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 12th, 2011

Sunday, September 18: My Summary of the Readings for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 12, 2011

 

Isa 55:6-9 and Ps 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18.  In today’s first reading and the psalm we are bidden to seek the Lord (Isa 55:6) by forsaking all that would separate us from him (Isa 55:7), confident in his greatness, justness, and holiness (Ps 145:3, 17)  that he will forgive us (Isa 55:7) even when those human beings who are closest to us refuse to do so, for His ways are not our ways (Isa 55:8-9). As the responsorial psalm says, the Lord’s way is to be  gracious and merciful: patient and plenteous in mercy (Psalm 145:8); nigh (near) unto all them that call upon him: to all that call upon him in truth (Psalm 145:18).

Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a.  The second reading comes from Philippians, a letter whose highpoint is the exhortation to Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:3-5 RSV). Is this not what Christ himself did, Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross (Phil 2:6-8).
St Paul himself lived out this ideal (Phil 1:12-18). Though St Paul writes: My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better, he also is aware that  to remain in the flesh is more necessary on his readers account.  For this reason he declares I am convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith (Phil 1:23-25 RSV). If Christ did not account equality with God as a thing to be held selfishly onto while others were separated from the divine (Phil 2:6), then neither will St Paul hold his longing for the far better thing of being with Christ while his converts are still in need. What is far better for him, (to be with Christ) is surrendered for that which is more necessary for others (his continuing ministry). With this mindset of Christ’s he imitates God generosity, imitating his ways (Isa 55:7) and his thoughts (Isa 55:8).

Matt 20:1-16a.  The parable begins with a landowner going out at dawn (probably to the city gate or market) to hire day laborers to work in his vineyard for the normal daily wage. Apparently, however, the landowner has an urgent need for more workers and so he goes out again at 9 AM and hires more men, promising to pay them “what is just.” The landowner does the same at noon, 3 and 5 PM. In this process he has hired those willing to work (Matt 20:1-2); the idle (Matt 20:3) and those who had not previously been offered employment (Matt 20:6-7).

At sundown (about 6 PM in the parable, see time references in Matt 20:9-12) the owner ordered that all his workers be paid , beginning with those who had worked the least amount of time (Matt 20:8). These men received a full days wage for one hours work.

Needless to say, those hired at dawn, seeing the largesse of the landowner toward these Johnny-come-lately employees, expected more than the normal daily wage which the late-comers had received, and to which they themselves had agreed to work for (Matt 20:2). But they received the same pay as the rest and are incensed: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats (see Matt 20:11-12).

Here we have selfishness, and the lament that others are made our equals. A day laborer has no more of a claim on God than does a prince. Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high: And looketh down on the low things in heaven and in earth? Raising up the needy from the earth, and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill: That he may place him with princes, with the princes of his people (Ps 113:5-8). As today’s Psalm tells us: The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made (Ps 145:9). We should be content to take what is ours and go our way (Matt 20:14), knowing that “what is ours” is by the grace of God; his gifts, not our due.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Timothy 3:1-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 12, 2011

ST. PAUL EXPOUNDS THE QUALIFICATIONS REQUISITE FOR THE
OFFICIALS AND OTHER WORKERS IN THE CHURCH

A Summary of 1 Timothy 3:1-16~In this third section of his first letter to Timothy, the Apostle, turning from a consideration of the general directions he has just been giving for the whole Church, descends more to particulars and discusses the personal and moral requirements which should be found in bishops (ver. 1-7), and in deacons and deaconesses (ver. 8-13). His imperative insistence on the high personal, moral and ethical equipment of those who are to take a leading part in the government and work of the Church springs from the very nature and from the high and holy character of this organization to which God has committed His truth for the enlightenment of the world and the salvation of mankind (ver. 14-16).

1. Faithful is the saying: If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

Faithful is the saying. See on 1 Tim 1:15. This phrase here more probably goes with what follows, “if a man desire, etc.”

Desires, i.e., aspires to. The Greek equivalent is found elsewhere in the Bible only in Heb 11:16, but it is common with profane writers.

Bishop. Literally, “overseer,” “superintendent.” In Titus 1:5-7 the term seems to be used convertibly with “presbyter,” although there the “bishop” of verse 7 can be understood as embracing the “presbyter” of verse 5, since the bishops were doubtless chosen from among the presbyters, and in later times elected by the latter. At any rate, everywhere in the New Testament these terms are applied only to those who, having received a special sacramental consecration, are placed in charge of churches with power to preach, celebrate the divine mysteries, etc. (cf. Acts 20:28; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:5, 7). Hence, under the term “bishop” here St. Paul probably includes also priests; and this would explain why he passes in the next section (ver. 8-13) to speak of deacons, omitting all separate mention of priests as such.

There are some authorities who hold that during the lifetime of the Apostles they alone were the real bishops, and that those who are spoken of as “bishops” or “presbyters” were simple priests associated with the Apostles as missionary companions. Others think only bishops were consecrated, that is, that all priests received at their ordination the plenitude of Holy Orders, being at once elevated to the episcopate. See Sales, h. l., and the other authors cited by him on this question. But both of these conclusions seem to disagree with the distinction which is made or can be made everywhere in the New Testament between the terms episcopos and presbyteros, and the distinction in persons and functions which the Apostolic Fathers made and took for granted between bishops, priests and deacons. The term presbyteros is common in the Old Testament and in the Gospels and Acts, and seems, therefore, to have been of Jewish origin; while episcopos, though frequent in the LXX, appears to have come from paganism where it was a common title of office in Greek societies and guilds. Of course, both these titles and offices were spiritualized in the Church in accordance with the elevated spiritual powers and functions which they implied and which were conferred in ordination.

Dean Bernard has a learned and convincing chapter on the distinction made in the New Testament and in the earliest Fathers and Apostolic writers between the terms episcopos and presbyteros and their respective functions. He shows that there are only two passages in the New Testament (Acts 20:28; Titus 1:7) “which even suggest the interchangeability of the terms episcopos and presbyteros,” and that these “are susceptible of explanations which fall in with the supposition that the words represent distinct functions (which might on occasion be discharged by the same individual).” And thus he does “not regard these passages as inconsistent with the conclusions to which all the other evidence points.” After a careful review of all the evidence the learned Dean comes to the following conclusions: “(1) the episcopate and presbyterate were distinct . . . ; the difference in name points to a difference in duty, although no doubt many duties would be common to both, especially in primitive and half-organized communities; (2) the bishops were originally selected by the presbyteral council, and probably from their own body; (3) there were often several bishops in one place, the number being a matter non-essential; (4) a conspicuous part of the bishop’s duty was the administration of worship —the liturgy in the largest sense; he is above all things an official, the representative of his Church and the director of its discipline” (Introd. to Pastoral Ep., Chap. V, in Cambridge Greek Testament’).

Of course, the Council of Trent has settled for us the divine origin of the episcopate, the presbyterate, and the deaconate.

A good work, i.e., an excellent office, but one of labor and responsibility rather than of honor, as St. Augustine remarks (De Civitate Dei, xix. 19).

2. It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, prudent, of good behavior, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher,

Since the office of bishop is so high and excellent, only those should be elevated to it who are worthy. St. Paul, therefore, now begins to enumerate some of the outstanding moral and ethical qualities which candidates for the episcopate should possess. Nearly the same qualifications are given in Titus 1:6-9.

Husband of one wife does not mean that a bishop had to be married, but that if he was married and his wife died he should not remarry. That such is the correct interpretation of this passage is made certain by the parallel clause in verse 9 below. All other explanations are decidedly unsatisfactory. Second marriages were looked upon as a sign of incontinence and self-indulgence, and so as unbecoming the high spiritual office of a bishop. General celibacy for the clergy was not practicable in the early years of the Church, when all the members were converts from Judaism or paganism and were usually already married; and hence the law of celibacy for the clergy was enacted later, though it was counselled in 1 Cor 7.

Sober, i.e., temperate in demeanor rather than in appetite, for of this latter temperance there is question in the next verse, “not given to wine.”

Given to hospitality, which was especially necessary in those times when the faithful were often despoiled of their possessions, persecuted, and driven from place to place.

A teacher. One of the principal duties of a bishop was to teach and preach, though in later times the functions of teaching and preaching seem to have devolved more upon the priests (presbyters).

3. Not given to wine, no striker, but modest, not quarrelsome, not covetous, but

No striker. Better, “not a brawler,” i.e., not given to the use of hurtful and injurious words.

Not covetous. St. Jerome says : “Ignominia omnium sacerdotum est propriis studere divitiis” (Ad Nepot., Ep. 52, no. 6).

4. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all chastity,
5. (Indeed if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?);

In case the candidate for the office of bishop was married and had children, it was well first to see how he governed his own household, before allowing him to rule in “the church of God.”

With all chastity. Better, “with all reverence,” as in 1 Tim 2:2. The phrase here is probably to be connected with “having,” rather than with “children.” Verse 5 is parenthetical and gives the reason for the direction contained in verse 4. A bad father of a family will make a bad ruler in the Church, and one of the chief functions of a bishop is to rule.

6. Not a recent convert, lest being puffed up with pride, he fall unto the judgment of the devil.

Not a recent convert, i.e., not recently converted to Christianity. The Greek for “recent convert” is found in the New Testament only here.

Puffed up, etc. Better, “beclouded, etc.” The expression is common in Greek literature, but is found only here in the Bible.

Unto the judgment, etc., i.e., into the same condemnation as that passed on the devil for his pride (cf. Isa 14:12-14; Ezek 28:11-17). Some authorities claim that in verses 6-7 here the context requires that we should take the phrase “of the devil” as a subjective, instead of an objective genitive, meaning the condemnation passed by the διάβολος (diabolos), and not that pronounced on him; and that the word “devil” means here slanderer or accuser (as in 1 Tim 3:11; below; 2 Tim 3:3; Titus 2:3). In this interpretation the slanderer or accuser would be “one of those people, to be found in every community, whose delight is to find fault with the demeanour and conduct of anyone professing a strict rule of life” (Bernard, The Pastoral Epistles, h. l, in Camb. Bible); and so the candidate for the office of bishop must try to regulate his Hfe in such a manner as not to fall under the “judgment” or condemnation of slanderers, Cf. Bernard, op. cit., ad locum.

7. Moreover he must have a good testimony of them that are without, lest he fall into reproach and a snare of the devil.

The bishop, as the chief representative of the Church, must also have a good reputation with his heathen neighbors; otherwise he cannot hope to make converts to the faith, he is apt to lose prestige among the faithful themselves, and thus he becomes exposed to “reproach and a snare of the devil.” For the interpretation of this last phrase, see above on the preceding verse.

8. Deacons in like manner chaste, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre,

In verses 8-13 St. Paul treats of the qualifications for deacons and deaconesses.

Deacons in like manner. The verb is to be supplied from verse 2, “it behooveth.” The same construction occurs again in verse 11 below, speaking of the “women.” It is noticeable that “deacons” is plural, whereas “bishop” above in verse 2 and in Titus 1:7 is singular. While both these classes belonged to the sacred ministry, it is clear that the bishop was a person of higher rank and authority, and that the deacons were only helpers and assistants to whom was entrusted the administration of temporal affairs in the Christian community. For the election and duties of deacons, see Acts 6:1 ff.

Chaste, i.e., reverent, grave in their character and manner of acting.

Not double-tongued, i.e., not saying different things to different people (Pengel).

Not greedy of filthy lucre. The reference is to the illicit disposal of the funds of the Christian community, the administration of which was entrusted to the deacons.

9. Holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience.

Holding, rather than preaching, the truths of the Gospel, which constituted the object of faith.

The “mystery of faith” means the secret of salvation, long kept concealed from mankind, but now revealed to the world in Christ. Thus, Christ Himself is “the mystery of faith” (cf. Col 2:2).

In a pure conscience. There must be harmony between the faith professed and the conscience, and this applies not only to deacons but to all Christians.

10. And let these also first be proved; and so let them minister, having no crime.

And let these also (as well as the bishops, ver. 7) be proved (i.e., found worthy), in the estimation of the community.

Having no crime, i.e., being irreproachable in their lives.

11 The women in like manner chaste, not slanderers, but sober, faithful in all things.

The women were doubtless deaconesses, like Phoebe of Rom 16:1. Women in general could not be meant, as that would be out of harmony with the context, which is speaking of persons connected with the sacred ministry. Nor could we understand the wives of the deacons, for if that were so we should expect in Greek the possessive pronoun their, relating them to the “deacons,” their husbands. These deaconesses “in like manner” (i.e., as well as the deacons) are to possess the qualifications that will fit them for their duties as helpers in the work of the sacred ministry. (It should be noted that Fr. Callan is not here suggesting that the deaconesses functioned as ordained ministers).

12. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, who rule well their children and their own houses.

See on verse 2 above, where the same injunctions are laid down for bishops.

13. For they that have ministered well shall secure for tliemselves a good degree, and much confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

For they that have ministered well, etc., i.e., the deacons that have faithfully discharged their office shall merit thereby promotion to a higher degree of office in the hierarchy, namely, to the order of priesthood or of the episcopate.

Other authorities explain “a good degree” as a stepping stone to greater influence and repute among the faithful, rather than as a promotion to higher office, since we do not know that deacons were regularly, if at all, promoted to the priesthood in the Apostolic Church. Still others think there is question in this place of the deacons acquiring a higher degree of merit in this life or of greater glory hereafter. But this last opinion is excluded by the words that follow, “and much confidence, etc.,” which evidently mean that deacons, by their promotion to higher office or their acquisition of greater influence in the community, will be able to preach with greater zeal and courage the faith which has its roots “in Christ Jesus.”

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