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 February 25th, 2013

March 3~Mass Resources for the Third Sunday of Lent (Ordinary Form, Year C)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 25, 2013

This post contains resources for Mass for the Third Sunday of Lent according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Resources for the Extraordinary Form can be found here. Some brief information concerning the two forms can be found here.



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

GENERAL RESOURCES: sites that usually deal with the readings as a whole (with some occasional specialty studies). Commentaries on individual readings are listed further below.

  • Word Sunday. All the readings in both and literal translation, notes on the text, podcast, children’s reading.
  • The Unofficial Lectionary. Previously posted. All the readings from the Douay-Rheims Challoner version followed by notes from the old Haydock Commentary.
  • SacerdosGives the theme of the readings, the doctrinal message, and pastoral application.
  • Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background on the readings. Can be printed out, copied, and used as bulletin insert.
  • Scripture Speaks. I’ve linked to the archive. 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.
  • Sacred Page Blog Reflection on the readings by Catholic biblical scholar Dr John Bergsma.
  • Preaching the Lectionary. From the Christian Leadership Center, an ecumenical site. The focus this Sunday is on the Gospel.
  • Glancing Thoughts. Not yet posted. Brief reflections from philosopher Eleanore Stump.


  • Catholic MomScroll down to this Sunday. Resources appear oriented towards 7-14 years of age.
  • We Believe. Activities geared towards Kindergarten through 8th grade. Also has resources for catechists, clergy, etc.
  • The Catholic Toolbox. Not yet posted. Activities, crafts, games, etc., for class or home.
  • Domestic Church. Lent and Easter activities arranged for families, younger children, older children.


  • NOTE: For more notes on this reading see the links under “General Resources” that indicate all the readings are dealt with.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 103. Unless noted otherwise these resources deal with the whole psalm and not just the verses used.

  • Pending: My Notes on Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12.

  • Pending: Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12.


PODCASTS: Scripture studies, homilies, etc.

  • Carson Weber’s Podcast on Exodus. Good overview of the Exodus. Scroll down and click on the audio player of the mp3 link. Part of a 30 episode overview study of the Bible.

Posted in Catholic, Notes on the Lectionary | Leave a Comment »

Video: Sunday Gospel Scripture Study of Luke 13:1-9 for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year C

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 25, 2013


Vodpod videos no longer available.

Posted in Audio/Video Lectures, Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Lent, liturgy, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 13:6-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 25, 2013

PLEASE NOTE that parts of  St Cyril’s exposition of Luke’s Gospel did not survive the passing of the ages and, unfortunately, his treatment of this parable is one of those parts.

13:6-9. And He spoke this parable. A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard, and he came and sought fruit thereon, but found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Lo, three years indeed I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none. Out it down therefore: why does it make the ground also barren? But he answered and said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also: until I dig around it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit in the coming [year, well], and if not, you shall cut it down.

THE Psalmist shows the surpassing gentleness of Christ, the Saviour of us all, in these words; “Lord, what is man, that You art mindful of him, or the son of man, that You visit him?” For man upon earth, as far as his bodily nature is concerned, is dust and ashes: but he has been honoured by God, by having been made in His image and likeness: not in his bodily shape, that is, but rather because he is capable of being just and good, and fitted for all virtue. The Creator therefore takes care of him, as being His creature, and for the purpose of adorning the earth. For as the prophet Isaiah says; “He made it not in vain, but that it should be inhabited:”—-inhabited of course by a rational animal, who can discern with the eyes of the mind the Creator and Artificer of the Universe, and glorify Him like the spirits that are above. Put because by the deceiving arts of the serpent he had turned aside unto wickedness, and was held fast by the chains of sin, and removed far from God, Christ, to enable him |447 once again to mount upwards, has sought him out, and fashioned him anew to what he was at first, and granted him repentance as the pathway to lead him unto salvation.

He proposes therefore a wise parable: but we ought perhaps first to explain what was the occasion which led to it, or what at all the necessity why He brought it forward.

There were therefore certain who told Christ, the Saviour of us all, that Pilate had put to death cruelly and without pity certain Galilaeans, and mingled their blood with their sacrifices. And others that the tower near Shiloh had fallen, and eighteen persons perished beneath the ruins. And afterwards referring to these things, Christ had said to His hearers; “Verily, I say unto you, that except you repent, you also shall in like manner perish.” This was the head and root of the present parable, and that at which it was, as it were, aimed.

Now the outer sense of this passage needs not a single word for its explanation: but when we search into its inward and secret and unseen purport, it is, we affirm, as follows. The Israelites, after our Saviour’s crucifixion, were doomed to fall into the miseries they deserved, Jerusalem being captured, and its inhabitants slaughtered by the sword of the enemy. Nor were they to perish thus only, but their houses were to be burnt with fire, and even the temple of God demolished. It is probable therefore that He likens the synagogue of the Jews to a fig tree; for the sacred Scripture also compares them to various plants: to the vine, for instance, and the olive, and even to a forest. For the prophet Jeremiah at one time says of Jerusalem, or rather of its inhabitants; “Israel is a vine with many branches.” And again at another addressing it, he says; “The Lord has called your name a beautiful olive tree, well shaded in appearance: at its pruning time a fire was kindled in it: great was the tribulation that was upon it; its branches were destroyed.” And another of the holy prophets, comparing it to Mount Lebanon, thus speaks; “Open your doors, O Lebanon, and the fire shall devour your cedars.” For the forest that was in Jerusalem, even the people there, many as they were and innumerable, was destroyed as by fire. He takes therefore, as I said, the fig tree spoken of in the parable as a figure of the Jewish synagogue, that is, of the Israelites: and “three years,” He says, “He |448 sought fruit upon it, and found none.” By which, I think, are signified to us those three periods during which the Jewish synagogue bore no fruit. The first of these, one may say, was that in which Moses and Aaron and his sons lived: who served God, holding the office of the priesthood according to the law. The second was the period of Jeshua, the son of Nun, and the judges who succeeded him. And the third, that in which the blessed prophets flourished down to the time of John the Baptist During these periods Israel brought forth no fruit.

But I can imagine persons making to this the following objection; ‘But lo! it did fulfil the service ordained by the law, and offered the sacrifices which consisted in the blood of victims and burning incense.’ But to this we reply: that in the writings of Moses there was only a type of the truth, and a gross and material service: there was not as yet a service simple, pure, and spiritual, such as we affirm God chiefly loves, having so learnt of Christ, Who said; “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” As far therefore as regarded the good-will of the Father, and evidently that also of the Son, the service which consisted in shadows and types was unacceptable, being utterly without fruit in whatsoever appertains to a sweet spiritual savour. And therefore it was rejected: for so the Saviour teaches us, when saying to God the Father in heaven; “Sacrifice and offering You would not: and whole burnt offerings, and sin offerings You did not require.” And again by the voice of Isaiah He says Himself to those who were seeking to fulfil it: “For who has required this at your hands? Tread My court no more: if you bring fine meal, it is in vain: incense is an abomination unto Me.” How therefore can that which God hates and abominates be supposed to be the rational and spiritual fruit of the soul, and acceptable unto Him?

He says therefore, “Lo, three years do I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none. Cut it down therefore: why does it make the ground also useless.” As though He would say, Let the place of this barren fig tree be laid bare: for then there will come up or may be planted there some other tree. And this too was done:. for the multitude of the Gentiles was summoned into its room, and took possession of |449 the inheritance of the Israelites. It became the people of God; the plant of Paradise; a germ good and honourable; that knows how to bring forth fruit, not in shadows and types, but rather by a pure and perfectly stainless service, even that which is in spirit and in truth, as being offered to God, Who is an immaterial Being.

The owner then of the ground said, that the fig-tree, which during so long a time had been barren and without fruit, must be cut down. But the vinedresser, it says, besought him, saying; “Lord, let it alone this year also: until I dig around it and dung it: and if it bear fruit in the coming [year, well;] and if not, you shall cut it down.”

Now it is necessary to inquire, who is to be understood by the vinedresser. If then any one choose to affirm that it is the angel who was appointed by God as the guardian of the synagogue of the Jews, he would not miss a suitable interpretation. For we remember that the prophet Zechariah wrote, that one of the holy angels stood offering supplications for Jerusalem, and saying, “O Lord Almighty, how long will You not have mercy upon Jerusalem, and on the cities of Judah; which You have abandoned, lo! for seventy years?” And it is written also in Exodus, that when the ruler of the land of the Egyptians with his warriors was pursuing after the Israelites, and was already upon the point of engaging with them in battle, the angel of God stood between the camp of the Israelites and of the Egyptians, and the one came not near the other all the night. There is therefore nothing unbefitting in supposing here also, that the holy angel who was the guardian of the synagogue offered supplications in its behalf, and prayed for a respite, if perchance yielding to better influence it might yet bring forth fruit.

But if any one should say that the vinedresser is the Son, this view also, has a reason on its side not unbefitting right arguments. For “He is our Advocate with the Father,” “and our propitiation,” and the husbandman of our souls, Who prunes away constantly whatever is to our hurt, and fills us with rational and holy seeds, that so we may bring forth for Him fruits: and so He spoke of Himself. ” A sower went out to sow his seed.”

And it in no respect militates against the glory of the |450 Son, that He assumes the character of the vinedresser: for the leather is Himself also found to have taken it, without being exposed to any blame for so doing. For the Son said to the holy apostles, ” I am the Vine: you are the branches: My Father is the Husbandman.” For the verbal expression must from time to time be made to accord with the suppositions which are laid down.

Let Him therefore be supposed to be the Advocate in our behalf: and He says, “Let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and dung it.” And what then is this year? But plainly this fourth year, this time subsequent to those former periods, is that in which the Only-begotten Word of God became man, to stir up like some husbandman by spiritual exhortations the Israelites who had withered away in sin, digging round them, and warning them, to make them “fervent in spirit.” For He repeatedly denounced against them destruction and ruin, wars and slaughters, burnings and captivities, and immitigable wrath: while, on the other hand, He promised, if they would believe on Him, and now at length become fruitful trees, that he would give them life and glory, the grace of adoption, the communion of the Holy Spirit, and the kingdom of heaven. But Israel was incapable of being taught even thus. It was still a barren fig tree, and continued so to be. It was cut down, therefore, that it might not make the ground useless: and in its stead there sprung up, as a fertile plant, the gentile church, beautiful, and fruit-bearing, deeply-rooted, and incapable of being shaken. For they have been counted as children unto Abraham, and have been ingrafted into the good olive-tree: for a root has been preserved, and Israel has not utterly perished.

But that it was doomed to be cut down, on account of its utter barrenness, the blessed John the Baptist also declared in these words; “Behold the axe is laid at the root of the trees: every tree therefore that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” And one of the holy prophets also … 

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Lent, liturgy, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 13:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 25, 2013

Text in red are my additions.

Luk 13:1  And there were present, at that very time, some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

Whose blood Pilate had mingled. That is, whom while they were sacrificing in Mount Gerizim in Samaria, Pilate slew. He slew them that their blood might be mingled with the blood of their victims. Josephus relates the whole at length (Antiq., book xviii. chap. 7), as also does Hegesippus on the destruction of Jerusalem. Josephus says, “A certain impostor incited the people to assemble on Mount Gerizim, a mountain which they held very sacred, by the promise of shewing them certain vessels which Moses had deposited there and he had dug up. They credulously took arms and occupied the village Tirathaba, awaiting the arrival of others that they might ascend the mountain in force. But Pilate seized it before them, and held it with cavalry and foot soldiers. These attacked the Samaritans in the village, killing some and putting the rest to flight. He also took many prisoners, the chief and most powerful of whom he put to death.”

It may be said, “Josephus asserts them to have been Samaritans; how then does Christ call them Galileans?” The answer is, “They were called Samaritans from their country and nation, but Galileans from their sect and heresy.” So says Baronius. To explain the matter, observe that Judas of Galilee, as St. Luke says, Acts 5:37, was the author of the sect of Galileans who rebelled against Cæsar, saying that it was not lawful for the Jews, who were a faithful people, and worshipped the true God, to be subject to Caesar, a Gentile, and an idolater, and to give him tribute; for they ought to acknowledge and obey no other lord but God. So S. Cyril in the Catena, Theophylact, Euthymius, and Titus. Hence Pilate sent a force and destroyed them. This sect arose about the time of Christ. Hence Christ and the Apostles, being Galileans by nation, were accused of the same, and they therefore carefully taught in opposition that tribute ought to be given to kings and to Cæsar, even if Gentiles. Francis Lucas thinks that these Galileans were slain by Pilate in Jerusalem, when they were sacrificing in the Temple, because Pilate was Procurator of Judæa and not of Samaria. But Josephus plainly says that they were killed in Mount Gerizim, which is in Samaria. The Samaritans, moreover, were a schism from the Jews, and would not go into the Temple at Jerusalem, but built another in their own power on mount Gerizim, as we find from S. John 4:20. Pilate therefore attacked these Samaritans as rebels, and put them to death in Samaria, as open enemies to Cæsar. When the slaughter of the Samaritans was frequently repeated, there were different opinions on the subject, many affirming that they were wicked men and hated by God; their sacrifices not only being rejected but also mixed with their blood. They related this to Christ and asked His opinion of the matter, but, Christ made a wise use of this occasion, and drew from it an argument to rouse them to repentance, lest a similar vengeance should fall upon them. The preacher should follow this example, and when public slaughter, pest, famine, or wars befall, exhort his people to repentance, that they may escape such inflictions and, with them, the torments of Gehenna.

Luk 13:2  And he answering, said to them: Think you that these Galileans were sinners above all the men of Galilee, because they suffered such things?

And he answering, said to them: think you, &c. They did suppose this, but wrongly, for God often corrects those who sin less heavily, to make them an example and a terror to others, and so incite them to penitence. So Bede, Titus, and others.

Luk 13:3  No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.

Likewise“—that is, by a similar death, none excepted, says Maldonatus; and so Wisdom 6:8~”He hath made the small and great, and careth for all alike. For He cares for all without exception, though for some more and for others less.” Secondly, and more simply, You shall equally perish, though by another kind of death, by an eternal instead of a temporal one, or even by a temporal. Thirdly, and properly, Jansenius says, “By a similar death; the destruction and vengeance of God.” For the Jews were besieged by Titus at the time of the Passover, when they were sacrificing; and, when the city was taken, many were slain in the temple, where they were sacrificing, and accustomed to sacrifice. So Euthymius,  S. Thomas, Hugo, N. de Lyra, S. Cyril in the Catena.

Observe that Christ here teaches us, in like calamities, to give our minds to the thought of our sins, and to repentance, that we fall not into the like punishments of God.

Symbolically:  Bede says that Pilate means, the mouth of the hammerer, (os malleatoris) that is, the Devil, who is always ready to destroy. “Blood”—that is, sin and concupiscence. The sacrifices are good actions which the Devil, either for the delight of the flesh, or from the ambition of human praise, or some other evil motive, pollutes.

Luk 13:4  Or those eighteen upon whom the tower fell in Siloe and slew them: think you that they also were debtors above all the men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

Or those eighteen upon who the tower fell in Siloe. There was a fountain, or rather pool, near Jerusalem of which Isaiah speaks, “This people refuses the waters of Shiloah that go softly,” Isa 8:6. Near this fountain was a tower also called Siloë, from it, which in the time of Christ fell down, either from the force of the wind, or from lightning, or an earthquake, or some other like cause, and destroyed eighteen persons who were either in it, or standing near. This, if we only regard secondary causes, may have happened by chance; but if we consider the one primary one, that is, God, it was done by His appointed Providence, who determines to punish some and to terrify others. For with God nothing is fortuitous, but everything is certainly foreseen and prepared, that nothing in His Kingdom should, as Boethius says, be ascribed to chance or temerity. God, then, orders these events for the chastisement and correction of man, that others, seeing their neighbours killed by the fall of a tower or some other sudden accident, may fear lest something similar happen to themselves, and so may repent and reconcile themselves to God, lest they be overwhelmed by His judgments and condemned to Gehenna. This is what God said by the prophet Amos, “Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?” Isa 3:6; and by Isaiah, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil” Isa  45:7. The poets and philosophers saw the same through a shade:

“0 Thou who dost the affairs
Of men and gods, by laws eternal rule,
And by thy lightning fierce dost terrify.”

And Plutarch (In Moral.), “As if a blind man should fall against a person, and call that person blind for not avoiding him, so we make Fortune blind, whereas we stumble against her from our own want of sight. For this very ‘Fortuna fortunans,’ which is, in truth, no other than God Himself, and the Providence of God is most keen of sight, and has many more eyes than Argus.”

Symbolically:  “The tower,” says Bede, “is Christ, Siloë, that is, He who is sent by the Father into the world, and who crushes to powder all the wicked upon whom He falls, through the sentence of His condemnation.”

 Think you that they also were debtors above all the men that dwelt in Jerusalem? the Arabic has culpabiles; the Chaldaic, chare bim, i.e. debtors (for a debtor owes his soul, that is 10,000 talents, S. Matt 18:24, to God). Christ shows clearly that these eighteen who were killed by the fall of the tower of Siloam (Siloe), were sinners, though not, perhaps, the worst and greatest that were in Jerusalem.

Luk 13:5  No, I say to you: but except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish.

“This shows,” says S. Chrysostom, “that these eighteen were appointed as an example and terror to the others; though each was punished for his own sins. This was made wholesome matter for others, that the fool might be made wiser by the event. For God does not punish all here, but He leaves a time for repentance. Again, he does not leave all for a future punishment, lest many should deny His Providence.”

Luk 13:6  He spoke also this parable: A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard: and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.
Luk 13:7  And he said to the dresser of the vineyard: Behold, for these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree and I find none. Cut it down therefore. Why cumbereth it the ground?

“Cumbereth”—the Greek is κατάζγει, that is, loads with a useless burthen (burden), nay, renders the ground barren and fruitless, as well by its shade as by its roots, which keep the earth’s moisture from the other trees. The Syriac says, “keeps it idle;” for άζγον, is idle, inert, devoid of strength.

In the letter the fig-tree represents the synagogue of the Jews, which God planted through the prophets; to which Christ came by the Incarnation, to cultivate it by His preaching. Christ, therefore, is the keeper of the vine, that is, of the synagogue, to whom God said, “Cut it down, for now for three years in which Thou hast preached to it, I have looked for the fruit of faith and good works, and I find none, from the unbelief, turpitude, and rejection of the Jews.” Christ intercedes for it, that the Father would allow Him to tend it by His preaching for one year more, or, at least, for half an one; and then, if it gave no fruit, it might be cut down. So it came to pass: for the Jews, in the fourth year of Christ’s preaching, at the Passover, adding sin to sin, and becoming more and more hostile, crucified Him; so that, a few years after, Titus was sent by God as His avenger, and took Jerusalem, and destroyed all Judæa. What remains are additions belonging to the finish of the parable, which it is unnecessary to apply to what is signified by it. What is said here needs to be seen in relation to St Paul’s teaching concerning God’s plan for Israel in Romans 9-11.

S. Ambrose observes, that the fig-tree is an apt symbol of the Synagogue: first, because it was a tree with abundance of leaves, but which disappointed its owner in his hope of fruit. Secondly, while the doctors of the Synagogue were fruitless of good works and boasted only of words like redundant leaves, the vain shadow of the law flourished exuberantly, but the false hope of the expected produce deceived the prayers of the people.

Secondly, as the fig puts out a green, that is an immature fig instead of blossoms, which soon falls, and then produces a savoury and solid fruit, so the Synagogue firstly put forth the Jews, like green and evanescent fruit, and then, through Christ, gave Christians, like mature and savoury figs. So Pliny, viii 7, “Figs are produced late, if the green fruit, when exceeding the size of a bean, are taken away, for then are produced figs that ripen later.”

Tropologically: The fig is any individual person, especially a believer; the gardener is Christ, the Apostles, and the like; the Lord is God the Father, or the Holy Trinity. Our own Salmeron (tom. vii., tract 21), gives various reasons and analogies, why the faithful are compared to a fig. 1. The fig produces sweet fruit, which seems to be purses of honey and sugar, and the righteous produce the like. 2. As the fig tree increases little in height but is always short, so the righteous cast themselves down, and humble themselves. 3. The fig, instead of blossoms, gives fruit, and that twice; namely, the early ripe in the summer, and in the autumn the later—for the fig bears twice a year, as the righteous is ever plentifully bringing forth the fruit of good works. 4. As the fig makes a shade with its ample leaves, so the righteous defends and protects others by his charity. 5. The fig is never grafted, into another tree, because of its exceeding sweetness, which cannot leave it. So the righteous rests in no man, but in God alone and his own conscience. 6. The, fig tree, if stripped of its bark, gives no fruit, but withers away; and .the righteous, unless protected by the bark of honest conversation, modesty, and outward decency, will bring no fruit with his neighbours. 7. The fig has medical properties, and heals diseases, as Isaiah healed Hezekiah by means of a fig (Isa 38:21). Pliny also says that the fig alone, of trees, has medical virtues. So the righteous, because he is perfect and mature in virtue, ministers to the infirmities of others, by teaching, advising, and living holily. He adds that lopping and pruning it remedies its too great luxuriousness; as the righteous by circumcising and cutting off the desire of honour above, and the appetites of the senses below, by meditations on death and burial, is rendered fruitful in virtue and good works, and converts many of his neighbours to God.

Behold, for these three years I come seeking fruit. This alludes to the nature of the fig tree, which sometimes gives fruit in its third year. If not then, it commonly does not give it at all.

Symbolically: these three years, according to Euthymius, signify the three policies or political status of the Jews, under the judges, Kings, and the High Priests, namely the Maccabees. St. Ambrose says “He came to Abraham, He came to Moses, He came to Mary; that is, He came in circumcision, He came in the Law, He came in the body. We acknowledge His Advent from His benefits to us. In the first, Purification; in the second, Sanctification; in the third, justification—Circumcision purified, the Law sanctified, Grace justified—one in all, and all in one; no one can he cleansed but one who fears God: no one deserves to receive the Law but one who is purified from sin: no one comes to Grace but he who knows the Law.” So also St. Cyril: “God sought the nature of the human race before the Law, under the Law, and under Grace by waiting, admonishing, visiting; but some are not corrected by the natural law, nor taught by precept, nor converted by miracle.”

Tropologically: these three years, says Theophylact, are the three ages of man—childhood; full manhood; and old age. For every one ought at all times to bring forth the fruits of virtue to God, as is fitting and proportionate to every age. God, who would have no age of man idle, requires these of every one.

Luk 13:8  But he answering, said to him: Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig about it and dung it.
Luk 13:9  And if happily it bear fruit: but if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

But He, namely, the dresser of the Vine, Christ and the Apostles, answering said to him. Christ and the Apostles, says the Interlineator, knowing that some of the Jews could be saved, pray God to delay the avenging of the Lord’s cross, that is, the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus.

And dung it. This is, as S. Ambrose says, the feeling of humility, and S. Augustine (De Verb. Dom.): “Dung is filth, but it causes fruitfulness. The filth of the vine-dresser is the grief of the sinner.” And S. Gregory, “Dung is the sins of the flesh, from which the mind is roused to good works.” Apparently Saints Ambrose and Gregory understand the dunging here as referring to the act of making sinners aware of their need for repentance which leads to the bearing of good fruit. The “sins of the flesh” mentioned by Gregory include-but are not confined to-sexual sins, an understanding many moderns might give to the term. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest: which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21).

And if happily it bear fruit. Understand, “It shall be well, it shall be safe, and it shall be saved.” It is an aposiopesis. The Arabic adds, “For it has brought forth fruit.” The Synagogue formerly gave fruit under Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and others.

But if not, then after thou shalt cut it down. And this cutting down happened under the Roman general Titus.

Mystically: S. Augustine (De Verb. Dom.) says: “He who intercedes is all holy; who, within the Church, prays for those who are without.” To dig about the conscience is to teach humility and patience, and to engraft on the mind the consideration of heaven and heavenly things, lest, as S. Ambrose says, the heap overwhelm the root of earthly wisdom and of earthly desires and hide it from view.


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

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 13:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 25, 2013

Ver  1. There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.2. And Jesus answering said to them, Suppose you that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?3. I tell you, Nay: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.4. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?5. I tell you, Nay: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.

GLOSS. As He had been speaking of the punishments of sinners, the story is fitly told Him of the punishment of certain particular sinners, from which He takes occasion to denounce vengeance also against other sinners: as it is said, There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

CYRIL; For these were followers of the opinions of Judas of Galilee, of whom Luke makes mention in the Acts of the Apostles, who said, that we ought to call no man master. Great numbers of them refusing to acknowledge Caesar as their master, were therefore punished by Pilate. They said also that men ought not to offer God any sacrifices that were not ordained in the law of Moses, and so forbade to offer the sacrifices appointed by the people for the safety of the Emperor and the Roman people. Pilate then, being enraged against the Galileans, ordered them to be slain in the midst of the very victims which they thought they might offer according to the custom of their law; so that the blood of the offerers was mingled with that of the victims offered. Now it being generally believed that these Galileans were most justly punished, as sowing offences among the people, the rulers, eager to excite against Him the hatred of the people, relate these things to the Savior, wishing to discover what He thought about them. But He, admitting them to be sinners, does not however judge them to have suffered such things, as though they were worse than those who suffered not. Whence it follows, And he answered an said to them, Suppose you that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, &c.

CHRYS. For God punishes some sinners by cutting off their iniquities, and appointing to them hereafter a lighter punishment, or perhaps even entirely releasing them, and correcting those who are living in wickedness by their punishment. Again, he does not punish others, that if they take heed to themselves by repentance they may escape both the present penalty and future punishment, but if they continue in their sins, suffer still greater torment.

TIT. BOST. And he here plainly shows, that whatever judgments are passed for the punishment of the guilty, happen not only by the authority of the judges, but the will of God. Whether therefore the judge punishes upon the strict grounds of conscience, or has some other object in his condemnation, we must ascribe the work to the Divine appointment.

CYRIL; To save therefore the multitudes, from the intestine seditions, which were excited for the sake of religion, He adds, but unless you repent, and unless you cease to conspire against your rulers, for which you have no divine guidance, You shall all likewise perish, and your blood shall be united to that of your sacrifices.

CHRYS. And herein he shows that He permitted them to suffer such things, that the heirs of the kingdom yet living might be dismayed by the dangers of others. “What then,” you will say, “is this man punished, that I might become better?” Nay, but he is punished for his own crimes, and hence arises an opportunity of salvation to those who see it.

BEDE; But because they repented not in the fortieth year of our Lord’s Passion, the Romans coming, (whom Pilate represented, as belonging to their nation,) and beginning from Galilee, (whence our Lord’s preaching had begun,) utterly destroyed that wicked nation, and defiled with human blood not only the courts of the temples, where they were wont to offer sacrifices, but also the inner parts of the doors, (where there was no entrance to the Galileans.)

CHRYS. Again, there had been eighteen others crushed to death by the falling of a tower, of whom He adds the same things, as it follows, Or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay, For he does not punish all in this life, giving them a time meet for repentance. Nor however does he reserve all for future punishment, lest men should deny His providence.

TIT. BOST. Now one tower is compared to the whole city, that the destruction of a part may alarm the whole. Hence it is added, But, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish; as if He said, The whole city shall shortly be smitten if the inhabitants continue in impenitence.

AMBROSE; In those whose blood Pilate mingled with the sacrifices, there seems to be a certain mystical type, which concerns all who by the compulsion of the Devil offer not a pure sacrifice, whose prayer is for a sin, as it was written of Judas, who when he was amongst the sacrifices devised the betrayal of our Lord’s blood.

BEDE; For Pilate, who is interpreted, “The mouth of the hammerer,” signifies the devil ever ready to strike. The blood expresses sin, the sacrifices good actions. Pilate then mingles the blood of the Galileans with their sacrifices when the devil stains the alms and other good works of the faithful either by carnal indulgence, or by courting the praise of men, or any other defilement. Those men of Jerusalem also who were crushed by the falling of the tower, signify that the Jews who refuse to repent will perish within their own walls. Nor without meaning is the number eighteen given, (which number among the Greeks is made up of I and H, that is, of the same letters with which the name of Jesus begins.) And it signifies that the Jews were chiefly to perish, because they would not receive the name of the Savior. That tower represents Him who is the tower of strength. And this is rightly in Siloam, which is interpreted, “sent;” for it signifies Him who, sent by the Father, came into the world, and who shall grind to powder all on whom He falls.

Ver  6. He spoke also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.7. Then said he to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none; cut it down: why cumbers it the ground?8. And he answering; said to him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:9. And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that you shall cut it down.

TIT. BOST. The Jews were boasting, that while the eighteen had perished, they all remained unhurt. He therefore sets before them the parable of the fig tree, for it follows, He spoke also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard.

AMBROSE; There was a vineyard of the Lord of hosts, which He gave for a spoil to the Gentiles. And the comparison of the fig tree to the synagogue is well chosen, because as that tree abounds with wide and spreading foliage, and deceives the hopes of its possessor with the vain expectation of promised fruit, so also in the synagogue, while its teachers are unfruitful in good works, yet magnify themselves with words as with abundant leaves, the empty shadow of the law stretches far and wide. This tree also is the only one which puts forth fruit in place of flowers. And the fruit falls, that other fruit may succeed; yet some few of the former remain, and do not fall. For the first people of the synagogue fell off as a useless fruit, in order that out of the fruitfulness of the old religion might arise the new people of the Church; yet they who were the first out of Israel whom a branch of a stronger nature bore, under the shadow of the law and the cross, in the bosom of both, stained with a double juice after the example of a ripening fig, surpassed all others in the grace of most excellent fruits; to whom it is said, You shall sit upon twelve thrones. Some however think the fig tree to be a figure not of the synagogue, but of wickedness and treachery; y et these differ in nothing from what has gone before, except that they choose the genus instead of the species.

BEDE; The Lord Himself who established the synagogue by Moses, came born in the flesh, and frequently teaching in the synagogue, sought for the fruits of faith, but in the hearts of the Pharisees found none; therefore it follows, And came seeking fruit on it, and found none.

AMBROSE; But our Lord sought, not because He was ignorant that the fig tree had no fruit, but that He might show in a figure that the synagogue ought by this time to have fruit. Lastly, from what follows, He teaches that He Himself came not before the time who came after three years. For so it is said, Then said he to the dresser of the vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none. He came to Abraham, He came to Moses, He came to Mary, that is, He came in the seal of the covenant, He came in the law, He came in the body. We recognise His coming by His gifts; at one time purification, at another sanctification, at another justification. Circumcision purified, the law sanctified, grace justified. The Jewish people then could not be purified because they had not the circumcision of the heart, but of the body; nor be sanctified, because ignorant of the meaning of the law, they followed carnal things rather than spiritual; nor justified, because not working repentance for the their offences, they knew nothing of grace. Rightly then was there no fruit found in the synagogue, and consequently it is ordered to be cut down; for it follows, Cut it down, why cumbers it the ground? But the merciful dresser, perhaps meaning him on whom the Church is founded, foreseeing that another would be sent to the Gentiles, but he himself to them who were of the circumcision, piously intercedes that it may not be cut off; trusting to his calling, that the Jewish people also might be saved through the Church.

Hence it follows, And he answering said to him, Lord, let it alone this year also. He soon perceived hardness of bears and pride to be the causes of the barrenness of the Jews. He knew therefore how to discipline, who knew how to censure faults. Therefore adds He, till I shall dig about it. He promises that the hardness of their hearts shall be dug about by the Apostles’ spades, lest a heap of earth cover up and obscure the root of wisdom. And He adds, and dung it, that is, by the grace of humility, by which even the fig is thought to become fruitful toward the Gospel of Christ. Hence He adds, And if it bear fruit, well, that is, it shall be well, but if not, then after that you shall cut it down.

BEDE; Which indeed came to pass under the Romans, by whom the Jewish nation was cut off, and thrust out from the land of promise.

AUG. Or, in another sense, the fig tree is the race of mankind. For the first man after he had sinned concealed with fig leaves his nakedness, that is, the members from which we derive our birth.

THEOPHYL. But each one of us also is a fig tree planted in the vineyard of God, that is, in the Church, or in the world.

GREG. But our Lord came three times to the fig tree, because He sought after man’s nature before the law, under the law, and under grace, by waiting, admonishing, visiting; but yet He complains that for three years he found no fruit, for there are some wicked men whose hearts are neither corrected by the law of nature breathed into them, nor instructed by precepts, nor converted by the miracles of His incarnation.

THEOPHYL. Our nature yields no fruit though three times sought for; once indeed when we transgressed the commandment in paradise; the second time, when they made the molten calf under the law; thirdly, when they rejected the Savior. But that three years’ time must be understood to mean also the three ages of life, boyhood, manhood, and old age.

GREG. But with great fear and trembling should we hear the word which follows, Cut it down, why cumbers it the ground. For every one according to his measure, in whatsoever station of life he is, except he show forth the fruits of good works, like an unfruitful tree, cumbers the ground; for wherever he is himself placed, he there denies to another the opportunity of working.

PSEUDO-BASIL; For it is the part of God’s mercy not silently to inflict punishment, but to send forth threatenings to recall the sinner to repentance, as He did to the men of Nineveh, and now to the dresser of the vineyard, saying, Cut it down, exciting him indeed to the care of it, and stirring up the barren soil to bring forth the proper fruits.

GREG. NAZ. Let us not then strike suddenly, but overcome by gentleness, lest we cut down the fig tree still able to bear fruit, which the care perhaps of a skillful dresser will restore. Hence it is also here added, And he answering said to him, Lord, let alone, &c.

GREG. By the dresser of the vineyard is represented the order of Bishops, who, by ruling over the Church, take care of our Lord’s vineyard.

THEOPHYL. Or the master of the household is God the Father, the dresser is Christ, who will not have the fig tree cut down as barren, as if saying to the Father, Although through the Law and the Prophets they gave no fruit of repentance, I will water them with My sufferings and teaching, and perhaps they will yield us fruits of obedience.

AUG. Or, the husbandmen who intercedes is every holy man who ho within the Church prays for them that are without the Church, saying, O Lord, O Lord, let it alone this year, that is, for that time vouchsafed under grace, until I dig about it. To dig about it, is to teach humility and patience, for the ground which has been dug is lowly. The dung signifies the soiled garments, but they bring forth fruit. The soiled garment of the dresser, is the grief and mourning of sinners; for they who do penance and do it truly are in soiled garments.

GREG. Or, the sins of the flesh are called the dung. From this then the tree revives to bear fruit again, for from the remembrance of sin the soul quickens itself to good works. But there are very many who hear reproof, and yet despise the return to repentance; wherefore it is added, And if it bear fruit, well.

AUG. That is, it will be well, but if not, then after that you shall cut it down; namely, when you shall come to judge the quick and the dead. In the mean time it is now spared.

GREG. But he who will not by correction grow rich to fruitfulness, falls to that place from whence he is no more able to rise again by repentance.


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

%d bloggers like this: