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 June 22nd, 2013

This Week’s Posts and Commentaries: Sunday, June 23–Sunday, June 30, 2013

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 22, 2013

SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2013
Dominica V Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis
Commemoratio ad Laudes tantum: In Vigilia S. Johannis Baptistae
But Herod the tetrarch, when he was reproved by John for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done: He added this also above all and shut up John in prison (Lk 3:19-20).

Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Last Week’s Posts and Commentaries: Sunday, June 16-Sunday, June 23.

Resources for the Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).


For all people will walk every one in the name of his god: but we will walk in the name of the Lord, our God, for ever and ever (Micah 4:5)

Resources for the Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist (Ordinary Form).

Notes on the Psalms Page. I recently updated this page, adding at least 60 commentaries on various psalms. Latter this week I hope to update my Notes on Matthew Page.


God forbid we should leave the Lord, and serve strange gods (Joshua 24:16)

And Aman said to king Assuerus: There is a people scattered through all the provinces of thy kingdom…with strange laws and ceremonies, and moreover despise the king’s ordinances: and thou knowest very well that it is not expedient for thy kingdom that they should grow insolent by impunity. If it please thee, decree that they may be destroyed (see Esther 3:8-9)

  • Pending: Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 105).

 O Lord, Lord, almighty king, for all things are in thy power, and there is none that can resist thy will, if thou determine to save Israel. Thou knowest all things, and thou knowest that it was not out of pride and or any desire of glory, that I refused to worship the proud Aman,But I feared lest I should transfer the honour of my God to a man, and lest I should adore any one except my God (see Esther chapter “C” in the NAB).

  • Pending: Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 106).

FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2013
And the king sent letters by the hands of messengers to Jerusalem, and to all the cities of Juda; that they should follow the law of the nations of the earth.  And should forbid holocausts and sacrifices, and atonements to be made in the temple of God. And should prohibit the sabbath, and the festival days to be celebrated. And he commanded the holy places to be profaned, and the holy people of Israel. And he commanded altars to be built, and temples, and idols, and swine’s flesh to be immolated, and unclean beasts, And that they should leave their children uncircumcised, and let their souls be defiled with all uncleannesses, and abominations, to the end that they should forget the law, and should change all the justifications of God. And that whosoever would not do according to the word of king Antiochus, should be put to death (1 Macc 1:46-52).

  • Pending: Maldonado’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 8:1-4).

RESOURCES FOR THE VIGIL OF THE SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLE (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). Further resources for the vigil may be added. Resources for the Mass of the Day listed under “Saturday.”.

Commanding, we commanded you that you should not teach in this name. And behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine… But Peter and the apostles answering, said: We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:28-29).

MASS OF THE DAY RESOURCES FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF ST PETER AND ST PAUL (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). Resources may be added to this post.

SUNDAY, JUNE 30, 2013
Dominica VI Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis
To destroy a man wrongfully in his judgment, the Lord hath not approved (Lamentation 3:36).

RESOURCES FOR SUNDAY MASS (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). Usually posted during the evening hours of Tuesday-Thursday.

Next Week’s Posts. Will move to the top of the blog sometime today and remain their til next Sunday.

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A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 128

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 22, 2013

Verse numbering follows that of the NAB. How the psalm has been traditionally used in the liturgies, along with traditional antiphons and collects have been appended to the post.


ARG. THOMAS. That CHRIST bestows eternal blessedness on them that fear Him. The Voice of the Prophet touching CHRIST and the Church. This, the ninth step, declares that all who fear the LORD, under the type of a wife, flourish about the table of the Altar or of the Holy Scripture, and that they see children’s children of their own doctrine and example, and peace upon Israel in heaven is their end. The Prophet speaks to the Church concerning CHRIST. The Voice of all that fear GOD.

VEN. BEDE. How noble the ninth step is, the very number declares, which, extended to a triple ternary, shows us the holy majesty of the Trinity. Rightly, therefore, in such a step as this, and everywhere, is the fear of the LORD urged on us, to whom it is shown to be a necessary protector.

In the first paragraph the prophet, under certain figures, counts up the blessings of them that fear the LORD; that he may kindle the minds of the devout with the fire of heavenly reward. Blessed are all they that fear the Lord. In the second part, he blesses them, that they may receive eternal joys; lest every one should be afraid of this most sweet fear. The Lord from out of Sion shall so bless thee, &c.

SYRIAC PSALTER. Anonymous. One of the Songs of Degrees. It is uttered concerning Zerubbabel, Prince of Judah, and of his furtherance of the building. It implies also the calling of the Gentiles.

EUSEBIUS OF CÆSAREA. The calling of the Gentiles.

S. ATHANASIUS. A Psalm declaring blessedness.


Ps 128:1 Blessed are all they that fear the LORD: and walk in his ways.

The Jewish expositors take the two members of this verse as severally denoting those who avoid acts forbidden by the negative precepts, and those who fulfil such as are prescribed by the positive ones.* There is a stress on all, teaching that no disparity of sex or condition,* of rank or wealth, affects the degree of happiness granted by GOD to every one of His true servants in their several stations. It is to be observed,  further, that whenever the fear of the LORD is mentioned in Holy Writ, it is never set by itself, as though sufficient for the consummation of our faith, but always has something added or prefixed, by which to estimate its due proportion of perfection, according as it is stated by Solomon in the Proverbs, “If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures: then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD.” It is not spoken of that common timidity of human weakness, fearing to suffer something which it is unwilling should happen. This comes to us of itself, from our natural feebleness, and is not a matter of teaching and study. But of the fear of the LORD it is written, “Come, ye children, hearken unto me, I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” Therefore it is a thing we ought to learn, because it has nothing to do with affright, but with reasonable instruction, and is to be entered upon not with physical alarm, but with obedience to precepts, with the works of a blameless life, and with the knowledge of the truth. For if the only reason of fearing GOD is because many places have been struck and fired by thunder and lightning, have fallen and been swallowed up by earthquakes, there is nothing of the merit of faith in our fear, since it is merely roused by dread of something happening. Nor is it fear of the world, nor yet servile fear, neither of which is holy or profitable. But all our fear of GOD is pure and filial, and is in our love of Him, perfect love is the consummation of that awe; a love which makes us walk in His ways. For it is quite possible to hold the Faith quite correctly, and yet live an evil life; as many do, who are the most wretched of beings. And though there be only one way, CHRIST Himself, yet here many ways are spoken of, to show us that entrance is easy, and not limited to any particular calling or mode of serving GOD. Nevertheless, all these subordinate ways are reducible to two, “for all the ways of the LORD are mercy and truth;” both of which must be followed together, because mercy without truth leads to laxity, and truth without mercy degenerates into sternness.

Ps 128:2 For thou shalt eat the labours of thine hands: O well is thee, and happy shalt thou be.

There is a fourfold literal sense here: Thou shalt live by honest, peaceful labour, not by rapine and violence on that produced by the toil of others, nor yet indolently and luxuriously;* thou shalt eat, and not penuriously stint thyself and others; thy crops shall not be blighted, but shall bring forth abundantly; and no enemy shall destroy or carry off thy harvest. And these two latter interpretations accord best with the converse punishments threatened to the disobedient by Moses. Thou shalt eat the labours of thy hands. But he who hates labour, does not eat of it, nor can he say, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.” On the other hand, he to whom such labour is a delight, does not merely look forward in hope to the future fruits or rewards of labour, but even here and now finds sustenance and pleasure in toiling for GOD; so that it is well with him in this world, even amidst all its cares and troubles, and he shall be happy in that which is to come, whence sorrow is banished for ever, as it is written in the Gospel: “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of heaven;”* on which the Apostle’s words serve as a warning gloss, “If any would not work, neither should he eat.” The whole passage is applied by some of the commentators to the LORD JESUS Himself, who, according to His manhood, did fear His heavenly FATHER and walk in all His ways, and Who had His reward in the virtues of His Militant Church on earth and the glories of His triumphant Church in heaven. And a mystical reference to the first institution of the Holy Eucharist, and to CHRIST’S perpetual action as the true Consecrator and celebrating Priest at every renewal thereof, may be found here. For that holy Sacrament does come indeed from the labours of those Hands which were nailed on the Cross for our salvation, and He is the Head of that mystical Body which eats and drinks of Him daily therein; as He will be, in another fashion, the Food of His elect in Heaven; and then shall be fulfilled that prophecy which Isaiah spake of Him: “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.”*

Ps 128:3a Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine: upon the walls of thine house.

Two things are noted here as the qualities of a good wife, fertility, at once in good works, and in childbearing; and homekeeping, denoted by the phrase upon the walls of thine house, which ought rather to be the inner courts of thine house, literally the sides of the interior court or quadrangle, where the women’s apartments were situate, thus marking off the habits of a good wife from those of the idle gossip, of whom the Wise Man writes that “She sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city.” Further, the dutiful affection of a good wife to her husband is signified by the vine, which does not stand alone, but desires to be trained against some stronger support, which it adorns with its foliage and enriches with its fruit.

The whole figure is taken of the Church, as the Bride of CHRIST, an interpretation enforced by His styling Himself, in His capacity of Head of the Body, the Vine. Close to Him, to His sides, the sacred walls of His Human Body, His Bride clings, and then only can flourish and bring forth fruit. And turning from the Head to His members, two streams of interpretation are found side by side. According to one, the wife here is the bodily frame, subjected with all its affections, and passions to the reason; and bearing (as it is trained against the walls of thought and action within the recesses of the mind,* towards each of the four cardinal points, prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude) abundant fruit of holy aspirations and good works. The other view is that Wisdom is meant, as we read, “I loved her, and sought her out from my youth, I desired to make her my spouse, and I was a lover of her beauty,”* and the remainder of the gloss agrees with that just given.

Ps 128:3b Thy children like the olive-branches: round about thy table.

Not branches, but with A. V. plants, for the figure is here different from that of the one spreading vine, and points rather to separate growth and vigour. The olive is chosen as a type of prosperity, because evergreen, strong, and fruitful; and the children of the servant of GOD are in no fear of being led away captive, like those of rebels against His commands, but are round about his table, clustering at his modest board; like young trees planted round the sides of the very court whose walls are mantled by the leafy vine. Round about, as all in their father’s sight, and as being ready to wait on him for any service.* These earthly children are figures of the spiritual children of the Church; fruitful, peaceful, gathered round GOD’S altar to feed there (whence this verse is the Antiphon to the Psalm on Corpus CHRISTI), gathered about the table of Holy Scripture to taste of the sweets which it furnishes to them. And observe that we have here in the inner courts of the mystical house both the vine and the olive, because oil and wine are needful to be poured into the wounds of those whom the Good Samaritan brings to be tended there;* the strength and severity of the Old Testament, the softness and tenderness of the New. So too, in those good works of ours which are as it were our children, justice and mercy shall meet, and they should be gathered round Him Who is Himself the Table of the LORD’S House, looking to Him only, and waiting to minister to His wishes.

Ps 128:4 Lo, thus shall the man be blessed: that feareth the LORD.
Ps 128:5 The LORD from out of Sion shall so bless thee: that thou shalt see Jerusalem in prosperity all thy life long.

The purport of the first verse is repeated, to impress the lesson that only those who fear the LORD can reasonably look for His blessing. And then, to show that there is much more to come, not yet named in the enumeration of good things, unspoken, because unspeakable, blessings of GOD are invoked and promised. Out of Sion, in the literal sense, from the Temple, as the centre of Jewish hope and worship (since though actually on Mount Moriah, it was within the limits of the region of the city named from Mount Zion), whence the benediction of the LORD diffused itself over and through the whole of Jerusalem; keeping her safe from the approach of foes so long as He was obeyed and honoured. In the mystical sense we have here, as so often, the contrast and yet connection between the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant; and the thought is, GOD shall so help thee with the grace and strength stored up in His Church below,—that Zion where David’s armoury was—that thou shalt overcome all enemies and obstacles in thy way, and attain to the unending joys of Jerusalem which is above.

Ps 128:6 Yea, that thou shalt see thy children’s children: and peace upon Israel.

In one sense, the words may be spoken to the Synagogue, which did see her children’s children, the Gentile converts of her own sons, the Apostles, and the peace which passeth all understanding won by that true Israel, prevalent with GOD. Spoken of the Christian Church, it tells of the long succession of rulers and teachers raised up in the spiritual posterity of the Apostles; applied to preachers of righteousness, we have the promise of imitators of their doctrine; and of the individual Christian, the gladness of seeing the fruit of his own good works. And peace upon Israel, the crowning joy of the Beatific Vision, when, after we have ceased to wrestle as Jacob, and have become the Israel of GOD, we shall see Him, Who is our Peace, face to face.

Wherefore: Glory be to the FATHER, Who blesseth us out of Zion; glory be to the SON, Who feeds His wife and children round His table; glory be to the HOLY GHOST, Who is the giver of peace upon Israel. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.


Gregorian. Wednesday: Vespers. [Corpus CHRISTI: Vespers. Little Office B.V.M.: Nones.]

Monastic. Week-days: Nones. [Corpus CHRISTI: Vespers.]

Ambrosian. Wednesday: Vespers.

Parisian. Saturday: Vespers. [Maundy Thursday: Vespers.]

Lyons. Wednesday: Vespers.

Quignon. Saturday: Nones.


Gregorian. Blessed are all they * that fear the LORD. [Corpus CHRISTI: Like the olive-branches are the children of the Church round about the table of the LORD.]

Ambrosian. As Gregorian.

Parisian. First verse. [Maundy Thursday: By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.]

Lyons. As Gregorian.

Mozarabic. Thou shalt eat the labours of thy fruits; O well is thee, and happy shalt thou be.


Vouchsafe, O LORD, everlasting blessedness unto those that fear Thy Name, (Lu.) that our life and conduct may be such as to win high reward in heaven for good fruits. (1.)

O GOD, Who by the voice of the Prophet declaredst them blessed that fear Thee, grant us such well-pleasing reverence of Thy fear, that we may walk henceforth in Thy ways. Let our labour be, under Thy guidance, pleasing in Thy sight, and let its fruit be most sweet unto Thee in the day of reward, and let the labour itself be so done heartily in love, that the produce thereof may be stored up in blessedness. (11.)

Bless us,  O LORD, who fear Thee, and make us to walk continually in Thy ways, bless us with Thy holy benediction, that we may behold the everlasting joys of Jerusalem. (1.)

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 128

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 22, 2013


IN this little psalm we have a picture of the home-life which was the ideal of the Hebrew people. The head of the home is a God-fearing toilsome man who, by labour of his own hands on his farm, is able to support in comfort his wife and his many sons. His wife is the ‘ woman of valour ‘ of Proverbs; her heart is fixed on her house: she does not gad abroad but spends her life in the inner parts of the house. She has borne so many sons that she is likened to a fruitful vine. When the family sits round the board, the sons are like so many young olive trees that grow up around that fruitful olive, their father.

Peaceful home and prosperous living are the blessings with which those who fear the Lord are rewarded. But the peace and prosperity of home-life are possible, only if there is order and the fear of God in the land generally. Hence the psalmist prays that national peace may be graciously granted by Yahweh, so that the honest Hebrew paterfamilias may go on living in undisturbed tranquillity in his home, until he sees the children of his children.

The psalm might well be understood as an elaborate greeting of one caravan to another—a sort of acknowledgment on the part of each that the wealth of the other was a token of the friendship of the Lord. The last words of the psalm—’Peace upon Israel’—would be a very suitable form of greeting to one another of Hebrews meeting, or parting, in foreign lands.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 8:1-4

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 22, 2013

Mat 8:1  And when he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him:
Mat 8:2  And behold a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
Mat 8:3  And Jesus stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed.
Mat 8:4  And Jesus saith to him: See thou tell no man: but go, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

And when he was come down from the mountain. 1. Cleansing of the leper. The gospel first determines the time of the miracle, then gives the petition, thirdly describes the fulfilment, and finally states the words of our Lord. a. The time. Schanz is of opinion that the chronological connection in the first gospel between the sermon on the mount and the present chapter supposes that the cleansing of the leper happened after the sermon, though probably at the time when Jesus was near Capharnaum [cf. Mt. 8:5; Lk. 5:12–15]. Knabenbauer believes that the evangelist gives rather a pragmatic than a chronological order: for Mk. 1:40 and Lk. 5:12 show that the leper had been cleansed before the sermon on the mount; the words “see thou tell no man” [Mt. 8:4] suppose that the leper was not cleansed in presence of a large multitude [Br.]; Mt. 8:1 states merely what happened at the conclusion of the sermon on the mount without connecting it with the following miracle; nor is this connection necessarily implied in the words “and behold.”

b. The petition. Leprosy was a skin disease, dissolving and destroying the organism of the body. It first sprang up in Egypt, but spread through Syria, Persia, and other Eastern countries. Hippocrates’ triple division of leprosy into “lepra alfoides,” “lepra vulgaris” or “leuke,” and “lepra nigrescens” may still be followed. The first kind forms scales on the body that are smaller, less shocking to the eye, and more easily cured. In the third kind the scales and spots of the skin are of a dark livid color; the form which now prevails in Syria is identified by modern writers with the “elephantiasis Græcorum,” a universal cancer [Lapide], by which all the joints of the body are gradually corroded, so that one member after another drops off. The present passage of the gospel deals with a case of the second kind of leprosy or “white leprosy.” It begins with red shining elevations of the cuticle, turning into white scales and accumulating sometimes into thick crusts; the hair on the infected spots turns white, the extremities swell up, the nails fall off, sensible perception grows dull, and the sufferers finally die of consumption and dropsy. In some cases recovery is possible, especially when the disease breaks out at once in a very violent form. Even if it he granted, though it is by no means certain, that not all kinds of leprosy are contagious, we maintain that Moses speaks of contagious forms of the disease. In Lev. 13:46 lepers are forbidden to approach others; moreover, they had to proclaim themselves “unclean,” that no one might approach them. This explains why the evangelist represents the approach of the leper to our Lord as something wonderful: “and behold.” The phrase “adored him” is emphasized by Lk. 5:12, “falling on his face,” and Mk. 1:40, “kneeling down.” Cajetan, Jansenius, Calmet, Fillion, understand the “adoration” as expressing the highest reverence; for though the expression in general is employed of the reverence due to men, angels, or God [Mt. 18:26; Acts 10:25; Jn. 4:21; Gen. 23:7; 33:3; 38:8; etc.], the words of the leper show in our case that he acknowledged our Lord as an extraordinary man [Jansenius], as either prophet or God [Salmeron], as the Messias or a prophet [Arnoldi, Schegg], as possessing the greatest power [Chrys.], as the Messias [cf. Mt. 7:22; Jn. 13:13], as God [Euthymius, Opus Imperfectum, Bruno, Maldonado, Lapide, Lam., Reischl, Schanz, etc.]. The prayer of the leper is most modest, humble, submissive, and at the same time full of a lively faith.
c. The prayer is granted. The words of Jesus correspond exactly with those of the leper: this shows the readiness of our Lord to help us to the full extent of our trust in him. At the same time Jesus stretched forth his hand and touched the leper either to show that he was not bound by the Mosaic law [Chrysostom, Euthymius, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan, Jansenius], or to prove the virtue of his human nature [Theophylact Cajetan, Salmeron, Jansenius Coleridge, v. p. 48], so that our Lord’s action in this case resembled the causality of the sacraments [Thomas Aquinas]. The leprosy either fled as soon as the man was touched by Jesus [Jer.], or it had disappeared even before Christ’s hand touched the leper [Paschasius, Bruno].

d. Our Lord’s injunction. [1] The words “tell no man” are not simply a lesson of humility and avoidance of vainglory [cf. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Bruno, Thomas Aquinas, Dionysius, Cajetan, Salmeron, Barradas], nor are they a mere admonition to ponder in secret over God’s benefits and give him thanks for the same [cf. Schegg], nor again do they impose silence merely till the priest shall have officially declared the leper to be clean [cf. Opus Imperfectum, Maldonado, Weiss], but they prohibit the publication of our Lord’s miracles in order not to strengthen the popular Jewish idea of their Messias and his worldly kingdom [Mk. 1:45; cf. Jn. 6:15; Schanz, Knabenbauer]. [2] The command “show thyself to the priest” is in full accord with Lev. 14:2; the Mosaic law was not abolished till the death of our Lord [cf. Mt. 27:51; Rom. 7:4; Gal. 2:19]. [3] The additional words “for a testimony unto them” signify not merely that the people may be convinced of the leper’s cleanness [cf. Arnoldi, Schanz, Fillion, Keil, Weiss], nor that the priests may be induced to declare the leper legally clean [cf. Reischl], nor that the priests may be convinced of our Lord’s observance of the law [cf. Theophylact, Euthymius, Edersheim], but that the priests may see the supernatural power of our Lord, and acknowledge his divine mission [cf. Hilary, Jerome, Chrysostom, Bede, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Dionysius, Cajetan, Maldonado, Lapide, Grimm]. The force of this argument was based on Deut. 18:15 f.; cf. Jn. 1:15, 27, 30.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary | Leave a Comment »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 8:1-4

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 22, 2013

Matt 8:1-4~
1. When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
2. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
3. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
4. And Jesus said unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the Priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

JEROME. After the preaching and teaching, is offered an occasion of working miracles, that by mighty works following, the preceding doctrine might be confirmed.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (quoad sens.) Because He taught them as one having authority, that He might not thence be supposed to use this method of teaching from ostentation, He does the same in works, as one having power to cure; and therefore, When Jesus descended from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

PSEUDO-ORIGEN. (Hom. in Liv. 5.) While the Lord taught on the mount, the disciples were with Him, for to them it was given to know the secret things of the heavenly doctrine; but now as He came down from the mount the crowds followed Him, who had been altogether unable to ascend into the mount. They that are bowed by the burden of sin cannot climb to the sublime mysteries. But when the Lord came down from the mount, that is, stooped to the infirmity, and helplessness of the rest, in pity to their imperfections, great multitudes followed Him, some for renown, most for His doctrine, some for cures, or having their wants administered to.

HAYMO. Otherwise; By the mount on which the Lord sate is figured the Heaven, as it is written, Heaven is my throne. (Is. 66:1.) But when the Lord sits on the mount, only the disciples come to Him; because before He took on Him the frailty of our human nature, God was known only in Judæa; (Ps. 76:1.) but when He came down from the height of his Divinity, and took upon Him the frailty of our human nature, a great multitude of the nations followed Him. Herein it is shewn to them that teach that their speech should be so regulated, that as they see each man is able to receive, they should so speak the word of God. For the doctors ascend the mountain, when they shew the more excellent precepts to the perfect; they come down from the mount, in shewing the lesser precepts to the weak.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Among others who were not able to ascend into the mount was the leper, as bearing the burden of sin; for the sin of our souls is a leprosy. And the Lord came down from the height of heaven, as from a mountain, that He might purge the leprousness of our sin; and so the leper as already prepared meets Him as He came down.

PSEUDO-ORIGEN. (ubi sup.) He works the cures below, and does none in the mount; for there is a time for all things under heaven, a time for teaching, and a time for healing. On the mount He taught, He cured souls, He healed hearts; which being finished, as He came down from the heavenly heights to heal bodies, there came to Him a leper and made adoration to Him; before he made his suit, he began to adore, shewing his great reverence.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. He did not ask it of Him as of a human physician, but adored Him as God. For faith and confession make a perfect prayer; so that the leprous man in adoring fulfilled the work of faith, and the work of confession in words, he made adoration to him, saying;

PSEUDO-ORIGEN. (ubi sup.) Lord, by Thee all things were made, Thou therefore, if thou will, canst make me clean. Thy will is the work, and all works are subject to Thy will. Thou of old cleansedst Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy by the hand of Elisha, and now, if thou will, thou canst make me clean.

CHRYSOSTOM. He said not, If Thou wilt ask of God, or, If Thou wilt make adoration to God; but, If thou wilt. Nor did he say, Lord, cleanse me; but left all to Him, thereby making Him Lord, and attributing to Him the power over all.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. And thus he rewarded a spiritual Physician with a spiritual reward; for as physicians are gained by money, so He with prayer. We offer to God nothing more worthy than faithful prayer. In that he says, If thou wilt, there is no doubt that Christ’s will is ready to every good work; but only doubt whether that cure would be expedient for him, because soundness of body is not good for all. If thou wilt then is as much as to say, I believe that Thou wiliest whatever is good, but I know not if this that I desire for myself is good.

CHRYSOSTOM. He was able, to cleanse by a word, or even by mere will, but He put out His hand, He stretched forth his hand and touched him, to shew that He was not subject to the Law, and that to the pure nothing is impure. Elisha truly kept the Law in all strictness, and did not go out and touch Naaman, but sends him to wash in Jordan. But the Lord shews that He does not heal as a servant, but as Lord heals and touches; His hand was not made unclean by the leprosy, but the leprous body was made pure by the holy hand. For He came not only to heal bodies, but to lead the soul to the true wisdom. As then He did not forbid to eat with unwashen hands, so here He teaches us that it is the leprosy of the soul we ought only to dread, which is sin, but that the leprosy of the body is no impediment to virtue.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. But though He transgressed the letter of the Law, He did not transgress its meaning. For the Law forbade to touch leprosy, because it could not hinder that the touch should not defile; therefore it meant not that lepers should not be healed, but that they that touched should not be polluted. So He was not polluted by touching the leprosy, but purified the leprosy by touching it.

DAMASCENE. (De Fid. Orth. iii. 15.) For He was not only God, but man also, whence He wrought Divine wonders by touch and word; for as by an instrument so by His body the Divine acts were done.

CHRYSOSTOM. But for touching the leprous man there is none that accuses Him, because His hearers were not yet seized with envy against Him.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Had He healed him without speaking, who would know by whose power he had been healed? So the will to heal was for the sake of the leprous man; the word was for the sake of them that beheld, therefore He said, I will, be thou clean.

JEROME. It is not to be read, as most of the Latins think, ‘I will to cleanse thee;’ but separately, He first answers, I will, and then follows the command, be thou clean. The leper has said, If thou wilt; the Lord answers, I will; he first said, Thou canst make me clean; the Lord spake, Be thou clean.

CHRYSOSTOM. No where else do we see Him using this word though He be working ever so signal a miracle; but He here adds, I will, to confirm the opinion of the people and the leprous man concerning His power. Nature obeyed the word of the Purifier with proper speed, whence it follows, and straight his leprosy was cleansed. But even this word straightway is too slow to express the speed with which the deed was done.

PSEUDO-ORIGEN. (ubi sup.) Because he was not slow to believe, his cure is not delayed; he did not linger in his confession, Christ did not linger in His cure.

AUGUSTINE. (De Cons. Ev. ii. 19.) Luke has mentioned the cleansing of this leper, though not in the same order of events, but as his manner is to recollect things omitted, and to put first things that were done later, as they were divinely suggested; so that what they had known before, they afterwards set down in writing when they were recalled to their minds.

CHRYSOSTOM. Jesus when healing his body bids him tell no man; Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man. Some say that He gave this command that they might not through malice distrust his cure. But this is said foolishly, for He did not so cure him as that his purity should be called in question; but He bids him tell no man, to teach that He does not love ostentation and glory. How is it then that to another to whom He had healed He gives command to go and tell it? What He taught in that was only that we should have a thankful heart; for He does not command that it should be published abroad, but that glory should be given to God. (Mark 5:19.) He teaches us then through this leper not to be desirous of empty honour; by the other, not to be ungrateful, but to refer all things to the praise of God.

JEROME. And in truth what need was there that he should proclaim with his mouth what was evidently shewed in his body?

HILARY. Or that this healing might be sought rather than offered, therefore silence is enjoined.

JEROME. He sends him to the Priests, first, because of His humility that He may seem to defer to the Priests; secondly, that when they saw the leper cleansed they might be saved, if they would believe on the Saviour, or if not that they might be without excuse; and, lastly, that He might not seem, as He was often charged, to be infringing the Law.

CHRYSOSTOM. He neither every where broke, nor every where observed, the Law, but sometimes the one, sometimes the other. The one was preparing the way for the wisdom that was to come, (ἡ μέλλουσα φιλοσοφία.) the other was silencing the irreverent tongue of the Jews, and condescending to their weakness. Whence the Apostles also are seen sometimes observing, sometimes neglecting, the Law.

PSEUDO-ORIGEN. (ubi sup.) Or, He sends him to the Priests that they might know that he was not cleansed according to the manner of the Law, but by the operation of grace.

JEROME. It was ordained in the Law, that those that had been cleansed of a leprosy should offer gifts to the Priests; as it follows, And offer thy gift as Moses commanded for a testimony to them.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Which is not to be understood, Moses commanded it for a testimony to them; but, Go thou and offer for a testimony.

CHRYSOSTOM. For Christ, knowing beforehand that they would not profit by this, said not, ‘for their amendment,’ but, for a testimony to them; that is, for an accusation of them, and in attestation that all things that should have been done by Me, have been done. But though He thus knew that they would not profit by it, yet He did not omit any thing that behoved to be done; but they remained in their former ill-will. Also He said not, ‘The gift that I command,’ but, that Moses commanded, that in the meantime He might hand them over to the Law, and close the mouths of the unjust. That they might not say that He usurped the honour of the Priests, He fulfilled the work of the Law, and made a trial of them.

PSEUDO-ORIGEN. (ubi sup.) Or; offer thy gift, that all who see may believe the miracle.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Or; He commands the oblation, that should they afterwards seek to put him out, he might be able to say, You have received gifts on my cleansing, how do ye now cast me out as a leper?

HILARY. Or we may read, Which Moses commanded for a testimony; inasmuch as what Moses commanded in the Law is a testimony, not an effect.

BEDE. (Hom. in Dom. 3 Epiph.) Should any be perplexed how, when the Lord seems here to approve Moses’ offering, the Church does not receive it, let him remember, that Christ had not yet offered His body for a holocaust. And it behoved that the typical sacrifices should not be taken away, before that which they typified was established by the testimony of the Apostles’ preaching, and by the faith of the people believing. By this man was figured the whole human race, for he was not only leprous, but, according to the Gospel of Luke, is described as full of leprosy. For all have sinned, and need glory of God; (Rom. 3:23.) to wit, that glory, that the hand of the Saviour being stretched out, (that is, the Word being made flesh,) and touching human nature, they might be cleansed from the vanity of their former ways; and that they that had been long abominable, and cast out from the camp of God’s people, might be restored to the temple and the priest, and be able to offer their bodies a living sacrifice to Him to whom it is said, Thou art a Priest for ever. (Ps. 110:4.)

REMIGIUS. Morally; by the leper is signified the sinner; for sin makes an unclean and impure soul; he falls down before Christ when he is confounded concerning his former sins; yet he ought to confess, and to seek the remedy of penitence; so the leper shews his disease, and asks a cure. The Lord stretches out His hand when He affords the aid of Divine mercy; whereupon follows immediately remission of sin; nor ought the Church to be reconciled to the same, but on the sentence of the Priest.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 8:1-4

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 22, 2013

This post includes Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of the entire chapter followed by his notes on verses 1-4.


St. Matthew describes in this chapter a twofold miracle performed by our Lord on coming down from the mountain, whereby He confirmed the doctrine recorded in the three preceding chapters. By a mere touch of His hand, He cures a man covered all over with a loathsome leprosy and, after curing him, He tells him what to do (1–4). He next cures the servant of a Centurion, and takes occasion, from the great faith of this Gentile centurion, which He highly eulogizes, to predict the call of the Gentiles and rejection of the Jews (5–13). The Evangelist, in the remainder of this, c. 8 and c. 9, records events which occurred before the Sermon on the Mount, and which, in the order of narrative, should be placed at the end of c. 4. He describes the perfect cure of Peter’s mother-in-law, who was very ill in fever (14–15), the cure of demoniacs, and of men afflicted with other maladies, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of lsaias regarding Him (16–17). He gives instructions, in order to avoid the crowds, to cross over to the opposite, or eastern, shore of the Lake of Tiberias (18). We have next given the reply of our Lord to two men who were desirous of attaching themselves to Him. He cautions the one against expecting that in His service he has anything else to expect save poverty and privation (19–20). The call He gives the other was so urgent that He refuses him permission to go home and bury his father (21–22). While crossing the lake, our Lord being asleep, the disciples, in terror of their lives, awake Him, and He at once calms the raging hurricane, which created a feeling of wonder in those who witnessed the miracle (23–27). We next have a description of the cure of two fierce demoniacs, in the country of the Gerasens, where our Lord landed (28–29); and the chapter concludes with an account of the entrance of the dispossessed demons into a large herd of swine, that precipitated themselves headlong into the sea, on which account, the unhappy Gerasens wished our Lord to leave their country (30–34).

Mat 8:1  And when he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him:

“And when He was come down from the mountain.” According to St. Luke (6:17), if we suppose that he and St. Matthew record the same discourse, the preceding discourse was delivered, not on the mountain top, but “in a plain place,” which may be easily understood, of a level plain on the mountain’s side, where the multitude heard it, after our Redeemer had previously descended from the top of the mountain (Luke 6:17). The words mean: When our Lord had delivered the preceding discourse, in the level plain on the mountain’s side, in presence of the multitude, He came down to the foot of the mountain and wished to go elsewhere. “Great multitudes,” influenced by the heavenly discourse they were after hearing, and by the miracles they saw Him perform (Luke 6:18), “followed Him.” St. Matthew having omitted what was supplied by St. Luke, relative to the circumstances of this discourse, and particularly the previous descent of our Redeemer into the plain, where He delivered the discourse to the multitude, now records His descent to the foot of the mountain, into the low country, where the miracles, now about to be recorded, were performed. St. Matthew omits (c. 5:1) what St. Luke records, or, rather, supplements (c. 6:17), and he now records His descent from the mountain altogether, which St. Luke, who makes no mention of His descent to the foot of the mountain, omits. The opinion of Maldonatus, who holds that the preceding discourse, given in chaps. 5, 6, 7, is composed of several discourses delivered, on different occasions, by our Lord, is refuted (c. 5:1, which see).

Mat 8:2  And behold a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

“And behold a leper,” &c. “Behold,” conveys, that this occurred immediately after His descent from the mountain. St. Luke (6) and St. Mark (1) describe this miraculous cure of a leper in almost the same words employed here by St. Matthew. Hence, commentators agree that the three Evangelists refer to the same occurrence; the order of time and place, circumstantially detailed here by St. Matthew, is the one commonly adopted. The two other Evangelists do not so minutely describe the order of events, as St. Matthew does. “A leper.” St. Luke (5:12) describes him as “full of leprosy,” covered all over with it. The Jewish law (Lev. 13:46), as well as the general usage of mankind, for sanitary reasons, prevented men afflicted with this loathsome and contagious disease from associating with their fellow-men. Hence, when St. Luke says (c. 5), this cure took place “in a certain city,” it means, close by, or, in the suburbs of, a certain city, most likely, Capharnaum.

There are several passages in SS. Scripture, where, in a place, signifies, close by it. Thus, in Scriptural usage, our Lord’s Passion is said to have happened in Jerusalem, because it occurred on a mountain close by it. Also (Heb. 9:4), the urn of manna is said to be in the ark, although only alongside of it. (Josue 10:10; Judg. 18:12, &c.) It is held by some, that lepers were not prevented by the law of Moses from entering cities, but only from dwelling in them; and that leprosy, if contagious at all, which is denied by many, was not communicated by mere touch. For, the priests came constantly in contact with lepers. Hence, in order to prove dangerous, it was necessary to live with lepers and breathe the same air with them. In Leviticus (13:12) we find, that if a man were entirely covered, all over his body, with leprosy, he would be regarded as clean, as if the disease in such a case were working itself out. Lepers, though excluded from the Jewish places of residence, were not excluded from the Christian churches. St. Matthew and St. Luke may be reconciled by saying, our Lord met the leper in the streets or entrance to Capharnaum. St. Matthew’s account may be so understood. In truth, he does not mention the precise place where the miracle was performed.

“And adored Him,” with supreme adoration due to God alone. (St. Mark (1:40) describes him as “falling on his knees.” St. Luke (5:12), as “falling on his face,”) which is plainly indicated by the words of the leper: “Lord, if Thou wilt,” &c., a clear profession of faith in our Lord’s omnipotent power; as if he said: Thou needest not have recourse to any other power external to Thyself; Thou needest not employ any appliances of the healing art. By a mere act of Thy will, a simple word or wish, Thou canst effect the desired cure.

The leper here illustrates the prayer recommended by St. James; he “asks in faith, nothing wavering” (Jas. 1:6). “Qui voluntatem rogat, de virtute non dubitat” (St. Jerome, in hunc locum). As leprosy was but a type of sin, those who feel the dreadful curse of sin should have recourse to Jesus Christ, and, like the leper, cry out, with undoubting confidence in the Divine goodness and power, while availing themselves of the means of remission instituted by Him, “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”

Mat 8:3  And Jesus stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed.

Our Lord, at once answering to his petition, shows He has the will as well as the power; and instantly cleanses him. The ceremony of touching him with His hand, while a mere word or volition would do, had for object, as we are informed by St. Chrysostom (Hom. 26 in Mattheum), to show, that He was above the ceremonial law, which forbade coming in contact with lepers (although the existence of such a law is denied by some, as we shall see hereafter), and that nothing could be impure in regard to Him, who was the source of purity; and that, far from being rendered impure by contact, the Divine touch of the flesh of the adorable Word rendered clean everything it touched. The example of Eliseus (4 Kings 4:34) touching the dead child, would show that the works of Divine power were above ritualistic observances, as in the case of the touch of a dead body.

Mat 8:4  And Jesus saith to him: See thou tell no man: but go, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

Our Redeemer here inculcates three precepts or lessons—1st. Of humility; “see thou tell no man.” 2nd. Of obedience; “go, show thyself to the priest.” 3rd. Of gratitude; “offer the gift which Moses,” &c.

“See thou tell no man,” &c., may mean, see thou tell no one until first thou shalt show thyself to the priest; lest, on learning the miraculous cure from rumour, before they pronounced him clean, the priests would refuse to certify it; and thus, furnish some pretext for rejecting the miracle. Hence, in promulgating it, the leper did not afterwards violate the mandate or the prohibition, which had principally for object to teach men a lesson of humility, by avoiding all vain ostentatious display, as Tertullian understands it (Lib. 4, contra Marcionem), and by concealing, as much as possible, unless where the glory of God requires the contrary, their virtuous actions. This our Lord sanctions by His own example (Mark 5:37–40; 7:23; 9:1), and when afterwards publishing the miracle (Mark 1:45), the leper, most likely, did not regard the words of our Lord as strictly mandatory in the literal sense, but as given only from a feeling of humility, on our Lord’s part.

“But, go, show thyself to the priest.” St. Mark has (1:44), “to the chief of the priests,” which may refer to the priest, who, in his turn, presided over the other priests then on active duty in the temple. Or, it may be, that the Jewish High Priest reserved to himself the declaration regarding cleansing from leprosy.

“Offer the gift,” a lamb; in case of poverty, two turtles, or two young pigeons (Lev. 14:13–21).

“Which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” If the word, “testimony,” be joined to “commanded,” then, the words mean, that Moses commanded such gifts in the case of cleansing from leprosy, as a statute or law, to be enforced by the priests. The law is often called “a testimony” in SS. Scripture. Others connect it with the word, “offer;” and, then, it means; present the prescribed gift, the acceptance of which by the priests shall be a testimony, or public authentic recognition on their part, of the truth and reality of the miracle; or, it may mean, it shall render them inexcusable, and prove as a testimony against them, in case they hereafter reject and calumniate our Redeemer, whose miraculous works they recognize; or, accuse Him of being an enemy of the law, whose observance of the law they themselves could bear witness to.

“Unto them,” i.e., the entire sacerdotal order, meant by the word, priest, taken in a distributive sense. Others understand it, of the Jewish people. The former is the more probable. It may, possibly, refer to both priests and people. If the man did not show himself to the priests, they would probably reject the miracle, and hold him still legally unclean, and liable to be excluded from human society. It would serve as a testimony, and would promote God’s glory to witness the miracle, says St. Jerome (in haunc locum), whether they believed or not. If they believed, they would themselves be saved and cured from the criminal leprosy of sin; if they believed not, then, they would be inexcusable, in not rendering testimony to truth; and convicted of injustice for having accused Him of being an enemy of the law. In either case, God’s glory would be advanced.

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 7:21-29

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 22, 2013

Mat 7:21  Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Some commentators (Jansenius, &c.) say, there is a transition here from treating of false prophets, and the marks whereby they may be distinguished, to the faithful in general; and this is rendered probable by the reading in St. Luke (6:46), “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say,” as if our Redeemer, after having carefully cautioned them against being led astray by false teachers from the path of the true faith, now points out the necessity for all, not alone of professing the true faith, but, also, of performing good works, and observing God’s commandments, so that true faith shall not avail, nor the repeated invocation of God’s name, without observing His law. Others hold, that this is a continuation of the former subject; that there is no transition at all; and that our Redeemer continues to show, that neither preaching, nor the invocation of the name of God, is among the fruits whereby they may be known, since many who invoke God, shall be excluded from the kingdom of heaven, if they do not faithfully observe His commandments. The words are used in the second person by St. Luke, “why call you,” &c. It may be that our Lord used these words on two different occasions, and in the way recorded by both Evangelists. St. Matthew records what He said of the false prophets in particular; St. Luke, of His hearers in general.

“The will of my Father.” Our Redeemer, when speaking of the Divine will, speaks of His Father’s will, as if conveying that to His Father, by appropriation, He attributes the office of Legislator, and that of Divine Legate to Himself. This might be also more agreeable to His hearers, although Father and Son are both equal in all things. Certain qualities are, by appropriation, attributed to each of Three Persons of the adorable Trinity, although common to the Three Persons who possess the same Divine nature and attributes. In Luke it is, “the things which I say,” which shows the will of both to be the same. The word, “Lord,” is repeated, “Lord, Lord,” for emphasis’ sake, and to show the fervour of invocation, as, in next verse, its repetition indicates affright and terror.

“The kingdom of heaven,” i.e., of heavenly glory, the meaning of the words, when joined to the word, “enter” (Maldonatus). Here, He speaks of entering into heaven, not by words, but by deeds. Moreover, it is clear from the following, that He is speaking of the rewards to be given not in the Church, but in heaven, from which some are to be excluded, “on that day.”
The will of His Heavenly Father includes, faith and love, with good works, according to the words of St. John (1 Ep. 3:23), “And this is His commandment, that we should believe … and love one another,” &c.

Mat 7:22  Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?

“In that day,” the Lord’s own well-known tremendous day of General Judgment, to which all look forward, when the kingdom of heaven shall be revealed. In this verse, our Redeemer adduces a still stronger illustration of the necessity of good works, as well as of faith, to insure an entrance into the kingdom of God’s glory. Even those who were favoured with the gift of prophecy and miracles, and possessed strong faith, shall be excluded.

“Lord, Lord.” The repetition here is expressive of the terror and affright into which they shall be cast, on seeing their doom about to be sealod for ever. “In Thy name,” by Thy power, and authority, granted to us. “Prophesied,” according to some, means, explaining the SS. Scripture, as the result of the inspiration of the moment, and teaching the people, as in. (1 Cor. 14:2, &c.) Others understand it of the faculty of predicting future events. “Cast out devils,” “and done many miracles,” i.e., many other wonderful manifestations of Divine power. In these words, our Lord in general expresses what He had been expressing in detail in the preceding, regarding prophecy, casting out devils. In this verse there is, most likely, question of true miracles and prophecy; otherwise, if there were question of false miracles performed by diabolical agency, our Redeemer’s argument would not hold, which is, that good works are so necessary for gaining an entrance into the kingdom of heaven, that even the highest supernatural gifts, such as prophecy, or the faculty of working miracles, shall not avail without them. On the subject of miracles, whether they can be performed by Satan, and on the proof of truth which miracles furnish, see Murray’s, Very Rev. Dr., “Annual Miscellany,” vol. ii., for a splendid and exhaustive dissertation.

Mat 7:23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

“And then,” hitherto I patiently dissembled my wrath and bore with them, waiting for them in mercy. But, “then,” when the reign of justice commences, “I will profess,” publicly proclaim, in the presence of the entire human race congregated together.

“I never knew you,” not even at the very time you were performing wondrous works through the power I gave you, and while apparently doing my business. “Knew,” by a knowledge of love and predilection. The word, “know,” has frequently the meaning of loving, approving, &c., as in 2 Tim. 2:19. I did not know you, as my friends, my children, whom I predestined unto glory; I did not love you, because you did not practise what you preached. You omitted doing the will of my Heavenly Father.

“Depart from Me,” &c. These words seem to be a quotation from Psa. 6:9, where the same words are used in the person of David. They correspond with the words to be addressed in judgment to the reprobate, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire,” &c. (Matt. 25:41) “That work,” the present tense, signifies, that they were engaged during life, and persevered, without repentance, unto the end, in performing wicked works, which is expressed by St. Luke (13:27), “ye workers of iniquity.”

Mat 7:24  Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock,

“Every one, therefore, that heareth these my words,” &c. This conclusion, “therefore,” would favour the interpretation of those who, in our Redeemer’s words, at verse 21, see a transition from treating of the marks of false prophets, to treating of the necessity of good works for all men in general. Here, the same idea would seem to be conveyed in different words, by means of a very striking similitude, which could not fail to make a lasting impression on all His hearers, and bring the important truth of which He was treating, home to their minds. In verse 15, our Redeemer treats of the necessity of true faith, free from the admixture of error, conceived from false teachers. In this verse, He shows the necessity of good works, of fulfilling God’s precepts, by a very striking illustration. Hearing His words, will not suffice. “Not the hearers of the law are just before God” (Rom. 2:13). Doing them also is necessary; “but the doers of the law shall be justified.” Besides faith, good works are necessary for justification. This dogma of faith is clearly laid down in this eloquent and beautiful similitude of our Divine Redeemer.

“These my words,” refer as well to the discourse just delivered by our Redeemer, as to all His words in general.

“Every one, therefore,” as if to say, to conclude, then, and briefly illustrate all I have been saying regarding the necessity of good works for “every one,” without exception, as well teachers as those taught.

“A wise man,” a prudent, provident man.

“That built his house upon a rock.” These words may be accommodated to the spiritual sense intended to be illustrated by our Redeemer in this way: The man who not only believes, but observes God’s commandments, has placed the whole structure and tenor of his life on a most solid, unshaken foundation, viz., upon the observance of the Evangelical doctrine of Christ. Having intimately received the doctrine of Christ in the very bottom of his heart, and minutely examined its depths, its promises and threats, present and future, he is founded on a firm hope, and never shall be shaken by the storms of temptation, from whatever quarter or direction they may proceed, whether from above (“rains”), or below (“floods”), or laterally (“winds”); whether from the world, represented and denoted by the rains descending and enriching the earth—an emblem of swelling ambition and love of riches—the flesh, denoted by the flood, coming forth from the bosom of the earth—or, the devil, the chief of these airy spirits, that descend from all sides, these Princes of the power of the air who wage a fiendish war with mankind. The words may be also allusive to that dreadful day when the heavens and earth shall be moved out of their places (Isa. 28:2; Psa. 49:3; Wisd. 5:18). On that day, the man, who doeth the words of Christ perseveringly and persistently, shall not be moved, but “shall stand in great constancy against those who afflicted him” (Wisd. 5:1).

Mat 7:25  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.

“The rains,” &c. The different elements denote the different kind of assaults, from above, beneath, and laterally—assaults from all directions. They are differently explained or applied by the Fathers. Most likely, the “rains” descending from on high, irrigating and fertilizing the earth, denote the love of wealth and honours, whereby the world allures men and turns them aside from the ways and service of God. “The floods,” arising from the bowels of the earth, denote the temptations arising from man’s own flesh. “The winds,” invisibly rushing on the house from all sides, denote the devil—“the (subtle) spirit of wickedness in high places,” “the Prince of the powers of the air.”

Mat 7:26  And every one that heareth these my words and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand,

“Every one who heareth His words and doeth them not, shall be like a foolish man,” &c. The same is true of the man who neither hears nor does His words.

Mat 7:27  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.

“And great was the fall thereof.” “Great,” entailing damnation which is irreparable, which is to last unchangeably for ever. No other conceivable ruin so great or deplorable.

Mat 7:28  And it came to pass when Jesus had fully ended these words, the people were in admiration at his doctrine.

“In admiration.” The Greek word means, to be in transport, or struck with astonishment, “at His doctrine.” So now, Divine, and heavenly, hitherto unheard.

Mat 7:29  For he was teaching them as one having power, and not as the scribes and Pharisees.

“Having authority,” not like the Prophets of old, who only delivered the commands of God, “Hæc dicit Dominus.” He does not employ any form of words, implying that He was a mere legate. He employs the form, “Sed ego dico vobis,” “and not as their Scribes and Pharisees,” who merely gave expression to the traditions of men (23:23), and perverted the sense of Scripture, in their private interpretation. As regards their public capacity, as “sitting in the chair of Moses” (see c. 23:2). Moreover, He did what the Scribes, &c., dare not do, viz., as Legislator—“Sed ego dico vobis”—He added to and corrected the law itself. He also confirmed His doctrine by miraculous wonders. The words may also refer to His manner of delivering His discourse, with a holy zeal, energy, and earnestness proceeding from the Holy Ghost.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 7:21-29

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 22, 2013

Mat 7:21  Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 7:22  Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?
Mat 7:23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

Not every one that saith to me. c. Danger of spiritual barrenness. Here our Lord declares that neither the empty invocation of God’s name, nor even the “dona gratis data” of prophecy and miracles suffice to enter into life eternal, but that the fulfilment of the will of God is absolutely necessary for this. Hilary, Augustine, Opus Imperfectum, Maldonado, are of opinion that these words are still addressed to the false prophets, but Chrysostom, Jerome, Euthymius, Theophylact, Dionysius, Jansenius, Cajetan, Lapide, Calmet, Arnoldi, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion, maintain that Jesus speaks here to all men in general; Lk. 6:46 favors this latter view. It is here that Jesus for the first time calls God the Father “my Father.” Since in the early days of Christianity the gifts of miracles and prophecy were more common than later on, the warning of our Lord against too great confidence in these graces was especially in place [cf. 1 Cor. 12:4; Gal. 3:5; etc.]. The question whether bad and unbelieving men can have the gift of miracles and prophecy is of minor importance for us, since we have seen that the words of our Lord are not limited to false prophets. Cf. Maldonado Suarez, [De Rel. torn. ii. lib. i. de orat. c. 25. § 4], Benedict, 14. [De Canoniz. lib. iv. p. 1, cap. iii. n. 6], Melchior Cano, Est. etc. “On that day “refers to the day of judgment, as is clear from Lk. 17:24; 21:34; Acts 2:20; 1 Cor. 1:8; 5:5; 1 Thess. 5:2; etc. Since our Lord here declares that he will be the judge on the last day, he implicitly declares his divinity [cf. Mt. 5:25, 29, 30; 7:19; 25:41]. The clause of the judicial sentence “you that work iniquity” insists again on the uselessness of mere lip-service and faith without works, just as St. Paul declares, 1 Cor. 13:2.

Mat 7:24  Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock,
Mat 7:25  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.
Mat 7:26  And every one that heareth these my words and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand,
Mat 7:27  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.

 Every one therefore. 2. Exhortation to practise the Christian principles. The similitude speaks of rain, winds, and floods; the rain falls on the roof of the house, the winds blow against its sides, the floods attack its foundation [Cajetan, Jansenius, Schanz]. The vehemence of the winter rains, the fury of the winds, and the suddenness of the floods or swollen rivers rendered the similitude especially pointed in the East, and on the mountain-side where our Lord pronounced the sermon on the mount. The picture applies, according to Maldonado, Schanz, Keil, to the last judgment; but Euthymius, Faber, Dionysius, Cajetan, Jansenius, Arnoldi, Fillion, Knabenbauer, refer it, with more reason, to the trials of the present life. The three agents of destruction have been variously interpreted: Jerome, Paschasius, Dionysius, see in them the degrees of our spiritual attacks in which we feel first the rain of sensual pleasure, then the torrents of the stronger passions, and finally the full blast of the powers of hell; Augustine sees in the rains our darksome superstitions, in the winds the opinions of men, in the floods our carnal passions; Lapide explains the three agencies as representing the flesh, the world, and the devil, or as symbolizing the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life. Chrysostom applies the rain, the winds, and the floods to all the miseries of this life of whatever nature. At any rate, our Lord teaches that by faithfully keeping his word we shall be enabled to withstand all these trials and difficulties, both in this life and at the last judgment; while he who does not keep it will come to grief now and on the last day. Cf. Ezech. 13:11; Is. 28:16, 17; Prov. 10:25. That the love of God is strong enough to overcome all trials has been clearly expressed by St. Paul, Rom. 8:35 f.

Mat 7:28  And it came to pass when Jesus had fully ended these words, the people were in admiration at his doctrine.
Mat 7:29  For he was teaching them as one having power, and not as the scribes and Pharisees.

And it came to pass. d. Remark of the evangelist. The admiration of the multitude was caused first by our Lord’s “doctrine”; secondly, by his “power” shown in his words and his delivery. The superiority of Christ’s doctrine over that of the Old Testament, both in its instructive and preceptive part, has been sufficiently shown throughout the second part of the sermon on the mount; its superiority over that of the scribes and Pharisees is unquestionable, because the latter relied on their human traditions and dwelt mostly on useless and heartless subjects; the manner of Christ’s teaching was in keeping with the dignity of his sacred person, so that it was calculated to instruct, persuade, and move as no speaker before or after our Lord has been able to do.

What has been said shows the falseness of the contention that the sermon on the mount is not a logically constructed address. This view is defended by Renan [Les Evangiles, etc. p. 177], who regards the parts of the sermon as unconnected; Keim [Geschichte Jesu, 3 Bearbeit. p. 156], who views 6:19–34; 7:1–5, 12, 24–27; 7:6–11, 13–23 as not fitting into the context; Achelis, who thinks that the thread of the discourse is interrupted by 6:19–7:12; Godet, who represents 5:23–26, 29–32; 6:7–15, 19; 7:6–11, 13, 15–20, 22 as foreign to the logical sequence of the discourse. The sermon has been divided differently by different interpreters. How artificial some of these divisions are is illustrated by the analysis of Edersheim [i. p. 529 f.] who believes that our Lord describes the kingdom of heaven “successively” in chapter 5, “progressively “in chapter 6, “extensively” in chapter 7.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 106

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 22, 2013


THOUGH this psalm begins, in hymn-like fashion, with a summons to the people to praise the Lord, it abandons in verse 4 the style of a hymn and passes over into the manner of a penitential psalm. Its main theme is the ingratitude of Israel for the favours showered on it by Yahweh, and the most striking instances of that ingratitude are sadly confessed in verses 6-46. In verse 47 the psalmist prays for such renewal of God’s favour as always followed the seasons of Israel’s repentance in the past. The peculiar favour which the psalmist now hopes for from the Lord is the gathering together of the children of Israel from the Diaspora of the Gentiles. In verse 46 there is a clear reference to the return from the Babylonian Exile. Hence the dispersion of the Israelites spoken of in verse 47 must be regarded as belonging to the Post-Exilic period. Verses 47 and 48 are quoted by the Chronicler in 1 Chron. xvi. 35, 36, so that this psalm must be older than 330 B.C. At the time when 1 Chron 16:8 ff. was written Ps 106 must have formed the conclusion of a collection of psalms. That that collection corresponded exactly to our present Fourth Book of Psalms cannot, of course, be inferred with certainty from the presence of verse 48 of this psalm in Chronicles. It is, however, widely held that the appearance of verse 48 in 1 Chron. indicates that the existing division of the Psalter into five books was known already in the time of the Chronicler.

This psalm should be read along with Psalms 78, 81, and 105.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 106

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 22, 2013

1. This Psalm also hath the title Allelujah prefixed to it: and this twice. But some say, that one Allelujah belongeth to the end of the former Psalm, the other to the beginning of this. And they assert, that all the Psalms bearing this title have Allelujah at the end, but not all at the beginning; so that they will not allow any Psalm which hath not Allelujah at the end, to have it at the beginning; supposing that what seemeth to belong to the commencement, really belongeth to the end of the former Psalm. But until they persuade us by some sure proofs that this is true, we will follow the general custom, which, whenever it findeth Allelujah, attributes it to the same Psalm, at the head of which it is found. For there are very few copies (and I have found this in none of the Greek copies, which I have been able to inspect) which have Allelujah at the end of the CLth Psalm; after which there is no other which belongeth to the same canon. But not even this could outweigh custom, although all the copies had it so. For it might be that, with some reference to the praise of God, the whole book of Psalms, which is said to consist of five books (for they say that the books severally end where it is written Amen, Amen), might be closed with this last Allelujah, after all that hath been sung; nor, on account of the end of the CLth Psalm, do I see that it is necessary that all the Psalms entitled Allelujah, should have Allelujah at the end. But when there is a double Allelujah at the head of a Psalm, why as our Lord sometimes once, sometimes twice over, saith Amen, in the same way Allelujah may not sometimes be used once, sometimes twice, I know not: especially, since as in this CVth, both the Allelujahs are placed after the mark by which the number of the Psalm is described, whereas the one, if it belonged to the end of the former Psalm, ought to have been placed before the number; and the Allelujah which belonged to the Psalm of this number, should have been written after the number. But perhaps even in this an ignorant habit hath prevailed, and some reason may be assigned of which we are as yet uninformed, so that the judgment of truth ought rather to be our guide than the prejudice of custom. In the mean time, before we are fully instructed in this matter, whenever we find Allelujah written, whether once or twice, after the number of the Psalm, according to the most usual custom of the Church, we will ascribe it to that Psalm to which the same number is prefixed; confessing that we both believe the mysteries of all the titles in the Psalms, and of the order of the same Psalms, to be important, and that we have not yet been able, as we wish to penetrate them.

2. But I find these two Psalms, the CVth and CVIth so connected, that in one of them, the first, the people of God is praised in the person of the elect, of whom there is no complaint, whom I imagine to have been there in those with whom God was well pleased; but in the following Psalm those are mentioned among the same people who have provoked God; though the mercy of God was not wanting even to these.… This Psalm therefore beginneth like the former; “Confess ye unto the Lord?” But in that Psalm these words follow: “And call upon His Name:” whereas here, it is as follows “For He is gracious,2 and His mercy endureth for ever” (ver. 1). Wherefore in this passage a confession of sins may be understood; for after a few verses we read, “We have sinned with our fathers, we have done amiss, and dealt wickedly;” but in the words, “For He is gracious, and His mercy endureth for ever,” there is chiefly the praise of God, and in His praise confession. Although when any one confesses his sins, he ought to do so with praise of God; nor is a confession of sins a pious one, unless it be without despair, and with calling upon the mercy of God. It therefore doth contain His praise, whether in words, when it calleth Him gracious and merciful, or in the feeling only, when he believeth this.… If that mercy be here understood, in respect of which no man can be happy without God; we may render it better, “for ever:” but if it be that mercy which is shown to the wretched, that they may either be consoled in misery, or even freed from it; it is better construed, “to the end of the world,” in which there will never be wanting wretched persons to whom that mercy may be shown. Unless indeed any man ventured to say, that some mercy of God will not be wanting even to those who shall be condemned with the devil and his angels; not a mercy by which they may be freed from that condemnation, but that it may be in some degree softened for them: and that thus the mercy of God may be styled eternal, as exercised over their eternal misery. …

3. “Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord?” (ver. 2). Full of the consideration of the Divine works, while he entreateth His mercy, “Who,” he saith, “can express the mighty acts of the Lord, or make all His praises heard?” We must supply what was said above, to make the sense complete here, thus, “Who shall make all His praises heard?” that is, who is sufficient to make all His praises heard? “Shall make” then “heard,” he saith; that is, cause that they be heard; showing, that the mighty acts of the Lord and His praises are so to be spoken of, that they may be preached to those who hear them. But who can make “all,” heard? Is it that as the next words are, “Blessed are they that alway keep judgment, and do righteousness in every time” (ver. 3); he perhaps meant those praises of His, which are understood as His works in His commandments? “For it is God,” saith the Apostle, “who worketh in you,” … since He worketh in these things in a manner that cannot be spoken. “Who will do all His praises heard?” that is, who, when he hath heard them, doth all His praises? which are the works of His commandments. As far as they are done, although all which are heard are not performed, He is to be praised, who “worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”5 For this reason, while he might have said, all His commandments, or, all the works of His commandments; he preferred saying, “His praises.” …

4. But unless there were some difference between judgment and righteousness, we should not read in another Psalm, “Until righteousness turn again unto judgment.” The Scripture, indeed, loveth to place these two words together; as, “Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His seat;”2 and this, “He shall make thy righteousness as clear as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day;” where there is apparently a repetition of the same sentiment. And perhaps on account of the resemblance of signification one may be put for the other, either judgment for righteousness, or righteousness for judgment: yet, if they be spoken of in their proper sense, I doubt not that there is some difference; viz. that he is said to keep judgment who judgeth rightly, but he to do righteousness who acts righteously. And I think that the verse, “Until righteousness turn again unto judgment,” may not absurdly be understood in this sense: that here also those are called blessed, who keep judgment in faith, and do righteousness in deed.…

5. Next, since God justifieth, that is, maketh men righteous, by healing them from their iniquities, a prayer followeth: “Remember me, O Lord, according to the favour that Thou bearest unto Thy people” (ver. 4): that is, that we may be among those with whom Thou art well pleased; since God is not well pleased with them all. “O visit me with Thy salvation.” This is the Saviour Himself, in whom sins are forgiven, and souls healed, that they may be able to keep judgment, and do righteousness; and since they who here speak know such men to be blessed, they pray for this themselves.… “Visit us,” then, “with Thy salvation,” that is, with Thy Christ. “To see the felicity of Thy chosen, and to rejoice in the gladness of Thy people” (ver. 5): that is, visit us for this reason with Thy salvation, that we may see the felicity of Thy chosen, and rejoice in the gladness of Thy people. For “felicity” some copies read “sweetness;” as in the former passage, “For He is gracious;” where others read, “for He is sweet.” And it is the same word in the Greek, as is elsewhere read, “The Lord shall show sweetness:”5 which some have translated “felicity,” others “bounty.” But what meaneth, “Visit us to see the felicity of Thy chosen:” that is, that happiness which Thou givest to Thine elect: except that we may not remain blind, as those unto whom it is said, “But now ye say we see: therefore your sin remaineth.” For the Lord giveth sight to the blind,7 not by their own merits, but in the felicity He giveth to His chosen, which is the meaning of “the felicity of Thy chosen:” as, the help of my countenance, is not of myself, but is my God. And we speak of our daily bread, as ours, but we add, Give unto us.9 … “That Thou mayest be praised with Thine inheritance.” I wonder this verse hath been so interpreted in many copies, since the Greek phrase is one and the same in these three verses.… But since this seemeth a doubtful expression, if that sense be true according to which interpreters have preferred, “That Thou mayest be praised,” the two preceding verses also must be so understood, because, as I have said, there is one Greek expression in these three verses; so that the whole should be thus understood, “Visit us with Thy salvation, that Thou mayest see the felicity of Thy chosen;” that is, visit us for this purpose, that Thou mayest cause us to be there, and mayest see us there; that “Thou mayest rejoice in the gladness of Thy people,” that is, that Thou mayest be said to rejoice, since they rejoice in Thee; that “Thou mayest be praised with Thine inheritance,” that is, mayest be praised with it, since it may not be praised save for Thy sake.…

6. But let us hear what they next confess: “we have sinned with our fathers: we have done amiss, and dealt wickedly” (ver. 6). What meaneth “with our fathers”?… “Our fathers,” he saith, “regarded not Thy wonders in Egypt” (ver. 7); and many other things also, he doth relate of their sins. Or is, “we have sinned with our fathers,” to be understood as meaning, we have sinned like our fathers, that is, by imitating their sins? If it be so, it should be supported by some example of this mode of expression: which did not occur to me when I sought on this occasion an instance of any one saying that he had sinned, or done anything, with another, whom he had imitated by a similar act after a long interval of time. What meaneth then, “Our fathers understood not Thy wonders;” save this, they did not know what Thou didst wish to convince them of by these miracles? What indeed, save life eternal, and a good, not temporal, but immutable, which is waited for only through endurance? For this reason they impatiently murmured, and provoked, and they asked to be blessed with present and fugitive blessings, “Neither were they mindful of the greatness of Thy mercy.” He reproveth both their understanding and memory. Understanding there was need of, that they might meditate unto what eternal blessings God was calling them through these temporal ones; and of memory, that at least they might not forget the temporal wonders which had been wrought, and might faithfully believe, that by the same power which they had already experienced, God would free them from the persecutions of their enemies; whereas they forgot the aid which He had given them in Egypt, by means of such wonders, to crush their enemies. “And they provoked, as they went up to the sea, even to the Red Sea.” We ought especially to notice how the Scripture doth censure the not understanding that which ought to have been understood, and the not remembering that which ought to have been remembered; which men are unwilling to have ascribed to their own fault, for no other reason than that they may pray less, and be less humble unto God, in whose sight they should confess what they are, and might by praying for His aid, become what they are not. For it is better to accuse even the sins of ignorance and negligence, that they may be done away with, than to excuse them, so that they remain; and it is better to clear them off by calling upon God, than to clench them by provoking Him.

He addeth, that God acted not according to their unbelief. “Nevertheless,” he saith, “He saved them for His Name’s sake: that He might make His power to be known” (ver. 8): not on account of any deservings of their own.

7. “He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was dried up” (ver. 9). We do not read that any voice was sent forth from Heaven to rebuke the sea; but he hath called the Divine Power by which this was effected, a rebuke: unless indeed any one may choose to say, that the sea was secretly rebuked, so that the waters might hear, and yet men could not. The power by which God acteth is very abstruse and mysterious, a power which He causeth that even things devoid of sense instantly obey at His will. “So He led them through the deeps, as through a wilderness.” He calleth a multitude of waters the deeps. For some wishing to give the sense of this whole verse, have translated, “So He led them forth amid many waters.” What then doth “through the deeps, as through a wilderness,” mean, except that that had become as a wilderness from its dryness, where before had been the watery deeps?

8. “And He saved them from the hating ones” (ver. 10). Some translators, in order to avoid an expression unusual in Latin, have rendered the word, by a circumlocution, “And He saved them from the hand of those that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.” What price was given in this redemption? Is it a prophecy, since this deed was a figure of Baptism, wherein we are redeemed from the hand of the devil at a great price, which price is the Blood of Christ? whence this is more consistently figured forth, not by any sea indiscriminately, but by the Red Sea; since blood hath a red colour.

9. “As for those that troubled them, the waters overwhelmed them: there was not one of them left” (ver. 11); not of all the Egyptians, but of those who pursued the departing Israelites, desirous either of taking or of killing them.

10. “Then believed they in His words” (ver. 12). The expression seemeth barely Latin, for he saith not “believed His word,” or “on His words,”4 but “in His words;” yet it is very frequent in Scripture. “And praised praise unto Him;” such an expression as when we say, “This servitude he served,” “such a life he lived.” He is here alluding to that well-known hymn, commencing, “I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and the rider hath He thrown into the sea.”6

11. “They acted hastily: they forgot His works” (ver. 13): other copies read more intelligibly, “They hastened, they forgot His works, and would not abide His counsel.” For they ought to have thought, that so great works of God towards themselves were not without a purpose, but that they invited them to some endless happiness, which was to be waited for with patience; but they hastened to make themselves happy with temporal things, which give no man true happiness, because they do not quench insatiable longing: for “whosoever,” saith our Lord, “shall drink of this water, shall thirst again.”

12. Lastly, “And they lusted a lust in the wilderness, and they tempted God in the dry land” (ver. 14). The “dry land,” or land without water, and “desert,” are the same: so also are, “they lusted a lust,” and, “they tempted God.” The form of speech is the same as above, “they praised a praise.”

13. “And He gave them their desire, and sent fulness withal into their souls” (ver. 15). But He did not thus render them happy: for it was not that fulness of which it is said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” In this passage he doth not speak of the rational soul, but of the soul as giving animal life to the body; to the substance of which belong meat and drink, according to what is said in the Gospel, “Is not the soul more than meat, and the body than raiment?” as if it belonged to the soul to eat, to the body to be clothed.

14. “And they angered Moses in the tents, and Aaron the saint of the Lord” (ver. 16). What angering, or, as some have more literally rendered it, what provocation, he speaketh of, the following words sufficiently show.

15. “The earth opened,” he saith, “and swallowed up Dathan, and covered over the congregation of Abiram” (ver. 17): “swallowed up” answereth to “covered over.” Both Dathan and Abiram were equally concerned in a most sacrilegious schism.

16. “And the fire was kindled in their company; the flame burnt up the sinners” (ver. 18). This word is not in Scripture usually applied to those, who, although they live righteously, and in a praiseworthy manner, are not without sin. Rather, as there is a difference between those who scorn and scorners, between men who murmur and murmurers, between men who are writing and writers, and so forth; so Scripture is wont to signify by sinners such as are very wicked, and laden with heavy loads of sins.

17. “And they made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the graven image” (ver. 19). “Thus they changed their glory, in the similitude of a calf that eateth hay” (ver. 20). He saith not “into” the likeness, but “in” the likeness. It is such a form of speech as where he said “and they believed in His words.” With great effect in truth he saith not, they changed the glory of God when they did this; as the Apostle also saith, “They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man:”5 but “their glory.” For God was their glory, if they would abide His counsel, and hasten not.…

18. “They forgat God who saved them” (ver. 21). How did He save them? “Who did so great things in Egypt: Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and fearful things in the Red Sea” (ver. 22). The things that are wondrous, are also fearful; for there is no wonder without a certain fear: although these might be called fearful, because they beat down their adversaries, and showed them what they ought to fear.

19. “So He said, He would have destroyed them” (ver. 23). Since they forgot Him who saved them, the Worker of wondrous works, and made and worshipped a graven image, by this atrocious and incredible impiety they deserved death. “Had not Moses His chosen stood before Him in the breaking.” He doth not say, that he stood in the breaking, as if to break the wrath of God, but in the way of the breaking, meaning the stroke which was to strike them: that is, had he not put himself in the way for them, saying, “Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin;—and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book.” Where it is proved how greatly the intercession of the saints in behalf of others prevaileth with God. For Moses, fearless in the justice of God, which could not blot him out, implored mercy, that He would not blot out those whom He justly might. Thus he “stood before Him in the breaking, to turn away His wrathful indignation, lest He should destroy them.”

20. “Yea, they thought scorn of that pleasant land” (ver. 24). But had they seen it? How then could they scorn that which they had not seen, except as the following words explain, “and believed not in His words.” Indeed, unless that land which was styled the land that flowed with milk and honey, signified something great, through which, as by a visible token, He was leading those who understood His wondrous works to invisible grace and the kingdom of heaven, they could not be blamed for scorning that land, whose temporal kingdom we also ought to esteem as nothing, that we may love that Jerusalem which is free, the mother of us all,8 which is in heaven, and truly to be desired. But rather unbelief is here reproved, since they gave no credence to the words of God, who was leading them to great things through small things, and hastening to bless themselves with temporal things, which they carnally savoured of, they “abided not His counsel,” as is said above.

21. “But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord” (ver. 25); who strongly forbade them to murmur.

22. “Then lift He up His hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness” (ver. 26); “to cast out their seed among the nations: and to scatter them in the lands” (ver. 27).

23. “They were initiated also unto Baalpeor;” that is, were consecrated to the Gentile idol; “and ate the offerings of the dead” (ver. 28). “Thus they provoked Him to anger with their own inventions; and destruction was multiplied among them” (ver. 29). As if He had deferred the lifting up of His hand which was to cast them down in the desert, and to cast out their seed among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands; as the Apostle saith: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” “ ‘Destruction,’ therefore, ‘was multiplied among them,’ when they were heavily punished for their heavy sins.”

24. “Then stood up Phineas, and appeased Him, and the shaking ceased” (ver. 30). He hath related the whole briefly, because he is not here teaching the ignorant, but reminding those who know the history. The word “shaking” here is the same as “breaking” before. For it is one word in the Greek. Lastly, so great was their wickedness, in being consecrated to the idol, and eating the sacrifices of the dead (that is, because the Gentiles sacrificed to dead men as to God), that God would not be otherwise appeased than as Phineas the Priest appeased Him, when he slew a man and a woman together whom he found in adultery.3 If he had done this from hatred towards them, and not from love, while zeal for the house of God devoured him, it would not have been counted unto him for righteousness.… Christ our Lord indeed, when the New Testament was revealed, chose a milder discipline; but the threat of hell is more severe, and this we do not read of in those threatenings held out by God in His temporal government.

25. “And that was counted unto him for righteousness among all posterities for evermore” (ver. 31). God counted this unto His Priest for righteousness, not only as long as posterity shall exist, but “for evermore;” for He who knoweth the heart, knoweth how to weigh with how much love for the people that deed was done.

26. “And they angered Him at the waters of strife: so that Moses was vexed for their sakes” (ver. 32); “because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake doubtfully with his lips” (ver. 33). What is spake doubtfully? As if God, who had done so great wonders before, could not cause water to flow from a rock. For he touched the rock with his rod with doubt, and thus distinguished this miracle from the rest, in which he had not doubted. He thus offended, thus deserved to hear that he should die, without entering into the land of promise. For being disturbed by the murmurs of an unbelieving people, he held not fast that confidence which he ought to have held. Nevertheless, God giveth unto him, as unto His chosen, a good testimony even after his death, so that we may see that this wavering of faith was punished with this penalty only, that he was not allowed to enter that land, whither he was leading the people.…

27. But they of whose iniquities this Psalm speaketh, when they had entered into that temporal land of promise, “destroyed not the heathen, which the Lord commanded them” (ver. 34); “but were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works” (ver. 35). “Insomuch that they worshipped their idols, which became to them an offence” (ver. 36). Their not destroying them, but mingling with them, became to them an offence.

28. “Yea, they offered their sons and their daughters unto devils” (ver. 37); “and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they offered unto the idols of Canaan” (ver. 38). That history doth not relate that they offered their sons and daughters to devils and idols; but neither can that Psalm lie, nor the Prophets, who assert this in many passages of their rebukes. But the literature of the Gentiles is not silent respecting this custom of theirs. But what is it that followeth? “And the land was slain with bloods.” We might suppose that this was a mistake of the writer, and that he had written interfecta for infecta, were it not for the goodness of God, who hath willed His Scriptures to be written in many languages; were it not that we see it written as in the text in many Greek copies which we have inspected; “the land was slain with bloods.” What meaneth then, “the land was slain,” unless this be referred to the men who dwelt in the land, by a metaphorical expression.… For they themselves were slaying their own souls when they offered up their sons, and when they shed the blood of infants who were far from consent to this crime: whence it is said, “They shed innocent blood.” “The land” therefore “was slain with bloods, and defiled by their works” (ver. 39), since they themselves were slain in soul, and defiled by their works; “and they went a whoring after their own inventions.” By inventions are meant what the Greeks call ἐπιτηδεύματα: for this word doth occur in the Greek copies both in this and a former passage, where it is said, “They provoked Him to anger with their own inventions;” “inventions” in both instances signifying what they had initiated others in. Let no man therefore suppose inventions to mean what they had of themselves instituted, without any example before them to imitate. Whence other translators in the Latin tongue have perferred pursuits, affections, imitations, pleasures, to inventions: and the very same who here write inventions, have elsewhere written pursuits. I chose to mention this, lest the word inventions, applied to what they had not invented, but imitated from others, might raise a difficulty.

29. “Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against His own people” (ver. 40). Our translators have been unwilling to use the word anger, for the Greek θυμὸς; though some have used it; while others translate by “indignation” or “mind.” Whichever of these terms be adopted, passion doth not affect God; but the power of punishing hath assumed this name metaphorically from custom.

30. “Insomuch that He abhorred His own inheritance; and He gave them over into the hand of the heathen: and they that hated them were lords over them” (ver. 41): “and their enemies oppressed them, and they were brought low trader their hands” (ver. 42). Since he hath called them the inheritance of God, it is clear that He abhorred them, and gave them over into their enemies’ hands, not in order to their perdition, but for their discipline. Lastly, he saith, “Many a time did He deliver them.” “But they provoked Him with their own counsels” (ver. 43). This is what he said above, “They did not abide His counsel.” Now a man’s counsel is pernicious to himself, when he seeketh those things which are his own only, not those which are God’s. In whose inheritance, which inheritance He Himself is to us, when He deigneth His presence for our enjoyment, being with the Saints, we shall suffer no straitening from the society, by our love of anything as our own possession. For that most glorious city, when it hath gained the promised inheritance, in which none shall die, none shall be born, will not contain citizens who shall individually rejoice in their own, for “God shall be all in all.”3 And whoever in this pilgrimage faithfully and earnestly doth long for this society, doth accustom himself to prefer common to private interests, by seeking not his own things, but Jesus Christ’s: lest, by being wise and vigilant in his own affairs, he provoke God with his own counsel; but, hoping for what he seeth not, let him not hasten to be blessed with things visible; and, patiently waiting for that everlasting happiness which he seeth not, follow His counsel in His promises, whose aid he prayeth for in his prayers. Thus he will also become humble in his confessions; so as not to be like those, of whom it is said, “They were brought down in their wickedness.”

31. Nevertheless, God, full of mercy, forsook them not. “And He saw when they were in adversity, when He heard their complaint” (ver. 44). “And He thought upon His covenant, and repented, according to the multitude of His mercies” (ver. 45). He saith, “He repented,” because He changed that wherewith He seemed about to destroy them. With God indeed all things are arranged and fixed; and when He seemeth to act upon sudden motive, He doth nothing but what He foreknew that He should do from eternity; but in the temporal changes of creation, which He ruleth wonderfully, He, without any temporal change in Himself, is said to do by a sudden act of will what in the ordained causes of events He hath arranged in the unchangeableness of His most secret counsel, according to which He doth everything according to defined seasons, doing the present, and having already done the future. And who is capable of comprehending these things? Let us therefore hear the Scripture, speaking high things humbly, giving food for the nourishment of children, and proposing subjects for the research of the older: that everlasting covenant “which He made with Abraham,” not the old which is abolished, but the new which is hidden even in the old. “And pitied them,” etc. He did that which He had covenanted, but He had foreknown that He would yield this to them when they prayed in their adversity; since even their very prayer, when it was not uttered, but was still to be uttered, undoubtedly was known unto God.

32. So “He gave them unto compassions, in in the sight of all that had taken them captive” (ver. 46). That they might not be vessels of wrath, but vessels of mercy. The compassions unto which He gave them are named in the plural for this reason, I imagine, because each one hath a gift of his own from God, one in one way, another in another.6 Come then, whosoever readest this, and dost recognise the grace of God, by which we are redeemed unto eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, by reading in the apostolical writings, and by searching in the Prophets, and seest the Old Testament revealed in the New, the New veiled in the Old; remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, where, when He driveth him out of the hearts of the faithful, He saith, “Now is the prince of this world cast out:” and again of the Apostle, when he saith, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.”8 Meditate on these and such like things, examine also the Old Testament, and see what is sung in that Psalm, the title of which is, When the temple was being built after the captivity: for there it is said, “Sing unto the Lord a new song.” And, that thou mayest not think it doth refer to the Jewish people only, he saith, “Sing unto the Lord, all the whole earth: sing unto the Lord, and praise His Name: declare,” or rather, “give the good news of,” or, to transfer the very word used in the Greek, “evangelize day from day, His salvation.” Here the Gospel (Evangelium) is mentioned, in which is announced the Day that came from Day, our Lord Christ, the Light from Light, the Son from the Father. This also is the meaning of His salvation: for Christ is the Salvation of God, as we have shown above. …

33. “Deliver us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations (other copies read, “from the heathen”); that we may give thanks unto Thy holy Name, and make our boast of Thy praise” (ver. 47), Then he hath briefly added this very praise, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and world without end” (ver. 48): by which we understand from everlasting to everlasting; because He shall be praised without end by those of whom it is said, “Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house: they will be alway praising Thee.” This is the perfection of the Body of Christ on the third day, when the devils had been cast out, and cures perfected, even unto the immortality of the body itself, the everlasting reign of those who perfectly praise Him, because they perfectly love Him; and perfectly love Him, because they behold Him face to face. For then shall be completed the prayer at the commencement of this Psalm:4 “Remember us, O Lord, according to the favour that Thou bearest unto Thy people,” etc. For from the Gentiles He doth not gather only the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but also those which do not belong to that fold; so that there is one flock, as is said, and one Shepherd. But when the Jews suppose that that prophecy belongeth to their visible kingdom, because they know not how to rejoice in the hope of good things unseen, they are about to rush into the snares of him, of whom the Lord saith, “I am come in My Father’s Name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.”6 Of whom the Apostle Paul saith: “that Man of Sin shall be revealed, the son of perdition,” etc. And a little after he saith, “Then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming,” etc. … Through that Apostate, through him who exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, it seemeth to me, that the carnal people of Israel will suppose that prophecy to be fulfilled, where it is said, “Deliver us, O Lord, and gather us from among the heathen;” that under His guidance, before the eyes of their visible enemies, who had visibly taken them captive, they are to have visible glory. Thus they will believe a lie, because they have not received the love of truth, that they might love not carnal, but spiritual blessings.… For Christ had other sheep that were not of this fold:8 but the devil and his angels had taken captive all those sheep, both among the Israelites and the Gentiles. The power, therefore, of the devil having been cast out of them, in the sight of the evil spirits who had taken them captive, their cry in this prophecy is, that they may be saved and perfected for evermore: “Deliver us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen.” Not, as the Jews imagine it, fulfilled through Antichrist, but through our Lord Christ coming in the name of His Father, “Day from day, His salvation;” of whom it is here said, “O visit us in Thy salvation! And let all the people say,” the predestined people of the circumcision and of the uncircumcision, a holy race, an adopted people, “So be it! So be it!”

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