The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for November, 2012

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 13:11-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 28, 2012

11. And this, knowing the time: that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed.
12. The night is far advanced, and the day has approached. Let us, therefore, throw aside the works of darkness, and put on the arms of light.
13. Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in feasting and drunkenness, not among couches and immodesty, not in strife and emulation.
14. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and take not care of the flesh in its desires
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11. Knowing the time. The hour of battle is come. The night is over. It is time to awake from sleep, and put on the armour needed in the struggle of the day. Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. These words imply a certain reproach, as if his readers had not accomplished all that was expected of them when they first believed in Christ.

The resurrection is near, Saint Chrysostom says. Near is the dreadful judgment, near the day that shall burn as an oven. Let us not sleep nor be idle, lest that day take us unawares.

The arms of light, good works, which shine out from far. These shall protect us from our spiritual foes.

Theodoret considers that the time which preceded the Incarnation of Christ, is the night here meant, nowpassed. The Incarnation was the rising of the Sun of Justice, and therefore the Apostle urges his hearers to seize the arms of light.

13. Let us walk honestly, as those who go forth publicly in the broad hght of day.

14. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Paul constantly uses this phrase, as in Gal 3:27, Eph 4:24, Col 3:10, 1 Thess 5:8. Put on the example of Christ, in all and over all, as the vesture in which a man is draped is all that is seen of him.

Take not care, make provision for the flesh for necessary subsistence, but do not lay up treasures to be spent in selfish luxury and pleasure.

As is well known, it was these two verses which finally conquered Saint Augustine, after his long struggle with himself, as is related in his confessions.

Corollary of Piety.
Charity is like no other debt, for though it is always being paid, it is never paid, and is still always due. Pay therefore perpetually what thou perpetually owest. Pay freely, for thou hast freely received: pay promptly, largely, liberally, for promptly, largely, liberally, shall the reward be rendered thee.

Charity includes all virtues, and destroys all vice. On one hand it keeps from every wrong, on the other it works effectually every good. It is the fullness and completion of God’s law.

The trumpet of the Apostle rings out through the stillness of the early dawn with startling suddenness. It is time to wake from sleep. The night is past: eternitv is upon us, and the terrible day of doom which must decide our lot for eternity.

The night of ignorance and heathendom is past from the world’s history. The Sun of Justice is risen. Let us, upon whom his light is shining, walk before him, honestly and holily as in the day. Within us is the spirit and the grace of Christ: without, his glorious example, sobriety, chastity, humility, patience, charity. In such Christ appears, and only Christ. I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.

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

My Notes on Baruch 5:1-9 for the Second Sunday of Advent, Year C

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 25, 2012

Bar 5:1  Put off, O Jerusalem, the garment of thy mourning, and affliction: and put on the beauty, and honour of that everlasting glory which thou hast from God.

Put off, O Jerusalem. Earlier in the book Jerusalem was personified as a mother mourning for her exiled children:  For she saw the wrath of God coming upon you, and she said: Give ear, all you that dwell near Sion, for God hath brought upon me great mourning: For I have seen the captivity of my people, of my sons, and my daughters, which the Eternal hath brought upon them. For I nourished them with joy: but I sent them away with weeping and mourning (Bar 4:9-11). It was a common practice of  the time to put on simple clothing for the act of mourning (Joel 1:13), and this Mother Jerusalem did: I have put off the robe of peace, and have put upon me the sackcloth of supplication, and I will cry to the most High in my days (Bar 4:20).

And put on the beauty, and honor of that everlasting glory. A change of clothing (“and put on”) meant a change in status, and in the Bible often signifies divine blessings. Joseph’s status (for example) is closely associated with clothing. His status as his father’s favorite was symbolized by a tunic (Gen 37:3-4). His jealous brother’s stripped him of the tunic when they sought to rid themselves of him (Gen 37:23). Later, Pharaoh showed him favor by placing him in charge of all Egypt and bestowing upon him a fine linen robe (Gen 41:39-42). All of this related to the divine plan (Gen 45:4-5). The long naked Gerasene demoniac was found fully clothed after being healed by Jesus (Luke 8:26-39, esp. verse 35). The repentant son in the Parable of the Prodigal is clothed with his father’s finest robe (Luke 15:11-32, esp. verse 22). See also Revelation 3:4-5, Gal 3:27; Eph 4:24, Eph 6:11, etc).

Bar 5:2  God will clothe thee with the double garment of justice, and will set a crown on thy head of everlasting honour.

Garment of justice. Reverses the guilt and shame mentioned in their confession of sin: To the Lord our God belongeth justice: but to us, and to our fathers confusion (shame) of face, as at this day (Bar 2:6).

Will set a crown on thy head. Reversing the situation of punishment that resulted because of their sins. The kingdom centered in Jerusalem had fell into abeyance and the children of the kingdom scattered to serve pagan monarchs: And he hath delivered them up to be under the hand of all the kings that are round about us, to be a reproach, and desolation among all the people, among whom the Lord hath scattered us (Bar 2:4).

Bar 5:3  For God will shew his brightness in thee, to every one under heaven.

God will shew His brightness in thee. His salvation.

To every one under heaven. Those Gentile peoples who were bidden by Mother Jerusalem to witness the exile (Bar 4:14) are now called upon to witness its end.  For as the neighbours of Sion  have now seen your captivity from God: so shall they also shortly see your salvation from God, which shall come upon you with great honour, and everlasting glory (Bar 4:24).

Bar 5:4  For thy name shall be named to thee by God for ever: the peace of justice, and honour of piety.

The repentant, having appealed to the name of God will themselves be given a name: Remember not the iniquities of our fathers, but think upon thy hand, and upon thy name at this time: For thou art the Lord our God, and we will praise thee, O Lord: Because for this end thou hast put thy fear in our hearts, to the intent that we should call upon thy name, and praise thee in our captivity, for we are converted from the iniquity of our fathers, who sinned before thee (Bar 3:5-7).

Like clothing, a new name indicates a change in status (Gen 17:5; Matt 16:17-19; Isa 62:2; Rev 2:17, etc.). “The conferring of a name in a context such as the present one involves not only the giving of the name, but the bestowal of the attributes indicated” (Jerome Biblical Commentary 37:20).

Bar 5:5  Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high: and look about towards the east, and behold thy children gathered together from the rising to the setting sun, by the word of the Holy One rejoicing in the remembrance of God.

Arise…stand on high. A reversal of their exile:  And we are brought low, and are not raised up: because we have sinned against the Lord our God, by not obeying his voice (Bar 2:5).

And behold thy children gathered together. Mother Jerusalem, who saw the captivity of her children (Bar 4:10) is bidden to witness their being gathered together, reversing the punishment of exile and bring the relief for which they had prayed (Bar 2:4, Bar 2:13).

Bar 5:6  For they went out from thee on foot, led by the enemies: but the Lord will bring them to thee exalted with honour as children of the kingdom.

Some translations, such as the RSV and NAB speak of the return in this fashion: “but God will bring them back to you, carried in glory, as on a royal throne, ” thus emphasizing the contrast and reversal of their situation: led out on foot by enemies, carried back on thrones by God.

Bar 5:7  For God hath appointed to bring down every high mountain, and the everlasting rocks, and to fill up the valleys to make them even with the ground: that Israel may walk diligently to the honour of God.

See Isaiah 40:3-4 and Luke 3:4-6 (part of today’s Gospel reading). A kingly people carried on thrones deserves a king’s welcome. In ancient times, when a king or royal figure was traveling to a city in the kingdom, it was expected that the roads be put into good repair before his arrival, such is the underlying imagery here. God has decreed that all the obstacles for his people’s return be removed. High mountains were often an image of (or associated with) arrogance and opposition to God (Jer 51:24-25; Zech 4:7; Isa 2:11-15; Isa 37:24), perhaps because they were often associated with pagan worship (Hosea 4:13). Valleys, ravines, etc., also were associated with sin (Isa 57:5; 2 Kings 23:10). It’s not hard to understand how the image came to be associated with repentance; human pride and sin must be brought down before one can return to God.

Bar 5:8  Moreover the woods, and every sweet-smelling tree have overshadowed Israel by the commandment of God.

Like mountains, trees were also a symbol of pride, arrogance (Isa 2:11-15; Isa 10:33-34), and false worship (Isa 1:29; Isa 57:5; Hosea 4:13; 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 16:4).  Here they serve God for the sake of his people

Bar 5:9  For God will bring Israel with joy in the light of his majesty, with mercy, and justice, that cometh from him.

God will bring Israel with joy. Thus is reversed the prophecy of Jeremiah 7:34 which was quoted in Baruch 2:23: And I will take away from you the voice of mirth, and the voice of joy, and the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, and all the land shall be without any footstep of inhabitants. God’s punishment having had it desired effect-opening his people to the grace of repentance-God’s mercy now comes to the fore.

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Resources for the Second Sunday of Advent, Year C

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 25, 2012

Resources for the First Sunday of Advent, Year C (and Extraordinary Form), can be found here. Resources for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year C (and Extraordinary Form) can be found here.

This post contains resources (mostly biblical and homiletic) for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Rite. Posts marked as pending will be available before the 2nd Sunday of Advent and other resources may be added as well. These latter will be marked “UPDATE”.

UPDATED: General Resources and Podcasts have been added. A few resources are marked “pending” but for the most part this list of resources is now complete.

ORDINARY FORM
  SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

READINGS AND MISSAL:

  • Anglican Use Daily Office. ”Briefly, it is a provision for an “Anglican style” liturgy similar to the Book of Common Prayer as an ecclesiastically approved variant on the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” More info.

UPDATE: GENERAL RESOURCES: sites that usually deal with the readings as a whole. Commentaries on individual readings are listed further below.

  • Word Sunday. The readings in both and literal translation, notes on the text, podcast, children’s reading.
  • SacerdosGives the theme of the readings (off the mark this week, in my opinion), the doctrinal message, and pastoral application.
  • Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background on the readings. Can be printed out, copied, and used as bulletin insert.
  • Scripture Speaks. I’ve linked to the archive. This Sunday’s post not yet available.
  • The Bible Workshop. Links to several relevant articles, contains a reading guide to the gospel text, a comparison of the readings, suggestions for a lesson (i.e., homily).
  • The Wednesday WordIt’s about the Sunday readings, but the document is posted on Wednesday, hence the name. Designed for prayer and reflection, the pdf document ends with Father Dom Henry Wansbrough’s reflections on the first and second readings. Fr. Wansbrough is General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible and contributed commentaries on Matt, Mark, and the Pastorals in A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Baruch 5:1-9.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Ps 126:1-6.

  • Pending. Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 126.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Luke 3:1-6.

UPDATE: PODCASTS:

EXTRAORDINARY FORM
Dominica II Adventus ~ I. classis

MISSAL AND BREVIARY:

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: Romans 15:4-13.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Matthew 11:2-10.

HOMILIES AND HOMILY NOTES:

  • Spiritual Reading. Sermon notes on Romans 15:4. Can be used for sermon prep, points for meditation or further study.
  • Miracles. Sermon notes on Matt 11:5. Can be used for sermon prep, points for meditation or further study.
  • Spiritual Disease. Sermon notes on Matt 11:5. Can be used for sermon prep, points for meditation or further study.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Philippians 1:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 25, 2012

The following post consists of St John Chrysostom’s First and Second Homilies on Philippians. One may also wish to consult his introductory discourse.

HOMILY 1 ON PHILIPPIANS 1:1-7

Philippians 1:1-2.-“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, fellow-Bishops and Deacons: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Here, as writing to those of equal honor, he does not set down his rank of Teacher, but another, and that a great one. And what is that? He calls himself a “servant,” and not an Apostle. For great truly is this rank too, and the sum of all good things, to be a servant of Christ, and not merely to be called so. “The servant of Christ,” this is truly a free man in respect to sin, and being a genuine servant, he is not a servant to any other, since he would not be Christ’s servant, but by halves. And in again writing to the Romans also, he says, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.” (Rom. i. 1.) But writing to the Corinthians and to Timothy he calls himself an “Apostle.” On what account then is this? Not because they were superior to Timothy. Far from it. But rather he honors them, and shows them attention, beyond all others to whom he wrote. For he also bears witness to great virtue in them, For besides, there indeed he was about to order many things, and therefore assumed his rank as an Apostle. But here he gives them no injunctions but such as they could perceive of themselves.

“To the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi.” Since it was likely that the Jews too would call themselves “saints” from the first oracle, when they were called a “holy people, a people for God’s own possession” (Ex. xix. 6; Deut. vii. 6, etc.); for this reason he added, “to the saints in Christ Jesus.” For these alone are holy, and those hence-forward profane. “To the fellow-Bishops and Deacons.” What is this? were there several Bishops of one city? Certainly not; but he called the Presbyters so. For then they still interchanged the titles, and the Bishop was called a Deacon. For this cause in writing to Timothy, he said, “Fulfil thy ministry,” when he was a Bishop. For that he was a Bishop appears by his saying to him, “Lay hands hastily on no man.” (1 Tim. v. 22.) And again, “Which was given thee with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery.” (1 Tim. iv. 14.) Yet Presbyters would not have laid hands on a Bishop. And again, in writing to Titus, he says, “For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge. If any man is blameless, the husband of one wife” (Tit. i. 5, 6); which he says of the Bishop. And after saying this, he adds immediately, “For the Bishop must be blameless, as God’s steward, not self willed:” (Tit. i. 7.) So then, as I said, both the Presbyters were of old called Bishops and Deacons of Christ, and the Bishops Presbyters; and hence even now many Bishops write, “To my fellow-Presbyter,” and, “To my fellow-Deacon.” But otherwise the specific name is distinctly appropriated to each, the Bishop and the Presbyter. “To the fellow-Bishops,” he says, “and Deacons,

Ver. 2. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

How is it that though he nowhere else writes to the Clergy, not in Rome, nor in Corinth, nor in Ephesus, nor anywhere, but in general, to “all the saints, the believers, the beloved,” yet here he writes to the Clergy? Because it was they that sent, and bare fruit, and it was they that dispatched Epaphroditus to him.

Ver. 3. “I thank my God,” he says, “upon all my remembrance of you.”

He said in another of his writings, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief.” (Heb. xiii. 17.) If then the “grief” be due to the wickedness of the disciples, the doing it “with joy” would be due to their advancement. As often as I remember you, I glorify God. But this he does from his being conscious of many good things in them. I both glorify, he says, and pray. I do not, because ye have advanced unto virtue, cease praying for you. But “I thank my God,” he says, “upon all my remembrance of you,”

Ver. 4. “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request also with joy.”

“Always,” not only while I am praying. “With joy.” For it is possible to do this with grief too, as when he says elsewhere, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears.” (2 Cor. ii. 4.)

Ver. 5. “For your fellowship in furtherance of the Gospel from the first day even until now.”

Great is that he here witnesseth of them, and very great, and what one might have witnessed of Apostles and Evangelists. Ye did not, because ye were entrusted with one city, he saith, care for that only, but ye leave nothing undone to be sharers of my labors, being everywhere at hand and working with me, and taking part in my preaching. It is not once, or the second, or third time, but always, from the time ye believed until now, ye have assumed the readiness of Apostles. Behold how those indeed that were in Rome turned away from him; for hear him saying, “This thou knowest, that all that are in Asia turned away from me.” (2 Tim. i. 15.) And again, “Demas forsook me”: and “at my first defence no one took my part.” (2 Tim. iv. 10, 16.) But these, although absent, shared in his tribulations, both sending men to him, and ministering to him according to their ability, and leaving out nothing at all. And this ye do not now only, saith he, but always, in every, way assisting me. So then it is a “fellowship in furtherance of the Gospel.” For when one preacheth, and thou waitest on the preacher, thou sharest his crowns. Since even in the contests that are without, the crown is not only for him that striveth, but for the trainer, and the attendant, and all that help to prepare the athlete. For they that strengthen him, and recover him, may fairly participate in his victory. And in wars too, not only he that wins the prize of valor, but all they too that attend him, may fairly claim a share in the trophies, and partake of the glory, as having shared in his conflict by their attendance on him. For it availeth not a little to wait on saints, but very much. For it makes us sharers in the rewards that are laid up for them. Thus; suppose some one hath given up great possessions for God, continually devotes himself to God, practices great virtue, and even to words, and even to thoughts, and even in everything observes extreme strictness. It is open to thee too, even without showing such strictness, to have a share in the rewards that are laid up for him for these things. How? If thou aid him both in word and deed. If thou encourage him both by supplying his needs, and by doing him every possible service. For then the smoother of that rugged path will be thyself. So then if ye admire those in the deserts that have adopted the angelic life, those in the churches that practice the same virtues with them; if ye admire, and are grieved that ye are far behind them; ye may, in another way, share with them, by waiting on them, and aiding them. For indeed this too is of God’s lovingkindness, to bring those that are less zealous, and are not able to undertake the hard and rugged and strict life, to bring, I say, even those, by another way, into the same rank with the others. And this Paul means by “fellowship.” They give a share to us, he means, in carnal things, and we give a share to them in spiritual things. For if God for little and worthless things granteth the kingdom, His servants too, for little and material things, give a share in spiritual things: or rather it is He that giveth both the one and the other by means of them. Thou canst not fast, nor be alone, nor lie on the ground, nor watch all night? Yet mayest thou gain the reward of all these things, if thou go about the matter another way, by attending on him that laboreth in them, and refreshing and anointing him constantly, and lightening the pains of these works. He, for his part, stands fighting and taking blows. Do thou wait on him when he returns from the combat, receive him in thy arms, wipe off the sweat, and refresh him; comfort, soothe, restore his wearied soul. If we will but minister to the saints with such readiness, we shall be partakers of their rewards. This Christ also tells us. “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that they may receive you into their eternal tabernacles.” (Luke xvi. 9.) Seest thou that they are become sharers? “From the first day,” he says, “even until now.” And “I rejoice” not only for what is past, but also for the future; for from the past I guess that too.

Ver. 6. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

See how he also teaches them to be unassuming. For since he had witnessed a great thing of them, that they may not feel as men are apt to do, he presently teaches them to refer both the past and the future to Christ. How? By saying, not, “Being confident that as ye began ye will also finish,” but what? “He which began a good work in you will perfect it.” He did not rob them of the achievement, (for he said, “I rejoice for your fellowship,” clearly as if making it their act,) nor did he call their good deeds solely their own, but primarily of God. “For I am confident,” saith he, “that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That is, God will. And it is not about yourselves, he implies, but about those descending from you that I feel thus. And indeed it is no small praise, that God should work in one. For if He is “no respecter of persons,” as indeed He is none, but is looking to our purpose when He aids us in good deeds, it is evident that we are agents in drawing Him to us; so that even in this view he did not rob them of their praise. Since if His in working were indiscriminate, there would have been nothing to hinder but that even Heathens and all men might have Him working in them, that is, if He moved us like logs and stones, and required not our part. So that in saying “God will perfect it,” this also again is made their praise, who have drawn to them the grace of God, so that He aids them in going beyond human nature. And in another way also a praise, as that “such are your good deeds that they cannot be of man, but require the divine impulse.” But if God will perfect, then neither shall there be much labor, but it is right to be of good courage, for that they shall easily accomplish all, as being assisted by Him.

Ver. 7. “Even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace.”

Greatly still does he show here his longing desire, in that he had them in his heart; and in the very prison, and though bound, he remembered the Philippians. And it is not a little to the praise of these men, since it is not of prejudice that this Saint conceived his love, but of judgment, and right reasons. So that to be loved of Paul so earnestly is a proof of one’s being something great and admirable. “And in the defense,” he says, “and confirmation of the Gospel.” And what wonder if he had them when in prison, since not even at the moment of going before the tribunal to make my defense, he says, did ye slip from my memory. For so imperial a thing is spiritual love, that it gives way to no season, but ever keeps hold of the soul of him who loves, and allows no trouble or pain to overcome that soul. For as in the case of the Babylonian furnace, when so vast a flame was raised, it was a dew to those blessed Children. So too does friendship occupying the soul of one who loves, and who pleases God, shake off every flame, and produce a marvelous dew.

“And in the confirmation of the Gospel,” he says. So then his bonds were a confirmation of the Gospel, and a defense. And most truly so. How? For if he had shunned bonds, he might have been thought a deceiver; but he that endures every thing, both bonds and affliction, shows that he suffers this for no human reason, but for God, who rewards. For no one would have been willing to die, or to incur such great risks, no one would have chosen to come into collision with such a king, I mean Nero, unless he looked to another far greater King. Truly a “confirmation of the Gospel” were his bonds. See how he more than succeeded in turning all things to their opposite. For what they supposed to be a weakness and a detraction, that he calls a confirmation; and had this not taken place, there had been a weakness. Then he shows that his love was not of prejudice, but of judgment. Why? I have you (in my heart), he says, in my bonds, and in my defense, because of your being “partakers of my grace.” What is this? Was this the “grace” of the Apostle, to be bound, to be driven about, to suffer ten thousand evils? Yes. For He says, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. xii. 9.) “Wherefore,” saith he, “I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries.” Since then I see you in your actions giving proof of your virtue, and being partakers of this grace, and that with readiness, I reasonably suppose thus much. For I that have had trial of you, and more than any have known you, and your good deeds; how that even when so distant from us, ye strive not to be wanting to as in our troubles, but to partake in our trials for the Gospel’s sake, and to take no less share than myself, who am engaged in the combat, far off as ye are; am doing but justice in witnessing to these things.

And why did he not say “partakers,” but “partakers with me” ? I myself too, he means, share with another, that I may be a partaker of the Gospel; that is, that I may share in the good things laid up for the Gospel. And the wonder indeed is. that they were all so minded; for he says that “ye all are fellow-partakers of grace.” From these beginnings, then, I am confident that such ye will be even to the end. For it cannot be that so bright a commencement should be quenched, and fail, but it points to great results.

Since then it is possible also in other ways to partake of grace, and of trials, and of tribulations, let us also, I beseech you, be partakers. How many of those who stand here, yea, rather all, would fain share with Paul in the good things to come! It is in your power if ye are willing, on behalf of those who have succeeded to his ministry, when they suffer any hardship for Christ’s sake, to take their part and succor them. Hast thou seen thy brother in trial? Hold out a hand! Hast thou seen thy teacher in conflict? Stand by him! But, says one, there is no one like Paul! now for disdain! now for criticism! So there is no one like Paul? Well, I grant it. But, “He that receiveth,” saith He, “a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s reward.” (Matt. x. 41.) For was it for this that these were honored, that they coöperated with Paul? Not for this, but because they coöperated with one who had undertaken the preaching. Paul was honorable for this, that he suffered these things for Christ’s sake.

There is indeed no one like Paul. No. not even but a little approaching to that blessed one. But the preaching is the same as it was then.

And not only in his bonds did they have fellowship with him, but also from the beginning. For hear him saying, “And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the Gospel, no Church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving, but ye only.” (Phil. iv. 15.) And even apart from trials, the teacher has much labor, watching, toiling in the word, teaching, complaints, accusations, imputations, envyings. Is this a little matter, to bear ten thousand tongues, when one might have but one’s own anxieties? Alas! what shall I do? for I am in a strait between two things. I long to urge you on and encourage you to the alliance and succor of the saints of God; but I fear lest some one should suspect another thing, that I say this not for your sakes, but for theirs. But know that it is not for their sakes I say these things, but for your own. And if ye are willing to attend, I convince you by my very words; the gain is not equal to you and to them. For ye, if ye give, will give those things from which, willing or unwilling, ye must soon after part, and give place to others; but what thou receivest is great and far more abundant. Or, are ye not so disposed, that in giving ye will receive? For if ye are not so disposed, I do not even wish you to give. So far am I from making a speech for them! Except one have first I so disposed himself, as receiving rather than giving, as gaining ten thousand fold, as benefited rather than a benefactor, let him not give. If as one granting a favor to the receiver, let him not give. For this is not so much my care, that the saints may be supported. For even if thou give not, another will give. So that what I want is this, that you may have a relief from your own sins. But he that gives not so will have no relief. For it is not giving that is doing alms, but the doing it with readiness; the rejoicing, the feeling grateful to him that receives. For, “not grudgingly,” saith he, “or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. ix. 7.) Except then one so give, let him not give: for that is loss, not alms. If then ye know that ye will gain, not they, know that your gain becomes greater. For as for them the body is fed, but your soul is approved; for them, not one of their sins is forgiven when they receive, but for you, the more part of your offenses is removed. Let us then share with them in their great prizes. When men adopt kings they do not think they give more than they receive. Adopt thou Christ, and thou shalt have great security. Wilt thou also share with Paul? Why do I say Paul when it is Christ that receiveth?

But that ye may know that all is for your sakes that I say and do, and not of care for the comfort of others, if there is any of the rulers of the church that lives in abundance and wants nothing, though he be a saint, give not, but prefer to him one that is in want, though he be not so admirable. And wherefore? Because Christ too so willeth, as when He saith, “If thou make a supper or a dinner, call not thy friends, neither thy kinsmen, but the maimed, the lame, the blind, that cannot recompense thee.” (Luke xiv. 12.) For it is not indiscriminately that one should pay such attentions, but to the hungry, but to the thirsty, but to those who need clothing, but to strangers, but to those who from riches have been reduced to poverty. For He said not simply, “I was fed,” but ‘I was an hungered,” for, “Ye saw me an hungered,” He says, “and fed me.” (Matt. xxv. 35.) Twofold is the claim, both that he is a saint and that he is hungry. For if he that is simply hungry ought to be fed, much more when he is a saint too that is hungry. If then he is a saint, but not in need, give not; for this were no gain. For neither did Christ enjoin it; or rather, neither is he a saint that is in abundance and receiveth. Seest thou that it is not for filthy lucre that these things have been said to you, but for your profit? Feed the hungry, that thou mayest not feed the fire of hell. He, eating of what is thine, sanctifies also what remains. (Luke xi. 41.) Think how the widow maintained Elias; and she did not more feed than she was fed: she did not more give than receive. This now also takes place in a much greater thing. For it is not a “barrel of meal,” nor “a cruse of oil” (1 Kings xvii. 14), but what? “An hundred fold, and eternal life” (Matt. xix. 21, 29), is the recompense for such-the mercy of God thou becomest; the spiritual food; a pure leaven. She was a widow, famine was pressing, and none of these things hindered her. Children too she had, and not even so was she withheld. (1 Kings xvii. 12.) This woman is become equal to her that cast in the two mites. She said not to herself, “What shall I receive from this man? He stands in need of me. If he had any power he had not hungered, he had broken the drought, he had not been subject to like sufferings. Perchance he too offends God.” None of these things did she think of. Seest thou how great a good it is to do well with simplicity, and not to be over curious about the person benefited? If she had chosen to be curious she would have doubted; she would not have believed. So, too, Abraham, if he had chosen to be curious, would not have received angels. For it cannot, indeed it cannot be, that one who is exceeding nice in these matters, should ever meet with them. No, such an one usually lights on impostors; and how that is, I will tell you. The pious man is not desirous to appear pious, and does not clothe himself in show, and is likely to be rejected. But the impostor, as he makes a business of it, puts on a deal of piety that is hard to see through. So that while he who does good, even to those who seem not pious, will fall in with those who are so, he who seeks out those who are thought to be pious, will often fall in with those who are not so. Wherefore, I beseech you, let us do all things in simplicity. For let us even suppose that he is an impostor that comes; you are not bidden to be curious about this. For, “Give,” saith he, “to every one that asketh thee” (Luke vi. 30); and, “Forbear not to redeem him that is to be slain.” (Prov. xxiv. 11.) Yet most of those that are slain suffer this for some evil they are convicted of; still he saith, “Forbear not.” For in this shall we be like God, thus shall we be admired, and shall obtain those immortal blessings, which may we all be thought worthy of, through the grace and lovingkindness of Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, honor, now and forever, and world without end. Amen.

HOMILY 2 ON PHILIPPIANS 1:8-11

Philippians i. 8-11.-“For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the tender mercies of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offense unto the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

He calls not God to witness as though he should be doubted, but does this from his great affection, and his exceeding persuasion and confidence; for after saying that they had fellowship with him, he adds this also, “in the tender mercies of Christ,” lest they should think that his longing for them was for this cause, and not simply for their own sake. And what mean these words, “in the tender mercies of Christ”? They stand for “according to Christ.” Because ye are believers, because ye love Christ, because of the love that is according to Christ. He does not say “love,” but uses a still warmer expression, “the tender mercies of Christ,” as though he had said, “having become as a father to you through the relationship which is in Christ.” For this imparts to us bowels warm and glowing. For He gives such bowels to His true servants. “In these bowels,” saith He, as though one should say, “I love you with no natural bowels, but with warmer ones, namely, those of Christ.” “How I long after you all.” I long after all, since ye are all of this nature; I am unable in words to represent to you my longing; it is therefore impossible to tell. For this cause I leave it to God, whose range is in the heart, to know this. Now had he been flattering them, he would not have called God to witness, for this cannot be done without peril.

Ver. 9. “And this,” saith he, “I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more.” For this is a good of which there is no satiety; for see, being so loved he wished to be loved still more, for he who loves the object of his love, is willing to stay at no point of love, for it is impossible there should be a measure of so noble a thing. Paul desires that the debt of love should always be owing; “Owe no man any thing, save to love one another.” (Rom. xiii. 8.) The measure of love is, to stop nowhere; “that your love,” says he, “may abound yet more and more.” Consider the character of the expression, “that it may abound yet more and more,” he says, “in knowledge and all discernment.” He does not extol friendship merely, nor love merely, but such as comes of knowledge; that is, Ye should not apply the same love to all: for this comes not of love, but from want of feeling. What means he by “in knowledge”? He means, with judgment, with reason, with discrimination. There are who love without reason, simply and any how, whence it comes that such friendships are weak. He says, “in knowledge and all discernment, that ye may approve the things that are excellent,” that is, the things that are profitable. This I say not for my own sake, says he, but for yours, for there is danger lest any one be spoiled by the love of the heretics; for all this he hints at, and see how he brings it in. Not for my own sake, says he, do I say this, but that ye may be sincere, that is, that ye receive no spurious doctrine under the pretence of love. How then, says he, “If it be possible, live peaceably with all men”? “Live peaceably” (Rom. xii. 18), he says, not, Love so as to be harmed by that friendship; for he says, “if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; that ye may be sincere” (Matt. V. 29), that is, before God, “and without offence,” that is, before men, for many men’s friendships are often a hurt to them. Even though it hurts thee not, says he, still another may stumble thereat. “Unto the day of Christ”; i.e. that ye may then be found pure, having caused no one to stumble.

Ver. 11. “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are through Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God;” i.e. holding, together with true doctrine, an upright life.

And not merely upright, but “filled with the fruits of righteousness.” For there is indeed a righteousness not according to Christ, as, for example, a moral life. “Which are through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.” Seest thou that I speak not of mine own: glory, but the righteousness of God; and oftentimes he calls mercy itself too righteousness; let not your love, he says, indirectly injure you, by hindering your perception of things profitable, and take heed lest you fall through your love to any one. For I would indeed that your love should be increased, but not so that ye should be injured by it. And I would not that it should be simply of prejudice, but upon proof whether I speak well or no. He says not, that ye may take up my opinion, but that ye may “prove” it. He does not say outright, join not yourself to this or that man, but, I would that your love should have respect to what is profitable, not that ye should be void of understanding. For it is a foolish thing if ye work not righteousness for Christ’s sake and through Him. Mark the words, “through Him.” Does he then use God as a mere assistant? Away with the thought. Not that I may receive praise, says he, but that God may be glorified.

Ver. 12, 13. “Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the Gospel, so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest.”

It was likely they would grieve when they heard he was in bonds, and imagine that the preaching was at a stand. What then? He straightway destroys this suspicion. And this also shows his affection, that he declares the things which had happened to him, because they were anxious. What say you? you are in bonds! you are hindered! how then does the Gospel advance? He answers, “so that my bonds in Christ became manifest in all the praetorium.” This thing not only did not silence the rest, nor affright them, but contrariwise rather encouraged them. If then they who were near the dangers were not only nothing hurt, but even received greater confidence, much more should you. Had he when in bonds taken it hardly, and held his peace, it were probable that they would be affected in like sort. But as he spoke more boldly when in bonds, he gave them more confidence than if he had not been bound. And how have his bonds “turned to the progress of the Gospel”? So God in His dispensation ordered, he means, that my bonds were not hid, my bonds which were “in” Christ, which were “for” Christ.

“In the whole praetorium.” For up to that time they so called the palace. And in the whole city, says he.

Ver. 14. “And that most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word without fear.”

This shows that they were of good courage even before, and spoke with boldness, but much more now. If others then, says he, are of good courage through my bonds, much more am I; if I am the cause of confidence to others, much more to myself. “And most of the brethren in the Lord.” As it was a great thing to say, My bonds gave confidence to them, he therefore adds beforehand, “in the Lord.” Do you see how, even when he sees himself constrained to speak great things, he departs not from moderation? “Are more abundantly bold,” he says, “to speak the word without fear”; the words “more abundantly” show that they had already begun.

Ver. 15. “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of good will.”

And what this means is worth enquiry. Since Paul was under restraint, many of the unbelievers, willing to stir up more vehemently the persecution from the Emperor, themselves also preached Christ, in order that the Emperor’s wrath might be increased at the spread of the Gospel, and all his anger might fall on the head of Paul. From my bonds then two lines of action have sprung. One party took great courage thereat; the other, from hope to work my destruction, set themselves to preach Christ; “some of them through envy,” that is, envying my reputation and constancy, and from desire of my destruction, and the spirit of strife, work with me; or that they themselves may be esteemed, and from the expectation that they will draw to themselves somewhat of my glory. “And some also of good will,” that is, without hypocrisy, with all earnestness.

Ver. 16. “The one proclaim Christ of faction not sincerely.”

That is, not with pure motives, nor from regard to the matter itself; but why? “thinking to add affliction to my bonds.” As they think that I shall thus fill into greater peril, they add affliction to affliction. O cruelty! O devilish instigation! They saw him in bonds, and cast into prison, and still they envied him. They would increase his calamities, and render him subject to greater anger: well said he, “thinking,” for it did not so turn out. They thought indeed to grieve me by this; but I rejoiced that the Gospel was furthered.

Ver. 17. “But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the Gospel.”

What means, “that I am set for the defense of the Gospel”? It is, They are preparing for the account which I must give to God, and assisting me.

What is meant by “for the defense”? I have been appointed to preach, I must give account, and answer for the work to which I have been appointed; they assist me, that my defense may be easy; for if there be found many who have been instructed and have believed, my defense will be easy. So it is possible to do a good work, from a motive which is not good. And not only is there no reward in store for such an action, but punishment. For as they preached Christ from a desire to involve the preacher of Christ in greater perils, not only shall they receive no reward, but shall be subject to vengeance and punishment. “And some of love.” That is, they know that I must give account for the Gospel.

Ver. 18. “What then? only that every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is proclaimed.”

But see the wisdom of the Man. He did not vehemently accuse them, but mentioned the result; what difference does it make to me, says he, whether it be done in this or that way? only that every way, “whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed.” He did not say, “Let him be proclaimed,” as some suppose, stating that he opens the way for the heresies, but, “He is proclaimed.” For in the first place he did not lay down the law and say, as if laying down the law, “Let Him be proclaimed,” but he reported what was taking place; secondly, if he even spoke as laying down the law, not even thus would he be opening the way for the heresies.

For let us examine the matter. For even if he gave permission to preach as they preached, not even thus was he opening the way for the heresies. How so? In that they preached healthfully; though the aim and purpose on which they acted was corrupted, still the preaching itself was not changed, and they were forced so to preach. And why? Because, had they preached otherwise than as Paul preached, had they taught otherwise than as he taught, they would not have increased the wrath of the Emperor. But now by furthering his preaching, by teaching in the same way, and making disciples as he did, they had power to exasperate the Emperor, when he saw the multitude of the disciples numerous. But then some wicked and senseless man, taking hold of this passage, says, Verily they would have done the contrary, they would have driven off those who had already believed, instead of making believers to abound, had they wished to annoy him. What shall we answer? That they looked to this thing only, how they might involve him in present danger, and leave him no escape; and thus they thought to grieve him, and to quench the Gospel, rather than in the other way.

By that other course they would have extinguished the wrath of the Emperor, they would have let him go at large and preach again; but by this course they thought that because of him all would be ruined, could they but destroy him. The many however could not have this intention, but certain bitter men alone.

Then “and therein,” says he, “I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” What means, “yea, I will rejoice”? Even if this be done still more, he means. For they coöperate with me even against their will; and will receive punishment for their toil, whilst I, who contributed nothing thereto, shall receive reward. Is there anything beyond this villainy of the Devil, to contrive the punishment of the preaching, and vengeance for the toils? Seest thou with how many evils he pierces through his own! How else would a hater and an enemy of their salvation have arranged all this? Seest thou how he who wages war against the truth has no power, but rather wounds himself, as one who kicks against the goads?

Ver. 19. “For I know,” says he, “that this shall turn to my salvation through your supplication, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

Nothing is more villainous than the Devil. So does he everywhere involve his own in unprofitable toils, and rends them. Not only does he not suffer them to obtain the prizes, but he even subjects them to punishment.

For not only does he command them the preaching of the Gospel, but likewise fasting and virginity, in such sort as will not only deprive them of their reward, but will bring down heavy evil on those who pursue that course. Concerning whom he says elsewhere, also, “Branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron.” (1 Tim. iv. 2.)

Wherefore, I beseech you, let us give thanks to God for all things, since he hath both lightened our toil, and increased our reward. For such as among them live in virginity enjoy not the rewards, which they do who among us live chastely in wedlock; but they who live as virgins among the heretics are subject to the condemnation of the fornicators. All this springs from their not acting with a right aim, but as accusing God’s creatures, and His unspeakable Wisdom.

Let us not then be sluggish. God hath placed before us contests within measure, having no toil. Yet let us not despise them for this. For if the heretics put themselves to the stretch in unprofitable toils, what excuse shall we have if we will not endure those which are less, and which have a greater reward? For which of Christ’s ordinances is burdensome? which is grievous? Art thou unable to live a virgin life? Thou art permitted to marry. Art thou unable to strip thyself of all thou hast? Thou art permitted to supply the needs of others from what thou hast. Let “your abundance be a supply for their want.” (2 Cor. viii. 14.) These things indeed appear burdensome. What things? I mean to despise money, and to overcome the desires of the body. But His other commands require no cost, no violence. For tell me, what violence is there in speaking no ill, in simply abstaining from slander? What violence is there in envying not another man’s goods? What violence in not being led away by vain-glory? To be tortured, and endure it, is the part of strength. The exercise of philosophy is the part of strength. To bear poverty through life is the part of strength. It is the part of strength to wrestle with hunger and thirst. Where none of these things are, but where you may enjoy your own, as becomes a Christian, without envying others, what violence is there?

From this source springs envy; nay, rather all evils spring from no other source than this, that we cleave to things present. For did you hold money and the glory of this world to be nought, you would not cast an evil eye on its possessors. But since you gape at these things, and idolize them, and are flattered by them, for this reason envy troubles you, and vain-glory; it all springs from idolizing the things of the present life. Art thou envious because another man is rich? Nay, such an one is an object for pity and for tears. But you laugh and answer straight, I am the object for tears, not he! Thou also art an object for tears, not because thou art poor, but because thou thinkest thyself wretched. For we weep for those who have nothing the matter, and are discontented, not because they have anything the matter, but because, without having, they think they have. For example: if any one, cured of a fever, still is restless and rolls about, lying in health on his bed, is he not more to be wept for than those in fever, not that he has a fever, for he has none, but because having no sickness he still thinks he has? And thou art an object for tears just because thou thinkest thyself wretched, not for thy poverty. For thy poverty thou art to be thought happy.

Why enviest thou the rich man? Is it because he has subjected himself to many cares? to a harder slavery? because he is bound like a dog, with ten thousand chains-namely, his riches? Evening overtakes him, night overtakes him, but the season of rest is to him a time of trouble of anguish, of pain, of anxiety. There is a noise he straightway jumps up. Has his neighbor been plundered? He who has lost nothing cares more for it than the loser. For that man has lost once, but having endured the pain he lays aside his care; but the other has it always with him. Night comes on, the haven of our ills, the solace of our woes, the medicine of our wounds. For they who are weighed down by excess of grief, often give no ear to their friends, to their relations, to their intimates,-ofttimes not even to a father when he would give comfort, but take their very words amiss; but when sleep bids them rest, none has the power to look him in the face. For worse than any burning does the bitterness of grief afflict our souls. And as the body, when parched and worn down by struggling against the violence of the sunbeams, is brought to a caravansary with many fountains, and the soothing of a gentle breeze, so does night hand over our soul to sleep. Yea, rather, I should say, not night nor sleep does this, but God, who knoweth our toil-worn race, has wrought this, while we have no compassion on ourselves, but, as though at enmity with ourselves, have devised a tyranny more powerful than natural want of rest-the sleeplessness which comes of wealth. For it is said, “The anxieties of wealth drive away sleep.” (Ecclus. xxxi. 1.) See how great is the care of God. But He hath not committed rest to our will, nor our need of sleep to choice, but hath bound it up in the necessities of nature, that good may be done to us even against our wills. For to sleep is of nature. But we, as mighty haters of ourselves, like enemies and persecutors of others, have devised a tyranny greater than this necessity of nature that, namely, which comes of money. Has day dawned? Then such an one is in dread of the informers. Hath night overtaken him? He trembles at robbers. Is death at hand? The thought that he must leave his goods to others preys upon him worse than death. Hath he a son? His desires are increased; and then he fancies himself poor. Has he none? His pains are greater. Deemest thou him blessed who is unable to receive pleasure from any quarter? Can you envy him thus tempest-tossed, while you yourself are placed in the quiet haven of poverty? Of a truth this is the imperfection of human nature; that it bears not its good nobly, but casts insults on its very prosperity.

And all this on earth; but when we depart thither, listen what the rich man, who was lord of innumerable goods, as you say (since for my part I call not these things good, but indifferent), listen to what this lord of innumerable goods says, and of what he stands in need: “Father Abraham,” he exclaims, “send Lazarus, that with the tip of his finger he may drop water on my tongue, for I am scorched in this flame.” For even if that rich man had endured none of the things I have mentioned, if he had passed his whole life without dread and care-why say I his whole life? rather that one moment (for it is a moment, our whole life is but one moment, compared with that eternity which has no end)-if all things had turned out according to his desire; must he not be pitied for these words, yea, rather, for this state of things? Was not your table once deluged with wine? Now you are not master even of a drop of water, and that, too, in your greatest need. Did not you neglect that poor man full of sores? But now you ask a sight of him, and no one gives leave. He lay at your gate; but now in Abraham’s bosom. You then lay under your lofty ceiling; but now in the fire of hell.

These things let the rich men hear. Yea, rather not the rich, but the pitiless. For not in that he was rich was he punished, but because he showed no pity; for it is possible that a man who is at the same time rich and pitiful, should meet with every good. And for this cause the rich man’s eyes were fixed on no one else, but on him alone, who then begged his alms; that he might learn from memory of his former actions, that his punishment was just. Were there not ten thousand poor men who were righteous? But he, who then lay at his gate, alone is seen by him, to instruct him and us, how great a good it is to put no trust in riches. His poverty hindered not the one in obtaining the kingdom; his riches helped not the other to avoid hell. Where is the point at which a man is poor? where is the point at which he is reduced to beggary? He is not, he is not poor, who has nought, but he who desires many things! He is not rich who has large possessions, but he who stands in need of nothing. For what profit is there to possess the whole world, and yet live in greater despondency than he who has nothing? Their dispositions make men rich and poor, not the abundance or the want of money. Would you, who are a poor man, become rich? You may have your will, and no one can hinder you. Despise the world’s wealth, think it nought, as it is nought. Cast out the desire of wealth, and you are straightway rich. He is rich who does not desire to become rich; he who is unwilling to be poor, is the poor man. As he is the diseased man, who even in health bemoans his case, and not the man who bears his disease more lightly than perfect health, so also he is poor who cannot endure poverty, but in the midst of wealth thinks himself poorer than the poor; not he who bears his poverty more lightly than they their riches, for he is a richer man.

For tell me, wherefore learest thou poverty? wherefore tremblest thou? is it not by reason of hunger? is it not for thirst? is it not for cold? Is it not indeed for these things? There is not, there is not any one who is ever destitute in these things! “For look at the generations of old, and see, did ever any one trust in the Lord, and was forsaken? or did any one hope in Him, and was made ashamed?” (Ecclus. ii. 11.)

And again, “Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them.” (Matt. vi. 26.) No one can readily point us out any one who has perished by hunger and cold. Wherefore then dost thou tremble at poverty? Thou canst not say. For if thou hast necessaries enough, wherefore dost thou tremble at it? Because thou hast not a multitude of servants? This truly is to be quit of masters; this is continual happiness, this is freedom from care. Is it because your vessels, your couches, your furniture are not formed of silver? And what greater enjoyment than thine has he who possesses these things? None at all. The use is the same, whether they are of this or that material. Is it because thou art not an object of fear to the many? May you never become so! For what pleasure is it that any should stand in dread and fear of thee? Is it because thou art afraid of others? But thou canst not be alarmed. For “wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same.” (Rom. xiii. 3.) Does any say, It is because we are subject to contempt, and apt to suffer ill? It is not poverty but wickedness which causes this; for many poor men have quietly passed through life, whilst rulers, and the rich, and powerful, have ended their days more wretchedly than all evil doers, than bandits, than grave-robbers. For what poverty brings in thy case, that doth wealth in theirs. For that which they who would ill-treat thee do through thy contemptible estate, they do to him from envy and the evil eye they cast upon him, and the latter still more than the former, for this is the stronger craving to ill-treat another. He who envies does everything with all his might and main, while the despiser ofttimes has even pity on the despised; and his very poverty, and utter want of power, has often been the cause of his deliverance.

And sometimes by saying to him, “A great deed it will be if you make away with such an one! If you slay one poor man, what vast advantage will you reap?” we may lulls soften down his anger. But envy sets itself against the rich, and ceases not until it has wrought its will, and has poured forth its venom. See you, neither poverty nor wealth is good in itself, but our own disposition. Let us bring it to a good tone, let us discipline it in true wisdom. If this be well affected, riches cannot cast us out of the kingdom, poverty will not make us come short. But we shall meekly bear our poverty, and receive no loss in respect to the enjoyment of future goods, nor even here on earth. But we shall both enjoy what is good on earth, and obtain the good things in heaven, which may we all obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness, &c. (source)

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 1:3-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 25, 2012

This post begins with Fr. Callan’s brief summary of Phil 1:3-11; the notes follow.

THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER FOR THE PHILIPPIANS

A Summary of Philippians 1:3-11~Here the Apostle begins to speak in the first person singular, showing that the letter is his own, and not a joint work between him and Timothy. He thanks God for the part the Philippians have had in the work of the Gospel and in the merits of his sufiferings (Phil 1:3-8), and he prays that they may continually progress in spiritual knowledge and in the grace of Him to whom they owe their spiritual life, so as to be perfect when the heavenly Bridegroom comes to call them to their eternal rewards (Phil 1:9-1 1).

3. I give thanks to my God in every remembrance of you,
4. Always in all my prayers, making supplication for you all, with joy,

3-4. The Apostle assures his readers that in all his remembrance of them he thanks God, who is the source of all their spiritual blessings, and that in all his petitions it is a cause of joy to him to make requests for them.

In all my prayers. Better, “In every request of mine.”

5. For your communication in the gospel of Christ from the first day unto now,

He assigns the reason for his supplication with joy In their behalf, namely, their “communication in the gospel, etc.,” i.e., their co-operation with him in the work of spreading the Gospel from the first day they heard it preached up to the time this letter was written. The reference is to the devotedness, labors, sufferings, gifts, etc., by which they had participated with the Apostle in the propagation and furtherance of the Gospel.

6. Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.

The Apostle now tells the Philippians that he feels certain that God the Father who began in them the work of their redemption and sanctification will complete the process, bringing it to perfection against the day of their deliverance from the present life. Thus, he teaches the necessity of grace, not only to begin a good work in the supernatural order, but also to continue it and to persevere in it until death (cf. Conc. Trid., sess. VI, cap. 13).

A good work, i.e., their conversion to Christianity, which was followed by their labor and zeal in behalf of the Gospel and St. Paul.

The day of Christ Jesus is a frequent expression with St. Paul, and refers to our Lord’s coming in judgment, whether at the death of the individual or at the end of time to judge the world. The similar expression of the Old Testament, “the day of the Lord,” meant the day of God’s visitation of the earth in judgment and redemption.

7. Indeed it is right for me to be so minded in regard of you all, for that I have you in my heart; that in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace.

He gives the reason for the confidence expressed in the preceding verse. It is perfectly right and natural that he should feel thus toward the Philippians, because of his intimate and tender love for them, and because, through the help they have given him, they are sharers in the “grace” of his apostolate, whether exercised in “bonds,” i.e., in prison, or in “defence” of himself and of his preaching against the accusations and calumnies of the Jews, or “in confirmation of the gospel,” i.e., in explaining and proving the truth of the Gospel before Jews and Gentiles (Acts 28:23 ff.). “For that I have you in my heart” may also be rendered “for that you have me in your heart,” i.e., he is mindful of them because they also remember him.

The gaudii mei of the Vulgate should be gratiæ meæ, to agree with the Greek.

8. For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the heart of Christ Jesus.

As a proof of his ardent love for the faithful of Philippi St. Paul now invokes God, who reads the heart, as his witness; he loves them all with the love wherewith Christ loves them; his heart is one with the heart of his Master.

In visceribus of the Vulgate means with the most ardent love, the Greek of which is properly rendered in English by “heart,” as it refers to the seat of tender and noble affections. The Greek also reverses the order of Jesu Christi of the Vulgate here.

9. And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all discernment,

In verse 4 the Apostle told his readers that he prayed for them all with joy. Now he tells them what he requested for them, namely, that their “charity” (i.e., their love of God and their neighbor) might continually increase and become ever more perfect “in knowledge,” i.e., in full, developed understanding (επιγνωσει) of Christian virtues, and “in all discernment,” i.e., practical judgment (αισθησει) as to the application of those virtues in dealing with their neighbor.

10. That you may approve the better things, that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ,

This full knowledge and judgment St. Paul requests for the Philippians in order that they may be able to appraise things according to their true worth; that, distinguishing between the moral values of their actions, they “may approve, etc.,” i.e., that they may test and choose those which are more excellent, with the result that they “may be sincere” (i.e., pure and innocent in the sight of God) “and without offence” (i.e., that their conduct may be no obstacle or stumbling block to their neighbor).

Unto the day of Christ, i.e., when the Lord comes to judge and reward them according to their works. See on verse 6 above.

11. Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The Apostle wishes the faithful not only to be innocent and blameless, but also to be “filled with the fruit of justice,” i.e., with good works, which can be done only through the grace of Christ. “Justice” here is better rendered “justness” or “righteousness,” which implies a complete harmony between the soul and God; it is given through Christ. “Only so far as the life of the believer is absorbed in the life of Christ, does the righteousness of Christ become his own” (Lightfoot). Hence our Lord said: “I am the true vine, etc.” (John 15:1 ff.).

Unto the glory, etc. The glory and praise of God is the last end and true goal of all our charity, justice, good works, etc., as the Apostle here reminds us.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3:11-4:2

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 24, 2012

The following is excerpted from St John Chrysostom’s 4th and 5th Homilies on First Thessalonians.

1Th 3:11-12. “Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ direct our way unto you: and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you.”

This is a proof of excessive love, that he not only prays for them by himself, but even in his Epistles inserts his prayer. This argues a fervent soul, and one truly not to be restrained. This is a proof of the prayers made there also, and at the same time also an excuse, as showing that it was not voluntarily, nor from indolence, that they did not go to them. As if he had said, May God Himself cut short the temptations that everywhere distract us, so that we may come directly to you. “And the Lord make you to increase and abound.” Do you see the unrestrainable madness of love that is shown by his words? “Make you to increase and abound,” instead of cause you to grow. As if one should say, that with a kind of superabundance he desires to be loved by them. “Even as we do also toward you,” he says. Our part is already done, we pray that yours may be done. Do you see how he wishes love to be extended, not only toward one another, but everywhere? For this truly is the nature of godly love, that it embraces all. If you love indeed such an one, but do not love such an one, it is human love. But such is not ours. “Even as we do also toward you.”

1Th 3:13. “To the end He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”

(He shows that love produces advantage to themselves, not to those who are loved. I wish, he says, that this love may abound, that there may be no blemish. He does not say to stablish you, but your hearts. “For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts.” (Mt 15:19) For it is possible, without doing anything, to be a bad man; as for example, to have envy, unbelief, deceit, to rejoice at evils, not to be loving, to hold perverted doctrines, all these things are of the heart; and to be pure of these things is holiness. For indeed chastity is properly by preëminence called holiness, since fornication and adultery is also uncleanness. But universally all sin is uncleanness, and every virtue is purity. For, “Blessed,” it is said, “are the pure in heart.” (Mt 5:8) By “the pure” He means those who are in every way pure.

403  For other things also know how to pollute the soul, and no less. For that wickedness defiles the soul, hear the prophet, saying, “O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness.” (Jer 4:14) And again, “Wash you, make you clean, put away the wickednesses from your souls.” (Isa 1:16), Sept) He did not say “fornications,” so that not only fornication, but other things also defile the soul.

“To establish your hearts,” he says, “unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” Therefore Christ will then be a Judge, but not before Him (only), but also before the Father we shall stand to be judged. Or does he mean this, to be unblamable before God, as he always says, “in the sight of God,” for this is sincere virtue—not in the sight of men?

It is love then that makes them unblamable. For it does make men really unblamable. And once when I was discoursing of this to a certain one, and saying, that love makes men unblamable, and that love to our neighbor does not suffer any entrance of transgression, and in my discourse going over, and pursuing all the rest—some one of my acquaintance interposing himself said, What then of fornication, is it not possible both to love, and to commit fornication? And it is indeed from love that this springs. Covetousness indeed, and adultery, and envy, and hostile designs, and everything of this sort can, from love of one’s neighbor, be stopped; but how fornication? he said. I therefore told him, that even this can love stop. For if a man should love a woman that commits fornication, he will endeavor both to draw her off from other men, and not himself also to add to her sin. So that to commit fornication with a woman is the part of one exceedingly hating her with whom he commits the fornication, but one who truly loved her would withdraw her from that abominable practice. And there is not, there is not any sin, which the power of love, like fire, cannot consume. For it is easier for a vile faggot to resist a great pile of fire, than for the nature of sin to resist the power of love.

This then let us plant in Our own souls, that we may stand with all the Saints. For they all pleased God by their love to their neighbor. Whence was Abel slain, and did not slay? From his vehement love to his brother, he could not even admit such a thought. Whence was the destructive pest of envy received by Cain? For I will no longer call him the brother of Abel! Because the foundations of love had not been firmly fixed in him. Whence did the sons of Noah obtain a good report? was it not because they vehemently loved their father, and did not endure to see his exposure? And whence was the other cursed? was it not from not loving him? And whence did Abraham obtain a good report? was it not from love in doing what he did concerning his nephew? what he did as to his supplication for the Sodomites? For strongly, strongly, were the Saints affected with love and with sympathy.

For consider, I pray; Paul, he that was bold in the face of fire, hard as adamant, firm and unshaken, on every side compact, riveted in the fear of God, and inflexible; for, “who (said he) shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword”? (Rom 8:35) he that was bold in the face of all these things, and of earth and sea, he that laughed to scorn the adamantine gates of death, whom nothing ever withstood,—he, when he saw the tears of some whom he loved, was so broken and crushed,—the adamantine man,—that he did not even conceal his feelings, but said straightway, “What do ye, weeping and breaking my heart?” (Acts 21:13) What sayest thou, tell me? Had a tear the power to crush that soul of adamant? Yea, he says, for I hold out against all things except love. This prevails over me, and subdues me. This is the mind of God. An abyss of water a did not crush him, and a few tears crushed him. “What do ye, weeping and crushing my heart?” For great is the force of love. Dost thou not see him again weeping? Why weepest thou? Tell me. “By the space of three years,” he says, “I ceased not to admonish every one night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:31) From his great love he feared, lest some plague should be introduced among them. And again, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears.” (2 Cor 2:4).

And what did Joseph? tell me, that firm one, who stood up against so great a tyranny, who appears so noble against so great a flame of love, who so out-battled and overcame the madness of his mistress. For what was there not then to charm him? A beautiful person, the pride of rank, the costliness of garments, the fragrance of perfumes, (for all these things know how to soften the soul,) words more soft than all the rest! For ye know that she who loves, and so vehemently, nothing so humble but she will bring herself to say it, taking upon her the attitude of a supplicant. For so broken was this woman, though wearing gold, and being of royal dignity, that she threw herself at the knees perhaps of the captive boy, and perhaps even intreated him weeping and clasping his knees, and had recourse to this not once, and a second time, but oftentimes. Then he might see her eye shining most brilliantly. For it is probable that she not simply but with excessive nicety would set off her beauty; as wishing by many nets to catch the lamb of Christ. Add here I pray also many magic charms. Yet nevertheless this inflexible, this firm man, of rocky hardness, when he saw his brothers who had bartered him away, who had thrown him into a pit, who had sold him, who had even wished to murder him, who were the causes both of the prison and the honor, when he heard from them how they had worked upon their father, (for, we said, it says, that one was devoured by a wild beast (Gen 37:20 Gen 34:28) he was broken, softened, crushed, “And he wept,” it says, and not being able to bear his feelings, he went in, and composed himself (Gen 43:30), that is, wiped away his tears.

What is this? dost thou weep, O Joseph? and yet the present circumstances are deserving not of tears, but of anger, and wrath, and indignation, and great revenge and retribution. Thou hast thine enemies in thy hands, those fratricides; thou canst satiate thy wrath. And yet neither would this be injustice. For thou dost not thyself begin the unjust acts, but defendest thyself against those who have done the wrong. For look not to thy dignity. This was not of their contrivance, but of God, who shed His favor upon thee. Why dost thou weep? But he would have said, far be it that I, who in all things have obtained a good report, should by this remembrance of wrongs overturn them all. It is truly a season for tears. I am not more brutish than beasts. They pour out a libation to nature, whatever harm they suffer. I weep, he says, that they ever treated me thus.

This man let us also imitate. Let us mourn and weep for those who have injured us. Let us not be angry with them. For truly they are worthy of tears, for the punishment and condemnation to which they make themselves liable. I know, how you now weep, how you rejoice, both admiring Paul, and amazed at Joseph, and pronouncing them blessed. But if any one has an enemy, let him now take him into recollection, let him bring him to his mind, that whilst his heart is yet warm with the remembrance of the Saints, he may be enabled to dissolve the stubbornness of wrath, and to soften what is harsh and callous. I know, that after your departure hence, after that I have ceased speaking, if anything of warmth and fervor should remain, it will not be so great, as it now is whilst you are hearing me. If therefore any one, if any one has become cold, let him dissolve the frost. For the remembrance of injuries is truly frost and ice. But let us invoke the Sun of Righteousness, let us entreat Him to send His beams upon us, and there will no longer be thick ice, but water to drink.

If the fire of the Sun of Righteousness has touched our souls, it will leave nothing frozen, nothing hard, nothing burning, nothing unfruitful. It will bring out all things ripe, all things sweet, all things abounding with much pleasure. If we love one another, that beam also will come. Allow me, I beseech you, to say these things with earnestness. Cause me to hear, that by these words we have produced some effect; that some one has gone and thrown both his arms about his enemy, has embraced him, has twined himself around him, has warmly kissed him, has wept. And though the other be a wild beast, a stone, or whatever he be, he will be made gentle by such affectionate kindness. For on what account is he thine enemy? Hath he insulted thee? yet he has not injured thee at all. But dost thou for the sake of money suffer thy brother to be at enmity with thee? Do not so, I beseech you. Let us do away all. It is our season. Let us use it to good purpose. Let us cut asunder the cords of our sins. Before we go away to judgment, let us not ourselves judge one another. “Let not the sun” (it is said) “go down upon your wrath.” (Eph 4:26) Let no one put it off. These puttings off produce delays. If you have deferred it to-day, you blush the more, and if you add to-morrow, the shame is greater, and if a third day, yet worse. Let us not then put ourselves to shame, but let us forgive, that we may be forgiven. And if we be forgiven, we shall obtain all blessings, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1Th 4:1-3a  Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.

When he has met what was pressing, and what was upon his hands, and is about henceforth to enter upon things that are perpetual, and which they ought continually to hear, he adds this expression, “finally,” that is, always and forever. “We beseech and exhort you in the Lord.” Strange! He does not even speak of himself as of sufficient credit to exhort. And yet who was so worthy of credit? But he takes Christ along with him. We exhort you, he says, by God. Which also he said to the Corinthians, “God entreats (exhorts) you through us.” (2 Cor 5:20) “That as ye received of us.” This “received” is not of words only, but of actions also, viz. “how ye ought to walk,” and he means thereby the whole conduct of life. “And to please God, that ye abound more and more. That is, that by more abounding ye do not stop at the limit of the commandments, but that you even go beyond them. For this it is, that “ye abound more and more.” In what preceded he accepts the marvel of their firm faith, but here he regulates their life. For this is proficiency, even to go beyond the commandments and the statutes. For no longer from the constraint of a teacher, but from their own voluntary choice, is all this performed. For as the earth ought not to bear only what is thrown upon it, so too ought the soul not to stop at those things which have been inculcated, but to go beyond them. Do you see that he has properly said “to go beyond”? For virtue is divided into these two things, to decline from evil, and to do good. For the withdrawal from evil is not sufficient for the arrival at virtue, but it is a kind of path, and a beginning leading thereto; still we have need of great alacrity. The things therefore to be avoided he tells them in the order of commandment. And justly. For these things indeed being done bring punishment, but not being done, yet bring no praise. The acts of virtue however, such as to give away our goods, and such like, are not of the order of commandment, he says. But what? “He that is able to receive, let him receive.” (Mt 19:12) It is profitable, therefore, that as he with much fear and trembling had given these commandments to them, he also by these letters reminds them of that his care. Wherefore he does not repeat them, but reminds them of them.

“For ye know,” he says, “what charge we gave you through our Lord Jesus Christ. For this is the will Of God, even your sanctification.” And observe How he nowhere so vehemently glances at any other thing, as at this. As elsewhere also he writes to this effect; “Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14) And why dost thou wonder, if he everywhere writes to his disciples upon this subject, when even in his Epistle to Timothy he has said, “Keep thyself pure.” (1Tim 5:22) Also in his second Epistle to the Corinthians he has said, “In much patience, in fastings, by pureness.” (2 Cor 6:5-6) And one may find this in many places, both in this Epistle to the Romans, and everywhere, and in all his Epistles. For in truth this is an evil pernicious to all. And as a swine full charged with mire, wherever he enters, fills all places with his ill odor, and chokes the senses with dung, so too does fornication; it is an evil not easy to be washed away. But when some even who have wives practice this, how excessive is the outrage! “For this,” he says, “is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye abstain from all fornication.” For there are many forms of disorderly conduct. The pleasures of wantonness are of many kinds and various, it were not tolerable to mention them. But having said “from all fornication,” he leaves it to those who know them.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 24, 2012

I’ve included (in purple text) the Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the text he is commenting on. A brief comment at the end (in red text) is mine.

1Th 3:12  And may the Lord multiply you and make you abound in charity towards one another and towards all men: as we do also towards you,

May the Lord increase the number of the faithful amongst you, and make you advance in mutual charity towards one another, and towards all men, as I abound in charity towards you and all mankind.

“And may the Lord multiply you,” i.e., increase your number, so that a greater
number would embrace the faith. In Greek, may the Lord make you to increase and abound in love.

1Th 3:13  To confirm your hearts without blame, in holiness, before God and our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his saints. Amen.

I also pray, that he may confirm your hearts in exterior edification, so as to be blameless before men, and in true interior sanctity in the sight of God and our Father, and that, on the day on which our Lord Jesus Christ will come, with all his saints, to judge the world. Amen.

“Without blame,” irreprehensible and free from all complaint before men, and “in holiness before God and our Father,” i.e., true and real holiness, “at the coming,” &c., and this with constancy and perseverance, to the end. “Amen” is not in the Greek. It is, however, found in several ancient versions, and in some of the chief manuscripts.

1Th 4:1  For the rest therefore, brethren, pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus that, as you have received from us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more.

For the rest, therefore, brethren, we implore and exhort you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that as you have received precepts from us, by word of mouth when amongst you, regarding the manner of living and of pleasing God, you would so live, as to observe these precepts, and by advancing in perfection, please him more and more.

“For the rest”—a form of transition usual with the Apostle, particularly at the close of his Epistles. The Greek copies want the words “so also you would walk;” according to the Greek, the words, “that you may abound the more,” will signify, that, not contenting themselves with mere precepts, they ought to practise matters of counsel.

1Th 4:2  For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus.

I have said, as you have received from us. For, you know what precepts of a holy life we delivered to you, in the name, and by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

Father MacEvilly offers no comment on this verse. I would like to point out that the instruction St Paul seems to have in mind is (at least in part) rehearsed for them again in 1 Thess 4:3-12 and 1 Thess 5:1-11. Sandwiched between these two passages, in 1 Thess 4:13-18, we find him giving them information they apparently did not have before.

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My Notes on 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 24, 2012

1 Th 3:12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love towards one another, and towards all men, even as we also do towards you

The Lord (i.e., Jesus) is asked to bestow a superabundance of faith and love upon the community which was already in possession of these virtues (see 1 Th 1:3; 1 Thess 3:6). In this life the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love can never be possessed to such a degree that we can exhaust them, there is always room for an increase, hence, in a certain sense, our faith will always be lacking because it can always be improved, extended, strengthened.

Vs 12 cont. Towards one another and towards all men. Here St Paul is preparing for the final part of the letter (1 Thess 4:1-5:28), which will focus on moral conduct towards fellow Christians (1 Thess 4:1-10), and towards outsiders (1 Thess 4:11-12).

Vs 12 cont. Even as we also do towards you Here Paul not only reassures the community of his and his companions love for their converts, but also subtly holds himself and the others up as an example for imitation (see 1 Thess 1:6).

1 Th 3:13 To the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones

Paul is still preparing for the final part of the letter, where holiness of life in preparation for the coming of Christ will be a major subject. Grammatically, this verse is linked to the previous one. To be blameless in holiness entails acting in love towards one another and all men.

1Thess 4:1  For the rest therefore, brethren, pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus that, as you have received from us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more.
1Thess 4:2  For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus.

We pray and beseech you in the LordJeus.  Here Paul appeals to his authority as an ambassador of Christ (see 2 Cor 5:18-20).  The emphasis and urgency of the exhortation should be seen against the backdrop of the Lord’s second coming.

vs 1 cont.  (we exhort you) that, as you have received from us how you ought to walk and to please God,so also you would walk, that you may abound the more   “Walk” is a common metaphor for one’s moral life (see my notes on Psalm 1).  The life of the man of God is conceived of as a religious pilgrimage towards final union with Him.  The Thessalonians have already begun that journey and are here encouraged to keep at it with even greater commitment.  That journey began when the missionaries came to their city preaching the word, which they “received in great affliction, with the joy which comes from the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess 1:6).  The word received used here and in 2:13 is paralambano, which is related to the word pradosis, tradition.  Tradition is the handing on or receiving of a teaching delivered either orally, in writing, or by example, and Jesus is at their source, for he Handed on (paradidonai) and revealed what he had received from the Father (see Matt 11:25-27).  The words in verse 2 for you know what precepts I have given to you through the Lord Jesus is likewise a reminder of the teaching they have received from the missionaries through Jesus.    But it was not merely through the preaching that they received from the missionaries how they ought to walk; they also received it by the example set by the missionaries (note the reference to imitation in 1 Thess 1:6, and see 1 Thess 2:1-12).  The word abound calls to mind what Paul said in 1 Thess 3:12.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3:11-4:2

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 24, 2012

This post includes Father Callan’s summaries of 1 Thess 3:1-13 and 1 Thess 4:1-11 to help provide context.

TIMOTHY’S VISIT TO THESSALONICA AND ITS RESULTS

A Summary of 1 Thess 3:1-13~This whole Chapter really belongs, by connection of thought and matter, to the last section of the preceding Chapter. In his anxiety St. Paul did send Timothy to visit and encourage the new converts at Thessalonica. When the Apostle was with them, he had foretold the trials to which they should be subjected, and he was fearing what effects these troubles may have had on their faith. But Timothy on his return gave a most comforting report, for which the Apostle thanks God from the bottom of his heart. Night and day he prays that he himself may be able to visit them, to make up what is wanting to their faith. May God grant him this favor, and may the Thessalonians meanwhile increase and abound in brotherly love towards all, so as to make ever greater progress in holiness, in preparation for the coming of the Lord!

1 Thess 3:11. Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way unto you,
1 Thess 3:12. And may the Lord multiply you, and make you abound in charity towards one another, and towards all men, as we do also towards you:
1 Thess 3:13. To confirm your hearts without blame in holiness, before God and our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his saints. Amen.

Verses 11 -13 conclude the first main part of the Epistle. In these verses St. Paul prays to God, first for the Apostles, that they may be enabled to visit the Thessalonians (ver. 11); and secondly, for the converts, that they may increase in charity (ver. 12), and may be found blameless in the day of Christ’s coming (ver. 13). The second main part of the letter likewise closes with a prayer to God (1 Thess 5:23-24). Cf. Voste, hoc loco.

(verse 11) God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus. The Christus of the Vulgate is not in the Greek. Unity of action is here attributed to the Father and our Lord in directing the free actions of men for a supernatural purpose, and therefore their equality in divine nature is implied. See 2 Thess 2:16-17, where the same doctrine is even more explicitly stated. How clear this doctrine was to the mind of St. Paul in these the first of his letters, and therefore in the earliest of New Testament writings!

Direct our way, etc. Better, “make straight our way,” by removing all impediments.

(Ver. 12) May the Lord multiply ,  etc. Better, “may the Lord make you to increase, etc.” Here again divine action is attributed to our Lord. As the Apostles are animated with charity towards the Thessalonians, so may the latter be towards “one another, and towards all men,” for Christ died for all!

The in vobis of the Vulgate should be in vos, as in the Greek.

(Ver. 13) To confirm your hearts, etc. The reference is to the action and grace of the Lord spoken of in the preceding verse. The Apostle prays for the internal, as well as the external perfection of his readers.

Before God, etc., i.e., in the sight of God the Father.

At the coming, etc., i.e., when our Lord, accompanied by His holy angels, comes to judge the world. The Apostle wishes his converts to be arrayed with all the virtues of sanctity when the Lord comes in judgment.

With all his saints. What is the meaning of “saints” here? Some authorities, like Ambrosiaster, Flatt and Hofmann, referring the phrase back to “without blame in holiness,” think all the faithful, living or dead, are meant; Findlay and others say only the holy dead are in question; Lightfoot and Milligan hold that we should understand both angels and the blessed dead; Knabenbauer, Voste, and most modern commentators teach that only angels are to be understood in this passage.

The reasons for this last opinion are that in all the eschatological passages of the Old and New Testaments and in the apocryphal books only angels are mentioned as accompanying the coming Messiah, Moreover, the dead who have died in the Lord seem to be excluded from a part in the glorious coming of the Messiah, according to 1 Thess 4:15. It is true that certain New Testament passages speak of “the saints” as having part in the judgment of the world; but we must not confuse the judgment with the glorious advent of the Christ, which is to precede the judgment. See Voste, hoc loco.

EXHORTATION TO A CHRISTIAN LIFE

A Summary of 1 Thess 4:1-11~In his prayer for the Thessalonians at the close of the preceding Chapter St. Paul had prayed that his converts might abound in charity and lead a blameless life (1 Thess 3:12-13). Now, after calling attention to teachings he gave when founding their Church, he comes to particulars, first admonishing them to avoid impurity in all its forms (ver. 1-8), and then urging them to brotherly conduct, to industry, and to the need of giving good example to non-Christians (ver. 9-11).

1 Thess 4:1. For the rest therefore, brethren, we pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus that, as you have received from us how you ought to walk to please God, as indeed you do walk, that you may abound the more.

For the rest is a formula of transition often used by St. Paul, directing attention to something else that is to follow.

We pray and beseech you, etc. The Apostle exhorts his readers to continue to live according to the teachings he gave them when he first evangelized them, and to strive for ever greater progress.

The Vulgate, sic et ambuletis, should read sicut et ambulatis, to agree with the best Greek ; in the ordinary Greek the phrase is omitted.

1 Thess 4:2. For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus.

St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that the norms of life and conduct which he gave them had as their ultimate authority and sanction the “Lord Jesus,” the divine Master of us all.

In verses 3-8 the Apostle exhorts the converts to chastity of life.

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Father E.S. Berry’s Introduction and Notes to Psalm 25

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 24, 2012

This psalm is alphabetic in form and closely resembles Psalm 24. In both the Vau verse is lacking, and both have an additional Pe verse at the end. In this psalm the Koph verse is replaced by a second Resh verse. There is nothing in the psalm to indicate the time or occasion of its composition. It is a prayer for aid in time of trouble. The Psalmist is conscious of fidelity to the law of God and expresses firm belief that the godly will be rewarded with peace and prosperity. In the Septuagint (LXX) and the Vulgate the title reads: unto the end, a psalm of David. In Hebrew it is simply A psalm of David.

Synopsis: David expresses confidence in God (1-4a). He begs for guidance in the path of righteousness and implores forgiveness of his sins (4b-11), for true happiness is found only in the service of God (12-15). He prays to be delivered from his enemies and from his many troubles (16-21). The psalm ends with a chorus (22).

Psa 25:1  Unto the end, a psalm for David. To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul.
Psa 25:2  In thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed.
Psa 25:3a  Neither let my enemies laugh at me:

Verses 1-3a. “Detached from all earthly desires, I turn to Thee, O Lord, with loving confidence. In Thee do I put my trust. May I never be put to shame by disappointed hopes. May my enemy never have it to say: ‘In vain did he trust in his God for He heard him not.'”

The phrase, I lift up my soul to Thee, implies separation from worldly things and self-surrender to the will of God.

Psa 25:3bfor none of them that wait on thee shall be confounded.
Psa 25:4a  Let all them be confounded that act unjust things without cause.

Verses 3b-4a. The Psalmist gives the reason for his firm confidence: “No one who has recourse to Thee and seeks Thy aid shall be left unaided. But those who sin maliciously shall be confounded; their hopes shall be frustrated and their prayers unheeded.”

To wait on God  means to trust Him; to look to Him for help.

Without cause, i.e., from pure malice; without hope of gain; without provocation.

Some understand it to mean “without success,” thus: “let all my enemies be confounded (or, ‘all my enemies shall be confounded’) when they see their evil designs against me prove futile” (Cardinal Bellarmine).

Psa 25:4b Shew, O Lord, thy ways to me, and teach me thy paths.
Psa 25:5  Direct me in thy truth, and teach me; for thou art God my Saviour; and on thee have I waited all the day long.

Verses 4b, 5. David begs to know the divine will and to be guided in its fulfilment. “Grant, O Lord, that I may know Thy will and fulfil it. Guide me in the way of truth which Thou hast given in the Law; guide me in the observance of Thy precepts, for they are true and just. Teach me lest I stray from the right way. Direct and teach me, for Thou art my Saviour; to Thee do I look for salvation; in Thee do I ever put my trust.”

Psa 25:6  Remember, O Lord, thy bowels of compassion; and thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world.

Verse 6. To urge his petitions more effectively David reminds God, as it were, of the many favors and mercies shown in times past. The phrase, “which are of old” (from the beginning of the world) clearly indicates that David is not speaking of favors granted to himself personally, but of those granted to the nation to the chosen people of God.

“Remember, O Lord, Thy mercies in times past, when Thou didst choose the people for Thine own; when Thou didst bring them out of Egypt; when Thou didst protect them from all harm through long centuries.”

Psa 25:7  The sins of my youth and my ignorances do not remember. According to thy mercy remember thou me: for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Verse 7. “Forgive me (remember not) the sins which I committed in my youth and the sins of later life that I have committed through inadvertence or thoughtlessness.” The Hebrew has “transgressions” instead of “ignorance.” Thus the meaning becomes: “Remember not the faults of my youth, into which thoughtlessness and lust have led me; nor the transgressions that I have committed in maturer and more thoughtful years. Regard not my sins, but in Thy mercy and goodness remember me;” or, as St. Augustine puts it: “Remember me not according to Thy anger of which I am worthy, but according to the merciful kindness that is worthy of Thee.”

Some consider this verse as the words of David speaking in the name of the chosen people, and explain the sins of youth as the sins of the people at the beginning of the nation the sins committed by the fathers in Egypt and in the desert. The transgressions would then mean the sins which still prevail amongst the people.

Psa 25:8  The Lord is sweet and righteous: therefore he will give a law to sinners in the way.
Psa 25:9  He will guide the mild in judgment: he will teach the meek his ways.

Verses 8, 9. “The Lord is good (sweet) and upright; He does not immediately destroy the sinner, but instructs him in the right way; and for the meek and humble He has a special care. He leads them in the path of justice, and teaches them the way that is pleasing to Him.”

A comparison with the Hebrew shows that “sweet” is to be taken in the sense of “good.”

To give a law means to instruct. Cf. Ps 27:11; Ps 119:33.

Psa 25:10  All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth, to them that seek after his covenant and his testimonies.

Verse 10. To those who faithfully observe His covenant and its precepts God deals with mercy and fidelity. His ways are merciful because He will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). His dealings with man kind are truth, i.e., they continually give proof of His fidelity to all His promises.

Psa 25:11  For thy name’s sake, O Lord, thou wilt pardon my sin: for it is great.

Verse 11. " That Thy mercy may be manifested
and Thy name glorified, do Thou pardon my sins,
for they are many."

Sin is here used in a collective sense. In Hebrew we read: Pardon my iniquity for it is great.

Psa 25:12  Who is the man that feareth the Lord? He hath appointed him a law in the way he hath chosen.
Psa 25:13  His soul shall dwell in good things: and his seed shall inherit the land.

Verses 12, 13. “The God-fearing man shall be greatly blessed. He shall be guided by the Lord in the right way; he shall enjoy lasting prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit his blessings.”

The first blessing is that of divine guidance. God will instruct him in the way that is pleasing to Him, or, as the Hebrew may be rendered: “God will instruct him in the way that he should choose.” The meaning is practically the same. “Among all the blessings which fall to the lot of him who fears God, the first place is given to this, that God raises him above the vacillation and hesitancy of human opinion” (Delitzsch). In the New Law this instruction is provided for by an infallible Church.

His seed shall inherit the land, i.e., his descendants shall never be deprived of his possessions. They shall always enjoy his happiness and prosperity. Some understand this as a reference to Palestine, the land that God promised to His chosen people. The meaning would be the same, viz.: “Through successive generations those who fear God shall dwell peacefully and securely in the land of promise.”

The words of Christ, Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land (Matt 5:4), seem to have reference to this verse. It should be noted, however, that earthly happiness promised in the Old Law as a reward for its faithful observance is replaced in the New Law by the happiness of heaven. The land mentioned by Christ in the Beatitude is the Land of Promise par excellence the heavenly fatherland of which Canaan was but a figure.

Psa 25:14  The Lord is a firmament to them that fear him: and his covenant shall be made manifest to them.

Verse 14. The God-fearing shall also enjoy familiarity with God, and He will make known to them His covenant, or law.

The Hebrew reads: The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and His covenant doth He make known to them. The Septuagint reads: κραταιωμα (firmament, foundation) in place of the Hebrew סוד (familiarity, confidential communication, secret), and rendered it: The Lord is the stay of them that fear Him: and His covenant is for their instruction. Or, it may be rendered, His covenant is to instruct them, i.e., “He has bound Himself by covenant.”

Psa 25:15  My eyes are ever towards the Lord: for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare.

Verse 15. The Psalmist has shown that every perfect gift is from above coming down from God; therefore he turns to Him for deliverance from the machinations of his enemies. “To Thee, O Lord, do I lift my eyes in hope; to Thee do I look for help; I have confidence that Thou wilt deliver me from all dangers.”

Psa 25:16  Look thou upon me, and have mercy on me; for I am alone and poor.
Psa 25:17  The troubles of my heart are multiplied: deliver me from my necessities.

Verses 16, 17. “Look upon me with favor and be gracious to me, for I am deserted and alone; I am poor and afflicted; the sorrows of my heart are multiplied. Do Thou deliver me from my distress.”

The Hebrew may also be rendered: The straits of my heart do Thou enlarge and bring me out of my distress, i.e., “Quiet my inward sorrows (troubles of
the heart) and deliver me from external difficulties (necessities).”

Psa 25:18  See my abjection and my labour; and forgive me all my sins.
Psa 25:19  Consider my enemies for they are multiplied, and have hated me with an unjust hatred.

Verses 18, 19. “See my affliction and my misery and forgive me my sins lest they stand in the way of my being heard. Mark my enemies, how great their number, and with what hatred they persecute me.”

Psa 25:20  Deep thou my soul, and deliver me: I shall not be ashamed, for I have hoped in thee.
Psa 25:21  The innocent and the upright have adhered to me: because I have waited on thee.

Verses 20, 21. “My enemies are many and they persecute me with cruel hatred; therefore, I beseech Thee, guard my life and deliver me from danger. I have hoped in Thee; let me not be put to shame;” or, “I have hoped in Thee, I know that my hopes shall not be vain. Let integrity and uprightness merit Thy aid, for I look to Thee for my defence.”

The Septuagint and Vulgate read: The innocent and upright adhere to me." This seems to contradict verse 16, where the Psalmist complains of
being alone, deserted by all. St. Jerome renders it; Single-mindedness and fair dealing shall preserve me.  “And if thou wilt walk before Me… in simplicity of heart and in uprightness … I will establish the throne of thy kingdom over Israel forever” (cf 2 Kings 9:4).

Psa 25:22  Deliver Israel, O God, from all his tribulations.

Verse 22. “Deliver us (the people of Israel), from all our tribulations.” David prayed not for himself alone, but in the name of the people (cf. verse 6); therefore in this last verse he begs God to deliver the nation from all peril. Many consider this verse a later addition adapting the psalm to liturgical usage.

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