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Archive for November 24th, 2012

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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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 25

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 24, 2012

A PRAYER IN TIME OF NEED

THIS is an alphabetical psalm. The k verse is missing, and verse 22 beginning with p is supernumary, being, apparently, a liturgical addition. The vau which is wanting in verse 5b is easily supplied. The psalm is somewhat loosely put together; it consists of prayers for help against oppressors, for guidance on the right path, for continuance of divine support, and for freedom from pain and enmity. The psalm may have been a sort of model prayer, to be used in all times of need and trouble. The last verse shows that it was used in the liturgy as a prayer for all Israel.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

This Week’s Posts: Sunday, November 25-Sunday, December 2 2012

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 24, 2012

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25
THE SOLEMNITY OF THE CHRIST THE KING
Dominica XXIV et ultima Post Pentecosten V. Novembris ~ II. classis

RESOURCES FOR SUNDAY MASS (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Last Week’s Resources: Sunday,  Nov. 18-Sunday, Nov. 25.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26
MONDAY OF THE THIRTY-FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
S. Silvesteri Abbatis Confessoris ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria Secunda infra Hebdomadam XXIV post Octavam Pentecostes V. Novembris

ORDINARY FORM:

EXTRAORDINARY FORM:

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27
TUESDAY OF THE THIRTY-FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Feria Tertia infra Hebdomadam XXIV post Octavam Pentecostes V. Novembris ~ IV. classis

ORDINARY FORM:

EXTRAORDINARY FORM:

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28
WEDNESDAY OF THE THIRTY-FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Feria Quarta infra Hebdomadam XXIV post Octavam Pentecostes V. Novembris ~ IV. classis

ORDINARY FORM:

EXTRAORDINARY FORM:

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29
THURSDAY OF THE THIRTY-FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Feria Quinta infra Hebdomadam XXIV post Octavam Pentecostes V. Novembris ~ IV. classis
Commemoratio: S. Saturnini Martyris

ORDINARY FORM:

EXTRAORDINARY FORM:

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30
FEAST OF ST ANDREW THE APOSTLE
S. Andreae Apostoli ~ II. classis
Tempora: Feria Sexta infra Hebdomadam XXIV post Octavam Pentecostes V. Novembris

ORDINARY FORM:

  • Pending: Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Rom 10:9-18).

EXTRAORDINARY FORM:

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1
SATURDAY OF THE THIRTY-FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Sanctae Mariae Sabbato ~ IV. classis

ORDINARY FORM:

EXTRAORDINARY FORM:

SUNDAY DECEMBER 2
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C
Dominica I Adventus ~ I. classis

RESOURCES FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT (Ordinary Form, Year C and Extraordinary Form). Some resources still pending. I usually post my Sunday Mass Resources on the preceding Wednesday. During Advent I’m going to try to post at least some resources a week in advance, and add to them during the course of the week.

Advent Resources Relating to the End Time eschatology) and Anti-Christ.

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT (Dec. 9) RESOURCES (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). In keeping with my promise to post the Sunday Advent resources early.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 19:27-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 24, 2012

Ver 27. Then answered Peter and said unto him, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?”28. And Jesus said unto them, “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.29. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.30. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”

Origen: Peter had heard the word of Christ when He said, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast.” Then he observed that the young man had departed sorrowful, and considered the difficulty of riches entering into the kingdom of heaven; and thereupon he put this question confidently as one who had achieved no easy matter. For though what he with his brother had left behind them were but little things, yet were they not esteemed as little with God, who considered that out of the fulness of their love they had so forsaken those least things, as they would have forsaken the greatest things if they had had them.

So Peter, thinking rather of his will than of the intrinsic value of the sacrifice, asked Him confidently “Behold, we have left all.”

Chrys., Hom., lxiv: What was this “all,” O blessed Peter? The reeds, your net, and boat. But this he says, not to call to mind his own magnanimity, but in order to propose the case of the multitude of poor. A poor man might have said, If I have nought, I cannot become perfect. Peter therefore puts this question that you, poor man, may learn that you are in nothing behind. For he had already received the kingdom of heaven, and therefore secure of what was already there, he now asks for the whole world. And see how carefully he frames his question after Christ’s requirements: Christ required two things of a rich man, to give what he had to the poor, and to follow Him; wherefore he adds, “and have followed thee.”

Origen: It may be said, In all things which the Father revealed to Peter that the Son was, righteousness, sanctification, and the like, in all we have followed Thee. Therefore as a victorious athlete, he now asks what are the prizes of his contest.

Jerome: Because to forsake is not enough, he adds that which makes perfection, “and have followed thee.” We have done what thou commandedst us, what reward wilt thou then give us? What shall we have?”

Jerome: He said not only, “Ye who have left all,” for this did the philosopher Crates, and many other who have despised riches, but added, “and have followed me,” which is peculiar to the Apostles and believers. [ed. note: ~ The later editions of the Catena, and nearly all the Mss. of Jerome, read ‘Socrates.’ but Vallarsi adopts the reading of a few Mss., Crates, as more agreeable to history, as being named by Origen whom S. Jerome in this place follows, and as being often alluded to by S. Jerome. This is further supported by the ED. PR. of the Catena]

Hilary: The disciples had followed Christ in the regeneration, that is, in the laver of baptism, in the sanctification of faith, for this is that regeneration which the Apostles followed, and which the Law could not bestow.

Jerome: Or it may be constructed thus, “Ye which have followed me, shall in the regeneration sit, &c.;” that is, when the dead shall rise from corruption incorrupt, you also shall sit on thrones of judges, condemning the twelve tribes of Israel, for that they would not believe when you believed.

Aug., City of God, book xx, ch. 5: Thus our flesh will be regenerated by incorruption, as our soul also shall be regenerated by faith.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For it would come to pass, that in the day of judgment the Jews  would allege, Lord, we knew Thee not to be the Son of God when Thou wast in the flesh. For who can discern a treasure buried in the ground, or the sun when obscured by a cloud? The disciples therefore will then answer, We also were men, and peasants, obscure among the multitude, but you priests and scribes; but in us a right will became as it were a lamp of our ignorance, but your evil will became to you a blinding of your science.

Chrys.: He therefore said not the Gentiles and the whole world, but, the “tribes of Israel,” because the Apostles and the Jews had been brought up under the same laws and customs. So that when the Jews should plead that they could not believe in Christ, because they were hindered by their Law, the disciples will be brought forward, who had the same Law.

But some one may say, What great thing is this, when both the Ninevites and the Queen of the South will have the same? He had before and will again promise them the highest rewards; and even now He tacitly conveys something of the same. For of those others He had only said, that they shall sit, and shall condemn this generation; but He now says to the disciples, “When the Soul of Man shall sit, ye also shall sit.”

It is clear then that they shall reign with Him, and shall share in that glory; for it is such honour and glory unspeakable that He intends by the “thrones.” How is this promise fulfilled? Shall Judas sit among them? By no means. For the law was thus ordained of the Lord by Jeremiah the Prophet, “I will speak it upon my people, and upon, the kingdom, that I may build, and plant it. But if it do evil in, my sight, then will I repent me of the good which I said I would do to them;” [Jer_18:9] as much as to say, If they make themselves unworthy of the promise, I will no more perform that I promised.

But Judas shewed himself unworthy of the preeminence; wherefore when He gave this promise to His disciples, He did not promise it absolutely, for He said not, Ye shall sit, but, “Ye which have followed me shall sit;” at once excluding Judas, and admitting such as should be in after time; for neither was the promise confined to them only, nor yet did it include Judas who had already shewn himself undeserving.

Hilary: Their following Christ in thus exalting the Apostles to twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, associated them in the glory of the twelve Patriarchs.

Aug.: From this passage we learn that Jesus will judge with His disciples; whence He says in another place to the Jews, “Therefore shall they be your judges.” [Mat_12:27] And whereas He says they shall sit upon twelve thrones, we need not think that twelve persons only shall judge with Him. For by the number twelve is signified the whole number of those that shall judge; and that because the number seven which generally represents completeness contains the two numbers four and three, which multiplied together make twelve. For if it were not so, as Matthias was elected into the place of the traitor Judas, the Apostle Paul who laboured more than they all should not have place to sit to judge; but he shews that he with the rest of the saints pertains to the number of judges, when he says, “Know ye not that we shall judge Angels?” [1Co_6:3]

Aug., Serm., 351, 8: In the number of judges therefore are included all that have left their all and followed the Lord.

Greg., Mor., x, 31: For whosoever, urged by the spur of divine love, shall forsake what he possesses here, shall without doubt gain there the eminence of judicial authority; and shall appear as judge with the Judge, for that he now in consideration of the judgment chastens himself by a voluntary poverty.

Aug., City of God, book xx, ch. 5: The same holds good, by reason of this number twelve, of those that are to be judged. For when it is said, “Judging the twelve tribes,” yet is not the tribe of Levi, which is the thirteenth, to be exempt from being judged by them; nor shall they judge this nation alone, and not also other nations.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, by that, “In the regeneration,” Christ designs the period of Christianity that should be after His ascension, in which men were regenerated by baptism; and that is the time in which Christ sat on the throne of His glory. And hereby you may see that He spake not of the time of the judgment to come, but of the calling of the Gentiles, in that He said not, “When the Son of Man shall come sitting upon the throne of his majesty;” but only, “In the regeneration when he shall sit,” which was from the time that the Gentiles began to believe on Christ; according to that, “God shall reign over the heathen; God sitteth upon his holy throne.” [Psa_47:8]

From that time also the Apostles have sat upon twelve thrones, that is, over all Christians; for every Christian who receives the word of Peter, becomes Peter’s throne, and so of the rest of the Apostles. On these thrones then the Apostles sit, parcelled into twelve divisions, after the variety of minds and hearts, known to God only. For as the Jewish nation was split into twelve tribes, so is the whole Christian people divided into twelve, so as that some souls are numbered with the tribe of Reuben, and so of the rest, according to their several qualities. For all have not all graces alike, one is excellent in this, another in that. And so the Apostles will judge the twelve tribes of Israel, that is, all the Jews, by this, that the Gentiles received the Apostles’ word.

The whole body of Christians are indeed twelve thrones for the Apostles, but one throne for Christ. For all excellencies are but one throne for Christ, for He alone is equally perfect in all virtues. But of the Apostles each one is more perfect in some one particular excellence, as Peter in faith; so Peter tests upon his faith, John on his innocence, and so of the rest. And that Christ spake of reward to be given to the Apostles in this world, is shewn by what follows, “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, &c.” For if these shall receive an hundred fold in this life, without doubt to the Apostles also was promised a reward in this present life.

Chrys.: Or; He holds out rewards in the future life to the Apostles, because they where already looking above, and desired nothing of things present; but to others He promises things present.

Origen: Or otherwise; whosoever shall leave all and follow Christ, he also shall receive those things that were promised to Peter. But if he has not left all, but only those things in special here enumerated, he shall receive manifold, and shall possess eternal life.

Jerome: There are that take occasion from this passage to bring forward the thousand years after the resurrection, and say that then we shall have a hundred fold of the things we have given up, and moreover life eternal. But though the promise be in other things worthy, in the matter of wives it seems to have somewhat shameful, if he who has forsaken one wife for the Lord’s sake, shall receive a hundred in the world to come. The meaning is therefore, that he that has forsaken carnal things for the Saviour’s sake, shall receive spiritual things, which in a comparison of value are as a hundred to a small number.

Origen: And in this world, because for his brethren after the flesh he shall find many brethren in the faith; for parents, all the Bishops and Presbyters; for sons, all that have the age of sons. The Angels also are brethren, and all they are sisters that have offered themselves chaste virgins to Christ, as well they that still continue on earth, as they that now live in heaven. The houses and lands manifold more suppose in the repose of Paradise, and the city of God. And besides all these things they shall possess eternal life.

Aug., City of God, book xx, ch. 7: That He says, “An hundred fold,” is explained by the Apostle, when he says, “As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” [2Co_6:10] For a hundred is sometimes put for the whole universe.

Jerome: And that, “And every one that hath forsaken brethren,” agrees with that He had said before, “I am come to set a man at variance with his father.” [Mat_10:35] For they who for the faith of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel shall despise all the ties, the riches, and pleasures of this world, they shall receive an hundred fold, and shall possess eternal life.

Chrys.: But when He says, “He that has forsaken wife,” it is not to be taken of actual severing of the marriage tie, but that we should hold the ties of the faith dearer than any other. And here is, I think, a covert allusion to times of persecution; for because there should be many who would draw away their sons to heathenism, when that should happen, they should be held neither as fathers, nor husbands.

Raban.: But because many with what zeal they take up the pursuit of virtue, do not with the same complete it; but either grow cool, or fall away rapidly; it follows, “But many that are first shall be last, and the last first.”

Origen: By this He exhorts those that come late to the heavenly word, to haste to ascend to perfection before many whom they see to have grown old in the faith. This sense may also overthrow those that boast to have been educated in Christianity by Christian parents, especially if those parents have filled the Episcopal see, or the office of Priests or Deacons in the Church; and hinder them from desponding who have entertained the Christian doctrines more newly.

It has also another meaning; the “first,” are the Israelites, who become last because of their unbelief; and the Gentiles who were “last” become first. He is careful to say, “Many;” for not all who are first shall be last, nor all last first. For before this have many of mankind, who by nature are the last, been made by an angelic life above the Angels; and some Angels who were first have been made last through their sin.

Remig.: It may also be referred in particular to the rich man, who seemed to be first, by his fulfilment of the precepts of the Law, but was made last by his preferring his worldly substance to God. The holy Apostles seemed to be last, but by leaving all they were made first by the grace of humility. There are many who having entered upon good works, fall therefrom, and from having been first, become last.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father Tauton’s Commentary on Psalm 95 (94 in the Vulgate & LXX)

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 24, 2012

Psalm 95 (94):  A Prayer of a Son for David

Argument: Cardinal Tomasi in the collection of arguments collected from Origen, gives the following as meanings of this psalm.  That Christ, the Good Shepherd, predestinates His sheep with eternal rest.  The voice of the Church to the Lord touching the Jews.  The voice of Christ to the Apostles touching the Jews.  The voice of the Church advising to repentance.

Venerable Bede in his exposition of the Psalms says concerning this one: “Praise denotes devotion of voice; song, cheerfulness of mind, for David, Christ our Savior, to the end that we may come together and rejoice, not in vain delights, but in the Lord.  The prophet forseeing the rejection of Christ, invites the chosen people to come and praise God.  Secondly, the Lord Himself speaks that the aforesaid people should not harden its heart lest that if befall them which befell their fathers who did not reach the Land of Promise” (Migne P.L. vol xciiim p. 478).

1.  Oh, come let us sing unto the Lord.  Let us heartily rejoice in God our savior.  Let us come before His Face in confession, and in psalms let us rejoice before Him.

St Augustine (in Ennarationes in Psalmos), commenting on this verse, remarks that the prophet invites us to rejoice, not in the world, but in the Lord.  In saying Oh come, he means that those who are far off are to draw near.  But how can we be far off from Him Whom is present everywhere?  By unlikeness to Him, by an evil life, by bad habits.  A man standing still in one spot draws near to God by loving Him, and by loving that which is evil he withdraws from God.  Although he does not move his feet, he can yet both draw nigh and retire; for in this journey our feet are our affections.  Come, as sick men to a doctor to obtain relief, as scholars to a master to learn wisdom, as thirsty men to a fountain, as fugitives to a sanctuary, as blind men to the sun.  Thus writes the Carmelite, Michael Angriani.  Let us sing to the Lord.  Why then do we find it said: Blessed are they that mourn and Woe to you that laugh (Matt 5:4 and Luke 6:25)?  Surely because they are blessed who mourn to the world, and the woe is to them that laugh to the world; but blessed are they who exalt unto the Lord, who know not how to be glad of violence, of fraud, of their neighbor’s tears.  He joys in the Lord, who in word, deed, and work, exults not for himself but for his maker.  Thus states St Peter Chrysologus (Migne, P.L., vol liii. p. 328). Our Savior. St Jerome in his version of the psalms translates these words simply as “Jesus our Rock.”

Let us come before His face, that is, says St Augustine, let us make haste to meet Him, not waiting till He sends to call us before Him.  Not that we can in anyway forestall His grace and bounty to us, but that we may offer our thanksgiving with sufficient promptness to avoid the charge of ingratitude.

In confession, which may either be the confession of God’s might and goodness, or of our frailty and sin, the confession of praise, or the confession of grief.  In this second sense we are called upon to come away from our sins, to come in penance to God before He comes in judgment.  Confession in the Psalms is often used s equivalent to thanksgiving, for if we confess our unworthiness we must be filled with gratitude to God for His mercy in granting us forgiveness and restoring us to His favor.   The Face of God often stands in Holy Writ for His wrath, e.g., Turn away Thy Face from my sins (Psalm 50:9); and also for offering sacrifice (see Hosea 5:5-6; Habakkuk 2:20. Modern translations may read ‘before, ‘ or ‘presence.’).   The sacrifice of thanksgiving under the Mosaic code was an oblation of cakes of fine flour and wafer bread; and thus in this place, says Fr. Lorin, S.J., we see a prophecy of the Sacrifice of the New Law, that Eucharistic oblation of praise and thanksgiving wherein Christ is Himself offered to the Father.

And in psalms let us rejoice before Him.-Psalms, says St Ambrose, denote the combination of will and action in good works because the word implies the use of an instrument as well as of a voice (Migne, P.L., vol xiv).  And, says Denis, the Carthusian, we may rejoice in psalms when we are alone, as well as when joining with others in the offices of the Church, saying, Oh come all ye powers of my soul, my whole being and all that is within me, especially my reason, memory and will, let us be glad together in the Lord.

2.  For the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods: For the Lord will not repel His people, for in His hands are all the ends of the earth, and the heights of the mountains doth He behold.

Says Fr. Corder, To us the words teach the mystery of the Eternal Son, pointing out that our Lord even in His mortal body is a great God, by reason of the Hypostatic Union, and also because He is the express Image of the Father; whence we find this very title given Him by the Apostle saying: Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).  Christ, says St Bruno, is moreover the King whom all the gods, all those saints and rulers of His Church whom He has made partakers of Him, obey and love: I have said ye are gods (Jn 10:34).

For the Lord will not repel His people, That Christian folk, says Cardinal Hugo, which He hath purchased with His own Blood, He will not reject it, crying, praying, seeking or knocking to Him.

In His hands are all the ends of the earth.-If we take this as descriptive of the power of God over creation there is no better commentary on them that the words of Isaiah: He hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance (Isaiah 40:12).  But the fuller explanation is to take it as showing that whilst false gods are worshipped in special places, He alone is Lord everywhere.  And thus we see here a reference to the Church, no longer confined to the narrow limits of one people, but made up from all the nations of the earth.  The ends of the earth may denote all the powers and faculties of man, a notion which is brought out better by the Hebrew-all the deep places of the earth.

The heights of the mountains are types of the exalted citizens of heaven: thus says Fr. Lorin.  St Bruno says the earth is often put for men of earthly nd groveling minds, mountains for the saints lifted high by contemplation of Divine things.

3.  For the sea is His and He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.  Come let us worship and fall down before God: Let us weep before the Lord who made us, for He is the Lord our God: but we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Besides the obvious interpretation concerning the wonder of creation, the sea, says St Augustine, denotes the Gentile nations tossed about in the bitterness and barreness of heathendom whom the Jews, in their spiritual pride, refused to believe God’s children.  Yet He made them, as it is written: Doubtless Thou art our Father though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer (Isaiah 63:16).   And His hands have formed the dry land. This land, differing from the sea in stability and in capacity of fruitfulness, denotes the Church or any holy soul.  It is dry, says St Bruno, because without the grace of God it can do nothing, as land will not bear unless it be watered, but gaspeth for Him as a thirsty ground (see Ps 144:6).  He formed it, which means more than he made it, implying that He gave shape and beauty and fulness to that which before was without form and void (Gen 1:2) by reason of Adam’s sin.  (Note: the commentator is applying a text about creation to the idea of re-creation.  Adam’s sin affected creation inasmuch as it caused disunity among men with one another and with God, as Genesis 3:8-13 shows.  Also, as a result of Adam’s sin, God cursed the earth so that in some ways it rebels against man, as we see in Gen 3:17-19.  In some sense it can be said that the earth is without form and is void because it no longer retains the fulness of purpose for which it was intended by God; this is why St Paul can write that “all creation groans in eager anticipation of the full revelation of the sons of God” in Romans 8:19).

We are to worship, that is, to bend the head as servants to their master, to fall down as subjects acknowledging their king.  To weep, for as Cassiodorus says: God calls His people first to rejoice, while they, yet, do not know the spiritual life, lest they be alarmed and repelled by its sorrows and austerities; but when they have once accepted the faith, He then summons them to repent of their sins (Migne, P.L., lxx).  But, says St Peter Chrysologus, they are tears of joy; for gladness, as well as sorrow, brings weeping, and grief for our past sins is blended with the hope of blessing and glory to come.  Some commentators, who take this Psalm as having special reference to our Lord’s nativity, see here a command to adore Him in the manger, undeterred ty the tokens of mortality and poverty around.

But we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.-St Augustine tells us that we are hereby taught that we, even as people, are sheep, in respect to God, needing Him as a Shepherd, and only to be satisfied with His green pastures.  Yet we are not unreasoning sheep to be driven with a staff.  We are guided with God’s Own hands, the very hands which made us and are so loving and ever heedful to prevent any harm that may come from negligence, ignorance, or malice of those inferior shepherds, to whom He commits, in a measure, the task of tending His flock.  He feeds us, says St Bruno, with Bread from heaven, as He once fed our spiritual forefathers with mann in the wilderness; and He cares for us as a shepherd cares for his flock, so that we need not be solicitous, but cast all our care on Him.  Says St Bonaventure, we must be like sheep in trustfulness, patience and innocence, and yet men in understanding, according to His Own saying: And ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord (Ezek 34:31).

4.  Today if ye shall hear His voice harden not your hearts, as in the provocation and as in the day of temptation in the desert: Where your fathers tempted Me, proved Me and saw My works.

Today, that is, daily while it is called today, as the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews explains in one of his threefold citations of this verse: But exhort one another daily while it is called today (Heb 3:13).So long as the night has not yet come, so long as the door of mercy is not shut.  today, at once, not deferring till tomorrow.

If you will hear His voice is the reply to the assertion in the previous verse: We are the sheep of His pasture; for the proof of being one of Christ;s flock is according to His own words-My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me (Jn 10:27).  This flock He gave in its entirety, both sheep and lambs, to His apostle Peter to be fed for Him (Jn 21:15-17).  So if we are fed by Peter we are fed by Christ, and belong to His one fold.  You call yourself His sheep; prove your claim, then, by hearing His voice.  And yet, as St Bernard tells us, there is no difficulty at all in hearing His voice; on the contrary, the difficulty is to stop our ears effectually against it, so clear is its sound, so constantly does it ring in our ears.  The Jews, remarks the Carmelite, sinned by refusing to listen to the voice of our Lord; and we also sin in the same way when we put off or refuse to repent.  Satan’s counsel, observes St Basil, is “today for me, tomorrow for God”; whereas, He that hath promised pardon to repentance hath not promised tomorrow to the sinner.

Harden not your hearts.-For in doing so, says St Albert the Great, you set yourselves in direct opposition to the will of God, which is to soften those hearts, in that He said: My doctrine shall drop as the rain, My speech shall distill as the dew (Deut 32:2), to moisten the dry ground that it may bring forth the tender buds of grace; whereas it is said of sinners that their hearts are stony: I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26); and of Leviathan, the type of evil power, His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of nether millstone (Job 41:24).

As in the provocation and as in the day of temptation.-Some commentators refer the word provocation to the resistance of the Jews to the authority of Moses and temptation to their unbelief in the providence of God: And he called the naem of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us nor not? (Exodus 17:7).  Cardinal Hugo points out that the words which follow in the wilderness, are an aggravation of guilt, because it was exactly there, in the absence of all other help, that the thoughts of the Jews should have been most firmly set on God Who had so wonderfully brought them out of Egypt.  Those who come out of the Egypt of sin or worldliness, who begin a life of repentance, are at first in the wilderness.  They are deserted by those they have left behind; and, not attaining yet to what they seek, they re much exposed, in that stage of spiritual progress, to the risk of rebellion, of unbelief in God, and of resisting the pleadings of the Holy Ghost.

Where your fathers tempted Me.-There is a stress on your fathers, implying that we are the same nations which sinned in a former period of its history and are therefore likely to fall again.  The Carmelite remarks, we may tempt God in several ways: His mercy, by careless prayer; His patience, by remaining in sin; His justice, by desiring revenge; His power, by not trusting Him during perils; His wisdom, by undertaking to teach others without previous study and meditation.

Proved Me.-This is more than tempting, which denotes the bare experiment, whereas proving implies its success, for the God, whose power they doubted, slew them all in the wilderness.

And saw My works.-That is, says Fr. Lorin, although they saw them, and that during forty continuous years, yet they did not believe and were never subdued, but renewed their experiment after each miracle and judgment.

5.  Forty years was I nigh to this generation, and said, these do always err in heart; in truth they have not known My ways.  Unto whom I swore in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest.

Forty years.-The writers do not fail to point out the mystical meaning of the number forty, repeated in the fasts of Elijah and our Lord, and in the great forty days after Easter; and they tell us that as ten is the first limit we meet in computation, so that this number and its multiples give all the subsequent names to sums, it serves as a type of fulness; while four, as denoting either the seasons of the year or the quarters of the heavens, extends that fulness to all time and place; and thus forty years stands here for the entire span of our earthly sojourn.  Remigius, monk as St Germain (see Migne, P.L. 131), points out the stress on years, because the journey of Elijah teaches us that the Israelites could have passed through the desert in forty days had they only been obedient (1 Kings 19:8).

Nigh.-Some commentators take this word in the sense that one who punishes is near the criminal, or of a teacher who keeps beside an idle and refractory pupil to compel his attention.  St Augustine explains it of God’s continual presence in signs and miracles; while St Bernard interprets it of an inward voice and inspiration.  The cause of God’s anger wasthe ingratitude of the children of Israel for His unceasing watch over them.

This generation.-And whereas this applies literally to the 60,000 who came up out of Egypt, and then by accommodation, to all living men at any time while it is called today, there is also a special fitness in taking it of the Jews after the Passion of Christ; for, says Perez of Valentia, the interval which lay between that and the final destruction of Jerusalem was almost precisely forty years, up to which time the door of hope was still open for Israel, and it was still today ere that terrible night set upon the Temple worship.

Always do these err in their heart.-This is much more forcible, observes Cardinal Hugo, than if it were said, they err in act; for the error of an act has a definite end, whereas the error of the will has no end.  Death puts an end to the evil doings of a sinner, not because he has lost the will to sin, but because he has no longer the power to do so.

For they have not known My ways.-The word known does not here signify acquaintance with God’s ways which may be gathered from reading or meditation, but that knowing which comes from a careful keeping to His ways themselves, that is, from living lives fruitful in good works.  And the ways of God, as St Bonaventure remarks, are all reducible to one, that is Jesus Himself, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6); moreover, they all lead to the same heavenly country.  They are one way in their making, their maker, and their end; they are many ways according to the diversities of the working of grace, the variety of vocations and of disposition among those who journey home through the wilderness.

Unto whom I swore in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest.-This He did when the spies brought back evil reports of the Land of Promise and the children of Israel prepared to elect a leader to take them back to Egypt (Num 14:26).  It is a terrible warning, comments St Augustine.  We began the Psalm with rejoicing but we end with awful dread.  It is a great thing that God should speak; but how much more that God should swear.  A man who hath sworn is to be feared, lest he should, for his oath’s sake, do aught against his will.  How much more then ought we not to fear God Who cannot swear rashly?  Let no one say in his heart, that which he promiseth is true, that which he threateneth is false.  As sure as thou art of rest,happiness, eternity, immortality, if thou keep the commandments, so certain shouldest thou be of destruction, of the burning of everlasting fire, of damnation with the devil, if thou despise His Law.  He hath sworn that these shall not enter into His rest, and yet, it remaineth that some must enter therein (Heb 4:6), for it could not be designed for no occupant.  And this rest, which meant the early Canaan to the Jews of old, means for us that Sabbath of the heavenly Fatherland whereof the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us: Now there remained a rest to the people of God (Heb 4:9).  Even here, on earth, says the Carmelite, before reaching the blessed Land, there remaineth a rest for God’s people, whereof the weekly Sabbath is a sign and a pledge.  This is the rest from sin, common to all the just, and the rest from bodily cares and stilling of temptation, which comes in measure to contemplative saints; while, crowning all, there is the rest of the blessed, whence sorrow is banished for evermore.  Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (Heb 4:11) and be included under the terrible oath of exclusion; and in prayer for grace that it may not be so, O come let us worship and fall down and weep before the Lord our Maker. Thus says the Carthusian.

Gloria Patri:

Glory be to the Father, the great King above all gods; Glory be to the Son, the Strength of our salvation; Glory be to the Holy Ghost who saith, Today if ye hear His voice harden not your hearts.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 21:20-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 24, 2012

20. And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.21. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter there into.22. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.23. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.24. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

BEDE, Hitherto our Lord had been speaking of those things which were to come to pass for forty years, the end not yet coming. He now describes the very end itself of the desolation, which was accomplished by the Roman army; as it is said, And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed, &c.

EUSEB. By the desolation of Jerusalem, He means that it was never again to be set up, or its legal rites to be reestablished, so that no one should expect, after the coming siege and desolation, any restoration to take place, as there was in the time of the Persian king, Antiochus the Great, and Pompey.

AUG. These words of our Lord, Luke has here related to show, that the abomination of desolation which was prophesied by Daniel, and of which Matthew and Mark had spoken, was fulfilled at the siege of Jerusalem.

AMBROSE; For the Jews thought that the abomination of desolation took place when the Romans, in mockery of a Jewish observance, cast a pig’s head into the temple.

EUSEB. Now our Lord, foreseeing that there would be a famine in the city, warned His disciples in the siege that was coming, not to betake themselves to the city as a place of refuge, and under God’s protection, but rather to depart from thence, and flee to the mountains.

BEDE; The ecclesiastical history relates, that all the Christians who were in Judea, when the destruction of Jerusalem was approaching, being warned of the Lord, departed from that place, and dwelt beyond the Jordan in a city called Pella, until the desolation of Judea was ended.

AUG And before this, Matthew and Mark said, And let him that is on the housetop not come down into his house; and Mark added, neither enter therein to take any thing out of his house; in place of which Luke subjoins, And let them which are in the midst of it depart out.

BEDE; But how, while the city was already compassed with an army, were they to depart out? except that the preceding word “then” is to be referred, not to the actual time of the siege, but the period just before, when first the armed soldiers began to disperse themselves through the parts of Galilee and Samaria.

AUG. But where Matthew and Mark have written, Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes, Luke adds more clearly, And let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto, for these be the days of vengeance, that all the things which are written may be fulfilled.

BEDE; And these are the days of vengeance, that is, the days exacting vengeance for our Lord’s blood.

AUG. Then Luke follows in words similar to those of the other two; But woe to them that are with child, and them that give suck in those days; and thus has made plain what might otherwise have been doubtful, namely, that what was said of the abomination of desolation belonged not to the end of the world, but the taking of Jerusalem.

BEDE; He says then, Woe to them that nurse, or give suck, as some interpret it, whose womb or arms now heavy with the burden of children, cause no slight obstacle to the speed of flight.

THEOPHYL. But some say that the Lord hereby signified the devouring of children, which Josephus also relates.

CHRYS. He next assigns the cause of what he had just now said, For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. For the miseries that took hold of them were such as, in the words of Josephus, no calamity can henceforth compare to them.

EUSEB. For so in truth it was, that when the Romans came and were taking the city, many multitudes of the Jewish people perished in the mouth of the sword; as it follows, And they shall fall by the edge of the sword. But still more were cut off by famine. And these things happened at first indeed under Titus and Vespasian, but after them in the time of Hadrian the Roman general, when the land of their birth was forbidden to the Jews Hence it follows, And they shall be led away captive into all nations. For the Jews filled the whole land, reaching even to the ends of the earth, and when their land was inhabited by strangers, they alone could not enter it; as it follows, And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

BEDE; Which indeed the Apostle makes mention of when he says, Blindness in part is happened to Israel, and so all Israel shall be saved. Which when it shall have gained the promised salvation, hopes not rashly to return to the land of its fathers.

AMBROSE; Now mystically, the abomination of desolation is the coming of Antichrist, for with ill-omened sacrilege he pollutes the innermost recesses of the heart, sitting as it is literally in the temple, that he may claim to himself the throne of divine power. But according to the spiritual meaning, he is well brought in, because he desires to impress firmly on the affections the footstep of his unbelief, disputing from the Scriptures that he is Christ. Then shall come desolation, for very many falling away shall depart from the true religion. Then shall be the day of the Lord, since as His first coming was to redeem sin, so also His second shall be to subdue iniquity, lest more should be carried away by the error of unbelief. There is also another Antichrist, that is, the Devil, who is trying to besiege Jerusalem, i.e. the peaceful soul, with the hosts of his law. When then the Devil is in the midst of the temple, there is the desolation of abomination. But when upon any one in trouble the spiritual presence of Christ has shone, the unjust one is cast out, and righteousness begins her reign. There is also a third Antichrist, as Arius and Sabellius and all who with evil purpose lead us astray. But these are they who are with child, to whom woe is denounced, who enlarge the size of their flesh, and the step of whose inmost soul waxes slow, as those who are worn out in virtue, pregnant with vice. But neither do those with child escape condemnation, who though firm in the resolution of good acts, have not yet yielded any fruits of the work undertaken. These are those which conceive from fear of God, but do not all bring forth. For there are some which thrust forth the word abortive before their delivery. There are others too which have Christ in the womb, but have not yet formed Him. Therefore she who brings forth righteousness, brings forth Christ. Let us also hasten to nourish our children, lest the day of judgment or death find us as it were the parents of an imperfect offspring. And this you will do if you keep all the words of righteousness in your heart, and wait not the time of old age, but in your earliest years, without corruption of your body, quickly conceive wisdom, quickly nourish it. But at the end shall all Judea be made subject to the nations which shall believe, by the mouth of the spiritual sword, which is the two-edged word.

Ver. 25. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;26. Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.27. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 

BEDE; The events which were to follow the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles He explains in regular order, saying, There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.

AMBROSE; All which signs are more clearly described in Matthew, Then shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven.

EUSEB. For at that time when the end of this perishing life shall be accomplished, and, as the Apostle says, The fashion of this world passes away, then shall succeed a new world in which instead of sensible light, Christ Himself shall shine as a sunbeam, and as the King of the new world, and so mighty and glorious will be His light, that the sun which now dazzles so brightly, and the moon and all the stars, shall be hidden by the coming of a far greater light.

CHRYS For as in this world the moon and the stars are soon dimmed by the rising of the sun, so at the glorious appearance of Christ shall the sun become dark, and the moon not shed her ray, and the stars shall fall from heaven, stripped of their former attire, that they may put on the robe of a better light.

EUSEB. What things shall befall the world after the darkening of the orbs of light, and whence shall arise the straitening of nations, He next explains as follows, And of the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea. Wherein He seems to teach, that the beginning of the universal change will be owing to the failing of the watery substance. For this being first absorbed or congealed, so that no longer is heard the roaring of the sea, nor do the waves reach the shore because of the exceeding drought, the other parts of the world, ceasing to obtain the usual vapor which came forth from the watery matter, shall undergo a revolution. Accordingly since the appearance of Christ must put down the prodigies which resist God, namely, those of Antichrist, the beginnings of wrath shall take their rise from droughts, such as that neither storm nor roaring of the sea be any more heard.

And this event shall be succeeded by the distress of the men who survive; as it follows, Men’s hearts being dried up for fear, and looking after those things which shall come upon the whole world. But the things that shall then come upon the world He proceeds to declare, adding, For the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

THEOPHYL. Or else, When the higher world shall be changed, then also the lower elements shall suffer loss; whence it follows, And on the earth distress of nations, &c. As if He said, the sea shall roar terribly, and its shores shall be shaken with the tempest, so that of the people and nations of the earth there shall be distress, that is, a universal misery, so that they shall pine away from fear and expectation of the evils which are coming upon the world.

AUG. But you will say, your punishment compels you to confess that the end is now approaching, seeing the fulfillment of that which was foretold. For it is certain there is no country, no place in our time, which is not affected or troubled. But if those evils which mankind now suffer are sure signs that our Lord is now about to come, what means that which the Apostle says, For when they shall say peace and safety. Let us see then if it be not perhaps better to understand the words of prophecy to be not so fulfilled, but rather that they will come to pass when the tribulation of the whole world shall be such that it shall belong to the Church, which shall be troubled by the whole world, not to those who shall trouble it. For they are those who shall say, Peace and safety. But now these evils which are counted the greatest and most immoderate, we see to be common to both the kingdoms of Christ and the Devil. For the good and the evil are alike afflicted with them, and among these great evils is the yet universal resort to licentious feasts. Is not this the being dried up from fear, or rather the being burnt up from lust?

THEOPHYL. But not only shall men be tossed about when the world shall be changed, but angels even shall stand amazed at the terrible revolutions of the universe. Hence it follows, And the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

GREG. For whom does He call the powers of heaven, but the angels, dominions, principalities, and powers? which at the coming of the strict Judge shall then appear visibly to our eyes, that they may strictly exact judgment of us, seeing that now our invisible Creator patiently bears with us.

EUSEB. When also the Son of God shall come in glory, and shall crush the proud empire of the son of sin, the angels of heaven attending Him, the doors of heaven which have been shut from the foundation of the world shall be opened, that the things that are on high may be witnessed.

CHRYS. Or the heavenly powers shall be shaken, although themselves know it not. For when they see the innumerable multitudes condemned, they shall not stand there without trembling.

BEDE; Thus it is said in Job, the pillars of heaven tremble and are afraid at his reproof. What then do the boards do, when the pillars tremble? what does the shrub of the desert suffer, when the cedar of Paradise is shaken?

EUSEB. Or the powers of heaven are those which preside over the sensible parts of the universe, which indeed shall then be shaken that they may attain to a better state. For they shall be discharged from the ministry with which they serve God toward the sensible bodies in their perishing condition.

AUG. But that the Lord may not seem to have foretold as extraordinary those things concerning His second coming, which were wont to happen to this world even before His first coming, and that we may not be laughed at by those who have read more and greater events than these in the history of nations, I think what has been said may be better understood to apply to the Church. For the Church is the sun, the moon, and the stars, to whom it was said, Fair as the moon, elect as the sun. And she will then not be seen for the unbounded rage of the persecutors.

AMBROSE; While many also fall away from religion, clear faith will be obscured by the cloud of unbelief, for to me that Sun of righteousness is either diminished or increased according to my faith; and as the moon in its monthly wanings, or when it is opposite the sun by the interposition of the earth, suffers eclipse, so also the holy Church when the sins of the flesh oppose the heavenly light, cannot borrow the brightness of divine light from Christ’s rays. For in persecutions, the love of this world generally shuts out the light of the divine Sun; the stars also fall, that is, men who shine in glory fall when the bitterness of persecution waxes sharp and prevails. And this must be until the multitude of the Church be gathered in, for thus are the good tried and the weak made manifest.

AUG. But in the words, And upon the earth distress of nations, He would understand by nations, not those which shall be blessed in the seed of Abraham, but those which shall stand on the left hand.

AMBROSE; So severe then will be the manifold fires of our souls, that with consciences depraved through the multitude of crimes, by reason of our fear of the coming judgment, the dew of the sacred fountain will be dried upon us. But as the Lord’s coming is looked for, in order that His presence may dwell in the whole circle of mankind or the world, which now dwells in each individual who has embraced Christ with his whole heart, so the powers of heaven shall at our Lord’s coming obtain an increase of grace, and shall be moved by the fullness of the Divine nature more closely infusing itself. There are also heavenly powers which proclaim the glory of God, which shall be stirred by a fuller infusion of Christ, that they may see Christ.

AUG. Or the powers of heaven shall be stirred, because when the ungodly persecute, some of the most stout-hearted believers shall be troubled.

THEOPHYL. It follows, And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds. Both the believers and unbelievers shall see Him, for He Himself as well as His cross shall glisten brighter than the sun, and so shall be observed of all.

AUG. But the words, coming in the clouds, may be taken in two ways. Either coming in His Church as it were in a cloud, as He now ceases not to come. But then it shall be with great power and majesty, for far greater will His power and might appear to His saints, to whom He will give great virtue, that they may not be overcome in such a fearful persecution. Or in His body in which He sits at His Father’s right hand He must rightly be supposed to come, and not only in His body, but also in a cloud, for He will come even as He went away, And a cloud received him out of their sight.

CHRYS. For God ever appears in a cloud, according to the Psalms, clouds and darkness are round about him. Therefore shall the Son of man come in the clouds as God, and the Lord, not secretly, but in glory worthy of God. Therefore He adds, with great power and majesty.

CYRIL; Great must be understood in like manner. For His first appearance He made in our weakness and lowliness, the second He shall celebrate in all His own power.

GREG. For in power and majesty will men see Him, whom in lowly stations they refused to hear, that so much the more acutely they may feel His power, as they are now the less willing to bow the necks of their hearts to His sufferings.

Ver 28. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws nigh.

GREG. Having in what has gone before spoken against the reprobate, He now turns His words to the consolation of the elect; for it is added, When these things begin to be, look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws nigh; as if he says, When the buffetings of the world multiply, lift up your heads, that is, rejoice your hearts, for when the world closes whose friends you are not, the redemption is near which you seek. For in holy Scripture the head is often put for the mind, for as the members are ruled by the head, so are the thoughts regulated by the mind. To lift up our heads then, is to raise up our minds to the joys of the heavenly country.

EUSEB. Or else, To those that have passed through the body and bodily things, shall be present spiritual and heavenly bodies: that is, they will have no more to pass the kingdom of the world, and then to those that are worthy shall be given the promises of salvation. For having received the promises of God which we look for, we who before were crooked shall be made upright, and we shall lift up our heads who were before bent low; because the redemption which we hoped for is at hand; that namely for which the whole creation waits.THEOPHYL. That is, perfect liberty of body and soul. For as the first coming of our Lord was for the restoration of our souls, so will the second be manifested to the restoration of our bodies.

EUSEB. He speaks these things to His disciples, not as to those who would continue in this life to the end of the world, but as if uniting in one body of believers in Christ both themselves and us and our posterity, even to the end of the world.

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