The Divine Lamp

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Archive for September 24th, 2011

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.


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.


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.


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.”


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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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 10:17-24

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2011

Ver 17. And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us through your name.18. And he said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.19. Behold, I give to you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.20. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject to you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

CYRIL; It was said above that our Lord sent forth His disciples sealed with the grace of the Holy Spirit, and that being made ministers of preaching, they received power over the unclean spirits. But now when they returned, they confess the power of Him who honored them, as it is said, And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us, &c. They seemed indeed to rejoice rather that they were made workers of miracles, than that they had become ministers of preaching. But they had better have rejoiced in those whom they had taken, as St. Paul says to them that were called by him, My joy and my crown.

GREG. Now our Lord, in a remarkable manner, in order to put down high thoughts in the hearts of His disciples, Himself related the account of the fall which the teacher of pride suffered; that they might learn by the example of the author of pride, what they would have to dread from the sin of pride. Hence it follows, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

BASIL; He is called Satan, because he is an enemy to God, (for this the Hebrew word signifies,) but he is called the Devil, because he assists us in doing evil, and is an accuser. His nature is incorporeal, his abode in the air.

THEOPHYL; He says not, ‘I see now,’ but referring to past time, I saw, when he fell. But by the words as lightning, He signifies either a fall headlong from the high places to the lowest, or that now cast down, he transforms himself into an angel of light.

TIT. BOST. Now He says that He saw it, as being Judge, for He knew the sufferings of the spirits Or He says, as lightning, because by nature Satan shone as lightning, but became darkness through his affections, since what God made good he changed in himself to evil.

BASIL; For the heavenly Powers are not naturally holy, but according to the analogy of divine love they receive their measure of sanctification. And as iron placed in the fire does not cease to be iron, though by the violent application of the flame both in effect and appearance, it passes into fire; so also the Powers on high, from their participation in that which is naturally holy, have a holiness implanted in them. For Satan had not fallen, if by nature he had been unsusceptible of evil.

CYRIL; Or else, I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven, that is, from the highest power to the lowest impotence. For before the coming of our Savior, he had subdued the world to him, and was worshipped by all men. But when the only-begotten Word of God came down from heaven, he fell as lightning, seeing that he is trodden under foot by those who worship Christ. As it follows, And, behold, I give those you power to tread upon serpents, &c.

TIT. BOST. Serpents indeed at one time under a figure were made to bite the Jews, and kill them because of their unbelief. But there came One who should destroy those serpents; even the Brazen Serpent, the Crucified, so that if any one should look on Him believing, he might be healed from his wounds and saved.

CHRYS. Then lest we should suppose this was spoken of beasts, He added, And over all the power of the enemy.

THEOPHYL; That is, I give you the power of casting out every kind of unclean spirit, from the bodies possessed. And as far as regards themselves, He adds, And nothing shall hurt you. Although it might also be taken literally. For Paul when attacked by a viper suffered no injury. John having drunk poison is not harmed by it. But I think there is this difference between serpents who bite with the teeth, and scorpions who sting with the tail, that the serpents signify men or spirits raging openly, scorpions signify them plotting in secret. Or serpents are those which cast the poison of evil persuasion upon virtues just beginning, scorpions which go about to corrupt at last virtues which have been brought to perfection.

THEOPHYL. Or serpents are those which visibly hurt, as the evil spirit of adultery and murder. But those are called scorpions which invisibly injure, as in the sins of the spirit.

GREG. NYSS. For pleasure is called in Scripture a serpent, which by nature is such that if its head has reached a wall so as to press upon it, it drags its whole body after it. So nature has given man the habitation which was necessary for him. But by means of this necessity, pleasure assaults the heart, and perverts it to the indulgence of immoderate ornament; in addition to this it brings in its train covetousness, which is followed by lust, that is, the last member or tail of the beast. But as it is not possible to draw back the serpent by its tail, so to remove pleasure we must not begin with the last, unless one has closed the first entrance to evil.

ATHAN. But now through the power of Christ boys make a mock at pleasure, which formerly led away the aged, and virgins steadfastly trample upon the desires of serpentine pleasure. Some also tread upon the very sting of the scorpion, that is, of the devil, namely death, and fearing not destruction become witnesses of the word. But many giving up earthly things walk with a free step in heaven, dreading not the prince of the air.

TIT. BOST. But because the joy with which He saw them rejoice savored of vain-glory, for they rejoiced that they were as it were exalted, and were a terror to men and evil spirits, our Lord therefore adds, Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject to you, &c.

THEOPHYL; They are forbidden to rejoice in the subjection of the spirits to God, since they were flesh; for to cast out spirits and to exercise other powers is sometimes not on account of his merit who works, but is wrought through the invocation of Christ’s name to the condemnation of those who mock it, or to the advantage of those who see and hear

CYRIL; Why, O Lord, cost not you permit men to rejoice in the honors which are conferred by You, since it is written, In your name shall they rejoice all the day? But the Lord raises them up by greater joys. Hence He adds, But rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

THEOPHYL; As if he said, It becomes you to rejoice not in the putting down of the evil spirits, but in your own exaltation. But it would be well for us to understand, that whether a man has done heavenly or earthly works, he is thereby, as if marked down by letter, for ever fixed in the memory of God.

THEOPHYL. For the names of the saints are written in the book of life not in ink, but in the memory and grace of God. And the devil indeed fell from above; but men being below have their names inscribed above in heaven.

BASIL; There are some who are written indeed not in life, but according to Jeremiah in the earth, that in this way there might be a kind of double enrollment, of the one indeed to life, but of the other to destruction. But since it is said, Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, this is spoken of those who were thought worthy to be written in the book of God. And in this way a name is said to be put down in writing or blotted out, when we turn aside from virtue to sin, or the contrary.

Ver 21. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth that you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in your sight.22. All things are delivered to me of my Father and no man knows who the Son is, but the Father and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.

THEOPHYL. As a loving father rejoices to see his sons do right, so Christ also rejoices that His Apostles were made worthy of such good things. Hence it follows, In that hour, &c.

CYRIL; He saw in truth that through the operation of the Holy Spirit, which He gave to the holy Apostles, the acquisition of many would be made, (or that many would be brought to the faith.) He is said therefore to have rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, that is, in the results which came forth through the Holy Spirit. For as one who to be mankind He considered the conversion of sinners to be a subject for rejoicing, for which He gives thanks. As it follows, I give thanks to you, O Father.

THEOPHYL; Confessing does not always signify penitence, but also thanks airing, as is frequently found in the Psalms.

CYRIL; Now here, say they whose hearts are perverted, the Son gives thanks to the Father as being inferior But what should prevent the Son of the same substance with the Father from praising His own Father, who saves the world by Him? But if you think that because of His giving thanks He shows Himself to be inferior, observe, that He calls Him His Father, and the Lord of heaven and earth. TIT. BOST. For all other things have been produced by Christ from nothing, but He alone was incomprehensibly begotten of His Father, Who therefore of the Only-begotten alone, as a true Son, is by nature the Father. Hence He alone says to His Father, I give thanks to you, O Father, Lord, &c. that is, I glorify you. Marvel not that the Son glorifies the Father. For the whole substance of the Only-begotten is the glory of the Father. For both those things which were created, and the Angels, are the glory of the Creator. But since these are placed too low in respect of His dignity, the Son alone, since He is perfect God like His Father, perfectly glorifies His Father.

ATHAN. We know also that the Savior often speaks as man. For His divine nature has human nature joined to it, yet you would not, because of His clothing Himself with a body, be ignorant that He was God. But what do they answer to this, who wish to make out a substance of evil, but form to themselves another God, other than the true Father of Christ? And they say that he is unbegotten, the creator of evil and prince of iniquity, as well as the maker of the world’s fabric. Now our Lord, affirming the word of Moses, says, I give thanks to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.

EPIPH. But a Gospel composed by Marcion has, “I give thanks to You, O Lord,” being silent as to the words of heaven and earth, and the word Father, lest it should be supposed that He calls the Father the Creator of the heaven and the earth.

AMBROSE; Lastly, he unveils the heavenly mystery by which it pleased God to reveal His grace, rather to the little ones than the wise of the world. Hence it follows, That you have hid these things from the wise and prudent.

THEOPHYL. The distinction may be, that it is said, the wise, meaning, the Pharisees and Scribes who interpret the law, and the prudent, meaning those who were taught by the Scribes, for the wise man is he who teaches, but the prudent man he who is taught; but the Lord calls His disciples babes, whom He chose not from the teachers of the law, but out of the multitude, and by calling, fishermen; babes, that is, as devoid of malice.

AMBROSE; Or by a babe we should here understand one who knew nothing of exalting himself, and of boasting in proud words of the excellence of his wisdom, as the Pharisees often do.

THEOPHYL; He therefore gives thanks that He had revealed to the Apostles as to babes the sacraments of His coming, of which the Scribes and Pharisees were ignorant, who think themselves wise, and are prudent in their own sight.

THEOPHYL. The mysteries then were hid from those who think themselves wise, and are not; for if they had been, these would have been revealed to them.

THEOPHYL; To the wise and prudent then He opposed not the dull and foolish, but babes; that is, the humble, to show that He condemned pride, not quickness of mind.

ORIGEN; For a feeling of deficiency is the preparation for coming perfection. For whoever by the presence of the apparent good perceives not that he is destitute of the true good, is deprived of the true good.

CHRYS. Now He does not rejoice and give thanks because the mysteries of God were hid from the Scribes and Pharisees (for this were not a subject of rejoicing, but of lament,) but for this cause gives He thanks, that what hat the wise knew not, babes knew. But moreover He gives thanks to the Father together with whom He Himself does this, to show the great love wherewith He loves us. He explains in the next place, that the cause of this thing was first His own will and Father’s, who of His own will did this. As it follows, Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in your sight.

GREG. We receive these words as an example of humility, that we Moral should not rashly presume to scan the heavenly counsel, concerning the calling of some, and the rejection of others; for that cannot be unjust which seemed good to the Just One. In all things therefore, externally disposed, the cause of the visible system is the justice of the hidden will.

CHRYS. But after He had said, I thank you that you have revealed them to babes, lest you should suppose that Christ was destitute of the power to do this, He adds, All things are delivered to me of my Father.

ATHAN. The followers of Arius, not rightly understanding this, rave against our Lord, saying, If all things were given to him, that is, the dominion of the creatures, there was as a time when He had them not, and so was not of the substance of the Father. For if He had been, there would be no need for Him to receive. But hereby is their madness the rather detected. For if before He had received them, the creature was independent of the Word, how will that verse stand, In him all things consist? But if as soon as the creatures were made, they were all given to Him, where was the need to give, for by him were all things made? The dominion of the creation is not then, as they think, here meant, but the words signify the dispensation made in the flesh. For after that man sinned, all things were confounded; the Word then was made flesh, that He might restore all things. All things therefore were given Him, not because He was wanting in power, but that as Savior He should repair all things; that as by the Word all things at the beginning were brought into being, so when the Word was made flesh, He should restore all things in Himself.

THEOPHYL; Or by the words, All things are delivered to me, He means not the elements of the world, but those babes to whom by the Spirit the Father made known the Sacraments of His Son; and in whose salvation when He here spoke He was rejoicing.

AMBROSE; Or, when you read all things, you acknowledge the Almighty, not the Son lower than the Father; when you read delivered, you confess the Son, to whom by the nature of one substance all things rightly belong, not conferred as a gift by grace.

CYRIL; Now having said that all things were given Him by His Father, He rises to His own glory and excellence showing that in nothing He is surpassed by His Father. Hence He adds, And no one knows who the Son is but the Father, &c. For the mind of the creatures is not able to comprehend the manner of the Divine substance, which passes all understanding, and His glory transcends our highest contemplations. By Itself only is known what the Divine nature is. Therefore the Father, by that which He is, knows the Son the Son, by that which He is, knows the Father, no difference intervening as regards the Divine nature. And in another place. For that God is, we believe, but what he is by nature, is incomprehensible. But if the Son was created, how could He alone know the Father, or how could He be known only by the Father. For to know the Divine nature is impossible to any creature, but to know each created thing what it is, does not surpass every understanding, though it is far beyond our senses.

ATHAN. But though our Lord says this, it is plain that the Arians object to Him, saying that the Father is not seen by the Son. But their folly is manifest, as if the Word did not know Itself which reveals to all men the knowledge of the Father and Itself; for it follows, And to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

TIT. BOST. Now a revelation is the communication of knowledge in proportion to each man’s nature and capacity; and when indeed the nature is congenial, there is knowledge without teaching; but here the instruction is by revelation.

ORIGEN; He wishes to reveal as the Word, not without the exercise of reason; and as Justice, who knows rightly both the times for revealing, and the measures of revelation; but He reveals by removing the opposing veil from the heart, and the darkness which He has made His secret place. But since upon this men who are of another opinion think to build up their impious doctrine, that in truth the Father of Jesus was sent down to the ancient saints, we must tell them that the words, To whomsoever the Son will reveal him, not only refer to the future time, after our Savior uttered this, but also to the past time But if they will not take this word reveal for what is past, the must be told, that it is not the same thing to know and to believe. To one is given by the Spirit the word of knowledge; to another faith by the same Spirit. There were then those who believed, but did not know.

AMBROSE; But that you may know that as the Son revealed the Father to whom He will, the Father also reveals the Son to whom He will, hear our Lord’s words, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood have not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven.

Ver 23. And he turned him to his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that you see:24. For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.

THEOPHYL. Having said above, No one knows who the Father is but the Son, and to whomsoever the Son will reveal him; He pronounces a blessing upon His disciples, to whom the Father was revealed through Him. Hence it is said, And he turned him to his disciples, and said, Blessed &c.

CYRIL; He turns to them indeed, since He rejected the Jews, who were deaf, with their understandings blinded, and not wishing to see, and gives Himself wholly to those who love Him; and He pronounces those eyes blessed which see the things no others had seen before. We must however know this, that seeing does not signify the action of the eyes, but the pleasure which the mind receives from benefits conferred. For instance, if any one should say, He has seen good times, that is, he has rejoiced in good times, according to the Psalm, You shall see the good of Jerusalem. For many Jews have seen Christ performing, divine works, that is to say, with their bodily sight, yet all were not fitted to rereceive the blessing, for they believed not; but these saw not His glory with their mental sight. Blessed then are our eyes, since we see by faith the Word who is made man for us, shedding upon us the glory of His Godhead, that He may make us like to Him by sanctification and righteousness.THEOPHYL. Now He blesses them, and all truly who look with faith, because the ancient prophets and kings desired to see and hear God in the flesh, as it follows; For I say to you, that many prophets and kings have desired, &c.

THEOPHYL; Matthew more clearly calls them prophets, and righteous men. For those are great kings, who have known how, not by yielding to escape from the assaults of temptations, but by mastering to gain the rule over them.

CHRYS. Now from this saying many imagine that the prophets were without the knowledge of Christ. But if they desired to see what the Apostles saw, they knew that He would come to men, and dispense those things which He did. For no one desires what he has no conception of; they therefore knew the Son of God. Hence He does not merely say, They desired to see me, but those things which you see, nor to hear me, but those things which you hear. For they saw Him, but not yet Incarnate, nor thus conversing with men, nor speaking with such authority to them.

THEOPHYL; For those looking afar off saw Him in a glass and darkly, but the Apostles having our Lord present with them, whatever things they wished to learn had no need to be taught by angels or any other kind of vision.

ORIGEN; But why does he say that many prophets desired, and not all? Because it is said of Abraham, That he saw the day of Christ and was glad, which sight not many, but few attained to; but there were other prophets and just men not so great as to reach to Abraham’s vision, and the experience of the Apostles, who, He says, saw not, but desired to see.

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