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 14th, 2013

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 19:13-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013

Mat 19:13  Then were little children presented to him, that he should impose hands upon them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them.

“Then, were little children presented to Him.” When this occurred is a matter of dispute. Some say, it occurred after the discourse regarding continency. But, as it would seem from St. Mark (10), that this discourse was delivered in private, hence, others say the time cannot be precisely defined, and that, “then,” means, at that time, or when He was engaged in the Gospel ministry.

“Little children.” St. Luke says, “infants,” but the period of infancy might last for six or seven years; and so, both accounts perfectly agree. It may be, that among these “little children,” infants, too, were presented. “That He should lay His hands upon them and pray.” The parents or nurses of these children, seeing the blessings that were conferred on all who came in contact with our Blessed Redeemer, the several cures He was pleased to perform by expelling demons, &c., were desirous of presenting their children to Him, in order that they might be freed from all harm, and from the power of evil spirits, by the imposition of His hands, and by His prayers and benediction. It was customary with the Jews to present their little children to holy men for their blessing, which they bestowed by extending their hands over them, as we see in the case of Jacob extending his hands over the children of Joseph, and blessing them. (Gen. 48:14, &c.)

“And the disciples rebuked them.” They did so, from a feeling of false zeal and respect for their Master’s honour, regarding it as beneath the dignity of so great a Prophet to descend from the lofty eminence of preaching the Gospel, and accommodate Himself to the trifles of children. On this account it was, that they rebuked the parents of the children, as trifling with the dignity, and unseasonably obtruding on the time of their Divine Master.

Mat 19:14  But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.

“But Jesus said to them.” St. Mark (10:14), says, “He was much displeased” at the conduct of His disciples, “and said to them: Suffer the little children to come to Me, and forbid them not.” Here St. Matthew adds, “and forbid them not to come to Me, for the kingdom of heaven is for such,” i.e., destined for little children only, and adults who are like them, in innocence and humility of heart. Similar are the words (18), “unless you be concerted and become as little children,” &c.

St. Mark says, our Redeemer added on this occasion (10:15), “Amen, I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter into it,” i.e., whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God, or, rather, the means conducting thereto, such as the preaching of Gospel, grace, &c., with the humility of a little child, by reducing his intellect to captivity, unto the obedience of Christ, shall never enter the kingdom of God’s glory. The interpretation of others (Bede), who by “the kingdom of heaven,” understand, the preaching of the Gospel, comes to the same. The idea is the same as that conveyed (18:3). The Redeemer was displeased with the false zeal of His Apostles for His honour, and He wishes to inculcate a lesson of humility.

Mat 19:15  And when he had imposed hands upon them, he departed from thence.

“When He had laid His hands on them,” thus blessing them, and most likely, He prayed for them, “He departed,” &c. Our Redeemer, in thus blessing these little children, the fruit of lawful wedlock, showed that, while He preferred continency, He did not condemn marriage. No doubt, this imposition of our Redeemer’s hands, was replete with all spiritual and temporal benedictions, and it is to be presumed, all those little children, who were thus singularly favoured, became men eminent for sanctity. Nicephorus relates that St. Ignatius Martyr, afterwards the celebrated Bishop of Antioch, was one of these little children. This condescension and paternal kindness of our Blessed Lord, to these innocent little children, shows the great care we should bestow on the young; since, upon the early education of children, will depend, in a great measure, their future conduct in life. According as the twig is bent, will it grow. “A young man, according to his way, even when he grows old, shall not depart therefrom” (Proverbs 22:6).

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 19:13-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013

Mat 19:13  Then were little children presented to him, that he should impose hands upon them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them.

Then were little children presented. Both states are blessed. The present passage is not merely an additional instruction of the apostles on Christian family life [cf. Schanz, Knabenbauer], but it illustrates our Lord’s view on both the state of matrimony whose fruit he blesses, and of virginity represented by the innocent children [cf. Opus Imperfectum, Bede, Rabanus, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas]. “Then” seems to connect this incident with the preceding [cf. Mk. 10:13], or with verse 2 [Schanz], though it does not do so necessarily [cf. Lk. 18:15]. “Little children” are not merely spiritual children [cf. Origen; 1 Cor. 3:1], but the Greek word employed by the third evangelist [Lk. 18:15] signifies newly born children [cf. Lk. 2:12, 16; Acts 7:19], though the word may have here a wider meaning [cf. 2 Tim. 3:15]. “That he should impose hands upon them” accords with the Jewish custom of presenting the children for this purpose to the ancients in Jerusalem [cf. Ugolini, thesaur. antiq. vol. iv. p. 826; Thomas Aquinas, Jansenius, Maldonado]; as the miraculous effects of our Lord’s physical contact were well known, the parents had in this case a special inducement for presenting their children to him [Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Jansenius, Maldonado]. The mention of prayer is omitted in the parallel texts of the second and third gospel, but is already implied in the touch of our Lord [cf. Gen. 48:14, 15]. “The disciples rebuked them,” not as if they had considered it useless to bless little children who did not understand what happened to them [cf. Alb. Keil]; but either because they thought it below the dignity of the Master to deal with such little infants [Chrysostom, Theophylact, Opus Imperfectum, Paschasius, Jansenius, Maldonado, Lapide, Fillion], or because they did not wish the Master to be too much molested in this manner [Berradas, Bede, Rabanus, Alb. Thomas Aquinas, Schanz, Grimm, v. p. 263].

Mat 19:14  But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.
Mat 19:15  And when he had imposed hands upon them, he departed from thence.

“But Jesus said to them” may be compared with Mk. 10:14, where it is stated that Jesus was indignant over the apostles’ behavior. The parents are encouraged in their attempt by the words “suffer the little children …,” and they must have felt most consoled when they heard “for the kingdom of heaven is for such,” i. e. not only for those like children in simplicity and humility [cf. Chrysostom, Theophylact,  Euthymius, Opus Imperfectum, Paschasius, St Bruno, Alb. Thomas Aquinas, Jerome, Rabanus, Ambrose], but also for the children themselves [cf. Chrysostom, Schanz, Knabenbauer]. Lk. 18:17 and Mk. 10:15 add here in a somewhat different form the exhortation on spiritual childhood given Mt. 18:3. The present passage shows that little children are capable of receiving spiritual blessings, and therefore admonishes parents not to delay their baptism, without which they cannot be saved [cf. Jn. 3:5]. “When he had imposed hands upon them” is supplemented by Mk. 10:16, according to which passage he embraced the children. “He departed from hence” implies that he left the house in which the children had been presented [cf. Mk. 10:10 f.; 10:17].

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 19:13-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013

Mat 19:13  Then were little children presented to him, that he should impose hands upon them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them.

Then were little children presented (Vulgate, were offered) to him.

And the disciples rebuked—because they thought Christ was occupied with more important matters, such as instructing men; and that He must not be called off to attend to little children, as not having the use of reason; and that it was unworthy so great a prophet to busy Himself about children. For little children Luke has (Lk 18:15) βρέφη, infants. But infancy lasts until the seventh year.

Moraliter: let princes here learn from Christ, Who is the King of kings and Lord of lords, to make themselves accessible to the poor, to women and children, and graciously to hear and grant their supplications and requests. This was done by several of the Roman emperors, even of those who were heathens. Such was Titus, who, as Suetonius testifies, was wont to say, “No one ought to go away sorrowful after talking with a prince.” And on the day when he had not done a kindness to any one, he groaned and said, “Alas! I have lost a day.” Next there was Trajan, of whom Pliny says in his Panegyric, “Thou dost not suffer citizens to embrace thy feet, nor return a kiss with thine hand. All who approach thee come close to thy side; and it is their own sense of modesty, not thy haughtiness, which puts an end to the conference.” And, a little afterwards: “There is no difficulty in obtaining an audience, there is no delay in giving an answer: forthwith they are heard, forthwith they receive a reply.” Then there was Alexander Severus, of whom Lampridius says: “So great was his moderation, that no one was ever removed from his side; he made himself so bland and affable to all men, that he used to visit not only his friends of the first and second ranks, but the sick of even a lower degree.” Lastly, of the Christian emperors, Pacatus says to Theodosius in his Panegyric, “When the people are waiting for you, you make it plain not only that you are willing to be seen, but easy of approach. You receive from him who is nearest to you the petitions of all your people.”

That he should impose hands upon them. that by this imposition of hands He might bless them, and so implore Divine grace for them, that they might grow up to be wise and holy men. That this was an ancient practice of the Hebrews is gathered from Gen. 48:14, where Jacob—extending his arms in such away as to form the figure of a cross—blessed the two young sons of Joseph. See also Sirach 3:11: “The blessing of a father strengthens the house of sons; but the curse of a mother roots out their foundations.” From Christ has been derived the custom among Christians, that lay people, and especially children, should ask a blessing from their elders and from priests. This is the case in Belgium, where boys will run up to the priests and religious men, and ask them to sign them with the sign of the cross. They are taught to do this both by the catechists and by their parents. Remigius says this was a custom among the Jews before the time of Christ. The great Sir Thomas More, the glory of England and a martyr, when he was Lord High Chancellor, publicly asked his aged father to give him his blessing, as Stapleton testifies. Moreover, the Church uses this ceremony of imposition of hands in Baptism, Orders, Penance, and whenever heretics are received into the Church. It is to pray for and obtain the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Mat 19:14  But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.

But Jesus said, &c. Victor of Antioch mentions five natural endowments why Christ has so great a love for the little ones. “The mind of a child is pure, and free from all vicious passions. It does not remember injuries, nor meditate upon revenge. In like manner, although a child may be severely chastised by its mother, yet will it run to her before any one else, and is attached to her more than to any other woman. And if you should show it a queen with a diadem upon her head, in no wise would it prefer her to its mother clothed in rags. It would rather see its mother clothed in rags than a queen in her royal apparel. Then a child requires nothing more than nature demands. Thus as soon as it is satisfied, it leaves it mother’s breasts. Moreover it is never grieved at the loss of those things, of which we make so great account, such as money and jewels. Lastly, it is not carried away by corporeal beauty, as other human beings are. Wherefore the Lord said, the kingdom of Heaven is for such. Assuredly by them does He admonish us, that we should do such things by the firm choice of our own will, which little children do by natural endowment.” (On Mark 10:13.) Thus Christ chose out and blessed when they were children, S. Edmund, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, S. Nicholas, S. Catharine of Siena, and other eminent saints. When Gelasius was a boy he found his little brother, S. Ophilus, praying in his chamber, and a company of angels talking with him. He saw them with his own eyes, and heard a voice saying, Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such. As he became older he grew in holiness, and like a fruitful olive tree in the house of the Lord, he brought forth abundant fruit, and thus in his early youth, he passed to Christ. S. Babylas, Patriarch of Antioch, and an illustrious martyr under the Emperor Numerianus, being by him condemned to death, desired that three boys, whom he had brought up in faith and piety might be beheaded before him, lest they should be led astray. He offered them to Christ as innocent victims, and said, “Behold I and the children, whom the Lord hath given me for a sign.” Thus it is in his Life in Surius.

Learn from hence with what care children ought to be brought up, and instructed, that they may remain pure, for “the newly made jar long preserves the savour of what it first contains.”

S. Basil proves the advantages of early religious training from these words of Christ. He asks (in Reg. Disputat. interrog. 292), “Is it fitting that a master of boys living in the world should be a Brother? He answers in the affirmative. Let the Lord’s command be kept, Suffer the little children to come unto Me.” For young children go forth amongst the adult members of society, and what they have learnt in youth, they retain in old age. Children are the nursery of the Church and of the commonwealth .

Of such, &c. Syriac, Of those who are like them. Whence Luke adds, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no wise enter therein. Christ’s meaning here is as though He said, “It is not beneath My dignity to bless young children, because through My blessing they are made fit for the Kingdom of Heaven, whilst you, 0 ye adult Jews, who have often heard Me teaching are unfitted for it on account of your pride, and your other vices by which you have become callous. Wherefore in order that ye may become fit, ye must become like unto these little ones.” Hear S. Ambrose (lib. 8, in cap. 18 Luc.): “This age is weak in physical strength, and immature in mind and judgment. It is not therefore childhood which is meant, so much as the goodness which emulates childhood’s simplicity.” And a little afterwards, speaking symbolically, “Who is the child which is to be imitated by the Apostles of Christ? It is He of whom Isaiah speaks, Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. For it is that Child who saith to thee, Take up thy Cross, and follow Me. And that thou mayest recognise who He is—when He was reviled, He reviled not again, when He was smitten, He smote not back. Here is perfect virtue. Therefore there is in childhood a kind of venerable character of old age, and in old age an innocent childhood.” From hence it is plain that the Anabaptists are wrong in keeping children away from Baptism, and so from Christ and the kingdom of heaven, on the ground that infants have not the use of reason, and therefore cannot believe. For although they may not have the act of faith, they may have the habit of faith. Because a habit (habitus) of faith, and grace and charity is infused into them by Baptism. They believe moreover in act by the faith of the Church, i.e., of their parents, and the faithful of the Church, who often exercise acts of faith on behalf of themselves and all who belong to them.

Mat 19:15  And when he had imposed hands upon them, he departed from thence.

And when he had imposed hands upon them, &c.  The hands of Christ conferred life and salvation. The reason is because the hand is the organ of organs. Wherefore the Godhead of Christ exercised His Divine power and grace towards those whom He touched through His hands, giving them health both of body and soul, or increasing the grace given them in their circumcision, and in other ways, sanctifying them, and offering them to God, and as it were consecrating them. Whence we need not doubt that these young children who were blessed by Christ grew up to be wise and holy men, who afterwards became rulers of Churches, and propagated the faith of Christ. So Francis Lucas.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 19:13-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013

Ver 13. Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.14. But Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”15. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The Lord had been holding discourse of chastity; and some of His hearers now brought unto Him infants, who in respect of chastity are the purest; for they supposed that it was the pure in body only whom He had approved; and this is that which is said, “Then were brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray.”

Origen: For they now understood from His previous mighty works, that by laying on of His hands and by prayer evils were obviated. They bring therefore children to Him, judging that it were impossible that after the Lord had by His touch conveyed divine virtue into them, harm or any daemon should come nigh them.

Remig.: For it was a custom among the ancients that little children should be brought to aged persons, to receive benediction by their hand or tongue; and according to this custom little children are now brought to the Lord.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The flesh as it delights not in good, if it hear any good readily forgets it; but the evil that it has it retains ever. But a little while before Christ took a little child and said, “Except ye become as this child, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” [Mat_18:3] yet His disciples, presently forgetting this innocence of children, now forbid children, as unworthy to come to Christ.

Jerome: Not because they liked not that they should have benediction of the Saviour’s hand and mouth; but forasmuch as their faith was not yet perfect, they thought that He like other men would be wearied by the applications of those that brought them.

Chrys.: Or the disciples would have thrust them away, from respect to Christ’s dignity. But the Lord teaching them holy thoughts, and to subdue the pride of this world, took the children into His arms, and promised to such the kingdom of heaven; “But Jesus saith unto them, Suffer little children and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: For who were worthy to come to Christ, if simple infancy were thrust away? Therefore he said, “Forbid them not.” For if they shall turn out saints, why hinder ye the sons from coming to their Father? And if sinners, why do ye pronounce a sentence of condemnation, before you see any fault in them?

Jerome: And He said distinctly, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven,” not Of these, to shew that it was not years, but disposition that determined His judgment, and that the reward was promised to such as had like innocence and simplicity.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The present passage instructs all parents to bring their children to the priests, for it is not the priest who lays his hands on them, but Christ, in whose name hands are laid. For if he that offers his food in prayer to God eats it sanctified, for it is sanctified by the word of God, and by prayer, as the Apostle speaks [marg. note: 1Ti_4:5], how much rather ought children to be offered to God, and sanctified? And this is the reason of blessing of food, “Because the whole world lieth in wickedness; [1Jo_5:19] so that all things that have body, which are a great part of the world, lie in wickedness. Consequently infants when born, are as respects their flesh lying in wickedness.

Origen: Mystically; We call them children who are yet carnal in Christ, having need of milk. They who bring the babes to the Saviour, are they who profess to have knowledge of the word, but are still simple, and have for their food children’s lessons, being yet novices. They who seem more perfect, and are therefore the disciples of Jesus, before they have learnt the way of righteousness which is for children, rebuke those who by simple doctrine bring to Christ children and babes, that is, such as are less learned.

But the Lord exhorting His disciples now become men to condescend to the needs of babes, to be babes to babes, that they may gain babes, says, “For of such is the kingdom of heaven.” For He Himself also, when He was in the form of God, was made a babe. These things we should attend to, lest in esteeming that more excellent wisdom, and spiritual advancement, as though we were become great we should despise the little ones of the Church, forbidding children to be brought to Jesus.

But since children cannot follow all things that are commanded them, Jesus laid His hands upon them, and leaving virtue in them by His touch, went away from them, seeing they were not able to follow Him, like the other more perfect disciples.

Remig.: Also laying His hands upon them, He blessed them, to signify that the lowly in spirit are worthy His grace and blessing.

Gloss., non occ.: He laid His hands upon them while men held them, to signify that the grace of His aid was necessary.

Hilary: The infants are a type of the Gentiles, to whom salvation is rendered by faith and hearing. But the disciples, in their first zeal for the salvation of Israel, forbid them to approach, but the Lord declares that they are not to be forbidden. For the gift of the Holy Ghost was to be conferred upon the Gentiles by laying on of hands, as soon as the Law had ceased.

 

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A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 40:2, 3, 4, 18

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013

Ps 40:2.  I waited patiently for the LORD: and he inclined unto me, and heard my calling.

I waited for Him That is the expectation of the Gentiles, (Lorinus) and so does He wait also. “And therefore will the LORD wait that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted that He may have mercy upon you” (Isa 30:18).  The Rabbis are fond of comparing those two texts: “the heathen say, Where is now their GOD?” and that triumphant reply, “Lo, this is our GOD, we have waited for Him, and He will save us” (Isa 25:9).  S. Athanasius makes a simpler use of the verse; that we are not, as it were, to outrun the providential leadings of GOD,* by exposing ourselves voluntarily to our persecutors, but are rather expecting to expect Him, till He shall make the way clear for us, whether it is His will that we should serve Him yet longer in this world, or should glorify Him once for all in the fires. But take it rather of the expectation of the Church after the promise of now four thousand years’ standing; “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head;” expectation revived and renewed in every age by the types and prophecies, and at last fixed to a certain epoch by the seventy weeks of Daniel. I waited patiently. And “we are saved by hope;” and what is hope but patient expectation, (Ludolphus, Theodoret) according to that saying of the Apostle (Rom 8:25). “Then do we with patience wait for it?” And if ever of any expectation, it may be said of that expressed by the Psalmist here. And so S. Bernard says—and no one has written better than he on hope—“Thou, (Dionysius the Carthusian) O LORD, art my Hope: whatever I have to do, whatever to avoid, whatever to tolerate, whatever to wish, Thou, O LORD, art my hope: the only cause and reason of my expectation. Let another speak of his own merit; let him boast that he bears the burden and heat of the day. Let him vaunt that he fasts twice in the week, let him glory that he is not as other men; but as for me, I have no such ground of acceptance (St Bernard), I expecting will expect the Lord, and Him alone.” And again, in another place, “If rewards are promised us to be obtained through Thee, I will hope: if battles rise up against me, I will hope; if the world rages, if Satan attacks, if the flesh lusteth against the spirit, in Thee will I hope” (Wasimund).  And He inclined to me. Never so gloriously, never so lovingly, as when the King, now exalted on the throne of the Cross, inclined His Head to give the last kiss of affection to His Bride; or, as others will understand it, to ask her leave to absent Himself for a little while, according to that saying, “I will come again and receive you to Myself.”* S. Thomas goes through the different stages of expectation, comparing them to the increasing brightness of a summer morning: the first greyness, when you can hardly tell whether the day has really broken or not—and that was the hope of the patriarch; the earliest streaks of colour which tell most undoubtedly of the approaching sun, and there we have the Mosaic types; the brightness diffused over the whole earth, and there we have the predictions of the prophets; and then, lastly, the one or two actual rays which shoot up from the horizon, and in like manner such manifest revelations as Daniel’s seventy weeks, and Malachi’s “The LORD Whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His Temple.”

Psalm 40:3.  He brought me also out of the horrible pit, out of the mire and clay: and set my feet upon the rock, and ordered my goings.

Out of the horrible pit: or, as it is in the Vulgate, Out of the lake of misery. That is a noble passage of S. Augustine’s (City of God 18, 35), where he speaks of the barrenness of that land where the rivers of justice flow not. Mediæval writers refer to the prophecy of Zechariah, “As for thee also, by the blood of the covenant, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water” (Zech 9:1).  Out of the mire. And they dwell, not only on the polluting nature of sin, but on its power of engulphing and swallowing up, (Lorinus) like an abyss of mire. And they remind us how, here also, like cures like: how man, made of clay, and to be resolved into clay again, and engaged in the hard labours which the spiritual Pharaoh exacts from the clay-field, was cured from his blindness by that clay which our LORD made. S. Gregory says well: “By the name of mire in Holy Scripture sometimes we understand the cupidity of earthly possessions, sometimes filthy and polluting doctrines, sometimes the desires of carnal concupiscence” (Jn 9:9).  And so the Prophet cries out, “Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his!—how long?—and that loadeth himself with thick clay!” (Pope Gregory the Great) Or they take the horrible pit on the one side, and the mire and clay on the other, to set forth to us the shame as well as the agony of the LORD’S Passion. Upon a rock. “O true Rock!” cries a mediæval saint (Thomas Aquinas); “O glorious Rock, lifting itself so serenely above the storms and clouds of this lower world! Thou only firm abiding-place for the trembling feet! Thou only secure abode for the hunted conies! What thanks or praise can I give to Thee (Wasimund), Rock, to which I turn my eyes, Rock of my security, Rock whence burst forth the Living Water, the Water whereof, if a man drinketh, he shall thirst no more! Rock of ages! Rock of the elect!” (1 Cor 10:4) This is the Rock so worthily figured by the smitten rock in the wilderness: we need fear no error when we have an Apostolic commentator, “That rock was CHRIST.” And not water alone did that Rock send forth: “He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock” (Deut 32:13).

Or yet again: (Isa 2:1) we may take the rock of that Mountain which shall be established on the top of the mountains and exalted above the hills; (Lorinus) the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. A Rock indeed! For (Rupert), let the foot once be set there, and what can remove it? let the house once be established there, and what can endanger it? And then it may well follow, and ordered my goings. For then we shall see how all our goings have been so ordered, as to lead us in safety to the Everlasting LORD; ordered, by means that we little thought; ordered, by many an affliction, many a fear, many an “all these things are against me;” but ordered right, (St Bruno of Aste) for all that, all things working together for our good. Or, if we take the Hebrew, the sense is even still more applicable: כוֹנֵן אֲשֻׁרָי, making good my success: that glorious, final success, where no more temptations have to be met, no more watch and ward maintained; where the armour may be laid by; where there is perfect peace! Therefore it well follows:

Ps 40:4a  And he hath put a new song in my mouth: even a thanksgiving unto our GOD.

They are full of the different meanings which the new song may have: whether it is to be taken of the Gloria in Excelsis (John Chrysostom, Eligius), first heard at Bethlehem (Lk 2:14); or the Nunc Dimittis (Lk 2:29-32), with its extension of redemption to the Gentiles. But if we take the rock as we have just taken it, of the heavenly mountain, then this can only be the song of Moses and of the Lamb: of Moses, in that the Red Sea of this life is past; and of the Lamb, in that, in a higher and more perfect sense (Hugo of St Victor),  peace is proclaimed to men of peace in that true Vision of Peace. S. Clement of Alexandria dwells at great length on this passage, comparing our LORD to another Orpheus. In the three new songs which the Church daily employs, the Benedictus, the Nunc Dimittis, and the Magnificat, they see a mystical application to each Person of the Blessed TRINITY, and the especial work of that Person in the salvation of man. But why does it go on—even a thanksgiving unto our God? Because, as Ruffinus observes, there are many who so take a hymn of praise into their mouths, as in real truth to glorify themselves, and not GOD. Not unfitly do they compare with this new song the old song of corrupt human nature, (Michael Ayguan) which, like the syren melody of Pagan lore, endeavoured to plunge men into a bottomless abyss. But if, (Dionysius the Carthusian) as before, we put these words into our LORD’S mouth, then what shall the new song be? And they well answer that still there are three. The first is, “I ascend unto My FATHER and your FATHER;” the second, “Whose sins soever ye remit, they are remitted unto them;” the third, “I will send the promise of My FATHER unto you.”

Ps 40:4b.  Many shall see it, and fear: and shall put their trust in the LORD.

Or, as S. Augustine reads it, The just shall see it: a reading for which there is no authority. But we may ask, How can we see a song? And why ought not the Psalmist rather to say, They shall hear it? And the answer is ready: Because the hymn of praise that GOD loves is that of deeds, and not of words. Hence it is set down as the character of the wicked, “Behold, they speak with their mouth:” that is, with their mouth only. Therefore also it is said that, when the evil spirit troubled Saul (Vieyra), it was the harp of David—not his voice—which drove it away; for the harp needs the hand to make it sound. And fear. But why, if it be a thanksgiving, should they fear? And they happily refer to that first new song, “Glory to GOD in the Highest,” concerning which it is said that the shepherds were sore afraid. And shall put their trust in the Lord. For so they did when they continued, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem” (Michael Ayguan).  And they observe also how any example of great trust has been preceded by a time of fear. “Fear not: lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.” And so the Angel to the Blessed Virgin: “Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with GOD” (Lk 1:30). So to the shepherds: “Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Lk 2:10). So to the holy women at the Sepulchre: “Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek JESUS, Which was crucified” (Mt 28:3). It is well said, “In the way of GOD we begin by fear, and advance to courage; for, just as in the way of the world adversity is the parent of fortitude (St Gregory the Great), so in that of the LORD boldness ends in debility, fear in strength.” And how is this? Let an early writer explain: “The beginning of our salvation and of our wisdom is, as Scripture testifieth (Cassian), the fear of the LORD; from the fear of the LORD springs salutary compunction; from compunction self-renunciation; from that, humility; from humility mortification of all our appetites: by that mortification every vice is uprooted, and withers; and vice failing, then grace takes root, and flourishes.” And so it follows here: shall fear, and shall put their trust in the Lord. Oh happy dread, so ending in happy love! Oh hard yet dear schoolmaster, thus to bring us to the only Source of perfect security! Who would not fear, (W.) who would not tremble, with Esther? Who would not say, ‘If I perish, I perish,’ if only Ahasuerus is about to stretch forth the golden sceptre, and to welcome the timid suppliant?

Ps 40:18.  As for me, I am poor and needy: but the LORD careth for me. Thou art my helper and redeemer: make no long tarrying, O my GOD.

It will be better to consider these verses (14-18) when, by GOD’S help, they occur again, where they form the 70th Psalm. That, as the second edition, may be considered, if I may use the expression without irreverence, as the more perfect, in its verbal differences, of the two; and for that therefore we will wait. The verse which corresponds to 40:18 in Psalm 70 reads as follows:

As for me, I am poor and in misery: haste thee unto me, O GOD. Thou art my helper, and my redeemer: O LORD, make no long tarrying.

The person who compiled the commentary writes:

It is most truly spoken of Him Who had not where to lay His head (St Hilary), Who was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. But, it is added in the fortieth Psalm, the Lord careth for me, with the care of a FATHER, for His Only-begotten and beloved SON, the care of the Divinity of the WORD for that Manhood which He assumed, the care of the HOLY GHOST for Him on Whom He descended in Jordan. And because it is so, I may cry, sure of being heard, Haste Thee unto me, O God (St Bruno of Aste), and raise me up in the joy of the Resurrection. It is the cry of all those who have hearkened to the warning voice of CHRIST, and who no longer say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Rev 3:17), but have learnt that they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked;” and who therefore desire to buy of the LORD gold tried in the fire, and white raiment. Many of the Saints have dwelt on these words (Michael Ayguan), spoken in the Person of CHRIST, as teaching the counsel of perfection in voluntary poverty, as a state well-pleasing to GOD. (Gerhohus) And observe, that all beings save GOD are always needy, because they require His aid, while He alone is “without need” (Theophylact), and they are poor besides, when they have not got the things which they require. How true it is of mankind (John Chrysostom), let a great Saint tell us; Man is a beggar and poor, for though he once was rich and noble, (enriched by GOD’S law, and joined in kinship with Him by the royal image,) yet he was reduced to such want that his poverty passed on to many generations, so that at last, brought up in that poverty, he was named poor. What art thou to do then, (Augustine) poor and needy one? Beg before the gate of GOD, knock, and it shall be opened to thee. And what are the alms? Let the Beatitude answer, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3).

Thou art my helper, in all good works—Redeemer from all evil ones. Make no long tarrying. It is the cry of the individual sinner, (Dionysius the Carthusian) asking for instant help in trouble. (Gerhohus) It is the cry of the Church in days of persecution and affliction, and yet more, it is the prayer of all who long for the speedy coming of CHRIST, (St Augustine) of the Martyrs under the golden Altar in heaven, who cry, “How long, O LORD, how long,” and of Confessors on earth uttering the petition, “Thy kingdom come.”

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Father Boylan’s Commentary on Hebrews 12:1-4

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013

Text in red are my additions.

Heb 12:1 Let us then, since we have such a cloud of witnesses about us, set aside every encumbrance and the sin which enmesheth us, and run on enduringly the course which still lies before us,

All the history of Israel furnishes us a lesson, and sets a model before us. Like the ancient Jews, the Christian is inclined to murmur. This tendency, he must put aside, and follow in all things his leader Jesus. If Jesus took no heed of the shame. He had to endure, the Christian should have strength and courage to bear his small trials.

The ‘cloud’ suggests the immensity of the multitude of witnesses. ‘Witness’ means here one who, tells what he has experienced. The Christian life is conceived here in true Pauline fashion as a contest in the arena. All encumbrances that would impede us in the race of the Christian life must be cast aside, and our whole energy should be bent on securing victory in the contest.

ογκον (ogkon) means a burden. ευπεριστατον (euperistaton) is uncertain in meahiftg. Chrysostom takes it as = ‘encompassed’, ‘surrounded’. The text suggests that sin is a sort of heavy or awkward garment that impedes movement. Apparently there is present also the thought of sin as a mesh.

And run on, etc. τρεχωμεν (trechomen) obviously refers to a contest in running. The Christian cannot shirk the contest; it is his life. Nor must he merely begin it; he must carry it through. Jesus supplies the motive and the source of strength for the race. He is the model of faith under trial: He is also the model of the faith which persists to the end.

Heb 12:2 looking towards the Leader and Consummator of faith, Jesus, who, for the sake of the joy that lay before Him, endured the cross, and heeded not shame, and hath taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

The phrase for the sake of the joy that lay before him (αντι της προκειμενης αυτω χαρας = anti tes prokeimenes auto charas) is usually explained by the Greek Fathers as meaning that Jesus set aside the glory and happiness which were His right, in order to take up the cross. Others take the joy as the future blessedness which Jesus would enjoy as a reward for His endurance of the cross. The joy would be thus, in a sense, the athlete’s reward. αντι in this view, would mean ‘for the sake of ‘. Cf. Philippi 2:5 ff.

Heb 12:3 Consider then Him who hath endured such a grievous opposition of sinners against Himself, so that ye may not grow weary and lose heart.

The readers’ should estimate their own difficulties by comparing them with those of Jesus. He had to bear an opposition of sinners which He had nowise deserved. The αντιλογιαν (antilogian = “opposition”) found its final expression in the Crucifixion. Note how the idea of an athletic context appears at the end of verse 3.

Heb 12:4 Ye have not’ yet resisted unto blood in the struggle with sin,

The reference to resistance to blood may mean that no serious persecution has yet broken out against them. Or the sense may he that their struggle with sin has not been really severe.

 

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Sunday, August 18, 2013~Commentaries and Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013

A few posts and the General Resources category are marked as “pending;” I hope to have these available by Thursday evening. A few additional items not yet listed will become available between now and Saturday. These will be marked “Update.”

SUNDAY, AUGUST 18
ORDINARY FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE
TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

READINGS AND OFFICE:

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

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 40:2, 3, 4, 18.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Hebrews 12:1-4.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL READING: Luke 12:49-53.

GENERAL RESOURCES:

  • Sacred Page Blog. Insightful reflections on the readings from Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma.
  • Sacerdos. Gives theme of the readings, doctrinal message, suggested pastoral applications.
  • Not Available: The Bible Workshop. Guide to the Gospel; review of the readings, suggestions for a lesson (i.e., homily).
  • The Wednesday Word. Reflections and commentary on the Sunday readings by Father Dom Henry Wansbrough, O.S.B. He is a world renowned biblical scholar who contributed four commentaries on the NT section of the New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (Matt, Mark, Acts, Pastorals), and was general editor of the New Jerusalem Bible.

Update: PODCASTS:

  • Father Francis Martin’s Reflections in Four Parts: Approx. 15 minutes each.

Part 1: Introduction: Living in the Midst of Adversity.
Part 2: On the First Reading and Responsorial.
Part 3: On the Second Reading.
Part 4: On the Gospel.

EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE
THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Dominica XIII Post Pentecosten III. Augusti ~ II. classis

READINGS AND BREVIARY:

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: Gal 3:16-22.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Luke 17:11-19.

HOMILIES AND HOMILY NOTES: On the Gospel and Lesson.

  • General Confession. Homily on the Gospel by Fr Augustine Wirth, O.S.B., a famed preacher in his day.

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 3:16-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013

This post opens with the Bishop’s brief analysis of Galatians chapter 3, followed by his notes on verses 16-22. Text in purple represents his paraphrasing of the Scripture he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS OF GALATIANS CHAPTER 3

In this chapter, the Apostle, after having conveyed in feeling terms, a mild, paternal rebuke, to the Galatians (verse 1), proceeds to prove by several arguments, that justification comes from faith and not from the works of the law. His first argument is derived from the experience of the Galatians themselves. The abundant gifts of the Holy Ghost were displayed amongst them, and he asks them, was it from faith these gifts were derived? and he, then, points out their utter folly in having recourse to carnal precepts for the consummation of that sanctification which commenced with faith (2–5). His next argument is derived from the example of Abraham, justified by faith before he received the law, and his justification is the model of ours (6–9). Another argument is derived from the evils entailed by the law, which, far from being the source of a blessing, is the occasion of a curse (10). A further proof, which may be rather termed a fuller development of the preceding, is derived from the difference of the effects flowing from faith and the works of the law (11, 12).

He shows how we are freed from the malediction entailed by the law (13, 14). His next argument is founded on the nature of the testament which God made with Abraham, and in a strain of reasoning which he elucidates by human examples, he shows this testament to be unchangeable, and not voidable, which would be the result, if justification were to come from the law (15, 16). From these arguments he concludes that we are justified by Christ, or rather by faith in him, and not by the law (17, 18). He then answers certain objections to which his doctrine and reasoning might give rise, and shows the points in which the Old Law, and the promise made regarding Christ, differed, and the excellency of the latter above the former (19, 20). Reverting to the opposition apparently existing between the law and the promise, he shows that there was no opposition between them. They would be really opposed, if the law conferred justice, as the false teachers taught (21). He shows that the law served the promise, by causing men, oppressed with the yoke of sin, to look to the proper source, viz., faith in Christ, for the fruits of the promise (22), and also that it prepared us for the promise, by restraining us from manifest transgressions (23). The law held the same relation to the promise, that the pedagogue does to the preceptor (24). But now its office ceases; hence, abrogated, as being useless (25). The Galatians arrived at once at full grown spiritual existence; and, did not, therefore, require the magisterial discipline of the pedagogue (26). He points out the magnitude of the blessings conferred on them in justification.

Gal 3:16  To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not: And to his seeds as of many. But as of one: And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Now, God repeatedly made his promise of real justice and eternal inheritance to Abraham and to his seed, which word, “seed,” is expressed in the singular number, in order the more clearly to mark out the individual through whom the promise was primarily made to Abraham, and in whom it was to be fulfilled.

“He saith not, and to his seeds.” Looking to mere human reasoning, it is not easy to see the force of the Apostle’s argument founded on the use of the word, “seed,” in the singular number, “seed” being a collective term. All we can say is, that according to the Holy Spirit, speaking through St. Paul in this passage—the same by whom Moses was inspired—the word “seed,” was used in Genesis, in the singular number, for the purpose of designating the descendant of Abraham, viz., Christ in whom the promises were to be fulfilled. Hence, we can say, that the argument of the Apostle, founded on the use of the word “seed” in the singular number by Moses in the Book of Genesis, derives weight more from an authentic interpretation (which is given by the Apostle under the influence of inspiration) of the words of Genesis, than from strict human reasoning.

Gal 3:17  Now this I say: that the testament which was confirmed by God, the law which was made after four hundred and thirty years doth not disannul, to make the promise of no effect.

This, therefore, is my conclusion. Whereas, even amongst men, there are compacts of such stability, as to be unchangeable, viz., last wills and testaments, it cannot be questioned, that the compacts of God, when absolute and unconditional, are no less firm; hence, the promise or testament made by God, founded on the death of Christ, and transmitting to man an eternal inheritance, cannot be voided in its fulfilment, by a law promulgated four hundred and thirty years after it.

“This I say,” i.e., this is my conclusion. “That the testament.” &c. The word “testament,” in this verse, means the same thing, as “promises made to Abraham,” in verse 16, and the word “promises,” is used in the plural, because the one promise was repeatedly made, or the same thing was repeatedly promised, and this promise may be fairly classed with what, humanly speaking, we call testaments; both because of its stability—and this founded on the death of Christ—as also, because it transmits an inheritance. This promise, repeatedly made (“promises,” verse 16), or “testament,” is to be fulfilled in Christ. It had for object, the giving through him of justice to Abraham and his spiritual posterity, “Which was made after four hundred and thirty years,” &c.; these four hundred and thirty years are to be computed from the time at which the promise was made to Abraham, to the time of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. “Confirmed by God,” In the common Greek, confirmed before by God unto Christ. “Before.” means, previous to the law. The words unto Christ, are not in the Alexandrian or Vatican MSS.

Gal 3:18  For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. But God gave it to Abraham by promise.

And that the promise would be rendered void and be destroyed by the Law, is quite clear, because if the inheritance came through the Law, it could be no longer from the promise; which latter assertion is by no means true, for, it was through a gratuitous promise that God’s benediction to Abraham was to come.

If the inheritance were from the law, it could be no longer from the promise. Because the law carries with it certain conditions of an onerous nature; it is reciprocal in its engagements; whereas, the promise is supposed to be quite gratuitous, absolute, and unchangeable on the part of God. Again, the inheritance coming through the law would be less extensive than that coming through the promise; because, the latter would comprise all the nations and tribes of the earth: whereas, the former would be necessarily confined to the Jewish people.

Gal 3:19  Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come to whom he made the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

The object of the Law then, what was it? The object of the Law was to restrain, or increase the trangressions of the Jewish people, and that merely for a time, until the seed to whom the promise was made, should come (whereas the promise was given without limitation to any time—to be accomplished in all nations—to the end of the world). The Law was arranged by angels, by whom it was given, inscribed on tablets of stone—(whereas, the promise was made by God himself). The Law was promulgated by the ministry of a mediator, Moses, who told the people, I was the mediator and stood between the Lord and you.—(Deut 5:5).

“It was set.” For “set,” the Greek has, προσετεθη, superadded. The Vulgate reading, which followed ετεθη, appears the more probable. “Because of transgressions.” This may either mean, that the law had for object, to restrain and manifest trangressions, or, in a secondary sense, to increase them, so that men, seeing their own weakness and inability, would be shown the source to which they should recur for justification.—(See Paraphrase). This latter interpretation accords well with the context, and with verse 21. “Until the seed should come,” points out the term or duration of the Law. After having pointed out the object of the law, the Apostle proceeds to point out its leading characteristics, and the peculiar points of disparity-between it and the promise. The characters of the promise he leaves to be inferred from the contrast and implied antithesis with the expressed characters of the Law. The Law was “ordained by angels,” and promulgated by the ministry of a “mediator,” Moses. From which we infer that the promise was not “ordained by angels”; having been ordained by God himself, and made by himself directly and immediately to Abraham.—(Genesis, 18:17). And as for a mediator, no such thing could be admitted in the promise, as is shown in next verse.

Gal 3:20  Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one.

Now, in the case of the promise, a mediato could not be admitted, because a mediator supposes two parties at least, in a covenant, between whom mediation could take place; but, when there is question of a matter where only one party is concerned, no such thing can be admitted. In the fulfilment of the promise, God is the only party concerned; for, it was absolute and gratuitous, carrying with it all the aid necessary for its fulfilment.

It is by no means easy to arrive, with any degree of probability, at the meaning of this obscure passage, regarding which a great many perplexed interpretations and conjectures have been advanced by the several Commentators. The interpretation preferred in the Paraphrase, appears, of all others, to accord best with the context; it may be more fully developed thus:—The evident design of the Apostle in this verse is to show, that In the case of the promise through which the inheritance was to come rather than through the Law (verse 18), no mediator could be admitted, as in the case of the Law (verse 19). Why? Because, when there is but one party to a covenant, when an absolute, gratuitous promise is made by one party to another, a promise entailing no conditions for its fulfilment, which the promise itself does not contain, there is but one party concerned in it, viz., the promising party; and hence, there can be no mediator; for, this implies two parties between whom the office of mediator is to be discharged.—(“A mediator is not of one.”) Now between God and Abraham there was a purely gratuitous promise regarding the inheritance to be given to him and his posterity—a promise absolute in its nature, requiring no conditions which were not involved in the promise itself—for, it carried with it the aids and helps required for self-fulfilment. There was then but one party, viz., God (“But God is one”), and hence, no mediator, as in the case of the Law, which was an onerous contract, requiring on the part of the legislator and the subjects certain conditions, and establishing certain reciprocal relations.

Other Interpreters, conceiving the exclusion of a mediator in the case of the promise to have reference to the person to whom the promise was made, explain the words thus:—The promise made to Abraham, was primarily made to him through Christ, the promised seed. “To Abraham were the promises made, and to his seed,” (verse 16). But the party promising, and the party to whom the promise was made, are not, in that case, different. “But God is one.” Hence, no mediator, as in the case of the Law. The former interpretation, in which a mediator is excluded by the nature of the promise itself, appears to be more in accordance with the context. For, all along, and especially in verse (18), the Apostle lays great stress on the gratuitous nature of the promise made by God to Abraham.

Gal 3:21  Was the law then against the promises of God: God forbid! For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law.

If then the Law had the effect of manifesting, or, of increasing man’s transgressions, is it not opposed to the promises of God? By no means; if, on the contrary, the law had the opposite effect of vivifying and producing justice, it would then be really opposed to the promise, since justice would then be really from the Law; and hence, the inheritance would not come from the promise.

From the words, “being ordained by angels,” &c., exclusively, verse 19, to this verse, may be regarded as introduced incidentally, and as having no direct bearing on the argument of the Apostle. “The promises of God.” The words “of God,” have a very emphatic meaning, implying that the promises rested immediately on God, without supposing a mediator. The question here proposed regarding the opposition between the Law and the promise is put by way of objection, grounded on the observation made by the Apostle, that they could not co-exist. Are they then really opposed? By no means. The Law ceases now, because it is useless, and cannot confer justice. If it really conferred justice, it would then be opposed to the promise, which it would render useless.

Gal 3:22  But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise, by the faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to them that believe.

But, on the contrary, the law has served the promise, since the written law has shut up all men, even the Jews, in the prison of sin, in order that, by manifesting their iniquity, by reproving their vices, or even by serving for the increase of sin, it would cause them from a consciousness of their misery, to look to quite a different source for the fruits of the promise, viz., to faith in Jesus Christ, the blessed seed to whom the promises were made.

 “But the Scripture.” By “the Scripture,” is generally understood the written Law, and Scripture of the Old Testament. It is here personified as the representative of God, by whom it was inspired. “Hath concluded all” παντα, omnia, all mankind The neuter is employed to denote the more general extension and comprehensiveness of the assertion.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 17:11-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013

Luk 17:11  And it came to pass, as he was going to Jerusalem, he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

We cannot determine for certain, to which journey of our Lord from Galilee to Jerusalem reference is made here. Nor, indeed, does the context here afford us any clue for ascertaining it. It may, possibly, refer to the journey mentioned (chap. 9:42, &c.), on which He had been treated so inhospitably by the Samaritans, towards whom He returned good for evil, by curing one of their countrymen of a loathsome leprosy. For, of the ten cured, one was a Samaritan. And His having passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee, is mentioned in allusion to the cure of the Samaritan leper with the nine others. This was His direct route to Jerusalem, through the confines of both provinces, by the road which passes between both.

Luk 17:12  And as he entered into a certain town, there met him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off.

“As He entered,” or was about to enter, “a certain village,” which was on the confines of both provinces. The cure here referred to took place outside the village, from which, by the law of Moses, those infected with leprosy were excluded. Hence, “they stood afar off,” as they were not allowed to come too near, for sanitary and mystical reasons, contemplated by the law of Moses. At what distance, lepers were obliged to keep aloof cannot be ascertained.

Luk 17:13  And lifted up their voice, saying: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

They lifted up their voice.” As they could not approach too near (Leviticus 13:46), in order to be heard by Him, and also to show the earnestness and fervour of their supplication. They also joined in one common cry, in the hope that their joint cry for relief would be more efficacious. Jews and Samaritans, between whom there was no communication (John 4:9), cast aside their mutual religious differences, and became united from a sense of their common misery, and a strong desire of a cure, of which all were equally in quest.

“Jesus, Master.” The Greek word for “Master”—επιστατα—which is peculiar to St. Luke, and applied by him in several parts of his Gospel to our Lord only, (5:5; 8:24–45; 9:33–49), signifies, not merely a teacher, but a teacher vested with authority. It conveys, You can command all things, command this disease to depart from us. Comparing Luke 9:49, with Matthew 17:4; Mark 9:5, it signifies the same as κυριε, Lord, and Rabbi, Master. In Luke (9:49), it corresponds with διδασκαλε, Master, Teacher, in Mark 9:38.

“Have mercy on us.” They don’t specify in what they hoped to have Him exercise mercy. But, firmly believing in His power, they confided in His beneficent will to restore them to health, and remove their bodily leprosy.

Luk 17:14  Whom when he saw, he said: Go, shew yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, as they went, they were made clean.

“Whom when He saw,” not only with the eyes of the body, but also with the eyes of mercy, “He said: Go, show yourselves to the priests.” (See Matthew 8:4, &c.) Our Lord sends them to the priests, before He actually cures them, as He cured the leper (Matthew 8), in order to try their faith and test their obedience, and also make it clear, to whom they were indebted for their cure. Understanding our Lord’s command to contain an assurance that He would cure them—the priests had no power to cure, their part simply was to attest the cure and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving as prescribed in the law of Moses, and restore them to society (Leviticus 13:14)—they obeyed at once, and were miraculously cared on their way. It is said by some, that, as our Lord could not recognise the Samaritan priests—priests of a false faith and worship—He meant that even the Samaritan would go to Jewish priests. Others say, that the “priests” meant, those belonging to each one’s religion. The Jewish priests, for the Jews; the Samaritan priest, for the Samaritan leper. Without raising any question as to our Lord’s sending the Samaritan to his own priest, as a minister of a schismatical worship, the advocates of this latter opinion might say, he was sent merely for a certificate of his restoration to health, which, likely, the Jewish priests would not give; and even, if given by them, it would not avail him. This did not necessarily entail a journey to Jerusalem on the part of the Jewish lepers. The priests of any locality could give the required attestation of the cure; and thus enable a cured leper to return to his house and kindred.

Luk 17:15  And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean, went back, with a loud voice glorifying God.

Whether he returned, after having shown himself to the priest, as our Lord commanded, and received the required certificate of his cure, or before it, when on his way he saw himself cured, is not quite clear from the context, although the words, “when he saw that he was made clean, he went back,” would seem in favour of the opinion that he returned the moment he saw himself cured. Having gone some distance, and probably out of our Redeemer’s sight, they perceived their cure. Most likely, they were also cleansed from the leprosy of sin. Our Redeemer, it is thought, usually conferred the grace of justification on those on whom He wrought a bodily cure, inspiring them with sentiments of true contrition.

“With a loud voice,” showing the intensity of his grateful feelings.

“Glorifying God,” who displayed His power and goodness in his cure, through Christ.

Luk 17:16  And he fell on his face before his feet, giving thanks. And this was a Samaritan.

And fell down on his face,” in prostrate adoration, “at His feet.” Before, he kept aloof; now, seeing himself cured, he ventured to approach nearer, even to His very feet.

“And he was a Samaritan.” The Evangelist adds this, to contrast the gratitude of this stranger, who belonged to a people who were not so favoured as the Jews, with the ingratitude of the nine others who were Jews.

(For the history of the Samaritans, see Matthew 10:5.). Here is what Bishop MacEvilly wrote concerning the Samaritan’s in his comments on Matt 10:5:

 In order to know who these Samaritans were, it is to be borne in mind, that after the ten tribes of Israel seceded from Juda and Benjamin, under Jeroboam, Amri (Omri), one of Jeroboam’s successors, built Samaria, which was to be the capital of the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 16:24). Salmanasar (Shalmaneser), king of Assyria, carried the ten tribes captive into Assyria (2 Kings 17), and sent in their place, to colonize the country, people from Babylon and Cutha, &c. On the arrival of these latter, who carried with them their idolatrous worship, Samaria was infested with lions, which destroyed the country, and killed its inhabitants. This scourge was attributed to their neglect of the worship of the Deity of the land. Hence, in order to appease him, the king of Assyria had one of the captive priests sent back from Babylon, to instruct the new colonists in the ordinances and worship of the God of Israel.

After this, they united the worship of God with that of idols. (2 Kings 17) In this state did the Samaritans live under the kings of Assyria, having little or no intercourse with the Jews. When the Jews were permitted to rebuild the city and temple of Jerusalem, the Samaritans offered to assist them in their undertaking (Ezra 4:2). The rejection of this offer by the Jews, sowed the seeds of the undying hostility which ever after existed between both peoples. The breach was rendered irreparable, when, after the return of the Jews from captivity, and the rebuilding of the temple, the Samaritans had a rival temple built on Mount Garazim (Gerizim), near Samaria, where victims were offered up, as at Jerusalem, and served as a place also of resort for some malcontent Jews. From this period, the Samaritans, forgetful of their Pagan origin, wished to be considered as true Israelites, who preserved in all its purity the observance of the law, with an unbroken succession of high priests, who now ministered on Mount Garazim, the seat of their religion. For a long period, before the time of our Redeemer, they gave up the worship of idols; otherwise, they could have no pretensions to be considered true Israelites, rivals of the Jews, in regard to the observance of the law, and the purity of Divine worship.

The temple of Garazim and city of Samaria were demolished by John Hyrcanus, 120 years before the time of our Redeemer. Lest the Apostles might suppose that the Samaritans, who held a sort of intermediate place between the Jews and Gentiles, were to be confounded with the Jews, our Lord specially mentions them in connection with the Gentiles. His object in prohibiting the Apostles from preaching to the Gentiles on this first mission was, to take away all excuse from the Jews, who might justify their incredulity and resistance on the ground, that, according to the ordination of God, and His promises through the predictions of the Prophets, the message of salvation was first promised to the Jews, “the children of the kingdom,” “the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” to whom these promises were specially made (Acts 13:46). To the Jews the Gospel was given, according to promise and mercy; to the Gentiles, out of pure mercy, without a promise. (Rom. 15)

Luk 17:17  And Jesus answering, said: Were not ten made clean? And where are the nine?
Luk 17:18  There is no one found to return and give glory to God, but this stranger.

This interrogatory form is a more forcible way of enunciating the fact of their cure.
Our Lord would seem to reproach the nine others for their want of gratitude in not imitating the example of the Samaritan, who returned and gave thanks to his benefactor. “To give glory to God,” by openly proclaiming the exercise of His power and goodness in their cure through Christ. He does not say, “give glory to Me,” to convey, that the glory of every thing should be given to God alone, and that He sought His Father’s glory in all He did.

“But this stranger,” alien in religion and extraction. The circumstance of this man being a stranger to the Jewish religion, a member of a false and schismatical Church, between which and the Synagogue there was no communication, not even civil intercourse, only set forth, in a clearer light, the ingratitude of the Jews, God’s chosen people, on whom He bestowed so many and such signal favours; to whom the Son of God was sent to preach first, and by them ungratefully rejected.

“Where are the nine?” How applicable is not this question, in many instances, to Christians, who, after receiving wonderful cures of their bodily ailments and spiritual distempers from God, ungratefully forget all, and insult and outrage afresh the best of benefactors, relapsing into sin, like the swine wallowing in the mire, or the dog returning to his vomit; thus, crucifying again the Son of God, and making a mockery of Him.

Luk 17:19  And he said to him: Arise, go thy way; for thy faith hath made thee whole.

“Arise,” from the posture in which he lay prostrate at His feet. “Go thy way?” Thou hast shown thy gratitude, in which the nine others were signally wanting.

“Thy faith,” whereby thou didst unhesitatingly believe in My power; and, confiding in My implied assurance of curing thee, on thy way to the priest, didst obey My mandate. “Hath made thee whole,” restored his bodily health, and most likely, cured him of the spiritual leprosy of sin, signified by the corporal leprosy from which he suffered. Our Lord, by ascribing the cure to faith, which concurred as a necessary disposition for effecting it, showed His great modesty, in not ascribing it to Himself, who accomplished it.

He, as usual, commends the great virtue of faith, as it was the foundation of the whole system of spiritual life, and of the religion He was about to establish. It was the virtue most needed to bring man back to God. For, as man first departed from God by pride of intellect, the affectation of knowledge like unto that of God; so, his first step in his return to God must be, by humbling that proud intellect, and rendering it captive to faith in embracing, on the sole authority of God, truths which it could not understand, since faith is the “argumentum non apparentium” (Heb. 11:1). (See 2 Cor. 10:4, 5.)

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 12:49-53

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013

Luk 12:49  I am come to cast fire on the earth. And what will I, but that it be kindled?

“I am come,” &c. These words may have been spoken by our Lord at a different time, from the foregoing; and we need not trouble ourselves, with tracing any consecutive connexion between them; as St. Luke is wont to string together several things spoken by our Lord on different occasions. Others (Jansen. Gandav.) trace a connexion in this way: our Lord had been, in the foregoing, encouraging the Apostles to the faithful performance of their duties, from the consideration that they were His stewards, the dispensers of His goods—an office entailing the heaviest responsibility. He now points out what He expects from them, and how they are to dispense His goods, viz., in propagating the Gospel; in suffering for it; thus, producing abundant fruit.

By “fire,” some understand the Holy Ghost and His gifts; especially charity, fervour, zeal (Cant. 8:6), and to this, the Church refers, on the Saturday after Pentecost, “illo nos igne … quem Dominus noster, misit in terram et voluit vehementer accendi,” and this fire of Divine love embraces the fire of tribulation also. The Apostles inflamed with Divine love, braved and overcame all tribulations and sufferings, in the cause of the Gospel, of which our Lord forewarned them, as near at hand (A. Lapide). Others understand it, of the fire of Evangelical preaching, which the Holy Ghost inflames. Hence, He descended on the Apostles, about to enter on this duty, in the form of tongues of fire. This Evangelical preaching, unlike the Old Law, or any human doctrine, which is cold and inoperative, set in a blaze the hearts of men; pervading all places, it purged the elect, and fired the impious with an unjust hatred against the Gospel (Psalm 118) “ignitum eloquium tuum,” &c. “Sermo Domini ut ignis exestuans in cordo meo” (Jeremiah 0:9). This fire our Lord brought from heaven, and He wished His Apostles to enkindle it on throughout the earth (Jansen. Gandav.).

Others, understand it of the fire of persecution, which they say is more in accordance with the context, “I have a baptism,” &c. According to these, our Lord wishes to fortify His Apostles against the persecutions they were to be subject to. And to inspire them with greater fortitude, He says, He Himself was the first to pass through the ordeal. In the same sense, He says, He came to bring “not peace, but the sword” (Matthew 10:34); and He predicts, that, considering human depravity, the preaching of the Gospel would be the occasion of great divisions, of great sufferings and persecutions, for those who preach and for those who embrace it. It was, however, by such sufferings and persecutions, that, our Lord meant to break down the power of Satan. These alone were the means for securing heaven. This is the meaning of “fire” in many parts of Scripture (Psalm 66:12; Isaiah 43:2; Ecclesiastes 51:6). This is the interpretation of Tertullian, followed by Maldonatus, Calmet, Lucas Brugensis, &c.

“And what will I?” &c. I am anxious that these embers of charity be enkindled in the hearts of all men, or that these sufferings and persecutions—the portion of my elect—be enkindled everywhere by the preaching of the Gospel, when my Apostles shall enter the lists with the enemies of man, the world, the devil, and the flesh, and shall have to suffer in consequence, persecutions which await myself in the first instance, and await all, who wish to live piously here below (1 Tim. 3:12). But, it is by means of the sufferings which my followers bravely endure, the powers of the enemy are to be utterly defeated and destroyed.

Instead of, “what will I but that it be enkindled” (Vulgate), “quid volo nisi ut accendatur?” in the Greek it is, “what will I, since it has been already enkindled,” ει ηδη ανηφθη. This is interpreted by some, thus: Since it has been already enkindled in the hearts of my disciples and throughout Judea—“what will I,” but that it be enkindled still more, throughout the earth? According to this interpretation, adopted by St. Cyril and by Cajetan, the sentence, as it stands, is imperfect till the words, “but that it be enkindled,” &c., are added, to complete the sense. By others (Theophylact, &c.), they are interpreted thus: Since it is already enkindled, I have no other wish. In this is implied the desire that it be more and more enkindled. Of the words understood in this sense, the Vulgate “quid volo,” &c., is a clear expression. My only desire is, that this fire which I sent upon the earth be enkindled more and more by you in every place. Euthymius interprets it thus: If the fire which I came to send be enkindled, as it really is in you, what more do I desire in this world? What more am I waiting for? The time for returning to my Father is, therefore, just at hand.

Luk 12:50  And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized. And how am I straitened until it be accomplished?

“And I have a baptism,” &c. For, “and,” the Greek is, δε, but, as if He said; but before this fire,—whether understood of Divine love or suffering,—can be fully scattered on the earth, I must first suffer, in order to give an example of suffering to others, and induce them to scatter the fire of persecution throughout the earth after my example—or to scatter this fire of divine love; since it is, by My blood of the cross, that the fire of Divine love and charity is to be lit up, as well by the grace which My suffering merited, as by the considerations which it suggests in the minds of all men. “Baptism” signifies suffering; because, our Lord was to be fully immersed in His own blood, as the body in baptism is immersed in water; and He was baptized in another sense; because, He was to be wholly immersed, plunged in suffering, “as the man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmities.” Moreover, water, according to the prevalent notions, was expressive of suffering. (See Matthew 20:22, &c.)

“And how am I straitened?” &c. These words express not His fears, as is supposed by some, but His anxious, longing desire to redeem mankind by His sufferings and death of the cross. As “hope deferred afflicts the soul” (Proverbs 13:12); so also, do deferred desires. Our Lord thus anxiously wished for His own death, not for His own sake, but for ours, to save us from sin and to satisfy His Father’s justice. His fear of death at His Passion took place in the inferior part of His soul; the present desire, in the superior (see Matthew 26:38).

Luk 12:51  Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation.

As the fire which our Lord came to scatter on the earth, would be the occasion of disturbances, divisions and persecutions, He forewarns His disciples of this in time, lest they should be hereafter disturbed. (See Matthew 10:34, &c.)

Luk 12:52  For there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided: three against two, and two against three.
Luk 12:53  The father shall be divided against the son and the son against his father: the mother against the daughter and the daughter against her mother: the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law and the daughter-in-law law against her mother-in-law.

“Henceforth,” after the promulgation of the Gospel, where union reigned, such as can exist among unbelievers. “Five shall be divided, three against two.” (53.) “Shall be divided.” When three of five embrace the faith, they shall be divided against the two unbelievers; and this will of course reciprocally provoke, or rather entail the division of two against three; or if two embrace the faith, while three remain in a state of infidelity, the result shall be the same. The “five,” are “father,” “mother,” “son,” “daughter,” “daughter-in-law.” For “mother,” includes the relation of “mother-in-law” towards her son’s wife, supposed to be living in the same house. Our Lord here predicts the most dreadful domestic divisions between those most closely united, in consequence of the spread of the Gospel, when one party would give up every earthly feeling and his natural affections sooner than abandon the faith, while unbelievers shall rage against those who, embracing the faith of Christ, have abandoned the false religion of their fathers.

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