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 28th, 2012

Father Callan’s Commentary on Matthew 25:1-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2012

I’ve included in this post some  quotations from the Fathers of the Church, the Catechism, etc. These are in red text.

1. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride.

This Parable of the Ten Virgins (verses 1-13) is peculiar to St. Matthew.

Then; i.e., in the Day of Judgment, at the second coming of Christ.

The kingdom of heaven means the Church militant; the ten virgins represent all the faithful. The number “ten” is not accidental, because it took just so many to make a company among the Jews. The virginity here attributed to them means purity of faith, absence of spiritual fornication through corruption of doctrine.

Taking their lamps. Marriages, in the East, were, and are still, always celebrated at night.

Went out to meet the bridegroom. The bridal procession among the Jews was as follows: the bridegroom, accompanied by his friends, went to the home of the bride to lead her, with joy and gladness ( 1 Macc 9:37-39) , to his own house; or, if that was too small, to some apartment large enough to accommodate the wedding party. The bride was accompanied from her father’s house by her youthful friends and companions (Ps 45:15), and others, here called “virgins,” joined the procession along the way, to enter with the rest of the company the hall of feasting (Cant 3:4). Bridegroom means Christ, who will come at the end of the world to take the Church, His Bride, to Himself (Trench).

And the bride. These words are not found in the best MSS. and should be omitted here.

2. And five of them were foolish, and five wise.

Five foolish . . . five wise. All were virgins, because all had the true faith, but the difference between them was that the faith of the foolish virgins, being without good works, was dead.

Origen: They that believe rightly, and live righteously, are likened to the five wise; they that profess the faith of Jesus, but prepare themselves not by good works to salvation, are likened to the five foolish.~Quoted in Aquinas’ Catena Aurea.

Lumen Gentium 14:  They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a “bodily” manner and not “in his heart.”(Cfr. S. Augustinus, Bapt. c. Donat. V, 28, 39; PL 43, 197: Certe manifestum est, id quod dicitur, in Ecdesia intus et foris, in corde, non in corpore cogitandum. Cfr. ib., III, 19, 26: col. 152; V, 18, 24: col. 189; In Io. Tr. 61, 2: PL 35, 1800, et alibi saepe.) All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.(Cfr. Lc. LC 12,48): Omni autem, cui multum datum est, multum quaeretur ab eo. Cfr. etiam (MT 5,19-20 MT 7,21-22 MT 25 41-46 Jc 2,14)

3. But the five foolish, having taken their lamps, did not take oil with them:
4. But the wise took oil in their vessels with the lamps.

Lamps . . . oil. The lamps represent faith; oil, good works.

St Augustine: Or, “The lamps” which they carry in their hands are their works, of which it was said above, “Let your works shine before men.” [Matt 5:16]~Quoted in Aquinas’ Catena Aurea.

Cornelius a Lapide: Thus their lamps are dying out, yea, as the Syriac hath it, they have been extinguished; according to the words of S. James, “Faith without works is dead.” The lamp, therefore, is the faithful mind, or faith itself. The oil is good works, without which faith is dead, and, as it were, extinct; but with them, alive and burning. The light, or flame of the lamps, is charity. For this is fed by zeal for good works, just as the flame of a lamp is fed with oil. The vessel is conscience, or the believing soul. And this is the reason why we place a lighted candle in the hands of dying persons, denoting, or at least praying, that they may have faith with works, that like brides with burning lamps, they may worthily meet Christ the Lord, as it were their Bridegroom.~From the Great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide.

5. And the bridegroom tarrying, they all slumbered and slept.

The bridegroom tarrying represents the delay in Christ’s second coming. Our Lord never gave any hint as to the exact time when He should come. We know neither the day of our own death, nor that of the end of the world. Hence it behooves us ever to watch.

Slumbered; i.e., ceased to look for His coming; not that all had sinned, or were unprepared.

Pope St Gregory the Great: To sleep is to die, to slumber before sleep is to faint from salvation before death, because, by the burden of sickness we come to the sleep of death.~Quoted in Aquinas’ Catena Aurea.

6. And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him.

At midnight means at the most unexpected time (Luke 12:40; 1 Thess 5:2).

A cry refers to the voice of the last trumpet (1 Thess 4:15). Actually, the verse in 1 Thess speaks of a cry of command, the voice of an archangel, and a trumpet.

St Jerome: Suddenly thus, as on a stormy night, and when all think themselves secure, at the hour when sleep is the deepest, the coming of Christ shall be proclaimed by the shout of Angels, and the trumpets of the Powers that go before Him. This is meant when it says, “Lo, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.”~Quoted in Aquinas’ Catena Aurea.

7. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
8. And the foolish said to the wise: Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out.

Give us of your oil, — words which signify the miserable plight of those who, at the last, shall find themselves in the presence of the Judge without good works, with no fruits of faith.

St Gregory Nanzianzus: But then what advocate shall we have? What pretext? What false excuse? What plausible artifice? What device contrary to the truth will impose upon the court, and rob it of its right judgment, which places in the balance for us all, our entire life, action, word, and thought, and weighs against the evil that which is better, until that which preponderates wins the day, and the decision is given in favour of the main tendency; after which there is no appeal, no higher court, no defence on the ground of subsequent conduct, no oil obtained from the wise virgins, or from them that sell, for the lamps going out,51 no repentance of the rich man wasting away in the flame,52 and begging for repentance for his friends, no statute of limitations; but only that final and fearful judgment-seat, more just even than fearful; or rather more fearful because it is also just; when the thrones are set and the Ancient of days takes His seat,53 and the books are opened, and the fiery stream comes forth, and the light before Him, and the darkness prepared; and they that have done good shall go into the resurrection of life,54 now hid in Christ55 and to be manifested hereafter with Him, and they that have done evil, into the resurrection of judgment,56 to which they who have not believed have been condemned already by the word which judges them.57 Some will be welcomed by the unspeakable light and the vision of the holy and royal Trinity, Which now shines upon them with greater brilliancy and purity and unites Itself wholly to the whole soul, in which solely and beyond all else I take it that the kingdom of heaven consists. The others among other torments, but above and before them all must endure the being outcast from God, and the shame of conscience which has no limit. But of these anon.Taken from his Sixteenth Oration. (Notes: 51-Mt 25,8; 52-Luk. 16,24; 53-Dan 7,9; 54-Jn 5,29; 55-Col 3,3; 56-Jn 5,29; 57-Jn 3,18; 12,48).

9. The wise answered, saying: Lest perhaps there be not enough for us and for you, go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

This answer of the wise virgins does not imply a lack of charity; they only wished to express their inability to supply what God alone can give.

St John Chrysostom: But the wise answered, saying, “Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you;” hence we learn that none of us shall be able in that day to stand forth as patron [marg. note:  of those who are betrayed by their own works, not because he will not, but because he cannot].~Quoted in Aquinas’ Catena Aurea.

Again, St John Chrysostom: Let us not then, in order that for a single moment (for such is this present life) we may live luxuriously, draw on ourselves punishment through endless ages: but let us toil for a moment, that we may be crowned for ever. See ye not that even in worldly things most men act in this manner: and choose a brief toil in order to a long rest, even though the opposite falls out unto them? For in this life indeed there is an equal portion of toils and reward; yea, often, on the contrary, the toil is endless whilst the fruit is little, or not even a little; but in the case of the kingdom conversely, the labor is little whilst the pleasure is great and boundless. For consider: the husbandman wearieth himself the whole year through, and at the very end of his hope of times misses of the fruit of those many toils. The shipmaster again and the soldier, until extreme old age, are occupied with wars and labors; and oftentimes hath each of them departed, the one with the loss of his wealthy cargoes, the other, along with victory, of life itself. What excuse then shall we have, tell me, if in worldly matters indeed we prefer what is laborious in order that we may rest for a little, or not a little even; (for the hope of this is uncertain;) but in spiritual things do the converse of this and draw upon ourselves unutterable punishment for a little sloth? Wherefore I beseech you all, though late, yet still at length to recover from this frenzy. For none shall deliver us in that day; neither brother, nor father, nor child, nor friend, nor neighbor, nor any other: but if our works play us false, all will be over and we must needs perish. How many lamentations did that rich man make, and besought the Patriarch and begged that Lazarus might be sent! But hear what Abraham said unto him: “There is a gulf betwixt us and you, so that they who wish to go forth cannot pass thither.” (Lc 16, 26) How many petitions did those virgins make to their fellows for a little oil! But hear what they also say; “Peradventure there will not be enough for you and for us;” (Mt 25, 9) and none was able to bring them in to the bridal chamber.~Taken from his Ninth Homily on Second Corinthians 

St Jerome: For these wise virgins do not answer thus out of covetousness, but out of fear. Wherefore, each man shall receive the recompense of his own works, and the virtues of one cannot atone for the vices of another in the day of judgment. The wise admonish them not to go to meet the bridegroom without oil, “Go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”~Quoted in Aquinas’ Catena Aurea.

10. Now whilst they went to buy, the bridegroom came: and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut.

Went in with him to the marriage, which represents the reception of the Elect into the abode of the Blessed.

St Jerome: After the day of judgment, there is no more opportunity for good works, or for righteousness, and therefore it follows, “And the door was shut.”~Quoted in Aquinas’ Catena Aurea.

11. But at last came also the other virgins, saying: Lord, Lord, open to us.
12. But he answering said : Amen I say to you, I know you not.

Lord, Lord, open to us. Not that they had obtained oil, or enriched meanwhile their faith by works; they wished only to entreat for mercy. The Judge answers them (verse 12) that it is too late, the time for work and merit is over forever.

St Hilary: Yet though the season of repentance is now past, the foolish virgins come and beg that entrance may be granted to them.~Quoted in Aquinas’ Catena Aurea.

St Jerome: Their worthy confession calling Him, “Lord, Lord,” is a mark of faith. But what avails it to confess with the mouth Him whom you deny with your works?~Quoted inAquinas’ Catena Aurea.

St Jerome: “Amen I say to you, I know you not.” For “the Lord knoweth them that are his,” [2 Tim 2:19] and he that knoweth not shall not be known, and though they be virgins in purity of body, or in confession of the true faith, yet forasmuch as they have no oil, they are unknown by the bridegroom. When He adds, “Watch therefore, because ye know not the day nor the hour,” He means that all that has been said points to this, namely, that seeing we know not the day of judgment, we should be careful in providing the light of good works.~Quoted in Aquinas’ Catena Aurea.

13. Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.

Watch ye therefore. The whole purpose of the parable is to teach us vigilance and preparation against the coming of Christ, whether at the end of the world, or at our own death.

Pope St Gregory the Great: “Forasmuch as ye know not the day of judgment, prepare the light of good works. For He who has guaranteed pardon to the penitent has not promised to-morrow to the sinner”~Quoted by Cornelius a Lapide in The Great Commentary.

St Augustine: For indeed we know the day and the hour neither of that future time when the Bridegroom will come, nor of our own falling asleep each of us; if then we be prepared for this latter, we shall also be prepared when that voice shall sound, which shall arouse us all.~Quoted in Aquinas’ Catena Aurea.

Catechism of the Catholic Church #672:Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel[Acts 1:6-7] which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace.[Isa 11:1-9] According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church[Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 7:26; Eph 5:16; 1 Pet 4:17] and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.[Matt 25:1-13; Mk 13:33-37; Jn 2:18; Jn 4:3; 1 Tim 4:1].

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2012

This post includes Father Callan’s summary of 2 Cor 1:3-11 followed by his notes on today’s reading (verses 3-7).


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11~The Apostle has lately passed through dire perils, for deliverance from which he now thanks God, especially since his trials and his safe escape from them have been ordained to the ultimate good and comfort of his dear ones in the faith. It was by their prayers that he was assisted in time of danger, and he trusts to their devout cooperation for deliverance from similar circumstances in the future.

3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.

The Apostle now thanks God the Father for the mercy and comfort which he, Timothy, and perhaps other fellow-laborers (verse 19) have experienced in their trials and toils.

The God and Father ( ο θεος και πατηρ). The one article for the two names shows that they both refer to the one Divine Person. The Father is called the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, just as the Saviour Himself said: “I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God” (John 20:17).

The Father of mercies, etc., i.e., the merciful Father who is the source of all consolation (Eph 2:4).

4. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation; that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God.

God comforts St. Paul, Timothy and their fellow-workers in the ministry, in order that they in turn may comfort the faithful in their afflictions.

Distress represents the same word in Greek (θλιψει) as tribulation; and likewise comfort and comforteth render the same Greek terms as exhortation and exhorted. The same variation between our version and the Vulgate, on the one hand, and the Greek text, on the other, occurs again in verse 6.

The et . . . et (“also”) of the Vulgate here are not in the Greek. The Vulgate reads: qui consolatur nos in omni tribulatione nostra ut possimus et ipsi consolari eos qui in omni pressura sunt per exhortationem qua exhortamur et ipsi a Deo.

5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.

If the sufferings of the Apostles were extraordinary, their consolations were correspondingly great.

The sufferings of Christ, i.e., the sufferings which Christ bore for the diffusion of the Gospel and the salvation of souls, and which are continued in the members of His mystical body (Col 1:24). There is no thought here of Christ now suffering in glory.

6. Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation: or whether we be exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation, which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.

The Apostle wishes to say now that whatever happens to him and his fellow workers for Christ—whether it be joy or sorrow, comfort or affliction, it is all ordained for the good of the faithful. Their afflictions beget patience, and their comfort inspires hope in the goodness of God.

The text of this verse causes much confusion. In the first place the Vulgate clause, sive autem tribulamur pro vestra exhortatione et salute must be omitted as a repetition of the last part of the first clause (a case of scribal dittography). The corresponding words in our version, or whether we be
exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation must likewise be omitted.

This done, there are two principal readings of the verse: (a) “Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is wrought out in the endurance of the same sufferings which we also suffer; or whether we be comforted it is for your consolation, knowing that,” etc. [as in verse 7] (see manuscripts B D F G K L); (b) “Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer” (see manuscripts A C M P). The latter reading is more like the Vulgate and is preferable.

7. That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation.

The Apostle expresses his unwavering hope that as the Corinthians bear their afflictions courageously they may also experience much comfort and consolation.

That our hope, etc. ( Vulg., Ut spes nostra, etc.) should be “And our hope,” etc. This clause is transferred by the Vatican MS. and many other authorities to the middle of the preceding verse, but such placing is against the best internal and external evidence. It is true that the participle knowing is without an antecedent, but this is not uncommon in St. Paul.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, Notes on 2 Corinthians, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

(UPDATED)This Week’s Posts: Sunday, January 29-Saturday, February 4

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2012

UPDATED: I’ve added several new links to various days, mostly podcast studies of various Mass readings for the week (sorry, I didn’t mark them as updates). I may add several more before I’m through. Please keep in mind that I will be adding a Resources For Sunday Mass link on Wednesday (possibly Thursday).

Please note that in addition to posting notes on the daily readings in the Ordinary Form (current Lectionary), I have also begun posting notes on the daily readings in the Extraordinary Form (pre-Vatican II Lectionary). Also, I’ve begun to include links to the pre-Vatican II missal and office. The missal page changes daily so if you want to view a previous or future missal page (e.g., for next Sunday’s Mass), you’ll have to change the date manually once you’re on the site. This can be done by typing in the desired date in the site’s date box and pressing the enter key on your computer, or, use the blue arrows next to the date box and then press the square box between them to see the page.


Today’s Mass Resources (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms. A weekly feature of this blog. Next Sunday’s resources will be posted on Wednesday (or Thursday) evening.

Today’s Divine Office.

Roman Breviary/Divine Office. Pre-Vatican II. Latin and English side by side.

Last Week’s Posts: Saturday, January 22-Saturday, January 28.

In the old calendar today is the Memorial of St Martina.






Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 147:1-11. Verses 1-6 of the Psalm form the responsorial for this Sunday’s Mass in the Ordinary Form.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23. The second reading for this Sunday’s Mass (Ordinary Form).



EXTRAORDINARY FORM: Memorial of St Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr. His memorial is celebrated on October 17 in the Ordinary Form.

UPDATE: Resources for Sunday Mass February 4 (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).



EXTRAORDINARY FORM:Feast of the Presentation



EXTRAORDINARY FORM:Memorial of St Blaise



EXTRAORDINARY FORM: Memorial of st Andrew Corsini, Bishop and Confessor

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 2:22-40

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2012

22. And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord:
23. As it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord:
24. And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons:

After the days of her purification, etc. ; i.e., on the fortieth day after the birth of her son. According to the Law of Moses (Lev 12:1-6), a mother remained “unclean” forty days after the birth of a male child, and eighty days after the birth of a female child; at the end of these periods, she was to present herself in the Temple, to be purified by certain ceremonies.

Another enactment of the Law (Lev 12:6-8) required a mother at her purification, to offer in the Temple to the priests a lamb, one year old, for a holocaust, and a turtle-dove, or young pigeon, for a sin offering, provided the parents were rich; if the family was poor, two turtle doves, or two young pigeons, one for a holocaust and the other for a sin offering, were to be offered. As the Blessed Virgin was poor, she made the second offering.

According to a third enactment of the Law (Exod 13:2; Num 18:15), the child, if a first-born, belonged to God, and was to be a priest of the family, unless redeemed by an offering of five shekels.

25. And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was in him.

Waiting for the consolation of Israel; i.e., waiting for the Christ, the Messiah, who was expected to be the Saviour and consoler of Israel.

The Holy Ghost was in him, — rendering him pleasing to God through sanctifying grace, and endowing him with the gift of prophecy.

26. And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.

An answer here means an interior assurance. The Christ of the Lord; i.e., the Messiah.

27. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law,

And he came by the Spirit into the temple; i.e., under the direction and inspiration of the Holy Ghost he came to the Temple.

28. He also took him into his arms, and blessed God, and said:

And blessed God; i.e., he thanked the Eternal Father for having fulfilled His promise by giving to the world a Redeemer.

29. Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace;

Here begins the Canticle of Simeon, the third canticle of the New Testament.

Thou dost dismiss thy servant, — literally, “Thou dost loosen or dissolve
(απολυεις) thy servant.” The meaning is, that, since Simeon had lived to see the Christ, he was willing that God should take him from this world.

According to thy word in peace; i.e., according to Thy promise. Simeon thought the fulfillment of the promise that he should live to see the Christ, implied the further promise to call him to his reward.

30. Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,

Thy salvation; i.e., the Only-begotten Son of God, who in Scripture is often called “Salvation.” Cf. Gen 49:18; Isa 33:2; Ps 51:14.

31. Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:

Before the face of all peoples; i.e., for all Jews and Gentiles alike, to all of whom our Lord was to be a Saviour.

32. A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

A light to the revelation of the Gentiles . . . glory of thy
people, etc. Our Lord was a light to deliver the Gentiles from the darkness of sin and ignorance, and He was also the glory of the Jewish people, among whom He was bom, among whom He preached, worked miracles and passed His earthly life.

33. And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him.

Were wondering. Mary and Joseph wondered at the prophecy of Simeon and doubtless also at many of the details of our Lord’s future mission which Simeon pointed out. They knew very well that their child was the Son of God, but all the details of His ministry, especially in regard to the Gentiles, even His mother most likely did not know.

34. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted;

And Simeon blessed them. From this some believe Simeon to have been a priest; but it is improbable that he was, otherwise St. Luke would have told us so. The blessing Simeon gave Mary and Joseph was, therefore, that which it was customary for venerable and holy men to confer.

This child is set for the fall, etc. The Saviour was directly intended by Almighty God to raise many in Israel from a state of sin and ignorance; He became at the same time the occasion of the fall and ruin of many, who through their own perversity rejected Him and His doctrine.

And for a sign, etc. Our Lord was not only a sign, but He was in reality a Redeemer and a Saviour; but there were to be many who by their own obstinacy would make Him the opposite in their regard.

35. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.

A sword shall pierce. Simeon is here prophesying the dolors (i.e., sufferings) which Mary in future was to suffer as a consequence of the future sufferings, Passion, and death of her divine Son.

That out of many hearts, etc. Some connect this clause with the end of the preceding verse, in which case the meaning would be, that our Lord was to be the cause or the occasion of making manifest what were the thoughts and dispositions of many in Israel; some, like Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Zachary, Elizabeth, the Apostles, etc., would show the sincerity of their thoughts and sentiments, by welcoming the advent and the teachings of the Messiah; others, like the Pharisees, would deceitfully plot against and reject Him. Other commentators, however, connect the above words with the preceding clause; and for them the meaning would be that the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin would be the cause of producing in the hearts of many a belief in her Son.

36. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser; she was far advanced in years, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity.

Anna means “grace.” She was far advanced in years, about eighty-four years old (verse 37).

Seven years from her virginity; i.e., she had been a virgin up to the time of her marriage, and had thereafter lived seven years in the married state. She was fifteen years old when married.

37. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years; who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day.

Who departed not from the temple, etc. These words simply mean that a great part of her time was spent in the Temple.

38. Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord; and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel.

Coming in, — rather “coming up” (επιστασα) towards the Holy Family from the place she had been occupying in the Temple. Anna’s confession was the second testimony to our Lord’s Divinity given at His presentation in the Temple.

30. And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth.

They returned into Galilee. St. Luke makes no mention of the visit of the Magi and of the flight into Egypt, perhaps because these events had already been treated by St. Matthew. St. Luke does not say just when the Holy Family went to Nazareth, he merely wishes to state that whereas our Lord had been born at Bethlehem, He afterwards had His home at Nazareth. It is also probable that St. Luke knew nothing about the visit of the Magi and the flight into Egypt. See on Matthew 2:1.

40. And the child grew, and waxed strong, full of wisdom; and the grace of God was in him.

Child grew . . . full of wisdom. Our Lord progressed physically as did other children, thereby proving the reality of His human body. He also appeared externally and in the sight of man to advance in wisdom and knowledge, but internally He could have no increase in knowledge, because from the first moment of His Incarnation “in him were hidden all the treasures of wisdom,” etc. (Col 2:3). Experimentally, however, there was progress in our Lord’s knowledge.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Father Boylan’s Commentary on Hebrews 2:14-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2012

(14) Since now children share in blood and ‘flesh, He hath likewise shared therein, that He might by death destroy him who hath power oyer death, that is, the devil,
(15) and set free all those who had been kept in slavery throughout their whole life by the fear of death.
(16) For He indeed taketh not hold of angels, but He taketh hold of the seed of Abraham.

Through their common, origin children have a common nature, and that nature is, in the case of men, liable to pain and death. Christ by His Incarnation became a sharer in that nature, and He became, thus, also liable to death. It was, however, the purpose of the Incarnation that Christ by His own death should overcome the prince of death, and establish the freedom of man which
had been destroyed by the ever-present fear of death. Though the primary purpose of the death of Christ was to overcome death itself, the author says that Christ died to overcome him who has power over death. This reference to the devil would suggest more clearly the origin of death and of the fear of death, and it would also set forth the death of Christ as a personal victory over Satan, the ‘prince of this world’. The devil got his power over flesh through sin (Gen 3:1 ff.; Wisdom 3:24. Cf. John 8:44; 1 John 2:8, 12). By destroying sin Christ has destroyed death, and has deprived of his power him who used death as his servant. If Satan brings men to death, the death of Christ brings them to life, and therefore to freedom from the fear of death. (Cf. 1 Thess 4:12.) Death had been the utmost effeqt of Satan’s power; it now becomes the chief instrument of his . defeat. The defeat of Satan was brought about by the, full atonement for sin which was, made by the death of Christ. We have here the ultimate motive of the Incarnation. Men were to be freed from the fear of death and from Satan. This could only be brought about by the action of One of like nature with men and able to make atonement, who would be willing to undertake the task of setting them free. Hence Christ became man.

The fear of, death is abundantly illustrated in the Old Testament. Christ’s death and resurrection have given death a new , meaning, and stripped it of its terrors.

Angels did not stand under the devil’s power, and Christ did not, therefore need to assume (‘take hold of’) their nature. The seed of Abraham are all who are tempted, and tried, and who trust, as Abraham did. Becoming a man meant for Christ becoming a means for bringing men to God, i. e. a Priest. This leads on
to the following.

(17) Hence it behoved Him to be made like unto the brethren in all respects that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, so as to atone for the sins of the people.
(18) For because He hath suffered, being tempted Himself thereby. He can give help to those who are tempted.

We have here another reason for the humiliation of Christ — that He might thereby come to have full and sympathetic understanding of our miseries,
and needs. In all essential points, κατα παντα (= “in all respects”), He was one in constitution with men, and He was one with them also in all that followed from that constitution, such as sufferings and trials. He was thus eminently fitted to be a Mediator between men and God, a High Priest. As sin is not a necessary part of a High Priest’s equipment, it is not included in the ‘all things’. (Cf. Heb 4:15.) Christ, being like men in all essential features, is a merciful and faithful High Priest in everything which has to do with religious matters, with man’s relations to God, τα προς τον θεον (= “things pertaining to God”). The most important of a High Priest’s functions was the offering of atoning sacrifices for sin, and for the Jewish High Priest the chief offering of atoning sacrifice took place on the great Day of Atonement. The ritual of Atonement Day is kept closely in view by the author throughout his exposition of the Priesthood of Christ.

The readers of the Epistle were tempted, it would seem, to despair because of their griefs, just as Jesus was ‘tempted’ by His (Luke 22:28). Hence He can sympathise with them, and give them suitable help. Thus we see here again that what might have appeared as a token of weakness in Christ may be set forth as the chief reason for trusting in Him.

The contrast between the temporary humiliation of Jesus, as compared with the angels, and His superiority to them as Son of God is, then, here further explained as due to the need of His sharing in the griefs and sorrows of human nature in order that He might rescue men from sin and death. What follows
immediately is an exhortation to loyalty towards Jesus the high Priest.

In verse 18 εν ω (= “For because”) can be taken either as (a) εαυτον εν ω = “Himself in that” (cf. Roms. 14:22), or (b) as εν τουτω οτι = “by this that” (cf. Rom 8:3: John 16:3o). The main emphasis is on πειραζομενοις (= “suffered”). πειραζομενοις is to be taken in a wide sense here as including all the sorrows of life and death with the temptations that went with them. Christ in
Luke 22:28 calls His sufferings πειρασμοις (= “adversity”, “temptations”).

Simply put, the beginning of Hebrews 2:18 could be translated in three different ways: (1) “For because he hath suffered”; (2) “In that he hath suffered”; (3) “By this that he hath suffered.”

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My Notes on Malachi 3:1-4

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2012

These notes are taken from a longer post I did for the First Mass reading used on December 23 in the Ordinary Form of the Rite. To view that longer post go here. All Scripture quotes, except those within the quotes of other (e.g., Jerome, Lapide) are from the RSV which is under copyright: The [New] Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted. Notice of copyright must appear on the title or copyright page of the work as follows: “Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

3:1.  “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me. It is important to keep in mind that there are two messengers mentioned in this verse. The first will prepare the way before the Lord and he is later identified as being Elijah (Mal 3:23-24, in some translation 4:5-6). The second is the messenger of the covenant, the Lord himself.

Concerning the first messenger he is to prepare the way of the Lord, he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers (3:24, 4:6 some translations). He will, in other words, do what the priest of Levi should have done; he will turn many from iniquity (2:6). The priests could never turn the hearts of a father or child to one another for they had destroyed their own relationship with God the Father: A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name (1:6).

3:1 cont. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming. The words seek and delight are biting sarcasm. The priests, rather than seeking the Lord turned aside from him and caused many of the people to stumble (2:8). The people themselves will be accused of turning aside in 3:7, and the last thing people who have turned aside from the Lord want is his coming to them: Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light (Amos 5:18). And recall that in the previous verse (2:17) the people were shown as claiming that God “delights” in everyone who does evil. The people are ill-prepared to either seek or delight in the Lord (see next verse), hence the need for the Messenger to come before him, preparing the way.

In the Gospels this messenger is identified as St John the Baptist who went before the Lord Jesus in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared (Lk 1:17).  See also Lk 1:76, 7:27; Matt 11:10; Mark 1:2.

The Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple. Recall Luke’s account of what immediately precedes the Lord’s cleansing of the Temple: And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes…because you did not know the time of your visitation (See Lk 19:41-44).

3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? “For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap;

Who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? The question is addressed to sinners and has a negative meaning, much like that of Isaiah 53:1~Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? Once again we come up against the need for the messenger who will be called the prophet of the Most High and who will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins (Lk 1:76-77).  For If thou, O LORD, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared (Ps 130:3-4).

The Messenger of the Covenant, the Lord himself is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

Cornelius a Lapide: How can the weakness of man endure such might; his blindness, such light; his frailty such power; his uncleanness, such holiness; the chaff, such a fire? “For he is like a refiner’s fire.” Who would not fail through stupefaction, fear, horror, shrinking reverence from such Majesty? (Commentary on Malachi).

An idea similar to the present verse appears later: For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But the prophet goes on to add: But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise (3:19-20 or 4:1-2 in some translations).

St Jerome: He shall come like a refining fire; “A fire shall burn before him: and a mighty tempest shall be round about him. He shall call heaven from above, and the earth, to judge his people.” streams of fire shall sweep before him, bearing away all sinners. For the Lord is called a fire, and a “consuming fire” (Ps 50:3-4) so as to burn our “wood, hay, stubble” (1 Cor 3:12), and not fire only, but “fuller’s soap.” To those who sin heavily, He is a refining and “consuming fire”, but to those who commit light sins, fuller’s soap, to restore cleanness to it, when washed…The nitrum and the fuller’s soap are penitence (Commentary on Malachi).

3:3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD.

He will sit. Sitting is the common posture of a judge issuing decrees and sentences. For those who will have it, God’s punishing judgements are intended to purify: I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy. And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness (Isa 1:25-27). And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, `They are my people’; and they will say, `The LORD is my God‘ (Zech 13:9).

He will purify the sons of Lev.This contrasts nicely with the threats of 2:2-3~I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; indeed I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung upon your faces, the dung of your offerings, and I will put you out of my presence.

Till they present right offerings to the Lord. The Douay-Rheims has, they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice.   The priests had been offering unjust or unrighteous sacrifices (1:6-14).

3:4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

Pleasing to the Lord. Recalls the Lord’s words from 1:8~When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that no evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that no evil? Present that to your governor; will he be pleased with you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts.

As in the days of old and as in the former years. An allusion to the covenant with Levi mentioned in 2:4-6.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 6:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2012

Ver 1. And He went out from thence, and came into His own country; and His disciples follow Him.2. And when the sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?3. Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?” And they were offended at Him.4. But Jesus said unto them, “A prophet is not without honour but in his own country, and among his own kind, and in his own house.”5. And He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.6. And He marvelled because of their unbelief.

Theophylact: After the miracles which have been related, the Lord returns into His own country, not that He was ignorant that they would despise Him, but that they might have no reason to say, If Thou hadst come, we had believed Thee. Wherefore it is said, “And He went out from thence, and came into His own country.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 23: He means by His country, Nazareth, in which He was brought up. But how great the blindness of the Nazarenes! they despise Him, Who by His words and deeds they might know to be the Christ, solely on account of His kindred.

It goes on: “And when the sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?”

By wisdom is meant His doctrine, by powers, the cures and miracles which He did.  It goes on: Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 42: Matthew indeed says that He was called the son of a carpenter; nor are we to wonder, since both might have been said, for they believed Him to be a carpenter, because He was the son of a carpenter.

Pseudo-Jerome: Jesus is called the son of a workman, of that one, however, whose work was the morning and the sun, that is, the first and second Church, as a figure of which the woman and the damsel are healed.

Bede: For although human things are not to be compared with divine, still the type is complete, because the Father of Christ works by fire and spirit.  It goes on: “The brother of James, and Joses, of Jude, and of Simon. And are not his sisters here with us?”

They bear witness that His brothers and sisters were with Him, who nevertheless are not to be taken for the sons of Joseph or of Mary, as heretics say, but rather, as is usual in Scripture, we must understand them to be His relations, as Abraham and Lot are called brothers, though Lot was brother’s son to Abraham.

“And they were offended at Him.” The stumbling and the error of the Jews is our salvation, and the condemnation of heretics. For so much did they despise the Lord Jesus Christ, as to call Him a carpenter, and son of a carpenter.  It goes on: “And Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country.”

Even Moses bears witness that the Lord is called a Prophet in the Scripture, for predicting His future Incarnation to the sons of Israel, he says, “A Prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you of your brethren.” [Acts 7:37] But not only He Himself, Who is Lord of prophets, but also Elias, Jeremiah, and the remaining lesser prophets, were worse received in their own country than in strange cities, for it is almost natural for men to envy their fellow-townsmen; for they do not consider the present works of the man, but they remember the weakness of Him infancy.

Pseudo-Jerome: Oftentimes also the origin of a man brings him contempt, as it is written, “Who is the son of Jesse?” [1 Sam 25:10] for the Lord “hath respect unto the lowly; as to the proud, He beholdeth them afar off.”Theophylact: Or again, if the prophet has noble relations, his countrymen hate them, and on that account do not honour the prophet.

There follows, “And He could there do no mighty work, &c.” What, however, is here expressed by He could not, we must take to mean, He did not choose, because it was not that He was weak, but that they were faithless; He does not therefore work any miracles there, for He spared them, lest they should be worthy of greater blame, if they believed not, even with miracles before their eyes.

Or else, for the working of miracles, not only the power of the Worker is necessary, but the faith of the recipient, which was wanting in this case: therefore Jesus did not choose to work any signs there.  There follows: “And He marvelled at their unbelief.”

Bede: Not as if He Who knows all things before they are done, wonders at what He did not expect or look forward to, but knowing the hidden things of the heart, and wishing to intimate to men that it was wonderful, He openly shews that He wonders. And indeed the blindness of the Jews is wonderful, for they neither believed what their prophets said of Christ, nor would in their own persons believe on Christ, Who was born amongst them. Mystically again; Christ is despised in His own house and country, that is, amongst the people of the Jews, and therefore He worked few miracles there, lest they should become altogether inexcusable. But He performs greater miracles every day amongst the Gentiles, not so much in the healing of their bodies, as in the salvation of their souls.

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Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 32

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2012

Happy those who are forgiven!

1. “Happy is the man whose offence is forgiven, whose sin is remitted”! This beatitude that opens Psalm 32[31], just read, allows us to understand immediately why it was welcomed by Christian tradition into the series of the seven penitential Psalms. Following the introductory twofold beatitude (cf. vv. 1-2), we do not discover a generic reflection on sin and forgiveness, but the personal witness of one who has converted.

The composition of the Psalm is rather complex:  after the personal witness (cf. vv. 3-5), two verses follow, speaking of distress, prayer and deliverance (cf. vv. 6-7); then follows a divine promise of counsel (cf. v. 8) and an exhortation (cf. v. 9). In closing, there is an antithetical “proverb” (cf. v. 10) and an invitation to rejoice in the Lord (cf. v. 11).

2. Now, let us review some of the elements of this composition. Above all, the person praying describes his very distressful state of conscience by keeping it “secret” (cf. v. 3): having committed grave offences, he did not have the courage to confess his sins to God. It was a terrible interior torment, described with very strong images. His bones waste away, as if consumed by a parching fever; thirst saps his energy and he finds himself fading, his groan constant. The sinner felt God’s hand weighing upon him, aware as he was that God is not indifferent to the evil committed by his creature, since he is the guardian of justice and truth.

3. Unable to hold out any longer, the sinner made the decision to confess his sin with a courageous declaration that seems a prelude to that of the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable (cf. Lk 15: 18). Indeed, he said with a sincere heart: “I will confess my offence to the Lord”. The words are few but born from conscience:  God replies immediately to them with generous forgiveness (cf. v. 5).

The prophet Jeremiah made this appeal to God: “Return, faithless Israel, says the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, says the Lord. I will not be angry for ever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the Lord your God” (Jer 3: 12-13).

In this way, a horizon of security, trust and peace unfolds before “every believer” who is repentant and forgiven, regardless of the trials of life (cf. Ps 32[31]: 6-7). The time of distress could come again, but the high tide of fear will not prevail because the Lord leads his faithful to a place of security: “You are my hiding place, O Lord; you save me from distress. You surround me with cries of deliverance” (v. 7).

4. At this point it is the Lord who speaks in order to promise to guide the now converted sinner. Indeed, it is not sufficient to have been purified; it is necessary to walk on the right path. Therefore, as in the Book of Isaiah (cf. Is 30: 21), the Lord promises: “I will instruct you… the way you should go” (Ps 32[31]: 8), and invites docility. The appeal becomes solicitous, “streaked” with a bit of irony using the lively comparison of a mule and horse, symbols of stubbornness (cf. v. 9). Indeed, true wisdom leads to conversion, leaving vice and its dark power of attraction behind. Above all, however, it leads to the enjoyment of that peace which flows from having been freed and forgiven.

In the Letter to the Romans St Paul refers explicitly to the beginning of our Psalm to celebrate Christ’s liberating grace (cf. Rom 4: 6-8). We could apply this to the sacrament of Reconciliation.

In light of the Psalm, this sacrament allows one to experience the awareness of sin, often darkened in our day, together with the joy of forgiveness. The binomial “sin-punishment” is replaced by the binomial “sin-forgiveness”, because the Lord is a God who “forgives iniquity and transgression and sin” (cf. Ex 34: 7).

5. St Cyril of Jerusalem (fourth century) uses Psalm 32[31] to teach catechumens of the profound renewal of Baptism, a radical purification from all sin (cf. Procatechesi, n. 15). Using the words of the Psalmist, he too exalts divine mercy. We end our catechesis with his words: “God is merciful and is not stingy in granting forgiveness…. The mountain of your sins will not rise above the greatness of God’s mercy, the depth of your wounds will not overcome the skilfulness of the “most high’ Doctor: on condition that you abandon yourself to him with trust. Make known your evil to the Doctor, and address him with the words of the prophet David: “I will confess to the Lord the sin that is always before me’. In this way, these words will follow: “You have forgiven the ungodliness of my heart'” (Le Catechesi, Rome, 1993, pp. 52-53).

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 18:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2012

Ver 1. At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”2. And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,3. And said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.4. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.5. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.6. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Jerome: The disciples seeing one piece of money paid both for Peter and the Lord, conceived from this equality of ransom that Peter was preferred before all the rest of the Apostles.

Chrys.: Thus they suffered a human passion, which the Evangelist denotes by saying, “At the same time came the disciples to Jesus, saying, “Who pray thee, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Ashamed to shew the feeling which was working within, they do not say openly, Why have you honoured Peter above us? but they ask in general, Who is the greatest! When in the transfiguration they saw three distinguished, namely, Peter, James, and John, they had no such feeling, but now that one is singled out for especial honour, then they are grieved. But do yon remember, first, that it was nothing in this world that they sought; and, secondly, that they afterwards laid aside this feeling? Even their failings are above us, whose enquiry is not, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? but, Who is greatest in the kingdom of the world?

Origen: Herein we ought to be imitators of the disciples, that when any question of doubt arises among us, and we find not how to settle it, we should with one consent go to Jesus, Who is able to enlighten the hearts of men to the explication of every perplexity. We shall also consult some of the doctors, who are thought most eminent in the Churches. But in that they asked this question, the disciples knew that there was not an equality among the saints in the kingdom of heaven; what they yet sought to learn was, how they were so, and lived as greater and less. Or, from what the Lord had said above, they knew who was the best and who was great; but out of many great, who was the greatest, this was not clear to them.

Jerome: Jesus seeing their thoughts would heal their ambitious strivings, by arousing an emulation in lowliness; whence it follows, “And Jesus calling a little child, set him in the midst of them.”

Chrys.: He chose, I suppose, quite an infant, devoid of any of the passions.

Jerome: One whose tender age should express to them the innocence which they should have. But truly He set Himself in the midst of them, a little one who had come “not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” [Mat_20:28] that He might be a pattern of holiness.

Others interpret [margin note: see Origen in loc.] the little one of the Holy Spirit whom He set in the hearts of His disciples, to change their pride into humility. “And he said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

He does not enjoin on the Apostles the age, but the innocence of infants, which they have by virtue of their years, but to which these might attain by striving; that they should be children in malice, not in understanding. As though He had said, As this child, whom I set before you as a pattern, is not obstinate in anger, when injured does not bear it in mind, has no emotion at the sight of a fair woman, does not think one thing while he speaks another; so ye, unless ye have the like innocence and purity of mind, shall not be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Hilary: He calls infants all who believe through the hearing of faith; for such follow their father, love their mother, know not to will that which is evil, do not bear hate, or speak lies, trust what is told them, and believe what they hear to be true. But the letter is thus interpreted.

Gloss. interlin.: “Except ye be converted” from this ambition and jealousy in which you are at present, and become all of you as innocent and humble in disposition as you are weak in your years, “ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven;” and since there is none other road to enter in, “whoso shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven;” for by how much a man is humble now, by so much shall he be exalted in the kingdom of heaven.

Remig.: In the understanding of grace, or in ecclesiastical dignity, or at least in everlasting blessedness.

Jerome: Or otherwise; “Whoso shall humble himself as this little child,” that is, whoso shall humble himself after My example, “he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

It follows, “And whoso receiveth one such little one in my name, receiveth me.”

Chrys.: Not only if ye become such yourselves, but also if for My sake you shall pay honour to other such, ye receive reward; and as the return for the honour you pay them, I entail upon you the kingdom. He puts indeed what is far greater, “Receiveth me.”

Jerome: For whoever is such that he imitates Christ’s humility and innocence, Christ is received by him; and by way of caution, that the Apostles should not think, when such are come to them, that it is to themselves that the honour is paid, He adds, that they are to be received not for their own desert, but in honour of their Master.

Chrys.: And to make this word the rather received, He subjoins a penalty in what follows, “Whoso offendeth one of these little ones, &c.” as though He had said, As those who for My sake honour one of these, have their reward, so they who dishonour shall undergo the extreme punishment. And marvel not that He calls an evil word an offence, for many of feeble spirit are offended by only being despised.

Jerome: Observe that he who is offended is a little one, for the greater hearts do not take offences. And though it may be a general declaration against all who scandalize any, yet from the connection of the discourse it may be said specially to the Apostles; for in asking who should be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, they seemed to be contending for preeminence among themselves; and if they had persisted in this fault, they might have scandalized those whom they called to the faith, seeing the Apostles contending among themselves for the preference.

Origen: But how can he who has been converted, and become as a little child, be yet liable to be scandalized? This may be thus explained. Every one who believes on the Son of God, and walks after evangelic acts, is converted and walks as a little child; but he who is not converted that he may become as a child, it is impossible that he should enter into the kingdom of heaven.

But in every congregation of believers, there are some only newly converted that they may become as little children, but not yet made such; these are the little ones in Christ, and these are they that receive offence.

Jerome: When it is said, “It is better for him that a mill-stone be hanged about his neck,” He speaks according to the custom of the province; for among the Jews this was the punishment of the greater criminals, to drown them by a stone tied to them. It is better for him, because it is far better to receive a brief punishment for a fault, than to be reserved for eternal torments.

Chrys.: To correspond with the foregoing, He should have said here, Receiveth not Me, which were bitterer than any punishment; but because they were dull, and the before-named punishment did not move them, by a familiar instance He shews that punishment awaited them; for He therefore says, “it were better for him,” because another more grievous punishment awaits him.

Hilary: Mystically; The work of the mill is a toil of blindness, for the beasts having their eyes closed are driven round in a circle, and under the type of an ass we often find the Gentiles figured, who are held in the ignorance of blind labour; while the Jews have the path of knowledge set before them in the Law, who if they offend Christ’s Apostles it were better for them, that having their necks made fast to a mill-stone, they should be drowned in the sea, that is, kept under labour and in the depths of ignorance, as the Gentiles; for it were better for them that they should have never known Christ, than not to have received the Lord of the Prophets.

Greg., Mor., vi, 37: Otherwise; What is denoted by the sea, but the world, and what by the mill-stone, but earthly action? which, when it binds the neck in the yoke of vain desires, sends it to a dull round of toil. There are some who leave earthly action, and bend themselves to aims of contemplation beyond the reach of intellect, laying aside humility, and so not only throw themselves into error, but also cast many weak ones out of the bosom of truth.

Whoso then offends one of the least of mine, it were better for him that a mill-stone be tied about his neck, and he be cast into the sea, that is, it were better for a perverted heart to be entirely occupied with worldly business, than to be at leisure for contemplative studies to the hurt of many.

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 24: “Whoso offendeth one of these little ones,” that is so humble as He would have his disciples to be, by not obeying, or by opposing, (as the Apostle says of Alexander, [margin note: 2 Tim 4:15]) “it were better for him that a mill-stone should be hanged about his neck, and he be drowned in the depths of the sea,” that is, it were better for him that desire of the things of the world, to which the blind and foolish are tied down, should sink him by its load to destruction.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 4:4-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2012

This post contains Father Callan’s summary of Philippians 4:1-9 followed by his notes on the reading.


A Summary of Philippians 4:1-9~After all the Apostle has said in the last part of the preceding Chapter, his exceeding love for the Philippians manifests itself in endearing terms, asserting that they will be his garland of victory and joy in the day of Christ’s coming to judge the world. He exhorts them to steadfastness; he entreats Evodia and Syntyche, especially, to have no dissension, asking his loyal comrade to assist these latter, since they, like Clement and his other fellow-workers, have been so faithful to him in labors for the Gospel. Then to all he recommends joy in the Lord, forbearance towards all men, freedom from anxiety, prayerfulness and thankfulness; and he assures them that, if they practise these virtues, the peace of God will take up its abode in their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (ver. 1-7). Finally, recapitulating, he begs them to feed their minds on all that is true and good, wherever it may be found, asking them in practice to obey his precepts and imitate his example as a sure way to heavenly peace (ver. 8-9).

4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice.

Speaking to all, the Apostle repeats his exhortation of Philippians 3:1, bidding his readers “rejoice in the Lord always,” on account of the many spiritual blessings they now enjoy and that are promised them both here and hereafter by the Saviour who has redeemed them; there is never wanting to them a motive of spiritual joy.

5. Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh.

As an effect of their spiritual joy, they are to manifest their “modesty” (i.e., their gentleness and sweetness of character) “to all men,” even to those whom he had before called enemies of the cross of Christ (St. Chrysostom, and see Phil 3:18); with all they are to deal in a kindly manner, thus showing the value and loveliness of the religion they profess.

The Lord is nigh. This assigns the great cause of their joy; “a man rejoices at the coming of a friend” (St. Thomas). Hence this phrase is to be connected with what precedes, and the Greeks understood it of the General Judgment. Others think it refers to the ever-present grace and help of God (so St. Thomas). The former opinion is more probable: Christ is coming to judge and crown us for our patience and spirit of sweet endurance; the Apostle often speaks of the final judgment as if it were close at hand, in order that his readers might keep it ever in their minds (a Lapide, Knabenbauer, etc.).

6. Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.

Anxious solicitude is an impediment to joy, and hence the Apostle now admonishes, “be nothing solicitous” (i.e., have no anxieties) either as regards goods you lack or evils you bear, but in every work and condition have recourse to God “by prayer and supplication” (i.e., with fervor and perseverance), not forgetting prayers of “thanksgiving,” for God is ever ready to hear your worthy “petitions,” and will always grant what you ask, or something better. God never fails to answer in some way prayers that are properly made, though He will not give us what is not for our good; and gratitude for favors received disposes God to grant more favors.

7. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The effect of prayer that is properly made is peace of mind and soul.

The peace of God, i.e., the peace whose author and giver is God.

Which surpasseth all understanding, i.e., which is supernatural, and therefore cannot be produced by human means or understood by those who have not experienced it.

Will keep. Literally, “will guard,” like a sentinel at a gate, “your hearts and minds” (i.e., your feelings and thoughts) “in Christ Jesus,” our spiritual citadel. St. Paul is speaking in military terms.

8. For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good report, if there be any virtue, if any praise—think on these things.

Coming now to the end of the body of his letter, St. Paul summarizes the things he wishes his readers seriously to consider and meditate on. The subjects indicated are quite general, pertaining to pagan morality as well as Christian virtues.

True, i.e., genuine, sincere.

Modest, i.e., becoming, seemly.

Just, i.e., according to the norms of right dealing.

Holy, i.e., pure, elevated, free from debasing elements.

Lovely, i.e., lovable, gracious.

Of good report, i.e., winning the esteem and approval of men, in the sense of 1 Tim 3:7: “He must have a good testimony of them that are without”; and of 2 Cor 8:21: “We forecast what may be good not only before God, but also before men.”

Virtue, a very general term summing up the first four qualities just named, and found only here in St. Paul. It embraces all that is virtuous in any way.

Praise, also a very general term summing up the last two qualities named above, and meaning, worthy of approbation, praiseworthy. The last two qualities are paraphrased as follows by Lightfoot: “Whatever value may reside in your old heathen conception of virtue, whatever consideration is due to the praise of men.”

The disciplinæ of the Vulgate is not according to the best Greek MSS.

9. The things which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, these do ye, and the God of peace shall be with you.

St. Paul has just given his readers ample food for meditation; and, before telling them to put these lofty thoughts into practice, he calls attention to his own example, to what they have seen in him and heard about him from others, in order to malce it plain that he is not asking them to do what is too hard or impossible. If they will follow his advice, “the God of peace” will be with them, to help them and to enable them to relish the possession of true tranquillity of soul.

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