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Archive for April, 2012

St Augustine’s Homily on 1 John 3:18-24

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 30, 2012

The following is excerpted from two homilies by the saint and encompass what he had to say on verses 17-24. .

Whence beginneth charity, brethren? Attend a little: to what it is perfected, ye have heard; the very end of it, and the very measure of it is what the Lord hath put before us in the Gospel: “Greater love hath no man,” saith He, “than that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Its perfection, therefore, He hath put before us in the Gospel, and here also it is its perfection that is put before us: but ye ask yourselves, and say to yourselves, When shall it be possible for us to have “this” charity? Do not too soon despair of thyself. Haply, it is born and is not yet perfect; nourish it, that it be not choked. But thou wilt say to me, And by what am I to know it? For to what it is perfected, we have heard; whence it begins, let us hear. He goes on to say: “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have hunger,  and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how can the love of God dwell in him?” (1 John 3:17).  Lo, whence charity begins withal! If thou art not yet equal to the dying for thy brother, be thou even now equal to the giving of thy means to thy brother. Even now let charity smite thy bowels, that not of vainglory thou shouldest do it, but of the innermost marrow of mercy; that thou consider him, now in want. For if thy superfluities thou canst not give to thy brother, canst thou lay down thy life for thy brother? There lies thy money in thy bosom, which thieves may take from thee; and though thieves do not take it, by dying thou wilt leave it, even if it leave not thee while living: what wilt thou do with it? Thy brother hungers, he is in necessity: be-like he is in suspense, is distressed by his creditor: he is thy brother, alike ye are bought, one is the price paid for you, ye are both redeemed by the blood of Christ: see whether thou have mercy, if thou have this world’s means. Perchance thou sayest, “What concerns it me? Am I to give my may not suffer trouble?” If money, that he this be the answer thy heart makes to thee, the love of the Father abideth not in thee. If the love of the Father abide not in thee, thou art not born of God. How boastest thou to be a Christian? Thou hast the name, and hast not the deeds. But if the work shall follow the name, let any call thee pagan, show thou by deeds that thou art a Christian. For if by deeds thou dost not show thyself a Christian, all men may call thee a Christian yet; what doth the name profit thee where the thing is not forthcoming? “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how can the love of God dwell in him?” And then he goes on: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

I suppose the thing is now made manifest to you my brethren: this great and most concerning secret and mystery (sacramentum). What is the force of charity, all Scripture doth set forth; but I know not whether any where it be more largely set forth than in this Epistle. We pray you and beseech you in the Lord, that both what ye have heard ye will keep in memory, and to that which is yet to be said, until the epistle be finished, will come with earnestness, and with earnestness hear the same. But open ye your heart for the good seed: root out the thorns, that that which we are sowing in you be not choked, but rather that the harvest may grow, and that the Husbandman may rejoice and make ready the barn for you as for grain, not the fire as for the chaff.

My brethren, this sentence does behoove to abide in your heart, seeing it was the last ye heard. “My little children, let us not love only in word and in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” Then he goes on: “And herein we know that we are of the truth, and assure our hearts before Him.” “For if our heart think ill of us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” He had said,” Let us not love only in word and in tongue, but in work and in truth:” we are asked, In what work, or in what truth, is he known that loveth God, or loveth his brother? Above he had said up to what point charity is perfected: what the Lord saith in the Gospel, “Greater love than this hath no man, that one lay down his life for his friends,” Jn 15:13 this same had the apostle also said: “As He laid down His life for us, we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 Jn 3:16 This is the perfection of charity, and greater can not at all be found. But because it is not perfect in all, and that man ought not to despair in whom it is not perfect, if that be already born which may be perfected: and of course if born, it must be nourished, and by certain nourishments of its own must be brought unto its proper perfection: therefore, we have asked concerning the commencement of charity, where it begins, and there have straightway found: “But whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of the Father in him?” 1 Jn 3:17 Here then hath this charity, my brethren, its beginning: to give of one’s superfluities to him that hath need to him that is in any distress; of one’s temporal abundance to deliver his brother from temporal tribulation. Here is the first rise of charity. This, being thus begun, if thou shalt nourish with the word of God and hope of the life to come, thou wilt come at last unto that perfection, that thou shalt be ready to lay down thy life for thy brethren.

But, because many such things are done by men who seek other objects, and who love not the brethren; let us come back to the testimony of conscience. How do we prove that many such things are done by men who love not the brethren? How many in heresies and schisms call themselves martyrs! They seem to themselves to lay down their lives for their brethren. If for the brethren they laid down their lives, they would not separate themselves from the whole brotherhood. Again, how many there are who for the sake of vainglory bestow much, give much, and seek therein but the praise of men and popular glory, which is full of windiness, and possesses no stability! Seeing, then, there are such, where shall be the proof of brotherly charity? Seeing he wished it to be proved, and hath said by way of admonition, “My little children, let us not love only in word and in tongue; but in deed and in truth;” we ask, in what work, in what truth? Can there be a more manifest work than to give to the poor? Many do this of vainglory, not of love. Can there be a greater work than to die for the brethren? This also, many would fain be thought to do, who do it of vainglory to get a name, not from bowels of love. It remains, that that man loves his brother, who before God, where God alone seeth, assures his own heart, and questions his. heart whether he does this indeed for love of the brethren; and his witness is that eye which penetrates the heart, where man cannot look. Therefore Paul the Apostle, because he was ready to die for the brethren, and said, “I will myself be spent for your souls” (2 Cor 12:15), yet, because God only saw this in his heart, not the mortal men to whom he spake, he saith to them, “But to me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you or at man’s bar” (1 Cor 4:3).  And the same apostle shows also in a certain place, that these things are oft done of empty vainglory, not upon the solid ground of love: for speaking of the praises of charity he saith, “If I distribute all my goods to the poor. and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Cor 13:3).  Is it possible for a man to do this without charity? It is. For they that have divided unity, are persons that have not charity. Seek there, and ye shall see many giving much to the poor; shallsee others prepared to welcome death, insomuch that where there is no persecutor they cast themselves headlong: these doubtless without charity do this. Let us come back then to conscience, of which the apostle saith: “For our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience” (2 Cor 1:12).  Let us come back to conscience, of which the same saith, “But let each prove his own work, and then he shall have glorying in himself and not in another” (Gal 6:4).  Therefore, let each one of us “prove his own work,” whether it flow forth from the vein of charity, whether it be from charity as the root that his good works sprout forth as branches. “But let each prove his own work, and then he shall have glorying in himself and not in another,” not when another’s tongue bears witness to him, but when his own conscience bears it.

This it is then that he enforces here. “In this we know that we are of the truth, when in deed and in truth” we love, “not only in words and in tongue: and assure our heart before Him” (1 John 3:19).  What meaneth, “before Him?” Where He seeth. Whence the Lord Himself in the Gospel saith: “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward with your Father which is in heaven” (Matt 6:1-3).  And what meaneth, “Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:” except that the right hand means a pure conscience, the left hand the lust of the world? Many through lust of the world do many wonderful things: the left hand worketh, not the right. The right hand ought to work, and without knowledge of the left hand, so that lust of the world may not even mix itself therewith when by love we work aught that is good. And where do we get to know this? Thou art before God: question thine heart, see what thou hast done, and what therein was thine aim; thy salvation, or the windy praise of men. Look within, for man cannot judge whom he cannot see. If “we assure our heart,” let it be “before Him.” Because “if our heart think ill of us,” i.e. accuse us within, that we do not the thing with that mind it ought to be done withal, “greater is God than our heart, and knoweth all things.” Thou hidest thine heart from man: hide it from God if thou canst! How shalt thou hide it from Him, to whom it is said by a sinner, fearing and confessing, “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? and from Thy face whither shall I flee?” (Ps 139:7-8) He sought a way to flee, to escape the judgment of God, and found none. For where is God not? “If I shall ascend,” saith he, “into heaven, Thou art there: if I shalldescend into hell, Thou art there.” Whither wilt thou go? whither wilt thou flee? Wilt thou hear counsel? If thou wouldest flee from Him, flee to Him. Flee to Him by confessing, not from Him by hiding: hide thou canst not, but confess thou canst. Say unto Him, “Thou art my place to flee unto” (Ps 32:7); and let love be nourished in thee, which alone leadeth unto life. Let thy conscience bear thee witness that thy love is of God. If it be of God, do not wish to display it before men; because neither men’s praises lift thee unto heaven, nor their censures put thee down from thence. Let Him see, who crowneth thee: be He thy witness, by whom as judge thou art crowned. “Greater is God than our heart, and knoweth all things.”

“Beloved, if our heart think not ill of us, we have confidence towards God” (1 Jn 3:21) —What meaneth, “If our heart think not ill”? If it make true answer to us, that we love and that there is genuine love in us: not feigned but sincere; seeking a brother’s salvation, expecting no emolument from a brother, but only his salvation—“we have confidence toward God: and whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him, because we keep His commandments” (1 Jn 3:21-22)—Therefore, not in the sight of men, but where God Himself seeth, in the heart—“we have confidence,” then, “towards God: and whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him:” howbeit, because we keep His commandments. What are “His commandments”? Must we be always repeating? “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.” Jn 13:34 It is charity itself that he speaks of, it is this that he enforces. Whoso then shall have brotherly charity, and have it before God, where God seeth, and his heart being interrogated under righteous examination make him none other answer than that the genuine root of charity is there for good fruits to come from; that man hath confidence with God, and whatsoever he shall ask, he shall receive of Him, because he keepeth His commandments.

Here a question meets us: for it is not this or that man, or thou or I that come in question,—for if I have asked any thing of God and receive it not, any person may easily say of me, “He hath not charity: “and of any man soever of this present time, this may easily be said; and let any think what he will, a man of man:—not we, but those come more in question, those men of whom it is on all hands known that they were saints when they wrote, and that they are now with God. Where is the man that hath charity, if Paul and it not, who said, “Our mouth is open unto you, O ye Corinthians, our heart is enlarged; ye are not straitened in us:” 2 Cor 6:11-12; 2 Cor 12:15 who said,” I will myself be spent for your souls:” and so great grace was in him, that it was manifested that he had charity. And yet we find that he asked and did not receive. What say we, brethren? It is a question: look attentively to God: it is a great question, this also. Just as, where it was said of sin, “He that is born of God sinneth not:” we found this sin to be the violating of charity, and that this was the thing strictly intended in that place: so too we ask now what it is that he would say. For if thou look but to the words, it seems plain: if thou take the examples into the account, it is obscure. Than the words here nothing can be plainer. “And whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” “Whatsoever we ask,” saith he, “we shall receive of Him.” He hath put us sorely to straits. In the other place also he would put us to straits, if he meant all sin: but then we found room to expound it in this, that he meant it of a certain sin, not of all sin; howbeit o[ a sin which “whosoever is born of God committeth not:” and we found that this same sin is none other than the violation of charity. We have also a manifest example from the Gospel, when the Lord saith, “If I had not come, they had not had sin.” Jn 15:22 How? Were the Jews innocent when He came to them, because He so speaks? Then if He had not come, would they have had no sin? Then did the Physician’s presence make one sick, not take away the fever? What madman even would say this? He came not but to cure and heal the sick. Therefore when He said, “If I had not come, they had not had sin,” what would He have to be understood, but a certain sin in particular? For there was a sin which the Jews would not have had. What sin? That they believed not on Him, that when he had come they despised Him. As then He there said “sin,” and it does not follow that we are to understand all sin, but a certain sin: so here also not all sin, lest it be contrary to that place where he saith, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us:” 1 John 1:8 but a certain sin in particular, that is, the violation of charity. But in this place he hath bound us more tightly: “If we shall ask,” he hath said, “if our heart accuse us not, and tell us in answer, in the sight of God, that true love is in us;” “Whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him.”

Well now: I have already told you, my, beloved brethren, let no man turn toward us. For what are we? or what are ye? What, but the Church of God which is known to all? And, if it please Him, in that Church are we; and those of us who by love abide in it, there let us persevere, if we would show the love we have. But then the apostle Paul, what evil are we to think of him? He not love the brethren! He not have within himself the testimony of his conscience in the sight of God! Paul not have within him that root of charity whence all good fruits proceeded What madman would say this? Well then: where find we that the apostle asked and did not receive? He saith himself: “Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to buffet me. For which thing I besought the Lord thrice, that He would take it from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:7-9).  Lo, he was not heard in his prayer that the “angel of Satan” should be taken from him. But wherefore? Because it was not good for him. He was heard, then, for salvation, when he was not heard according to his wish. Know, my beloved, a great mystery (sacramentum): which we urge upon your consideration on purpose that it may not slip from you in your temptations. The saints are in all things heard unto salvation: they are always heard in that which respects their eternal salvation; it is this that they desire: because in regard of this, their prayers are always heard.

But let us distinguish God’s different ways of hearing prayer. For we find some not heard for their wish, heard for salvation: and again some we find heard for their wish, not heard for salvation. Mark this difference, hold fast this example of a man not heard for his wish but heard for salvation. Hear the apostle Paul; for what is the hearing of prayer unto salvation, God Himself showed him: “Sufficient for thee,” saith He, “is my grace; for strength is perfected in weakness.” Thou hast besought, hast cried, hast thrice cried: the very cry thou didst raise once for all I heard, I turned not away mine ears from thee; I know what I should do: thou wouldest have it taken away, the healing thing by which thou art burned; I know the infirmity by which thou art burdened. Well then: here is a man who was heard for salvation, while as to his will he was not heard. Where find we persons heard for their will, not heard for salvation? Do we find, think we, some wicked, some impious man, heard of God for his will, not heard for salvation? If I put to you the instance of some man, perchance thou wilt say to me, “It is thou that callest him wicked, for he was righteous; had he not been righteous, his prayer would not have been heard by God.”The instance I am about to allege is of one, of whose iniquity and impiety none can doubt. The devil himself: he asked for Job, and received (Job 1:11-12). Have ye not here also heard concerning the devil, that “he that committeth sin is of the devil”? (1 Jn 3:3; 1 Jn 3:8).  Not that the devil created, but that the sinner imitates. Is it not said of him, “He stood not in the truth”? (John 8:44) Is not even he “that old serpent,” who, through the woman pledged the first man in the drink of poison? (Gen 3:1-6). Who even in the case of Job, kept for him his wife, that by her the husband might be, not comforted, but tempted? The devil asked for a holy man, to tempt him; and he received: the apostle asked that the thorn in the flesh might be taken from him, and he received not. But the apostle was more heard than the devil. For the apostle was heard for salvation, though not for his wish: the devil was heard for his wish, but for damnation. For that Jb was yielded up to him to be tempted, was in order that by his standing the proof the devil should be tormented. But this, my brethren, we find not only in the Old Testament books, but also in the Gospel. The demons besought the Lord, when He expelled them from the man, that they might be permitted to go into the swine. Should the Lord not have power to tell them not to approach even those creatures? For, had it not been His will to permit this, they were not about to rebel against the King of heaven and earth. But with a view to a certain mystery, with a certain ulterior meaning, He let the demons go into the swine: to show that the devil hath dominion in them that lead the life of swine (Luke 8:32).  Demons then were heard in their request; was the apostle not heard? Or rather (what is truer) shall we say, The apostle was heard, the demons not heard? Their will was effected; his weal was perfected.

Agreeably with this, we ought to understand that God, though He give not to our will, doth give for our salvation. For suppose the thing thou have asked be to thine hurt, and the Physician knows that it is to thine hurt; what then? It is not to be said that the physician does not give ear to thee, when, perhaps, thou askest for cold water, and if it is good for thee, he gives it immediately, if not good, he gives it not. Had he no ears for thy request, or rather, did he give ear for thy weal, even when he gainsaid thy will? Then let there be in you charity, my brethren; let it be in you, and then set, your minds at rest: even when the thing ye ask for is not given you, your prayer is, granted, only, ye know it not. Many have been given into their own hands, to their own hurt: of whom the apostle saith, “God gave them up to their own hearts’ lusts” (Rom 1:24). Some man hath asked for a great sum of money; he hath received, to his hurt. When he had it not, he had little to fear; no sooner did he come to have it, than he became a prey to the more powerful. Was not that man’s request granted to his own hurt, who would needs have that for which he should be sought after by the robber, whereas, being poor, none sought after him? Learn to beseech God that ye may commit it to the Physician to do what He knows best. Do thou confess the disease, let Him apply the means of healing. Do thou only hold fast charity. For He will needs cut, will needs burn; what if thou criest out, and art not spared for thy crying under the cutting, under the burning and the tribulation, yet He knows how far the rottenness reaches. Thou wouldest have Him even now take off His hands, and He considers only the deepness of the sore; He knows how far to go. He does not attend to thee for thy will, but he does attend to thee for thy healing. Be ye sure, then, my brethren, that what the apostle saith is true: “For we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered: for He maketh intercession for the saints” (Rom 8:26-27). How is it said, “The Spirit itself intercedeth for the saints,” but as meaning the charity which is wrought in thee by the Spirit? For therefore saith the same apostle: “The charity of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us” (Rom 5:5). It is charity that groans, it is charity that prays: against it He who gave it cannot shut His ears. Set your minds at rest: let charity; ask, and the ears of God are there. Not thatwhich thou wishest is done, but that is done which is advantageous. Therefore, “whatever we ask,” saith he, “we shall receive of Him,” I have already said, If thou understand it to mean, “for salvation,” there is no question: if not for salvation, there is a question, and a great one, a question that makes thee an accuser of the apostle Paul. “Whatever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do these things that are pleasing in His sight:” within, where He seeth.

And what are those commandments? “This,” saith he, “is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another (1 John 3:23).  Ye see that this is the commandment: ye see that whoso doeth aught against this commandment, doeth the sin from which “every one that is born of God” is free. “As He gave us commandment:” that we love one another. “And he that keepeth His commandment” (1 John 3:24) —ye see that none other thing is bidden us than that we love one another—“And he that keepeth His commandment shall abide in Him, and He in him. “And in this we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us. Is it not manifest that this is what the Holy Ghost works in man, that there should be in him love and charity? Is it not manifest, as the Apostle Paul saith, that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given us”? (Rom 5:5).  For [our apostle] was speaking of charity, and was saying that we ought in the sight of God to interrogate our own heart. “But if our heart think not ill of us:” i.e. if it confess that from the love of our brother is done in us whatever is done in any good work. And then besides, in speaking of the commandment, he says this: “This is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” “And he that doeth His commandment abideth41  in Him, and He in him. In this we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” If in truth thou find that thou hast charity, thou hast the Spirit of God in order to understand: for a very necessary thing it is.

A full online edition of St Augustine’s homilies on 1 John can be found at New Advent.

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 3:18-24

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 30, 2012

1Jn 3:18  My little children, may we not love in word nor in tongue, but in word and in truth!

He condemns here all false charity, which exhibits itself in words only, as S. James (James 2:15) does also.  S. Gregory (Moral. xxi. 14) says that our charity must ever be exhibited in reverent words, &c., and in ministering bountifully. And S. Bernard (in Song 2:4) explaining the words, “He ordered charity in me” (see. Vulg.) says, “He requires not the craft of the lying tongue, nor the taste of affected wisdom. Let us love in deed and in truth, being moved to good deeds by the impulse of living charity rather than by any affected love. Give me a man who loves God with all his heart, himself and his neighbours, and everything else relating to God with well-ordered love, and I boldly pronounce him to be a wise man, to whose taste all things seem to be just as they really are, and who can in truth safely say, Because He hath ordered love in me. But who is he?”

But observe here, that if any one cannot succour in deed and act (as, e g., being too poor), yet he can do so in words and kind feelings. And again, he who gives relief should not give it grudgingly, or with words of reproof, but cheerfully and kindly. See Rom 12:8; Sirach 18:15.

S. Gregory (Hom. iii. in Evang.) says well, “Let not any one credit himself with anything which his mind suggests, unless his acts bear witness to it. For in loving God, our tongue, our thoughts, and our life are all required. Love towards Him is never idle. It worketh great things if it really exist, but if it refuses to do so, it is not love.” And S. Chrysostom (Hom. liii. et lxviii. ad pop.) says, “The more thou givest to God, the more does He love thee, and to those He loves more, He gives more grace; when He sees any one to whom He owes nothing, He flies from him, and avoids him; but when He sees any one to whom He owes something, He runs up to him at once. Thou shouldest therefore do everything to make God thy debtor.” And then he explains how this can be done, viz., by showing mercy to the poor. “Give largely, that thou mayest be rich, scatter abroad, that thou mayest gather in, imitate a sower. Sow in blessings, that thou mayest reap in blessings.” And S. Leo (Serm. vi. de Jejun. x. Mensis) says, “Persevere, 0 Christian, in thy bounty, give that which thou wilt receive back again, sow what thou wilt reap, scatter that which thou wilt gather up. Fear not the cost, be not anxious or doubtful about the result. Thy substance, when well laid out, is increased, and to wish for rightful profit for thy piety, is to traffic for the gain of an eternal reward. He who rewardeth thee wishes thee to be munificent, and He who gives that thou hast, orders thee to give it away, saying, ‘Give, and it shall be given,’ and so on.” S. Chrysostom accordingly said rightly, “that almsgiving was of all things the most gainful.”

1Jn 3:19  and in this we know that of the truth we are, and before Him we shall assure our hearts,

In this we know that of the truth we are, that we have true love, that we are the sons of truth, of true and genuine charity.

Secondly, we are of God, who is the chief and highest truth, and true charity. See John 14:6, John 18:37. And accordingly S. Augustine rightly concludes (de Moribus Eccl. cap. xxxiii.), “Let our meals, our words, our dress, our appearance be blended with charity, and be united and joined together in one charity; to violate this is counted as sinning against God . . . if only this be wanting, everything else is vain and empty; where it exists is perfect fulness.”

Before him we shall assure out hearts. (1.) Hugo, Lyranus, and Dionysius explain, We shall induce our hearts to please God daily more and more. (2.) Ferus explains it, We shall gain confidence to ask anything of God. (3.) We shall have our hearts at peace, for we shall persuade them that we are striving after true charity, when we love, not in word, but in deed and in truth. (4.) The sense most clearly is this, We, shall approve our hearts to God in manifesting the fruits of love. We can lie to men by pretending love in our hearts, but we cannot lie to God, who sees the heart. They then who love their neighbour in deed and in truth fear not the eye and judgment of God, but would boldly appear in His sight, lay their hearts before Him, and show that they were resting on real charity. So Œcumenius; and see Gal 1:10, “Do I wish to persuade men or God?” That is, I strive to prove my cause to God. So S. Chrysostom.  S. Augustine reads in this passage, “I wish to make myself approved to God, and not to men.” As S. Augustine (contra Secundi, num. i. 1) says, “Think as you please about Augustine, provided only my conscience accuses me not in the sight of God.”

Morally:  S. John here teaches us to examine all our deeds by the rule of God’s judgment. For frequently we are deceived into thinking that we are acting purely from the love of God, when in fact we are acting from the impure motive of self-love. Before beginning anything conform thyself to this rule, act as in the sight of God, who sees, and will call thee to account. Do it as though it were thy very last act. And in any doubt, adopt that course which thou wouldest wish thou hadst adopted when thou comest to die. So did the Psalmist (Ps 16:8); Elisha ( 2 Kings 3:14); and S. Paul (2 Cor 1:12).

And S. Francis Xavier, “Wherever I am, I would remember that I am on the stage of the world.” And Campion, when about to suffer martyrdom, said, “We are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men” (1 Cor 4:9). Let us imitate these, and thus “shall we persuade our hearts in His sight.”

1Jn 3:20  because if our heart may condemn–because greater is God than our heart, and He doth know all things.

If we cannot conceal our hypocrisy from our own hearts, much less can we conceal it from God, who is greater and deeper even than our own heart, who is more intimately acquainted with it, and is nearer to it than we are ourselves. If thy conscience condemns thee, how much more will God, who rules over and judges thy conscience? “If we cannot hide anything from our conscience,” says Œcumenius, “how can we hide it from God who is ever present?” “Thou hidest thy conscience from man,” says S. Augustine, “hide it from God if thou canst. Let thy conscience bear thee witness, for it is of God. And if it is of God, do not boast of it before men, because the praises of men exalt thee not, nor do their reproofs bring thee down. Let Him see thee who crowneth thee: let Him, by whose judgment thou wilt be crowned.” Diadochus says (de perf. Spirit. cap. c.), “The judgment of God is far above that of our conscience.” See 1 Cor 4:1 and Ps 43 (Vulg. 7). “Man will go down to his deep heart, and God will be exalted,” that is, man will think many evils in the depth of his heart, but God will be deeper than it. But Lyra, Aquila, and Theodotion read iorem, “will shoot at it.” See A. V.

Thomas Anglicus merely applies the passage thus, If the sin of the heart is great, greater is God’s compassion in forgiving. And God too is greater than our heart, because He alone satisfies the desires of our heart, and even overflows and surpasses them.

1Jn 3:21  Beloved, if our heart may not condemn us, we have boldness toward God,

If our heart may not condemn us, we have boldness toward God, viz., that we shall obtain from Him all that we ask. See Ps 119:6. The contrary is the case with the wicked. See Prov 28:9, as S. Gregory says (Mor. x. 15, or 17), “He who remembers that he still refuses to listen to the command of God, doubts whether he will obtain what he wishes for. And our heart blames us when we pray, when it calls to mind that he opposes the will of Him whom he is addressing. ‘As oil makes the light to shine, so do good deeds give confidence to the soul.’

1Jn 3:22  And whatsoever we shall ask, we shall receive of him: because we keep his commandments and do those things which are pleasing in his sight.

And whatsoever we shall ask, we shall receive of him. Whatever, that is, that is good, and tends to the glory of God (see John 5:14).  Because we keep his commandments and do those things which are pleasing in his sight. For it is only a fitting thing that if man do the will of God, He on His side should do the will of man. (See Matt 7:7; Mark 11:24; James 1:5-6; John 14:12-14).  He alludes to Chris’s promise (John 15:7).  For deeds ought to be supported by prayer, and prayer by deeds. As St Gregory says, “Prayer is void, when our deeds are wicked, for they outweigh the force of our prayers” (Epistle 9, 45).  See Lam 3:41.  On which Rabanus remarks, “He lifts up his hands, and not his heart,” &c.  The Laconians had a proverb, that we must first put our hand to work, ad then pray to fortune. St John here teaches that our prayer is strengthened by confidence, and that confidence springs from obedience. See Isaiah 1:15; Matt 2:2; Prov 28:9; Ps 50:16; 41:13; 34:16; 33:20; 37:4.  He hears not only our prayers, but out thoughts and desires.  St Dominic said that he never asked anything from God which he did not obtain.  So also St Thomas Aquinas, St Scholastica, St Catherine of Siena, and others.

And do those things which are pleasing in his sight.  That is to say His commands, and also evangelical counsels (of perfection). For he who strives perfectly to please God, includes not merely His commands and precepts, but also His smallest hints and counsels.  And this, as it is a hared matter, so is it most pleasing to God.  And hence St Bernard calls a monk a standing miracle.  All our holiness consists in our ever studying and endeavoring to please God.  For this is an act of most pure and constant love.

Observe that love is of two kinds, desire and friendship.  The first is that with which we study to please God, that we may obtain from Him the reward of eternal glory.  But this is rather an act of hope than of love.  (See Ps 119:112; see Vulgate, propter retributionem).  But the love of friendship is that which makes us strive to please Him merely out of love, and by doing those things in which He takes delight and pleasure.

Our Lord has this love from the very moment of His conception, and all His earthly life through.  See John 8:29; Ps 40:9; Rom 12:2; Col 1:9.  And accordingly wise men teach that it is an excellent practice to think every day, What does God wish me to do at this moment?  Just as the servants of a king watch his every movement, and fly rather that go to do his bidding.  Much more should we obey God in all things, for He is the Supreme Majesty, Justice, and holiness, the highest wisdom, goodness, and power, the Supreme Lord, Lawgiver, Judge, and Punisher of all men.  And moreover, He who created us, preserves, redeems, and sanctifies us, and pours down on us, every instant, innumerable blessings.  See St Gregory (Moralia, 6, 12).  And the Abbot Ammon says, “Desire to fulfill the will of God at all times, as being indeed the kingdom of heaven, and the crown of a perfect life, and as believing with all thy heart, that if far surpasses all human wisdom” (apd, S. Ephr. in paræn).  The Abbot John Cassian said that “he had never done his own will.”  And Aloysius Gonzaga said that he had no scruple even about his excessive austerity, because he had done nothing except by the will of God, of which his superior was the interpreter.  This is what God praises, “My delight is in her (Heph-zibah), and St Bernard, Sermon 38, in Cant.

1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment: That we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as he hath given commandment unto us.

And this is his commandment: That we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. That is, in the Person thus named.  See Philippians 2:9.  And love one another.  On these two commandments all the rest depend.  For to believe in Christ includes loving, worshipping, and obeying Him, believing Him also to be the Son of God, and thus believing in God the Father also.  And the command to love our neighbor presupposes the love of God.  See Matt 12:40.  St Augustine says, “He loves Thee, O God, but little, who loves anything together with Thee, which He loves not for Thy sake.  O thou love that burnest, and art never extinguished! O my love, my God, enkindle me.  Thou commandest continence: give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt” (Confess 10, 29).

As he hath given commandment unto us.  This signifies that Christ specially and frequently enjoined the duty of mutual love on His apostles, and required them to inculcate it on the faithful.

1Jn 3:24  And he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he in him. And in this we know that he abideth in us by the Spirit which he hath given us.

And he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he in him. The word ‘abideth’ signifies indwelling, intimate union and intercourse.  God then dwells in the person who obeys Him.

1.  By virtue of the command.  For the law and the maker of the law abide in those who are under it, just as the doctrine of the teacher abides in him who takes it in, and he who is subject to the law, abides therein by discipline and obedience.

2.  By love, for he who keeps the commands of God loves Him, and is loved by Him, just as he who loves abides in the object he loves, for the soul abides more in the object it loves, than in him whom it animates, and God abides in a soul, both as loving it, and as loved by it.  For “he who cleaveth to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor 6:17); and see St Bernard, Serm 31, in Catn.

3.  He who loves and obeys God abides in Him as being under His protection, and God abides in him by the protections He gives. Ps 91:1; Zech 2:8.  “He who toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye,” naming the dearest and tenderest part of the body; see also Gen 15:1, Ps 31:3.  Whence Bede says, “Let God be thy house, and be thou the house of God.  Abide in God, and let God abide in thee.  God abideth in thee, to keep thee; thou abidest in God, lest thou shouldest fall.  Observe His commandments, hold fast charity, tear not thyself from His faith, that thou mayest glory in His presence, now by faith, and hereafter by sight.  And He will abide in thee for ever, as the Psalmist says” (see Ps 5:12).  And St Chrysostom, on Romans 8:14 says, “To obtain the inheritance of children, it is not sufficient to be once imbued with the Spirit, unless we are ever led by His guidance, for He is the steersman and the guide of our soul, leading us into battle against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

4.  God abides in him who loves Him, as locally placed in Him.  For a holy soul is the throne, the temple, and the abode of God.  See 1 Cor 3:17; 66:1-2.

5.  And lastly, God abides in a righteous man substantially, because He communicates His essence and substance to him, making him partaker of the divine nature, 2 Pet 1:4.

And in this we know that he abideth in us by the Spirit which he hath given us.  See Rom 5:5, also, below, 1 John 4:16.  St St Augustine, Bede, Œcumenius, and others.  St Augustine says, “This connection clearly shows that brotherly love, which we see so authoritatively preached, is not merely from God, but is God Himself.  When therefore we love our brother with the highest love (dilectione), we love our brother for the sake of God.”

We know.  Not by special and divine faith, not even with absolute certainty, but with moral and conjectural certainty, from outward signs and tokens; and the more a man experiences them, the more certain is he that he is in a state of grace, and the more he grows in virtue the more certain does he become.  And therefore, Andreas Vega teaches that holy men can have such certainty as to exclude all doubt.  But this is the lot of very few and of pre-eminent saints; and yet even those, if they look at their own infirmity, might perchance be afraid of being deceived in this matter, though in fact they may have no fear.  As St Jerome says, “We ought at no time to be secure, but always to look forward to the day of judgment” (On Micah).  As St Gregory, “Thou shouldest not feel secure, but till the very end of thy life shouldest ever suspect thyself, and fear committing sin” (Epist. lib. 6, 22).  And St Bernard, “I know neither my own, or my neighbor’s conscience (though I ought to watch over them).  Both are an inscrutable abyss, both are dark as night” (Serm. 3, de Adv.).  See also Conc. Trid. sess. 6, cap 16).  The confidence and certainty of holy men should ever be blended with fear, as St Paul says, Philippians 1:11.  For God wishes that this fear should be a bridle to keep us low, and also a spur to stimulate our virtue.


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Father MacEvily’s Commentary on Acts 9:26-31

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 30, 2012

This post includes Fr. MacEvilly’s brief summary of the entire chapter.

Summary of Acts chapter 9~The Chapter commences with the wonderful and miraculous conversion of Saul on his way to persecute the Christians of Damascus, which was perfected by the instructions of Ananias, whose fears occasioned by the persecuting character of Saul were dissipated by Divine assurances on the subject (1-18). The zeal of Saul in preaching the Gospel, the conspiracy on the part of the Jews to kill him (19-25), His escape (25). The distrust of the faithful of Jerusalem regarding him on account of his repute, as Persecutor, quieted by the intervention of Barnabas, who introduced him to the Apostles (26, 27). The machinations of the Gentiles to kill him. Hence his escape to Tharsus (29, 30). The miracles wrought by Peter in the restoration to health of Eneas (32-35). The wonderful miracle wrought by him in raising Tabitha or Dorcas from the dead, which caused the conversion of many (36-43).

Act 9:26  And Saul, having come to Jerusalem, did try to join himself to the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, not believing that he is a disciple,

And when he was come for the first time, three years after his conversion, “to Jerusalem,” whither he had fled from Damascus; “and they were all afraid of him.” Likely owing to civil disturbances or the war between King Aretas and Herod, not to speak of the difficulty of communication at the time, the news of his conversion had not reached the Christians of Jerusalem, and the Jews would have concealed it had they known it.

Not believing he was a disciple or a sincere believer.

Although, they might have heard something of his conversion and its circumstances; still, they seemed inclined to regard the whole affair as a feint to deceive them, and persecute them still more.

Act 9:27  and Barnabas having taken him, brought him unto the apostles, and did declare to them how in the way he saw the Lord, and that he spake to him, and how in Damascus he was speaking boldly in the name of Jesus.

Barnabas, between whom and Paul there may have been heretofore friendly relations, receiving him benevolently and hospitably, while others stood aloof and shunned him, as a suspect, took him and introduced him to the Apostles, Peter and James, the only Apostles who, it seems, were then at Jerusalem (Gal 1:18).

Act 9:28  And he was with them, coming in and going out in Jerusalem,

He was with them, &c., lived on terms of friendly intercourse, as Apostle and convert to the faith. He abode with them only about a fortnight (Gal 1:8).

Dealing confidently, &c. He courageously proclaimed our Lord to be God.

In the name. By the authority of the Lord Jesus.

Act 9:29  and speaking boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, he was both speaking and disputing with the Hellenists, and they were taking in hand to kill him,

To the Gentiles, &c. “Gentiles,” though found in the Vulgate, is found in no Greek Codex, nor in any ancient version save the Ethiopia It is wanting in several old Latin copies. Hence, generally regarded as spurious, and supposed to be introduced by some copyist. Indeed the time for preaching to the Gentiles had not yet arrived It might, however, be said with Bellarmine (Rom. Pont. 22) that St. Paul did not yet preach to the Gentiles, but was only preparing the way for it by refuting the objections of the Gentiles.

Disputed with the Greeks. The Greek Hellenists denoted those Jews who scattered all over the world, spoke the Greek language, as their national language. St. Paul himself was a Hellenist Jew. These are contrasted with the “Hebrews, Jews, who spoke the Hebrew, or Aramaic of Palestine; called in the Scriptures of the New Testament, Hebrew.

Act 9:30  and the brethren having known, brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

On being made aware of the wicked designs of the Hellenists against St. Paul the Christians of Jerusalem took measures for his safety. “Caesarea,” of Palestine, “Tharsus,” his native city. Likely, St. Paul preached the Gospel in Cilicia (Gal 1:21).

Act 9:31  Then, indeed, the assemblies throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, had peace, being built up, and, going on in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

The Church had peace. (In Greek, churches); freed from the persecution which commenced with the death of Stephen.

All Judea, &c. The three provinces into which Palestine was divided, and to which the preaching of the Gospel was in a great measure hitherto confined. In other places, too, there were several converted Jews. But St. Luke speaks only of these three districts as it was in them persecution was so rife.

This cessation of persecution was probably owing to the conversion of the chief agent of persecution. Saul now became the most ardent and most zealous propagator of the faith. It may also be in some measure owing to the persecution the Jews themselves were suffering from Caligula who ordered his statue to be set up in the Temple, and instructed his lieutenant, Petronius, to extinguish in blood any attempt at opposition (Josephus, Antiq. xviii.; viii. 2-9; de Bello xi. c. 10). They had, therefore, themselves something else to mind besides persecuting the Christians.

Edified. A metaphorical expression, allusive to raising a material building. In a spiritual sense, it denotes an increase in grace and sanctity; in a physical sense, an increase of numbers. The former is chiefly meant as in following words: “walking, living, regulating their lives “in the fear of the Lord,” walking in the way of his commandments and practising his true worship.

Filled with the consolations. Interior peace and abundant graces “of the Holy Ghost.”

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 9:26-31

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 30, 2012

26. And when he was come into Jerusalem, he essayed to join himself to the disciples; and they all were afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.
27. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and told them
how he had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken to him; and how in Damascus he had dealt confidently in the name of Jesus.

They all were afraid. It is certain that the conversion of St. Paul had been made known in Jerusalem, but during his long stay in Arabia people had likely ceased to think much about it. So when he did appear in their midst, announcing the fact and details of his conversion, the Christians were afraid to trust him. Barnabas, therefore, took him to the Apostles, Peter and James the Less (Gal 1:18-19). Barnabas was chosen as the intermediary between Paul and the Apostles, perhaps because he and Paul had formerly studied at the same school under Gamaliel, or more likely because they at one time had been close companions.

28. And he was with them coming in and going out in Jerusalem, and dealing confidently in the name of the Lord.
29. He spoke also to the Gentiles, and disputed with the Greeks; but they sought to kill him.

He spoke also to the Gentiles. These words are wanting in the Greek MSS. and in the best copies of the Vulgate. It is not likely that Paul preached to the Gentiles before the conversion of Cornelius by Peter. With the Greeks; i.e., with the Hellenist Jews, who would naturally be more inclined to St. Paul on account of his Cilician origin.

30. Which when the brethren had known, they brought him down to Csesarea, and sent him away to Tarsus.

The brethren; i.e., the Christians, accompanied him to Caesarea on the seacoast, whence he was to sail for Tarsus. It is, however, uncertain whether St. Paul made this journey by sea or by land.

31. Now the church had peace throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria; and was edified, walking in the fear of the Lord, and was filled with the consolation of the Holy Ghost.

The Church had peace. This peace m the three parts of Palestine west of the Jordan was not so much due to the conversion of St. Paul and his removal from Jerusalem, as to the disturbance among the Jews caused by the Emperor Caligua, who wished to have his statue put in the Temple of Jerusalem. This latter event came very near resulting in war, and so preoccupied the minds of the Jews that no time was left for persecuting the Christians (Josephus, Antiq. xviii. 7, 2; 8, i if. ; Bell. Jud. ii. 10, I).

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 42

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 29, 2012

1. We have undertaken the exposition of a Psalm corresponding to your own “longings,” on which we propose to speak to you. For the Psalm itself begins with a certain pious “longing;” and he who sings so, says, “Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after Thee, O God” (verse 1). Who is it then that saith this? It is ourselves, if we be but willing! And why ask, who it is other than thyself, when it is in thy power to be the thing which thou art asking about? It is not however one individual, but it is “One Body;” but “Christ’s Body is the Church.”(Col 1:24) Such “longing” indeed is not found in all who enter the Church: let all however who have “tasted” the sweetness “of the Lord,”(Ps 34:8) and who own in Christ that for which they have a relish, think that they are not the only ones; but that there are such seeds scattered throughout “the field” of the Lord, this whole earth: and that there is a certain Christian unity, whose voice thus speaks, “Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after Thee, O God.” And indeed it is not ill understood as the cry of those, who being as yet Catechumens, are hastening to the grace of the holy Font. On which account too this Psalm is ordinarily chanted on those occasions, that they may long for the Fountain of remission of sins, even “as the hart for the water-brooks.” Let this be allowed; and this meaning retain its place in the Church; a place both truthful and sanctioned by usage. Nevertheless, it appears to me, my brethren, that such “a longing” is not fully satisfied even in the faithful in Baptism: but that haply, if they know where they are sojourning, and whither they have to remove from hence, their “longing” is kindled in even greater intensity.

2. The title then of it is, “On the end: a Psalm for understanding for the sons of Korah.” We have met with the sons of Korah in other titles of Psalms: and remember to have discussed and stated already the meaning of this name. Yet we must even now take notice of this title in such a way, that what we have said already should be no prejudice against our saying it again: for all were not present in every place where we said it. Now Korah may have been, as indeed he was, a certain definite person; and have had sons, who might be called “the sons of Korah;” let us however search for the secret of which this is the sacrament, that this name may bring to light the mystery with which it is pregnant. For there is some great mystery in the matter that the name “sons of Korah” is given to Christians. Why “sons of Korah”?They are “sons of the bridegroom, sons of Christ,”(Matt 9:15) Why then does “Korah” stand for Christ? Because “Korah” is equivalent to” Calvaria.” … Therefore, the “sons of the bridegroom,” the sons of His Passion, the sons redeemed by His Blood, the sons of His Cross, who bear on their forehead that which His enemies erected on Calvary, are called “the sons of Korah;to them is thisPsalm sung as a Psalm for “understanding.” Let then our understanding be roused: and if the Psalm be sung to us, let us follow it with our “understanding.” … Run to the brooks; long after the water-brooks. “With God is the fountain of Life;” a “fountain” that shall never be dried up: in His “Light” is a Light that shall never be darkened. Long thou for this light: for a certain fountain, a certain light, such as thy bodily eyes know not; a light to see which the inward eye must be prepared; a fountain, to drink of which the inward thirst is to be kindled. Run to the fountain; long for the fountain; but do it not anyhow, be not satisfied with running like any ordinary animal; run thou “like the hart.” What is meant by “like the hart”? Let there be no sloth in thy running; run with all thy might: long for the fountain with all thy might. For we find in “the hart” an emblem of swiftness.

3. But perhaps Scripture meant us to consider in the stag not this point only, but another also. Hear what else there is in the hart. It destroys serpents, and after the killing of serpents, it is inflamed with thirst yet more violent; having destroyed serpents, it runs to “the water-brooks,” with thirst more keen than before. The serpents are thy vices, destroy the serpents of iniquity; then wilt thou long yet more for “the Fountain of Truth.” Perhaps avarice whispers in thine ear some dark counsel, hisses against the word of God, hisses against the commandment of God. And since it is said to thee, “Disregard this or that thing,” if thou prefer working iniquity to despising some temporal good, thou choosest to be bitten by a serpent, rather than destroy it. Whilst, therefore, thou art yet indulgent to thy vice, thy covetousness or thy appetite, when am I to find in thee “a longing” such as this, that might make thee run to the water-brooks? …

4. There is another point to be observed in the hart. It is reported of stags … that when they either wander in the herds, or when they are swimming to reach some other parts of the earth, that they support the burdens of their heads on each other, in such a manner as that one takes the lead, and others follow, resting their heads upon him, as again others who follow do upon them, and others in succession to the very end of the herd; but the one who took the lead in bearing the burden of their heads, when tired, returns to the rear, and rests himself after his fatigue by supporting his head just as did the others; by thus supporting what is burdensome, each in turn, they both accomplish their journey, and do not abandon each other. Are they not a kind of “harts” that the Apostle addresses, saying, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the Law of Christ”?(Gal 6:2) …

5. “My soul is athirst for the living God” (verse 2). What I am saying, that “as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so longs my soul after Thee, O God,” means this, “My soul is athirst for the living God.” For what is it athirst? “When shall I come and appear before God?” This it is for which I am athirst, to “come and to appear before Him.” I am athirst in my pilgrimage, in my running; I shall be filled on my arrival. But “When shall I come?” And this, which is soon in the sight of God, is late to our “longing.” “When shall I come and appear before God?” This too proceeds from that “longing,” of which in another place comes that cry, “One thing have I desired of the Lord; that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” Wherefore so? “That I may behold” (he saith) “the beauty of the Lord.”(Ps 27:4) “When shall I come and appear before the Lord?”

6. “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they daily say unto me, Where is thy God?” (verse 3). My tears (he saith) have been not bitterness, but “my bread.” Those very tears were sweet unto me: being athirst for that fountain, inasmuch as I was not as yet able to drink of it, I have eagerly made my tears my meat. For he said not, “My tears became my drink,” lest he should seem to have longed for them, as for “the water-brooks:” but, still retaining that thirst wherewith I burn, and by which I am hurried away towards the water-brooks, “My tears became my meat,” whilst I am not yet there. And assuredly he does but the more thirst for the water-brooks from making his tears his meat. … “And they daily say unto me, Where is thy God?” For if a Pagan should say this to me, I cannot retort it upon him, saying, “Where is thine?” inasmuch as he points with his finger to some stone, and says, “Lo, there is my God!” When I have laughed at the stone, and he who pointed to it has been put to the blush, he raises his eyes from the stone, looks up to heaven, and perhaps says, pointing his finger to the Sun, “Behold there my God! Where, I pray, is your God?” He has found something to point out to the eyes of the flesh; whereas I, on my part, not that I have not a God to show to him, cannot show him what he has no eyes to see. For he indeed could point out to my bodily eyes his God, the Sun; but what eyes hath he to which I might point out the Creator of the Sun? …

7. “I thought on these things, and poured out my soul above myself” (verse 4). When would my soul attain to that object of its search, which is “above my soul,” if my soul were not to “pour itself out above itself”? For were it to rest in itself, it would not see anything else beyond itself; and in seeing itself, would not, for all that, see God. Let then my insulting enemies now say, “Where is thy God?” aye, let them say it! I, so long as I do not “see,” so long as my happiness is postponed, make my tears my “bread day and night.” Let them still say, “Where is thy God?” I seek my God in every corporeal nature, terrestrial or celestial, and find Him not: I seek His Substance in my own soul, and I find it not, yet still I have thought on these things, and wishing to “see the invisible things of my God, being understood by the things made,”(Rom 1:20) I have poured forth my soul above myself, and there remains no longer any being for me to attain to, save my God. For it is “there” is the “house of my God.” His dwelling-place is above my soul; from thence He beholds me; from thence He created me; from thence He directs me and provides for me; from thence he appeals to me, and calls me, and directs me; leads me in the way, and to the end of my way….

8. For when I was “pouring out my soul above myself,” in order to reach my God, why did I do so? “For I will go into the place of Thy Tabernacle.” For I should be in error were I to seek for my God without” the place of His tabernacle.” “For I will go into the place of Thy wonderful tabernacle, even unto the house of God.”

“I will go,” he says, “into the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even unto the house of God!” For there are already many things that I admire in “the tabernacle.” See how great wonders I admire in the tabernacle! For God’s tabernacle on earth is the faithful; I admire in them the obedience of even their bodily members: that in them “Sin does not reign so that they should obey its lusts; neither do they yield their members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but unto the living God in good works.”(Rom 6:12-13) I admire the sight of the bodily members warring in the service of the soul that serves God. … And wonderful though the tabernacle be, yet when I come to “the house of God,” I am even struck dumb with astonishment. Of that “house” he speaks in another Psalm, after he had put a certain abstruse and difficult question to himself (viz., why is it that it generally goes well with the wicked on earth, and ill with the good?), saying, “I thought to know this; it is too painful for me, until I go into the sanctuary of God, and understand of the last things.”(Ps 73:16-17) For it is there, in the sanctuary of God, in the house of God, is the fountain of “understanding.” There he “understood of the last things;” and solved the question concerning the prosperity of the unrighteous, and the sufferings of the righteous. How does he solve it? Why, that the wicked, when reprieved here, are reserved for punishments without end; and the good when they suffer here, are being tried in order that they may in the end obtain the inheritance. And it was in the sanctuary of God that he understood this, and “understood of the last things.” … For he tells us of his progress, and of his guidance thither; as if we had been saying, “You are admiring the tabernacle here on earth; how came you to the sanctuary of the house of God?” he says, “In the voice of joy and praise; the sound of keeping holiday.” Here, when men keep festival simply for their own indulgence, it is their custom to place musical instruments, or to station a chorus of singers, before their houses, or any kind of music that serves and allures to wantonness. And when these are heard, what do we passers by say? “What is going on here?” And we are told in answer, that it is some festival. “It is a birthday that is being celebrated” (say they),” there is a marriage here;” that those songs may not appear out of place, but the luxurious indulgence may be excused by the festive occasion. In the “house of God” there is a never-ending festival: for there it is not an occasion celebrated once, and then to pass away. The angelic choir makes an eternal “holiday:” the presence of God’s face, joy that never fails. This is a “holiday” of such a kind, as neither to be opened by any dawn, nor terminated by any evening. From that everlasting perpetual festivity, a certain sweet and melodious strain strikes on the ears of the heart, provided only the world do not drown the sounds. As he walks in this tabernacle, and contemplates God’s wonderful works for the redemption of the faithful, the sound of that festivity charms his ears, and bears the “hart” away to “the waterbrooks.”

9. But seeing, brethren, so long as “we are at home in this body, we are absent from the Lord;”(Wis 9:15) and “the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth on many things;” even though we have some way or other dispersed the clouds, by walking as “longing” leads us on, and for a brief while have come within reach of that sound, so that by an effort we may catch something from that “house of God,” yet through the burden, so to speak, of our infirmity, we sink back to our usual level, and relapse to our ordinary state. And just as there we found cause for rejoicing, so here there will not be wanting an occasion for sorrow. For that hart that made “tears” its “bread day and night,” borne along by “longing to the water-brooks” (that is, to the spiritual delights of God), “pouring forth his soul above himself,” that he may attain to what is “above” his own soul, walking towards “the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even unto the house of God,” and led on by the sweetness of that inward spiritual sound to feel contempt for all outward things, and be borne on to things spiritual, is but a mortal man still; is still groaning here, still bearing about the frailty of flesh, still in peril in the midst of the “offences”(Matt 18:7) of this world. He therefore glances back to himself as if he were coming from that world; and says to himself, now placed in the midst of these sorrows, comparing these with the things, to see which he had entered in there, and after seeing which he had come forth from thence; “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why dost thou disquiet me?” (verse 5). Lo, we have just now been gladdened by certain inward delights: with the mind’s eye we have been able to behold, though but with a momentary glance, something not susceptible of change: why dost thou still “disquiet me, why art thou” still “cast down”? For thou dost not doubt of thy God. For now thou art not without somewhat to say to thyself, in answer to those who say, “Where is thy God?” I have now had the perception of something that is unchangeable; why dost thou disquiet me still? “Hope in God.” Just as if his soul was silently replying to him, “Why do I disquiet thee, but because I am not yet there, where that delight is, to which I was, as it were, rapt for a moment? Am I already ‘drinking’ from this ‘fountain’ with nothing to fear?” … Still “Hope in God,” is his answer to the soul that disquiets him, and would fain account for her disquiet from the evils with which this world abounds. In the mean while dwell in hope: for “hope that is seen is not hope; but if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”(Rom 8:24-25)

10. “Hope in God.” Why “hope”? “For I will confess unto Him.” What wilt thou “confess”? “My God is the saving health of my countenance.” My “health” (my salvation) cannot be from myself; this it is that I will say, that I will “confess.” It is my God that is “the saving health of my countenance.” For to account for his fears, in the midst of those things, which he now knows, having come after a sort to the “understanding” of them, he has been looking behind him again in anxiety, lest the enemy be stealing upon him: he cannot yet say, “I am made whole every whir.” For having but “the first-fruits of the Spirit, we groan within ourselves; waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body.”(Rom 8:23) When that “health” (that salvation) is perfected in us, then shall we be living in the house of God for ever, and praising for ever Him to whom it was said, “Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house, they will be praising Thee world without end.”(Ps 84:4) This is not so yet, because the salvation which is promised, is not as yet in being; but it is “in hope” that I confess unto God, and say, “My God is the saving health of my countenance.” For it is “in hope” that “we are saved; but hope that is seen, is not hope.” …

11. “My soul is disquieted on account of myself”(10) (verse 6). Is it disquieted on account of God? It is on my own account it is disquieted. By the Unchangeable it was revived; it is by the changeable it is disquieted. I know that the righteousness of God remaineth; whether my own will remain stedfast, I know not. For I am alarmed by the Apostle’s saying, “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.”(1 Cor 10:12) Therefore since “there is no soundness in me for myself,” there is no hope either for me of myself. “My soul is disquieted on account of myself.” … “Therefore I remember Thee, O Lord, from the land of Jordan, and from the little hill of Hermon.” From whence did I remember thee? From the “little hill,” and from the “land of Jordan.” Perhaps from Baptism, where the remission of sins is given. For no one runs to the remission of sins, except he who is dissatisfied with himself; no one runs to the remission of sins, but he who confesses himself a sinner; no one confesses himself a sinner, except by humbling himself before God. Therefore it is from “the land of Jordan I have remembered thee, and from the hill;” observe, not “of the great hill,” that thou mayest make of the “little hill” a great one: for “whoso exalteth himself shall be abased, and whoso humbleth himself shall be exalted.” If you would also ask the meanings of the names, Jordan means “their descent.” Descend then, that thou mayest be “lifted up:” be not lifted up, lest thou be cast down. “And the little hill of Hermon.” Hermon means “anathematizing.” Anathematize thyself, by being displeased with thyself; for if thou art pleased with thyself, God will be displeased with thee. Because then God gives us all good things, because He Himself is good, not because we are worthy of it; because He is merciful, not because we have in anything deserved it; it is from “the land of Jordan, and from Hermon,” that I remember thee. And because he so remembers with humility, he shall earn his exaltation to fruition, for he is not “exalted” in himself, who “glories in the Lord.”

12. “Deep calleth unto deep with the voice of thy water-spouts” (verse 7). I may perhaps finish the Psalm, aided as I am by your attention, whose fervour I perceive. As for your fatigue in hearing, I am not greatly solicitous, since you see me also, who speak, toiling in the heat of these exertions. Assuredly it is from your seeing me labouring, that you labour with me: for I am labouring not for myself, but for you. “Deep calleth unto deep with the voice of thy waterspouts.” It was God whom he addressed, who “remembered him from the land of Jordan and Hermon.” It was in wonder and admiration he spake this: “Abyss calleth unto abyss with the voice of Thy water-spouts.” What abyss is this that calls, and to what other abyss? Justly, because the “understanding” spoken of is an “abyss.” For an “abyss” is a depth that cannot be reached or comprehended; and it is principally applied to a great body of water. For there is a “depth,” a “profound,” the bottom of which cannot be reached by sounding. Furthermore, it is said in a certain passage.(Ps 36:6-7) “Thy judgments are a mighty abyss,” Scripture meaning to suggest that the judgments of God are incomprehensible. What then is the “abyss” that calls, and to what other “abyss” does it call? If by “abyss” we understand a great depth, is not man’s heart, do you not suppose, “an abyss”? For what is there more profound than that “abyss”? Men may speak, may be seen by the operations of their members, may be heard speaking in conversation: but whose thought is penetrated, whose heart seen into? What he is inwardly engaged on, what he is inwardly capable of, what he is inwardly doing or what purposing, what he is inwardly wishing to happen, or not to happen, who shall comprehend? I think an “abyss” may not unreasonably be understood of man, of whom it is said elsewhere, “Man shall come to a deep heart, and God shall be exalted.” (Ps 64:6-7) If man then is an “abyss,” in what way doth “abyss” call on “abyss”? Does man “call on” man as God is called upon? No, but “calls on” is equivalent to “calls to him.” For it was said of a certain person, he calls on death; (Wis 1:16) that is, lives in such a way as to be inviting death; for there is no man at all who puts up a prayer, and calls expressly on death: but men by evil-living invite death. “Deep calls on deep,” then, is, “man calls to man.” Thus is it wisdom is learnt, and thus faith, when “man calls to man.” The holy preachers of God’s word call on the “deep:” are they not themselves “a deep” also? …

13. “Deep calleth to deep with the voice of Thy water-spouts” I, who tremble all over, when my soul was disquieted on account of myself, feared greatly on account of Thy “judgments.” … Are those judgments slight ones? They are great ones, severe, hard to bear; but would they were all. “Deep calls to deep with the voice of Thy water-spouts,” in that Thou threatenest, Thou sayest, that there is another condemnation in store even after those sufferings. “Deep calls on deep with the voice of Thy water-spouts.” “Whither then shall I go from Thy presence? And whither shall I flee from Thy Spirit?” seeing that deep calls to deep, and after those sufferings severer ones are to be dreaded.

14. “All Thy overhangings and Thy waves are come upon me.” The “waves” in what I already feel, the “overhangings” in that Thou denouncest. All my sufferings are Thy waves; all Thy denouncements of judgments are Thy “overhangings.” In the “waves” that deep “calleth;” in the “overhangings” is the other “deep” which it “calls to.” In this that I suffer are all Thy waves; in the severer punishment that Thou threatenest, all Thy “overhangings” are come unto me. For He who threatens does not let His judgments fall upon us, but keeps them suspended over us.” But inasmuch as Thou sittest at liberty, I have thus spoken unto my soul. “Hope in God: for I will confess unto Him. My God is the saving health of my countenance.” The more numerous my sufferings, the sweeter will be Thy mercy.

15. Therefore follows: “The Lord will commend His loving-kindness in the day-time; and in the night-time will He declare it” (verse 8). In tribulation no man has leisure to hear: attend, when it is well with you; hear, when it is well with you; learn, when you are in tranquillity, the discipline of wisdom, and store up the word of God as you do food. For in tribulation every one must be profiled by what he heard in the time of security. For in prosperity God “commends to thee His mercy,” in case thou serve Him faithfully, for He frees thee from tribulation; but it is “in the night” only that He “declares” His mercy to thee, which He “commended” to thee by day. When tribulation shall actually come, He will not leave thee destitute of His help; He will show thee that which He commended to thee in the daytime is true. For it is written in a certain passage, “The mercy of the Lord is seasonable (Sirach 35:26) in the time of affliction, as clouds of rain in the time of drought.” “The Lord hath commended His loving-kindness in the day-time, and in the night will He declare it.” He does not showy that He is thine Helper, unless tribulation come, from whence thou must be rescued by Him who promised it to thee “in the day-time.” Therefore we are warned to be like “the ant.” For just as worldly prosperity is signified by “the day,” adversity by the night, so again in another way worldly prosperity is expressed by “the summer,” adversity by the winter. And what is it that the ant does? She lays up in summer what will be useful to her in winter. Whilst therefore it is summer, whilst it is well with you, whilst you are in tranquillity, hear the word of the Lord. For how can it be that in the midst of these tempests of the world, you should pass through the whole of that sea, without suffering? How could it happen? To what mortal’s lot has it fallen? If even it has been the lot of any, that very calm is more to be dreaded. “The Lord hath commended His loving-kindness in the day-time, and in the night-time will He declare it.” … “There is with me prayer unto the God of my life.” This I make my business here; I who am the “hart thirsting and longing for the water-brooks,” calling to mind the sweetness of that strain, by which I was led on through the tabernacle even to the house of God; whilst this “corruptible body presseth down the soul,”(Wis 9:15) there is yet with me “prayer unto the God of my life.” For in order to making supplication unto God, I have not to buy aught from places beyond the sea; or in order that He may hear me, have I to sail to bring from a distance frankincense and perfumes, or have I to bring “calf or ram from the flock.” There is “with me prayer to the God of my life.” I have within a victim to sacrifice; I have within an incense to place on the altar; I have within a sacrifice wherewith to propitiate my God. “The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit.” What sacrifice of a “troubled spirit” I have within, hear.

16. “I will say unto God, Thou art my lifter up. Why hast Thou forgotten me?” (verse 9). For I am suffering here, even as if Thou hadst forgotten me. But Thou art trying me, and I know that Thou dost but put off, not take utterly from me, what Thou hast promised me. But yet, “Why hast Thou forgotten me?” So cried our Head also, as if speaking in our name. “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”(3) I will say unto God, “Thou art my lifter up; why hast Thou forgotten me?”

17. “Why hast Thou rejected me?” “Rejected” me, that is to say, from that height of the apprehension of the unchangeable Truth. “Why hast Thou rejected me?” Why, when already longing for those things, have I been cast down to these, by the weight and burden of my iniquity? This same voice in another passage said, “I said in my trance”(Ps 31:22) (i.e., in my rapture, when he had seen some great thing or other), “I said in my trance, I am cast out of the sight of Thine eyes.” For he compared these things in which he found himself, to those toward which he had been raised; and saw himself cast out far “from the sight of God’s eyes,” as he speaks even here, “Why hast Thou rejected me? Why go I mourning, while mine enemy troubleth me, while he breaketh my bones?” Even he, my tempter, the devil; while offences are everywhere on the increase, because of the abundance of which “the love of many is waxing cold.”(Matt 24:12) When we see the strong members of the Church generally giving way to the causes of offence, does not Christ’s body say, “The enemy breaketh my bones”? For it is the strong members that are “the bones;” and sometimes even those that are strong sink under their temptations. For whosoever of the body of Christ considers this, does he not exclaim, with the voice of Christ’s Body, “Why hast Thou rejected me? Why go I mourning, while mine enemy troubleth me, while he breaketh my bones?” You may see not my flesh merely, but even my “bones.” To see those who were thought to have some stability, giving way under temptations, so that the rest of the weak brethren despair when they see those who are strong succumbing; how great, my brethren, are the dangers:

18. “They who trouble me cast me in the teeth.” Again that voice! “While they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” (verse 10). And it is principally in the temptations of the Church they say this,” Where is thy God?” How much was this cast in the teeth of the Martyrs! Those men so patient and courageous for the name of Christ, how often was it said to them, “Where is your God?” “Let Him deliver you, if He can.” For men saw their torments outwardly; they did not inwardly behold their crowns! “They who trouble me cast me in the teeth, while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” And on this account, seeing “my soul is disquieted on account of myself,” what else should I say unto it than those words: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul; and why dost thou disquiet me?” (verse 11). And, as it seems to answer, “Wouldest thou not have me disquiet thee, placed as I am here in so great evils? Wouldest thou have me not disquiet thee, panting as I am after what is good, thirsting and labouring as I am for it?” What should I say, but, “Hope thou in God; for I will yet confess unto Him” (verse 11). He states the very words of that confession; he repeats the grounds on which he fortifies his hope. “He is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

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This Week’s Posts: Sunday, April 29-Sunday, May 6 2012

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 28, 2012

SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 2012
Dominica III Post Pascha ~ II. classis

Please Note: normally I combine the Sunday resources for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite into a single post; this week I did not, thus the separate posts below.



Last Week’s Posts: Sunday, April 22-Sunday, April 29.

MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2012
(Optional Memorial: Pope St Pius V)
S. Catharina Senensis Virgine ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria Secunda infra Hebdomadam III post Octavam Paschae



TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2012
(Optional Memorial: St Joseph the Worker)
S. Joseph Opificis ~ I. classis
Tempora: Feria Tertia infra Hebdomadam III post Octavam Paschae




S. Athanasii Confessoris Ecclesiae Doctoris ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria Quarta infra Hebdomadam III post Octavam Paschae



RESOURCES FOR SUNDAY MASS, MAY 6 (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). Will also be listed below under the heading SUNDAY, MAY 6.


Feria Quinta infra Hebdomadam III post Octavam Paschae ~ IV. classis
Commemoratio: Ss. Alexandri et Sociorum Martyrum




POPE BENEDICT: THE QUALITY OF HOMILIES NEEDS TO IMPROVE. A blog post by Catholic scripture scholar Dr. Peter Willaimson.

PODCAST: ST PAUL’S EARLY LIFE, CONVERSION, VOCATION. Part 1 of a series by Dr. Peter Williamson.

PODCAST: ST PAUL’S FIRST MISSION TO THE GENTILES. Part 2 of a series (see previous link).

FRIDAY, MAY 4 2012
S. Monicae Viduae ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria Sexta infra Hebdomadam III post Octavam Paschae




S. Pii V Papae Confessoris ~ III. classis
Tempora: Sabbato infra Hebdomadam III post Octavam Paschae




SUNDAY, MAY 6 2012
Dominica IV Post Pascha ~ II. classis
Please note that several commentaries on the Sunday readings are listed below. These links will be moved to the Resources for Today’s Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms) post when it is published on Wednesday

Resources for Today’s Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).


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Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:3-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 28, 2012

This post includes the Bishop’s brief analysis of the entire chapter, followed by his notes on verses 3-10. In addition, I’ve included his paraphrase (in purple) of the biblical text he is commenting on.

In this chapter, the Apostle instructs Timothy in the manner of admonishing and correcting both the young and the old (vv. 1-2). In the next place, he gives him instructions regarding the widows who were to be admitted among those supported by the Church, on a part of the offerings of the faithful. He points out the quality of such widows:—They should be really destitute (3); given to prayer (5); sixty years of age (9); of a good reputation (10). He then points out the class of widows who should not be admitted among this number (11, 12, 13).

He, in the next place, instructs him how he should treat his clergy, both in supporting them (17), and in receiving accusations against them (19, 20).

Finally, he implores of him to act the part of a just judge in deciding Ecclesiastical matters (21). Not to be rash or precipitate in admitting persons to Holy Orders, and to lead a life of chastity.

1Ti 5:3  Honour widows that are widows indeed.

Nourish and support the widows, who may truly be called such, in the strict sense of the word, i.e., destitute of all aid.

“Honour,” i.e., support. “Honour” has this meaning in many passages of SS.
Scripture—(v.g.) Matthew 15, also in verse 17, of this chapter.

“That are widows indeed,” i.e., in the proper sense of the word; for the Greek corresponding with widow  χηρας, is derived from a root, signifying, to be destitute.

1Ti 5:4  But if any widow have children or grandchildren, let her learn first to govern her own house and to make a return of duty to her parents; for this is acceptable before God.

But if any widow be not thus destitute—if she have children or “rand children, let them learn, in the first place, to regulate their own house properly, by supporting their near friends and widowed domestics, and not throw them as a burden on the Church, and pay back to their parents the duty of support, which is due by them, for the care taken of them in their infancy; for, this exercise of filial piety is pleasing and acceptable to God.

“Let her learn.” In the Greek it is, let them learn, & c. This latter reading is preferred in the Paraphrase, because it would appear, that the Apostle, having in the preceding verse referred to the widow, who is deserving of support, now shows who the widow is, that is not deserving of the public support. Again, the Greek word for “govern,” ευσεβειν, means the exercise of that piety which children owe their parents. Moreover, the widow in question is supposed to have “grandchildren” also, and it could not be required of her “to make a return of duty to her parents,” in reference to them, since she had done so already towards her children. Besides, the phrase, “make a return of duty to her children,” would bear a very forced construction in the Vulgate reading; whereas, according to the Greek, it runs quite smooth. Finally, the reason assigned, “for this is acceptable before God,” is very like the reason given (Col 3), why children should obey their parents. This reading is adopted by St. Jerome, Œcumenius, &c., and preferred by Estius.

The Apostle here treats of Ecclesiastical widows, who were supported at the expense of the Church. In the infancy of the Church, some of these lived together in communities, and others, in their own houses. They made vows of chastity (verse 12), and devoted their entire time to works of piety (verse 5). From among them were taken the deaconesses, who were charged with the instruction of ignorant females, and with preparing them for baptism. They ought to be advanced in age, and were placed under the care of the Bishop; hence, among the reasons assigned by St. Chrysostom for flying the Episcopal office, he assigns the duty of taking charge of widows (lib. 3, de Saccrdotio). In the time of St. Augustine, these had a distmct dress of black colour, as appears from the Council of Orange (c. 15); 4th Council of Carthage (c. 104); and St.
Augustine’s Ep. 199, ad Ecdiciam. The Apostle says nothing about honouring virgins, because the honour to which he refers is the honour of support, and the widows alone required this, the virgins being supported by their parents.

1Ti 5:5  But she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, let her trust in God and continue in supplications and prayers night and day.

But let her, who is a widow indeed, that is to say, desolate and destitute of all aid, have recourse to God and hope in him, and devote her entire time, both day and night, to fervent prayers and supplications.

According to the Greek, in this verse he assigns some of the good qualities which should distinguish the Ecclesiastical widow. For, “let her trust in God,” &c.; the Greek is  ηλπικεν, she has trusted, or, trusts in God. In our version, the words convey an exhortation. The Greek indicative form is read in St. Chrysostom.

1Ti 5:6  For she that liveth in pleasures is dead while she is living.

But the widow who lives a life of luxury and self-indulgence, although living and animated in body, is dead in soul, dead to God and to grace.

This verse would favour the Greek reading in the preceding. The ecclesiastical widow, worthy of support, must be a person addicted to prayer, &c.; for, as to those widows that lead a life of ease and indulgence, though their bodies be animated, their souls are dead. The words of the gospel, “Suffer the dead to bury their dead,” are similar in signification to the words, “she is dead, while living.” Such a person is not a widow indeed; for, though bereft of her husband, she is not still desolate. She employs the means of livelihood which she possesses in purposes of self-indulgence, and not in the exercise of benevolence or charity.

1Ti 5:7  And this give in charge, that they may be blameless.

Command and explain what I have said to all widows, that they may be free from all reproach, and that the Church may be saved from scandal.

These things, regarding the obligation of prayer, of avoiding luxurious living, &c., teach all widows, so that they may be free from reproach. “And this give in
charge.” In Greek, ταυτα παραγγελλε, and these things give in charge.

1Ti 5:8  But if any man have not care of his own and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.

But if any one neglect to make the necessary provision for his near relations, particularly those most closely connected with him, such a man, by unnatural conduct of this sort, has practically denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Here he confirms, by a general assertion, what he applied to children and grandchildren (verse 4), wherein he said, that if a widow have children, &c., they should pay back the reciprocal duty of support. Here, he goes farther, and asserts if any person, man or woman, neglects the care of his (or her) own, which is generally understood of such as have claims on them, on the grounds of consanguinity or marriage, “‘and especially those of his house,” which is commonly understood of near relatives, parents, brothers, and such as generally live in the same house with a person, and form part of his family, such a one has, practically, and in deed, “denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel;” for, the infidels are not dead to these natural feelings.

1Ti 5:9  Let a widow be chosen of no less than threescore years of age, who hath been the wife of one husband.

A widow, in order to be enrolled on the catalogue of those to be supported by the Church, should have reached her sixtieth year, and not be married more than once.

The widow, to be enrolled on the Ecclesiastical catalogue, must be sixty years of age; because, then, she is unfit for labour, and not in danger of incontinence, to which younger widows would be exposed. She must be a person who was but once married, a mark of continency.

1Ti 5:10  Having testimony for her good works, if she have brought up children, if she have received to harbour, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have ministered to them that suffer tribulation, if she have diligently followed every good work.

She should have the reputation of practising good works, among the rest, of piously educating her children, and of exercising hospitality, according to her means, towards holy strangers, of washing their feet, according to the existing usage, of having afforded aid and consolation to the afflicted, and of having sought every occasion of doing good.

She must be a person, whom a character for exercising good works will pronounce deserving of support. He instances a few of these good works:—Bringing up her family in piety, exercising hospitality toward holy travellers, washing their feet, according to the custom then existing. The exercise of hospitality was, in the infancy of the Church, very necessary and meritorious, owing to the want of accommodation, and the danger of perversion at the Pagan places of entertainment. The poor widow should exercise it, according to her means and ability. “If she have diligently followed every good work,” i.e., lost no opportunity of doing good, and had the will and inclination, even when the power of doing good was wanting.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 10:23-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 28, 2012

Ver 23. “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.”

Chrys.: Having foretold the fearful things which should come upon them after His Cross, resurrection, and ascension, He leads them to gentler prospects; He does not bid them presumptuously to offer themselves for persecution, but to fly from it; “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye to another.” For because this was the first beginning of their conversion, He adapts His words to their state.

Jerome: This must be referred to the time when the Apostles were sent to preach, when it was said to them, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles;” they should not fear, but may shun persecution. This we see the believers did in the beginning, when on a persecution arising in Jerusalem they were scattered throughout all Judaea, and thus the season of tribulation was made the seedtime of the Gospel.

Aug., cont. Faust., xxii, 36: Not that the Saviour was unable to protect His disciples, does He here bid them fly, and Himself give them an example of it, but He instructed man’s weakness, that he should not presume to tempt God, when he has anything that he can do for himself, but should shun all evils.

Aug., City of God, book 1, ch. 22: He might have suffered them to lay violent hands upon themselves, that they might not fall into the hands of their persecutors. Therefore if He neither commanded nor allowed this mode of departure from this world to His own, for whom He Himself had promised that He would prepare an eternal mansion; whatever instances may be brought by the Gentiles who know not God, it is clear that this is not lawful for those who believe one true God.

Chrys.: But that they should not say, What then if we fly from persecution, and again they cast us out thence whither we have fled? To remove this fear, He says, “Verily, I say unto you, ye shall not have completed, &c.” that is, ye shall not have made the circuit of Palestine and return to Me, before I shall take you to Me.

Raban.: Or; He foretels that they shall not have brought all the cities of Israel to the faith by their preaching, before the Lord’s resurrection be accomplished, and a commission given them to preach the Gospel throughout the world.

Hilary: Otherwise; He exhorts to fly from place to place; for His preaching driven from Judaea, first passing into Greece; then, wearied with divers sufferings of the Apostles up and down the cities of Greece, it takes an abiding refuge in the rest of the Gentile world. But to shew that the Gentiles would believe the preaching of the Apostles, but that the remnant of Israel should only believe at His second coming, He adds, “Ye shall not have completed the cities of Israel;” i.e. After the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in, that which remains of Israel to fill up the number of the Saints shall be called into the Church in Christ’s future coming to glory.

Aug., Ep. 228: Let the servants of Christ then do as He commanded, or permitted them; as He fled into Egypt, let them fly from city to city, whenever any one of them is marked out for persecution; that the Church be not deserted, it will be filled by those who are not so sought after; and let these give sustenance to their fellow-servants whom they know cannot live by any other means. But when the threatening danger is common to all, Bishops, clergy, and laity, let not those who have need of aid be deserted by those whose aid they require.

Either therefore let them all pass to some stronghold, or let those who are obliged to remain, not be deserted by those whose province it is to supply their ecclesiastical needs; that they may either all live, or all suffer whatever their Master will have them to suffer.

Remig.: Be it known moreover, that as this precept respecting endurance under persecution specially belongs to the Apostles and their successors, men of fortitude, so the permission to fly is sufficiently proper for the weak in the faith, to whom the tender Master condescends, lest if they should offer themselves for martyrdom, under the pain they should deny the faith; and the sin of flight is lighter than that of denial. But though by their flight they shewed that they had not the constancy of perfect faith, yet their desert was great, seeing they were ready to leave all for Christ. So that if He had not given them permission to fly, some would have said that they were aliens from the glory of the heavenly kingdom.

Jerome: Spiritually, we may say; When they shall persecute you in one book or one passage of Scripture, let us flee to other volumes, for however contentious the adversary may be, protection will come from the Saviour before the victory is yielded to the enemy.

Ver 24. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.25. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?”

Chrys.: Because it should come to pass that His disciples among their other persecutions should suffer loss of character, which to many is the most grievous of all calamities, He consoles them from His own example, and those things that were spoken of Him; a comfort to which no other can be compared.

Hilary: For the Lord, the Light eternal, the Captain of the faithful, the Parent of immortality, set before His disciples this solace of the sufferings that should come upon them, that we should embrace it as our glory when we are made like to our Lord in suffering; whence He says, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the slave above his lord.”

Chrys.: Understand, so long as he is a disciple or servant, he is not above his master or lord by the nature of honour. And do not here object to me such cases as rarely happen, but receive this according to the common course of things.

Remig.: He calls Himself master and lord; by disciple and servant He denotes His Apostles.

Gloss. ord.: As much as to say, Be not indignant that ye suffer things, which I also suffer, because I am your lord, who do what I will, and your master, who teach you what I know to be profitable for you.

Remig.: And because this sentence seemed not to agree with the foregoing words, He shews what they mean by adding, “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more they of his household?”

Chrys.: He said not here, ‘slaves,’ but “those of his household,” to shew how dear they were to Him; as elsewhere He said, “I will not call you slaves, but my friends.” [Joh_15:15]

Remig.: As much as to say, Ye therefore will not seek worldly honours and human glory, while you see me pursuing the redemption of mankind through mocking and contumely.

Chrys.: And He says not only, If they have reviled the master of the house, but expresses the very words of railing, for they had called Him Beelzebub.

Jerome: Beelzebub is the idol of Accaron who is called in the book of Kings, the God of flies; [2Ki_1:3] ‘Bel,’ signifying, “idol;” ‘zebub,’ a “fly”. The Prince of the daemons He calls by the name of the foulest of idols, which is so called because of the uncleanness of the fly, which destroys the sweetness of ointment.

Ver 26. “Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.27. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.28. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Remig.: To the foregoing consolation He adds another no less, saying, “Fear ye not them,” namely, the persecutors. And why they were not to fear, He adds, “For there is nothing hid which shall not be revealed, nothing secret which shall not be known.”

Jerome: How is it then that in the present world, the sins of so many are unknown? It is of the time to come that this is said; the time when God shall judge the hidden things of men, shall enlighten the hidden places of darkness, and shall make manifest the secrets of hearts. The sense is, Fear not the cruelty of the persecutor, or the rage of the blasphemer, for there shall come a day of judgment in which your virtue and their wickedness will be made known.

Hilary: Therefore neither threatening, nor evil speaking, nor power of their enemies should move them, seeing the judgment-day will disclose how empty, how nought all these were.

Chrys.: Otherwise; It might seem that what is here said should be applied generally; but it is by no means intended as a general maxim, but is spoken solely with reference to what had gone before with this meaning; If you are grieved when men revile you, think that in a little time you will be delivered from this evil. They call you indeed impostors, sorcerers, seducers, but have a little patience, and all men shall call you the saviours of the world, when in the course of things you shall be found to have been their benefactors, for men will not judge by their words but by the truth of things.

Remig.: Some indeed think that these words convey a promise from our Lord to His disciples, that through them all hidden mysteries should be revealed, which lay beneath the veil of the letter of the Law; whence the Apostle speaks, “When they have turned to Christ, then the veil shall be taken away.” [2Co_3:16] So the sense would be, Ought you to fear your persecutors, when you are thought worthy that by you the hidden mysteries of the Law and the Prophets should be made manifest?

Chrys.: Then having delivered them from all fear, and set them above all calumny, He follows this up appropriately with commanding that their preaching should be free and unreserved; “What I say to you in darkness, that speak ye in the light; what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.”

Jerome: We do not read that the Lord was wont to discourse to them by night, or to deliver his doctrine in the dark; but He said this because all His discourse is dark to the carnal, and His word night to the unbelieving. What had been spoken by Him they were to deliver again with the confidence of faith and confession.

Remig.: The meaning therefore is, “What I say to you in darkness,” that is, among the unbelieving Jews, “that speak ye in the light,” that is, preach it to the believing; “what ye hear in the ear,” that is, what I say unto you secretly, “that preach ye upon the housetops,” that is, openly before all men. It is a common phrase, To speak in one’s ear, that is, to speak to him privately.

Rabanus: And what He says, “Preach ye upon the housetops,” is spoken after the manner of the province of Palestine, where they use to sit upon the roofs of the houses, which are not pointed but flat. That then may be said to be preached upon the housetops which is spoken in the hearing of all men.

Gloss. ord.: Otherwise; What I say unto you while you are yet held under carnal fear, that speak ye in the confidence of truth, after ye shall be enlightened by the Holy Spirit; what you have only heard, that preach by doing the same, being raised above you bodies, which are the dwellings of your souls.

Jerome: Otherwise; What you hear in mystery, that teach in plainness of speech; what I have taught you in a corner of Judaea, that proclaim boldly in all quarters of the world.

Chrys.: As He said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do he shall do also, and greater things than these shall he do;” [Joh_14:12] so here He shews that He works all things through them more than through Himself; as though He had said, I have made a beginning, but what is beyond, that I will to complete through your means. So that this is not a command but a prediction, shewing them that they shall overcome all things.

Hilary: Therefore they ought to inculcate constantly the knowledge of God, and the profound secret of evangelic doctrine, to be revealed by the light of preaching; having no fear of those who have power only over the body, but cannot reach the soul; “Fear not those that kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.”

Chrys.: Observe how He sets them above all others, encouraging them to set at nought cares, reproaches, perils, yea even the most terrible of all things, death itself, in comparison of the fear of God.”But rather fear him, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Jerome: This word is not found in the Old Scriptures, but it is first used by the Saviour. Let us enquire then into its origin. We read in more than one place that the idol Baal was near Jerusalem, at the foot of Mount Moriah, by which the brook Siloe flows. This valley and a small level plain was watered and woody, a delightful spot, and a grove in it was consecrated to the idol. To so great folly and madness had the people of Israel come, that, forsaking the neighbourhood of the Temple, they offered their sacrifices there, and concealing an austere ritual under a voluptuous life, they burned their sons in honour of a daemon.

This place was called, Gehennom, that is, The valley of the children of Hinnom. These things are fully described in Kings and Chronicles, and the Prophet Jeremiah. [2Ki_23:10, 2Ch_26:3, Jer_7:32; Jer_32:35] God threatens that He will fill the place with the carcasses of the dead, that it be no more called Tophet and Baal, but Polyandrion, i.e. The tomb of the dead. Hence the torments and eternal pains with which sinners shall be punished are signified by this word.

Aug., City of God, book xiii, ch. 2: This cannot be before the soul is so joined to the body, that nothing may sever them. Yet it is rightly called the death of the soul, because it does not live of God; and the death of the body, because though man does not cease to feel, yet because this his feeling has neither pleasure nor health, but is a pain and a punishment, it is better named death than life.

Chrys.: Note also, that He does not hold out to them deliverance from death, but encourages them to despise it; which is a much greater thing than to be rescued from death; also this discourse aids in fixing in their minds the doctrine of immortality.

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:5-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 28, 2012

I’ve included some suggested commentaries on 2 Corinthians at the end of this post.

A Synopsis of the Chapter~
From what was said in the last chapter of the glory and honour belonging to the office of a preacher of the Gospel, S. Paul proceeds to assert that he discharges that office holily, sincerely, and blamelessly. He declares this to be a fact plainly known to all except to those whose minds were blinded.
2. He declares (ver. 7) that he and the other Apostles undergo many sufferings on behalf of the Gospel without flinching, and that they with fortitude always bear about in their bodies the mortification of Jesus, on account of the hope of resurrection to a better life.
3. He points out (ver. 17) that this our tribulation is but light and short lived, and works an eternal weight of glory.

Notes on 2 Cor 4:5-14~
2Co 4:5  For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord: and ourselves your servants through Jesus.

Ourselves your servants through Jesus. Supply “we show,” or “we preach.”

2Co 4:6  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.

For God . . . hath shined in our hearts. In the account of the creation of the world given in Genesis, light is said to have been created first of all, because light is a quality most splendid, pleasant, gladdening, useful, efficacious, and powerful. Cf. Dionysius (de Divin. Nomin. c. iv.), who enumerates thirty-four properties of light and of fire wonderfully adapted to set forth God and the things belonging to Him. Cf. note to Gen 1:2.

Hugo (de Sacram. pag. i. c. 10) and others point out, by way of allegory, that on the first day, when light was created and divided from darkness, the good angels were established in good and the evil in evil, and were separated each from other. What, therefore, was done in the world of sense was an image of what was being done in the unseen world. Nay, S. Augustine frequently maintains that the literal sense is that which refers to the angels.

The Apostle here explains this light tropologically. As God formerly produced light out of darkness, so now has He made unbelievers into believers, and has enlightened them with the light of faith. So, too, S. Augustine (contra Advers. Leg. lib. i. c. 8) lays down that by light and day succeeding the pre-existing darkness, and being again succeeded by darkness, is signified what spiritually takes place in man, viz., grace succeeding sin, and sin again grace.

To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. To illuminate us, that we in turn may illuminate others with that clear and glorious knowledge which shines forth from God in the face of Christ, or else by means of our clear knowledge of Christ and His redemption. It is commonly said that a man is known by his face; hence to know “in the face” signifies to know clearly and openly. Just as at night a lighted torch throws light on the surrounding darkness, and is carried before travellers to show them the way clearly, so does Christ lighten us in the night of this world, so that we know God surely and plainly, and go on our way to see Him in the life of bliss in heaven. Hence the Glossa symbolically explains these words to mean: by Jesus Christ, who is the Face of the Father; for without Him the Father is not known. There is still kept up an allusion to the veil over Moses’ face contrasted with the open face of Christ (2 Cor 3:15). The word face may be, with the Syriac, translated the person, i.e., we illuminate, others in the name, place, and authority of Christ.  S. Cyril (de Fide ad Theodor. Imp.) says. “He hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. See how openly and plainly the light of the knowledge of God the Father has shone, forth in the person of Christ.”

2Co 4:7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God and not of us.

But we have this treasure. The treasure is the ministry and preaching of the Gospel entrusted to him by God. Cf. ver. 1 and vers. 5 and 6.

In earthen vessels. (1.) In a body of dust frail and fragile. Our body is as an earthenware vessel; for as an earthen vessel is nothing but clay baked in the fire, so is our body nothing but earth made solid by the heat of the soul. Take away the soul, and the body returns to the dust whence it came. Cf. Ps 103:14. Or, (2.) in earthen vessels means in ourselves; for though we are Apostles, still we are men, frail and fashioned from the dust, and, like earthen vessels, are worthless, weak, and contemptible, exposed to injuries at the hands of all. This explanation is favoured by the words that follow: “We are troubled on every side,” &c. So in 1 Cor 1:27, it was said that God had chosen the Apostles as the foolish, and weak, and base things of the world; and also in 1 Cor 2:1, Paul said that he had come to the Corinthians, not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, but in weakness, and fear, and trembling ; and again, in 1 Cor 4:9, he expresses the same idea.

Origen (Hom. in Numer.) symbolically interprets this treasure as the grace of the Holy Spirit hidden in earthen vessels, i.e., in the rude, unpolished, and unadorned words of the law and the Gospel.

That the excellency may be of the power of God and not of us. God wills me to have this treasure in an earthen vessel, in order that the excellency which is in me, and the fruit that I gather in the conversion of the heathen, may not be ascribed to me, but to the power of God and the grace of Christ.

2Co 4:8  In all things we suffer tribulation: but are not distressed. We are straitened: but are not destitute.

In all things we suffer tribulation: but not distressed. Not made anxious. Physically he was distressed, hemmed in, and pressed down, but in the midst of adversity the Apostle’s mind was serene and lofty. So, in Ps 4:1, David says. “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.”

We are straitened: but we are notdestitute. The Latin Version gives “We are in want, but not destitute,” or, as Ambrose, Theophylact, Erasmus, and Cajetan explain it: We are pressed with want, but not oppressed. There is a similar play on words in the Greek. Poverty gives sufficiency, nay, plenty, to a soul that is patient, wise, serene, and fixed on God. To say nothing of Christian writers, this was taught by Favorinus, who says. “It is true what wise men have said as the result of their experience, that they who have much want much, and that indigence takes its rise from abundance, and not from want. Much more is desired in order to guard the abundance you already have. Whoever, therefore, has great riches, and wishes to take forethought and guard against need or loss, needs loss, not gain, and should have less, that less may be lost.”

The Greek may also be rendered: We are without guidance, and are perplexed in the midst of our evils and difficulties; still we are not overcome by them, nor by our anxiety and weariness. We do not despair, but we hope for, and we find counsel, help, and deliverance in God, and so we are conquerors. This explanation is nearer to the Greek α̉πόρια, which denotes, not only bodily distress, but mental, viz., want of counsel, doubt, and perplexity, when the mind, seeing itself surrounded by difficulties, is at a stand-still, and knows not what to do. But God succours the Apostles and their successors in these straits, and points out a way of escape. S. Xavier and Gaspar Barzæus found this true in their work among the Indians, and testified that in every difficulty the Holy Spirit taught them more than all doctors or wise men could have done,

2Co 4:9  We suffer persecution: but are not forsaken. We are cast down: but we perish not.

We suffer persecution: but are not forsaken. S. Gregory of Nyssa (de Beatitud.), explaining the last of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are they that suffer persecution,” acutely and piously weighs the meaning of the word persecution, which etymologically points to some running, or rather running before. He puts before our eyes a holy man and tribulation, like two runners running side by side. When the saint does not give place to tribulation, he says that he goes before it, as victorious over it, and that tribulation follows hard after him, and is, therefore, called persecution, not consecution, for it follows after but does not reach the holy man. He says that this word points out that the saints, through patience, run with great swiftness for the prize of glory, display their vigour and strength most brightly in the midst of persecutions. He goes on: “Martyrdom shows us the arena, and marks out the course to be run by faith; for ‘persecution’ denotes an ardent desire for swiftness, nay, it even indicates the winning of the prize; for who can be victor in the race save he who leaves his competitor behind? Since, therefore, he that has an enemy behind, seeking to deprive him of the prize, has one ‘persecuting’ him—and such are they who finish the course of martyrdom on behalf of their holy religion, who are persecuted by their enemies, but not overtaken. Christ seems in these last words to put before us the most glorious crown of bliss, when He says, ‘Blessed are they that suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’”

We are cast down: but we perish not. There is here an allusion to the earthen vessels of ver. 7. Though, he seems to say, we are earthen vessels, and cast down, as it were, from the most lofty towers of persecutions, yet are we not shattered. We are so hardened by the fire of charity that we cannot break. Some add, “We are humiliated, but not confounded,” but the words are wanting in the Greek and Latin copies.

2Co 4:10  Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.

Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus. The death of Jesus, according to S. Ambrose, but the Greek is rather dying or mortification. The dying meant is the suffering of death like to the suffering of Jesus Christ, which is the road to and the beginning of death, a long and living death. This is the suffering spoken in vers. 8 and 9, suffering inflicted from without, though it may be extended also to any voluntary mortification of mind and body. It is called “the dying of Jesus,” (1.) because it is borne by His example; (2.) because it is undergone for His faith; (3.) because we, His servants, bear about in our body, by a kind of representation, the very death and Passion of Christ, just as slaves carry the badge and token of their master. Cf. Gal 6:17. So in Heb 11:26, it is said that Moses bore the reproach of Christ, and preferred it to the riches of Egypt (see note there). “There is no doubt,” says Ambrose, “that in His martyrs Christ is slain, and that in them that suffer chains or scourgings for the faith, Christ suffers the same.” Pau1 gives here the cause why, in the midst of trouble and distress, he is not crushed and destroyed, but is instead raised up and quickened. It is because by tribulation he is made like Christ crucified and smitten, and then raised and quickened; and, therefore, he rejoices in tribulation.

Salvianus (de Vero Jud. et Provid. Dei, lib. i.) says that no one is miserable who is content in the midst of misery, rather he is happy, because it is of his own devotion that he lives in misery. Toil, fasting, poverty, humility, weakness, persecution are not grievous to those that endure them, but to those that kick at them. Among the heathen, Fabricius, Fabius, Regulus, Camillus found poverty and affliction no burden. “No one,” he says, “is made miserable by other people’s opinion but by his own, and therefore false judgment cannot make them miserable whose conscience approves them. . . . None, I think, are happier than they who act according to their own knowledge and wish. Religious are of low estate, but they wish it so; they are poor, but pleased with poverty; they have no ambition, for they scorn it; they mourn, but they rejoice to mourn; they are weak, but they delight in weakness. ‘When I am weak,’ says the Apostle, ‘then am I strong.’ And so, no matter what may happen to those that are religious indeed, they are to be called happy. None are more joyous in the midst of all kinds of adversity than those who are in a state of their own choosing.”

That the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies. This is that future life when we shall rise with Christ to glory (ver. 14); and also the present life, when, after the pattern of the risen body of Christ, our afflicted bodies become more lively through the operation of the Spirit, on account of our hope of the resurrection and through the power of God, which delivers us from so many dangers every day and strengthens us against them.

2Co 4:11  For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake: that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

For we who live are always delivered unto death. In the midst of a life such as ours, we are exposed to constant danger of death and to every kind of trouble.

The thought, then, that in all our tribulation we are made like to Christ in His Passion and resurrection is what animates, comforts, and strengthens us. As in our afflicted and mortified body the death of Christ is visibly set forth, so in its deliverance, salvation, and strengthening do we see the life and resurrection of Christ. When we are thrown to the lions and other wild beasts, to be, as all expect, surely devoured by them, they spare us and fawn upon us; when we are cast into the fire it shrinks from us, nay, with genial warmth refreshes us; when we are thrown into the sea to be drowned, the sea bears us up and preserves us from all hurt; when I was stoned at Lystra and left for dead, I was soon after found to be alive. In all these and similar persecutions and afflictions I have fellowship with, I am made like, and I set forth the suffering, death, and burial of Christ, which by the power of God, were but the glorious prelude to the life of bliss. And for this reason I am strong, nay, I rejoice and glory in all my tribulations; for they give me a sure and certain hope of an eternal life of glory. “Therefore,” says Œcumenius, “was Christ permitted by God to be delivered to death, that His resurrection might be made manifest to all. He who daily raises us certainty raised up Himself also, and will in good time raise us up to eternal life.”

2Co 4:12  So then death worketh in us: but life in you.

So then death worketh in us, but life in you. Your spiritual life, your salvation is produced through faith and grace, but ours by the death of our body. The passion and death of the Apostles has been the life of the Church. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” says Tertullian. Chrysostom gives a different explanation: “You live in peace and suffer no such persecutions for the faith as I do; and so you seem to live and I seem to die daily.”

2Co 4:13  But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken; we also believe. For which cause we speak also:

But having the same spirit of faith. As David was hemmed in with dangers, and yet was delivered by God alone from them all, and said. “I believed,” i.e., I believe that God will always be true to His promises and deliver me, so too do we believe and hope, and boldly profess that our help and strength, our deliverance and resurrection have been promised by God, and will most surely be wrought out.

Ps. 116., alluded to here by S. Paul, is a Eucharistic psalm, in which David gives God thanks for his safe deliverance. Hence it begins with, “I believed.” In other words: I, David, in the midst of dangers and adversity, when hunted by Saul and his men, when my life was sought by Achish and the Philistines, when I was so placed that I seemed to be deprived of all human help, and to be in desperate straits, yet put my trust in God, who had promised me safety and moreover the kingdom, by the mouth of Samuel. Wherefore, I said boldly that I believed, without doubting that God would deliver me from all these evils, and would bring me to His promised kingdom, as, in fact, He has delivered me, and has set me on the throne. “Right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints.” My death is of great account and great price in the sight of the Lord. God, therefore, carefully watches that my death, or that of His other Saints may not be allowed, except for good cause and great gain, and He wonderfully guards us and delivers us. This, I, David, found in the cave and at other times when I was shut in by the bands of Saul and of my other enemies, and therefore with praise and thanksgiving do I exclaim, What return shall I make unto the Lord for all the benefits that He hath done unto me? I will receive the cup of salvation, of my many safe deliverances—that cup which is a witness and public profession of God’s goodness to me, and of my frequent escapes from danger—of God’s salvation will I take.

Observe here that (1.) the Jews had three kinds of sacrifices, the whole burnt-offering, the sin-offering, and the peace-offering. This last was a sacrifice of salvation, offered for the peace and salvation of any individual or family, or of the whole people, whether already obtained or to be obtained. (2.) In every Sacrifice a libation was made to God, just as if the sacrifice were God’s feast. The cup, therefore, of salvation is the cup of wine which was offered to God, poured out and drunk by the offerers. (3.) This cup was a figure of the Eucharistic chalice, which makes us not only mindful of the salvation wrought by Christ, but also partakers of it.

Tropologically: this “cup” is martyrdom and affliction, and the obstinate resistance that we make to sin, even unto death, says S. Basil, in his comments on Ps. cxvi. For Paul eagerly longed for martyrdom, and hence he speaks not of the cross, but of the cup of salvation, as though he should say: I will readily drink whatever the Lord may have given to me, even though it be the martyr’s death; and therefore knowing, says S. Augustine, that martyrdom is not within my own power, but depends on the grace of God, I will call upon that grace, and will publicly preach and celebrate the name of the Lord. Similarly, Christ speaks of His Passion as a cup, and bids His Apostles and martyrs and all His members drink of it (S. Matt 20:22, and Matt 26:42). As, then, every Christian offers to Christ, His Deliverer, the Eucharistic cup and sacrifice as a thanksgiving, so does Paul offer his sufferings, his afflictions, and death to Christ, as a most pleasing cup. So, too, have all the martyrs, by openly professing their faith and dying for it, offered to Christ the cup of their martyrdom.

I believed. I believed, and I still believe. This is a continuous act of belief, and not merely one that is inchoate, especially so since David speaks of the person of Paul and of us all, and puts his own belief forward as one deserving our imitation.

2Co 4:14  Knowing that he who raised up Jesus will raise us up also with Jesus and place us with you.

Will raise up us also . . . and place us with you. Shall present us with you in glory. He says out of modesty, “shall present us with you,” not “you with us,” because the Corinthians were the cause and object of his preaching, and so also of his glory.

2Co 4:15  For all things are for your sakes: that the grace, abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.

That the grace, abound through many,  may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God. I.e., through many giving thanks. The Syriac renders it, “that since grace abounds through many, thanksgiving may be proportionately multiplied to the glory of God.”

SUGGESTED READINGS: All books listed are by Catholic authors. One should not infer that my listing them here is an endorsement of their particular views (e.g., Murphy-O’Connors theory that 2 Cor. is a composite document of several shorter letters of St Paul).

SECOND CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Thomas D. Stegman, S.J. Part of the new Catholic Commentary On Sacred Scripture.

SECOND CORINTHIANS (Sacra Pagina Series). By Fr. Jan Lambrecht, S.J. Somewhat technical, not for the beginner.

THE FIRST AND SECOND LETTERS OF ST PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS. By Dr. Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. Part of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible). A good introductory commentary.

KEYS TO SECOND CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P. Very expensive, scholarly, thorough. Not for the average reader.

THE THEOLOGY OF THE SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P. Scholarly, not for the average reader.

LECTURES ON SECOND CORINTHIANS (Online). By St Thomas Aquinas. This work, available online for free, still continues to exert influence 8 centuries after it production. The medieval style may not appeal to many.


NOTES ON CORINTHIANS, GALATIANS, ROMANS. By Fr. Joseph Rickaby, S.J. Somewhat dated. Originally published in 1898. slightly technical. Rickaby was a prolific author and a noted authority on St Thomas Aquinas.

THE SECOND EPISTLE OF ST PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS. By R. D. Byles. Somewhat dated. Originally published in 1897. A very basic commentary.

AN EXPOSITION OF THE EPISTLE OF ST PAUL (Vol 2). By Bernardine de Picquigny. The author ((1633-1709) was a Capuchin monk who is also sometimes called Bernardin de Piconio. This volume contains commentary on 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that his 3 volume exposition of St Paul “has ever been popular among scripture scholars.”

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

R.D. Byles’ Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:1-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 28, 2012

In this chapter St. Paul continues his praise of the ministry of the gospel; and  having shown how excellent it is in itself, he proceeds to speak of his employment of it, both in his preaching (4:1-6), and in his patient endurance of suffering, which he accepts anil offers for their sakes (4:7-15).

2Co 4:1  Therefore seeing we have this ministration, according as we have obtained mercy, we faint not.

this ministry—i.e., a ministry of such dignity as he has described it to be.

according as . . . This belongs to what precedes. He has this ministration, not as from himself, but according to the mercy he has received from God. The apostle explains this more fully in 1 Tim 1:12-16, where he says that God’s mercy was shown both in his conversion and in his being called to the apostolate for the sake of the increase of the Church by his means.

we faint not. St. Paul is here resuming what he said in chapter 3:12: We speak plainly and boldly, and do not shrink back through weakness or cowardice from any difficulties, such as are mentioned in vv. 8, &c.

2Co 4:2  But we renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness nor adulterating the word of God: but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience, in the sight of God.

This verse contains a threefold antithesis: (1) We renounce the hidden things of dishonesty . . . commending ourselves to every man’s conscience; (2.) not walking in craftiness . . . (but) in the sight of God; (3) not adulterating the Word of God, but manifesting the truth.

the hidden things of dishonesty. Dishonesty here means what is dishonourable; such sins as men hide, and do not wish to have known even to their fellowmen, much less to God (cf. John 3:19-21). St. Paul teaches us here that all sin is a hindrance both to those who are seeking the light of truth, and to those who would declare it to others.

not walking in craftiness—that is hypocrisy, or dissimulation. St. Paul implies that he has rejected not only evil works, but also evil intention.

adulterating. This means, as in chapter 2:17, either mixing false doctrine with the true, or preaching to obtain glory or gain.

commending ourselves, i.e., not by speaking good about himself, which might very well not be believed, but by doing good.

to every man’s conscience. St. Paul said in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, “I became all things to all men that I might save all” (cf. 1 Cor 9:19-22). He implies here that when the gospel is clearly preached it is commended to every man’s conscience, so that those who do not receive it are resisting their consciences.

A Summary of verses 3-6~ In these verses St. Paul shows that if any do not receive this gospel, it is not because of any fault of the gospel, but of a blindness on the part of the unbelievers, which is, (ordinarily at least) the result of sin: since his gospel is no other than the gospel of Christ, which derives its power of illuminating from God Himself, the Author of all light.

2Co 4:3  And if our gospel be also hid, it is hid to them that are lost,

hid. The word means “veiled,”  and is an allusion to the similitude of the previous chapter. (i.e., the veil covering Moses’ face in chapter 3).

that are lost. This should be translated, “who arc perishing'” (Gr. εν τοις απολλυμενοις, Vulg. “in his qui pereunt”).

2Co 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them.

the god 0f this world. Many ancient commentators suppose that by this is meant God Himself, who created and sustains this world; and who may be said to blind the minds of unbelievers, inasmuch as He withdraws His grace from those who are obstinate in refusing to believe. In support of this is the fact that God alone, in the strictest sense, is God of this world; but nevertheless it appears better to understand it as meaning the devil, who may be called the god of this world—(1) because he is permitted to exercise a certain power in this world by tempting men (cf Rev 12:12); (2) because there are so many in this world who follow him as if he were their god, that is, as though he had a claim to their service, and over whom he exercises dominion; (3) he is god of this world in the sense in which the ”world” is often used by our Lord and His apostles to denote the whole body of men who act without any regard to God as their last end, and who are opposed to the Church. It is in this sense that the devil himself in tempting our Lord claimed power over all the kingdoms of the world; with great presumption indeed, yet at least acknowledging that he did not have ihis power of himself, but only as it was delivered to him (Luke 4:6). Our Lord also three times called the devil the “prince of this world,” and declared that by the power of His crucifixion the usurped power of the devil should be overthrown (John 12:31; also John 14:30; John 16:11).

hath blinded, i.e., by suggesting and inclining them to sin, which, renders them less able to see the truth.

light (Gr. τον φωτισμον, Vulg. illuminatio). It would be better translated ”illumination” or “enlightenment.” God the Father is the original source of all light (1 John 1:5), and from this original light is derived its image, God the Son; who in the Nicene Creed is called “light from light” (lumen de lumine); and in the Epistle to the Hebrews is called the “brightness of the Father’s glory and the figure of His substance” (Heb 1:3). The Son having become incarnate, manifested to men the brightness of God (John 1:9, 14; John 8:12) by His Divine working. The gospel declares the glory of Christ, which is the glory of God, since Christ is the perfect image of God, being (unlike other imperfect images) in all things equal to Him Whose image He is. This declaration has a power of enlightening, by the help of grace, those who are not hindered by sin from receiving it.

2Co 4:5  For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord: and ourselves your servants through Jesus.

ourselves your servants through Jesus. That is to say, he did not commend himself, but made himself the servant of the Church, existing only for their spiritual welfare (cf 1 Cor 9:19).

2Co 4:6  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.

God, who commanded. … St. Paul, having spoken of his own ministry at the end of the last verse, now sums up this section of his Epistle. He says that God who, by His mere fiat, brought light out of darkness, has shone in his heart (namely, at his conversion, Acts 9:3), and not only shines upon and in him, but also shines forth from him to the enlightening of others, by giving them a knowledge of the glory of God, a glory which shines on the face of Christ Jesus.

hath shined in our hearts. As the created manifestation of God’s glory enlightened the face of Moses, and being reflected therefrom, illuminated also the children of Israel; in the same manner, but in a far higher degree, the perfect and uncreated glory of God, made manifest in our Lord’s sacred humanity, shines upon the apostles and priests of the New Testament, and being reflected from them enlightens both those who believe through their ministry, and also the whole Church of God. The antithesis is between the glory illuminating the face of Moses, and that illuminating the apostles. It is not directly between Moses and our Lord. But as the latter glory has its most perfect manifestation in our Blessed Lord, and as moreover the apostles, only as members of Christ, either have light themselves, or give it to others, therefore St. Paul speaks of the enlightenment which shines from himself, as existing in the Divine Face of our Lord.

Brief Summary of 2 Cor 4:7-15: In this passage St. Paul begins to declare the greatness of his ministry in another way. He has shown how great a dignity it is to have the glory of the apostleship; he now proceeds to rejoice that he is made a partner with our Lord, not only in His glory, but also in His suffering; without which suffering that glory would be imperfect, because it would not be sure to be attributed solely to God.

2Co 4:7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God and not of us.

treasure; that is, the light with which he enlightens others. In earthen vessels has been explained in two ways: either (1) our bodies, which are formed of the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7; 3:19); or (2) our whole persons, as being weak and unworthy of such dignity ; as Isaiah 64:8 says, “Thou art our Father, and we are clay.”

2Co 4:8  In all things we suffer tribulation: but are not distressed. We are straitened: but are not destitute.
2Co 4:9  We suffer persecution: but are not forsaken. We are cast down: but we perish not.

God wishes His apostle to be despised and persecuted, in order that it may be quite evident that the power of the ministry is derived only from God, and not from St. Paul himself.

The four clauses in these two verses probably correspond to no exact distinction of different modes of suffering.

Verse 8. not distressed. The word expresses the situation of a man who is in a difficulty which offers no way of escape. It implies that while those who trust only in the world have no remedy if they are in tribulation from the world, those who trust in God are never left without resource. For if the world afflicts them, they still have a means of escape by God’s help.

straitened, but not destitute. This would be better translated “in want, but not in absolute want”.

Verse 9. cast down, or rather “struck down,” i.e., to the danger of death.

2Co 4:10  Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.
2Co 4:11  For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake: that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
2Co 4:12  So then death worketh in us: but life in you.

St. Paul accepts all his sufferings not only with patience, but with eagerness; because he recognizes in them an opportunity of meriting, and a pledge of receiving, future glory with our Lord; and because he wishes to offer them for the salvation of his converts.

Verse 10. mortifcation. That is “putting to death.”’ It includes both the actual renunciation of all sin, as he said in writing to the Romans, “Reckon that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God” (Rom 6:11); and more especially the patient endurance of the sufferings which he continually had to undergo, and through which he hoped to obtain a share in our Lord’s resurrection (cf. Phil 3:8-12).
See note on 2 Cor 1:5.

Made manifest. This is chiefly the case in the resurrection of our bodies, which are made to live with the life of our Lord, even as He said, “Because I live, ye shall live also.”

Verse 11. we who live, i.e., as long as our life on earth lasts. Are always delivered unto death; that is, ”are always being delivered.” St Paul’s life was perpetual martyrdom; as the Psalmist says, “For thy sake we are killed all the day long” (Ps 44:23); or as St. Paul said himself, “I die daily” (1 Cor 15:31). This martyrdom is quite apart from the actual danger of death, in which St. Paul has often found himself (cf. 2 Cor 1:8-9; Acts 14:18, &c.).

Death worketh in us, but life in you; that is, suffeiings of mind and body, equivalent to death, continually have dominion over me. Though you do not indeed share these sufferings, yet by virtue of them (which I offer for your welfare) you are made partakers of the spiritual life to which they lead.

2Co 4:13  But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken; we also believe. For which cause we speak also:
2Co 4:14  Knowing that he who raised up Jesus will raise us up also with Jesus and place us with you.

St. Paul shows that the power to endure his sufferings rests only upon the certainty of faith, infused into his heart by the Holy Ghost, and assuring him of eternal life in our Lord.

Verse 13. The same, that is, the same as that of the Psalmist; for though the object of faith has become more fully manifested, yet the Spirit and the faith are the same.

Spirit. It is not clear whether by this word we are to understand the Holy Ghost, who imparts the faith, or the quality or virtue of faith itself, which is imparted.

I believed. (Ps 116:10.) The saints of the Old Testament had divine faith, and confessed their faith (cf. Heb 11 ).

Verse 14. knowing, that is, with the certainty of faith, for divine faith is the most certain form of knowledge.

With Jesus, that is, to receive the same glory as our Lord. The living members cannot be separated from their Head, who has said, “Where I am, there also shall my minister be” (John 12:26).

2Co 4:15  For all things are for your sakes: that the grace, abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.

All things are for your sakes. These words explain the last clause of the preceding verse. He can well couple them with himself, because he does and suffers all things for their good.

That the grace abounding through many. . . . This clause probably means, ”that the grace having abounded by means of many may cause the thanksgiving to abound unto the glory of God.”

Through many. St. Paul, having said that all his sufferings were endured for their sakes, does not wish to seem to assume to himself all the merit for the grace they had received, and therefore he adds these words, implying that the prayers of all the members of the Corinthian Church had had a share in obtaining grace for them. Some commentators, however, take these words with “the thanksgiving” thus: “that the abundant grace may cause thanksgiving to abound througli many;” that is to say, that all who receive the grace may join in giving thanks for it.

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

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