The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for December, 2012

This Week’s Posts: Sunday, December 30, 2012-Sunday, January 6, 2013

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 30, 2012

Dominica Infra Octavam Nativitatis ~ II. classis
Commemoratio: Die sexta post Nativitate

RESOURCES FOR SUNDAY MASS (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Die septima post Nativitatem ~ II. classis



Die Octavae Nativitatis Domini ~ I. classis


  • Aquinas’ Lectures on Galatians 4:1-7.  Links below. Not lite reading.

On Gal. 4:1-3.

On Gal. 4:4-5.

On Gal. 4:6-7.


  • Aquinas’ Lectures on Galatians 4:1-7Links below. Not lite reading.

On Gal. 4:1-3.

On Gal. 4:4-5.

On Gal. 4:6-7.

  • Homily on the GospelPrefaced by Gospel Reading (Lk, 2:33-40). Scroll down page to find (“Homily X”).

Note: some of the sermons which follow are based upon other readings than those used in the Mass for today.  They deal with the subject of time, a themes suggested by today’s Epistle reading “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son…”

Sanctissimi Nominis Jesu ~ II. classis



Some Online Writings of St Basil:

Some Online Writings of St Gregory:


Die Tertia Januarii ~ IV. classis



Die Quarta Januarii ~ IV. classis



Sanctae Mariae Sabbato ~ IV. classis



In Epiphania Domini ~ I. classis

Resources for the Mass of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Next Week’s Posts: Sunday, Jan. 6-Sunday, Jan. 13. Not yet complete. Only posts for the Ordinary Form currently available.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Titus 2:11-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 30, 2012


A Summary of Titus 2:1-15~Here St. Paul tells Titus that the best way to correct the unwholesome teachings of the false guides in Crete will be to set before the people the simple positive doctrines of the Gospel as regards all classes, old and young of both sexes; and in doing all this Titus must show himself an example in doctrine and practice, so as to disarm adversaries. Even slaves and servants, by their obedience, honesty, and fidelity, may be an ornament in all respects to the doctrine of their God and Saviour (Titus 2:1-10). These teachings of the Gospel are entirely within the power of all to practise; for we have as helps the grace of God which has been manifested for the salvation of all mankind, and the glorious prospect of seeing hereafter the Saviour who gave Himself for us that He might free us from all sins and perfect us in every good work. Let Titus preach these things with all authority (Titus 2:11-15).

11. For the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all men;

The Apostle now (ver. 11-14) gives reasons why Christians should observe the precepts he has been enjoining, namely, first, because the grace of God has appeared in the Incarnation of God’s only Son, “bringing salvation to all men” (ver. 11-12), and secondly, because by observing those precepts and living holy lives we prepare ourselves for the glorious coming of our Saviour (ver. 13-14).

The aorist “appeared” indicates the definite appearance of the Saviour at the time of His Incarnation. The adjective here translated “salvation” does not occur elsewhere, and it is to be connected with “all men.”

12. Instructing us that denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world,

The purpose of the Incarnation was to save us from our sins and to teach us the way to heaven.

That denying, etc. This phrase expresses the negative duties of the Christian life, while the following words, “we should live, etc.,” express the positive requirements of the same life. The words “soberly, justly, godly” embrace all our Christian obligations—to ourselves, to our neighbor, and to God.

13. Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Christ Jesus,

The practice of the holy life taught us by our Saviour carries with it the right and privilege on our part of looking forward one day to a glorious realization of our hope, that is, of seeing the blessed object of our hope, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Coming would be better translated “appearing,” and the absence of the article before it shows its close connection with “hope”; its Greek equivalent is found only in the Pastoral Letters and in 2 Thess 2:8, and it refers to our Lord’s Second Coming everywhere, except in 2 Tim 1:10, where it means His First Advent. Since, therefore, the word “appearing,” here as everywhere, is applied to our Lord and never to God the Father, and since there is only one preposition governing “great God” and “Saviour Jesus Christ,” it is next to certain that the Apostle in this verse is speaking only of our Lord, and not of God the Father and our Lord. That he should speak of our Lord as “the great God” is only to emphasize the glory of His coming. We have, therefore, in this verse an implied but solemn proof of the divinity of our Lord.

14. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a chosen people, zealous for good works.

Who gave himself, etc. See on Eph 5:2; 1 Tim 2:6.

Redeem, cleanse. These vv^ords express respectively the negative and positive aspects of the one process of sanctification.

From all iniquity. Literally, “from all lawlessness.”

A chosen people, i.e., a people who would be His own property or possession. This is the meaning of the Greek. The language here is from Psalm 130:8, Ex 19:5, Deut 6:6, 14:2, etc., where God’s choice and formation of Israel as His own people are in question.

15. These things speak, and exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

The foregoing exhortations and precepts Titus must preach and announce with full power and authority, and he must not hesitate to rebuke the wayward and disobedient, for he speaks not as a private person but as God’s minister and in God’s name. See on 1 Tim 4:11-12.

Here is what Father Callan wrote concerning 1 Tim 4:11-12:

1 Tim 4:11  These things command and teach:

These things, i.e., what he has been saying in verses 7-10, Timothy is to insist on with authority.

1 Tim 4:12. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the faithful in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in chastity.

In verses 12-16 St. Paul gives Timothy advice regarding his personal behavior. Timothy was not forty years of age at this time, and had been associated with St. Paul some fifteen years. He was young in comparison with the Apostle, who was then sixty or more. Moreover, in ancient times a man was considered young until after forty. St. Paul himself was spoken of as a young man at the martyrdom of St. Stephen (Acts vii. 57), when he must have been thirty years old at least.

Young people in authority are apt to be criticised and even despised by older persons, unless shining virtues supply in them for the lack of age. Hence, the aged Apostle tells the youthful bishop to be an example to the faithful in his outward actions and manner of life, and also in the internal virtues that grace the soul and ennoble the character. The classic Greek word for “chastity” is found only here and in v. 2 below in the New Testament. It means chastity of life and purity of motive.

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Sunday, December 30 2012: Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 27, 2012

I’m sorry that this post is late (and rather sparse in comparison to my normal Sunday resources), but this week has been rather hectic (Christmas, two winter storms in less than a week). This post contains resources for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. I will add podcast to the OF resources and Homilies to the EF resources if I can find the time.



  • Today’s Mass Readings. PLEASE NOTE  that the 1st and 2nd readings, and the responsorial allow for different texts. Not all sites listed here provide resources for all the possible choices.
  • Anglican Use Daily Office. ”Briefly, it is a provision for an “Anglican style” liturgy similar to the Book of Common Prayer as an ecclesiastically approved variant on the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” More info.

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

  • Word Sunday. The readings in both and literal translation, notes on the text, podcast, children’s reading. be sure to choose the “C” links since we are in Lectionary Cycle C.
  • SacerdosGives the theme of the readings, the doctrinal message, and pastoral application.
  • Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background on the readings. Can be printed out, copied, and used as bulletin insert.
  • Scripture Speaks. I’ve linked to the archive. This Sunday’s post not yet available.
  • The Bible Workshop. Links to several relevant articles, contains a reading guide to the gospel text, a comparison of the readings, suggestions for a lesson (i.e., homily). I COULD FIND NO RESOURCES FOR THIS MASS.
  • The Wednesday Word It’s about the Sunday readings, but the document is posted on Wednesday, hence the name. Designed for prayer and reflection, the pdf document ends with Father Dom Henry Wansbrough’s reflections on the first and second readings. Fr. Wansbrough is General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible and contributed commentaries on Matt, Mark, and the Pastorals in A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture.
  • Christian Leadership Center: Preaching the Lectionary for 3rd Advent. An ecumenical site. NO RESOURCES THIS WEEK.



  • 1st Reading, Choice 1: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14.

  • 1st Reading, Choice 2: 1 Sam 1:20-22, 24-28.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Sam 1:20-22, 24-28.


  • Responsorial, Choice 1: Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 128. Entire psalm.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 184. Entire psalm.

  • Responsorial, Choice 2: Ps 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 84. Entire psalm.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 84. Entire psalm.


  • 2nd Reading, Choice 1: Colossians 3:12-21.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-21.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Colossians 3:12-21.

Pending: Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-21.

  • 2nd Reading, Choice 2: Colossians 3:12-17.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17. On 12-21.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17. On 12-21.

  • 2nd Reading, Choice 3: 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24.

St Augustine on 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24.


Dominica Infra Octavam Nativitatis ~ II. classis
Commemoratio: Die sexta post Nativitatem



  • Aquinas’ Lectures on Galatians 4:1-7 in Three Parts:

On Gal. 4:1-3.

On Gal. 4:4-5.

On Gal. 4:6-7.


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St Augustine on Luke 2:41-52

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 27, 2012

Consider when this was. When the Lord Jesus, as to His Human Nature, was twelve years old49 (for as to His Divine Nature He is before all times, and without time), He tarried behind them in the temple, and disputed with the elders, and they wondered at His doctrine; and His parents who were returning from Jerusalem sought Him among their company, among those,that is, who were journeying with them, and when they found Him not, they returned in trouble to Jerusalem, and found Him disputing in the temple with the elders, when He was, as I said, twelve years old. But what wonder? The Word of God is never silent, though it is not always heard. He is found then in the temple, and His mother saith to Him, “Why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing;” and He said, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s service?”50 This He said for that the Son of God was in the temple of God, for that temple was not Joseph’s, but God’s. See, says some one, “He did not allow that He was the Son of Joseph.” Wait, brethren, with a little patience, because of the press of time, that it may be long enough for what I have to say. When Mary had said, “Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing,” He answered, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s service?” for He would not be their Son in such a sense, as not to be understood to be also the Son of God. For the Son of God He was-ever the Son of God-Creator even of themselves who spake to Him; but the Son of Man in time; born of a Virgin without the operation of her husband, yet the Son of both parents. Whence prove we this? Already have we proved it by the words of Mary, “Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.”

Now in the first place for the instruction of the women, our sisters, such saintly modesty of the Virgin Mary must not be passed over, brethren. She had given birth to Christ-the Angel had come to her, and said, “Behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus.51 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest.”52 She53 had been thought worthy to give birth to the Son of the Highest, yet was she most humble; nor did she put herself before her husband, even in the order of naming him, so as to say,” I and Thy father,” but she saith, “Thy father and I.” She regarded not the high honour54 of her womb, but the order of wedlock did she regard, for Christ the humble would not have taught His mother to be proud. “Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.” Thy father and I, she saith, “for the husband is the head of the woman.”55 How much less then ought other women to be proud! for Mary herself also is called a woman, not from the loss of virginity, but by a form of expression peculiar to her country; for of the Lord Jesus the Apostle also said, “made of a woman,”56 yet there is no interruption hence to the order and connection of our Creed57 wherein we confess “that He was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary.” For as a virgin she conceived Him, as a virgin brought Him forth, and a virgin she continued; but all females they called “women,”58 by a peculiarity of the Hebrew tongue. Hear a most plain example of this. The first woman whom God made, having taken her out of the side of a man, was called a woman before she “knew” her husband, which we are told was not till after they went out of Paradise, for the Scripture saith, “He made her a woman.”59

The answer then of the Lord Jesus Christ, “I must be about My Father’s service,” does not in such sense declare God to be His Father,as to deny that Joseph was His father also; And whence prove we this? By the Scripture, which saith on this wise, “And He said unto them, Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s service; but they understood not what He spake to them: and when He went down with them, He came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.”60 It did not say, “He was subject to His mother,” or was “subject to her,” but “He was subject to them.” To whom was He subject? was it not to His parents? It was to both His parents that He was subject, by the same condescension by which He was the Son of Man. A little way back women received their precepts. Now let children receive theirs-to obey their parents, and to be subject to them. The world was subject unto Christ, and Christ was subject to His parents.

You see then, brethren, that He did not say, “I must needs be about My Father’s service,” in any such sense as that we should understand Him thereby to have said, “You are not My parents.” They were His parents in time, God was His Father eternally. They were the parents of the Son of Man-”He,” theFather of His Word, and Wisdom, and Power, by whom He made all things. But if all things were made by that Wisdom, “which reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly ordereth all things,”61 then were they also made by the Son of God to whom He Himself as Son of Man was afterwards to be subject; and the Apostle says that He is the Son of David, “who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.”62 But yet the Lord Himself proposes a question to the Jews, which the Apostle solves in these very words; for when he said, “who was made of the seed of David,” he added, “according to the flesh,” that it might be understood that He is not the Son of David according to His Divinity, but that the Son of God is David’s Lord; for thus in another place, when He is setting forth the63 privileges of the Jewish people, the Apostle saith, “Whose are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, Who is over all, God blessed for ever.”64 As, “according to the flesh,” He is David’s Son; but as being “God over all, blessed for ever,” He is David’s Lord. The Lord then saith to the Jews, “Whose Son say ye that Christ is?” They answered, “The Son of David.”65 For this they knew, as they had learnt it easily from the preaching of the Prophets; and in truth, He was of the seed of David, “but according to the flesh,” by the Virgin Mary, who was espoused to Joseph. When they answered then that Christ was David’s Son, Jesus said to them, “How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My fight hand, till I put Thine enemies under Thy feet.66 If David then in spirit call Him Lord, how is He his Son?”67 And the Jews could not answer Him. So we have it in the Gospel. He did not deny that He was David’s Son, so that they could not understand that He was also David’s Lord. For they acknowledged in Christ that which He became in time, but they did not understand in Him what He was in all eternity. Wherefore wishing to teach them His Divinity, He proposed a question touching His Humanity; as though He would say, “You know that Christ is David’s Son, answer Me, how He is also David’s Lord?” And that they might not say, “He is not David’s Lord,” He introduced the testimony of David himself. And what doth he say? He saith indeed the truth. For you find God in the Psalms saying to David, “Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat.”68 Here then He is the Son of David. But how is He the Lord of David, who is David’s Son? “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand.”69 Can you wonder that David’s Son is his Lord, when you see that Mary was the mother of her Lord? He is David’s Lord then as being God. David’s Lord, as being Lord of all; and David’s Son, as being the Son of Man. At once Lord and Son. David’s Lord, “who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God;”70 and David’s Son, in that “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant.”71

49 Luke ii. 42.
50 Luke ii. 48, 49.
51 Luke i. 31.
52 Luke i. 32.
53 Meruerat.
54 Dignitatem.
55 Ephes. v. 23.
56 Gal. iv. 4.
57 Fidei.
58 h)
femina mulier omnis aetatis et conditionis, sive nupta est, sive non est. Gesenius, Lex. Heb., vide exempla, especially Gen. xxiv. 5 and Isa. iv. 1. Vid. Serm. lii. 10.
59 Gen. ii. 22.
60 Luke ii. 49, 50, 51.
61 Wisd. viii. 1.
62 Rom. i. 3.
63 Commendaret.
64 Rom. ix. 5.
65 Matt. xxii. 42.
66 Ps. cx. 1.
67 Matt. xxii. 43, 44, 45.
68 Ps. cxxxii. 11.
69 Ps. cx. 1.
70 Phil. ii. 6.
71 Phil. ii. 7.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Augustine on 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 27, 2012

Hear. “Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called and should be the sons of God” (1 Jn 3:1).  For whoso are called sons, and are not sons, what profiteth them the name where the thing is not? How many are called physicians, who know not how to heal! how many are called watchers, who sleep all night long! So, many are called Christians, and yet in deeds are not found such; because they are not this which they are called, that is, in life, in manners, in faith, in hope, in charity. But what have ye heard here, brethren? “ Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him,” us also the world knoweth not. There is a whole world Christian, and a whole world ungodly; because throughout the whole world there are ungodly, and throughout the whole world there are godly: those know not these. In what sense, think we, do they not know them? They deride them that live good lives. Mc well and see: for haply there are such also among you. Each one of you who now lives godly, who despises worldly things, who does not choose to go to spectacles, who does not choose to make himself drunken as it were by solemn custom, yea, what is worse, under countenance of holy days to make himself unclean: the man who does not choose to do these things, how is he derided by those who do them! Would he be scoffed at if he were known? But why is he not known? “The world knoweth Him not.” Who is “the world”? Those inhabiters of the world. Just as we say, “a house;” meaning, its inhabitants. These things have been said to you again and again, and we forbear to repeat them to your disgust. By this time, when ye hear the word “world,” in a bad signification, ye know that ye must understand it to mean only lovers of the world because through love they inhabit, and by inhabiting have become entitled to the name. Therefore the world hath not known us, because it hath not known Him. He walked here Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh; He was God, He was latent in weakness. And wherefore was He not known? Because He reproved all sins in men. They, through loving the delights of sins, did not acknowledge the God: through loving that which the fever prompted, they did wrong to the Physician.

For us then, what are we? Already we are begotten of Him; but because we are such in hope, he saith, “Beloved, we are now sons of God” (1 Jn 3:2). Now already? Then what is it we look for, if already we are sons of God? “And it hath not yet,” saith he, “appeared what we shall be.” But what else shall we be than sons of God? Hear what follows: “We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.” Understand, my beloved. It is a great matter: “We know that when he shall appear we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is..” In the first place mark, what is called “Is.” Ye know what it is that is so called. That which is called “Is,” and not only is called but is so, is unchangeable: It ever remaineth, It cannot be changed, It is in no part corruptible: It hath neither proficiency, for It is perfect; nor hath deficiency, for It is eternal. And what is this? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). And what is this? “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philipp 2:6).  To see Christ in this sort, Christ in the form of God, Word of God, Only-Begotten of the Father, equal with the Father, is to the bad impossible. But in regard that the Word was made flesh, the bad also shall have power to see Him: because in the day of judgment the bad also will see Him; for He shall so come to judge, as He came to be judged. In the selfsame form, a man, but yet God: for “cursed is every one that putteth his trust in man” (Jer 17:5).  A man, He came to be judged, a man, He will come to judge. And if He shall not be seen, what is this that is written, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced? (Jn 19:37, quoting Zech 12:10).  For ofthe ungodly it is said, that they shall see and be confounded. How shall the ungodly not see, when He shall set some on the right hand, others on the left? To those on the right hand He will say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom:” to those on the left He will say, “Go into everlasting fire” (Matt 25:34, 41).  They will see but the form of a servant, the form of God they will not see. Why? because they were ungodly; and the Lord Himself saith, “Blessed are the clean of heart: they shall see God” (Matt 5:8).  Therefore, we are to see a certain vision, my brethren, “That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard: neither hath it entered into the heart of man” (1 Cor 2:9),  a certain vision, a vision surpassing all earthly beautifulness, of gold, of silver, of groves and fields; the beautifulness of sea and air, the beautifulness of sun and moon, the beautifulness of the stars, the beautifulness of angels: surpassing all things: because from it are all things beautiful.

What then shall “we” be, when we shall see this? What is promised to us? “We shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.” The tongue hath done what it could, hath sounded the words: let the rest be thought by the heart. For what hath even John himself said in comparison of That which Is, or what can be said by us men, who are so far from being equal to his merits? Return we therefore to that unction of Him, return we to that unction which inwardly teacheth that which we cannot speak: and because ye cannot at present see, let your part and duty be in desire. The whole life of a good Christian is an holy desire. Now what thou longest for, thou dost not yet see: howbeit by longing, thou art made capable, so that when that is come which thou mayest see, thou shall be filled. For just as, if thou wouldest fill a bag, and knowest how great the thing is that shall be given, thou stretchest the opening of the sack or the skin, or whatever else it be; thou knowest how much thou wouldest put in, and seest that the bag is narrow; by stretching thou makest it capable of holding more: so God, by deferring our hope, stretches our desire; by the desiring, stretches the mind; by stretching, makes it more capacious. Let us desire therefore, my brethren, for we shall be filled. See Paul widening, as it were, his bosom, that it may be able to receive that which is to come. He saith, namely, “I do not count myself to have apprehended. But one thing I do: Forgetting the things that are behind and stretching forth myself to those that are before, I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus” (Philipp :13-14).  Then what art thou doing in this life, if thou have not yet apprehended? “But one thing I do: Forgetting the things that are behind and stretching forth myself to those that are before, I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation.” He says he reaches forth, or stretches himself, and says that he follows “upon the strain.” He felt himself too little to take in that “That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard: neither hath it entered into the heart of man” (1 Cor 2:9).  This is our life, that by longing we should be exercised. But holy longing exercises us just so muchas we prune off our longings from the love of the world. We have already said, “Empty out that which is to be filled.” With good thou art to be filled: pour out the bad. Suppose that God would fill thee with honey: if thou art full of vinegar, where wilt thou put the honey? That which the vessel bore in it must be poured out: the vessel itself must be cleansed; must be cleansed, albeit with labor, albeit with hard rubbing, that it may become fit for that thing, whatever it be. Let us say honey, say gold, say wine; whatever we say it is, being that which cannot be said, whatever we would fain say, It is called—God. And when we say” God,” what have we said? Is that one syllable the whole of that we look for? So then, whatever, we have had power to say is beneath Him: let us stretch ourselves unto Him, that when He shall come, He may fill us. For “we shall be like Him; because we shall see Him as He is.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 27, 2012

1Jn 3:1  Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him.

Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us (unworthy, enemies and sinners as we are), that we should be called and should be the sons of God.  Love, actively, His wondrous love to us, and passively, as communicated and infused into us. “How much He loved us,” says Vatablus, “in giving us that love whereby we are called the sons of God. For our created love flows out of His uncreated love, as a ray from the sun,” &c. For those whom God loves with His uncreated love, He makes to love Him in return with that created love which He infuses. For love is friendship or mutual affection between God and a righteous man. And just as we His creatures owe Him, as our Creator, all honour, worship, and service, so do we as His servants owe Him, as our Lord, fear, reverence, and obedience, and as the Father of all do we owe Him our highest love, our whole, heart, our whole will and affections.

S. John had before stated that he that doeth righteousness is born of God. He here teaches the excellence of that Divine sonship, its fruit and its reward, in order to excite the faithful to those works of righteousness, which show that they are His thankful and worthy children, and to lead them to preserve this their sonship, till it attain the reward of eternal life. Each of S. John’s words has great weight, and inspires fresh inducements to love. By the Father we understand the whole Trinity, but especially the Person of the Father, because it is the Father’s work to beget children like to His Only Begotten Son, and because our calling, our election, our predestination are the proper work of the Father, and the effect of all these is our justification and adoption as sons. As S. Augustine says (de Nat. grat. cap. ult.), “Inchoate love is inchoate righteousness, advanced love is advanced righteousness, perfect love is perfect righteousness.” And S. Dion (Eccl. Hier. 1. 2) says, “The first motion of the mind to heavenly things, and its aiming after God, is love. And the first step of holy love towards fulfilling the commands of God, is an unspeakable operation, because we have it from above. For if this heavenly state has a divine origin and birth, he who hath not received it will neither know nor do those things which are taught by God.” And hence S. Cyril (Is 54. and Tesaur. xii. 3) calls love the stamp of the Divine Essence, the sanctification, refashioning, the beauty and splendour of the soul.

That we should be called and should be the sons of God (by adoption, as Christ is by nature). Many are named that which they are not. But we are so named, in order that we may be such. For as S. Augustine says (in loc.), “If any are called sons and are not, what doth the name profit, where the thing is not? How many are called physicians, who know not how to heal, or watchers, who sleep all the night through? And in like manner many are called Christians, and are not found to be really such, because they are not that which they are called, in life, in faith, in hope, in charity.” But what are the words here? “That we should be called and should be the sons of God.” As S. Paul says, Gal 4:6. Let the innovators note this who say that we are called righteous only by Christ’s imputed righteousness, that the words ‘and should be”‘ are wanting in many MSS. But then the meaning is included in the words ‘are called.’ For those who are called anything by God are made to be that which they are called. As a king by calling any one by a title, confers that title upon him, much more does God do so, by infusing real gifts of grace in those whom He calls His sons, thus making them worthy of the name, which a king cannot do. For as God in begetting His Son communicated to Him His very nature and divinity, so does He by regenerating us make us partakers of His Godhead, as S. Peter says and the Psalmist also (Ps 82:6). As God is holy in His essence, so does the righteous man who is born of God partake of His sanctity, and all His other attributes, being Almighty, unchangeable, heavenly, impeccable, full of goodness. He is omniscient, as being taught of God; imperturbable, as living above the world; liberal, and envying no man, but promoting every one’s interest, as though it were his own. He glows with charity, rendering his enemies good for evil, and thus making them his friends. He is upright, patient, constant, even-minded, prudent, bold, sincere. See James 1:18; Hos 1:10.

Hence it follows that we are by justification the sons of God in a threefold respect—(1.) In the past by our spiritual generation. See 2 Pet 1:4;  John 1:12;  and above, 1 John 4:4 and 1 John 4:6, and 1 John 5:18. (2.) By His fatherly care over us. (See Ps 55:23; above Ps 5:18; Luke 12:7.) “Why fearest thou,” says S. Augustine, “since thou art in the bosom of God, who is both thy father and thy mother?” (3.) He is our Father, by the heavenly inheritance which He will give us, making us heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. See Ps 16:6. The Gentiles used falsely to boast of their descent from the gods. But the Christian’s boast is a true one. And the truer it is, the more should it stimulate us to godlike deeds. As S. Cyprian says (de Spetaculis): “No one will admire the works of men, who knows that he is the son of God. He, who can admire anything after God, casts himself down from his high estate. When the flesh solicits thee, say, ‘I am a son of God, I am born to greater things than to be the slave of appetite;’ when the world tempts, reply, ‘I am a son of God, and destined for heavenly treasures, and it is beneath me to seek for a morsel of white or red earth.’ And when Satan offers me honour and pomps, I say, ‘Get thee behind me, for as being a son and heir of God, and born for a heavenly kingdom, I trample all worldly honours under my feet.’ Devote then the rest of thy life (it may be short indeed) to such noble, arduous, and divine works as Christ and the Saints have performed. Art thou called to a state of perfection, to devote thy life to the salvation of souls?—art thou called to heathen lands, to the cross and martyrdom?—surrender thyself to the call, as becomes the son of so great a father.” Alvarez (as De Ponte relates in his life) used to apply this stimulus to himself. “Do not fall away from the lofty purposes of God’s children.”

Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him. It knows Him not practically, because worldly men do not love or worship Him. “They know not that we are citizens of heaven (says S. Chrysostom), and associates of the Cherubim. But they shall know in the day of judgment.” (See Wisdom 5:3 seq.)

1Jn 3:2  Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God: and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when he shall appear we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is.

We shall be like him, not in nature but in quality, in happiness, in eternal glory. The world—which knows us not now, because it beholds not our inward beauty—will then know us as like Christ, perfectly holy, just, pure, loving God. And as God enjoys the vision of Himself, so will our mind behold Him as He is, will be blessed in the sight, and our sonship and adoption be thus perfected, when we attain as the sons of God our glorious and happy inheritance.

Observe: We are in three ways like God.—1. As having a rational and intelligent nature. 2. By grace, as S. Bernard says, “consisting in virtues, and the soul strives by the greatness of its virtues to imitate the greatness of the supreme God, and by its constant perseverance in good to imitate His unchangeableness and eternity.” 3. The highest and most perfect resemblance to God will be by the beatific glory in heaven, when, as S. Bernard says, “man becomes one spirit with God, not merely by unity of will, but more expressly by not being able to will anything beside, through union with His power.” This third resemblance then consists in the Vision of the Triune God. As S. John says, “We shall see Him as He is.” Accordingly, Œcumenius places this resemblance in the love and glory of adoption. See Ps 16:11, Ps 47:9, Ps 26:4, Ps 35:10;  1 Cor 13:12. The Schoolmen thence teach that the Blessed see the very Essence of God, Its three Persons and all Its attributes. For they behold Him in a vision, and draw Him as it were into themselves, and thus derive every good. Accordingly [Pseudo]-S. Augustine says (de cognit veræ vitæ ad fin.), “This vision and this glory is called the kingdom of heaven because it is only the heavens, that is the just, who enjoy this vision, for theirs is the highest and chiefest Good in whom they have the fulness of joy from the fulness of all goods.”

Again, in seeing God they form his image in their minds, which thus represents Him to them. As S. Augustine says (Euchind. cap. iii.), “When the mind is imbued with the beginning of faith which worketh by love, it strives by holy living to reach that sight wherein is that ineffable beauty, which holy souls know, and in the full vision of which is supreme happiness.” And again, they will be like Him, as partaking of His everlasting blessedness. See S. Gregory, Hom. ii. in Ezek.

Then follows on this another resemblance, viz., in will, in the perfect love of God beheld and possessed. As S. Fulgentius says, “We shall be like Him, in imitating His righteousness.” And this love will make a man love God with all his heart and soul, so as to have no wish or desire to love anything else than God. As S. Augustine says (Confessions), “When I cleave to Thee with my whole heart, I shall have no pain or labour. My life will be full of Thee, but now, when I am not full of Thee, I am a burden to myself.”

Moreover, this love will last for ever, and will ever enkindle the blessed to praise God. (See S. Augustine, Serm. cxviii. de Divers. cap. 5.) “When we are like to Him, never shall we fall away, or turn aside. Let us be sure then, the praise of God will never cloy. If thou failest in love, thou wilt cease to praise, but if thy love be never-ending, never be afraid of being unable to praise Him, whom thou wilt ever be able to love.” And from this glorious vision there will follow all the endowments of the glorified soul and body of Christ, for there will be entire peace, concord, and harmony in all our powers of action. Our bodies will be impassible, bright, subtle. See 1 Cor 15:42. Just as the sun shining through a cloud makes mock suns one or more, so will it be with the Godhead as it shines through the bodies and souls of the blessed. And what a happy and glorious sight will this be! See Col 3:3;  1 Cor 15:45;  Philipp 3:21;  2 Cor 3:18;  Rom 6:5, Rom 8:29.

Because we shall see him as he is. God in His own essence, as the Schoolmen teach.

Again, we shall see Christ as man, clothed as man with a glorious Body (see Bellarmine, de Beat. Sanct. i. 3; Gregory, de Valent., &c.)  And this too, not in a glass and in a figure, but face to face. For in this life we do not see God as He is, but as He became clothed with flesh for our sakes. (See S. Augustine (in loc.); Origen, Hom. vi. in Gen., and S. Gregory, Hom. ii. in Ezek.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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St Augustine on 1 John 2:3-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 27, 2012

“And in this,” saith he, “we do know Him,44 if we keep His commandments.”45 “What commandments? “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” But still thou askest, What commandments? “But whoso,” saith he, “keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.”46 Let us see whether this same commandment be not called love. For we were asking, what commandments, and he saith, “But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.” Mc the Gospel, whether this be not the commandment: “A new commandment,” saith the Lord, “give I unto you, that ye love one another.47 —In this we know that we are in Him, if in Him we be perfected.”48 Perfected in love, he calls them: what is perfection of love? To love even enemies, and love them for this end, that they may be brethren. For not a carnal love ought ours to be. To wish a man temporal weal, is good; but though that fail, let the soul be safe. Dost thou wish life to any that is thy friend? Thou doest well. Dost thou rejoice at the death of thine enemy? Thou doest ill. But haply both to thy friend the life thou wishest him is not for his good, and to thine enemy the death thou rejoicest at hath been for his good. It is uncertain whether this present life be profitable to any man or unprofitable: but the life which is with God without doubt is profitable. So love thine enemies as to wish them to become thy brethren; so love thine enemies as that they may be called into thy fellowship. For so loved He who, hanging on the cross, said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”49 For he did not say, Father let them live long, me indeed they kill, but let them live. He was casting out from them the death which is for ever and ever, by His most merciful prayer, and by His most surpassing might. Many of them believed, and the shedding of the blood of Christ was forgiven them. At first they shed it while they raged; now they drank it while they believed. “In this we know that we are in Him, if in Him we be made perfect.” Touching the very perfection of love of enemies, the Lord admonishing, saith, “Be yetherefore perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.50 He,” therefore, “that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.”51 How, brethren what cloth he advise us? “He that saith he abideth in Him,” i.e., in Christ, “ought himself also so to walk even as He walked.” Haply the advice is this, that we should walk on the sea? That be far from us! It is this then, that we walk in the way of righteousness. In what way? I have already mentioned it. He was fixed upon the cross, and yet was He walking in this very way: this way is the way of charity, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” If, therefore, thou have learned to pray for thine enemy, thou walkest in the way of the Lord.

“Dearly beloved, I write unto you no new commandment, but the old commandment which ye had from the beginning.”52 What commandment calls he “old? Which ye had,” saith he, “from the beginning. Old” then, in this regard, that ye have already heard it: otherwise he will contradict the Lord, where He saith, “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”53 But why an “old” commandment? Not as pertaining to the old man. But why? “Which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard.” Old then, in this regard, that ye have already heard it. And the selfsame he showeth to be new, saying, “Again, a new commandment write I unto you.”54 Not another, but the selfsame which he hath called old, the same is also new. Why? “Which thing is true in Him and in you.” Why old,ye have already heard: i.e., because ye knew it already. But why new? “Because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.” Lo, whence it is new: because the darkness pertains to the old man, but the light to the new man. What saith the Apostle Paul? “Put ye off the old man, and put ye on the new.”55 And again what saith he “Ye were sometime darkness, but now light in the Lord.”56

“He that saith he is in the light”—now he is making all clear that he has been saying—“he that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.”57 What! my brethren, how long shall we say to you, “Love your enemies”?58 See whether, what is worse, ye do not hate your brethren. If ye loved only your brethren, ye would be not yet perfect: but if ye hate59 your brethren, what are ye, where are ye? Let each look to his own heart: let him not keep hatred against his brother for any hard word; on account of earthly contention let him not become earth. For whoso hates his brother, let him not say that he walks in the light. “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” Thus, some man who was a pagan has become a Christian; mark well: behold he was in darkness, while he was a pagan: now is he made henceforth a Christian; thanks be to God, say all joyfully; the apostle is read, where he saith joyfully, “For ye were sometime darkness, but now light in the Lord.”60 Once he worshipped idols, now he worships God; once he worshipped the things he made, now he worships Him that made him. He is changed: thanks be to God, say all Christians with joyful greeting. Why? Because henceforth he is one that adores the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost; one that detests demons and idols. Yet still is Jn solicitous about our convert: while many greet him with joy, by him he is still looked upon with apprehension. Brethren, let us gladly welcome a mother’s solicitude. Not without cause is the mother solicitous about us when others rejoice: by the mother, I mean charity: for she dwelt in the heart of John, when he spake these words. Wherefore, but because there is something he fears in us, even when men now hail us with joy? What is it that he fears? “He that saith he is in the light”—What is this? He that saith now he is a Christian,—“and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” Which there is no need to expound: but to be glad of it, if it be not so, or to bewail it, if it be.

“He that loveth his brother abideth (manet) in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.”61 —I beseech you by Christ: God is feeding us, we are about to refresh our bodies in the name of Christ; they both are in some good measure refreshed, and are to be refreshed: let the mind be fed. Not that I am going to speak for a long time, do I say this; for behold, the lesson is now coming to an end: but lest haply of weariness we should hear Jess attentively than we ought that which is most necessary.—“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no scandal,” or “none occasion of stumbling, in him.” Who are they that take scandal or make scandal? They that are offended in Christ, and in the Church. They that are offended in Christ, are as if burnt by the sun, those in the Church as by the moon. But the Psalm saith, “The sun shall not burn thee by day, neither the moon by night:62 i.e., if thou hold fast charity, neither in Christ shall thou have occasion of falling, nor in the Church; neither Christ shall thou forsake, nor the Church. For he that forsakes the Church, how is he in Christ who is not in the members of Christ? How is he in Christ who is not in the body of Christ? Those therefore take scandal, or, occasion of failing, who forsake Christ or the Church. Whence do we understand that the Psalm in saying, “By day shall the sun not burn thee, nor the moon by night,” saith it of this, that the burning means scandal, or occasion of stumbling? In the first place mark the similitude itself. Just as the person whom something is burning saith, I cannot bear it, I cannot away with it, and draws back; so those persons who cannot bear some things in the Church, and withdraw themselves either from the name of Christ or from the Church, are taking scandal. For see how those took scandal as from the sun, those carnal ones to whom Christ preached of His flesh, saying, “He that eateth not the flesh of the Son of Man and drinketh His blood, shall have no life in him.”63 Some seventy persons64 said, “Thisis an hard saying,” and went back from Him, and there remained the twelve. All those the sun burnt, and they went back, not being able to bear the force of the Word. There remained therefore the twelve. And lest haply men should imagine that they confer a benefit upon Christ by believing on Christ, and not that the benefit is conferred by Him upon them; when the twelve were left, the Lord said to them, “Will ye also go?” That ye may know that I am necessary to you, not ye to me. But those whom the sun had not burnt, answered by the voice of Peter: “Lord, Thou hast the word65 of eternal life; whither shall we go?” But who are they that the Church as the moon burneth by night? They that have made schisms. Hear the very word used in the apostle: “Who is offended, and I burn not?”66 In what sense then is it, that there is no scandal or occasion of stumbling in him that loveth his brother? Because he that loveth his brother, beareth all things for unity’s sake; because it is in the unity of charity that brotherly love exists. Some one, I know not who, offendeth thee: whether it be a bad man, or as thou supposest a bad man, or as thou pretendest a bad man: and dost thou desert so many good men? What sort of brotherly love is that which hath appeared in these67 persons? While they accuse the Africans, they have deserted the whole world! What, were there no saints in the whole world? Or was it possible they should be condemned by you unheard? But oh! if ye loved your brethren, there would be none occasion of stumbling in you. Hear thou the Psalm, what it saith: “Great peace have they that love Thy law, and there is to them none occasion of stumbling.”68 Great peace it saith there is for them that love the law of God, and that is why there is to them none occasion of stumbling. Those then who take scandal, or, occasion of stumbling, destroy peace. And of whom saith he that they take not and make not occasion of stumbling? They that love God’s law. Consequently they are in charity. But some man will say, “He said it of them that love God’s law, not of the brethren.” Hear thou what the Lord saith: “A new commandment give I unto you that ye love one another.”69 What is the Law but commandment? Moreover, how is it they do not take occasion of stumbling, but because they forbear one another? As Paul saith, “Forbearing one another in love, studying to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”70 And to show that this is the law of Christ, hear the same apostle commending this very law. “Bear ye one another’s burdens,” saith he, “and so shall ye fulfill the law of Christ.”71

“For he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth.”72 A great thing, my brethren: mark it, we beseech you. “He that hateth his brother walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness hath blinded his eyes.” What so blind as these who hate their brethren? For that ye may know that they are blind, they have stumbled at a Mountain. I say the same things often, that they may not slip out of your memory. The Stone which was “cut out of the Mountain without hands,” is it not Christ, who came of the kingdom of the Jews, without the work of man?73 Has not that Stone broken in pieces all the kingdoms of the earth, that is, all the dominations of idols and demons? Has not that Stone grown, and become a great mountain, and filled the whole earth? Do we point with the finger to this Mountain in like manner as the moon on its third day74 is pointed out to men? For example, when they wish people to see the new moon, they say, Lo, the moon! lo, where it is! and if there be some there who are not sharp-sighted, and say, Where then the finger is put forth that they may see it. Sometimes when they are ashamed to be thought blind, they say they have seen what they have not seen. Do we in this way point out the Church, my brethren? Is it not open? Is it not manifest? Has it not possessed all nations? Is not that fulfilled which so many .years before was promised to Abraham, that in his seed should all nations be blessed?75 It was promised to one believer, and the world is filled with thousands of believers. Behold here the mountain filling the whole face of the earth! Behold the city of which it is said, “A city set upon a mountain cannot be hid!”76 But those stumble at the mountain, and when it is said to them, Go up; “There is no mountain,” say they, and dash their heads against it sooner than seek a habitation there. Esaias was read yesterday; whosoever of you was awake not with his eyes only but with his ear, and not the ear of the body but the ear of the heart, noted this; “In the last days shall the mountain of the house of the Lord be manifest, prepared upon the top of the mountains.”77 What so manifest as a mountain? But there are even mountains unknown, because they are situated in one part of the earth. Which of you knows Mount Olympus? Just as the people who dwell there do not know our Giddaba. These mountains are in different parts of the earth. But not so that Mountain, for it hath filled the whole face of the earth, and of it is said, “Prepared upon the top of the mountains.” It is a Mountain above the tops of all mountains. “And,” saith he, “to it shall be gathered all nations.” Who can fail to be aware of this Mountain? Who breaks his head by stumbling against it? Who is ignorant of the city set upon a mountain? But marvel not that it is unknown by these who hate the brethren, because they walk in darkness and know not whither they go, because the darkness hath blinded their eyes. They do not see the Mountain: I would not have thee marvel; they have no eyes. How is it they have no eyes? Because the darkness hath blinded them. How do we prove this? Because they hate the brethren, in that, while they are offended at Africans, they separate themselves from the whole earth: in that they do not tolerate for the peace of Christ those whom they defame, and do tolerate for the sake of Donatus78 those whom they condemn.

44 In hoc cognoscimus eum; si: but all the Greek copies, ejn touvtw genwvskomen o]ti ejgnwvkamen aujtovn, ejavn. Vulg). In hoc scimus quoniam cognovimus eum, si.
45  1Jn 2,3-4
46  1Jn 2,5
47  Jn 13,34
48  1Jn 2,5  (Si in ipso perfecti fuerimus. Augustin and two or three Latin Mss.: an addition unknown to the Greek and to the other copies of the Latin.
49  Lc 23,34
50  Mt 5,48
51 1 Jn 2:6
52  1Jn 2,7).
53  Jn 13,34
54  1Jn 2,8
55  Col 3,9-10
56  Ep 5,8
57  1Jn 2,9
58  Mt 5,44
59 (Si autem oditis So ed  and four Mss. cited in So ed which however has in the text oderitis.One Ms. cited ibid. has, Si autem odistis. Edd. Lugd. and Ven. have si autem auditis, “if ye are called brethren.” Four Oxf). Mss. oditis.
60  Ep 5,8
61  1Jn 2,10
62  Ps 121,6).
63  Jn 6,54-69.
64  So in Epist. 173, sec. 30, Augustin writes, Attendis enim et saepe repetis, sicut audio, quod in Evangelio scriptum est recessisse a Domino septuaginta discipules.…caeterisque duodecim qui remanserant fuisse responsum, Numquid et vos vultis abire? The notion entertained by some of the Ancients and, as it seems, by St. Augustin, that the disciples who took offense at our Lord’s discourse in the synagogue of Capernaum were the Seventy, may have been derived from the Hypotyposes of St. Clem. Alex. (comp. Euseb. H. E. 1,12) or one of the Clementines. (Thus S. Epiphanius Haer. 51, p. 186, 188, relates from some such authority, that the Evangelists Mc and Lc were of the number of the Seventy, and of those who were offended; and that they were reclaimed to the faith, the one by St. Peter, the other by St. Paul). But the notion, from whatever quarter it came, seems to have no foundation in Scripture, since it is sufficiently evident that the mission of the Seventy, Lc 10,1  was subsequent to the first miracle of feeding, Jn 6; Lc 9,12.
65 Verbum.
66  2Co 11,29
67  Donatists.
68  Ps 119,165
69  Jn 13,34
70  Ep 4,2-3
71  Ga 6,2
72  1Jn 2,11
73 Supra, Hom. in Ev. 4,4; Da 2,34-35.
74 Luna tertia; i.e. the moon at its first appearance: for the first phasis in Africa as in Egypt usually took place on the third day after conjunction. See the passages cited from Geminus in the Uranolog. 7,39, B. Horapoll, Hieroglyph. 1,66, in Mr. Greswell’s Dissertations on the Harmony of the Gospels, vol. 1,p. 323, note).
75  Gn 22,18
76  Mt 5,14
77  Is 2,2
78  See on Ps 37,Ser. 2. (Augustin on 1John 113)

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 2:3-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 27, 2012

1Jn 2:3  And by this we know that we have known him, if we keep his commandments.

We know Him by probability and conjecturally. But our knowledge must be practised: it must show itself in love and affection, and in outward acts. And we shall in this way secure Him as our Advocate. S. Augustine says (De Fide et 0per. cap. xii), “Let not our mind be so deceived as to think that it knows God if it confess Him with a dead faith, that is, without works.” So David says, Ps 103:18, “To think upon His commandments to do them.” See his dying advice to Solomon, “Know thou the God of thy fathers,” that is believe, reverence, love, and obey Him. See also Hosea 6:6, For he who does not observe the law of God assuredly does not know it, because he does not practically value or ponder as he ought on His boundless majesty, goodness, power, wisdom, and righteousness, for else he would love, reverence, and obey Him with his whole heart. For, as Bede says, “He who loves not God, shows that he knows not His loveliness, and he has not learned to taste and see how gracious and sweet He is, if he does not labour continually to do those things which are pleasing in His sight.” See 1 John 4:7-8.

Catharinus wrongly infers that the righteous can know for certain that they are righteous and in God’s favour. But although they may have grace and the love of God in their hearts, yet they do not see them, and though they outwardly observe the commandments of God, yet they know not whether they observe them from love of Him, and as He commanded. And though they feel that they love God, yet they know not whether this love is what it should be, and simply for God’s sake. (See Conc. Indent. sess. vi. cap. 9; Bellarmine, de Justif. iii. 1 seq.)

1Jn 2:4  He who saith that he knoweth him and keepeth not his commandments is a liar: and the truth is not in him.

He who saith that he knoweth him, that is, with true and saving knowledge, such as leads to eternal life, and keepeth not his commandments is a liar. As the Apostle said (Rom 1:21) of the philosophers who knew God, but only in a speculative and barren way, “When they knew God, they have not glorified him as God.”

1Jn 2:5  But he that keepeth his word, in him in very deed the charity of God is perfected. And by this we know that we are in him.

But he that keepeth his word, in him in very deed the charity of God is perfected. This confirms the previous statement, by way of antithesis. The word is spoken of in the singular number, because the law of love comprehends all others, just as a root implies the leaves and fruit, and the whole tree.

Perfect love is that which fulfils that command, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” &c. (Mat_22:37.) For he who observes the commands of God loves God with all his heart, though he may sin venially, which is a necessary evil in this life of corruption. But in this perfectness of Christian charity and life there are various grades. The first is so to love God with all the heart as never to offend Him mortally. 2. Never deliberately to offend Him venially, even for the sake of the whole world. 3. To renounce, for the love of God, the love of every creature, and to devote thyself entirely to His service as “religious” do. See, too, Rom. viii. 35. 4. Not to think, wish, or love anything save God, or for His sake. Origen (Præf. in Evan. S. Joan) says, “He who is perfect, no longer lives himself, but Christ lives in him;” and S. Augustine (Serm. xxxix. de temp. [nunc cccl]) says, “As covetousness is the root of all evil, so is love the root of all good. The love of God and our neighbour fills up the whole length and breadth of the sacred word.” He then adds, “Without it a rich man is poor, with it a poor man is rich. It gives patience in adversity, moderation in prosperity, endurance in hard sufferings, and so forth.” And S. Bernard writes thus to the brethren (de Monte Dei, xix.): “Perfection, though not of the same kind, is required of you all. As one star differs from another star in glory, so does cell from cell,* in the beginners, the progressing, and the perfect The first state may be called the animal, the next the rational, the last the spiritual, the first relating to the body, the second to the soul, the third finding its rest in God alone. Each, however, has its own rate of progress and measure of perfection. The beginning consists in perfect obedience in the animal life, its progress in bringing the body into subjection, its perfection in turning the practice of good into delight in it. And so too, in the rational life, the perfection of which is the spiritual life, and the perfection of the spiritual life is to be changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.” And S. Maximus says (De Charitate Cent. iii. 97), “That soul is perfect whose whole powers turn only towards God.” See also Centur. iv. 17; and S. Francis (in 0pusc. decem perfect—considered to be spurious: see Cave) says, “A Christian’s perfection is to root out from his heart all worldly affections, and to find no root, or resting-place, save in Him who made it. And again, to have such patience as to love him the more who has done or said any wrong of him. For as God of His bounty conferred on him all his blessings, so should he believe that He secretly pledges Himself to send on him every kind of evil, in order to show a sinner his sins, and thus lightly punish them once in this present life, that He may not scourge them more severely for ever. He should therefore love him who has done or spoken any evil against him, as being the messenger of God to him for good,” &c.

And by this we know that we are in him. S. Augustine here adds, ‘If we be perfected in Him,’ but nearly all MSS. omit these words. The meaning is, we know that we are in Him if we keep His commandments. This is the effect and sign of our cleaving to Him. Moreover, it is by love that we abide in God, as the thing loved is in the lover. For the soul is more in that which it loves, than in that which it animates. And God in return loves those who love Him, dwells in them, cares for, directs and protects them. Augustine says, that we who love Christ are in Christ, as the members in the body. See John 15:23. The soul then of one who loves God is a kind of temple, in which all the three Persons abide. And by abiding S. John means intimate union, permanent resting, continual presence, friendly converse, and all other offices of true friendship.

1Jn 2:6  He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked.

By advancing in virtue, especially in charity, and exhibiting its works more and more every day, as Christ “increased in wisdom and stature.” “The true righteousness of the perfect,” says S. Leo (Serm. ii. de Quadr.), “is for them never to presume that they are perfect, lest by stopping short when their journey is not yet done, they should incur the risk of failing.” See Eph. v. 1. S. Prosper (de vit. contempl. lib. 11) beautifully says, “What is walking as He walked, except the despising all the good things which He despised, not to fear the sufferings He endured, to teach what He taught, to hope for what He promised, to confer kindnesses on the ungrateful, not to requite to evil-wishers according to their deserts, to pray for our enemies, to pity the perverse, patiently to bear with the crafty and proud, and, as the Apostle says, to die to the flesh that we may live to Christ?” &c.

Whence Gregory Nyssen defines Christianity to be an imitation of the Divine nature, &c. S. Augustine (de Vera Relig. cap. xv.) tells us that the Word was made flesh, to teach us the way of life not by force but by example, in ministering to the poor, in refusing to be a king, in submitting to every kind of injury, &c. In fact, His whole life, in the nature He deigned to assume, was a moral discipline. S. Cyprian (de Zelo et Livore), “If parents delight in having children who are like themselves, much more does God rejoice when a man is spiritually born; and again, as we have borne the image of the earthly, let us also bear the image of the heavenly. But we cannot do this unless we exhibit a resemblance to Christ; for this is to change our old self, and to begin a new life, and that thus the Divine truth may shine forth in thee, as He Himself promised, ‘Those that honour Me, I will honour.'”

1Jn 2:7  Dearly beloved, I write not a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you have heard.

Dearly beloved, I write not a new commandment to you. This commandment of loving God and our neighbour was not new, for it was given to the Jews, and before that to Adam and all men by the Law of Nature, which was in the mind of God from all eternity. This, was an answer to the objection made to the Apostle’s teaching, that it was new and unheard of. It was again an old commandment as having been taught Christians from their very baptism.

1Jn 2:8  Again a new commandment I write unto you: which thing is true both in him and in you, because the darkness is passed and the true light now shineth.

Again, a new commandment I write unto you. It was new, as being a new enforcing of an old commandment, which had been forgotten by long disuse. (See John 13:33.) And it was enforced by Christ on the new principle of love, and also more fully explained (Matt 5:38; John 14:15-16). It was new on various grounds—1. Because of the new efficient cause, viz. Christ, who enforced it more stringently upon us. And again, by reason of the new source of charity and grace, viz., the Holy Spirit poured forth at Pentecost. The false interpretations of the Jews were thus put aside, and a new law, and new obligations and duties, imposed on Christians. See Matt 5:43.

2. It was a new law; by reason of a new material cause, viz., the new and enlarged body of Christians, who were before in the darkness of unbelief and hatred, but who were now bound by it to love God and their neighbour.

3. There was a new formal cause, namely, the Incarnation, and the union of all Christians in Christ. For in Christ there is an union, not with Christ only, but with all Christians in Him, an union by nature, by grace, and by the sacraments (especially by the Holy Eucharist), which is the foundation of a greater and singular obligation to a stricter love of God, of Christ, and of all Christians. And this is a pure, perfect love, in so much as Christ is far above, and more perfect than other men. Moreover, by Christ’s Incarnation we owe greater love, not only to Christ, but also to the whole Trinity, by reason of our closer union, and also of the new and very great blessings conferred on us thereby. For by the Incarnation we have a new relation and union to the Holy Trinity, and also between ourselves, and a new cause and formal reason for love. For by the Incarnation Christ has became our kinsman and brother, so that we ought mutually to love each other, as brethren and members of the one body of Christ. So Toletus and F. Lucas on John 13.

4. It is new, with regard to the example Christ has set us. He poured forth His blood out of pure love. And such indeed was the love of the Blessed Virgin, and the early Christians. We are taught to do according to the pattern shewed us in the Mount. Christ says, “As I have loved you”—words which have caused much matter for shame, and also much matter for exaggeration. For consider what arguments for love Christ furnished at every moment, by His birth, His labour, His preaching, His suffering, His dying, and thus thou wilt see how little is the love of all men. As S. John the Almoner, Bishop of Alexandria, used to say when one praised his liberality to the poor: “My brother, I have not yet shed my life for thee, as the Lord commanded me.”

We are therefore taught by Christ not merely to love our neighbour as ourselves, but even more than ourselves. For Christ died for us though we were His enemies, teaching us to do the same. This was an unheard-of love both among the Jews and the world at large. So S. Cyril, in John 13, S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Rupertus. Arias [Montanus] says, that our love should be most fervent, and abounding in kind offices, even towards our enemies, and ready to shed our, blood for the good of our brethren, as Christ did. So Cajetan, Gagneius, S. Major, and others.

5. In regard of the new end Christ set before us, He wished to make us heavenly men, and not earthly. And he wished us to renew our love by frequent communions, sermons, meditations, &c. S. John in his old age used frequently to repeat and inculcate these words.  S. Bernard (Serm. v. in Cæna. Dom.): “It is a new commandment because it makes all things new, putting off the old man and putting on the new, and by daily admitting to heaven mankind who were banished from paradise.” ” Is it not a new commandment,” says S. Augustine, “because this commandment renews those who obey it, and thus makes us new men, heirs of the New Testament, singers of the new song, making and gathering into one a new people?”  S. Gregory (Hom. xxxii. in Evang.) says, “Our Lord and Redeemer came as a new man into the world, giving us new precepts. For since our old life was brought up in sin, He set up in opposition to it newness of life,” charity as opposed to concupiscence, and the love of God and our neighbour against our self-love.

6. Maldonatus understands by ‘new’ something excellent and pre-eminent. And others again by ‘new’ understand a commandment never given before, as men were called ‘new’ who were newly made: and ‘new’ also because Christ wished His disciples to observe it ‘anew,’ as being the last He gave them. As F. Lucas explains it, “I have reserved this commandment to you, in order that ye may keep it more firmly in your memory. For I wish specially to commend it to you, being such a command as no one ever yet gave his disciples, being a gentle and loving command. It was ‘new’ then, as newly enjoined by Christ in His Last Supper, and as being a command peculiar to Christ, and being in a singular manner commanded by Him.” (See. S. Basil, de Bapt. cap. ult.)

7. It was ‘new’ with respect to its effects, the heroic deeds of S. Paul and the other Apostles, their new and unheard-of labours and persecutions, and the new alacrity and ardour with which they subdued the world to Christ. A love which led Paul to wish himself accursed for the sake of his brethren, which caused Paulinus to sell himself into slavery for the sake of ransoming the son of a widow—a love which led S. Dominick, S. Francis, S. Ignatius and others to devote themselves to the salvation of souls, and led the blessed Jacoponus to pray that he might suffer all the sufferings of all the lost, that he might save them all, if it were God’s will.

8. It was a ‘new’ commandment as specially pertaining to the New Testament, and distinguishing it from the Old. See John 13:35; Song 2:4, Song 8:6.

Such was the love of the early Christians. See Act_4:32. “See how these Christians love one another, and are ready to die for each other,” was remarked by the heathen. Tertullian says why they called each other brethren, as acknowledging one God as their father, having drunk of the one Spirit of holiness, as having come from the same womb of ignorance to the same Light of Truth, &c.

Which thing is true both in Him and in you. Namely, this law of love, as springing from the Law of Nature, and it is not only the most ancient command, but is true also in you, because ye have embraced it together with your new life in Christ. But some refer this to Christ, which is far better. For though He is not expressly mentioned, yet He was mentioned above (ver 1-4). But S. John’s heart was so full of Christ, that when he says ‘Him,’ he does not mean any one else, but Christ, as was the case also with the Magdalene (John 20:15).  S. Jerome (contra Jovin, lib. 11) accordingly reads, “which is most true both in Christ and in you.” Some explain it thus, “This law of charity is that which makes you to be as truly in Christ as ye are in yourselves.” 2d. We may explain it thus (and it is the best meaning), “As Christ loves Christians in the highest degree as members of His Body, so should we devote ourselves entirely to the love of Him and our fellow-Christians.”

Because the darkness (of ignorance, lust, and sin, as well as of the shadows, the terrors and ceremonies of the Old Testament) is past, and the true Light now shineth, the light of faith, grace, love, and of all holiness. See Rom 13:12; Eph 5:6. This is called the ‘true,’ i.e. the perfect, full, Divine Light. See John 1:9. Christ calls Himself the true vine (John 15:1) and the true head, i.e. fully satisfying (John 6:55). As a symbol of this, Christ was incarnate at the Vernal Equinox, and was born at the Winter Solstice, when the days are beginning to increase. See S. Augustine, Serm. xxii. de temp. [not S. Augustine.]

1Jn 2:9  He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother is in darkness even until now.

He that saith he is in the Light (of the Gospel, Faith, and Charity) and hateth his brother, is in darkness, in ignorance of his sins, anger, hatred, lust, &c. And by these he is so blinded as not to see the great evil of hatred, how odious to God, who is the light of Charity, what destruction it causes, what torments of hell it brings with it. “He is blinded with his wickedness,” says S. Chrysostom (de Erudit. discipl.): “he goes ignorantly into hell-fire, and is hurled headlong into punishments.” See Exodus 11:16. And S. Cyprian (de zelo et livore) says: “If thou hast begun to be a man of light, do the things of Christ, for He is our Light and day. Why rushest thou into the darkness of anger? Why wrappest thou thyself in a mist of envy? Why dost thou extinguish with the darkness of envy every spark of peace and charity? Why dost thou go back to the devil, whom thou hast renounced? Why hast thou become like Cain? Cain? He is in the darkness of hell, because he is tending towards it.” S. Basil says, “As he who has charity has God within him, so he that has hatred and anger has a devil within him,” &c.; and S. Chrysostom calls anger a self-chosen (voluntarium) devil. In an angry man you may see all the furies of hell. As Seneca says (lib. ii. de Ira).

Even until now. For though baptism be an enlightenment, yet it cannot dispel the darkness of hatred, if it be voluntary, or come on after baptism. (See S. Augustine, Bede, and Hugo.)

1Jn 2:10  He that loveth his brother abideth in the light: and there is no scandal in him.

He that loveth his brother abideth in the light (of faith and love: this is an antithesis to the former verse), and there is no scandal in him.  S. Jerome (in Matt. xxv.) explains the words πζόστομμα and σκάνδαλον. This may be taken to have either an active or a passive meaning, the giving of offence, or the taking of offence. See 1 Cor 13:4; Prov 15:19; Ps 119:165. One who loves neither gives offence, nor takes it: “If my brother offends me,” they would say, “shall I abandon charity? Far from it. I will overcome evil with good, I will follow Christ, I will show him how I love the brethren, how I love God. I will not fight against my brother who has wronged me. I will rather fight against his disease of mind, and drown his anger and ill-will with floods of charity.”  S. Augustine says (in loc.), “Who are they who either take or make offence? They who are offended at Christ or the Church. They who are offended in Christ are burnt as by the sun, they who are offended in the Church are burnt as by the moon. But the Psalm says (Ps 122:6), ‘the sun shall not burn thee by day, nor the moon by night,’ that is, if thou holdest fast by charity thou wilt suffer no offence either in Christ or the Church, and thou wilt forsake neither Christ nor the Church.” A passage is here added from a sermon once supposed to be S. Augustine’s, but subsequently regarded as spurious, as is also another sermon quoted just afterwards, showing who are true and who are false friends, and that those who seem to be our enemies are in truth our best friends, and to be regarded as such. And S. Basil (Reg. brev. clxxvi.) says the same.

1Jn 2:11  But he that hateth his brother is in darkness and walketh in darkness and knoweth not whither he goeth: because the darkness hath blinded his eyes.

But he that hateth his brother is in darkness. For, as Œcumenius says, “He cannot be in the light of Christ, who hateth him for whom Christ died.”

And knoweth not whither he goeth. “For (as says S. Cyprian, de Zelo) he goes down to hell, ignorantly and blindly, and withdrawn from the light of Christ, who says, ‘I am the Light of the world.'” “Hatred,” says the author of Imperf. Homily xiii. [on S. Matt.] “is the spirit of darkness, and wherever it settles it defiles the purity of holiness;” and adds, “The world is so full of offences, that if we wish to love our friends only, we shall not find anything to love.” See Prov 4:19; Zeph 1:17;  and Isa 59:10. For in truth nothing so blinds our reason as hatred. “There is no difference between anger and madness,” says S. Chrysostom on S. John (Hom. xlvii.)

And anger is so blind as not to see its own blindness. Seneca adduces the case of Harpasto, his wife’s handmaid (Ep. li.), who did not understand that she was blind, adding, “No one admits that he is covetous, or ambitious, or angry. I have not settled on my course of life (he says), it is our youth that causes it. But why do we deceive ourselves? The evil is not without us, but within us, and therefore we find it hard to regain our health, because we know not that we are ill.” Democritus blinded himself by looking at the sun, in order that he might not see the happiness of the wicked. And in like manner do the envious and malicious blind themselves.

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 23:34-39

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 25, 2012

Mat 23:34  Therefore behold I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes: and some of them you will put to death and crucify: and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city.

Therefore, behold, I send, &c. Observe the word therefore, that it expresses from the preceding verse an effect, as it were, from a cause. It means, “because ye, as serpents and vipers, will kill Me, your Messiah, for which wickedness ye will be cut off and condemned to hell. I have had pity upon you, and will send to you My disciples after My death, that they may avert from you this destruction, that they may arouse you to repentance and faith in Me. But I foresee that ye will slay them also, as I have predicted in the 32d verse.”

I send. Luke 11:49 says, The wisdom of God said, that is, indeed, Christ Himself.

Prophets, and wise men, and Scribes. Luke has Prophets and Apostles. S. Jerome says “This marks the various gifts of Christ’s disciples. Prophets, who foretell things to come; wise men, who know when they ought to speak the word; Scribes, those learned in the law.”

Some of them you will put to death, as S. Stephen by stoning, James the greater by the sword; and crucify, as S. Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem, successor of S. James (see Euseb. H. E. ii. 32); and some you will scourge, as Peter and the Apostles (Acts 4-5), and persecute from city to city, like Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13-14).

Tropologically: Origen says (hom. 23, in Num.), “And I, this day, if I will not hear the words of a Prophet, if I despise his warnings, stone that Prophet, and as far as in me lies, kill him.”

Mat 23:35  That upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar.

That upon you may come, &c., just blood. That is, of the righteous men who have exhorted others to live justly and holily, both by word and example. Whence S. Luke has, the blood of all the Prophets; for a Prophet in Scripture frequently denotes a just and holy man. S. Austin gives the reason for what Christ says in this verse, “Because the imitation of wicked men causes people to obtain not only their own deserts, but the deserts of those whom they imitate.” Moreover S. Chrysostom says, “Even as the rewards which all the preceding generations deserved were bestowed upon those who received Christ, so what their wicked ancestors merited came upon the latest Jews.”

That hath been shed, &c. Because, although Cain, who slew his brother Abel, was not a Jew by race, yet by his wickedness in killing righteous Abel he afforded an example to the Jews, who were most prone to follow it, in killing the holy Prophets. Thus Cain the fratricide was not the natural, but the symbolical father of the Jews who slew their brethren, Christ and the Prophets. By a like analogy the devil is called the father of all the proud and the wicked.

The Jews, even though they knew the Divine vengeance which pursued Cain’s fratricide, not only imitated it, but far transcended it by slaying Christ, the Son of God, and His Apostles. We may add, that although Cain was not a direct forefather of the Jews, he was one of their collateral ancestors. He was the brother of Seth, from whom Abraham and the Jews were sprung. But the posterity of Seth married the daughters of Cain, as Abulensis saith (Quæst. 260) (see Gen 6:2). This is probable, but not certain. All that Scripture says is, that from them the giants were sprung, who were the cause of the Deluge, in which they perished. But it does not say that other children were not sprung from them.

There were persons who praised this fratricide of Cain, and for that reason were called Cainites, as S. Augustine says (lib. de hæres. c. 18), “The Cainites are so called because they honour Cain, saying that he was a man of the greatest virtue.” They also think that the traitor Judas was something divine, and account his wickedness a benefit. They assert that he knew beforehand how great a benefit the Passion of Christ would be to the human race, and for that reason betrayed Him to the Jews to be put to death. They are also said to honour the Sodomites, and those who made a schism amongst the ancient people, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

Zacharias the son of Barachias. You will ask who was this Zacharias? There are three opinions. The first that of S. Chrysostom (Hom. de Joan. Bapt.), Vatablus, Arias Montanus, &c. They think that he was the Zachariah, the last but one of the twelve minor Prophets. For he was the son of Barachiah, but we nowhere read that he was slain between the Temple and the altar.

The second and more probable opinion is, that he was the Zachariah who was the son of Jehoiada, who, with base ingratitude, was slain in an awfully sacrilegious manner by King Joash in the most holy place,—that is to say, in the court of the Priests, which was between the Temple, or the holy place, and the altar of burnt-offering; for this altar was in the court of the Priests (2Chron 24″:21). So Abul. (Quæst. 2I5), S. Jerome, Bede, Tertullian (Scorpiace, c. 3), “Zachariah is slain between the Temple and the altar, marking the stones with indelible spots of blood.” For although there were other Prophets slain by the Jews after Zachariah, he is the last whose murder is related in Scripture. Add to this that Scripture makes mention only of the blood of Abel and this Zacharias as crying for vengeance. Of Abel’s it is said (Gen 4:10), “What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground.” And of Zacharias (2 Chron 24:22), “Who, when he was dying, said, ‘The Lord look upon it, and require it.'” Chrysostom says, “He makes mention of Abel to show that they would kill Christ and His Apostles out of envy, as from envy Cain slew Abel; of Zacharias, because the holy man was slain in the holy place.”

You will say, this Zacharias was the son of Jehoiada, not of Barachias. S. Jerome answers that Jehoiada was also called Barachiah, perhaps because Barachiah in Hebrew signifies “the blessed of the Lord.” And it is plain that Jehoiada, who was a very holy man, was such. S. Jerome adds, “In the Gospel which the Nazarenes make use of, we find, instead of the son of Barachias, the son of Jehoiada.”

The third opinion is, that this Zacharias was the father of John the Baptist, concerning whom there is a tradition that he was slain by the Jews because he proclaimed the advent of Christ, saying in his Canticle, “And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways;” and because he had hidden his son John from Herod, the murderer of the innocents, who sought to kill him on account of the miracles which happened at his birth. For this Zacharias was the last of the Prophets. For John, his son, was rather an index to a present Christ than a Prophet of a future one. Again, that this Zacharias was the son of Barachias is attested by S. Hippolytus, the martyr, who is cited by Nicephorus (H. E. ii. 3). S. Jerome rejects this as apocryphal; but the same thing is asserted by S. Cyril, against the Anthropomorphites, Peter of Alexandria (in regula Eccles. can. 3), S. Epiphanius (lib. de vit. et obit. Prophet.), Baronius (in apparat. Ann.), S. Thomas (in Catena). Origen, Theophylact, Euthymius, and S. Basil (Hom. de humana Christi generat.) add that this Zacharias was slain by the Jews because, after the birth of Christ, he placed the Blessed Virgin as a virgin among the virgins in the Temple. But this is difficult to be believed, for reasons given by Baronius and Abulensis.

Mat 23:36  Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.

Amen I say, &c. The vengeance for these crimes of My death and the death of My Apostles and others shall come upon the Jews under Titus.

Mat 23:37  Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not?

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, &c. He repeats Jerusalem twice, to express the depth of His grief and compassion. It is as though He said, “0 Jerusalem, city of God, chosen by Him and beloved above all other cities, which He has adorned with so many graces and benefits,—the law, the Temple, priesthood, doctrine, enriched with a kingdom, Prophets, miracles,—thou hast always been ungrateful for all these things. Thou hast slain the Prophets, and soon thou wilt kill Me and My Apostles. Wherefore thou hast become a wicked and lost city, destined by God to be destroyed and burnt by the Romans.” By city, the inhabitants, especially the Priests and magistrates, who chiefly were guilty of the blood of the Prophets, are meant.

That killest the prophets. S. Luke says that Christ added, it cannot be that a Prophet perish out of Jerusalem: it was the appropriate work of Jerusalem to kill the Prophets.

How often would I have gathered together thy children, formerly by the Prophets, and now by Myself and the Apostles, to gather into My bosom, to bring back to the one God and the one faith, thy sons,—that is, thy citizens, who are scattered unto various errors, and are hurling themselves into the perils of Gehenna. For nothing disperses like sin, and nothing so gathers us to God as virtue, says Theophylact.

As the hen doth gather her chickens, wandering in different directions, under her wings, to cherish and warm them, and defend them from the hawk.

Christ compares Himself, and His love and solicitude to save the Jews, to a hen cherishing her chickens under her wings. First, because hens love their young ones above all other birds, and manifest the greatest care and protection over them, says S. Chrysostom. Thus a hen calls and clucks, so that even if she cannot see her chickens, they may recognise their mother by her call. Whilst sparrows, swallows, storks, are only recognised by the parent birds whilst they are in their nests. Christ has loved us with supremest love, “being made Himself,” says S. Hilary, “as it were, an earthly and domestic bird, being anxiously solicitous for us all through His life, teaching, sighing, and groaning, in order that He might save us.”

2. Neither sparrows, nor thrushes, nor ducks, nor any other birds become so weak when they have young as the hen does, whose voice “becomes hoarse,” says S. Augustine (in Ps. 59): “the whole body becomes neglected, the wings droop, the feathers become loose, and all this is the effect of maternal love. Thus Christ gathered all nations, like a hen her chickens, Who became weak for our sakes, receiving flesh from us, that is, from Human nature, was crucified, despised, slapped with the hand, beaten, hung on the cross, wounded with a lance. Therefore this is of maternal infirmity, not loss of majesty, that inasmuch as He shared with us in our infirmity, He might release us from our sins.”

3. The same Augustine says on the words in the 91st Psalm, “Thou shalt be safe under his feathers,” “If a hen protects her young ones under wings, how much rather shalt thou be safe under the wings of God, against the devil and his angels, who fly round about like hawks, that they may carry off the young chickens.”

4. The word in the Greek for hen is ό̉ζνις, which is a generic name for any bird, but the Vulg. does well to translate it by gallina, a hen. For, as S. Augustine says, it is wonderful what love almost all birds, but especially the hen, show in cherishing and protecting their young.

5. A hen with a branch of rue under her wings, says Pierias, is the hieroglyphic of security. Afranius, in the particulars which Constantine ordered to be collected about agriculture, says that hens will be safe from the cat if a little bunch of wild rue be tied under one of their wings. Democritus says further, that the same herb will protect them from foxes, and from every other hostile animal. Such security, only in a far higher degree, does Christ afford to His people.

6. A hen is the symbol of fruitfulness. It often lays an egg a day, and sometimes two in a day. And one egg occasionally produces two chickens. What is more fruitful than Christ?

Again, a cock and a hen are the symbol of watchfulness and guardianship. What is more watchful than Christ?

Tropologically: a hen is the Church and her Priests. For, as Auctor Imperfecti says, “As a hen that hath young ones does not cease to call them, but with assiduous clucking checks their straying away; so also ought Priests not to cease by their teaching and zeal to correct the negligence of an erring people. And as a hen that hath chickens not only warns her own young ones, but even loves as her own the young of any bird excluded from those to whom they belong; so likewise does the Church not only study to call her own Christians, but Gentiles and Jews also, if they be brought to her; she quickens them all with the warmth of her faith. She regenerates them in baptism, she nourishes them by preaching, and she loves them with maternal charity.”

7. There exists the figure of a hen with the motto, “Where Christ has been received, there is nothing sad.” Also,

8. The eggs of hens are said to be useful in various complaints, such as pains in the eyes and gout. So likewise is Christ the best Physician of all the infirmities of souls.

9. When a hen is in any peril which threatens herself alone, as from a kite, or a cat or dog, she flees. But if she fears danger for her young ones, she gathers them under her wings, and strives to protect them by every means in her power. She will often fight for them with her wings, her beak, and her whole body. So Christ fought for us against the devil and sin unto death, even the death of the cross.

And thou wouldst not: because ye will pursue Me with hatred even unto death, and will not suffer your citizens to be converted unto Me and your God. This, as I have already observed, is especially addressed to the Scribes and rulers.

Mat 23:38  Behold, your house shall be left to you, desolate.

Behold your house, &c. That is, the Temple, says S. Jerome and Theophylact; but more correctly, the city of Jerusalem and the whole region of Judea, which, as the punishment of such black ingratitude, was to be laid waste by the Romans, under Titus. There is an allusion to Jer 12:7, “I have left my house, I have forsaken my inheritance.” For when Jerusalem was forsaken by God, it became the synagogue of Satan, and so the prey of the Roman eagles under Titus and Vespasian, who partly slew the Jews, partly led them away captive, and partly scattered them over the whole world.

Mat 23:39  For I say to you, you shall not see me henceforth till you say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

For I say unto you, &c. “I will withdraw Myself from you into Heaven; and ye shall see Me no more upon earth, until the Day of judgment, when I will condemn your unbelief.” Some take this verse to refer to Christ’s solemn entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, when the Jews cried aloud to Him, Hosanna, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. But this is clearly an erroneous opinion, for this triumphal entry was already past, as is plain from chap. xxi. 1, &c. These words were spoken by Christ after Palm Sunday, three days before His crucifixion. So the Fathers and Commentators, passim.

I say then that Christ is here speaking, concerning the end of the world and the Day of Judgment. This is the opinion of S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, S. Augustine (de consens. Evang. lib. 2, cap. 75). As though He had said, “You, 0 ye Scribes, who constantly contradict and calumniate Me, saying that I am not the Messiah, but that I cast out devils by Beelzebub, shall not see Me from by and by, that is, after the few days before My death, in which I shall be conversant among you, until the Judgment Day, when ye shall be compelled, even against your will, to acknowledge Me as Messiah, the Son of God, and your Judge as well as the Judge of all men; and to cry Hosanna, if not with your outward lips, at least in your hearts and minds, though against your will. Then shall ye see that I was, and am Blessed, I who came in the Name of the Lord, inasmuch as I was sent by God the Father to redeem and save all mankind, then, I say, when ye ought to have worshipped and adored Me.”

Secondly, it is possible that this passage may be understood of the Jews, who about the end of the world shall be converted to Christ by the preaching of Elias, and who, when He shall presently come to judgment, will acknowledge Him to be Messiah, the Blessed of the Lord. As though He said, “You, 0 ye Jews, do not wish to acknowledge Me as Messiah, and persecute Me as a false Christ, even unto death; but your posterity in the end of the world will acknowledge and worship Me. On them, therefore, I will bestow My grace and glory, but you I will condemn to everlasting punishment. And this will be to my praise and honour and glory, but to your shame and everlasting contempt.” Thus does Christ prick the hard and unbelieving hearts of the Jews. This was prophesied by Hos_3:4, &c., to which Christ here makes allusion.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 23:32-39

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 25, 2012

2. “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.33. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and Scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:35. That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.36. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.”  

Chrys.: He had said against the Scribes and Pharisees, that they were the children of those who killed the Prophets; now therefore He shews that they were like them in wickedness, and that was false that they said, “If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the Prophets.”

Wherefore He now says, “Fill ye up the measure of your fathers.” This is not a command, but a prophecy of what is to be.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He foretels, that as their fathers killed the Prophets, so they also should kill Christ, and the Apostles, and other holy men. As suppose you had a quarrel with some one, you might say to your adversary, Do to me what you are about to do; but you do not therein bid him do it, but shew him that you are aware of his manoeuvres. And in fact they went beyond the measure of their fathers; for they put to death only men, these crucified God.

But because He stooped to death of His own free choice, He does not lay on them the sin of His death, but only the death of the Apostles and other holy men. Whence also He said, “Fill up,” and not “Fill over;” for a just and merciful Judge overlooks his own wrongs, and only punishes those done to others.

Origen: They fill up the measure of their fathers’ sins by their not believing in Christ. And the cause of their unbelief was, that they looked only to the letter and the body, and would understand nothing spiritual in them.

Hilary: Because then they will fill up the  measure of their fathers’ purposes, therefore are they “serpents, and an offspring of vipers.”

Jerome: The same had been said by John the Baptist. Wherefore as of vipers are born vipers, so of your fathers who were murderers are you born murderers.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He calls them “offspring of vipers,” because the nature of vipers is such that the young burst the womb of their dam, and so come forth; and in like manner the Jews condemned their fathers, finding fault with their deeds.

He says, “How shall ye escape the damnation of hell?” By building the tombs of the saints? But the first step of piety is to love holiness, the next, to love the saints; for it is not reasonable in him to honour the righteous, who despises righteousness. The saints cannot be friends to those to whom God is an enemy. Shall ye be saved by a mere name, because ye seem to be among God’s people! Forasmuch as an open enemy is better than a false friend, so is he more hateful to God, who calls himself the servant of God, and does the commands of the Devil.

Indeed, before God he who has resolved to kill a worm is a murderer before the deed is done, for it is the will that is rewarded for good, or punished for evil. Deeds are evidence of the will. God then does not require deeds on His own account that He may know how to judge, but for the sake of other men, that they may perceive that God is righteous.

And God affords the opportunity of sin to the wicked, not to make them sin, but to manifest the sinner; and also to the good He gives opportunity to shew the purpose of their will. In this way then He gave the Scribes and Pharisees opportunity of shewing their purposes, “Behold, I send unto you Prophets, and wise men, and Scribes.”

Hilary: That is, the Apostles, who, as foretelling things to come, are “Prophets;” as having knowledge of Christ, are “wise men;” as understanding the Law, are “Scribes.”

Jerome: Or, as the Apostle writes to the Corinthians [marg. note: 1 Cor 12] that there are various gifts among Christ’s disciples; some Prophets, who foretel things to come; some wise men, who know when they ought to speak; others Scribes taught in the Law; of whom Stephen was stoned, Paul killed, Peter crucified, and the disciples of the Apostles beaten, in the Acts; and they persecuted them from city to city, driving them out of Judaea, that they might go to the Gentiles.

Origen: Or the Scribes who are sent by Christ,  are Scribes according to the Gospel, whom the spirit quickens and the letter does not kill, as did the letter of the Law, which whoso followed ran into vain superstitions.

The simple words of the Gospel are sufficient for salvation. But the Scribes of the Law do yet scourge the Scribes of the New Testament, by detracting from them in their synagogues; and the heretics also, who are spiritual Pharisees, with their tongues murder the Christians, and persecute them from city to city, sometimes in the body, sometimes also in the spirit, seeking to drive them from their own city of the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel, into another Gospel.

Chrys.: Then to shew them that they should not do this without punishment, He holds out an unspeakable terror over them, “That upon you may come all the righteous blood.”

Raban.: That is, all the vengeance due for the shedding of the blood of the righteous.

Jerome: Concerning the Abel here spoken of, there is no doubt that it is he whom his brother Cain murdered. He is proved to have been righteous, not only by this judgment of the Lord, but by the passage in Genesis, which says that his offerings were accepted by God. But we must enquire who is this Zacharias, son of Barachias, because we read of many Zachariases; and that we might not mistake, here it is added, “whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.” Some say that it is that Zacharias who is the eleventh among the twelve Prophets, and his father’s name agrees to this, but when he was slain between the temple and the altar, Scripture does not mention; but above all, in his time there were scarce even the ruins of the temple. Others will have it to be Zacharias the father of John.

Origen: A tradition has come down to us, that there was one place in the temple in which virgins were allowed to worship God, married women being forbidden to stand there. And Mary, after the Saviour’s birth, going into the temple, stood to pray in this place of the virgins. And when they who knew that she had borne a Son were hindering her, Zacharias said, that forasmuch as she was still a virgin, she was worthy of the place of the virgins.

Whereupon, as though he manifestly were contravening the Law, he was slain there between the temple and the altar by the men of that generation; and thus this  word of Christ is true which He spake to those who were standing there, “whom ye slew”.

[ed. note: This tradition is mentioned also by Cyril A.? adv. Anthrop. 27. and Pseudo-Basil, Hom. de Sanct. Christ. Gen. 5. Theophylact (in loc.) and Euthymius who mention it, probably derived it from Origen. Jerome (in loc.) gives another of the same character from some apocryphal books, but sets it aside and adopts the interpretation given in the text. The murder of Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, is related in the apocryphal Protevangelium of S. James, c. 23. but ascribed to a different cause.]

Jerome: But as this has no Scripture authority, it is as readily despised as offered. Others will have it to be that Zacharias who was killed by Joas, king of Judah, between the temple and the altar, [2Ch_24:21] that is, in the court of the temple. But that Zacharias was not the son of Barachias, but of Jehoiada the Priest. But Barachias in our language is interpreted ‘Blessed of the Lord,’ so that the righteousness of Joiada the Priest is expressed by this Hebrew word. But in the Gospel which the Nazarenes use, we find written ‘son of Joiada’ instead of “son of Barachias.”

Remig.: It should be enquired too how He says, “to the blood of Zacharias,” since the blood of many more saints was afterwards shed. This is thus explained. Abel a keeper of sheep was killed in the field, Zacharias a priest was slain in the court of the temple. The Lord therefore names these two, because by these all holy martyrs are denoted, both of lay and priestly order.

Chrys.: Moreover, He names Abel, to shew that it would be out of envy that they would kill Christ and His disciples. He names Zacharias, because there was a twofold resemblance in his case, the sacred place, as well as the sacred person.

Origen: Zacharias is interpreted ‘The memory of God.’ Whosoever then hastes to obliterate the memory of God, seems to those to whom he gives offence to shed the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias. For it is by the blessing of God that we retain the memory of God. Also the memory of God is slain by the wicked, when the Temple of God is polluted by the lustful, and His altar defiled by the carelessness of prayers.

Abel is interpreted ‘mourning.’ He then who does not receive that, “Blessed are they that mourn,” sheds the blood of Abel, that is, puts away the truth of wholesome mourning.

Some also shed, as it were, the blood of the Scriptures by putting aside their truth, for all Scripture, if it is not understood according to its truth, is dead.Chrys.:  And to take away all excuse from them that they might not say, Because you sent them to the Gentiles thereat were we offended, He foretels that His disciples should be sent to them, and it is of their punishment that He adds, “Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation.”

Gloss., ord.: He means not only those there present, but the whole generation before and after, for all were one city and one body of the Devil.

Jerome: The rule of the Scriptures is only to know two generations, one of good the other of bad. Of the generation of the good it is said, “The generation of the righteous shall be blessed.” [Psa_112:2] And of the bad it is said in the present passage, “Generation of vipers.” These then, because they did against the Apostles like things as Cain and Joas, are described as of one generation.

Chrys.: Otherwise; Because He delayed the punishment of hell which He bad threatened them with, He pronounces against them threats of present evil, saying, “All these things shall come upon this generation.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: As all the good things which had been merited by all the saints in each generation since the foundation of the world were bestowed upon that last generation which received Christ; so all the evil that all the wicked in every generation from the foundation of the world had deserved to suffer, came upon that last generation of the Jews which rejected Christ.

Or thus; As all the righteous of former saints, yea, of all the saints, could not merit that so great grace as was given to men in Christ; so the sins of all the wicked could not deserve so much evil as came upon the Jews, that they should suffer such things as these suffered from the Romans, and that in after time every generation of them to the end of the world should be cast off from God, and be made a mock by all the Gentiles.

For what is there worse than to reject and in such sort to put to death the Son coming in mercy and lowliness!

Or thus; Nations and states when they sin are not thereupon immediately punished by God, but He waits for many generations; but when He sees fit to destroy that state or nation, He then seems to visit upon them the sins of all former generations, and one generation suffers the accumulation of all that former generations have deserved. Thus this generation of the Jews seems to have been punished for their fathers; but  in truth they suffered not for others, but on their own account.

Chrys.: For he who having seen many sinning yet remains uncorrected, but rather does the same or worse, is obnoxious to heavier punishment.

Ver 37. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!38. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.39. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Chrys.: The Lord next turns to address the city, desiring to instruct His bearers thereby. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem:” this repetition of the name is a mark of compassion and intense love.

Jerome: By “Jerusalem” He means not the stones and buildings, but the dwellers there, over whom He laments with the feeling of a Father.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Foreseeing the destruction of the city, and the blow it would receive from the Romans, He called to mind the blood of the saints which had been, and should yet be, shed in it. Thou killedst Esaias who was sent unto thee, and stonedst my servant Jeremias; thou dashedst out the brains of Ezechiel by dragging him over stones; how shalt thou be saved, which wilt not suffer a physician to come nigh thee?

And He said not, Didst kill and stone; but, “Killest,” and “Stonest;” that is, This is a common and natural practice with thee to kill and stone the saints. She did to the Apostles the same things which she had once done to the Prophets.

Chrys.: Having thus addressed her, and spoken of her cruel murders, He said, as justifying Himself, “How often would I have gathered thy children together?” as much as to say, Notwithstanding, these thy murders have not alienated Me from thee, but I would have taken thee to Me, not once or twice, but many times. The strength  797] of His affection He shews by the comparison of a hen.

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 36: This species has the greatest affection for its brood, insomuch that when they are sick the mother sickens also; and what you will hardly find in any other animal, it will fight against the kite, protecting its young with its wings. In like manner our mother, the Wisdom of God, sickened as it were in the putting on the flesh, according to that of the Apostle, “The weakness of God is stronger than men,” [1Co_1:25] protects our weakness, and resists the Devil that he should not make us his prey.

Origen: He calls them children of Jerusalem, just as we call each generation of citizens the sons of the preceding generation. And He says, “How often,” though it is well known that once only did He teach the Jews in the body, because Christ was ever present in Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Angels, ministering to human salvation in every generation.

Whosoever shall not have been gathered in by Him shall be judged, as though be had refused to be gathered in.

Raban., non occ.: Let heretics then cease to assign to Christ a beginning from the Virgin; let them leave off to preach one God of the Law and another of the Prophets.

Aug., Euch. 97:. Where is that omnipotence, by the which He did whatsoever pleased Him both in heaven and in earth, if He would have gathered the children of Jerusalem and did not? Was it not that she would not that her children should be gathered by Him, and yet He did, notwithstanding, gather those of her children whom He would?

Chrys.: Then He threatens the punishment of which they were ever in fear, to wit, the overthrow of the city and temple, saying, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: As the body, when the spirit departs, first becomes cold, and then decays and decomposes; so also your temple, when God’s Spirit shall have withdrawn, shall be first filled with strife and anarchy, and after shall come to ruin.

Origen: In like manner to all such as would not be gathered under His wings Christ speaks this threat; “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate;” i.e. your soul and your body. But if any one of you will not be gathered under the wings of Christ, from the very time when he shall have refused to be so gathered, (by a mental rather than a bodily act,) he shall no more see the beauty of the word, till repenting of his evil purpose he shall say, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” And the word of the Lord then comes with a blessing upon a man’s heart, when one is turned to God.

Jerome: “I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me, &c.” That is to say, Unless ye shall do penitence, and shall confess that I am He of whom the Prophets have spoken, the Son of the Almighty Father, ye shall not see My face. Thus the Jews have a time allowed for their repentance. Let them confess Him blessed who cometh in the name of the Lord, and they shall then behold Christ’s face.

Chrys.: Otherwise; In this He covertly alludes to His second coming, when surely they shall worship Him. “Henceforth,” means from the time of His crucifixion.

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