The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 11:25-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 9, 2011

Mat 11:25  At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones.

At that time Jesus answered and said, &c. What Christ now says, agrees well with what has gone before, for Christ here gives the reason why the Capernaites, the Scribes, the priests, and the Pharisees, despised Him, and His preaching, because, in truth, they were proud, and seemed, in their own eyes, wise and prudent. Wherefore they would not bend their proud necks to the humility of Christ and the Gospel, but the Apostles and the disciples and the multitude did bow their necks. This sentence also expresses that Christ soothed the grief which He felt because of their proud incredulity by a consideration of, and complacency in, the just judgment and the Divine decree, whereby God hid these things from the proud as unworthy of them, and revealed them to little ones, i.e., to the lowly. Whence Luke adds. He rejoiced in the Holy Ghost (Luke 10:20 Vulg.) i.e., He rejoiced through the Holy Ghost, which had suggested to Him this consideration, and the joy which arose out of it. Therefore he praised and thanked God. We too can do as Christ did, that when we lose our labour with the proud and the unworthy, we may quell our grief by considering the Divine Will and Providence, which despises the proud, and chooses the humble, and lifts them to His grace and glory.

I confess (Vulg). That is, I praise and give thanks. This is the meaning of the Heb. ידא, yada, in Hiphil, viz., הורה, hoda, from which comes תורה, a sacrifice, viz., of confession, i.e., of praise, and giving thanks. Thus, too, we constantly find in the Psalms such expressions as, “I will confess to Thee with my whole heart,” i.e., I will praise Thee; and, “Confess to the Lord, for He is good,” i.e., praise the Lord.

To Thee, 0 Father, who lovest Me with a peculiar love, and who disposest all things to Thy and My glory. He adds this lest any one should attribute it to want of power in Christ that He did not subdue to Him the proud Capernaites and Pharisees. It is as though He had said, “Thou, 0 my Father, forasmuch as Thou art Lord of Heaven and earth, hast the hearts of all men in Thy hands, and couldst bend them by a single nod, and subdue them before Me, but this, by Thine holy ordinance, Thou wouldst not do.”

Moreover, under the name of Heaven and earth, all creatures—all men and angels are signified. By which it is intimated—1. That God has care for and rules, and calls to the grace of the Gospel and salvation by Christ, not the Jews only, but the Gentiles also. 2. That God is drawing His faithful ones from earth to Heaven, inasmuch as He is Lord of Heaven equally with earth, and therefore opens heaven to His friends. 3. That in like manner as God has separated the lowly Apostles from the proud Pharisees on earth, so in like manner has He separated the humble angels from proud Lucifer and his adherents in heaven.

Listen to Tertullian (lib. 1, contra, Marc. c. 13): “There is the fulness of the Deity itself setting forth perfect God, Father and Lord, Father by clemency, Lord by discipline, Father by sweet power, Lord by severity: a Father to be affectionately loved, a Lord to be necessarily feared: to be loved because He prefers mercy before sacrifice; to be feared because He will not tolerate sin: to be loved because He prefers the repentance to the death of a sinner; to be feared because He will not accept sinners who do not repent. Therefore, the Law prescribes both: thou shalt love God, and thou shalt fear God. He proposes the one to him who follows Him, the other to him who goes astray from Him.”

And hast revealed them to little ones, Gr. νηπίοις, or infants. So the Arabic, meaning to ignorant, unskilled, and uneloquent men (such as the Apostles, who seemed to the Scribes and worldly persons to be rude, and as foolish as children), in order that Thou mayest exhibit in them the power of Thy grace and Thy light, by which Thou hast made the tongues of these infants eloquent, so that their sound is gone out into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. There is an allusion to Ps. viii. 3: “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise, that Thou mightest destroy the enemy and the avenger.” For the election and disposition of God are clean contrary to the world. For the world courts and chooses the rich, the wise, the proud. God chooses the poor, the ignorant, the weak; and He makes them rich, wise, and powerful in spirit above all the worldly.

From this passage, S. Augustine (de prædest. Sanct. c. 6, et de Bono Perseveran. c. 8), and S. Gregory (25 Moral. c. 13) teach, that when some believe the preached Gospel and others believe not, it is the effect of the grace and justice of God. For they who believe are so congruously illuminated in their minds by the grace of God, that they do believe; but they who believe not, on account of their pride and other sins, are not so congruously illuminated by God, that they do, in fact, believe; although if they would consent to, and co-operate with, the illumination which God affords them, they could believe, and in truth would believe.

Mat 11:26  Yea, Father: for so hath it seemed good in thy sight.

Yea, Father, &c. The Gr. is ναὶ ό Πατήρ; for the Greeks often use the nominative for the vocative. The meaning is, Truly, 0 Father, what Thou hast done, most rightly hast Thou done, in that it hath pleased Thee to humble the proud, and exalt the lowly. Christ teaches that the original cause of the predestination and election of the faithful, as well as the reprobation of unbelievers and the wicked is nothing else save God’s good pleasure. Wherefore, we ought to rest in that, and not seek for other reasons, since that one thing is sufficient for the faithful, and worth a thousand reasons. Hence the Blessed in Heaven, when they see their children and parents condemned for their demerits, do not lament, but approve and laud the just judgment of God.

Mat 11:27  All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one knoweth the Son but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him.

All things are delivered to Me, &c. Christ said that the Almighty God was His Father, and that He—as Lord of Heaven and earth—rejected the proud Pharisees, but revealed Himself and His grace to His lowly Apostles: but now, lest any one should suppose that Christ was inferior to the Father, He teaches the converse, namely, that the Father giveth all He hath to the Son—yea, that through the Son alone He worketh, teacheth, and bestoweth His gifts.

Moreover, this expression, all things are delivered to Me by the Father, ought to be thus understood, that nevertheless, Christ ought to be considered to possess all things by nature. “For like as He is, according to His nature, life, He is said to be quickened by the Father; and although He is the Lord of Glory, He is said to have received glory,” says the Council of Ephesus. The meaning therefore is, all things which the Father hath, viz., the divine nature, dominion and power, say SS. Hilary and Augustine, and consequently, what Christ here more particularly refers to, all things, i.e., the dominion, power, and government of all things, but chiefly of men, have been granted unto Me by the Eternal Father, as to His Son by eternal generation, and in time the same things have been given to Me, as man, by the Hypostatic Union, that I may choose, illuminate, predestinate, save, whom I will, such as the Apostles; and reject and condemn, whom I accept not, such as the proud Capernaites. For in My hand is the predestination, or reprobation, the salvation or damnation of all men; for as much as I have been appointed by God the Father the Saviour and Redeemer of the World, and in My hand the Father hath placed all things, that I should repair and renew them. That as by Me as God He created all things, so also by Me in the flesh which I have assumed, He may re-create and restore all things. To this end I came, and for this I was made man. These mysteries therefore have been hidden from the wise, I mean My Mission, My Incarnation, the end of My advent, My work, but they have been already, in part, revealed to little ones, and shall hereafter be perfectly revealed.

And no one knoweth the Son, &c., Luke 10:22, has, no one knoweth who the Son is, but the Father: and who the Father is, but the Son, &c. He means, I have been sent by the Father to be the Teacher and Saviour of the World, that I should teach men the truth and the way to God the Father, who is uncreated health and felicity. For this felicity, since it is supernatural, cannot be naturally known by man or angel. Wherefore, as no one knoweth the Son except the Father, and he to whom the Father shall reveal Him, so likewise no one knoweth the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal Him. For as the Father communicates His nature, so likewise He communicates the knowledge of Himself and all things which He hath to the Son, and by Him to the rest of mankind. He, therefore, who desires to draw near to the truth, grace and salvation, which are in God the Father, must draw near through Me, and believe in Me. For I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. My doctrine is the doctrine of God the Father. By Me, therefore, ye shall have access to the Father.

Now although it is said, except the Son, the Holy Ghost is not excluded; much less, when it is said, except the Father, is the Son excluded. For the rule of Theologians is, that exclusive particles, added to one of the Divine Persons in essential attributes do not exclude the other two Persons, but creatures only, or whatsoever is of a different essence. Thus S. Aug. (lib. 6. de Trin. c. 9.) S. Cyril, and the rest of the Fathers and Schoolmen. Observe that Christ, in the first place, revealed the knowledge of the two first Persons, viz., the Father and the Son, and afterwards, just before His death, faith in the third Person, viz., the Holy Ghost, as is plain from John 16:7.

S. Chrysostom wisely observes (Hom. 39.) that it is not said, to whom He has been commanded by the Father to reveal, but to whom He will reveal, in order that the Son may be shown to be equal to the Father in dominion and power. For, although Christ reveals as man, or by means of His human nature, yet this nature subsists in the Divine person, and therefore this man Christ is God, and equal to God the Father.

Moreover, SS. Chrysostom and Irenæus (Lib. 4. c. 14.) answer Marcion, who rejected the Old Testament and its God, and said, if God the Father was not known before the revelation of Christ Incarnate, therefore He was not known in the Old Law, therefore its author andGod was not the true God. Thus they expound the words, no one knoweth the Father except the Son of the Divine knowledge by which the Son qua God, comprehends the Father, and the Father the Son. You may, however, better understand it concerning the knowledge communicated to the human nature of Christ: for this revealed His mysteries to the prophets and fathers, even the mysteries of the Divinity and the Trinity. Thus He revealed the same things after His Incarnation to the Apostles and faithful, qua man. For no one is a believer and a Christian except by Christ, and through Christ Incarnate. For, says St. Jerome, it is one thing to know what thou knowest by equality of nature, as the Son knoweth the Father; another, by the condescension of Him who reveals, as we know God by the revelation of Christ.

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3 Responses to “Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 11:25-27”

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