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

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 8:12-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 22, 2011

Piconio’s commentary on all of Romans can be found here.

12. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, that we should live according to the flesh.
13. For if you shall have lived according to the flesh, you will die: but if by the spirit you shall have mortified the deeds of the flesh, you will live
.
14. For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
15. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear: but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, in which we cry, Abba (Father)
.

12. We are debtors, not to the flesh. The flesh is the material nature of man under its present physical conditions, which in our fallen estate will, if we suffer it to rule us, lead us to sin and death. It is the spirit that has the right to rule us, not the flesh. To the flesh we owe no allegiance; but we owe to the Spirit that we are Christians, that our soul lives the life of grace, that we shall live the life of glory. It is then to the Spirit, not the flesh, that we are debtors.

13. If you live after the flesh, you must die, the death of guilt now, the death of eternal damnation hereafter, says Saint Thomas.

14. Those who have the Spirit of God dwelling within then are acted on, guided, led, and directed, by that Spirit. Christ was led by the Spirit into the desert, and the devil asked him if he was the Son of God (Matt 4:1, 3). The Ethiopic version reads: Whoever do those things which belong to the Spirit of God: that is, as in the last verse, mortify the deeds of the flesh . These are truly and really sons of God, having a heavenly nature. On a certain day the sons of God came to stand before the Lord, Job 1:6. We cannot, says Saint Chrysostom, dispose of our own lives, but should give ourselves up, soul and body, to the guidance of the Spirit of God, our helmsman, and our charioteer. But this control and guidance of the Spirit of God is not coercive or forcible. It implies the motion and, in a passive sense, inclination of our will, such as does not exclude freedom of action. To be led by the Spirit of God is to consent to his leading, and give it our voluntary obedience, confident that it must lead us to increase of grace and justice, and to life eternal.

15. You have not received the spirit of bondage again. Again, because the spirit of the law of Moses was a spirit of servitude and fear. Holy men under the old law were sons of God only in an imperfect manner, and in a lesser degree, like slaves, differing in nothing from servants, Gal 4:1. What you have received is the spirit of sonship or adoption, entitling you to say with Christ, and with all confidence, Our Father. As the divine Word gave himself to Christ, the Man, so that the Man named Christ, is the Son of God: so in proportion the Holy Spirit is given us in Baptism in such way as to make us Sons of God. Cornel, a Lap. in loc.

The Apostle contrasts the spirit of bondage not with the spirit of freedom, but the spirit of adoption; not merely free, but free as sons.

He does not say, we say Abba, but we cry; boldly, loudly, confidently, publicly. Instructed by holy precepts, and formed by divine institution, we venture to say, OurFather. Abba is the Hebrew or Syriac word for father, and to it he joins the Greek word with the same meaning, to signify that Jews and Gentiles are together called to the adoption of the sons of God. Saint Augustine, lib. de Spiritu et litcra, 32 de Cons. Evan. 4.

It is also possible that Saint Paul refers to the prayer of our Lord in the garden, Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; as an encouragement to address him by the same title, with the same confidence in his affection, under similar circumstances of trouble or despondency.

Before the coming of Christ the people of God were undoubtedly entitled in a certain sense to speak of God as their father, but only in a metaphorical sense, and on the ground of creation. “Now, Lord, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our Maker” (Isa 64:8. In some translations, 64:7). This is clearly applicable to all the race of men. And on the ground of providence: “Thy Providence, Father, governs the world” (Wis 14:3). But not on the ground and by right of adoption, an honour reserved for those who are sons of God in Christ, and which is expressed in the formula of the Apostle, Abba, Father.

16. For the Spirit itself gives testimony to our spirit, that we are sons of God.
17. And if sons, also heirs: heirs indeed of God, and co-heirs with Christ: if we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him
.

16. The Spirit himself gives testimony. The cry of our hearts, inasmuch as it proceeds from the Spirit of God, is a testimony of our divine adoption. The giving to us the Spirit, is itself a testimony of this; for he is the Spirit of the Son, and God gives the Spirit of his Son to those only whom he would have for sons. The Apostle may possibly also include a reference in his mind to exterior testimonies, as in miracle or prophecy, more frequent in his days than in ours. Horror of sin, love of God, readiness to obey his commands, and to follow the motions of the Holy Spirit, peace and tranquility of conscience, troubled by no grave and conscious sin, are interior testimonies of the Spirit of God, with our spirit, that we are sons of God. We should not, however, with the heretics, come to regard this interior testimony as certain with the certitude of faith. Such testimony, in so far as it proceeds from the Holy Spirit, is certain and infallible in itself, but as presented to our consciousness it is certain only conjecturally and morally, because we are not sure whether it proceeds from the Holy Spirit, or from an evil spirit, transfiguring himself into an angel of light.

17. If sons, also heirs. God does not die, and his inheritance is not a succession. He is himself the inheritance. Heirs of God. The Lord is the portion of my inheritance, Ps 15:5. To the enjoyment of this inheritance, his adopted sons are admitted, in the Beatific Vision. An inheritance not diminished by the number of the sons, or reduced by division among many claimants, says St. Anselm.

Co-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with him. We are heirs of a living God, co-heirs with a man who died. Sharing his death, on our own cross, we shall be glorified with him in his inheritance. Without participation of the cross, there is no participation of glory; but the expectation of the promised beatitude is sure and certain, where there is participation in the Passion of the Lord. St. Leo, Serm., 9 de Quad.

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2 Responses to “Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 8:12-17”

  1. […] Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (Romans 8:12-17). […]

  2. […] Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 8:12-17. […]

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