The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for January 27th, 2012

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 12:32-34

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2012

Luk 12:32  Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom.

Ver.32.—Fear not, little flock. Fear not lest your food and raiment fail you, and lest, if you lay aside all anxiety and sell your goods and give to the poor, these things should not be added to you; if you seek firstly the kingdom of God. “Little flock,”—little, because, firstly, the faithful were so few and these poor either in position and property, or in election and feeling, or in spirit; for they despised the riches of the world that they might strive after those of heaven, and therefore, they were little in the eyes of the world, they were of no account, and were despised. But now that the faith of Christ has so spread throughout the whole world, that kings and princes are subdued to it, it is no longer a little flock but a most ample and powerful church. Secondly, the flock of faithful men is little if compared with the angels who are without number, says Euthymius, according to the words, Dan 7:10, “Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.”

Thirdly, The flock is little if compared with the immense multitude of unbelievers and wicked. Bede adds, “It is called a little flock either on account of its humility or in comparison with the greater number of the reprobate. Then all the faithful, from the example of Christ, will willingly reduce themselves to Christian humility and poverty, especially the apostles and disciples of Christ. Hence Christ says, ‘Sell that thou hast.’” It appears that “flock” (pusillus) is here put in the nominative instead of the vocative as is done in other passages. This nominative is more forcible and significant than the vocative would be. Wherefore, although we might explain it by adding something, e.g., Fear not, you who are a little flock, that the nominative might remain, yet the nominative is more tersely and strongly put for the vocative by adding nothing. Fear not then, 0 ye faithful, for although you are a little flock, God estimates you highly, and has a great and peculiar care of you, and Christ the Lord is your shepherd, who will feed you abundantly, according to the words, “I am the good Shepherd” (John 10:2), and the others (Ps 23:1-2), “The Lord is my shepherd, therefore can I lack nothing!—”He shall feed me in a green pasture, and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort.”  S. Peter Chrysologus (serm. xxii.). “A small flock to the world is a large one to God;” and (xxiii.) “Humility has gained what pride lost, and the little flock has subdued entire and various savagenesses (nations) by its meekness; for the little flock conquered and destroyed as many kinds of beasts as it subdued nations to the yoke of Christ. It did this not by bearing but by suffering, not by fighting but by dying for Christ.”

It hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom. To you who are not slow, not idle, not presuming on the mere mercy of God, but who hear My words and truly obey them; who therefore bear your cross after Me, mortify your passions, and are continually zealous in good works. “To give,” not absolutely, but upon conditions—namely, that you persevere in My faith and love and in obedience even to death—for to Judas, who afterwards apostatised from Christ, the kingdom was not given. Christ gives the reason why the disciples, though a little flock and poor, should not fear lest needful things should be withheld from them, for He says, “Since God so loved you as to destine you for heavenly riches and the kingdom of God, He will assuredly not refuse you these worthless earthly riches, as far as they are necessary for your journey towards the kingdom of heaven, and that you may adorn it by your life and conversation.” So S. Cyril, in the Catena, “He who has given you gifts of such great price, how will He be not merciful to you but suffer you to perish of hunger?”

Luk 12:33  Sell what you possess and give alms. Make to yourselves bags which grow not old, a treasure in heaven which faileth not: where no thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth

Vs 33.-Sell what you possess and give alms.  This is a counsel, not a precept, as Pelagius would have it, who said that all Christians ought to be poor, from the precept of Christ. This is shewn by the words of Christ (Matt 19:21), “If thou wouldst be perfect, go sell that thou hast and give to the poor.” That you may study evangelical perfection, sell what you possess and give the price to the poor, that you may follow Me who am poor in spirit in a like poverty, and with me despise earthly riches, that so you may obtain heavenly ones. Do this with the end that you may show yourselves not anxious for food and raiment, but that you depend solely on God, and look to Him for all those needs of life which He Himself has promised to all who seek His kingdom. For this reason the first Christians, following the counsel of Christ, sold all that they had and laid the price at the feet of the apostles, that they might distribute them among the poor believers (Acts 2:3, 4). So Bede: “Fear not that you will lack the needful things of life, but rather sell what you possess for alms. This is done worthily when he who lives by the labour of his hands, despises all things, and gives alms.”

Make to yourselves bags which grow not old. Grow not old, and from which, therefore, the coin of spiritual alms cannot drop out and be lost, as the money of the world often falls from the old and worn-out purses of the rich. The purses that grow not old are the bosoms of the poor, and more especially the mind and memory of God, in which He keeps as in a purse your alms and good works, that He may return you the most ample rewards for them in the day of judgment. This He Himself explains, adding, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief draweth near, neither moth destroyeth. From this Chrysologus rightly concludes, “What have they to do with the earth who possess heaven—what with human affairs who have gained divine ones—unless, perhaps, they find pleasure in lamentations, choose labours, delight in dangers, love the most cruel deaths, and find the evil things that are brought upon them more pleasing than the good ones?”

Luk 12:34  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Ver. 34.-This is a conclusion from the former, showing why our Lord said, “Sell that ye have,” namely, that you may show that your heart is not in your money but in heaven. If, therefore, you place your treasure gained by alms-giving in heaven, you will show that your heart is fixed in heaven, not on earth—in God, not in gold. For a man’s treasure is that which he loves—holds dear—values at a great price, on which he rests his hopes. See Matt 6:20.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:9-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2012

Although today’s reading is on 1 Cor 4:9-14 I have included Fr. Callan’s notes on verses 7 & 8 as well. In addition, I’ve included his brief summary of verses 7-13 and 14-21 to help provide context. Notes in red represent my additions. All of Fr. Callan’s Notes on 1 Corinthians can be read here (scroll down).

THE LEADERS OF THE DIFFERENT FACTIONS SHOULD IMITATE THE HUMILITY OF THE APOSTLES

7-13. When recommending humility to all the Corinthians in the preceding verse, the Apostle doubtless had chiefly in mind the leaders of the factions at Corinth. Now he directly attacks them with bitter irony, placing before them the life of real Apostles (Estius, Comely, etc.). St. Thomas, however, and the Fathers generally believe that the present section continues the thought of verse 6, and that the Apostle consequently is here, as there, addressing the faithful rather than their leaders. We see no reason why both in general cannot be meant.

7. For who distinguisheth thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

7. How foolish it was for the Corinthians to glory in those human leaders, in whom there was nothing whereof to glory; or to glory in themselves as if they were better than their neighbors! If they have anything that distinguisheth them, whether in the natural, or in the supernatural order, this is not due to them, but to God from whom they have received all they possess. Therefore
they have nothing in themselves whereof to glory.

St. Thomas and most of the Fathers have understood this verse to refer to supernatural, as well as natural gifts; and St. Augustine constantly urged it against the Pelagians and Semipelagians to prove that man cannot accomplish, or even begin, a salutary work without the grace of God (MacR.). Using this verse the Second Council of Orange declared: If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). [Source. I’ve here quoted the text in full, Fr. Callan quoted just the pertinent part in Latin].

8. You are now full; you are now become rich; you reign without us; and I would to God you did reign, that we also might reign with you.

In their own estimation the Corinthian faithful and leaders of factions are completely sufficient unto themselves. They are full, i.e., they want nothing; they are rich, i.e., they possess all wealth ; they reign, i.e., already arrived at the state of the blessed they reign with Christ triumphantly even in this life,—all this without us, i.e., without the true Apostles, Paul and his companions, who converted them to Christianity and put them on the way to happiness.

I would to God, etc. Dropping the irony of his remarks, St. Paul says I wish you actually did reign, so that we Apostles, the founders of your Church, might also share in your felicity, being freed from our distresses, trials, labors, and the like.

9. For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.

I think that. “That” (Vulg., quod) is omitted by all the best MSS. How different from the apparently glorious condition of the Corinthians is the state of the true Apostles! Far from already reigning in Christ’s kingdom, the Apostles are like men reserved for the beasts in the grand finale of the games; they are the most abject and the last of men.

God hath set forth, etc. God has made public display of us Apostles.

Appointed to death, i.e., doomed to die as gladiators or slaves in the public arena; “they were appointed to fight with beasts” (Tertull.).

A spectacle to the world, etc. Like men exposed to wild beasts in the theatre, the Apostles became a spectacle to good angels and good men who admired their fortitude, mildness and humility in the midst of sufferings and persecutions, and to bad angels and evil men who rejoiced at their trials and sorrows.

10. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ; we arc
weak, but you are strong; you are honourable, but we without honour.

Continuing ironically to take the Corinthians at their own measure the Apostle further contrasts their fancied state with the condition of the Apostles.

We are fools, etc., i.e., the Apostles who preached Christ crucified in simple language were regarded as fools by the worldly Corinthians who gloried in eloquence and human wisdom.

We are weak, etc., i.e., the Apostles were regarded as weak, because destitute of human resources ; they were without honour, i.e., derided and despised, because wanting in worldly science and eloquence: whereas the Corinthians gloried in their human aids and natural attainments.

11. Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode;

The abject and destitute condition of the Apostles was not something of the past that no longer endured; it continued even unto this hour when the Apostle was writing, and throughout his life. At all times Christ’s true Apostles were in want of the things that were necessary for human life, such as food, drink and clothing; and moreover, they were unceasingly pursued by
persecutions from one place to another.

12. And we labour, working with our own hands; we are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and we suffer it.

In order not to be dependent on those for whom he labored preaching the Gospel, St. Paul worked at his trade of tent making to earn his daily bread (Acts 18:3; 20:34; 2 Cor 11:7; 1 Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3:8). For reviling and persecutions on the part of his enemies he returned blessing, sweetness and resignation.

13. We are blasphemed, and we entreat; we are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all even until now.

The refuse . . . offscouring, etc. The Apostles were treated as outcasts, as scapegoats (περίψωμα) , as unfit to live in human society. Some think the above words refer to the custom at Athens of reserving certain worthless persons to be cast into the sea as a kind of scapegoat sacrifice against plagues, famines, or other public calamities.

Note: the words περικάθαρμα, refuse, filth, and περίψωμα, offscouring, scum, were sometimes used to denote scapegoats. Because St Paul speaks in this verse of being made refuse and offscouring of this world some see a connection with verse 9: “For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.” St Paul is expressing a willingness to be a victim on behalf of others, as in 1 Cor 15:31; 2 Cor 4:10-11; Gal 6:17; Phil 2:17.

EXHORTATION TO THE FAITHFUL

A Summary of 1 Corinthians 4:14-21~After severely upbraiding the factionists at Corinth the Apostle now gives expression to the tender love which he really bears toward the faithful there. He is their spiritual father, and as such, ought to be an object of imitation for them. Timothy is coming to them; he himself will come later, and when he arrives he will deal with them according to need.

1Co 4:14  I write not these things to confound you: but I admonish you as my dearest children.

The severe language of the preceding verses had not for its purpose to humiliate and shame the faithful and their leaders, but to admonish and correct them. As a father out of love may use harsh words to his children, so has St. Paul spoken to his dearest children.

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