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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 10:1-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2013

Mat 10:1  And having called his twelve disciples together, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of diseases, and all manner of infirmities.

And having called the twelve disciples together. [b] Mission of the apostles. The first gospel supposes the choice of the apostles known; Mk. 3:14 and Lk. 6:13 tell us that Jesus spent the night previous to the call of the Twelve in prayer. That Mt. 10:1 treats of the same disciples follows both from their number, Twelve, and their names given in vv. 2–4. We must here consider, first, the number of apostles; secondly, their credentials; thirdly, their order; fourthly, their individual characteristics.

1.] The number of apostles. Various explanations: α. Since the fathers of the carnal Israel were twelve, the fathers of the spiritual Israel or the Church must be twelve [1 Cor. 4:15; Gal. 4:19; Philem. 10; cf. Mald. Lam.]. Hence even the prophets declare the necessity of being united with the house of Jacob [Is. 2:3; Mich. 4:2]. β. Alb. gives a list of Old Testament types prefiguring the number twelve of the apostles; their authority is prefigured by the twelve sons of Jacob; their effusion of doctrine by the twelve fountains of Elim [Ex. 15:27; Num. 33:9]; the light of their example by the twelve stones on the high priest’s breastplate [Ex. 28:9, 10]; their supply of spiritual nourishment by the twelve loaves of the shew-bread; their constancy and fortitude by the twelve stones taken by Josue from the Jordan [Jos. 4:3]; their maturity and strength of character by the twelve oxen sustaining the brazen sea [3 Kings 7:11–25] cf. Tertullian c. Marc. iv. 13; Thomas Aquinas [in Catena asurea under Remigius]; Bede, Paschasius  Sylveira The twelve stars crowning the spouse, the twelve foundation-stones of Jerusalem, and its twelve gates [Apoc. 21:12; Ezek 48:31–34] are also considered as signs of the twelve apostles, γ. Twelve constitutes four triads [Rabanus Maurus, Paschasius, Bede, Bengel, Meyer, Keil], so that the apostles can surround the Church just as the twelve tribes of Israel surrounded the ark of the covenant, placing three tribes on each of the four parts of the compass; again, the four triads must preach the mystery of the Holy Trinity in the four parts of the compass; again, the four triads must preach the mystery of the Holy Trinity in the four parts of the world; finally, three is said to represent the deity, four the world; as seven therefore represents religion, which unites the world with God, so must twelve signify the dwelling of God in his people, being three enclosed, as it were, in four [Arnoldi, Bisping; cf. Knabenbauer].

he gave them power over unclean spirits. 2.] Credentials of the apostles. The first gospel employs the name “apostle” only in the present passage; Mk. [6:30] and Jn. [13:16], too, use the word only once, while Lk. employs it oftener; Barradas notices therefore that the word “apostle” occurs in every gospel as in the Old Testament every one of the twelve stones on the priest’s breastplate had one name of the twelve tribes inscribed on it. At any rate, the name shows that the Twelve are regarded by the inspired writers as the official messengers of Jesus himself. As therefore a royal ambassador needs his credentials, so do the Twelve stand in need of a divine seal, as it were, showing that they really carry God’s own message. This they receive in the power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of diseases and all manner of infirmities. In the Greek text the first infinitive, “to cast out,” is preceded by an epexegetic conjunction, while the second infinitive, “to heal,” depends directly on the word “power.” For the grammatical construction of the Greek text we may refer to Mt. 9:6; Mk. 2:10; Lk. 5:24; Jn. 5:27; 1 Cor. 9:5; Winer, lxiv. 4; Krüger, LV. iii. 1. There is no indication of any outward sign by which Jesus communicated this power to his apostles, though he may have done so by breathing on them or by imposition of hands [cf. Jn. 20:22; Acts 13:3; etc.]. The circumstance that our Lord imparts the power of miracles without asking the Father shows that he possesses the fulness of divinity, just as 1 Cor. 12:11 shows the divinity of the Holy Ghost. While Jesus manifests his freedom from all envy and jealousy by thus granting miraculous powers to his disciples, their power must of its very nature be always infinitely below that of the Master; while Jesus acts in his own name, the apostles must always act in the name of Jesus [cf. Jerome].

Mat 10:2  And the names of the twelve Apostles are these: The first, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother,
Mat 10:3  James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the publican, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus,
Mat 10:4  Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

And the names of the twelve apostles. 3. The order of the apostles. We may first compare the order of the catalogue contained in the first gospel with that contained in the other books of the New Testament; and secondly, investigate the order of the first evangelist’s catalogue in itself.

α. Comparison of catalogues of apostles. We possess four complete catalogues of the apostles in the New Testament: Mt. 10:2–4; Mk. 3:16; Lk. 6:14; Acts 1:13. A juxtaposition is their best comparison:—.

1.      Simon Peter, first in all.

2.      Andrew (Mt).              James (Mk).                    Andrew (Lk).            James (Acts).

3.      James (Mt)..               John (Mk).                       James (Lk).               John (Acts).

4.      John (Mt).                   Andrew (Mk).                 John (Lk).                  Andrew (Acts).

5.      Philip in all.

6.      Bartholomew (Mt).   Bartholomew (Mk).      Bartholomew (Lk).  Thomas (Acts).

7.      Thomas (Mt).              Matthew (Mk).               Matthew (Lk).          Bartholomew (Acts).

8.      Matthew (Mt).            Thomas (Mk).                 Thomas (Lk).            Matthew (Acts).

9.      James of Alpheus in all.

10.    Lebbeus (Mt).              Thaddeus (Mk).              Simon (Lk).                  Simon (Acts).

11.      Simon (Mt).                Simon Mk).                     Judas of James (Lk).  Judas of James (Lk).

12.      Judas Iscariot, last in all.

This table shows that the apostles are in all catalogues divided into three groups; Peter heads the first group throughout, while Andrew, James, and John form the other members of the same group. Philip heads the second group throughout, and Bartholomew, Thomas, and Matthew form the other members of the same division. James of Alpheus heads the third group, while Lebbeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot are its members.

The catalogue of the first gospel. [1] The catalogue of apostles in the first gospel is not directed against false apostles [cf. Jerome, Augustine, Bede, Theophylact, Euthymius, Maldonado], but is here necessary because the call of the apostles has been omitted by St. Matthew. [2] Peter holds the first place not accidentally [Fritzsche,], since he is first in all four catalogues, as Judas Iscariot is last, and besides, “first” is expressly added to Simon Peter; nor does the first place indicate that Peter was called first [cf. Theophylact, Meyer], since Andrew had approached Jesus before Peter [Jn. 1:40] and was called together with Peter; nor again does Peter occupy the first place, because he is “primus inter pares,” first among equals [cf. Bengel, Meyer, Wichelh. Keil], because he is throughout the gospel most distinguished among the apostles by our Lord’s confidence [Mt. 16:18 ff.; etc.]; Weiss is therefore right in admitting that Peter was from the first preeminent among his fellow apostles and distinguished by our Lord’s greatest confidence. [3] As to the order of the apostles, it cannot be said to follow the time of their call; for though the gospels speak about Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, and Matthew [cf. Jn. 1:40–44; Mk. 1:16–20; Mt. 4:18–21; 9:9 ff.], we know nothing about the call of the other six [perhaps Bartholomew is an exception] apostles. Nor can it be contended that the apostles are enumerated according to their dignity [cf. Maldonado]; for though Peter is named first, and the three more distinguished by Jesus head the list, still the apostolic dignity was the same in all apostles except Peter [Barradas], and the dignity of personal merit would have necessitated the same order in all catalogues [cf. Chrysostom]. Finally, the order of the catalogues cannot be said to follow the age of the apostles, since nothing certain is known about their relative time of birth. Since the evangelist couples two and two together, it seems probable that he enumerates the pairs as they were sent by our Lord [cf. Mk. 6:7]; if this be true, we have in the catalogue an example of our Lord’s regard for even the natural dispositions of the Twelve, since he sends together two [perhaps three] pairs of brothers, and probably also a pair of friends [Philip and Bartholomew].

Characteristics of the apostles. We know that “Peter” was the official name of the apostle [Jn. 1:43], and at the same time distinguished the head of the apostolic college from another Simon [or Thaddeus], as has been noted by Chrys. Jer. Bed. Euth. “Andrew” was an old Greek name, signifying “manly”; both Andrew and Peter were from Bethsaida [Jn. 1:44], where Greek must not have been an unknown language. The second pair of apostles consists of James and John, both sons of Zebedee [Mt. 4:21]; since Zebedee had hired men in his employ [Mk. 1:20], he must have been a well-to-do citizen of Capharnaum or Bethsaida [Jn. 1:44: Lk. 5:10|. The same is confirmed by the probable identity of John and the disciple acquainted with the high priest [Jn. 18:15.].

The name Philip is of Greek origin, and the apostle is named the first time in Jn. 1:43. Bartholomew is composed of Bar Tol-mai [2 Sam 13:37]; the apostle must most probably be identified with Nathanael, whose meeting with Jesus through the instrumentality of Philip is told in Jn. 1:45 ff., and who is later on [Jn. 21:2] named in the midst of the apostles. The inference that Nathanael is an apostle and identical with Bartholomew is confirmed by the circumstance that Philip and Bartholomew are repeatedly named together, just as the other apostles that are called together are mentioned jointly. Besides these arguments drawn from intrinsic sources, we may appeal to authority, since Nathanael and Bartholomew are identified by Rupertus, Jansenius, Tostatus Lapide, Estius, Calmet, Arnoldi, Reischl. Weinhart, Bisping, Schegg, Grimm, Schanz, Fillion, Keil, Weiss, Mansel, Schenz. It must however be noted that Tol. [in Jo.] called the opposite opinion the common one, and that Maldonado [Jn. 1:47] expressed his wish to identify Bartholomew and Nathanael, if he could find any respectable authority for that view. Augustine [in Ps. 65. n. 4; tract, vii. in Jo. n. 17] believes that Nathanael cannot have been among the apostles, because he belonged to the educated class. On the other hand, Assemani [Biblioth. Or. iii. 1, p. 306; iii. 2, p. iv.] attests that the Chaldee, the Armenian, and the Syriac Christians commonly identify Nathanael with Bartholomew.

After Philip and Bartholomew follow Thomas and Matthew; the meaning of Thomas [תְּא̇ם] is expressed by the Greek Didymus [Jn. 11:16; 20:24; 21:2], or our “twin.” In the other inspired writers Matthew precedes Thomas, and the addition “the publican” is not found; the first evangelist was induced by humility to recall his former profession, and to place himself after Thomas.

James of Alpheus was the son of Alpheus; he is also called James the less [Mk. 15:40], the brother of the Lord [Gal. 1:19; 2:9], and his mother is called Mary. Alpheus is identical with חלפי, or the Greek Κλωπᾶς [Cleophas]; hence Mary the mother of James is also called Mary of Cleophas, or the wife of Cleophas [Mk. 15:40; Jn. 19:25]. Thaddeus has a number of various readings: Rec. C2 L Δ read Λεββαῖος ὁ ἐπικληθεὶς θαδδαῖος [Lebbeus who is called Thaddeus]; Λεββαῖος alone Tisch. according to D 122; θαδδαῖος Lachm. according to א B 17 124; Weiss conjectures therefore rightly that the Rec. is a combination of both names; Tischendorf has too little authority for his opinion; the right name is therefore Thaddeus, though Mk. 3:18 may seem to render this doubtful. The name is derived from the Aramaic תַּד [Heb. שַׁד, דַּד, breast], so that it signifies “the courageous”; if we derive Lebbeus from the Heb. לב; heart, its meaning agrees nearly with that of Thaddeus [Jerome “corculus”]; Lightfoot, however, derives “Lebbeus” from the name of the Galilean town “Lebba.” The name Lebbeus creates difficulty, because its existence is guaranteed by many reliable documents [Tischendorf Act. apost. apocryph. p. 261; Assemani, Biblioth. orient. iii. 2, p. 14.; Lipsius, die apocryphen Apostelgeschichten, ii. 2, p. 155 f.], and yet we have no other instance in which the name occurs. Some solve the difficulty by simply admitting the singular occurrence of the name in the case of Thaddeus [Jerome, Bede, Jansenius Keil, etc.; Act. Thaddæi say that Lebbeus assumed the name Thaddeus when he was baptized by John]; others declare that Lebbeus is a mere error of the scribes [cf. Schegg]; others, again, maintain that Lebbeus is a Hebrew translation of Thaddeus used in the Hebrew gospel of St. Matthew [cf. Schanz]. According to Lk. 6:16 the same apostle is called “Jude of James,” or as the English translation properly interprets the phrase, Jude the brother of James; the author of the Epistle of Jude [v.1] calls himself the brother of James. Grammarians [cf. Winer, neutest. Sprachidiome, xxx. 3] tell us that the Greek admits the foregoing phrase “Jude of James” instead of “Jude the brother of James.” If we therefore admit the distinction between Thaddeus and Lebbeus, the apostle had three names.

The next apostle is Simon the Cananean; the addition Cananean distinguishes this apostle from Simon [hearer] Peter. B C D L Min. Verss. Lachm. Tischendorf Trig. have the reading καναναῖος, which is due, according to Meyer, to a false interpretation of the name, according to Fritzsche and Grimm to the preceding name θαδδαῖος; Rec. א Δ read κανανῖτης. Jerome, Luther, Calovii, Bleek, etc. derive the name from Cana in Galilee; but since according to other similar derivations the word ought to be καναῖος, if it were derived from Cana [cf. Strabo, xiii. 1; Parmen. in Ath. iii. p. 76], the word is said to be derived either from an unknown place in Palestine [Meyer; cf. Strabo, xiv. 5], or from the name Kanan [Holtzman]. But there is no good reason for abandoning the explanation of the name given in Lk. 6:15; Acts 1:13, where it is interpreted as “zealot.” According to this interpretation “Cananean” is the Aram. קַכְאָכִי and the Hebrew קָכָא [Ex. 20:5; 34:14; Deut. 4:24]. Zealots were those that showed a special zeal for the observance of the law or for the welfare of the theocracy [Num. 25:7; Eccli. 14:27; 1 Mach. 2:26, 54; Gal. 1:14; Acts 21:20]. Zealot in the present case needs not to be taken in the later technical sense when it was applied to a political party opposing the rule of the Romans [Josephus B. J. IV. iii. 9; VII. viii.1; etc.]. Since “Cananean” is commonly added to the name of Simon [Mk. 3:18; Lk. 6:15; Acts 1:13], it cannot have been associated with the moral odium that characterized it in later times [against Lightfoot].

The last of the apostles in all the catalogues is Judas Iscariot; remembering the grief which that name must have caused to the evangelists whenever it recurred, it is worthy of notice how briefly the black treason of the apostate is characterized, “who also betrayed him.” The name Judas is a verbal noun derived from the impfect Hophal of the verb יָדָה [Gen. 29:35; 49:8], so that it means praise. The second name “Iscariot” has been variously interpreted: Jer. connects the word in one passage with the tribe Issachar, signifying “reward,” so that Iscariot would mean a man of Issachar, known for the traitor’s reward he received; Maldonado, is right in rejecting this opinion. Lightfoot suggests three possible meanings of the word Iscariot: it may be the word אסהזרטיא, which means a leather girdle, or it may be connected with אסכרא, signifying death by strangulation. If the former derivation be accepted, the name either signifies the wearer of the leather girdle and therefore of the purse, or the tanner [Acts 9:43]; if the second derivation be preferred, the name expresses the manner of the traitor’s death. Keil suggests two more possible meanings of Iscariot: it is derived from אִישׁ and either קְרִי [Lev. 26:2 ff., “hostile encounter”] or קְרִיוֹת [plur. of קִרְיָה, city]; according to the former derivation Iscariot means then “man of hostile encounter,” according to the latter it signifies “city man.” All these explanations must give way to another more simple one, and supported by the most ample authority. Iscariot is the Hebrew אישׁ קְרִיוו̇ת the man of Carioth, a city in the tribe of Juda [Jos. 15:25; 48:41; Am. 2:2]. This derivation is supported by א* plur. minusc. syr. [p mg.], which read in Jn. 6:71 ἀπο καρυωτου; D has the same reading in Jn. 12:4; 13:2, 26; 14:22. Tischendorf thinks it probable that this reading was the common one in the fourth gospel, and that “Iscariot” was introduced later through the influence of the synoptic gospels. Jerome gives the same derivation together with another which we rejected in the foregoing discussion. There are two difficulties that may be advanced against this view, but there are not less serious difficulties against all the other opinions. Besides, the two difficulties admit, in the present case, of a satisfactory solution: first it is strange that the evangelists treat the words אִישׁ קְרִיוֹת as if they formed but one idea, and that they add the regular adjectival ending. In other words, “Iscariotes” is for the Greek and Latin writer what the word “man-of-Londoner” would be for the English author. The difficulty may appear less, if we reflect that the Hebrews had two ways of expressing the origin from a certain place: they could do so by placing “man of” before the name of the locality, and again by adding an adjectival termination to the same name. The first manner we see exemplified in the lxx version of 2 Sam 10:6, 8, where the two words אִישׁ טוֹב are by the Greek interpreters united into the expression Ἰστώβ; this very expression is copied later on by Josephus [Ant. VII. vi.1]. Supposing, then, that “Iscariot” had become so customary in the language of the inspired writers that they regarded the phrase as the name of a place, what wonder that they added the adjectival termination “es”? That this name was thus intimately connected with Judas, we may infer from Jn. 6:71 and 13:26, where it appears that even Judas’ father had been called Iscariot. Though according to this explanation Judas Iscariot was from Judea, we may infer from Acts 2:7 that all the other apostles were Galileans.

We may here ask whether Judas was bad even when he was chosen among the apostles: Toletus answers with Cyril [lib. iv. c. 30, i. e. in Jo. 6:71, 72] and Jerome [lib. iii. cont. Pelag. iii. n. 6] that Judas was good at the time of his call, but he maintains with Aug. [tract, xxvii. in Jo.] that his fall was fully foreseen. When it is further asked why our Lord called Judas to the dignity of an apostle though he foreknew his fall, the same author [Comment. in Jo. vi. annot. 36; xiii. annot. 20] first draws attention to the fact that this question might be asked about all the angels and men that have lost, or will lose, their last end; they were not created in order that they might sin, but in order that God might use their sinfulness for a good end. Finally, it may be asked what the good end was that Jesus intended to draw from the foreseen treason of Judas. 1. It brought about the death of our Redeemer [Tolet. in Jo. xiii. annot. 20]; 2. it showed the firmness of Christ’s doctrine, which prevailed in spite of the prejudice it suffered through Judas’ fall [Tolet. in Jo. vi. annot. 22; cf. Ambrose in Luc. lib. v. n. 45]; 3. it showed the infinite charity of Jesus who gave the most abundant means of salvation even to his future traitor [ibid.]; 4. it brought about that Jesus who had taken the infirmities of our nature upon himself had to suffer those that are the most painful and humiliating, dereliction and treason [ibid.]; 5. it was the occasion of a most admirable example of patience for all men that were to come after Jesus [ibid.]; 6. such an example of patience was absolutely needed by us since we had to live among the wicked [Augustine in Ps. xxxiv. 7, 8; civ. Dei, xviii. 49]; 7. the fall of Judas showed that the dignity of state does not sanctify a man, and that there is a bad member in almost every larger society of men [Thomas Aquinas]; 8. the fall of Judas shows that no one, however good he may be, can be secure of his perseverance, and that bad men may resist even the most powerful graces [cf. Sylveira tom. iii. lib. v. c. 5]; 9. finally, the history of the traitor shows that God may choose a man for the highest office and dignity, though he foreknows that the subject chosen will prove himself wholly unworthy.

Mat 10:5  These twelve Jesus sent: commanding them, saying: Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into the city of the Samaritans enter ye not.
Mat 10:6  But go ye rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

These twelve Jesus sent, commanding them. 2. Instruction for present need, vv. 5–15. In this instruction Jesus first determines the recipients of the message; secondly, its contents; thirdly, its credentials; fourthly, its price; fifthly, the life of the messengers on the road; sixthly, the life of the messengers in their quarters; seventhly, the blessing of the recipients of the messengers; eighthly, the fate of the rejecters of the messengers.

Addressees of the message. Our Lord expresses the address of the message first negatively, secondly positively. The negative part forbids the apostles to go either among the Gentiles or the Samaritans; the positive part directs them to the children of Israel. The apostles are not only to avoid the Gentiles, but even the way that leads to them; for a similar use of the genitive after “way” see Gen. 3:24; Acts 2:28; 16:14; Jer. 2:18. Such Gentiles lived especially along the maritime coast of Palestine, in the parts east of the Sea of Galilee, and also in certain towns of Galilee, Perea, and even Judea. The Samaritans are assimilated to the Gentiles both because they were the offspring of the Cutheans and other heathen tribes mingled with the Jews, left in Samaria by its Assyrian conquerors [2 Kings. 17:24, 30], and also because they refused to acknowledge the right of the temple in Jerusalem, though they adored the true God [Jn. 4:20]. The national hatred between Jews and Samaritans is briefly alluded to in Jn. 4:9; our Lord himself came only a few times into contact with either Samaritans or Gentiles [Jn. 4:4; Mt. 15:21], and in Mt. 15:24 he expressly states that he is sent only to the house of Israel. The direction he now gives his apostles is fully in keeping with the foregoing passage, with the predictions of the prophets who had promised the Messianic blessings especially to Israel, with other passages of the gospels extolling the prerogatives of the Jews [Jn. 4:22; Mt. 8:12], and finally with the doctrine of the apostle of the Gentiles himself, whose practice may at first sight appear to contradict his words [Acts 13:46; Rom. 1:16; 11:17; 15:18; Eph. 2:13, 14], Even the figure of the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” has its foundation in Jer. 50:6; cf. Is. 53:6; Ezek 34:5, 14–16, 23; 37:24; Is. 40:11. The “house of Israel” recalls Lev. 10:6; Ex. 19:3 and the covenant of God with his chosen people. That this command of the Lord was not absolute is shown by Mt. 28:19; we see the distinction between Jew and Gentile abrogated in Acts. 10:9 ff. [cf. Tertullian de fuga, c. vi.; Hilary ad l.]. The first gospel alone contains this prohibition of the Lord: on the part of the evangelist its presence is explained by the circle of readers for whom he intended his gospel; on the part of our Lord himself the prohibition has, according to Chrysostom, Euthymius, Jerome, [ad l.; ep. ad Algas. 151, q. 5], an apologetic tendency, proving on the one hand that he did not hate the Jews on account of their hostilities, and on the other that the Jews could not be opposed to him on account of his preference for the Gentiles and Samaritans.

Mat 10:7  And going, preach, saying: The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

And going, preach, saying. b. Contents of the message. The ministry of the apostles must continue that of the Master, as the Master’s had been prepared by that of the precursor [cf. Mt. 3:2; 4:17]. In the kingdom of heaven we have the object of our faith, hope, and charity; it implies also the removal of all obstacles and impediments [cf. Jansenius, Cajetan].

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 9:32-38

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2013

Mat 9:32  And when they were gone out, behold they brought him a dumb man, possessed with a devil.
Mat 9:33  And after the devil was cast out, the dumb man spoke, and the multitudes wondered, saying, Never was the like seen in Israel.
Mat 9:34  But the Pharisees said, By the prince of devils he casteth out devils.
Mat 9:35  And Jesus went about all the cities and towns, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease, and every infirmity.
Mat 9:36  And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd.
Mat 9:37  Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few.
Mat 9:38  Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.

And when they were gone out. b. Jesus exorcises a dumb devil. Holtzmann has no good reason for making this event an imitation of Mt. 12:22 ff., for the subject of the latter passage is both dumb and blind. The blasphemy of the Pharisees may have been repeated with the repetition of the miracle; the foregoing author cannot even maintain that the exception of the Pharisees comes too late in the history of so many miracles, since the evangelist shows the malice of the Pharisees most impressively by his present arrangement of material. That the dumbness of the demoniac was the result of the possession follows first from the fact that there is not mention of his deafness, the natural companion of dumbness; secondly, from the remark of the evangelist that the man spoke after the exorcism, no other miracle being mentioned [cf. Mk. 7:35].

and the multitudes wondered. c. Belief and unbelief, a. Belief. The words of the multitude show that they preferred Jesus even to Moses, since “never was the like seen in Israel.” The cause of the wonder differs in the opinion of different commentators, [a] Never before was the casting out of devils followed by such results [Alford]; [b] Jesus never appeared so glorious before [Fritzsche,]; [c] never before were such stupendous signs wrought in such number and with such little outward exertion of power [cf. Chrysostom, Dionysius, Cajetan, Jansenius, Lapide, Lam.]; [d] never before were devils cast out in such imposing and quiet a manner [Hilary, Knabenbauer]. That the last explanation is the more probable one follows from the fact that in Mt. 12:23 and Lk. 11:14, too, the multitudes wonder after an exorcism performed by Jesus; again, the Pharisees direct their attack only against the power of Jesus over the devils: “by the prince of devils he casteth out devils”; finally, it is well known that those among the Jews who attempted to exorcise the possessed had recourse to a number of outward formulas and incantations [cf. Josephus Ant. VIII. ii. 5; B. J. VII. vi. 3; Ed. i. p. 482; ii. pp. 771, 775; Weber, System der altsyn. paläst. Theol. pp. 247 f.].

Unbelief. The unbelief of the Pharisees is not merely negative, but is expressed positively; it is not private, but is expressed by the public teachers of Israel; not content with impeding the belief of others, it endeavors to excite their open hostility: “by the prince of devils he casteth out devils.” Since Jesus does not answer the calumny of his enemies, it may be supposed that they uttered it out of his hearing [cf. Mt. 12:25]. That the Pharisees did not speak in good faith follows from the circumstances that Jesus did not only cast out devils, but also cured lepers, gave sight to the blind, stilled the stormy sea, raised the dead, preached the kingdom of God, and led his followers to a greater knowledge and love of God, all of which effects could not be ascribed to the power of the devil [cf. Chrysostom]. The sin of the Pharisees consisted therefore in attributing the evident works of God to the devil; in other words, it was the sin against the Holy Ghost. Jansenius shows here the various degrees of the Pharisees’ opposition to Jesus: they blame him for forgiving sins; they blame him for eating with sinners; they blame him for not obliging his disciples to fast; they attribute his miracles to the power of the devil. The prophets appear to have foreseen this obduracy of the Jewish leaders [cf. Is. 65:2; 56:10, 11].

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 9:18-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2013

Mat 9:18  As he was speaking these things unto them, behold a certain ruler came up, and adored him, saying: Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come, lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.
Mat 9:19  And Jesus rising up followed him, with his disciples.

As he was speaking these things. 3. The Jewish ruler and the Gentile woman, vv. 18–26. In the preceding two incidents we have admired the faith of Matthew and the trust of the disciples, as opposed to the separateness of the Pharisees from the company of sinners and the Pharisaic fidelity to merely outward ceremonies. In the present section the faith in our Lord manifestly grows, since it extends, in the case of the Gentile woman, to the healing power of all connected with Jesus, while the ruler elicits by his faith the resuscitation of his dead child. The section naturally falls into three parts: a. The petition of the ruler, 18-19; b. the healing of the Gentile woman, 20–22; c. the resuscitation of the dead child, 23–26.

a. The petition of the ruler. In the parallel accounts, Mk. 5:21–43 and Lk. 8:41–56, the incidents are connected with the gatherings around our Lord after his return from the Gadarene shore of the lake. Schanz is of opinion that the first evangelist connects the following miracles with the dispute on fasting, on account of the importance of convincing the Jewish Christians that the Mosaic ceremonial is foreign to the spirit of Christianity. But if we adhere to the present reading of the first gospel, “as he was speaking these things,” we can hardly suppose that the evangelist arranged the present passage topically. We must then either assume that the dispute concerning fasting occurred twice, once in the connection of the second and the third gospel, and another time on the occasion mentioned by St. Matthew; or we must suppose that the expression “these things” was added by the translator of the first gospel, while the evangelist had merely written “as he was speaking.” The first assumption is not at all unlikely, owing to the importance of the matter in question, while the second solution numbers among its patrons Augustine [De cons, evang. ii. 28, 64; 39, 86]. According to the first view we find in the second and third gospel the more general indication of the time when the ruler approached Jesus, while the first gospel gives the precise part of our Lord’s discourse that preceded the petition of Jairus. According to the second view, also, Jairus approaches Jesus at the time indicated by the second and the third gospel, but this time is very indefinitely stated by the first evangelist. In neither case is the petition of Jairus connected with the feast; such a connection of events is rendered improbable, since according to the words of the disciples [Lk. 8:45; Mk. 5:31] our Lord was surrounded by a multitude of people on his way to the house of the ruler.

The “certain ruler” [Mt.] is, according to the second and third gospel, a ruler of the synagogue; instead of “adored him,” Mk. and Lk. say “fell down at his feet,” so that the ruler prayed suppliantly. “Lord” is an addition found in many Vulgate codd., though it is not in the Greek text. The third gospel shows that the ruler had only one daughter, and that she was about twelve years old [8:42]. Mt. differs somewhat from Mk. and Lk. in the account of the ruler’s petition: according to the second gospel [5:23] the daughter is said to be “at the point of death,” and the third evangelist says that she “lay a dying” [8:42]. According to both, the news of the daughter’s death came only after the cure of the Gentile woman [Mk. 5:35; Lk. 8:49]. We can hardly admit that the first gospel represents the father as incoherent in his excessive grief [cf. Farrar], as if he had said, “my child is dying, is dead”; or that the expression of the first gospel must be understood to mean “she is almost dead” [cf. Schouppe]; or that the ruler intentionally exaggerated his affliction [cf. Chrysostom, Euthymius, Theophylact]; or that the father expressed his real belief concerning his child, “she is by this time dead” [cf. Augustine].

In all these suppositions either the account given in the first gospel, or that contained in the second and third, suffers some violence. Since the evangelist only summarizes the event, he represents the state of the daughter as known after the message; even if it is not said in the gospel that the father expressed the petition in words, he felt it in his heart [cf. Lapide, Augustine, Salmeron, Jansenius]. We need not assume with Maldonado, Cajetan, that the father renewed his oral petition after receiving the message of his daughter’s death. Though the faith of the ruler was not as great as that of the centurion [Mt. 8:10], since he asked for the bodily presence of Jesus, there is nothing reprehensible in his wish that our Lord should lay his hand upon his sick child, since Jesus often healed the sick in this manner [Mt. 8:3; 19:13; Lk. 4:10; 13:13; cf. Acts 6:6; Gen. 48:14; Num. 27:18]. The ready compliance of our Lord with the ruler’s petition contrasts favorably with his manner of healing the king’s son [Jn. 4:48]. In the present case, he was about to give his disciples a most striking proof of his power over death itself, and to offer the poor Gentile woman an occasion of meeting him on the road. While the first gospel mentions only the disciples as accompanying Jesus, the second and the third gospel speak of a great multitude around his sacred person.

Mat 9:20  And behold a woman who was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment.
Mat 9:21  For she said within herself: If I shall touch only his garment, I shall be healed.
Mat 9:22  But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

And behold a woman. b. The healing of the Gentile woman. According to Eusebius [H. E. vii. 18] the woman was a Gentile of Cæsarea Paneas, and the apocrypha name her Veronica [Act. Pilati, A. c. 7; Tischend. Evv. ap. p. 239: Gesta Pilati, c. 7, l. c. p. 356]. The same apocrypha enumerate her among those that testified in favor of Jesus before Pilate. Eusebius [l. c.] mentions that he saw in Cæsarea Philippi [or Paneas], at the gates of the woman’s house, on an elevated stone, a brazen image of a woman on her bended knee, with her hands stretched out before her, like one entreating. Opposite to this there was another image of a man, erect, decently clad in a mantle, and stretching out his hand to the woman. This group represented the miraculous cure of the Gentile woman, now under consideration. Socrates adds [H. l. vi. c. 41] that Julian the Apostate destroyed the statue, and had his own placed on the pedestal. The evangelist shows the grievousness of the woman’s disorder by indicating the length of time it had lasted; Mk. adds that she had suffered much from several physicians [an extremely probable fact considering the state of the science of medicine at that period], had spent all she had, and only grown worse in consequence; the physician Lk. says that she had spent all her property on physicians, and that she could not be cured by any. The length of time the woman had suffered indicates that her complaint was not the common courses [Lev. 15:33], but was a chronic issue of blood [Lev. 15:25–29]. Since this infirmity rendered the sufferer legally unclean, the woman feared to make known her complaint or to touch the Lord’s garment in front.

The hem of our Lord’s garment touched by the woman was the legal fringe intended to remind the Jews that they were God’s people [Num. 15:37; Deut. 22:12]. We need not repeat the unfavorable comments of Calvin, Trench, Alford, and other Protestant writers on the confidence of the Gentile woman in the magical power of our Lord’s garment. They fear that the Catholic veneration of relics may find support in the practice of the Gentile woman, and therefore either endeavor to construe our Lord’s words to the woman into a reproof [Alford], or they ascribe it to our Lord’s clemency that he tolerated some sinfulness and error in the Gentile woman [Calvin]. Even if the present passage could thus be explained away, how would the foregoing writers explain Acts 19:12 ff., where God works miracles by means of the handkerchiefs and aprons of St. Paul? Is not the view of St. Hilary [in 1.], that Jesus gave his garment the power to heal those that should touch it with faith, even as God gives to the magnet the power to attract iron,—is not this view more satisfactory and to the point than the evasive comments of the Protestant writers?

The first gospel proceeds again by way of summary in the account of our Lord’s address to the woman; his question, Peter’s answer, the denial of the by-standers are omitted. The consoling word “daughter” occurs as an address only here in the New Testament; the Greek word rendered “hath made thee whole” commonly applies to a spiritual healing, but may here at least imply the spiritual health of the woman [cf. Mk. 5:34; 10:52; Lk. 7:50; 8:48; 17:19; 18:42]. The perfect tense of the Greek text may signify something that happens presently [Meyer, Krüger, liii. 3, 4; Winer, xl. 46; Bäumlein, 527], but it applies more naturally to a past event. Since Jesus attributes the miracle to the faith of the woman, he removes all danger of a belief in the magical power of his garment [Jans.]. The brevity of St. Matthew’s account of the miracle may have been caused by the inclination of the Jewish authorities to attribute our Lord’s miracles to the influence of the evil spirit. The expression “from that hour” is different from the phrase “at that same hour” [Mt. 8:13]. Euthymius remarks that the evangelist does not mean the “hour” or the time when our Lord spoke, but that of the woman’s trustful touching of his garments. Schanz explains “from that hour” as referring rather to the perception of the miracle than to its actual happening.

Mat 9:23  And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the minstrels and the multitude making a rout,
Mat 9:24  He said: Give place, for the girl is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.
Mat 9:25  And when the multitude was put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand. And the maid arose.
Mat 9:26  And the fame hereof went abroad into all that country.

And when Jesus was come. c. The resuscitation of the dead child. The first gospel omits the message concerning the death of the child, of which the other evangelists speak. Funereal music existed not only among the Jews, but also among the Romans and Greeks [cf. Marquardt, v. i. p. 352 ff.]. Lamentation over the dead was known even in the time of the patriarchs [Gen. 50:4; 2 Sam 1:17–20; Sirach 22:6]. Later on we find professional wailing women and mourning musicians [Amos 5:16; 9:16; Josephus B. J. III. ix. 5]. The Talmud is quite precise in its determination of the mourning custom: even the poorest Israelite must have at least two flute-players and a wailing woman at the funeral of his wife. “The multitude making a rout” was composed of these professional mourners; hence it is easily understood how the multitude could be “put forth” without offence.

Our Lord’s words “the girl is not dead, but sleepeth” have induced a number of rationalistic writers to deny the real death of the child [Paul. Michael. Olshausen etc.]; but Jesus used similar language in the case of Lazarus, who had been four days in the grave at the time of our Lord’s arrival, and the evangelist [Jn. 11:11] testifies that “Jesus spoke of his death.” The presence of the mourners, their laughing “him to scorn,” the message sent to Jairus, are so many signs of the real death of the child. The language of Jesus is nevertheless true, because it either expresses what the multitude would have thought of the condition of the girl, if they had known her speedy return to life [Maldonado], or because it signifies that the girl is not dead in the ordinary sense of the word, remaining lifeless till the general resurrection [Theophylact, Dionysius, Cajetan Salmeron]. Jerome adds that “for God all are alive,” and Chrysostom says in the same manner that “in his presence death was nothing but sleep.” This manner of speaking agrees with the command recorded by Mk. and Lk. [5:43; 8:56], that the report of the miracle should not be spread by the parents of the child; for Jesus did not wish to arouse the antagonism of the Pharisees unnecessarily at so early a period, nor did he wish to excite in the multitude an unreasonable desire of having more dead persons resuscitated.

According to Mk. 5:38 f. and Lk. 8:51 Jesus was accompanied by three disciples, Peter, James, and John, and according to Lk. by the child’s parents also, when he entered the apartment of the dead girl; in the first and the second gospel [5:38–40] the entrance into this apartment is distinguished from our Lord’s first entrance into the house, while the third gospel [8:51] is less clear on this distinction. Here, again, our Lord has recourse to outward contact while he performs the miraele; the second gospel has preserved the exact words addressed to the dead child: “Talitha kumi” or “Damsel, arise.” It is here that Jesus exhibits himself for the first time as the lord over life and death [Jn. 5:25], who came that all might have life, and have it more abundantly. The phrase “and the maid arose” calls to mind 4 Kings. 4:31, and prepares the way for Mt. 11:5. Since the fame of this miracle went abroad into all that country, the enemies of Jesus became more inexcusable for their continued opposition.

Finally, the dead child is compared with the Gentile woman in such a manner that the former represents the synagogue, the latter signifies the Gentile world [Hilary, Jerome, Ambrose, Chrysologus, Bede Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Faber Stapulensis, Salmeron, Jansenius, Barradas etc.]. Since the age of the child corresponds with the duration of the woman’s infirmity, it illustrates the coincidence of the greater moral infirmity of the Gentile world with the institution of the Synagogue; when Jesus came to be united to his spouse, the Church, he found the Synagogue dead, just as the daughter of Jairus died in the years of her puberty; the Gentile world is cured of its moral infirmity before the Jews, as the Gentile woman is healed before the dead child; the faith of the Gentile world will cause the faith of the Synagogue and thereby its moral resurrection, just as the faith of the Gentile woman and her miraculous cure strengthened the faith of Jairus and thereby effected the resuscitation of the dead child [cf. Grimm, iii. p. 339 ff.; Knabenbauer].

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A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 91

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2013

At present this post has been edited only through verse 12.

TITLE. Septuagint and Vulgate: A Praise of a Song of David.


ARG. THOMAS. That CHRIST, returning as Conqueror from hell, trod under foot the head of the lion and of the perverse dragon. The Voice of CHRIST to the believing people, or the Voice of the Church to CHRIST. This Psalm is therefore to be read with the Gospel of Matthew, where CHRIST is tempted. The Voice of the Church to CHRIST. To be read after the Gospel of Mark, where CHRIST is tempted. To be read with the Gospel of John, concerning the Victory of Christ. The Voice of the Church to the Lord. A Prayer in the night-season.

VEN. BEDE. A praise of a song is the praising of GOD, David should be understood as the Prophet himself. We always oppose this hymn, with pious confidence, to the evil spirits, that they may be overcome by us preferably with that very weapon wherewith they craftily made certain attempts against their Creator.

In the first part the Psalmist declares that every one who is very faithful is fenced with Divine protection. Whoso dwelleth in the help. In the second part, he chants praise to CHRIST, A thousand shall fall beside Thee. Thirdly, they are the words of the FATHER to every faithful one, whom He knows to put most devout trust in Him; promising him defence in this world, and rewards in that which is to come. I will deliver him and bring him to honour.

SYRIAC PSALTER. Of David, concerning Hezekiah the king, that he should be called the Son of David. Spiritually it is said to be touching the victory of CHRIST, and of every one who is perfected by Him.

S. ATHANASICS. A Psalm for meditation.


If you desire, writes S. Athanasius to Marcellinus, to stablish yourself and others in devotion, to know what confidence is to be reposed in GOD, and what makes the mind fearless, you will praise GOD by reciting the ninetieth (ninety-first) Psalm.* Accordingly, (Dinysius) we most fitly employ it at Compline as a defence against the snares of the night and the manifold temptations of the evil spirits. And when we do sing it devoutly at that time, we shall often taste its power and sweetness, wherewith it so wondrously and pleasantly abounds. The immediate occasion of the Psalm is not so easily ascertained as its spiritual meaning. (Parez) Some Rabbinical authorities treat it as a part of the preceding one, while others, more numerous, agreeing with several modern critics, take it as a post-Captivity Psalm, referring to the return under Ezra, and the perils which beset the exiles from the human and animal foes which had taken possession of their old dwelling-places, while a few are found to accept the view of the Syriac Psalter, (Lorinus) and to explain the poem as a thanksgiving for the deliverance of Hezekiah from the army of Sennacherib. It is the ninetieth Psalm in the LXX. and Vulgate,* and the mystical import of the number which they give is that ninety, being the product of ten and nine, signifies the number of the faithful who suffer tribulation here, and who shall be made equal to the angels in blessedness, on receiving the crown of life, because ten signifies the denarius, or penny given by the LORD of the vineyard to the labourers, and nine is the sum of the grades in the angelic hierarchy.

1 Whoso dwelleth under the defence of the Most High: shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Whoso. This first word denotes that the promise is a universal one (Bellarmine); as though the Prophet were saying, Whosoever he be, rich or poor, learned or ignorant, noble or churl, young or old, it matters not, for GOD accepteth no man’s person, but is rich unto all them that call upon Him. And whereas we may dwell in a place, and yet be restless and unquiet there, the Hebrew here is sitteth, implying tranquillity and perseverance. Further, the word here translated defence, and in LXX. and Vulgate help, is more exactly, as in A. V., the secret place, a phrase not only denoting its perfect security, but also that it is no visible earthly tower, but an invisible fortress, which faith alone can find and enter. Yet the word help is not without its lesson, for it teaches us that devout and firm trust in GOD does not make man’s thought and labour superfluous, but rather stimulates them, in the hope of success through such mighty co-operation. Fitly, too, is the title Most High here applied to GOD our defence, because from His lofty throne He beholdeth all the dwellers upon earth, so that no peril of ours escapes His sight, and also because being supreme in majestic power, He is able to deliver us from them all. Shall abide, or, with A. V.* margin, shall lodge, that is, shall pass the night, the whole season of darkness and peril, of trouble and doubt, safely under the shadow of the clouds of the glory of God, as the Chaldee paraphrase expands the latter clause (i.e., the Babylonian Targum). The Almighty, שַׁדַּי, is translated by LXX. and Vulgate the God of heaven. It is He who thus receives, as it were under the shelter of His roof (LeBlanc), to lodge there, the suppliant who ventures to sit down at the door of His secret place as a temporary shelter, but who is soon taught that a FATHER’S home is open to him. We may learn, remarks S. Bernard, in the beginning of his commentary on this Psalm,* who he is who dwelleth under the help of the Most High, by noting who they are that do not dwell there. You will find three sorts of them: those who do not hope, those who despair, and those who hope in vain. The first are such as either trust in their own strength and possessions, or as have cooled in their early zeal, and think that GOD has no more good things to bestow; the second those who think only of their own weakness, not of GOD’S might, and therefore make no resistance against temptation; and the third are those who forget GOD’S justice, and relying on His mercy, continue in sin. The first of these dwells in his own merits, the second in his chastisements, the third in his vices. (Cardinal Hugo) The dwelling of the first is sordid, that of the second disquieted, that of the third foolish and perilous. With these we may contrast all holy souls, but especially her whom GOD chose as the helpmeet for Himself, the Most High, in working out the salvation of mankind by His Incarnation, to whom it was said by the Angel, “The HOLY GHOST shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (Lk 1:35). Note, too (Honorius), that the Holy Trinity is declared to us in this verse: the FATHER, Who is the Most High; the SON, His help in the work of redemption, as it is said in another Psalm (Ps 89:19), “I have laid help upon one that is mighty;” the HOLY GHOST, Who is that shadow of the Almighty which brooded over Blessed Mary.

2 I will say unto the LORD, Thou art my hope, and my stronghold: my GOD, in him will I trust.

The sudden change of persons here (not the only one in the Psalm) may be accounted for in two ways,* neither of which excludes the other. The Psalmist begins with a general reflection on the blessedness of trust in GOD; and kindled by the thought, applies it personally to his own spiritual needs, and bursts out with a direct address;* and, further, the whole composition may very probably have been designed as an anthem for two or three voices in public worship, the solo parts being all in the first person.* In fact the Chaldee does make the Psalm a dialogue between David and Solomon with a chorus. But the LXX., Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate tide over the difficulty by reading the first word of the verse in the third person. He will say, which is not very unlike S. Jerome’s saying. This he will say as a thanksgiving, making acknowledgment to the LORD and His mercy for His twofold help (St Bernard). For every one who is still dwelling in GOD’S help, is not yet in the kingdom, often needs to flee, and sometimes falls, but he is not dashed down, because the LORD is his taker-up (Vulg.) so that he rises stronger when he falls. Let the faithful soul, then, say unto the LORD, Thou art my taker-up. All things can say, Thou art my Creator; the very beasts can say, “Thou art my Shepherd;” all men may say, “Thou art my Redeemer,” but only he who dwells under the help of the Most High can say, Thou art my taker-up, or my hope, or again, my refuge (A. V.) Observe, too, that the Psalmist continues, my refuge (Vulg.) and my GOD. We have herein three blessings bestowed by GOD, past, present, and future, for which thanksgiving is made unto Him (Cardinal Bellarmine). First, is His unspeakable mercy, whereby He lifts up man fallen into sin, and sinking further to hell; next, that when GOD justifies a sinner, He does not at once transfer him to heaven, where are no perils, but places him in the array of His warrior soldiers, yet, if he trust in the LORD, the LORD in turn will be a sure bulwark for him in all temptations. Thirdly, comes the greatest of all the blessings, And My God. For GOD is the Supreme Good (St Bernard), and He will be our GOD when we see Him as He is. And why, seeing that it is so, do we not find our GOD, but my GOD written here? Because in creation, in redemption, and other general bounties, He is GOD of all; but His elect, each one of them, have Him for their very own in all their temptations, for so ready is He to lift up the falling, and deliver the fugitive, that it seems as though He quitted all the others to help that one alone. Note, too, that it is said, I will trust, not, I have trusted, or, I do trust; because here the speaker makes a vow, a resolve, and fixes his intention to persevere.

3 For he shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunter: and from the noisome pestilence.

The hunter. Are we then beasts? Truly so, for “man will not abide in honour (St Bernard), seeing he may be compared unto the beasts that perish” (Ps 49:12). Men are beasts, straying sheep, having no shepherd. And who are the hunters? Evil and wicked ones, most crafty and cruel, hunters who do not sound a horn, lest they should be heard, but “privily shoot at him that is perfect” (Ps 64:4). They are the rulers of the darkness of this world. Now that we know the hunters and the beasts, we must inquire what is the snare. The Apostle will show it to us, for he knoweth the thoughts of these hunters, “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare” (1 Tim 6:9). Are the riches of this world, then, the devil’s snare? Alas! how few we find, who rejoice in being delivered from such a snare, how many that grieve because they think themselves too little enmeshed, (Augustine) and strive with all their might to involve and entangle themselves therein! The devil and his angels set their snares, but men who walk in CHRIST walk far from such snares. For Satan does not lay a snare in CHRIST, he sets it all around the way, but not on the way. Let CHRIST be thy way, and thou shalt not fall into the snare of the devil. Go not to left or right, but keep in the straight road, and thou shalt avoid the traps on either side. There are many snares which the hunters lay for us besides riches. The reward of honours, says a Saint, the height of power (St Ambrose), the delicacy of diet, and the beauty of an harlot, are the devil’s snares:

The close pursuers’ busy hands do plant
Snares in thy substance; snares attend thy want;*
Snares in thy credit, snares in thy disgrace;
Snares in thy high estate, snares in thy base;
Snares tuck thy bed, and snares surround thy board;
Snares watch thy thoughts, and snares attack thy word;
Snares in thy quiet, snares in thy commotion;
Snares in thy diet, snares in thy devotion;
Snares lurk in thy resolves, snares in thy doubt;
Snares lurk within thy heart, and snares without;
Snares are above thy head, and snares beneath;
Snares in thy sickness, snares are in thy death.
Oh! if these purlieus be so full of danger,
Great GOD of hearts, the world’s sole sovereign ranger,
Preserve Thy deer; and let my soul be blest
In Thy safe forest, where I seek for rest:
Then let the hell-hounds roar. I fear no ill,
Rouse me they may, but have no power to kill.

And so they tell of a favourite stag which belonged to an emperor (Cardinal Bellarmine), that it ranged safely about, because it bore on its neck a collar with the inscription, “I am Cæsar’s, touch me not” (Pseudo-Jerome?). They bid us observe how the word hunter is nearly always used in a bad sense in Scripture, citing as special examples Nimrod (St Bonaventure), Ishmael, and Esau, while fisher is mostly in a good sense. (Ayguan) And we are seasonably reminded of those hunters who sought after the life of CHRIST (Cardinal Hugo), endeavouring to entangle Him in His speech, but vainly, because Eternal Wisdom delivered Him out of their snares. Cardinal Hugo sums up the points in which evil spirits and wicked men resemble hunters, as follows:

Ars, cornu, virus, equus, arcus, pallida vestis,
Decipulæ, laqueus, retia, tela, canes.

Skill, bugle, poison, steed, bow, raiment pale,
Decoys, snare, nets, shafts, dogs, make up the tale.

That is, they are crafty, they summon their companions to help them: whisperers, and panderers, and evil advisers of men are the bugle round the devil’s neck, wherewith he sends out his voice: they poison their arrows with evil suggestions: the horse denotes the pride of the flesh; the bow denotes legal subtilty; the pale dress, worn to avoid scaring the prey, signifies the way in which the devil adapts himself so as not to startle his intended booty too soon; the decoys, snares, and nets, are his various artifices; the shafts and darts are temptations; and the dogs, slanderers. And if we bear in mind that hunters lay snares for wild beasts, not for tame and domesticated ones, we shall know that it is only when we follow our own way, and are not GOD’S servants, that we are in any peril from them. And from the noisome pestilence. That pestilence is the epidemic of sin, not personal and individual only, but the general frailty of mankind, and the vices which at any given time are current and lightly regarded (De Muis). It has been taken literally of the plague sent when David numbered the people, and by those who date the Psalm in the time of Hezekiah, as referring to the destruction of Sennacherib’s army. But the Vulgate rendering, nearly identical with that of LXX., is from the harsh word. This they explain diversely (Augustine). Many take it of the threats and jeers (St Bruno), or flatteries, used to force or tempt innocent persons into sin; others of the blasphemies of heretics and infidels. S. Bernard, explaining it of the cry of hell for more prey, reminds us of that harsh word, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him” (jn 19:15), which the LORD bore for us, that He might save us from a yet harsher word, “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire” (Mt 25:42), an explanation which brings us back to the deepest meaning of noisome pestilence.

4 He shall defend thee under his wings, and thou shalt be safe under his feathers: his faithfulness and truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

The verse tells us of the continuance of the divine protection (Cardinal Bellarmine), for it does as it were say, Whilst thou art young, and no match for thine enemies, He will cherish thee under His wings, as the eagle or the hen cherishes her young; but when thou art grown, and able for combat, He will give thee a strong shield that will keep thee unwounded. In Holy Writ GOD is compared to two birds, the eagle and the hen. We read in Deuteronomy, “As an eagle fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings, so the LORD alone did lead him” (Deut 32:11): and this denotes CHRIST the LORD in His strength and terrors before the Incarnation. But under the milder Gospel dispensation, where He appears as Man, we find Him saying, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings” (Mt 23:37). Under these wings we are safe from sun and storm, and from the wheeling hawk. (Augustine) When we see swallows, sparrows, and storks flying in the air, away from their nests, we cannot tell whether they have young, but we know the parent hen by the weak anxious cry, by the lowering of her plumage; she is wholly changed through her love for her chickens, because they are weak, she makes herself weak also. And because we are weak, the Wisdom of GOD became weak, for “the WORD was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14), that we might trust under His wings (Honorius). They explain these wings in several ways, as the two Testaments, the two precepts of the Gospel, the mercy and justice of GOD; but better than all is that lovely thought which sees in them the arms of CHRIST extended on the Cross (Cardinal Hugo), to shelter the nations from the heat and glare of sin, from the foul birds of prey that are ever hovering in the air. These are the wings in which there is healing, whereof the Prophet speaks (Mal 3:20, or 4:2 in some versions). With this accords that wonderful vision of S. Francis,* when he beheld a great figure as of a Seraph, with extended arms and conjoined feet, as though fixed to a Cross, and with six wings, two elevated above the head, two extended for flight, and two veiling the body; or, as the form of the vision given by S. Bonaventura runs, the form of the Crucified Himself appeared borne within the wings of the Seraph, and the stigmata of the Passion there beheld made themselves visible in the body of the Saint. The feathers will in this case denote the separate details (Honorius), the single sorrows, which in their aggregate made up the Passion of CHRIST; while if we look only at His Divine aspect, they may signify the Angel guard ever hovering around Him, and employed by Him as ministers for the protection of mankind.

His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. The LXX. and Vulgate differ a little from this, reading, His truth shall encircle thee. The word translated encircle is, however, a noun from a root סָחַר having that meaning, and probably here stands for a coat of mail, a rendering which avoids the mere repetition of the clause in English (see St Athanasius). The truth of Him Who never lies, observes a great Saint, is a mighty shield. That Truth is CHRIST, and His shield is the Cross (Cardinal Bellarmine), circled with which we are bold in every combat, and put every enemy to flight (1 Macc 6:39-41). This is the shield of Faith, which the Apostle bids us take (Eph 6:16), that we may therewith quench all the fiery darts of the enemy. This is that shield of gold which, when the sun shines upon it, makes the mountains glisten, and shine like lamps of fire (St Bernard). “And the grace of divine protection is not inaptly compared to a shield, because it is large and wide in the upper part, so as to guard the head and shoulders, but below it is narrower, so as to lessen its weight, and because the legs are more slender than the body, and less easily wounded, so that there is not so much danger of a wound there. In this wise CHRIST gives His soldiers for the protection of their lower part, that is, their flesh, narrowness and scantiness of temporal things, nor would have them weighed down by the abundance of such matters, but that having food and raiment, as saith the Apostle,* we should be content therewith; but in higher things He gives greater breadth, and abundance of spiritual grace.” (L.) This is the shield which is better than that one of the warrior Myrtilus, which saved him from such dissimilar perils:

εἰν ἑνί κινδύνους ἔφυγον δύω Μύρτιλος ὅπλῳ,*
τὸν μὲν ἀριστεύσας, τὸν δʼ ἐπινηξάμενος•
ἀργεστὴς ὅτʼ ἔδυσε νεὼς τρόπιν, ἀσπίδα δʼ εἶχον
σωθεὶς κεκριμένην ὕδατι καὶ πολέμῳ.

One weapon in two perils rescued me,
Once as I fought, once as I swam the sea,
When the white squall the ship’s keel sank, my shield
Delivered me; thus proved by flood and field.

5 Thou shalt not be afraid for any terror by night: nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 For the pestilence that walketh in darkness: nor for the sickness that destroyeth in the noon-day.

Under these four heads all the perils of mortal life,* at every time, are included. For the Hebrew division of the day and night was into four parts; the evening, midnight, morning, and mid-day (Theodoret). And perils themselves are classed under two main heads, secret ones, denoted by the dangers of the night; and open ones, which assail us as it were by day. And they are yet again classed in a different fashion by the commentators, according as they treat them as external to the soul, or arising within it. (Augustine) Thus the sins in the night are those of ignorance, those in the day are conscious and wilful, and are therefore spoken of in more forcible terms. The lesser sins of ignorance, the terrors by night, match with the lesser sins of knowledge, the arrow that flieth by day, while the grosser ones pair off likewise, the pestilence that only walketh in the darkness being thus contrasted with the sickness that actually slayeth in the noon-day. So the four phrases may also be taken of the varying methods of persecution employed against the Church by Pagan tyrants, from the threats and blandishments employed against imperfect Christians, easily diverted from the Faith by hope or fear, and not thoroughly knowing the gravity of such a fall, to the actual violence used against fully-matured converts. The original law of persecution, which simply ordained the penalty of death against such as confessed themselves Christians, was the arrow by day. But when the craft and cruelty of the heathen waxed greater, then was fulfilled the LORD’S parable touching those who received the seed of the Word in stony places, “and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root they withered away” (Mt 13:6, 21), lacking the firm root of Charity. And this heat of persecution blazed out when the new rule was ordained that any one confessing Christianity should no longer be put to death at once, but tortured till he recanted and denied CHRIST. This was the demon of the noonday (LXX., Vulg.) which was so especially successful in the Decian persecution, wherein, unlike those which preceded and followed it, care was taken to have altars, images and incense ready at hand in the court, that the accused might be seduced or tempted into sudden apostasy, without having time to fortify their resolution. There is much more force in the LXX. and Vulgate rendering of the first clause of the sixth verse than in the English, by reason of the very vagueness of the word they use, the THING (πράγματος, negotio) that walketh in darkness, a term suggestive of formless dread, more terrible than anything which takes definite shape. (Cassiodorus) But the majority of both Greek and Latin expositors read it as meaning business, as something done with forethought and diligence, whence several take it to be the dogmas of heresy (St Bonaventure), or the deliberate fraud of hypocrites, while the demon of the noonday is either any audacious aggressor who does not condescend to cloak his violence, or Satan when he transforms himself into an Angel of light (2 Cor 11:14), as he did when tempting the Redeemer under the pretext of enabling Him to prove His mission. And in this sense, one who reminds us of the light and heat of noonday observes: Light pertains to discretion, and warmth to devotion. The demons, then, come to us with light and splendour, when they assure us, and strive to persuade us, that what we do at their crafty suggestion will be not merely wise (st Nilus, Eusebius) but pious. Again, whereas in hot countries the noontide is a period of repose and cessation from labour, the demon of the noonday is sloth, which goes on to ruin (LXX., Vulg.) by its temptations to lust, the true child of languid self-indulgence after the mid-day meal (st John Chrysostom).  A further exposition of S. John Chrysostom, who follows the usual typology of night and day as denoting adversity and prosperity. The terrors of the night of trouble are those things which have no real power to hurt, such as slander and reviling, more dangerous to him that utters than to him who is assailed, unless he by fearing and magnifying them gives them power against himself. The arrow by day is the far more perilous flattery, which begets pride and self-conceit. The thing which walketh in darkness signifies the real calamities and persecutions deliberately planned by evil men against the righteous, while the demon of the noonday means any great crime into which wealth and power tempt men to fall.* S. Bernard’s gloss is not very remarkable. He takes the terror of the night to be cowardice; the arrow, vain glory; the thing in darkness, ambition or avarice; the demon of the noon-day, as above, temptation to evil under the pretext of good. (Parez) Better than this is the view which sees here the four stages of sin; first, the secret thought, in the night of the heart; secondly, the resolve to sin, a walking in the twilight, drawing men on to the day of action; then the arrow, hastily and secretly shot,* the first rapid commission of the sin, not yet deadly, but capable of being drawn out in time; and then the demon of the noonday, when the hardened offender makes no attempt to disguise his guilt, but openly glories in it. Again,* the terrors of the night may well denote evil demons, and the fear of death; while the perils of the day refer to more tangible objects of dread. Finally, (Bruno of Aste) applying the whole passage to the sufferings of our Blessed LORD, they remind us how He was taken by night, and shot at by day (Gen 49:23). For the Jews shot at Him with their arrows, and sorely grieved Him, when they cried “Crucify Him, crucify Him;” the thing in darkness was the secret council of the Pharisees held by night against Him; and the demon of the noon-day was when the mad populace, instigated by Satan, dragged Him to Calvary, for it was the sixth hour when they crucified Him.

7 A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee.

There are three different views put forward as to the noun to be supplied after a thousand. (Cardinal Bellarmine)  It may be the arrows, (Euthymius Zigabenus) shot in vain against the shield of GOD, or the enemies (Theodoret), routed with heavy loss, (Augustine) or the fellow soldiers of the heaven-guarded warrior. All three will hold, and yield a satisfactory meaning, although the last seems to have the most weight on its side. They raise the question why we find in the first clause only beside thee, and not at thy left hand, which is the obvious sense, and is supplied by the Chaldee. Some will have it that the left (Arnobius), as denoting the mere human power of resistance, the free-will of man, is unworthy to be specially named, when we are speaking of the grace of GOD, which guards us on the right, so that the just man has, mystically,* two right sides, and none given over to evil, which the left or sinister term denotes. And this notion is enforced by Eusebius,* who explains the Psalm of CHRIST, and says that the word left is purposely omitted, lest we should suppose any defect to exist in Him. The most ancient gloss on the verse now extant is found in the Apostolical Constitutions,* where it is cited as referring to the conversion of the Gentiles, but this does not seem to have commended itself to later expositors. (Augustine) That which S. Augustine and Cassiodorus adopt is to see here two classes of persons who will be disappointed in the Day of Judgment in their hopes of salvation, the thousand being those who hoped to be assessors at CHRIST’S side in His tribunal, the ten thousand those who looked for a place at His right hand in reward for alms-deeds, but who shall not come nigh to Him at all. But there is no clear contrast in this exposition, nor any adequate account of the difference of numbers. (St Bruno the Carthusian) Far better than this is the explanation that ten thousand temptations come in time of prosperity, denoted by the right hand, while but a tenth of the number assail us in adversity; but neither can come near him who trusts in GOD, near enough to win his consent and prevail against him. This explanation agrees with the first of the three views named above, for temptations are the arrows, but S. Bernard applies the same notion of the greater peril of prosperity to the third interpretation,* saying that many more persons fall into sin and ruin by means of wealth and power than do so in time of adversity; though in his commentary on this Psalm he gives a completely different exposition, taking the thousand on the left to be men jealous of the temporal wealth of the righteous, and the ten thousand on the right,* evil spirits warring against all spiritual well-being. Hence he takes occasion to remind us that CHRIST’S spear-wound was on the right side, to teach us that thence alone should we drink, there only seek a refuge; while men have their heart on the left side, denoting their preference for earthly things, and bear their shields on the left arm, in token of their anxiety to protect their temporal belongings, whereas the true soldier of CHRIST will be more anxious to guard the right hand side.  Parez brings us back to the notion cited from the Apostolical Constitutions, and takes the passage of the victory of the Apostles in effecting conversions, a thousand on the left denoting the temporal ruin of the unbelieving Jews, close at CHRIST’S side in kindred and country, but who shall not come nigh Him in His true Country; ten thousand, the far greater company of the Gentiles, smitten down from their idolatry, and placed first as captives and then as conquerors at the right hand of the SAVIOUR. And of such differences as these, between the temporal things denoted by the left hand, and the spiritual by the right, there was a type of old in the songs of the Hebrew maidens after the great battle in which Goliath fell, when they cried “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Sam 18:7).

8 Yea, with thine eyes shalt thou behold: and see the reward of the ungodly.

That is,* not only will no single one of all those hosts of enemies be able to reach thee, but thou shalt see their total overthrow, as a mere spectator from a place of safety (Agellius), while GOD Himself fights for thee, suffering them to come only just so near as to afford a distinct sight of their ruinous defeat. So Moses spake of old to the children of Israel: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will show you to-day; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Ex 14:13). And again, when the confederate hosts of Ammon and Moab came up against Jehoshaphat, almost the same words were used by the prophet Jahaziel:* “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem, and fear not, nor be dismayed; to-morrow go ye out against them; for the LORD will be with you” (2 Chron 20:17). In like manner the Christian Church beheld the ruin of her Jewish and Pagan enemies without any effort of her own, (Parez) and those who abide patiently shall see at the Last Day the overthrow of all forms of evil which seemed too strong for them in this world; (Augustine) while, if we apply the words to the Head rather than to the members, we shall explain them as meaning that He will behold with His eyes the secrets of all hearts (St Albert Magnus), and cause the universe to see the reward which He brings upon the ungodly.

9 For thou, LORD, art my hope: thou hast set thine house of defence very high.

There is a difficulty raised by most of the expositors as to the connection between the clauses of this verse (Cardinal Bellarmine, Agellius), because of the word thine in the last hemistich, which seems to them inappropriate to GOD or to CHRIST even as Man, Who cannot need a defence in the highest, seeing He is Highest already, albeit the Arians cited this text against the Catholics. But there seems no absolute necessity for any such distribution of the verse as makes the second thou refer to the righteous man who dwelleth under the defence of the Most High. For a refuge which GOD provides is His (St Bruno the Carthusian), not ours, except in so far as it is a gift to us, and the meaning may thus be that He has planted His city of refuge (which some take to be the Cross of CHRIST) so high on the Rock that all may see it, (Dionysius) and strive upwards towards it, but none come near to attack its citizens. And as the word art is not in the Hebrew, we may translate with Aquila and Symmachus, Thou, Lord, my Hope, hast set Thine house most high, which is also the sense of the Chaldee and Syriac. But the A. V., LXX., and most modern critics, who take the word עֶלְיו̇ן as the title of GOD Himself, the Most High, (τὸν ὕψιστον) and not as a mere epithet of His dwelling place, do require the verse to be read in two independent clauses, as addressed to different persons; and this is the sense followed by most expounders of the Vulgate, although its rendering, Altissimum, is ambiguous. The first strophe of the verse is thus sung by a solo voice, and the second is the response of the choir to the singer, congratulating him on his choice of GOD as his hope, and narrating some of the benefits of it. Some few, however, though accepting Most High as the title of GOD, make no break in the verse, but address it all to Him, saying: Thou hast made Thy Refuge, that SAVIOUR Who is the one hope of sinners, that Man in Whom the Godhead dwelt, (Remigius) Most High (Honorius), being a Name above every name, being Co-equal with the FATHER (St Albert Magnus). This comes to nearly the same as the most exact rendering, and fits in with that saying of S. Bernard on the passage;* that the soul whose hope is GOD, and not merely in GOD, can be satisfied with nothing save Himself, and does not want, like Peter, to make Him a tabernacle on earth, nor like Mary Magdalene, merely to touch His feet here, but to clasp Himself for ever.* The Acts of S. Afra tell us how she hoped for Him, how she set her house of defence in the Most High. “Gaius the Judge said, ‘Go up to the Capitol, and sacrifice.’ Afra answered: ‘CHRIST is my Capitol, Whom I have before mine eyes: to Him I daily confess my sins and wickedness. And because I am unworthy to offer sacrifice to Him, I desire to sacrifice myself for His Name, that the body wherein I have sinned may be cleansed as it suffers punishment.’ Gaius the Judge said, ‘As I hear thou art a harlot, sacrifice, because thou hast nought to do with the GOD of Christians.’ Afra answered: ‘My LORD JESUS CHRIST hath said that He came down from heaven for sinners. For His Gospels bear witness that a harlot washed His feet with her tears, and received pardon; and He never despised harlots and publicans, for He even suffered them to eat with Him.’ ”

10 There shall no evil happen unto thee: neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

Herein we have a twofold promise, first that sin (Cardinal Bellarmine), the one evil thing, shall not touch the Saint of GOD; and next that the plague (LXX. and Vulg. scourge,) or chastisement for sin, shall not come nigh his tabernacle, (LXX. and Vulg.) But as in the case of David we know that the evil of sin did happen to him in most grievous fashion, and that heavy scourges were inflicted on him and his house because of it, they ask how this promise can have been fulfilled in his case, or in that of the countless other servants of GOD who have fallen into the mire of pollution. The answer is twofold: that the promise belongs to the next world, not to this; but has regard only to the “blessed necessity of sinlessness” in heaven; or, as this is hardly comfort enough for those who are sorely beset here, they tell us, that although Saints are not promised absolute immunity from sin, yet by Divine Providence their very sins are turned into agencies for their good, to make them humbler, more watchful, more penetrated with the love of GOD, as confessing that they owe so very much to His grace and mercy, and that the scourge of temporal punishment which He may be pleased to send upon them is scarcely felt by them, because they dwell in the tabernacle of devout and penitent contemplation, and accept His fatherly chastisement as the earnest of future glory, saying with the Apostle: “I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation” (2 Cor 7:4). So, too, in the sufferings of the martyrs, (Parez) the scourges and tortures of the persecutors could neither avail to overthrow that tabernacle of the Church Militant whereof they were the valiant and faithful guards, nor yet, while destroying their bodies, could they reach or harm those pure souls in which the HOLY GHOST was pleased to tabernacle.

Applying this verse to the LORD JESUS, the King of Martyrs, they remind us that though no evil, no taint of sin could by any possibility touch Him, (Ayguan) yet He was scourged, and crucified, and done to death for us, and nevertheless, by rising again from the dead, He reassumed His Divine properties of impassibility and immortality, so that no temporal evil could touch Him any more.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee in their hands: that thou hurt not thy foot against a stone.

This is the passage, famous for evermore in the spiritual history of man, as that wherewith the Tempter vainly essayed to delude the Redeemer of mankind. And yet, as S. Thomas Aquinas points out (Summa. 1, cxiii. 4), he showed his ignorance even more than his craft, since the LORD JESUS hath no need of the guardianship of Angels, seeing that He is Himself their strength and stay, “upholding all things by the Word of His power” (Heb 1:3); and that even in His mortal condition, He was not tended by any guardian Angel, but supported by the union of the Eternal Wisdom with His human nature in one Person. Wherefore, by the almost general consent of the greatest Christian saints and doctors, we may not interpret this passage directly of the LORD JESUS Himself, but only of those members whose Head He is. But to us, as to the Jewish Church, the passage speaks of that special Providence of GOD whereby He entrusts each one of us to the care of a particular guardian angel (Dan 10:13) while He sets yet mightier spirits over whole nations of the earth. Each one of us, observes Origen, even the least in the Church of GOD (Origen), has beside him a good angel, an angel of the LORD, to rule, to move, to direct him, and who, to amend our doings (St Hieronymous), and to ask for mercies on our behalf, daily seeth the face of our FATHER which is in heaven. Great is the dignity of souls (St Bernard), comments another Father, in that each has from the beginning of its nativity an angel appointed for its guard. O wonderful condescension, exclaims S. Bernard, and truly great tenderness of love! who is it that hath given charge, to whom is the charge given, concerning what person, and what is the charge itself? It is the Supreme Majesty Who hath given charge to His own angels, those exalted and happy beings ever abiding closest to Himself, as His peculiar servants, and that charge concerning thee. Who art thou? “What is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou visitest him?” (Ps 8:4) Just as though man were not corruption, and the son of man a worm. What thinkest thou is His charge concerning thee? to keep thee. What reverence ought this phrase to inspire in thee, what devotion ought it to bring thee, what confidence bestow on thee! Reverence for the angel’s presence, devoutness for his good-will, confidence for his safeguard. Walk heedfully, as one with whom the angels are present, as is commanded thee, in all thy ways. In every lodging, in every corner, show reverence for thine angel (St Bernard). Dare not aught when he is present, which thou wouldest not dare in my sight. What then means in all thy ways? There are many ways, many kinds of ways, great peril to the wayfarer. How readily may he who lacks knowledge of the ways err in his road where many ways meet! For GOD hath not given His angels charge to keep us in all ways, but in all our ways. Let us imagine then what are our ways, what are the ways of evil spirits, what those of blessed spirits, and what are the ways of the LORD. The ways of the sons of Adam are occupied in need and longing, the one driving, the other dragging us on. The ways of the evil ones are presumption and obstinacy, and the four steps of descent by which we may fall into these ways are self-flattery, self-ignorance, self-excuse, and contempt of rebuke. The ways of the holy angels are simply told, and that by the Only-Begotten, saying, “Ye shall see the angels of GOD ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (Jn 1:51). They ascend for their own sakes, in contemplation; they descend for our sakes, in compassion. And of His own ways we read, “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth” (Ps 25:10). To these ways the angels conform themselves, to mercy when they help us, to truth when they seek to know more of Him. And we can imitate them too, making them our own, showing mercy on our own souls by penitence, and our regard for truth by confession of sin. Here our need and longing will find their satisfaction, and the angels will not remove us out of our ways, but keep us in them, making those ways to become first their own, and then GOD’S. And that is the meaning for us of that Eucharistic bidding, “Lift up your hearts.” And note that the word ways is emphatic, for the road of sin, or any place where no duty brings us, is not a way, but a precipice, where the angels are not charged to keep us at all. It is no way, but a ruin; and even if a way, it is thine, not His. They compass us about, unseen, though mighty, with horses and chariots of fire, as they did Elisha in Dothan (2 kings 6:17), they act as our deputies in prayer, as the suggestors of holy thoughts to our waking, and even our sleeping minds. So a devout servant of GOD says in a hymn endeared to countless thousands:

O may my Guardian, while I sleep,
Close to my bed his vigils keep;*
His love angelical instil;
Stop all the avenues of ill.

May he celestial joys rehearse,
And thought to thought with me converse,
Or in my stead, all the night long
Sing to my GOD a grateful song.

They discharge other duties besides these towards us. First (Dionysius), they remove obstacles out of our path: “I will send an angel before thee, and will drive out the Canaanite” (Ex 33:2). Secondly, they allay our trials: “The angel of the LORD came down into the oven together with Azarias and his fellows, and smote the flame of the fire out of the oven” (Dan 3:49). Thirdly, they help us against visible foes: “The Angel of the LORD smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred and fourscore and five thousand” (Isa 37:36). Fourthly, they present our prayers and alms before GOD, and pray in their turn for us: “I did bring the remembrance of your prayers before the Holy One” (2 Kings 19:35). Fifthly, they guide us in the way: “The good angel will keep him company, and his journey shall be prosperous, and he shall return safe” (Tobit 12:12, 5:21). Sixthly, they teach us our duty, and that at times by chastisement, as Gabriel dealt with Zacharias (Lk 1:19, 20, 28). Seventhly, they reveal themselves and GOD’S secrets, as the same Gabriel did for S. Mary, and Raphael for Tobit. Eighthly (Tobit 12:15), they ward us from sin: “Then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city” (Gen 19:15). Ninthly, they urge us to zeal in GOD’S service: “And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, saying, Arise, and eat” (1 Kings 19:7 Tenthly, they rebuke us for sin: “And an angel of the LORD said, Ye have not obeyed my voice; why have ye done this?” (judges 2:1-2)

That there is a special angel entrusted with the guardianship of each person (Ps 34:7), over and above that camping of the heavenly hosts around the righteous of which we read in another Psalm, is a conclusion which Origen draws from the words of those who said, when S. Peter, loosed from prison, knocked at their door, “It is his angel” (Acts 12:15): whence he argues that S. Paul must have had another angel, and so the remaining apostles and brethren. And a similar conclusion is drawn from the words of Jacob, “The angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads” (Gen 48:16). S. Basil the Great alleges that guardian angels attend only the righteous, and can be driven away from their post by the sins of their charge. “The angel of the LORD,” says he, “will encamp round about each believer in the LORD, unless we put him to flight by our evil deeds. For as smoke drives bees away, and a fetid smell banishes doves, so lamentable and fetid sin repels the angel of our life.” And he enforces this statement in another place by citing the words of the prophet, “I will take away her hedge,” which he interprets as a threat to remove the angel-guard. And S. Peter Damiani inclines to the view that the commencement of this watch over us dates not from our birth, but from our baptism. But the more general opinion is that already given, that every human soul has its particular angel, if not two angels, a good and an evil one, in continual attendance on it. Both these views are found in heathen writers, and a few examples may not be out of place. In the Orphic verses we read:

δαίμονά τʼ ἠγάθεον, καὶ δαίμονα πήμονα θνητῶν.*

The dæmon good, the dæmon ill of men.

Censorinus quotes Euclid, the Socratic philosopher,* and Lucilius, as both holding this view, and it will also be found in the notes of Servius on the Æneid.

The more common pagan view, however, is the same as the usual Christian one, that there is but one genius to each person, and that one favourable.

ἅπαντι δαίμων ἀνδρὶ συμπαρίσταται
εὐθὺς γενομένῳ,* μυσταγωγὸς τοῦ βιοῦ

By every man, as he is born, there stands
A spirit good, a holy guide of life.

And Epictetus, rivalling, as is usual with him, the tone of Christian thought, observes in language which might almost be that of a Chrysostom or an Ambrose, “GOD has assigned to each individual man a dæmon, as his guardian, and entrusted him to this charge, who never sleeps, and cannot be deceived. For to what stronger or more careful protector could He commit each one of us? Therefore, when you shut the doors, and produce darkness within, remember that you can never say that you are alone, for GOD is within, and is your dæmon.” As regards the two rival angels, it is worthy of mention that this view is as old as the Shepherd of Hermas,* in which it is distinctly laid down.

And an old writer ((Opus Imperfectum) meeting the possible objection that there is thus an absolute equilibrium of force, leaving the human will practically unaffected,* teaches us that the bad angel cannot draw near so long as the good one is present to his sight, but that by GOD’S providence the good one is permitted to become sometimes invisible, in order to allow the other to challenge us to battle, and give us an opportunity of combat and victory, but ready to strike in if we begin to faint.

There is a very curious speculation of Origen as to this matter,* which deserves mention. It is that an evil spirit, when once fairly beaten by any man in a struggle, is not allowed to act as a tempter to him or others any longer, but is compelled to go into the abyss, and therefore that every spiritual victory lessens the number of our ghostly foes, and so far hastens the total overthrow of evil, by thinning the ranks of Satan’s army.

It is unnecessary to do more than refer to the beautiful legend of S. Frances of Rome, who is alleged to have been favoured with actual vision of her guardian angel, seeing him withdraw when she fell into voluntary sin, and return on her repentance; and on one occasion, when she had been called away several times from her prayers, and had resumed them only to meet with fresh interruptions, to have found the petition she had again and again commenced, written in her office-book with letters of gold, by no human hand.

They shall bear thee in their hands.* It ought rather to be on their hands, as the LXX. rightly translates it (Num 11:12), as nurses carry infants (St Bernard). And these hands are the twofold thought they suggest to our minds, the shortness of our trouble here, the eternity of recompense hereafter; or are their understanding and will (Bellarmine). This they do lest men should dash their foot, that is, their affective qualities, and especially love or fear, those two feet of the soul, against any stumbling-block whatsoever, by sinning through either of these. (Cassiodorus) And there are two especial meanings of the stone, on which they lay stress; first, that it denotes the Law, written on tables of stone, a constant stumbling-block to sinners; and next, that it is CHRIST Himself, the chief Corner-stone, for there were and are many who “stumbled at that stumbling-stone; as it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence; and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed” (Rom 9:33). We stumble against this stone whenever we sin against His precepts (St Bernard), or whenever we murmur at Him or are ashamed of Him and of His Cross. But if we be not so, happy are we in our journey, carried by such hands, whether here in our ways, or lifted up at the end of our mortal journey by the same holy guardians into our place of rest. Both these ideas are prominent in the old hymn to the guardian angel:

In each place and time of need
From the foe protect me,
And in thought, and word, and deed,
Evermore direct me.*

Teach, assist me, and incite
To endure temptation,
Guide me in life’s path aright
Till I reach salvation.
When I die, to soothe me speed,
Sweetest comfort giving,
And from every peril freed,
Bring me with the living
Heavenward to the courts of day,
Where, without cessation,
GOD is praised, and where for aye
Is true consolation.
(Salve mi angelice)

Of the LORD Himself, (Augustine) S. Augustine tells us He was borne at His Ascension into Heaven by the ministering of angels, yet that His feet, to wit, His Apostles, by whom He travelled into many lands, were still on earth, liable to stumble against the stony tables of the Law, until such time as they were filled with the HOLY GHOST, to give His grace and love, and to cast out the fear which was the one sanction of the elder code.

13 Thou shalt go upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou tread under thy feet.

There is a tradition of great antiquity in the Christian Church that a particular evil spirit is appointed by Satan to make war against the soul of each human being,* and to thwart, as far as may be, the influence of the guardian angel. It is of victory over demons such as these that the verse especially tells us,* for, as a Saint observes,* the good angel is more ready to keep us in the right way than the evil one to cast us headlong into evil. Strength and violence are denoted by the lion, craft and venom by the adder and dragon.* And then comes in CHRIST’S promise to His disciples, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions,* and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”* Closely allied to this meaning is that which sees in the creatures here named various forms of sin, which men overcome with the help of the angels; (Z.) and a third interpretation, more literally, sees a promise of such protection as was given to Daniel in the den of lions; for CHRIST, the Child who played on the hole of the asp, and put His hand on the cockatrice’* den, can give power like His own to the Saints, as He saith Himself: “In that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground,”* so that will come to pass which Eliphaz the Temanite spake,* “the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.”* The LXX. and Vulgate read as the four names, the asp and basilisk, the lion and dragon.* There is much variety of explanation, beginning with that of S. Irenæus, which is that the asp, erecting and swelling itself, and making men cold with its bite, is sin; the basilisk, or king-serpent, is death, once sovereign over the world; the lion is Antichrist, and the dragon Satan himself.* S. Bernard takes the asp or adder to be obstinacy, stopping its ears against wholesome counsel; the basilisk to be envy, or the evil eye, (referring to the basilisk’s fabled power of fascination;) the lion to be idle fear, excited by mere roaring; the dragon, with its pestilential breath, to be anger. The beasts also signify the four chief persecutions of the Church; first, that of those deaf adders or asps, the unbelieving Jews; secondly, that of heretics, signified by the basilisk; thirdly, the lion-rage of Pagan hostility; fourth, and worst of all, that of Antichrist. But the most usual interpretation is to see here one and the same enemy of souls,* described in fourfold manner,* according to the arts he employs for the injury of mankind, (Cd.) but in each and all, confronted and dismayed by that promise made to the Saints by the voice of the Apostle:* “The GOD of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him up, because he hath known my Name.

Here GOD Himself begins to speak,* and counts up the blessings He hath in store for His faithful servants who love Him. The love of GOD, says a holy servant of His, gives liberty, drives fear away, feels no toil, looks to no merit, asks for no reward, refreshes the weary, strengthens the weak, rejoices the sad, nourishes the hungry, makes the fainting cheerful. And such love has its recompense from Him, for He is not loved without reward,* albeit He ought to be loved without looking for it,* for true affection, though no hireling, can never go away empty-handed. And the reward here promised is deliverance, and that, as the lowest grade in an ascending scale, (C.) from temptations and sorrows here in earth, and from the tyrannous bondage of sin, because just as selfish desire chains us,* so true love sets us free, and when our love is purest, and directed to the highest good, then we attain “the glorious liberty of the children of GOD.”* He does not stop short there, but sets on high (A. V.) out of the reach of enemies, so that no fresh captivity is possible to him that hath known His Name; that is, not its mere syllables, but its saving power, its wisdom, its loving-kindness, with close personal intimacy, knowing GOD as shepherd, friend, and Father; a knowledge whereof the Gospel speaks, “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.”* That Name of JESUS was hallowed from all eternity, prefigured by them of old time, desired by the Prophets, foretold by the holy Fathers,* named by GOD, announced by the Angel, declared by the Blessed Virgin, witnessed to by the Martyrs, praised by the Confessors, foretasted by the Virgins, exalted by all Saints.

If thou but think upon this Name,*
Warlike array is put to shame,*
And thou shalt conqueror be:
Unto this Name be honour paid,
Which evil spirits, sore afraid,
Dread, and before it quail;
This is the Name which brings salvation,
The only certain consolation
To aid when sad hearts fail.

And that we may be assured hereof,* the LORD JESUS Himself, Who alone perfectly loveth and knoweth the FATHER, was delivered by Him from the power of the grave, and set up in the glory of the Resurrection.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will hear him: yea, I am with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and bring him to honour.

The fruit of the knowledge of GOD is a call in prayer,* and the fruit of that call is that the SAVIOUR will hear. How could any be heard that did not call, or how could he call, if he knew not the Name of GOD? Thanks be to Him Who revealed the FATHER’S Name to men, bestowing the fruit of salvation in the act of calling on Him, as it is written, “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the LORD shall be delivered.”* He shall call upon Me, and I will hear him. This is the covenant of peace, this is the league of loving-kindness, this is the pact of mercy and compassion. GOD doth not say: He was worthy, righteous, and good, innocent of hand and pure of heart, and I will therefore deliver, protect, and hear him. Had He said this, or aught like it, who would not be afraid? O blessed law, which hath ordained that the mere cry of praying shall have the merit of being heard.* And now let us see what are the results of this hearing on GOD’S part, either as He heard His well-beloved SON, when “in the days of His flesh He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death,* and was heard,” or as He hears us now when the first loud cry of the prayer that SON taught us,* Our FATHER, pierces through the heavens and reaches His mercy-seat: I am with him in trouble; next, I will deliver him; thirdly, I will bring him to honour. These promises correspond to the history of those three most solemn days, Good Friday, when the LORD hung upon the Cross in grievous trouble; Holy Saturday, when He rested peacefully, delivered out of all His pain; and Easter Day, when He arose in glorious honour and strength from the dead. These three days are types of the experience of His elect, in the brief sorrowful life of this world, in the middle state of expectation, in the resurrection of glory with CHRIST. Observe too, that while all the other verbs in these promises are future, one alone is the present tense, I am with him in trouble, teaching us at once that He makes no delay when we are in need, and also that our sorrow is so brief as to be merely passing and instantaneous, having no future.* And how, asks S. Bernard, are we to know that He is with us in trouble? By the very fact that we are in trouble, for we could not bear it if He were not with us to be our stay and consolation. And therefore it is a very true sense of these words to see here, as some do,* a promise of CHRIST’S Incarnation, for “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”* And then, as Thomas à Kempis beautifully says:* “When any trouble comes upon thee, then CHRIST meets thee with His Cross, and shows thee the road to the kingdom of heaven, whither thou shouldest go.” And it may be noted that GOD does not speak to Job till after all his sufferings, and then comes to him to speak familiarly as friend with friend.* I will deliver him is not spoken now, as it was in the earlier verse, of mere temporal rescue, but of deliverance out of all the troubles of the world, and of salvation from the second death, even though the path of deliverance may be that of martyrdom, (A.) whereof one who attained the palm himself saith,* “As ye do battle, and fight in the combat of faith, GOD Himself looks on, the Angels too, and CHRIST is a spectator also. What lofty glory,* what happiness, to struggle in GOD’S presence, and to be crowned by CHRIST as Judge!” Not martyrs alone, but all His servants, even the humblest and most obscure, brought by Him to honour as kings and priests, shining as the sun in the kingdom of the FATHER, and that for no brief time nor with any imperfect splendour, for the closing promises are—

16 With long life will I satisfy him: and show him my salvation.

That is, as even the Rabbins saw,* with the unending days of eternity, with the full revelation of the face of CHRIST in glory, that Beatific Vision which is the everlasting gladness of ransomed souls.* Show us then Thy salvation, O LORD, and it sufficeth us. For he who sees it, sees Thee, since it is in Thee and Thou in it, and this is life eternal, that we may know Thee the only true GOD, and JESUS CHRIST Whom Thou hast sent.* Thou wilt therefore, O LORD, let Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, when mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, Thy JESUS, our LORD.

Glory be to the FATHER, the Most High; glory be to the SON, His salvation; glory be to the HOLY GHOST, the shadow of the Almighty.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.


Grant us,* O LORD, by invocation of Thy Name, to tread under foot the deadly poison of the asp and basilisk, that Thou mayest show us Thy salvation, and we be protected under the shadow of Thy shield against the snares of the spiritual enemy. (1.)
O GOD Most High, (D. C.) grant us, we beseech Thee, to dwell under Thy defence, and to abide in Thy protection, that Thy right hand may put away evil that it come not nigh us, and that the scourge of sin touch us not, but that at Thy command, we may be kept by the Angels in all our ways. (1.)
O GOD,* Who in Thine unspeakable providence dost vouchsafe to send Thy holy Angels to be our guard, grant that we, Thy humble servants, may alway be defended by their aid and rejoice in their everlasting fellowship. (1.)
O LORD,* Who hast delivered us from every arrow that flieth by day, deliver us also from every thing that walketh in darkness; vouchsafe also that we may pass the course of this night without sin or temptation of evil, and deliver us from all terror and dread which cometh to us from the devil. Through the mercy and compassion of Thine Only-begotten SON, with whom, &c.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 91

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2013

1. This Psalm is that from which the Devil dared to tempt our Lord Jesus Christ: let us therefore attend to it, that thus armed, we may be enabled to resist the tempter, not presuming in ourselves, but in Him who before us was tempted, that we might not be overcome when tempted. Temptation to Him was not necessary: the temptation of Christ is our learning, but if we listen to His answers to the devil, in order that, when ourselves are tempted, we may answer in like manner, we are then entering through the gate, as ye have heard it read in the Gospel. For what is to enter by the gate? To enter by Christ, who Himself said, “I am the door” (Jn 10:7): and to enter through Christ, is to imitate His ways.… He urges us to imitate Him in those works which He could not have done had He not been made Man; for how could He endure sufferings, unless He had become a Man? How could He otherwise have died, been crucified, been humbled? Thus then do thou, when thou sufferest the troubles of this world, which the devil, openly by men, or secretly, as in Job’s case, inflicts; be courageous, be of long suffering; “thou shall dwell under the defence of the Most High,” as this Psalm expresses it: for if thou depart from the help of the Most High, without strength to aid thyself, thou wilt fall.

2. For many men are brave, when they are enduring persecution from men, and see them openly rage against themselves: imagining they are then imitating the sufferings of Christ, in case men openly persecute them; but if assailed by the hidden attack of the devil, they believe they are not being crowned by Christ. Never fear when thou dost imitate Christ. For when the devil tempted our Lord, there was no man in the wilderness; he tempted Him secretly; but he was conquered, and conquered too when openly attacking Him. This do thou, if thou wishest to enter by the door, when the enemy secretly assails thee, when he asks for a man that he may do him some hurt by bodily troubles, by fever, by sickness, or any other bodily sufferings, like those of Job. He saw not the devil, yet he acknowledged the power of God. He knew that the devil had no power against him, unless from the Almighty Ruler of all things he received that power: the whole glory he gave to God, power to the devil he gave not.…

3. He then who so imitates Christ as to endure all the troubles of this world, with his hopes set upon God, that he falls into no snare, is broken down by no panic fears, he it is “who dwelleth under the defence of the Most High, who shall abide under the protection of God” (ver. 1), in the words with which the Psalm, which you have heard and sung, begins. You will recognise the words, so well known, in which the devil tempted our Lord, when we come to them. “He shall say unto the Lord, Thou art my taker up, and my refuge: my God” (ver. 2). Who speaks thus to the Lord? “He who dwelleth under the defence of the Most High:” not under his own defence. Who is this? He dwelleth under the defence of the Most High, who is not proud, like those who ate, that they might become as Gods, and lost the immortality in which they were made. For they chose to dwell under a defence of their own, not under that of the Most High: thus they listened to the suggestions of the serpent (Gen 3:5), and despised the precept of God: and discovered at last that what God threatened, not what the devil promised, had come to pass in them.

4. Thus then do thou say also, “In Him will I trust. For He Himself shall deliver me” (ver. 3), not I myself. Observe whether he teaches anything but this, that all our trust be in God, none in man. Whence shall he deliver thee? “From the snare of the hunter, and from a harsh word.” Deliverance from the hunter’s net is indeed a great blessing: but how is deliverance from a harsh word so? Many have fallen into the hunter’s net through a harsh word. What is it that I say? The devil and his angels spread their snares, as hunters do: and those who walk in Christ tread afar from those snares: for he dares not spread his net in Christ: he sets it on the verge of the way, not in the way. Let then thy way be Christ, and thou shall not fall into the snares of the devil.…

But what is, “from a harsh word”? The devil has entrapped many by a harsh word: for instance, those who profess Christianity among Pagans suffer insult from the heathen: they blush when they hear reproach, and shrinking out of their path in consequence, fall into the hunter’s snares. And yet what will a harsh word do to you? Nothing. Can the snares with which the enemy entraps you by means of reproaches, do nothing to you? Nets are usually spread for birds at the end of a hedge, and stones are thrown into the hedge: those stones will not harm the birds. When did any one ever hit a bird by throwing a stone into a hedge? But the bird, frightened at the harmless noise, falls into the nets; and thus men who fear the vain reproaches of their calumniators, and who blush at unprovoked insults, fall into the snares of the hunters, and are taken captive by the devil.… Just as among the heathen, the Christian who fears their reproaches falls into the snare of the hunter: so among the Christians, those who endeavour to be more diligent and better than the rest, are doomed to bear insults from Christians themselves. What then doth it profit, my brother, if thou occasionally find a city in which there is no heathen? No one there insults a man because he is a Christian, for this reason, that there is no Pagan therein: but there are many Christians who lead a bad life, among whom those who are resolved to live righteously, and to be sober among the drunken, and chaste among the unchaste, and amid the consulters of astrologers sincerely to worship God, and to ask after no such things, and among spectators of frivolous shows will go only to church, suffer from those very Christians reproaches, and harsh words, when they address such a one, “Thou art the mighty, the righteous, thou art Elias thou art Peter: thou hast come from heaven.” They insult him: whichever way he turns, he hears harsh sayings on each side: and if he fears, and abandons the way of Christ, he falls into the snares of the hunters. But what is it, when he hears such words, not to swerve from the way? On hearing them, what comfort has he, which prevents his heeding them, and enables him to enter by the door? Let him say; What words am I called, who am a servant and a sinner? To my Lord Jesus they said, “Thou hast a devil” (Jn 8:48). You have just heard the harsh words spoken against our Lord: it was not necessary for our Lord to suffer this, but in doing so He has warned thee against harsh words, lest thou fall into the snares of the hunters.

5. “He shall defend thee between His shoulders, and thou shall hope under His wings” (ver. 4). He says this, that thy protection may not be to thee from thyself, that thou mayest not imagine that thou canst defend thyself; He will defend thee, to deliver thee from the hunter’s snare, and from an harsh word. The expression, “between His shoulders,” may be understood both in front and behind: for the shoulders are about the head; but in the words, “thou shalt hope under His wings,” it is clear that the protection of the wings of God expanded places thee between His shoulders, so that God’s wings on this side and that have thee in the midst, where thou shalt not fear lest any one hurt thee: only be thou careful never to leave that spot, where no foe dares approach. If the hen defends her chickens beneath her wings; how much more shalt thou be safe beneath the wings of God, even against the devil and his angels, the powers who fly about in mid air like hawks, to carry off the weak young one? For the comparison of the hen to the very Wisdom of God is not without ground; for Christ Himself, our Lord and Saviour, speaks of Himself as likened to a hen; “how often would I have gathered thy children,” etc (Matt 23:27). That Jerusalem would not: let us be willing.… If you consider other birds, brethren, you will find many that hatch their eggs, and keep their young warm: but none that weakens herself in sympathy with her chickens, as the hen does. We see swallows, sparrows, and storks outside their nests, without being able to decide whether they have young or no: but we know the hen to be a mother by the weakness of her voice, and the loosening of her feathers: she changes altogether from love for her chickens: she weakens herself because they are weak. Thus since we were weak, the Wisdom of God made Itself weak, when the Word was made flesh, and dwelt in us (Jn 1:14), that we might hope under His wings.

6. “His truth shall surround thee with a shield” (ver. 5). What are “the wings,” the same is “the shield:” since there are neither wings nor shield. If either were literally, how could the one be the same as the other? can wings be a shield or a shield wings? But all these expressions, indeed, are figuratively used through likenesses. If Christ were really a Stone (Acts 4:10-11), He could not be a Lion; if a Lion (Rev 5:5), He could not be a Lamb (Jn 1:29): but He is called both Lion, and Lamb, and Stone, and Calf, and anything else of the sort, metaphorically, because He is neither Stone, nor Lion, nor Lamb, nor Calf, but Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all of us, for these are likenesses, not literal names. “His truth shall be thy shield,” it is said: a shield to assure us that He will not confound those whose trust is in themselves with those who hope in God. One is a sinner, and the other a sinner: but suppose one that presumes upon himself is a despiser, confesses not his sins, and he will say, if my sins displeased God, He would not suffer me to live. But another dared not even raise his eyes, but beat upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk 18:13). Both this was a sinner, and that: but the one mocked, the other mourned: the one was a despiser, the other a confessor, of his sins. But the truth of God, which respects not persons, discerns the penitent from him who denies his sin, the humble from the proud, him who presumes upon himself from him who presumes on God. “Thou shall not be afraid for any terror by night.”

7. “Nor for the arrow that flieth by day, for the matter that walketh in darkness, nor for the ruin and the devil that is in the noonday” (ver. 6). These two clauses above correspond to the two below; “Thou shall not fear” for “the terror by night, from the arrow that flieth by day:” both because of “the terror by night,” from “the matter that walketh in darkness:” and because of “the arrow that flieth by day,” from “the ruin of the devil of the noon-day.” What ought to be feared by night, and what by day? When any man sins in ignorance, he sins, as it were, by night: when he sins in full knowledge, by day. The two former sins then are the lighter: the second are much heavier; but this is obscure, and will repay your attention, if, by God’s blessing, I can explain it so that you may understand it. He calls the light temptation, which the ignorant yield to, “terror by night:” the light temptation, which assails men who well know, “the arrow that flieth by day.” What are light temptations? Those which do not press upon us so urgently, as to overcome us, but may pass by quickly if declined. Suppose these, again, heavy ones. If the persecutor threatens, and frightens the ignorant grievously, I mean those whose faith is as yet unstable, and know not that they are Christians that they may hope for a life to come; as soon as they are alarmed with temporal ills, they imagine that Christ has forsaken them, and that they are Christians to no purpose; they are not aware that they are Christians for this reason, that they may conquer the present, and hope for the future: the matter that walketh in darkness has found and seized them. But some there are who know that they are called to a future hope; that what God has promised is not of this life, or this earth; that all these temptations must be endured, that we may receive what God hath promised us for evermore; all this they know: when however the persecutor urges them more strenuously, and plies them with threats, penalties, tortures, at length they yield, and although they are well aware of their sin, yet they fall as it were by day.

8. But why does he say, “at noon-day”? The persecution is very hot; and thus the noon signifies the excessive heat.… The demon that is “in the noon-day,” represents the heat of a furious persecution: for these are our Lord’s words, “The sun was up; and because they had no root, they withered away:” and when explaining it, He applies it to those who are offended when persecution ariseth, “Because they have not root in themselves.” We are therefore right in understanding by the demon that destroyeth in the noon-day, a violent persecution. Listen, beloved, while I describe the persecution, from which the Lord hath rescued His Church. At first, when the emperors and kings of the world imagined that they could extirpate from the earth the Christian name by persecution, they proclaimed, that any one who confessed himself a Christian, should be smitten. He who did not choose to be smitten, denied that he was a Christian, knowing the sin he was committing: the arrow that flieth by day reached him. But whoever regarded not the present life, but had a sure trust in a future one, avoided the arrow, by confessing himself a Christian; smitten in the flesh, he was liberated in the spirit: resting with God, he began peacefully to await the redemption of his body in the resurrection of the dead: he escaped from that temptation, from the arrow that flieth by day. “Whoever professes himself a Christian, let him be beheaded;” was as the arrow that flieth by day. The “devil that is in the noon-day” was not yet abroad, burning with a terrible persecution, and afflicting with great heat even the strong. For hear what followed; when the enemy saw that many were hastening to martyrdom, and that the number of fresh converts increased in proportion to that of the sufferers, they said among themselves, We shall annihilate the human race, so many thousands are there who believe in His Name; if we kill all of them, there will hardly be a survivor on earth. The sun then began to blaze, and to glow with a terrible heat. Their first edict had been, Whoever shall confess himself a Christian, let him be smitten. Their second edict was, Whoever shall have confessed himself a Christian, let him be tortured, and tortured even until he deny himself a Christian.… Many therefore who denied not, failed amid the tortures; for they were tortured until they denied. But to those who persevered in professing Christ, what could the sword do, by killing the body at one stroke, and sending the soul to God? This was the result of protracted tortures also: yet who could be found able to resist such cruel and continued torments? Many failed: those, I believe, who presumed upon themselves, who dwelt not under the defence of the Most High, and under the shadow of the God of Heaven; who said not to the Lord, “Thou art my lifter up:” who trusted not beneath the shadow of His wings, but reposed much confidence in their own strength. They are thrown down by God, to show them that it is He that protects them, He overrules their temptations, He allows so much only to befall them, as each person can sustain.

9. Many then fell before the demon of the noon-day. Would ye know how many? He goes on, and says, “A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee” (ver. 7). To whom, brethren, but to Christ Jesus, is this said.… For the members, the body, and the head, are not separate from one another: the body and the head are the Church and her Saviour. How then is it said, “A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand by thy right hand”? Because they shall fall before the devil, that destroyeth at noon. It is a terrible thing, my brethren, to fall from beside Christ, from His right hand but how shall they fall from beside Him? Why the one beside Him, the other at His right hand? Why a thousand beside Him, ten thousand at His right hand? Why a thousand beside Him? Because a thousand are fewer than the ten thousand who shall fall at His right hand. Who these are will soon be clear in Christ’s name; for to some He promised that they should judge with Him, namely, to the Apostles, who left all things, and followed Him.… Those judges then are the heads of the Church, the perfect. To such He said, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor” (Matt 19:21). What means the expression, “if thou wilt be perfect”? it means, if thou wilt judge with Me, and not be judged.… Many such at that period, who had distributed their all to the poor, and already promised themselves a seat beside Christ in judgment of the nations, failed amid their torments under the blazing fire of persecution, as before the demon of the noon-day, and denied Christ. These are they who have fallen “beside” Him: when about to sit with Christ for the judgment of the world, they fell.

10. I will now explain who are they who fall on the right hand of Christ.… And because many have fallen from that hope of being judges, but yet many, many more from that of being on His right hand, the Psalmist thus addresses Christ, “A thousand shall fall beside Thee, and ten thousand at Thy right hand.” And since there shall be many, who regarded not all these things, with whom, as it were with His own limbs, Christ is one, he adds, “But it shall not come nigh Thee.” Were these words addressed to the Head alone? Surely not; surely neither (doth it come nigh) to Paul, nor Peter, nor all the Apostles, nor all the Martyrs, who failed not in their torments. What then do the words, “it shall not come nigh,” mean? Why were they thus tortured? The torture came nigh the flesh, but it did not reach the region of faith. Their faith then was far beyond the reach of the terrors threatened by their torturers. Let them torture, terror will not come nigh; let them torture, but they will mock the torture, putting their trust in Him who conquered before them, that the rest might conquer. And who conquer, except they who trust not in themselves?… Who will not fear? He who trusts not in himself, but in Christ. But those who trust in themselves, although they even hope to judge at the side of Christ, although they hoped they should be at His right hand, as if He said to them, “Come, ye blessed of My Father,” etc.; yet the devil that is at noon overtook them, the raging heat of persecution, terrifying with violence; and many fell from the hope of the seat of judgment; of whom it is said, “A thousand shall fall beside thee;” many too fell from the hope of reward for their duties, of whom it was said, “And ten thousand at thy right hand.” But this downfall and devil that is at noon-day “shall not come nigh thee,” that is, the Head and the body; for the Lord knows who are His (2 Tim 2:19).

11. “Nevertheless, with thine eyes shalt thou behold, and see the reward of the ungodly” (ver. 8). What is this? Why “nevertheless”? Because the wicked were allowed to tyrannize over Thy servants, and to persecute them. Will they then have been allowed to persecute Thy servants with impunity? Not with impunity, for although Thou hast permitted them, and Thine own have thence received a brighter crown, “nevertheless,” etc. For the evil which they willed, not the good they unconsciously were the agents of, will be recompensed them. All that is wanting is the eye of faith, by which we may see that they are raised for a time only, while they shall mourn for evermore; and to those into whose hands is given temporal power over the servants of God, it shall be said, “Depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). But if every man have but eyes in the sense in which it is said, “With thine eyes shalt thou behold,” it is no unimportant thing to look upon the wicked flourishing in this life, and to have an eye to him, to consider what will become of him in the end, if he fail to reform his ways: for those who now would thunder upon others, will afterwards feel the thunderbolt themselves.

12. “For Thou, Lord, art my hope” (ver. 9). He has now come to the power Which rescues him from falling by the “downfall and the devil of the noon-day.” “For Thou, Lord, art my hope: Thou hast set Thy house of defence very high.” What do the words “very high” mean? For many make their house of defence in God a mere refuge from temporal persecution; but the defence of God is on high, and very secret, whither thou mayest fly from the wrath to come. Within “Thou hast set thine house of defence very high. There shall no evil happen unto Thee: neither shall any plague come nigh Thy dwelling” (ver. 10).

13. The Holy City is not the Church of this country only, but of the whole world as well: not that of this age only, but from Abel himself down to those who shall to the end be born and believe in Christ, the whole assembly of the Saints, belonging to one city; which city is Christ’s body, of which Christ is the Head. There, too, dwell the Angels, who are our fellow-citizens: we toil, because we are as yet pilgrims: while they within that city are awaiting our arrival. Letters have reached us too from that city, apart from which we are wandering: those letters are the Scriptures, which exhort us to live well. Why do I speak of letters only? The King himself descended, and became a path to us in our wanderings: that walking in Him, we may neither stray, nor faint nor fall among robbers, nor be caught in the snares that are set near our path. This character, then, we recognise in the whole Person of Christ, together with the Church.… He Himself is our Head, He is God, co-equal with the Father, the Word of God, by whom all things were made (Jn 1:13): but God to create, Man to renew; God to make, Man to restore. Looking upon Him, then, let us hear the Psalm. Listen, beloved. This is the teaching and doctrine of this school, which may enable you to understand, not this Psalm only, but many, if ye keep in mind this rule. Sometimes a Psalm, and all prophecy as well, in speaking of Christ, praises the Head alone, and sometimes from the Head goes to the Body, that is, the Church, and without apparently changing the Person spoken of: because the Head is not separate from the Body, and both are spoken of as one …

14. What then, my brethren, what is said of our Head? “For Thou, Lord, art my hope,” etc. Of this we have spoken, “for He hath given His angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee in all Thy ways” (ver. 11). You heard these words but now, when the Gospel was being read; attend therefore. Our Lord, after He was baptized, fasted. Why was He baptized? That we might not scorn to be baptized. For when John said to our Lord, “Comest Thou to me to be baptized? I ought to be baptized by Thee;” and our Lord replied, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matt 3:14-15); He wished to fulfil all humility, so that He should be washed, who had no defilement.… Our Lord, then, was baptized, and after baptism He was tempted; He fasted forty days, a number which has, as I have often mentioned, a deep meaning. All things cannot be explained at once, lest needful time be too much taken up. After forty days He was an hungred. He could have fasted without ever feeling hunger; but then how could He be tempted? or had He not overcome the tempter, how couldest thou learn to struggle with him? He was hungry; and then the tempter said, “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Was it a great thing for our Lord Jesus Christ to make bread out of stones, when He satisfied so many thousands with five loaves? He made bread out of nothing. For whence came that quantity of food, which could satisfy so many thousands? (Matt 14:17, 21) The sources of that bread are in the Lord’s hands. This is nothing wonderful; for He Himself made out of five loaves bread enough for so many thousands,3 who also every day out of a few seeds raises up on earth immense harvests. These are the miracles of our Lord: but from their constant operation they are disregarded. What then, my brethren, was it impossible for the Lord to create bread out of stones? He made men even out of stones, in the words of John the Baptist himself, “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matt 3:9). Why then did He not so? That he might teach thee how to answer the tempter, so that if thou wast reduced to any straits and the tempter suggested, if thou wast a Christian and belongedst to Christ, would He desert thee now?… Listen to our Lord: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Dost thou think the word of God bread? If the Word of God, through which all things were made, was not bread, He would not say, “I am the bread which came down from heaven” (Jn 6:41).  Thou hast therefore learnt to answer the tempter, when pressed with hunger.

15. What if he tempt thee in these words: If thou wast a Christian, thou wouldest do miracles, as many Christians have done? Thou, deceived by a wicked suggestion, wouldest tempt the Lord thy God, so as to say to Him, If I am a Christian, and am before Thine eyes, and Thou dost account me at all in the number of Thine own, let me also do something like the many works which Thy Saints have done. Thou hast tempted God, as if thou weft not a Christian, unless thou didst this. Many who desired such things have fallen. For that Simon the sorcerer desired such gifts of the Apostles, when he wished to buy the Holy Spirit for money (Acts 8:18). He loved the power of working miracles, but loved not the imitation of humility.… What then, if he tempt thee thus, “work miracles”? that thou mayest not tempt God, what shouldest thou answer? What our Lord answered. The devil said to Him, “Cast Thyself down; for it is written, He shall give His Angels charge concerning Thee,” etc. If Thou shalt cast Thyself down, Angels shall receive Thee. And it might indeed, my brethren, happen, if our Lord had cast Himself down, the attending Angels would receive our Lord’s flesh; but what does He say to him? “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Thou thinkest Me a man. For the devil came to Him with this view, that he might try whether He were the Son of God. He saw His Flesh; but His might appeared in His works: the Angels had borne witness. He saw that He was mortal, so that he might tempt Him, that by Christ’s temptation the Christian might be taught. What then is written? “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Deut 6:16). Let us not then tempt the Lord, so as to say, If we belong to Thee, let us work a miracle.

16. Let us return to the words of the Psalm. “They shall bear Thee in their hands, lest at any time Thou hurt Thy foot against a stone” (ver. 12). Christ was raised up in the hands of Angels, when He was taken up into heaven: not that, if Angels had not sustained Him, He would have fallen: but because they were attending on their King. Say not, Those who sustained Him are better than He who was sustained. Are then cattle better than men, because they sustain the weakness of men? And we ought not to speak thus either; for if the cattle withdraw their support, their riders fall. But how ought we to speak of it? For it is said even of God, “Heaven is My throne” (Isa 66:1, Acts 7:49). Because then heaven supports Him, and God sits thereon, is therefore heaven the better? Thus also in this Psalm we may understand it of the service of the Angels: it does not pertain to any infirmity in our Lord, but to the honour they pay, and to their service.… What the finger of God is, the Gospel explaineth to us; for the finger of God is the Holy Ghost. How do we prove this? Our Lord, when answering those who accused Him of casting out devils in the name of Beelzebub, saith, “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God” (Matt 12:28); and another Evangelist, in relating the same saying, saith, “If I with the finger of God cast out devils” (Lk 11:20). What therefore is in one stated clearly, is darkly expressed in another. Thou didst not know what was the finger of God, but another Evangelist explains it by terming it the Spirit of God. The Law then written by the finger of God was given on the fiftieth day after the slaughter of the lamb, and the Holy Ghost descended on the fiftieth day after the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lamb was slain, the Passover was celebrated, the fifty days were completed, and the Law was given. But that Law was to cause fear, not love: but that fear might be changed into love, He who was truly righteous was slain: of whom that lamb whom the Jews were slaying was the type. He arose from the dead: and from the day of our Lord’s Passover, as from that of the slaying of the Paschal lamb, fifty days are counted; and the Holy Ghost descended, now in the fulness of love, not in the punishment of fear (Acts 2:1-4). Why have I said this? For this then our Lord arose, and was glorified, that He might send His Holy Spirit. And I said long ago that this was so, because His head is in heaven, His feet on earth. If His head is in heaven, His feet on earth; what means our Lord’s feet on earth? Our Lord’s saints on earth. Who are our Lord’s feet? The Apostles sent throughout the whole world. Who are our Lord’s feet? All the Evangelists, in whom our Lord travelleth over all nations.… We need not therefore wonder that our Lord was raised up to heaven by the hands of Angels, that His foot might not dash against a stone: lest those who on earth toiled in His body, while they were travelling over the whole world might become guilty of the Law, He took from them fear, and filled them with love. Through fear Peter thrice denied Him (Matt 26:69-75), for he had not yet received the Holy Ghost: afterwards, when he had received the Holy Spirit, he began to preach with confidence.… Our Lord so dealt with him, as if He said, thrice thou hast denied Me through fear: thrice confess Me through love. With that love and that charity He filled His disciples. Why? Because He hath set His house of defence very high: because when glorified He sent the Holy Ghost, He released the faithful from the guilt of the Law, that His feet might not dash against a stone.

17. “Thou shalt go upon the asp and the basilisk; the lion and the dragon shalt thou tread under thy feet” (ver. 13). Ye know who the serpent is, and how the Church, treadeth upon him, as she is not conquered, because she is on her guard against his cunning. And after what manner he is a lion and a dragon, I believe you know also, beloved. The lion openly rages, the dragon lies secretly in covert: the devil hath each of these forces and powers. When the Martyrs were being slain, it was the raging lion: when heretics are plotting, it is the dragon creeping beneath us. Thou hast conquered the lion; conquer also the dragon: the lion hath not crushed thee, let not the dragon deceive thee.… A few women in the Church have bodily virginity: but the virginity of the heart all the faithful have. In the very matter of faith he feared that the heart’s virginity would be corrupted by the devil: and those who have lost it, are uselessly virgins in their bodies. What does a woman who is corrupt in heart preserve in her body? Thus a Catholic married woman is before a virgin heretic. For the first is not indeed a virgin in her body, but the second has become married in her heart; and married not unto God as her husband, but unto the dragon. But what shall the Church do? The basilisk is the king of serpents, as the devil is the king of wicked spirits.

18. These are the words of God to the Church. “Because he hath set his love in me, therefore will I deliver him” (ver. 14). Not only therefore the Head, which now sits in heaven, because He hath set His house of defence very high, to which no evil shall happen, neither shall any plague come nigh His dwelling; but we also, who are toiling on earth, and are still living in temptations, whose steps are feared for, lest they fall into snares, may hear the voice of the Lord our God consoling us, and saying to us, “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him up, because he hath known my name.”

19. “He shall call upon me, and I will hear him: yea, I am with him in trouble” (ver. 15). Fear not when thou art in trouble, as if the Lord were not with thee. Let faith be with thee, and God is with thee in thy trouble. There are waves on the sea, and thou art tossed in thy bark, because Christ sleepeth. Christ slept in the ship, while the men were perishing (Matt 8:24-25). If thy faith sleep in thy heart, Christ is as it were sleeping in thy ship: because Christ dwelleth in thee through faith, when thou beginnest to be tossed, awake Christ sleeping: rouse up thy faith, and thou shalt be assured that He deserts thee not. But thou thinkest thou art forsaken, because He rescueth thee not when thou thyself dost wish. He delivered the Three Children from the fire? (Dan 3:29-30) Did He, who did this, desert the Maccabees? (2 Macc 7) God forbid! He delivered both of these: the first bodily, that the faithless might be confounded; the last spiritually, that the faithful might imitate them. “I will deliver him, and bring him to honour.”

20. “With length of days will I satisfy him” (ver. 16). What is length of days? Eternal life. Brethren, imagine not that length of days is spoken of in the same sense as days are said to be long in summer, short in winter. Hath he such days to give us? That length is one that hath no end, eternal life, that is promised us in long days. And truly, since this sufficeth, with reason he saith, “will I satisfy him.” What is long in time, if it hath an end, satisfieth us not: for that reason it should not be even called long. And if we are covetous, we ought to be covetous of eternal life: long for such a life, as hath no end. Lo, a line in which our covetousness may be extended. Dost thou wish money without limit? Long for eternal life without limit. Dost thou wish that thy possession may have no end? Seek for eternal life. “I will show him my salvation.” Nor is this, my brethren, to be briefly passed over. “I will show him my salvation:” He means, I will show him Christ Himself. Why? Was He not seen on earth? What great thing hath He to show us? But He did not appear such as we shall see Him. He appeared in that shape in which those who saw Him crucified Him: behold, those who saw Him, crucified Him: we have not seen Him, yet we have believed. They had eyes, have not we? yea, we too have the eyes of the heart: but, as yet we see through faith, not by sight. When will it be sight? When shall we, as the Apostle saith, see Him “face to face”? (1 Cor 13:12) which God promiseth us as the high reward of all our toils. Whatever thou toilest in, thou toilest for this purpose, that thou mayest see Him. Some great thing it is we are to see, since all our reward is seeing; and our Lord Jesus Christ is that very great sight. He who appeared humble, will Himself appear great, and will rejoice us, as He is even now seen of His Angels.… Let us love and imitate Him: let us run after his ointments, as is said in the Song of Solomon: “Because of the savour of thy good ointments, we will run after thee” (Song 1:3) For He came, and gave forth a savour that filled the world. Whence was that fragrance? From heaven. Follow then towards heaven, if thou do not answer falsely when it is said, “Lift up your hearts,” lift up your thoughts, your love, your hope: that it may not rot upon the earth.… “For wherever thy treasure is, there will be thy heart also” (Matt 6:21).

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

Commentaries and Resources for Easter Sunday

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2013


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

FIRST READING: Acts 10:34a, 37-43.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 10:34a, 37-43.

Pending: Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 10:34a, 37-43.

Word-Sunday Notes on Acts 10:34a, 37-43.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Acts 10:34a, 37-43.

The Testimony of Peter and John. Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma’s reflections on all of today’s readings.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 118.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 118. On entire Psalm.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 118.

Pseudo-Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 118.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 118.

SECOND READING: Colossians 3:1-4.  An alternate, 1 Cor 5:6-8 can be used. See below.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 3:1-4. On verses 1-11, actually.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Colossians 3:1-4. On 1-7, actually.

Pending: St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Colossians 3:1-4.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Colossians 3:1-4.

Father MacEvily’s Commentary on Colossians 3:1-4.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Colossians 3:1-4.

Word-Sunday Notes on Colossians 3:1-4. Includes notes on the alternate too.

ALTERNATE SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

St Thomas Aquinas Lecture On 1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5:6-8. This post is actually on all of chapter 5 but commentary on the verses of the day  are easily found.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5:6-8This post is actually on all of chapter 5 but commentary on the verses of the day  are easily found.

Father Montague’s Commentary on 1 Cor 5:6-8. An excerpt from his recently published commentary.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

Word-Sunday Notes on 1 Corinthians 5:6-8. Includes notes on the first alternate too.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 20:1-9.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 20:1-9.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 20:1-9.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 20:1-9.

St Augustine’s Tractate 120 on the Gospel of John 20:1-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 20:1-9.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 16:1-7.

Haydock Commentary on Mark 16:1-7.

Word-Sunday Notes on Mark 16:1-7.

GENERAL RESOURCES: On one or more of the readings.

Sacred Page Blog: The Testimony of Peter and John.

Doctrinal Homily Outlines. Gives the theme of the readings, the doctrinal message, and pastoral application.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background on the readings. Can be printed out, copied, and used as bulletin insert.

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

St Charles Borromeo’s Parish Bible Study Notes.

Historical Cultural Context. Gives and interesting interpretation to the statement that the Beloved Disciple “saw and believed.”

Thoughts From the Early Church. Excerpt from a sermon by Guerric of Igny.

Scripture in Depth. Succinct, to the point comments on all the readings.


Institute of Catholic Culture Bible Study of Acts of Apostles. Listen to the last lecture.

EWTN Series On Acts of Apostles: Gospel of the Holy Spirit. Listen to episode 6.

St Irenaeus Ministries Audio Study of Colossians Chapter 3. Click on the POD icon or direct download link.

St Irenaeus Ministries Audio Study of 1 Corinthians 5. Click on POD icon or direct download link.

EWTN Study of 1 Corinthians: In the Footsteps of St Paul. Listen to episode 3 which covers chapters 5 and 6.

Word Made Clear: John 20, The Empty Tomb. Video study by Fr. James McIlhone.

Institute of Catholic Culture Bible Study of the Gospel of John. Listen to the last lecture which begins with the Last Supper and ends with the Resurrection appearances.

EWTN Study Series on the Gospel of John. Listen to episode 12.


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Commentaries and Resources for Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2013





  • Pending: Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Heb 4:14-16, 5:7-9.


  • My Notes on the Passion According to John:


  • Word Sunday: on John 18:1-19:42 in three parts

Link fixed! New site found!. Father Donald Senior on the Passion According to John: A very condensed summary of his famous study~


Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentaries and Resources for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2013


Navarre Bible Commentary on Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14.

Word-Sunday Notes on Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14.

EWTN’s Study of Exodus. Listen to episode 5.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 116.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 116.

(1) Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 116:1-9.

(2) Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 116:10-19.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 116.


Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Cor 11:23-26.

Father Rickaby’s Commentary on 1 Cor 11:23-26.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Cor 11:23-26.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Cor 11:23-26.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Cor 11:23-26.

Word-Sunday Notes on 1 Cor 11:23-26.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Cor 11:23-26.

EWTN’s In the Footsteps of St Paul. Listen to episode 8.


St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 13:1-15.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 13:1-15.

Word-Sunday Notes on John 13:1-15.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 13:1-15.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast on John: The Last Supper.

Christians Leadership Center on John 13.

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