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 March, 2013

Some Thoughts (homiletic and meditative) on Isaiah 50:4-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 21, 2013

Just some brief points connected with the reading which some may find useful.

4 The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.

The Lord has given me the tongue of those who are taught. The first of four things which our passage says God has given or done for his servant: 1. a tongue trained to teach others; 2. an ear to hear; 3. an opened ear; 4. help.

The tongue: One could preach or meditate upon the necessity of grace, particularly in relation to preaching (2 Tim 2:23-26), catechesis (James 3:1-12) or the witness all Christians are called upon to give (1 Pet 3:8-17).

Chrysostom on Teaching: For he that teaches must be especially careful to do it with meekness. For a soul that wishes to learn cannot gain any useful instruction from harshness and contention. For when it would apply, being thus thrown into perplexity, it will learn nothing. He who would gain any useful knowledge ought above all things to be well disposed towards his teacher, and if this be not previously attained, nothing that is requisite or useful can be accomplished. And no one can be well disposed towards him who is violent and overbearing. How is it then that he says, “A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject”? He speaks there of one incorrigible, of one whom he knows to be diseased beyond the possibility of cure (Homily 6 on 2 Timothy).

St Bernard: Happy the tongue than knows only how to speak holy things.

Sustaining the Weary: In imitation of Christ. See Isa 49:29-31; Isa 42:1-4; Isa 61:1-2Matt 11:28-30; Luke 4:16-21; Rom 15:1-6.

Morning after morning…he wakens my ear to hear. One could preach upon the importance of prayer particularly in the morning (Ps 5:3; Ps 143:8). In prayer we are called upon to converse with God, which includes listening to Him. For prayer as God’s opportunity to teach and dialogue with us see the Catechism of the Catholic Church #’2 2652-2662.

5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward.

An open ear. One could preach or meditation upon the necessity of the obedience (ὑπακοή) of faith. Literally, the hearing under faith.

Catechism of the Catholic Church # 143: By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God.[2] With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, “the obedience of faith”.[3]

Catechism of the Catholic Church # 144: To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to “hear or listen to”) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself. Abraham is the model of such obedience offered us by Sacred Scripture. The Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment.

Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) # 5: “The obedience of faith” (Rom. 13:26; see 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) “is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals,” (4) and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him. To make this act of faith, the grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving “joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it.” (5) To bring about an ever deeper understanding of revelation the same Holy Spirit constantly brings faith to completion by His gifts.

Obedience is done in imitation of Christ who embraced it even unto death, death on a cross (Phil 2:8).  Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Heb 5:8-9). We too are called to remain faithful even in the face of trials (Heb 10:32-39; Heb 12; Rev 2:8-11).

6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

See Matt 26:67; 27:30; Mark 14:65; Mark 15:19; Luke 22:63; Psalm 69:7-12.

St Athanasius:  Oh! my dearly beloved, if we shall gain comfort from afflictions, if rest from labours, if health after sickness, if from death immortality, it is not right to be distressed by the temporal ills that lay hold on mankind. It does not become us to be agitated because of the trials which befall us. It is not right to fear if the gang that contended with Christ, should conspire against godliness; but we should the more please God through these things, and should consider such matters as the probation and exercise of a virtuous life. For how shall patience be looked for, if there be not previously labours and sorrows? Or how can fortitude be tested with no assault from enemies? Or how shall magnanimity be exhibited, unless after contumely and injustice? Or how can long-suffering be proved, unless there has first been the calumny of Antichrist? (St Athanasius is referring to the Arians). And, finally, how can a man behold virtue with his eyes, unless the iniquity of the very wicked has previously appeared? Thus even our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ comes before us, when He would shew men how to suffer, Who when He was smitten bore it patiently, being reviled He reviled not again, when He suffered He threatened not, but He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to buffetings, and turned not His face from spitting (1 Pet 2:23, Isa 50:6); and at last, was willingly led to death, that we might behold in Him the image of all that is virtuous and immortal, and that we, conducting ourselves after these examples, might truly tread on serpents and scorpions, and on all the power of the enemy.

7 For the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

Consider the example of St Paul in his minsitry (2 Cor 6:3-10).

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St Augustine’s Tractates on John 12:10-36

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 20, 2013

The following post is derived from the very end of Augustine’s Tractate #50 on John, followed by Tractates 51 & 52.

From the end of Tractate 50
John 12:10-11

“But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.” O foolish consultation and blinded rage! Could not Christ the Lord, who was able to raise the dead, raise also the slain? When you were preparing a violent death for Lazarus, were you at the same time denuding the Lord of His power? If you think a dead man one thing, a murdered man another, look you only to this, that the Lord made both, and raised Lazarus to life when dead, and Himself when slain.

Tractate 51
on John 12:12-26

1). After our Lord’s raising of one to life, who had been four days dead, to the utter amazement of the Jews, some of whom believed on seeing it, and others perished in their envy, because of that sweet savor which is unto life to some, and to others unto death (2 Cor 2:15); after He had sat down to meat with Lazarus-the one who had been dead and raised to life-reclining also at table, and after the pouring on His feet of the ointment which had filled the house with its odor; and after the Jews also had shown their own spiritual abandonment in conceiving the useless cruelty and the monstrously foolish and insane guilt of slaying Lazarus;-of all which we have spoken as we could, by the grace of the Lord, in previous discourses: let your Charity now notice how abundant before our Lord’s passion was the fruit that appeared of His preaching, and how large was the flock of lost sheep of the house of Israel which had heard the Shepherd’s voice.

2. For the Gospel, the reading of which yon have just been listening to, says: “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna: blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord as the King of Israel.” The branches of palm trees are laudatory emblems, significant of victory, because the Lord was about to overcome death by dying, and by the trophy of His cross to triumph over the devil, the prince of death. The exclamation used by the worshipping people is Hosanna, indicating, as some who know the Hebrew language affirm, rather a state of mind than having any positive significance; just as in our own tongue we have what are called interjections, as when in our grief we say, Alas! or in our joy, Ha! or in our admiration, O how fine! where O! expresses only the feeling of the admirer. Of the same class must we believe this word to be, as it has failed to find an interpretation both in Greek and Latin, like that other, “Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca.”For this also is allowed to be an interjection, expressive of angry feelings.

3. But when it is said, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, [as] the King of Israel,” by “in the name of the Lord” we are rather to understand “in the name of God the Father,” although it might also be understood as in His own name, inasmuch as He is also Himself the Lord. As we find Scripture also saying in another place, “The Lord rained [upon Sodom fire] from the Lord ” (Gen 19:24).  But His own words are a better guide to our understanding, when He saith, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: another will come in his own name, and him ye will receive” (Jn 5:43).For the true teacher of humility is Christ, who humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil 2:8). But He does not lose His divinity in teaching us humility; in the one He is the Father’s equal, in the other He is assimilated to us. By that which made Him the equal of the Father, He called us into existence; and by that in which He is like unto us, He redeemed us from ruin.

4. These, then, were the words of praise addressed to Jesus by the multitude, “Hosanna: blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel.” What a cross of mental suffering must the Jewish rulers have endured when they heard so great a multitude proclaiming Christ as their King! But what honor was it to the Lord to be King of Israel? What great thing was it to the King of eternity to become the King of men? For Christ’s kingship over Israel was not for the purpose of exacting tribute, of putting swords into His soldiers’ hands, of subduing His enemies by open warfare; but He was King of Israel in exercising kingly authority over their inward natures, in consulting for their eternal interests, in bringing into His heavenly kingdom those whose faith, and hope, and love were centred in Himself. Accordingly, for the Son of God, the Father’s equal, the Word by whom all things were made, in His good pleasure to be King of Israel, was an act of condescension and not of promotion; a token of compassion, and not any increase of power. For He who was called on earth the King of the Jews, is in the heavens the Lord of angels.

5. “And Jesus, when He had found a young ass, sat thereon.” Here the account is briefly given: for how it all happened may be found at full length in the other evangelists (Matt 21:1-16; Mk 11:1-11; Lk 19:29-48). But there is appended to the circumstance itself a testimony from the prophets, to make it evident that He in whom was fulfilled all they read in Scripture, was entirely misunderstood by the evil-minded rulers of the Jews. Jesus, then, “found a young ass, and sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.” Among that people, then, was the daughter of Zion to be found; for Zion is the same as Jerusalem. Among that very people, I say, reprobate and blind as they were, was the daughter of Zion, to whom it was said, “Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.” This daughter of Zion, who was thus divinely addressed, was amongst those sheep that were hearing the Shepherd’s voice, and in that multitude which was celebrating the Lord’s coming with such religious zeal, and accompanying Him in such warlike array. To her was it said, “Fear not:” acknowledge Him whom thou art now extolling, and give not way to fear when He comes to suffering; for by the shedding of His blood is thy guilt to be blotted out, and thy life restored. But by the ass’s colt, on which no man had ever sat (for so it is found recorded in the other evangelists), we are to understand the Gentile nations which had not received the law of the Lord; by the ass, on the other hand (for both animals were brought to the Lord), that people of His which came of the nation of Israel, and was already so far subdued as to recognize its Master’s crib.

6. “These things understood not His disciples at the first; but when Jesus was glorified,” that is, when He had manifested the power of His resurrection, “then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and they had done these things unto Him,” that is, they did nothing else but what had been written concerning Him. In short, mentally comparing with the contents of Scripture what was accomplished both prior tO and in the course of our Lord’s passion, they found this also therein, that it was in accordance with the utterance of the prophets that He sat on an ass’s colt.

7. “The people, therefore, that was with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the crowd also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle. The Pharisees, therefore, said among themselves: Perceive ye that we prevail nothing? Behold, the whole world is gone after Him.” Mob set mob in motion. “But why art thou, blinded mob that thou art, filled with envy because the world has gone after its Maker?”

8. “And there were certain Gentiles among them that had come up to worship at the feast: the same came therefore to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.” Let us hearken to the Lord’s reply. See how the Jews wish to kill Him, the Gentiles to see Him; and yet those, too, were of the Jews who cried, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel.” Here, then, were they of the circumcision and they of the uncircumcision, like two house walls running from different directions and meeting together with the kiss of peace, in the one faith of Christ. Let us listen, then, to the voice of the Cornerstone: “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified.” Perhaps some one supposes here that He spake of Himself as glorified, because the Gentiles wished to see Him. Such is not the case. But He saw the Gentiles themselves in all nations coming to the faith after His own passion and resurrection, because, as the apostle says, “Blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles should be come in” (Rom 11:25). Taking occasion, therefore, from those Gentiles who desired to see Him, He announces the future fullness of the Gentile nations, and promises the near approach of the hour when He should be glorified Himself, and when, on its consummation in heaven, the Gentile nations should be brought to the faith. To this it is that the prediction pointed, “Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth” (Ps 108:5). Such is the fullness of the Gentiles, of which the apostle saith, “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, till the fullness of the Gentiles come in.”

9. But the height of His glorification had to be preceded by the depth of His passion. Accordingly, He went on to add, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” But He spake of Himself. He Himself was the grain that had to die, and be multiplied; to suffer death through the unbelief of the Jews, and to be multiplied in the faith of many nations.

10. And now, by way of exhortation to follow in the path of His own passion, He adds, “He that loveth his life shall lose it,” which may be understood in two ways: “He that loveth shall lose,” that is, If thou lovest, be ready to lose; if thou wouldst possess life in Christ, be not afraid of death for Christ. Or otherwise, “He that loveth his life shall lose it.” Do not love for fear of losing; love it not here, lest thou lose it in eternity. But what I have said last seems better to correspond with the meaning of the Gospel, for there follow the words, “And he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” So that when it is said in the previous clause, “He that loveth,” there is to be understood in this world, he it is that shall lose it. “But he that hateth,” that is, in this world, is he that shall keep it unto life eternal. Surely a profound and strange declaration as to the measure of a man’s love for his own life that leads to its destruction, and of his hatred to it that secures its preservation! If in a sinful way thou lovest it, then dost thou really hate it; if in a way accordant with what is good thou hast hated it, then hast thou really loved it. Happy they who have so hated their life while keeping it, that their love shall not cause them to lose it. But beware of harboring the notion that thou mayest court self-destruction by any such understanding of thy duty to hate thy life in this world. For on such grounds it is that certain wrong-minded and perverted people, who, with regard to themselves, are murderers of a specially cruel and impious character, commit themselves to the flames, suffocate themselves in water, dash themselves against a precipice, and perish. This was no teaching of Christ’s, who, on the other hand, met the devil’s suggestion of a precipice with the answer, “Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matt 4:7). To Peter also He said, signifying by what death he should glorify God, “When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not” (Jn 21:18-19); -where He made it sufficiently plain that it is not by himself but by another that one must be slain who follows in the footsteps of Christ. And so, when one’s case has reached the crisis that this condition is placed before him, either that he must act contrary to the divine commandment or quit this life, and that a man is compelled to choose one or other of the two by the persecutor who is threatening him with death, in such circumstances let him prefer dying in the love of God to living under His anger, in such circumstances let him hate his life in this world that he may keep it unto life eternal.

11. “If any man serve me, let him follow me.” What is that, “let him follow me,” but just, let him imitate me? “Because Christ suffered for us,” says the Apostle Peter, “leaving us an example that we should follow His steps” (1 Pet 2:21). Here you have the meaning of the words, “If any man serve me, let him follow me.” But with what result? what wages? what reward? “And where I am,” He says, “there shall also my servant be.” Let Him be freely loved, that so the reward of the service done Him may be to be with Him. For where will one be well apart from Him, or when will one come to feel himself in an evil case in company with Him? Hear it still more plainly: “If any man serve me, him will my Father honor.” And what will be the honor but to be with His Son? For of what He said before, “Where I am, there shall also my servant be,” we may understand Him as giving the explanation, when He says here, “him will my Father honor.” For what greater honor can await an adopted son than to be with the Only-begotten; not, indeed, as raised to the level of His Godhead, but made a partaker of His eternity?

12. But it becomes us rather to inquire what is to be understood by this serving of Christ to which there is attached so great a reward. For if we have taken up the idea that the serving of Christ is the preparation of what is needful for the body, or the cooking and serving up of food, or the mixing of drink and handing the cup to one at the supper table; this, indeed, was done to Him by those who had the privilege of His bodily presence, as in the case of Martha and Mary, when Lazarus also was one of those who sat at the table. But in that sort of way Christ was served also by the reprobate Judas; for it was he also who had the money bag; and although he had the exceeding wickedness to steal of its contents, yet it was he also who provided what was needful for the meal (Jn 12:2-6). And so also, when our Lord said to him, “What thou doest, do quickly,” there were some who thought that He only gave him orders to make some needful preparations for the feast-day, or to give something to the poor (Jn 13:27, 29). In no sense, therefore, was it of this class of servants that the Lord said, “Where I am, there shall also my servant be,” and “If any man serve me, him will my Father honor;” for we see that Judas, who served in this way, became an object of reprobation rather than of honor. Why, then, go elsewhere to find out what this serving of Christ implies, and not rather see its disclosure in the words themselves? for when He said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me,” He wished it to be understood just as if He had said, If any man doth not follow me, he serveth me not. And those, therefore, are the servants of Jesus Christ, who seek not their own things, but the things that are Jesus Christ’s (Phil 2:21). For “let him follow me” is just this: Let him walk in my ways, and not in his own; as it is written elsewhere, “He that saith he abideth in Christ, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked” (1 Jn 2:6). For he ought, if supplying food to the hungry, to do it in the way of mercy and not of boasting, seeking therein nothing else but the doing of good, and not letting his left hand know what his right hand doeth (Matt 6:3); in other words, that all thought of self-seeking should be utterly estranged from a work of charity. He that serveth in this way serveth Christ, and will have it rightly said to him, “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of those who are mine, ye did it unto me” (Matt 25:40). And thus doing not only those acts of mercy that pertain to the body, but every good work, for the sake of Christ (for then will all be good, because “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth ” [Rom 10:4]), he is Christ’s servant even to that work of special love, which is to lay down his life for the brethren, for that were to lay it down also for Christ. For this also will He say hereafter in behalf of His members: Inasmuch as ye did it for these, ye have done it for me. And certainly it was in reference to such a work that He was also pleased to make and to style Himself a servant, when He says, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto [served], but to minister [serve], and to lay down His life for many” (Matt 20:28). Every one, therefore, is the servant of Christ in the same way as Christ also is a servant. And he that serveth Christ in this way will be honored by His Father with the signal honor of being with His Son, and having nothing wanting to his happiness for ever.

13. Accordingly, brethren, when you hear the Lord saying, “Where I am, there shall also my servant be,” do not think merely of good bishops and clergymen. But be yourselves also in your own way serving Christ, by good lives, by giving alms, by preaching His name and doctrine as you can; and every father of a family also, be acknowledging in this name the affection he owes as a parent to his family. For Christ’s sake, and for the sake of life eternal, let him be warning, and teaching, and exhorting, and correcting all his household; let him show kindliness, and exercise discipline; and so in his own house he will be filling an ecclesiastical and kind of episcopal office, and serving Christ, that he may be with Him for ever. For even that noblest service of suffering has been rendered by many of your class; for many who were neither bishops nor clergy, but young men and virgins, those advanced in years with those who were not, many married persons both male and female, many fathers and mothers of families, have served Christ even to the laying down of their lives in martyrdom for His sake, and have been honored by the Father in receiving crowns of exceeding glory.

Tractate 52
on John 12:27-36

1). After the Lord Jesus Christ, in the words of yesterday’s lesson, had exhorted His servants to follow Him, and had predicted His own passion in this way, that unless a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit; and also had stirred up those who wished to follow Him to the kingdom of heaven, to hate their life in this world if their thought was to keep it unto life eternal,-He again toned down His own feelings to our infirmity and says, where our lesson to-day commenced, “Now is my soul troubled.” Whence, Lord, was Thy soul troubled? He had, indeed, said a little before, “He that hateth his life [soul] in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” Dost thou then love thy life in this world, and is thy soul troubled as the hour approacheth when thou shalt leave this world? Who would dare affirm this of the soul [life] of the Lord? We rather it was whom He transferred unto Himself; He took us into His own person as our Head, and assumed the feelings of His members; and so it was not by any others He was troubled, but, as was said of Him when He raised Lazarus, “He was troubled in Himself” (Jn 11:33). For it behoved the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, just as He has lifted us up to the heights of heaven, to descend with us also into the lowest depths of suffering.

2. I hear Him saying a little before, “The hour cometh that the Son of man should be glorified: if a corn of wheat die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” I hear this also, “He that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” Nor am I permitted merely to admire, but commanded to imitate, and so, by the words that follow, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be,” I am all on fire to despise the world, and in my sight the whole of this life, however lengthened, becomes only a vapor; in comparisonwith my love for eternal things, all that is temporal has lost its value with me. And now, again, it is my Lord Himself, who by such words has suddenly transported me from the weakness that was mine to the strength that was His, that I hear saying, “Now is my soul troubled.” What does it mean? How biddest Thou my soul follow Thee if I behold Thine own troubled? How shall I endure what is felt to be heavy by strength so great? What is the kind of foundation I can seek if the Rock is giving way? But me-thinks I hear in my own thoughts the Lord giving me an answer, saying, Thou shall follow me the better, because it is to aid thy power of endurance that I thus interpose. Thou hast heard, as addressed to thyself, the voice of my fortitude hear in me the voice of thy infirmity: I supply strength for thy running, and I check not thy hastening, but I transfer to myself thy causes for trembling, and I pave the way for thy marching along. O Lord our Mediator, God above us, man for us, I own Thy mercy For because Thou, who art so great, art troubled through the good will of Thy love, Thou preservest, by the richness of Thy comfort, the many in Thy body who are troubled by the continual experience of their own weakness, from perishing utterly in their despair).

3. In a word, let the man who would follow learn the road by which he must travel. Perhaps an hour of terrible trial has come, and the choice is set before thee either to do iniquity or endure suffering; the weak soul is troubled, on whose behalf the invincible soul [of Jesus] was voluntarily troubled; set then the will of God before thine own. For notice what is immediately subjoined by thy Creator and thy Master, by Him who made thee, and became Himself for thy teaching that which He made; for He who made man was made man, but He remained still the unchangeable God, and transplanted manhood into a better condition. Listen, then, to what He adds to the words, “Now is my soul troubled.” “And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.” He has taught thee here what to think of, what to say, on whom to call, in whom to hope, and whose will, as sure and divine, to prefer to thine own, which is human and weak. Imagine Him not, therefore, as losing aught of His own exalted position in wishing thee to rise up out of the depths of thy ruin. For He thought it meet also to be tempted by the devil, by whom otherwise He would never have been tempted, just as, had He not been willing, He would never have suffered; and the answers He gave to the devil are such as thou also oughtest to use in times of temptation (Matt 4:1-10). And He, indeed, was tempted, but not endangered, that He might show thee, when in danger through temptation, how to answer the tempter, so as not to be carried away by the temptation, but to escape its danger. But when He here said, “Now is my soul troubled;” and also when He says, “My soul is sorrowful, even unto death;” and “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;” He assumed the infirmity of man, to teach him, when thereby saddened and troubled, to say what follows: “Nevertheless, Father, not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt 26:38-39). For thus it is that man is turned from the human to the divine, when the will of God is preferred to his own. But to what do the words “Glorify Thy name” refer, but to His own passion and resurrection? For what else can it mean, but that the Father should thus glorify the Son, who in like manner glorifieth His own name in the similar sufferings of His servants? Hence it is recorded of Peter, that for this cause He said concerning him, “Another shall gird thee,and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.” because He intended to signify “by what death he should glorify God” (Jn 21:18-19). Therefore in him, too, did God glorify His name, because thus also does He glorify Christ in His members.

4. “Then came there a voice from heaven, [saying], I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” “I have both glorified it,” before I created the world, “and I will glorify it again,” when He shall rise from the dead and ascend into heaven. It may also be otherwise understood. “I have both glorified it,”-when He was born of the Virgin, when He exercised miraculous powers; when the Magi, guided by a star in the heavens, bowed in adoration before Him; when He was recognized by saints filled with the Holy Spirit; when He was openly proclaimed by the descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove, and pointed out by the voice that sounded from heaven; when He was transfigured on the mount; when He wrought many miracles, cured and cleansed multitudes, fed so vast a number with a very few loaves, commanded the winds and the waves, and raised the dead;-“and I will glorify it again;” when He shall rise from the dead; when death shall have no longer dominion over Him; and when He shall be exalted over the heavens as God, and His glory over all the earth.

5. “The people therefore that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to Him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.” He thereby showed that the voice made no intimation to Him of what He already knew, but to those who needed the information. And just as that voice was uttered by God, not on His account, but on that of others, so His soul was troubled, not on His own account, but voluntarily for the sake of others.

6. Look at what follows: “Now,” He says, “is the judgment of the world.” What, then, are we to expect at the end of time? But the judgment that is looked for in the end will be the judging of the living and the dead, the awarding of eternal rewards and punishment. Of what sort, then, is the judgment now? I have already, in former lessons, as far as I could, put you in mind, beloved, that there is a judgment spoken of, not of condemnation, but of discrimination;6 as it is written, “Judge me, O God, and plead [discern, discriminate] my cause against an unholy nation” (Ps 43:1). And many are the judgments of God; as it is said in the psalm. “Thy judgments are a great deep” (Ps 36:6).

And the apostle also says, “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments!” (Rom 11:33). To such judgments does that spoken of here by the Lord also belong, “Now is the judgment of this world;” while that judgment in the end is reserved, when the living and the dead shall at last be judged. The devil, therefore, had possession of the human race, and held them by the written bond of their sins as criminals amenable to punishment; he ruled in the hearts of unbelievers, and, deceiving and enslaving them, seduced them to forsake the Creator and give worship to the creature; but by faith in Christ, which was confirmed by His death and resurrection, and, by His blood, which was shed for the remission of sins, thousands of believers are delivered from the dominion of the devil, are united to the body of Christ, and under this great head are made by His one Spirit to spring up into new life as His faithful members. This it was that He called the judgment, this righteous separation, this expulsion of the devil from His own redeemed.

7. Attend, in short, to His own words. For just as if we had been inquiring what He meant by saying, “Now is the judgment of the world,” He proceeded to explain it when He says, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” What we have thus heard was the kind of judgment He meant. Not that one, therefore, which is yet to come in the end, when the living and dead shall be judged, some of them set apart on His right hand, and the others on His left; but that judgment by which “the prince of this world shall be cast out.” In what sense, then, was he within, and whither did He. mean that he was to be cast out? Was it this: That he was in the world. and was cast forth beyond its boundaries? For had He been speaking of that judgment which is yet to come in the end, some one’s thoughts might have turned to that eternal fire into which the devil is to be cast with his angels, and all who belong to him;-that is, not naturally, but through moral delinquency; not because he created or begat them, but because he persuaded and kept hold of them: some one, therefore, might have thought that that eternal fire was outside the world, and that this was the meaning of the words, “he shall be cast out.” But as He says, “Now is the judgment of this world,” and in explanation of His meaning, adds, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out,” we are thereby to understand what is now being done, and not what is to be, so long afterwards, at the last day. The Lord, therefore, foretold what He knew, that after His own passion and glorification, many nations throughout the whole world, in whose hearts the devil was an inmate, would become believers, and the devil, when thus renounced by faith, is cast out.

8. But some one says, Was he then not cast out of the hearts of the patriarchs and prophets, and the righteous of olden time? Certainly he was. How, then, is it said, “Now he shall be cast out”? How else can we think of it, but that what was then done in the case of a very few individuals, was now foretold as speedily to take place in many and mighty nations? Just as also that other saying, “For the Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (Jn 7:39), may suggest a similar inquiry, and find a similar solution. For it was not without the Holy Spirit that the prophets predicted the events of the future; nor was it so that the aged Simeon and the widowed Anna knew by the Holy Spirit the infant Lord (Lk 2:25-38); and that Zacharias and Elisabeth uttered by the Holy Spirit so many predictions concerning Him, when He was not yet born, but only conceived (Lk 1:41-45; Lk 1:67-69). But “the Spirit was not yet given;” that is, with that abundance of spiritual grace which enabled those assembled together to speak in every language (Acts 2:4-6), and thus announce beforehand in the language of every nation the Church of the future: and so by ’this spiritual grace it was that nations were gathered into congregations, sins were pardoned far and wide, and thousands of thousands were reconciled unto God.

9. But then, says some one, since the devil is thus cast out of the hearts of believers, does he now tempt none of the faithful? Nay, verily, he does not cease to tempt. But it is one thing to reign within, another to assail from without; for in like manner the best fortified city is sometimes attacked by an enemy without being taken. And if some of his arrows are discharged, and reach us, the apostle reminds us how to render them harmless, when he speaks of the breastplate and the shield of faith (1 Thess 5:8). And if he sometimes wounds us, we have the remedy at hand. For as the combatants are told, “These things I write unto you, that ye sin not:” so those who are wounded have the sequel to listen to, “And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn 2:1-2). And what do we pray for when we say, “Forgive us our debts,” but for the healing of our wounds? And what else do we ask, when we say, “Lead us not into temptation” (Matt 6:12-13), but that he who thus lies in wait for us, or assails us from without, may fail on every side to effect an entrance, and be unable to overcome us either by fraud or force? Nevertheless, whatever engines of war he may erect against us, so long as he has no more a place in the heart that faith inhabits, he is cast out. But “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Ps 127:1). Presume not, therefore, about yourselves, if you would not have the devil, who has once been cast out, to be recalled within.

10. On the other hand, let us be far from supposing that the devil is called in any such way the prince of the world, as that we should believe him possessed of power to rule over the heaven and the earth. The world is so spoken of in respect of wicked men, who have overspread the whole earth; just as a house is spoken of in respect to its inhabitants, and we accordingly say, It is a good house, or a bad house; not as finding fault with, or approving of, the erection of walls and roofs, but the morals either of the good or the bad within it. In a similar way, therefore, it is said, “The prince of this world;” that is, the prince of all the wicked who inhabit this world. The world is also spoken of in respect to the good, who in like manner have overspread the whole earth; and hence the apostle says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Cor 5:19). These are they out of whose hearts the prince of this world is ejected.

11. Accordingly, after saying, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out,” He added, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things after me.” And what “all” is that, but those out of which the other is ejected? But He did not say, All men, but “all things;” for all men have not faith (2 Thess 3:2). And, therefore, He did not allude to the totality of men, but to the creature in its personal integrity, that is, to spirit, and soul, and body; or all that which makes us the intelligent, living, visible, and palpable beings we are. For He who said, “Not a hair of your head shall perish” (Lk 21:18), is He who draweth all things after Him. Or if by “all things” it is men that are to be understood, we can speak of all things that are foreordained to salvation: of all which He declared, when previously speaking of His sheep, that not one of them would be lost (Jn 10:28). And of a certainty all classes of men, both of every language and every age, and all grades of rank, and all diversities of talents, and all the professions of lawful and useful arts, and all else that can be named in accordance with the innumerable differences by which men, save in sin alone, are mutually separated, from the highest to the lowest, and from the king to the beggar, “all,” He says, “will I draw after me;” that He may be their head, and they His members. But this will be, He adds, “if I be lifted up from the earth,” that is, when I am lifted up; for He has no doubt of the future accomplishment of that which He came to fulfill. He here alludes to what He said before: “But if the corn of wheat die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” For what else did He signify by His lifting up, than His suffering on the cross, an explanation which the evangelist himself has not omitted; for he has appended the words, “And this He said signifying what death He should die.”

12. “The people answered Him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest Thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? And who is this Son of man?” It had stuck to their memory that the Lord was constantly calling Himself the Son of man. For, in the passage before us, He does not say, If the Son of man be lifted up from the earth; but had called Himself so before, in the lesson which was read and expounded yesterday, when those Gentiles were announced who desired to see Him: “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified” (ver. 23). Retaining this, therefore, in their minds, and understanding what He now said, “When I am lifted up from the earth,” of the death of the cross, they inquired of Him, and said, “We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest Thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?” For if it is Christ, He, they say, abideth for ever; and if He abideth for ever, how shall He be lifted up from the earth, that is, how shall He die through the suffering of the cross? For they understood Him to have spoken of what they themselves were meditating to do. And so He did not dissipate for them the obscurity of such words by imparting wisdom, but by stimulating their conscience.

13. “Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little light is in you.” And by this it is you understand that Christ abideth for ever. “Walk, then, while ye have the light, test darkness come upon you.” Walk, draw near, come to the full understanding that Christ shall both die and shall live for ever; that He shall shed His blood to redeem us, and ascend on high to carry His redeemed along with Him. But darkness will come upon you, if your belief in Christ’s eternity is of such a kind as to refuse to admit in His case the humiliation of death. “And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” So may he stumble on that stone of stumbling and rock of offence which the Lord Himself became to the blinded Jews: just as to those who believed, the stone which the builders despised was made the head of the corner (1 Pet 2:6-8). Hence, they thought Christ unworthy of their belief; because in their impiety they treated His dying with contempt, they ridiculed the idea of His being slain: and yet it was the very death of the grain of corn that was to lead to its own multiplication, and the lifting up of one who was drawing all things after Him. “While ye have the light,” He adds, “believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” While you have possession of some truth that you have heard, believe in the truth, that you may be born again in the truth.

14. “These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them.” Not from those who had begun to believe and to love Him, nor from those who had come to meet Him with branches of palm trees and songs of praise; but from those who saw and hated Him, for they saw Him not, but only stumbled on that stone in their blindness. But when Jesus hid Himself from those who desired to slay Him (as you need from forgetfulness to be often reminded), He had regard to our human weakness, but derogated not in aught from His own authority.

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 12:10-36

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 18, 2013

Text in red are my additions.

Joh 12:10  But the chief priests thought to kill Lazarus also:

But the chief priests thought (ε̉βουλεύσαντο consulted) to kill Lazarus also. See here their virulent envy and malice: envying Jesus His glory. They grudge also Lazarus his life, lest it should add to the glory of Jesus. For the feast of the Passover was at hand, at which all the Jews who flocked together would see Lazarus and wondering at the power of Jesus who had raised him from the dead, would consequently believe on Him. And in order to prevent this, they determine to put him out of the way. But S. Augustine (in loc.) rightly exclaims against them, “0 foolish thought, and blind cruelty! For could not the Lord, who had power to raise him from the dead, have power to raise him up also if he had been put to death? In putting him to death, could ye take away Christ’s power? If a dead man seems to you one thing, and one who is put to death another, behold the Lord did both, for He both raised Lazarus who was dead, and Himself also who had been put to death.”

Lastly, the raising of Lazarus was especially the work of God, and they therefore who were so eager to put him to death, were fighting against God, and challenging Him, as it were, to the contest.

Joh 12:11  Because many of the Jews, by reason of him, went away and believed in Jesus.

Went away-ύπη̃γον, withdrew themselves, deserted their party. This may mean either, “many of the Jews went their way,” or else “many went away from the unbelieving Jews, and followed Christ.”

Joh 12:12  And on the next day, a great multitude that was come to the festival day, when they had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
Joh 12:13  Took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him and cried Hosanna. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.
Joh 12:14  And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it, as it is written:
Joh 12:15  Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold thy king cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.
Joh 12:16  These things his disciples did not know at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of him and that they had done these things to him.

On the next day, i.e. on Palm Sunday, five days before the Passover; the tenth day of the month Nizan, on which day the Lamb (the type of Christ) was to be procured, and on the fourteenth to be brought to Jerusalem. (Exo 12:3.) See notes to Matt 21:7.

Took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him. Upon hearing that Jesus was approaching Jerusalem a great crowd comes forth, apparently from that city (cf. Jn 11:55-56), to greet him with shouts of “Hosanna” (Greek: ὡσαννά, Hebrew: נא  ישׁע “save us, we pray”). They are hailing him as a conquering, military messiah and acting accordingly. The phrase took branches (τα βαια) is found in the Greek Septuagint only in 1 Macc 13:51  where the people celebrate Simon Maccabeus’ taking of the Citadel in Jerusalem. From that time forward the palm branch became associated with the nationalistic militarism of the Maccabean age. Indeed, shortly after the capture of the citadel, the Maccabees began to mint coins bearing the image of the palm branch with an inscription reading, “For the Liberation of Israel.”

Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.The first part of this acclamation, and the earlier cry of “hosanna,”  come from Psalm 118:25-26 which many scholars think was a thanksgiving hymn for a victory. The phrase “king of Israel” is from Zephaniah 3:14-15 which refers to the the King of Israel (i.e., the Lord’s) removal of judgement and enemies from his people.

And (δε) Jesus found a young ass. The Greek particle here translated as “and” (δε) should be translated as “but,” for it intends to draw a contrast and separation between Jesus action and the people’s words and actions. Jesus is protesting the crowds understanding of his kingship (see Jesus’ reaction to the people attempt to make him king in John 6:14-15). Jesus’ sitting upon the animal fulfills a prophecy from Zechariah 9:9~Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.  Jesus here imitates the leaders of old who rode on asses and blessed the Lord for his just deeds (not for the leaders military prowess!) which brought freedom to Israel (see Judges 5:9-11).

The context of Zechariah 9:9 is important for John, for the text goes on to say of the King of Israel (the Lord): he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth (Zech 9:10). Jesus’ peace and power will find effect among the Gentiles not by military conquest, but by his death (see Jesus’ response to hearing the Greeks want to speak with him in John 12:20-26. See also his words “when I am lifted up,” by being crucified, “I will draw all men to myself” John 12:32).

Joh 12:17  The multitude therefore gave testimony, which was with him, when he called Lazarus out of the grave and raised him from the dead.

The multitude therefore gave testimony, &c., to the raising of Lazarus. This group of people is apparently different than the one mentioned in verse 12 as coming out of Jerusalem to meet Jesus (see the next verse).

Joh 12:18  For which reason also the people came to meet him, because they heard that he had done this miracle.

The people who were present at the raising of Lazarus spread abroad the miracle, affirming that they had seen it. And the strangeness of it so excited the people (i.e., the pilgrims already in Jerusalem) that they ran in crowds to meet Jesus, and to hail Him as the Messiah.

Joh 12:19  The Pharisees therefore said among themselves: Do you see that we prevail nothing? Behold, the whole world is gone after him.

The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how that ye prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after Him. This is an hyperbole. But a large body, of every age, sex, and rank had gone after Him, old and young, Jews and Gentiles. S. Cyril observes that the Pharisees tacitly prophesied that all the world would be converted to Christ, though they themselves did not understand this.

S. Chrysostom and Theophylact consider that they who spoke thus were believers in Christ, or anyhow disposed to believe in Him, and that they addressed in these words those who disbelieved in Him.

But S. Cyril, Euthymius, and others, think that they were unbelievers, and enemies of Christ, explaining it thus:—We have all of us decided to put Jesus to death. Why do we delay? We have gained nothing by it. It would have been far better, if we had put Him to death at once, before His party had increased, and become so well known. What now is our course of duty? To carry out our intention as quickly as possible. Why do we delay? lf we delay much longer all will go after Him. We shall be beaten by numbers, unless we prevail by craft.

Joh 12:20  Now there were certain Gentiles among them, who came up to adore on the festival day.

Now there were certain Greeks, &c. Some strangely suppose these to have been Jews who lived among the Gentiles, when S. John expressly says that they were Gentiles. These were partly proselytes, who had already embraced Judaism, or at least were thinking about it (so Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius), and partly Gentiles, who believed that there was One God, and who on seeing Him worshipped so reverently in the Temple, and by such multitudes at the Passover, resolved to do the same, being specially attracted by the fame of Christ’s holiness and miracles, and being desirous of seeing Him. So S. Cyril, Leontius, and Theophylact. Just as the Eunuch of Queen Candace went up to Jerusalem to worship (Acts 8:27); and Gentile kings also reverenced the Temple of Jerusalem and sent offerings to it, as Cyrus, Darius Hystaspes (Ezra 1. and 6.), Seleucus, and other kings of Asia (2 Macc 3:3). The word here translated as “now” is the Greek participle δε which, as mentioned earlier in relation to verse 14, is intended to provide a contrast. The fact that the “whole world”, Jew and Greek, are flocking to Jesus does not sit well with the Pharisees whose animosity stands in marked contrast to the desire of the Greeks.

Joh 12:21  These therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying: Sir, we would see Jesus.

They went to Philip, in preference to the other Apostles, either because he was known to them, or was the first they met, or because in his voice and bearing he exhibited greater affability and candour, which attracted all men to him. For they did not venture as Gentiles to approach Jesus Himself, a person of such great holiness, and a Prophet, and moreover a Jew, say S. Cyril, Chrysostom, and Leontius. They request Philip therefore to mediate in their behalf. It is interesting to note that Philip and Andrew (see next verse) both have Greek names. Both foreshadow the mission of the Church in chapter one. There we see Andrew bringing his brother Simon (Peter) to Jesus (Jn 1:40-41), and Philip inviting Nathaniel to “come and see” concerning Jesus (Jn 1:45-47). In John 6:5-9 Philip and Andrew are also closely connected to one another.

Joh 12:22  Philip cometh and telleth Andrew. Again Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

Andrew had the greater authority with Jesus, as having been the first called, and as having brought to Him his brother Peter. Having consulted together, they mention the whole matter to Jesus before introducing the Gentiles: for they had heard Jesus say, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles” (Matt 10:5). Andrew took the initiative in the testing of Philip in John 6:5-9 and it may very well be that this accounts for Philip’s approaching Andrew first.

Joh 12:23  But Jesus answered them, saying: The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified.

But Jesus answered them, &c. Do not drive away the Gentiles from me, but bring them to me. What I said before was at the beginning of my preaching, which was intended for the Jews only; but now, when my preaching as well as my life is coming to an end, and the Jews reject my preaching, I will pass over to the Gentiles. For the hour is coming, when I shall be glorified, not only by the Jews, but also by the Gentiles, throughout the whole world; I shall be acknowledged, that is, as the Messiah and the Saviour, and worshipped and adored by means of your preaching in every place. Once again John employs the Greek particle δε, drawing a contrast between his words and the actions of the two disciples. The action of Philip implied reticence, perhaps also shared by Andrew. The fact that they themselves were probably thinking of Jesus in terms of a military messiah may be behind their reluctance to fulfill the Greek’s request (recall that in Jn 12:16 the disciples did not understand Jesus prophetic action in riding the ass, and notice that these two disciples did not bring the Greek’s with them when they approached Jesus).

Moreover, the glorification of Christ is the glorification of all Christians. For S. Augustine says (Serm. clxxvi. de temp.)—The Death of Christ hath quickened us; His Resurrection hath raised us up; His Ascension hath dedicated us; and (Serm. clxxxiv.) the Lord Jesus Christ ascends, the Holy Spirit descends [Both these, not S. Augustine].

Joh 12:24  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die,

 Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat, &c.  Christ teaches us that His glorification would come to Him through the death of the Cross, lest the Apostles and the faithful should be offended at it. Hear S. Augustine (in loc.), “Jesus by this meant Himself. For He was the grain of wheat which had to die, and be multiplied; to die through the unbelief of the Jews, to be multiplied by the faith of all people.” This means, that as a grain of wheat thrown into the ground does not germinate except it die, but if it die it germinates and brings forth much fruit; so, in like manner, I must needs die, that by the merits and through the example of my death, I may bring forth many eminent and striking fruits of virtue and faith: I mean the many thousands of Martyrs, Virgins, Doctors, and Confessors, all over the world in the present and future ages. This also comes to pass in the death of Martyrs, when one dies, and many spring up in his place, and embrace the faith of Christ. The Church reads this passage on the Feast of S. Lawrence, and other Martyrs. Tertullian truly says (in fin. Apol.), “The Blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church,” and adds, “Torture us, rack us, condemn us, crush us: your iniquity is the proof of our innocence.” And again, “The more exquisite your cruelty, the more does it attract to our sect; we increase in number the oftener you mow us down.” S. Gregory (Dialog. lib. iii. cap. 39) gives a remarkable instance in S. Hermengild. He was killed by his father Leovigild, an Arian king, and thus won the king himself and his brother Recared, and the whole nation of the Visigoths, to the orthodox faith. “One, then,” says S. Gregory, “died in that nation, that many might live; and while one grain fell to the ground in faith, to win the faith of souls, an abundant harvest sprang up.”

Anagogically: Bede says, “Jesus was sown of the seed of the Patriarchs, on the field of this world, that is, He was incarnate: He died Himself alone, He arose in company with many.” Hear S. Bernard (Serm. xv. in Cant.), “Let the grain die; let the harvest of the Gentiles spring up. It was needful that Christ should suffer, and rise from the dead, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name, not to Judea only, but to all nations; to the end that from that one Name of Christ thousands of thousands should be called Christians, and say ‘Thy Name is as ointment poured forth.’” (Song 1:3).

Joh 12:25  Itself remaineth alone. But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it and he that hateth his life in this world keepeth it unto life eternal.

He that loveth his life, &c. He that so preferreth his life to my Faith and its profession, as rather to deny the Faith than lose his life, shall incur eternal death. But he who hateth his life, so as to prefer losing it to losing the Faith, will live in eternal happiness in heaven. Again, the same is true of those who prefer their own evil desires to my Law: and of those who hate their life by resisting its desires which are contrary to God’s Law, and thus keep it unto life eternal. Such as Martyrs, Anchorites, “Religious,” and all other holy people. Either meaning is suitable, and was intended by Christ. Both meanings are conjoined by SS. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius. For Christ foresaw that the Apostles, and Christians in general, would after His death suffer persecution, and accordingly He here wished to forewarn and forearm them. Again, Christ wished to teach all Christians, that they should constantly resist all evil desires and strive against them. (See Gal 5:17; Matt 10:39, Matt 16:25; Sirach18:30. See notes on this last passage.)

But the Circumcelliones misinterpreted this passage, for, as S. Augustine testifies (in loc), they used to kill themselves in order to obtain the eternal life here promised by Christ. For it is one thing to hate one’s life, and another to make away with it, an act forbidden by every law.

Lastly, hear S. Augustine (in loc.), “He that loveth his life shall lose it. Which can be understood in two ways. He who loves will lose; i.e., if thou lovest, thou wilt lose: if thou wishest to have life in Christ, fear not to die for Christ. Or, in the other sense, love not thy life, lest thou lose it,—love it not in this life, lest thou lose it in life eternal. This latter meaning more accords with the mind of the Gospel.” And a few sentences after, “A great and marvellous saying, that a man should so love his life as to lose it, and so hate it as not to lose it. If thou hast loved it ill, then dost thou hate it; if thou hast hated it rightly, then hast thou loved it. Happy they who hate their souls and keep them, that they lose them not by loving them.” And then he concludes, “When therefore it comes to the point, that we must either do contrary to the commandment of God, or else depart this life, and a man is obliged to choose either the one or the other, when the persecutor threatens his death, let him rather choose to die through loving God, than to die through offending Him. Let him hate his life in this world, that he may keep it unto life eternal.” Hear S. Chrysostom, “He loves his life in this world, who obeys its unseemly desires. He hates it, who yields not to its hurtful desires. He says ‘hate’ because as we cannot bear to hear the voice of those we hate, so should a soul resolutely turn away from one who wishes what is contrary to God.” And Theophylact adds (by way of consolation, and as knowing how grievous it is to hate one’s soul), “In this world,” indicating the shortness of the time, and speaking of the eternal reward. S. Chrysostom adds, “that Christ, when He saw that His disciples would be saddened at his death, raised up their thoughts to higher things, as if He said —If ye will not bear my death manfully, no benefit will accrue to you unless ye die yourselves. These words of Christ are an axiom, and a summary of a Christian’s life. It is the root and foundation of all virtues, which are deduced from it, as conclusions from their premises. He therefore who wishes to become specially learned and perfect in the school of Christ, should constantly ruminate on this saying, weigh it, impress it on his will and carry it out in act, try all his actions by it as a touchstone, adapt and conform himself to it. For thus will he become a pre-eminently true disciple and follower of Christ, and in return for this brief life which he counts but nought, will obtain the joys of life eternal.

Joh 12:26  If any man minister to me, let him follow me: and where I am, there also shall my minister be. If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour.

If any man minster to  Me, let him follow Me. “Let him imitate Me by death and mortification, and by good works,” says S. Chrysostom, “walk in my ways, and not his own, and not seeking his own, but the things which are Jesus Christ’s (Phil 2:21); and whatever good he does, either in temporal or spiritual things, doing it for Him.”

And where I am, there also shall my minister be. “Behold the fruit and the reward,”  S. Augustine proceeds; “He is loved freely, and the reward of His ministration is to be with Him, to be adopted by Him to whom he is united, in heaven, i.e. in the vision and possession of God, in happiness and joy eternal.” So S. Chrysostom. See notes on Luke 22:7.

If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour, with heavenly honour, before the angels and the whole world. He says not, “I will honour him, for they had not yet attained a right knowledge of Him, but thought more of the Father,” says S. Chrysostom.

Joh 12:27  Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause I came unto this hour.

Now is My soul troubled. Because He had mentioned His approaching death, He allowed the natural dread of it to be aroused in His mind (as is the case with ourselves), and so was troubled. “Father,” He said, “save Me from this hour.” Just as in the garden he prayed, “Let this cup pass from Me.”

(1.) S. Chrysostom gives the reason, “Having exhorted His disciples to follow Him even to death, for fear they should say that He could easily philosophize about death, He showed that He was in an agony, and yet that He did not refuse to die, to teach us to do the same, when dreading death and self-denial.

(2.) S. Cyril says, He did it to show that He was not only God, but true man, subject to all our passions and sorrows.

(3.) S. Augustine, and after him Bede, “that Christ by taking on Him our infirmities might heal and strengthen us. Thou tellest my soul to follow Thee. But I see that thy soul is troubled. What foundation shall I seek, if the Rock gives way? But I recognise thy compassion therein. For by being thus troubled by thy voluntary act of love, Thou comfortest the weak, lest they should perish through despair. Our Head took on Himself the feelings of His members.” And again, “As He has raised us up to things which are highest, so does He feel sympathy for us in those which are lowest.” And he brings in Christ as thus speaking “Thou hast heard my mighty voice addressed to thee. Thou hast heard in Me the voice of thine own weakness: I give thee strength that thou mayest run; I check not thy speed, but I take upon Myself thy fear, and make a way for thee to pass over.”

And what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour. Theophylact and Leontius explain thus: “I know not what to do or say. Shall I say then, Father, save Me from this hour? Shall I shrink from death? By no means, I will master my agony, I will go willingly to meet my death.”

Others express it more simply and plainly, as expressing His natural dread of death, corrected at once by the exercise of His superior will. As in the Agony in the garden. For He immediately adds,

But for this cause have I come unto this hour. Though I naturally dread death, yet I do not wish this natural desire of Mine to be fulfilled. For I came into the world for the very purpose of drinking this cup of the Passion. So S. Augustine, Bede, Rupertus, and others.

Joh 12:28  Father, glorify thy name. A voice therefore came from heaven: I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.

Father, glorify thy Name. That in My death, which I willingly undertake, I may glorify thy Name, by the entire obedience and devotion with which I will offer myself as a Victim for the sins of the whole world, thus restoring to the life of grace men who were lost in sin, reconciling them to Thee, and taking them to heaven to glorify Thee for ever. So S. Augustine, Chrysostom, Euthymius. It was said in like manner to S. Peter, that He would by his death glorify God (John 21:19). Hear S. Augustine: “Glorify Me by my Passion and Resurrection.” And S. Chrysostom: “His dying for the truth He calls ‘the glory of God:’ for after His death the Name of God would be acknowledged by the world.” And the gloss, “I seek salvation, but I refuse not to suffer, and for the sake of this passion glorify Me, for that is the glory of thy Name.”

In saying glorify Thy Name it is as if he were saying: Glorify Me at this very instant; that both Gentiles and Jews may acknowledge that I have been sent by Thee to redeem man, and will therefore glorify Thee for thy goodness. So Theodore of Heraclæa.

A voice therefore came from heaven, &c. I have glorified It—(1) By communicating to Him, as my only begotten Son, my majesty, glory, and Godhead from all eternity. As He said John 17:5. So S. Augustine and Bede.

(2.) In creating the world, and all things therein by Him. So Rupertus.

(3.) Most sensibly. By the voice from heaven at His Baptism, and by the miracles and mighty works which He wrought. And also by the voice at this time uttered from heaven. He glorified Him also by His death and resurrection, His ascension, His sending the Holy Spirit, by the preaching of the Apostles, and the miracles, which will lead all nations to acknowledge, worship, love and adore Him as the Son of God. So S. Chrysostom, Cyril, and others.

Joh 12:29  The multitude therefore that stood and heard said that it thundered. Others said: An angel spoke to him.

The multitude therefore that stood and heard (this trumpet voice of God the Father) said that it thundered. Because it was very loud and resonant. Or perhaps because it was not articulate, but like the confused sound of thunder.  S. Chrysostom says, “The voice was clear and significant enough, but they being dull and carnal, it soon passed away, and they retained merely the sound of it.” And further on, “They knew it was articulate, but did not take in its meaning.” But the truer meaning, Rupertus, and after him Maldonatus, say is this, “That they all heard this articulate voice and understood its meaning, viz., that Jesus was the Son of God; but that on account of the loudness of the voice they could not persuade themselves it was really a voice, but that either it was thunder, and that they were mistaken in supposing they had heard an articulate voice as of a man, or that it was certainly the voice of an angel.” They thought also that the Evangelist mentioned this, in order to show that it was not a low or indistinct voice, such as Christ only could hear, and that there were no other witnesses, but that it was so loud and so clear that they not only all heard it, but heard it so plainly that some thought it was thunder, some the voice of an angel, while none considered it to be the voice of a man. And this consequently proved that what they considered thunder was in truth the voice of God, for thunder is commonly spoken of as His voice.

Symbolically: This thunder signified that Jesus was the Son of God, who thunders from heaven, and consequently that He Himself was God. For the thunder’s voice refers us back to its source, and leads us to venerate Him, and announce Him to the Gentiles. Again, it signified that Jesus, even as man, not merely thundered Himself with His mouth and flashed forth from His heart, to move hard hearts to penitence and to warm cold hearts with love; but also that He caused the Apostles and His followers to thunder and lighten. In fact, He gave that name to James and John, calling them Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17). And S. Paul is called by S. Jerome (Epist. lxi.) “The trumpet of the Gospel, the roaring of our Lion, the thunder of the Gentiles,” adding, “for as often as I read him, I seem not to hear words only, but thunder.” Hear S. Chrysostom (Hom. xxxii. in Rom.), “Thunder is not so terrible, as was his voice to the devils. For if they dreaded his garments, much more did they dread his voice. For it led them bound and captive, it purified the world, it cured diseases, it expelled vice, it brought in truth; it had Christ dwelling within. For He accompanied him everywhere, and just as were the Cherubim, so also was the voice of Paul. For as God sat in the midst of these heavenly Powers, so sat He on the tongue of S. Paul.” And Nazianzen (Orat. xx.) says, “The words of S. Basil were as thunder, because his example shone as lightning.” Hence the voice of Christ is compared to the voice of many waters (Rev 1:15) and to the voice of a multitude (Dan 10:6).

Others said, an angel spake to Him. For this voice was more dignified than that of a man. It was therefore angelic, or rather divine. For an angel, assuming the Person of God the Father, had uttered it.

Joh 12:30  Jesus answered and said: This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. In order that ye may believe in Me, and be saved. I need not this voice for my own sake, for I am the Word of the Father, whom the Father and the Holy Spirit glorify with increate and boundless glory. But ye need it, because some of you object, that I am not the Son of God, nor sent by God; others have doubts on the matter. But this voice of the Father proclaims the contrary of both these statements, so as to remove all doubt. So SS. Augustine, Bede, Rupertus, &c

Joh 12:31  Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

Now is the judgment of the world, &c. Judgment here signifies condemnation, the condemnation of the Jews for condemning Me to death. So SS. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius. But others understand it to mean judgment in favour of the innocent. It means, in this sense, the time is at hand for the deliverance of the world from the tyranny of Satan. For my death is at hand, by which this deliverance will be effected, and Satan will be cast out of the hearts of the faithful. Rupertus acutely observes, “Two worlds are here spoken of, one the enemy of God, the other reconciled to Him —the one lost, the other saved.” He founds this distinction on the absence or the presence of the article [but this does not appear in the Greek]. But what then is the judgment of this world, and the casting out of the prince of this world? Surely the coming Passion of Him who is speaking: for that is the judgment of this world, its salvation indeed, as separating from the reprobate the whole body of the elect from the beginning of the world to the hour of His Passion: and the casting out of the prince of this world, holding sway over the lovers of the world, is the reconciliation of the elect Gentiles. “Christ therefore here signifies (1) that He would by His death free the world (that is the Gentiles who would believe in Him) from sin and the devil; (2) that He would drive out the devil from the hearts of the faithful, and also from the temples, that the true God might be worshipped therein; (3) that He would deprive the devil of the power he had heretofore exercised in tempting men, and would also bestow all-powerful grace, by which, if they willed, they would be able to resist temptation; (4) Christ cast out many devils from the bodies of men, and consigned them to hell. So Prosper (in Dem. Temp.); and see Luke 8:31. S. Augustine writes, “He foresaw that after His Passion and glorification many people throughout the whole world would believe on Him, out of whose hearts the devil is cast when they renounce him by their faith. He was also cast out of the hearts of righteous men of old. But it is said here that he will be cast out, because that which then took place in a very few cases, would hereafter take place in many and great multitudes. He is cast out, but yet ceases not to tempt. But it is one thing to rule within, and another to assail from without.” S. Chrysostom in like manner says, “As if a man who assaults his debtors and casts them into prison, and with like madness throws another into prison, who owes him nothing at all, will have to pay the penalty for the wrongs he has done; so will the devil pay the penalty for the wrongs he has done us, by his bold, assaults against Christ.” Just as He Himself says, Luke 11:21-22.

Christ, therefore, knowing that the Gentiles longed to see Him, was grieved that the whole world was overwhelmed with heathenism, and therefore wishes His death to be hastened, in order that He might obtain for them faith and grace from God, and might send His apostles to convert them to God.

Joh 12:32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.

Lifted up from the earth. ”Exalted by my resurrection and ascension,” says S. Chrysostom. But other commentators refer it to the Cross, as S. John himself explains it. “Christ,” says Maldonatus, “speaks of Himself as a soldier contending with the devil. For as a soldier has an advantage over his enemy if he is on higher ground, so would He, from His Cross, as from a very high and well-defended post, fight against the devil and overcome him. And therefore He called this kind of death an exaltation. When exalted He drew all to Himself, as an eagle carries his prey aloft with him.”

In like manner Mark, the Bishop of Arethusa in Syria, when lifted up on high, and besmeared with honey to attract the bees, laughed at his torturers, and said that they were grovelling on the earth, while he was lifted up above them. (See Theodoret, Hist. iii. 7, Soz. v. 10.) But Christ alludes to the lifting up of the brazen serpent (see chap. iii. 14), and thus teaches us that the Cross is not to be dreaded, but desired, for it alone exalts.

A1l things. (1) “Soul and body,” say S. Augustine and Bede. (2) But Rupertus says: “Heaven and earth, men, angels, and devils. Because I will cause ‘every knee to bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth’” (Phil 2:10). (3) All men who will believe in Me, all nations of men. The Greek Fathers read πάντας. [But Cornelius prefers the Vulgate “omnia” as more expressive, signifying all the choicest things of the world, all the spoils of the devil-editor]. The Arabic version has “each one,” the Syriac “all.”

Draw. Will withdraw from the devil against his will, and not against their own will. For I will sweetly allure, and effectually draw them to Myself, and make them My brethren; nay more, My children, that as I am the Son of God by nature, so they may be the sons of God by adoption. The Greek word έλκύσω means, I will draw them by force, snatch them out of the power of the devil against his will, and strengthen men, moreover, to withstand their several temptations. See Matt 11:12.

Hear S. Leontius (Serm. viii. de Pass.), treating this whole passage with grace and tenderness. “0 wondrous power of the Cross! 0 ineffable glory of the Passion, wherein is seen the tribunal of Christ, the judgment of the world and the power of the Crucified! For Thou didst draw, 0 Lord, all things unto Thee. And when Thou didst stretch forth Thine hands all the day to a disobedient and gainsaying people, the whole world felt the force of Thine acknowledged Majesty. Thou didst draw all things to thyself, 0 Lord, when in execration of the sin of the Jews all the elements pronounced one and the same sentence, when the luminaries of heaven were obscured, and night was turned into day, the earth also was shaken with unwonted quakings, and the whole creation refused its aid to the service of the wicked.” He afterwards follows up the subject, and urges it still more forcibly. “Thou hast drawn all things to Thee, 0 Lord. When the veil of the temple was rent, and the holy of holies withdrawn from the unworthy priesthood, in order that the figure might be changed into Truth, prophecy into manifestation, and the Law into the Gospel. Thou didst draw all things to Thee, in order that that which was kept hid in the Jewish temple, by shadows and outward signs, the devotion of all nations might everywhere set forth in its full sacramental force before the eyes of all. For now there is a more illustrious order of Levites, a higher dignity of elders, and a more sacred unction of priests. Because thy Cross is the Fount of all blessings, the Source of all graces, and by it believers obtain strength out of weakness, glory out of shame, and life out of death.”

Moreover, Christ, when exalted on the Cross, between heaven and earth, drew all things to Himself. (1) Because He reconciled heaven and earth, Angels to the Gentiles, Gentiles to Jews, and God to men. For He is our peace, &c., Eph_2:14. (2) Because He drew all nations of the world to the faith and love of Himself. He drew them from the earth to the Cross; to penitence, that is, to continual mortification and martyrdom; and from the Cross to heaven. He drew them by the merits and price of His Blood; by His example, and by His Blood. For if Christ, of His own accord, died for us on the Cross, who would not love Him in return? Who would not say with S. Ignatius among the lions, “My love is crucified?” See Zech 13:6 on the words, “I was wounded in the house of my friends.” (3) Christ on the Cross drew all things to Himself, i.e. the Creator and His creatures. For God by this sacrifice was propitiated towards men, the sun and the heavens were astonished, and as though bewailing the death of their Creator, withdrew their rays from the earth, the air was involved in the thickest darkness, the whole earth, convulsed and shaken, trembled from its very centre; the rocks were rent, and the graves were opened, that both the dead as well as the living might bewail the death of Christ. All creatures therefore looked up towards Christ crucified, as if in amazement, and as offering themselves to fight in His behalf against His murderers and to scatter them abroad.

The Origenists wrongly inferred from this passage, that Christ brought the lost out of hell, and saved them. But as S. Gregory explains (Epist. lib. vi. 15), Christ drew all, that is, the elect. “For a man cannot be drawn to God after death who has separated himself from God by his evil life.”

Symbolically. S. Bernard (Serm. xxi. in Cant.) applies Christ’s words to himself, and all “Religious.” For they, by contempt of earthly and love of heavenly things, are lifted up from the earth, and therefore draw all things to them. For all things, whether adverse or prosperous, work together for their good: and they themselves possess a source of wealth by trampling it as it were under foot. “For to a faithful man the whole word is full of riches.”

Joh 12:33  (Now this he said, signifying what death he should die.)

The death of the Cross. These are the words of S. John inserted parenthetically.

Joh 12:34  The multitude answered him: We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever. And how sayest thou: The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?

The Jews understood that Christ spake of His death on the Cross. How then does He say that He would die, when the Law says that He would not die?  S. Augustine says, “They understood Him to mean the very thing which they were contemplating. It was not inspired wisdom, but the sting of their conscience which disclosed to them the meaning of these obscure words.”

Out of the Law. By the Law is meant the whole of the Old Testament. They understood this from the following passages, Micah 5:2;  Ps 110:14, Ps 90:30, Ps 90:38, Ps 72:5;  Isa 9:7, Isa 40:8;  Ezekiel 37:27;  Dan 9:26. But these passages speak of the kingdom of Christ after His ascension. This kingdom will be eternal. But Christ elsewhere foretold His death. See Isa 53:3;  Ps 22:12Ps 22:17;  Dan 9:26;  Jer 11:19.

Who is this Son of Man? Meaning thereby, “If Thou art that Son of Man, as Thou art wont to call Thyself, how dost Thou wish to be regarded as the Christ? For Christ according to the Scriptures, as has just been said, is eternal, and cannot die. Whereas Thou sayest, on the contrary, that the Son of Man must die and be raised up on the Cross. If there be any other Son of Man, tell us plainly who he is.”. So Toletus and Jansen. Maldonatus somewhat differently; he thinks that the Jews insulted Christ as if they had refuted His claims, and taunted Him, as a conqueror would taunt a king whom he had taken captive. As the Jews afterwards said (tauntingly) to Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

Joh 12:35  Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, and the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither be goeth.

Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while, the light is among you, &c. “Christ would not answer their objections directly, as knowing that they deserved not a reply” says S. Cyril. He therefore answers indirectly, that they should use Him as a light; for that that light would be soon extinguished by death, when they would have to seek for Him in vain. But if they desired to use that light they would be enlightened by it, so as to find an answer to their objection, and know other things which were necessary for their salvation. The Latin commentators take the word “modicum” as referring to the light, thus, “a little light.” Ye have but little light in thinking that Christ will abide for ever. But ye know not that He will also die and rise again. Walk therefore while ye have the light. Go on to investigate the truth. Ye will then learn how Christ will die, and yet rise again, and abide for ever. (So S. Augustine, S. Bernard, Serm. xlix. in Song Lyra, and others). But the word “modicum” does not refer to the light, but to the word “time” as is plain in the Greek. He calls Himself the light of the world, for the reasons which are mentioned in notes to chap. i., and also 1 John 1:5.

(1.) S. Chrysostom and Theophylact think that Christ here likened Himself to the Light, or Sun, because as the light of the sun is not extinguished by night, but is only hid for awhile, and rises again in the morning, and shines throughout the day, so He would die and rise again, and reign for ever, which was the very thing the Jews were inquiring about.

(2.) It may be explained more clearly and to the point in this way,—1, Christ, the Light of the world, enlightening it with the doctrine and knowledge of God, of salvation and of things eternal, shall be but a short time (only three days) with you in the body. And, therefore, if ye are wise, as long as you have Me with you, embrace and follow this light, believe in Me, hearken unto Me, question Me, I will resolve all your doubts, especially how Christ will die, and yet abide for ever. But if ye do it not now, the light will shortly be taken from you. I shall soon die, and then the darkness of error will overwhelm you. For though I shall leave the Apostles after Me, to carry on the light of the Gospel which I brought: yet ye will not value them, and will persecute them, and then ye will in vain seek for Me, who am the very source of light. Just as He spake to the same Jews, John 7:33.

Christ calls Himself the Light. Wherefore S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Rupertus less appropriately understand by the light, the life of each faithful Christian, which is as it were to each one his own day. Believe in Me while the light of life lasts, for after it comes the darkness of death, when ye will not be able to believe, and do what is right.

Symbolically: Leontius by darkness understands sins; Rupertus, the sufferings of the lost in outer darkness.

Joh 12:36  Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things Jesus spoke: and he went away and hid himself from them.

Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. Believe in Me, who am the light of the world; believe that I am the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world; believe in Me and my Gospel (so S. Cyril and Theophylact), that ye may be my children, and consequently the children of grace, charity, virtue, and sanctity in this life, and the children of the Resurrection, of happiness, and glory in the next life (see notes on 1 John 1:5, John 1:4, Eph 5:8).

Tropologically: When thou feelest the enlightenment, the emotions, the breath of the Holy Spirit, act on them at once, for they come and go like lightning. As S. Francis, when he heard the voice of God, stopped short even on a journey, that he might listen to it, and at once put it into practice.

These things Jesus spoke: and he went away and hid himself from them. Because He knew that they wished to take Him before the time appointed of the Father. So S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others. He hid Himself, probably at night, for by day He taught in the temple, and at night He withdrew to Mount Olivet, and thence to Bethany (see Luke 21:37).

“He withdrew Himself not,” says S. Augustine and Bede, “from those who began to believe in Him and to love Him. Not from those who came out with palm branches and praises to meet Him. But from those who saw Him indeed, but with an evil eye; because in truth they saw Him not, but in their blindness stumbled at that stone of offence.”

Symbolically: Rupertus says, “He hid Himself from them not in place but in grace; because He left them in their unbelief, He blinded and hardened them.”

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 71

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 17, 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. …

2. 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.

3. “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.

4. “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.”

5. “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.

6. “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.”…

7. 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.

8. “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.”

9. “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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. “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. …

13. “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. …

14. “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.” …

15. 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.

16. 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.” …

17. 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 willbe, 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.

18. 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.”

19. “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.

20. 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?

21. “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.

22. “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.”

23. 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. …

24. 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?”

25. “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!”

26. 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.”

27. …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.

28. “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.”

29. 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.” source.

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