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 September, 2011

Resources for Sunday Mass, October 2, 2011 (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Rite)

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2011

Sorry about this post being late. These days my dance card is pretty full and I’m finding it hard to maintain my blogging schedule.

This post contains resources for both Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. The readings in the two forms differ.

ORDINARY FORM
TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Sunday Mass Readings.

Sunday’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Isaiah 5:1-7.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 80.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Philippians 4:6-9.

Sunday Gospel Scripture Study on Matthew 21:33-43. Video study, 63 minutes.

UPDATE: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 21:33-43.

UPDATE: Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 21:33-43.

UPDATE: Are We a Faithful Vineyard? Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma looks at all three readings and the responsorial Psalm.

Word Sunday:

  • MP3 PODCAST In this week’s audio podcast, we discuss the dark attitude of selfishness. What’s yours is mine. Too many times, this attitude becomes the way that the powerful treat the powerless. How should we respond?
  • FIRST READING The prophet Isaiah railed against the lax attitude in the royal court and the nation. The people slipped into idolatry and injustice. They were like the wild grapes of the vineyard in the prophet’s parable, sour and useless. As the people had abandoned God, God would turn his back on his people.
  • PSALM Psalm 80 is a hymn of desperation, but not despair. The singer cried out to God in time of crisis, but did not give up on the Lord to deliver his people.
  • SECOND READING In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul encouraged his audience to live peace-filled, moral lives. He offered himself as an example to the community as the ideal Christian. Was Paul bragging? No, he earned his role as example and mentor through his dedication. Paul knew as well as anyone did of the power Christ had in life.
  • GOSPEL Matthew’s gospel presents a harsh parable about rebel tenants. The story Jesus told depicted the jealousy of the tenant farmers and their unlimited greed. Their fate foreshadowed the destruction of Jerusalem. It was also a warning to everyone who claims God’s will and power as their own.
  • CHILDREN’S READINGS In the story for the first reading, Edith loved her dolls and her doll house. But, but her cousin showed little respect for Edith’s beloved collection. The result was heartbreak, just as God hurts when his people are wild. In the story for the gospel, three different boys are best friends. When one of the boys faces painted words of prejudice, all three hurt. All resolve to remove the words so the hate won’t spread. Jesus told a story of prejudice and destruction as a warning.
  • FAMILY ACTIVITY The parable of the rebel tenants is a story of selfishness that grew into hatred. What would happen if the tenant farmers were giving people. Discuss alternate endings to the parable with your family members.

Haydock Bible Commentary. Originally posted in 2008. Contains readings from the Douay-Rheims translation followed by notes from the commentary.

Bible WorkshopIncludes a few relevant links; guide for reading; comparison of the readings; suggested lessons.

Gospel Reading with Meditation.

Thoughts From the Early Church. Excerpt from St. Basil the Great.

Scripture in Depth.

Catholic Matters. The readings followed by brief explanations.

Parish Bible Study. Pdf document. Notes on the readings used for a bible study.

Lector NotesBrief historical and theological overview of the readings. Can be copied and used for bulletin insert.

Dr. Scott Hahn’s Podcast. Brief audio (test also available). Does good job of highlighting the major theme(s) of the writings.

Fr. Robert Barron’s Homily Podcast. Father Barron is a respected speaker and theologian.

EXTRAORDINARY FORM
SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

Today’s Roman Missal. Latin and English text of the pre-Vatican II missal. Contains the readings, prayers, etc.

Instructions on the Epistle and Commentary. Contains the readings along with basic instructions concerning them.

A Devout Commentary on Ephesians 3:13-21. A popularized/simplified version of St Thomas Aquinas’ lectures on Ephesians (see below).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures on Ephesians:

Aquinas Catena Aurea on Luke 14:1-11.

NOTE: The following links are to online books. Use the sites zoom feature to increase text size if necessary.

The Sanctification of Sundays and Holy Days. A sermon on the Gospel by Fr. Augustine Wirth, O.S.B.

Pride. Another sermon by Fr. Augustine Wirth.

Homily on the Epistle. By Bishop Bonomelli.

Homily on the Gospel. By Bishop Bonomelli.

St Paul Exhorts and Prays for the Ephesians. Homily on the Epistle by Father Johann Evangelist Zollner.

Christ Heals the Man With Dropsy, Counsels Humility. Homily on the Gospel by J.E. Zollner.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Dogmatic Homily on the Gospel by J.E. Zollner.

How We Are to Sanctify Sundays and Holy Days. Symbolic Homily on the Gospelby J.E. Zollner.

On Pride. Moral Homily on the Gospel by J.E. Zollner.

The Sanctification of Sundays and Holy Days. Moral homily on the Gospel by J.E. Zollner.

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Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Philippians 4:6-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2011

6. In nothing be solicitous : but in all prayer and entreaty, with thanksgiving, let your petitions become known before God.

In nothing he solicitous. For the Lord is near, and all the system of this mortal life is shortly to close and terminate. In a very short time you must leave everything you possess. The Saviour you look for from heaven will crown your patience and your toils. There is, therefore, no room for solicitude regarding temporal things. As we now know, the coming of the Lord was not near in the literal sense in which the Apostle seems to have expected it, for centuries have rolled by, and he is not yet come. This contingency is, however, provided for in the words that follow. In all, at all times, on all occasions, in every business, let your petitions become known in the presence of God, and rise before his throne. The word all should not be joined with prayer, the adjective and substantive being of different genders in the Greek; at all times by prayer. And with thanksgiving, because the omnipotence and the mercy of God render it certain that your prayers will be heard and granted, if not precisely in the terms of your petition, in some still better way. Saint Chrysostom observes that we are in reason and duty bound to give thanks to God for all things, even trouble and affliction, because we can be by faith firmly persuaded that all things will turn to our advantage and eternal profit, though we do not always understand how. Prayers, he adds, that are thus accompanied with thanksgiving, God accepts and recognises, and they become known before the presence of God, otherwise he will not always notice them.

The Greek word for thanksgiving is eucharist, and the Apostle’s words will bear the meaning, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

7. And may the peace of God, which exceeds all sense, keep your hearts and your understanding, in Jesus Christ.

The peace of God, the knowledge and conviction that you are at peace with God, which is a source of comfort and satisfaction greater than the intelligence can understand, keep your hearts and minds. The Greek text and the Syriac read shall keep. As a garrison keeps a fortress, safe from the assaults of despondency and sorrow, doubt or unbelief. In Christ Jesus, by the power of Christ, and by thje assurance of his divine compassion and human sympathy.

8. For the rest, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever modest, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovely, whatever of good fame; if there is any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.

For the rest, brethren. This is the second time the Apostle has begun anew with these words : In Philippians 3:1, he said, For the rest, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord, and then he proceeded to show how and why; because by standing firm in the faith of Christ and in the communion of his true Church, we are assured of sharing the glory of his resurrection. Now, in concluding, he still finds a few more words to say. He has told the Philippians what to believe, what to expect, what to do, and whom to imitate; now he tells them what to think of. For the direction of the mind, and choice of subjects of reflection, are to a great extent in our own power. The human mmd, in waking hours, is ceaselessly active, and many more thoughts pass through its wonderful mechanism than can be communicated in speech to others. It is a common remark that we could easily tell the character and disposition of any man if we knew what he habitually thinks of. What a Christian should habitually think of, St. Paul tells us in these well-known words. All things that are true. We know what is true about Almighty God, his power, his wisdom, his goodness, and providence. And we know what is true of ourselves. But about our neighbour we know not what is true, because we cannot see his heart, and our judgment of him will therefore most likely not be among the things that are true. All things that are modest, in the Greek σεμνα (semna) means worthy of respect, honour, and veneration. All things just, dwelling on the good we see, rather than the evil. All things holy; the present Greek text has pure, αγνα (agna). The translator of the Vulgate seems to have read αγια (agia=holy); but that which is holy is pure, and that which is pure is holy, and in the result it will be very much the same. All things lovely, or amiable; all things that are good and beautiful, as all God’s works are, as they came from his hands, and when they are not degraded by sin. All that is of good fame; held in honour and respect among men. For the human heart, in all its ruin, although it has lost the power of attaining and accomplishing what is truly good and noble, has never lost its appreciation of it, and admiration for it; and by this faculty the pagan world turned to Jesus Christ, when they knew him, and adored and acknowledged him as the ideal and crown of perfection, the embodiment of the divine in human nature. That which men acknowledge that they truly reverence and hold in honour, will not be an unfit subject of Christian meditation. If there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, the subjugation of vice, the triumph of the spiritual over the lower nature, in any instances we know or hear of: think of these things. The words of discipline are not in the Greek, and are added by the Vulgate. But it is probable also that the Apostle says all this in a practical sense. Think on these things to do them, cogitate, habitually plan and purpose, to act with sincerity and honesty, with chastity
and modesty, truth and justice, as becomes believers in Jesus Christ, cultivating the manners and dispositions which give you favour with God and man, which will render your name and reputation an honour to the faith you profess. Imitate the holy examples of the Saints, who by the discipline of the Christian life have triumphed over sin. The religious life undoubtedly affords the fullest and fairest opportunity for cultivating such habits of thought as these; and they are happy whom God has called to lead thus on earth the life of angels. But to all Christians, even in the secular life, St. Paul has given, in these words, a standard to aim at, and a guide to follow. The lives of the Saints who have flourished in this mortal life, and entered Paradise, since the great Apostle lived on earth, and which have been so amply recorded for our devotion, afford an unfailing store of illustration of these beautiful words, of instances, multiplied and varied by every variety of human character and disposition, and of outward circumstances, of all that is lovely, and of good fame, of the victory of virtue, and the praise of discipline.

9. Those things also which you learned, and received, and heard, and saw in me, these do; and the God of peace will be with you.

What you learned from my teaching when I was at Philippi; what you have read in this Epistle; what you have heard of me during my absence from you; what you saw in me while I was with you; this do. Do what I have preached and written, said and done. This, St. Chrysostom observes, is the best way of teaching, namely by example. And we have in these words the three great rules of Christian belief and life; namely, the doctrine preached or written by the Apostles in their own words; Apostolic tradition; and the life and example of the Apostles. It is indeed not usual for a Christian teacher to hold himself forth as a model of perfect practice. What the Apostle means is that there were others professing to be Christian teachers who taught a very different doctrine and exhibited a very different example, and that systematically, and that these heretical guides were to be avoided and his own example followed.

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Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 80 (79)

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2011

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Please note that the Psalm numbering of the meditation follows that of the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate. Psalm 80 in most modern bibles is Psalm 79 in the GS and LV.

1. The Psalm we just heard is a song of lament, a plea from the entire people of Israel.

The first part makes use of a famous biblical symbol, the shepherd. The Lord is invoked as “the shepherd of Israel”, who “leads Joseph like a flock” (Ps 79,2). From high above the Ark of the Covenant, enthroned among the cherubim, the Lord guides his flock, that is, his people, and protects them in danger.

He did this during the crossing of the desert. Now, however, he seems absent, as though asleep or indifferent. He feeds the flock he must lead and nourish (cf. Ps 22) only with the bread of tears (cf. Ps 79[80],6). Enemies scoff at this humiliated, despised people; yet God does not seem to be moved nor “to be stirred up” (v. 3), nor does he reveal his might, arrayed to defend the victims of violence and oppression. The repetition of the antiphonal invocation (cf. vv. 4.8), seeks virtually to rouse God from his detached attitude, so that he will return to be the shepherd and defender of his people.

2. In the second part of the prayer, full of tension and charged with trust, we find another symbol dear to the Bible:  the vine. It is an image easy to understand because it belongs to the vision of the Promised Land and is a sign of fruitfulness and joy.

As the Prophet Isaiah teaches in one of his most exalted poetic passages (cf. Is 5,1-7), the vine is the incarnation of Israel. It illustrates two fundamental aspects:  on the one hand, since it has been planted by God (cf. Is 5,2; Ps 79[80],9-10), it represents the gift, grace and love of God; on the other, it demands the labour of the farmer that enables it to produce grapes that yield wine, and thus symbolize the human response:  personal effort and the fruit of good deeds.

3. Through the imagery of the vine, the psalm recalls the major milestones of Hebrew history:  their roots, the experience of the Exodus from Egypt, their entry into the promised land. The vine attained its full level of extension, extending over the whole of Palestine and beyond, during Solomon’s reign. Indeed, it reached out from the northern mountains of Lebanon with their cedars as far as the Mediterranean Sea, almost to the great River Euphrates (cf. vv. 11-12).

But this splendid flourishing was shattered. The Psalm reminds us that a tempest struck God’s vineyard: in other words, Israel suffered a harsh trial, a brutal invasion that devastated the Promised Land. As though he were an invader, God himself broke down the walls surrounding the vineyard, letting the plunderers break in who are represented by the wild boar, held by an ancient tradition to be a fierce and impure animal. Associated with the ferocity of the boar are all wild beasts, the symbol of an enemy horde that ravages everything (cf. vv. 13-14).

4. The Psalmist then directs a pressing appeal to God to come back and defend the victims, to break his silence: “Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine” (v. 15). God will again be the defender of the vital stump of this vine, subjected to such a violent storm, and will scatter all those who have tried to tear it up or set fire to it (cf. vv. 16-17).

At this point, the Psalm opens to messianic hope. Indeed, in verse 18 the Psalmist prays:  “Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!”. Perhaps his first thought is of the Davidic king who, with the Lord’s help, will lead the uprising for freedom. But confidence in the future Messiah is implicit, that “Son of Man” who would be sung by the Prophet Daniel (cf. 7,13-14), a title Jesus would choose as his favorite to define his work and messianic being. Indeed, the Fathers of the Church were unanimous in pointing out that the vine that the psalm describes is a prophetic prefiguration of Christ “the true vine” (Jn 15,1), and of his Church.

5. Of course, if the face of the Lord is to shine once again, Israel must be converted through fidelity and prayer to God Our Saviour. This is what the Psalmist says, when he declares:  “Then we will never withdraw from you” (Ps 79[80],19).

So Psalm 79[80] is a song that is strongly marked by suffering but also by indestructible trust. God is always ready to “return” to his people, but his people must also “return” to him in fidelity. If we turn away from sin, the Lord will be “converted” from his intention to punish:  this is the Psalmist’s conviction that finds an echo in our hearts and opens them to hope. (source)

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Meditations, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, PAPAL COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

This Weeks Posts: Sunday, September 25-Saturday, October 1

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 25, 2011

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Sunday Mass Resources (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). A regular feature of this blog. Resources for next Sunday will be posted on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon.

Today’s Divine Office.

Last Week’s Posts: Sunday, Sept 18-Saturday, Sept 24.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26
MONDAY OF THE TWENTY-SIXTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 9:46-50).

My Notes on Psalm 8.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
MEMORIAL OF ST VINCENT DE PAUL, PRIEST

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Today’s Psalm (87).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 9:51-56).

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
WEDNESDAY OF THE TWENTY-SIXTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Psalm (137).

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Today’s Psalm (137).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 9:57-62).

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
FEAST OF ST MICHAEL, SAINT GABRIEL AND SAINT RAPHAEL, ARCHANGELS

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary/Meditation on Today’s Psalm (138).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Psalm (138).

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Today’s Psalm (138).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 1:47-51). This post actually begins with verse 45.

My Notes on Today’s Gospel (John 1:47-51). This post actually begins with verse 46.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30
MEMORIAL OF SAINT JEROME, PRIEST AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Today’s First Reading (Baruch 1:15-22).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Psalm (79).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 10:13-16).

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1
MEMORIAL OF SAINT THERESE OF THE CHILD JESUS, VIRGIN AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Psalm (69).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 10:17-24).

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 79 (78)

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 25, 2011

The numbering of the Psalms differs between those translations based upon the the Hebrew (Masoretic) text and those based on the Greek Septuagint (LXX) text. See here for more. Father Boylan follows the numbering of the Septuagint and I have placed the Hebrew number in parentheses. Text in red are my additions.

THE thought of this psalm is closely connected with that of Ps 73 (74); and most modern, and many ancient, commentators regard both psalms as referring to the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes (see 2 Maccabees 6:1-11). Actually, most modern commentators understand it in reference to the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians (see 2 Chron 36:15-21 and the opening footnote to the Psalm in the NAB). Today the Psalm is recited at the Western ( or Wailing) wall in Jerusalem on the eve of the Sabbath (i.e., Friday afternoons). It is also recited on the fast day Tisha B”Av to commenorate the Temple’s destruction by both the Babylonians and the Romans (see here).

The psalm begins on a note of passion. The sacred dwelling of Yahweh has been foully profaned by heathens; the servants of the Lord have been slain in great numbers, and their corpses have been left unburied. The honour of Yahweh and of His people has been violated. Surely the Lord cannot let the crime of the heathens pass unpunished! (vss. 1-5).

If Yahweh is unwilling to help, it must be because of the sins of the fathers (vs 8. The verse can be-and usually is-taken as a reference to the sins of the people themselves, not their fathers. This fits better if one takes the Psalm as referring to the time of the Babylonian’s destruction of the temple). If He will be angry, let Him show His wrath against the strangers who despise Him (vss 6-7). The people of Jerusalem have not themselves deserved their sufferings, for they are loyal servants of the Lord (vs 8. See my previous notation on this verse). If, indeed, they have sinned, let the Lord be merciful; let Him, above all, be gracious towards those who are in bondage, and in prison (vs 11). If He does not hear the sighs of the afflicted they must soon die (ibid).

Yahweh ought to act, at least, for the sake of His name. Let not the heathens ask mockingly: “Where is the God of Israel?” (vs 10).  Let the Lord be mindful of His own glory, and requite the heathen for their scorn and mockery (vs 12). Vengeance on the foes of the Temple, and vengeance sevenfold, would the psalmist with his own eyes behold (vs 10). The last verse is a vow that the people of the Lord will be constant in His praise, and from the vow it can be seen that the psalmist confidently looks for the fulfilment of his prayer for help and vengeance. With the spirit of this psalm should be compared the words of
Apocalypse (Revelation) 6:10: “How long, O Master, the Holy and True, dost Thou not judge, and dost Thou not avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 137 (136, Vulgate)

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 25, 2011

Text in red are my additions.

BY THE WATERS OF BABYLON

THE author of this poem, speaking as one of those who have returned from the Babylonian Exile, depicts for us with great poetic skill and power a typical scene of the Captivity.

Suggesting with the subtle brevity of the true poet the setting of his tale, he puts before us the land of Exile with its network of poplar-bordered streams and channels, and tells us of a day when he and his comrades, gathered together according to their wont (cf. Acts 16:13) by one of the Babylonian streams for prayer, sat weeping as they thought of the glories of Sion’s worship in which they had at one time shared. Their prayer-gathering by the streamside was brightened by no song or burst of sacred music, for in Babylon, amid strangers and outside Yahweh’s land, the music of the Temple-songs could not be heard, and the harps that in Jerusalem might have swelled the volume of the Temple-orchestra, hung sadly silent on the poplars that lined the stream. As the Exiles prayed and wept, people of Babylon passed that way, and seeing the weeping worshippers and the silent harps, asked mockingly for one of the old glad “songs of Sion.”  “But how,” said the Exiles, “can we sing the songs of Yahweh on a soil that is not His?”

The strangers pass on, but the sting of their insolence rouses the psalmist and his comrades to anger. How could a true Israelite ever be disloyal to the Temple and to Yahweh ? “If ever I forget thee, Jerusalem,” the psalmist cries, “or make thee not the crown of my joy, may my right hand wither, and my tongue cleave to my palate!”

Then the note of passion deepens, and the psalmist cries out for vengeance against the Edomites who had joined in the work of destruction on “Jerusalem’s Day”—the day of her fall. But more bitter than against Edom is the anger of the Exiles against Babylon, the chief agent of Jerusalem’s disaster and their own jailor. Taking up the burden of ancient prophecies against Babel, the Exiles forecast the doom that awaits the Destroyer of Sion: “Blessed is he who repayeth thee thy deeds against us. Blessed is he who shall seize and shall dash against the rock thy little ones!” This statement reflects lex talion, the law of retaliation: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:23-35)This law, common throughout the ancient world, was necessitated by the absence of a developed judicial system, criminal investigation techniques, etc.  Much like today’s death penalty it was an attempt to mitigate violence at its outset through giving a fear of consequence: if you do it to others then expect it do be done to you.  In context the verse should be taken as a reference to Cyrus the Persian who overthrew Babylon in fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah chapters 13 and 14; Isaiah 44:24-47:15). It should be remembered that the history of the Bible is in part a history of man’s moral development (see Jonah, chapter 4; Matthew 5:38-42; Matthew 19:1-9).

The Vulgate superscription of the psalm, Psalmus David, Hieremiae, must be regarded as meaning either, “A psalm of Jeremias after the manner of a Davidic Psalm,” or, “A Psalm after the manner of David and of Jeremias.” The Hebrew text contains no ascription to an author.

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My Notes on Psalm 8

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 25, 2011

Psalm 8 is one of the most popular of the Psalms, used often in the Church’s liturgy and office. The text of the psalm was entrusted to the first men to land on the moon by Pope Paul VI in July of 1969. Clinton J. McCann, in his commentary on this psalm in THE NEW INTERPRETER’S BIBLE notes that the choice of this psalm for that event was an apt one, celebrating as it does the dignity and beauty of creation, including the heavens, and man’s dominion.

8:1 Unto the end, for the presses: a psalm for David.

unto the end, for the presses is often taken as a musical direction of some kind. Perhaps the presses refers to a specific melody which was to be used throughout (unto the end of)  the psalm. The word presses in Greek is ληνων, a wine vat. The Hebrew has הגתית, transliterated as gittith, a word the meaning of which is controverted.

8:2 O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth! For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens.

The word how (Heb.  מה, Gr.  ως) is used both here and in verse 9 which repeats the first part of this current verse: O lord, our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth! Significantly, the Hebrew מה, (Gr. ως) reappears in verse 5 (translated “what”) to introduce a question concerning man (see note there). A connection is thus drawn between the admirable name of God and what he has done for man.

For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens. A reference to the heavens that are the works of thy fingers: as well as to the moon and the stars which thou hast founded (verse 4).

8:3 Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger.

Out of the mouths of infants and of sucklings thou has perfected praise. Some scholars relate this opening part of verse 3 to verse 2. God’s magnificence is manifested in the fact that mere mortals, here described as infants, babes at the breast (sucklings) can praise him. Others see the terms in relation to the enemies of God mentioned in this verse. The perfected praise which comes from those devoted to God is seen to be praise of God’s name which, in the Bible, is synonymous with his person, power, characteristics, etc.  Such praise of God brings to an end the enemy and avenger. These terms suggest arrogance and power, a marked contrast to babes and sucklings. See 1 Cor 1:27-29~”But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise: and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong. And the base things of the world and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen: and things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his sight.”

That thou mayest destroy the enemy and avenger. In my opinion (for whatever its worth) destroy is a poor translation. I think the translation still, or put at rest the enemy and avenger are better translations. I would like to propose two possible interpretations; the second-which I’ve put in green text-being more plausible.

The Hebrew text employs the word להשׁבית (shabbath)which is related to השׁבת, (sabbath);  while the Greek has καταλυσαι (katalusai), which is related to the word κατάλυμα, designating a place of rest or sitting (Luke 2:7; see also Gen 18:1). Both words can have the sense of “still the enemy and avenger.” The meaning would then be: “Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst still the enemy and the avenger, making them content as nursing infants.”  The people’s devotion to God, even in the midst of oppression, violence, hatred, etc., serves as an example leading the enemies to shame and, perhaps, conversion:  1 Peter 3:13-16~”And who is he that can hurt you, if you be zealous of good? But if also you suffer any thing for justice’ sake, blessed are ye. And be not afraid of their fear: and be not troubled. But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you. But with modesty and fear, having a good conscience: that whereas they speak evil of you, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”

The psalmist may be implying or wishing that the enemy and avenger be not set, or have rule over the works of thy (God’s) hands (verse 7) because they have been stilled from doing so.

Enemy and avenger are taken by some scholars as an allusion to the chaotic powers taken control of by the creator God (Psalm 89:10-12; Psalm 93:3-5). The unpredictable and often chaotic sea sometimes symbolizes powers inimical to God which he must control (Job 38:8-11). To me it seems more likely  that they represent human enemies of God and his people as noted above.

8:4 For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast founded.
8:5 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For, the opening word in verse 4, is causal in both the Greek and Hebrew text and is to be connected to the question in verse 5. When the psalmist beholds the heavens, etc., he is moved to ask what is man, etc . The word what is identical to that translated as how in verses 2 and 9. The question how admirable is God’s name over all the earth is directly related to the question, what is man, &c.  The grandeur, magnificence, beauty, of God’s creation, here ascribed anthropomorphically as the works of God’s fingers-an insignificant part of any body, real or anthropomorphic-causes the psalmist to wonder about man and what great gifts God has bestowed upon him. (By anthropomorphically I mean the act of giving a human descriptive to something non-human; in this case God).

8:6 Thou hast made him a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour:
8:7 And hast set him over the works of thy hands.

Thou hast made him a little less than angels. This translation reflects the Greek version which uses αγγελους (aggelos). The Hebrew uses the term אלהים (elohim), a word often used to designate God himself. The word is also used to designate the non-gods, i.e., pagan deities, but also angels. The psalmist is stating that God has made man a little less than God himself, or, a little less than the angels. Scholars are not in agreement concerning how the phrase is to be understood (a little less than God? A little less than angels?).  The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews understands it to refer to angels and interprets it christologically (Heb 2:6 ff). In light of the text of Hebrews I understand that man (with the exception of the God-Man Christ) is lower than the angels but, in virtue of Christ final victory, man will be placed higher than the angels and a little less than God.

8:8 Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen: moreover, the beasts also of the fields.
8:9 The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea. 

An obvious allusion to Genesis 1:29.

8:10 O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth!

Repeats the opening of the psalm.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 2

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2011

Portions of this commentary were previously posted. Notes in red (if any) are my additions.

THOSE WHO CENSURE OTHERS WILL NOT BE SPARED; FOR THE JUST JUDGMENT OF GOD IS THE SAME FOR ALL

A Summary of Romans 2:1-11~After having shown that the wrath of God is upon the Gentiles for their sins, St. Paul now turns to the state of the Jews, which he finds to be even worse. If the pagans have not followed their lights, and have thus become responsible for their sins, the Jews who, with greater lights, commit the same sins, are not only inexcusable, but are really in a more serious condition than their offending neighbors whom they condemn.

1. Wherefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest. For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself. For thou dost the same things which thou judgest.

Wherefore (διο = dio) connects this with the foregoing chapter as an inference from what is stated there.

O man. This fictitious person represented not the philosophers, nor the Greco-Roman leaders and magistrates, but men in general, and the Jews in particular. In order to gain the good will and attention of the latter, St. Paul refrains from speaking to them directly until verse 17 (St. Thomas, Julicher, Lagrange, etc.). Cornely, Kuhl and Zahn, however, think that as far as verse 17, Paul is addressing the whole world, both Jew and Gentile.

The same things, i.e., the same misdeeds. This does not mean that all the Jews were guilty of exactly the same excesses as the pagans, but only that they committed many grave faults.

2. For we know that the judgment of God is, according to truth, against them that do such things.

We know, i.e., we as men, guided by the light of reason, know, etc.; or, according to the Vulgate reading, we as Jews, better instructed regarding the justice of God, know that the divine judgment will be in accordance with the truth and reality of things. Man’s judgment is often extremely false, owing to ignorance or perversity; but God’s judgment is always just, because it is in accordance with facts.

3. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them who do such things, and dost the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

There were some among the Jews who came so to pride themselves on being sons of Abraham that they believed they would all finally be saved and have part in the promises made to Israel, no matter what their faults (cf. Matt 3:7, 9). St. Paul here reminds them that since they judge others who commit grave faults they know that those faults are culpable, and that, consequently, they themselves will also be judged for committing the same sins. It needs hardly to be pointed out that hypocrisy knows no boundaries, cultural, religious, moral, or intellectual.

4. Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and patience, and longsuffering? Knowest thou not, that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance?

In this verse the Apostle admonishes the Jews not to mistake God’s patience and goodness in delaying punishment for their sins; God does not have to endure them. In showering upon them so many blessings He is only patiently waiting so that they may do penance and be saved (Wis 11:24).

In the Vulgate it is better to replace an by aut.

5. But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God.

By reason of their stiff neck and “impenitent heart” (Deut 31:27;  9:27) the sinful Jews, who despised (verse 4) the riches of God’s graces, were laying up for themselves punishments which will be made manifest on the day of wrath, the day of the General Judgment (Ezek 22:24; Zeph 2:2, 3; Rev 6:17), when God’s just judgment will be revealed and will award each one according to his deeds (verse 6; Ps 62:13; Matt 16:27).

6. Who will render to every man according to his works.

Paul is here pointing out to the Jews the necessity of making their lives conform to their doctrine. On the last day they will be judged according to their life and works. Be it observed, the Apostle does not say that God on the day of judgment will render to everyone according to his faith, but according to his works. From this it is rightly concluded, against the Lutheran doctrine, that faith alone does not justify. St. Paul was by no means disposed to grant in favor of the Christians an exception which he refused to Jews (Gal 6:7 ff.; 1 Cor 3:13-15; 9:17; 2 Cor 5:10; 9:6 ff.; Eph 6:8; Col 3:25). Modern Protestantism does not dare to make use of certain of Luther’s words concerning works. The Lutherans now only pretend that one is saved secundum testimonium operum, non propter opera, i.e., non propter meritum operum (Weiss, cited by Lagrange).

7. To them indeed, who according to patience in good work, seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life:
8. But to them that are contentious, and who obey not the truth, but give credit to iniquity, wrath and indignation.

God will give eternal life to those who persevere in good works to the end (Matt 10:22; 24:13).

Glory and honour, etc. These are the hope and aspiration of all the just. But for those who are rebellious, who resist the truth and refuse obedience to God’s law, like those Jews who opposed Moses and the Prophets and the Gospel of Christ, there is reserved severe punishment and eternal chastisement.

From verse 7 it is clear that it is right and commendable to do good for the sake of eternal reward (against Quietism). Cf. Conc. Trid., Sess. VI. de Just., cap. 11, 31. A brief definition of Quietism can be found here. A somewhat longer treatment which begins with the its 17th century manifestation and then moves to examine its earlier ones can be found here.

9. Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek:
10. But glory, and honour, and peace to every one that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

These verses repeat under other form what was already said in the two preceding verses. Here, however, the application is distinctly made to the Jews and Gentiles, although the text continues in the singular. The Jew is placed first for punishment, because his evil deeds, committed against greater light, were more culpable; and he is also put first for rewards, since his good actions were more perfect by reason of a more perfect revelation and knowledge of God.

Tribulation and anguish are expressive of spiritual torture.

11. For there is no respect of persons with God.

God rewards and punishes according to one’s deserts, whether one be a Jew or a Gentile (Deut 10:17; 2 Chron 19:7; Job 34:19; Wis 6:8; Sir 35:15; Acts 10:34; Eph 6:9; Col 3:25; 1 Pet 1:17). If the Jew is first in reward or punishment, it is only because his merits or demerits are greater than those of the Gentile.

GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS; BOTH JEWS AND GENTILES HAVE A LAW ACCORDING TO WHICH THEY SHALL BE JUDGED

A Summary of Romans 2:12-16~The Jews shall be judged according to their own written Law. And although the pagans had not the Law of Moses, yet they were not without a rule of conduct which they were obliged to follow, and this was the law of nature written on each one’s heart. It was this natural law that clearly indicated to them what things God had forbidden under pain of death (Rom 1:32), and that made them responsible for having failed to render to God the honor which was His due (Rom 1:18-28). By the law of nature, therefore, the Gentiles shall be judged on the last day.

12. For whosoever have sinned without the law, shall perish without the law; and whosoever have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law.

To show the impartiality of God’s justice the Apostle here says that all men will be judged according to their knowledge; and hence the Gentiles, who have sinned without the law, i.e., without the written Law of Moses, will be judged by another, namely, the natural law, written on every man’s heart
(Rom 1:18-28, 32). On the other hand, the Jews will be judged according to the Law of Moses, which they have violated.

The term law, νομου, without the article means here the Jewish Law as distinguished from the natural law of the Gentiles.

In the Vulgate et should precede peribunt, to agree with the Greek και.

13. For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Paul now explains how the Jews can be condemned, although they have the Law of Moses. Every Sabbath they heard this Law read to them in the synagogues, but it was not given to be heard only; it was to be put into practice. Therefore, those who did not practice the precepts of the Law could not be considered just before God.

The Apostle is not saying here that justification comes from the Law; he is speaking only of God’s future judgment, without at present making any allusion to justification or to the manner by which it is effected. He will later (Rom 3:20 ff.) show that justification comes not from the works of the Law, but from faith, and from works performed through the grace of Christ’s redemption. Hence the doers of the law shall be justified only on condition that they act through faith and with the aid of grace; without faith in Christ and the help of God’s grace “no flesh shall be justified before him” (Rom 3:20).

14. For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves:

Having pointed out (verse 13) how the Jews can be condemned in spite of their having the Law, St. Paul now goes on to show in this and the two following verses, how the Gentiles can be saved, although they have not received the Law. The Jews held that it was the Gentiles’ fault that they had not the Mosaic Law, and that, consequently, they were bound to observe its precepts (Apoc. Bar. 48:40, 47). But while St. Paul admits the culpability of the Gentiles, he does not reproach them for not having received the Law. He takes it for granted that the Law is not their express rule; but he supposes, nevertheless, that in certain instances, by following the light of reason, they have fulfilled its essential obligations and thus have become a law unto themselves (Lagr.).

By nature does not here mean that the Gentiles could observe all the moral precepts of the Law without the supernatural aid of grace, but only that they were able to do this without the written Law of Moses. The Apostle is speaking of those Gentiles, like Job, Melchisedech and Cornelius, who, assisted by God’s grace, were able, without any help from the written Law, to know the true God, to observe the precepts of the natural law and thus attain to salvation.

Nature, i.e., the light of natural reason, in the absence of the Mosaic Law, dictated to the Gentiles what they should do and what they should avoid. Thus “The Apostle shows that even in early times before the giving of the Law, mankind had the benefit of a perfect Providence” (St. Chrys.).

The Pelagians used this verse to prove that man without grace can observe all the precepts of the natural law. Baius was condemned (Denzing., 1022) for teaching that it was Pelagian to interpret this text of those Gentiles who had not received the grace of faith.

15. Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another,

That the Gentiles who obeyed the moral precepts of the Law were therefore a law unto themselves, is manifest in the first place from their good moral lives, of which their own consciences were witnesses. The law inscribed on their hearts gave them a knowledge of moral good and evil, and by the help of grace they were able to do the former and avoid the latter. The second proof that they were a law unto themselves comes from the thoughts and judgments which they formed concerning one another’s lives and actions. The common and impartial judgment of men regarding good or evil is a proof of the reality of natural obligation.

According to this interpretation, which is that of S. H., Lipsius, etc., there are two guaranties of the certitude of the natural law: (a) the conscience of each one; (b) the verdict of man. According to Cornely and others, however, there is here given only one witness, i.e., the conscience, and St. Paul explains how it asserts itself, namely, in the struggle of the thoughts (λογισμων), of which some condemn, others approve. Our English translation here should read: “accusing them, or also defending them,” i.e., the thoughts accuse or condemn, not themselves, but their subject or possessor (Cornely). This interpretation agrees better with the following verse.

16. In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

This verse is a conclusion to what has been said in the two preceding verses. The existence of the natural law having been proved for the Gentiles, they, like the Jews, are in a condition to be judged. The dictates of conscience which condemn or approve the actions of the pagans will be manifested on the day of judgment, when there shall be needed no other witness for their condemnation or justification than the voice of their own conscience.

The secrets, etc. Only God can read the heart with certainty, and hence He only can judge the secret sins which the Gentiles committed against the law written on their hearts. For the Jew it sufficed to refer to the text of the Law, which condemned also secret sins; but for the pagan there was only the testimony of his conscience.

The incredulous Jews judged only those things which were external, and so they condemned all pagans as not obeying the Law simply because the latter had not the external written Law; but God, who is no respecter of persons (verse 11), will judge all, Jews and Gentiles, not according to things external, but according to what is written in the heart and conscience. This He will do through Jesus Christ whom He has constituted judge of all men (Matt 10:31; John 5:22, 27; Acts 17:31).

According to my gospel means according to Paul’s preaching, which was not different from that of the other Apostles, and clearly indicated that Jesus Christ would judge men by the secrets of their hearts (1 Cor 3:13; 4:5; 14:25). We are not, therefore, to understand Paul’s preaching as the manner or norm according to which God will judge, since Paul himself has plainly insisted that this norm will be the law, natural or written, as obeyed or disobeyed according to each one’s conscience.

THE JEWS WHO VIOLATE THE LAW GIVEN THEM BY GOD ARE MORE CULPABLE

A Summary of Romans 2:17-24. Paul now openly addresses the Jews, and vehemently denounces their delusion in thinking that they could be saved by the sole fact that they had received a written law from God. At first he enumerates (verses 17, 18) the privileges which they had in possessing the Law, thereby knowing God’s will and things right and wrong, and then he ironically relates (verses 19, 20) certain claims and prerogatives on which they prided
themselves, in order, in the following verses (21-24), to show more clearly the disagreement between their doctrine and their lives.

17. But if thou art called a Jew and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,

In verses 17-20 we have a case of anacoluthon—a protasis without an apodosis; but the irregularity is lessened if we read  ιδε in place of  ει δε (Lagrange). Still, the particle of contrast seems to be proper, since the thought is now passing from the Gentile to the Jew with the latter’s special conditions (Parry).

Called a Jew, i.e., called by a praised and honored name. In St. Paul’s time the term “Jew” was more in esteem than at present. It signified the Lord’s people, the worshippers of the true God, the chosen race to whom the Messiah was promised.

Restest in the law. The principal benefit conferred on the Jews by God was the giving of the Law, which taught them what to do and what to avoid, and in which they could rest with assurance and safety. They could boast of God, because they were God’s people, bound to Him by alliance and special privileges and benefits.

18. And knowest his will, and approvest the more profitable things, being instructed by the law,

The Jews, being instructed by the Law, knew God’s will and the things that pleased Him, as well as the things that displeased Him.

In the Vulgate, eius after voluntatem is not represented in the Greek.

19. Art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of
them that are in darkness,
20. An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, having the form
of knowledge and of truth in the law.

Guide . . . light . . . instructor . . . having the form, etc. Here the Apostle ironically enumerates certain claims to excellence in which the Jews gloried. Their morals in many respects were not above those of the Gentiles, and yet they considered themselves immeasurably superior to the latter. It was true, indeed, that the Gentiles, being deprived of God’s revelation through the Law, were to a great degree “blind” and “in darkness,” “foolish” and “infants,” as regards the true knowledge of God and their consequent duties toward Him. On the contrary, the Jews, possessing the Law, had the truth, and were in a position to guide, enlighten and instruct the Gentiles; but their error lay in this, that they thought the mere possession of the Law, without its practice on their part, to be all that was required of them.

21. Thou therefore that teachest another, teachest not thyself: thou that preachest that men should not steal, stealest:

The Apostle now interrupts his enumeration of the Jews’ privileges and prerogatives to call attention to the difference between their boasted pretensions and their own lives. Their possession of the Law, their better knowledge of God and their obligations to Him only increased their sins and culpability in failing to practice what they taught and preached to others. The Jews were often guilty of stealing, especially in business and commercial affairs.

22. Thou that sayest, men should not commit adultery, committest adultery: thou that abhorrest idols, committest sacrilege:

Sacrilege (ιεροσυλεις) . The Greek word ἱεροσυλέω properly signifies to despoil, to pillage the temples. St. Paul wishes to say that some Jews, who were so hateful of idols that they would not even touch them, had no scruples about robbing the temples of idols for the pecuniary gain they thus acquired (cf. Acts 19:37. As I’m sure most are aware, such blatant hypocrisy-a kind of double standard-is widespread among humanity in religion, secularism, business, sports etc.). “The Jews were severely forbidden to touch the wealth lying in the temples of idols, as being an abomination (Deut 6:25-26; 2 Macc 12:4); but the tyranny of love of money induced them to trample on this law” (St. Chrys.).

23. Thou that makest thy boast of the law, by transgression of the law dishonourest God.

The Jews knew very well that the crimes of which they were guilty were a reproach to their religion. Their sins dishonored the Law of which they were so proud; and they themselves dishonored God, the Lawgiver, whose representatives in declaring and interpreting the Law they boastfully pretended to be.

24. (For the name of God through you is blasphemed among the Gentiles, as it is written.)

The Jews, by their disorderly and sinful lives and actions, caused the name of God to be blasphemed among the idolatrous Gentiles. As the observation of the Law of God causes both God and the Law to be praised, so its transgression causes it and its giver to be despised.

As it is written refers to Isaiah 53:5, according to the Septuagint. The same thought is found in Ezek 36:20-23.

There is no reason for parentheses here.

Per vos of the Vulgate should be propter vos; hence through you means “on account of you.”

TRUE CIRCUMCISION IS THAT OF THE HEART

A Summary of Romans 2:25-29~ St. Paul has so far shown that the Jews, by having a knowledge of God’s revealed Law, instead of escaping the divine judgment, shall rather be held more responsible than the pagans, who were without that special help. But they also relied on their particular privileges as the chosen people, and appealed especially to circumcision as a sure sign of their election and eternal salvation. To disengage them from such a fatal delusion the Apostle now shows that circumcision of the flesh amounts to nothing without the observance of the Law of God; whereas fidelity to the divine precepts counts for that circumcision which alone is true and salutary.

25. Circumcision profiteth indeed, if thou keep the law; but if thou be a transgressor of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

This verse in the Greek is connected with what precedes by γαρ, “for”, which is not expressed in the Vulgate.

Circumcision was the seal of the covenant between the Jew and God (Gen 17). By it the Jew promised to observe the whole Law (Lev 18:5; Gal 5:3), in consequence of which he would enjoy a more complete knowledge of God and many spiritual privileges; but if he did not observe the Law, both in its moral and in its ceremonial precepts, he became as if uncircumcised, just like any Gentile. The many privileges, therefore, attached to circumcision were to be enjoyed only on condition that the circumcised observed the Law. Without a practice of the Law and true circumcision of the heart (Acts 7:8) God was not bound by His part of the covenant, and the transgressing Jew lost all his privileges and was no better off than a pagan.

26. If, then, the uncircumcised keep the justices of the law, shall not this uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

If, then, the uncircumcised, i.e., the Gentiles. The Rabbins taught that a seriously culpable Jew could be lost, but they would not admit that a Gentile who observed the natural law could be saved. Paul here asks a question, but the response is evidently affirmative. ‘Eav with the subjunctive can indicate a fact already realized, or, more naturally, a hypothesis, and this latter is the case here (Lagrange). If a Gentile, with the help of grace, observed all the precepts of the natural law, he had in fact the circumcision of the heart, to which the promises were chiefly attached, and there was nothing to prevent him’ from entering into eternal life; thus his uncircumcision was counted for circumcision.

27. And shall not that which by nature is uncircumcision, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision art a transgressor of the law?

This is not a new interrogation, but rather a continuation, a further affirmation of what went before.

If the uncircumcised, i.e., if the Gentile, keeps the precepts of the natural law, the Ten Commandments, he will judge and condemn, in the Last Judgment, the transgressing Jew who, with his circumcision, failed to keep those precepts. The Apostle is not saying that a good Gentile is superior to a good Jew, but only that a good Gentile is better than a bad Jew. A virtuous Jew who observed his Law was naturally superior to a good Gentile, but a bad Jew was worse than a bad Gentile. The question here, as in the preceding verse, is theoretical, and the response here, as there, is clearly affirmative.

28. For it is not he is a Jew, who is so outwardly; nor is that circumcision which is outwardly in the flesh:
29. But he is a Jew, that is one inwardly; and the circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The Apostle now concludes what he has been saying. The true Jew is one who is so internally as well as externally, one whose faith is religious and whose works are good, as becomes a true member of God’s people. Likewise true circumcision is not that of the body, consisting only in an external sign and in the external and literal observance of the Law, but that of the heart (Jer 9:26; Ezek 44:7, 9), which effects complete separation from sin and operates under the grace of God’s Holy Spirit. The true Jew without any external sign of his Judaism like circumcision, but pure and good in the sight of God, has praise, not of men, but of God.

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My Notes on Baruch 1:15-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2011

The book of Baruch is attributed to Baruch, son of Neriah, the scribe who served Jeremiah the Prophet (Jer 32:12) and who wrote down his words (Jer 36:4).  Most scholar date it to the late second to mid-first century BC (see the introduction in the NAB). The book opens with a description of the historical situation (Bar 1:1-14), followed  by a prayer from which today’s reading is taken. Specifically, chapter 1:15 through 2:10  serve as a confession, followed by a prayer for deliverance, (2:11-3:8). The confession (1:15-2:10) is similar to the prayers found in Daniel 9:4-19; in Ezra 9:6-15; and in Nehemiah 1:5-11 (see Neh 9:6-37 also).

Bar 1:15  And you shall say: To the Lord our God belongeth justice, but to us confusion of our face: as it is come to pass at this day to all Juda, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
Bar 1:16  To our kings, and to our princes, and to our priests, and to our prophets, and to our fathers.
Bar 1:17  We have sinned before the Lord our God, and have not believed him, nor put our trust in him:
Bar 1:18  And we were not obedient to him, and we have not hearkened to the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his commandments which he hath given us.
Bar 1:19  From the day that he brought our fathers out of the land of Egypt, even to this day, we were disobedient to the Lord our God: and going astray we turned away from hearing his voice.
Bar 1:20  And many evils have cleaved to us, and the curses which the Lord foretold by Moses his servant: who brought our fathers out of the land of Egypt, to give us a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day.
Bar 1:21  And we have not hearkened to the voice of the Lord our God according to all the words of the prophets whom he sent to us:
Bar 1:22  And we have gone away every man after the inclinations of his own wicked heart, to serve strange gods, and to do evil in the sight of the Lord our God.

verse 15. To the Lord our God belongeth justice, but to us, confusion of our face &c. These words are repeated in Baruch 2:6. The Lord is just and in light of this fact the people acknowledge their embarrassed guilt (confusion of our face, see NAB translation) which extends to all classes: our kings, and to our princes, and to our priests, and to our prophets, and to our fathers (verse 16). Their guilt and the shame it has brought is attributed to the fact that We have sinned before the Lord our God, and have not believed him, nor put our trust in him: And we were not obedient to him, and we have not hearkened to the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his commandments which he hath given us (verses 17-18). This condition has been with the people since the time of the Exodus: From the day that he brought our fathers out of the land of Egypt, even to this day, we were disobedient to the Lord our God: and going astray we turned away from hearing his voice (verse 19). It explains why many evils have cleaved to them. These evils are nothing more than the covenant curses the people knew would come upon them for the Lord had foretold  them by Moses his servant (verse 20. See the curses of Deut 28:15-69). The people acknowledge that they have not hearkened to the voice of the Lord our God according to all the words of the prophets whom he sent to us (verse 21. See 2 Chron 36:15-21)). Because they have gone away every man after the inclinations of his own wicked heart they have suffered exile. The strange gods they once served in the homeland God had given them, they now serve in exile (verse 22. See Deut 28:64).

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 9:57-62

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2011

Ver 57. And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said to him, Lord, I will follow you wherever you go.58. And Jesus said to him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay his head.59. And he said to another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.60. Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their dead, but go you and preach the kingdom of God.61. And another also said, Lord, I will follow you; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.62. And Jesus said to him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

CYRIL; Although the Almighty Lord is bountiful, He does not grant to every one absolutely and indiscriminately heavenly and divine gifts, but to those only who are worthy to receive them, who free themselves and their souls from the stains of wickedness. And this we are taught by the force of the angelic words, And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said to him, Lord, I will follow you. First indeed there is much tardiness implied in the manner of his coming. It is next shown that he is filled with too great presumption. For he sought not to follow Christ simply as several others of the people, but rather caught at the honor of the Apostleship. Whereas Paul says, No one takes the honor to himself but he that is called of God.

ATHAN. He dared also to match himself with the incomprehensible power of the Savior, saying, I will follow you wherever you go; for to follow the Savior simply to hear His teaching is possible to human nature, as it directs itself towards men, but it is not possible to go with Him wherever He is; for He is incomprehensible, and is not confined by place.

CYRIL; In another respect also our Lord deservedly gives him a refusal, for He taught that to follow the Lord, a man must take up his cross, and renounce the affection of this present life. And our Lord finding this lacking in him does not blame him, but corrects him.  It follows, And Jesus says to him, The foxes have holes, &c.

THEOPHYL. For having seen our Lord drawing much people to Him, he thought that he received reward from them, and that if he followed our Lord, he might obtain money.

THEOPHYL; Therefore it is said to him, Why do you seek to follow Me for the riches and gain of this world, when so great is My poverty that I have not even a place of rest, and take shelter under another man’s roof.

CHRYS See how our Lord sets forth by his works the poverty which he taught. For him was no table spread, no lights, no house, nor any such thing.

CYRIL; Now under a mystical signification He applies the name of foxes and birds of the air to the wicked and crafty powers of evil spirits. As if He said, Since foxes and birds of the air have their abode in you, how shall Christ rest in you? What fellowship has light with darkness?

ATHAN. Or herein our Lord teaches the greatness of His gift, as if He said, All created things may be confined by place, but the Word of God has incomprehensible power. Say not then, I will follow you wherever you go. But if you would be a disciple, cast off foolish things, for it is impossible for him who remains in foolishness to become a disciple of the Word.

AMBROSE; Or, He compares foxes to heretics, because they are indeed a wily animal, and, ever intent upon fraud, commit their robberies by stealth. They let nothing be safe, nothing be at rest, nothing secure, for they hunt their prey into the very abodes of men. The fox again, an animal full of craft, makes no hole for itself, yet likes to lie always concealed in a hole. So the heretics, who know not how to construct a house for themselves, circumscribe and deceive others. This animal is never tamed, nor is it of use to man. Hence the Apostle, A heretic after the first and second admonition reject. But the birds of the air, which are frequently brought in to represent spiritual wickedness, build as it were their nests in the breasts of the wicked, and as long as deceit reigns over the affections, the divine principle has no opportunity to take possession.

But when a man has proved his heart to be innocent, upon him Christ leans in some measure the weight of His greatness, for by a more abundant shedding of grace He is planted in the breasts of good men. So then it does not seem reasonable that we should think him faithful and simple, who is rejected by the judgment of the Lord, notwithstanding that he promised the service of unwearied attendance; but our Lord cares not for this kind of service, but only purity of affection, nor is his attendance accepted whose sense of duty is not proved. For the hospitality of faith should be given with circumspection, lest while opening the interior of our house to the unbelieving, through our imprudent credulity we fall a snare to the treachery of others. Therefore that you may be aware that God despises not attendance upon him but deceit, He who rejected the deceitful man chose the innocent.

For it follows, And he said to another, Follow me. But He says this to him, whose father He knew to be dead. Hence it follows, But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

THEOPHYL; He did not refuse the discipleship, but his wish was, having fulfilled the filial duty of burying his father, to follow Christ more freely.

AMBROSE; But the Lord calls those upon whom He has compassion. Hence it follows, And Jesus said, Let the dead bury their dead. Since we have received as a religious duty the burial of the human body, how is it thus that the burial even of a father’s dead body is forbidden, unless you are to understand that human things are to be postponed to divine? It is a good employment, but the hindrance is greater, for he who divides his pursuits, draws down his affections; he who divides his care, delays his advances. We must first set abort the things which are most important. For the Apostles also, that they might not be occupied in the office of distributing alms, ordained ministers for the poor.

CHRYS. But what more necessary than the burial of his father, what more easy, seeing that there would not be much time given to it? We are then hereby taught that it becomes us not to spend even the slightest portion of our time in vain, although we have a thousand things to compel us, nay to prefer spiritual things to even our greatest necessities. For the devil watchfully presses close upon us, wishing to find any opening, and if he causes a slight negligence, he ends in producing a great weakness.

AMBROSE; The performance of a father’s burial is not then prohibited, but the observance of religious duty is preferred to the ties of relationship. The one is left to those in like condition, the other is commanded to those who are left. But how can the dead bury the dead? unless you here understand a twofold death, one a natural death, the other the death of sin. There is also a third death, by which we die to sin, live to God.

CHRYS. By thus saying, their dead, he shows that this man’s father was not his dead, for I suppose that the deceased was of the number of the unbelieving.

AMBROSE; Or because the throat of the ungodly is an open sepulcher, their memory is ordered to be forgotten whose services die together with their bodies. Nor is the son recalled from his duty to his father, but the faithful is separated from the communion of the unbelieving; there is no prohibition of duty, but a mystery of religion, that is, that we should have no fellowship with the dead Gentiles.

CYRIL; Or else, his father was borne down with years, and he thought he was doing an honorable act in proposing to pay the kind offices which were due to him, according to Exodus, Honor your father and your mother. Hence when calling him to the ministry of the Gospel, our Lord said, Follow me, he sought for a time of respite, which should suffice for the support of his decrepit father, saying, Permit me first to go and bury my father, not that he asked to bury his deceased father, for Christ would not have hindered the wish to do this, but he said, Bury, that is, support in old age even till death. But the Lord said to him, Let the dead bury their dead. For there were other attendants also bound by the same tie of relationship, but as I consider dead, because they had not yet believed Christ. Learn from this, that our duty to God is to be preferred to our love for our parents, to whom we show reverence, because through them have we been born. But the God of all, when hen as yet we e were not, brought us into being, our parents were made the ministers of our introduction.

AUG. Our Lord spoke this to the man to whom He had said, Follow me. But another disciple put himself forward, to whom no one had spoken any thing, saying, I will follow you, O Lord; but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at home, lest perchance they look for me as they are wont.

CYRIL; Now this promise is worthy of our admiration and full of all praise, but to bid farewell to those who are at home, to get leave from them, shows that he was still somehow divided from the Lord, in that he had not yet resolved to make this venture with his whole heart. For to wish to consult relations who would not agree to his proposal because one somewhat wavering. Wherefore our Lord condemns this, saying, No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. He puts his hand to the plough who is ambitious to follow, yet looks back again who seeks an excuse for delay in returning home, and consulting with his friends.

AUG. As if he said to him, The East calls you, and you turn to the West.

THEOPHYL: To put one’s hand to the plough, is also, (as it were by a certain sharp instrument,) by the wood and iron of our Lord’s passion, to wear away the hardness of our heart, and to open it to bring forth the fruits of good works. But if any one, having begun to exercise this, delights to look back with Lot’s wife to the things which he had left, he is deprived of the gift of the kingdom to come.

GREEK EX. For the frequent looking upon the things which we have forsaken, through the force of habit draws us back to our past way of life. For practice has great power to retain to itself. Is not habit generated of use, and nature of habit? But to get rid of or change nature is difficult; for although when compelled it for a while turns aside, it very rapidly returns to itself.

THEOPHYL; But if the disciple about to follow our Lord is reproved for wishing even to bid farewell at home, what will be done to such as for no advantage-sake frequently visit the houses of those whom they have left in the world?

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