The Divine Lamp

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Archive for January 12th, 2012

St Thomas Aquinas’ Homily Notes on John 2:1 for the Second Sunday After Epiphany

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2012

These notes were probably not produced by St Thomas himself. It was common in his day for students to produce outlines of the books they read, and talks and sermons they heard, as basic exercises. An ability to discern the structure of both written texts and lectures was considered essential for aspiring scholars. Outlining sermons was probably the most  basic of these exercises.

(FROM THE GOSPEL, St John 2:1)
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the Mother of Jesus was there

FOUR marriages are spoken of in Holy Scripture the first, historical; the second, allegorical; the third, tropological; the fourth, anagogical. (1) The literal marriage is the carnal union between the man and the woman:  “The King made a great feast with all his princes and servants” on the occasion of his marriage with Esther (2:18).

(2) the allegorical is between Christ and His Church: “The Kingdom of Heaven is
like unto a certain King which made a marriage for his son” (St Matt 22:2).

(3) the tropological between God and the soul: “I will betroth thee unto me in
righteousness” (Hos 2:19).

(4) the anagogical between God and the Church Triumphant: “They
that were ready went in with Him to the marriage” (St Matt 25:10).

We now treat of the literal marriage, which, firstly, God sanctionecl in three ways; which, secondly, implies three conditions.

I. On the first head it is to be noted that the literal marriage

  • (1) God ordained in Paradise Gen 1:28, “God blessed them and said, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.”
  • (2) He confirmed it by His Word, “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder (St Matt 19:6).
  • (3) He honoured it by His presence “Both Jesus was called,” &c (St John 2:2).
  • (4) He magnified it by a miracle “The ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine” (St John 2:9).

II. On the second head it is to be noted that in literal marriages there should be present three good qualities.

(1) Faith, that the marriage bed be not violated “The husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife” (1 Cor 7:4). This first good despoils the adulterers, of whom we read: “Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb 13:4).

(2) Offspring, that children may be generated for the Lord “She shall be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith” (1 St Tim 2:15).  This second good despoils those who either procure barrenness, or bring up their children not to worship and serve God.

(3) An oath, that neither can be separated the one from the other: “This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:32).  This third good despoils those who commit adultery, or marry two wives at the same time If while her husband liveth she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress” (Rom 7:3).  So we learn what are the hindrances to unlawful marriage.

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St Thomas Aquinas’ Homily Notes on Romans 12:13 for the Second Sunday After Epiphany

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2012

The reader may find the following useful for homily suggestions or for points of meditation or further study. These notes were probably not produced by St Thomas himself, rather, they were probably produced by a student as he sat listening to the preaching. Aquinas’ Lectures on the Epistle to the Romans has been translated into English and can be read here.

Given to hospitality
Rom 12:13.

IN this Epistle, which is altogether full of moral precepts, we are exhorted to great hospitality, to which four motives ought chiefly to move us. Firstly, the command of the Lord. Secondly, the example of the saints. Thirdly, the loss which is sustained by not exercising hospitality. Fourthly, the manifold advantage in its exercise.

I. On the first head it is to be noted that the Lord enjoined hospitality by a threefold law-the law of nature, the old and the new law.

  • (1) He commanded, by the law of nature, that as we desire to receive hospitality from others, so we should shew it to others S. Matt 7:12, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
  • (2) By the old law Isa 58:7, “Is it not to deal My bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house ?” Deut 26:12, “The stranger, the fatherless, the widow, that they may eat within thy gates and be filled.”
  • (3) By the new law Heb 13:2, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers.”

II. On the second head it is to be noted that the example of the saints teach us three things about hospitality

  • (1) That we should constrain strangers to ” come in unto us.” S. Luke 24:29, “They constrained them, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.”
  • (2) That we should protect our guests from harm Gen 19:7, 8, “I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly; with these men do nothing, for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof;” whence we may learn that it was a patriarchal custom to protect guests from violence
  • (3) That with joy and gladness we should minister abundantly to their necessities Gen 18:3, 6, 7, “Pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant. And Abraham said, Make ready quickly these measures of fine meal; and Abraham ran unto the herd:” this history teaches us how with joy and gladness we ought abundantly to minister unto strangers.

III. On the third head it is to be noted that three evils are incurred by those who are unwilling to exercise hospitality.

  • (1) They are here punished by the Lord Wisdom 19:13-16, “Others, indeed, received not strangers unknown to them, but these brought their guests into bondage that had deserved well of them. And not only so, but in another respect also they were wise; for the others against their will received strangers, but these grievously afflicted them whom they had received with joy. But they were struck with blindness.”
  • (2) They shall be confounded in the judgment S. Matt 25:43, “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in.”
  • (3) They shall be shut up in an evil habitation S. Matt 25:4, “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

IV. On the fourth head it is to be noted that for three reasons we ought to be given to hospitality.

  • (1) By doing this we gain grace, as the woman of Samaria who talked with Christ.
  • (2) By doing this we frequently entertain saints and angels Heb 13:1, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
  • (3) By doing this, we shall be received into an eternal, heavenly, and glorious habitation S. Matt 25:33, 34, “I was a stranger, and ye took me in Come, ye blessed children of My Father, inherit the Kingdom,” &c.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, Meditations, Notes on Romans, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, SERMONS, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2012

The Epistle Reading for this Sunday is 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20. This post is on verses 12-20 of that chapter.

1Co 6:12  All things are lawful to me: but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful to me: but I will not be brought under the power of any.

All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient. All things, say Theodoret and Œcumenius, are through free-will lawful unto me, are in my power, e.g., to commit fornication, to rob, to be drunken, and all the other sins mentioned above. But they are not expedient for the salvation of my soul, inasmuch as they are sins.

But this rendering is rightly condemned by Ambrose, who says: “How can that be lawful which is forbidden? For surely if all things are lawful there can be nothing unlawful.” In other words he says that that is said to be lawful which no law forbids. The word lawful does not apply to that which it is in the power of the will to do or leave undone. The meaning, therefore, of this passage is, all indifferent things, all not forbidden by any law, are lawful to me. So Chrysostom, who with Theophylact refers these words to the next verse.

1Co 6:13  Meat for the belly and the belly for the meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord: and the Lord for the body.

Meat for the belly and the belly for the meats. 1. Although it is lawful for me to eat every kind of food, yet I will not allow desire for any food to get the mastery over me, and make me a slave to my belly.

2. Ambrose and S. Thomas understand these words to refer to his personal expenses, and to mean—Though it is lawful for me as a preacher of the Gospel to receive from you means of support, yet I will not receive it, lest I become chargeable to any one and lose my liberty. The Apostle after his manner joins together various disconnected matters, which he knew would by intelligible in other ways to those to whom he was writing.

3. The best rendering is to refer these words, with Anselm and S. Thomas, to what had been said above about judgments: I have said these things against going to law, not because it is unlawful in itself for a man to seek to regain his own at law, but because I am unwilling for you to be brought under the power of any one, whether he be judge, advocate, or procurator, especially when they are of the unbelievers.

S. Bernard (de Consid. lib. iii.) says, moralising: “The spiritual man will, before undertaking any work, ask himself three questions, Is it lawful? Is it becoming? Is it expedient? For although, it is well known in the Christian philosophy, nothing is becoming save what is lawful, and nothing is expedient save what is both lawful and becoming, nevertheless it does not follow that all that is lawful is necessarily also becoming or expedient.”

Why, says S. Paul, do you enter on lawsuits for the sake of worldly good, which for the most part serves only for the belly and its meats? For food is but a perishing and mean thing, made but to be cast into the belly. The belly too is the lowest part of man, made only to cook, digest, cast forth, and corrupt the food, and is a vessel containing all that is disgusting. Both food and belly shall be destroyed, for both shall be food for worms; and though the belly shall rise again, yet it will no linger take in food. Secondly, it should be observed that the Apostle here purposely introduces gluttony, because it is the mother of lust, which he then proceeds to condemn. So Theophylact. Hence in the passage bearing the name of S. Athanasius (qu. 133 ad Antioch,), the belly here is understood to mean gluttony and drunkenness. The belly has its desire to drunkenness, and drunkenness to it; but he who is thus given up to serve his belly cannot serve God, but is the slave of his belly, and therefore shall be destroyed of God. This passage is plainly not the writing of S. Athanasius, for earlier (qu. 23) Athanasius himself is quoted, and differed from; moreover, Epiphanius and Gregory of Nyssa are quoted, who lived after Athanasius.

But God shall destroy both it and them. In death and the resurrection, in such a way that the belly will no longer be for meats, nor will there be meats to fill the belly.

But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord: and the Lord for the body. It was not meant, or given us, for such an end, but that with chaste body we should serve the Lord, and follow Him, our Head, with pure and holy lives. So Anselm. So also is Christ given to our body to be its head and crown. Or the Lord is for the body in another sense, according to Ambrose and Anselm, viz., that He is the reward for the body that is chaste and pure, and He will give it incorruption and immortality. The first meaning is the simpler, for S. Paul proceeds to speak of the resurrection.

1Co 6:14  Now God hath raised up the Lord and will raise us up also by his power.

As He raised up Christ when crucified and dead, so too if with Christ we die to lust and gluttony, and crucify them, will He raise up us.

1Co 6:15  Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid!

Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? For ye yourselves, and consequently your body and soul, are members of the Church of Christ. S. Augustine (Serm. 18. in hæc Verb.) says beautifully: “The life of the body is the soul, the life of the soul is God. The Spirit of God dwells in the soul, and through the soul in the body, so that our bodies also are a temple of the Holy Spirit, whom we have from God.”

Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid! The word Take here is not to pluck off and separate from Christ, for a fornicator remains a member of Christ and His Church so long as he retains the true faith. But it means, as S. Thomas says, unjustly to withdraw these members, that were given for generation, from the obedient service of Christ, whose they are. For whoever of the faithful commits fornication filches as it were his body and his organs of generation, which body is a member of Christ, from their lawful owner, and gives them to a harlot. He takes, therefore from Christ, not jurisdiction over his body, but the use of it.

1Co 6:16  Or know you not that he who is joined to a harlot is made one body? For they shall be, saith he, two in one flesh.

Know you not that he who is joined to a harlot is made one body? One body by a union and blending of the two bodies. Just as merchants in partnership have but one capital, because it is common to both, so those who join in committing fornication have one body, because their bodies are common to both, as Cajetan says. So two are one flesh: that is, out of two there is made but one human being, and that not spiritual, but carnal—wholly fleshly.

For they shall be, saith he, two in one flesh. S. Paul is here quoting from Gen. ii. 24, where the words are applied to those married. But he refers them truly enough to fornicators, because the external acts, whether of them or of those married, do not differ in kind, though they differ morally by the whole sky, for the acts of the former are lustful and vicious, but those of the latter are acts of temperance, righteousness, and virtue, as S. Thomas says.

1. Observe that it is said of the married that they too shall be one flesh (1.) by carnal copulation, as the Apostle her takes it; (2.) by synecdoche, they shall be one individual, one person: for the man and the woman civilly are, and are reckoned as one; (3.) because in wedlock each is the master of the other’s body, and so the flesh of one is the flesh of the other (cf. 1Co_8:3); (4.) in the effect produced, for they produce one flesh, that is one offspring.

2. Observe again that Scripture employs this phrase in order to show that of all human relationships the bond of matrimony is the closest and the most inviolable. Hence it was that God made Eve out of the rib of Adam, to show that the man and the woman are not so much two as one, and ought to be one in heart and will, and therefore, if need be, each for the sake of the other ought to leave father and mother, as is said in Gen_2:24. The Apostle quotes this passage to show the fornicator how grievously he lowers and disgraces himself, inasmuch as he so closely joins himself to some abandoned harlot as to become one with her, and as it were he transforms himself into her and himself becomes a harlot.

1Co 6:17  But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.

But he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. Not one essentially, as Ruisbrochius (de Alta Contempt.) says that Almaric and certain fanatic “illuminati” thought, but one in the way of accidents: one in charity, in the consent of the will, in grace and glory, all which make man like God, so that he is as it were one and the same spirit with God. So Ambrose, Anselm, Œcumenius. From this passage S. Basil (de Vera Virgin.) shows that the chaste and holy soul is the spouse of God, and is changed into the excellence of the Divine image, so as to become one spirit with God, and from this union with God drinks in all possible purity, virtue, incorruption, peace, and inward calm. “Wherefore,” he says, “the soul which is joined to Christ is, as it were, the bride of the Wisdom or the Word of God; is necessarily wise and prudent, so that every mark of the yoke of brutish folly having been removed by meditation on Divine things, she wears the beauteous ornament of the Wisdom to which she has been joined, until she so thoroughly joins to herself the Eternal Wisdom, so becomes one with It, that of corruptible she is made incorruptible, of ignorant most prudent and wise, like the Word, to whose side she has closely kept, and in short, of mortal man is made immortal God; and so He to whom she has been united is made manifest to all.”

S. Bernard (Serm 7 in Cantic.) beautifully describes this betrothal of God with the soul that clings to Him with pure and holy love, and the communication of all good things that flows from it. He says: “The soul which loves God in called His bride; for the two names, bride and bridegroom, denote the closest affections of the heart; for to them all things are in common: they have one purse, one home, one table, one bed, one flesh. Therefore shall a man leave father and mother, &c., and they twain shall be one flesh. . . . She that loves is called a bride; but one that loves seeks for kisses—not for liberty, or wages, or a settlement of money, but for kisses after the manner of a most chaste bride, whose every breath whispers of her love in all its purity, and who is wholly unable to conceal the fire that is burning her. ‘Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,’ she says. It is as though she were to say, ‘What have I in heaven, and what do I wish for on earth apart from you?’ Surely this, her love, is chaste, since she seeks to have Him that she loves, and nothing else besides Him. It is a holy love, because it is not in the lust of the flesh, but in the purity of the spirit. It is a burning love, because she is so drunken with her own love that she thinks not of His majesty. Yet is One that looks at the earth and it trembles, He toucheth the mountains and they smoke, and she seeks to be kissed by Him. Is she drunk? Surely so, because she had perchance come forth from the wine-cellar. How great is love’s power! how great is the confidence of the spirit of liberty! Perfect love casteth out fear. She does not say, ‘Let this or that bridegroom, or friend, or king, kiss me,’ but definitely, ‘Let Him kiss me.’ Just so when Mary Magdalene, when she found not her Lord in the tomb, and believed Him to have been taken away, said of Him, ‘If thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Who is the ‘Him’? She does not reveal it, because she supposes that what is never for a moment absent from her heart must be obvious to all. So too the bride says, ‘Let him kiss me,’ i.e., him who is never absent from my heart; for being on fire with love she thinks that the name of him she loves is well known to all.” More on this betrothal and union to God of the soul that clings to Him will be found in the notes to 2 Cor 11:2.

Again we find S. Bernard, or the author of the treatise, “On the Solitary Life,” saying towards the end: “The perfection of the will that is moving towards God is to be found in the unity with God of the spirit of the man whose affections are set on things above. When he now no longer merely wills what God wills, but has so far advanced in love that he cannot will save what God wills, the union is complete. For to will what God wills is to be like God; not to be able to will save what God wills is to be what God is, with whom Will and Being are the same. Hence it is well said that then we shall see Him as He is, when we shall be so like Him that we shall be what He is. For to those to whom has been given the power of becoming the sons of God, there has been also given the power of becoming, not indeed God, but what God is.”

S. Bernard goes on to point out a triple similitude that men have to God, and then he adds: “This likeness of man to God is called a unity of spirit, not merely because it is the Holy Spirit that effects it, or because He affects man’s spirit towards it, but because it is itself the Holy Spirit—God who is love. Since He is the bind of love between the Father and the Son, He is unity, and sweetness, and good, and kisses, and embraces, and whatever can be common to Both in that supreme unity of Truth and truth of Unity; and similarly He makes man to become to God after man’s capacity all that by substantial unity the Father is through Him to the Son and the Son to the Father. The blessed consciousness of man has found in some way a means by which it embraces the Father and the Son: in an ineffable and inconceivable manner man merits to become of God, though not God. God, however, is what He is by His own Nature; man becomes what he does by grace.”

1Co 6:18  Fly fornication. Every sin that a man doth is without the body: but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

Fly fornication. Because, as Anselm, Cassian, and the Fathers generally teach, other vices are conquered by resistance, lust alone by flight, viz., by fleeing from women, from the objects and occasions of lust, by turning aside the eyes and the mind to see and think of other things. For if you oppose a temptation to some lewdness, or fight against some impure thought, you only excite the imagination by thinking of such things, and then inflame still more the innate lust of the flesh, that is naturally disposed to such acts as fornication.

Every sin that a man doth is without the body. Does not stain or pollute the body.

It may be said that if a man kills or mutilates or castrates himself he sins against his body, and therefore it is not a fact that every sin distinct from fornication is without the body.

I reply that every sin, i.e., every kind of sins which men commonly and ordinarily commit is without the body. For there are seven capital sins, which theologians, following S. Paul, divide into spiritual and bodily or carnal. Those that are carnal are two—gluttony and lust; the spiritual are five—pride, covetousness, anger, envy, sloth. Of these anger and envy tend directly of themselves towards murder of one’s neighbour, but not except by accident towards murder of one’s self, and that in few and extraordinary cases. The angry man, therefore, does nor ordinarily and necessarily sin against his body, but against that of another, by assaulting him or killing him. The Apostle’s meaning then is, that all the sins in general which men ordinarily and commonly commit are without the body. “Every sin” therefore does not include mutilation or suicide, which happen rarely, and as it were accidentally; nor does it include gluttony as I will show directly.

But he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. S. Jerome (Ep. ad Amand. tom. iii.) gives two explanations of this passage, of which the first is—the fornicator sins against his wife, who is his own body; the second is—he plants in his body the seeds of sexual passion, which, even after his sin, remain, when he wishes to repent, to spring up into active life.  S. Jerome says that “other sins are without, and after being committed are repented of, and though profit urge to them yet conscience rebukes. Lust alone, even in the hour of repentance, suffers under the whips and stings of the past, and under organic irritation, and under incentives to sin, so that material for sin is supplied again by thoughts of the very things which we long to see corrected.”  S. Jerome confesses (Ep. 22 ad Eustoch,) that he knew this from own experience.  S. Mary of Egypt found the same true in her own case, who endured under penance these whips and stings for as many years as she had formerly given to sexual passion, viz., seventeen, as Sophronius, Patriarch if Jerusalem, related in her life.

Œcumenius has ten other explanations of this passage, as has also Isidorus Pelusiota (lib. iv. Ep. 129 ). But the true and genuine sense is: Whoever commits fornication does injury to his own body, 1. because he polluted and disgraces his body, as Gregory of Nyssa says in his oration on these words.

2. Because by fornication he weakens and exhausts his body, and often destroys it, by contracting venereal disease. So S. Athanasius, quoted by Œcumenius. In both these ways the glutton and drunkard sin against their body, because the first disgraces it by subjecting it to unhealthy humours, to vomiting, and other disgusting things, while the latter weakens, injures, and finally ruins its natural heat and strength. Hence under the name of fornication, here gluttony and drunkenness, as being akin to it, or rather its mother, may be understood. It was for this reason that the Apostle, in ver. 13, spoke of gluttony. For these two sins, gluttony and lust, are vices peculiar to the body, and are thence called sins of the flesh: other sins belong to the spirit alone, as I have just said.

3. The fornicator dies injury to his own body, inasmuch as he alone brings his body, which was created free, pure, and noble, under the jurisdiction, service, and power of the mist degraded harlot, so that he becomes as one thing with her. In the same way that, if any one were to bind his own body, that was noble, healthy, and beautiful, to the body of some loathsome leper, he would be said to do his body a great wrong, so does he who unites to a common, base, and infamous harlot his body, that was created by God pure, noble, and free, and redeemed and washed by the blood of Christ, do to it grievous injury. In all these verses the Apostle lays stress upon this wrong.

4. The fornicator does injury to his body, because he excites in it a foul and shameful lust, which so absorbs the mind that in carrying it out into action the man can think of nothing else. He makes his body, therefore, the slave of his lust, in such a way that he is wholly ruled by it. Neither gluttony nor any other sin in the body excites such shameful and vehement lust as this is. Impurity alone then holds sway over the body, and by its lust and outward action stains, subjugates, and destroys it.

1Co 6:19  Or know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God: and you are not your own?

Know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost? They, therefore, who pollute their bodies by impurity are guilty of sacrilege, for they sin against the Holy Ghost. They do Him wrong by robbing Him of the body dedicated to Him, and 120 transferring it to the demon of lust. Further, the bodies of the faithful are the temple of the Spirit of Christ, because they themselves are members of Christ, and because the faithful are one spirit with God. (See notes to vers. 16, 17, and 2Co_6:16. ) Tertullian cleverly and beautifully says (de Cultu Femin. c. i.) that the guardian and high-priestess of this temple is chastity. He says: “Since we are all the temple of God, because endowed and consecrated with the Holy Spirit, the guardian and high-priestess of His temple is chastity, who suffers nothing unclean, nothing unholy to be carried in, lest God, who inhabits it, be offended, and leave His polluted shrine.” The faithful and just is therefore a temple in which by grace dwells and is worshipped the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given us, to work in us all holy thoughts, affections, words, and works. Wherefore it is altogether unseemly that His soul and body should by fornication become the temple of Venus and Priapus: this is a grievous wrong done to God and the Holy Spirit. Hence it was that S. Seraphia, virgin and martyr, when asked by the judge, “Where is the temple of the Christ whom you adore, where you sacrifice?” replied, “I, by cultivating chastity, am the temple of Christ, and to Him I offer myself a sacrifice.” The judge retorted, “If your chastity, then, were taken from you, you would, I suppose, cease to be a temple of Christ?” The virgin rejoined: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” The judge then sent two young men to violate her, but at her prayer an earthquake took place, and the young men fell down dead: they were, however, at her prayers restored to life. This is to be found in her life by Surius, under the 3rd of September.

1Co 6:20  For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.

Value highly your bodies, though the devil bids for them with a shameful and brief bodily delight. Do not despise your bodies, do not sell them for nothing—rather think them of the highest possible worth; for it is to the glory of God if these bodies, which God bought at a great price, even with His own blood, become of great importance in our eyes. Hence the well-known proud name of a Christian is, “Bought and Redeemed,” viz., from sin and heathenism, by the precious blood of Christ. So in olden times the children of Christians were bought by the Turks, and became, instead of Christians, Mahometans, and were called Mamelukes, or “the bought;” for when the Tartars had subdued Armenia they sold the children of the Christians. Melech-Sala, Sultan of Egypt, bought them in great numbers, and had them trained as soldiers, and called Mamelukes. After the death of Melech-Sala the Mamelukes began to appoint a king for themselves, A.D. 1252, out of their own society of apostate Christians. As they took their rise under the Emperor Frederick II., so under Solyman, who filled the Egyptian throne, they were exterminated, A.D. 1516. Then their reign and existence ceased together. Glorify God in your body, by keeping it pure in obedience to the Spirit and to God.

The Latin has, Glorify and bear God, but “bear” is not in the Greek. “As a horse,” says S. Thomas, “carries its lord and rider, and moves as he wills, so does the body serve the will of God.” The Greek also adds, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Observe that the Corinthians were greatly given to impurity, and consequently to gluttony. This is evident from Suidas, who, under the word “Cothys,” says: “Cothys is a devil worshipped by the Corinthians as the ruler of effeminate and unclean persons.” Herodotus says the same thing (Clio), and Strabo (lib.viii.). The latter says: “The temple of Venus at Corinth was so wealthy that it had mire than a thousand harlots as priestesses, whom men and women dedicated to the goddess.” Thus κορινθιάξεθν became a common word for lasciviousness, self-indulgence, and impurity generally. Hence it is that the Apostle takes such pains to warn the Corinthians against their common sin of fornication; and he does this by various reasons drawn from different sources: (1.) from creation, (2.) from the resurrection of the body, (3.) from the shamefulness of impurity, and the injury it does to the body, (4.) from the dignity of the body.

From these we may collect six arguments by which he seeks to save them from fornication: (1.) Because our body is not our own but the Lord’s (ver.13); (2.) Because, if it is pure, it shall rise again with glory (ver. 14); (3.) Because our body is a member of Christ. (ver. 15); (4.) Because the body is a pure temple of the Holy Spirit, in order that by clinging to God in chastity it may become one spirit with Him (ver. 17); (5.) Because our body has been bought with the blood of Christ, and therefore it is an unworthy thing, and an injury to God, to Christ, and the Holy Spirit, to give it to a harlot (ver. 20). See Chrysostom (in Morali.).

S. Bernard (Serm. 7 in Ps.xci.) moralises thus: “Glorify, dearly beloved, and bear meanwhile Christ in your body, as a delightful burden, a pleasant weight, a wholesome load, even though He seem sometimes to weigh heavily, even though sometimes He use the spur and whip on the laggard, even though sometimes He hold in the jaws with bit and bridle, and curb us wholly for our good. Be as a beast of burden in the patience with which you bear the load, and yet not as a beast, heedless of the honour that its rider gives. Think wisely and sweetly both of the nature of the load you bear, as well as of your own future benefit.” So S. Ignatius, the martyr, was called “God-bearer” and “Christ-bearer,” and he salutes the Blessed Virgin by the same name, “Christ-bearer,” in his letters to her, as S. Bernard says.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2012

The Epistle reading for this Sunday is 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20. This post is on verses 12-20 and includes both the Bishop’s brief introduction to chapter 6, and his paraphrase of the biblical text he is commenting on (in purple).

Analysis of 1 Corinthians 6~In this chapter, the Apostle corrects an abuse prevalent among the Christians of Corinth, viz., that of recurring, in cases of litigation, to Pagan tribunals, when they might have recourse to arbitrators taken from among themselves. With indignant surprise, he refers to the affair, and condemns it on account of the judges selected (verses 1-5), the parties engaged in litigation (6), and the litigation itself (7). He condemns it both in the offending and offended parties, plaintiffs and defendants (8). In order to correct such an abuse, he reminds them that the unjust shall never enter on God’s inheritance, and from this, he takes occasion to enumerate many of the grievous sins, that exclude from the kingdom of heaven, of which sins, many of the Corinthians were formerly guilty, but from which the grace and mercy of God has now cleansed them (9, 10, 11). In the next place, he answers an objection which might be made against his teaching on the subject of suits at law (12), and adduces one or two other reasons to dissuade Christians from becoming involved in litigation (13). He then proceeds to point out the enormity of the sin of fornication, which was regarded as a matter in itself indifferent among the voluptuous Corinthians; and he shows its grievousness in a Christian, on the ground of the contumely he offers Christ, by transferring the members of Christ, so as to render them members of a harlot, with whom he becomes one flesh, instead of being one spirit with the Lord (14-19). He, next, points out its enormity, as rendering the body of the Christian, bestial and sordid, and violating the temple of the Holy Ghost; and, again, on the ground, that it makes a transfer of what belongs to another, viz., the body of a Christian, idiom Christ purchased with his precious blood (19, 20).

1Co 6:12  All things are lawful to me: but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful to me: but I will not be brought under the power of any.

But it may be said, are not all things, when indifferent and not prohibited, lawful to me; and may I not, therefore, lawfully reclaim my just rights and in a court of justice? But all things that are lawful are not expedient; that is, they do not contribute to my spiritual advancement in the particular circumstances in which I may be placed. All tilings indifferent are lawful. Be it so; but I should not bring myself under the power of any one, perhaps to the detriment of my faith.

Some Commentators say, that the Apostle, in this verse, refers to the prohibition of meats offered to idols, o f which, although lawful in themselves, it is inexpedient to partake, as they by no means contribute to our spiritual advancement, particularly when they are the cause of scandal to others. It is more probable, however, that he refers to the subject of litigation, and in reference to it, he proposes a twofold objection, giving a reply to each. In verse 7, the Apostle said it was a fault in them to have lawsuits at all, to which it might be objected: “Is it not lawful to demand our just rights?” To which he replies, certainly: but still, everything not prohibited is not always expedient; and it is only in this sense, and not as bad in themselves, that lawsuits are to be condemned. Secondly, in reply to this indignant censure (verse 1), “dare any of you,” &c., it might be objected: “Is it not allowed, even in the presence of Pagan magistrates, to reclaim our just rights?” Admitted. But still, you should never bring yourselves under their power, thus endangering our faith. “The power of any,” (εξουσιασθησομαι υπο τινος),  may mean, “the power of any thing.”  The Greek admits of this rendering; and, then, the meaning would be, “I should not make myself the slave of any inordinate attachment to the things of this life, by prosecuting my claims to them beyond the limits of Christian detachment and forbearance.”

1Co 6:13  Meat for the belly and the belly for the meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord: and the Lord for the body.

Food is meant for the belly, to appease hunger and sustain life, and the belly is destined for the reception and digestion of food; but God shall soon destroy the use of both one and the other. But you are not to regard fornication as one of the things that are lawful, but inexpedient; the body was not destined for fornication, it was consecrated to the Lord as a part of his members, and the Lord was given to the body, as its everlasting head.

“Meat” (in Greek, τα βρωματα, meats), “for the belly,” &c. This verse contains
additional reasons for not engaging in litigation. The subjects which afford matter for litigation, are, of their own nature, only of trivial value; they are, ordinarily, but matters connected with food and bodily ailments destined for the maintenance of human life. They are, in the next place, but of short duration; hence, Christians destined for a glorious immortality should undervalue them, and be detached from them. “But the body is not for fornication.” They should not regard fornication as one of the things whfch are indifferent, but inexpedient; they should not class it with lawsuits and the like. The Pagans, particularly at Corinth, did not hold fornication in any abhorrence. Their philosophers regarded it as a matter of indifference; on which account, the Apostle cautions the Corinthians against classing it with the things of which he spoke (verse 12, “All things are lawful for me”), and which are rendered unlawful only from peculiar circumstances.  “But for the Lord,” &c., has reference to the mutual relations of head and members, which subsist between Christ and the faithful. He is the head; they, the members of his mystical body.

1Co 6:14  Now God hath raised up the Lord and will raise us up also by his power.

But this relation of headship unlike the relation between the food and the belly is not of a temporary character; it is everlasting, because God, who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, will raise us up also by his Omnipotent power, so as to be eternally united with Christ our head.

The Apostle points out the difference, in point of duration, between the relation which the food bears the belly and that which Christ bears his members. The latter is to last for ever. Hence, we should serve our everlasting head in all purity and sanctity, and hold in horror all uncleanncss.

1Co 6:15  Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid!

Consider fully the relation in which you stand with regard to Christ, as a motive to avoid fornication; are you not aware that your bodies are members of Christ? Unjustly, then, withdrawing the members of Christ from the service which they owe him, shall I make them the members of a harlot? May God avert such sacrilegious indignity!

he Apostle having merely alluded, in verse 13, to the relation which subsists between Christ and every member of the Church, “the Lord for the body,” fully enlarges on the subject in this verse, in order to induce them to avoid fornication and the sacrilegious treatment of Christ, which it involves. “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?” Christ is the head of the entire Church, which is his mystic body, and also the head of each individual among the faithful, who is in turn a member of Christ’s body, not only as to soul, to which He communicates, as head, faith, grace, spiritual and divine life; but also, as to body, which is the instrument of the soul, and to which He imparts the faculty and power of more easily obeying the soul. Christ, then, is the mystic head of the Christian, both as to soul and body; for, he assumed the entire nature of man, soul and body, corporeal and spiritual.

The Apostle addresses, in these words, “your bodies are members of Christ,” many who had defiled their bodies by fornication. Hence, sinners as well as the just, are members of Christ, and members of the Church, which is his mystic body. “Shall I then take members of Christ?” &c. The Apostle does not mean to say, that by fornication a man ceases to be a member of Christ’s body, although he ceases to be a living  member. “Shall I take,” i.e., unjustly withdraw my members from the service they owe Christ: “Shall I make them the members of a harlot?” These words express the affront which the fornicator offers Christ, by prostituting the holy members of Christ so as to become the members of a harlot. St. Chrysostom observes, “that nothing is more awful than this expression.”  They are not made the members of a harlot in the same sense in which they were members of Christ as head, but in quite a different way, as is explained in the next verse.

1Co 6:16  Or know you not that he who is joined to a harlot is made one body? For they shall be, saith he, two in one flesh.

The Christian who commits fornication is guilty of such indignity; for, he who adheres to a harlot is become one body with her, according to the  words of Sacred  Scripture (Gen 2). The man and woman by carnal union shall become one flesh.

By carnal union, the fornicator and harlot become one body, “for they shall be
two in one flesh” (Genesis 2).  Although the words of Genesis were spoken in allusion to the lawful carnal union of man and wife; they are also verified in regard to the illicit intercourse with a harlot; for, as St. Thomas remarks; Secundum speciem naturæ non differunt actus externi fornicantium et conjugum, that is, physically speaking, there is no difference between both unions, although in point of morality, they differ essentially.

1Co 6:17  But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.

But he who is firmly united to the Lord by faith and charity, is made one spirit with him.

He who adheres to the Lord by the spiritual union of faith and charity is be come one spirit with him; he shares of God s spirit; he breathes it; he lives in it; he is become one spirit with God. We commonly say of intimate friends, they are but one soul. The fornicator is not thus united to the Lord.

1Co 6:18  Fly fornication. Every sin that a man doth is without the body: but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

Fly, therefore, the sacrilegious crime of fornication: every other sin which men ordinarily commit is outside the body, by them, men do not incur the turpitude of dishonouring their own bodies; but by fornication, they sin against their own bodies, which from being Christian and holy, they render polluted and bestial.

“Fly fornication.”  Spiritual writers remark, that it is only by flight, by avoiding the occasions, by shunning the society of such as may prove an occasion of sin, that the temptations against purity in particular can be overcome. It matters not what may have been our past firmness, what may be our present sanctity, our resolves in future, let us but frequent the occasion of sin the oracle of God is pledged for it, and no exception made most undoubtedly, we shall fall. “He who loves the danger shall perish in it.”  We cannot pretend to be holier than David, “the man after God’s own heart;” we cannot claim to be wiser than Solomon, on whom the fulness of wisdom was poured forth from above; nor can we be more exalted than Peter, the immovable rock of God’s Church: and yet they all fell, and fell shamefully, for want of due caution in avoiding the occasion of sin. Let us not be deceived all moments are not seasons of grace; and we may rest thoroughly assured, that there are moments of passion and circumstances of life, as regards time, and place, and persons, and if we possessed the highest degree of sanctity, if the occasion be present, we shall most undoubtedly fall. The greatest saints have trembled and fled from before the face of danger; and yet we, with a full consciousness of our frailty, recklessly cast ourselves into these appalling circumstances of temptation from which they recoiled with a sacred horror. “Every sin that a man doeth is without the body,” &c. These words may be connected with the preceding, and may be regarded as a reason for flying fornication, and then, they mean: fly fornication, because by this loathsome sin, the body of the Christian, which was pure and holy, is rendered sordid and bestial; or, they may be connected with the following (verse 19), and regarded as an antecedent to the proof contained in verse 19. According to this interpretation, the reasoning of the Apostle would proceed in this way: every other sin that a man commits is outside his body; but by fornication he defiles and sacrilegiously pollutes his body (verse 18), because the body of the Christian is the temple of the Holy Ghost (verse 19), and hence, by fornication, he profanes that which, like a temple, was dedicated to sacred purposes.

The words, then, mean, no sin involves such turpitude, no sin so deeply buries the body in the mire and sink of passion as fornication, and the indulgence of lust; since, it excites the most violent motions of concupiscence, so that this base passion of lust absorbs the entire man, makes him “like the horse and the mule wlto have no understanding (Psalm 32:9), blinds him to everything else save the foul and filthy gratification. Spiritual writers assure us that such is the blindness induced by this foul passion, that the impure man would commit sin, even though hell were thrown open before his eyes, and he were certain of being precipitated into it after the commission of sin. How earnestly, then, should we not pray for “a clean heart, and a right spirit within ourselves.” (Psalm 51:12).

1Co 6:19  Or know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God: and you are not your own?

Another reason for flying fornication is, that your bodies, as you are well aware, together with being members of Christ, are also the spiritual temples of the Holy Ghost, who, in a special manner, resides in you by his grace, and whom you have received from God; you ought to be aware that you do not belong to yourselves, to dispose of your bodies as you please.

“Know you not that your members are the temple,” &c. (In Greek, οτι το σωμα υμων ναος, “that your body is the temple,” &c.) This is another reason for avoiding fornication. They have contracted a new relation of sanctity, by being the temples of the Holy Ghost, who resides in a special manner in the souls of the faithful. And this Holy Ghost they have received as a gift from God. Hence, by fornication, they, in a special manner, offend God the Son, whose members they are; God the Holy Ghost, whose temple they violate; and God the Father, whose gifts they despise; for, they received the Holy Ghost from God. “And you are not your own.” This is another reason why they should fly fornication; because, they cannot dispose of their own members.

1Co 6:20  For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.

You are the ransomed slaves of him who purchased you with the price of his own most precious blood. Glorify God, in your bodies, make them sub-serve to his glory, and carry him in them by rendering them pure temples in which he may reside, and do not expel him by uncleanness.

For, they are the purchased slaves of another who paid for them a great price, no less than the last drop of his own most precious blood. “For you are bought with a great price.”  “Great” is not in the Greek, which simply is, ηγορασθητε γαρ τιμης, for you are bought with a price.  “Glorify and bear God,” &c. “Bear” is not in the Greek. The words convey an exhortation to the Corinthians, to glorify God in his temple, by preserving their bodies pure from uncleanliness of every sort, and thus “bear him,” by representing him in the purity of their lives.

“In your body,” to which is added in the common Greek text, and in your spirit which are God’s. These latter words, although found in St. Chrysostom, are rejected by the best critics, being wanting in some of the chief manuscripts and ancient versions. From the impassioned denunciation of it by the Apostle in this chapter, we can see the hideous deformity of the foul sin of impurity, so opposed to the sanctity of the Christian profession-a sin which deluged the original world, and caused an Immutable God to exclaim: “It repenteth me that I have made man” (Gen 6:7) a sin which domineers over the human race, and daily peoples hell. Spiritual writers assure us, that the greater portion of the reprobate are damned for this foul sin. O God of purity, lover of pure souls! preserve us from defiling our bodies, those temples which thou hast frequently chosen to reside in as God of the Eucharist, by these illicit indulgences, in punishment of which thy virginal flesh has been furrowed with scourges. Mary, ever Virgin, conceived without stain! pray for us.

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