The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for January, 2013

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11:19-12:9

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2013

This post includes Fr. Callan’s summaries of 2 Cor 11:16-33 and 2 Cor 12:1-10 to help provide context. Text in red are my additions.

ST. PAUL GLORIES IN HIS APOSTOLIC LABORS AND IN HIS TRIBULATIONS

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 11:16-33~The Apostle passes now from the severe condemnation just uttered against his adversaries to a further commendation of his own life and labors. Again (2 Cor 11:1), therefore, he craves the indulgence of his readers to hear him patiently, although he may seem to speak foolishly. He is simply forced to boast of himself because of the boasting of others and the toleration that has been given them. If those others can boast, then he also can boast. They glory in their Jewish origin, but he too is of the seed of Abraham; they vaunt their dignity as ministers of Christ, but he more than they is a minister of Christ. His greater sufferings and labors in behalf of the Gospel and the Churches are witnesses to his life and character.

19. For you gladly suffer the foolish; whereas yourselves are wise.

Another reason why he has a right to glory is furnished by the conduct of the Corinthians toward the false teachers, whose foolishness in praising themselves they gladly suffer. Of course they were enabled to do this, the Apostle sarcastically observes, because they were so wise. It is a characteristic of wisdom to be tolerant of foolishness.

20. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face.

So extraordinary was the wisdom of the Corinthians that they tolerated far worse things than folly. They put up with tyranny, with extortion, with craftiness, with arrogance, with violence and insult from their seducers. Surely they can bear with the Apostle’s foolishness.

Bondage likely refers to the yoke of the Law which the false teachers were trying to impose.

Devour you, i.e., exact large remunerations for their services (cf. Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47).

Take from you, i.e., ensnare you, by preaching the Gospel for
fraud and personal gain (2 Cor 2:17; 2 Cor 4:2; 2 Cor 12:16).

If a man be lifted up, i.e., uplifteth himself, by extolling his descent from Abraham.

If a man strike you, etc., i.e., treat you outrageously (Mark 14:65; Acts 23:2).

21. I speak according to dishonour, as if we had been weak in this part. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also.

The Apostle sarcastically admits that he and his companions were inferior to the Judaizers in certain respects, such as, in bringing the Corinthians into bondage, in robbing them, and the like. With biting sarcasm he confesses his dishonour, i.e., his disgrace, in being so weak in matters like these.

Wherein if any man, etc. Rather, “Wherein any man dare,” etc. Casting aside all sarcasm now St. Paul says that if there is question of real boldness, at any time, or on the part of any person, he also is bold. He thus asserts his equality with any of his enemies, although his humility makes him call this assertion foolish.

The words in this part (Vulg., in hac parte) are not represented in the best MSS.

22. They are Hebrews: so am I. They are Israelites: so am I. They are the seed of Abraham: so am I.

To show that he is in nowise inferior to his adversaries St. Paul now takes up the various points which they, no doubt, had been urging in their own favor. They were Hebrews, i.e., descendants of the Hebrew race (Gen 11:14-15 the word Hebrew means “descendant of Eber”); they were Israelites, i.e., from among the chosen people of God (Exodus 19:5-6; Rom 9:4) ; they were of the seed of Abraham, to whom the Messianic promises had been made (Rom 9:5-8; Gal 3:16). To all these distinctions the Apostle asserts his equal claim.

23. They are the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise): I am more; in many more labours, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often.

The false teachers had boasted that they were in a special sense ministers of Christ, but St. Paul affirms that he is much more so. They pretended to be διακονοι χριστου (diakonoi christou), but he was so in reality.

I speak as one less wise. Literally, “I speak as one beside himself.” He apologizes for language which his readers may think extravagant.

The Apostle’s greater labors and sufferings are a proof of his superior claims. He labored more abundantly, he was imprisoned more frequently, he was scourged more often, he was exposed to death on more occasions.

St. Paul does not mean his words to be taken in a relative sense, as if implying that his opponents had labored, were imprisoned, had been scourged, etc., but that he had done and suffered more: his words here express an absolute, and not merely a relative excess.

One instance of imprisonment before this Epistle is given in Acts 16:20-40; but Clement of Rome speaks of seven in all (1 Clement 5:6). From the Acts and the Epistles we know definitely of only four: the one at Philippi, one at Caesarea, and two in Rome.

24. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes, save one.

The Apostle here and in the following verse gives some examples of his sufferings and exposure to death. He was scourged five times by the Jews. Each scourging consisted, according to law, of forty stripes (Deut 25:3); but in order not to exceed the number the Jews usually administered only thirty-nine, thirteen on the bare breast, and thirteen on each shoulder. The scourge was made of leather thongs. Sometimes these severe floggings resulted in death.

Of these scourgings of the Apostle by the Jews we have no other record.

25. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea.

Beating with rods was a Roman form of punishment, and there was no legal limit to the number of blows. Only one of these beatings of St. Paul has been recorded by St. Luke in the Acts (Acts 16:22-23). Our Lord was scourged according to the Roman method (John 19:1).

Stoned, at Lystra (Acts 14:18).

Thrice I suffered shipwreck. We have no other record of this. The shipwreck on the way to Rome was several years later (Acts 27:39-44).

A day (νυχθημερον) means a full day of twenty-four hours.

I was. Literally, “I have passed” (πεποιηκα) , as in Acts 20:3.

The depth of the sea (εν τω βυθω). Better, “In the sea.” The term βυθω means the deep, the sea. We know nothing further of this incident, but perhaps Theodoret gives the right explanation: “The hull of the vessel went to pieces, and all night and day I spent, being carried hither and thither by the waves.” He was likely clinging to pieces of the wreckage.

26. In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren.

The general meaning is that St. Paul was often in divers perils throughout his journeyings. Much of the countries through which he passed, especially in Asia Minor (Strabo) was beset with robbers. Waters. Literally, “rivers.” Bridges and ferries were rare in those times, and floods were frequent.

False brethren doubtless refers chiefly to the Judaizers (Gal.
11.4).

27. In labour and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

He now enumerates a number of sufferings which resulted from his poverty.

Labour and painfulness very probably refer to earning his own living by manual work (1 Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3:8).

Fastings coming immediately after hunger and thirst which must have been involuntary afflictions, doubtless means “fastings” freely suffered.

In cold and nakedness, as when robbed, cast into prison, and drenched by floods, storms and the like.

28. Besides those things which are without: my daily instance, the solicitude for all the churches.

Those things which are without (των παρεκτος). This is a strange expression. παρεκτος occurs elsewhere only in Matt 5:32; Acts 26:29, where it has the sense of exception. The meaning here, then, is perhaps: “things left unmentioned” (St. Chrys., and other Greeks). St. Paul, therefore, is speaking of three classes of sufferings: those which he has mentioned, those which he omits, and those which he is about to mention (Plum.).

My daily instance, i.e., that which daily presses upon me. This seems to be the meaning of επιστασις, the best Greek reading here, followed by μου. In classical Greek επιστασις means a halt, a stopping for rest (Xen., Anab. II. iv. 26). The Apostle is referring to the ceaseless daily appeals for help, advice, decision in difficulties and the like, made to him by the faithful (Cornely, Bisping, etc.).

The solicitude, etc., his watchful care of all the Churches which he has founded.

All (πασων) might even embrace other Churches than those founded by St. Paul, but certainly can not mean that he had supreme jurisdiction over all Christendom.

29. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire?

Two illustrations are now given of the Apostle’s solicitude for the Churches. New converts were sometimes naturally weak in faith, conduct or the like (1 Cor 8:10-13), and St. Paul made their trials his own in order to strengthen them. Some, too, were easily scandalized, i.e., led into sin by others’ example, and this gave the ardent Apostle intense pain (1 Cor 12:26). We have to determine the exact meaning of πυρουμαι, I am on fire, from the context, which here is in favor of keen pain rather than of indignation, although the latter is not excluded.

30. If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity.

The present verse is closely connected with what has preceded (verses 23-29) and with what follows, and it refers to both. Since his adversaries, by their own conduct, force the Apostle to boast, he will not glory, as they do, in his birth, prosperity, ancestry, or the like, but rather in his infirmities.

31. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for ever, knoweth that I lie not.

Lest his readers may be growing doubtful of all he has said and is going to say, the Apostle now solemnly swears by the Father Almighty that what he is saying is true.

The God and Father, etc. See on 1 Cor. xv. 24.

Who is blessed for ever refers to the Father.

Our (Vulg., nostri) and “Christ” (Vulg., Christi) are not represented in the best Greek MSS.

32. At Damascus, the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes, to apprehend me.

In this and in the following verse we have an example of those abrupt transitions so characteristic of this letter. To say that they are therefore a gloss and are to be omitted, as some Rationalists do, is absurd. Perhaps the Apostle’s enemies had pointed to his flight from Damascus and to his visions (2 Cor 12:1) as proofs that he was both a coward and a mad man, and this would explain why he takes up those two incidents.

Damascus . . . the city of the Damascenes (Acts 9:23-25), the capital of Syria, goes back to the days of Abraham (Gen 14:15) and was founded by Uz, grandson of Sem (Josephus, Antiq. L. vi. 4). It is situated at the eastern foot of the Anti-Libanus on the high road of commerce between Egypt and Upper Syria and between Tyre and the Far East.

The governor, etc. Literally, “The ethnarch of Aretas the king.” Aretas IV was King of Arabia Nabataea 9 B.C. to 40 a.d., with Petra as his capital. His daughter was married to Herod Antipas, and was afterwards divorced by Herod for the sake of a marriage with Herodias (Mark 6:17). How Damascus was subject to the Arab King shortly after St. Paul’s conversion is not easy to explain; for Syria was a Roman province from some time before the Christian era until 33 a.d., as is proved by the fact that Damascene coins from 30 B.C. to 33 a.d. bear the name of Augustus or of Tiberius. These coins are wanting from 34 to 62 a.d., but after 62 we have them with Nero’s name.

We know from Josephus (Antiq. xviii. 4, 5) that Herod Antipas and Aretas became bad friends when Herod divorced the latter’s daughter in order to marry Herodias, and that in a battle over some frontier disputes around 32 a.d. Aretas completely defeated Herod. A few years later, in 37 a.d., Caligula became Emperor. He disliked Antipas, and perhaps showed his antipathy by giving Damascus over to his enemy Aretas. This would explain how the latter was governor of that city when St. Paul had to fly from it.

Guarded the city, etc. St. Luke (Acts 9:24) says that the Jews “watched the gates day and night, that they might kill him,” but this is no contradiction of the present passage. Since it was the Jews who moved the ethnarch to persecute St. Paul they would naturally watch the gates of the city together with Aretas’ guards because they had determined to kill the Apostle (Acts 23:12).

33. And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands.

This same incident is narrated in Acts ix. 23-25.

A window. Literally, “an aperture” (θυριδος). An opening in the wall around the city of Damascus is still shown as the place.

The flight from Damascus probably took place after St. Paul’s return from Arabia (Gal 1:17). If St. Luke seems to make it follow soon after the Apostle’s conversion, it is because he omits explicit mention of the retirement to Arabia, although he leaves room for it (cf. Acts 9:19).

THE APOSTLE GLORIES IN HIS HEAVENLY GIFTS

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 12:1-10~St. Paul has just proved that he far excels his enemies in the way he has exercised his Apostolic ministry and in the tribulations he has suffered for the Gospel. But in a third particular he has still more surpassed them, namely, in the extraordinary gifts with which he has been favored by God. For the sake, therefore, of giving greater proof of his divine commission, and incidentally to confound his adversaries further, he now speaks of his visions and revelations. He might give many instances, but he prefers, out of humility, to give only one, which, however, is a very striking one. It is more pleasing to him to rejoice in his infirmities and to be judged by his labors and preaching, than to glory in his visions. And since it has pleased God to visit him with heavy crosses, lest he should be puffed up by the magnitude of his revelations, he will glory in his infirmities by which he merits the divine assistance.

1. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed): but I will come to the visions and revelations of the Lord.

Of the various readings of this verse the following is the most likely: “I must needs glory (καυχασθαι δει): it is not indeed expedient, but I will come to visions,” etc. The first clause is also written by good authorities with an interrogation: “Must I needs glory?” The Apostle is forced to glory, although he knows that glorying as a rule is not good.

Visions and revelations may refer here to the same manifestations, although they are by no means to be identified, generally speaking. A vision usually takes place in a state of ecstasy or of rapture, and the one favored with it does not always understand the meaning of the things he sees. A revelation, on the contrary, always implies the unfolding of some truth in such a way that he to whom it is accorded not only sees, but understands the meaning of what he sees. Revelation, therefore, includes vision, but vision does not necessarily imply revelation (St. Thomas, h. 1.).

If (Vulg., si) should be omitted.

2. I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not, or out of the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up to the third heaven.

A man, i.e., St. Paul himself. Humility leads him to speak in the third person.

In Christ, i.e., a Christian, one united to Christ by faith and Baptism.

Above fourteen years, i.e., fourteen years previous to the time he was writing, which would be around 43-44 a.d., if this Epistle was written around 57-58 a.d. Above is not expressed in the Greek.

Whether in the body, etc. St. Paul is certain of the fact of his having been transferred to heaven, but where his body was he does not know. Perhaps his soul was entirely separated from his body and transferred to heaven; or it may be that he was transferred both body and soul into heaven, or that while remaining in the body he was altogether abstracted from the senses. At any rate, it is certain that his senses had no part in the vision.

The third heaven doubtless means the abode of the blessed; but what is intended by third is only a conjecture. The Jews were accustomed to distinguish three heavens, of which the first was our atmosphere, the second the region of the stars, and the third the dwelling-place of the Almighty, where God is seen as He is in Himself. Probably St. Paul was accommodating himself to this mode of speaking, in order to say that he was in the actual presence of God.

3. And I know such a man (whether in the body, or out of the body, I know not: God knoweth):
4. That he was caught up into paradise, and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter.

Some authorities, with Irenaeus, Tertullian, Gregory the Great, and many others think there is question here of another event entirely distinct from the preceding one. They say that St. Paul was elevated “to the third heaven, and thence to paradise” (Clement of Alex., Strom, v. 12). In this opinion “the third heaven” could not mean the presence of God, or, at least, not the actual enjoyment of that presence. The majority of exegetes, however, hold with St. Aug. and St. Thomas that the Apostle is speaking here and in the preceding verse of one and the same event, and that “paradise” is mentioned to express the delights which the Apostle experienced in the third heaven.

Paradise means literally a place of delights. Jewish ideas regarding it were not always uniform. Sometimes they applied it to the “Garden of Eden”; sometimes to the abode of the righteous below the earth; sometimes to heaven, the abode of blessed spirits with God. The last is certainly the meaning given the term here.

Secret words, i.e., unutterable words, things which the Apostle could speak, but which it was not lawful to speak ( Vulg.). St. Aug., St. Thomas, and many others teach that St. Paul actually saw God and the divine essence at this time.

That the present incident is not to be identified with that of Acts 22:17-21. is clear (a) from the fact that there no word is said about being caught up to heaven, while we are told what the Lord said to Paul; and (b) from the fact that the incident of Acts took place much earlier than the present one, that is, soon after the Apostle’s conversion.

5. For such a one I will glory; but for myself I will glory nothing, but in my infirmities.

St. Paul speaks of himself at present as of two persons, not only out of humility, but also because “he who was caught up to the third heaven and heard unspeakable words is a different Paul from him who says, “Of such a one I will glory” (Origen). “He speaks of a divided experience, of two selves, two Pauls: one Paul in the third heaven, enjoying the Beatific Vision; another yet on earth, struggling, tempted, tried, and buffeted by Satan” (Robertson). Regarding this latter Paul he will not glory, save in his infirmities.

6. For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I will say the truth. But I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me.

For though I should have, etc. Better, “For if I should wish,” etc. It is not certain whether εαν γαρ θελησω is aorist subjunctive or future indicative. The Apostle means that if he should choose to boast about revelations which he has had, and which he has a right to disclose, he would not be foolish, because he would be telling what is true; but he abstains from doing so lest any should get a more exalted idea of him than their experience of his conduct and preaching would warrant: he prefers to be judged by his life and teaching, not by what he can truly tell of his privileges.

Anything (Vulg., aliquid) is omitted in the best Greek MSS.

7. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me.

The text and the punctuation are uncertain here, but the general meaning is plain: Lest the Apostle should become proud on account of the extraordinary revelations granted him, there was given him some unusual bodily suffering of a very humiliating nature. Literally the verse should go somewhat as follows: “And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations— wherefore, that I should not be lifted up over much, there was given me a thorn in the flesh,” etc. The Apostle begins with the revelations, then suddenly breaks off with  διο, wherefore (with MSS. B א A G). He is doubtless referring to the revelations, just spoken of, which he could truthfully disclose.

There was given me by God (St. Aug.) through the instrumentality of Satan. Naturally Satan’s purpose in afflicting the Apostle was not the same as God’s: God intended the repression of pride; Satan had some evil end in view.

A sting of my flesh. Literally, “A thorn in (or for) my flesh.” The word for “thorn” (σκολοψ) here occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is found four times in the LXX (Num 33:55; Ezekiel 28:24; Hosea 2:6; Sirach 43:19), and always means a “thorn” or “splinter.” “There is no doubt that the Alexandrian use of σκολοψ for ‘thorn’ is here intended” (Field, Otium Norvicense, III. p. 115). The idea conveyed is one of acute pain, looking back perhaps to Num 33:55. Of course the expression is metaphorical; and hence what does the Apostle mean? The explanations have been many and various, but all, both ancient and modern, agree in this, that there is question of physical suffering of some kind. It is not certain, however, that the present passage and Gal 4:13-14 refer to the same ασθενεια (“infirmity”, Gal 4:13), although this is commonly assumed.

That the “thorn” (Vulg., stimulus) here spoken of does not refer to temptations against purity, as most modern ascetical writers and many modern commentators believe, is proved beyond question by the following considerations: (a) Such a view was held by no Greek Father, nor by any Latin Father of the first six centuries; (b) St. Paul is speaking of something extraordinary, personal and permanent, which cannot be said of temptations to impurity; (c) he could not speak of glorying (verse 9), or of taking pleasure (verse 10) in carnal temptations. The “thorn in the flesh,” therefore, doubtless refers to some chronic physical malady, such as epilepsy, malarial fever, acute ophthalmia, or the like (St. Basil, St. Greg. Naz., St. Aug., St. Thomas, Cajetan, Corn., Le Camus, Light., Ramsay, Farrar, Plum., etc.).

An angel, etc., i.e., a messenger of Satan. The Apostle calls his malady a messenger or instrument of the devil very likely because it was inflicted by the evil one, with God’s permission, however.

To buffet me. Literally, “In order that he may buffet me” (ινα με κολαφιζη) . The present tense is used to show the continual recurrence of the attack (St. Chrys.).

8. For which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me.

For which thing, i.e., concerning this foe, i.e., the messenger of Satan, thrice I besought, i.e., the Apostle asked the Lord, i.e., Christ (verse 9) three times to be delivered from his affliction before he received the divine reply.

9. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

And he said. Literally, “And he hath said.” The use of the perfect tense implies that the force of the reply continues.

My grace, etc. The request was refused, but something better was given, namely, grace, by which he could merit a supernatural reward.

Power, i.e., strength ( δυναμις), namely, of Christ. The power of God is most perfectly realized and appreciated when human strength is wanting, i.e., when weak human agents are made use of to accomplish great results.

Gladly therefore. Literally, “Most gladly therefore.” He means that he will most gladly glory in his infirmities rather than ask to be relieved from them, so that the power of Christ, sustaining and giving triumph by His grace, may continue with him. Thus the Apostle’s chronic illness would cause a continuous manifestation of divine power in him (MacR.).

Advertisements

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

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 30, 2013

1Co 12:31  But be zealous for the better gifts. And I shew unto you yet a more excellent way.

But be zealous for the better gifts. Seek from God, and exercise, if you have received them (cf. notes to ver. 8), the more useful gifts, such as apostleship, prophecy, wisdom, but not such as the gift of tongues, which you are in the habit of seeking after and of priding yourselves in. So Anselm. Others take the clause interrogatively, “Do you covet the best gifts? then I will show you a more excellent way still.” So Chrysostom, Theophylact, Œcumenius.

And I shew unto you yet a more excellent way, viz., the way of charity, which is the way to God, to life, and everlasting glory.

The commentary ascribed to S. Jerome says here that the Apostle divides off charity from the gifts of the Spirit, because these latter are gratuitously given by God, but charity is acquired by our own efforts and natural powers. This shows this commentary not to be S. Jerome’s, but the work of Pelagius or some Pelagian, as was said before. Primasius, who transcribed a good deal of this commentary, has shown the falsity of this remark. It appears too that charity is the gift of God from Rom 5:5: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Hence S. Paul says here that he shows a more excellent way, meaning one that excels all others. If, then, the graces gratuitously given are of lower rank and are given by God, much more ought charity, which is exceedingly better and more excellent than them all, to be sought for and to be given from God. The Apostle then fixes the distinction between charity and the gifts of the Spirit in the fact that these latter are given for the good of the Church, not for the sanctification of him to whom they are given, while charity is given to make him who has it holy and pleasing to God. “He,” says S. Augustine (de Laud. Char.), “holds both what is patent and what is latent in God’s sayings who holds charity in his daily life.”

1Co 13:1  If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

The whole of this chapter 13 is in praise of charity. The Apostle treats of charity at such length, not only because charity is the queen of all virtues, but also because he wishes by charity, as by a most effectual medicine, to cure the pride and divisions of the Corinthians; for charity effects that superiors do not despise inferiors, and that inferiors do not feel bitter when their superiors are preferred before them. But, especially, he commends charity to them as a most excellent gift, that they may seek it rather than the gift of tongues, or of prophecy, or of miracles, which things the Corinthians were in the habit of considering most important. And this is why, in preparing his passage to charity, he said, at the end of the preceding chapter: “be zealous for the better gifts. And I shew unto you yet a more excellent way,” viz., of charity.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels. Some hold that the tongue of angels is Hebrew, and that this was the tongue used by God, the angels, and Adam in Paradise (of which see below, ver. 8). Secondly, the Glossa, Durandus, Greg. Ariminensis (in 2 dist. 9, qu. 2), and Molina (i p. qu. 106 art. i.) think from this passage of the Apostle, that angels speak as men, not only by forms impressed on the angel who hears, but also by gestures and signs, spiritual signs (since they are as it were a kind of spiritual conversation and form of speech), imprinted on them at their creation, as the Hebrew tongue was imprinted on Adam. Hence Franciscus Albertinus (Lib. Corollariorum Theologicorum Corollario ii) says that each angel has his own proper tongue, different from the tongue of every other angel, because the Apostle says, “Though I speak with the tongues of angels,” not with the tongue. But it seems to follow from hence, that if angels make use of those signs and speak to one, they cannot conceal them from others; for nothing natural can practise concealment but only that which is free; but these signs are natural, imprinted on them with their nature at their creation. Whence others, with S. Thomas, think that angels speak in this way, that they direct their thoughts to another, and form a wish to make them known to him, and that then, from the meet appointment of God and their meeting, a proportionate object is formed, and that this is placed as it were within a sphere of knowledge, and becomes intelligible to him, to whom they wish to speak, and not to another, so that he and none else sees and understands this object placed as it were before his eyes; from which some conclude that angels by their nature cannot lie. But the contrary seems truer, viz., that they can lie; because angels can form in their intellect a concept that is false, and opposed to the judgment of their mind, and can direct it to the other, to whom, in this way, they speak: even as man forms a false mode of speech and one opposed to his judgment when he lies. For angels do not exhibit to the sight of others the very acts of their will in themselves, that is, the very volitions and intentions, but they form in their mind concepts of these actions, whether true or false, just as they will, and represent them to him to whom they speak. But we may leave these points to be more thoroughly disputed and settled by the Schoolmen.

The tongues of angels mentioned here are not therefore addressed to the senses, as Cajetan thinks, but to the intellect, since these tongues are the very concepts of angels, most perfect and most beautiful. The tongues of angels is certainly a prosopopœia and hyperbole, that is, it denotes a most exquisite tongue. So we say in common phrases “He speaks divinely;” by a similar hyperbole it is said “the face of an angel,” that is, a most beautiful face. So Theodoret and Theophylact speak, because, as we know, angels are most beautiful in themselves, and show themselves such, both in appearance and speech, when they assume a body. So therefore Paul here, as elsewhere afterwards, speaks on a supposition by hyperbole, chiefly for the sake of emphasis. His meaning, is—If there were tongues of angels surpassing the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and I knew them, but yet did not use them for the good of my neighbour, what else would it be but an empty and noisy wordiness? So Gal 1:8; Rom 8:39. Paul here points at the Corinthians, who were wont to admire the gift of tongues more than other gifts.

A tinkling cymbal, giving forth an uncertain and confused sound. The Greek α̉λαλάξον is an onomatopœia, and denotes sounding “alala, alala.” So Apion Grammaticus, because of his garrulity, was called “the cymbal of the world” (Suetonius, Lib. de Præclaris Grammaticis).

1Co 13:2  And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

If I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. Erasmus thinks that this is a hyperbolic fiction, as though he should say, “Charity by far excels faith,” just as we say, “Virtue alone is the only nobility.” But this is far too cold; for in the following verse, speaking of almsgiving and martyrdom if charity is wanting, he says, it profiteth me nothing. Therefore, I am nothing imports I am of no value, and have no grace in the presence of God; and in truth, because the righteous man is of some account before God, the rest of men, being unrighteous, are, in the eyes and estimation of God, as nothing. In other words, without charity nothing profiteth, nothing makes friendship with God; there is nothing which wins for a man righteousness and salvation, not even faith, though it be most great and most excellent, so that it can remove mountains, such as Gregory Thaumaturgus had, who, by his faith, moved a mount from its place, that he might make a place to build a church, as Eusebius narrates (Hist. lib. 7, v. 25).

You will say, therefore, If a penitent exercises himself in good works before reconciliation, they profit him nothing. Some answer that they profit him, because the penitent, they say, has charity—not infused charity which makes righteous, but that charity which is a sincere love towards God, by which he longs for reconciliation. But this affection is not and cannot be called charity; for Holy Scripture, here and elsewhere, calls charity that most eminent virtue, greater than faith and hope, which makes us friends of God.

Secondly, because the affections of fear, hope, and faith dispose to righteousness, therefore they are something, even without the affection of that love. I reply, Good works profit the sinner who repents nothing, unless charity follow. For so, he says, alms giving profits nothing, as will appear in ver. 3. For disposition by itself is useless and of no account unless there follow the form to which it disposes; therefore works without charity are nothing, that is, they confer no righteousness or salvation; and a man without charity is nothing so far as the spiritual being is concerned, in which, by supernatural regeneration, he receives a supernatural and Divine being, and is made a new creature of God, a son and heir of God. Hence it follows that faith alone does not justify.

Beza replies that here faith which works miracles alone is in question; for justifying faith, which lays hold of the mercy of God in Christ, can be separated from charity indeed in thought, but not in reality, any more than light from fire. But on the other hand, since faith which works miracles includes and presupposes faith properly so called, which is the beginning of justification (nay, faith which works miracles is the most excellent faith, as the Apostle here signifies when he says: “Though I have faith so that I could remove mountains”), therefore, if faith which works miracles can exist without charity, it will also be able to be justifying faith. Secondly, the Apostle says “all faith,” which Beza dishonestly translates “whole faith:” if all, therefore also justifying.

Thirdly, the Apostle teaches us (vers. 3 and 13) that faith and hope, both theological and justifying, remain in this life only, while charity remains also in the future life; therefore faith is separated from charity. So Chrysostom, Anselm, Theophylact, and others; and especially S. Augustine (de Trin. lib. xv. c. 18) says: “Faith, according to the Apostle, can be without charity; it cannot be profitable;” and in his sermon on the three virtues—faith, hope, and charity (tom. x.), he speaks of charity alone, “that it distinguishes between the children of God and the children of the devil, between the children of the Kingdom and the children of perdition;” and again (Lib,. de Naturâ et Gratiâ, c. ult.) he says: “Charity begun is righteousness begun; charity increased is righteousness increased; charity perfected is righteousness perfected.” See Bellarmine (de Justificatione. lib. i. c. 15). What faith which works miracles is I have said (chap. xii. 9); why the operation of miracles is to be attributed to faith S. Thomas teaches (de Potentiâ, qu. 6, art. 9).

1Co 13:3  And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

And if I should distribute all my goods.  The Greek verb signifies to put into the mouths of children or the sick bread, or food, in crumbs as cut up, as I have said (Rom 12:20); here, however, it denotes to expend all one’s substance for such a purpose.

And if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. You will say, Martyrdom, then, can be without grace and charity, with sin and damnation. Note firstly, as one can give alms, so one can hand over one’s body in different ways and from different motives, e.g., for one’s country, for one’s neighbour, for correction of the body, from vain glory, or again for the faith, for the love of Christ and of God—and then it is martyrdom. Secondly, martyrdom is an act springing from the virtue of fortitude, ordered often by charity; still it can be ordered, not by charity, but by another virtue, as by religion or obedience; e.g., if a man offer himself to martyrdom, that he may honour God or obey Him. These actions, however, flow from a general love of God. Thirdly, martyrdom, from whatever virtue springing, confers justifying grace, even the first, from the mere fact of its being wrought, as theologians teach; and consequently it confers charity, nor can it be separated from it as from its end.

I say, then, firstly, that the Apostle speaks in general terms of any handing over of the body to be burned: Whether any one does it for his country, as Mucius Scævola did, who, wishing to kill King Porsena when he was besieging Rome, made a mistake, and fell into the power of his enemies; then, to show how little he shrank from death for his country, he burnt his hand, “In order that you may know,” he said to Porsena, “how vile is the body in the eyes of us who look for glory;” or whether he do it for empty fame, as Peregrinus did, who, to obtain for himself an immortal name, threw himself at the Olympic games on a pyre to be consumed, as Lucian, an eyewitness, testified; or whether any one commit himself to fire for the faith of Christ, while at the same time keeping hatred of his neighbour, or a desire to commit mortal sin: which martyrdom is material, not formal; for it is then without charity and profiteth nothing, as D. Thomas, Anselm, and Theodoret say.

Hence, I say secondly, that the Apostle also speaks of giving the body in material and formal martyrdom, but hypothetically, i.e., if martyrdom could be without charity it would profit nothing. So S. Chrysostom and Theophylact. Whence Theodoret and S. Basil (Epis. 75 ad Neocæsarienses) remark that there is here a hyperbole. But, if you wish, the Apostle speaks, not merely hypothetically, but absolutely.

I say thirdly, martyrdom antecedently, whether from the mere fact of being wrought, in so far as its work is regarded in itself, or in so far as the merit of him who suffers martyrdom is regarded, can be without charity, e.g., if one living in mortal sin is willing to die for the faith of Christ, when as yet he has not charity, martyrdom profits him nothing. Nevertheless, in consequence, from the mere fact of its being wrought, in his end martyrdom always brings charity; for, from the very fact that any one, even a sinner, is killed for the faith, charity and righteousness are infused into him as if from the very act itself, and in this way martyrdom eminently profits. In this way, therefore, the sense of the Apostle will be, Martyrdom profiteth nothing unless charity go before, follow after, or accompany it, whether as the source or the end and effect of martyrdom. So S. Thomas, Cajetan, and Francisco Suarez (p. 3, qu. 69, disp. 29, sec 2). Anselm says: “Without charity nothing profits, however excellent; with charity everything profits, however vile, and becomes golden and Divine.”

It profiteth me nothing. I am not helped, I receive no benefit, i.e., towards justification and salvation. So Ephrem., “So great is charity that, if it be wanting, other things are reckoned vain; if it be present, we possess all,” says S. Augustine (tom. iii. Sententia, 326).

1Co 13:4  Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not puffed up,

Charity is patient, is kind. Ambrose reads: “Charity is high-souled” (so also S. Cyprian and Tertullian, de Patientiâi, c. 12, read), “and is pleasing.” Note, charity is long-suffering, not formally, but in the way of cause, because it produces patience and kindness; because patience, as well as kindness, is an act not elicited but ordered by charity. Tertullian (de Patientiâ, c. 2) beautifully teaches that no virtue is perfect which has not patience as its companion, and so in all the beatitudes which Christ (in S. Matt. 5) enumerates, patience also must be understood. He teaches also (c. 12) that the treasures of charity are held in by the discipline of patience, and that charity herself is taught by patience as her mistress; for, expounding, these words of the Apostle, “charity is patient,” he says: Love, the great mystery of the faith, by whose training is she taught save by that of patience? Love,” he, says, “is high-souled, so she adopts patience; she does good, so patience works no evil; envieth not—that also is the property of patience; savours nothing of wantonness—she has drawn her modesty from patience; is not puffed up, behaves not unseemly—for that belongs not to patience. But what would he have left to impatience? Therefore he says, ‘Love beareth all things, endureth all things,’ that is, because she is patient.”

Hence S. Augustine (de Moribus Eccl. c. 15) then defines fortitude: “Fortitude is love bearing easily all things for God’s sake.” In like manner he defines by love the three other cardinal virtues, that they are different forms of love. “We may say,” he says, “that temperance is love preserving itself pure and uncorrupt for God; that justice is love, serving God only, and for the same cause duly ordering other things which have been placed under man; that prudence is love, rightly discerning between those things by which God is served, and by which His service is hindered.” Again (c. xxii.) he says: “That love which we must have towards God, inflamed with all holiness, is called temperate in things that ought not to be sought for, and brave in things which can be lost.” And shortly afterwards: “There is nothing so hard, so steely, which cannot be overcome by the fire of love. By love, when the soul hastens towards God, rising above the defilement of the flesh, it will fly, freely and wonderfully, on most beautiful and most chaste wings, by which pure love strives for the embrace of God.” Every virtue therefore is love and charity, viz., an act of charity not elicited but ordered, because it is ordered, directed, formed, and perfected by charity. Add to this that virtue by itself is love of good. Such was the charity of Christ on the Cross towards His crucifiers, about which S. Bernard (Sermon de Passione Domini) says: “He was smitten with scourges, crowned wish thorns, pierced with nails, fastened to the Cross, laden with reproaches; yet, heedless of all pains, He cried, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ How ready art Thou to forgive, 0 Lord! How great is the multitude of Thy sweet mercies! How far are Thy thoughts from our thoughts! How is Thy mercy established on the wicked! A wondrous thing! He cries, ‘For give;’ the Jews, ‘Crucify;’ His words were softer than butter, and they are as darts. Oh, suffering charity, but also long suffering. ‘Charity suffereth long’—it is enough; ‘charity is kind’—it is the crowning point. Because charity is kind, she loves also those whom she tolerates, and loves them so ardently.’ And a little lower: “O Jews, ye are stones, but ye strike a softer stone, from which is given back the sound of piety, from which pours forth the oil of charity. How, 0 Lord, wilt Thou give drink to those who thirst for Thee of the torrent of Thy joy, who so overwhelmest those who crucify Thee with the oil of Thy mercy!”

Charity envieth not. For, as S. Gregory says (Hom. v. in Evang.), “the good will which charity begets is one that fears others’ misfortunes as its own, which rejoices in the prosperity of its neighbour as in its own, believes others’ losses as its own, and reckons others’ gains as its own.” The reason is, because charity does not regard my things and thine, but those which are God’s. For, as S. Gregory says (ibid.), “whatever we desire in this world, we envy to our neighbour,” for we seem to lose what another gains. For this cause charity is cold where lust is bold. On the contrary, when brotherly love reigns, then lust lives an exile; for, as S. Augustine says (de Doctr. Christ. lib. iii. c. 10), “the more the kingdom of lust is destroyed, the more charity is increased.”

Dealeth not perversely. Perversely, wantonly, maliciously. Some interpret the Greek, “does not chatter idly,” Vatablus, “does not flatter;” Clement (Pædag. c. ii.), “does not paint her face or adorn her head overmuch.” “For worship,” says Clement, “is said to act unseemly which openly shows superfluity and usefulness; for excessive striving after adornment is opposed to God, to reason, and to charity.” Cajetan interprets the word: “is not inconstant;” Theophylact, “is not head-strong, fickle, rash, stubborn;” Ephrem, “is not riotous.” Theophylact again, “doth not exalt itself.” So also S. Basil seems to interpret it. “What,” he asks, “does this word (περπερεύεται) mean?” which the Latin translator of Basil renders: “What do we mean by being boastful and arrogant without cause?” He replies. “That which is assumed, not from necessity but for the sake of superfluous adornment, incurs the charge o unseemliness.” But from these words it is evident that the translator has not followed the mind of S. Basil, and that Basil did not mean boasting and foolish arrogance, but painting, and excessive adornment, as did Clement of Alexandria in the place just cited. Best of all, Chrysostom understands it: “Charity is not forward or wanton, as is the carnal 1ove of lascivious men, wanton women, and harlots.” Whence Tertullian (de Patientiâ, c. xii.) says, “Charity makes not wanton.”

1Co 13:5  Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil:

Is not ambitious. Ephrem translates it: “Does not commit what is shameful.” Clement (Pædag. lib. iii.c. 1). “Doth not behave itself unseemly.” Our translator with Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Œcumenius, takes it thus: Charity thinks that nothing is dishonouring or unbecoming to it, though it suffer or do what is vile, ignominious, or degrading. Or more shortly: Charity is not ashamed, because it is ambitious of nothing, and of no honour. Our translator therefore has, from the effect, understood and rendered the cause—the cause why any one is not ashamed is, because he seeks for no honour or glory. Whence Chrysostom and Theophylact think that this is said by Paul against the arrogant. “Charity,” says Chrysostom, “knows not what dishonour and disgrace are; she covers with her wings of gold the vices of all whom she embraces.” So the love of Christ did not spurn or reject harlots, scourgings, or washing of men’s feet. S. Basil understands it (in Regul. Brev. Reg. 246): “Charity doth not depart from her habit and form.” But Œcumenius: “Charity doth not treat bitterly as a prisoner the man who is her enemy.”

Thinketh no evil, i.e., charity, if she is provoked by any one, does not reckon up the injury nor seek revenge, but conceals it, excuses it, forgives it. For the Greek word, as Vatablus and the Greeks understand it, is, imputes not his evil to any one.

1Co 13:6  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth:

Rejoiceth in the truth. In the truth, not so much of speech and mind as of life, i.e., of righteousness. In other words, charity, when it sees its neighbours living justly and rightly and making advance, does not envy them, but rejoices and is glad, as though it were its own advance, as Anselm says from S. Gregory; for truth here is opposed to iniquity. Therefore truth here is equity, uprightness, righteousness. The Greeks understand it otherwise. Charity does not rejoice, but grieves when it sees an enemy suffering anything wrongly or unjustly; and it rejoices in the truth if it sees his own given to him.

1Co 13:7  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Beareth all things. Like a beam which sustains an imposed weight, or rather, like a palm-tree, which does not yield under its own weight, but, like an arch, is the more strong. Rightly says Augustine (in Sententiis, sec. 295): “The fortitude of the Gentiles comes from wordly lust, but the fortitude of the Christians from the love of God which was shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who was given to us, not by any determination of our own will.”

Believeth all things, i.e., charity is not suspicious, but readily gives credence to others where it can prudently believe without danger of error. Therefore Paul says, “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” That is to say, charity bears all evils and all injuries, believes and is persuaded of the best about its neighbour, hopes for all good things for its neighbour, and endures from him evil words and blows. So Chrysostom and the Greeks. Anselm, S. Thomas, and Lyra explain the words differently. Charity makes us believe what ought to be believed, hope for what we ought, and await it with patience; for otherwise in some cases that saying of Seneca is true, “It is a vice to believe everything and a vice to believe nothing.” So also S. Augustine explains it; and from these words of the Apostle he makes a chariot for charity, namely, of the four virtues of charity, faith, hope, patience, perseverance. In his sermon on the four virtues of charity he thus speaks: “Every one who devoutly bears rightly believes, and every one who rightly believes hopes for somewhat, and he who hopes perseveres, lest he should lose hope;” for the Apostle in this whole passage is treating of the offices of charity, not towards God, but towards our neighbour, and is showing how charity manifests itself in all cases to him.

Chrysostom remarks (Hom. xxxiv.) that there are here sixteen benefits and fruits of charity, which he sets up as remedies for the diseases of the Corinthians: “Charity,” he says, “patient, condemning the quarrelsome; kind, condemning the factious and stealthy; envies not, against those who are bitter against their superiors; is not wanton—he lays hold of the dissolute; is not puffed up—the proud; is not haughty, against those who will not abase themselves and serve their neighbour; seeketh not her own, against those who despise others; is not provoked—thinketh no evil against those who inflict insults; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, against the envious. Again, ‘beareth all things,’ is for a solace to these who are hemmed in by foes and down-trodden; ‘hopeth all things,’ is for a solace to those who are rejected and despaired of; ‘endureth all things and never faileth,’ is against those who, for a slight cause, foster divisions.” S. Gregory thus describes these offices of charity (Morals, book x. c. 8): “Charity is patient, because it bears calmly all evils that may be inflicted; is kind, because it bountifully repays good for evil; envieih not, because, from the fact that it seeks for nothing in this present world, it knows not how to be envious at earthly successes; is not puffed up, because, since it eagerly 1ongs for the promised inward reward, it does not exalt itself on the score of outward advantages ; does nothing amiss, because it confines itself to the love of God and of its neighbour, and is ignorant of whatever departs from rectitude; is not ambitious, because it ardently seeks within for its own perfection, and covets without no man’s goods; seeketh not its own, because it disregards, as though they were another’s, all things which here for a brief time it possesses, since it recognises that nothing is its own save what abides permanently; is not provoked, because, though stirred up by injuries, it is roused to no motions of revenge, since for great sufferings it expects hereafter greater rewards; thinketh no evil, because purity establishes a mind in love, while it plucks up all hatred by the roots, and cannot dwell in a soul which is defiled; rejoiceth not in iniquity, for it yearns with love alone for all, and does not rejoice in the fall of its enemies; but rejoiceth in the truth, because, loving others as itself, it rejoices in that which it sees good in others, as though it were an increase of its own perfection.”

A soul on fire with charity is like the sky; for as the wide-spreading sky embraces the whole earth, and warms and fertilises it by the suit, and waters it by its showers, even places bristling with thorns, so such a soul embraces with its charity the inhabitants of the whole earth, though they be barbarians or foes, and does good to whom it can, and waters and cherishes with its sweetness those who bristle with the thorns of hatred and of vice.

1Co 13:8  Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void or tongues shall cease or knowledge shall be destroyed.

Charity never falleth away. It suffers no death; it will never cease: other gifts will cease in the heavenly glory. Heretics infer from this that, if charity never faileth, he who has it cannot sin, and is assured of his salvation. I reply, I deny the consequence. For charity never faileth, viz., by itself; for of its own accord it never deserts a man, unless it be first through sin deserted by him. “Charity,” says Cassian (Callat. iii. c. 7), “is one who never suffers her follower to fall by sin supplanting her.” So long, therefore, as you give yourself to charity and will to keep her, you will never sin; but if you sin, it is not that charity in itself fails, but you yourself eject her by force.

Whether prophecies (they) shall be made void. Not so much because of their obscurity as because they were here given to meet the imperfection of those who heard them, in order that they, being more untaught, might be taught by prophecy and tongues. Thus in heaven faith shall cease, because it is imperfect through lack of evidence, and hope, because it is imperfect through the absence of the thing hoped for; but charity has nothing of these, but is perfect in itself, and therefore will remain in heaven.

Tongues (they) shall cease. He does not say language shall cease but languages, because in heaven there will be no variety of tongues, but language there will be; for we shall with one accord praise God, not only in mind but also with perceptible language. Haymo, Remigius, Cajetan here, Galatinus (de Arc. Fidei, lib. xii. c. 4), Viguerius (in Instit. c. ix. ver. 8), where he treats of the gift of tongues, all teach that the one tongue which we shall all use in heaven will be Hebrew, which Adam used in his state of innocence, which all the patriarchs, prophets, and saints before Christ, nay, which the whole world used before its dispersion and confusion of tongues at Babel. Hence in the Apocalypse, though written in Greek, it is said that the saints in heaven will sing in Hebrew “Amen, Alleluia.” For since in heaven all sin will have been banished, the confusion of tongues will be done away with; and as we shall return to the primeval state of innocence, so shall we to its language, and to the one and first speech. Certainly, if any one of those tongues which we use on earth remain in heaven, I should think it would be Hebrew. But it is not plain that any will remain; for the Apostle only says that tongues will cease, which may mean that all which are now in use among men are to cease. Nevertheless, it is consistent with this that in heaven another sensible tongue may be infused anew into the blessed, a celestial tongue, one far more perfect than any we have here, one befitting their mouth and glorified body, and with this they will in a bodily manner praise God. Whether this be more true, a blessed experience will teach us. John Salas (in 1, 2, tom. i. qu. 5, art. 5, tract. 2 disp. 14, sect. 14. n. 106) thinks that is more likely. His reason is that the Hebrew tongue is wanting in sweetness, fulness, and perspicuity, and therefore it is not worthy to be retained after the General Resurrection. In heaven there will be an elect speech, as Wisdom says (3:9), that is, a special tongue pre-eminently sweet, terse, and perspicuous, common to all nations, to be taught by God. Hence S. Bernard says (in Medit. c. iv.): “The unwearied rejoicing of all will be with one tongue,” &c. There will not be in the peace of heaven any diversity of tongues, viz., for common use. Beyond this, however, they will speak, when they wish, with other tongues; for all will have the gift of tongues, and will know all idioms by Divine revelation. Salmeron and others add that in heaven it is meet for God to be worshipped with all kinds of tongues; for it seems to tend to the greater glory of God, that every tongue confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. And so all tongues will be one, for they will feel and proclaim the same thing, as Martial (Epigram i.), in flattery of Caesar, said—

“The voices of the nations sound unlike, yet they are one,
For you are proclaimed by all, true father of your country.”

Knowledge shall be destroyed. This knowledge, as Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact say, is that which is imperfect, obscure, and enigmatical, as Paul calls it in ver. 12, e.g., faith and all that depends on faith. Of this kind is our theological knowledge, which draws its conclusions from the principles of the faith: all this will cease in heaven. For theology there will be of a different appearance, being most clear, drawn from the vision of God and from the clearest principles. So say Cajetan, Molina, Vasquez, and others, in the beginning of the first part.

Observe that the Apostle is speaking rather of the act of knowledge than of its habit; and therefore he adds (verses 9, 11, 12): “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;” and “When I was a child…I thought as a child;” and: “Now I know in part, then shall I know even as also I am known.” Still, from the cessation of the act he leaves it to be collected that the habit will cease; for the habit will be of no avail if there is no use for it; for it will not issue in action. And this he signifies by the words “shall fail” and “shall vanish away,” which imply that knowledge, prophecy, and tongues, simply, both as regards act and habit, are to perish. Secondly, Photius explains the passage not amiss thus. Knowledge, i.e., teaching and learning shall fail, for in heaven we shall neither teach nor learn. Thirdly, others say that knowledge here is science, or the use of scientific terms, by which the realities of faith are illustrated and explained, by means of natural sciences.

1Co 13:9  For we know in part: and we prophesy in part.
1Co 13:10  But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, i.e., imperfectly. Ephrem turns it. “We know but little of much;” for the Apostle opposes what is little and imperfect, what we know partly by reason, partly by prophecy, to what is perfect (ver. 10), i.e., to the perfect vision and knowledge of God in himself, and of all things in God. It is certainly true that the whole being of God, and all His attributes and perfections, we do not know in this life, but all the blessed know them, and they alone. He proves this from the example of a boy, who grows both in age and knowledge. For the blessed are in knowledge as men, and we in it as boys. Again, our theological knowledge, though it is certain, is yet hidden and obscure; it leans on faith, and for that reason alone it is in part or imperfect. The blessed, however, know all things clearly and intuitively, nay, they see and behold face to face.

1Co 13:11  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.

When I was a child, that is, one who is now beginning to say, think, plan, attempt, study, play, and do anything, as our children are wont to do.

I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. I understood as a child, or felt as a child; for children have not wisdom, but feeling. In other words, when a child I thought, and understood, and felt as a child, but when I became a man I thought and understood as a man does. So, when that which is perfect is come (vs. 10), i.e., perfect wisdom in heaven, partial and imperfect knowledge, as we have it in this life, shall fail; so that we who here are boys in knowledge are to be men in heaven. S. Paul leaves the remaining part of the likeness to be supplied from the verse before.

1Co 13:12  We see now through a glass in a dark manner: but then face to face. Now I know in part: but then I shall know even as I am known.

We see now through a glass in a dark manner: but then face to face. We see, i.e., God and heavenly things, by which we may be saved and be happy, as appears from what follows. You will say: If we see God here in a mirror, we see Him clearly and not in an enigma, for a mirror exhibits to the eyes, not an image of the object, as is commonly supposed, but the very object itself. I reply. It is true that a mirror exhibits to the eyes the object itself, yet it does so, not by a direct ray but reflected; and therefore it represents the object, not properly, clearly, distinctly, but as from a distance, obscure and confusedly. Such is the knowledge of God and of Divine things which we have in this life, but in heaven we shall see God as He is, face to face, directly, closely, clearly.

Secondly, the Greek word denotes that which we look through as a means of seeing anything, such as the spectacles of old men, an eye-glass, or green glass which is placed over a writing, that it may help weak eyes in reading, nevertheless, it makes things look green, dark, and obscure. Such a glass, properly speaking, makes the letters to be seen, not in themselves immediately, but by an obscure medium and by a shadowy likeness, or, as the Apostle says, in an enigma. Such a glass may be meant here.

Thirdly, some interpret the word, “through a screen;” for, as merchants show their wares in their shops through glass screens to those who pass by, not close at hand and distinctly, but from a distance, in the mass and confusedly, so does God show Himself to us in this life.

You will ask, What is this mirror by which we see God and Divine things here in an enigma? I reply, Firstly, the creatures which act as a mirror to represent their Creator. So S. Thomas teaches. Secondly, the phenomena of nature, which are the mirrors of realities. Thirdly, the humanity of Christ and its mysteries, which veil and set forth His Divinity. Again, the sacraments and other rites and ceremonies. So S. Theodoret says: “In holy baptism we see a figure of the resurrection; there we shall see the resurrection itself. Here we see the symbols of the Lord’s body, there the Lord Himself; for so the words face to face imply. We shall see, however, not His Divine nature, which no eye can take in, but that which was assumed of us.” In these last words of Theodoret an error of his must be guarded against, for he seems to say that in heaven we shall see the humanity only of Christ, because he says the Divine nature cannot he seen. But the excuse can perhaps be made that he is speaking only of corporal vision, of which it is true to say, that with the eyes of the body we shall see the humanity only of Christ. But this is outside the mind of the Apostle, for he is treating of the beatific vision, especially of the Divinity.

In a dark manner, i.e., according to Anselm, by an obscure speech, thought, or imagination. For an enigma (αινιγματι) is a question which is proposed in involved terms.

Then face to face. He alludes to Moses (Exodus33:2; Num 12:8).

Now I know in part (imperfectly, as I have said, ver. 9), but then shall I know even as also I am known. That is, Then in heaven I shall perfectly know and see God, as He is in His essence, and all other mysteries of God and the faith, even as He knows me and sees what I am in my essence. So Anselm, Theophylact, Cajetan, Ambrose, and Theodoret. “I shall know,” he says, “even as I am known,” as a well-known and familiar friend clearly sees the face of his friend. S. Augustine extends these words of the Apostle to a knowledge also of what takes place here on earth, and of what relates to the state of any saint. Hence he proves from this place that the saints understand in heaven our affairs more perfectly than they once did on earth; whence it follows that they hear the prayers with which we invoke them (de Civ. Dei, lib. xxii. c. 29). Chrysostom and Œcum. understand it otherwise. Then, they say, shall I know what concerns action: I shall hasten to Him through love and righteousness, even as He prevented and went before me with His grace. Thirdly others interpret it thus: Then shall I know with that degree of perfection to which I was known and predestinated for eternity by God. But the first sense is the genuine one; for he opposes knowledge, which is clear and full, to that which is in part, i.e., imperfect and enigmatical.

1Co 13:13  And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.

And now there remain faith, hope, and charity. S. Paul in this chapter clearly teaches that faith, hope, and charity abide in this present life, but charity alone in our heavenly country. So the Fathers hold. See Gregory de Valentia, disp. qu. 5 de Subjecto Fidei, part 2).

You will say, Irenæus (ii. c. 47), Tertullian (de Patientiâ, c. xii.) understand “now” of heaven; therefore in heaven there will be, and will abide, both faith and hope.

I reply: These Fathers understand by faith all sure knowledge, such as the vision of God; by hope, a firm adherence to God, as the object of love, which is the enjoyment of God. For this is what Tertullian says: “There abide faiih, hope, love: faith which the patietice of Christ had begotten; hope which the patience of man waits for; love which, with God as her teacher, patience accompanies.” But these are not to the purpose of the Apostle, as is evident.

The greatest of these is charity. Greatest, i.e., the greatest. So Catullus:— “0 Hesperus, light more fair, which shineth in heaven.” That is, fairest star.

Hence it is plain that faith is not the confidence of heretics in the remission of their sins; for that confidence is nothing else but a strong hope: if it is more it is properly called faith, by which you believe most firmly that you have been justified and saved, as you believe that God is; then hope is superfluous. For what you firmly believe you do not, nor can hope for, as, e.g., you do not hope that God is, that Christ suffered for us. For hope which truly is hope is allied to fear and dread as its opposites; there is nothing of this kind in faith. The Apostle just above distinguishes hope or confidence from faith, and requires in this life hope as well as faith; therefore faith is not that confidence of which heretics make their boast.

Lastly, it is plain that of all virtues charity is the greatest and most eminent; for, as fire among the elements, gold among the elements, the empyrean among the heavens, the sun among the planets, the seraphim among the angels, so shines charity as the queen among virtues. For charity is the celestial fire which kindles the souls of all around it: the most glittering gold with which we purchase our heavenly inheritance; the highest heaven in which God and the blessed dwell; the sun which illuminates, fertilises, quickens all; the seraphic virtue which makes the seraphim glow. (See on Deu_6:5.) Beroald says: “As is the helmsman in a ship, the ruler in a state, the sun in the world, so is love among mortals. Without a helmsman the ship is shattered, without a ruler the state is endangered, without the sun the world is darkened, and without love life is no life. Take love from men, you take the sun from the world.” Plautinus happily calls love a purifying God, that is, making all things pure and beautiful.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentaries for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (and for Sexagesima Sunday, Extraordinary Form)

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 29, 2013

This post contains resources (mostly biblical and homiletic) for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. I have added a new heading (CHILDREN’S RESOURCES) at the very end of the Ordinary Form listings.  Links to other sites should not be considered as endorsements of their view since I don’t have time to check out every link.

ORDINARY FORM
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

READINGS AND OFFICE:

Today’s Mass Readings. Used in the USA.

Mass Readings in the NJB Translation. Scroll down. Used in most English speaking countries. For some reason the site has the Gospel reading before the second reading.

Divine Office.

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.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19.

Link fixed. Navarre Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19.

My Notes on Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19. On 4-19.

Homilist’s Catechism on 1 Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 71.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 71. Entire psalm.

Update: Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17.

Pending: My Notes on Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13. Note that a shorter reading (13:4-13) is allowed.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13. Does not include comment on 12:31.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13.

Pending (maybe): Father Rickaby’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13.

Link fixed. Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13.

Homilist’s Catechism on 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Luke 4:21-30.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 4:21-30.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 4:21-30.

Link fixed. Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 4:21-30.

Homilist’s Catechism on Luke 4:21-30.

GENERAL RESOURCES: sites that usually deal with the readings as a whole (with some occasional specialty studies). 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.

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. Hasn’t been updated in a while.

The Bible Workshop. Links to several relevant articles, contains a reading guide to the gospel text, a comparison of the readings, suggestions for a lesson (i.e., homily).

The Wednesday WordIt’s about the Sunday readings, but the document is posted on Wednesday, hence the name. Designed for prayer and reflection, the pdf document ends with Father Dom Henry Wansbrough’s reflections on the first and second readings. Fr. Wansbrough is General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible and contributed commentaries on Matt, Mark, and the Pastorals in A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture.

St Charles Borromeo Parish’s Bible Study Notes. Notes on all the readings, usually with some background info as well.

Sacred Page Blog: Why Do People Hate a “Good Person?”. Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma reflects on the readings.

Glancing Thoughts. Reflections on the 2nd reading from philosopher Eleanore Stump.

Thoughts From The Early Church. Excerpt from St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Isaiah.

Scripture In Depth. Succinct summary of the readings and their relation to one another.

PODCASTS:

St Irenaeus Ministries on Jeremiah~Introduction and ch. 1 in Two Parts: click on the POD icon or the direct download link.

(Pt. 1) Background on Jeremiah. Includes treatment of chapter 1.
(Pt. 2) Outline. The call of Jeremiah in its historical context.

Father Mike’s Bible Study Podcast on Jermiah. Overview of the book of Jeremiah from a contemporary, mainstream perspective.

Father Mitch Pacwa’s Old Testament Prophets. Scroll down and listen to episode 54 which looks at Jeremiah 1.

In the Footsteps of St Paul by Fr. Mitch Pacwa. Listen to episode 9 which deals with St Paul’s teaching on love and the spiritual gifts.

UPDATE: Video: Dr. Brant Pitre on Jesus in Nazareth, Part 2. Part 1 here in case you missed. it

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast on Luke 3 & 4.

CHILDREN’S RESOURCES:

Catholic Mom. Appears geared towards ages 7-14.

Word Sunday’s Children’s Reading. Two stories seeking to draw a lesson from the first and Gospel readings.

Catholic Kid’s Bulletin. Downloadable. Geared towards younger children.

We Believe. Activities geared towards Kindergarten through 8th grade. Also has resources for catechists, clergy, etc.

Hometown Boy Makes Good (But Gets No Respect). Sermon on today’s Gospel by Sermons 4 Kids.

Only a Carpenter’s Son. Sermon on the Gospel by Sermons 4 Kids.

The Catholic Toolbox. Activities, crafts, games, etc., for class or home.

EXTRAORDINARY FORM
Dominica in Sexagesima ~ II. classis

MISSAL AND BREVIARY:

Daily Roman Missal. Be sure correct date is set.

Roman Breviary. Be sure correct date is set.

Goffine’s Devout Instructions on the Epistle and Gospel. Readings and prayers from the Mass of the day, with brief instructions on the readings.

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: 2 Corinthians 11:19-12:9.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 2 Cor 11:19-12:9.

Pending: Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 2 Cor 11:19-12:9.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Cor 11:19-12:9.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Luke 8:4-15.

Bishop Knecht’s Practical Commentary on Luke 8:4-15.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Luke 8:4-15.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 8:4-15.

Link fixed. Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 8:4-15.

CATECHESIS AND DOCTRINAL INSTRUCTIONS:

Doctrinal Instructions on the Angels. Chapter from an online book. It was common to give instructions on the angels for this Sunday inasmuch as an angel of Satan was mentioned in the first reading (2 Cor 12:7), and Satan is mentioned in the Gospel text (Luke 8:12).

The Nature of Angels. Chapter from an online book.

Angels in the World. Chapter from an online book.

Moral Instruction on Fasting and Prayer. From the Catechism of the Council of Trent. On this Sunday it was common to give instruction on fasting and prayer in preparation for the coming of Lent.

HOMILIES AND HOMILY NOTES:

Homily on the Epistle. Prefaced by reading.

In What the Apostle Glories. Homily on the epistle. Prefaced by the reading.

Pope St Gregory the Great’s Homily on the Gospel.

Why the Word of God Has So Little Effect at the Present Time. Homily on the Gospel. Prefaced by the reading (starts near bottom of the page).

The Reading of the Bible. Homily on the gospel.

The Ceremonies at the Preaching of the Word of God. Homily on the gospel.

The Thorns are a Symbol of the Riches and Pleasures of  This Life. Homily on the gospel.

Why the Word of God With Many Christians Yields No Fruit. Homily on the gospel.

What We Must Do So That the Word of God Which Is Preached To Us May Produce Fruit. Homily on the gospel.

The Poor Soil Onto Which the Word of God Generally Falls. Homily on the gospel.

The Word of God. Homily on the gospel.

On the Necessity of Hearing the Word of God in a Sermon. Homily  on the gospel. Scroll down to bottom of page to find the start of the homily.

Our Wisdom. Homily on the gospel.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 4:21-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 29, 2013

Luk 4:21  And he began to say to them: This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears.

He began to say to them, “this day is fulfilled this scripture  (‘which has sounded,’ says Euthymius, and the Syriac version), in your ears”. This day is fulfilled in your hearing this prophecy of Isaiah, while you hear me preaching to you and to the rest of the poor of Galilee the year of full remission, and I am prepared to do, nay, I have already done in Capernaum, all that Isaiah has here foretold. I am the Messiah of whom Isaiah there prophesies, whom you, in accordance with the predictions of Jacob and Daniel, are already eagerly expecting every moment. For, though Jesus does not clearly say that He is the Messiah, yet He tacitly implies it.

Luk 4:22  And all gave testimony to him. And they wondered at the words of grace that proceeded from his mouth. And they said: Is not this the son of Joseph?

all gave testimony to him–that He spoke well, not that He was the Messiah. Hence they call Him “the son of Joseph;” and, a little after, when they were rebuked by Him, they despised Him and wished to cast Him down headlong. So, nowadays, many people praise a preacher so long as he says to them what is pleasing and elegant, but when he attacks their vices they abuse and persecute him. Such is the way of the fickle multitude, who love themselves and their own desires. However, Bede takes this as meaning that they bore witness that He was the Messiah of whom Isaiah had prophesied these things; and he adds:—”How great their blindness, when, only on account of their knowledge of His origin, and because they had seen Him nourished, and that He had developed, through the stages of life among themselves, they set Him at nought whom, by his words and works, they knew to be Christ.”

And they wondered at his words of grace. “Words of grace,” he calls them (1) gracious, beautiful, suave, and pleasant; (2) full of grace and the Holy Spirit; (3) efficacious to move and persuade; (4) full of wisdom and eloquence, so as to convince those that heard them. For Christ spoke with a tongue that was more than human. “He was teaching them as one having power, and not as the Scribes,” Matt 7:29.

Luk 4:23  And he said to them: Doubtless you will say to me this similitude: Physician, heal thyself. As great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy own country.

And he said to them, doubtless you will say to me this similitude (in the Greek παζαβολὴν—parable, proverb, or adage, in common use), Physician, heal thyself—that is, cure Thine own people and Thine own country, which should be as dear to Thee as Thyself; cure Thy fellow Nazarenes as Thou hast cured or art said to have cured the Capernaites. Thus it was that Christ presently explains it, He, by His Divine Spirit, seeing the hidden thoughts of the Nazarenes, and that they were wishing in their hearts for that which He now said. Anticipating their secret thought, He meets and answers it. “It was common among the Jews,” says Titus, “to taunt physicians who had caught any disease with this impudent and ironical saying, Physician, heal thyself.” For the common sense of mankind holds, and reason favours the opinion, that he who cannot cure himself, or neglects to do so, cannot cure others or should not attempt it. In point of fact, however, experience not seldom shows that the physician who cures others is unable to effect his own cure, but hands himself over to other physicians to be treated, because appetite often blinds the reason, and diseases obscure one’s scientific knowledge. Hence we judge better and more safely about the diseases of others than about our own. Self-love often perverts our judgment, so that Solomon warns us with the words, “Lean not unto thine own understanding,” Prov 3:5.

Tropologically: S. Anthony thus expounded the saying “Physician, heal thyself;” He that will cure the faults of others let him first cure his own. For they that will help others before they cure themselves shall relapse into their own faults. Indeed experience teaches us that they who remedy any fault in themselves easily cure it in others.

As great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy own country. Hence it is, plain that these events took place in Nazareth after Jesus had preached and worked many miracles in the city of Capernaum, as has been said at v. 16, and S. Augustine (De Consensu, bk. ii. cap. 42) observes. The Gloss interprets, “We do not believe what a vague rumour has published, seeing that among us, on whom favours of the kind would have been more fittingly conferred, Thou hast done no such work.” Here in Nazareth, Thy fatherland which conceived Thee, nourished Thee, and brought Thee unto manhood, Thou hast brethren, sisters, kinsfolk, and neighbours, some rich, others poor, some sick, others suffering in other respects. Why then dost Thou not miraculously succour these Thine own people, to whom Thou art bound by blood, by love of home, and by natural affection?

Luk 4:24  And he said: Amen I say to you that no prophet is accepted in his own country.

Ye, 0 Nazarenes, despise Me as your fellow-townsman, and the son of a carpenter; wherefore you are unworthy that I should confer benefits upon you., Therefore (says the Interlinear), I work not among you, not because I hate my own country, but because you are incredulous.  S. Cyril adds that a citizen, being always near to his fellow-citizens, is deprived of the reverence which is his due at the hands of those who know him.

Thirdly, S. Chrysostom says, “Christ had abstained from miracles among the Nazarenes that He might not provoke them to envy.” For, as S. Ambrose says, God is a despiser of the envious; and the Gloss remarks that it is almost natural for fellow-citizens to envy one another; nor do they take account of merit, but call to mind a man’s frail childhood

Chrysologus (Serm. 48, at the end,) remarks, “To be powerful is, among one’s own people, a biting and a burning; to be eminent among one’s fellow-citizens and neighbours burns up one’s neighbours’ glory; and if neighbours owe honour to a neighbour they count it slavery.” There is an amusing apologue of a parrot, which touches this subject. A parrot, brought from the East to the West, where birds of this kind are not common, wondered that he was held in greater esteem and honour than he had been accustomed to in his own country. He occupied an ivory cage plaited with silver wire, and fed on the daintiest viands, such as did not fall to the share of the others, which were only western birds, but inferior to himself neither in beauty nor in the power of imitating the human voice. Then says a turtle-dove, shut up in the same cage with him, “There is nothing wonderful in this, for no one receives in his own country the honour which is his due.”

Tropologically: Christ here teaches the faithful, particularly men devoted to the Apostolic calling, that they ought to curb or to divert themselves of all excessive affection for their own country and kinsfolk, that they may be useful to all men—

“The fishes’ native country is the boundless sea;
Let the wide earth the brave man’s country be.”

S. Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. xviii.) says very well, “For great and noble men there is one country—that Jerusalem which is perceived by the mind, not those countries which we see here, now inhabited by one race of men, now by another.” And again (Orat. xxv.) “These earthly fatherlands, these differences of race, are the scenes, the illusions, of this our short fleeting life. For whatsoever country each one has previously got possession of, whether by injustice or by misfortune, that is called his country, while we are all alike strangers and sojourners, however much we may play upon the meaning of words.” Such was S. Basil, of whom S. Gregory of Nyssa, in his life, writes, “Basil the Great was free from the fear of exile, because he held that the only fatherland of men was Paradise, and regarded all the earth as nature’s common place of exile.”

Luk 4:25  In truth I say to You, there were many widows in the days of Elias (Elijah) in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine throughout all the earth.
Luk 4:26  And to none of them was Elias (Elijah) sent, but to Sarepta (Zarephath) of Sidon, to a widow woman.

Three years and six months. This does not appear in the Old Testatment, but Jesus, as God, knew it, and revealed it to S. James, (James 5:17), for as to what is said in 1 Kings 18:1, “The word of the Lord came to Elias, in the third year, saying, Go and show thyself to Ahab that I may give rain upon the face of the earth.” This third year is not to be taken from the beginning of the drought, but as from the sojourn of Elias in Sarepta.

Throughout all the earth. In all the land—Israel and the neighbouring region, such as Sidon, and Sarepta, where this widow was.

The sense is that, as Elias, in the time of the famine, procured food for no Israelite, but only for the widow of Sarepta, a Sidonian, a Gentile, and a foreigner, because, valuing the prophet very highly, and believing him that God would provide for her hunger according to his word, she gave him the little oil and meal which she had, postponing her own and her children’s wants to his; so Christ, in like manner, puts the Capernaites before the Nazarenes, His own fellow-citizens, because the former hear Him as a Teacher sent from Heaven, honour Him and pay Him respect, but the latter despise Him as a carpenter, and their own fellow-townsman; and so He imparts to the former the spiritual bread of heavenly doctrine and miracles, but leaves the latter in their spiritual want. For Elias was the type and precursor of Christ, and the widow of Sarepta the type and first-fruits of the Gentiles whom Christ preferred before the Jews, His fellow-countrymen. Bede says that “Sidon” in Hebrew signifies “useless hunting;” “Sarepta,” “conflagration” or “neediness”—namely, of bread; that is, the Gentile world given up to the pursuit of worldly things, and suffering from the conflagration of their carnal passions and the want of spiritual bread. Elias is the prophetic, word, which, being received, feeds the hearts of them that believe.

Luk 4:27  And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus (Elisha) the prophet: and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian.

Naaman the Syrian, a foreigner and a Gentile (2 Kings 5). As Elisha, following his master Elias, did not prophecy to the Jews, his own people, but to foreigners, and did not therefore heal the lepers that were in Judæa, but Naaman the Gentile, by reason of his faith and their incredulity; so I preach and work miracles among these Capernaite strangers, on account of their faith, reverence, and good-will towards Me, but I leave you Nazarenes alone for your infidelity, your irreverence, and your contempt of Me. For Elisha, like Elias, was a type and forerunner of Christ; and Naaman the Gentile, a type of the Gentiles to whom Christ, leaving the Jews, would, by the apostles, transfer His faith, His church, and His grace. So Bede, Titus, Theophylact, Euthymius, Jansenius, Toletus, and others.

Luk 4:28  And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger.

And all in the synagogue…were filled with anger–because they knew that they were touched by these two examples of the widow and Naaman, as being incredulous, and that a slur was cast upon them as being unworthy of the miracles of Jesus; and again because they were indignant that Jesus, their fellow-townsman and equal, should compare Himself with, and place Himself before, Elias and Elisha, nay, make Himself out the Messiah, from the prophecy of Isaiah; and, lastly, because Christ hinted that He would transfer His gifts from the Jews to the Gentiles. So S. Thomas, Toletus, Francis Lucas, and others

Luk 4:29  And they rose up and thrust him out of the city: and they brought him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

They brought him to the brow of a hill. they dragged Him, as it seemed to them, by violence, but, in reality, Christ of His own accord allowed Himself to be led and dragged. The Greek word  ηγαγον implies a forceful act of leading or driving, as one might do to a stubborn mule.

That they might cast him down headlong—from the top of the hill to the bottom, and so kill Him, as one who had defamed his own native place, and inflicted injury and insult upon it; and therefore they brought Him forth outside of the city, as being unworthy of it, that they might cast Him from the top of the mountain, dash Him down upon the rocks, and break His whole body to pieces. This was a grievous piece of violence on the part of the Nazarenes against Christ, their fellow-citizen, and thus, as Euthymius observes, they confirmed in act, what He had spoken in words, namely, that a prophet is not held in honour in his own country, but dishonoured, nay, slain; and that therefore the Nazarenes were unworthy of the preaching and miracles of Christ.

S. Bonaventure, Toletus, and others add, that they took Christ out of the city to the top of the hill that they might slay Him as a blasphemer, because He had made Himself the Messiah. For though, by the law, the blasphemer was to be stoned, still they wished to cast Christ headlong upon the rocks and stones, because this is the same as if they had stoned Him. Whether the stones are cast at the man, or the man hurled headlong upon the stones, is all one; indeed, the latter is more cruel and terrible. So it was that they cast S. Stephen out of Jerusalem as a blasphemer, and stoned him; and S. James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, was hurled down from a pinnacle of the Temple as a blasphemer, because He taught that Christ was the Messiah.

S. Ambrose points out that these men were worse than the devil, who did but set Christ upon a pinnacle of the Temple, and say to Him, “Cast thyself down,” while these did their best to hurl Him down by force. “The heritage of the disciples,” he says, “is worse than that of the master – he tempts the Lord by word, they attempt His life by their act—he says, ‘Cast thyself down,’ they do Him violence in order to cast Him down.”

Luk 4:30  But he passing through the midst of them, went his way.

Maldonatus thinks that Christ here made Himself invisible, S. Ambrose and Bede that He changed their wills, so that they consented to let Him go. Others hold the better opinion that Christ turned away their imagination or their eyes, or suspended their consciousness and held their hands and feet, so that, like men bereft of their senses, though they saw Him they could not or dared not lay hold of Him. Wherefore Christ here manifested His Godhead. S. Ambrose says, “Behold! the minds of these furious men, being suddenly changed, or stupefied, He goes down through the midst of them.” And he adds the reason, “For when He wills He is taken; when He wills He slips away; when He wills He is slain; because His hour had not yet come,” John vii. 30. For as yet he must preach, and at last be crucified at Jerusalem by the Father’s decree, but not cast down headlong in Nazareth. So Bede, S. Chrysostom, Euthymius, and others. Brocardus, in his “Description of the Holy Land,” gives the tradition that Christ glided away from out of the hands of the Jews, and suddenly appeared on the opposite side of the mountain, and that therefore the place is called “the Leap of the Lord.”  N. de Lyra adds that the rock on which Christ stood yielded, and received like wax the impress of His feet, just as, when ascending into heaven from Mount Olivet, He left the marks of His feet there. This is what Adrichomius says, in his “Description of the Holy Land,” on the word “the Leap of the Lord:” “The tradition is that Christ fled to a high mountain, which is called from that circumstance ‘the Leap of the Lord,’ and that, at the touch of His garment, the rock flowed, and being melted and loosened like wax, made a kind of hollow for the Lord’s body to be received in and protected, a hollow of a capacity equal to the quantity of the Lord’s body. And in this, even at the present day, the lineaments and folds of the garment on the Lord’s back, and the marks of His feet are preserved, marked out as though by the hand of a sculptor.” This, however, lacks confirmation.

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

Aquina’ Catena Aurea on Luke 4:21-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 29, 2013

21. And he began to say to them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.

CYRIL; But then (having just finished reading to the synagogue the passage from Isaiah) He turned the eyes of all men upon Him, wondering how He knew the writing which He had never learnt. But since it was the custom of the Jews to say that the prophecies spoken of Christ are completed either in certain of their chiefs, i.e. their kings, or in some of their holy prophets, the Lord made this announcement; as it follows, But he began to say to them that this Scripture is fulfilled.

THEOPHYL; Because, in fact, as that Scripture had foretold, the Lord was both doing great things, and preaching greater.

Ver 22. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?23. And he said to them, You will surely say to me this proverb, Physician, heal yourself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in your country.24. And he said, Verily I say to you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.25. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;26. But to none of them was Elias sent, save to Sarepta, a city of Sidon, to a woman that was a widow.27. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

CHRYS. When our Lord came to Nazareth, He refrains from miracles, lest He should provoke the people to greater malice. But He sets before them His teaching no less wonderful than His miracles. For there was a certain ineffable grace in our Savior’s words which softened the hearts of the hearers. Hence it is said, And they all bare him witness.

THEOPHYL; They bare Him witness that it was truly He, as He had said, of whom the prophet had spoken.

CHRYS. But foolish men though wondering at the power of His words little esteemed Him because of His reputed father. Hence it follows, And they said, Is not this the son of Joseph?

CYRIL; But what prevents Him from filling men with awe, though He were the Son as was supposed of Joseph? Do you not see the divine miracles, Satan already prostrate, men released from their sickness?

CHRYS. For though after a long time and when He had begun to show forth His miracles, He came to them; they did not receive Him, but again were inflamed with envy. Hence it follows, And he said to them, You will surely say to me this proverb, Physician, heal yourself.

CYRIL; It was a common proverb among the Hebrews, invented as a reproach, for men used to cry out against infirm physicians, Physician, heal yourself.

GLOSS. It was as, if they said, We have heard that you performed many cures in Capernaum; cure also thyself, i.e. Do likewise in your own city, where you were nourished and brought up.

AUG. But since St. Luke mentions that great things had been already done by Him, which he knows he had not yet related, what is more evident than that he knowingly anticipated the relation of them. For he had not proceeded so far beyond our Lord’s baptism as that he should be supposed to have forgotten that he had not y et related any of those things v, which were done in Capernaum.

AMBROSE; But the Savior purposely excuses Himself for not working miracles in His own country, that no one might suppose that love of country is a thing to be lightly esteemed by us. For it follows, But he says, Verily I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country.

CYRIL; As if He says, You wish me to work many miracles among you, in whose country I have been brought up, but I am aware of a very common failing in the minds of many. To a certain extent it always happens, that even the very best things are despised when they fall to a man’s lot, not scantily, but ever at his will. So it happens also with respect to men. For a friend who is ever at hand, does not meet with the respect due to him.

THEOPHYL; Now that Christ is called a Prophet in the Scriptures, Moses bears witness, saying, God shall raise up a Prophet to you from among your brethren.

AMBROSE; But this is given for an example, that in vain can you expect the aid of Divine mercy, if you grudge to others the fruits of their virtue. The Lord despises the envious, and withdraws the miracles of His power from them that are jealous of His divine blessings in others. For our Lord’s Incarnation is an evidence of His divinity, and His invisible things are proved to us by those which are visible. See then what evils envy produces. For envy a country is deemed unworthy of the works of its citizen, which was worthy of the conception of the Son of God.

ORIGEN; As far as Luke’s narrative is concerned, our Lord is not yet said to have worked any miracle in Capernaum. For before He came to Capernaum, He is said to have lived at Nazareth. I cannot but think therefore that in these words, “whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum,” there lies a mystery concealed, and that Nazareth is a type of the Jews, Capernaum of the Gentiles. For the time will come when the people of Israel shall say, “The things which you have shown to the whole world, show also to us.” Preach your word to the people of Israel, that then at least, when the fullness of the Gentiles has entered, all Israel may be saved. Our Savior seems to me to have well answered, No prophet is accepted in his own country, but rather according to the type than the letter; though neither was Jeremiah accepted in Anathoth his country, nor the rest of the Prophets. But it seems rather to be meant that we should say, that the people of the circumcision were the countrymen of all the Prophets. And the Gentiles indeed accepted the prophecy of Jesus Christ, esteeming Moses and the Prophets who preached of Christ, far higher than they who would not from these receive Jesus.

AMBROSE; By a very apt comparison the arrogance of envious citizens is put to shame, and our Lord’s conduct shown to agree with the ancient Scriptures. For it follows, But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias: not that the days were his, but that he performed his works in them.

CHRYS. He himself, an earthly angel, a heavenly man, who had neither house, nor food, nor clothing like others, carries the keys of the heavens on his tongue. And this is what follows, When the heaven was shut. But as soon as he had closed the heavens and made the earth barren, hunger reigned and bodies wasted away, as it follows, when there was as famine through the land.

BASIL; For when he beheld the great disgrace that arose from universal plenty, he brought a famine that the people might fast, by which he checked their sin which was exceeding great. But crows were made the ministers of food to the righteous, which are wont to steal the food of others.

CHRYS. But when the stream was dried up by which the cup of the righteous man was filled, God said, Go to Sarepta, a city of Sidon; there I will command a widow woman to feed you. As it follows, But to none of them was Elias sent, save to Sarepta, a city of Sidon, to a woman that was a widow. And this was brought to pass by a particular appointment of God. For God made him go a long journey, as far as Sidon, in order that having seen the famine of the country he should ask for rain from the Lord. But there were many rich men at that time, but none of them did any thing like the widow. For in the respect shown by the woman toward the prophet, consisted her riches not of lands, but of good will.

AMBROSE; But he says in a mystery, “In the days of Elias,” because Elias brought the day to them who saw in his works the light of spiritual grace, and so the heaven was opened to them that beheld the divine mystery, but was shut when there was famine, because there was no fruitfulness in acknowledging God. But in that widow to whom Elias was sent was prefigured a type of the Church.

ORIGEN; For when a famine came upon the people of Israel, i.e. of hearing the word of God, a prophet came to a widow, of whom it is said, For the I desolate has many more children than she which has an husband; and when he had come, he multiplies her bread and her nourishment.

THEOPHYL; Sidonia signifies a vain pursuit, Sarepta fire, or scarcity of bread. By all which things the Gentiles are signified, who, given up to vain pursuits, (following gain and worldly business,) were suffering from the flames of fleshly lusts, and the want of spiritual bread, until Elias, (i.e. the word of prophecy,) now that the interpretation of the Scriptures had ceased because of the faithlessness of the Jews, came to the Church, that being received into the hearts of believers he might feed and refresh them.

BASIL; Every widowed soul, bereft of virtue and divine knowledge, as soon as she receives the divine word, knowing her own failings, learns to nourish it with the bread of virtue, and to water the teaching of virtue from the fountain of life.

ORIGEN; He cites also another similar example, adding, And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of Eliseus the Prophet, and none of them were cleansed but Naaman the Syrian, who indeed was not of Israel.

AMBROSE; Now in a mystery the people pollute the Church, that another people might succeed, gathered together from foreigners, leprous indeed at first before it is baptized in the mystical stream, but which after the sacrament of baptism, washed from the stains of body and soul, begins to be a virgin without spot or wrinkle.

THEOPHYL; For Naaman, which means beautiful, represents the Gentile people, who is ordered to be washed seven times, because that baptism saves which the seven-fold Spirit renews. His flesh after washing began to appear as a child’s, because grace like a mother begets all to one childhood, or because he is conformed to Christ, of whom it is said, to us a Child is born.

Ver 28. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,29. And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.30. But he passing through the midst of them went his way.

CYRIL; He convicted them of their evil intentions, and therefore they are enraged, and hence what follows, And all they in the synagogue when they heard these things were filled with wrath. Because He had said, This day is this prophecy fulfilled, they thought that He compared Himself to the prophets, and are therefore enraged, and expel Him out of their city, as it follows, And they rose up, and cast him out.

AMBROSE; It can not be wondered at that they lost their salvation who cast the Savior out of their city. But the Lord who taught His Apostles by the example of Himself to be all things to all men, neither repels the willing, nor chooses the unwilling; neither struggles against those who cast Him out, nor refuses to hear those who supplicate Him. But that conduct was the result of no slight enmity, which, forgetful of the feelings of fellow citizens, converts the causes of love into the bitterest hatred. For when the Lord Himself was extending His blessings among the people, they began to inflict injuries upon Him, as it follows, And they led him to the brow of the hill, that they might cast him down.

THEOPHYL; Worse are the Jewish disciples than their master the Devil. For he says, Cast yourself down; they actually attempt to cast Him down. But Jesus having suddenly changed His mind, or seized with astonishment, went away, since He still reserves for them a place of repentance. Hence it follows, He passing through the midst of them went his way.

CHRYS. Herein He shows both His human nature and His divine. To stand in the midst of those who were plotting against Him, and not be seized, betokened the loftiness of His divinity; but His departure declared the mystery of the dispensation, i.e. His incarnation.

AMBROSE; At the same time we must understand that this bodily endurance was not necessary, but voluntary. When He wills, He is taken, when He wills, He escapes. For how could He be held by a few who was not held by a whole people? But He would have the impiety to be the deed of the many, in order that by a few indeed He might be afflicted, but might die for the whole world. Moreover, He had still rather heal the Jews than destroy them, that by the fruitless issue of their rage they might be dissuaded from wishing what they could not accomplish.

THEOPHYL; The hour of His Passion had not yet come, which was to be on the preparation of the Passover, nor had He yet come to the place of His Passion, which not at Nazareth, but at Jerusalem, was prefigured by the blood of the victims; nor had He chosen this kind of death, of whom it was prophesied that He should be crucified by the world.

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

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 71

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 29, 2013

1. In all the holy Scriptures the grace of God that delivereth us commendeth itself to us, in order that it may have us commended. This is sung of in this Psalm, whereof we have undertaken to speak. …This grace the Apostle commendeth: by this he got to have the Jews for enemies, boasting of the letter of the law and of their own justice. This then commending in the lesson which hath been read, he saith thus: “For I am the least of the Apostles, that am not worthy to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.” “But therefore mercy,” he saith, “I obtained, because ignorant I did it in unbelief.” Then a little afterwards, “Faithful the saying is, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first.” Were there before him not any sinners? What then, was he the first then? Yea, going before all men not in time, but in evil disposition. “But therefore,” he saith, “mercy I obtained,” in order that in me Christ Jesus might show all long-suffering, for the imitation of those that shall believe in Him unto life eternal: that is, every sinner and unjust man, already despairing of himself, already having the mind of a gladiator, so as to do whatsoever he willeth, because he must needs be condemned, may yet observe the Apostle Paul, to whom so great cruelty and so very evil a disposition was forgiven by God; and by not despairing of himself may he be turned unto God. This grace God doth commend to us in this Psalm also. …

The title then of this Psalm is, as usual, a title intimating on the threshold what is being done in the house: “To David himself for the sons of Jonadab, and for those that were first led captive.” Jonadab (he is commended to us in the prophecy of Jeremiah) was a certain man, who had enjoined his sons not to drink wine, and not to dwell in houses, but in tents. But the commandment of the father the sons kept and observed, and by this earned a blessing from the Lord. Now the Lord had not commanded this, but their own father. But they so received it as though it were a commandment from the Lord their God; for even though the Lord had not commanded that they should drink no wine and should dwell in tents; yet the Lord had commanded that sons should obey their father. In this case alone a son ought not to obey his father, if his father should have commanded anything contrary to the Lord his God. For indeed the father ought not to be angry, when God is preferred before him. But when a father doth command that which is not contrary to God; he must be heard as God is: because to obey one’s father God hath enjoined. God then blessed the sons of Jonadab because of their obedience, and thrust them in the teeth of His disobedient people, reproaching them, because while the sons of Jonadab were obedient to their father, they obeyed not their God. But while Jeremiah was treating of these topics, he had this object in regard to the people of Israel, that they should prepare themselves to be led for captivity into Babylon, and should not hope for any other thing, but that they were to be captives. The title then of this Psalm seemeth from thence to have taken its hue, so that when he had said, “Of the sons of Jonadab;” he added, “and of them that were first led captive:” not that the sons of Jonadab were led captive, but because to them that were to be led captive there were opposed the sons of Jonadab, because they were obedient to their father: in order that they might understand that they had been made captive, because they were not obedient to God. It is added also that Jonadab is interpreted, “the Lord’s spontaneous one.” What is this, the Lord’s spontaneous one? Serving God freely with the will. What is, the Lord’s spontaneous one? “In me are, O God, Thy vows, which I will render of praise to Thee.”What is, the Lord’s spontaneous one? “Voluntarily I will sacrifice to Thee.” For if the Apostolic teaching admonisheth a slave to serve a human master, not as though of necessity, but of good will, and by freely serving make himself in heart free; how much more must God be served with whole and full and free will, who seeth thy very will?… The first man made us captive, the second man hath delivered us from captivity. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” But in Adam they die through the flesh’s nativity, in Christ they are delivered through the heart’s faith. It was not in thy power not to be born of Adam: it is in thy power to believe in Christ. Howsoever much then thou shall have willed to belong to the first man, unto captivity thou wilt belong. And what is, shall have willed to belong? or what is, shalt belong? Already thou belongest: cry out, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Let us hear then this man crying out this.

“O God, in Thee I have hoped, O Lord, I shall not be confounded for everlasting” (ver. 1). Already I have been confounded, but not for everlasting. For how is he not confounded, to whom is said, “What fruit had ye in these things wherein ye now blush?” What then shall be done, that we may not be confounded for everlasting? “Draw near unto Him, and be ye enlightened, and your faces shall not blush.” Confounded ye are in Adam, withdraw from Adam, draw near unto Christ, and then ye shall not be confounded. “In Thee I have hoped, O Lord, I shall not be confounded for everlasting.” If in myself I am now confounded, in Thee I shall not be confounded for everlasting.

“In Thine own righteousness deliver me, and save me” (ver. 2). Not in mine own, but in Thine own: for if in mine own, I shall be one of those whereof he saith, “Being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and their own righteousness willing to establish, to the righteousness of God they were not made subject.” Therefore, “in Thine own righteousness,” not in mine. For mine is what? Iniquity hath gone before. And when I shall be righteous, Thine own righteousness it will be: for by righteousness given to me by Thee I shall be righteous; and it shall be so mine, as that it be Thine, that is, given to me by Thee. For I believe on Him that justifieth an ungodly man, so that my faith is counted for righteousness. Even so then the righteousness shall be mine, not however as though mine own, not as though by mine own self given to myself: as they thought who through the letter made their boast, and rejected grace.

…It is a small thing then that thou acknowledge the good thing which is in thee to be from God, unless also on that account thou exalt not thyself above him that hath not yet, who perchance when he shall have received, will outstrip thee. For when Saul was a stoner of Stephen, how many were the Christians of whom he was persecutor! Nevertheless, when he was converted, all that had gone before he surpassed. Therefore say thou to God that which thou hearest in the Psalm, “In Thee I have hoped, O Lord, I shall not be confounded for everlasting: in Thine own righteousness,” not in mine, “deliver me, and save me.” “Incline unto me Thine ear.” This also is a confession of humility. He that saith, “Incline unto me,” is confessing that he is lying like a sick man laid at the feet of the Physician standing. Lastly, observe that it is a sick man that is speaking: “Incline unto me Thine ear, and save me.”

“Be Thou unto me for a protecting God” (ver. 3). Let not the darts of the enemy reach unto me: for I am not able to protect myself. And a small thing is “protecting:” he hath added, “and for a walled place, that Thou mayest save me.” “For a walled place” be Thou to me, be Thou my walled place. …Behold, God Himself hath become the place of thy fleeing unto, who at first was the fearful object of thy fleeing from. “For a walled place,” he saith, be Thou to me, “that Thou mayest save me.” I shall not be safe except in Thee: except Thou shalt have been my rest, my sickness shall not be able to be made whole. Lift me from the earth; upon Thee I will lie, in order that I may rise unto a walled place. What can be better walled? When unto that place thou shalt have fled for refuge, tell me what adversaries thou wilt dread? Who will lie in wait, and come at thee? A certain man is said from the summit of a mountain to have cried out, when an Emperor was passing by, “I speak not of thee:” the other is said to have looked back and to have said, “Nor I of thee.” He had despised an Emperor with glittering arms, with mighty army. From whence? From a strong place. If he was secure on a high spot of earth, how secure art thou on Him by whom heaven and earth were made? I, if for myself I shall have chosen another place, shall not be able to be safe. Choose thou indeed, O man, if thou shalt have found one, a place better walled. There is not then a place whither to flee from Him, except we flee to Him. If thou wilt escape Him angry, flee to Him appeased. “For my firmament and my refuge Thou art.” “My firmament” is what? Through Thee I am firm, and by Thee I am firm. “For my firmament and my refuge Thou art:” in order that I may be made firm by Thee, in whatever respects I shall have been made infirm in myself, I will flee for refuge unto Thee. For firm the grace of Christ maketh thee, and immovable against all temptations of the enemy. But there is there too human frailness, there is there still the first captivity, there is there too the law in the members fighting against the law of the mind, and willing to lead captive in the law of sin: still the body which is corrupt presseth down the soul. Howsoever firm thou be by the grace of God, so long as thou still bearest an earthly vessel, wherein the treasure of God is, something must be dreaded even from that same vessel of clay. Therefore “my firmament Thou art,” in order that I may be firm in this world against all temptations. But if many they are, and they trouble me: “my refuge Thou art.” For I will confess mine infirmity, to the end that I may be timid like a “hare,” because I am full of thorns like a “hedgehog.” And as in another Psalm is said, “The rock is a refuge for the hedgehogs and the hares:” but the Rock was Christ.

“O God, deliver me from the hand of the sinner” (ver. 4). Generally, sinners, among whom is toiling he that is now to be delivered from captivity: he that now crieth, “Unhappy man I, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Within is a foe, that law in the members; there are without also enemies: unto what cryest thou? Unto Him, to whom hath been cried, “From my secret sins cleanse me, O Lord, anti from strange sins spare Thy servant.” … But these sinners are of two kinds: there are some that have received Law, there are others that have not received: all the heathen have not received Law, all Jews and Christians have received Law. Therefore the general term is sinner; either a transgressor of the Law, if he hath received Law; or only unjust without Law, if he hath not received the Law. Of both kinds speaketh the Apostle, and saith, “They that without Law have sinned, without Law shall perish, and they that in the Law have sinned, by the Law shall be judged.” But thou that amid both kinds dost groan, say to God that which thou hearest in the Psalm, “My God, deliver me from the hand of the sinner.” Of what sinner? “From the hand of him that transgresseth the Law, and of the unjust man.” He that transgresseth the Law is indeed also unjust; for not unjust he is not, that transgresseth the Law: but every one that transgresseth the Law is unjust, not every unjust man doth transgress the Law. For, “Where there is not a Law,” saith the Apostle, “neither is there transgression.” They then that have not received Law, may be called unjust, transgressors they cannot be called. Both are judged after their deservings. But I that from captivity will to be delivered through Thy grace, cry to Thee, “Deliver me from the hand of the sinner.” What is, from the hand of him? From the power of him, that while he is raging, he lead me not unto consenting with him; that while he lieth in wait, he persuade not to iniquity. “From the hand of the sinner and of the unjust man.”…

Lastly, there followeth the reason why I say this: “for Thou art my patience” (ver. 5). Now if He is patience rightly, He is that also which followeth, “O Lord, my hope from my youth.” My patience, because my hope: or rather my hope, because my patience. “Tribulation,” saith the Apostle, “worketh patience, patience probation, but probation hope, but hope confoundeth not.” With reason in Thee I have hoped, O Lord, I shall not be confounded for everlasting. “O Lord, my hope from my youth.” From thy youth is God thy hope? Is He not also from thy boyhood, and from thine infancy? Certainly, saith he. For see what followeth, that thou mayest not think that I have said this, “my hope from my youth,” as if God noways profiled mine infancy or my boyhood; hear what followeth: “In Thee I have been strengthened from the womb.” Hear yet: “From the belly of my mother Thou art my Protector” (ver. 6). Why then, “from my youth,” except it was the period from which I began to hope in Thee? For before in Thee I was not hoping, though Thou wast my Protector, that didst lead me safe unto the time, when I learned to hope in Thee. But from my youth I began in Thee to hope, from the time when Thou didst arm me against the Devil, so that in the girding of Thy host being armed with Thy faith, love, hope, and the rest of Thy gifts, I waged conflict against Thine invisible enemies, and heard from the Apostle, “There is not for us a wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers,” etc. There a young man it is that doth fight against these things: but though he be a young man, he falleth, unless He be the hope of Him to whom he crieth, “O Lord, my hope from my youth.” “In Thee is my singing alway.” Is it only from the time when I began to hope in Thee until now? Nay, but “alway.” What is, “alway”? Not only in the time of faith, but also in the time of sight. For now, “So long as we are in the body we are absent from the Lord: for by faith we walk, not by sight:” there will be a time when we shall see that which being not seen we believe: but when that hath been seen which we believe, we shall rejoice: but when that hath been seen which they believed not, ungodly men shall be confounded. Then will come the substance whereof there is now the hope. But, “Hope which is seen is not hope. But if that which we see not we hope for, through patience we wait for it.” Now then thou groanest, now unto a place of refuge thou runnest, in order that thou mayest be saved; now being in infirmity thou entreatest the Physician: what, when thou shall have received perfect soundness also, what when thou shall have been made “equal to the Angels of God,” wilt thou then perchance forget that grace, whereby thou hast been delivered? Far be it.

“As it were a monster I have become unto many” (ver. 7). Here in time of hope, in time of groaning, in time of humiliation, in time of sorrow, in time of infirmity, in time of the voice from the fetters-here then what? “As it were a monster I have become unto many.” Why, “As it were a monster”? Why do they insult me that think me a monster? Because I believe that which I see not. For they being happy in those things which they see, exult in drink, in wantonness, in chamberings, in covetousness, in riches, in robberies, in secular dignities, in the whitening of a mud wall, in these things they exult: but I walk in a different way, contemning those things which are present, and fearing even the prosperous things of the world, and secure in no other thing but the promises of God. And they, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” What sayest thou? Repeat it: “let us eat,” he saith, “and drink.” Come now, what hast thou said afterwards? “for to-morrow we die.” Thou hast terrified, not led me astray. Certainly by the very thing which thou hast said afterwards, thou hast stricken me with fear to consent with thee. “For to-morrow we die,” thou hast said: and there hath preceded, “Let us eat and drink.” For when thou hadst said, “Let us eat and drink;” thou didst add, “for to-morrow we die.” Hear the other side from me, “Yea let us fast and pray, `for to-morrow we die.'” I keeping this way, strait and narrow, “as it were a monster have become unto many: but Thou art a strong helper.” Be Thou with me, O Lord Jesus, to say to me, faint not in the narrow way, I first have gone along it, I am the way itself, I lead, in Myself I lead, unto Myself I lead home. Therefore though “a monster I have become unto many;” nevertheless I will not fear, for “Thou art a strong Helper.”

“Let my mouth be fulfilled with praise, that with hymn I may tell of Thy glory, all the day long Thy magnificence” (ver. 8). What is “all the day long”? Without intermission. In prosperity, because Thou dost comfort: in adversity, because Thou dost correct: before I was in being, because Thou didst make; when I was in being, because Thou didst give health:when I had sinned, because Thou didst forgive; when I was converted, because Thou didst help; when I had persevered, because Thou didst crown.

My hope from my youth, “cast me not away in time of old age” (ver. 9). What is this time of old age? “When my strength shall fail, forsake Thou not me.” Here God maketh this answer to thee, yea indeed let thy strength fail, in order that in thee mine may abide: in order that thou mayest say with the Apostle, “When I am made weak, then I am mighty.” Fear not, that thou be cast away in that weakness, in that old age. But why? Was not thy Lord made weak on the Cross? Did not most mighty men and fat bulls before Him, as though a man of no strength, made captive and oppressed, shake the head and say, “If Son of God He is, let Him come down from the Cross”? Has he deserted because He was made weak, who preferred not to come down from the Cross, lest He should seem not to have displayed power, but to have yielded to them reviling? What did He hanging teach thee, that would not come down, but patience amid men reviling, but that thou shouldest be strong in thy God? Perchance too in His person was said, “As it were a monster I have become unto many, and Thou art a strong Helper.” In His person according to His weakness, not according to His power; according to that whereby He had transformed us into Himself, not according to that wherein He had Himself come down. For He became a monster unto many. And perchance the same was the old age of Him; because on account of its oldness it is not improperly called old age, and the Apostle saith, “Our old man hath been crucified together with Him.” If there was there our old man, old age was there; because old, old age. Nevertheless, because a true saying is, “Renewed as an eagle’s shall be Thy youth ;” He rose Himself the third day, promised a resurrection at the end of the world. Already there hath gone before the Head, the members are to follow. Why dost thou fear lest He should forsake thee, lest He cast thee away for the time of old age, when thy strength shall have failed? Yea at that time in thee will be the strength of Him, when thy strength shall have failed.

Why do I say this? “For mine enemies have spoken against me, and they that were keeping watch for My soul, have taken counsel together (ver. 10): saying, God hath forsaken Him, persecute Him, and seize Him, for there is no one to deliver Him” (ver. 11). This hath been said concerning Christ. For He that with the great power of Divinity, wherein He is equal to the Father, had raised to life dead persons, on a sudden in the hands of enemies became weak, and as if having no power, was seized. When would He have been seized, except they had first said in their heart, “God hath forsaken Him?” Whence there was that voice on the Cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” So then did God forsake Christ, though “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,” though Christ was also God, out of the Jews indeed according to the flesh, “Who is over all things, God blessed for ever,” -did God forsake Him? Far be it. But in our old man our voice it was, because our old man was crucified together with Him: and of that same our old man He had taken a Body, because Mary was of Adam. Therefore the very thing which they thought, from the Cross He said, “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Why do these men think Me left alone to their evil? What is, think Me forsaken in their evil? “For if they had known, the Lord of glory they had never crucified. Persecute and seize Him.” More familiarly however, brethren, let us take this of the members of Christ, and acknowledge our own voice in these words: because even He used such words in our person, not in His own power and majesty; but in that which He became for our sakes, not according to that which He was, who hath made us.

“O Lord, my God, be not far from me” (ver. 12). So it is, and the Lord is not far off at all. For, “The Lord is nigh unto them that have bruised the heart.” “My God, unto my help look Thou.” “Be they confounded and fail that engage my soul” (ver. 13). What hath he desired? “Be they confounded and fail.” Why hath he desired it? “That engage my soul”? What is, “That engage my soul”? Engaging as it were unto some quarrel. For they are said to be engaged that are challenged to quarrel. If then so it is, let us beware of men that engage our soul. What is, “That engage our soul”? First provoking us to withstand God, in order that in our evil things God may displease us. For when art thou right, so that to thee the God of Israel may be good, good to men fight in heart? When art thou right? Wilt thou hear? When in that good which thou doest, God is pleasing to thee; but in that evil which thou sufferest, God is not displeasing to thee. See ye what I have said, brethren, and be ye on your guard against men that engage your souls. For all men that deal with you in order to make you be wearied in sorrows and tribulations, have this aim, namely, that God may be displeasing to you in that which ye suffer, and there may go forth from your mouth, “What is this? For what have I done?” Now then hast thou done nothing of evil, and art thou just, He unjust? A sinner I am, thou sayest, I confess, just I call not myself. But what, sinner, hast thou by any means done so much evil as he with whom it is well? As much as Gaiuseius? I know the evil doings of him, I know the iniquities of him, from which I, though a sinner, am very far; and yet I see him abounding in all good things, and I am suffering so great evil things. I do not then say, O God, “what have I done” to Thee, because I have done nothing at all of evil; but because I have not done so much as to deserve to suffer these things. Again, art thou just, He unjust? Wake up, wretched man, thy soul hath been engaged! I have not, he saith, called myself just. What then sayest thou? A sinner I am, but I did not commit so great sins, as to deserve to suffer these things. Thou sayest not then to God, just I am, and Thou art unjust: but thou sayest, unjust I am, but Thou art more unjust. Behold thy soul hath been engaged, behold now thy soul wageth war. What? Against whom? Thy soul, against God; that which hath been made against Him by whom it was made. Even because thou art in being to cry out against Him, thou art ungrateful. Return, then, to the confession of thy sickness, and beg the healing hand of the Physician. Think thou not they are happy who flourish for a time. Thou art being chastised, they are being spared: perchance for thee chastised and amended an inheritance is being kept in reserve. …Lastly, see what followeth, “Let them put on confusion and shame, that think evil things to me.” “Confusion and shame,” confusion because of a bad conscience, shame because of modesty. Let this befall them, and they will be good. …

“But I alway in Thee will hope, and will add to all Thy praise” (ver. 14). What is this? “I will add to all Thy praise,” ought to move us. More perfect wilt thou make the praise of God? Is there anything to be superadded? If already that is all praise, wilt thou add anything? God was praised in all His good deeds, in every creature of His, in the whole establishment of all things, in the government and regulation of ages, in the order of seasous, in the height of Heaven, in the fruitfulness of the regions of earth, in the encircling of the sea, in every excellency of the creature everywhere brought forth, in the sons of men themselves, in the giving of the Law, in delivering His people from the captivity of the Egyptians, and all the rest of His wonderful works: not yet He had been praised for having raised up flesh unto life eternal. Be there then this praise added by the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ: in order that here we may perceive His voice above all past praise: thus it is that we rightly understand this also. …

“My mouth shall tell out Thy righteousness” (ver. 15): not mine. From thence I will add to all Thy praise: because even that I am righteous, if righteous I am, is Thy righteousness in me, not mine own: for Thou dost justify the ungodly. “All the day long Thy salvation.” What is, “Thy salvation “? Let no one assume to himself, that he saveth himself, “Of the Lord is Salvation.” Not any one by himself saveth himself, “Vain is man’s salvation.” “All the day long Thy Salvation:” at all times. Something of adversity cometh, preach the Salvation of the Lord: something of prosperity cometh, preach the Salvation of the Lord. Do not preach in prosperity, and hold thy peace in adversity: otherwise there will not be that which hath been said, “all the day long.” For all the day long is day together with its own night. Do we when we say, for example, thirty days have gone by, mention the nights also; do we not under the very term days include the nights also? In Genesis what was said? “The evening was made, and the morning was made, one day.” Therefore a whole day is the day together with its own night: for the night doth serve the day, not the day the night. Whatever thou doest in mortal flesh, ought to serve righteousness: whatever thou doest by the commandment of God, be it not done for the sake of the advantage of the flesh, lest day serve night. Therefore all the day long speak of the praise of God, to wit, in prosperity and in adversity; in prosperity, as though in the day time; in adversity, as though in the night time: all the day long nevertheless speak of the praise of God, so that thou mayest not have sung to no purpose, “I will bless God at every time, alway the praise of Him is in my mouth.” …

Therefore, he saith, “For I have not known tradings.” What are these tradings? Let traders hear and change their life; and if they have been such, be not such; let them not know what they have been, let them forget; lastly, let them not approve, not praise; let them disapprove, condemn, be changed, if trading is a sin. For on this account, O thou trader, because of a certain eagerness for getting, whenever thou shalt have suffered loss, thou wilt blaspheme; and there will not be in thee that which hath been spoken of, “all the day long Thy praise.” But whenever for the price of the goods which thou art selling, thou not only liest, but even falsely swearest; how in thy mouth all the day long is there the praise of God? While, if thou art a Christian, even out of thy mouth the name of God is being blasphemed, so that men say, see what sort of men are Christians! Therefore if this man for this reason speaketh the praise of God all the day long, because he hath not known tradings; let Christians amend themselves, let them not trade. But a trader saith to me, behold I bring indeed from a distant quarter merchandise unto these places, wherein there are not those things which I have brought, by which means I may gain a living: I ask but as reward for my labour, that I may sell dearer than I have bought: for whence can I live, when it hath been written, “the worker is worthy of his reward”? But he is treating of lying, of false swearing. This is the fault of me, not of trading: for I should not, if I would, be unable to do without this fault. I then, the merchant, do not shift mine own fault to trading: but if I lie, it is I that lie, not the trade. For I might say, for so much I bought, but for so much I will sell; if thou pleasest, buy. For the buyer hearing this truth would not be offended, and not a whit less all men would resort to me: because they would love truth more than gain. Of this then, he saith, admonish me, that I lie not, that I forswear not; not to relinquish business whereby I maintain myself. For to what dost thou put me when thou puttest me away from this? Perchance to some craft? I will be a shoemaker, I will make shoes for men. Are not they too liars? are not they too false-swearers? Do they not, when they have contracted to make shoes for one man, when they have received money from another man, give up that which they were making, and undertake to make for another, and deceive him for whom they have promised to make speedily? Do they not often say, to-day I am about it, to-day I’ll get them done? Secondly, in the very sewing do they not commit as many frauds? These are their doings and these are their sayings: but they are themselves evil, not the calling which they profess. All evil artificers, then, not fearing God, either for gain, or for fear of loss or want, do lie, do forswear themselves; there is no continual praise of God in them. How then dost thou withdraw me from trading? Wouldest thou that I be a farmer, and murmur against God thundering, so that, fearing hail, I consult a wizard, in order to learn what to do to protect me against the weather; so that I desire famine for the poor, in order that I may be able to sell what I have kept in store? Unto this dost thou bring me? But good farmers, thou sayest, do not such things. Nor do good traders do those things. But why, even to have sons is an evil thing, for when their head is in pain, evil and unbelieving mothers seek for impious charms and incantations? These are the sins of men, not of things. A trader might thus speak to me-Look then, O Bishop, how thou understand the tradings which thou hast read in the Psalm: lest perchance thou understand not, and yet forbid me trading. Admonish me then how I should live; if well, it shall be well with me: one thing however I know, that if I shall have been evil, it is not trading that maketh me so, but my iniquity. Whenever truth is spoken, there is nothing to be said against it.

Let us inquire then what he hath called tradings, which indeed he that hath not known, all the day long doth praise God. Trading even in the Greek language is derived from action, and in the Latin from want of inaction: but whether it be from action or want of inaction, let us examine what it is. For they that are active traders, rely as it were upon their own action, they praise their works, they attain not to the grace of God. Therefore traders are opposed to that grace which this Psalm doth commend. For it doth commend that grace, in order that no one may boast of his own works. Because in a certain place is said, “Physicians shall not raise to life,” ought men to abandon medicine? But what is this? Under this name are understood proud men, promising salvation to men, whereas “of the Lord is Salvation.” …With reason the Lord drave from the Temple them to whom He said, “It is written, My House shall be called the House of prayer, but ye have made it a house of trading; ” that is, boasting of your works, seeking no inaction, nor hearing the Scripture speaking against your unrest and trading, “be ye still, and see that I am the Lord.” …

But there is in some copies, “For I have not known literature.” Where some books have “trading,” there others “literature:” how they may accord is a hard matter to find out; and yet the discrepancy of interpreters perchance showeth the meaning, introduceth no error. Let us inquire then how to understand literature also, lest we offend grammarians in the same way as we did traders a little before: because a grammarian too may live honourably in his calling, and neither forswear nor lie. Let us examine then the literature which he hath not known, in whose mouth all the day long is the praise of God. There is a sort of literature of the Jews: for to them let us refer this; there we shall find what hath been said: just as when we were inquiring about traders, on the score of actions and works, we found that to be called detestable trading, which the Apostle hath branded, saying, “For being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and willing to establish their own, to the righteousness of God they were not made subject.” …Just as then we found out the former charge against traders, that is men boasting of action, exalting themselves because of business which admitteth no inaction, unquiet men rather than good workmen; because good workmen are those in whom God worketh; so also we find a sort of literature among the Jews.

…Moses wrote five books: but in the five porches encircling the pool, sick men were lying, but they could not be healed. See how the letter remained, convicting the guilty, not saving the unrighteous. For in those five porches, a figure of the five books, sick men were given over rather than made whole. What then in that place did make whole a sick man? The moving of the water. When that pool was moved there went down a sick man, and there was made whole one, one because of unity: whatsoever other man went down unto that same moving was not made whole. How then was there commended the unity of the Body crying from the ends of the earth? Another man was not healed, except again the pool were moved. The moving of the pool then did signify the perturbation of the people of the Jews when the Lord Jesus Christ came. For at the coming of an Angel the water in the pool was perceived to be moved. The water then encircled with five porches was the Jewish nation encircled by the Law. And in the porches the sick lay, and in the water alone when troubled and moved they were healed. The Lord came, troubled was the water; He was crucified, may He come down in order that the sick man may be made whole. What is, may He come down? May He humble Himself. Therefore whosoever ye be that love the letter without grace, in the porches ye will remain, sick ye will be, lying ill, not growing well. …For the same figure also it is that Eliseus at first sent a staff by his servant to raise up the dead child. There had died the son of a widow his hostess; it was reported to him, to his servant he gave his staff: go thou, he saith, lay it on the dead child. Did the prophet not know what he was doing? The servant went before, he laid the staff upon the dead, the dead arose not. “For if there had been given a law which could have made alive, surely out of the law there had been righteousness.” The law sent by the servant made not alive: and yet he sent his staff by the servant, who himself afterwards followed, and made alive. For when that infant arose not, Eliseus came himself, now bearing the type of the Lord, who had sent before his servant with the staff, as though with the Law: he came to the child that was lying dead, he laid his limbs upon it. The one was an infant, the other a grown man: he contracted and shortened in a manner the size of his full growth, in order that he might fit the dead child. The dead then arose, when he being alive adapted himself to the dead: and the Master did that which the staff did not; and grace did that which the letter did not. They then that have remained in the staff, glory in the letter; and therefore are not made alive. But I will to glory concerning Thy grace. …In that same grace I glorying “literature have not known:” that is, men on the letter relying, and from grace recoiling, with whole heart I have rejected.

With reason there followeth, “I will enter into the power of the Lord:” not mine own, but the Lord’s. For they gloried in their own power of the letter, therefore grace joined to the letter they knew not. …But because “the letter killeth, but the Spirit maketh alive:” “I have not known literature, and I will enter into the power of the Lord.” Therefore this verse following doth strengthen and perfect the sense, so as to fix it in the hearts of men, and not suffer any other interpretation to steal in from any quarter. “O Lord, I will be mindful of Thy righteousness alone” (ver. 16). Ah! “alone.” Why hath he added “alone,” I ask you? It would suffice to say, “I will be mindful of Thy righteousness.” “alone,” he saith, entirely: there of mine own I think not. “For what hast thou which thou hast not received? But if also thou hast received, why dost thou glory as if thou hast not received.” Thy righteousness alone doth deliver me, what is mine own alone is nought but sins. May I not glory then of my own strength, may I not remain in the letter; may I reject “literature,” that is, men glorying of the letter, and on their own strength perversely, like men frantic, relying: may I reject such men, may I enter into the power of the Lord, so that when I am weak, then I may be mighty; in order that Thou in me mayest be mighty, for, “I will be mindful of Thy righteousness alone.”

“O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth” (ver. 17). What hast thou taught me? That of Thy righteousness alone I ought to be mindful. For reviewing my past life, I see what was owing to me, and what I have received instead of that which was owing to me. There was owing punishment, there hath been paid grace: there was owing hell, there hath been given life eternal. “O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth.” From the very beginning of my faith, wherewith Thou hast renewed me, Thou didst teach me that nothing had preceded in me, whence I might say that there was owing to me what Thou hast given. For who is turned to God save from iniquity? Who is redeemed save from captivity? But who can say that unjust was his captivity, when he forsook his Captain and fell off to the deserter? God is for our Captain, the devil a deserter: the Captain gave a commandment, the deserter suggested guile: where were thine ears between precept and deceit? was the devil better than God? Better he that revolted than He that made thee? Thou didst believe what the devil promised, and didst find what God threatened. Now then out of captivity being delivered, still however in hope, not yet in substance, walking by faith, not yet by sight, “O God,” he saith, “Thou hast taught me from my youth.” From the time that I have been turned to Thee, renewed by Thee who had been made by Thee, re-created who had been created, re-formed who had been formed: from the time that I have been converted, I have learned that no merits of mine have preceded, but that Thy grace hath come to me gratis, in order that I might be mindful of Thy righteousness alone.

What next after youth? For, “Thou hast taught me,” he saith, “from my youth:” what after youth? For in that same first conversion of thine thou didst learn, how before conversion thou wast not just, but iniquity preceded, in order that iniquity being banished, there might succeed love: and having been renewed into a new man, only in hope, not yet in substance, thou didst learn how nothing of thy good had preceded, and by the grace of God thou wast converted to God: now perchance since the time that thou hast been converted wilt thou have anything of thine own, and on thy own strength oughtest thou to rely? Just as men are wont to say, now leave me, it was necessary for thee to show me the way; it is sufficient, I will walk in the way. And he that hath shown thee the way, “wilt thou not that I conduct thee to the place?” But thou, if thou art conceited, “let me alone, it is enough, I will walk in the way.” Thou art left, and through thy weakness again thou wilt lose the way. Good were it for thee that He should have conducted thee, who first put thee in the way. But unless He too lead thee, again also thou wilt stray: say to Him then, “Conduct me, O Lord, in Thy way, and I will walk in Thy truth.” But thy having entered on the way, is youth, the very renewal and beginning of the faith. For before thou wast walking through thy own ways a vagabond; straying through woody places, through rough places, torn in all thy limbs, thou wast seeking a home, that is, a sort of settlement of thy spirit, where thou mightest say, it is well; and being in security mightest say it, at rest from every uneasiness, from every trial, in a word from every captivity; and thou didst not find. What shall I say? Came there to thee one to show thee the way? There came to thee the Way itself, and thou wast set therein by no merits of thine preceding, for evidently thou wast straying. What, since the time that thou hast set foot therein dost thou now direct thyself? Doth He that hath taught thee the way now leave thee? No, he saith: “Thou hast taught me from my youth; and even until now I will tell forth Thy wonderful works.” For a wonderful thing is that which still Thou doest; namely, that Thou dost direct me, who in the way hast put me: and these are Thy wonderful works. What dost thou think to be the wonderful works of God? What is more wonderful among God’s wonderful works, than the raising the dead? But am I by any means dead, thou sayest? Unless dead thou hadst been, there would not have been said to thee, “Rise, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall enlighten thee.” Dead are all unbelievers, all unrighteous men; in body they live, but in heart they are extinct. But he that raiseth a man dead according to the body, doth bring him back to see this light and to breathe this air: but he that raiseth is not himself light and air to him; he beginneth to see, as he saw before. A soul is not so resuscitated. For a soul is resuscitated by God; though even a body is resuscitated by God: but God, when He doth resuscitate a body, to the world doth bring it back: when He doth resuscitate a soul, to Himself He bringeth it back. If the air of this world be withdrawn, there dieth body: if God be withdrawn, there dieth soul. When then God doth resuscitate a soul, unless there be with her He that hath resuscitated, she being resuscitated liveth not. For He doth not resuscitate, and then leave her to live to herself: in the same manner as Lazarus, when he was resuscitated after being four days dead, was resuscitated by the Lord’s corporal presence.

…The Lord withdrew from that same city or from that spot, did Lazarus cease to live? Not so is the soul resuscitated: God doth resuscitate her, she dieth if God shall have withdrawn. For I will speak boldly, brethren, but yet the truth. Two lives there are, one of the body, another of the soul: as the life of the body is the soul, so the life of the soul is God: in like manner as, if the soul forsake, the body dieth: so the soul dieth, if God forsake. This then is His grace, namely, that He resuscitate and be with us. Because then He doth resuscitate us from our past death, and doth renew in a manner our life, we say to Him, “O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth.” But because He doth not withdraw from those whom He resuscitateth, lest when He shall have withdrawn from them they die, we say to Him, “and even until now I will tell forth Thy wonderful works:” because while Thou art with me I live, and of my soul Thou art the life, which will die if she be left to herself. Therefore while my life is present, that is, my God, “even until now,” what next?

“And even unto oldness and old age” (ver. 18). These are two terms for old age, and are distinguished by the Greeks. For the gravity succeeding youth hath another name among the Greeks, and after that same gravity the last age coming on hath another name; for presbuthj signifieth grave, and gerwn old. But because in the Latin language the distinction of these two terms holdeth not, both words implying old age are inserted, oldness and old age: but ye know them to be two ages. “Thou hast taught me Thy grace from my youth; and even until now;” after my youth, “I will tell forth Thy wonderful works,” because Thou art with me in order that I may not die, who hast come in order that I may rise: “and even unto oldness and old age,” that is, even unto my last breath, unless with me Thou shalt have been, there will not be any merit of mine; may Thy grace alway remain with me. Even one man would say this, thou, he, I; but because this voice is that of a certain great Man, that is, of the Unity itself, for it is the voice of the Church; let us investigate the youth of the Church. When Christ came, He was crucified, dead, rose again, called the Gentiles, they began to be converted, became Martyrs strong in Christ, there was shed faithful blood, there arose a harvest for the Church: this is Her youth. But seasons advancing let the Church confess, let Her say, “Even until now I will tell forth Thy wonderful works.” Not only in youth, when Paul, when Peter, when the first Apostles told: even in advancing age I myself, that is, Thy Unity, Thy members, Thy Body, “will tell forth Thy marvellous works.” What then? “And even unto oldness and old age,” I will tell forth Thy wonderful works: even until the end of the world here shall be the Church. For if She were not to be here even unto the end of the world; to whom did the Lord say, “Behold, I am with you always, even unto the consummation of the world”? Why was it necessary that these things should be spoken in the Scriptures? Because there were to be enemies of the Christian Faith who would say, “for a short time are the Christians, hereafter they shall perish, and there shall come back idols, there shall come back that which was before. How long shall be the Christians?” “Even unto oldness and old age:” that is, even unto the end of the world. When thou, miserable unbeliever, dost expect Christians to pass away, thou art passing away thyself without Christians: and Christians even unto the end of the world shall endure; and as for thee with thine unbelief when thou shalt have ended thy short life, with what face wilt thou come forth to the Judge, whom while thou wast living thou didst blaspheme? Therefore “from my youth, and even until now, and even unto oldness and old age, O Lord, forsake not me.” It will not be, as mine enemies say, even for a time. “Forsake not me, until I tell forth Thine arm to every generation that is yet to come.” And the Arm of the Lord hath been revealed to whom? The Arm of the Lord is Christ. Do not Thou then forsake me: let not them rejoice that say, “only for a set time the Christians are.” May there be persons to tell forth Thine arm. To whom? “To every generation that is yet to come.” If then it be to every generation that is yet to come, it will be even unto the end of the world: for when the world is ended, no longer any generation will come on.

“Thy power and Thy righteousness” (ver. 19). That is, that I may tell forth to every generation that is yet to come, Thine arm. And what hath Thine arm effected? This then let me tell forth, that same grace to every generation succeeding: let me say to every man that is to be born, nothing thou art by thyself, on God call thou, thine own are sins, merits are God’s: punishment to thee is owing, and when reward shall have come, His own gifts He will crown, not thy merits. Let me say to every generation that is to come, out of captivity thou hast come, unto Adam thou didst belong. Let me say this to every generation that is to come, that there is no strength of mine, no righteousness of mine; but “Thy strength and Thy righteousness, O God, even unto the most high mighty works which Thou hast made.” “Thy power and Thy righteousness,” as far as what? even unto flesh and blood? Nay, “even unto the most high mighty works which Thou hast made.” For the high places are the heavens, in the high places are the Angels, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, Powers: to Thee they owe it that they are; to Thee they owe it that they live, to Thee they owe it that righteously they live, to Thee they owe it that blessedly they live. “Thy power and Thy righteousness,” as far as what? “Even unto the most high mighty works which Thou hast made.” Think not that man alone belongeth to the grace of God. What was Angel before he was made? What is Angel, if He forsake him who hath created? Therefore “Thy power and Thy justice even unto the most high mighty works which Thou hast made.”

And man exalteth himself: and in order that he may belong to the first captivity, he heareth the serpent suggesting, “Taste, and ye shall be as Gods.” Men as Gods? “O God, who is like unto Thee?” Not any in the pit, not in Hell, not in earth, not in Heaven, for all things Thou hast made. Why doth the work strive with the Maker? “O God, who is like unto Thee?” But as for me, saith miserable Adam, and Adam is every man, while I perversely will to be like unto Thee, behold what I have become, so that from captivity to Thee I cry out: I with whom it was well under a good king, have been made captive under my seducer; and cry out to Thee, because I have fallen from Thee. And whence have I fallen from Thee? While I perversely seek to be like unto Thee. …

Ill straying, ill presuming, doomed to die by withdrawing from the path of righteousness: behold he breaketh the commandment, he hath shaken off from his neck the yoke of discipline, uplifted with high spirit he hath broken in sunder the reins of guidance: where is he now? Truly captive he crieth, “O Lord, who is like unto Thee?” I perversely willed to be like unto Thee, and I have been made like unto a beast! Under Thy dominion, under Thy commandment, I was indeed like: “But a man in honour set hath not perceived, he hath been compared to beasts without sense, and hath been made like unto them.” Now out of the likeness of beasts cry though late and say, “O God, who is like unto Thee?”

“How great troubles hast Thou shown to me, many and evil!” (ver. 20). Deservedly, proud servant. For thou hast willed perversely to be like thy God, who hadst been made after the image of thy Lord. Wouldest thou have it to be well with thee, when withdrawing from that good? Truly God saith to thee, if thou withdrawest from Me, and it is well with thee, I am not thy good. Again, if He is good, and in the highest degree good, and of Himself to Himself good, and by no foreign good thing good, and is Himself our chief good; by withdrawing from Him, what wilt thou be but evil? Also if He is Himself our blessedness, what will there be to one withdrawing from Him, except misery? Return thou then after misery, and say, “O Lord, who is like unto Thee? How great troubles hast Thou shown to me, many and evil!”

But this was discipline; admonition, not desertion. Lastly, giving thanks, he saith what? “And being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back.” But when before? What is this “again”? Thou hast fallen from a high place, O man, disobedient slave, O thou proud against thy Lord, thou hast fallen. There hast come to pass in thee, “every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled:” may there come to pass in thee, “every one that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Return thou from the deep. I return, he saith, I return, I acknowledge; “0 God, who is like unto Thee? How great troubles hast Thou shown to me, many and evil! and being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back.” “We perceive,” I hear. Thou hast brought us back from the bottomless places of the earth, hast brought us back from the depth and drowning of sin. But why “again”? When had it already been done? Let us go on, if perchance the latter parts of the Psalm itself do not explain to us the thing which here we do not yet perceive, namely, why he hath said “again.” Therefore let us hear: “How great troubles Thou hast shown to me, many and evil! And being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back.” What then? “Thou hast multiplied Thy righteousness, and being turned Thou hast comforted me, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back” (ver. 21). Behold a second “again”! If we labour to unravel this “again” when written once, who will be able to unravel it when doubled? Now “again” itself is a redoubling, and once more there is written “again.” May He be with us from whom is grace, may there be with us the arm also which we are telling forth to every generation that is to come: may He be with us Himself, and as with the key of His Cross open to us the mystery that is locked up. For it was not to no purpose that when He was crucified the veil of the temple was rent in the midst, but to show that through His Passion the secret things of all mysteries were opened. May He then Himself be with men passing over unto Him, be the veil taken away: may our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ tell us why such a voice of the Prophet hath been sent before, “Thou hast shown to me troubles many and evil: and being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back.” Behold this is the first “again” which hath been written. Let us see what this is, and we shall see why there is a second “again.”

…Therein Christ died, wherein thou art to die: and therein Christ rose again, wherein thou art to rise again. By His example He taught thee what thou shouldest not fear, for what thou shouldest hope. Thou didst fear death, He died: thou didst despair of rising again, He rose again. But thou sayest to me, He rose again, do I by any means rise again? But He rose again in that which for thee He received of thee. Therefore thy nature in Him hath preceded thee; and that which was taken of thee, hath gone up before thee: therein therefore thou also hast ascended. Therefore He ascended first, and we in Him: because that flesh is of the human race. …Behold one “again.” Hear of its being fulfilled from the Apostle: “If then ye have risen with Christ, the things which are above seek ye, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God; the things which are above mind ye, not the things which are upon the earth.” He then hath gone before: already we also have risen again, but still in hope. Hear the Apostle Paul saying this same thing: “Even we ourselves groan in ourselves, looking for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” What is it then that Christ hath granted to thee? Hear that which followeth: “For by hope we are saved: but hope which is seen is not hope. For that which a man seeth, why doth he hope for? But if that which we see not we hope for, through patience we wait for it.” We have been brought back therefore again from the bottomless places in hope. Why again? Because already Christ had gone before. But because we shall rise again in substance, for now in hope we are living, now after faith we are walking; we have been brought back from the bottomless places of the earth, by believing in Him who before us hath risen again from the bottomless place of the earth.

…Thou hast heard one “again,” thou hast heard the other: “again;” one “again” because of Christ going before; and the other, yet however in hope, and a thing which remaineth to be in substance. “Thou hast multiplied Thy righteousness,” already in me believing, already in those that, first have risen again in hope.

…”Thou hast multiplied Thy righteousness, and being turned Thou hast comforted me:” and because of the body to rise again at the end, even from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back.

“For I will confess to Thee in the vessels of a Psalm Thy truth” (ver. 22). The vessels of a Psalm are a Psaltery. But what is a Psaltery? An instrument of wood and strings. What doth it signify? There is some difference between it and a harp: …there seemeth to be signified by the Psaltery the Spirit, by the harp the flesh. And because he had spoken of two bringings back of ours from the bottomless places of the earth, one after the Spirit in hope, the other after the body in substance; hear thou of these two: “For I will confess to Thee in the vessels of a Psalm Thy truth.” This after the Spirit: concerning the body what? “I will psalm to Thee on a harp, Holy One of Israel.”

Again hear this because of that same “again” and “again.” “My lips shall exult when I shall psalm to Thee” (ver. 23). Because lips are wont to be spoken of both belonging to the inner and to the outward man, it is uncertain in what sense lips have been used: there followeth therefore, “And my soul which Thou hast redeemed.” Therefore regarding the inward lips having been saved in hope, brought back from the bottomless places of the earth in faith and love, still however waiting for the redemption of our body, we say what? Already he hath said, “And my soul which Thou hast redeemed.” But lest thou shouldest think the soul alone redeemed, wherein now thou hast heard one “again,” “but still,” he saith; why still? “but still my tongue also:” therefore now the tongue of the body: “all day long shall meditate of Thy righteousness” (ver. 24): that is, in eternity without end. But when shall this be? Hereafter at the end of the world, at the resurrection of the body and the changing into the Angelic state. Whence is it proved that this is spoken of the end, “but still my tongue also all day long shall meditate of Thy righteousness”? “When they shall have been confounded and shall have blushed, that seek evil things for me.” When shall they be confounded, when shall they blush, save at the end of the world? For in two ways they shall be confounded, either when they shall believe in Christ, or when Christ shall have come. For so long as the Church is here, so long as grain groaneth amid chaff, so long as wheat groaneth amid tares, so long as vessels of mercy groan amid vessels of wrath made for dishonour, so long as lily groaneth amid thorns, there will not be wanting enemies to say, “When shall he die, and his name perish?” “Behold there shall come the time when Christians shall be ended and shall be no more: as they began at a set time, so even unto a particular time they shall be.” But while they are saying these things and without end are dying, and while the Church is continuing preaching the Arm of the Lord to every generation that is to come; there shall come Himself also at last in His glory, there shall rise again all the dead, each with his cause: there shall be severed good men to the right hand, but evil men to the left, and they shall be confounded that did insult, they shall blush that did mock: and so my tongue after resurrection shall meditate of Thy righteousness, all day long of Thy praise, “when they shall have been confounded and shall have blushed, that seek evil things for me.”

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

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 71

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 29, 2013

A PRAYER FOR HELP

THIS psalm has no superscription in the Hebrew. The Septuagint and the Vulgate describe it as “a psalm of David, and of the sons of Jonadab and of the earliest (or ‘former’) exiles.” Though the precise meaning of this superscription is not clear, we learn from it at least that an ancient tradition regarded the psalm rather as a national than as an individual poem. The plural pronoun in the correct Hebrew text of verse 20 supports the communal interpretation of the psalm. Israel has been wonderfully guarded by God throughout her past history; surely now, when the nation has grown old, God will not abandon it. The overthrow of Israel’s political life by the Chaldeans, and the wretchedness of her lot in exile have made her, for the moment, a portent—a terrifying example, to the nations. Her enemies are convinced that she has fallen for ever. Yet, in spite of all, she will not cease to praise the Lord and to ask His help, confident that He will at length lead her forth to freedom and peace. For this grace of rescue which the nation so confidently expects, Israel promises to God a constant service of praising and glorifying song. Those for whom Israel is now a byword and a laughing-stock, and who rejoice in her misfortunes will themselves be brought to shame and confusion when the Lord shall once again establish the national life of His people.

The references to “youth,” “old age” and “grey hairs” might seem, perhaps, to suggest, as more natural, an individual interpretation of this psalm. Yet in several Old Testament contexts the life of the Israelite nation is described as if it were the life of an individual —for instance, in Psalm 129:1-2; Hosea 11:1; Hosea 7:9; Isa 46:3-4, etc. The suggestion of the national meaning of the psalm which is conveyed by the Greek and Vulgate superscriptions may therefore be accepted.

It will be noted that this psalm contains echoes of many other psalms. Thus, verses 1-3 are practically identical with Ps 31:2-4; verse 6 recalls Ps 21:10-11; verse 13 is an adaptation of Ps 35:4 and Ps 35:26, and verse 12 is an echo of Ps 40:13. It is possible that the presence in the psalm of so many echoes or quotations of other psalms occasioned the ascription of the whole psalm to David. It would be a mistake, however, to regard this psalm as nothing more than a mosaic of quotations from Davidic psalms. It is a distinct literary unit, and it is full of deep feeling, both patriotic and religious. Some features of the poem could be more easily understood in reference to the post-exilic than to the exilic period, and it would be convenient, if it were possible, to suppose that, though the psalm was composed during the Exile, it was somewhat modified for use in the liturgy of the post-exilic period.

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

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 4:1-20.

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 29, 2013

Theophylact: Although the Lord appears in the transactions mentioned above to neglect His mother, nevertheless He honours her; since on her account He goes forth about the borders of the sea.

Wherefore it is said, “And Jesus began to teach again by the sea-side, &c.”

Bede, in Marc., 1, 18: For if we look into the Gospel of Matthew, it appears that this same teaching of the Lord at the sea, was delivered on the same day as the former. For after the conclusion of the first sermon, Matthew immediately subjoins, saying, “The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea-side.”

Pseudo-Jerome: But He began to teach at the sea, that the [p. 73] place of His teaching might point out the bitter feelings and instability of His hearers.

Bede: After leaving the house also, He began to teach at the sea, because, quitting the synagogue, He came to gather together the multitude of the Gentile people by the Apostles.

Wherefore it continues: “And there was gathered unto Him a great multitude, so that He entered into a ship, and sat in the sea.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 44: Which we must understand was not done without a purpose, but that He might not leave any one behind Him, but have all His hearers before His face.

Bede: Now this ship shewed in a figure the Church, to be built in the midst of the nations, in which the Lord consecrates for Himself a beloved dwelling-place.

It goes on: “And He taught them many things by parables.”

Pseudo-Jerome: A parable is a comparison made between things discordant by nature, under some similitude. For parable is the Greek for a similitude, when we point out by some comparisons what we would have understood. In this way we say an iron man, when we desire that he should be understood to be hardy and strong; when to be swift, we compare him to winds and birds. But He speaks to the multitudes in parables, with His usual providence, that those who could not take in heavenly things, might conceive what they heard by an earthly similitude.

Chrys.: For He rouses the minds of His hearers by a parable, pointing out objects to the sight, to make His discourse more manifest.

Theophylact: And in order to rouse the attention of those who heard, the first parable that He proposes is concerning the seed, which is the word of God.

Wherefore it goes on, “And He said to them in His doctrine.”

Not in that of Moses, nor of the Prophets, because He preaches His own Gospel.
“Hearken: behold, there went out a sower to sow.” Now the Sower is Christ.

Chrys.: Not that He went out in space, Who is present in all space, and fills all, but in the form and economy by which He is made more near to us through the clothing of flesh. For since we were not able to go to Him, because sins impeded our path, He went out to us. But He went out, preaching in order to sow the word of piety, which He spake abundantly. Now He does not needlessly repeat the same word, when He says, “A sower went out to sow,” for sometimes a sower goes out that he may break up (p. 74) land for tillage, or to pull up weeds, or for some other work. But this one went out to sow.

Bede, in Marc., 1, 19: Or else, He went out to sow, when after calling to His faith the elect portion of the synagogue, He poured out the gifts of His grace in order to call the Gentiles also.

Chrys.: Further, as a sower does not make a distinction in the ground which is beneath him, but simply and without distinction puts in the seed, so also He Himself addresses all. And to signify this, He says, “And as he sowed, some fell by the way-side.”

Theophylact: Take notice, that He says not that He threw it in the way, but that it fell, for a sower, as far as he can, throws it into good ground, but if the ground be bad, it corrupts the seed. Now the way is Christ; but infidels are by the way-side, that is, out of Christ.

Bede: Or else, the way is a mind which is a path for bad thoughts, preventing the seed of the word from growing in it. And therefore whatsoever good seed comes in contact with such a way, perishes, and is carried off by devils.

Wherefore there follows, “And the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.” And well are the devils called fowls of the air, either because they are of a heavenly and spiritual origin, or because they dwell in the air.

Or else, those who are about the way are negligent and slothful men.

It goes on: “And some fell on stony ground.”

He calls stone, the hardness of a wanton mind; He calls ground, the inconstancy of a soul in its obedience; and sun, the heat of a raging persecution.

Therefore the depth of earth, which ought to have received the seed of God, is the honesty of a mind trained in heavenly discipline, and regularly brought up in obedience to the Divine words. But the stony places, which have no strength for fixing the root firmly, are those breasts which are delighted only with the sweetness of the word which they hear, and for a time with the heavenly promises, but in a season of temptation fall away, for there is too little of healthful desire in them to conceive the seed of life.

Theophylact: Or, the stony persons are those who adhering a little to the rock, that is, to Christ, up to a short time, receive the word, and afterwards, falling back, cast it away.

It goes on: “And some fell among thorns;” by which are marked souls which care for many things. For thorns are cares.

Chrys.: But further He mentions good ground, saying, “And other fell on good ground.” For the difference of the fruits follows the quality of the ground. But great is the love of the Sower for men, for the first He commends, and rejects not the second, and gives a place to the third.

Theophylact: See also how the bad are the greatest number, and the few are those who are saved, for the fourth part of the ground is found to be saved.

Chrys.: This, however, the greater portion of the seed is not lost through the fault of the owner, but of the earth, which received it, that is, of the soul, which hears. And indeed the real husbandman, if he sowed in this way, would be rightly blamed; for he is not ignorant that rock, or the road, or thorny ground, cannot become fertile. But in spiritual things it is not so; for there it is possible that stony ground may become fertile; and that the road should not be trodden down, and that the thorns may be destroyed, for if this could not take place, he would not have sown there. By this, therefore, He gives to us hope of repentance.

It goes on, “And He said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

Bede: As often as this is inserted in the Gospel or in the Apocalypse of John, that which is spoken is mystical, and is pointed out as healthful to be heard and learnt. For the ears by which they are heard belong to the heart, and the ears by which men obey and do what is commanded are those of an interior sense.
There follows, “And when He was alone, the twelve that were with Him asked of Him the parable; and He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to them that are without all things are done in parables.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: As if He said unto them, You that are worthy to be taught all things which are fitted for teaching, shall learn the manifestation of parables; but I use parables with them who are unworthy to learn, because of their wickedness. For it was right that they who did not hold fast their obedience to that law which they had received, should not have any share in a new teaching, but should be estranged from both; for He shewed by the obedience of His disciples, that, on the other hand, the others were become unworthy of mystical doctrine. But afterwards, by bringing in a voice from prophecy, He confounds (p. 76) their wickedness, as having been long before reproved.

Wherefore it goes on, “that seeing they might see, and not perceive, &c.” [see Isa 6:9] as if He said that they prophecy might be fulfilled which foretells these things.

Theophylact: For it was God Who made them to see, that is, to understand what is good. But they themselves see not, of their own will making themselves not to see, lest they should be converted and correct themselves, as if they were displeased at their own salvation.

It goes on, “Lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins be forgiven them.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Thus, therefore, they see and they do not see, they hear and do not understand, for their seeing and hearing comes to them from God’s grace, but their seeing and not understanding comes to them from their unwillingness to receive grace, and closing their eyes, and pretending that they could not see; neither do they acquiesce in what was said, and so are not changed as to their sins by hearing and seeing, but rather are made worse.

Theophylact: Or we may understand in a different way His speaking to the rest in parables, that seeing they might not perceive, and hearing, not understand. For God gives sight and understanding to men who seek for them, but the rest He blinds, lest it become a greater accusation against them, that though they understood, they did not choose to do what they ought.

Wherefore it goes on, “Lest at any times they should be, &c.”

Augustine, Quaest, 14, in Matt.: Or else they deserved this, their not understanding, and yet this in itself was done in mercy to them, that they might know their sins, and, being converted, merit pardon.

Bede: To those then who are without, all things are done in parables, that is, both the actions and the words of the Saviour, because neither in those miracles which He was working, nor in those mysteries which He preached, were they able to acknowledge Him as God. Therefore they are not able to attain to the remission of their sins.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But His speaking to them only in parables, and yet not leaving off speaking to them entirely, shews that to those who are placed near to what is good, though they may have no good in themselves, still good is shewn disguised.

But when a man approaches it with reverence and a right heart, he wins for himself an abundant revelation of mysteries; when on the contrary his thoughts are not sound,  he will be neither made worthy of those things which are easy to many men, nor even of hearing them.

There follows, “And He said unto them, Know ye not this parable, how then shall ye know all parables?”

Pseudo-Jerome: For it was necessary that they to whom He spoke in parables should ask for what they did not understand, and learn by the Apostle whom they despised, the mystery of the kingdom which they themselves had not.

Gloss.: And for this reason, the Lord in saying these things, shews that they ought to understand both this first, and all following miracles.

Wherefore explaining it, He goes on, “The sower soweth the word.”

Chrys., in Matt., Hom. 44: And indeed the prophet has compared the teaching of the people to the planting of a vine; (Is 5) in this place however it is compared to sowing, to shew that obedience is now shorter and more easy, and will sooner yield fruit.

Bede: But in this exposition of the Lord there is embraced the whole range of those who might hear the words of truth, but are unable to attain to salvation. For there are some to whom no faith, no intellect, nay no opportunity of trying its usefulness, can give a perception of the word which they hear; of whom He says, “And these are by the wayside.” For unclean spirits take away at once the word committed to their hearts, as birds carry away the seed of the trodden way. There are some who both experience its usefulness and feel a desire for it, but some of them the calamities of this world frighten, and others its prosperity allures, so that they do not attain to that which they approve. Of the first of whom He says, “And these are they who fell on stony ground;” of the latter, “And these are they which are sown among thorns.” But riches are called thorns, because they tear the soul with the piercing of its own thoughts, and after bringing it to sin, they, as one may say, make it bleed by inflicting a wound.

Again He says, “And the toil of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches;” for the man who is deceived by an empty desire of riches must soon be afflicted by the toils of continual cares.

He adds, “And the lusts of other things;” because, whosoever despises the commandments of God, and wanders away lustfully seeking other things, is unable to attain to the joy of beatitude. And concupiscences of this sort choke the word, because they do not allow a good desire to enter into the heart, and, as it were, stifle the  entrance of vital breath.

There are, however, excepted from these different classes of men, the Gentiles who do not even have grace to hear the words of life.

Theophylact: Further, of those who receive the seed as they ought there are three degrees.

Wherefore it goes on, “And these are they who are sown on good ground.”

Those who bear fruit an hundred-fold are those who lead a perfect and an obedient life, as virgins and hermits. Those who bear fruit sixty-fold are those who are in the mean as continent persons (ed. note: The word translated continentes . . . means ascetics, who mix in the affairs of the world; whereas hermits lived quite out of them, and gave themselves up to contemplation; caenobites came between the two, living together in convents, and combined both the practical and contemplative life, see Greg. Naz. Or. 43, 62) and those who are living in convents.

Those who bear thirty-fold are those who though weak indeed, bear fruit according to their own virtue, as laymen and married persons.

Bede: Or he bears thirty-fold, who instills into the minds of the elect faith in the Holy Trinity; sixty-fold, who teaches the perfection of good works; a hundred-fold, who shews the rewards of the heavenly kingdom.

For in counting a hundred, we pass on to the right hand (ed. note: “He alludes to the mode of counting among the ancients. All numbers were signified by fingers of the left hand, either straight or variously bent, up to a hundred; and then they changed to the right. Consult Caelius Rhodiginus, Lectionum Antiq. lib. 23, cap. 11, 12.” Benedictine note on Greg. Hom. in Ezec. lib. 2, Hom., 5); therefore that number is fitly made to signify everlasting happiness.

But the good ground is the conscience of the elect, which does the contrary to all the former three, which both receives with willingness the seed of the word committed to it, and keeps it when received up to the season of fruit.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else the fruits of the earth are contained in thirty, sixty, or a hundred-fold, that is, in the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel.

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

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Hebrews 10:11-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2013

This post includes the Bishop’s summary analysis of Hebrews 10, followed by his notes on verses 11-14 and 18. I’ve included (in purple) his paraphrasing of the text he is commenting on.

A Summary of Hebrews 10~The Apostle, having shown in the preceding chapter, that one bloody oblation of Christ had amply atoned for sin and answered all the ends of universal redemption, proceeds to show, in this, that Christ alone could redeem us and remit sin For, as to the law and the sacrifices of the Levitical priesthood, in which the Hebrews so much confided, he proves by several arguments, from verse 1 to 19, that they contained no efficacy whatever for the remission of sin. First, the law and the legal sacrifices were only the shadow of the future goods promised us by Christ; but not the reality promised. Secondly, the repetition of these sacrifices—and reference is directly made to the annual great sacrifice of expiation—for the self-same sins that were before remitted, proves their inefficacy for remitting sin. And thirdly, it was impossible for the blood of animals, of its own nature and intrinsic efficacy, to remit sin, as the Hebreivs vainly imagined (Heb 10:1-5).

The Apostle proves from Sacred Scripture, the inefficacy of the ancient sacrifices for the remission of sin. He introduces Christ addressing his Father, Psalm 40, “Sacrifices and oblations,” &c., andfrom this prophetic quotation, he draws a twofold conclusion—first, by saying “Sacrifices…thou wouldst not,” Christ has shown the abolition of the sacrifices referred to; and secondly, by saying, “Behold I come,” &c., the institution of the second description of sacrifice, which Christ offered according to the will of God (Heb 10:6-10).

Their repetition proved the inefficacy not only of the annual sacrifices, but also the inefficacy of the daily sacrifices, offered morning and evening among the Jews; whereas Christ, by one bloody oblation of himself, has made full atonement for sin, and purchased a treasure of grace for sanctifying men, at all times (Heb 10:11-14). The Apostle then proves, from the ProphetJeremias, the inefficacy of the ancient sacrificesfor remitting sin (Heb 10:15-19).

Having proved the abrogation of the legal sacrifices, and shown the superior excellence of the priesthood of Christ, and of his sacrifice over the Levitical priesthood and their offerings, he exhorts the Hebrews to constancy in the faith (Heb 10:19-21). He deters them from committing the dreadful crime of apostasy (Heb 10:24-31). He calms the fears which his words were calculated to inspire, by reminding them of their past good works of charity (Heb 10:32-34). Finally, he exhorts them to hold out for a short time, when they shall reap the full fruit of their past labours and sufferings.

Heb 10:11  And every priest indeed standeth daily ministering and often offering the same sacrifices which can never take away sins.

And not only does the high priest  annually repeat the sacrifice of expiation (making a commemoration of the same sins), but in the daily sacrifices, at which the priests minister in turn, the same victims are offered, the same repetition made—hence, they too, for a like reason, cannot take away sins.

In this verse he proceeds to show, that the circumstance of their repetition did not prove the inefficacy of the annual sacrifices of expiation only; that it also proved the same, for a like reason, in regard to the daily sacrifices, offered morning and evening, by the priests in their turn. “And every priest standeth,” in fear and awe; “daily ministering,” morning and evening (Numbers 28)  “Often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin,” any more than could the annual sacrifice of expiation, offered by the high priest alone.

Heb 10:12  But this man, offering one sacrifice for sins, for ever sitteth on the right hand of God,

But Christ, after having offered one sacrifice, which satisfies for all sins, sitteth glorious at the right hand of God.

“But this man offering one sacrifice,” i.e., after having offered one sacrifice. The Greek for “offering,” προσενεγκας, means, having offered. “Sitteth” in glory and triumph. The Jewish priest “stood” with fear and awe; he “sitteth” in glory and majesty.

Heb 10:13  From henceforth expecting until his enemies be made his footstool.

Awaiting the time, when his enemies shall be made his footstool.

Nor will he leave this seat of glory until his enemies are prostrated, according to the promise of the Royal Prophet (Psalm 110:1)—”Sit at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” This subjection of all things to Christ will be manifested at the end of the world.

Heb 10:14  For by one oblation he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

For by one bloody oblation of himself-an oblation of infinite value, extending to all generations-he perfected those who are sanctified at all times; in other words, by this one bloody oblation of himself, he made atonement for all sin, and purchased the treasures of grace, whereby men are sanctified at all times.

He need not leave heaven to repeat, like the Jewish priest, the bloody oblation of himself; for, by one such oblation, he has compassed all the ends of Redemption, he has made perfect atonement for sin, and merited the graces, whereby men are, at all times, sanctified.

Objection.—Against the sacrifice of the Mass. In these two chapters, the Apostle allows only one oblation of Christ, therefore, he excludes the repeated oblation of him in the Mass, as opposed to the unity of his offering.

Answer.—The oblation of Christ referred to by the Apostle in these chapters, and the repetition of which he rejects, is the bloody oblation on the cross; for, there is question of the oblation, by which “he perfected” (or sanctified) “all;” i.e., redeemed mankind, and atoned for sin; the oblation wherein, if repeated, he should suffer death (Heb 9:26). But, from the fact that he cannot be offered up again, in a bloody manner, can it be inferred, that he cannot be offered, in an unbloody manner? As well might it be inferred from the fact of God having promised, that the world would not be again destroyed by water, that therefore, it is not to be destroyed in any other way, whether by water or by fire, which would be contrary to faith. Christ is offered up, in an unbloody manner, in the sacrifice of the Mass; and the Apostle, for reasons already assigned, does not refer to that oblation; it does not fall within his scope; nor, perhaps, would it be expedient at the time, to do so.

Objection-. But, by saying, he can be offered, only once, does he not exclude a second oblation or more; and hence, the oblation made of him, in the Mass?

Answer.—He excludes a second oblation of the same kind, and presented in the same way. The unity of Christ’s oblation is insisted on, in opposition to other reiterated oblations. Now, to any person attentively examining the reasoning of the Apostle, in these two chapters, it must appear quite clear, that the opposition instituted is, between the bloody oblation of Christ on the cross, and the annual and daily sacrifices of the Jews, the efficacious and fruitful unity of the former being contrasted with the useless multiplicity of the latter. The objection, therefore, is quite inconclusive; Christ will not be offered up a second time—which, to be true, must mean—in a bloody manner. Therefore, he will not be offered up, in an unbloody manner. Just as conclusive would it be to say—The world will not be destroyed again by the waters of deluge. Therefore, it will be destroyed in no other way, and it shall be eternal. The Apostle excludes the repetition of the sacrifice of Christ in the Mass, as a redemptory sacrifice, as making atonement and offering satisfaction for sin; in which respect only, the sacrifice of Christ is contrasted with the annual and daily sacrifices among the Jews; he never contemplates rejecting the repetition, or rather the continuation of the same, in an unbloody manner, as applicatory of the merits purchased on the cross. On the cross, an infinite treasure of merit was purchased; a satisfaction offered, adequate to make reparation for the sins of ten thousand worlds. But, no Christian can deny that by the institution of God himself, there are certain channels required for the application to our souls, in a limited degree, of this treasure of grace, in itself infinite. What else is the end of the sacrament of baptism, to which all Christians have recourse for the remission of original sin?—and Catholics regard the sacrifice of the Mass, as a channel through which are applied to us the merits and graces purchased on the cross. Surely, it cannot be alleged that the sins of the elect are directly remitted by the merits of Christ, the instant they are committed. Would this not be plainly opposed to the precept, inculcated in several passages of SS. Scripture, of recurring to baptism for the remission of sin? Would not be opposed to the words of our redeemer:—” He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that beheveth not, shall be condemned?”—(Mark 16:16). It is opposed to the manner in which the Jews converted after St. Peter’s first sermon were justified. They were told, “to do penance, and to be baptized, every one of them, for the remission of their sins” (Acts 2:28). Now, on their justification was to be modeled that of all the Gentiles, who at the preaching of the Apostles did penance, believed, were baptized, and their sins thus remitted.

Heb 10:15  And the Holy Ghost also doth testify this to us. For after that he said:
Heb 10:16  And this is the testament which I will make unto them after those days, saith the Lord. I will give my laws in their hearts and on their minds will I write them:
Heb 10:17  And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.

15. The testimony of the Holy Ghost is corroborative of the same, viz., that the remission of sin was not attached to the Old Law, this being a distinguishing characteristic of the New; for, having said, (Jeremiah 31):-
16. This is the testament, which I will make unto them, after those days, saith the Lord, I will engrave my laws on their hearts, and on their minds will I write them.
17.And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.

The Apostle adduces the testimony of the Holy Ghost, to prove that the remission of sin was not effected by the sacrifices of the Old Law, but only by those of the New. He quotes from Jeremiah 31, referred to in chapter 8 of this Epistle. The proof is taken from verse 17. By saying that in the new testament which he was to make with his people, “he would no longer remember their sins,” i.e., that he would remit them, he implies, that in the old testament there was no such efficacy, this being a distinguishing characteristic of the new. The reading from verse 15, in our version, is suspensive and imperfect. There is nothing corresponding with the words, “after that he said” (verse 15); nor does it appear, that there are any words expressing the result which they would seem to imply or denote. Hence, some Expositors endeavour to remedy this, by making the words, “saith the Lord” the beginning of the second member of the sentence, as if they ran thus:—”After that he said” (verse 15),”THEN saith the Lord, I will give my laws, &c.” (verse 16). The words, “saith the Lord,” however, regard the preceding, and are a part of the prophetic quotation. Others supply, at verse 17, such words as these:—”Then, he said, and their sins,” &c. It maybe, that the sense is suspended ftom verse 15 to 18; as if, the Apostle made the conclusion drawn from the prophetic quotation, the second member of the sentence, thus:—”For, after that he said,” &c. (verses 15, 16, 17), then, the only conclusion to be arrived at is, that where sins are remitted, there is no need for any further such oblation (verse 18).

Heb 10:18  Now, where there is a remission of these, there is no more an oblation for sin.

Now, where these are remitted, and a ransom adequate to make atonement for them offered, there is no further need for any such oblation for sin.

“Now where there is remission of sin,” &c. There is no necessity for repeating oblations for sins already remitted. This is quite clear, if there be question of actual remission. Nor can there be any difficulty about it either, if there be a question of potential remission, in the sense that there has been a ransom paid, and a redemptory sacrifice offered for them; because, one redemptory sacrifice, if efficacious, must be a sacrifice of infinite value; and hence, its repetition as such, would be useless; but neither signification of the words is opposed to the repeated offering of applicatory sacrifices for sins, not yet actually remitted; the Mass, therefore, as an applicatory sacrifice, is not excluded; if so, the other means of grace, faith, hope, contrition, sacraments, should be excluded as well, on the same principle.

Posted in Bible, Books, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on Hebrews, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 3:31-35

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2013

Mar 3:31  There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.
Mar 3:32  And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.
Mar 3:33  And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?
Mar 3:34  And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
Mar 3:35  For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

Theophylact: Because the relations of the Lord had come to seize upon Him, as if beside Himself, His mother, urged by the sympathy of her love, came to Him.

Wherefore it is said, “And there came unto Him His mother, and, standing without, sent unto Him, calling Him.”

Chrys.: From this it is manifest that His brethren and His mother were not always with Him; but because He was beloved by them, they come from reverence and affection, waiting without.

Wherefore it goes on, “And the multitude sat about Him, &c.”

Bede: The brother of the Lord must not be thought to be the sons of the ever-virgin Mary, as Helvidius says, nor the sons of Joseph by a former marriage, as some think, but rather they must be understood to be His relations.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But another Evangelist says, that His brethren did not believe on Him. (Jn 7:5) With which this agrees, which says, that they sought Him, waiting without, and with this meaning the Lord does not mention them as relations.

Wherefore it follows, “And He answered them, saying, Who is My mother or My brethren?”

But He does not here mention His mother and His brethren altogether with reproof, but to shew that a man must honour his own soul above all earthly kindred; wherefore this is fitly said to those who called Him to speak with His mother and relations, as if it were a more useful task than the teaching of salvation.

Bede; see Ambr. in Luc. 6, 36: Being asked therefore by a message to go out, He declines, not as though He refused the dutiful service of His mother, but to shew that He owes more to His Father’s mysteries than to His mother’s feelings. Nor does He rudely despise His brothers, but, preferring His spiritual work to fleshly relationship, He teaches us that religion is the bond of the heart rather than that of the body.

Wherefore it goes on, “And looking round about on them which sat about Him, He said, Behold My mother and My brethren.”

Chrys.: By this, the Lord shews that we should honour those who are relations by faith rather than those  who are relations by blood. A man indeed is made the mother of Jesus by preaching Him (ed. note: Nearly the same idea occurs in St. Ambrose, in Lc 2,8); for He, as it were, brings forth the Lord, when he pours Him into the heart of his hearers.

Pseudo-Jerome: But let us be assured that we are His brethren and His sisters, if we do the will of the Father; that we may be joint-heirs with Him, for He discerns us not by sex but by our deeds.

Wherefore it goes on: “Whosoever shall do the will of God, &c.”

Theophylact: He does not therefore say this, as denying His mother, but as shewing that He is worthy of honour, not only because she bore Christ, but on account of her possessing every other virtue.

Bede: By mystically, the mother and brother of Jesus means the synagogue, (from which according to the flesh He sprung,) and the Jewish people who, while the Saviour is teaching within, come to Him, and are not able to enter, because they cannot understand spiritual things.

But the crowd eagerly enter, because when the Jews delayed, the Gentiles flocked to Christ; but His kindred, who stand without wishing to see the Lord, are the Jews who obstinately remained without, guarding the letter, and would rather compel the Lord to go forth to them to teach carnal things, than consent to enter in to learn spiritual things of Him.

If therefore not even His parents when standing without are acknowledged, how shall we be acknowledged, if we stand without? For the word is within and the light within.

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

 
%d bloggers like this: