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Archive for August 24th, 2013

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 149

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

Due to lack of free time I was unable to translate the abbreviations and footnote markers (i.e., the stars) into the authorities cited, but will attempt to do so soon. I’ll note here that (A) stands for St Augustine; (G) for Gerhohus; (DC) for Dionysius (or Denis) the Carthusian; (Cd) for Balthazar Corderius; (H) for St Hilary; (C) for Cassiodorus; (Z) for Euthymius Zigabenus; (R) for Remigius of S. Germanus; (Lu) for Ludolphus.

ARGUMENT

ARG. THOMAS. That the praise of CHRIST should be celebrated in all Churches. The Voice of CHRIST to the faithful concerning the Resurrection, judgment to come, promising rest to them who suffer for His Name, and to give them power over all that afflicted them. The Praise of CHRIST in all Churches, and for the holy Martyrs who suffered for CHRIST.

VEN. BEDE. We are instructed to have this name in use in every way, seeing that it is aptly fitted to both the Old and New Testaments: to the Old, where the miracles in Egypt and the blessings at the Red Sea are described; to the New, in the present Psalm, wherein we are enjoined to Sing a new song unto the Lord.

In the first paragraph the Prophet saith that a new song should be sung to CHRIST the LORD in divers ways, Who of His loving-kindness hath built up universal Jerusalem out of the whole world. O sing unto the Lord a new song, &c. Secondly, describing the joys and virtues of the Saints, he saith that vengeance shall be the lot of sinners, glory of the righteous. The Saints shall be joyful in glory.

In the foregoing Psalm he urged all creatures to the praises of the LORD; here he hath further more plainly and specially signified that Israel ought to sing a new song, and be joyful in its own LORD, Who caused it to be gathered together out of the multitude of the Gentiles. And mention is made of the power which is to be given to the Saints in that judgment, that the might of the LORD may be acknowledged in their glory.

SYRIAC PSALTER. Concerning the new temple. And this Psalm is anonymous. Praise with doctrine of GOD.

EUSEBIUS OF CÆSAREA. A hymn with prophecy.

S. ATHANASIUS. A Psalm of counsel with a song.

COMMENTARY

1 [Alleluia.] O sing unto the LORD a new song: let the congregation of saints praise him.

No one who hath not “put off the old man with his deeds”* shall sing the new song; nay, it is further necessary to “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him,”* in order to be able to sing it. And a new song,* looked at historically, is a glorious and especial chant, which is sung in honour of some prosperous success and victory; but in the allegorical sense, it is a canticle of the New Testament. For then all things were made new,—a new creation, a new man, a new life, new commandments, new grace, new promises, new sacraments, new precepts. And the New Testament is called by that name not merely because of its date, but also because of the nature of the things which happened under it, seeing that all things have been made new, and above all, man, for whose sake all the others existed. (A.) The old man has an old song, the new man a new song. The old song is the Old Testament, the new song the New Testament. In the Old Testament the promises are temporal and earthly; whoso then loveth temporal things sings the old song; but he who desires to sing the new song, must love things eternal. And this song is further that of peace and charity. It cannot be sung apart from the congregation of the Saints, from the united canticle of “all the whole earth.”* He who does not sing in this wise—with the whole earth—sing what he will, does not sing the new song. With his tongue he may utter Alleluia all day and all night, but it is not the voice of the singer, but the conduct of the doer, which has to be noted. I ask and say, What art thou singing? He answers, Alleluia. What does “Alleluia” mean? Praise ye the Lord. O come, let us praise the LORD together. If thou art praising the LORD, and I am praising the LORD, why are we at discord? Charity praiseth the LORD, discord blasphemes Him. Where then are we to praise Him together? His praise is in the Church of the Saints,* in the Catholic Church, not in the congregations of sectaries, far less in the assemblies of the wicked, who set themselves, in the synagogue of Satan, in the congregation of Korah, (G.) Dathan, and Abiram, against the true Aaron, the true and holy Priesthood, which is only in the Church of the Saints, either now on pilgrimage or reigning in heaven, and in both places sacrificing the oblation of praise and thanksgiving; (D. C.) for of Zion it is written, “Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”*

It is truly a new song they sing, for the matter of it never grows old,* the delight in it never grows weary, for that delight is always fresh in love, and even fresher in practice. It is truly new, because it renews mens’ minds with eternal blessedness. And so we read: “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old: Behold, I will do a new thing.”* Sing not, therefore, with Lucifer,* who began with loud voice an anthem in heaven, saying, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of GOD, I mil be like the Most High,”* a voice beginning in pride, then going on to suggestion, and ending in a shriek of despair. Sing not with Adam’s three dissonant tones of credulity, consent, and excuse; but sit down at the feet of the New Man, and learn from Him to begin from the lowest note, saying, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart.”*

2 Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: and let the children of Sion be joyful in their King.

All those Israelites indeed,* in whom there is no guile, are bid to rejoice,* for GOD is worshipped chiefly by faith, hope, and love; and the companions and fruits of these are righteousness, peace, and joy. In Him that made him. The literal Hebrew is plural,* in Them that made him, which the Jewish commentators interpret as a form of honour,* but in which Christians see the mystery of the most Holy Trinity shadowed.* While all Israel, including those angelic “princes with GOD” in heaven, rejoice in the Creator, it is the special privilege of the children of Sion, the Saints of the Church Militant here on earth, (A.) to be joyful in their King, their Anointed Priest and Monarch, bearing to them a special personal relation which He does not to any other beings in creation.* Wherefore the Church saith, “Yet have I anointed my King upon my holy hill of Sion.” And this is the sense which the Rabbins give to the passage, interpreting it of the future gladness of Israel in their King Messiah. Yes, adds Cassiodorus, (C.) they shall indeed be joyful when they see Him the Almighty, Him the Bestower of everlasting rewards, Whose future coming in majesty they have believed here. What bounds will there be to that joy of beholding that LORD of all things, Whom we believe to have died here for the salvation of all? We cannot know the measure of that gladness, but we know it will surpass all imaginable good, for the Truth hath promised it.

3 Let them praise his Name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with tabret and harp.

For dance the LXX. (A.) and Vulgate have choir, χόρῳ, choro, and they all explain it as a figure of the unity of the Faith, inasmuch as a choir is a band of persons singing harmoniously together, while any erroneous doctrine would be a false note, destructive of the perfect melody. And S. Ambrose alleges that the introduction of choirs into the Christian Church was not so much for musical effect as for the purpose of symbolizing concord of mind.* Psalmody, says he, unites those who were at variance, allies opponents, reconciles the offended. Who could help forgiving a man along with whom he had been uttering the same voice to GOD? It is surely a great bond of unity that all the multitude of the people should unite in one choir. The strings of a harp are unequal in length, but the symphony is one. The Hebrew is, however, as rightly given by the English versions, dance, and this strengthens the type, because dancing is the rhythmical movement of the body in time to the notes of music; and thus implies, besides unity of faith, also combined and harmonious action in orderly and graceful fashion. (Cd.) We may praise the Name of God in the dance without infringing CHRIST’S precept as to entering into our closets for private and secret prayer,* at other times than those when we join in public worship,* “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,” by taking care that however parted we may be in body from our fellows in CHRIST, we shall be at one with them in heart and soul. (A.) With tabret and harp. The tabret or tambourine, skin strained upon wood, is a type of crucifixion to the world, (G.) and of bodily mortification, for the skin is that of a dead animal; while the harp, resembling the tabret in so far that the immediate agent of sound is strained to the wooden framework,* also denotes active compliance with the ten commandments of the moral law.

4 For the LORD hath pleasure in his people: and helpeth the meek-hearted.

When GOD looked on the finished work of creation, (H.) inclusive of man, at the beginning of the world, He had pleasure in it, and said “It is good.”* And He will say the same in the new creation, when man, corrupted and disfigured by sin, shall be restored to the image of GOD, (G.) and that by the reconciliation made through the Body and Blood of that High Priest Whose atonement GOD has solemnly pledged Himself to be pleased with and to accept, for “the LORD sware, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek;”* and again, “This is My beloved SON, in Whom I am well pleased.”* But His pleasure is in His people,* in those who have submitted to His sceptre, not in the subjects of the prince of this world. And helpeth the meek-hearted. This is a very poor and inexact rendering. The LXX. and Vulgate are much better, He shall exalt the meek unto salvation, raising them to His own right hand in the judgment. But the literal sense is even more than this, as the A. V. rightly gives it, He shall beautify the meek with salvation,* that is, not only in the sense of giving costly robes and precious gems instead of the torn, soiled, and dishevelled garb of sorrow,* “to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,” but in giving them the Pearl of great price for their ornament,* to adorn them with JESUS.

5 Let the saints be joyful with glory: let them rejoice in their beds.

The Saints rejoice even here in the glory of GOD,* in their beds, in the peaceful secrecy of divine contemplation, in their hearts and consciences, (A.) as knowing that the night is far spent and the day at hand, (C.) and as being secure and at peace under the wings of GOD, so as to fear no night-alarm from the foe, as it is written, “I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.”* Next, (Z.) it is taken of the felicity of the souls of those righteous who sleep in the grave, awaiting the Resurrection, in which sense the verse makes part of the Responsory at Nones on All Saints’ Day and the feasts of Many Martyrs.* So Adam of S. Victor,* in one of his greatest sequences,

Jam in lecto cum dilecto,*
Quiescamus et psallamus,
Adsunt enim nuptiæ.

To our dearest lie we nearest,
Resting by Him, singing nigh Him,
For the nuptials come apace.

And lastly, (G.) the majority of the commentators take the words of the final consummation of bliss in the many mansions of the Kingdom of Heaven,* where the Saints rest from their labours.

6 Let the praises of GOD be in their mouth: and a two-edged sword in their hands.

Here is the sword-dance of the Saints,* as they fight and sing together.

It is more than praises, for the A. V.,* high praises, agreeing with LXX. ὑψώσεις and Vulgate exaltationes, better expresses the Hebrew.* These very praises, according to the Rabbins and to S. Chrysostom, are the two-edged sword, which in the hands of the Saints does far more to discomfit these foes than any worldly prowess,* just as it was Moses, rather than Joshua,* who discomfited Amalek in Rephidim. S. Augustine does not quite accept this view, (A.) though coming near to it. According to him the two-edged sword is the Word of GOD, smiting out of Old and New Testament, having temporal promises and consolations in one edge and eternal ones in the other. This sword divides men from their nearest and dearest when their ties become incompatible with duty towards GOD, and while thus severing, yet consoles him who had courage to cut boldly with it, even if he smites off his own right hand. And this sword of the Word is said to be in their hands, not in their mouths, because of the vigour and effect with which they use it. So we read that there “came the word of the LORD by the hand of Haggai the prophet.”* This sword, which the LORD came to send upon earth rather than peace,* first severed the Jews from the Gentiles, and now it cuts Christians away from the allurements of the world. (C.) Again, it is taken of the victory of the Gospel by the mouths of the Apostles, when, like Judas Maccabæus, they “encountered their enemies with invocation and prayer, so that fighting with their hands and praying unto GOD with their hearts,”* they overcame all the might of Paganism. Yet again, they take the words of that share of the Saints in the judicial power of Him out of Whose mouth goes “a sharp two-edged sword,”* to smite the sinner, and “cut him asunder,* and appoint his portion with the hypocrites.”* Wherefore follows:

7 To be avenged of the heathen: and to rebuke the people.
8 To bind their kings in chains: and their nobles with links of iron.

These verses, which the Rabbins hold to be a prophecy of a literal vengeance of Israel upon the Gentile monarchies in the days of King Messiah,* and which may well have edged the sword of Bar-Cochab, have also been as terribly misconstrued by nominal Christians.* It was with them as his slogan that Thomas Münzer the Anabaptist preached the savage War of the Peasants; it was with them that in the next century Caspar Scioppius, on the Roman Catholic side, stirred up the yet more disastrous Thirty Years’ War with his Classicum Belli Sacri, (“Clarion of the Holy War,”) a book written, says Bakius, with blood, not with ink.* For us, the Apostle warns us that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through GOD for the pulling down of strongholds,” so that it is in “the meekness and gentleness of CHRIST”* that our work is that of “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of GOD,* and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of CHRIST; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”

“Now, (A.) brethren,” exclaims S. Augustine, “you have seen the Saints armed; watch the slaughter, watch the glorious battles. If there be a general, there is also a soldier; if a soldier, an enemy; if a war, there is a victory. What have these done with the two-edged swords in their hands? Used them to be avenged of the heathen. See if it have not been done, and that daily, for we do it ourselves by speech. See in what fashion the nations of Babylon have been slain. When Babylon had the power to persecute Christians, she slew the body, but could not touch GOD. Now she is repaid twofold, for Pagans are extinguished, and idols broken in pieces. How then, you ask, are Pagans slain? How but by becoming Christians? If I look for a Pagan, I cannot find him—he is a Christian, therefore the Pagan is dead. If they are not killed, what is the force of that saying to Peter, “Kill, and eat?”* And lest you might literally suppose that men were smitten with the sword, blood shed, wounds made in the flesh, it follows by way of explanation, To rebuke the people. Let that two-edged sword of rebuke go forth of you, cease not, GOD has given it you. Say to your idolatrous friend, if there be one left to say it to, ‘What sort of man art thou, to neglect Him who made thee, and to worship that which thou madest thyself? A carpenter is better than his work. If thou art ashamed to worship a carpenter, art thou not ashamed to worship what he made?’ When he begins to feel ashamed, when he begins to be pricked, the sword has made a wound, it reaches his heart, and he will die that he may live. To bind their kings in chains, and their nobles with links of iron. We know of kings made Christians, and of Gentile nobles made Christians.* GOD chose the weak things of this world to confound the strong. CHRIST came for the good of all, but He chose that the Emperor should be benefited by a fisherman, not a fisherman by an Emperor, and He chose things of no weight in the world. He filled them with the HOLT GHOST, He gave them two-edged swords, He taught them to preach the Gospel, and to go throughout the world. The world raged, the lion lifted himself up against the Lamb, but the Lamb proved stronger than the lion. The lion was conquered by his own fury, the Lamb conquered by suffering. The hearts of men were turned to the face of CHRIST, kings and nobles began to be moved at the miracles, at the fulfilment of prophecy, at the swift movement of mankind to one Name.… Many now who have nobility and even kingly power are Christians. They are as in chains, and in links of iron. Lest they should go on to unlawful things they have submitted to chains, chains of wisdom, chains of the Word of GOD. But why are they links of iron, and not of gold? They are iron so long as they fear; let them love, and the iron will be gold.” What was true of Paganism fifteen centuries ago is true still of any false doctrine which Gospel preachers can still smite with the two-edged sword of Scripture and spiritual censures,* and they can still bind with the strong fetters of powerful argument the leaders of unbelief.* They “shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee;* in chains shall they come over, and they shall fall down to thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely GOD is in thee.” And finally, it is taken of the sentence the Saints shall assist in passing at the Last Judgment on the obstinately impenitent,* “Bind him hand and foot, (G.) and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”*

9 That they may be avenged of them, as it is written: Such honour have all his saints. [Alleluia.]

The first clause should run, as in LXX., Vulgate, and A. V., To execute on them the judgment written.* That is, foreordained, fixed, indelible, as though cut upon a pillar of marble. So GOD speaks by the Prophet: “Behold, it is written before Me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense, into their bosom.”* Again, as it is written, that is, judging by regular equitable process, according to divine law, and not by caprice or favour. And so those commentators who take the verse of the Church Militant lay down that ecclesiastical judges are to decide in matter of doctrine according to the ruling of the Fathers, (R.) and in matter of sentence in agreement with the formal precedents of ecclesiastical law,* neither smiting too gently nor too hard. Such honour have all His Saints, because the judicial power of CHRIST is not shared with the Apostles only, (G.) but with all the righteous,* and so it is written, “In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble, they shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and the LORD shall reign for ever.” (A.) So is it with the Saints throughout the world, so deal they in every nation, so they exalt GOD in their mouths, so they rejoice in their beds, so they are beautified with salvation, so they sing the New Song, so they say with heart, voice, and life, Alleluia. Amen.

Wherefore: Glory be to the FATHER, the Maker of Israel; glory be to the SON, the King of the children of Sion; glory be to the HOLT GHOST, Who giveth honour unto His Saints.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

VARIOUS USES

Daily: Lauds~ Gregorian, Monastic,  Ambrosian, Eastern Church Offices.

Parisian. Saturday: Terce.

Lyons. Friday: Lauds.

Quignon. Friday: Lauds.

ANTIPHONS

Parisian. Ascribe unto the LORD * worship and strength.
Lyons. Let Israel rejoice in Him that made him.

COLLECTS

COLLECTS

O GOD, (Lu.) Author of all goodness, Who exaltest all meekness that humbly confesseth Thee, grant that as Thou makest the Saints to be joyful in glory, so Thou wouldst vouchsafe to keep the present Church undefiled by the pleasures of this world. (The Mozarabic ending is—at the conclusion of the prayer, without any other termination: Amen. Through Thy mercy, O our GOD, Who art blessed, and livest and governest all things, to ages of ages. Amen.)

We sing unto Thee,* O LORD, in the Church of the Saints, and make our thanksgiving unto Thee. Grant us to set forth Thy praises, that task wherein we believe we shall obtain an eternal reward. (The Mozarabic ending is—at the conclusion of the prayer, without any other termination: Amen. Through Thy mercy, O our GOD, Who art blessed, and livest and governest all things, to ages of ages. Amen.)

Let Thy praise,* O LORD, resound in the congregation of the Saints, and the heart of the faithful ever rejoice in Thee, let the faithful people exult with joy in the merits of the Saints, and let us who utter praise in Thine honour, obtain the promised joys with all Thy Saints. (The Mozarabic ending is—at the conclusion of the prayer, without any other termination: Amen. Through Thy mercy, O our GOD, Who art blessed, and livest and governest all things, to ages of ages. Amen.)

O LORD, (D. C.) Who hast made us, grant us that loving Thee, we may rejoice and be glad in Thee, that Thy pleasure may be in us, and Thou mayest exalt us to the salvation of everlasting blessedness. (If the Collect be addressed to GOD the FATHER, the proper ending is: Through JESUS CHRIST our LORD, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the HOLY GHOST, One GOD, world without end. Amen.)

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 23:23-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

Mat 23:23  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you tithe mint and anise and cummin and have left the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and faith. These things you ought to have done and not to leave those undone.

“You tithe” (αποδεκατουτε, decimatis), may mean, either to pay or receive tithes. He here taxes them with another instance of hypocrisy. The Pharisees wished to appear so exact in the observance of the law, that they paid the tithes of the smallest herbs, which were either not enforced by the law; or, at best, were not binding under grievous sin. “Mint, anise, and cummin,” herbs growing in the land of Judea. The law prescribed, that “all tithes of the land, whether of corn, or of the fruits of trees, are the Lord’s” (Lev. 27:30). In Hebrew, for “corn,” it is, “the seed of the earth.” Hence, rigorously speaking, it might be, that tithes should be exacted from the herbs, which might be classed among the seeds of the earth. But, by a mild interpretation, they were regarded as not obligatory, nor was the payment of tithes from them observed or enforced among the Jews. Hence, the Pharisee in the Gospel says, that he, as contrasted with the publican and the other classes among the Jews, “gave tithes of ALL he possessed.” Our Redeemer does not censure the Pharisees for paying tithes from these herbs; since, if not prescribed, it was, at least, conformable to the law. What He does censure them for is, that while they attended to small things with the utmost punctuality, in order thus to acquire a character for greater exactitude and more perfect observance of the law, they, with consummate hypocrisy, neglected the most important precepts, viz., “judgment,” which may mean, in a general way, their neglect to render to their neighbour what was his due, or, their neglect, in their capacity of judges of the people, to pass a just sentence, according to the merits of each case. For, this office of judges was exercised by the Pharisees. They favoured their friends and those who gave them bribes. There is hardly any crime which the SS. Scripture so strongly condemns as the passing of unjust judgments. “Seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge for the fatherless, defend the widow” (Isa. 1:17).

“And mercy.” They rigorously exact their dues from the poor, victims from widows, &c., and neglect, at the same time, to succour the indigent, and to show charity to their neighbours. Whereas, God “prefers mercy to sacrifice” (Hos 6:6).

“And faith,” that is, fidelity, truth in their dealings, promises, and compacts. It may also refer to their rejection of the faith of Christ—the root and foundation of all true justice, of which they wished to be accounted most zealous.

“These things you ought to have done,” that is, to have observed, viz., “the weightier things,” the more important precepts of the law, judgment, &c., “and not to leave those,” viz., the paying of tithes, “undone.” From these latter words, it is inferred by some, that the payment of tithes, out of the herbs above-mentioned, was prescribed by law. However, it may be said, that “those” refers, not to tithes out of “mint, anise,” &c., but to the precepts of paying tithes in general, and this our Redeemer prescribes, lest He might pass for an enemy of the law; or, the word, “ought,” in reference to the latter phrase, may simply mean, it was convenient and right, as being conformable to the law, though not necessary.

Some expositors, with St. Jerome, interpret the words, “you tithe” (decimatis), to mean, you exact tithes. The Greek, as well as the Latin word, will mean, either to pay, or, to receive tithes. In this latter interpretation, He taxes the avarice of the Pharisees, and it would refer to such of the Pharisees as were of the Levitical Tribe. The eleven other Tribes paid tithes to the Tribe of Levi; and those of the inferior families of Levi paid tithes of their tithes to the Pontiff and the Priests. (St. Jerome, in Ezekiel. 45; see Numbers 18).

However, as it is to the Pharisees our Redeemer addresses Himself, and not to the Priests, it is most likely, that the word means, to pay tithes. These hypocrites affected the greatest exactitude, and such zeal for the law, as to pay tithes even out of the most trifling things—hence, the Pharisee in the Gospel says: “I pay tithes out of all I possess”—while they neglected the most important ordinances.

Mat 23:24  Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.

“Blind guides.” It is a great misery, when men, who are themselves “blind.” far from seeking a guide, presume to guide others. “Strain out a gnat,” &c., is a proverbial form of expression, more strongly conveying the preceding idea, that they were very exact about small things, and negligent in regard to great and important matters. The words, “straining out a gnat,” contain an allusion to the custom among the Jews, as well as the Greeks and Romans, of passing through a strainer, wines which in southern countries, and Palestine particularly, bred a certain species of gnats or insects peculiar to wine (Amos 6:6). The opposition is rendered more clear and forcible by comparing the smallest insect with the largest animal. The Pharisees, in their excessive punctuality regarding trifles and their neglect of most important matters, resembled those men who strained their wines for fear of swallowing small insects, but opened wide their throats to swallow down a camel.

Mat 23:25  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but within you are full of rapine and uncleanness.

He here instances another case of hypocrisy. In their anxiety to present a good exterior before men, while neglecting to cleanse and purify their souls, the Pharisees, &c., resembled men, who wash the outside of their cups and dishes, but mind not their contents, or what is placed in them; and, as exterior cleanliness of cups, &c., cannot serve the body, if the contents be impure; so, neither can their bodily ablutions serve their souls. “You make clean the outside of the cup,” out of which you drink—“and of the dish,” from which you take your food. In this is contained the comparison above alluded to. “But within you are full of rapine,” &c. Here, passing from the language of metaphor, he applies the comparison. “Within,” in your souls and consciences, while your exterior is specious and showy before men. “You are full of rapine,” the guilt of extortion practised on the poor, whom you plunder, pollutes your souls. “And uncleanness,” all sorts of crime arising from your repeated violations of God’s law (αδικιας). Some MSS. have (ακρασιας), intemperance, as if He referred to their intemperance in the use of meat and drink. There is a difference of reading in MSS. In some MSS., the comparison, or figure, is observed throughout, thus: “but within they (viz., the cups and dishes), are full of rapine and intemperance,” that is, the contents of the cups are the fruit of rapine and excess of every sort. It may be, that our Lord alludes to their great anxiety to observe the Pharisaical ordinances, regarding the repeated washing of cups, &c., among the Jews, while they cared not for the interior purity, of which these exterior ablutions were but mere symbols.

Mat 23:26  Thou blind Pharisee, first make clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside may become clean.

This would seem to be an application of the foregoing comparison. “Blind Pharisee.” Thou, who presumest to guide others, and art blind thyself. “First make clean the inside of the cup.” First, purify thy conscience, which is represented by the interior of the cup and of the dish. “That the outside may become clean,” that, in the sight of God, and, in truth, what appears clean outside, or your whole exterior, may be really edifying and blameless; since, it is from the interior virtues and purity, our exterior appearance derives any value; and without interior purity, exterior decorum or appearance of virtue is only a practical lie.

 

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 149

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

1. Let us praise the Lord both in voice, and in understanding, and in good works; and, as this Psalm exhorteth, let us sing unto Him a new song. It beginneth: “Sing ye to the Lord a new song. His praise is in the Church of the Saints” (ver. 1). The old man hath an old song, the new man a new song. The Old Testament is an old song, the New Testament a new song. In the Old Testament are temporal and earthly promises. Whoso loveth earthly things singeth an old song: let him that desireth to sing a new song, love the things of eternity. Love itself is new and eternal; therefore is it ever new, because it never groweth old.… And this song is of peace, this song is of charity. Whoso severeth himself from the union of the saints, singeth not a new song; for he hath followed old strife, not new charity. In new charity what is there? Peace, the bond of an holy society, a spiritual union, a building of living stones. Where is this? Not in one place, but throughout the whole world. This is said in another Psalm, “Sing unto the Lord, all the earth” (Ps 96:1). From this is understood, that he who singeth not with the whole earth, singeth an old song, whatever words proceed out of his mouth.… We have already said, brethren, that all the earth singeth a new song. He who singeth not with the whole earth a new song, let him sing what he will, let his tongue sound forth Halleluia, let him utter it all day and all night, my ears are not so much bent to hear the voice of the singer, but I seek the deeds of the doer. For I ask, and say, “What is it that thou singest?” He answereth, “Halleluia.” What is “Halleluia”? “Praise ye the Lord.” Come, let us praise the Lord together. If thou praisest the Lord, and I praise the Lord, why are we at variance? Charity praiseth the Lord, discord blasphemeth the Lord.” …

The field of the Lord is the world, not Africa. It is not with the Lord’s field, as it is without these fields of ours, where Getulia bears sixty or an hundred fold, Numidia only ten fold: everywhere fruit is borne to Him, both an hundred fold, and sixty fold, and thirty fold: only do thou choose what thou wilt be, if thou thinkest to belong to the Lord’s Cross. “The Church” then “of the saints” is the Catholic Church. The Church of the saints is not the Church of heretics. The Church of the saints is that which God first prefigured before it was seen, and then set forth that it might be seen. The Church of the saints was heretofore in writings, now it is in nations: the Church of the saints was heretofore only read of, now it is both read of and seen. When it was only read of, it was believed; now it is seen, and is spoken against. His praise is in the “children of the kingdom,” that is, “the Church of the saints.”

“Let Israel rejoice in Him who made Him” (ver. 2). What is, “Israel”? “Seeing God.” He who seeth God, rejoiceth in Him by whom he was made. What is it then, brethren? we have said that we belong to the Church of the saints: do we already see God? and how are we Israel, if we see not? There is one kind of sight belonging to this present time; there will be another belonging to the time hereafter: the sight which now is, is by faith; the sight which is to be will be in reality. If we believe, we see; if we love, we see: see what? God. Ask John: “God is love” (1 Jn 4:16); let us bless His holy Name, and rejoice in God by rejoicing in love. Whoso hath love, why send we him afar to see God? Let him regard his own conscience, and there he seeth God.… “And let the sons of Sion exult in their King.” The sons of the Church are Israel. For Sion indeed was one city, which fell: amid its ruins certain saints dwelt after the flesh: but the true Sion, the true Jerusalem (for Sion and Jerusalem are one), is “eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor 5:1), and is “our mother” (Gal 4:26). She it is that hath given us birth, she is the Church of the saints, she hath nourished us, she, who is in part a pilgrim, in part abiding in the heavens. In the part which abideth in heaven is the bliss of angels, in the part which wandereth in this world is the hope of the righteous. Of the former is said, “Glory to God in the highest;” of the latter, “and on earth peace to men of good will” (Lk 2:14). Let those then who, being in this life, groan, and long for their country, run by love, not by bodily feet; let them seek not ships but wings, let them lay hold on the two wings of love. What are the two wings of love? The love of God, and of our neighbour. For now we are pilgrims, we sigh, we groan. There has come to us a letter from our country: we read it to you. “And the sons of Sion shall exult in their King.” The Son of God, who made us, was made one of us: and He rules us as our King, because He is our Creator, who made us. But He by whom we were made is the same as He by whom we are ruled, and we are Christians because He is Christ. He is called Christ from Chrism, that is, Anointing.… Give to the Priest somewhat to offer. What could man find which he could give as a clean victim? What victim? what clean thing can a sinner offer? O unrighteous, O sinful man, whatever thou offerest is unclean, and somewhat that is clean must be offered for thee.… Let then the Priest that is clean offer Himself, and cleanse thee. This is what Christ did. He found in man nothing clean for Him to offer for than: He offered Himself as a clean Victim. Happy Victim, true Victim, spotless Offering. He offered not then what we gave Him; yea rather, He offered what He took of us, and offered it clean. For of us He took flesh, and this He offered. But where took He it? In the womb of the Virgin Mary, that He might offer it clean for us unclean. He is our King, He is our Priest, in Him let us rejoice.

“Let them praise His Name in chorus” (ver. 3). What meaneth “chorus”? Many know what a “chorus” is: nay, as we are speaking in a town, almost all know. A “chorus” is the union of singers. If we sing “in chorus,” let us sing in concord. If any one’s voice is out of harmony in a chorus of singers, it offendeth the ear, and throweth the chorus into confusion. If the voice of one echoing discordantly troubleth the harmony of them who sing, how doth the discord of heresy throw into confusion the harmony of them who praise. The whole world is now the chorus of Christ. The chorus of Christ soundeth harmoniously from east to west (Ps 113:3). “Let them sing a psalm unto Him with timbrel and psaltery.” Wherefore taketh he to him the “timbrel and psalter)”? That not the voice alone may praise, but the works too. When timbrel and psaltery are taken, the hands harmonize with the voice. So too do thou, whensoever thou singest “Halleluia,” deal forth thy bread to the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the stranger: then doth not only thy voice sound, but thy hand soundeth in harmony with it, for thy deeds agree with thy words. Thou hast taken to thee an instrument, and thy fingers agree with thy tongue. Nor must we keep back the mystical meaning of the “timbrel and psaltery.” On the timbrel leather is stretched, on the psaltery gut is stretched; on either instrument the flesh is crucified. How well did he “sing a psalm on timbrel and psaltery,” who said, “the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world”? (Gal 6:14) This psaltery or timbrel He wishes thee to take up, who loveth a new song, who teacheth thee, saying to thee, “Whosoever willeth to be My disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mt 16:24).  Let him not set down his psaltery, let him not set down his timbrel, let him stretch himself out on the wood, and be dried from the lust of the flesh. The more the strings are stretched, the more sharply do they sound. The Apostle Paul then, in order that his psaltery might sound sharply, what said he? “Stretching forth unto those things which are before,” etc (Philippians 3:13) He stretched himself: Christ touched him; and the sweetness of truth sounded.

“For the Lord hath dealt kindly among His people” (ver. 4). What dealing so kindly, as to die for the ungodly? What dealing so kindly, as with righteous Blood to blot out the handwriting against the sinner? What dealing so kindly, as to say, “I regard not what ye were, be ye now what ye were not”? He dealeth kindly in converting him that was turned away, in aiding him that is fighting, in crowning the conqueror. “And the meek He shall lift up in salvation.” For the proud too are lifted up, but not in salvation: the meek are lifted in salvation, the proud in death: that is, the proud lift up themselves, and God humbleth them: the meek humble themselves, and God lifteth them up.

“The saints shall exult in glory” (ver. 5). I would say somewhat important about the glory of the saints. For there is no one who loveth not glory. But the glory of fools, popular glory as it is called, hath snares to deceive, so that a man, influenced by the praises of vain men, shall be willing to live in such fashion as to be spoken of by men, whosoever they be, in whatsoever way. Hence it is that men, rendered mad, and puffed up with pride, empty within, without swollen, are willing ever to ruin their fortunes by bestowing them on stage-players, actors, men who fight with wild beasts, charioteers. What sums they give, what sums they spend! They lavish the powers not only of their patrimony, but of their minds too. They scorn the poor, because the people shouteth not that the poor should be given to, but the people to shout that the fighter with wild beasts be given to. When then no shout is raised to them, they refuse to spend; when madmen shout to them, they are mad too: nay, all are mad, both performer, and spectator, and the giver. This mad glory is blamed by the Lord, is offensive in the eyes of the Almighty.… Thou choosest to clothe the fighter with wild beasts, who may be beaten, and make thee blush: Christ is never conquered; He hath conquered the devil, He hath conquered for thee, and to thee, and in thee; such a conqueror as this thou choosest not to clothe. Wherefore? Because there is less shouting, less madness about it. They then who delight in such glory, have an empty conscience. Just as they drain their chests, to send garments as presents, so do they empty their conscience, so as to have nothing precious therein.

But the saints who “exult in glory,” no need is there for us to say how they exult: just hear the verse of the Psalm which followeth: “The saints shall exult in glory, they shall rejoice in their beds:” not in theatres, or amphitheatres, or circuses, or follies, or market places, but “in their chambers.” What is, “in their chambers”? In their hearts. Hear the Apostle Paul exulting in his closet: “For this is our glory, the testimony of our conscience” (2 Cor 1:12). On the other hand, there is reason to fear lest any be pleasing to himself, and so seem to be proud, and boast of his conscience. For every one ought to exult with fear, for that wherein he exulteth is God’s gift, not his own desert. For there be many that please themselves, and think themselves righteous; and there is another passage which goeth against them, which saith, “Who shall boast that he hath a clean heart, and that he is pure from sin?” (Prov 20:9) There is then, so to speak, a limit to glorying in our conscience, namely, to know that thy faith is sincere, thy hope sure, thy love without dissimulation. “The exultations of God are in their mouths” (ver. 6). In such wise shall they “rejoice in their closets,” as not to attribute to themselves that they are good, but praise Him from whom they have what they are, by whom they are called to attain to what they are not, and from whom they hope for perfection, to whom they give thanks, because He hath begun.

“And swords sharpened on both sides in their hands.” This sort of weapon contains a great mystical meaning, in that it is sharp on both sides. By “swords sharpened on both sides,” we understand the Word of the Lord (Heb 4:12): it is one sword, but therefore are they called many, because there are many mouths and many tongues of the saints. How is it two edged? It speaks of things temporal, it speaks also of things eternal. In both cases it proveth what it saith, and him whom it strikes, it severeth from the world. Is not this the sword whereof the Lord said, “I am not come to send peace upon earth, but a sword”? (Mt 10:34) Observe how He came to divide, how He came to sever. He divideth the saints, He divideth the ungodly, He severeth from thee that which hindereth thee. The son willeth to serve God, the father willeth not: the sword cometh, the Word of God cometh, and severeth the son from the father.… Wherefore then is it in their hands, not in their tongues? “And swords,” it saith, “sharpened on both sides in their hands.” By “in their hands,” he meaneth in power. They received then the word of God in power, to speak where they would, to whom they would, neither to fear power, nor to despise poverty. For they had in their hands a sword; where they would they brandished it, handled it, smote with it: and all this was in the power of the preachers. For if the Word be not in their hands, why is it written, “The Word of the Lord was put in the hand of the Prophet Haggai”? (Haggai 1:1) Surely, brethren, God set not His Word in His fingers. What is meant by, “was put in his hand”? It was put into his power to preach the Word of the Lord. Lastly, we can understand these “hands” in another way also. For they who spake had the word of God in their tongues, they who wrote, in their hands.

Now, brethren, ye see the saints armed: observe the slaughter, observe their glorious battles. For if there be a commander, there must be soldiers; if soldiers, an enemy; if a warfare, a victory. What have these done who had in their hands swords sharpened on both sides? “To do vengeance on the nations.” See whether vengeance have not been done on the nations. Daily is it done: we do it ourselves by speaking. Observe how the nations of Babylon are slain. She is repaid twofold: for so is it written of her, “repay her double for what she hath done” (Rev 18:6). How is she repaid double? The saints wage war, they draw their “swords twice sharpened;” thence come defeats, slaughters, severances: how is she repaid double? When she had power to persecute the Christians, she slew the flesh indeed, but she crushed not God: now she is repaid double, for the Pagans are extinguished and the idols are broken.… And lest thou shouldest think that men are really smitten with the sword, blood really shed, wounds made in the flesh, he goeth on and explaineth, “upbraidings among the peoples.” What is “upbraidings”? Reproof. Let the “sword twice sharpened” go forth from you, delay not. Say to thy friend, if yet thou hast one left to whom to say it (Augustine means a heathen friend), “What kind of man art thou, who hast abandoned Him by whom thou wast made, and worshippest what He made? Better is the Workman, than that which He worketh.” When he beginneth to blush, when he beginneth to feel compunction, thou hast made a wound with thy sword, it hath reached the heart, he is about to die, that he may live.

“That they may bind their kings in fetters, and their nobles in bonds of iron” (ver. 8). “To execute upon them the judgment written” (ver. 9). The kings of the Gentiles are to be bound in fetters, “and their nobles in fetters,” and that “of iron.… For these verses which we are beginning to explain are obscure. For for this purpose God willed to set down some of His verses obscurely, not that anything new should be dug out of them, but that what was already well known, might be made new by being obscurely set forth. We know that kings have been made Christians; we know that the nobles of the Gentiles have been made Christians. They are being made so at this day; they have been, they shall be; the “swords twice sharpened” are not idle in the hands of the saints. How then do we understand their being bound in fetters and chains of iron? Ye know, beloved and learned brethren (learned I call you, for ye have been nourished in the Church, and are accustomed to hear God’s Word read), that “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong, and the foolish things of the world hath God chosen to confound the wise, and things which are not, just as things which are, that the things which are may be brought to nought.” (1 Cor 1:26 ff) … It is said by the Lord, “If thou wilt be perfect, go sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and come, follow Me, and thou shall have treasure in heaven” (Mt 19:21).  Many of the nobles did this, but they ceased to be nobles of the Gentiles, they chose rather to be poor in this world, noble in Christ. But many retain their former nobility, retain their royal powers, and yet are Christians. These are, as it were, “in fetters and in bonds of iron.” How so? they received fetters, to keep them from going to things unlawful, the “fetters of wisdom” (Sir 6:25), the fetters of the Word of God. Wherefore then are they bonds of iron and not bonds of gold? They are iron so long as they fear: let them love, and they shall be golden. Observe, beloved, what I say. Ye have heard just now the Apostle John, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment” (1 Jn 4:18). This is the bond of iron. And yet unless a man begin through fear to worship God, he will not attain to love. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps 111:10).  The beginning then is bonds of iron, the end a collar of gold. For it is said of wisdom, “a collar of gold around thy neck” (Sir 6:24) … There cometh to us a man powerful in this world, his wife offendeth him, and perhaps he hath desired another man’s wife who is more beautiful, or another woman who is richer, he wisheth to put away the one he hath, yet he doeth it not. He heareth the words of the servant of God, he heareth the Prophet, he heareth the Apostle, and he doeth it not; he is told by one in whose hands is a “sword twice sharpened,” “Thou shalt not do it: it is not lawful for thee: God alloweth thee not to put away thy wife, “save for the cause of fornication” (Mt 5:32). He heareth this, he feareth, and doeth it not.… Listen, young men; the bonds are of iron, seek not to set your feet within them; if ye do, ye shall be bound more tightly with fetters. Such fetters the hands of the Bishop make strong for you. Do not men who are thus fettered fly to the Church, and are here loosed? Men do fly hither, desiring to be rid of their wives: here they are more tightly bound: no man looseth these fetters. “What God joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mt 19:6). But these bonds are hard. Who but knows it? This hardness the Apostles grieved at, and said, “If this be the case with a wife, it is not good to marry” (Mt 19:10). If the bonds be of iron, it is not good to set our feet within them. And the Lord said, “All men cannot receive this saying, but let him that can receive it, receive it” (Mt 19:11-12)  “Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be freed,” for thou art bound with bonds of iron. “Art thou free from a wife, seek not a wife;” bind not thyself with bonds of iron.

“To do in them the judgment that is written.” This is the judgment which the saints do throughout all nations. Wherefore “written”? Because these things were before written, and now are fulfilled. Behold now they are being done: erst they were read, and were not done. And he hath concluded thus, “this glory have all His saints.” Throughout the whole world, throughout entire nations, this the saints do, thus are they glorified, thus do they “exalt God with their mouths,” thus do they “rejoice in their beds,” thus do they “exult in their glory,” thus are they “lifted up in salvation,” thus do they “sing a new song,” thus in heart and voice and life they say Halleluia. Amen.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 149

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

ISRAEL’S VICTORY OVER THE HEATHENS

THE psalmist summons the people, who are assembled at a thanksgiving festival, to sing a new song of praise and thanks to the Creator and King of Israel. Let the people honour the name of Yahweh with song, and music, and sacred dance (verses 1-3). Thanksgiving and praise are due because the Lord has granted to His worshippers victory and glory. Long had they patiently endured humiliation and suffering, but now at last, the Lord has given them victory over their foes. Therefore let the loyal subjects of Yahweh rejoice; but while they sing their songs of praise and gladness, let them not forget to keep close at hand the sword which Yahweh has graced with victory (4-6). That sword they will need still further to execute vengeance on the heathen, who have so long oppressed the people of God. The kings and nobles who oppose the Kingdom of Yahweh will be overthrown, and their overthrow will be a theme of Israel’s proudest songs.

In this psalm, then, as in so many others, the victories of Israel over its heathen adversaries are regarded either as foreshadowing the triumphs of the Messias over his foes, or as themselves constituting a stage in the actual ushering in of the Messianic Kingdom. In the preceding psalm the heathen princes were invited to join with all creation in a song of thanksgiving for Israel’s exaltation: here, on the other hand, the heathen rulers are depicted as defeated by the sword of Israel’s vengeance. They are no longer invited to join in the general chorus of thanksgiving for Israel’s success, but rather, as defeated and befettered foes they are compelled to serve as mute tokens of the might of Israel’s God.

This psalm is assigned by some recent critics to the Maccabean period, but the arguments advanced for this view are not convincing. A more likely theory assigns the psalm to the period of restoration under Nehemiah.  Cf. Nehemiah 4:10 ff with verse 6 of the psalm; but see also 2 Macc. 15:17.

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

This Week’s Commentaries and Posts: Sunday, August 25-Sunday, September 1, 2013

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Dominica XIV Post Pentecosten IV. Augusti ~ II. classis

COMMENTARIES AND RESOURCES FOR SUNDAY MASS (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Last Week’s Posts: Sunday, August 18-Sunday, August 25.

MONDAY, AUGUST 26, 2013
MONDAY OF THE TWENTY-FIRST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 8b-10). On 1-10.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 8b-10). On 1-10.

My Notes on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 8b-10). On 1-10.

Update: Homily 1~St John Chrysostom on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thess 1:1-5). On 1-7.

Update: Homily 2~St John Chrysostom on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thess 1:8-10).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 149).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 149).

Update: Patrisitic/Medieval Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 149).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 149).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:13-22).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:13-22).

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:13-22).

Update: Father Haydock’s Notes on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:13-22).

TUESDAY, AUGUST 27, 2013
MEMORIAL OF ST MONICA

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 2:1-8).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 2:1-8).

My Notes on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 2:1-8).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 139).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 139).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 139).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:23-26).

Maldonado’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:23-26).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:23-26).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:23-26).

Update: Father Haydock’s Notes on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:23-26).

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 28, 2013
MEMORIAL OF ST AUGUSTINE, BISHOP AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 2:9-13).

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 2:9-13).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 139).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 139).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 139).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:27-32).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:27-32).

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:27-32).

Update: Father Haydock’s Notes on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:27-32).

THURSDAY, AUGUST 29, 2013
MEMORIAL OF THE PASSION OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on 1 Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 3:7-13).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 3:7-13).

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 3:7-13).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 90).

Pending: St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 90).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 90).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 6:17-29).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Mark 6:17-29).

FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013
FRIDAY OF THE TWENTY-FIRST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). On 1-12, thus incorporating tomorrow’s first reading as well.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). On 1-11, thus incorporating tomorrow’s first reading as well.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 97).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 97).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 97).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:1-13).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:1-13).

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:1-13).

SATURDAY, AUGUST 31, 2013
SATURDAY OF THE TWENTY-FIRST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 4:9-11). On 1-11, thus incorporating yesterday’s first reading as well.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 4:9-11).

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). On 1-11, thus incorporating yesterday’s first reading as well.

My Notes on Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 4:91-11).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 98).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 98).

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 98).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 98).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:14-30).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:14-30).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:14-30).

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:14-30).

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1
TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Dominica XV Post Pentecosten I. Septembris ~ II. classis

RESOURCES FOR SUNDAY MASS (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). Usually posted on Wednesday evenings; occasionally on Tues. or Thurs. evenings (I got another early start! I’m hoping to have the posts still pending done by Wednesday evening).

Next Week’s Posts and Commentaries. will move to the top of the blog late Sat. or early Sun.

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of 1 Thessalonians 4, followed by his notes on verses 1-8. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS OF 1 THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 4

In this chapter, the Apostle encourages the Thessalonians to perseverance (1); he delivers a precept regarding the practice of purity, and the avoidance of adultery, and he adduces several motives to stimulate them to fidelity in this matter (3–8). He praises their charity, and encourages the poor to engage in some honest employment, so that by this means they would not abuse the liberality of the rich (9, 10, 11). Finally, he assuages their excessive grief for their departed friends, by propounding the doctrine of the general resurrection, the order and manner of which he describes (12–17).

This and the following chapters are employed in such subjects of morality, as the Thessalonians, according to the information furnished by Timothy, needed instruction in.

1Th 4:1  For the rest therefore, brethren, pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus that, as you have received from us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more.
For the rest, therefore, brethren, we implore and exhort you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that as you have received precepts from us, by word of mouth when amongst you, regarding the manner of living and of pleasing God, you would so live, as to observe these precepts, and by advancing in perfection, please him more and more.

For the rest”—a form of transition usual with the Apostle, particularly at the close of his Epistles. The Greek copies want the words “so also you would walk;” according to the Greek, the words, “that you may abound the more,” will signify, that, not contenting themselves with mere precepts, they ought to practise matters of counsel.

1Th 4:2  For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus.
I have said, as you have received from us. For, you know what precepts of a holy life we delivered to you, in the name, and by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

The Greek word παραγγελιας can be translated as mandates, charges, instructions, etc. It is used elsewhere is St Paul only in 1 Tim 1:5, 18.  Related words can be found in 1 Cor 7:10, 1 Cor 11:17; 1 Thess 4:11; 2 Thess 3:4, 6, 10, 12; 1 Tim 1:3, 1 Tim 4:11, 1 Tim 5:7, 1 Tim 6:13, 17.

“You know.” Knowledge is a common theme in this letter. It refers to both the knowledge of the missionaries regarding how the Thessalonians were chosen (1 Th 1:4), and to how the missionaries acted among them (1 Th 2:1, 5, 11). The knowledge the Thessalonians posses concerning how to conduct themselves was received from St Paul and his companions both by verbal instruction and example.

1Th 4:3  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: That you should abstain from fornication:
Now, this is a summary of God’s precepts, or the expression of his will, that you should lead a life of sanctity, a life free from all sins, but particularly from sins of impurity, or unlawful sensual pleasures.
1Th 4:4  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour,
So that every one of you should be able to master and keep under subjection his own body, in sanctification and honour.

“This is the will of God, your sanctification.” See Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Pet 1:15-16. A major aspect of St Paul’s ministry (which he had by the will of God (1 Cor 1:1)  was to exhort and encourage people to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord who called them to the kingdom and its glory (see 1 Th 2:12).

“Sanctification.” Christians have been called to be holy (Rom 1:7), that is, set apart from all that is profane. They are holy (sanctified, set apart) by that very call, but they must live it out in their daily lives.

By “vessel” some persons understand, the wife of the married husband. However, as St. Paul refers to the sins of luxury, as well in the unmarried as in the married state, it is better to refer it to the body of each person; of course, not excluding those engaged in marriage; and this meaning of “vessel” is common in SS. Scripture (1 Kings, 16:5), and also with profane writers; because, the body is the receptacle of the soul, or the instrument through which the soul acts. “Possess” is frequently used to signify, holding the mastery over, and is here opposed to the dominion which lust, or his lustful body, exercises over the voluptuous man. “Honour” is opposed to those pollutions and defilements by which the Gentile philosophers (Romans, 1) are said to dishonour their bodies.

1Th 4:5  Not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God:
And not be the slave of the strong, impulsive motions of concupiscence, like the Gentiles that know not God.

He shows, by the contrary, what “honour” is. The body belongs to the Lord and should be used accordingly (see 1 Cor 6:18-20). The various passions (such as that relating to sex) are good in themselves, but prone to abuse and self-indulgence.

1Th 4:6  And that no man overreach nor circumvent his brother in business: because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have told you before and have testified.
And let no one exceed the limits of justice or circumvent his brother in this matter, by indulging in unlawful pleasures in violation of the rights of the father or husband; for, the Lord is the avenger of all these crimes, as we foretold, and solemnly assured you, when present amongst you.

Some Commentators understand this of real property, and of injustice committed in business transactions. The article prefixed to the word “business” shows, however, that he is referring to the matter of chastity, or the exercise of marriage. Besides, “business” has this meaning frequently with profane writers. He assigns a reason why they should exercise justice in such matters, because God will avenge such crimes, “as we have told and testified.” This solemn assurance was required, because the Pagans made light of crimes against chastity.

1Th 4:7  For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification.
For in calling us to Christianity, the Lord has called us not to a state, or to the practice of impurity, but to a state, and to the practice of purity and sanctity.

The second motive by which he deters them from the commission of impurities, is the reason upon which the menace on the part of God is grounded, viz., that by calling them to Christianity, he called them to a state of purity and sanctity which they desert, and not to the state of impurity, which they indulge in against his will and ordinances.

1Th 4:8  Therefore, he that despiseth these things, despiseth not man, but God, who also hath given his holy Spirit in us.
Wherefore, whosoever despises these precepts, despises not man who propounds them, but God himself, from whom they emanated, who has given us, Apostles, his holy spirit, authorizing us to announce such precepts.

The third motive is, because such sins of impurity are committed as acts of contempt against God himself. These words, “who also hath given his holy spirit in us,” may also mean, that these impurities committed against God’s precepts, besides the contempt against God, from whom these precepts emanated, also involve a special contempt of the Holy Ghost, who dwells in the bodies of the baptized, as in his temple.

 

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Father MacEvilly on the Martyrdom of St John the Baptist (Matt 14:1-12; Mark 6:17-29)

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

Text in red are my additions. This post was compiled from the Bishop’s commentary on the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.

Mar 6:17  For Herod himself had sent and apprehended John, and bound him prison for the sake of Herodias the wife of Philip his brother, because he had married her.

St Matthew (Mt 14:1) introduces the account with the words at that time. What precise period is here referred to, is a subject of dispute. It happened after the beheading of the Baptist. It is inferred from the Gospel of St. John (6:4), that the Baptist was beheaded some time near the Pasch. For, the departure of our Redeemer on hearing of John’s death (v. 13 of this chapter), is identified with that recorded (John 6:1), when He performed the miracle of the multiplication of the bread.

Which Pasch it is that “was near at hand” (John 6:4) is uncertain. It most likely was the fourth Pasch, after our Lord’s baptism. Before this Pasch, John was beheaded. This occurred after the mission of the Apostles, recorded (10), as is clear from Mark (6:14), Luke (9:7), both of whom immediately subjoin John’s decollation to the narrative of the mission of the Apostles; and both say, that it was after the Apostles returned from their mission, our Lord was informed of the Baptist’s death; and then it was, the departure of our Redeemer recorded in verse 13 of this chapter took place. St. Matthew states in this chapter (v. 13), that it was after our Redeemer heard of John’s death while traversing Galilee, teaching and performing miracles, He retired and departed across the water.

“Herod.” Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, who put the Holy Innocents to death. In Matthew 14:1 he is identified as the Tetrarch; his term designates the governor of the fourth part of a province or kingdom. Among the Romans, who divided the conquered kingdoms into Tetrarchites, the term, “Tetrarch,” was applied to all those who exercised supreme power, and enjoyed dignity next to that of king. This Herod Antipas, was Tetrarch of Galilee. He obtained the fourth part of his father’s kingdom. Archelaus, obtained one-half, with the title of Ethnarch, and Philip governed the remaining fourth with the title of Tetrarch. This was in accordance with the will of Herod the Great, which was confirmed by the Romans. This Antipas is styled “king,” verse 9 (Mark 6:14), on account of the similarity between the supreme power he exercised, and that wielded by a king.

“The wife of Philip, his brother.” Matthew has “Because of Herodias, his brother’s wife.” There is some difference of opinion as to who this Herodias was. The common opinion seems to be, that she was daughter of Aristobulus, son of Herod the Great, by Mariamne, the last of the Asmonean kingly race. She was sister to Herod Agrippa, and, consequently, she was niece to this very Herod Antipas, who was brother to her father, Aristobulus, both brothers having different mothers. She was married to Herod Philip, brother to this Herod Antipas. Whether this was Philip, the Tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis (Luke 3:1), or a different Philip, also son of Herod the Great, of whom there is no mention made in Herod’s will and distribution of his dominions, and who must have, therefore, lived in a private station, is disputed. If the narrative of Josephus (Lib. Antiq. xviii. c. 5), be credited, it could not be Philip the Tetrarch (Luke 3:1). For, he states that Herodias’s daughter, by Philip—before she married Herod Antipas—named Salome, “was married to Philip, the son of Herod, and Tetrarch of Trachonitis.” The Philip, then, whom Herodias married first must be quite a different person. Others, rejecting this testimony of Josephus, who, they say, was deceived in this, assert, that the Philip referred to (Luke 3:1), as Tetrarch, &c., was the first husband of Herodias. Herod Antipas, on his way to Rome (as we are informed by Josephus, ibidem), in the sixteenth year of Tiberius, lodged in the house of his brother Philip, for whose wife Herodias, he conceived a wicked passion; and obtained her consent to leave her husband, and live with him on his return from Rome, on condition of his sending away his wife, who was daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia. This latter, on being informed of Herod’s designs and resolution to espouse Herodias, fled to her father for protection, who, in defence of his daughter’s honour and rights, waged war on Herod, and cut his army to pieces. (Josephus, Lib. Antiq. xviii., &c.) The Baptist sternly rebuked Herod for his incestuous and adulterous connexion with Herodias, her former husband and his own wife being still alive. Even if we suppose Philip, her former husband to be dead, as some assert, though Josephus positively states the contrary; still, Antipas, though not a Jew, any more than his father, Herod the Great, was, however, like him, a Jewish proselyte, bound by the law of Moses, which forbade marriage with a deceased brother’s wife (Lev. 18:16; 20:21), save in the case of the deceased brother dying without issue (Deut. 25:5). In the present instance there was issue, viz., the wicked daughter spoken of in this chapter. The marriage was, therefore, unlawful. Hence, the zeal of the Baptist in reproaching Herod with this scandalous adulterous connexion—scandalous, especially, in one occupying his elevated station.

Mar 6:18  For John said to Herod: It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.

“It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.” (Lev. 18:16). Although this Herodias was niece of Philip, her husband, as well as of Herod Antipas, with whom she lived in adultery, this relationship was not an impediment to her marriage with Philip, nor is it anywhere reckoned among marriage impediments in the Jewish law. Hence, she is called by John the Baptist, “thy brother’s wife.”

Mar 6:19  Now Herodias laid snares for him: and was desirous to put him to death and could not.

“Laid snares for him. ” Some see in Herodias a connection with Jezebel (1 Kings 18:4, 13; 19:1-10). Some also see an allusion to the part played by Zeresh in the plot against Mordecai (Esther 5:9-14).

Mar 6:20  For Herod feared John, knowing him to be a just and holy man: and kept him, and when he heard him, did many things: and he heard him willingly.

“Feared,” is interpreted by many to mean, revered, stood in reverential awe of him, on being apprised of his virtues. Although, in the first instance, he may have been animated with feelings quite different, when he cast him into prison.

“And kept him,” guarded him against the violence and snares of Herodias. The Greek word συνετηρει can refer to guarding or conserving something, but it can also refer to a careful mental consideration. Most modern translations prefer the former meaning, the latter is rather tautological in light of the remainder of the verse.

“And did many things,” conformably to the counsels given by John.

Mar 6:21  And when a convenient day was come, Herod made a supper for his birthday, for the princes, and tribunes, and chief men of Galilee.

“A convenient day,” i.e., a festal day, convenient for Herodias’ wicked designs against the Baptist—a convenient day to work on the feelings of Herod. The Greek word translated as “convenient day” is ευκαιρου, it refers to an opportune time. The word is used in reference to Judas’ plot against Jesus in Mark 14:11.

“Herod made a supper…for the princes, and tribunes, and chief men of Galilee.” This may be intended to recall the banquet Ahasuerus gave in chapter 1 of Esther (see Father Eugene LaVerdiere’s THE BEGINNING OF THE GOSPEL, Volume 1, pages 166-168 for more connections with Esther).

Mar 6:22  And when the daughter of the same Herodias had come in, and had danced, and pleased Herod, and them that were at table with him, the king said to the damsel: Ask of me what thou wilt, and I will give it thee.

The circumstance of permitting dancing during the feast, shows the voluptuousness practised in the court of Herod; for, even amongst the most abandoned of the Roman Emperors, such was not allowed.

Mar 6:23  And he swore to her: Whatsoever thou shalt ask I will give thee, though it be the half of my kingdom.

Heated with wine and blinded by passion, Herod “promised to give her whatsoever she would ask” (Mt 14:7). St. Mark adds, “though it were half his kingdom.” This rash and foolish promise he confirmed with the solemn sanction of an oath.

Mar 6:24  Who when she was gone out, said to her mother, What shall I ask? But her mother said: The head of John the Baptist.
Mar 6:25  And when she was come in immediately with haste to the king, she asked, saying: I will that forthwith thou give me in a dish, the head of John the Baptist.

Instructed by her mother, whom she went to consult after receiving the promise (Mark 6:24), she asked to get on the spot, without any delay, the head of John the Baptist, lest, if time for reflection were given him, he might repent of the promise. “I will that forthwith thou give me in a dish, the head of John the Baptist”. She wished for this, to be the more certain of his death; for, her mother dreaded lest, through the influence of the Baptist, Herod would send her away in disgrace.

Mar 6:26  And the king was struck sad. Yet because of his oath, and because of them that were with him at table, he would not displease her:

“The king was struck sad.” Some are of opinion, with St. Jerome, that the king was really glad of the pretext this opportunity, as it were, afforded him, of carrying out his designs against the Baptist; and that the whole affair of the request on the part of Salome—the daughter of Herodias—was previously agreed on by common concert between Herod and his adulterous wife. Others, with St. Augustine, consider that Herod was really “sad.” For, besides that the Evangelist says so, in the plainest terms, it is most likely, that, although, Herod, in the beginning, when he cast the Baptist into prison, would have him slain, had he not dreaded a popular commotion (v. 5); still, in the course of his imprisonment, he began to reverence his sanctity, and willingly listened to him (Mark 6:20), and was, therefore, sorry for the rash promise he made. Moreover, all the circumstances under which he was called upon to put him to death, the time, the place, the odium, attached to so unnatural a proceeding, were calculated to cause him real sorrow.

“Yet because of his oath,” &c., that is, to avoid violating his oath, as if he did not add perjury to homicide in keeping so impious and rash a promise. The observance of an oath, having for object the perpetration of evil, is no less sinful and criminal than was its original utterance. It is an insult to God to invoke Him as witness to the perpetration of evil, as if this were pleasing to Him. St. Jerome asks, if it were the head of her mother she asked, would Herod have given it to her?

“And because of them that sat with him at table.” He did not wish to incur the reproach of fickleness or inconstancy, before the chief men of Galilee, whom he had assembled around him on the occasion.

Mar 6:27  But sending an executioner, he commanded that his head should be brought in a dish.
Mar 6:28  And he beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a dish: and gave to the damsel, and the damsel gave it her mother.

“But sending the executioner…he beheaded him in prison”. Josephus says, the prison where John was incarcerated was in the castle of Macherus, near the Sea Asphaltites, or Dead Sea, beyond the Jordan. This castle was in Herod’s dominions; for, he ruled Galilee and the district beyond the Jordan. (Josephus, Lib. 12, Antiq.) Hence, it is inferred by some, that this great banquet was given in the castle of Macherus itself; otherwise, the head of the Baptist could not be called for and given on the spot. Others deny Josephus’ account of the prison of the Baptist. They maintain, that he was imprisoned in Galilee, and that it was there Herod gave this entertainment to his nobles.

“and brought his head in a dish, and gave to the damsel, and the damsel gave it to her mother.” The mother, the wicked Herodias, was the instigator of the entire barbarous proceeding. St. Jerome (Lib. 3, contra Rufin, c. 11), tells us, that this monster made it her inhuman pastime to prick, with a bodkin, the tongue of the Saint. The same is recorded of Fulvia, in regard to Cicero. This same Herod, four years after he had treated the Redeemer of the world, as a mock king and a fool, in the crowded streets of Jerusalem, was banished, with his wicked wife, after they had been deprived of all their earthly possessions, their kingdom being added to that of Agrippa, by Caius to Lyons, in Gaul, where, we are informed by Josephus (Antiq. xviii. 7), they died in great misery, although it is said by others, and by the same Josephus, that his place of banishment by Caius was Spain, whither his wife followed him (Josephus, de Bel. Jud. ii. 9). Nicephorus (Lib. i., Histor. c. 20), and others state, that Salome, by a just judgment of God, met with a most miserable, but appropriate death. While crossing the ice in winter, it broke; and she was plunged in as far as the shoulders; then, the ice coming again together, severed her head from her body.

Mar 6:29  Which his disciples hearing came, and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

The disciples of the Baptist, who, it seems, had access to his prison (Matt. 11:2), came, and taking away his body, had it honourably interred. St. Jerome informs us that it was interred in Sebaste, formerly called Samaria. Joseph of Arimathea will do the same for Jesus after his crucifixion (Mk 15:42-46).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

This post opens with Father Callan’s brief summary of 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 followed by his notes on verses 6-13.

ST TIMOTHY’S VISIT TO THESSALONICA AND ITS RESULTS

This whole Chapter really belongs, by connection of thought and matter, to the last section of the preceding Chapter. In his anxiety St. Paul did send Timothy to visit and encourage the new converts at Thessalonica. When the Apostle was with them, he had foretold the trials to which they should be subjected, and he was fearing what effects these troubles may have had on their faith. But Timothy on his return gave a most comforting report, for which the Apostle thanks God from the bottom of his heart. Night and day he prays that he himself may be able to visit them, to make up what is wanting to their faith. May God grant him this favor, and may the Thessalonians meanwhile increase and abound in brotherly love towards all, so as to make ever greater progress in holiness, in preparation for the coming of the Lord!

6. But now when Timothy came to us from you, and related to us your
faith and charity, and that you have a good remembrance of us always,
desiring to see us as we also to see you
7. Therefore we were comforted, brethren, in you, in all our necessity

and tribulation, by your faith,
8. Because now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.

Being alone at Corinth and all uncertain about conditions at Thessalonica, St. Paul was in a state of great anxiety when Timothy joined him there, bringing glad tidings of the faith, charity, and personal affection for Paul of the new converts. This report of their faith was a source of comfort to the Apostle in his own trials and afiBictions, and gave him new life to press on in his labors.

Related to us. Better, “brought us glad tidings,” as if preaching the Gospel to him.

Now we live, i.e., he felt his tired and wearied life renewed.

9. For what thanks can we return to God for you, in all the joy wherewith
we rejoice for you before our God,
10. Night and day more abundantly praying that we may see your face,
and may accomplish those things that are wanting to your faith?

St. Paul knows not how to thank God for the report about the Thessalonians, and he says his prayer is unceasing that he may be able to visit them in person and make up what may be wanting in their faith; his stay with them had not been long, and hence there was need on their part of more religious instruction, theoretical and practical. For a similar reason the Apostle at a later date wanted to visit the Church in Rome (Rom. 1:11).

Verses 11-13 (see below) conclude the first main part of the Epistle. In these verses St. Paul prays to God, first for the Apostles, that they may be enabled to visit the Thessalonians (ver. 11); and secondly, for the converts, that they may increase in charity (ver. 12), and may be found blameless in the day of Christ’s coming (ver. 13). The second main part of the letter likewise closes with a prayer to God (v. 23-24). Cf. Voste, hoc loco.

11. Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way unto you,

God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus. The Christus of the Vulgate is not in the Greek. Unity of action is here attributed to the Father and our Lord in directing the free actions of men for a supernatural purpose, and therefore their equality in divine nature is implied. See 2 Thess. 2:16-17, where the same doctrine is even more explicitly stated. How clear this doctrine was to the mind of St. Paul in these the first of his letters, and therefore in the earliest of New Testament writings!

Direct our way, etc. Better, “make straight our way,” by removing all impediments.

12. And may the Lord multiply you, and make you abound in charity towards one another, and towards all men, as we do also towards you:

May the Lord multiply, etc. Better, “may the Lord make you to increase, etc.” Here again divine action is attributed to our Lord. As the Apostles are animated with charity towards the Thessalonians, so may the latter be towards “one another, and towards all men,” for Christ died for all!

The in vobis of the Vulgate should be in vos, as in the Greek.

13. To confirm your hearts without blame in holiness, before God and our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his saints. Amen.

To confirm your hearts, etc. The reference is to the action and grace of the Lord spoken of in the preceding verse. The Apostle prays for the internal, as well as the external perfection of his readers.

Before God, etc., i.e., in the sight of God the Father.

At the coming, etc., i.e., when our Lord, accompanied by His holy angels, comes to judge the world. The Apostle wishes his converts to be arrayed with all the virtues of sanctity when the Lord comes in judgment.

With all his saints. What is the meaning of “saints” here? Some authorities, like Ambrosiaster, Flatt and Hofmann, referring the phrase back to “without blame in holiness,” think all the faithful, living or dead, are meant; Findlay and others say only the holy dead are in question; Lightfoot and Milligan hold that we should understand both angels and the blessed dead; Knabenbauer, Voste, and most modern commentators teach that only angels are to be understood in this passage.

The reasons for this last opinion are that in all the eschatological passages of the Old and New Testaments and in the apocryphal books only angels are mentioned as accompanying the coming Messiah, Moreover, the dead who have died in the Lord seem to be excluded from a part in the glorious coming of the Messiah, according to 1 Thess. 4:15. It is true that certain New Testament passages speak of “the saints” as having part in the judgment of the world; but we must not confuse the judgment with the glorious advent of the Christ, which is to precede the judgment. See Voste, hoc loco.

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

This post opens with the Bishop’s brief analysis of chapter 3 of 1 Thessalonians followed by his notes on verses 7-13. Text in purple indicate the Bishop’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS OF 1 THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 3

In this chapter, the Apostle expresses his affectionate solicitude for the Thessalonians, in consequence of which he sent Timothy to ascertain their steadfastness in the faith after having been tested in the severe ordeal of persecution (1 Th 3:1–5). He expresses the intense joy, which the cheering accounts regarding them brought back by Timothy had caused him (1 Th 3:6–8). He returns thanks to God, the source of these blessings. He prays that it may be granted him to visit them once more, in order to complete the system of religious teaching, which he had commenced amongst them (1 Th 3:9–11). He prays, that God may grant them abundant increase of faith and charity, together with the grace of persevering in sanctity, unto the end (1 Th 3:12-13).

1Th 3:7  Therefore we were comforted, brethren, in you, in all our necessity and tribulation, by your faith.
From these joyous tidings we derived such consolation, in the midst of all the perils and tribulations to which we were subjected, as to forget them all, on account of your steadfastness in the faith.

The effect of the good news conveyed to him by Timothy was, “in all necessity,” i.e., perils and danger, and in “all tribulation,” to forget all his sufferings on account of the abundance of the consolation which their faith afforded him.

1Th 3:8  Because now we live, if you stand in the Lord.
For (although we are dying daily), we still are kept alive, and in joy, if you persevere in the faith.

Although the Apostle was daily in the midst of the perils of death (1 Cor. 15); still, he valued these perils as nought, and he felt the joy of a man perfectly secure, as long as his converts persevered. So closely did he connect his own welfare, nay, his life, with their perseverance, that without it, he would not value existence.

1Th 3:9  For what thanks can we return to God for you, in all the joy wherewith we rejoice for you before our God,
For, what thanks can we return to God, for your firmness and stability in the faith, and for the very great joy, which we feel in God’s presence on your account?

“In all the joy,” i.e., the exceeding great joy. The second effect which the good news brought by Timothy had on him was to make him render God thanks for it.

1Th 3:10  Night and day more abundantly praying that we may see your face and may accomplish those things that are wanting to your faith?
Constantly and most earnestly do we beseech God to enable us to see you, and thus complete the system of Christian faith, by either disclosing new truths, or more fully explaining those you already know; the suddenness of our departure prevented us from doing so.

“And may accomplish those things that are wanting to your faith.” There were a good many points which the Apostle did not, in all probability, propound to them, or, at least, fully explain, in consequence of being obliged to leave suddenly, and or this sudden departure he would make up, by visiting them again. He might refer to the article of the resurrection of the dead, and of the day of judgment, regarding which he afterwards instructs them more fully. The Greek word for “accomplish,” καταρτισα, conveys the idea of filling up the joints, wanting in a human body. Hence, he refers to a body or system of faith.

1Th 3:11  Now God himself and our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.
May God himself, who is our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our journey to you.

It is uncertain whether he went to them or not. It is more probable, however, that he did, as appears from the 20th chapter of the Acts, in which account is given of his second journey to Macedonia.

1Th 3:12  And may the Lord multiply you and make you abound in charity towards one another and towards all men: as we do also towards you,
May the Lord increase the number of the faithful amongst you, and make you advance in mutual charity towards one another, and towards all men, as I abound in charity towards you and all mankind.

“And may the Lord multiply you,” i.e., increase your number, so that a greater number would embrace the faith. In Greek, may the Lord make you to increase and abound in love.

1Th 3:13  To confirm your hearts without blame, in holiness, before God and our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his saints. Amen.
I also pray, that he may confirm your hearts in exterior edification, so as to be blameless before men, and in true interior sanctity in the sight of God and our Father, and that, on the day on which our Lord Jesus Christ will come, with all his saints, to judge the world. Amen.

“Without blame,” irreprehensible and free from all complaint before men, and “in holiness before God and our Father,” i.e., true and real holiness, “at the coming,” &c., and this with constancy and perseverance, to the end. “Amen” is not in the Greek. It is, however, found in several ancient versions, and in some of the chief manuscripts.

 

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 23:25-33

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

Mat 23:25  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but within you are full of rapine and uncleanness.
Mat 23:26  Thou blind Pharisee, first make clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside may become clean.
Mat 23:27  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful but within are full of dead men’s bones and of all filthiness.
Mat 23:28  So you also outwardly indeed appear to men just: but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity
.

Hypocritical purity. “You make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish [cf. Mk. 7:4], but within you are full of rapine,” may be understood as a parable, meaning “you take care of the outward form, and neglect the inward spirit” [cf. Vulgate, Jerome, Maldonado Lam.]. But the Greek text reads: “you make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish. but within they are full of [the goods gotten by] rapine and excessive greed,” so that we have here another instance in which the Pharisees observe the practices of the ceremonial law, while they neglect the duties of justice. Jesus, adapting his language to the levitical law of purity [cf. Num. 19:22], shows that the outside of the cup and the dish will be defiled by the impure contents, thus reversing the Pharisaic principle that the impurity of the cup and the dish communicates itself to the contents [cf. Chrysostom, Lam. Schanz, Knabenbauer]. Our Lord now proceeds to show that this internal impurity obtains in the case of the Pharisees: “you are like to whited sepulchres,” which were newly whitewashed on the fifteenth day of Adar, four weeks before the pasch. [cf. Surenh. ii. p. 176, 403; i. p. 282], that the festive pilgrims might not incur the legal pollution of seven days by inadvertently coming into contact with any sepulchre [cf. Num. 19:16; Lev. 13:45; Is. 57:14; Ezek. 39:15], and thus be prevented from eating the paschal lamb. Though this whitening of the sepulchres had mainly a religious purpose, it gave the graves a decorous external appearance: “which outwardly appear to men beautiful.” Thus the saintly appearance of the Pharisees is only an outward semblance, which ought to be regarded as a sign of warning, indicating their interior corruption.

Mat 23:29  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, that build the sepulchres of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the just,
Mat 23:30  And say: If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Mat 23:31  Wherefore you are witnesses against yourselves, that you are the sons of them that killed the prophets.
Mat 23:32  Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers
.
Mat 23:33  You serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell?

Hypocritical piety. “That build the sepulchres of the prophets” [cf. Surenh. ii. pp. 102, 183]; even to-day the Holy Land shows the remnants of several reputed prophet-sepulchres, especially the cavities found on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, which still bear the name “sepulchres of the prophets” [cf. Robins. Palest. ii. 175 ff.; Schuster-Holzammer, i. pp. 163 ff., 463, 575 f.; ii. 297]. The spirit with which these monuments were erected is described in the words: “we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets”; it is therefore the spirit of proud self-righteousness claiming to be better than the “fathers.” Though only one murder of a prophet is mentioned in Scripture, we need not recur to the Apocrypha in order to explain the present passage [cf. Origen], but may appeal to the language of Acts 7:52; Heb. 11:37. “Wherefore you are witnesses against yourselves,” first, because “you are the sons” [not only according to the flesh, but also in your disposition of heart] “of them that killed the prophets” [cf. Origen, Chrysostom, St Bruno, etc.], and must therefore share their judgment; secondly, because you seek to kill me who am greater than a prophet, so that your condemnation of your fathers applies doubly to yourselves [cf. Jansenius, Lapide, Bloomf.]. “Fill up” is not necessarily explained as the future [cf. Lapide], but may be taken as the imperative, which is often thus used in a rhetorical manner [cf. Knabenbauer]. “The measure of your fathers,” who have slain the servants and the prophets, is really filled up by the murder of the Lord and of him whom all the prophets predicted [Jerome, Paschasius, St Bruno]. Finally, Jesus repeats the words of the Baptist against the Pharisees [cf. Mt. 3:7]; “the judgment of hell” is, according to the Rabbinic manner of speaking [cf. Wetstein, Wünsche, p. 296], that judgment in which the condemnation to hell is pronounced.

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