious coming. This he does most effectually, by referring to a splendid manifestation of the Redeemer’s glory, of which he had, himself, been an eye- witness; and this is further strengthened, by the unequivocal testimony of his heavenly Father, as in the following verse.

2Pe 1:17  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, this voice coming down to him from the excellent glory: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him.

For he received from God the Father an honorable and a glorious attestation, a voice having been pronounced over him, after issuing from the bright cloud, in which the majesty and glory of the Father shone resplendent, to the following effect: “This is my well beloved Son, the object of my singular and infinite complacency, hear ye him.”

He received honour and glory, that is, a glorious and honourable testimony, from God the Father; “this voice,” that is, a voice, to the following effect, “this is my beloved Son” &c. “Coming down to him from the excellent glory,” that is, from the bright cloud in which the glory of God the Father shone forth resplendent. “This is my beloved Son.” eternal and con-substantial with me, singularly beloved, “in whom I am well pleased” the object of my infinite good will and eternal complacency. Some understand the words to mean: in whom I have pleased myself with man, and have become reconciled to the world; “hear ye him.” The words are not in the Greek of this passage; they are, however, found invariably in the gospel, whenever allusion is made to the transfiguration, to which St Peter here refers.

2Pe 1:18  And this voice, we heard brought from heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount.

And this voice of the heavenly Father, I myself, James, and John, heard coming  down from the cloud, when we were with him on the holy mountain.

As a proof, that I have not followed fables, I can adduce the testimony of the other Apostles, James and John, to confirm my own; we not only beheld the majesty of our Redeemer, when transfigured, before us, but we heard the voice of the heavenly Father, “brought from heaven,” that is, from the cloud which overhung the mountain; “when we were with him in the holy mount.” It is disputed what mount is referred to. Some say it was Mount Libanus. The common opinion, however, transmitted by tradition, with the authority of St. Jerome and of almost all sacred writers in its favour, is, that the mountain alluded to, is Mount Thabor, situated in the centre of Galilee, and called ”holy” on occount of its having been the theatre of many wonderful manifestations of our divine Redeemer, viz.: his transfiguration, his apparition after his resurrection to five hundred brethren, his sermon commencing with the eight Beatitudes (Matthew, v., &c.)

2Pe 1:19  And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts.

And we can adduce a testimony in favor of the same, of greater weight with you, to which you attach more value than to any whatsoever coming from us apostles: and this testimony is, that which is borne by the oracles of the ancient prophets, to which you do well to attend, at to a lamp or light, that shineth in a dark place until the more brilliant light of sure and firm faith dawn and illumine you, and Christ, the morning star, arise in your hearts, by the plentiful effusion of the light of perfect and unerring faith. Or (as interpreted by Mauduit):—We have, therefore, a testimony firmer and more certain than the fables of the heretics (verse i6), viz., the testimony or prophetic oracle of God the Father, to which you do well to attend, as to a lamp shining forth dimly, with the light of faith, in this darksome world, until the day of eternity dawns upon you, and the light of glory, like the morning star, shines in your hearts.

“And we have the more firm, prophetical word;” the common interpretation given of this passage is: If you do not attach due weight to this testimony of the Father, as related by us Apostles, although eye-witnesses of the whole event, I can refer, in favour of Christ’s glory and power, to a testimony, which, in your mind, carries with It more weight, than any attestation, furnished by us, viz., the testimony of the ancient prophets. The words, “more firm,” do not mean, according to this interpretation, that the testimony of the ancient prophets carried with it, in reality, more weight and certainty, than that rendered by the Apostles; but it did so relatively to the Jews with whom St. Peter here identifies himself, “we have,” &c. They placed more reliance on the testimony of the prophets, as being of longer date, and more authentic in their minds.

“Whereunto you do well to attend,” for, they will lead to Christ. He exhorts them to the perusal of the prophetic Scriptures; for, they serve to confirm the faith of the believers, and to bring the unbelievers to the faith. Thus, we see that the Bereans are praised “for searching the Scriptures daily with all eagerness” (Acts 17); and the Catholic Church recommends to her children the reading of God’s word, provided it be expedient, and done with proper dispositions; otherwise, as is known from melancholy experience, the indiscriminate reading of the Sacred Scriptures becomes the fertile source of heresies, fanaticism, and errors of all kinds, alike subversive of religion and society. “As to a light that shineth in a dark place.” The oracles of the prophets are compared to the imperfect light, he’d out by a lamp shining in a dark and misty place, contrasted with the perfect light of faith. “Until the day dawn;” by “the day,” in this interpretation is meant, the light of faith in this life; “and the day-star arise in your hearts,” expresses, in other words, the idea conveyed by the words,”the day dawn.” By “theday-star,” is understood Christ, pouring forth the light of faith in our hearts. The obscurity of faith in this life, as contrasted with the full light of glory in the life to come, is well expressed by the shining, of “the day-star,” which precedes the rise of morning; its light weak and feeble, compared with the full splendour of the meridian sun.

Mauduit dissents from the common interpretation, which, in an able dissertation, he undertakes to refute, and he gives a new one of his own [vide Paraphrase). He says, that the phrase, “the more firin propnetical word,” regards not the predictions of the ancient prophets; that it by no means conveys a comparison regarding the value of the testimony of the prophets, even in itself, or in the minds of the Jews; but, that it refers to the testiinony or prophetic oracle of God the Father, alluded to (verse 17); and that it is between this and the fables of the heretics (verse 16), the comparison is instituted, hence called “more firm.” Similar is the comparison instituted by Moses (Deuteronomy 34:31), “for our God is not as their gods.” In this verse is drawn the conclusion, which he announced (verse 16), “that he had not followed fables,” he had a stronger testimony. This he proves in verses 17, 18, and then concludes, “and we have,” that is, we, therefore have a firmer testimony to follow than fables, viz., the prophetic oracles of God the Father. Mauduit says, that the words, “prophetical word,” refer to the inspired word of God, revealed to men. When uttered orally, as here, it is called “a prophetical word;” when written, “a prophecy of Scripture,” as in next verse. He undertakes to show, that the comparison conveyed in the words, ” more firm,” cannot be instituted between the Apostle’s own testimony and that of the prophets; for, to give the oracles of the ancient prophets a preponderance, in any sense, over that furnished by the Apostles, is opposed to the usage of the inspired writers, in the New Testament. To do so would be useless, and would be even perilous to the faith of those whom he addresses. The following words, “as to a light that shineth in a dark place,” refer in this interpretation, to the light of faith; “until the day dawn,” the day of eternity, “and the day-star arise in your hearts,” that is, the light of glory be fully communicated to you. The common interpretation is open to one difficulty; it supposes, that the “day,” and “day-star,” which it understands of faith in this life, had not yet shone for those, whom the Apostle addresses, although he supposes them to have embraced the faith—”that have obtained equal faith with us” (verse 1). The interpretation of Mauduit leaves no room for any such difficulty, and has the advantage, in this respect, over the other.

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

Friday, August 5: Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 16:24-28)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2011

Text in red are my additions.

24. Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25. For he that will save his life, shall lose it; and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.
26. For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?
27. For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then will he render to every man according to his works.
28. Amen, I say to you, there are some of them that stand here, that shall not taste death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

“If any man will come after me” denotes that Christ does not force men to become his disciples. “Let him deny himself” by disregarding his inordinate affections for pleasure and honor, and for all the sources of pleasure and honor, and let him show in word and deed that “Christ liveth in him” [Gal 2:20]. The follower of Jesus must not only “deny himself,” but also “take up his cross” [cf. Mt 10:38] as those condemned to death were wont to do. “And follow me” is not a mere equivalent of self-denial and carrying the cross, but denotes also the necessity of perseverance in both and the manner in which both must be fulfilled [cf. Heb 12:2-4; 1 Pet 2:21]. Alb. shows that Jesus adds three reasons for following him in self-denial and the carrying of the cross: First, this is the only way to be saved [cf. Mt 10:39]; just as the only way to renew and multiply the grain of corn is to sow it and thus seemingly to destroy it, so the only way to find life is to lose it. Secondly, it is the only profitable manner of life, for the “gain of the whole world” cannot, either in intensity, or in duration, be compared with “the loss of [one’s] own soul”; one cannot profitably exchange any earthly good whatever for a happy eternity. Thirdly, it is the only secure manner of life, “for the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father” [cf. Jn 17:5; Mt 24:30] “with his angels” [cf. Mt 24:31; Mk 13:27; 1 Thess 4:15], “and then will he render to every man according to his works,” a reward described in Mt 25:34, 41; Rom 2:9-10. Jesus urges the foregoing three reasons by another consideration: “Some of them that stand here . . . shall not taste,” or experience [cf. Jn 8:52; Heb 2:9], “death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” In the Old Testament the coming of God signifies his special manifestation either by way of justice or mercy [cf. Isa 3:14; 26:21; 30:27; 35:4; 40:10; 42:13; 51:14; 64:15, 18; Micah 1:3; Hab 3:3; etc.]. The “coming of the Son of man” mentioned in the present passage must therefore refer to a special manifestation of the Son of man. Some commentators, Cyril of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Euthymius, Theophylact, Hilary, Jerome, Maldonado, see in this manifestation the transfiguration which is told immediately after the present passage; but first, the preceding verse leads us to expect a manifestation of justice, not of mercy; secondly, an event happening “after six days” would have hardly been introduced by the phrase “there are some of them that stand here, that shall not taste death”; thirdly, in his transfiguration the Son of man did not come “in his kingdom” One or more of these reasons militate against the opinion that the “coming of the Son of man” refers to the foundation of the Church; or that it refers to the time after the resurrection; or to the three foregoing events; or to two of them; or to the last judgment; or to the ascension, to the manifestation of grace in the Church militant, and to the transfiguration (see my note below); or even to the contemplation and knowledge of the Word. If we identify the “coming of the Son of man” with the manifestation of his justice in the destruction of Jerusalem, we satisfy not only the three considerations already stated, but follow the analogy of Matt 24:3 ff. where the last judgment is connected with the destruction of Jerusalem.

NOTE: Most modern scholars accept the view of Cyril of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Euthymius, Theophylact, Hilary, Jerome, Maldonado, etc., that “the coming of the Son of Man” refers to the transfiguration. This is why this particular passage is read the day before the Feast of the Transfiguration.

Father Maas objects to this by noting that the preceding verse leads us to expect a manifestation of justice, not of mercy. He seems to have forgotten that God’s justice and mercy are not mutually exclusive, even when speaking of His punitive rather than His saving justice.

…(M)ercy is in a certain sense contrasted with God’s justice, and in many cases is shown to be not only more powerful than that justice but also more profound. Even the Old Testament teaches that, although justice is an authentic virtue in man, and in God signifies transcendent perfection nevertheless love is “greater” than justice: greater in the sense that it is primary and fundamental. Love, so to speak, conditions justice and, in the final analysis, justice serves love. The primacy and superiority of love vis-a-vis justice – this is a mark of the whole of revelation – are revealed precisely through mercy. This seemed so obvious to the psalmists and prophets that the very term justice ended up by meaning the salvation accomplished by the Lord and His mercy.53 Mercy differs from justice, but is not in opposition to it, if we admit in the history of man – as the Old Testament precisely does-the presence of God, who already as Creator has linked Himself to His creature with a particular love. Love, by its very nature, excludes hatred and ill – will towards the one to whom He once gave the gift of Himself: Nihil odisti eorum quae fecisti, “you hold nothing of what you have made in abhorrence.”54 These words indicate the profound basis of the relationship between justice and mercy in God, in His relations with man and the world. They tell us that we must seek the life-giving roots and intimate reasons for this relationship by going back to “the beginning,” in the very mystery of creation. They foreshadow in the context of the Old Covenant the full revelation of God, who is “love. (Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia [“Rich  In Mercy”] 3:4)

Father Maas also objects that an event happening “after six days” would have hardly been introduced by the phrase ” there are some of them that stand here, that shall not taste death”.

Answer: Father Maas understands “taste death” here as meaning either physical death or as a symbol of eternal damnation (I think he has the latter in mind). Both meanings are possible but he hasn’t considered the possibility that “taste death” refers to the rejection of discipleship which leads to final damnation and which we might term a living death. In rejecting discipleship one has already tasted death, and this decision to imbibe death now will be ratified at the judgment. What our Lord means is that some of his listeners will not choose to embrace living death which leads to damnation by rejecting him and his teaching until after “some” of them “see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

Finally, Father Maas objects that in his transfiguration the Son of man did not come “in his kingdom.”

Answer: The Greek word translated as “kingdom” is βασιλεία (Basileia), a word with a wide range of meaning. According to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon the word can mean:

1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule

  • 1a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom
  • 1b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah
  • 1c) of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah’s kingdom

2) a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king
3) used in the N.T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah.

Jesus’ right to rule, the manifestation of his royal power and dignity etc., are all revealed in the transfiguration via the symbols used and the words of the Father: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. In his transfiguration, the three disciples who are with him see not his kingdom, but his kingly dignity and power coming forth.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 15:21-28)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2011

Text in red, if any, are my additions.

The ruin of the blind leaders and of those led by them has been announced (Matt 15:14), so that the evangelist considers it incumbent on him to show the affection of our Lord for the chosen people, first by his reluctance to aid the Gentiles [Matt 15:21-28], secondly by his feeding the multitude even without their asking him [Matt 15:29-39].

In the first part, which forms today’s Gospel reading, we notice first the petitioner and the petition (vers. 21-22); then, the Lord and his disciples (vers. 23-24); thirdly, the Lord and the Gentile (vers. 25-28)

21. And Jesus went from thence, and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
22. And behold a woman of Canaan who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to him: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil.

The petitioner and the petition. “Jesus went from thence,” i. e. from the land of Gennesaret [Mt 14:34], “and retired,” partly to seek solitude and partly to avoid the persecutions of the Pharisees and of Herod [Mt 14:13; cf. 4:12], “into [not merely “towards”; cf. Mk 7:24, 31] the coasts of Tyre and Sidon”; these names denote the land of Phoenicia, being its two most celebrated cities [cf. Jer 27:3; 47:4; Ezek 27:8; Joel 3:4; Zech 9:2; 1 Macc 5:15; Mt 11:21; Mk 3:8; Lk 6:17; etc.]. This visit of a Gentile country does not conflict with our Lord’s order that his apostles on their first missionary excursion should not go “into the way of the Gentiles” [cf. Mt 10:5], since he himself was not bound by this order [Chrysostom] and since he did not enter Phoenicia to preach there [Chrysostom Theophylact]; on the other hand, Christ’s hardness towards the Gentile woman does not conflict with the history of the centurion [Mt 8:5, 11-12], because the latter lived among Jews and was their benefactor. The event foreshows the future call of the Gentiles [cf. Origen,  Hilary, Theophylact, Euthymius, Jerome, Bede, Paschasius Radbertus,  Salmeron, Lapide].

Since the name of Jesus was well known in these parts [cf. Mt 4:24; Lk 6:17], he did not obtain the desired privacy [Mk 7:24], but “a woman of Canaan,” “came out of those coasts ” to meet him. The Canaanites [cf. Gen 10:15], driven by the Jews to the northern regions of Palestine, had retained possession of Tyre and Sidon, and were considered the national enemies of the Hebrews. St. Mark describes the woman as a “Gentile” by religion, and as a “Syrophoenician,” i. e. belonging to the Syrian province of the Roman empire, and to the Phoenician race. There is no good reason for believing that the woman was a proselyte; from the curse of Canaan down to her personal relations, all is against her. Nevertheless, “crying out, [she] said to him: Have mercy on me,” an expression of her intense compassion, but also of her own suffering brought on by that of her daughter.  “O Lord, thou Son of David” is the address employed by the woman in imitation of what she had heard. “My daughter is grievously troubled by a devil,” not as if the woman distinguished between a good and a bad possession, or between the dependence on a seemingly good spirit and that on a bad one, but she merely urges the grievousness of her affliction.

23. Who answered her not a word. And his disciples came, and besought him, saying: Send her away, for she crieth after us.
24. And he answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel.

Jesus and the disciples. Our Lord’s silence is not owing to mere abstraction, but to the fact that this was the most inoffensive manner of refusing the favor. The happy importunity of the woman occasions a direct refusal, which was not intended as a mere trial of faith, but as a manifestation that the call of the Gentiles was to be postponed till after the passion and resurrection; this does not imply that our Lord did not know from the start what he was about to do. The disciples, accustomed to see Jesus comply with the requests of petitioners at once [cf. Mt 8:16; 14:35-36], “came and besought him, saying: Send her away,” i. e. grant her petition; but their motive is not only pity for the woman, but also the desire to he rid of her importunity: “for she crieth after us”. They advance this reason because they know that Jesus wishes to remain unknown [cf. Mk 7:24]. The answer of Jesus, whether the woman heard it or not, fully agrees with Mt 10:6, and shows that our Lord, in obedience to his Father and in compliance with the prophecies, must live and preach among the Jews, while the Gentiles must wait for the ministry of the apostles [cf. Jn 10:16; Eph 2:17].

25. But she caine and adored him, saying: Lord, help me.
26. Who answering, said: It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs.
27. But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.
28. Then Jesus answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith; be it done to thee as thou wilt; and her daughter was cured from that hour.

Our Lord and the Gentile. Her adoration implies her kneeling at his feet [Mk 7:25], an event that happened after Jesus had entered a house [cf. Mk 7:24], though Augustine and Arnoldi think the first meeting occurred in the house, and the healing outside. The devout act of the woman showed great confidence and humility. Our Lord’s answer is apparently hard, but considers the Gentile in the light of Isa 56:10-11, and calls her by the name usually applied to the Gentiles by the Jews, as it is now applied to Christians by Mohammedans. The idea of a pet dog is wholly foreign to the passage, for the Greek diminutive accords well with the later Greek and the old Arabic inscriptions found in the Hauran [cf. Z. d. m. G. 1873, tom. 27, pp. 304 ff. 355 ff.], so that they must have been usual also in the Aramaic. Though nearly all maintain that the woman caught Jesus, as it were, in his own words, by claiming to be treated as dogs are treated by their master, there is some difference of opinion concerning the exact meaning of the woman’s first words: Some regard the Greek particle ναι, rendered “yea,” as affirming all Jesus had said; others see in it an exception taken by the woman to our Lord’s words, and explaining it as “not so”; the latter render the following Greek conjunctions και γαρ   by “but” while the former interpret the same as meaning “for also,” or “also” [γαρ is wanting after και Mk 7:28, and occurs in Mt. only in manuscript B], and these certainly merit the preference. It is worthy of note that Jesus admired the faith of Gentiles only [the centurion and the woman], but never of Israelites [cf. Mt 8:10]. The other virtues showed by the woman had their root in her faith, so that they are praised implicitly. “Be it done” are words expressing the greatest power, since they show that Jesus has no need of prayer to perform his miracles; this manifestation of his power is elicited by humble and persevering prayer [cf. Sirach 35:19-24; Ps 102:18; John 2:4].

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Tuesday, August 2: Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Alternate Gospel (Matt 15:1-2, 10-14)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2011

This post begins with a short summary of 15:1-16:12; the notes on today’s reading then follows.

THE APOSTLES ARE SEPARATED FROM THE PHARISEES

A Summary of Matt 15:1-16:12~This section may be divided into three parts: first, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees is made manifest (Matt 15:1-20); secondly, the men of good will are not rejected (Matt 15:21-39); thirdly, the leaven of the Pharisees is proscribed (Matt 16:1-12). On the whole, the evangelist describes the relation of three classes to our Lord: the disciples advance in his knowledge, the multitudes seek mainly for temporal benefits without caring for spiritual enlightenment, the scribes and Pharisees become more determined in their opposition to Jesus, and in their endeavors to paralyze his influence with the masses.

1. Then came to him from Jerusalem scribes and Pharisees, saying:
2. Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the ancients? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

“Then” indicates that the Pharisees made their attack when our Lord confirmed his doctrine by innumerable miracles.”From Jerusalem” they came at the bidding of the authorities in the capital, as it seems. Already Chrysostom notes that these scribes and Pharisees were worse than the others, because they had greater influence with the common people. In order to attack the Master the more seriously, the conduct of the disciples is blamed: “Why do thy disciples transgress?”  “The ancients” here are not the “ancients of the people”, but the forefathers of the present generation [cf. Heb 11:2]. Though the scribes and the priests had to be of a certain age, the tradition could not have derived its binding force from this. “The tradition of the ancients” may be identified with the oral teaching of the Jewish doctors, based on Deut 4:14; 17:10. It was esteemed higher than the written law [1 Chron 2:55], and traced back by the Jews to their oldest scribes, and even to the time of Moses. It is true that St. Paul calls his doctrine a “tradition” [παράδοσις; cf. 2 Thess 3:6; 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15], but Gal 1:14 he connects “the tradition of the ancients” with the forefathers, just as Josephus does [Ant. XIII. x. 6], and as Christian commentators have taught [cf. Maldonado, Jansenius]. As to the authority of this tradition, its words have more weight than those of the prophets [Berachoth, fol. iii. 2; Lightfoot], and whosoever eats with unwashed hands is worse than he that commits fornication [Sota, fol. iv. b; Wunsche, p. 181]. The process of the Jerusalem scribes consisted, therefore, first in attacking the conduct of the disciples, secondly, in accusing them of disregarding a sacred law of the synagogue, thirdly, in proving their charge by a particular case: “for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” This tradition was based on Lev 15:11 ff.; according to Shabbath [xiv. b], it emanated from Solomon, who was praised for it by a voice from heaven [Prov 23:15; 27:11], though no trace of it exists previous to the Sibylline books [iii. w. 591-593 ; about B. c. 160 ; cf. Ed. ii. p. 13]. Hillel and Shammai, shortly before the time of our Lord, had reinforced the custom of the washing of hands [cf. Lightfoot, in 1.], which had fallen into oblivion [Shabbath, iii. 4], so that about the time now under consideration it had become a religious rite [Wunsche]. The disciples did (not transgress this custom on principle [Chrysostom], since their Messianic ideas were as yet not sufficiently developed. To “eat bread” has the general meaning of taking a meal.

10. And having called together the multitudes unto him, he said to them: Hear ye, and understand.
11. Not that which goeth into the mouth, defileth a man; but what cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

At the approach of the Pharisees the multitudes appear to have withdrawn, probably through respect; but Jesus calls them, and addresses them in the gravest language [Chrysostom], honoring them [Theophylact] more than the scribes and Pharisees [Euthymius]. “Not that which goeth into the mouth” does not apply only to legally clean kinds of food [cf. Jansenius], nor does it imply that the law concerning clean and unclean must be understood spiritually [cf. Origen]; without maintaining that in these words Jesus either abrogated the Mosaic law, or prepared the way for such an abrogation [cf. Chrysostom, Euthymius, Paschasius Radbertus, Jansenius, Barradas, Calmet], we may believe that no kind of food as such defiles a man, though it may do so by reason of the condition or state in which a man may find himself [cf. Origen, Jerome, Paschasius Radbertus, Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan, Maldonado], so that the eating may become an act of disobedience or gluttony. These vices do defile, because they have their seat in the heart, and therefore are comparable to “What cometh out of the mouth.”

12. Then came his disciples, and said to him: Dost thou know that the Pharisees, when they heard this word, were scandalized?
13. But he answering, said: Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
14. Let them alone; they are blind, and leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.

“The Pharisees . . .were scandalized” not at their refutation by Jesus [vers. 3-9; cf. recent writers], but at the words of Jesus spoken to the multitudes [verse 11; cf. Origen, Chrysostom, Euthymius, Jerome, Bede, Paschasius Radbertus Dionysius the Carthusian, Cajetan]. The disciples draw our Lord’s attention to this, most natural in itself, since the Pharisees anxiously looked for a charge against Jesus, first, because they themselves were surprised at their Master’s bold words [Chrysostom, Theophylact, Paschasius Radbertus, Jansenius]; secondly, be.cause they still esteemed the Pharisees highly and regarded their good will as desirable. While Jesus satisfies the difficulty of the disciples, he also heals their secret wound which they had not expressly manifested. He predicts the uprooting of “every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted,” i. e. of the teaching and traditions of the ancients that did not contain the word of God [Hilary, Severus in cat. Euthymius Theophylact, Bruno Albert, Thomas Aquinas, Faber Stapnlensis, Tostatus, Arnoldi]; or rather of the scribes and Pharisees about whom the disciples had been concerned [Origen, Jerome, Cajetan, Jansenius, Barradas, Lapide,  Sylveira, Schegg, Grimm, Schanz, Theodore of Mopsuestia, in cat.]; or better still of the Pharisaic sect, men and doctrine, as such, which could not boast of any heavenly origin [Chrysostom, Paschasius Radbertus, Dionysius the Carthusian, Bisping, Fillion, Knabonbauer]. The last view is the more probable because the people of Israel is repeatedly compared to a vineyard or a plantation of God [cf. Isa 5:7; 60:21; 61:3; Ps 92:13-14; 128:3 143:12; etc.], even where there is question of its destruction [Isa 5:5-6; cf. Jn 15:2; Acts 5:38; Ignat. ad Trail, xi. 1; ad Philadelph. iii. 1]. Since, then, the ruin of the Pharisees has been determined by God, the disciples ought not to be concerned about their being scandalized: “let them .alone,” they are unworthy of your interest [cf. Lapide, Schegg, Weiss]. In their bereavement of God’s enlightenment, they are blind themselves, and still attempt to lead the blind, drawing them into their own ruin represented by the pits, or the badly covered cisterns, in Palestine [cf. Schanz].

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 14:22-36

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2011

22. And forthwith Jesus obliged his disciples to go up into the boat, and to go before him over the water, till he dismissed the people.
23. And having dismissed the multitude, he went up into a mountain alone to pray. And when it was evening, he was there alone.
24. But the boat in the midst of the sea was tossed with the waves, for the wind was contrary.

“Jesus obliged his disciples,” i. e. constrained them on account of their too great, and not wholly supernatural, affection for him, so that they would have remained, had he not shown great determination (Chrysostom, Jerome Euthymius). He wished them “to go up into the boat, and go before him. over the water,” not merely to avoid the multitude [cf. Chrysostom], nor to avoid an occasion of vainglory [cf. Albert. Thomas. Jansenius.], but probably that they might not be carried away by their Messianic expectations on seeing the attempt of making him king [Jn 6:15; cf. Schanz]. “He went into a mountain [  εις το ορος] alone to pray “in order to teach us the proper preparation for prayer, requiring first, solitude [Chrysostom, Thomas]; secondly, quiet and peace of mind, ” having dismissed the multitude”; thirdly, elevation  of soul, “into a mountain”; at the same time, Jesus prays not because he needs it, but because he is the high priest of the New Testament [Cyril of Alexandria; cf. Jn 17:9 ff.]; as such he prays before all the most important steps in the founding of the Church, e. g. the election of the apostles [Lk 6:12], the promise of the primacy [Lk 9:18], the Eucharistic discourse [Jn 6:35], “When it was evening” refers to the second evening [6-9 o’clock]. “The boat” had been directed towards Capharnaum [Jn 6:17], by way of Bethsaida [Mk 6:45], so that its first course was towards the northwest; but “the wind was contrary,” blowing from the northeast, and “tossed [the boat] with the waves,” so that after a rounded course of 25 or 80 furlongs [Jn 6:19] the boat was “in the midst of the sea,” the whole breadth of which was about 40. stadia or furlongs [Josephus Jewish Wars III. x. 7].

25. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking upon the sea.
26. And they seeing him walking upon the sea, were troubled, saying: It is an apparition. And they cried out for fear.
27. And immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying: Be of good heart, it is I, fear ye not.

“The fourth watch of the night” corresponds, near the vernal equinox, to 3-6 A.M.; the Jews had only three night-watches [cf. Lightfoot, in 1.], but after the Roman conquest by Pompey they often followed the division of their conquerors . “Walking upon [επι] the sea ” does not mean “along the shore “ [cf. Paulus], since the preposition means “on the bank ” only with verbs of rest [cf. Jn 21:1, 4], never with verbs of motion; besides, the whole context is against this meaning. Why should the apostles “seeing himwalking” on the shore be “troubled”? why say, “it is an apparition”?  “why cry out for fear “? These details are as many proofs that they saw something wholly unusual. The belief in apparitions, or ghosts, was common to the Jews and Gentiles [cf. Tobit 8:3; Baruch 4:35]. It was only when the need of the disciples was seemingly at its highest that Jesus said, “Be of good heart; it is I; fear ye not.” During the first storm our Lord had kept near the apostles though he was asleep, during the second he was even bodily absent [cf. Chrysostom Cyril of Alexandria,  Theophylact]; but in both instances he proves that he watches over the boat of the apostles, the Church, whether he is absent or present, whether he seems to sleep or is awake [cf. Hilary, Jerome Theophylact Bede Paschasius Radbertus,. Faber Stapulensus Salmeron, Lapide,  Sylveiria].

28. And Peter making answer, said: Lord, if it be thou, bid me come to thee upon the waters.
29. And he said: Come. And Peter going down out of the boat, walked upon the water to come to Jesus.
30. But seeing the wind strong, he was afraid; and when he began to sink he cried out, saying: Lord, save me.
31. And immediately Jesus stretching forth his hand, took hold of him, and said to him: O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?

Peter walks on the water. Trench [Miracles, p. 279] and Alford blame Peter for his presumption, but Jerome, Chrysostom, Augustine [De verbo dei, serm. 13] are loud in the praises of his faith and ardor. The petition to do by the will of the Master what the latter did by his nature [Jerome], to obtain by the efficacious command [Cajetan] of the Lord what no prophet and saint of the Old Testament had been able to grant, shows a great progress in the faith of him that had not thought of asking for the miraculous multiplication of loaves. When, Peter “was afraid” on “seeing the wind strong,” he rendered himself unworthy of our Lord’s help by his distrust, and therefore “began to sink.” Another prayer, “Lord, save me,” procures him the efficacious assistance of Jesus, but teaches him also the source of his weakness and his strength: the former lies in himself, the latter in the divine help which is coextensive with his faith [cf. Chrysostom Jerome, Bede] , a most important lesson for the future chief pastor [cf. Thomas].  Hilary, Bede, Theophylact, Paschasius Radbertus,  Bruno, find a parallel between the present weakness of Peter’s faith and that manifested a year later, in his denial of the Master. Both occur on Friday night for since the eucharistic discourse was delivered on Saturday [Jn 6:60], the multiplication of loaves must have occurred on Thursday [Jn 6:22 ff.], the incidents between the miracle and the discourse occurring on Friday both happen after a stupendous miracle affecting the substance of bread, both again after a popular attempt to make Jesus king.

32. And when they were come into the boat, the wind ceased.
33. And they that were in the boat came and adored him, saying: Indeed, thou art the Son of God.

“The wind ceased” as soon as Jesus, and Peter “were come up into the boat”; John 6:21 may be rendered “they willingly received him,” though it seems to imply also a miraculous transference of the boat to the shore [cf. Jansenius, Calmet]; the adoration recorded in the first gospel may have occurred during the entrance of our Lord [Chrys. Euth.]. The adoration of the disciples and their profession, “thou art the Son of God,” may be understood in a wider sense, since “Son of God” is applied in the Old Testament to special friends and servants of God [cf. Ex 4:22; Deut 32:18; Isa 1:2; Jer 31:2; 2 Sam 7:14 [?]; 1 Chron 22:10; 3 Kings 5:5; etc.], and in this sense adoration is nothing but the special reverence shown them [cf. Dionysius the Carthusian, Cajetan, Jansenius]; but the preceding stupendous miracles, the recognition of Jesus as the Messias after Matthew 11 the progressive character of the first gospel, the express doctrine of Jesus placing himself above the sabbath and the temple, render it extremely probable that “Son of God” must be taken in its strict sense, and that the adoration is an act of “cultus latriæ” [Theophylact, Jerome, Calmet, Knabenbauer, Schanz, etc.] in spite of the apostles’ crude knowledge of the Holy Trinity. For “they that were in the boat . . . and adored him” were the apostles [cf. Origen, Euthymius,  Maldonado, Ambrose, Schegg, etc.] , including, at most, a few sailors [Schanz].

34 And having passed the water, they came into the country of Gennesaret.
35. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent into all that country, and brought to him all that were diseased.
36. And they besought him that they might touch but the hem of his garment. And as many as touched, were made whole.

“The country of Gennesaret ” was a fertile district, with a mild climate, on the western shore of the lake, between Dalmanutha and Magdala, nearly four miles long and half as broad, described by Josephus as an earthly paradise [Jewish Wars III. x. 8]; its modern name is El-Ghuweir. “The men of that place” were most anxious that their friends and neighbors should derive all possible temporal advantage from our Lord’s presence; nothing is said about their spiritual condition. “The hem ” signifies again the fringes of his garment, by the touch of which the woman was healed, according to Mt 9:20-22. This is the fourth general description of our Lord’s ministry [cf. Mt 4:24; 9:35; 11:1]; it follows in each case a series of events grouped together, topologically, not chronologically.

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Sunday, July 31: St Ephraim’s Hymn

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2011

This post, St Ephraim’s Hymn Number 3 on the Nativity, contains a number of allusions to the Passion and the Eucharist. The numbers in the text are to footnotes which I’ve appended to the end of the post. The numbering and footnotes in my source were somewhat clumsily done but, unfortunately, I do not have time at present to correct them. A much better source for this hymn can be found here.

Blessed be that first day of thine, Lord, wherewith this day of Thy Feast is stamped I Thy day is like Thee, in that it shows mercy unto men, in that it is handed down and comes with all generations.

This is the day that ends with the aged, and returns that it may begin with the young! a day that by its love refreshes itself, that it may refresh by its might us decayed creatures. Thy day when it had visited us and passed, and gone away, in its mercy returned and visited us again: for it knows that human nature needs it; in all things like unto Thee as seeking us.

The world is in want of its fountain; and for it, Lord, as for Thee, all therein are athirst. This is the day that rules over the seasons! the dominion of Thy day is like Thine, which stretches over generations that have come, and are to come! Thy day is like unto Thee, because when it is one, it buds and multiplies itself, that it may be like Thee!

In this Thy day, Lord, which is near unto us, we see Thy Birth that is far off! Like to Thee be Thy day to us, Lord; let it be a mediator and a warranter of peace.

Thy day reconciled Heaven and earth, because therein the Highest came down to the lowest.

Thy day was able to reconcile the Just One, who was wroth at our sins; Thy day forgave thousands of sins, for in it bowels of mercy shone forth upon the guilty!

Great, Lord, is Thy day; let it not be small upon us, let it show mercy according as it used to do, upon us transgressors!

And if every day, Lord, Thy forgiveness wells forth, how exceeding great should itbe upon this day! All the days from the Treasure of Thy bright day gain blessings. All the feasts from the stores of this feast have their fairness and their ornaments. Thy bowels of mercy upon Thy day make Thou to abound unto us, O Lord! Make us to distinguish Thy day from all days! for great is the treasure-house of the day of Thy Birth; let it be the ransomer of debtors! Great is this day above all days, for in it came forth mercy to sinners. A store of medicines is this Thy great day, because on it shone forth the Medicine of Life to the wounded! A treasure of helpful graces is this day, for that on it Light gleamed forth upon our blindness! Yea, it also brought a sheaf unto us; and it came, that from it might flow plenty upon our hunger. This day is that forerunning Cluster, in which the cup of salvation was concealed! This day is the first-born feast, which, being born the first, overcomes all feasts. In the winter which strips the fruit of the branches off from the barren vine, Fruit sprang up1 unto us; in the cold that bares all the trees, a shoot was green for us of the house of Jesse. In December2 when the seed is hidden in the earth, there sprouted forth from the Womb the Ear of Life. In March3 when the seed was sprouting in the air, a Sheaf4 sowed itself in the earth. The harvest thereof, Death devoured it in Hell; which the Medicine of life that is hidden therein did yet burst open! In March when the lambs bleat in the wilderness, into the Womb the Paschal Lamb entered! Out of the stream whence the fishers came up,5 He was baptized and came up Who incloses all things in his net; out of the stream the fish whereof Simon took, out of it the Fisher of men came up, and took him. With the Cross which catches all robbers, He caught up unto life that robber!6 The Living by His death emptied Hell, He unloosed it and let fly away from it entire multitudes! The publicans and harlots, the impure snares, the snares of the deceitful fowler the Holy One seized! The sinful woman, who was a snare for men, He made a mirror for penitent women! The fig that cast its fruit, that refused fruit,7 offered Zacchaeus as fruit; the fruit of its own nature it gave not, but it yielded one reasonable fruit! The Lord spread His thirst over the well, and caught her that was thirsty with the water that He asked of her. He caught one soul at the well, and again caught with her the whole city:8 twelve fishers the Holy One caught, and again caught with them the whole world. As for Iscariot, that escaped from His nets, the strangling halter fell upon his neck! His all-quickening net catches the living,9 and he that escapes from it escapes from the living.

And who is able, Lord, to tell me up the several succours that are hid in Thee? How shall the parched mouth be able to drink from the Fountain of the Godhead! Answer today the voice of our petition; let our prayer which is in words take effect in deeds. Heal us, O my Master; every time that we see Thy Feast, may it cause rumours that we have heard to pass away. Our mind wanders amid these voices. O Voice of the Father, still [other] voices; the world is noisy, in Thee let it gain itself quiet; for by Thee the sea was stilled from its storms. The devils rejoiced when they heard the voice of blasphemy: let the Watchers rejoice in us as they are wont.10 From amongst Thy fold there is the voice of sorrowfulness; O Thou that makest all rejoice,11 let Thy flock rejoice! as for our murmur, O my Master, in it reject us not: our mouth murmurs since it is sinful. Let Thy day, O Lord, give us all manner of joy, with the flowers12 of peace, let us keep Thy passover. In the day of Thy Ascension we are lifted up:13 with the new Bread shall be the memorial thereof. O Lord, increase our peace, that we may keep three feasts of the Godhead. Great is Thy day, Lord, let us not be despised. All men honour the day of Thy birth. Thou righteous One, keep Thou the glory of Thy birth; for even Herod honoured the day of His birth! The dances of the impure one pleased the tyrant; to Thee, Lord, let the voice of chaste women be sweet! Thee, Lord, let the voice of chaste women please, whose bodies Thou guardest holily. The day of Herod was like him: Thy day too is like Thee! The day of the troubled one was troubled with sin; and fair as Thou art is Thy fair day! The feast of the tyrant killed the preacher; in Thy feast every man preaches glory. On the day of the murderer, the Voice14 was put to silence; but on Thy day are the voices of the feast. The foul one in his feast put out the Light, that darkness might cover the adulterers. The season of the Holy One trims lamps, that darkness may flee with the hidden things thereof. The day of that fox15 stank like himself; but holy is the feast of the True Lamb.16 The day of the transgressor passed17 away like himself; Thy day like Thyself abideth for ever. The day of the tyrant raged like himself, because with his chain it put to silence the righteous Voice. The feast of the Meek One is tranquil like Himself, because His sum shines upon His persecutors. The tyrant was conscious that He was not a king, therefore to the King of kings he gave place. The whole day, Lord, suffices me not to balance Thy praise with his blame. May Thy Gracious day cause my sin to pass away, seeing that it is with the day of the impure one, that I have weighed Thy day! For great is Thy day beyond comparison! nor can it be compared with our days. The day of man is as of the earthy: the day of God is as of God! Thy day, Lord, is greater than those of the prophets,18 and I have taken and set it beside that of the murderer! Thou knowest, O Lord, as knowing all things, how to hear the comparison that my tongue hath made. Let Thy day grant our requests for life, since his day granted the request for death. The needy king swore on his feast that half his kingdom should be the reward of the dance! Let Thy feast then, O Thou that enrichest all, shed down in mercy a crumb of fine wheat flour! From the dry land gushed the Fountain, which sufficed to satisfy the thirst of the Gentiles! From the Virgin’s womb as from a strong rock sprouted up the seed, whence was much fruit! Barns without number did Joseph fill;19 and they were emptied and failed in the years of the famine. One true Sheaf gave bread; the bread of Heaven, whereof there is no stint. The bread which the First-born brake in the wilderness,20 failed and passed away though very good. He returned again and broke the New Bread21 which ages and generations shall not waste away! The seven loaves also that He brake failed,22 and the five loaves too that He multiplied were consumed;23 the Bread that He brake exceeded the world’s needs, for the more it was divided, the more it multiplied exceedingly. With much wine also He filled the waterpots; they drew it out, yet it failed though it was abundant: of the Cup that He gave though the draught was small, very great was its strength, so that there is no stint thereto. A Cup is He24 that contains all strong wines, and also a Mystery in the midst of which He Himself is! The one Bread that He brake has no bound, and the one Cup that He mingled has no stint!25 The Wheat that was sown,26 on the third day came up and filled the Garner of Life.27 The spiritual Bread, as the Giver of it, quickens the spiritual spiritually, and he that receives it carnally, receives it rashly to no profit. This Bread of grace let the spirit receive discerningly, as the medicine of Life. If the dead sacrifices in the name of devils were offered,28 yea eaten, not without a mystery; at the holy thing of the offering, how much more does it behove us that this mystery be circumspectly administered by us. He that eateth of the sacrifice in the name of devils, becomes devilish without all contra- diction. He that eateth the Heavenly Bread, becomes Heavenly without doubt! Wine teaches us, in that it makes him that is familiar therewith like itself: for it hates much him that is fond of it, and is intoxicating and maddening, and a mocker29 to him! Light teaches us, in that it makes like unto itself the eye the daughter of the sun: the eye by the light saw the nakedness, and ran and chastely hid the chaste man.30 As for that nakedness it was wine that made it, which even to the chaste skills not to show mercy!

With the weapon of the deceiver the First-born clad Himself, that with the weapon that killed, He might restore to life again! With the tree wherewith he slew us, He delivered us. With the wine which maddened us, with it we were made chaste! With the rib that was drawn out of Adam, the wicked one drew out the heart of Adam. There rose from the Rib31 a hidden power, which cut off Satan as Dagon: for in that Ark a book was hidden that cried and proclaimed concerning the Conqueror! There was then a mystery revealed, in that Dagon was brought low in his own place of refuge!32 The accomplishment came after the type, in that the wicked one was brought low in the place in which he trusted! Blessed be He Who came and in Him were accomplished the mysteries of the left hand, and the right hand.33 Fulfilled was the mystery that was in the Lamb, and fulfilled was the type that was in Dagon. Blessed is He Who by the True Lamb redeemed us, and destroyed our destroyer as He did Dagon! In December when the nights are long, rose unto us the Day, of Whom there is no bound! In winter when all the world is gloomy, forth came the Fair One Who cheered all in the world! In winter that makes the earth barren, virginity learned to bring forth. In December, that causes the travails of the earth to cease, in it were the travails of virginity. The early lamb no one ever used to see before the shepherds: and as for the true Lamb, in the season of His birth, the tidings of Him too hasted unto the shepherds. That old wolf saw the sucking Lamb, and he trembled before Him, though He had concealed himself; for because the wolf had put on sheep’s clothing, the Shepherd of all became a Lamb in the flocks, in order that when the greedy one had been bold against the Meek, the Mighty One might rend that Eater.34 The Holy One dwelt bodily in the womb; and He dwelt spiritually in the mind. Mary that conceived Him abhorred the marriage bed; let not that soul commit whoredom in the which He dwelleth. Because Mary perceived Him, she left her betrothed: He dwelleth in chaste virgins, if they perceive Him.35 The deaf perceive not the mighty thunder, neither does the heady man the sound of the commandment. For the deaf is bewildered in the time of the thunderclap, the heady man is bewildered also at the voice of instruction; if fearful thunder terrifies the deaf, then would fearful wrath stir the unclean! That the deaf hears not is no blame to him; but whoso tramples [on the commandments] it is headiness. From time to time there is thunder: but the voice of the law thunders every day. Let us not close our ears when their openings, as being opened and not closed against it, accuse us; and the door of hearing is open by nature, that it might reproach us for our headiness against our will. The door of the voice and the door of the mouth our will can open or close. Let us see what the Good One has given us; and let us hear the mighty Voice, and let not the doors of our ears be closed.

Glory to that Voice Which became Body, and to the Word of the High One Which became Flesh! Hear Him also, O ears, and see Him, O eyes, and feel Him, O hands, and eat Him, O mouth! Ye members and senses give praise unto Him, that came and quickened the whole body! Mary bare the silent Babe, while in Him were hidden all tongues! Joseph bare Him, and in Him was hidden a nature more ancient than aught that is old! The High One became as a little child, and in Him was hidden a treasure of wisdom sufficing for all! Though Most High, yet He sucked the milk of Mary, and of His goodness all creatures suck! He is the Breast of Life, and the Breath of Life; the dead suck from His life and revive. Without the breath of the air no man lives, without the Might of the Son no man subsists. On His living breath that quickeneth all, depend the spirits that are above and that are beneath. When He sucked the milk of Mary, He was suckling all with Life. While He was lying on His Mother’s bosom, in His bosom were all creatures lying. He was silent as a Babe, and yet He was making His creatures execute all His commands. For without the First-born no man can approach unto the Essence, to which He is equal. The thirty years He was in the earth, Who was ordering all creatures, Who was receiving all the offerings of praise from those above and those below. He was wholly in the depths and wholly in the highest! He was wholly with all things and wholly with each. While His body was forming within the womb, His power was fashioning all members! While the Conception of the Son was fashioning in the womb, He Himself was fashioning babes in the womb.36 Yet not as His body was weak in the womb, was His power weak in the womb! So too not as His body was feeble by the Cross, was His might also feeble by the Cross. For when on the Cross He quickened the dead, His Body quickened them, yea, rather His Will; just as when He was dwelling wholly in the womb, His hidden Will was visiting all! For see how, when He was wholly hanging upon the Cross, His Power was yet making all creatures move! For He darkened the sun and made the earth quake; He rent the graves and brought forth the dead! See how when He was wholly on the Cross, yet again He was wholly everywhere! Thus was He entirely in the womb, while He was again wholly in everything! While on the Cross He quickened the dead, so while a Babe He was fashioning babes. While He was slain, He opened the graves;37 while He was in the womb, He opened wombs. Come hearken, my brethren, concerning the Son of the Secret One that was revealed in His Body, while His Power was concealed! For the Power of the Son is a free Power; the womb did not bind it up, as it did the Body! For while His Power was dwelling in the womb, He was fashioning infants in the womb! His Power compassed her, that compassed Him. For if He drew in His Power, all things would fall; His Power upholds all things; while He was within the womb, He left not His hold of all. He in His own Person shaped an Image in the womb, and was shaping in all wombs all countenances. Whilst He was increasing in stature among the poor, from an abundant treasury He was nourishing all!38 While she that anointed Him was anointing Him, with His dew and His rain He was anointing all! The Magi brought myrrh and gold, while in Him was hidden a treasure of riches. The myrrh and spices which He had prepared and created, did the Magi bring Him of His own. It was by Power from Him that Mary was able to bear in Her bosom Him that bears up all things! It was from the great storehouse of all creatures, Mary gave Him all which she did give Him!39 She gave Him milk from Himself that prepared it, she gave Him food from Himself that made it! He gave milk unto Mary as God: again He sucked it from her, as the Son of Man. Her hands bare Him in that He had emptied. His strength; and her arm embraced Him, in that He had made Himself small. The measure of His Majesty who has measured? He caused His measures to shrink into a Raiment. She wove for Him and clothed Him because He had put off His glory. She measured Him and wove for Him, since He had made Himself little).

The sea when it bore Him was still and calmed, and how came the lap of Joseph to bear Him? The womb of hell conceived Him and was burst open, and how did the womb of Mary contain Him? The stone that was over the grave He broke open by His might, and how could Mary’s arm contain Him? Thou camest to a low estate, that Thou mightest raise all to life! Glory be unto Thee from all that are quickened by Thee! Who is able to speak of the Son of the Hidden One who came down and clothed Himself with a Body in the womb? He came forth and sucked milk as a child, and among little children the Son of the Lord of all crept about. They saw Him as a little Child in the street, while there was dwelling in Him the Love of all. Visibly children surrounded Him in the street; secretly Angels surrounded Him in fear. Cheerful was He with the little ones as a child; awful was He with the Angels as a Commander: He was awful to John for him to loose His shoe’s latchet: He was gentle to sinners that kissed His feet! The Angels as Angels saw Him; according to the measure of his knowledge each man beheld Him: according to the measure of each man’s discernment, thus he perceived Him that is greater than all. The Father and Himself alone are a full measure of knowledge so as know Him as He is! For every creature whether above or below obtains each his measure of knowledge; He the Lord of all gives all to us. He that enriches all, requires usury of all. He gives to all things as wanting nothing, and yet requires usury of all as if needy. He gave us herds and flocks as Creator, and yet asked sacrifices as though in need. He made the water wine as Maker: and yet he drank of it as a poor man. Of His own He mingled [wine] in the marriage feast, His wine He mingled and gave to drink when He was a guest. In His love He multiplied [the days of] the aged Simeon; that he, a mortal, might present Him who quickeneth all. By power from Him did Simeon carry Him; he that presented Him, was by Him presented [to God]. He gave imposition of hands to Moses in the Mount,40 and received it in the midst of the river from John. In the power of His gifts John was enabled to baptize, though earthy, the heavenly. By power from Him the earth supported Him: it was nigh to being dissolved, and His might strengthened it. Martha gave Him to eat: viands which He had created she placed before Him. Of His own all that give have made their vows: of His own treasures they placed upon His table.

1 Is 5,2.
2 (Conum).
3 (Nisan).
4 Lv 23,10.
5 (Ez 47,10, etc.
6 (Lc 23,43.
7 St. E. seems to blend here the account of the withering of the fig-tree and that of Zacchaeus climbing into the wild fig tree, as the Peshitto renders it.
8 (Jn 4,42,
9 Mt 13,47.
10 Mt 18,10.
11 (Lc 15,7,
12 Flowers used at Easter in the Churches are here alluded to.
13 (Jn 20,17,
14 This was a common name of old for St. John Baptist, with allusion to St. Jn 1,23
15 (Lc 13,32,
16 It may be well to observe once for all, that true is often use, as in Jn 15,1, for “real,” in opposition to “typical,” as in Scripture, so in the Fathers.
17 The same Syriac verb means to pass, and to transgress.
18 It might seem from this that there were some days kept in their honour in the East.
19 (Gn 41,49,
20 (Jn 6,1, etc.
21 p. 227.
22 Mt 15,36.
23 Mt 14,17.
24 (Ps 16,5
25 (Pr 9,5,
26 (Jn 12,24
27 Mt 13,30.
28 1Co 10,20.
29 (Pr 20,1,
30 (Gn 9,23,
31 (Gn 3,15,
32 1S 5,4.
33 Mt 25,33
34 (Jg 14,6,
35 Mt 5,28.
36 (Ps 139,16
37 Mt 27,52.
38 p.11. n. d.
39 (Jr 31,22
40 (Ex 33,22

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