The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for July 23rd, 2011

Monday, July 25: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 4:7-15)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 23, 2011

At the end of this post I’ve included a few suggested readings on 2 Corinthians.

2Co 4:7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God and not of us.

But we have this treasure. The treasure is the ministry and preaching of the Gospel entrusted to him by God. Cf. ver. 1 and vers. 5 and 6.

In earthen vessels. (1.) In a body of dust frail and fragile. Our body is as an earthenware vessel; for as an earthen vessel is nothing but clay baked in the fire, so is our body nothing but earth made solid by the heat of the soul. Take away the soul, and the body returns to the dust whence it came. Cf. Ps 103:14. Or, (2.) in earthen vessels means in ourselves; for though we are Apostles, still we are men, frail and fashioned from the dust, and, like earthen vessels, are worthless, weak, and contemptible, exposed to injuries at the hands of all. This explanation is favoured by the words that follow: “We are troubled on every side,” &c. So in 1 Cor 1:27, it was said that God had chosen the Apostles as the foolish, and weak, and base things of the world; and also in 1 Cor 2:1, Paul said that he had come to the Corinthians, not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, but in weakness, and fear, and trembling ; and again, in 1 Cor 4:9, he expresses the same idea.

Origen (Hom. in Numer.) symbolically interprets this treasure as the grace of the Holy Spirit hidden in earthen vessels, i.e., in the rude, unpolished, and unadorned words of the law and the Gospel.

That the excellency may be of the power of God and not of us. God wills me to have this treasure in an earthen vessel, in order that the excellency which is in me, and the fruit that I gather in the conversion of the heathen, may not be ascribed to me, but to the power of God and the grace of Christ.

2Co 4:8  In all things we suffer tribulation: but are not distressed. We are straitened: but are not destitute.

In all things we suffer tribulation: but not distressed. Not made anxious. Physically he was distressed, hemmed in, and pressed down, but in the midst of adversity the Apostle’s mind was serene and lofty. So, in Ps 4:1, David says. “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.”

We are straitened: but we are notdestitute. The Latin Version gives “We are in want, but not destitute,” or, as Ambrose, Theophylact, Erasmus, and Cajetan explain it: We are pressed with want, but not oppressed. There is a similar play on words in the Greek. Poverty gives sufficiency, nay, plenty, to a soul that is patient, wise, serene, and fixed on God. To say nothing of Christian writers, this was taught by Favorinus, who says. “It is true what wise men have said as the result of their experience, that they who have much want much, and that indigence takes its rise from abundance, and not from want. Much more is desired in order to guard the abundance you already have. Whoever, therefore, has great riches, and wishes to take forethought and guard against need or loss, needs loss, not gain, and should have less, that less may be lost.”

The Greek may also be rendered: We are without guidance, and are perplexed in the midst of our evils and difficulties; still we are not overcome by them, nor by our anxiety and weariness. We do not despair, but we hope for, and we find counsel, help, and deliverance in God, and so we are conquerors. This explanation is nearer to the Greek α̉πόρια, which denotes, not only bodily distress, but mental, viz., want of counsel, doubt, and perplexity, when the mind, seeing itself surrounded by difficulties, is at a stand-still, and knows not what to do. But God succours the Apostles and their successors in these straits, and points out a way of escape. S. Xavier and Gaspar Barzæus found this true in their work among the Indians, and testified that in every difficulty the Holy Spirit taught them more than all doctors or wise men could have done,

2Co 4:9  We suffer persecution: but are not forsaken. We are cast down: but we perish not.

We suffer persecution: but are not forsaken. S. Gregory of Nyssa (de Beatitud.), explaining the last of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are they that suffer persecution,” acutely and piously weighs the meaning of the word persecution, which etymologically points to some running, or rather running before. He puts before our eyes a holy man and tribulation, like two runners running side by side. When the saint does not give place to tribulation, he says that he goes before it, as victorious over it, and that tribulation follows hard after him, and is, therefore, called persecution, not consecution, for it follows after but does not reach the holy man. He says that this word points out that the saints, through patience, run with great swiftness for the prize of glory, display their vigour and strength most brightly in the midst of persecutions. He goes on: “Martyrdom shows us the arena, and marks out the course to be run by faith; for ‘persecution’ denotes an ardent desire for swiftness, nay, it even indicates the winning of the prize; for who can be victor in the race save he who leaves his competitor behind? Since, therefore, he that has an enemy behind, seeking to deprive him of the prize, has one ‘persecuting’ him—and such are they who finish the course of martyrdom on behalf of their holy religion, who are persecuted by their enemies, but not overtaken. Christ seems in these last words to put before us the most glorious crown of bliss, when He says, ‘Blessed are they that suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'”

We are cast down: but we perish not. There is here an allusion to the earthen vessels of ver. 7. Though, he seems to say, we are earthen vessels, and cast down, as it were, from the most lofty towers of persecutions, yet are we not shattered. We are so hardened by the fire of charity that we cannot break. Some add, “We are humiliated, but not confounded,” but the words are wanting in the Greek and Latin copies.

2Co 4:10  Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.

Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus. The death of Jesus, according to S. Ambrose, but the Greek is rather dying or mortification. The dying meant is the suffering of death like to the suffering of Jesus Christ, which is the road to and the beginning of death, a long and living death. This is the suffering spoken in vers. 8 and 9, suffering inflicted from without, though it may be extended also to any voluntary mortification of mind and body. It is called “the dying of Jesus,” (1.) because it is borne by His example; (2.) because it is undergone for His faith; (3.) because we, His servants, bear about in our body, by a kind of representation, the very death and Passion of Christ, just as slaves carry the badge and token of their master. Cf. Gal 6:17. So in Heb 11:26, it is said that Moses bore the reproach of Christ, and preferred it to the riches of Egypt (see note there). “There is no doubt,” says Ambrose, “that in His martyrs Christ is slain, and that in them that suffer chains or scourgings for the faith, Christ suffers the same.” Pau1 gives here the cause why, in the midst of trouble and distress, he is not crushed and destroyed, but is instead raised up and quickened. It is because by tribulation he is made like Christ crucified and smitten, and then raised and quickened; and, therefore, he rejoices in tribulation.

Salvianus (de Vero Jud. et Provid. Dei, lib. i.) says that no one is miserable who is content in the midst of misery, rather he is happy, because it is of his own devotion that he lives in misery. Toil, fasting, poverty, humility, weakness, persecution are not grievous to those that endure them, but to those that kick at them. Among the heathen, Fabricius, Fabius, Regulus, Camillus found poverty and affliction no burden. “No one,” he says, “is made miserable by other people’s opinion but by his own, and therefore false judgment cannot make them miserable whose conscience approves them. . . . None, I think, are happier than they who act according to their own knowledge and wish. Religious are of low estate, but they wish it so; they are poor, but pleased with poverty; they have no ambition, for they scorn it; they mourn, but they rejoice to mourn; they are weak, but they delight in weakness. ‘When I am weak,’ says the Apostle, ‘then am I strong.’ And so, no matter what may happen to those that are religious indeed, they are to be called happy. None are more joyous in the midst of all kinds of adversity than those who are in a state of their own choosing.”

That the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies. This is that future life when we shall rise with Christ to glory (ver. 14); and also the present life, when, after the pattern of the risen body of Christ, our afflicted bodies become more lively through the operation of the Spirit, on account of our hope of the resurrection and through the power of God, which delivers us from so many dangers every day and strengthens us against them.

2Co 4:11  For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake: that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

For we who live are always delivered unto death. In the midst of a life such as ours, we are exposed to constant danger of death and to every kind of trouble.

The thought, then, that in all our tribulation we are made like to Christ in His Passion and resurrection is what animates, comforts, and strengthens us. As in our afflicted and mortified body the death of Christ is visibly set forth, so in its deliverance, salvation, and strengthening do we see the life and resurrection of Christ. When we are thrown to the lions and other wild beasts, to be, as all expect, surely devoured by them, they spare us and fawn upon us; when we are cast into the fire it shrinks from us, nay, with genial warmth refreshes us; when we are thrown into the sea to be drowned, the sea bears us up and preserves us from all hurt; when I was stoned at Lystra and left for dead, I was soon after found to be alive. In all these and similar persecutions and afflictions I have fellowship with, I am made like, and I set forth the suffering, death, and burial of Christ, which by the power of God, were but the glorious prelude to the life of bliss. And for this reason I am strong, nay, I rejoice and glory in all my tribulations; for they give me a sure and certain hope of an eternal life of glory. “Therefore,” says Œcumenius, “was Christ permitted by God to be delivered to death, that His resurrection might be made manifest to all. He who daily raises us certainty raised up Himself also, and will in good time raise us up to eternal life.”

2Co 4:12  So then death worketh in us: but life in you.

So then death worketh in us, but life in you. Your spiritual life, your salvation is produced through faith and grace, but ours by the death of our body. The passion and death of the Apostles has been the life of the Church. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” says Tertullian. Chrysostom gives a different explanation: “You live in peace and suffer no such persecutions for the faith as I do; and so you seem to live and I seem to die daily.”

2Co 4:13  But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken; we also believe. For which cause we speak also:

But having the same spirit of faith. As David was hemmed in with dangers, and yet was delivered by God alone from them all, and said. “I believed,” i.e., I believe that God will always be true to His promises and deliver me, so too do we believe and hope, and boldly profess that our help and strength, our deliverance and resurrection have been promised by God, and will most surely be wrought out.

Ps. 116., alluded to here by S. Paul, is a Eucharistic psalm, in which David gives God thanks for his safe deliverance. Hence it begins with, “I believed.” In other words: I, David, in the midst of dangers and adversity, when hunted by Saul and his men, when my life was sought by Achish and the Philistines, when I was so placed that I seemed to be deprived of all human help, and to be in desperate straits, yet put my trust in God, who had promised me safety and moreover the kingdom, by the mouth of Samuel. Wherefore, I said boldly that I believed, without doubting that God would deliver me from all these evils, and would bring me to His promised kingdom, as, in fact, He has delivered me, and has set me on the throne. “Right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints.” My death is of great account and great price in the sight of the Lord. God, therefore, carefully watches that my death, or that of His other Saints may not be allowed, except for good cause and great gain, and He wonderfully guards us and delivers us. This, I, David, found in the cave and at other times when I was shut in by the bands of Saul and of my other enemies, and therefore with praise and thanksgiving do I exclaim, What return shall I make unto the Lord for all the benefits that He hath done unto me? I will receive the cup of salvation, of my many safe deliverances—that cup which is a witness and public profession of God’s goodness to me, and of my frequent escapes from danger—of God’s salvation will I take.

Observe here that (1.) the Jews had three kinds of sacrifices, the whole burnt-offering, the sin-offering, and the peace-offering. This last was a sacrifice of salvation, offered for the peace and salvation of any individual or family, or of the whole people, whether already obtained or to be obtained. (2.) In every Sacrifice a libation was made to God, just as if the sacrifice were God’s feast. The cup, therefore, of salvation is the cup of wine which was offered to God, poured out and drunk by the offerers. (3.) This cup was a figure of the Eucharistic chalice, which makes us not only mindful of the salvation wrought by Christ, but also partakers of it.

Tropologically: this “cup” is martyrdom and affliction, and the obstinate resistance that we make to sin, even unto death, says S. Basil, in his comments on Ps. cxvi. For Paul eagerly longed for martyrdom, and hence he speaks not of the cross, but of the cup of salvation, as though he should say: I will readily drink whatever the Lord may have given to me, even though it be the martyr’s death; and therefore knowing, says S. Augustine, that martyrdom is not within my own power, but depends on the grace of God, I will call upon that grace, and will publicly preach and celebrate the name of the Lord. Similarly, Christ speaks of His Passion as a cup, and bids His Apostles and martyrs and all His members drink of it (S. Matt 20:22, and Matt 26:42). As, then, every Christian offers to Christ, His Deliverer, the Eucharistic cup and sacrifice as a thanksgiving, so does Paul offer his sufferings, his afflictions, and death to Christ, as a most pleasing cup. So, too, have all the martyrs, by openly professing their faith and dying for it, offered to Christ the cup of their martyrdom.

I believed. I believed, and I still believe. This is a continuous act of belief, and not merely one that is inchoate, especially so since David speaks of the person of Paul and of us all, and puts his own belief forward as one deserving our imitation.

2Co 4:14  Knowing that he who raised up Jesus will raise us up also with Jesus and place us with you.

Will raise up us also . . . and place us with you. Shall present us with you in glory. He says out of modesty, “shall present us with you,” not “you with us,” because the Corinthians were the cause and object of his preaching, and so also of his glory.

2Co 4:15  For all things are for your sakes: that the grace, abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.

That the grace, abound through many,  may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God. I.e., through many giving thanks. The Syriac renders it, “that since grace abounds through many, thanksgiving may be proportionately multiplied to the glory of God.”

SUGGESTED READINGS: All books listed are by Catholic authors. One should not infer that my listing them here is an endorsement of their particular views (e.g., Murphy-O’Connors theory that 2 Cor. is a composite document of several shorter letters of St Paul).

SECOND CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Thomas D. Stegman, S.J. Part of the new Catholic Commentary On Sacred Scripture.

SECOND CORINTHIANS (Sacra Pagina Series). By Fr. Jan Lambrecht, S.J. Somewhat technical, not for the beginner.

THE FIRST AND SECOND LETTERS OF ST PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS. By Dr. Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. Part of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible). A good introductory commentary.

KEYS TO SECOND CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P. Very expensive, scholarly, thorough. Not for the average reader.

THE THEOLOGY OF THE SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P. Scholarly, not for the average reader.

LECTURES ON SECOND CORINTHIANS (Online). By St Thomas Aquinas. This work, available online for free, still continues to exert influence 8 centuries after it production. The medieval style may not appeal to many.

ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM’S HOMILIES ON SECOND CORINTHIANS (Online).

NOTES ON CORINTHIANS, GALATIANS, ROMANS. By Fr. Joseph Rickaby, S.J. Somewhat dated. Originally published in 1898. slightly technical. Rickaby was a prolific author and a noted authority on St Thomas Aquinas.

THE SECOND EPISTLE OF ST PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS. By R. D. Byles. Somewhat dated. Originally published in 1897. A very basic commentary.

AN EXPOSITION OF THE EPISTLE OF ST PAUL (Vol 2). By Bernardine de Picquigny. The author ((1633-1709) was a Capuchin monk who is also sometimes called Bernardin de Piconio. This volume contains commentary on 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that his 3 volume exposition of St Paul “has ever been popular among scripture scholars.”

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

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 126

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 23, 2011

How man had come into captivity, let us ask the Apostle Paul. … For he saith: “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin”(Rom 7:14). Behold whence we became captives; because we were sold trader sin. Who sold us? We ourselves, who consented to the seducer. We could sell ourselves; we could not redeem ourselves. We sold ourselves by consent of sin, we are redeemed in the faith of righteousness. For innocent blood was given for us, that we might be redeemed. Whatsoever blood he shed in persecuting the righteous, what kind of blood did he shed? Righteous men’s blood, indeed, he shed; they were Prophets, righteous men, our fathers, and Martyrs. Whose blood he shed, yet all coming of the offspring of sin. One blood he shed of Him who was not justified, but born righteous: by shedding that blood, he lost those whom he held. For they for whom innocent blood was given were redeemed, and, turned back from their captivity, they sing this Psalm.

Ps 125:1. “When the Lord turned back the captivity of Sion, we became as those that are comforted”. He meant by this to say, we became joyful. When? “When the Lord turned back the captivity of Sion.” What is Sion? Jerusalem, the same is also the eternal Sion. How is Sion eternal, how is Sion captive? In angels eternal, in men captive. For not all the citizens of that city are captives, but those who are away from thence, they are captives. Man was a citizen of Jerusalem, but sold under sin he became a pilgrim. Of his progeny was born the human race, and the captivity of Sion filled all lands. And how is this captivity of Sion a shadow of that Jerusalem? The shadow of that Sion, which was granted to the Jews, in an image, in a figure, was in captivity in Babylonia, and after seventy years that people turned back to its own city…. But when all time is past, then we return to our country, as after seventy years that people returned from the Babylonish captivity, for Babylon is this world; since Babylon is interpreted “confusion.” … So then this whole life of human affairs is confusion, which belongeth not unto God. In this confusion, in this Babylonish land, Sion is held captive. But “the Lord hath turned back the captivity of Sion.” “And we became,” he saith, “as those that are comforted.” That is, we rejoiced as receiving consolation. Consolation is not save for the unhappy, consolation is not save for them that groan, that mourn. Wherefore, “as those that are comforted,” except because we are still mourning? We mourn for our present lot, we are comforted in hope: when the present is passed by, of our mourning will come everlasting joy, when there will be no need of consolation, because we shall be wounded with no distress. But wherefore saith he “as” those that are comforted, and saith not comforted? This word “as,” is not always put for likeness: when we say “As,” it sometimes refers to the actual case, sometimes to likeness: here it is with reference to the actual case. … Walk therefore in Christ, and sing rejoicing, sing as one that is comforted; because He went before thee who hath commanded thee to follow Him.

Ps 126:2. “Then was our mouth filled with joy, and our tongue with exultation” (verse 2). That mouth, brethren, which we have in our body, how is it “filled with joy”? It useth not to be “filled,” save with meat, or drink, or some such thing put into the mouth. Sometimes our mouth is filled; and it is more that we say. to your holiness? when we have our mouth full, we cannot speak. But we have a mouth within, that is, in the heart, whence whatsoever proceedeth, if it is evil, defileth us, if it is good, cleanseth us. For concerning this very mouth ye heard when the Gospel was read. For the Jews reproached the Lord, because His disciples ate with unwashen hands. They reproached who had cleanness without; and within were full of stains. They reproached, whose righteousness was only in the eyes of men. But the Lord sought our inward cleanness, which if we have, the outside must needs be clean also. “Cleanse,” He saith, “the inside,” and “the outside shall be clean also” (Matt 23:26).

4. But let us return to what was just now read from the Gospel, relating to the verse before us, “Our mouth was filled with joy, and our tongue with delight:” for we are inquiring what mouth and what tongue. Listen, beloved brethren. The Lord was scoffed at, because His disciples ate with unwashed hands. The Lord answered them as was fitting, and said unto the crowds whom He had called unto Him, “Hear ye all, and understand: not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matt 15:10-11)) What is this? when He said, what goeth into the mouth, He meant only the mouth of the body. For meat goeth in, and meats defile not a man; because, “All things are clean to the clean;” and, “every creature of God is good, and none to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim 4:4) …

5. Guard the mouth of thy heart from evil, and thou wilt be innocent: the tongue of thy body will be innocent, thy hands will be innocent; even thy feet will be innocent, thy eyes, thy ears, will be innocent; all thy members will serve under righteousness, because a righteous commander hath thy heart. “Then shall they say among the heathen, the Lord hath done great things for them.”

Ps 126:3). “Yea, the Lord hath done great things for us already, whereof we rejoice.” Consider, my brethren, if Sion doth not at present say this among the heathen, throughout the whole world; consider if men are not running unto the Church. In the whole world our redemption is received; Amen is answered. The dwellers in Jerusalem, therefore, captive, destined to return, pilgrims, sighing for their country, speak thus among the heathen. What do they say? “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we rejoice.” Have they done anything for themselves? They have done ill with themselves, for they have sold themselves under sin. The Redeemer came, and did the good things for them.

Ps 126:4. “Turn our captivity, O Lord, as the torrents in the south.”. Consider, my brethren, what this meaneth. … As torrents are turned in the south, so turn our captivity. In a certain passage Scripture saith, in admonishing us concerning good works, “Thy sins also shall melt away, even as the ice in fair warm weather” (Sirach 3:17). Our sins therefore bound us. How? As the cold bindeth the water that it run not. Bound with the frost of our sins, we have frozen. But the south wind is a warm wind: when the south wind blows, the ice melts, and the torrents are filled. Now winter streams are called torrents; for filled with sudden rains they run with great force. We had therefore become frozen in captivity; our sins bound us: the south wind the Holy Spirit hath blown: our sins are forgiven us, we are released from the frost of iniquity; as the ice in fair weather, our sins are melted. Let us run unto our country, as the torrents in the south. …

8. For the next words are, “They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy”(Ps 126:5). In this life, which is full of tears, let us sow. What shall we sow? Good works. Works of mercy are our seeds: of which seeds the Apostle saith, “Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not” (Gal 6:9). Speaking therefore of almsgiving itself, what saith he? “This I say; he that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly” (2 Cor 9:6). He therefore who soweth plentifully, shall reap plentifully: he who soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly: and he that soweth nothing, shall reap nothing. Why do ye long for ample estates, where ye may sow plentifully? There is not a wider field on which ye can sow than Christ, who hath willed that we should sow in Himself. Your soil is the Church; sow as much as ye can. But thou hast not enough to do this. Hast thou the will? As what thou hadst would be nothing, if thou hadst not a good will; so do not despond, because thou hast not, if thou hast a good will. For what dost thou sow? Mercy. And what wilt thou reap? Peace. Said the Angels, Peace on earth unto rich men? No, but, “Peace on earth unto men of a good will” (Luke 2:14).  Zacchæus had a strong will, Zacchæus had great charity (Luke 19:8)) … Did then that widow who cast her two farthings into the treasury, sow little? Nay, as much as Zacchæus. For she had narrower means, but an equal will. She gave her two mites (Luke 21:1-4) with as good a will as Zacchæus gave the half of his patrimony. If thou consider what they gave, thou wilt find their gifts different; if thou look to the source, thou wilt find them equal; she gave whatever she had, and he gave what he had. … But if they are beggars whose profession is asking alms, in trouble they also have what to bestow upon one another. God hath not so forsaken them, but that they have wherein they may be tried by their bestowing of alms. This man cannot walk; he who can walk, lendeth his feet to the lame; he who seeth, lendeth his eyes to the blind; and he who is young and sound, lendeth his strength to the old or the infirm, carrieth him: the one is poor, the other is rich.

Sometimes also the rich man is found to be poor, and something is bestowed upon him by the poor. Somebody cometh to a river, so much the more delicate as he is more rich; he cannot pass over: if he were to pass over with bare limbs, he would catch cold, would be ill, would die: a poor man more active in body cometh up: he carries the rich man over; he giveth alms unto the rich. Think not therefore those only poor, who have not money. …Thus love ye, thus be ye affectioned unto one another. Attend not solely to yourselves: but to those who are in want around you. But because these things take place in this life with troubles and cares, faint not. Ye sow in tears, ye shall reap in joy.

How, my brethren? When the farmer goeth forth with the plough, carrying seed, is not the wind sometimes keen, and doth not the shower sometimes deter him? He looketh to the sky, seeth it lowering, shivers with cold, nevertheless goeth forth, and soweth. For he feareth lest while he is observing the foul weather, and awaiting sunshine, the time may pass away, and he may not find anything to reap. Put not off, my brethren; sow in wintry weather, sow good works, even while ye weep; for, “They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy.” They sow their seed, good will, and good works. “They went on their way and wept, casting their seed” (Ps 126:6). Why did they weep? Because they were among the miserable, and were themselves miserable. It is better, my brethren, that no man should be miserable, than that thou shouldest do alms. … Nevertheless, as long as there are objects for its exercise, let us not fail amid those troubles to sow our seed. Although we sow in tears, yet shall we reap in joy. For in that resurrection of the dead, each man shall receive his own sheaves, that is, the produce of his seed, the crown of joys and of delight. Then will there be a joyous triumph, when we shall laugh at death, wherein we groaned before: then shall they say to death, “O death, where is thy strife? O death, where is thy sting?”(1 Cor 15:55) But why do they now rejoice? Because. “they bring their sheaves with them.”

In this Psalm we have chiefly exhorted you to do deeds of alms, because it is thence that we ascend; and ye see that he who ascendeth, singeth the song of steps. Remember: do not love to descend, instead of to ascend, but reflect upon your ascent: because he who descended from Jerusalem to Jericho fell among thieves (Luke 10:30) … The Samaritan as He passed by slighted us not: He healed us, He raised us upon His beast, upon His flesh; He led us to she inn, that is, the Church; He entrusted us to the host, that is, to the Apostle; He gave two pence, whereby we might be healed,(Luke 10:35, 37) the love of God, and the love of our neighbour. The Apostle spent more; for, though it was allowed unto all the Apostles to receive, as Christ’s soldiers, pay from Christ’s subjects,(3) that Apostle, nevertheless, toiled with his own hands, and excused the subjects the maintenance owing to him.(4) All this hath already happened: if we have descended, and have been wounded; let us asscend, let us sing, and make progress, in order that we may arrive.

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Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 126

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 23, 2011

1. Listening to the words of Psalm 126[125], one has the impression of seeing before one’s eyes the event of the “new Exodus” that is sung of in the second part of the Book of Isaiah: the return of Israel from the Babylonian Exile to the land of her fathers after the edict of the Persian King Cyrus in 538 B.C. It was thus a repetition of the joyful experience of the first Exodus, when the Jewish people were released from slavery in Egypt.

This Psalm acquired special significance when it was sung on the days when Israel felt threatened and afraid because she was once again being put to the test. Effectively, the Psalm contains a prayer for the return of the captives of that time (cf. v. 4). Thus, it became a prayer of the People of God in their historical wanderings, fraught with dangers and trials but ever open to trust in God the Saviour and Liberator, the support of the weak and the oppressed.

2. The Psalm introduces us into an atmosphere of exultation: people were laughing, celebrating their new-found freedom, and songs of joy were on their lips (cf. vv. 1-2).
There is a twofold reaction to the restored freedom.

On the one hand, the heathen nations recognized the greatness of the God of Israel: “What marvels the Lord worked for them!” (v. 2). The salvation of the Chosen People becomes a clear proof of the effective and powerful existence of God, present and active in history.

On the other hand, it is the People of God who profess their faith in the Lord who saves: “What marvels the Lord worked for us!” (v. 3).

3. Our thoughts then turn to the past, relived with a shudder of fear and affliction. Let us focus our attention on the agricultural image used by the Psalmist: “Those who are sowing in tears will sing when they reap” (v. 5). Under the burden of work, their faces are sometimes lined with tears: the sowing is laborious, perhaps doomed to uselessness and failure. But with the coming of the abundant, joyful harvest, they discover that their suffering has borne fruit.

The great lesson on the mystery of life’s fruitfulness that suffering can contain is condensed in this Psalm, just as Jesus said on the threshold of his passion and death: “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12: 24).

4. Thus, the horizon of the Psalm opens to the festive harvest, a symbol of joy born from the freedom, peace and prosperity that are fruits of the divine blessing. This prayer, then, is a song of hope to turn back to when one is immersed in moments of trial, fear, threats and inner oppression.

But it can also become a more general appeal to live one’s days and make one’s decisions in an atmosphere of faithfulness. In the end, perseverance in good, even if it is misunderstood and opposed, always reaches a landing place of light, fruitfulness and peace.

This is what St Paul reminded the Galatians: “If [a man] sows in the field of the flesh, he will reap a harvest of corruption; but if his seed-ground is the spirit, he will reap everlasting life. Let us not grow weary of doing good; if we do not relax our efforts, in due time we shall reap our harvest” (Gal 6: 8-9).

5. Let us end with a reflection on Psalm 126[125] by St Bede the Venerable (672/3-735), commenting on the words by which Jesus announced to his disciples the sorrow that lay in store for them, and at the same time the joy that would spring from their affliction (cf. Jn 16: 20).

Bede recalls that “Those who loved Christ were weeping and mourning when they saw him captured by his enemies, bound, carried away for judgment, condemned, scourged, mocked and lastly crucified, pierced by the spear and buried. Instead, those who loved the world rejoiced… when they condemned to a most ignominious death the One of whom the sight alone they could not tolerate. The disciples were overcome by grief at the death of the Lord, but once they had learned of his Resurrection, their sorrow changed to joy; then when they had seen the miracle of the Ascension, they praised and blessed the Lord, filled with even greater joy, as the Evangelist Luke testified (cf. Lk 24: 53).

“But the Lord’s words can be applied to all the faithful who, through the tears and afflictions of this world, seek to arrive at eternal jubilation and rightly weep and grieve now, because they cannot yet see the One they love and because they know that while they are in the body they are far from the Homeland and the Kingdom, even if they are certain that they will reach it with their efforts and struggles. Their sorrow will change into joy when, after the struggle of this life, they receive the reward of eternal life, as the Psalm says: “Those who are sowing in tears will sing when they reap’ (Homily on the Gospel, 2, 13: Collana dei Testi Patristici, XC, Rome, 1990, pp. 379-380).

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Sunday, July 24: St John Chrysostom on Today’s Epistle (Extraordinary Form, Rom 6:3-11)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 23, 2011

The following post is excerpted from Chrysostom’s 10th and 11th homilies on Romans.

Excerpt from Homily 10 on Romans:

Rm 6:3-4. “Know ye not,” he says, “my brethren, that so many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death.”

What does being “baptized into His Death” mean? That it is with a view to our dying as He did. For Baptism is the Cross. What the Cross then, and Burial, is to Christ, that Baptism hath been to us, even if not in the same respects. For He died Himself and was buried in the Flesh, but we have done both to sin. Wherefore he does not say, planted together in His Death, but in the likeness of His Death. For both the one and the other is a death, but not of the same subject; since the one is of the Flesh, that of Christ; the other of sin, which is our own. As then that is real, so is this. But if it be real, then what is of our part again must be contributed. And so he proceeds,

“That as Christ was raised up from the dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Here he hints, along with the duty of a careful walk, at the subject of the resurrection. In what way? Do you believe, he means, that Christ died, and that He was raised again? Believe then the same of thyself. For this is like to the other, since both Cross and Burial is thine. For if thou hast shared in Death and Burial, much more wilt thou in Resurrection and Life. For now the greater is done away with, the sin I mean, it is not right to doubt any longer about the lesser, the doing away of death.

But this he leaves for the present to the conscience of his hearers to reason out, but himself, after the resurrection to come had been set before us, demands of us another, even the new conversation, which is brought about in the present life by a change of habits.  When then the fornicator becomes chaste, the covetous man merciful, the harsh subdued, even here a resurrection has taken place, the prelude to the other. And how is it a resurrection? Why, because sin is mortified, and righteousness hath risen again, and the old life hath been made to vanish, and this new and angelic one is being lived in. But when you hear of a new life, look for a great alteration, a wide change. But tears come into my eyes, and I groan deeply to think how great religiousness  Paul requires of us, and what listlessness we have yielded ourselves up to, going back after our baptism to the oldness we before had, and returning to Egypt, and remembering the garlic after the manna. (Num 11:5). For ten or twenty days at the very time of our Illumination, we undergo a change, but then take up our former doings again. But it is not for a set number of days, but for our whole life, that Paul requires of us such a conversation. But we go back to our former vomit, thus after the youth of grace building up the old age of sins. For either the love of money, or the slavery to desires not convenient, or any other sin whatsoever, useth to make the worker thereof old. “Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb 8:13). For there is no body, there surely is none, to be seen as palsied by length of time, as a soul is decayed and tottering with many sins. Such an one gets carried on to the last degree of doting, yielding indistinct sounds, like men that are very old and crazed, being surcharged with rheum, and great distortion of mind, and forgetfulness, and with scales upon its eyes, and  disgustful to men, and an easy prey to the devil. Such then are the souls of sinners; not so those of the righteous, for they are youthful and well-favored, and are in the very prime of life throughout, ever ready for any fight or struggle. But those of sinners, if they receive even a small shock, straightway fall and are undone. And it was this the Prophet made appear, when he said, that like as the chaff which the wind scattereth from the face of the earth (Ps 1:4), thus are they that live in sin whirled to and fro, and exposed to every sort of harm. For they neither see like a healthy person, nor hear with simplicity, they speak not articulately, but are oppressed with great shortness of breath. They have their mouth overflowing with spittle. And would it were but spittle, and nothing offensive! But now they send forth words more fetid than any mire, and what is worst, they have not power even to spit this saliva of words away from them, but taking it in their hand with much lewdness, they smear it on again, so as to be coagulating, and hard to perspire through. Perhaps ye are sickened with this description. Ought ye not, then to be more so at the reality? For if these things when happening in the body are disgustful, much more when in the soul. Such was that son who wasted out all his share, and was reduced to the greatest wretchedness, and was in a feebler state than any imbecile or disordered person. But when he was willing, he became suddenly young by his decision alone and his change. For as soon as he had said, “I will return to my Father,” this one word conveyed to him all blessings; or rather not the bare word, but the deed which he added to the word. For he did not say, “Let me go back,” and then stay there; but said, Let me go back, and went back, and returned the whole of that way. Thus let us also do; and even if we have gotten carried beyond the boundary, let us go up to our Father’s house, and not stay lingering over the length of the journey. For if we be willing, the way back again is easy and very speedy. Only let us leave the strange and foreign land; for this is what sin is, drawing us far away from our Father’s house; let us leave her then, that we may speedily return to the house of our Father. For our Father hath a natural yearning towards us, and will honor us if we be changed, no less than those that are unattainted, if we change, but even more, just as the father showed that son the greater honor. For he had greater pleasure himself at receiving back his son. And how am I to go back again? one may say. Do but put a beginning upon the business, and the whole is done. Stay from vice, and go no farther into it, and thou hast laid hold of the whole already. For as in the case of the sick, being no worse may be a beginning of getting better, so is the case with vice also. Go no further, and then your deeds of wickedness will have an end. And if you do so for two days, you will keep off on the third day more easily; and after three days you will add ten, then twenty, then an hundred, then your whole life. (Cf. Hom. xvii. on St. Mt p. 267, O. T).  For the further thou goest on, the easier wilt thou see the way to be, and thou wilt stand on the summit itself, and wilt at once enjoy many goods. For so it was when the prodigal came back, there were flutes, and harps, and dancings, and feasts, and assemblings: and he who might have called his son to account for his ill-timed extravagance, and flight to such a distance, did nothing of the sort, but looked upon him as unattainted, and could not find it in him even to use the language of reproach, or rather, even to mention barely to him the former things, but threw himself upon him, and kissed him, and killed the calf, and put a robe upon him, and placed on him abundant honors. Let us then, as we have such examples before us, be of good cheer and keep from despair. For He is not so well pleased with being called Master, as Father, nor with having a slave as with having a son. And this is what He liketh rather than that. This then is why He did all that He has done; and “spared not even His Only-begotten Son” (Rom 8:32), that we might receive the adoption of sons, that we might love Him, not as a Master only, but as a Father. And if He obtained this of us He taketh delight therein as one that has glory given him, and proclaimeth it to all though He needeth nothing of ours. This is what, in Abraham’s case for instance, He everywhere does, using these words, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” And yet it was the), of His household who should have found an honor in this; but now it is the Lord evidently who does this; for this is why He says to Peter, “Lovest thou Me more than these?” (Jn 21:17) to show that He seeketh nothing so much as this from us. For this too He bade Abraham offer his son to Him, that He might make it known to all that He was greatly beloved  by the patriarch. Now this desire to be loved exceedingly comes from loving exceedingly. For this cause too He said to the Apostles, “He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me.” (Mt 10:37). For this cause He bids us esteem that even which is in the most close connection with us, our soul (or, life, Mt 5:39, and Jn 12:25), as second to the love of him, since He wisheth to be beloved by us with exceeding entireness. For we too, if we have no strong feelings about a person, have no strong desire for his friendship either, though he be great and noble; whereas when we love any one warmly and really, though the person loved be of low rank and humble, yet we esteem love from him as a very great honor. And for this reason He Himself also called it glory not to be loved by us only, but even to suffer those shameful things in our behalf. (Jn 12:23). However, those things were a glory owing to love only. But whatever we suffer for Him, it is not for love alone; but even for the sake of the greatness and dignity of Him we long for, that it would with good reason both be called glory, and be so indeed. Let us then incur dangers for Him as if running for the greatest crowns, and let us esteem neither poverty, nor disease, nor affront, nor calumny, nor death itself, to be heavy and burdensome, when it is for Him that we suffer these things. For if we be right-minded, we are the greatest possible gainers by these things, as neither from the contrary to these shall we if not right-minded gain any advantage. But consider; does any one affront thee and war against thee? Doth he not thereby set thee upon thy guard, and give thee an opportunity of growing like unto God? For if thou lovest him that plots against thee, thou wilt be like Him that “maketh His Sun to rise upon the evil and good.” (Mt 5:45). Does another take thy money away? If thou bearest it nobly, thou shalt receive the same reward as they who have spent all they have upon the poor. For it says, “Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” (Heb 10:34). Has any one reviled thee and abused thee, whether truly or falsely, he weaves for thee a very great crown if thou bearest meekly his contumely; since he too, who calumniates, provides for us an abundant reward. For “rejoice,” it says, “and be exceeding glad, when men say all manner of evil against you falsely, because great is your reward in Heaven.” (Mt 5:11-12).  And he too that speaketh truth against us is of the greatest service, if we do but bear meekly what is said. For the Pharisee spake evil of the Publican, and with truth, still instead of a Publican he made him a righteous man. (Lk 18:11). And what need to go into particular instances. For any one that will go to the conflicts of Jb may learn all these points accurately. And this is why Paul said, “God for us, who against us?” (Rom 8:31). As then by being earnest, we gain even from things that vex us, so by being listless, we do not even improve from things that favor us. For what did Judas profit, tell me, by being with Christ? or what profit was the Law to the Jew? or Paradise to Adam? or what did Moses profit those in the wilderness? And so we should leave all, and look to one point only, how we may husband aright our own resources. And if we do this, not even the devil himself will ever get the better of us, but will make our profiting the greater, by putting us upon being watchful. Now in this way it is that Paul rouses the Ephesians, by describing his fierceness. Yet we sleep and snore, though we have to do with so crafty an enemy. And if we were aware of a serpent  nestling by our bed, we should make much ado to kill him. But when the devil nestleth in our souls, we fancy that we take no harm, but lie at our ease; and the reason is, that we see him not with the eyes of our body. And yet this is why we should rouse us the more and be sober. For against an enemy whom one can perceive, one may easily be on guard; but one that cannot be seen, if we be not continually in arms, we shall not easily escape. And the more so, because he hath no notion of open combat (for he would surely be soon defeated), but often under the appearance of friendship he insinuates the venom of his cruel malice. In this way it was that he suborned Job’s wife, by putting on the mask of natural affectionateness, to give that wretchless advice. And so when conversing with Adam, he puts on the air of one concerned and watching over his interests, and saith, that “your eyes shall be opened in the day that ye eat of the tree.” (Gen 3:5). Thus Jephtha too he persuaded, under the pretext of religion, to slay his daughter, and to offer the sacrifice the Law forbade (Judges 11:31-39). Do you see what his wiles are, what his varying warfare? Be then on thy guard, and arm thyself at all points with the weapons of the Spirit, get exactly acquainted with his plans, that thou mayest both keep from being caught, and easily catch him. For it was thus that Paul got the better of him, by getting exactly acquainted with these. And so he says, “for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Cor 2:11). Let us then also be earnest in learning and avoiding his stratagems, that after obtaining a victory over him, we may, whether in this present life or in that which is to come, be proclaimed conquerors, and obtain those unalloyed blessings, by the grace and love toward man, etc.

Excerpt from Homily 11 on Romans:

Rom 6:5  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.

What I had before occasion to remark, that I mention here too, that he continually digresseth into exhortation, without making any twofold division as he does in the other Epistles, and setting apart the former portion for doctrines, and the latter for the care of moral instruction. Here then he does not do so, but blends the latter with the subject throughout, so as to gain it an easy admission. Here then he says there are two mortifyings, and two deaths, and that one is done by Christ in Baptism, and the other it is our duty to effect by earnestness afterwards. For that our former sins were buried, came of His gift. But the remaining dead to sin after baptism must be the work of our own earnestness, however much we find God here also giving us large help. For this is not the only thing Baptism has the power to do, to obliterate our former transgressions; for it also secures against subsequent ones. As then in the case of the former, thy contribution was faith that they might be obliterated, so also in those subsequent to this, show thou forth the change in thine aims, that thou mayest not defile thyself again. For it is this and the like that he is counselling thee when he says, “for if we have been planted together in the likeness of His Death, we shall be also in the likeness of His Resurrection.” Do you observe, how he rouses the hearer by leading him straightway up to his Master, and taking great pains to show the strong likeness? This is why he does not say “in death,” lest you should gainsay it, but, “in the likeness of His Death.” For our essence itself hath not died, but the man of sins, that is, wickedness. And he does not say, “for if we have been” partakers of “the likeness of His Death;” but what? “If we have. been planted together,” so, by the mention of planting, giving a hint of the fruit resulting to us from it. For as His Body, by being buried in the earth, brought forth as the fruit of it the salvation of the world; thus ours also, being buried in baptism, bore as fruit righteousness, sanctification, adoption, countless blessings. And it will bear also hereafter the gift of the resurrection. Since then we were buried in water, He in earth, and we in regard to sin, He in regard to His Body, this is why he did not say, “we were planted together in His Death,” but “in the likeness of His Death.” For both the one and the other is death, but not that of the same subject. If then he says, “we have been planted together in His Death,  we shall be in that of His Resurrection,” speaking here of the Resurrection which (Gr. be of His Resurrection) is to come. For since when he was upon the subject of the Death before, and said, “Know ye not, brethren, that so many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His Death?” he had not made any clear statement about the Resurrection, but only about the way of life after baptism, bidding men walk in newness of life; therefore he here resumes the same subject, and proceeds to foretell to us clearly that Resurrection. And that you may know that he is not speaking of that resulting from baptism, but about the other, after saying, “for if we were planted together in the likeness of His Death,” he does not say that we shall be in the likeness of His Resurrection,  but we shall belong to the Resurrection. For to prevent thy saying, and how, if we did not die as He died, are we to rise as He rose? when he mentioned the Death, he did not say, “planted together in the Death,” but, “in the likeness of His Death.” But when he mentioned the Resurrection, he did not say, “in the likeness of the Resurrection,” but we shall be “of the Resurrection” itself. And he does not say, We have been made, but we shall be, by this word again plainly meaning that Resurrection which has not yet taken place, but will hereafter. Then with a view to give credibility to what he says, he points out another Resurrection which is brought about here before that one, that from that which is present thou mayest believe also that which is to come. For after saying, “we shall be planted together in the Resurrection,” he adds,

Rom 6:6. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed.”

(So putting together both the cause and the demonstration of the Resurrection which is to come. And he does not say is crucified, but is crucified with Him, so bringing baptism near to the Cross. And on this score also it was that he said above, “We have been planted together in the likeness of His Death that the body of sin might be destroyed,” not giving that name to this body of ours, but to all iniquity. For as he calls the whole sum of wickedness the old man, thus again the wickedness which is made up of the different parts of iniquity he calls the body of that man. And that what I am saying is not mere guesswork, hearken to Paul’s own interpretation of this very thing in what comes next. For after saying, “that the body of sin might be destroyed,” he adds, “that henceforth we should not serve sin.” For the way in which I would have it dead is not so that ye should be destroyed and die, but so that ye sin not. And as he goes on he makes this still clearer.

Rom 6:7. “For he that is dead,” he says, “is freed (Gr. justified) from sin.”

This he says of every man, that as he that is dead is henceforth freed from sinning, lying as a dead body, so must  he that has come up from baptism, since he has died there once for all, remain ever dead to sin.

If then thou hast died in baptism, remain dead, for any one that dies can sin no more; but if thou sinnest, thou marrest God’s gift. After requiring of us then heroism (Gr. philosophy) of this degree, he presently brings in the crown also, in these words.

Rom 6:8. “Now if we be dead with Christ.”

And indeed even before the crown, this is in itself the greater crown, the partaking with our Master. But he says, I give even another reward. Of what kind is it? It is life eternal. For “we believe,” he says, “that we shall also live with Him.” And whence is this clear?

Rom 6:9. “That Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more.”

And notice again his undauntedness, and how he makes the thing good from opposite grounds. Since then it was likely that some would feel perplexed at the Cross and the Death, he shows that this very thing is a ground for feeling confident henceforward.

For suppose not, he says, because He once died, that He is mortal, for this is the very reason of His being immortal. For His death hath been the death of death, and because He did die, He therefore doth not die. For even that death

Rom 6:10. “He died unto sin.”

“What does “unto sin” mean? It means that He was not subject even to that one, but for our sin, that He might destroy it, and cut away its sinews and all its power, therefore He died. Do you see how he affrighteth them? For if He does not die again, then there is no second laver, then do thou keep from all inclinableness to sin. For all this he says to make a stand against the “let us do evil that good may come. Let us remain in sin that grace may abound.” To take away this conception then, root and branch, it is, that he sets down all this. But in that “He liveth, He liveth unto God,” he says,—that is, unchangeably, so that death hath no more any dominion over Him. For if it was not through any liability to it that He died the former death, save only for the sin of others, much less will He die again now that He hath done that sin away. And this he says in the Epistle to the Hebrews also, “But now once,” he says, “in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the Sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb 9:26–28). And he both points out the power of the life that is according to God, and also the strength of sin.For with regard to the life according to God, he showeth that Christ shall die no more. With regard to sin, that if it brought about the death even of the Sinless, how can it do otherwise than be the ruin of those that are subject to it? And then as he had discoursed about His life; that none might say, What hath that which you have been saying to do with us? he adds,

Rom 6:11. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God.”

(He well says, “reckon,” because there is no setting that, which he is speaking of, before the eyes as yet. And what are we to reckon? one may ask. That we “are dead unto sin, but alive unto God. In Jesus Christ our Lord.” For he that so liveth will lay hold of every virtue, as having Jesus Himself for his ally. For that is what, “in Christ,” means, for if He raised them when dead, much more when alive will be able to keep them so.

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St Augustine on Mark 8:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 23, 2011

In expounding to you the Holy Scriptures, I as it were break bread for you. Do ye in hunger receive it, and break forth with a fulness of phrase from the heart; and ye who are rich in your banquet, be not meagre in good works and deeds. What I deal out to you is not mine own. What ye eat, I eat; what ye live upon, I live upon. We have in heaven a common store-house; for from thence comes, the Word of God.

The “seven loaves” signify the seven-fold operation of the Holy Spirit; the “four thousand men,” the Church established on thefour Gospels; “the seven baskets of fragments,” the perfection of the Church. For by this number very constantly is perfection figured. For whence is that which is said, “seven times in a day will I praise thee”? (Ps 119:164)  Does a man sin who does not praise the Lord so often? What then is “seven times will I praise,” but “I will never cease from praise”? For he who says “seven times,” signifies all time. Whence inthis world there are continual revolutions of seven days. What then is “seven times in a day will I praise Thee,” but what is said in another place, “His praise shall always be in my mouth”? (Ps 34:1) With reference to this perfection, John writes to seven Churches. The Apocalypse is a book of St. John the Evangelist; and he writes“to seven Churches” (Rev 1:4) Be ye hungered; own ye these baskets. For those fragments were not lost; but seeing that ye too belong to the Church, they have surely profited you. In that I explain this to you, I minister to Christ; and when ye hear peaceably, ye “sit down” (Mk 8:6) I in my body sit, but in my heart I am standing, and ministering to you in anxiety; lest peradventure, not the food, but the vessel offend any of you. Ye know the feast of God, ye have often heard it, that it is for the heart, not for the belly.

Of a truth four thousand men were filled by seven loaves; what is more wonderful than this! Yet even this were not enough, had not seven baskets also been filled with the fragments that remained. O great mysteries! they were works, and the works spake. If thou understand these doings, they are words. And ye too belong to the four thousand, because ye live under the fourfold Gospel. To this number the children and women did not belong. For so it is said, “And they that did eat were four thousand men, excepting women and children” (Matt 15:38). As though the void of understanding, and the effeminate were without number. Yet let even these eat. Let them eat: it may be the children will grow, and will be children no more; it may be the effeminate will be amended, and become chaste. Let them eat; we dispense, we deal out to them. But who these are, God inspecteth His feast, and if they do not amend themselves, He who knew how to invite them thither, knoweth also how to separate them from the rest.

Ye know it, dearly Beloved; call to mind the parable of the Gospel, how that the Lord came in to inspect the guests at a certain feast of His. The Master of the house who had invited them, as it is written, “found there a man which had not on a wedding garment” (Matt 22:11).  For to the marriage had that Bridegroom invited them who is “fair in beauty above the children of men.” That Bridegroom became deformed because of His deformed spouse, that he might make her fair. How did the Fair One become deformed? If I do not prove it, I am blaspheming. The testimony of his fair beauty the Prophet gives me, who saith, “Thou art fair in beauty above the children of men” (Ps 44:3) The testimony of his deformity another Prophet gives me, who saith, “We saw Him, and He had no grace, nor beauty; but His countenance was marred, and His whole look  deformed” (Isa 53:2, LXX) O Prophet, who saidst, “Thou art fair in beauty above the children of men;” thou art contradicted; another Prophet cometh out against thee, and saith, “Thou speakest falsely. We have seen Him. What is this that thou sayest, ‘Thou art fair in beauty above the children of men? We have seen Him, and He had no grace nor beauty.’“ Are then these two Prophets at disagreement in the Corner-stone of peace? Both spake of Christ, both spake of the Cornerstone. In the corner the wails unite. If they do not unite, it is not a building, but a ruin. No, the Prophets agree, let us not leave them in strife. Yea, rather let us understand their peace; for they know not how to strive. O Prophet, who saidst, “Thou art fair in beauty above the children of men;” where didst thou see Him? Answer me, answer where didst thou see Him? “Being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Phil 2:14). There I saw Him. Dost thou doubt that He who is “equal with God” is “fair in beauty above the children of men”? Thou hast answered; now let him answer who said, “We saw Him, and He had no grace, nor beauty.” Thou hast said so; tell us where didst thou see Him? He begins from the other’s words; where the other ended, there he begins. Where did he end? “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Lo, where he saw Him who was “fair in beauty above the children of men;” do thou tell us,where thou sawest that “He had no grace norbeauty. But He emptied Himself, taking theform of a servant, being made in the likeness ofmen, and found in fashion as a man” (Phil 2:7-8). Of His deformity he still further says; “He humbledHimself, having become obedient unto death even the death of the cross.” Lo, where I saw Him. Therefore are they both in peacefulconcord, both are at peace together. What ismore “fair” than God? What more “deformed” than the Crucified?

So then this Bridegroom, “fair in beauty above the children of men,” became deformed that He might make His Spouse fair to whom it is said, “O thou beauteous among women,” (Song 1:8) ofwhom it is said, “Who is this that cometh up, whitened” (Song 1:5, LXX) with the brightness of light, not the colouring of falsehood! He then who called them to the wedding, found a man who had not a wedding garment, and He said unto him, “Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.” For he found not what to answer. And the Master of the house Who had invited him said, “Bind him hands and feet, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 22:12). For so small a fault, so great a punishment? For great it is. It is called a small fault not to have “the wedding garment;” small, but only by those who do not understand. How would He have been so incensed, how would He have so judged, to cast him, on account of the wedding garment which he had not, “bound hands and feet into outer darkness, where was weeping and gnashing of teeth,” unless it had been a very grievous fault, not to have “the wedding garment”? I say this; seeing ye have been invited through me; for though He invited you, He invited you by my ministry. Ye are all at the feast, have the wedding garment. I will explain what it is, that ye may all have it, and if any one now hears me who has it not, let him, before the Master of the house comes and inspects His guests, be changed for the better, let him receive “the wedding garment,” and so sit down in all assurance.

For in truth, dearly Beloved, he who was cast forth from the feast, does not signify one man; far from it. They are many. And the Lord Himself who put forth this parable, the Bridegroom Himself, who calleth together to the feast, and quickeneth whom He calleth, He hath Himself explained to us, that that man does not denote one man, but many, there, in that very place, in the same parable. I do not go far for this, I find the explanation there, there I break the bread, and set it before you to be eaten. For He said, when he who had not “the wedding garment was cast out thence into outer darkness,” He said and added immediately, “for many are called, but few chosen” (Matt 2:14).  Thou hast cast forth one man from hence, and Thou sayest, “for many are called, but few chosen.” Without doubt the chosen are not cast forth; and they were the few guests who remained; and the “many” were represented in that one, because that one who hath not “the wedding garment” is the body of the wicked.

What is “the wedding garment”? Let us search for it in the Holy Scriptures. What is “the wedding garment “? Without doubt it is something which the bad and good have not in common; let us discover this, and we shall discover “the wedding garment.” Among the gifts of God, what have not the good and bad in common?  That we are men and not beasts, is a gift of God; but this is common to good and bad. That the light from heaven rises upon us, that the rain descends from the cloud, the fountains flow, the fields yield their fruit; these are gifts, but common to the good and bad. Let us go to the marriage feast, let us leave the others without, who being called come not. Let us consider the guests themselves, that is, Christians. Baptism is a gift of God, the good and bad have it. The Sacraments of the Altar the good and bad receive together. Saul prophesied for all his wickedness, and in his rage against a holy and most righteous man, even while he was persecuting him, he prophesied. Are the good only said to believe? “The devils also believe and tremble” (James 2:19).  What shall I do? I have sifted all, and have not yet come to “the wedding garment.” I have unfolded my envelopings, I have considered all, or almost all, and have not yet come to that garment. The Apostle Paul in a certain place has brought me a great collection of excellent things; he has laid them open before me, and I have said to him, “Show me, if so be thou hast found among them that ‘wedding garment.’“ He begins to unfold them one by one, and to say, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels, though I have all knowledge, and the gift of prophecy, and all faith, so that I could remove mountains; though I distribute all my goods to the poor, and give my body to be burned” (1 Cor 13:1 ff). Precious garments! nevertheless, there is not yet here that “wedding garment.” Now bring out to us “the wedding garment.” Why dost thou keep us in suspense, O Apostle? Peradventure prophecy is a gift of God which both good and bad have not. “If,” says He, “I have not charity, nothing profiteth me.” See “the wedding garment;” put it on, ye guests, that ye may sit down securely. Do not say; “we are too poor to have that garment.” Clothe others, and ye are clothed yourselves. It is winter, clothe the naked. Christ is naked; and He will give you that “wedding garment” whosoever have it not. Run to Him, beseech Him; He knoweth how to sanctify His faithful ones, He knoweth how to clothe His naked ones. That ye may be able as having “the wedding garment” to be free from. the fear of the outer darkness, and the binding of your members and hands and feet; let not your works fail. If they fail, with hands bound what canst thou do? with feet bound, whither wilt thou fly? Keep then that “wedding garment,” put it on, and so sit down in security, when He comes to inspect. The Day of Judgment will come; He is now giving a long space, let himwho erewhile was naked now be clothed.

 

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This Weeks Posts: Sunday, July 17-Saturday, July 23

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 23, 2011

SUNDAY, JULY 17
SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Resources for Today’s Mass. Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms.

Today’s Divine Office.

Last Week’s Posts.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on First Corinthians 11.

MONDAY, JULY 18
MONDAY OF THE SIXTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 12:38-42).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 12:38-42).

TUESDAY, JULY 19
TUESDAY OF THE SIXTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 12:46-50).

WEDNESDAY, JULY 20
WEDNESDAY OF THE SIXTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 13:1-9). Previously posted.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 13:1-9).

UPDATE: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Sunday’s Gospel (Matt 13:44-52).

UPDATE: Maldonado’s Commentary on Sunday’s Gospel (Matt 13:44-52).

Sunday, July 24: Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). Sorry, will be posted Thursday evening.

THURSDAY, JULY 21
THURSDAY OF THE SIXTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 13:10-17).

UPDATE: Resources for Sunday Mass, July 24 (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Rite.

UPDATE: Sunday, July 24: Father Callan’s Commentary on Rom 8:28-30.

UPDATE: Sunday, July 24: Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Rom 8:28-30.

FRIDAY, JULY 22
MEMORIAL OF SAINT MARY MAGDALENE

Today’s Mass Readings.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 20:11-18. Previously posted.

SATURDAY, JULY 23
SATURDAY OF THE SIXTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matt 13:24-30). Previously posted.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 13:24-30). Previously posted.

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