The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for August 10th, 2013

This Week’s Commentaries and Posts: Sunday, August 11–Sunday, August 18, 2013

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2013

SUNDAY, AUGUST 11, 2013
NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Dominica XII Post Pentecosten II. Augusti ~ II. classis

 RESOURCES FOR SUNDAY MASS (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Last Week’s Posts: Sunday, August 4–Sunday, August 11.

MONDAY, AUGUST 12, 2013
MONDAY OF THE NINETEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Deut 10:12-22).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 147).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 147). On verses 12-20 which covers the verses used in the Responsorial.

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 147).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 17:22-27).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 17:22-27).

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 17:22-27).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 17:22-27).

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 17:22-27).

TUESDAY, AUGUST 13, 2013
TUESDAY OF THE NINETEENTH WEEK ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Deuteronomy 31:1-8).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Deuteronomy 32:4ab, 7, 8, 9, 12). On verses 1-12.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel  (Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14).

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14). On 1-14.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14).

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 14, 2013
MEMORIAL OF ST MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, PRIEST AND MARTYR

Today’s Mass Readings. Resources for the Vigil of the Assumption appear further below.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Deuteronomy 34:1-12).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 66).

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 66).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 66).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Cpommentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:1-5).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:1-5). On 1-5, 10, 12-14.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:1-5). On 1-14.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:1-5). On 1-5, 10, 12-14.

VIGIL OF THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION, AUGUST 14

Mass Readings for the Vigil of the Assumption.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Chronicles 15:3-4, 15-16, 16:1-2).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 132).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 132).

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 132).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading (1 Corinthians 15:54b-57).

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading (1 Corinthians 15:54b-57). On verses 50-58).

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading (1 Corinthians 15:54b-57). On 54-58.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading (1 Corinthians 15:54b-57). On 54-58.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading (1 Corinthians 15:54b-57).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Luke 11:27-28).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 11:27-28).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Luke 11:27-28).

General Resources: Aplogetics, History, Devotions.

  • The Assumption/Dormition: Mystery of Mary, Meaning of Life. Page 1Page 2.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 15, 2013
SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Today’s 1st Reading (Revelation 11:19a, 12:1-6a, 10ab).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Revelation 11:19a, 12:1-6a, 10ab).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 45).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 45).

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading (1 Corinthians 15:20-27). Includes verse 28.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading (1 Corinthians 15:20-27). On 19-28.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading (1 Corinthians 15:20-27).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:39-56).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:39-56).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:39-56).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 2nd Reading (1 Corinthians 15:20-27).

FRIDAY, AUGUST 16, 2013
FRIDAY OF THE NINETEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Joshua 24:1-13).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 136).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 136).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 19:3-12).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 19:3-12).

Pending: Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 19:3-12).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 19:3-12).

SATURDAY, AUGUST 17, 2013
SATURDAY OF THE NINETEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Joshua 24:14-29).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 16).

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 16).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 16).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 16).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 16).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 19:13-15).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 19:13-15).

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 19:13-15).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 19:13-15).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 19:13-15).

SUNDAY, AUGUST 18, 2013
TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Dominica XIII Post Pentecosten III. Augusti ~ II. classis

RESOURCES FOR SUNDAY MASS (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Next Week’s Commentaries and Posts: Sun., August 18-Sun., August 25.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Daily Catholic Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:19-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2013

19. If in this life only we are hoping in Christ, we are more miserable than all men.
20. But now has Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of the sleeping:
21. For since indeed through man is death, through man also is the resurrection of the dead.
22. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

If there is no resurrection of the body, our hopes are bounded by the grave. Without resurrection, there is no life, and consequently no immortality. The Apostle plainly holds that the grave bounds all our prospect of future bliss, which is closed for ever, if we rise not. In that case, while all mortal men are more or less miserable. Christian people are the most miserable of all: more so than the pagans, who live in the free license of the indulgence of their inclinations. Of what advantage are mortification, fasting, watching, continence, justice mercy, if they have no reward awaiting them in the future? He does not say that Christian people, having this hope, would not be happier than other men, in the enjoyment of the hope, even if it were illusory; for that, probably, they would be in any case. What he says is that if what we hope for in Christ is of this world only, we are of all men most miserable.

In verses 20-24, the Apostle shows that the resurrection of Christ, which is an unquestionable fact, is as unquestionably a pledge of our own resurrection; and in verses 24-28 that our resurrection, and the final overthrow of death, is a part of that complete triumph and victory over all his enemies, which is the reward Christ won by his passion.

23. But every one in his own order, Christ the first fruits; then those who are of Christ, who have beHeved in his coming.

Every one in his own order. The order of time, but not necessarily here the order of dignity and merit. Christ, the author of grace and life, who said I am the resurrection and the life, was first raised. Some great Saints of former times were raised with him, Matt 27:52-53. Finally, all who belong to Christ, by faith and charity, will be raised at the last day ; and with regard to these, there is no order of time, for all will be raised together, in a moment, 1 Cor 15:52. The Greek has: those who are of Christ shall be raised at his coming. Those who are of Christ, says Theodoret, are not only those who have believed in him since his incarnation, but those also who under the law, and before the law, were illustrious for piety and virtue.

24. Then the end: when he shall have delivered the kingdom to the God and Father, when he shall have emptied all principality and power and virtue.

Then the end. This will be the end of Christ’s kingdom, the polity of the Catholic Church, on earth; but he will reign for ever in heaven. Cujus regni non erit
finis. When he has delivered (not delivered up) the kingdom to God the Father; presented it to the Father, redeemed from among men and now made perfect. In his own resurrection he presented himself to the Father as the Head of the Church; at the general resurrection he will present head and body together and complete to God, He will present the Saints in his Father’s sight, not for God to see them, for he sees them always, but for them to see God. But this cannot be until he has emptied, abolished, destroyed, and overthrown for ever, all the power, dominion and authority of evil spirits, whose influence over man will then only come completely to an end; and conquered and subdued all his own enemies and the enemies of his Church. And this leads the Apostle to his next argument to prove the necessity and the reality of our future resurrection from the dead.

25. But he must reign until he puts all enemies under his feet.
26. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death: for he has put all things under his feet.

He must reign. Christ must continue to reign as at present at the right hand of God, as the Head of the Church, until he has effected the complete destruction of his three great enemies, and theirs, the power of the devil, sin, and death. The counsel of the devil was the first entrance of evil into the world; then followed sin, and by sin death. Death, the last of the three to enter, is the last to be destroyed, as Saint Chrysostom observes. Destroyed it must be, and by our resurrection. For the prophet says, Ps 8, He has put all things under his feet. In the literal sense of these words they apply to Adam, to whom all nature was made subject; in the figure, the tense being changed, they apply to Christ, who must overthrow all his enemies, death included.

27. All things are subject to him; without doubt excepting him, who subjected all things to him.
28. And when all things shall be subject to him: then also the Son himself shall be subject to him who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things in all.

The Father, who places all things under the feet of Christ, is himself excepted. So far from this, the Son will, as man, be subject to his Father. It is just possible that the belief of the pagan Greeks in the old legends of the God Zeus and his father Cronos, may have suggested this remark to Saint Paul, as required in this place; for the epistle being made public, might possibly be read by some of them. God, the author and end of all good, will be all things in all, the perfect beatitude of all the Saints, and complete fulfilment of all their desires. Whatever man may lawfully desire, says Saint Anselm, he shall find all his wishes completely fulfilled and satisfied in God.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 45

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2013

Sorry, I didn’t have time to edit in the footnotes.

1. This Psalm, even as we ourselves have been singing with gladness together with you, we would beg you in like manner to consider with attention together with us. For it is sung of the sacred Marriage-feast; of the Bridegroom and the Bride; of the King and His people; of the Saviour and those who are to be saved.… His sons are we, in that we are the “children of the Bridegroom;” and it is to us that this Psalm is addressed, whose title has the words, “For the sons of Korah, for the things that6 shall be changed.”

2. Why need I explain what is meant by, “for the things that shall be changed”? Every one who is himself “changed,” recognises the meaning of this. Let him who hears this, “for the things that shall be changed,” consider what was before, and what is now. And first let him see the world itself to be changed, lately worshipping idols, now worshipping God; lately serving things that they themselves made, now serving Him by whom they themselves were made. Observe at what time the words, “for the things that shall be changed,” were said. Already by this time the Pagans that are left are in dread of the “changed” state of things: and those who will not suffer themselves to be “changed” see the churches full; the temples deserted; see crowds here, and there solitude! They marvel at the things so changed; let them read that they were foretold; let them lend their ears to Him who promised it; let them believe Him who fulfils that promise. But each one of us, brethren, also undergoes a change from “the old” to “the new man:” from an infidel to a believer: from a thief to a giver of alms: from an adulterer to a man of chastity; from an evildoer to a doer of good. To us then be sung the words, “for the things that shall be changed;” and so let the description of Him by whom they were changed, begin.

3. For it goes on, “For the things that shall be changed, to the sons of Korah for understanding; a song for the beloved.” For that “beloved” One was seen by His persecutors, but yet not for “understanding.” For “had they known Him, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory.”1 In order to this “understanding,” other eyes were required by Him when He said, “He that seeth Me, seeth My Father also.”2 Let the Psalm then now sound of Him, let us rejoice in the marriage-feast, and we shall be with those of whom the marriage is made,3 who are invited to the marriage; and the very persons invited are the Bride herself. For the Church is “the Bride,” Christ the Bridegroom. There are commonly spoken by balladists4 certain verses to Bridegrooms and Brides, called Epithalamia.5 Whatever is sung there, is sung in honour of the Bride and Bridegroom. Is there then no Bridechamber6 in that marriage-feast to which we are invited? Whence then does another Psalm say, “He hath set up His tabernacle in the Sun; and He is even as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.” The nuptial union is that of “the Word,” and the flesh. The Bridechamber of this union, the Virgin’s womb. For the flesh itself was united to the Word: whence also it is said, “Henceforth they are not twain, but one flesh.”7 The Church was assumed unto Him out of the human race: so that the Flesh itself, being united to the Word, might be the Head of the Church: and the rest who believe, members of that Head.…

4. “Mine heart hath uttered a good word”8 (ver. 1). Who is the speaker? The Father, or the Prophet? For some understand it to be the Person of the Father, which says, “Mine heart hath uttered a good word,” intimating to us a certain unspeakable generation.9 Lest you should haply think something to have been taken unto Him, out of which God should beget the Son (just as man takes something to himself out of which he begets children, that is to say, an union of marriage,10 without which man cannot beget offspring), lest then you should think that God stood in need of any nuptial union, to beget “the Son,” he says, “Mine heart hath uttered a good word.”11 This very day thine heart, O man, begets a counsel, and requires no wife: by the counsel, so born of thine heart, thou buildest something or other, and before that building subsists, the design subsists;12 and that which thou art about to produce, exists already in that by which thou art going to produce it; and thou praisest the fabric that as yet is not existing, not yet in the visible form of a building, but on the projecting of a design: nor does any one else praise thy design, unless either thou showest it to him, or he sees what thou hast done. If then by the Word “all things were made,”13 and the Word is of God, consider the fabric reared by the Word, and learn from that building to admire His counsels! What manner of Word is that by which heaven and earth were made;14 and all the splendour of the heavens; all the fertility of the earth; the expanse of the sea; the wide diffusion of air; the brightness of the constellations; the light of sun and moon? These are visible things: rise above these also; think of the Angels, “Principalities, Thrones, Dominions, and Powers.”15 All were made by Him. How then were these good things made? Because there was “uttered forth ‘a good Word,’ ” by which they were to be made.…

5. It proceeds: “I speak of the things which I have made unto the King.” Is the Father still speaking? If the Father is still speaking, let us enquire how this also can be understood by us, consistently with the true Catholic Faith, “I speak of the things that I have made unto the King.” For if it is the Father speaking of His own works to His Son, our “King,” what works is the Father to speak of to the Son, seeing that all the Father’s works were made by the Son’s agency? Or, in the words, “I speak of My works unto the King,” does the word, “I speak,” itself signify the generation of the Son? I fear whether this can ever be made intelligible to those slow of comprehension: I will nevertheless say it. Let those who can follow me, do so: lest if it were left unsaid, even those who can follow should not be able. We have read where it is said in another Psalm, “God hath spoken once.”1 So often has He spoken by the Prophets, so often by the Apostles, and in these days by His Saints, and does He say, “God has spoken once”? How can He have spoken but “once,” except with reference to His “Word”?2 But as the “Mine heart hath uttered a good Word,”3 was understood by us in the other clause of the generation of the Son, it seems that a kind of repetition is made in the following sentence, so that the “Mine heart hath uttered a good Word,” which had been already said, is repeated in what He is now saying, “I speak.” For what does “I speak” mean? “I utter a Word.” And whence but from His heart, from His very inmost, does God utter the Word? You yourself do not speak anything but what you bring forth from your “heart,” this word of yours which sounds once and passes away, is brought forth from no other place: and do you wonder that God “speaks” in this manner? But God’s “speaking” is eternal. You are speaking something at the present moment, because you were silent before: or, look you, you have not yet brought forth your word; but when you have begun to bring it forth, you as it were “break silence;” and bring into being a word, that did not exist before. It was not so God begat the “Word.” God’s “speaking” is without beginning, and without end: and yet the “Word” He utters is but “One.” Let Him utter another, if what He has spoken shall have passed away. But since He by whom it is uttered abideth, and That which is uttered abideth; and is uttered but once, and has no end, that very “once” too is said without beginning, and there is no second speaking, because that which is said once, does not pass away. The words, “Mine heart hath uttered a good Word,” then, are the same thing with, “I speak of the things which I have made unto the King.” Why then, “I speak of the things which I have made”? Because in the Word Itself are all the works of God. For whatever God designed to make in the creation already existed in “the Word;” and would not exist in the reality, had it not existed in the Word,4 just as with you the thing would not exist in the building, had it not existed in your design: even as it is said in the Gospel: “That which was made in Him was life.”5 That which was made then was in existence; but it had its existence in the Word: and all the works of God existed there, and yet were not as yet “works.” “The Word” however already WAS, as this “Word was God, and was with God:” and was the Son of God, and One God with the Father. “I speak of the things I have made unto the King.” Let him hear Him “speaking,” who apprehends “the Word:” and let him see together with the Father the Everlasting Word; in whom exist even those things that are yet to come: in whom even those things that are past have not passed away. These “works” of God are in “the Word,” as in the Word, as in the Only-Begotten, as in the “Word of God.”

6. What follows then? “My tongue is the pen of a writer writing rapidly.” What likeness, my brethren, what likeness, I ask, has the “tongue” of God with a transcriber’s pen? What resemblance has “the rock” to Christ?6 What likeness does the “lamb” bear to our Saviour,7 or what “the lion” to the strength of the Only-Begotten?8 Yet such comparisons have been made; and were they not made, we should not be formed to a certain extent by these visible things to the knowledge of the “Invisible One.” So then with this mean simile of the pen; let us not compare it to His excellent greatness, so let us not reject it with contempt. For I ask, why He compares His “tongue” to “the pen of a writer writing rapidly”? But how swiftly soever the transcriber writes, still it is not comparable to that swiftness of which another Psalm says, “His word runneth very swiftly.”9 But it appears to me (if human understanding may presume so far) that this too may be understood as spoken in the Person of the Father: “My tongue is the pen of a writer.” Inasmuch as what is spoken by the “tongue,” sounds once and passes away, what is written, remains; seeing then that God uttereth “a Word,” and the Word which is uttered does not sound once and pass away, but is uttered and yet continues, God chose rather to compare this to words written than to sounds. But what He added, saying, “of one writing swiftly,” stimulates the mind unto “understanding.” Let it however not slothfully rest here, thinking of transcribers,10 or thinking of some kind of quick shorthand writers: if it be this it sees in the passage, it will be resting there. Let it think swiftly what is the meaning of that word “swiftly.” The “swiftly” of God is such that nothing exceeds in swiftness. For in writings letter is written after letter; syllable after syllable; word after word: nor do we pass to the second except when the first is written out. But there nothing can exceed the swiftness, where there are not several words; and yet there is not anything omitted: since in the One are contained all things.

7. Lo! now then that Word, so uttered, Eternal, the Co-eternal Offspring of the Eternal, will come as “the Bridegroom;” “Fairer than the children of men” (ver. 2). “Than the children of men.” I ask, why not than the Angels also? Why did he say, “than the children of men,” except because He was Man? Lest you should think “the Man Christ”1 to be any ordinary man, he says, “Fairer than the children of men.” Even though Himself “Man,” He is “fairer than the children of men;” though among the children of men, “fairer than the children of men:” though of the children of men, “fairer than the children of men.” “Grace is shed abroad on Thy lips.” “The Law was given by Moses. Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ.”2 …

8. There have not been wanting those who preferred understanding all the preceding passage also of the Prophet’s own person; and would have even this verse, “Mine heart hath uttered forth a good word,” understood as spoken by the Prophet, supposed to be uttering a hymn. For whoever utters a hymn to God, his heart is, as it were, “uttering forth a good word,” just as his heart who blasphemes God, is uttering forth an evil word. So that even by what follows, “I speak of the things which I have made3 unto the King,” he meant to express that man’s chief work was but to praise God. To Him it belongs to satisfy thee, by His beauty; to thee to praise Him with thanksgiving.…

9. “My tongue is the pen of a writer writing quickly.” There have been persons who have understood the Prophet to have been describing in this manner what he was writing; and therefore to have compared his tongue to “the pen of a writer writing quickly:” but that he chose to express himself in the words “writing quickly,” to signify, that he was writing of things which were to come “quickly;” that “writing quickly” should be understood to be equivalent to “writing things that are quick;” i.e. writing things that would not long tarry. For God did not tarry long to manifest Christ. How quickly is that perceived to have rolled by, which is acknowledged to be already past! Call to mind the generations before thee; thou wilt find that the making of Adam is but a thing of yesterday. So do we read that all things have gone on from the very beginning:4 they were therefore done “quickly.” The day of Judgment also will be here “quickly.” Do thou anticipate its “quick” coming. It is to come “quickly;” do thou become converted yet more “quickly.” The Judge’s face will appear: but observe thou what the Prophet says, “Let us come before” (let us “prevent”) “His face with confession.”5

10. “Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most Mighty” (ver. 3). What is meant by “Thy sword, but “Thy word”? It was by that sword He scattered His enemies; by that sword he divided the son from the father, “the daughter from the mother, the daughter-in-law from the mother-in-law.” We read these words in the Gospel, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.”6 And, “In one house shall five be divided against each other; three against two, and two against three;”7 i.e. “the father against the son, the daughter against the mother, the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law.” By what “sword,” but that which Christ brought, was this division wrought? And indeed, my brethren, we see this exemplified daily. Some young man is minded to give himself up to God’s service; his father is opposed to it; they are “divided against each other:” the one promises an earthly inheritance, the other loves an heavenly; the one promises one thing, the other prefers another. The father should not think himself wronged: God alone is preferred to him. And yet he is at strife8 with the son, who would fain give himself to God’s service. But the spiritual sword is mightier to separate them, than the ties of carnal nature to bind them together. This happens also in the case of a mother against her daughter; still more also in that of a daughter-in-law against a mother-in-law. For sometimes in one house mother-in-law and daughter-in law are found orthodox and heretical respectively. And where that sword is forcibly felt,9 we do not dread the repetition of Baptism. Could daughter be divided against mother; and could not daughter-in-law be divided against mother-in-law?…

11. What does he mean to express by the “thigh”? The flesh. Whence those words, “A prince shall not depart from Judah; and a lawgiver from his thighs”?10 Did not Abraham himself (to whom was promised the seed in which “all the nations of the earth were to be blessed”), when he sent his servant to seek and to bring home a wife for his son, being by faith fully persuaded, that in that, so to speak, contemptible seed was contained the great Name;11 that is, that the Son of God was to come of the seed of Abraham, out of all the children of men; did not he, I say, cause his servant to swear unto him in this manner, saying, “Put thy hand under my thigh,”1 and so swear; as if he had said, “Put thy hand on the altar, or on the Gospel, or on the Prophet, or on any holy thing.” “Put” (he says) “thy hand under my thigh;” having full confidence, not ashamed of it as unseemly, but understanding therein a truth. “With Thy beauty and Thy glory.” Take to Thee that righteousness, in which Thou art at all times beautiful and glorious. “And speed on, and proceed prosperously, and reign” (ver. 4). Do we not see it so? Is it not already come to pass? He has “sped on; has proceeded prosperously, and He reigns;” all nations are subdued unto Him. What a thing was it to see that “in the Spirit,” of which same thing it is now in our power to experience in the reality! At the time when these words were said, Christ did not yet “reign” thus; had not yet sped on, nor “proceeded prosperously.” They were then being preached, they have now been fulfilled: in many things we have God’s promise fulfilled already; in some few we have to claim its fulfilment yet.

12. “Because of truth, meekness, and righteousness.” Truth was restored unto us, when “the Truth sprung out of the earth: and Righteousness looked out from heaven.”2 Christ was presented to the expectation of mankind, that in Abraham’s Seed “all nations should be blessed.” The Gospel has been preached. It is “the Truth.” What is meant by “meekness”? The Martyrs have suffered; and the kingdom of God has made much progress from thence, and advanced throughout all nations; because the Martyrs suffered, and neither “fell away,” nor yet offered resistance; confessing everything, concealing nothing; prepared for everything, shrinking from nothing. Marvellous “meekness”! This did the body of Christ, by its Head it learned. He was first “led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, even so opened not His mouth;”3 meek to that degree, that while hanging on the Cross, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”4 Why because of “righteousness”? He will come also to judge, and to “render to every man according to his works.” He spake “the truth;” He patiently endured unrighteousness: He is to bring “righteousness” hereafter.

13. “And Thy right hand shall lead Thee on marvellously.” We shall be guided on by His right hand: He by His own. For He is God, we mortal men. He was led on by His own right hand; i.e. by His own power. For the power which the Father hath, He hath also; the Father’s immortality He hath also; He hath the Father’s Divinity, the Father’s Eternity, the Father’s Power.5 Marvellously will His right hand lead Him on, performing the works of God; undergoing human sufferings, overthrowing the evil wills6 of men by His own goodness. Even now, He is being led on even to places where as yet He is not; and it is His own right hand that is leading Him on. For that is leading Him thither which He has Himself bestowed upon His Saints. “Thy right hand shall lead Thee on marvellously.”

14. “Thine arrows are sharp, are most powerful” (ver. 5); words that pierce the heart, that kindle love. Whence in the Song of Songs it is said, “I am wounded with love.”7 For she speaks of being “wounded with love;” that is, of being in love, of being inflamed with passion, of sighing for the Bridegroom, from whom she received the arrow of the Word. “Thine arrows are sharp, are most powerful;” both piercing, and effective; “sharp, most powerful.” “The peoples shall fall under Thee.” Who have “fallen”? They who were “wounded” have also “fallen.” We see the nations subdued unto Christ; we do not see them “fall.” He explains where they “fall,” viz. “in the heart.” It was there they lifted themselves up against Christ, there they “fall” down before Christ. Saul was a blasphemer of Christ: he was then lifted up, he prays to Christ, “he is fallen,” he is prostrate before Him: the enemy of Christ is slain, that the disciple of Christ may live! By an arrow launched from heaven, Saul (not as yet Paul, but still Saul), still lifted up, still not yet prostrate, is wounded in “the heart:” he received the arrow, he fell “in heart.” For though he fell prostrate on his face, it was not there that he fell down in heart:8 but it was there where he said aloud, “Lord, what dost Thou bid me do?”9 But just now thou wet going to bind the Christians, and to bring them to punishment: and now thou sayest unto Christ, “What dost Thou bid me do?” O arrow sharp and most mighty, by whose stroke “Saul” fell, so as to become “Paul.” As it was with him, so was it also with “the peoples;” consider the nations, observe their subjection unto Christ. “The peoples” (then) “shall fall under Thee in the heart of the King’s enemies;” that is, in the heart of Thine enemies. For it is Him that he calls King, Him that he recognises as King. “The peoples shall fall under Thee in the heart of the King’s enemies.” They were “enemies” before; they have been stricken by thine arrows: they have fallen before Thee. Out of enemies they have been made friends: the enemies are dead, the friends survive. This is the meaning of, “for those which shall be changed.” We are seeking to “understand” each single word, and each separate verse; yet so far only are we to seek for their “understanding,” as to leave no one to doubt that they are spoken of Christ.

15. “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever” (ver. 6). Because God has “ ‘blessed Thee’ for ever,” on account of the “grace poured over Thy lips.” Now the throne of the Jewish Kingdom was a temporal one; belonging to those who were under the Law, not to those who were under “grace:” He came to “redeem those who were under the Law,” and to place them under “Grace.” His “Throne is for ever and ever.” Why? for that first throne of the Kingdom was but a temporal one: whence then have we a “throne for ever and ever”? Because it is God’s throne. O divine Attribute of Eternity!1 for God could not have a temporal throne. “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever—a sceptre of direction is the sceptre of Thy Kingdom.” “The sceptre of direction” is that which directs mankind: they were before crooked, distorted; they sought to reign for themselves: they loved themselves, loved their own evil deeds: they submitted not their own will to God; but would fain have bent God’s will to conformity with their own lusts. For the sinner and the unrighteous man is generally angry with God, because it rains not!2 and yet would have God not be angry with himself, because he is profligate.3 And it is pretty much for this very reason that men daily sit, to dispute against God: “This is what He ought to have done: this He has not well done.” Thou forsooth seest what thou doest; He knows not what He does! It is thou that art crooked! His ways are right. When wilt thou make the crooked coincide with the straight? It cannot be made to coincide with it.4 Just as if you were to place a crooked stick on a level pavement; it does not join on to it; it does not cohere; it does not fit into the pavement. The pavement is even in every part: but that is crooked; it does not fit into that which is level. The will of God then is “equal,” thine own is “crooked:” it is because thou canst not be conformed unto it, that it seems “crooked” unto thee: rule thou thyself by it; seek not to bend it to thine own will: for thou canst not accomplish it; that is at all times “straight”! Wouldest thou abide in Him? “Correct thou thyself;” so will the sceptre of Him who rules thee, be unto thee “a rule of direction.” Thence is He also called King,5 from “ruling.” For that is no “ruler” that does not correct.6 Hereunto is our King a King of “right ones.”7 Just as He is a Priest (Sacerdos) by sanctifying us, so is He our King, our Ruler, by “ruling” us.…

16. “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity” (ver. 7). See there “the rod of direction” described. “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity.” Draw near to that “rod;” let Christ be thy King: let Him “rule” thee with that rod, not crush thee with it. For that rod is “a rod of iron;” an inflexible rod.8 “Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron: and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”9 Some He rules; others He “breaks in pieces:” He “rules” them that are spiritual: He “breaks in pieces” them that are carnal.… Would He so loudly declare that He was about to smite thee, if He wished to smite thee? He is then holding back His hand from the punishment of thine offences; but do not thou hold back. Turn thou thyself to the punishment of thine offences: for unpunished offences cannot be: punishment therefore must be executed either by thyself, or by Him: do thou then plead guilty, that He may reprieve thee. Consider an instance in that penitential Psalm: “Hide Thy face from my sins.”10 Did he mean “from me”? No: for in another passage he says plainly, “Hide not Thy face from me.” “Turn” then “Thy face from my sins.” I would have Thee not see my sins. For God’s “seeing” is animadverting upon. Hence too a Judge is said to “animadvert”11 on that which he punishes; i.e. to turn his mind on it, to bend it thereon, even to the punishment of it, inasmuch as he is the Judge. So too is God a Judge. “Turn Thou Thy face from my sins.” But thou thyself, if thou wouldest have God turn “His face” from them, turn not thine own face from them. Observe how he proposes this to God in that very Psalm: “I acknowledge,” he says, “my transgression, and my sin is ever before me.”12 He would fain have that which he wishes to be ever before his own eyes, not be before God’s eyes. Let no one flatter himself with fond hopes of God’s mercy. His sceptre is “a sceptre of righteousness.” Do we say that God is not merciful? What can exceed His mercy, who shows such forbearance to sinners; who takes no account of the past in all that turn unto Him? So love thou Him for His mercy, as still to wish that He should be truthful. For mercy cannot strip Him of His attribute of justice: nor justice of that of mercy. Meanwhile during the time that He postpones thy punishment, do not thou postpone it.

17. “Therefore, God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee.” It was for this reason that He anointed thee, that thou mightest love righteousness, and hate iniquity. And observe in what way he expresses himself. “Therefore, God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee:” i.e. “God hath anointed Thee, O God.” “God” is “anointed” by God. For in the Latin it is thought to be the same case of the noun repeated: in the Greek however there is a most evident distinction; one being the name of the Person addressed; and one His who makes the address, saying, “God hath anointed Thee.” “O God, Thy God hath anointed Thee,” just as if He were saying, “Therefore hath Thy God, O God, anointed Thee.” Take it in that sense, understand it in that sense; that such is the sense is most evident in the Greek. Who then is the God that is “anointed” by God? Let the Jews tell us; these Scriptures are common to us and them. It was God, who was anointed by God: you hear of an “Anointed” one; understand it to mean “Christ.” For the name of “Christ” comes from “chrism;” this name by which He is called “Christ” expresses “unction:” nor were kings and prophets anointed in any kingdom, in any other place, save in that kingdom where Christ was prophesied of, where He was anointed, and from whence the Name of Christ was to come. It is found nowhere else at all: in no one nation or kingdom. God, then, was anointed by God; with what oil was He anointed, but a spiritual one? For the visible oil is in the sign, the invisible oil is in the mystery;1 the spiritual oil is within. “God” then was “anointed” for us, and sent unto us; and God Himself was man, in order that He might be “anointed:” but He was man in such a way as to be God still. He was God in such a way as not to disdain to be man. “Very man and very God;” in nothing deceitful, in nothing false, as being everywhere true, everywhere “the Truth” itself. God then is man; and it was for this cause that “God” was “anointed,” because God was Man, and became “Christ.”

18. This was figured in Jacob’s placing a stone at his head, and so sleeping.2 The patriarch Jacob had placed a stone at his head: sleeping with that stone at his head, he saw heaven opened, and a ladder from heaven to earth, and Angels ascending and descending;3 after this vision he awaked, anointed the stone, and departed. In that “stone” he understood Christ; for that reason he anointed it. Take notice what it is whereby Christ is preached. What is the meaning of that anointing of a stone, especially in the case of the Patriarchs who worshipped but One God? It was however done as a figurative act: and he departed. For he did not anoint the stone, and come to worship there constantly, and to perform sacrifice there. It was the expression of a mystery; not the commencement of sacrilege. And notice the meaning of “the stone.” “The Stone which the builders refused, this is become the head of the corner.”4 Notice here a great mystery. The “Stone” is Christ. Peter calls Him “a living Stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God.”5 And the stone is set at “the head,” because “Christ is the Head of the man.”6 And “the stone” was anointed, because “Christ” was so called from His being anointed. And in the revelation of Christ, the ladder from earth to heaven is seen, or from heaven to earth, and the Angels ascending and descending. What this means, we shall see more clearly, when we have quoted the testimony from the Lord Himself in the Gospel. You know that Jacob is the same as Israel. For when he wrestled with the Angel, and “prevailed,” and had been blest by Him over whom he prevailed, his named was changed, so that he was called “Israel;” just as the people of Israel “prevailed”7 against Christ, so as to crucify Him, and nevertheless was (in those who believed in Christ) blest by Him over whom it prevailed. But many believed not; hence the halting of Jacob. Here we have at once, blessing and halting. Blessing on those who became believers; for we know that afterward many of that people did believe: Halting on the other hand in those who believed not. And because the greater part believed not, and but few believed, therefore that a halting might be produced, He touched “the breadth8 of his thigh.”9 What is meant by the breadth of the thigh? The great multitude of his descendants.10 …

19. “God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee.” We have been speaking of God, who was “anointed;” i.e. of Christ. The name of Christ could not be more clearly expressed than by His being called “God the Anointed.” In the same way in which He was “beautiful before the children of men,” so is He here “anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows.” Who then are His “fellows”? The children of men; for that He Himself (as the Son of Man) became partaker of their mortality in order to make them partakers of His Immortality.

20. “Out of Thy garments is the smell of myrrh, amber, and cassia” (ver. 8). Out of Thy garments is perceived the smell of fragrant odours. By His garments are meant His Saints, His elect, His whole Church, which he shows forth, as His garment, so to speak; His robe “without spot and wrinkle,”1 which on account of its spots He has “washed” in His blood; on account of its “wrinkles” extended on His Cross. Hence the sweet savour which is signified by certain perfumes there mentioned. Hear Paul, that “least of the Apostles” (that “hem of that garment,” which the woman with the issue of blood touched, and was healed), hear him saying: “We are a sweet savour of Christ, in every place, both in them that are saved, and in them that perish.”2 He did not say, “We are a sweet savour in them that are saved, and a foul savour in them that are lost:” but, as far as relates to ourselves, “we are a sweet savour both in them that are saved, and in them that perish.” … They who loved him were saved by the odour of “sweet savour;” they who envied him, perished by means of that “sweet savour.” To them that perished then he was not a foul “savour,” but a “sweet savour.” For it was for this very reason they the more envied him, the more excellent that grace was which reigned in him: for no man envies him who is unhappy. He then was glorious in the preaching of God’s Word, and in regulating his life according to the rule of that “rod of direction;” and he was loved by those who loved Christ in him, who followed after and pursued the odour of sweet savour; who loved the friend of the bridegroom: that is to say, by the Bride Herself, who says in the Song of Songs,3 “We will run after the sweet savour of thy perfumes.” But the others, the more they beheld him invested with the glory of the preaching of the Gospel, and of an irreproachable life, were so much the more tortured with envy, and found that sweet savour prove death to them.

21. “Out of thy ivory palaces, whereby kings’ daughters have made Thee glad.” Choose whichever you please, “ivory” palaces, or “magnificent,” or “royal” palaces, it is out of these that the kings’ daughters have made Christ glad. Would you understand the spiritual sense of “ivory palaces”? Understand by them the magnificent houses, and tabernacles of God, the hearts of the Saints; and by these self-same “kings” those who rule their flesh; who bring into subjection to themselves the rebellious commonalty of human affections, who chastise the body, and reduce it to bondage: for it is from these that the daughters of kings have made Him glad. For all the souls that have been born through their preaching and evangelizing are “daughters of kings:” and the Churches, as the daughters of Apostles, are daughters of kings. For He is “King of kings;” they themselves kings, of whom it was said, “Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”4 They preached the “Word of Truth;” and begat Churches not for themselves, but for Him.… Therefore as “raising up seed5 to their brother,” to as many as they begat, they gave the name not of “Paulians” or “Petrians,” but of “Christians.” Observe whether that sense is not wakefully kept6 in these verses. For when he said, “out of the ivory palaces, he spake of mansions royal, ample, honourable, peaceful, like the heart of the Saints; he added, “Whereby the kings’ daughters have made Thee glad in Thine honour.” They are indeed daughters of kings, daughters of thine Apostles, but still “in Thine honour:” for they raised up seed to their brother. Hence Paul, when he saw those whom he had raised up unto his Brother, running after his own name, exclaimed, “Was Paul crucified for you?7” … No; for he says, “Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”

“The daughters of kings have made Thee glad in Thine honour.” Keep, hold fast this “in Thine honour.” This is meant by having “a wedding garment;” seeking His honour, His glory. Understand moreover by “kings’ daughters” the cities, which were founded by kings, and have received the faith: and out of the ivory palaces (palaces rich, the proud, the lifted up). “Kings’ daughters have made Thee glad in Thine honour;” in that they sought not the honour of their founders, but have sought Thine honour. Show me at Rome a temple of Romulus held in so great honour as I can show you the Monument of Peter.8 In Peter, who is honoured but He who died for us? For we are followers of Christ, not followers of Peter. And even if we were born from the brother of Him that is dead, yet are we named after the name of Him who is dead.9 We were begotten by the one, but begotten to the other. Behold, Rome, Carthage, and several other cities are the daughters of kings, and yet have they “made glad the King in His honour:” and all these make up one single Queen.

22. What a nuptial song! Behold in the midst of songs full of rejoicing, comes forth the Bride herself. For the Bridegroom was coming. It was He who was being described: it was on Him all our attention was fixed.

“Upon Thy right hand did stand the Queen” (ver. 9). She which stands on the left is no Queen. For there will be one standing on “the left” also, to whom it will be said, “Go into everlasting fire.”1 But she shall stand on the right hand, to whom it will be said, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”2 On Thy right hand did stand the Queen, “in a vesture of gold, clothed about with divers colours.” What is the vesture of this Queen? It is one both precious, and also of divers colours: it is the mysteries of doctrine in all the various tongues: one African, one Syrian, one Greek, one Hebrew, one this, and one that; it is these languages that produce the divers colours of this vesture.3 But just as all the divers colours of the vesture blend together in the one vesture, so do all the languages in one and the same faith. In that vesture, let there be diversity, let there be no rent. See we have “understood” the divers colours of the diversity of tongues; and the vesture to refer to unity: but in that diversity itself, what is meant by the “gold”? Wisdom itself. Let there be any diversity of tongues you please, but there is but one “gold” that is preached of: not a different gold, but a different form of that gold. For it is the same Wisdom, the same doctrine and discipline that every language preaches. In the languages there is diversity; gold in the thoughts.

23. The Prophet addresses this Queen (for he delights in singing to her), and moreover each one of us, provided, however, we know where we are, and endeavour to belong to that body, and do belong to it in faith and hope, being united in the membership of Christ.4 For it is us whom he addresses, saying, “Hearken, O daughter, and behold” (ver. 10), as being one of the “Fathers” (for they are “daughters of kings”), although it be a Prophet, or although it be an Apostle5 that is addressing her; addressing her, as a daughter, for we are accustomed to speak in this way, “Our fathers the Prophets, our fathers the Apostles;” if we address them as “fathers,” they may address us as children: and it is one father’s voice addressing one daughter. “Hearken, O daughter, and see.” “Hear” first; afterward “see.” For they came to us with the Gospel; and that has been preached to us, which as yet we do not see, and which on hearing of it we believed, which by believing it, we shall come to see: even as the Bridegroom Himself speaks in the Prophet, “A people whom I have not known served me. In the hearing of me with the ear it obeyed me.”6 What is meant by on “hearing of me with the ear”? That they did not “see.” The Jews saw Him, and crucified Him; the Gentiles saw Him not, and believed. Let the Queen who comes from the Gentiles come in “the vesture of gold, clothed with divers colours;”7 let her come from among the Gentiles clad in all languages, in the unity of Wisdom: let it be said unto her, “Hearken, O daughter, and see.” If thou wilt not hear, thou shalt not “see.” …

“And incline thine ear.” It is not enough to “hearken;” hearken with humility: bow down thine ear. “Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house.” There was a certain “people,” and a certain house of thy father, in which thou wast born, the people of Babylon, having the devil for thy king. Whencesoever the Gentiles came, they came from their father the devil; but they have renounced their sonship to the devil. “Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house.” He, in making thee a sinner, begat thee loathsome: the Other, in that “He justifies the ungodly,”8 begetteth thee again in beauty.

24. “For the King hath greatly desired thy beauty” (ver. 11). What “beauty” is that, save that which is His own work? “Greatly desired the beauty”—Of whom? Of her the sinner, the unrighteous, the ungodly, such as she was with her “father,” the devil, and among her own “people”? No, but hers of whom it is said, “Who is this that cometh up made white?”9 She was not white then at the first, but was “made” white afterwards. For “though your sins shall be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow.”10 “The king has greatly desired thy beauty.” What King is this? “For He is the Lord thy God.”11 Now consider whether thou oughtest not to forego that thy father, and thy own people, and to come to this King, who is thy God? Thy God is “thy King,” thy “King” is also thy Bridegroom. Thou weddest to thy King, who is thy God: being endowed by Him, being adorned by Him; redeemed by Him, and healed by Him. Whatever thou hast, wherewith to be pleasing to Him, thou hast from Him.

25. “And the daughters of Tyre shall worship Him with gifts” (ver. 12). It is that self-same “King, who is thy God,” that the daughters of Tyre shall worship with gifts. The daughters of Tyre are the daughters of the Gentiles; the part standing for the whole. Tyre, a city bordering on this country, where the prophecy was delivered, typified the nations that were to believe in Christ. Thence came that Canaanitish woman, who was at first called “a dog;” for that ye may know that she was from thence, the Gospel speaks thus. “He departed into the parts of Tyre and Sidon, and behold a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts,” with all the rest that is related there. She who at first, at the house of her “father,” and among her “own people,” was but “a dog,” who by coming to, and crying after that “King,” was made beautiful by believing in Him, what did she obtain to hear? “O woman, great is thy faith.”1 “The King has greatly desired thy beauty. And the daughters of Tyre shall worship with gifts.”2 With what gifts? Even so would this King be approached, and would have His treasuries filled: and it is He Himself who has given us that wherewith they may be filled, and may be filled3 by you. Let them come (He says) and “worship Him with gifts.” What is meant by “with gifts”?… “Give alms, and all things are clean unto you.” Come with gifts to Him that saith, “I will have mercy rather than sacrifice.”4 To that Temple that existed aforetime as a shadow of that which was to come, they used to come with bulls, and rams, and goats, with every different kind of animal for sacrifice: that with that blood one thing should be done, and another be typified by it. Now that very blood, which all these things used to figure, hath come: the King Himself hath come, and He Himself would have your “gifts.” What gifts? Alms. For He Himself will judge hereafter, and will Himself hereafter account “gifts” to certain persons “Come” (He says), “ye blessed of My Father.” Why? “I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat,”5 etc. These are the gifts with which the daughters of Tyre worship the King; for when they said, “When saw we Thee?” He who is at once above and below (whence those “ascending” and “descending” are spoken of6), said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of Mine, ye have done it unto Me.”7

26. … “The rich among the people shall entreat Thy face.” Both they who shall entreat that face, and He whose face they will entreat, are all collectively but one Bride, but one Queen, mother and children belonging all together unto Christ, belonging unto their Head.…

27. “All the glory of her, the King’s daughter, is from within” (ver. 13). Not only is her robe, outwardly, “of gold, and of divers colours;” but He who loved her beauty, knew her to be also beautiful within.8 What are those inward charms?9 Those of conscience. It is there Christ sees; it is there Christ loves her: it is there He addresses her, there punishes, there crowns. Let then thine alms be done in secret; for “all the glory of her, the King’s daughter, is from within.” “With fringes of gold, clothed with divers colours” (ver. 14). Her beauty is from within; yet in the “fringes of gold” is the diversity of languages: the beauty of doctrine. What do these avail, if there be not that beauty “from within”? “The virgins shall be brought unto the King after her.” It has been fulfilled indeed. The Church has believed; the Church has been formed throughout all nations. And to what a degree do virgins now seek to find favour in the eyes of that King! Whence are they moved to do so? Even because the Church preceded them. “The virgins shall be brought unto the King after her. Her near kinswomen10 shall be brought unto Thee.” For they that are brought unto Him are not strangers, but her “near kinswomen,” that belong to her. And because he had said, “unto the King,” he says, turning the discourse to Him, “her near kinswomen shall be brought unto Thee.”

28. “With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought and shall be led into the Temple of the King” (ver. 15). The “Temple of the King” is the Church itself: it is the Church itself that enters into “the Temple of the King.” Whereof is that Temple constructed? Of the men who enter the Temple? Who but God’s “faithful” ones are its “living stones”?11 “They shall be led into the Temple of the King.” For there are virgins without the Temple of the King, the nuns among the heretics:12 they are virgins, it is true; but what will that profit them, unless they be led into the “Temple of the King”? The “Temple of the King” is in unity: the “Temple of the King” is not ruinous, is not rent asunder, is not divided. The cement13 of those living stones is “charity.”

29. “Instead of thy fathers, children are born to thee” (ver. 16). Nothing can be more manifest. Now consider the “Temple of the King” itself, for it is on its behalf he speaks, on account of the unity of the body that is spread throughout all the world: for those very persons who have chosen to be virgins, cannot find favour with the King unless they be led into the Temple of the King. “Instead of thy fathers, are thy children born to thee.” It was the Apostles begat thee: they were “sent:” they were the preachers: they are “the fathers.” But was it possible for them to be with us in the body for ever? Although one of them said, “I desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better: to abide in the flesh is necessary for your sakes.” It is true he said this, but how long was it possible for him to remain here? Could it be till this present time, could it be to all futurity? Is the Church then left desolate by their departure? God forbid. “Instead of thy fathers, children have been born to thee.” What is that? The Apostles were sent to thee as “fathers,” instead of the Apostles sons have been born to thee: there have been appointed Bishops. For in the present day, whence do the Bishops, throughout all the world, derive their origin? The Church itself calls them fathers; the Church itself brought them forth, and placed them on the thrones of “the fathers.” Think not thyself abandoned then, because thou seest not Peter, nor seest Paul: seest not those through whom thou wert born. Out of thine own offspring has a body of “fathers” been raised up to thee. “Instead of thy fathers, have children been born to thee.” Observe how widely diffused is the “Temple of the King,” that “the virgins that are not led to the Temple of the King,” may know that they have nothing to do with that marriage. “Thou shalt make them princes1 over all the earth.” This is the Universal Church: her children have been made “princes over all the earth:” her children have been appointed instead of the “fathers.” Let those who are cut off own the truth of this, let them come to the One Body: let them be led into the Temple of the King. God hath established His Temple everywhere: hath laid everywhere “the foundations of the Prophets and Apostles.”2 The Church has brought “forth sons;” has made them “instead of her fathers” to be “princes over all the earth.”

30. “They shall be mindful of thy name in every generation and generation; therefore shall the peoples confess unto3 Thee” (ver. 17). What does it profit then to “confess” indeed and yet to confess out of “the Temple”? What does it profit to pray, and yet not to pray on the Mount? “I cried,” says he, “unto the Lord with my voice: and He heard me out of His holy hill.”4 Out of what “hill”? Out of that of which it is said, “A city set upon a hill cannot be hid.”5 Of what “hill”? Out of that hill which Daniel saw “grow out of a small stone, and break all the kingdoms of the earth; and cover all the face of the earth.”6 There let him pray, who hopes to receive: there let him ask, who would have his prayer heard: there let him confess, who wishes to be pardoned. “Therefore shall the peoples confess unto thee for ever, world without end.” For in that eternal life it is true indeed there will no longer be the mourning over sins: but yet in the praises of God by that everlasting City which is above, there will not be wanting a perpetual confession of the greatness of that happiness. For to that City itself, to which another Psalm7 sings, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O City of God,” to her who is the very Bride of Christ, the very Queen, a “King’s daughter, and a King’s consort;” … the peoples shall for this very cause confess even to herself; the hearts of all, now enlightened by perfect charity, being laid bare, and made manifest, that she may know the whole of herself most completely, who here is, in many parts of her, unknown to herself.…

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:54-58

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2013

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of 1 Corinthians 15, followed by his notes on 1 Cor 15:54-58. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS OF 1 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 15

The Apostle devotes this, almost concluding chapter, to arrest the progress of an error which teas broached at Corinth regarding the fundamental dogma of the resurrection of the body. Among the Corinthian converts, many, it would seem, were deeply imbued, before embracing the faith, with the scepticism of the Sadducees, and certain doctrines of Pagan philosophy, both equally subversive of the resurrection as well of the soul as of the body. Others among them had adopted the tenets of those who denied the resurrection of the body only. Having embraced the faith at an advanced period of life, they could hardly divest themselves of the false notions which they had for a long period of time entertained. In this chapter, the Apostle proves the resurrection of the body, and, as the basis of this proof, he establishes, on several grounds, the fundamental dogma of the Resurrection of Christ, from which he infers the general resurrection of all men. He first reminds the Corinthians of the gospel preached by himself among them, the leading heads of which were, Christ’s death for our sins, his burial and resurrection (1 Cor 15:1–4). He proves the truth of Christ’s Resurrection from several testimonies and arguments (1 Cor 15:4–12). From the Resurrection of Christ, he infers the general resurrection of all: such being the connection between both, that if we rise not again, neither has Christ arisen. After pointing out the absurd consequences which the denial of the Resurrection of Christ would involve (1 Cor 15:12–22), and having explained the order in which the dead shall arise (1 Cor 15:22–24), he introduces a new argument in favour of the general resurrection, grounded on the total subjection of all things, death included, to Christ (1 Cor 15:24–29). He advances new arguments to prove our future resurrection, and shows the origin of the unbelief of the Corinthians—viz., evil communications (1 Cor 15:34). In the next place, he replies to the principal difficulties against the resurrection (1 Cor 15:34–42). After describing the qualities of glorified bodies (1 Cor 15:42–46), and after showing that as we are now earthly, we shall then be heavenly, he exhorts us to conform to our heavenly model (1 Cor 15:46–50). He points out the mode of the resurrection, and exhorts the Corinthians to the performance of good works.

1Co 15:54  And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.

And when this same mortal body shall put on immortality, then shall be fulfilled the saying of Scripture: Death shall be utterly destroyed, and swallowed up, without a trace of it remaining, owing to the victory obtained over it by the resurrection.

“And when this mortal hath put on immortality.” In Greek, “ὅταν δὲ το φθαρτον τουτο ενδυσηται αφθαρσιαν, και τὸ θνητον τουτο ενδυσηται αθανασιαν,” and when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, aud this mortal shall have put on immortality. The former part is omitted in the Vulgate. It is wanting in the Coptic and Ethiopian versions. The words, “death is swallowed up,” &c., are supposed by many, to be quoted, as to sense, from the prophet Hos13:14: “From the hand of death I shall deliver them, I shall redeem them from death,” which are in sense the same with these quoted here by the Apostle; for, Christ, to whom reference is made in Hosea, by redeeming men from the hand of death, utterly destroyed death and triumphed over it. The opinion which refers these words to Hos 13:14, derives probability from the circumstance, that the words of the following verse, “O death,” &c., are found in the same place, immediately after the preceding quotation. Others maintain that the passage is taken from Isaiah 25:8, which, although it be rendered by St. Jerome, in our Vulgate, præcipitabit mortem in sempiternum, “he shall cast death down headlong for ever,” may also be rendered, as in this passage of the Apostle, absorbebit ipsam mortem in victoriam, “he shall swallow up death in victory;” for the Hebrew word for, absorta est, “is swallowed up,” may, according to the difference of points, be taken passively, as here, or actively, præcipitabit, or absorbet, shall cast headlong, or swallow up, as St. Jerome has translated it. And the Hebrew word, lanetsach, i.e., “for ever,” also means “victory.” St. Jerome, in explaining the foregoing passage of Isaias, refers to it, as the passage from which these words of the Apostle are taken. It may be, however, as Estius remarks, that the Apostle has taken the quotation, not from any one passage, but from several passages of Scripture.

1Co 15:55  O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? 

 Where, O Death, is thy victory, by which thou were wont to triumph over the human race, deceived by the devil? Where, O Death, is thy sting, by which thou wert wont to wound mankind and domineer over them?

According to the common Greek, the reading is, ποῦ σου, θανατε, το κεντρον; ποῦ σου ἅδη, το νικος,; “O death, where is thy sting? O hell, where is thy victory?” The Vulgate reading is that of the chief MSS. The words, hell, and death, mean the same thing, hell or limbo being the depository of the souls of the dead before Christ. The Apostle follows the Septuagint reading of Osee in this passage, with merely this exception, that he transposes the words “victory,” and “sting,” as found in Osee, and for νικος, victory, we have in Osee, δικη, right or cause; but, the meaning of both ultimately comes to the same.

In the Hebrew and the Vulgate rendering of it by St. Jerome, it runs thus, O death, I will be thy death. O hell, I will be thy bite. In these words is expressed the song of triumph over prostrate death, conquered and vanquished after Christ’s Resurrection, when he brought forth the souls shut up in the prison of Limbo, and led captivity captive. This triumph shall be completed in the general resurrection of all men. It is likely that the word “sting,” contains an allusion to the sting of serpents or scorpions, whose sting constitutes their strength.

1Co 15:56  Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law.

Now, the sting through which death wounds us is sin. But the law it is, that has given to sin, its strength, since by occasion of the law prohibiting sin, it only revived; for our corrupt nature tends to what is prohibited; and, moreover, the knowledge which the laws imparts, aggravates the sin.

“The sting of death,” i.e., the sting through which death wounds us is sin; as the scorpion, even when young, wounds through his sting, so death wounds us through sin. “And the strength of sin is the law.”—(See Paraphrase). The Apostle adds this lest any among the converts from Judaism might imagine that the evils of death and sin were removed by the Mosaic law; so far from that being the case, he says that the law only increased sin.—(See Rom. 7:8).

1Co 15:57  But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

But thanks be to God, who has given us a victory over sin and death, through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whose mediation and merits all good comes to us.

God has given us a victory over sin, the sting of death, so as to prevent it from reigning any longer over us, by his gratuitous justification; and over death itself which has now lost its sting, by the earnest he has given us of a future resurrection, and this victory he will complete at a future day, by our own resurrection; all this through the merits of Christ.

1Co 15:58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and unmoveable: always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 

 Wherefore, my brethren, the truth of the resurrection being now established, continue firm and unshaken in the faith of this fundamental article; advance more and more constantly in the performance of good works which please the Lord, and are performed by the aid of his grace. Being firmly persuaded that all the labour which you shall undergo in the performance of these good works, shall meet with a sure reward, for we shall all one day rise from the dead, and live in blessedness with God for endless ages.

“Always abounding in the work of the Lord.” He calls good actions “the work of the Lord,” because God is pleased with them; and also because he enables us by his grace to perform them. What will faith avail us, unless our actions correspond with this faith?

“Your labour is not in vain.” The labours undertaken for God shall not be in vain, nor shall they be suffered to pass by unrequited; they shall fructify unto glory, when we shall be resuscitated, and these frail mortal bodies clad with a glorious immortality. Oh, how eminently calculated is not the doctrine of the Apostle throughout this entire chapter, to raise up our hearts to the contemplation of heavenly things, to console and cheer us under worldly afflictions and disappointments, and to stimulate us to labour earnestly and perseveringly for the possession of that glory, which is one day in store for us. What a subject for awful, and, at the same time, for consoling meditation have we not in every line of this chapter? How calculated is not the serious thought of the summons of the Archangel, “of the voice of the Son of God,” “of the last trumpet,” which so surely as we now exist, we shall one day hear, louder than thunder reverberating through the heavens, to strike us with holy alarm, and to keep us in the observance of God’s holy commandments! It is said of the great St. Jerome, that, “whether he eat or drank, or whatever else he did, the dreadful trumpet of the Archangel seemed always sounding in his ears: Arise ye dead and come to judgment.” If such were its terrors for the saints, what a subject of just dread for us, sinners? It is, at the same time, a subject of consolation for us to reflect, that these bodies if at present mortified and rendered obedient to the spirit, shall one day rise again, clad in all the glorious qualities of impassibility, clarity, agility, and subtlety. O God! grant us one day to arrive at this happy term, at this rich inheritance, which we have so often and so recklessly forfeited by our sins.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:54-58

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2013

54. And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.

Most authorities repeat here both clauses of the preceding verse. The Vulgate reading in this place, however, is found in the Sinaitic MS. and in some other versions. When the transformation spoken of in the preceding verse is effected, then shall come the complete triumph of Christ over death.

Death is swallowed up, etc. The Apostle is referring to Isaiah 25:8, where the Hebrew reads: “He (Jehovah) hath swallowed up death forever.” The Prophet is announcing that in the heavenly Jerusalem there shall be no more death, or pain, or the like; and St. Paul, slightly modifying the same words, proclaims the victory of Christ in the Resurrection over death and its consequences (Gen 3:19).

In the LXX this passage of Isaias is very obscure: “Death having prevailed swallowed up” (κατεπιεν ο θανατος ισχυσας). With the resurrection, death, the last enemy of man, shall be defeated and life shall triumph in all its glory.

55. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?

At the thought of the final triumph over death the Apostle bursts forth in a hymn of exultation, freely citing the Septuagint of Hosea 13:14. Literally, the Prophet was foretelling the restoration of Israel, which was a figure of the redemption of Christ.

Where is thy victory over the dead who are risen again from their graves? Where now is the sting of thy cruel dominion over them?

56. Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law.

The sting of death is sin, i.e., death wounds us, like a poisonous serpent, through sin. The reference is to original sin by which death first stung and poisoned our race. And the Mosaic Law which was later given only served, by its numerous regulations and prohibitions, to stir up and strengthen the baneful consequences of original sin (cf. Rom 4:5 ff.; 5:13; 7:7-11).

57. But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

What the Law could not do, Christ our Lord has done for us. By His death He has conquered both sin and death, satisfying for our transgressions and delivering us from bondage.

Who hath given (Vulg., qui dedit). The Greek has the present tense, which better expresses the victory already begun, although its completion is reserved for the resurrection.

58. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and unmoveable; always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

The Apostle concludes with a brief practical exhortation to the faithful to steadfastness and zeal because of their faith in a glorious resurrection.

In the work of the Lord, i.e., in all good works, performed by command and with the aid of our Saviour. Some think the work of the Lord means the propagation of the faith (1 Cor 16:10).

Knowing that, etc. The Christians should always be mindful of the reward that is in store for them, being assured that whatever good they perform in union with Christ shall not have been done in vain.

These closing words of St. Paul show very clearly how lawful and commendable it is for us to seek a reward for the good we do.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 132

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2013

Sorry, I didn’t have time to edit in the footnotes.

1. It was right indeed, most beloved, that we should rather hear our Brother,6 my colleague, when present before all of us. And just now he refused not, but put us off; for he extorted from me that he might now listen to me, on the condition that I also may listen to him, for in charity itself we are all listening unto Him, who is our One Master in heaven. Attend therefore to the Psalm, entitled A Song of Degrees; considerably longer than the rest under the same title. Let us not therefore linger, save where necessity shall compel us: that we may, if the Lord permit, explain the whole. For ye also ought not to hear everything as men untaught; ye ought in some degree to aid us from your past listenings, so that it may not be needful that everything should be declared to you as though new.7

2. “Lord, remember David, and all his meekness” (ver. 1). David according to the truth of history was one man, king of Israel, son of Jesse. He was indeed meek, as the Divine Scriptures themselves mark and command him, and so meek that he did not even render evil for evil to his persecutor Saul. He preserved towards him so great humility, that he acknowledged him a king, and himself a dog: and answered the king not proudly nor rudely, though he was more powerful in God; but he rather endeavoured to appease him by humility, than to provoke him by pride. Saul was even given into his power, and this by the Lord God, that he might do to him what he listed: but since he was not commanded to slay him, but had it only placed in his power (now a man is permitted to use his power), he rather turned towards mercy what God gave him.… The humility of David is therefore commended, the meekness of David is commended; and it is said to God, “Lord, remember David, and all his meekness.” For what purpose? “How he sware unto the Lord, and vowed a vow unto the Almighty God of Jacob” (ver. 2). Therefore remember for this, that he may fulfil what he hath promised. David himself vowed as though he had it in his power, and he prayeth God to fulfil his vow: there is devotion in the vow, but there is humility in the prayer. Let no one presume to think he fulfilled by his own strength what he hath vowed. He who exhorteth thee to vow, Himself aideth thee to fulfil. Let us therefore see what he vowed, and hence we comprehend how David should be understood in a figure. “David” is interpreted, “Strong of hand,” for he was a great warrior. Trusting indeed in the Lord his God, he despatched all wars, he laid low all his enemies, God helping him, according to the dispensation of that kingdom; prefiguring nevertheless some One strong of hand to destroy His enemies, the devil and his angels. These enemies the Church warreth against, and conquereth.… What then doth he mean, “How he sware,” etc.… Let us see what vow is this. We can offer God nothing more pleasing than to swear.8 Now to swear is to promise firmly.9 Consider this vow, that is, with what ardour he vowed what he vowed, with what love, with what longing; nevertheless, he prayeth the Lord to fulfil it in these words, “O Lord, remember David, and all his meekness.” In this temper he vowed his vow, and there should be a house of God: “I will not come within the tabernacle of mine house, nor climb up into my bed” (ver. 3). “I will not suffer mine eyes to sleep, nor mine eyelids to slumber” (ver. 4). This seemeth not enough; he adds, “Neither the temples of my head to take any rest, until I find out a place for the Lord; an habitation for the God of Jacob” (ver. 5). Where did he seek a place for the Lord? If he was meek, he sought it in himself. For how is one a place for the Lord? Hear the Prophet: “Upon whom shall My Spirit rest? Even upon him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My words.”1 Dost thou wish to be a place for the Lord? Be thou poor in spirit, and contrite, and trembling at the word of God, and thou wilt thyself be made what thou seekest. For if what thou seekest be not realized in thyself, what doth it profit thee in another.…

3. How many thousands believed, my brethren, when they laid down the price of their possessions at the Apostles’ feet! But what saith Scripture of them? Surely they are become a temple of God; not only each respectively a temple of God, but also all a temple of God together. They have therefore become a place for the Lord. And that ye may know that one place is made for the Lord in all, Scripture saith, They were of one heart and one soul toward God.2 But many, so as not to make a place for the Lord, seek their own things, love their own things, delight in their own power, are greedy for their private interests. Whereas he who wisheth to make a place for the Lord, should rejoice not in his private, but the common good.…

4. Let us therefore, brethren, abstain from the possession of private property; or from the love of it, if we may not from its possession; and we make a place for the Lord. It is too much for me, saith some one. But consider who thou art, who art about to make a place for the Lord. If any senator wished to be entertained at your house, I say not senator, the deputy of some great man of this world, and should say, something offends me in thy house; though thou shouldest love it, thou wouldest remove it, nevertheless, lest thou shouldest offend him, whose friendship thou wast courting. And what doth man’s friendship profit thee?… Desire the friendship of Christ without fear: He wishes to be entertained at thy house; make room for Him. What is, make room for Him? Love not thyself, love Him. If thou love thyself, thou shuttest the door against Him; if thou love Him, thou openest unto Him: and if thou open and He enter, thou shalt not be lost by loving thyself, but shalt find thyself with Him who loveth thee.…

5. “Lo, we heard of the same at Ephrata” (ver. 6). What? A place for the Lord. “We heard of it at Ephrata: and found it in the plains of the forests.”3 Did he hear it where he found it? or did he hear it in one place, find it in another? Let us therefore enquire what Ephrata is, where he heard it; let us also enquire what mean the plains of the forests, where he found it. Ephrata, a Hebrew word, is rendered in Latin by Speculum,4 as the translators of Hebrew words in the Scriptures have handed down to us, that we might understand them. They have translated from Hebrew into Greek, and from Greek we have versions into Latin. For there have been who watched in the Scriptures. If therefore Ephrata meaneth a mirror, that house which was found in the woodland plains, was heard of in a mirror. A mirror hath an image: all prophecy is an image of things future. The future house of God, therefore, was declared in the image of prophecy. “We have found it in the plains of the forests.” What are the “plains of the forests”?5 Saltus is not here used in its common sense, as a plot of ground of so many hundred acres;6 saltus properly signifies a spot as yet untilled and woody. For some copies read, in the plains of the wood. What then were the woodland plains, save nations yet untilled? what were they, save regions yet covered with the thorns of idolatry? Thus, though there were thorns of idolatry there, still we find a place for the Lord there, a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. What was declared in the image to the Jews, was manifested in the faith of the Gentiles.

6. “We will go into His tabernacles” (ver. 7). Whose? Those of the Lord God of Jacob. They who enter to dwell therein, are the very same who enter that they may be dwelt in. Thou enterest into thy house, that thou mayest dwell therein; into the house of God, that thou mayest be dwelt in. For the Lord is better, and when He hath begun to dwell in thee, He will make thee happy. For if thou be not dwelt in by Him, thou wilt be miserable. That son who said, “Father, give me the portion of the goods,” etc.,7 wished to be his own master. It was well kept in his father’s hands, that it might not be wasted with harlots. He received it, it was given into his own power; going to a far country, he squandered it all with harlots. At length he suffered hunger, he remembered his father; he returned, that he might be satisfied with bread. Enter therefore, that thou mayest be dwelt in; and mayest be not thine own, so to speak, but His: “We will go into His tabernacles. We will worship on the spot where His feet stood.” Whose feet? The Lord’s, or those of the house of the Lord itself? For that is the Lord’s house, wherein he saith He ought to be worshipped. Beside His house, the Lord heareth not unto eternal life; for he belongeth to God’s house, who hath in charity been built in with living stones. But he who hath not charity, falleth; and while he falls, the house stands.…

7. But if ye incline to understand it of the house itself, where the feet of that house have stood; let thy feet stand in Christ. They will then stand, if thou shall persevere in Christ. For what is said of the devil? “He was a murderer from the beginning, and stood not in the truth.”1 The feet of the devil therefore stood not. Also what saith he of the proud? “O let not the foot of pride come against me; and let not the hand of the ungodly cast me down. There are they fallen, all that work wickedness: they are cast down, and were not able to stand.”2 That then is the house of God, whose feet stand. Whence John rejoicing, saith: what? “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom standeth and heareth him.” If he stand not, he heareth him not. Justly he standeth, because “he rejoiceth on account of the bridegroom’s voice.” Now therefore ye see why they fell, who rejoice because of their own voice.3 That friend of the Bridegroom said, “The same is He which baptizeth.”4 Some say, We baptize: rejoicing in their own voice, they could not stand; and belong not to that house of which it is said, “where His feet stood.”

8. “Arise, O Lord, into Thy resting place” (ver. 8). He saith unto the Lord sleeping, “Arise.” Ye know already who slept, and who rose again.… “Thou, and the ark of Thy sanctification:” that is, Arise, that the ark of Thy sanctification, which Thou hast sanctified, may arise also. He is our Head; His ark is His Church: He arose first, the Church will arise also. The body would not dare to promise itself resurrection, save the Head arose first. The Body of Christ, that was born of Mary, hath been understood by some to be the ark of sanctification; so that the words mean, Arise with Thy Body, that they who believe not may handle.

9. “Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness, and let Thy saints sing with joyfulness” (ver. 9). When Thou risest from the dead, and goest unto Thy Father, let that royal Priesthood be clothed with faith, since “the righteous liveth by faith;”5 and, receiving the pledge of the Holy Spirit, let the members rejoice in the hope of resurrection, which went before in the Head: for to them the Apostle saith, “Rejoicing in hope.”6

10. “For Thy servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of Thine Anointed” (ver. 10). These words are addressed unto God the Father. “For Thy servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of Thine Anointed.” The Lord was crucified in Judæa; He was crucified by the Jews; harassed by them, He slept. He arose to judge those among whose savage hands He slept: and He saith elsewhere, “Raise Thou Me up again, and I shall reward them.”7 He both hath rewarded them, and will reward them. The Jews well know themselves how great were their sufferings after the Lord’s death. They were all expelled from the very city, where they slew Him. What then? have all perished even from the root of David and from the tribe of Judah? No: for some of that stock believed, and in fact many thousands of men of that stock believed, and this after the Lord’s resurrection. They raged and crucified Him: and afterwards began to see miracles wrought in the Name of Him Crucified; and they trembled still more that His Name should have so much power, since when in their hands He seemed unable to work any; and pricked at heart, at length believing that there was some hidden divinity in Him whom they had believed like other men, and asking counsel of the Apostles, they were answered, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”8 Since then Christ arose to judge those by whom He had been crucified, and turned away His Presence from the Jews, turning His Presence towards the Gentiles; God is, as it seemeth, besought in behalf of the remnant of Israel; and it is said unto Him, “For Thy servant David’s sake, turn not away the presence of Thine Anointed.” If the chaff be condemned, let the wheat be gathered together. May the remnant be saved, as Isaiah saith, “And the remnant hath” clearly “been saved:”9 for out of them were the twelve Apostles, out of them more than five hundred brethren, to whom the Lord showed Himself after His Resurrection:10 out of their number were so many thousands baptized,11 who laid the price of their possessions at the Apostles’ feet. Thus then was fulfilled the prayer here made to God: “For Thy servant David’s sake, turn not away the presence of Thine Anointed.”

11. “The Lord hath made a faithful oath unto David, and He shall not repent” (ver. 11). What meaneth, “hath made an oath”? Hath confirmed a promise through Himself. What meaneth, “He shall not repent”? He will not change. For God suffereth not the pain of repentance, nor is He deceived in any matter, so that He would wish to correct that wherein He hath erred. But as when a man repents of anything, he wisheth to change what he hath done; thus where thou hearest that God repenteth, look for an actual change. God doth it differently from thee, although He calleth it by the name of repentance; for thou dost it, because thou hadst erred; while He doth it, because He avengeth, or freeth. He changed Saul’s kingdom, when He repented, as it is said: and in the very passage where the Scripture saith, “It repented Him;” it is said a little after, “for He is not a man that He should repent.”1 When therefore He changeth His works through His immutable counsel, He is said to repent on account of this very change, not of His counsel, but of His work. But He promised this so as not to change it. Just as this passage also saith: “The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec;”2 so also since this was promised so that it should not be changed, because it must needs happen and be permanent; he saith, “The Lord hath made a faithful oath unto David, and He shall not repent; Of the fruit of thy body shall I set upon thy seat.” He might have said, “of the fruit of thy loins,” wherefore did He choose to say, “Of the fruit of thy body”? Had He said that also, it would have been true; but He chose to say with a further meaning, Ex fructu ventris, because Christ was born of a woman without the man.

12. What then? “The Lord hath made a faithful oath unto David, and He shall not shrink from it; Of the fruit of thy body shall I set upon thy seat. If thy children will keep My covenant and My testimonies that I shall learn them, their children also shall sit upon thy seat for evermore” (ver. 12). If thy children keep My covenant, their children also shall sit for evermore. The parents establish a desert on behalf of their children. What if his children should keep the covenant, and their children should not keep it? Why is the happiness of the children promised in relation to their parents’ deservings? For what saith He, “If thy children will keep My covenant, their children also shall sit for evermore”—He saith not, if thy children keep My covenant, they shall sit upon thy seat; and if their children keep My covenant, they also shall sit upon thy seat: but he saith, “If thy children keep My covenant, their children also shall sit upon thy seat for evermore”—except because He here wished their fruit to be understood by their children? “If thy children,” He saith, “will keep My covenant, and if thy children shall keep My testimonies that I shall learn them; their children also shall sit upon thy seat:” that is, this will be their fruit, that they sit upon thy seat. For in this life, brethren, do all of us who labour in Christ, all of us who tremble at His words, who in any way endeavour to execute His will, and groan while we pray His help that we may fulfil what He commandeth; do we already sit in those seats of bliss which are promised us? No: but holding His commandments, we hope this will come to pass. This hope is spoken of under the figure of sons; because sons are the hope of man living in this life, sons are his fruit. For this reason also men, when excusing their avarice, allege that they are reserving for their children what they hoard up; and, unwilling to give to the destitute, excuse themselves under the name of piety, because their children are their hope. For all men who live according to this world, declare it to be their hope, to be fathers of children they may leave behind them. Thus then He describes hope generally under the name of children, and saith, “If thy children will keep My covenant and My testimonies that I shall learn them, their children also shall sit upon thy seat for evermore:” that is, they shall have such fruits, that their hope shall not deceive them, that they may come there where they hope to come. At present therefore they are as fathers, men of hope for the future; but when they have attained what they hope, they are children; because they have brought forth and produced in their works that which they gain. And this is preserved unto them for the future,3 because futurity4 itself commonly signifieth children.

13. Or if thou understand actual men to be meant by children, the words, “If thy children will keep My covenant and My testimonies that I shall teach them,” may mean, “If thy children will keep My covenant and testimonies that I shall teach them, and their children also;” that is, if they too keep My covenant; so that here thou must make a slight pause, and then infer that “they shall sit upon thy seat for evermore;” that is, both thy children and their children, but all if they keep My covenant. What then, if they keep it not? Hath the promise of God failed? No: but it is said and promised for this reason, that God foresaw: what, save that they would believe? But that no man should as it were threaten God’s promises, and prefer to place in his own power the fulfilment of what God promised: for this reason he saith, “He made an oath:” whereby he showeth that it will without doubt take place. How then hath He said here, “If they will keep My covenant”? Glory not in the promises, and leave out thy failing to keep the covenant. Then wilt thou be the son of David, if thou shalt keep the covenant; but if thou dost not keep it, thou wilt not be David’s son. God promised to the sons of David. Say not, I am David’s son if thou degenerate. If the Jews, who were born of this very stock, say not this (nay, they say it, but they are under a delusion. For the Lord saith openly, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.”1 He thereby denied them to be children, because they did not the works), how do we call ourselves David’s children, who are not of his race according to the flesh? It follows then that we are not children, save by imitating his faith, save by worshipping God, as he worshipped. If therefore what thou hopest not through descent, thou wilt not endeavour to obtain by works; how shall the sitting upon David’s seat be fulfilled in thee? And if it shall not be fulfilled in thee, thinkest thou that it shall not be fulfilled at all? And how hath He found it in the woodland tracts? and how did His feet stand? Whatsoever then thou mayest be, that house will stand.

14. “For the Lord hath chosen Sion to be an habitation for Himself” (ver. 13). Sion is the Church Herself; She is also that Jerusalem unto whose peace we are running, who is in pilgrimage not in the Angels, but in us, who in her better part waiteth for the part that will return; whence letters have come unto us, which are every day read. This city is that very Sion, whom the Lord hath chosen.

15. “This shall be My rest for ever” (ver. 14). These are the words of God. “My rest:” I rest there. How greatly doth God love us, brethren, since, because we rest, He saith that He also resteth! For He is not sometimes Himself disturbed, nor doth He rest as we do; but He saith that He resteth there, because we shall have rest in Him. “Here will I dwell: for I have a delight therein.”

16. “I will bless her widow with blessings, and will satisfy her poor with bread” (ver. 15). Every soul that is aware that it is bereft of all help, save of God alone, is widowed. For how doth the Apostle describe a widow? “She that is a widow indeed and desolate, trusteth in God.”2 He was speaking of those whom we all call Widows in the Church. He saith, “She that liveth in pleasure, is dead while she liveth;” and he numbereth her not among the widows. But in describing true widows, what saith he? “She that is a widow indeed and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.” Here he addeth, “but she that liveth in pleasure, is dead while she liveth.” What then makes a widow? That she hath no aid from any other source, save from God alone. They that have husbands, take pride in the protection of their husbands: widows seem desolate, and their aid is a stronger one. The whole Church therefore is one widow, whether in men or in women, in married men or married women, in young men or in old, or in virgins: the whole Church is one widow, desolate in this world, if she feel this, if she is aware of her widowhood: for then is help at hand for her. Do ye not recognise this widow in the Gospel, my brethren, when the Lord declared “that men ought always to pray and not to faint”? “There was in a city a judge,” He said, “which feared not God, neither regarded man. And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him day by day, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.” The widow, by daily importunity, prevailed with him: for the judge said within himself, “Though I fear not God; neither regard man, yet because this woman troubleth me, I will avenge her.”3 If the wicked judge heard the widow, that he might not be molested; heareth not God His Church, whom He exhorteth to pray?

17. Also, “I will satisfy her poor with bread;” what meaneth this, brethren? Let us be poor, and we shall then be satisfied. Many who trust in the world, and are proud, are Christians; they worship Christ, but are not satisfied; for they have been satisfied, and abound in their pride. Of such it is said, “Our soul is filled with the scornful reproof of the wealthy, and with the despitefulness of the proud:”4 these have abundance, and therefore eat, but are not satisfied. And what is said of them in the Psalm? “All such as be fat upon the earth have eaten and worshipped.”5 They worship Christ, they venerate Christ, they pray unto Christ; but they are not satisfied with His wisdom and righteousness. Wherefore? Because they are not poor. For the poor, that is the humble in heart, the more they hunger, the more they eat; and the more empty they are of the world, the more hungry they are. He who is full refuseth whatsoever thou wilt give him, because he is full. Give me one who hungereth; give me one of whom it is said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled:”6 and these will be the poor of whom he hath just said, “And will satisfy her poor with bread.” For in the very Psalm where it is said, “All such as be fat upon the earth have eaten and worshipped;” this is said of the poor also, and exactly in the same manner as in this Psalm, “The poor shall eat, and be satisfied: they that seek after the Lord shall praise Him.”1 Where it is said, “All such as be fat upon earth have eaten and worshipped:” it is said, “the poor shall eat, and be satisfied.” Why, when the rich are said to have worshipped, are they not said to be satisfied; yet when the poor are mentioned, they are said to be satisfied? And whence are they satisfied? What is the nature, brethren, of this satisfying? God Himself is their bread. The bread came down upon the earth, that He might become milk unto us; and said to His own, “I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven.”2 Hence these words in the Psalm, “The poor shall eat, and be satisfied.” From what source shall they be satisfied? Hear what followeth: “And they that seek after the Lord shall praise Him.”

18. Be ye therefore poor, be ye among the members of that widow, let your help be solely in God alone. Money is nought; not thence will ye have aid. Many have been cast headlong down for money’s sake, many have perished on account of money; many for the sake of their riches have been marked out by plunderers; they would have been safe, had they not had what made men hunt for them. Many have presumed in their more powerful friends: they in whom they presumed have fallen, and have involved in their ruin those who trusted in them. Look back upon the instances to be seen in the human race. Is it anything singular that I am telling you? We speak these things not only from these Scriptures; read them in the whole world. Take heed that ye presume not in money, in a friend, in the honour and the boasting of the world. Take away all these things: but if thou hast them, thank God if thou despisest them. But if thou art puffed up by them; think not when thou wilt be the prey of men; already art thou the Devil’s prey. But if thou hast not trusted in these things, thou wilt be among the members of that widow, who is the Church, of whom it is said, “I will bless her widow with blessings;” thou wilt also be poor, and one of those of whom it is said, “And will-satisfy her poor with bread.”

19. Sometimes, however, and we must not pass over this without mention, thou findest a poor man proud, and a rich man humble: we daily endure such persons. Thou hearest a poor man groaning beneath a rich man, and when the more powerful rich man presseth upon him, then thou seest him humble: sometimes not even then, but even then proud; whence thou seest what he would have been, had he any property. God’s poor one is therefore poor in spirit, not in his purse. Sometimes a man goeth forth having a full house, rich lands, many estates, much gold and silver; he knoweth that he must not trust in these, he humbleth himself before God, he doth good with them; thus his heart is raised unto God, so that he is aware that not only do riches themselves profit him nothing, but that they even impede his feet, save He rule them, and aid them: and he is counted among the poor who are satisfied with bread. Thou findest another a proud beggar, or not proud only because he hath nothing, nevertheless seeking whereby he may be puffed up. God doth not heed the means a man hath, but the wish he hath, and judgeth him according to his wish for temporal blessings, not according to the means which it is not his lot to have. Whence the Apostle saith of the rich, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” What therefore should they do with their riches? He goeth on to say: “That they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.” And see that they are poor in this world: “Laying up in store for themselves,” he addeth, “a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”3 When they have laid hold of eternal life, then will they be rich; but since they have it not as yet, they should know that they are poor. Thus it is that God counteth among His poor all the humble in heart, who are established in that twofold charity,4 whatever they may have in this world—among His poor, whom He satisfieth with bread.

20. “I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall rejoice and sing” (ver. 16). We are now at the end of the Psalm; attend for a short space, Beloved. “I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall rejoice and sing.” Who is our salvation, save our Christ? What meaneth, therefore, “I will clothe her priests with salvation”? “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.”5 “And her saints shall rejoice and sing.” Whence shall they rejoice and sing? Because they have been clothed with salvation: not in themselves. For they have become light, but in the Lord; for they were darkness before.6 Therefore he hath added, “There will I raise up the horn of David” (ver. 17): this will be David’s height, that trust be put in Christ. For horn signifieth height: and what sort of height? Not carnal. Therefore, while all the bones are wrapped up in flesh, the horn goeth beyond the flesh. Spiritual altitude is a horn. But what is spiritual loftiness, save to trust in Christ? not to say, It is my work, I baptize;1 but, “He it is who baptizeth.”2 There is the horn of David: and that ye may know that there is the horn of David, heed what followeth: “I have ordained a lantern for mine Anointed.” What is a lantern? Ye already know the Lord’s words concerning John: “He was a burning and a shining light.”3 And what saith John? “He it is who baptizeth.” Herein therefore shall the saints rejoice, herein the priests shall rejoice: because all that is good in themselves, is not of themselves, but of Him who hath the power of baptizing. Fearlessly therefore doth every one who hath received baptism come unto His temple; because it is not man’s, but His who made the horn of David to flourish.

21. “Upon Him shall My sanctification flourish” (ver. 18). Upon whom? Upon Mine Anointed. For when He saith, “Mine anointed,” it is the voice of the Father, who saith, “I will bless her widow with blessings, and will satisfy her poor with bread. I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall rejoice and sing.” He who saith, “There will I raise up the horn of David,” is God. He Himself saith, “I have ordained a lantern for Mine Anointed,” because Christ is both ours and the Father’s: He is our Christ, when He saveth us and ruleth us, as He is also our Lord: He is the Son of the Father, but both our Christ and the Father’s. For if He were not the Father’s Christ, it would not be said above, “For Thy servant David’s sake, turn not Thou away the presence of Thine Anointed.” “Upon Him shall My sanctification flourish.” It flourisheth upon Christ. Let none of men assume this to himself, that he himself sanctifieth: otherwise it will not be true, “Upon Him shall My sanctification flourish.” The glory of sanctification shall flourish. The sanctification of Christ therefore in Christ Himself, is the power of the sanctification of God in Christ. In that he saith, “shall flourish,” he refers to His glory: for when trees flourish, then are they beautiful. Sanctification therefore is in Baptism: thence it flourisheth, and is brightened. Why hath the world yielded to this beauty? Because it flourisheth in Christ; for, put it in man’s power, and how doth it then flourish? since “all flesh in grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the grass.”

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 132

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2013

A SUMMONS TO NIGHT WORSHIP

IF “to stand in the House of the Lord” is equivalent, as it probably is, to the customary phrase “to stand before the Lord” (cf. Deut 10:8), it means to perform liturgical functions in the Temple, and we must, then, regard the psalm as an address to those who are officially engaged in the Temple worship. Since, further, those addressed are exhorted to offer their worship in the night, we must assume that the psalm is addressed to those who are about to take part in night-service in the Temple. The speakers in Ps 132:1-2 may be, either the Priests and Levites who are leaving the Temple after the evening service, or, the multitude of general worshippers who have been taking part in the evening service; or, on the other hand, we might regard the summons to worship as spoken by the night-worshippers to each other. Thus the psalm is either a farewell greeting from departing worshippers to those who are about to spend the night in the Temple, or it is a summons to prayer addressed by the latter to one another. The picture suggested by the first two verses is that of the night-worshippers standing in the inner court of the Temple with hands upraised in the attitude of prayer, and with faces directed towards the Most Holy Place. As they stand thus, a priestly voice comes from within the Temple blessing the worshippers with the blessing of Yahweh, the Creator of heaven and earth. Cf. the High Priest’s blessing in Num. 6:22 ff.

Isaiah 30:29 implies that night-service was held in the old days in the Temple. We may assume that the Vigils of the great feastdays were thus celebrated. (See the Mishna tract Sukka v. iff.; 1 Chron 9:33; 1 Chron 23:30; Isa. 30:29). It is clear that the psalm was not composed originally for the use of pilgrims or of caravan wayfarers on the march ; yet it is easy to imagine a group of travellers who have departed from the Holy City after one of the great feasts repeating for their own comfort and encouragement this song which they had heard sung to the night-watchers in the Temple.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2013

This post opens with the Father’s brief analysis of Matthew 18, followed by his comments on verses 1-5, 10, 12-14.

AN ANALYSIS OF MATTHEW CHAPTER 18

In this chapter, our Lord rebukes the ambitious aspirations of the Apostles, and shows the means of attaining true greatness hereafter, viz., humility (Mt 18:1–4). He next shows how dear the humble are to Him—also the crime of scandalizing them, and the dreadful punishment awaiting the scandalous sinner—and the sacrifices which, therefore, should be made sooner than he guilty of it (Mt 18:5–9). He adduces other reasons to dissuade us from giving scandal to our brethren—their angels will be witnesses against us (Mt 18:10). The Son of God Himself died to save those whom we destroy (Mt 18:11), and by the touching parable of the lost sheep, He shows how the scandalous sinner opposes the earnest will of God to save sinners (Mt 18:12–14). Our Lord next points out the mode of administering correction (Mt 18:15–20); and, in reply to Peter. He points out the duty of pardoning an offending brother, be his offences ever so numerous (Mt 18:21–22). By a very interesting and moving example, He points out the necessity of our pardoning our offending brethren, from our very hearts, their trifling offenses against us, after the example of God, who has so often pardoned our most grievous offenses against His Divine Majesty (Mt 18:23–35).

Mat 18:1  At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who, thinkest thou, is the greater in the kingdom of heaven?

“At that hour,” &c. On His way to Capharnaum (Mt 17:23), we are informed by the other Evangelists (Mark 9:33; Luke 9:46), that the thought entered the minds of His Apostles—a thought to which they gave expression by disputing among themselves—who among them was destined to occupy the first place in His kingdom. When they arrived at His house in Capharnaum, our Redeemer, knowing their thoughts and disputations, questioned them about their disputations in the way. They, probably, from a feeling of shame, were silent (Mark 9:33). Then our Redeemer sat down, and, called together the twelve. They then took courage, knowing that their inmost thoughts and disputations in the way were known to Him, and proposed the question here recorded by St. Matthew. This they proposed in a general way, out of a feeling of modesty, without any particular reference to themselves. “Who, thinkest Thou, is the greater?” &c. From the above account, the apparent contradiction between the Evangelists is easily reconciled. The three Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, record the entire transaction, each recording a part. Luke records the commencement of the dispute; Mark, what occurred next, viz., when our Redeemer questioned them regarding it; and St. Matthew, the last part of it, when the Apostles wished to have the question solved by our Redeemer Himself.

“That hour,” refers to the time they were at Capharnaum, when the occurrence regarding the payment of the tribute money took place. “Hour,” frequently denotes time in SS. Scripture; thus, “the last hour,” denotes the “last time.”

What it is that occasioned this dispute about priority is uncertain. Some say, it was occasioned by the privilege conferred on Peter, of paying the tribute money. But, this dispute occurred on the way, before Peter was thus honoured. Others assign different reasons. The most probable opinion seems to be, that it was occasioned by the reference made by our Redeemer to His resurrection, which they regarded as the commencement of His glorious reign, when He was to distribute the chief places in His new kingdom to His followers. On other occasions, when reference is made by Him to His resurrection, we find similar disputes about precedency to arise, (Mt 20:20 ff; Luke 22:24 ff.) Not unlikely, different claims to precedency were put forward in behalf of several candidates. In behalf of some, priority of call to the Apostleship; of others, blood relationship with the future king, as in the case of the sons of Zebedee; of others, the communication of more intimate secrets by our Blessed Lord, as in the case of James the Greater and John; and, in John’s case, the manifestation of greater affection by our Lord; while, in behalf of Peter, might be alleged, besides some of the foregoing claims, the special promise made by our Divine Redeemer not long before, (Mt 16:17 ff)

“In the kingdom of heaven.” This is understood by Maldonatus of the Church militant—1st. Because our Lord clearly rebukes them for affecting precedence in this kingdom; now, he says, it would be no fault whatever in them, to desire the highest place in heaven. Again, the occasion of the dispute was, according to him, the preference shown to Peter, which had reference to the Church on earth. Others hold, that it refers to heaven; since it is of this our Redeemer treats in His reply (Mt 18:3). The most probable opinion is, that the Apostles refer to the kingdom of the Messiah after His resurrection. While still imbued with the gross and carnal notions of their race, regarding His future reign, they imagined, that our Redeemer would found on earth, a glorious kingdom, a temporal rule far exceeding in splendour and external show the reign of Solomon, or any other of their most magnificent princes, and would assign different posts and places of honour and pre-eminence, like earthly potentates, who liberally dispense places of preferment, to the princes of their kingdom. But, our Redeemer in His reply, transfers the question regarding His temporal reign to the enjoyment of heavenly bliss and pre-eminence.

Mat 18:2  And Jesus, calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them.

“And Jesus calling,” &c. St. Mark 9:34 informs us, that before doing this, He said, “If any man desire to be first, he shall be,” that is, let him be, “the last of all, and the servant of all,” which may mean, that whosoever desires “to be first,” in merit in the sight of God, must become the humblest of all, and exhibit this humility in his dealings with others; so that his future glory in heaven shall be proportioned to his humility at present. And this is borne out by Mt 18:4, and by St. Luke, “he that is lesser among you all, he is the greater;” or, the words may mean, whosoever aspires to the highest post amongst you, should act towards the others with the greatest humility, unlike those who aspire to places of pre-eminence among the Gentiles. This derives probability from what is said (Matt. 20:25), where our Lord contrasts the conduct which should distinguish the chiefs of His kingdom with that which is exhibited by those placed in power among the Gentiles. Both meanings may be intended, viz., to inform us, how one becomes truly great before God, and how the ecclesiastical superior ought to demean himself towards his inferiors. He should be the servant of all, exercising his authority for the benefit of others, and not for his own profit or advancement. After uttering the words above recited, our Redeemer, calling unto Him a little child, took him in His arms, and having embraced him (Mark 9:35), to show His love for innocence, He “set him in the midst of them,” near Himself (Luke 9:47). Probably, He Himself, was seated in the midst of the twelve. The more forcibly to impress them with the truth He meant to inculcate, our Redeemer employs the powerful medium of instruction by example, a mode of instruction well suited to the genius of the oriental people, and frequently in use among them, as may be seen from several places of the Old Testament. Nothing was more usual with the Prophets than to employ symbolical actions for the expression of ideas. Isaias walks naked and without shoes, to convey a warning to the Jews (Isa. 20:2). Jeremias carries chains on his neck (Jer. 27:2); the same may be also seen in Ezechiel. (Ezek 12:17 ff) Our Redeemer sometimes also employs the same in the New Testament, for the purpose of conveying, and more forcibly impressing His heavenly doctrine. Thus, He washes His disciples’ feet, “exemplum dedi vobis,” &c. He breathes on the Apostles in giving the Holy Ghost, &c. The same method is employed here; because nothing leaves so distinct an impression on the mind as that conveyed directly through the senses, “sequins irritant animos demissa per aures quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus” (Horace, Ars Poetica). Our Redeemer wishes, by this example, to cure in His Apostles the wound caused in them by the false love of glory and jealousy, by desiring them to substitute in place thereof a holy contention of humility, “vult desiderium gloriæ, humilitatis contentione sanare” (St. Jerome), and, therefore, He places a little child in the midst of them.

Mat 18:3  And said: amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

And He tells them, that “unless they be converted,” in case such dispositions of humility were wanting; for, the word does not imply, that the Apostles really wanted these dispositions; but, the words are hypothetical and general for all others. Others understand it, unless you be converted, and give up the ambitious feelings which now animate you (Jansenius). It is better, however, to take it in the former sense, and not imply, as is done in this latter interpretation, that the Apostles were in the state of mortal sin, excluding them from the kingdom of heaven.

“And become as little children,” that is, become, by an act of the will, by merit, what the little child is by age, viz., small in their own estimation, and by virtue, as the child is by age, and in person. In this sense, our Redeemer desires its to become like children, but not like them in puerilities, or want of judgment, &c. We should imitate their innocence, sincerity, exemption from malice, from envy and duplicity. This the Apostle recommends (1 Cor. 14), “nolite fieri pueri sensibus; sed malitia parvuli estate,” &c., also (1 Peter 2:2); and in reference to the subject proposed, He wishes us to become like children in our contempt of honours, &c. In order to understand the force of the comparison, St. Hilary (in hunc locum) tells us, we must represent the state of infancy as a state of simplicity, in which one is attached merely to his father and mother, incapable of hating any one, desires neither riches nor honours, wholly innocent and free from vices, and from pride—of all vices, the greatest. If there he little children, addicted to anger, jealous, lying, &c., it is not of such our Redeemer speaks here.

Mat 18:4  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.

Having deterred them from the pursuit of ambition, and shown the necessity of humility, our Redeemer next points out the merit of humility, and replies to the question (Mt 18:1), “Whosoever, therefore, … he is the greatest.” Our Redeemer does not confine Himself to saying, “he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven,” as in the preceding; but, “he is the greatest” (ὅ μειζων). The article imparts to the comparison greater strength of meaning. He shall be the greatest, because more conformable to Me. And here He does not speak of “little children” in general (as in Mt 18:3), but, “as this little child,” to show that He refers to a greater, a more perfect degree of humility, the child in question being, probably, a very small, young, little child. While the virtue of humility is absolutely necessary for entering the kingdom of heaven, a more perfect degree of this virtue is necessary for being the greatest in that kingdom. How different are the means employed for attaining greatness in an earthly kingdom.

Mat 18:5  And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me.

“Shall receive,” that is, perform towards Him the several offices of charity, such as hospitality, &c. The word, “receives,” embraces all the duties of charity.

“One such little child,” that is, a person truly humble, resembling a little child For, it is of such He speaks (Mt 18:6), when treating of scandal.

“Receiveth Me,” to which St. Mark adds (Mk 9:36), “and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not me, but Him that sent Me,” to convey, that such a man shall receive a great reward, not such as is given by Christ as man, but as God. By receiving such a person, we receive Christ, whom he resembles, and as it is through the grace of God, he becomes such; hence, by receiving Him, we receive the head, who communicates His own Holy Spirit to His members. The more humble we are, the more we become assimilated to Christ, who annihilated Himself at His Incarnation, and became a little one for our sakes. “For, a child is born to us, and a son is given to us,” &c. (Isa. 9:6), and the more we become like unto Christ, the more exalted shall we be in His kingdom.

Mat 18:10  See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Our Divine Redeemer continues to exhort us to avoid scandal. The chief cause of scandal arises from either the want of respect, or from the contempt with which men practically treat the souls of their poor, humble brethren. Hence, our Redeemer cautions us against undervaluing or despising any of our brethren.

“Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones,” viz., those humble followers of Me, who have become like little children, as I inculcate. For, although despised and humble here, they are highly esteemed and honoured with God, since He has been pleased to appoint His Angels, the princes of His court, who ever enjoy His presence, to be their guardians during life, and at death. This shows their great dignity with God, which man should respect, and, therefore, no one should undervalue them. Moreover, if we injure, or, by scandal despise these little ones, and ruin their souls, they have powerful defenders, or, rather, avengers, who will be accusers for them against us at the throne of God. This is the first reason assigned by our Divine Redeemer why we should not despise or scandalize our humble brethren.

From this passage, as well from several other passages of the SS. Scriptures, it is inferred, that every one among the just, every one in the state of grace, has an Angel guardian, specially appointed by God’s sweet providence, to guard him during life. Indeed, as regards the just, it has never been denied by any Catholic writer, and it is so clearly laid down in SS. Scripture, and is so thoroughly in accordance with the common belief of the Church, that, although it be not defined as a point of faith, it may be regarded as one of the truths of Christian doctrine, winch could not be denied by any sound Catholic. It seems also to be the more probable opinion, that an Angel guardian is appointed to watch over every human being, including unbelievers of every description. St. Bernard extols the goodness and liberality of God, in thus according us, such heavenly protectors. “O wonderful condescension! O excess of goodness and love! ‘He hath given His angels charge over thee.’ Who gave them charge? The Lord of Angels, whom they obey. To whom was it given? Upon His Angels, His own Angels, hath the supreme Majesty of God laid a command—upon those sublime, those happy spirits, who approach so near His Divinity—His own domestics. Of whom does He give this charge? ‘Over thee.’ What art thou? Is not man rottenness, corruption, the food of worms? What does He charge? ‘That they guard thee, that they keep thee in all thy ways.’ They even ‘bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.’ ” (Serm. 12, in Psa. 90) The Saint (ibidem), points out the duty we owe our Angels guardian: “Great reverence, devotion, and confidence. Reverence for his presence; devotion, for his benevolence; confidence, for his custody … in every apartment, in every closet, in every corner, pay a respect to your Angel. Dare you do before him what thou durst not commit, if I saw you?” &c. “Their Angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” This shows, that wherever sent, in whatever occupation engaged, the blessed Angels enjoy the beatific vision of God, and the delights of Paradise. There are some who hold, that each of us has a wicked angel, appointed by Lucifer, the chief of demons, who imitates the providence of God in this respect, to lead us astray, and compass our ruin. This, however, is not an opinion generally received (see “Butler’s Saints,” 2nd October).

Mat 18:12  What think you? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them should go astray: doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the mountains, and goeth to seek that which is gone astray?

Our Redeemer here adduces the parable of the lost sheep, which He more fully and more circumstantially details (Luke 15:2, &c.), to show the great concern and love God has for the souls of every one of His elect, and the consequent guilt of the scandalous sinner, who opposes the earnest will of the Heavenly Father, that they should be saved, the conclusion He wishes to derive from the parable (Mt 18:14), “Even so it is not the will,” &c. In this we find a third reason to dissuade us from giving scandal, by which, we despise our brethren, and ruin their souls. The reasons adduced by our Redeemer become stronger as He proceeds. The first is derived from the charge the Angels have of them (Mt 18:10); the second, from the love which the Son of man manifested (Mt 18:11); the third, from the will of the Eternal Father, to whom the lost sheep is an object of singular care, when wandering, and of singular and exceeding great joy, when found and brought back. It is not necessary to attempt to accommodate the several parts of the parable to the subject which it is intended to illustrate and enforce. It is the nature of all parables and comparisons in general, that of them some portions are intended rather for ornament and for completing the figurative allusion, in the way in which the subject of the parable commonly takes place, rather than for illustration. The scope of the writer, and his object in employing the parable or comparison, as seen from the context, is the safest criterion for ascertaining the extent of the application of the parable, and the parts of it meant for illustration. The present parable is variously interpreted. By “the ninety-nine sheep” some understand the Angels of heaven; and by “the one that went astray,” the human race, which our Redeemer came down from heaven to redeem. Others understand, and, more probably, “the ninety-nine,” of the just, and the straying “one,” of the sinner, who strays from the paths of virtue. Our Redeemer appeals to their own judgment, in favour of what He says, as a thing common among men. “What think you?” As if He said: I appeal to yourselves for the truth of what I am saying.

Mat 18:13  And if it so be that he find it: Amen I say to you, he rejoiceth more for that, than for the ninety-nine that went not astray.

Our Redeemer does not say, of the shepherd or the man in question, that he loves or esteems one more than ninety-nine; but, that he feels greater actual, present, sensible joy, on finding the lost “one,” than he felt for the remaining “ninety-nine,” that were not lost, both, because of the pain the loss caused him, and the suddenness of the pleasure, arising from finding it. Great joy is preceded by great affliction. The greater the storm on sea, the greater our joy on safely reaching land; the greater the peril of the patient, the greater the joy of his friends on his restoration and recovery. A loving father rejoices more for the recovery of his son, who was on the point of death, than for the rest of his sons who enjoyed sound health, although he loves all equally well. Men are apt to rejoice more for some new and unexpected advantage, than for all their former acquisitions, although of greater value. Our Redeemer (Luke 15:10), speaks of the joy which “the Angels of God” feel on the conversion of a sinner. God Himself being immutable in His nature, is incapable of such affections.

Mat 18:14  Even so it is not the will of your Father, who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

The conclusion of the parable shows, the great crime of the man who gives scandal, since he opposes the will of God the Father. Our Redeemer uses not the words, “My will,” but, “the will of your Father,” to show, that such a man has the Father and the Son as his enemies, and that His will, and that of the Father, who sent Him, is one. “Your Father.” Hence, you sin against your brethren, the children of your common Father, by giving scandal, and causing him to perish whom your Father wishes not to perish. He wishes all men to be saved, and none to perish, and supplies all with the necessary graces for salvation. This He wishes, by a sincere, antecedent wish, considering the matter absolutely and in itself, just as a prince antecedently wishes all his subjects to live, inasmuch as they are his subjects. But, by a consequent wish, founded on the consideration of their resisting His law, and despising His graces and friendship, God does not wish all to be saved, just as the prince referred to wishes that some of his subjects should die, if they turn traitors, and wish to subvert order in his kingdom (see St. John Damascen, Lib. 2, de Orthodoxa fide, c. 29).

The whole drift of the parable is to show, that God the Father has the greatest solicitude and concern for His children, whom He wishes to gain heaven, and feels the greatest joy at their return, just as a man diligently searches for one of his lost sheep, and rejoices on finding it.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 18:1-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2013

Mat 18:1  At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who, thinkest thou, is the greater in the kingdom of heaven?
Mat 18:2  And Jesus, calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them.
Mat 18:3  And said: amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 18:4  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 18:5  And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me.  

HERE BEGINS OUR LORD’S INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING THE CONDUCT OF THE APOSTLES, PRINCES OF THE CHURCH

In this part we possess the special instruction of the disciples on several points of Christian discipline: first, on their relation to the little ones, Mt 18:1–14; secondly, on their care of sinners, Mt 18:15–35; thirdly, on matrimony and virginity, Mt 19:1–15; fourthly, on voluntary poverty, Mt 19:16–30; fifthly, on the working of grace, Mt 20:1–16; sixthly, on suffering and the cross, Mt 20:17–28.

Relation to children. This consists especially in two points: (a), we must become like children, Mt 18:1–5; (b), we must care for children, Mt 18:6–14.

α. Christian childhood. “At that hour” connects the present passage with the preceding; not as if the incident of Peter’s tribute money had given rise to the question among the apostles concerning their greatness in the kingdom, since this discussion had occurred on the way [cf. Mk 9:32], and the tribute money was paid in Capharnaum; nor as if convinced of Peter’s preference, they had inquired into its reasons [cf. Chrysostom]; nor again, as if the rebuke of Peter had made them doubt concerning the previous promises [cf. Mt 16:23; Paschasius, Sylveira]; but the discussion arose in connection with Christ’s prediction of his coming death after which they expected the establishment of the Messianic kingdom [cf. Jansenius, Calmet, Knabenbauer]. “The disciples came to Jesus saying” may be harmonized with Mk 9:32-33, either by assuming that on being asked by Jesus concerning their conversation on the way the disciples first were ashamed of confessing their weakness as the second gospel has it, and later on they regained their courage as the first gospel implies [cf. Jansenius, Barradas Arnoldi, Fillion]; or by seeing in the account of the first evangelist a summary of the event, so that the question was asked by the disciples in thought, not in word [cf. Knabenbauer, Mt 8:5 ff.]. “The greater in the kingdom of heaven” is not the greater in the other world [cf. Euthymius, Thomas Aquinas, Barradas], nor the greater in the exercise of supernatural virtue [cf. Schegg], but the greater in the expected earthly kingdom of the Messias; otherwise the disciples would not have been ashamed of their conversation on the way [cf. Mk 9:32 f.], nor would Jesus have inculcated humility in his answer [cf. Jerome, Maldonado]. “Calling a little child,” Jesus teaches his disciples not merely in words, but also by sight. “Unless you be converted” from your earthly ambition, and become “as little children” in simplicity, purity, and humility [cf. Chrysostom, Origen, Euthymius, Hilary, Jerome; Jn 5:44; 1 Cor 3:18; 2 Cor 3:5; Mt 5:48], you shall not even “enter the kingdom of heaven.” After this implicit rebuke Jesus answers the question of the disciples directly: “Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven”; of the different virtuous qualities of the child, it is humility that is singled out by our Lord as the measure of our greatness in the kingdom of heaven [cf. St Bruno; Mt. 7:22]. “And he that shall receive,” i. e. assist in any way [Maldonado], “one such little child,” not one resembling a child in humility and simplicity [cf. Chrysostom, Jerome, Rabanus, Paschasius, St Bruno, Dionysius, Jansenius, Barradas], nor one of the apostles [Calmet], but primarily a child in years [Faber Stapulensis, Barradas, Arnoldi; Lk. 9:47 ff.; Mk. 9:35], secondarily a child by disposition [cf. Lapide, Schegg, Fillion, Knabenbauer], “in my name,” or on account of my wish and my precepts [Chrysostom, Knabenbauer],—there is no direct statement that the one to be received ought to be a child for the name of Christ [cf. Schanz], though this is implied,—“receiveth me,” because he loves me in the person of the child. 

Mat 18:6  But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. 

(b) the care of children (Mt 18:6-14) “But he that shall scandalize,” i. e. not merely offend or injure, in opposition to the foregoing assistance [cf. Chrysostom], but induce to sin [cf. context]; “one of these little ones that believe in me” is not necessarily one recently converted to the faith [cf. Origen, Euthymius, Theophylact, Dionysius], nor an humble person [cf. Jansenius]; nor a child in manners, in humility and simplicity [cf. Maldonado]; but the expression may refer to those children in years that have attained the age of discretion [Knabenbauer against Keil], so that they may truly be said to believe in Jesus. The “mill-stone” is according to the Greek text of the heavy kind, belonging not to a hand-mill, but to a mill worked by asses. “It were better for him” [cf. Mt. 5:22], not merely because the spiritual evil of scandal is greater than the temporal evil of drowning [cf. St Bruno, Dionysius, Jansenius, Lapide, Barradas, Sylveira, Calmet, Fillion], nor because the punishment of drowning is less than that which God will inflict for the sin of scandal [cf. Chrysostom, Jerome, Thomas Aquinas, Dionysius, Grimm, iv. 129],—for this might be said about the evil of any sin and its eternal punishment compared with any temporal evil,—but the expression indicates that the greatest punishment is due to the sin of scandal, in order to show the malice of the sin by the greatness of the punishment. The latter is the more enormous, because death is unavoidable on account of the “depth of the sea” and the “mill-stone”; and also because drowning was an unusual manner of inflicting death among the Jews [cf. Ex. 1:22; Josephus B. J. I. xxii. 2; Ant. XIV. xv. 10; cont. App. i. 34].

Mat 18:7  Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh
Mat 18:8  And if thy hand, or thy foot, scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire.
Mat 18:9  And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. 

 “Wo to the world because of scandals,” seeing that it is thus exposed to be easily seduced to sin [cf. Theophylact, Maldonado, Jansenius, Sylveira, Schegg, Schanz, Knabenbauer]. “It must needs be that scandals come,” on account of the present condition of fallen human nature scandals are morally certain to come [cf. Chrysostom]; therefore precautions should be taken [cf. Origen]. “But nevertheless wo to that man by whom scandal cometh” is a threat calculated to render scandal less frequent [Knabenbauer]. “If thy hand or thy foot” are expressions that have been explained in Mt 5:29-30; hand and foot are named because scandal usually comes from outside. “It is better” renders the meaning of the Greek text accurately, though its letter reads καλόν ἐστιν … ἤ, which Meyer and Schegg explain as containing two statements: “it is good … and better than.” But this is against the analogy of Ps. 118:8; Hosea. 2:11; Jona 4:3, 8 [cf. Winer, 35, 2]. The extreme care with which scandal must be avoided is a corollary of its intrinsic malice and its frightful punishments.

Mat 18:10  See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Jesus now adds three reasons why we ought to care for the little ones. α. Care of guardian angels. “See that you despise not,” is an admonition that has borne its fruit in the course of time [compare the fate of the children of slaves at our Lord’s time], though we have not yet reached perfection in this regard. “One of these little ones” does not mean a disciple or apostle [cf. Calmet], even though the apostle work for others [cf. Paschasius], nor does it refer to the just in general [cf. Maldonado], or to the imperfect [cf. Dionysius], or to the humble [cf. Jansenius, Sylveira], or equally to children in years and in disposition [cf. Schegg, Grimm, Schanz, Fillion]; but the expression denotes directly the children in years [Chrysostom, Euthymius, Theophylact, Thomas Aquinas Lam.], and by inference only the children in disposition [cf. Knabenbauer]. “Their angels in heaven” supposes that they have angels deputed for their special protection [cf. Jerome, Hilary], just as in the Old Testament we read of angelic protectors of nations and provinces [cf. Ex. 23:20; Dan. 10:13; Dan 12:1], of angelic patrons of the just in great dangers [cf. Gen. 16:7; Gen 24:7; Gen 32:1; Gen 48:16; 1 Kings. 19:5; Tobit 3:25; Judith 8:20; Ps. 91:11; Dan. 3:49; 2 Macc. 11:6; etc.], and as in Acts there is question of the angel of Peter [Acts 12:15]. Though it cannot be inferred from our passage that there are as many angels as there are children [cf. Cajetan], the common opinion holds that every soul has its special angel guardian [cf. Jerome, Jansenius, Maldonado]. The fact that the angels of the little ones “always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” does not imply that they are more excellent than the angels of others [cf. Maldonado], but alluding to the privileged character of the most familiar servants standing in the presence of the king [cf. 1 Sam 10:8; 2 Sam 24:19 heb.], it shows the power of the angelic protectors and their great dignity [cf. Cajetan]. The Jewish and Rabbinic traditions concerning the guardian angels may be seen in Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, i. p. 389; ii. p. 370; Schegg, ii. 450; Wünsche, p. 212 [cf. K. L. iii. 584 ff.].

Mat 18:11  For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 

(b) The care of the Son of man. Not only the guardian angels, but the Son of man himself cares for the little ones, and therefore all the disciples are bound to the same care, especially since “the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” This verse is omitted in א B D L some minusc. e ff sah cop Hil Juv Ti W H, but it is found in most codd. and versions. Most commentators regard it as an interpolation from Lk. 19:10; but though it does not contain anything that is specifically proper to children, it fits very well into the present context, since children run the greatest danger to be led into sin [cf. Rabanus, Bede, Thomas Aquinas].

Mat 18:12  What think you? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them should go astray: doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the mountains, and goeth to seek that which is gone astray?
Mat 18:13  And if it so be that he find it: Amen I say to you, he rejoiceth more for that, than for the ninety-nine that went not astray.
Mat 18:14  Even so it is not the will of your Father, who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

(c) The care of the heavenly Father. “What think you” renders the audience attentive to what is to follow [cf. Mt 17:25]; since the Old Testament employs this illustration taken from shepherd life, Jesus may have used it repeatedly [cf. Lk. 15:4 ff.]. Whether “an hundred sheep” represented a great number [cf. Jansenius, Bengel, Meyer], or a small number of sheep in Palestine [cf. Schegg]; they do not typify all reasonable creatures, the “ninety-nine” being the angels, and “that which is gone astray” the human race [cf. Hilary, Gregory the Great hom. in ev. xxxiv. 3; Rabanus, Paschasius, St Bruno, Dionysius, etc.]; nor are the “ninety-nine in the mountains” the proud, and “that which is gone astray” the humble [cf. Thomas Aquinas]; but without urging the particulars of the parable too much, we may see in the “ninety-nine” the just, and in “that which is gone astray” the sinner [cf. Jerome], so that the “hundred” represent all the disciples of the Lord. Thus the divine care and love for us become more manifest [cf. Jansenius, Maldonado]. “He rejoiceth more for that than for the ninety-nine that went not astray,” not as if he made little of the latter, but because experience [cf. Cajetan] shows that a sudden change of feeling effects such a joy [cf. Euthymius]. The other term of comparison is “the will of your Father,” who does not permit his children to be despised [cf. Jerome], since he does not wish that any “one of these little ones should perish,” but desires really and sincerely their eternal salvation [cf. Thomas Aquinas]. Thus the apostles are gradually urged on to develop zeal for souls.

 

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Matthew 17:22-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2013

But that we may not scandalize them, go to the sea, and cast in a hook: and that fish which shall first come up, take: and when thou hast opened it's mouth, thou shalt find a stater: take that, and give it to them for me and thee

But that we may not scandalize them, go to the sea, and cast in a hook: and that fish which shall first come up, take: and when thou hast opened it’s mouth, thou shalt find a stater: take that, and give it to them for me and thee

Text in red, if any, are my additions.

22. And when they abode together in Galilee, Jesus said to them: The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:
23. And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall rise again. And they were troubled exceedingly.

Here our Lord refers a second time to His sorrowful Passion and death, which He predicts.

They abode together in Galilee; i.e., while they were passing through Galilee (παρεπορευοντο = pareporeuonto, i.e., passing through). Cf. Mark 9:29.

24. And when they were come to Capharnaum, they that received the didrachmas, came to Peter and said to him; Doth not your master pay the didrachmas?

To Capharnaum, from the Mount of the Transfiguration.

The didrachmas. The “didrachma,” or two drachma piece, was a silver coin of Antioch, worth about 31 cents; it was a tax which each Israelite, from twenty to fifty years of age, was obliged to pay annually toward the support of the Temple and public worship (Exodus 30:13; 2 Chron 24:6).

Came to Peter, perhaps because he was head and representative of all the Apostles.

25. He said : Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying: What is thy opinion, Simon? The kings of the earth, of whom do they receive tribute or custom? of their own children, or of strangers?
26. And he said: Of strangers. Jesus said to him: Then the children are free.

Jesus prevented him; i.e., began first to speak to him.

The kings of the earth, etc. Our Lord asks Simon what the custom is of earthly kings in respect to paying their taxes, whether, namely, they required their own children, or only strangers, to pay them taxes. Peter replies that earthly kings receive taxes only from strangers, because the purpose of receiving them is for their own and their children’s support. Hence, it would be absurd for them to require taxes from their children. Our Lord replies that the children, then, are free ; and the inference is that, since He Himself is the Son of the King of Kings, He likewise should be free.

27. But that we may not scandalize them, go to the sea, and cast in a hook: and that fish which shall first come up, take : and when thou hast opened its mouth, thou shalt find a stater : take that, and give it to them for me and thee.

That we may not scandalize them. Although really exempt, by His nature, from paying tribute to anybody, our Lord does not wish to appear to disregard law or authority, or to be unconcerned about the service and support of the Temple.

Go to the sea ; i.e., to the Lake of Genesareth.

A stater. The “stater” was equivalent in value to four drachmas, or about 62 cents; it was also equal in value to the Jewish shekel, which was officially tariffed at only 51 cents.

For me and thee. There is no reference to the other disciples, because Peter was the representative of all, and perhaps also because he and our Lord were alone at the time.

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