The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for October, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013: Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 30, 2013



Today’s Mass Readings (NABRE). Translation used in the USA.

Today’s Mass Readings (NJB). Scroll down slightly. The NJB is used in most other English speaking countries.

Today’s Divine Office.

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


Navarre Bible Commentary on Wisdom 11:22-12:2.

Word-Sunday Notes on Wisdom 11:22-12:2.

Pending (maybe): My Notes on Wisdom 11:22-12:2.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 145. Entire psalm.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 145. Entire psalm.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 145. Entire psalm.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 145. Entire psalm.


Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2.

Word-Sunday Notes on 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 19:1-10.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 19:1-10.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 19:1-10.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 19:1-10.

Word-Sunday Notes on Luke 19:1-10.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 19:1-10.


Sacred Page Blog: The Importance of Making Things Right. Catholic scripture scholar Dr. John Bergsma’s reflections on the readings.

St Charles Borromeo Parish Bible Study. Notes on all the readings. Link may be time sensitive.

Lector Notes. Historical and theological background on the readings.

Gospel Summary with Life Implications. St Vincent’s Archabbey.

Historical Cultural Context. Examines the gospel in light of the 1st century Mediterranean world.

Thoughts From the Early Church. Brief excerpt on the gospel from Excerpt from Philoxenus of Mabbug.

Scripture in Depth. Brief look at all the readings.

The Bible Workshop. Links to relevant articles, a reading guide on the gospel, review of the readings, suggested lessons (homily ideas).

Prepare For Mass. Various links, videos, etc.

Pending: PODCASTS:

Dominica IV quae superfluit Post Epiphaniam I. Novembris ~ II. classis


Daily Roman Missal. Be sure correct date is set.

Roman Breviary. Be sure correct date is set.

Goffine’s Devout Instructions on the Epistle and Gospel.


Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10.

St John Chrysostom’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10.


Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 8:23-27.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 8:23-27.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 8:23-27. On 18-27.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 8:23-27.


St Jerome’s Homily on Matthew 8:23-27.

What is the Meaning of Jesus is Asleep? A Homily by St Augustine.

The Mystical Ship, Part 1: Aquinas’ Homily Notes on the Gospel. Can be used for homily ideas, points for meditation or further study.

The Mystical Ship, Part 2: Aquinas’ Homily Notes on the Gospel. Can be used for homily ideas, points for meditation or further study.

NOTE: The following links are to online books. You can increase the text size by using the site’s zoom feature (the magnifying glass icon).

Homily on the Gospel. Fr. Augustine Wirth.

Homily on the Gospel. Bishop Bonomelli.

Homily on the Epistle. Fr. Augustine Wirth.

Homily on the Epistle. On site. Bishop Bonomelli.

Paying Our Debts: Sermon Notes on Romans 13:8. Can be used to provide points for meditation, further study, homilies, etc.

The Decalogue: Sermon Notes on Romans 13:10. Can be used to provide points for meditation, further study, homilies, etc.

The Storm a Type of the Church and the Soul: Sermon Notes on Matt 8:24. Can be used to provide points for meditation, further study, homilies, etc.

The Storm at Sea as a Type of Our Passions: Sermon Notes on Matt 8:24. Can be used to provide points for meditation, further study, homilies, etc.

St Jerome’s Homily on Matthew 8:23-27.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, Christ, Latin Mass Notes | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 8:23-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 30, 2013

Mat 8:23  And when he entered into the boat, his disciples followed him:
Mat 8:24  And behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but he was asleep.
Mat 8:25  And they came to him, and awaked him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish.

And when he entered into the boat.] Concerning dangers of life. This section may be divided into two parts, one containing the preliminaries [vv. 23–25], the other describing the miracle with its immediate consequences [vv. 26, 27]. a. Preliminaries. These regard the state of nature, our Lord himself, and the disciples. Origen, Euthymius, Bede, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas,Dionysius, Salmeron, Maldonado, Jansenius, Lapide, are of opinion that the storm was brought on by a special disposition of divine providence; Chrysostom, Theophylact, think of a providential permission of the storm; but it suffices to assume that our Lord made use of the natural phenomenon, as he knows how to direct natural occurrences to a supernatural end. The Greek word employed by St. Matthew properly denotes “an earthquake,” while the expression used in the second and third gospel signifies a “hurricane.” Inland lakes like the Sea of Galilee, surrounded by high hills and mountains, are subject to sudden and violent hurricanes, on account of the close vicinity of the cool mountain air and the heated surface of the waters. St. Luke adds: “and they were filled and were in danger,” while St. Mark graphically says: “and the waves beat into the ship, so that the ship was filled.” In contrast with this outward uproar our Lord “was asleep.” Though this sleep was the natural consequence of our Lord’s fatigue from the labors of the preceding day, it may be called voluntary [Maldonado,; cf. Opus Imperfectum, Lapide] because it was intended to assist the weakness of the apostles [cf. Bede, Ambrose, Chryspstom, Paschasius]. It is true that “disciples” means not only “apostles”—the term “apostles” occurs only once in the first, the second, and the fourth gospel each, and seven times in the third—but also followers of Jesus in a wider sense [Lk. 6:17; 7:11; 19:37; John 6:66; 7:3; 19:38], and Christians in general in Acts 6:1; 9:19. Though Mk. 4:36 states “there were other ships with him,” it is hardly probable that they accompanied our Lord [Bede, Glossa Ordinalia, Lapide]; they either carried the Perean pilgrims home across the lake [Schegg], or they followed their own particular pursuits. Bed. believes that they did not even feel the effects of the tempest; but the smallness of the lake forces us to assume their share in the danger as well as in the miraculous delivery. That the apostles applied to Jesus for help is evident from the fact that the multitudes had been dismissed before, and from the impossibility of a near approach of the boats in the fury of the tempest. The disciples’ prayer is couched in so abrupt phrases that it vividly expresses their anxiety: “Lord—save us—we perish!”

Mat 8:26  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up, he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.
Mat 8:27  But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?

And Jesus saith to them.] b. The miracle. Here we have first a description of the miraculous event, and then of its immediate effects. Chrysostom, Schegg, etc. are well impressed by the order of the first evangelist, who tells of our Lord’s blame of the disciples before narrating the miracle; Godet [Lk. i. 409] thinks this arrangement less in accord with Christ’s wisdom. That the disciples were not without faith may be inferred from their words “save us”; that their faith was little follows from their other words, “we perish.” The want of faith consisted in the disciples’ persuasion that they could not be saved by Jesus sleeping [Euthymius; cf. Theophylact]. At any rate, Jesus stills first the tempest of the disciples’ minds, before stilling the storm of the waters [Chrysostom]. Thus the souls of all present are better disposed for the coming miracle. The word rendered “he commanded” is interpreted variously in the Vulgate: imperavit, here; præcepit, Mt. 12:18; comminatus est, Mk. 1:23; increpavit, Mt. 16:22. The second gospel gives the very words addressed to the furious sea by our Lord: “Peace, be still.” To rebuke the sea is in the Old Testament represented as peculiar to the divinity: Ps. 18:16; 104:7; 106:9; 89:10; Nah. 1:4; Is. 51:10; cf. Chrysostom, Opus Imperfectum, Dionysius, Jansenius, Lamy. Those accustomed to the Old Testament must therefore have recognized our Lord’s way of acting as a sign of his divinity. That the “men” present were highly impressed with the sudden calm of the sea is evident from their words, “What manner of man is this.” Not even the greatest prophets had ever been known to perform such miracles. Chrysostom, Cajetan, Sylveira, think that the “men” pronouncing these words were the disciples alone; Jerome, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Lapide, see in these “men” the sailors alone; Knabenbauer refers us to Euthymius, Tostatus, Maldonado, Jansenius, Barradus, Fillion Schanz, Grimm, for the opinion that the “men” comprise both the disciples and the sailors of the other boats that had set out with our Lord from Capharnaum. Tertullian, Hilary, Opus Imperfectum, Bede, Paschasius, Bruno, Faber Stapulensis, Dionysius, Salmeron, Jansenius, Lapide, Grimm, Schanz, Fillion, Knabenbauer etc. see in this miracle a symbol of the church and of every faithful soul passing through the storms of this life. Many a time the Lord appears to be asleep, and he has to be waked up by the prayers of the saints to help us in the storm.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Daily Lectionary, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 19:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 30, 2013

19:1-10. [The first half of this Sermon has not survived in the Syriac.  The following fragments are from Mai, p. 385. and Cramer, p. 137.]

19:2. Behold a man named Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus was chief of the publicans, a man entirely abandoned to covetousness, and whose sole object was the increase of his gains: for such was the practice of the publicans, though Paul calls it “idolatry,” possibly as being fit only for those who have no knowledge of God. And as they shamelessly made open profession of this vice, the Lord very justly joined them with the harlots, thus saying to the chiefs of the Jews, “The harlots and the publicans go before you into the kingdom of God.” But Zacchaeus continued not among their number, but was counted worthy of mercy at Christ’s hands: for He it is Who calls near those who are afar off, and gives light to those who are in darkness.

But come then, and let us see what was the manner of Zacchaeus’ conversion. He desired to see Jesus, and climbed therefore into a sycamore tree, and so a seed of salvation sprang up within him. And Christ saw this with the eyes of Deity: and therefore looking up, He saw him also with the eyes of the manhood, and as it was His purpose for all men to be saved, He extends His gentleness to him, and encouraging him, says, “Come down quickly.” For he had sought |588 to see Him, but the multitude prevented him, not so much that of the people, as of his sins; and he was little of stature, not merely in a bodily point of view, but also spiritually: and in no other way could he see Him, unless he were raised up from the earth, and climbed into the sycamore, by which Christ was about to pass. Now the story contains in it an enigma: for in no other way can a man see Christ and believe in Him, except by mounting up into the sycamore, by rendering foolish his members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, &c. And Christ, it says, was about to pass by the sycamore: for having taken for His path the conversation which is by the law, that is, the fig tree, He chose the foolish things of the world, that is, the cross and death. And every one who takes up his cross, and follows Christ’s conversation, is saved, performing the law with understanding, which so becomes a fig tree not bearing figs but follies; for the secret conduct of the faithful seems to the Jews to be folly, consisting as it does in circumcision from vice, and idleness from bad practice, though they be not circumcised in the flesh, nor keep the |589 sabbath. He knew therefore that he was prepared for obedience; and fervent for faith, and ready to change from vice to virtue; wherefore also He calls him, and he will leave (the fig tree) to gain Him. And with haste he came down, and received Him joyfully, not only because he saw Him as he wished, but because he had also been called by Him, and because he received Him (to lodge with him), which he never could have expected.

19:5. Zacchaeus, come down quickly: for to-day I must abide at your house.

This was an act of divine foreknowledge; for He well knew what would happen. He saw the man’s soul prepared most readily to choose a holy life, and converted him therefore to piety. [The Syriac recommences] The man therefore received Jesus joyfully: and this was the commencement of his turning himself to good, of his departure from his former faults, and of his manfully betaking himself to a better course.

But perchance some one possibly may say to our common Saviour Christ, ‘What do You, O Lord? Go You to lodge with Zacchaeus? and deign You to abide with the chief of the publicans? He has not yet washed away the stain of his greedy love of lucre: he is still sick with covetousness, the mother of all crimes: still full of the blame of rapine and extortion.’ But yes, He says, I indeed know this, in that I am God by nature, and see the ways of every individual upon earth. And more than this, I know also things to come. I have called him to repentance, because he is ready thereto: and though men murmur, and blame My gentleness, facts themselves shall prove that they are wrong. “For Zacchaeus, it says, stood up, and said to the Lord, Behold, the half of whatever I possess I give to the poor, and if I have defrauded any man, I make fourfold restoration.”

You behold his repentance; his rapid change to a better course; his haste to piety; the bountifulness of his love for the poor. He who lately was a publican, or rather the chief of the publicans, given up to covetousness, and set upon gain, at once becomes merciful, and devoted to charity. He promises that he will distribute his wealth to those who are |590 in need, that he will make restoration 4 to those who have been defrauded: and he who was the slave of avarice, makes himself poor, and ceases to care for gains.

Let not the Jewish multitudes therefore murmur when Christ saves sinners; but let them answer us this. Would they have physicians succeed in effecting cures when they visit the sick? Do they praise them when they are able to deliver men from cruel ulcers, or do they blame them, and praise those who are unskilful in their art? But, as I suppose, they will give the sentence of superiority in favour of those who arc skilful in benefiting such as suffer from diseases. Why therefore do they blame Christ, if when Zacchaeus was, so to say, fallen and buried in spiritual maladies, He raised him from the pitfalls of destruction?

And to teach them this He says, “To-day there is salvation for this house, in that he also is a son of Abraham:” for where Christ enters, there necessarily is also salvation. May He therefore also be in us: and He is in us when we believe: for He dwells in our hearts by faith, and we are His abode. It would have been better then for the Jews to have rejoiced because Zacchaeus was wonderfully saved, for he too was counted among the sons of Abraham, to whom God promised salvation in Christ by the holy prophets, saying, “There shall come a Saviour from Zion, and He shall take away iniquities from Jacob, and this is my covenant with them, when I will bear their sins.”

Christ therefore arose, to deliver the inhabitants of the earth from their sins, and to seek them that were lost, and to save them that had perished. For this is His office, and, so to say, the fruit of His godlike gentleness. Of this will he also count all those worthy who have believed in Him: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit for ever and ever, Amen. |591 (source)

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 19:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 30, 2013

Luk 19:1  And entering he walked through Jericho.

As our Lord was approaching Jericho, He cured “the blind man” (18:35). Here, is a continuous description of our Lord’s journey. Near Jericho, He cured the blind man; in Jericho, He converts Zaccheus; He wastes not a moment of His time; He seizes every opportunity, and seeks for every befitting occasion of doing good.

“He walked,” that is, walking, He was passing through Jericho.

Luk 19:2  And behold, there was a man named Zacheus, who was the chief of the publicans: and he was rich.

“And behold.” This calls attention to what follows, as a great and wonderful occurrence. “There was,” &c. He describes the man by name, Zaccheus; by his profession, “Chief of the Publicans;” by his possessions, “he was rich.”

Some say, that Zaccheus was a Gentile, which they infer from v. 9, “he also is a son,” &c. Others hold he was a Jew. The very name itself is Hebrew, signifying, pure, just. This seems more probable. The reason for the opposite opinion will be explained in v. 9.

“Chief of the Publicans.” (See Matthew 9:11.) If Zaccheus was a Gentile, he may be regarded as one of the Roman knights, or Maneipes, who farmed the public revenues. This class was held in high estimation (Cicero, Oratio 9, pro Plancio). These had under them, in the several provinces, a class of inferior collectors, generally natives of the country. The latter were regarded with the greatest horror among the Jews (loco citato). If he was a Jew, then, the designation, “chief of the Publicans,” denotes that, while he shared in the odium of the local collectors, he might be looked upon as a kind of middleman—or contractor—(Ellicott), between the Roman knights, who farmed the revenues, and the lower class of Publicans, who actually collected them, and in doing so harassed and oppressed the people. It denotes what we might term a Commissioner of the Customs (Kitto).

“And he was rich.” This is added, to denote the sacrifices he made in giving up his profession, and the difficulty in effecting his conversion (18:24).

Luk 19:3  And he sought to see Jesus who he was: and he could not for the crowd, because he was low of stature.

“He sought to see Jesus, who He was.” The fame of our Lord was everywhere spread abroad. Zaccheus, having never seen Him, was anxious to know Him by personal appearance, and see what kind of person He was. But as our Lord was accompanied by a large crowd of people, who pressed closely around Him, Zaccheus could not succeed on account of his lowness of stature. His anxious desire to see our Lord arose, probably, not from curiosity. He seemed quite disposed and prepared to believe in Him, of whose miracles and marvellous works he heard so much.

Luk 19:4  And running before, he climbed up into a sycamore tree, that he might see him: for he was to pass that way.

Hence, “running before” Him, forgetful of his dignity, his riches, and the ridicule with which, no doubt, the crowd would be glad to overpower a “chief of Publicans,” he climbed up a Sycamore tree, which grew on the public road, by which our Redeemer was to pass, in order to get a glimpse at Him. “Sycamore,” which differs from Sycamine (17:6), denotes a species of tree, called “the Egyptian fig tree,” composed of a fig tree (συκος) and a mulberry tree (μωρος). It partakes of the nature of both; of the mulberry in its leaves, and of the fig tree in its fruit, which is like a fig in its shape and size. The fruit grows neither in clusters, nor at the end of the branches, but sticking to the end of the tree (Calmet—Pliny, Lib. 13, c. 7). Sycamore trees were very common in Palestine, especially in the low-lying valleys of the Jordan, where they grew to a considerable height. (2 Kings 10:27; 2 Chron 1:15; Amos 7)

Luk 19:5  And when Jesus was come to the place, looking up, he saw him and said to him: Zacheus, make haste and come down: for this day I must abide in thy house.

“Looking up,” not casually, but by a lofty decree of Divine counsel, “He saw him,” not merely by the eyes of the body, but with the eyes of Divine mercy, which penetrated His inmost soul, and inspired Him with sentiments of true compunction and sorrow. Addressing him by name, whom He never saw before, He says: “Zaccheus, make haste and come down,” as if to say, thou hast ascended the tree in great haste; come down with the same haste.

“For, this day, I must abide,” in virtue of My benevolent charity towards yourself and your entire household. I have decreed to select your “house,” in preference to all the others in Jericho for My dwelling place this day. Zaccheus had, in soul and affection, offered Him a cordial invitation and welcome. “Promittit Christus se ad ejus domum venturum cujus desiderantis jam possederat animum” (St. Chrysostom, Hom. de Zaccheo); “Etsi vocem invitantis Jesus non audierat, viderat tamen affectum” (St. Ambrose). How long our Lord remained as Zaccheus’ guest, we cannot know for certain. Likely, He remained there for the greater part of the day, if not for the night.

Luk 19:6  And he made haste and came down and received him with joy.

“He makes no delay;” “tarda molimina nescit gratia spiritus sancti” (St. Ambrose). “Joyfully,” with great spiritual joy, on account of the unspeakable honour bestowed on him, which fully satisfied his longings to receive his Lord.

Luk 19:7  And when all saw it, they murmured, saying, that he was gone to be a guest with a man that was a sinner.

“When all,” &c., that is the crowd, among whom, doubtless, were some Pharisees and their adherents, also some Scribes. All held Publicans in unutterable horror and aversion. “They murmured,” as was their wont. from a feeling of self-righteousness and pride.

“A man that was a sinner,” a leader in the traffic of iniquity—a man of infamous profession. The Publicans were regarded in this light by the Jews. Zaccheus’ profession, or calling, was regarded as disgraceful among the Jews, and placed men on a level with the unbelieving heathens. Zaccheus, it would seem, was not above the temptations to rapacity and injustice, which the exercise of his office presented (v. 8).

Luk 19:8  But Zacheus standing, said to the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold.

“Standing,” that is, commencing suddenly to speak—similar is the phrase “stetit et ait” (10:40)—he thus addressed our Lord, in refutation of the crowd, who, probably, may have overheard him thus speaking, when our Lord entered his house, or, when He was leaving it. Others, take “standing,” literally, to denote his respectful and earnest attitude in presence of His Master. It is likely, that our Lord had, on entering the house of Zaccheus, delivered heavenly maxims, as was His went, on all occasions, regarding the several obligations of life, and the practice of all Christian virtues, uprightness and honesty amongst the rest, and that this elicited from him the following declaration.

“Behold,” as if to solicit attention to a matter deserving of admiration. He divides his goods into two parts, the first half to the poor; and thus, he would redeem his sins by mercy to the poor. “The half of my goods, I give to the poor.” “I give,” that is, am prepared and determined to “give,” to relieve the wants of the “poor,” and I now assign them for that purpose. This shows the thorough conversion of Zaccheus, and his resolution to practise the counsel of perfection, which, doubtless he heard, was given to the rich young man (chap. 18:22), a few days before. The remaining half of his property he reserves for the purpose of making the amplest restitution.

“And if I have wronged any man of any thing.” The Greek word for “wronged”—εσυκοφαντησα—means, to injure by false information, under threat of which money was often extorted (see chap. 3:14). He reserves the second half of his goods, not for himself, but to discharge amply the obligation of restitution, which the Publicans were generally liable to, owing to unjust exactions. “If,” does not imply doubt; it signifies, whatsoever injury I have done fraudulently to any man.

“I restore him fourfold.” So as not only to give back the amount taken, but more than amply compensate for any loss that may accrue to him from loss of property, lucrum cessans et damnum emergens. From his giving one-half his property to the poor, which must have been justly acquired—this is contradistinguished from the substance acquired fraudulently—and his giving back, restoring four times more than he unjustly possessed, it is clear, the most part of Zaccheus’ goods were justly acquired. His disinterestedness in divesting himself of the most of his property, to which men of his class were so inordinately attached, shows the thorough sincerity of his conversion. The law of Moses commanded restitution to a fourfold amount, only in case of stealth of sheep, and fivefold in case of the stealth of oxen (Exodus 22:1). But this did not apply to Zaccheus, whose unjust acquisitions were in money. In cases of voluntary restitution in other matters, the law required restitution of one-fifth in addition to the value of the principal (Leviticus 6:5; Numbers 5:6, 7). But Zaccheus went far beyond the requirements of the law, and proved by his acts the sincerity of his conversion. His words have not reference to the past. They contain no boasting of his past merits, as in the case of the proud Pharisee. They merely express his present resolve, as the effect of God’s grace and our Saviour’s visit, in regard to the future; and they convey an atonement for the blasphemies of the proud Pharisees, and tend to justify our Lord’s act, in dwelling with him, who shows himself to be different from what they charged him to be. Hence, he speaks only of his future acts, inspired by God’s grace, and out of necessity, in reply to the taunts of the proud Pharisees.

Luk 19:9  Jesus said to him: This day is salvation come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham.

“Jesus said to him.” The particle “to,” is interpreted by many to mean, of, or regarding him, to those present, as in Rom. 10, “ad Israel dicit,” that is, de Israel; “multi dicunt animæ meaæ,” that is, de anima mea; “non est salus ipsi in Deo ejus.”

“This day is salvation come to this house.” “This day,” shows that it was not of his past acts, but his present resolves, Zaccheus was speaking. “Salvation,” the fulness of faith, abundance of grace, thorough perfect conversion, not alone to Zaccheus himself, but to the entire family, in reward for the disinterested charity, and truly generous conduct of the head of the family, whose example they followed. Our Lord made his entire household, who, probably, may have been sharers in his sins of injustice, partakers of his abundant justification. They, too, received the grace of faith and justification, with the chief of the house.

“Because he also is a son of Abraham.” This may mean, that being one of Abraham’s carnal descendants, our Lord, who was sent first to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, felt He was only exercising the duties of His office, in visiting him and converting him, the unjust murmurs of the crowd notwithstanding. According to this interpretation, the proximate reason of his conversion is not assigned. His conversion was not caused by his being one of the carnal descendants to Abraham, many of whom were left in their sins; in these words, a reason is assigned only for our Lord’s visiting and staying with him.

It may mean, that whether Jew or Gentile, he has proved himself to be a real spiritual son of Abraham, one of the sons of promise, for whom alone the inheritance of justification is reserved.

Some hold, that Zaccheus was a Gentile. But besides, that the word is of Jewish origin, signifying, pure, the crowd would have loudly reproached our Lord with having chosen the house of an unbelieving Gentile for His abode, if he were such, as was done in regard to Peter, even by the faithful, after having received the Holy Ghost. Nor are the words of this verse, “because he also, &c.,” opposed to this; “also,” although a Publican, and seeming out cast from religious society; or, “also,” as well as the others who believed in Me, and imitated the faith of Abraham. Moreover, if he were a Gentile, our Lord would hardly say in the presence of the multitude at this stage, when they were not prepared for it, that a Gentile was a son of Abraham, although he might be such, in a true spiritual sense (Gal. 3:9).

Luk 19:10  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

“For the Son of Man,” &c. In this, our Lord, redargues the murmuring crowd, by referring to His office, in coming into this world. He came to save the lost one especially, and in the first place, the lost ones of the house of Israel, such as Zaccheus was. This passage is read very appropriately in the Mass of the Dedication of Churches, to which it is very applicable. To churches dedicated and set apart for the oblation of the adorable sacrifice, the words will literally apply; “this day I must abide” (and abide permanently) “in thy house.” “This day, salvation is come to this house,” where the Lord of Glory deigns to dwell, in order to bestow on all who approach Him there, the abundance of all spiritual blessings.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 30, 2013

In order to help provide context this post opens with the bishop’s brief analysis of 2 Thessalonians chapters 1 and 2. His notes on 1:11-2:2 follow. Purple text indicates the bishop’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.


In this chapter, the Apostle, after the usual Apostolic salutation, returns thanks to God for the exalted virtues of faith and charity which his grace enabled the Thessalonians to display in the midst of sufferings and persecution (1–5). He consoles them, in the next place, by pointing to the rich rewards in store for them—to attain which, however, suffering is necessary—and to the heavy anger reserved, as is meet, for their persecutors, on the day of judgment, when Christ will come in majesty to judge the world (5–8). He describes the coming of the Judge for the twofold purpose of punishing his enemies, and rewarding his faithful servants, in whose exaltation, after suffering persecutions and humiliations, he shall be glorified, and his power and goodness rendered conspicuous—(8–10). Lastly, he prays God to grant the Thessalonians perseverance, and the grace to perform good works worthy of their vocation.


It appears, that certain expressions employed by the Apostle in chapters 4, 5, of the preceding Epistle, as implying the near approach of the day of judgment, produced feelings of terror and alarm in the minds of the Thessalonians. They, in consequence, became indifferent about their temporal concerns and their duties to society. This state of feeling had been artfully employed by the false teachers, to confirm them in these erroneous impressions; these also alleged certain expressions and epistles as emanating from the Apostle, to the same effect. To remedy this state of things, the Apostle beseeches them to be no way affrighted, and to pay no attention to any assertion or epistle purporting to emanate from himself, on this subject (1, 2).

In the next place, he gives two precursory signs, that are to usher in the day of judgment viz., a general apostacy, and the coming of Antichrist (3). He describes the sacrilegious impiety and wicked morals of Antichrist, and reminds the Thessalonians of his oral instructions on the subject, when amongst them, and also of the cause which, he told them, was to retard the public appearance of this impious man, who, at present, works clandestinely and privately by means of his wicked precursors, until the obstacle to his public appearance is removed (4–8). But when this obstacle, whatever it be, is removed, then, this wicked impostor will appear, performing wonders and prodigies, and leading into error those who, in punishment of their resistance to God’s light, will be delivered over by him to the spirit of error (9–11).

He calms any apprehension which the character given of Antichrist might be apt to beget in the minds of the Thessalonians, by assuring them, that there is room for dread on the part of the incredulous, but none whatever as regards those, who are the first fruits of the faithful, or of God’s elect (12, 13). He exhorts them to persevere and firmly hold to the traditions which they have learned (14). He, finally, wishes them perseverance in grace and good works (15, 16).

2Th 1:11  Wherefore also we pray always for you: That our God would make you worthy of his vocation and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness and the work of faith in power:

Wherefore, we always pray for you, that our God may render you worthy of his call (to this glory) by giving you perseverance to the end of your life, and so may fulfil the benevolent designs of his will (in electing you), and perfect by his all-powerful grace the work of your faith (by consummating it in glory).

“Wherefore,” i.e., in order that you may arrive at this exalted glory. We pray him so to perfect in you the work of faith, &c. “Of his vocation.” In Greek, of the vocation, referred to.

2Th 1:12  That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And that our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you may in turn be glorified, and this owing to the gratuitous goodness of our God, and the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.” The final end of his prayer is, that Christ would be glorified in them; and the secondary end is, that they would be glorified in Christ, as the glory and dignity of the master tends to render the servant exalted and glorious.

“According to the grace of our God,” &c., lest they might attribute anything to themselves, the Apostle refers all the praise of these blessings and favours to the gratuitous bounty of God.

2Th 2:1  And we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and of our gathering together unto him:

We earnestly beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (which you dread so much), and by our gathering together unto him;

“And of our gathering together,” &c.—(See First Epistle. 4:17). “We shall be taken up into the clouds to meet Christ.” To this, reference is made in the present verse.

2Th 2:2  That you be not easily moved from your sense nor be terrified, neither by spirit nor by word nor by epistle. as sent from us, as if the day of the Lord were at hand.

Not to be easily moved from the settled faith and persuasion of your mind (and among other points, regarding the day of judgment), nor to be seized with terror or perturbation, either by any person pretending to a spirit of prophecy, or by any words or Epistle said to emanate from us to the effect, that the day of the Lord was at hand.

 “As if the day of the Lord.” In Greek, the day of Christ. The Vulgate is preferred by critics generally.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Notes on 2 Thessalonians, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Second Sunday of Advent, Year A: Resources and Commentaries

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 27, 2013

SUGGESTED THEMES UNITING THE READINGS for homily, bible study, or further study: Justice and peace are to be the marks of the Messiah and His reign (1st reading, Ps). To live under his reign we must reform our lives (Gospel) and live in harmony with others (2nd reading). Note the theme of judgment in 1st, Ps, and Gospel readings. Other suggestions may be noted in the commentary sections below. 


Today’s Mass Readings. Lectionary for Mass, USA.
Mass Readings From the New Jerusalem Bible.
Today’s Divine Office.


1). Theme: The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
2). Theme: Universality of Christ’s Mission
3). Theme: The Coming of the Kingdom of God.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Isaiah 11:1-10.

Word-Sunday Notes on Isaiah 11:1-10.

Link fixed. Navarre Bible Commentary on Isaiah 11:1-10.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 72.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 72.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 72.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 72.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 72.


Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 15:4-9

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 15:4-9

Bernardin de Piconio on Romans 15:4-9. Actually, this post is on 15:1-13.

Word-Sunday Notes on Romans 15:4-9.

Aquinas Lecture on Romans 15:4-9. On 1-13.

Link fixed. Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 15:4-9.

Aquinas’ Homily Notes on Rom 15:4-9~Can be used for points of meditation, prayer, further study:

Part 1.

Part 2.


Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 3:1-12

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 3:1-12

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 3:1-12.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 3:1-12.

My Notes on Matthew 3:1-12.

Word-Sunday Notes on Matthew 3:1-12.

Link fixed. Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 3:1-12.


Gospel Notes.

Doctrinal Homily Outline. Identifies a central idea of the readings, a doctrinal point, and suggested application

One Bread One Body. Several short reflections which may help provide ideas for a homily.

Living Space. Brief and insightful.

Homiletic and Pastoral Review Homilies.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background to the readings.

Lector Works. At this site you will find: * A series of thoughts about the lectionary readings of the day, as an oral proclamation within the church’s public prayer, and how the writer would want to have them declared and received effectively. * Three elements are always identified: ** the climax of the reading, ** the contact point of the reading with our assembly ** one special challenge the reading poses for the seasoned lector. * At the end of each week’s readings, a brief reflection on the transition from the Table of the Word to the Table of the Eucharist.

(1) Gospel Summary With Life Implications. St Vincent’s Archabbey.

(2) Gospel Summary With Life Implications.


The Sacred Page: He Will Baptize With Fire. Catholic biblical scholar Dr Michael Barber’s commentary on the readings.

St Charles Borromeo Parish Bible Study Notes.

The Bible Workshop. Includes some relevant links, guide to Gospel reading, review of the other readings, suggestion for a lesson.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background to the readings.

Gospel Summary with Life Implications. St Vincent’s Archabbey.

Thoughts From the Early ChurchFrom a commentary on Matthew by Paschasius Radbertus.

Scripture in Depth. Brief look at all the readings.

Historical-Cultural Context. The Gospel reading in light of 1st century Mediterranean culture.

Prepare For Mass. Various links, videos, etc.


Franciscan Sister’s Bible Study Podcast. Looks at all of the readings.

St Martha’s Parish Bible Study Podcast. Looks at the readings in some detail.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast Study on Matthew 3. Looks at John the Baptist in Matthew 3. Click on POD icon to play.

Signs of the New Exodus: Matthew 3-4. Dr. Brant Pitre on Matthew 3-4.

Dr Scott Hahn’s Sunday Bible Reflections. Brief. Does good job of summarizing the major theme(s) of the readings.

(1) Father Robert Barron’s Homily Podcast:Eden, The Mountain, and the One who baptizes with fire. A noted theologian, scholar, speaker.

(2) Father Robert Barron: The Bracing Figure of John the Baptist.

(3) Father Robert Barron: Repent.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, Devotional Resources | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 3:1-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 27, 2013


In this chapter, the Evangelist describes the preaching of John the Baptist in the desert, inculcating penance byword and example, thus preparing the way of the Lord, as was predicted regarding Him by the prophet Isaias (1–4). The crowds that flocked from Jerusalem to hear him and receive his baptism (5–6). His severe animadversions on the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were conspicuous among those who flocked to hear him, and his earnest exhortations to them to enter sincerely on the exercises of penance (7–8). The reasons assigned by the Baptist why they should not glory inordinately in their carnal descent from Abraham (9–10). The superiority of Christ’s Divine person and baptism, over himself and the baptism he administered (11). Our Lord’s judicial power and the severity of His punishment on obstinate, unrepenting sinners (12). The arrival of our Lord at the place where baptism was administered, for the purpose of receiving baptism from John, who modestly and humbly would decline so great a privilege until, yielding to our Lord’s wishes, he baptizes Him (13–16). The heavenly manifestations on the occasion of our Lord’s baptism, viz., the appearance of the Holy Ghost on the opening of the heavens, in the form of a dove descending on our Lord, and the voice of the Heavenly Father proclaiming Him from heaven to be His eternal, consubstantial Son (16–17).

Mat 3:1  Now in those days cometh John the Baptist preaching in the desert of Judea.

“Now, in those days.” “Now” has a transitive signification, expressing a transition from the narrative regarding one subject to another.

“Those days” refer to the time of our Lord’s dwelling in Nazareth with Mary and Joseph (c. 2:23). St. Luke (c. 3:1) is more circumstantial and detailed in describing the precise time. He notes the rulers, civil and ecclesiastical, by whom the Jewish people were then governed. The words do not always imply that the matter about to be narrated occurred immediately after the event previously narrated. Here an interval of twenty years elapsed between the events narrated (c. 2:23, and c. 3:1). St. Matthew says nothing of our Lord’s infancy, or of the time of His abode at Nazareth, where He lived “subject” to Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:51). Probably, he may have had no certain knowledge of the events of these periods; and moreover, they had nothing to do with the establishment of the “Kingdom of Heaven,” which he undertook to chronicle.

“Came,” publicly appeared.

“John the Baptist,” so styled from his office, divinely committed to him, of baptizing and of preaching the Baptism of Penance, as a preparation for the public appearance of the Son of God. Had our Lord not sent John to prepare the way and dispose the people to receive Him, He might be rejected altogether.

“Preaching,” delivering discourses on the necessity of Penance and Baptism as a preparation for the due reception of the Son of God.

“In the desert of Judea.” Origen, Nicephorus, Baronius, St. Jerome, &c., assure us, that while yet in his infancy, the Baptist was carried into the desert and concealed by his mother, Elizabeth, in the fissures of the rocks, to escape the cruelty of Herod, who, on account of the remarkable circumstances which attended his birth, and the declaration that he was to precede the Messiah, would not fail to secure his person, although outside his jurisdiction, and put him to death. Cedrenus (in Compendio Historiæ) informs us that forty days after their flight Elizabeth died, and that the child was cared by angels. It is more likely that this office was performed by some attendant of Elizabeth.

Independently of the above testimony, and the words of St. Luke (Lk 1:80), the very food and clothing of the Baptist would show that it was not in his father’s house, which was in the mountains, and not in the desert, of Judea, he led the austere life which fitted him to be afterwards the first preacher of penance, and was calculated to ensure him, owing to his retired holy life, living apart from men, and communing with God and His holy angels, that heroic sanctity which was suited to the office of the precursor of the world’s Redeemer. In this vast, wild solitude, he grew up till the term of “his manifestation to Israel” (Lk 1:80). From the interior of this desert, he came forth to the country about the Jordan, which, on account of its being thinly inhabited, is called “the desert of Judea.” In this way, is the narrative of St. Luke, who implies that John came from the desert into the country about the Jordan to preach, &c. (Lk 3:3), reconciled with that of Mark and Matthew, who say, he preached IN “the desert of Judea.” St. Luke refers to the vast desert where he resided. From that he came to preach. Matthew and Mark speak of the confines of the desert, where it was partly inhabited, on the banks of the Jordan. This desert was on this side of the Jordan, between the east and north, at the extremity of which were Ennon and Salim, where John was in the habit of baptizing (John 3:23).

It was meet that John should preach in the desert, and not the temple, which was reserved for Christ, of whom it was predicted, “Statim veniet ad templum suum Dominator,” &c. (Mal. 3:1), in order that the commencement of the New Law should correspond with the giving of the Old, which took place in the desert of Sinai. The Baptist is called by St. Chrysostom, owing to the life which he led, “the Prince of an Eremitical life” (Hom. in Matt., also St. Jerome in Vita Pauli).

The Baptist, as well as our Redeemer, prepared themselves in solitude for the great mission intrusted to them, till they reached the age of thirty. No one, as we learn from Jewish tradition and authorities—and, indeed, it is inferred from 1 Par. 23:3—could undertake earlier the office of priest or teacher among the Jews. At this time, our Redeemer was “about the age of thirty years” (Luke 3:23), having up to this, exercised the humble trade of carpenter in His home at Nazareth with Joseph—“Is not this the carpenter” (Mark 6:3), “and the carpenter’s son?” (Matt. 13:55)—to leave us an example of humility, and inculcate the necessity of a long course of retired and silent preparation for such as would exercise profitably the exalted functions of the sacred ministry of the New Law.

Mat 3:2  And saying: Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

“And saying: Do penance.” This is the theme with which our Redeemer also commenced His preaching (Mt 4:17). Looking to strict etymology, the Greek word for “do penance” (μετανοειτε) means a “change of heart and thought.” But, looking to what the term involves, the meaning attached to it by our Lord and His precursor is clearly and fully expressed by our Vulgate, pœnitentiam agite, “do penance,” implying the performance of penitential works. For, the Baptist explains it by saying (v. 8), “bring forth fruit worthy of penance.” Our Lord Himself, when speaking of the Ninevites—these model penitents whom He praises—tells us, “they did penance (μετενοησαν) at the preaching of Jonas” (Matt. 12:41). Jonas describes what this penance so much commended by the Son of God consisted in, viz., in fasting and other rigorous bodily austerities. (Jonah 3:6 ff) St. Paul (2 Cor 7:9 ff), describes penance (μετανοια) as involving, besides sorrow of heart, penitential works as its necessary complement. He distinguishes, between “sorrow” and “penance” as between cause and effect. “You are made sorrowful unto PENANCE, the SORROW that is according to God WORKETH PENANCE steadfast unto salvation,” &c. And he next points out the works which this steadfast salutary penance involves. Here, it involves the reception of John’s baptism and confession of sins as offences to God, excluding men from entering His kingdom. Penance, therefore, besides a sorrow of heart, embraces penitential works also. The Vulgate rendering of μετανοειτε in this passage has this advantage, that it more clearly conveys the true Catholic doctrine on the subject of penitential works, which are in every part of Scripture connected with the word, μετανοειτε (Joel 2; Matt. 11) “pœnitentiam egissent (μετενοησαν) in cinere et cilicio.” If the word merely meant change of mind or resipiscentia, it might be rendered in this passage, “they would have changed their mind in sackcloth and ashes,” which would be nothing short of ridiculous.

It is, however, a matter of perfect indifference, so far as the revealed Catholic doctrine regarding penitential works is concerned, whether μετανοειτε be rendered “do penance,” or “repent,” as it is rendered (Mark 1:15). The necessity of penitential works, as the necessary complement of the virtue of penance, is no way affected by it. For, as Dr. Kenrick well remarks (General Introduction to the Epistles, &c.), “Penitential works are necessary, not because the Vulgate has ‘pœnitentiam agite,’ or the Rhemish translator says, ‘do penance;’ but, because such works have been inculcated under the Old dispensation and the New, in the Scriptures and the Fathers, as evidences and fruits of compunction.”

“The kingdom of heaven.” These words are not found in the Old Testament, and this is the first place in the New where they are found. They are peculiar to St. Matthew, in the New. “Kingdom of God” is the form used by the other Evangelists to convey the same idea. (Mark 1:15; Luke 6:20, &c.)

“The kingdom of God” is called “the kingdom of heaven,” heaven being the chief and noblest part of, God’s dominions, where He holds His heavenly court and manifests Himself to the blessed.

“The kingdom of heaven,” or “of God,” has different significations in the New Testament. Sometimes, it denotes the reign of Christ in our hearts by His grace (Luke 17:21). Sometimes, His Church on earth (Matt. 25:1; 21:43; Col. 1:13, &c.; Rom. 14:17). Sometimes, the place of eternal beatitude for those who reign with God and His saints in glory. To this the reign of Christ on earth, whether in the hearts of the faithful or in His Church, is the threshold and necessary entrance.

“The kingdom of heaven” here directly refers to the kingdom of God’s glory, and indirectly to His kingdom or Church on earth, which was to be established by Christ as the necessary threshold or entrance to the former kingdom; also the consequent reign of Christ by grace in our hearts. No one can enter the sanctum sanctorum of heaven, who has not passed, in some sense, through the sanctum of God’s Church on earth, and experienced the reign of Christ in his heart.

These several meanings may be united here. The long-expected reign of the Messiah, in His glorious kingdom, which is not earthly, as the carnal Jews expected; but heavenly, “is at hand,” is now about to be opened by the blood of Christ—a kingdom into which “nothing defiled can enter;” therefore, it is, I exhort you, who are sinners, to blot out your sins and correct your bad habits by the salutary exercises of penance, if you wish to be partakers of the glory of this kingdom. Or, the reign of the Messiah in His Church is just now about to be universally established, wherein He is to reign in the hearts of His faithful people. This Church is the threshold of the kingdom of His glory, soon to be opened. In order that you may be properly disposed to be aggregated to this Church, and also to experience Christ’s peaceful reign within you by His grace and heavenly consolations, you must first prepare yourselves by the exercise of penance.

Mat 3:3  For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.

“For this is He that was spoken of,” &c. These words are commonly understood to be the words, not of the Baptist in continuation of his sermon, but of the Evangelist, historically describing and applying to the mission of the Baptist the prophecy of Isaias. Thus is shown that John preached in the desert, by Divine commission, and not from human delegation or natural impulse, since it was of him Isaias had spoken long beforehand, as destined to raise his voice in the desert and exhort the people to prepare for the coming of the Son of God.

“A voice (shall be heard) of one crying in the desert,” &c. These words are understood by some commentators to refer, in their primary historical sense, to the messengers who were to announce to the Jewish people their return from captivity; and in their secondary sense—which was the chief meaning intended by the Holy Ghost—to the preaching of the Baptist. The whole context of Isaias (Isa 40) renders it more likely that, even in their primary sense, they refer to the Baptist. For, some passages in this 40th chap. of Isaias could hardly apply to the return from captivity, and can be only understood of the blessings brought us by Christ, of whom the Baptist was the precursor.

“A voice of one crying” (vox clamantis) may refer to the voice of the Baptist himself. He was the voice of a herald proclaiming, by Divine commission, the liberation of God’s people from the servitude of sin and Satan; or, to the voice of God, whose herald he was. Hence, he says of himself, “I am the voice of one crying,” &c. (John 1:23), as if he said, “I am he,” of whom it is written, “A voice of one crying in the wilderness” (shall be heard). The Hebrew, Kol-Kore, may be also rendered, “a voice crying” (vox clamans), in which rendering, the distinction marked by the holy Fathers between John and Christ is quite intelligible. John was the voice—a mere inarticulate sound—Christ, the Word, for which the voice is the preparation (Epiph. Heresi 69).

The words are given in Isaias (Isa 40) as a proof, that God’s anger was appeased; because the voice of a herald calling on the people to prepare for the coming of the Lord shall be heard from the desert, &c.

The words of the Evangelist convey the sense of the Prophet, although the reading here slightly differs from the Septuagint, as well as from the Hebrew of Isaias (Isa 40).

Some commentators detach the words, “in the desert,” from the foregoing, and join them to what follows, “A voice of one crying out; in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” &c., to correspond with the following words of Isaias (Isa 40:3), “make straight in the wilderness, the paths of our God.” But it is clear from the words of the Evangelist here, also (Mt 11:7), that it was in the desert John preached, and in the desert the voice of the preacher was heard. Hence, “in the desert” should be joined to the preceding, “a voice crying in the desert.”

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” is allusive to the Eastern custom of sending out men at the approach of kings or princes to prepare the roads, and remove every obstruction from the way by which they were to pass. Here the words mean, remove every obstruction that may prove offensive to the eyes of our Lord at His coming. Sin, the gratification of passion, occasions of sin—obstacles most offensive to God—should be deserted; and to effect this they should perform suitable penitential works, as a reparation for the past, as preparative dispositions for present grace, and as means to prevent relapse in future. “Do penance;” “bring forth fruit worthy of penance,” inculcated by the Baptist, are the same in sense, as the words of Isaias, “prepare the way of the Lord,” or rather, the former is but the application of the latter.

The Evangelist quotes Isaias in order to show the Jews, how inexcusable they were in not receiving Him, whose immediate precursor appeared among them, and had fulfilled in himself all that had been predicted, ages before, regarding him by one of their own prophets, both as to the time and place of his preaching the preparation of the way of the Lord, who was just coming after him.

Mat 3:4  And the same John had his garment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins: and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

This is added to show that the costume and manner of life of this first preacher of penance was perfectly in unison with his preaching, so that his life as well as his preaching would inspire contempt for the luxuries and pleasures of this life, and raise up men’s hearts to heavenly enjoyments. “Camel’s hair,” not fine camlet, which would not be in keeping with the Baptist’s austerity; but, rough cloth woven from camel’s hair, calculated to mortify the flesh by its pungency. Some say, it was a camel’s skin, with the hair on it. “Leathern girdle.” The Easterns wore loose flowing robes, and used girdles to gather them up round the body, lest they might obstruct them in journeying. While others used girdles of silk, wool, or cotton, John used this rough kind of girdle to press the coarse camel’s hair closer to his body. In this he resembles Elias, who is described as similarly clad (4 Kings 1:8).

“Locusts.” Regarding these, the most probable opinion is that they refer to these well-known small insects reckoned among the clean animals with the Jews (Lev. 11:22). St. Jerome (Lib. contra Jovinianum) tells us that the Eastern people used to feed on locusts. They salted and dried them, and afterwards used them as food (Pliny, Lib. vi. c. 30). The poor only used them.

“Wild honey,” deposited by the wild bees in the trees and clefts of the rocks, not so savoury as other descriptions of honey. His drink was, most probably, water, plentifully found in the desert, a drink in keeping with the coarse food he used. It was said of him, “He shall drink no wine nor any strong drink” (Luke 1:15).

Mat 3:5  Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the country about Jordan:

“Jerusalem and all Judea.” An hyperbolical form of expression, conveying the idea that very large numbers from Jerusalem and the parts of Judea adjoining the Jordan went out to hear the Baptist, attracted by the holy austerity of his life and his style of preaching, which may have vividly recalled to their minds the circumstances accompanying his birth. Possibly, they may have had some vague notions that he was their long-expected Messiah, whose advent was anxiously looked forward to at this time (John 1:19, 20, &c.; Luke 3:15).

Mat 3:6  And were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

“Baptized,” strictly means, washing, particularly by immersion or plunging into water, the form used by the Jews, and the form of conferring Christian baptism in use in the early Church. This mode of conferring baptism being a mere matter of discipline, has been, for good reasons, since exchanged for that of infusion (Peronne De Baptismo). The baptism of John did not remit sin of itself, like the baptism of Christ. It only disposed men for that of Christ, and was an external sign of penance whereby men declared that they wished their souls to be cleansed from sin in a way analogous to the cleansing of the body by water. The Council of Trent (§§ vii. Can. 1 de Baptis.) defines it to be believed, under pain of anathema, “that the baptism of John and that of Christ had not the same force or efficacy.” According to the general opinion of the Fathers, the difference consisted in this; that John’s baptism neither remitted sins of itself by conferring sanctifying grace, nor impressed a character like that of Christ (St. Jerome, contra Lucifer; Greg. Great, Homil. 7 and 10 in Evang.; St. Leo, Epist. iv., cap. 6; St. Augustine, L. de Baptismo, Lib. v., contra Donatistas; St. Thomas, Part 3, Quest. 38, Article 6). St. Paul baptizes again those who received the baptism of John (Acts 19:5).

The definition of the Council of Trent was levelled at the Reformers, who denied that there was any difference between both baptisms, because, according to them, no sacrament confers grace of itself; all sacraments are but signs or seals of the justice which comes through faith, and faith alone. Whether John’s baptism was a sacrament or not, is disputed. If we take the word sacrament, in its general acceptation, to denote “a divinely instituted sign of a sacred thing,” it may be regarded as a sacrament. In this general signification, the word, sacrament, would embrace all the rites and ceremonies and sacrifices of the Old Law. The baptism of John not only contained an exhortation to penance; but, it also prepared for and prefigured the baptism of Christ. Hence, termed by St. Augustine (Lib. ii, contra Petilianum), “sacramentum lavaeri præursorium.” It was neither a sacrament, strictly speaking, of the Old Law nor of the New, but held a middle place between both. It expressly typified the baptism of Christ, as the sacrifice of Melchisedech typified the sacrifice of the Mass, both those types having the same matter as their antitypes. It is held by some that no form was used by John in his baptism; and, in reply to the argument from the words of St. Paul (Acts 19:4), “that they should believe in Him who was to come after him,” they say, these words contained no form, but only the subject of John’s preaching in general. They add, that the Greek clearly favours this view. Others maintain that the words just quoted (Acts 19:4), clearly prove that John baptized “in the name of Him who was to come after him,” and required, as a condition, that those baptized should believe in Him.

“Confessing their sins.” A similar form of expression (ἐξομολογουμενοι) is used in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 19:18), and there it clearly means, not that they confessed themselves to be sinners; but, that they confessed their sins in detail. For, by way of explaining what the word “confessing” meant, it is added, “and declaring their deeds.” Hence, here the word means, that they confessed their sins, at least the more grievous ones, in detail, as a sign of sincere penance, which dictates a horror, an aversion, and sorrow for sin, and urges the penitent sinner to unburden himself of the heavy weight of sin, and thus relieve his mind, by externally disclosing it to him from whom he expects consolation and remission, as the patient hesitates not to disclose his ailment to his physician. If the interior compunction reach the intensity of charity, it remits sin; if not, it disposes for the remission of sin.

The rite of confessing certain sins in particular, was practised among the Jews, and prescribed by the law of Moses. In Leviticus (Lev 5:4, 5), it is said of the person that sweareth … v. 5, “Let him do penance for his sins.” In the Hebrew, for “do penance,” it is, “let him confess what he sinned.” Also, Numbers (Num 5:7), “They shall confess their sins.” The fact of confessing that they were sinners, would involve no humiliation or mortification (for all must confess that they are such); and hence, it would hardly warrant the Evangelist in referring to it here, as an act of penance which the Baptist inculcates; or, as any of “the fruits worthy of penance,” which, no doubt, many of them brought forth. Besides, as Grotius well observes, the phrase, “confessing themselves sinners,” is quite different from the phrase, “confessing their sins.” The latter manifestly involves the exposure of sin in particular and in detail. This passage has nothing to do with the necessity of confession in the Sacrament of Penance, the proof of which consists in this, viz., that those on whom our Lord conferred the twofold power of binding and loosing—“whose sins you shall forgive … and whose sins ye shall retain,” &c. (John 20:23)—namely, the Apostles and their successors, could not exercise this power, as it was meant they should exercise it, so as to ensure its being ratified “in heaven,” viz., as just judges and faithful dispensers of God’s mysteries, without confession of his sins by the penitent. For, how could they exercise this twofold power of binding and loosing except they fully knew the nature of the cause, and the dispositions of the subject, on whom this judicial power was to be exercised, not capriciously or arbitrarily, but with discretion? Now, the cause in many instances embraces private sins of thought, known to God alone; sins against the Ninth and Tenth Commandments, which could not be known for adjudication, either as to number or magnitude, save through the confession of the penitent himself; nor could the inward dispositions necessary for pardon, so as to have the sentence passed on earth ratified “in heaven,” be known through any other source besides. Hence, the necessity of confession clearly involved in the twofold power of loosing as well as binding given by our Lord to His Church.

Mat 3:7  And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them: Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come?

And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” &c. These were the two leading sects among the Jews. There was a third leading sect—the Essenes. These three sects were first heard of in the time of the Machabees. The Pharisees were so called from the Hebrew word Parash (he separated), because they regarded themselves as separated from the bulk of the people on account of their superior sanctity, their more accurate knowledge and religious observance of the law. They taught several traditions not in accordance with God’s law, as we see from several parts of the Gospel. They believed in the Resurrection—the immortality and transmigration of souls (Josephus de Bel.; Jud. Lib. ii, c. 8). They attributed some things, but not all, to fate (Idem. Antiq. xiii. 5). Their chief distinguishing characteristics were pride and hypocrisy; hence, the unsparing denunciations of them by our Blessed Lord everywhere in the Gospel; because, from pride and malice, they always opposed Divine truth. Owing to their external show of mere religious observance, they possessed the greatest influence among the people in general.

The Sadducees derived their name from tsedec (justice), because they made a profession of strict justice, in consequence of their excessive rigour in enforcing the punishments enacted by the law against transgressors, whenever they got hold of authority; or from Sadoc, their founder. These were a kind of freethinkers among the Jews—carnal unbelievers; Epicureans, in religion. They denied the resurrection, and the existence of angels or spirits (Acts 23:8). Denying fate altogether, they asserted that man’s happiness or misery altogether depended on himself (Josephus Antiq. xiii. 5). Against them were written the books of Wisdom and 2nd of Machabees. They rejected all unwritten traditions, and impiously perverted the meaning of SS. Scripture. Some say they admitted only the Pentateuch. While the mass of the people adhered to the Pharisees, the wealthy and higher classes attached themselves to the Sadducees, who allowed greater indulgence to the gratification of their corrupt passions. A bad example was given to this class by John Hircanus, the son of Simon Machabæus, who, in his old age, deserting the Pharisees, passed over to the Sadducees (Josephus Antiq., Lib. xiii. c. 8). Herod himself adopted the tenets of the Sadducees, and was a decided enemy of the Pharisees. Although maintaining doctrines seemingly heretical, and opposed to the law of Moses, still the Sadducees were not, like the Samaritans, excluded from the Synagogue. We find them, in passages of the New Testament, mixed up with the Priests and Pharisees, both in matters sacred and profane (Acts 4:1; 23:6). Their religious feuds with the Pharisees ceased a good deal under the Roman Governors, who proved equally favourable to both sects; and, however much they differed among themselves in principle, still they united in opposing and persecuting our Divine Redeemer—which is quite usual at all times with contending sects, where-ever the Church of God is concerned—a thing to be noticed, even at the present day. We shall treat of the Essenes and Herodians elsewhere. The doctrines and morals of all these sects are described by Josephus (Lib. ii., Bel. Jud., c. 7; Lib. xiii. Antiq. c. 9; Lib. xviii., c. 2). (See c. 22:23).

“Seeing many of them coming to (receive) his baptism”—“to be baptized by him” (Luke 3:7)—“he said to them.” St. Luke (3:7) says it was “to the multitudes that came forth to be baptized” he spoke. However, both narratives are easily reconciled, by saying that he addressed the Scribes and Pharisees whom he saw among the multitude, easily distinguishable by their dress and general appearance, so that when addressing the multitude, his words were meant for them; or, the words of St. Luke might be understood to mean that he spoke, in presence of the multitudes, words intended for the Pharisees and Sadducees.

“Ye brood of vipers.” These words are, probably, allusive to the old serpent who tempted Eve. Vipers were the most venomous description of serpents (Acts 28:3). Here, our Lord taxes the malignity of the Pharisees, &c., which consisted in calumniating and persecuting good and holy men. These haughty men prided in their descent from Abraham and the Patriarchs; and hence the Baptist, reminds them that, far from glorying in their descent, they should rather be humbled at considering that they were the descendants of vicious parents, persecutors of the prophet and of the just, whose vices they inherited and faithfully copied in their lives, rather than descendants of Abraham, whose virtues they practically ignored. They were the wicked offspring of wicked parents, whose malice principally consisted in persecuting holy men. This he says with a view of humbling them, and preparing them for penance, supposing that he regarded them as sincere; or, if we suppose that, divinely gifted with an insight into their hypocritical feelings, he regarded them as insincere, he addressed them thus, for the purpose of reproaching them with their vices, and deterring others from being seduced by their evil example, as our Redeemer did. (Matt. 23).

Who hath showed you to fly,” &c. These words are understood by some (A. Lapide, &c.) to mean: How is it possible that you could be persuaded by any one that you could escape the future damnation and pains of hell, in which you believe not (this would strike at the Sadducees) or have no apprehension of, from a false persuasion regarding your own justice (this would apply to the Pharisees)? This could only proceed from your own incredulity and vain presumption. Others regard the words of the Baptist as expressive of great admiration, as if he said: Since you are the wicked offspring of wicked parents, malicious persecutors and calumniators of just men, what could possibly influence you, who, either from incredulity, believe not in future torments, or, from vain presumption and a false sense of security, proceeding from a foolish feeling regarding your personal sanctity, fear them not, mixing yourselves up with the crowd of sinners, soldiers, and publicans, to come here, confess your sins, and receive my baptism? Surely, this cannot come from yourselves, but from the wonderful goodness and grace of God. This latter interpretation accords well with the following verse.

“The wrath to come,” is understood by some of the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; but it more probably refers to the future torments of hell, as in Matthew (23:33). The Baptist, who first proposes the future rewards of the kingdom of glory, also presents to our view the tortures of hell. Heretofore, the Jews were stimulated to the observances of the law, by temporal rewards and threats of temporal punishment. The Baptist proposes a new sanction altogether—the joys of heaven and the tortures of hell. Some read the word “showed” in the future—“who will show?” as if he said, Who can possibly teach you, who are in the habit of teaching others; who can instruct you and apply to you the proper remedies, who hypocritically conceal your inmost dispositions?

Mat 3:8  Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance.

Then, if through the grace of God you feel interiorly these sentiments of true sorrow, which you externally profess by coming here, prove the sincerity of your interior dispositions by performing the good works worthy of penance—the good works which penance inspires and dictates, and requires for its complement—mere internal feelings will not do. They must be shown externally in your conduct. These fruits of penance are satisfactory good works, opposed to the vices they indulged in. The greater the crimes and indulgence, the greater should be the satisfaction and reparation. The unchaste man should specially cultivate the virtue of chastity; the drunkard, temperance; the proud, humility; the thief and robber, after making restitution, should cultivate, in future, the virtue of justice, &c. “As they hitherto yielded their members to serve uncleanness unto iniquity; so, now, they would yield them to serve justice, unto sanctification” (Rom. 6:19).

Mat 3:9  And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father. For I tell you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

“And think not to say within yourselves.” Do not entertain and feel complacency or false security in the proud thought and false presumption: we are children of Abraham (John 8:33, &c.) to whom was promised a numerous progeny. Hence, whatever we do, we must be heirs to His promises, as God’s promise to Abraham cannot he made void. This the Baptist proposes as an objection, conceived within their minds, against the threats of eternal perdition, which he is after denouncing against them. To this he replies, as does St. Paul (Rom. 9:6, 7), that their rejection and final perdition would not in the least make void the promises made to Abraham. For the fulfilment and verification of His promises God could raise up from the very stones, children who would be heirs of His promises, even if the Jews were rejected, just as He raised the first man out of the slime of the earth, and vivified the dead and barren womb of Sara to give birth to Isaac, the father of the children of promise. “But in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Rom. 9:7). It is not to flesh and blood, or to carnal descent from Abraham, the promise is attached, as is clear from the rejection of Ismael, the first born; but to faith and obedience. From the sincerity of faith, and not proximity of blood, the children of Abraham and the heirs of his promises are to be reckoned. For, the birth of Isaac was owing, more to the power and promise of God, than to carnal generation. Hence, were God, as a last extremity, to convert the very stones into men, whom He would inspire with the faith and obedience of Abraham, heirs to his promises would not be wanting. But, He had other means at hand, viz., the call of the Gentiles, whose stony hearts He softened with the influences of His divine and heavenly grace, who became sons, that is, imitators of the faith and obedience of Abraham. It may be, that, in speaking of “stones,” he referred to the Gentiles, whose hearts, obdurate in vice, were as hard as the statues of stones they were in the habit of adoring, “similes illis fiant qui faciunt ea” (Psa. 114:8), or, he may have in view, the “stones” strewn on the banks of the Jordan (“these stones”) which symbolized the hard hearts of the Gentiles. These, if converted into men by God’s power, would be spiritual sons of Abraham, by grace and faith.

Mat 3:10  For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire.

This verse may be immediately connected with v. 8 in continuation of the metaphor of the tree and the fruit (the intervening v. 9 being regarded as an incidental reply to a tacit objection existing in their minds), as if he said: It behoves you to bring forth good fruit (v. 8.) For (v. 10) God is about to execute speedy (“now”) and irreparable ruin (“the root”) on all such as shall fail to do so without distinction of Jew or Gentile.

“Every tree,” that is, every man, whoever he be, whether carnally descended from Abraham or not, who shall fail to “yield good fruit, shall be cut down and cast into the fire,” i.e., of hell, which is “unquenchable” (v. 12). The words are allusive to the destination of worthless trees, left to be cut down and to wither. Their destination or end is the fire. Or, it may be immediately connected with the preceding (v. 9), and would then contain a second reason for removing the grounds of their false confidence, arising from having Abraham, as their father. The first reason is given in v. 9, “God is able,” &c. The second, here; as if he said, their confidence is ill-founded: for destruction awaits all without distinction, be their descent what it may, who shall fail to produce good fruit and perform good works. Some expositors understand this, of the approaching ruin of Jerusalem. It is better, however, to understand it, of the punishment awaiting every unrepenting sinner in the life to come. “Every tree … cast into the fire.” But, against this interpretation it may be objected; was it not always true that the judgment of God had, at all times, condemned to hell sinners who died in their sins? How then, say, that “NOW the axe is laid?” &c. If reference be made to future judgment, was it not very distant from the men whom the Baptist addresses? Yes, judgment of eternal damnation is at all times, from the beginning to the end of the world, inflicted on impenitent sinners, including as well those who in past ages, sinned in darkness and ignorance, as those who sin in the full blaze of Gospel light and knowledge. Hence, in Greek, we have the present tense, εκκοπτεταὶ, βαλλεται, “is cut down, is cast,” &c., embracing all time. But, in former ages, God seemed to dissemble His wrath and His punishment, which, although very heavy, would still be less severe on those who sinned in ignorance, than on those who sinned in the full blaze of Gospel light; and it is only now they are proclaimed far and wide, and openly made known through the Gospel, as near at hand. Hence, it is said, “NOW the axe,” &c.; because, in Scripture language, a thing is said to happen, when it is made known.

Others, not satisfied with the above interpretation, understand the words of the judgment of God in calling to, and rejecting from, His Church, “the Kingdom of Heaven now at hand,” which His Son is soon to establish on earth. In this interpretation, the Baptist would assign another reason why they should not rely too much on their carnal descent from Abraham; because, “now”—very soon—God will exercise His spiritual judgment on all mankind, whether born of Abraham or not, in rejecting them, or calling them, to His Church, as heirs of the promises of Abraham, according as they correspond with His gracious imitations to do penance, and reform their lives by performing the good works which His grace will inspire and aid them to perform; or, according as they reject the same, and merit, by their exclusion from the Church, to be finally reserved for everlasting fire.

Mat 3:11  I indeed baptize you in water unto penance, but he that shall come after me, is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire.

“I indeed baptize you,” &c. These words need not necessarily be connected with those of the preceding verse, as if spoken at the same time, or immediately after them, by the Baptist. From St. Luke (Lk 3:15) it would seem that they were spoken by him to refute a false notion, which he knew existed in the minds of the people regarding himself, as if he were their long expected Messiah. It may be, he knew their feelings from the faculty divinely granted him of penetrating the secret thoughts of their hearts; or, he may have learned their opinions from the discourses of the people, or from some of his own disciples who associated and moved among the people; or, it may be, if we consider these words spoken on the occasion recorded (John 1:19), that he learned it from those who were deputed to make inquiries of himself personally on this debated subject. Some commentators, however, think the occasion referred to (John 1:19–27) different from this, inasmuch as the occurrence, referred to in John, took place after Christ’s baptism by John, and the occurrence here recorded, before it. Moreover, he says (John 1:26), he speaks of our Redeemer as “standing in the midst of them,” of whom he before said, that, “He was to come after him;” here, and, St. Luke 3, he insinuates the contrary. If the three other Evangelists refer to the same occasion, referred to by St. John (Jn 1:19–27), it must be said, that they narrated by anticipation, as if occurring before Christ’s baptism by John, what only occurred after it. The people seeing the extraordinary sanctity of John, and the repute in which he was held, looked upon him as the Messiah, who was expected about this time by the Jews; because, the term marked out for His coming, in their ancient prophecies, had now expired. The rite of baptism which John administered, confirmed them in this impression, as the giving of baptism was considered a peculiar mark that was to distinguish the Messiah (John 1:25; Ezechiel 36, “effundam super vos aquam mundam,” &c.) This was divinely disposed, in order to show forth the humility of the Baptist, and add greater weight to his testimony regarding our Lord, while raising Him infinitely above himself, whom the people held in such high veneration for his extraordinary sanctity and austerity of life. The Baptist, in bearing testimony to our Lord, compares, 1st, his person; and, 2ndly, his baptism, with the Divine Person and the baptism of our Lord, and exalts the latter, in an infinite degree, as was meet, beyond the former.

First, as to His Person, he says, that our Lord, “who is to come after him,” his junior in point of birth in the flesh, and in regard to the time of his public preaching and manifestation to the world, to come after him, was “mightier” than he, as possessing within Himself infinite efficacy and power, which He displayed in all His actions, reaching not only the bodies, but the souls of men. The words, “mightier than I,” are probably allusive to the description of the qualities of our Lord as given by Isaias (9:7), who calls Him “the Mighty God.” His supereminent dignity is such that John is unworthy to be His servant, or to perform the most menial office for Him. One of the most menial offices assigned to servants or slaves of the lowest description among the ancients, Romans, Greeks, Jews, &c., was to carry, to bind and loose their master’s shoes. According to the other Evangelists it said, he is not worthy to stoop down and untie “the latchet of His shoes.” The meaning is the same as that conveyed by St. Matthew here, viz., that he is unworthy to perform the most menial office in His regard. Or, it may be that the Baptist used both forms of expression, viz., that he was unworthy to carry His shoes, or even to stoop down and untie them.

Secondly, as to his baptism, exalting Christ’s baptism above his own, he says his baptism merely reached the bodies of men. Its effect was merely to wash or baptize them with water, “unto penance,” as a sign of the spiritual cleansing which they needed, as a protestation of their need of penance for their past sins, but, of itself, it did not reach the soul, so as to impart grace or remit sin; whereas, the baptism of Christ, who was infinitely “mightier” and more powerful to impart efficacy to any rite He would institute, was not confined in its effects to the body; it reached the entire nature of mankind, it poured into their souls “the Holy Ghost,” who with the active properties of “fire,” cleansed and purified their whole interior, and lit up in them the burning flames of Divine love.

“He shall baptize,” &c. If the word, “baptize,” be taken in its plain, literal signification, then, it includes the rite of baptism, instituted by our Lord in water, as is indicated (John 3:5; Matt. 21:25), and the passage means: He shall institute a baptism, the effects of which shall not merely reach the body, and typify interior cleansing (like the baptism of John); but it shall confer the Holy Ghost, who will produce effects of cleansing, purifying, enlightening and warming, symbolized by the natural effects and active agency of “fire.” “And fire.” The word “and” signifies, that is, fire.

If the word, “baptize,” be taken figuratively to signify the effects of baptism in both cases; then, the words mean: the effect of my baptism is merely to wash the body externally, as a sign of the desired cleansing of the soul. But the effect of His baptism shall be, to pour the manifold gifts and energy of the Holy Ghost into the souls of men. It seems quite clear, that it is in this latter sense the words are to be understood; since, it is not the matter of his own baptism and that of Christ which John is here contrasting, but the effect of both, the latter being far more exalted, and as far superior to the former, as the cleansing of the soul is above that of the body: and the cleansing power and efficacy of fire, is above that of water. This latter sense is allusive to the signification given the word by our Redeemer Himself (Acts 1:5), where He speaks of the baptism of the Spirit; or, of receiving the gifts of the Holy Ghost; and the word, “baptism,” is taken figuratively elsewhere, to denote the gifts of sanctifying grace received through suffering, “habeo Baptismum … et quomodo coarctor,” &c. Hence, theologians distinguish the threefold baptism of water, blood, and the Spirit, the effect being substantially the same in all. The figurative understanding of the word, “baptize,” here does not, by any means, warrant the Methodists and Quakers in regarding baptism as a spiritual effect, and not as an external material rite; because, elsewhere (Matt. 27; John 3), the words must be taken literally, to mean an external rite. For, according to a received canon for interpreting SS. Scripture, the words should be understood literally, unless there be some reason or necessity for taking them figuratively. Now, in the passage referred to, there is nothing either in the context, or the laws of Hermeneutics, to warrant us in departing from the plain and obvious meaning of the words; whereas, in this present verse (11), we are forced by the very nature of the language employed, to understand the words figuratively; since, no one can, in the literal sense, be “baptized in the Holy Ghost and in fire.” The figurative use of a word in some passages of SS. Scripture would by no means force us to use it figuratively in every other passage, particularly when the context would imply the contrary. Now, the baptism of John was clearly an external rite performed with water; so was that also given by St. Peter to Cornelius, the Centurion. “Can any one forbid water, that these should not be baptized?” (Acts 10:44–48.) With water also did Philip baptize the Eunuch (Acts 8:38). The words, then, refer to the abundant effusion of the gifts of the Holy Ghost by our Lord on His faithful followers, through the rite of baptism, instituted by Him in water.

“Fire” is variously interpreted. But it is, most likely, meant to convey an idea of, and symbolize, the active properties and working of the Holy Ghost in the soul. The leading properties of fire are: to consume, enlighten, inflame, transforms all into itself. So it is with the Holy Ghost. Once He takes possession of the souls of men, like “fire,” He cleanses from their sins the truly penitent, who believe in Him. He enlightens, inflames, and transforms them into Himself.

Mat 3:12  Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

“Whose fan is in His hand.” In these words, the Baptist, after describing the great mercy and goodness of our Lord, in the plentiful redemption He bestows on the just and repentant, refers to Him, in His judicial character, and points out the rigorous judgment He shall execute on the unrepenting sinners, and on those who shall fall away from justice. This He does with the view of terrifying the unrepenting Jews, and also of removing any false feelings of undue confidence they might conceive, as if having once received the Holy Ghost, they need not be over cautious in regard to the future. The words convey a figurative allusion to the mode, employed by the Jews, of separating the chaff and other filth from the good grain, by means of a “fan” or winnowing shovel. By the “fan” is meant, the judgment which our Lord, “to whom His Father has given all judgment” (John 5:22), shall exercise at the last day, on all mankind. This judgment, although distant, is still virtually present and quite near. (“His fan is in His hand,” ready for execution.) This is intelligible, if we consider that the longest period of time, in the measure of God, and compared with eternity, is but a mere point; and, moreover, this judgment virtually takes place at death, which is quite near to each one.

“Thoroughly cleanse His floor,” that is, the grain on His floor. This may refer to His Church, in which are to be found good and bad; or, to the entire universe, which is “His.”

“The wheat.” The good, who persevere in the performance of good works.

“The barn.” Heaven.

“The chaff.” The wicked, the worthless, who have not done good, and have been workers of iniquity.

“Unquenchable fire,” that is, hell fire, which shall never be extinguished, as it needs no fuel, save the undying breath of an angry God. It means also, that the fire never destroys, or utterly consumes, but burns and tortures for ever, such as fall into it. The Greek (ασβεσῶ) means, unextinguished, unquenched, eternal, ever-enduring. The words contain an allusion to the passage of Isaias (66:24), “Vermis corum non moritur,” &c. “Quis de robis habitabit cum igne devorante … ardoribus sempiternis?” These words refute the heresy of Origen regarding the finite duration of the pains of hell, or their cessation after a certain period. Modern Origens on this subject are cropping up of late in this country.

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

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 13:11-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 27, 2013

This post opens with the bishop’s brief analysis of Romans 13, followed by his notes on verses 11-14. Text in purple represents his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.


The Apostle employs the first seven verses of this chapter in inculcating the duty of obedience to temporal authority, or, it should be rather said, in enforcing the natural duty of obedience to legitimate authority, by the sanction of Christianity: his reason for so doing shall be explained in the Commentary. He grounds the duty of obedience—first, on the source of all authority, God (verses 1, 2); secondly, on the end and object of the institution of supreme and governing authority (3, 4); thirdly, on the fact, that supreme rulers are appointed as ministers of God in securing the general welfare, by protecting the good and punishing the wicked. Hence, their claims to obedience on religious grounds; hence, their claims to tribute, on the same grounds (5, 6). In verse 7, he draws a general conclusion regarding the payment of their respective dues to all men in authority. He again reverts to the duty of charity due to all men, of which he treated more at large in chapter 12. (8, 9, 10); and, finally, he exhorts all to enter on a life of greater fervour, to lay aside the works of darkness, and put on Jesus Christ (11-14).

Rom 13:11  And that, knowing the season, that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed.

And with this duty of loving our neighbour, we should the more faithfully comply, as we know the time is urgent; because the hour for us to awake from the drowsiness and sleep of sin has arrived. For now our salvation is nearer than when first we embraced the gospel. St Paul has drawn a connection with Rom 12:9-13:10 which focused love.

“And that,” refers to our paying all our debts, and loving our neighbour. “Knowing the season,” i.e., knowing the urgency of the time, and the short period we have to work. “Season may also be interpreted to mean the favourable opportunity, which in Christianity is afforded us for doing so. The former meaning is rendered more probable by the following words, “for it is now the hour,” &c. The day of judgment is fast approaching; and hence, we should be prepared for it, “for now our salvation,” i.e., the day when we are to receive eternal glory as the recompense of our labours. “Than when we believed,” i.e., when we first embraced the faith. St. Chrysostom remarks, that the Apostle says this to remind them of their great fervour at the time of their embracing the faith, from which they were falling off, according as they receded from that period; and that now he wishes to rouse them to fervour and redoubled piety as their eternal salvation, which commences for the just at the hour of death, when they shall enter on the life of glory is much nearer. “Cast off the works of darkness,” i.e., bad works which are suited only to darkness; for he who does evil, “hates the light.”—(St. John 3:20). “And put on the armour of light,” i.e., the shining armour of good works; or, there may be reference to the spiritual panoply mentioned (Ephes. chap. 6) viz., the shield of faith, the breastplate of justice, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which enable us to resist the enemy and to do good.

The words and that which opens the verse are intended draw a connection specifically with the imperative of verse 9: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. These words are themselves a restatement of Rom 12:9-10 where the focus is explicitly on love (Rom 12:1-8 providing exhortatory and theological background for Rom 12:9-13:14). When we love our neighbors as ourselves (Rom 13:9) we love without dissimulation (Rom 12:9), and with the love of brotherhood (Rom 12:10. “Mutual affection” in NAB). The fact that we live in the end time (1 Cor 10:11) and that judgment can come at any time is used by St Paul in Rom 13:11-14 as a motive for continuing in love.

It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. Recalls Rom 12:11 where St Paul warns us not to fall into slothfulness when it comes to showing love.

Rom 13:12  The night is passed And the day is at hand. Let us, therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.

The term of our existence in this world of sin and darkness is fast passing away, and the bright day of eternal and unchangeable happiness is fast approaching. Let us, therefore, cast aside and abandon for ever our wicked works, which cannot bear the light, and are only suited for darkness; and let us put on the armour of light, by becoming clad with good works, which shall serve as a secure panoply to protect us against our enemies.

Some Commentators, and among the rest, A’Lapide, understand the word “night,” of the night of darkness and infidelity in which men were enveloped, before the coming of Christ; and “day,” of the period of the Gospel revelation, when the full light of faith and justice has brightly dawned upon us. According to him, the words, “when we believed,” (verse 11), regard the Jews, who also believed in God; “and the night is past,” the Gentiles. The interpretation given in Paraphrase is preferable; for, it is quite a common thing with the Apostle to stimulate men to fervour and fidelity in their Christian duties, by the consideration of future rewards.

Cast of the works of darkness. The words cast off (αποθωμεθα) provide a nice contrast with Rom 12:1 where St Paul has exhorted us to present (παραστησαι) our bodies to God as living sacrifices.  The root word for cast off (αποθωμεθα) means to lay down, while the root word for present (παραστησαι) means to stand.

Rom 13:13  Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy.

Since, therefore, the day for disclosing our actions is soon to shine upon us, let us conduct ourselves with propriety, and appear in the decent garb suited to such as come forth at day time, not indulging in banquetings or drunkenness, not in lasciviousness or impurities, not in altercation or envious contentions.

“Let us walk honestly as in the day,” i.e., conduct ourselves decorously as persons do who appear in the full blaze of day; “as in the day,” would render the interpretation of A’Lapide very probable. The words, however, can be explained and accommodated to our interpretation (as in Paraphrase). “Not in rioting,” i.e., feastings, instituted for the purpose of gluttony and debauchery; and “drunkenness,” i.e., excessive drinking, even though it were not carried to the extent of causing a deprivation of reason; “in chambering,” designates all acts of impurity. “Contention and envy,” the result of ambition.

See St Paul’s description of the actions of those who refuse to acknowledge God in Rom 1:29-30. See also what St Paul says must and must not be done regarding mutual love in Rom 12:9-21.

Rom 13:14  But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ: and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.

But so express and manifest in your morals, our Lord Jesus Christ, who by his grace dwells in your hearts, that you may appear to be clothed with his sobriety, chastity and charity—the opposite virtues of the vices referred to—and thus you will not carry the reasonable care, which each one should take of his body, to the guilty extent of indulging its vices and corrupt passions.

“Put on our Lord Jesus Christ,” so that his sobriety, chastity and charity—so opposed to the vices enumerated—would alone appear in you, as the clothes appear on the man vested with them. This metaphor of putting on Christ is employed by St. Paul in several places:—(Ephes. 4:24; Col. 3:10; 1 Thes. 5:8; Gal. 3:17). “And make not provision,” &c. He does not prevent proper care of our bodies; “for no one hates his own flesh,” &c. (Ephes. 5), but only the indulgence of its vices and concupiscences.

Put on our Lord Jesus Christ. To put on our Lord Jesus Christ is to cast of the works of darkness and cloth ourselves with the armour of light (Rom 13:12). We must not make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences, rather, we should present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, our reasonable service (Rom 12:1).


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

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 122

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 27, 2013

1. As impure love inflames the mind, and summons the soul destined to perish to lust for earthly things, and to follow what is perishable, and precipitates it into lowest places, and sinks it into the abyss; so holy love raiseth us to heavenly things, and inflames us to what is eternal, and excites the soul to those things which do not pass away nor die, and from the abyss of hell raiseth it to heaven. Yet all love hath a power of its own, nor can love in the soul of the lover be idle; it must needs draw it on. But dost thou wish to know of what sort love is? See whither it leadeth.…

2. This Psalm is a “Song of degrees;”5 as we have often said to you, for these degrees6 are not of descent, but of ascent. He therefore longeth to ascend. And whither doth he wish to ascend, save into heaven? What meaneth, into heaven? Doth he wish to ascend that he may be with the sun, moon, and stars? Far be it! But there is in heaven the eternal Jerusalem, where are our fellow-citizens, the Angels: we are wanderers on earth from these our fellow-citizens. We sigh in our pilgrimage; we shall rejoice in the city. But we find companions in this pilgrimage, who have already seen this city herself; who summon us to run towards her. At these he also rejoiceth, who saith, “I rejoiced in them who said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord” (ver. 1).…

3. “Our feet were standing in the courts of Jerusalem” (ver. 2).… Consider what thou wilt be there; and although thou art as yet on the road, place this before thine eyes, as if thou wert already standing, as if thou wert already rejoicing without ceasing among the Angels; as if that which is written were realized in thee: “Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house; they will be alway praising Thee.”7 “Our feet stood in the courts of Jerusalem.” What Jerusalem? This earthly Jerusalem also is wont to be called by the name: though this Jerusalem is but the shadow of that. And what great thing is it to stand in this Jerusalem, since this Jerusalem hath not been able to stand, but hath been turned into a ruin? Doth then the Holy Spirit pronounce this, out of the kindled heart of the loving Psalmist, as a great thing? Is not it that Jerusalem, unto whom the Lord said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the Prophets,” etc.8 What great thing then did he desire; to stand among those who slew the Prophets, and stoned them that were sent unto them? God forbid that he should think of that Jerusalem, who so loveth, who so burneth, who so longeth to reach that Jerusalem, “our Mother,”9 of which the Apostle saith, that She is “eternal in the Heavens.”10

4. “Jerusalem that is being built as a city” (ver. 3). Brethren, when David was uttering these words, that city had been finished, it was not being built. It is some city he speaketh of, therefore, which is now being built, unto which living stones run in faith, of whom Peter saith, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house;”11 that is, the holy temple of God. What meaneth, ye are built up as lively stones? Thou livest, if thou believest: but if thou believest, thou art made a temple of God; for the Apostle Paul saith, “The temple of God is holy, which temple are ye.”1 This city is therefore now in building; stones are cut down from the hills by the hands of those who preach truth, they are squared that they may enter into an everlasting structure. There are still many stones in the hands of the Builder: let them not fall from His hands, that they may be built perfect into the structure of the temple. This, then, is the “Jerusalem that is being built as a city:” Christ is its foundation. The Apostle Paul saith, “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.”2 When a foundation is laid on earth, the walls are built above, and the weight of the walls tends towards the lowest parts, because the foundation is laid at the bottom. But if our foundation be in heaven, let us be built towards heaven. Bodies have built the edifice of this basilica,3 the ample size of which ye see; and since bodies have built it, they placed the foundation lowest: but since we are spiritually built, our foundation is placed at the highest point. Let us therefore run thither, where we may be built.… But what Jerusalem do I speak of? Is it that, he asketh, which ye see standing, raised on the structure of its walls? No; but the “Jerusalem which is being built as a city.” Why not, a city, instead of, “as a city;” save because those walls, so built in Jerusalem, were a visible city, as it is by all called a city, literally; but this is being built “as a city,” for they who enter it are like living stones; for they are not literally stones? Just as they are called stones, and yet are not so: so the city styled “as a city,” is not a city; for he said, “is being built.” For by the word building, he meant to be understood the structure, and cohesion of bodies and walls. For a city4 is properly understood of the men that inhabit there. But in saying “is building,” he showed us that he meant a town. And since a spiritual building hath some resemblance to a bodily building, therefore it “is building as a city.”

5. But let the following words remove all doubt that we ought not to understand carnally the words, “Whose partaking is in the same.”5 … What meaneth, “the same”? What is ever in the same state; not what is now in one state, now in another. What then is, “the same,” save that which is? What is that which is? That which is everlasting.… Behold “The Same: I AM THAT I AM, I AM.” Thou canst not understand; it is much to understand, it is much to apprehend. Remember what He, whom thou canst not comprehend, became for thee. Remember the flesh of Christ, towards which thou wast raised when sick, and when left half dead from the wounds of robbers, that thou mightest be brought to the Inn, and there mightest be cured.6 Let us therefore run unto the Lord’s house, and reach the city where our feet may stand; the city “that is building as a city: whose partaking is in The Same.” …

6. That city “which partaketh in the same,” partaketh in its stability: justly therefore, since he is made a sharer in its stability, saith he who runneth thither. For all things there stand where nought passeth by. Dost thou too wish to stand there and not to pass by? Run thither. Nobody hath “the same” from himself.…

7. “For thither the tribes went up” (ver. 4). We were asking whither he ascendeth who hath fallen; for we said, it is the voice of a man who is ascending, of the Church rising. Can we tell whither it ascendeth? whither it goeth? whither it is raised? “Thither,” he saith, “the tribes went up.” Whither? To “partaking in the Same.” But what are the tribes? Many know, many know not. For if we use the word “curies” in its proper sense, we understand nothing, save the “curies” which exist in each particular city, whence the terms “curiales” and “decuriones,” that is, the citizens of a curia or a decuria; and ye know that each city hath such curies. But there are, or were at one time, curies of the people in those cities, and one city hath many curies, as Rome hath thirty-five curies of the people.7 These are called tribes. The people of Israel had twelve of these, according to the sons of Jacob.

8. There were twelve tribes of the people of Israel: but there were good, and there were bad among them. For how evil were those tribes which crucified our Lord! How good those who recognised the Lord! Those tribes then who crucified the Lord, were tribes of the devil. When therefore he here said, “For thither the tribes go up;” that thou mightest not understand all the tribes, he added, “even the tribes of the Lord.” … What are the tribes of the Lord? “A testimony unto Israel.” Hear, brethren, what this meaneth. “A testimony to Israel:” that is, whereby it may be known that it is truly Israel.… He is such in whom there is no guile. And what did the Lord say, when He saw Nathanael? “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.”8 If therefore he is a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile, those tribes go up to Jerusalem, in whom there is no guile.… Wherefore do they go up? “To confess unto Thy Name, O Lord.” It could not be more nobly expressed. As pride presumeth, so doth humility confess. As he is a presumer, who wishes to appear what he is not, so is he a confessor, who does not wish that to be seen which himself is, and loves That which He is. To this therefore do Israelites go up, in whom is no guile, because they are truly Israelites, because in them is the testimony of Israel.

9. “For there were seated seats for judgment” (ver. 5). This is a wonderful riddle, a wonderful question, if it be not understood. He calleth those seats, which the Greeks call thrones. The Greeks call chairs thrones, as a term of honour. Therefore, my brethren, it is not wonderful if even we should sit on seats, or chairs; but that these seats themselves should sit, when shall we be able to understand this? As if some one should say: let stools or chairs sit here. We sit on chairs, we sit on seats, we sit on stools; the seats themselves sit not. What then meaneth this, “For there were seated seats for judgment”.… If therefore heaven be the seat of God, and the Apostles are heaven; they themselves are become the seat of God, the throne of God. It is said in another passage:1 “The soul of the righteous is the throne of wisdom.” A great truth, a great truth, is declared; the throne of wisdom is the soul of the righteous; that is, wisdom sitteth in the soul of the righteous as it were in her chair, in her throne, and thence judgeth whatsoever she judgeth. There were therefore thrones of wisdom, and therefore the Lord said unto them, “Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”2 So they also shall sit upon twelve seats, and they are themselves the seats of God; for of them it is said, “For there were seated seats.” Who sat? “Seats.” And who are the seats? They of whom it is said, “The soul of the righteous is the seat of wisdom.” Who are the seats? The heavens. Who are the heavens? Heaven. What is heaven? That of which the Lord saith, “Heaven is My seat.”3 The righteous then themselves are the seats; and have seats; and seats shall be seated in that Jerusalem. For what purpose? “For judgment.” Ye shall sit, He saith, on twelve thrones, O ye thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Judging whom? Those who are below on earth. Who will judge? They who have become heaven. But they who shall be judged, will be divided into two bodies: one will be on the right hand, the other on the left.…

10. He at once addeth, as unto the seats themselves, “Enquire ye the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem” (ver. 6). O ye seats, who now sit unto judgment, and are made the seats of the Lord who judgeth (since they who judge, enquire; they who are judged, are enquired of), “Enquire ye,” he saith, “the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem.” What will they find by asking? That some have done deeds of charity, that others have not. Those whom they shall find to have done deeds of charity, they will summon them unto Jerusalem; for these deeds are “for the peace of Jerusalem.” Love is a powerful thing, my brethren, love is a powerful thing. Do ye wish to see how powerful a thing love is?… If charity be destitute of means, so that it cannot find what to bestow upon the poor, let it love: let it give “one cup of cold water;”4 as much shall be laid to its account, as to Zaccheus who gave half his patrimony to the poor.5 Wherefore this? The one gave so little, the other so much, and shall so much be imputed to the former? Just so much. For though his resources are unequal, his charity is not unequal.

11. … “And plenteousness,” he addeth, “for them that love thee.” He addresses Jerusalem herself, They have plenteousness who love her. Plenteousness after want: here they are destitute, there they are affluent; here they are weak, there they are strong; here they want, there they are rich. How have they become rich? Because they gave here what they received from God for a season, and received there what God will afterwards pay back for evermore. Here, my brethren, even rich men are poor. It is a good thing for a rich man to acknowledge himself poor: for if he think himself full, that is mere puffing, not plenteousness. Let him own himself empty, that he may be filled. What hath he? Gold. What hath he not yet? Everlasting life. Let him consider what he hath, and see what he hath not. Brethren, of that which he hath, let him give, that he may receive what he hath not; let him purchase out of that which he hath, that which he hath not, “and plenteousness for them that love thee.”

12. “Peace be in thy strength” (ver. 7). O Jerusalem, O city, who art being built as a city, whose partaking is in “The Same:” “Peace be in thy strength:” peace be in thy love; for thy strength is thy love. Hear the Song of songs: “Love is strong as death.”6 A great saying that, brethren, “Love is strong as death.” The strength of charity could not be expressed in grander terms than these, “Love is strong as death.” For who resisteth death, my brethren? Consider, my brethren. Fire, waves, the sword, are resisted: we resist principalities, we resist kings; death cometh alone, who resisteth it? There is nought more powerful than it. Charity therefore is compared with its strength, in the words, “Love is strong as death.” And since this love slayeth what we have been, that we may be what we were not; love createth a sort of death in us. This death he had died who said, “The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world:”1 this death they had died unto whom he said, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”2 Love is strong as death.…

13. Thus as he was here speaking of charity, he addeth, “For my brethren and companions’ sake, I spoke peace of thee” (ver. 8). O Jerusalem, thou city whose partaking is in The SAME, I in this life and on this earth, I poor, he saith, I a stranger and groaning, not as yet enjoying to the full thy peace, and preaching thy peace; preach it not for my own sake, as the heretics, who seeking their own glory, say, Peace be with you: and have not the peace which they preach to the people. For if they had peace, they would not tear asunder unity. “I,” he saith, “spoke peace of thee.” But wherefore? “For my brethren and companions’ sake:” not for my own honour, not for my own money, not for my life; for, “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” But, “I spoke peace of thee, for my brethren and companions’ sakes.” For he wished to depart, and to be with Christ: but, since he must preach these things to his companions and his brethren, to abide in the flesh, he addeth, is more needful for you.3

14. “Because of the house of the Lord my God, I have sought good things for thee” (ver. 9). Not on my own account have sought good things, for then I should not seek for thee, but for myself; and so should I not have them, because I should not seek them for thee; but, “Because of the house of the Lord my God,” because of the Church, because of the Saints, because of the pilgrims; because of the poor, that they may go up; because we say to them, we will go into the house of the Lord: because of the house of the Lord my God itself, I have sought good things for Thee. These long and needful words gather ye, brethren, eat them, drink them, and grow strong, run, and seize.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Daily Lectionary, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 122

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 27, 2013

Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said unto me: We will go into the house of the LORD.

In the first and literal sense, (St Hilary) the words are most probably those of a Hebrew in a foreign land, whose friends and neighbours propose to join in pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and who rejoices in the opportunity thus afforded to himself. Others explain they as the Prophets (St Robert Bellarmine), especially Jeremiah, Daniel, Haggai, and Zechariah, who declared to the exiled people the certainty of their return and the restoration of their temple and city (Bereshith Rabba). But even the Talmudists declare that the higher sense is that to be followed here, and that it is the heavenly Jerusalem, of which the Prophets tell us, which is meant. Who are they, then, who say these words to us? The Three Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity, and especially the HOLY SPIRIT Himself, (St Hilary) speaking to us by the Prophets (St Albert the Great), Apostles, Doctors, and Saints, and saying, not “Go,” but We will go, and be your guides and companions on the road to that house which admits the righteous only, which is the house of the Angels, and has the blessedness of beholding the Creator of all things, that desirable dwelling, that house built up of living stones, of which is said in another Psalm,  (Cassiorodur) “One thing have I desired of the LORD, which I will require, even that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the fair beauty of the LORD, (Remigius of S. Germanus) and to visit His temple.” (Ps 27:4) In that they say it to me, the unity of the Church, the individuality of the promises, is denoted; in that it is added, we will go, the multitude of them that are of one heart and mind is shown forth (Cardinal Hugo). There are four Houses of GOD, moreover, into which the faithful soul must needs go, First is that lower House of His, the Church Militant here on earth, of which is written, “My House shall be called the house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7); next, the outer House of Scripture; the inner house of conscience and secret meditations; the upper house of the Church Triumphant, where there are many mansions. Not need we have any doubt as to our welcome, for when we ask the question, “Master, where dwellest Thou” (Jn 1:38)? He saith unto us, “Come and see.” Happy they of whom it is added (St Augustine): “They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day.” How are we to go? On the two feet of charity, answers a Saint (Gregory), love of GOD and love of our neighbour. S. Gregory Nazianzen relates that his father, a Pagan, who had long held out against the prayers and counsels of his Christian wife, dreamt one night that he recited this verse, and conceived therewith a desire to embrace the faith, which he accordingly did speedily afterwards (Oration 19). Richard of S. Victor allegorizes the verse at length, saying that it is the fallen Adam and Eve, the reason and the affection of men, rejoicing in the good news of recall from exile, and return to Paradise.* It is said, we will go, because neither the hand nor the heart alone suffices for that pilgrimage. It is not a very praiseworthy thing for Adam to desire entrance without Eve, for knowledge of divine things without love of them is unprofitable; it is altogether impossible for Eve to enter without Adam, for if we know nothing of divine things, we shall not love them at all. And, lastly, it is taken of the gladness of Saints at entering into their rest through the gate of death, while the Angels round their beds bid them welcome into their fellowship, and urge them to speedy departure.

Psalm 122:2 Our feet shall stand in thy gates: O Jerusalem.

The words should be in the historical tense, as in the Vulgate; (Dionysius the Carthusian ) Our feet were standing, which may imply either a past or a still continuing state of things. The very sign and cause of our hope that we shall go into the House of the LORD is that our feet are, even now, already standing in the gates of Jerusalem, that is, that our desires and contemplations are fixed and established in the mansions of the kingdom of heaven, because our conversation is in heaven, and accordingly the Apostle speaks in similar language to those still on pilgrimage, “Ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the Living GOD, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb 12:22).  He stands there who delights himself in GOD (St Augustine), but he whose delight is in himself, cannot stand, but must fall through his pride, as Lucifer did. Note too that it is not said at thy gates, but in thy gates, because the gates of the Church (Rev 21:25), Militant or Triumphant, are open to all, and are shut neither by day nor by night; for CHRIST is Himself the one Door of the heavenly City (Rev 21:12), albeit its twelve minor gates are set on every side of the walls, that we may learn how there is a welcome there for every tribe, from every quarter of the world.

Psalm 122:3 Jerusalem is built as a city: that is at unity in itself.

Or, with A. V., that is compact together. There may be a reference here to the topography of Jerusalem, girdled and hemmed in on all sides by mountains and ravines, forming a great series of natural bastions and entrenchments; or we may understand the words of the repairs executed just after the return from exile, when the gaps and waste places were rebuilt, and the walls completed and dedicated; or, lastly, the Psalm may here express the admiration of a dweller in tents or scattered villages for the stately, numerous, and continuous houses and palaces of the capital city. A further meaning, that Jerusalem is here regarded as the federal capital of all the tribes, which having each local synagogues and courts of their own, here met in one common temple and submitted to one supreme tribunal, may be fairly got out of the Hebrew, and is the plainest sense of Symmachus, συνάφειαν ἔχουσαν ὁμοῦ, borne out, moreover, by the two following verses.

Note, first, that, in speaking of the earthly Jerusalem (St Hilary), the Psalmist does not say that it is a city; but only that it is built as a city; because it is at best but the faint and shadowy type of the only true Jerusalem, the City made without hands, eternal in the heavens. And that Jerusalem, too, is building, stone by stone, nor will it be completed till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in (Rom 11:25), and then shall the remnant of Israel be saved (St Augustine). It is being built of living stones, and therefore is in the truest sense a city, because that is the term for the place where a great concourse of men, citizens, are assembled, while the same place, as a mere collection of empty dwellings, would be no more than a town. The Latin runs on: Cujus participatio ejus in idipsum, a sentence difficult to render into English, but lending itself most readily to the last explanation of the Hebrew given above; to wit, the solidarity of the inhabitants, united in harmonious fellowship, an interpretation given in fact by several of the commentators, who see in this very union and concord a fresh proof that it is no earthly city which is intended, but that one whose citizens all seek and share the same thing (Haymo), that is, GOD (Remigius of St Germanus). But with a patient minuteness of construing, some of them (St Albert the Great), notably S. Augustine, get a further notion out of the words, taking ejus not as a mere redundant iteration of cujus, but as bringing in a fresh idea: (Cassiodorus) Whose participation is of Him Who is the same, “yesterday, to-day, and for ever” (Heb 13:8), JESUS CHRIST our LORD; unwearying might, unchangeable power, self-existent substance, powerful to effect all that He wills, Who is I AM THAT I AM (Ex 4:14). S. Augustine, in another place, quoting Cicero’s definition of a city or state, that it is a multitude of men living in harmony under a common code of laws and for mutual advantage, held together by a traditional bond of moral habit, declares that Rome never answered to this description; and it is equally true, observes Parez, that it never can have applied to the earthly Jerusalem, in which strife, injustice, selfishness, and departure from the law of GOD, had always found a place. The heavenly Jerusalem, too, is built as a city (Cardinal Hugo); it has its points of likeness to the towns of earth; its “many mansions” (Jn 14:2); its one municipal law, that of love; its one King, CHRIST; its fountain (Song 4:12), His pure Mother; its twelve gates, the glorious company of the Apostles (Rev 21:12); its citizens, the Saints and Angels; its walls and bulwarks (Isa 24:1); salvation, that is, CHRIST; “from Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying (building-up) of itself in love.” (Eph 4:7).

O quàm præclara regio,
Et quàm decora legio,
Ex angelis et hominibus!
O gloriosa civitas,
In quâ summa tranquillitas,
Lux et pax in cunctis finibus!

O how illustrious is that Land,
And how magnificent the band
Of angels and mankind!
O glorious City, where is found
Supremest rest, in every bound
Both light and peace combined!
(Thomas à Kempis, The Hymn, Astant Angelorum Chori.)

Psalm 122:4 For thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD: to testify unto Israel, to give thanks unto the Name of the LORD.

To testify unto Israel,* rather, a testimony or ordinance unto Israel, namely, the law which ordained that all males should present themselves thrice a year before the LORD (Ex 23:17), to attest their loyalty to Him (Deut 16:16), and to claim the consequent privileges of the Covenant.

The tribes of the Lord. (St Hilary) It is not, as we might expect, the tribes of Israel who go up, a testimony unto the Gentiles, showing them the way of righteousness; but the Gentile tribes of the Lord who go up, and thus testify unto Israel, saying, “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the: LORD, to the house of the GOD of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isa 2:3, St Robert Bellarmine). To give thanks unto the Name of the LORD. Since, as it is written in another Psalm, “Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house, they will be alway praising Thee” (Ps 84:4), for “the streets of Jerusalem shall be paved with beryl and carbuncle, and stones of Ophir; and all her streets shall say, Alleluia; and they shall praise Him, saying, Blessed be GOD, which hath extolled it for ever.” (Tobit 13:17)

Psalm 122:5 For there is the seat of judgment: even the seat of the house of David.

Here is the third glory of Jerusalem (St John Chrysostom), that it is not merely stately and strong in beauty, and the gathering-place of all the tribes, but also the seat of kingly power and justice, and also of the supreme tribunal in matters of religion. (Parez) It is therefore rightly said thrones (seats) of judgment, in the plural, (A. V., LXX., Vulg., &c.) as denoting the appeal in civil and criminal causes to the King, and in religious ones to the High Priest (Origen), both of them sitting in judgment at Jerusalem. So, as it is added, thrones for the house of David, that is, for a line of Sovereigns sprung from the Shepherd-King (Cassiodorus); it is no marvel that all the Christian commentators with one voice see here the fulfilment of those two sayings of the Gospel, “The FATHER judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the SON” (Jn 5:22); and again, “Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt 19:28). The Vulgate reading, over the house of David, draws from the commentators here a note of the priority of the Apostles in the Church, as co-assessors of the High Priest and King to Whom is committed the judgment of quick and dead.

Psalm 122:6 O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
Psalm 122:7 Peace be within thy walls: and plenteousness within thy palaces.

The welfare and security of every earthly city consists in two things (Parez); first, in the strength of its walls and towers; next, in the abundance of its citizens and provisions. And the Church Militant here on earth, besieged as it is incessantly by spiritual foes, needs the same helps too; wherefore all Saints of GOD, angels and faithful departed, as well as living men, are besought to join in prayer that the walls of faith, hope, and charity, manned by the Doctors and Martyrs, may be firm and unshattered; that the citizens may be many and zealous, and that abundant store of graces, in Sacraments and prayer, may be provided for their support, that no want or famine may be found there. Gerhohus, reminding us how we have revolted against GOD, how the Church Militant, Jerusalem on earth, has failed to do GOD’S will as it is done in heaven (Lk 14:32), Jerusalem above, notes that we have deep reason to send an embassy to our King to desire conditions of peace, before He comes against us with twenty thousand (Ps 68:17), to sit in judgment on our deeds and words and hidden thoughts; to ask Him not only for pardon, but for plenteousness. For walls and palaces the Vulgate reads strength and towers, (St Augustine) and these terms are variously explained of divers virtues and graces, especially of charity and faith; but a deeper exposition takes the strength of Jerusalem to be the Passion of CHRIST, (Parez) and her towers the heights of celestial grace and glory attained by those who love Him (St Bernard).

Psalm 122:8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes: I will wish thee prosperity.1

There are two literal ways of interpreting this verse (Agellius), each of which lends itself to a deep mystical sense. I will wish thee prosperity, because I recognize all thy citizens as my own brothers and friends, and thus have a personal and domestic interest in thy welfare; or, I will wish thee prosperity, that all my brothers and friends, now in exile and poverty, may be brought home to their own city, (Cassiodorus) and be enriched with the abundance of her palaces, “not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Cor 10:33). One gives us the rejoicing sense of fellowship in the Communion of Saints, the Catholic Church; the other the eager yearning of all devout and compassionate souls for those who have gone astray and are in captivity to sin, suffering a famine of the Word of GOD. The last words of the verse are more literally, I will speak peace within thee, that is, will utter the greeting, “Peace be unto thee.” And then we get a further meaning besides that correctly enough, that he who has at heart the interests of the Church will preach in her the unity of the Faith, wherein alone is true peace (Arnobius), and not merely try to cover over real divisions by specious words of agreement with all parties. Some commentators take these words as those of CHRIST Himself, promising present blessings and future glory to the Church on earth, “for both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11).

Psalm 122:9 Yea, because of the house of the LORD our GOD: I will seek to do thee good.

The outward splendour, the temporal polity of Jerusalem is dear to her true citizens only as encompassing and shrining the House of GOD. (St Hilary) The descent of the blessing of peace on the brethren and companions of the Psalmist constitutes them into the City of GOD, as when JESUS returning to His yet infant Church, while it mourned for His death, said, “Peace be unto you” (Jn 20:19): and now the whole City, learning what is the dignity and beauty of the House of the LORD, desires to be that House itself, that GOD may dwell not only within its limits, but throughout it, in the heart of every one within its walls, saying to her citizens, “Ye are the temple of GOD, and the Spirit of GOD dwelleth in you” (1 Cor 3:16). I will seek to do thee good is more than I will wish thee prosperity, for it carries goodwill into action; firstly, that of earnest wrestling in prayer that GOD may grant His City all desirable blessings; and next (Haymo), diligent seeking out of good things to increase the power and wealth of that City, new converts, to be soon full citizens, fresh stores of song, art, devotion, beauty, holiness, to be cast into the treasury of the LORD.

And so:
Glory be to the FATHER, the Maker and Builder of the heavenly Jerusalem; glory be to the SON, the Prince of the House of David, Who sitteth on the Throne of Judgment; glory be to the HOLY GHOST, Who hath told us by the Prophets and Apostles that we shall go into the House of the LORD.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.


Gregorian. Thursday: Vespers. [Circumcision. Comm. B.V.M. Comm. Virg.: Vespers. Little Office B.V.M.: Terce.]

Monastic. Week-days: Terce.

Ambrosian: Tuesday: Vespers.
Parisian: Tuesday: Vespers.
Lyons: Tuesday: Vespers.

Quignon. Wednesday: Sext.


Gregorian. We will go gladly into the House of the LORD. [Circumcision: In the bush which Moses saw unconsumed, we recognize the preservation of thy praiseworthy Virginity. Mother of GOD, intercede for us. Comm. B.V.M. and Virg.: I am black, but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem, therefore the King loved me, and brought me into His chamber.]

Monastic. As cxx.

Ambrosian. Be there peace * in Thy might, O LORD.

Parisian. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I spake peace of thee, O Jerusalem.

Lyons. As Gregorian.

Mozarabic. Peace be within thy walls * and plenteousness within thy towers.


Ludolphus: Almighty GOD,  vouchsafe to bestow plenteousness of peace on them that walk in the courts of Thine house, that while we give thanks unto Thee with all the eagerness of our hearts, we may attain Thy good things in heavenly places. (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.)

Dionysius the Carthusian: O GOD, the artificer of all things which be, cause our feet to stand in Thy courts, build up within us Jerusalem which is above, let us have unbroken peace in Thy might, that we may always devoutly seek the good of that sure City, and find it by Thine aid. (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.)

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: