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 January, 2014

This Week’s Commentaries: Sunday, January 26-Sunday, February 2, 2014

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 25, 2014


Resources for Today’s Mass.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 89.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 89.

My Notes on Psalm 89:20, 21-22, 25-26. The verses used in today’s responsorial. Also includes notes on verses 27-28.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 3:22-30. On 20-30.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 3:22-30.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 24.

Pending: St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 24.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 24:7-10. On today’s verses.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 24.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 24.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 3:31-35.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 3:31-35.

Resources for the Memorial of St Thomas Aquinas. Online lectures, videos and books about the St and his teaching.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

St Augustine on 2 Samuel 7:4-17. On verses 4-5, 12-14, 16. along with some stuff on Psalm 89, today’s responsorial.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 89.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 89. Different from his treatment of Ps 89 above.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 4:1-20.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 4:1-20.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 132.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 132.

Pseudo-Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 132.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 132.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 4:21-25.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 4:21-25.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 51.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 51.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 51.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 51.

Pseudo-Alber the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 51.

St John Fisher’s Commentary on Psalm 51:1-10. Needs some editing.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 4:26-34.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 4:26-34.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 51.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 51.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 51.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 51.

Pseudo-Alber the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 51.

St John Fisehr’s Commentary on Psalm 51:11-21. Online book.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 4:35-41.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 4:35-41.



Next Week’s Posts.

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February 2: Commentaries for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 25, 2014


Readings from the New American Bible Revised Edition. Used in the USA.

Readings from the New Jerusalem Bible. Used in most English speaking countries.


My Notes on Malachi 3:1-4.

Word-Sunday’s Notes on Malachi 3:1-4.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Malachi 3:1-4.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 24.

Part 1: A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 24. On verses 1-6.

Part 2: A Patristic/Medieval Commentaryon Psalm 24. On verses 7-10.

St Thomas Aquinas Lecture on Psalm 24.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 24.

Word-Sunday’s Notes on Psalm 24.


Father Callan on Hebrews 2:14-18.

Father Boylan’s Commentary on Hebrews 2:14-18.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Hebrews 2:14-18.

Word-Sunday’s Notes on Hebrews 2:14-18.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast on Hebrews 2:14-18. Actually, the study deals with all of chapter 2.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Hebrews 2:14-18.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Luke 2:22-40. A shorter reading (Luke 2:22-32) is allowed.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 2:22-40.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 2:22-40.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 2:22-40.

Shorter reading: Word-Sunday Notes on Luke 2:22-32.


The Sacred Page: The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Catholic biblical scholar Dr. Michael Barber looks at the readings in succinct and insightful fashion.

St Charles Borromeo Parish Bible Study Notes. Brief but helpful background material and comments.

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

Thoughts From the Early Church. Brief excerpt from a homily by Timothy of Jerusalem.

Prepare for Mass. Various links, a number of videos.

The Word Made Clear. Online video/PowerPoint lecture by Fr. James Mcilhone. This session looks at St Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, his presentation in the temple, and his being found in the temple at age 12.

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Commentaries for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 25, 2014


Readings from the New American Bible Revised Edition. Used in the USA.

Readings from the New Jerusalem Bible. Used in most English speaking countries.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Isaiah 8:23-9:3. Note: in some bible translations (e.g., the RSVCE) the reference is to 9:1-4.

Sacred Page Blog: The Joy of Dropping Everything. Catholic Biblical Scholar Dr. John Bergsma looks at all the readings for today, including the Isaiah text.

Word-Sunday Notes on Isaiah 8:23-9:3.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Isaiah 8:23-9:3.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 27.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 27.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 27.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures on Psalm 27.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 27.

Pope John Paul II on Psalm 27: Part 1.

Pope John Paul II on Psalm 27: Part 2.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 27.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17.

My Notes on 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17. Includes brief notes on vss 14-16.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17. On the entire chapter.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17. On 10-17a.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17. Includes notes on vss. 14-16.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17.

Word-Sunday Notes on 1 Corinthians 10-13, 17.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 4:12-23.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 4:12-23.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 4:12-23Includes 24-25.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 4:12-23. Includes 24-25.

My Notes on Matthew 4:12-23.

Word-Sunday Notes on Matthew 4:12-23.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 4:12-23.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 4:12-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 25, 2014

Mat 4:12  And when Jesus had heard that John was delivered up, he retired into Galilee:

“And, when Jesus had heard that John was delivered up,” handed over to Herod by the Pharisees, from a feeling of jealousy, on account of the Baptist’s influence and character among the people, and cast into prison by Herod out of pique, and from a feeling of personal offence, in consequence of the Baptist, reproaching him for his incestuous, adulterous connexion, with the wife of his brother Philip. The Evangelist refers here, by anticipation, to the Baptist’s imprisonment, which he describes in its several details and circumstances, (14:3, &c.)

It is also to be borne in mind, that the events recorded here did not occur immediately after the temptation. St. Matthew, as well as St. Mark and St. Luke, omits several incidents in our Lord’s early missionary life recorded by St. John (1, 2, 3, 4), such as the embassy of the Jews to the Baptist (John 1); also the sending by John to Christ to inquire if He were the Messiah (11); the miracle of Cana; the expulsion of the buyers and sellers from the temple; the conversation with Nicodemus, &c. Hence, St. Matthew dates the history of our Lord’s public mission from the incarceration of the Baptist. Before this event, our Lord left to His precursor the great duty of preaching, although He had Himself engaged in the ministry of baptizing. But after John’s imprisonment our Lord commences, as the sun following the day star, to preach publicly and solemnly. Our Lord, in order to avoid being delivered over to Herod—“His hour having not yet come”—retired into Galilee, to commence His preaching there, and thus fulfil the oracle issued regarding Him (15, 16); and by commencing to preach His Gospel in the most obscure and contemptible province of the whole kingdom, He wished to show that His success was solely the work of God, and not to be ascribed to human or worldly influences.

But why retire into Galilee to avoid Herod, as this Herod Antipas, or Antipater, son of the infanticide Herod the Great, was Tetrarch, not of Judea, but of Galilee? Was he not putting himself directly in his power? In reply, some say, that it was by the Scribes and Pharisees, who possessed great influence in Judea, the Baptist was, out of envy and malice, delivered up to Herod, whom they knew to have a strong, personal feeling against him; and Herod, under the pretext of a dread of revolution and public disturbance, probably, feigned at the suggestion of the Scribes, put him to death; for, it seems, they had a hand in the Baptist’s death (17:12). Hence, our Redeemer, to avoid being delivered over by them to Herod, with whom, being by religion a Jew, they had great influence, retired into Galilee from Judea. He had no fear of Herod, to whom, unlike the Baptist, He had given no cause for personal offence. While in Judea, the Roman Governor had direct jurisdiction over him. It is most likely, that it was with his own connivance, the Pharisees handed over John to Herod.

Others, with Maldonatus, say, that it was to Upper Galilee, or Galilee of the Gentiles, which was outside Herod’s jurisdiction, He retired. His native place, Nazareth, was in Lower Galilee, and subject to Herod. Here there is question of His second return from Judea to Galilee, and is the same as that mentioned (Mark 1:14; Luke 4:14; John 4:3–43). The first is recorded (John 1:43).

Mat 4:13  And leaving the city Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capharnaum on the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and of Nephthalim;

“And leaving” that is, passing by, declining to enter “the city, Nazareth,” or dwell there. Our Lord did not wish to begin His mission in Nazareth, for the reason assigned (John 4:44); and, moreover, He wished to verify the prophecies regarding Him.

“Capharnaum,” situated in Upper Galilee, on the north-western side of the Lake of Genesareth. There was a great concourse there of Jews and Gentiles, engaged in traffic, and it suited as a good place for preaching the Gospel. There were two Galilees; Lower Galilee, situated on the south-western side of the Lake of Genesareth, and Upper Galilee, called also “Galilee of the Gentiles,” because bordering on Phœnicia, it was inhabited by many Gentiles as well as Jews. Capharnaum was the dwelling-place of our Lord and of His disciples; hence, called “His own city” (9:1). It was conveniently situated, for the purposes of our Lord’s missionary excursions, into the districts of Lower Galilee also; and being the chief town of Upper Galilee, and a great emporium of traffic, to which strangers flocked in crowds for commercial purposes, from all quarters, it was a fit place for giving extensive circulation to our Redeemer’s works and teachings, and diffusing, far and wide, the light of the Gospel among Jews and Gentiles. Here, our Redeemer performed several miracles—healed the paralytic (Matt. 9:2); restored sight to two blind men; healed the mute demoniac (Mark 1:21–28); cured the Centurion’s servant (Luke 7); cured the woman suffering from an issue of blood; raised to life Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:25); cured Peter’s mother-in-law; miraculously procured the tribute money, &c. But, as the people of this city, thus favoured, were deaf to the calls of heaven, being addicted to the pursuit of gain and pleasure, and abused such signal graces; hence, our Lord’s unsparing denunciations of them (11:23).

“On the sea coast.” The Sea of Tiberias, or of Galilee.

“In the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim.” It was situated in the tribe of Nephthali, near where, at its southern part, it meets the eastern part of Zabulon, in Lower Galilee.

Mat 4:14  That it might be fulfilled which was said by Isaias the prophet:

“That it might be fulfilled,” &c. Our Lord preached in this district, so that, from His doing so, the prophecy of Isaias, in following verse, would be fulfilled.

Mat 4:15  Land of Zabulon and land of Nephthalim, the way of the sea beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:

“The land of Zabulon,” &c., that is, the portion of the land assigned, in the distribution of Palestine, to the tribes of Zabulon and Nephthali.

“The way of the sea,” that is, through these districts lies the great high road, by which the merchants and travellers from the Eastern countries, reach the great city of Tyre, and the Mediterranean “Sea,” here referred to.

“Beyond the Jordan,” which conducts from the East to the country beyond the Jordan. “Beyond,” is said relatively to those living Eastward, especially the Assyrians, to whom, in its literal and primary signification, the prophecy refers. Relatively to the greater portion of the Jewish, people, it was, this side, of the Jordan, cis Jordanem.

Maldonatus thus explains it. He says—The Jews, when coming up from Egypt, spoke of the country, which most of them were to occupy, as, trans Jordanem, as it really is, relatively to those coming up from Egypt; and when they were in possession of it, and lived in the country, they retained the same phraseology, and still called it trans Jordanem, although for them, it was, cis Jordanem.

Others understand “the sea,” to refer to the Sea of Galilee or Tiberias, on the borders of which Capharnaum was situated; and “the way of the sea,” to the district or country on the sea, situated on the off-side of the Jordan. “The way of the sea,” is read in the accusative in Greek (ὄδον της θαλασσης). The Hebrew of Isaias (9:1) may be read nominatively, and so would be interpreted, as in apposition with “land of Zabulon,” &c., with a conjunction “(and) the way of the sea,” as if it referred to the other maritime districts—Capharnaum, Tiberias, Bethsaida.

“Galilee of the Gentiles,” called also by this name for the reasons assigned (v. 13). “Capharnaum” is said, by the Evangelist, in verse 13, to be “on the sea coast,” as if the Prophet Isaias (9:1) meant by it, “the way of the sea,” the borders or coast of the sea, which would be verified only of the Sea of Tiberias. Hence, the second interpretation is the more probable.

This prophecy of Isaias is understood by many (among them Jansenius Gandavensis, Calmet, &c.) to refer, in its primary and literal signification, to the providential liberation of Jerusalem, in the reign of Ezechias (Hezekiah), from the hands of the Assyrians. The people of Jerusalem were in the greatest straits; nay, in the very shadow of death, when suddenly “a great light” shone upon them, and, in one night, the Angel of the Lord slew 185,000 of the hosts of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35). In its mystical sense, as being an expressive type of the redemption through Christ, it is quoted here by the Evangelist; and, most likely, the Prophet himself intended, primarily, the mystical sense, or, the liberation through Christ; for, he at once bursts forth with the words, which have manifest reference to our Divine Redeemer, “For a child is born to us,” &c. (Isa. 9:6). The tribes “of Zabulon (Zebulon) and of Nephthali (Naphtali),” the first deported by the Assyrians (2 Kings 15:29), are referred to here by the Prophet; for they, also, were the first of the Jewish tribes to follow our Redeemer.

Mat 4:16  The people that sat in darkness, hath seen great light: and to them that sat in the region of the shadow of death, light is sprung up.

“Saw a great light.” God Himself in the flesh, or rather, the bright light of the Gospel, in contradistinction to the feeble, glimmering light of the Law and the Prophets.

“Sat in darkness,” denotes their ignorance, despair, and despondency.

“Shadow of death,” densest darkness, like that of the land of death or hell; or rather, like that in which they, who are approaching death, are hopelessly involved, such as is described by Job (10:21, 22).

The Evangelist, when speaking of the light of the Gospel, which, before pervading the entire earth, was first to commence from Galilee, adduces the quotation from Isaias, as if the Spirit of God meant to convey that Zabulon and Nephthali and all Galilee, which first felt the exterminating fury of the Assyrians, would be the first to have the Sun of Justice shine upon them, in the personal residence and preaching of Christ. While these people of Zabulon and Nephthali were, like all the other nations of the earth, sunk in darkness, they saw, all at once, not an ordinary light, but “a great light,” that essential light, which “enlightens every man that cometh into this world.” St. Chrysostom remarks that, while in this state, literally sitting in the shadow of death, they themselves did not seek for the light, but “it sprang” up for them. This displays the infinite mercy of the Sun of Justice, who, eclipsing, as it were, the splendour of the Divinity in His Incarnation, displayed the light of His truth, in a manner suited to their capacity.

Mat 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say: Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

“From that time,” i.e., from the time that John was imprisoned, and our Lord took up His abode in Capharnaum, “Jesus began to preach,” publicly and unceasingly. No doubt, He had already preached among the Samaritans, and had baptized by His disciples, and, most likely, the miracles He had performed (John 2:23; 4:45) were accompanied with instruction. But, it was not till after the imprisonment of the Baptist, and the work of the precursor was accomplished, that the Sun of Justice publicly appeared, and our Lord publicly entered on the mission of preaching everywhere through Judea and Galilee. “He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place” (Luke 23:5).

“Do penance.” He commences with the same theme as the Baptist’s, to confirm his preaching, and show how thoroughly both were in unison (see 3:1).

St. Mark (1:15) says, our Lord preached, “The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand,” i.e., the time marked out by God for the coming of His Son, and the accomplishment of all the prophecies—the time so eagerly looked forward to by the entire Jewish nation, who were expecting their deliverer—has arrived. He is now among them, to open the gates of that kingdom so long closed against them. But, in order to obtain these spiritual blessings, now about to be plenteously dispensed, St. Mark adds, that our Lord proposed two things: 1st, to do penance; 2nd, to believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15), which is an abstract of all our duties, both in regard to faith and moral conduct.

Mat 4:18  And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishers).

“And Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee,” near which Capharnaum was built. Our Lord having now entered on His public mission, resolved on attaching to Himself as witnesses—non possumus quæ vidimus et audivimus non loqui (Acts 4:20)—of His doctrine and miracles, a body of men to whom He was to delegate the plenitude of the power given Him by His Eternal Father, to be transmitted by them to faithful men, who were to be in succession, to the end of time, charged with the government of the kingdom, He was to establish, viz., the kingdom of His Church. Hence, in view of the withdrawal of His visible presence, He sets about choosing His followers and representatives; and these He takes from the foolish, base, and contemptible things of this world, to prove that the wonderful success of the Gospel was solely the work of God, and not of man. While “walking,” our Lord was meditating on the means of establishing and consolidating this kingdom.

“Sea of Galilee,” so called, because on the confines of Upper and Lower Galilee. It is a fresh-water lake, about thirteen miles in length. The river Jordan flows through it. It is also called “the Lake of Genesareth” from the country of that name on its western shores; or from a town of that name, whose site was afterwards occupied by the city of Tiberias; also “the Sea of Tiberias,” from the name of the town close by it. All large collections of water were, by a Hebrew idiom, termed seas.

“He saw two brothers, Simon,” &c. This calling of Peter and Andrew is quite different from the introduction to our Lord, of Andrew, who before was a disciple of John, and the introduction, through him, of Peter to our Lord, recorded (John 1:42), as this latter can hardly be termed a vocation at all. The Baptist was not then in prison.

It is disputed whether the vocation recorded here, as also in Mark (1:16–20), be the same, as that recorded in Luke (5:1–11). Some expositors, with St. Augustine, Maldonatus, &c., say it is not. These maintain, that there were three calls of Peter, &c. The first (John 1:42), when there is question of a call to the knowledge and faith of Christ. The second (Luke 5:1–11), a call to familiar intercourse with our Lord. The third, the call to the Apostleship referred to here and Mark (1:16–20). Maldonatus maintains, that, although on the occasion recorded by St. Luke, the Apostles “leaving all things, followed Him,” and attached themselves to Him as His friends and disciples, and had been present at His miracles at Cana and Judea (John 2:2, 11, 23; John 3:22; 4:2; Acts 1:21, 22); still, they were not called to the Apostleship, save on the occasion referred to here by St. Matthew, who expressly says, “He called them.” With this call, they faithfully corresponded, never again leaving Him nor resuming their former occupation as a profession, save only for recreation and diversion, to banish the grief caused by His death (John 21:3). It is, however, more generally held, and seems more likely, that however, Matthew here and Luke (5:1–11) may differ in detailing circumstances, they both refer to the same event. They both agree in detailing one fact, viz., that “leaving all things, the Apostles followed Him” (Matthew 4:20–22; Luke 5:11); and it is by no means likely that, having once followed Him, they again putting their hand to the plough, looking back, rendered themselves unfit for the kingdom of God. The difference in the detailed account of circumstances given by Matthew and Luke in reference to the same event may be easily reconciled, if it be borne in mind, that it is usual with St. Luke to detail events more fully and circumstantially, while he refers to the order of events, only in a general way. Whereas, Matthew is more particular in detailing the order of events than the circumstances; and in the history of the Gospel, it is observable, that one Evangelist describes certain circumstances often omitted by the other, even when speaking of the same thing, and, vice versa; so that, by connecting both, we generally have a full and detailed account of the events they record. And, in reference to this call of the Apostles, one Evangelist in describing it, does not deny what the other records. When St. Luke says, “they followed Him,” after the miraculous draught of fishes (5:11), he does not say that this happened at the same instant. Hence, he does not contradict St. Matthew’s narrative regarding the short interval between the call of the brothers, Simon and Andrew, and John and James, and the successive order in which they were called, “and going on thence” (v. 21).

The miraculous draught of fishes recorded by St. Luke as preceding, and leading to, the call of the Apostles (c. 5), St. Matthew only omits, but does not deny.

When St. Matthew says, our Lord saw “two brethren casting a net into the sea,” his words may be verified of His own command to them to do so, as St. Luke (5) states.

The sons of Zebedee having assisted Simon and Andrew in the haul of fishes, were afterwards found by our Lord mending their nets, and then called by Him, who before that had called Simon and Andrew; and the former, having “left their nets and their father” (v. 22), which is put for all their possessions and occupations, and equivalent to the words of St. Luke, “leaving all things” followed Him.

The order of events, then, was this: Our Lord was walking along the Sea of Galilee, and, pressed by the crowds who wished to hear Him, He entered Peter’s boat moored to the beach, and from it taught the multitudes. He then performed the miracle, and immediately after called Simon and Andrew. The words (Luke 5:10), “from henceforth thou shall catch men,” are perfectly similar to those (Matt. 4:19), “I will make you to be fishers,” &c. For, when our Lord says that a thing will be, it is equivalent to His doing it. Then, proceeding a little further on, where the sons of Zebedee, who had before that assisted in the miraculous draught of fishes, had returned to mend their nets, He called them also, who, leaving all, followed Him.

“Walking by the Sea of Galilee,” and “seeing two brothers casting a net into the sea,” need not be understood to have occurred at the same time. He saw them casting the net after He Himself had commanded them to do so. (Luke 5)

Mat 4:19  And he saith to them: Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men.

“Fishers of men,” that is, destined to bring men into the Church and to life eternal. This is said in allusion to their former occupation. Our Lord is fond of borrowing examples from the ordinary occupations of those He addresses. The words are in accordance with the prophecy (Jer. 16), “Behold I shall send many fishers, and they shall fish them; many hunters, and they shall hunt them,” &c.

It is not undeserving of remark, what St. Luke pointedly records, viz., that it was up into Peter’s ship, our Lord went to teach; that it was to Peter. He specially applied the words, “eris capiens homines” (c. 5:10), all, no doubt, strikingly significative of the special prerogative of primacy of jurisdiction, granted afterwards to him, over the universal Church (Matt. 16:18, 19); “lambs and sheep,” i.e., pastors and people (John 21:15).

Mat 4:20  And they immediately leaving their nets, followed him.

Recognising His voice, in whom they believed, on the testimony of John, whose miracles they witnessed, especially the latest one, in the capture of the fishes, they at once, while the Holy Ghost interiorly enlightened them, obey His call, generously resigning themselves to His Fatherly protection and providence, for all their future wants and necessities.

Mat 4:21  And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets: and he called them.

“James, the son of Zebedee,” to distinguish him from James, the son of Alpheus, called James the lesser, “and John, his brother,” the Evangelist.

Mat 4:22  And they forthwith left their nets and father, and followed him.
Mat 4:23  And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom: and healing all manner of sickness and every infirmity, among the people.

“Went about all Galilee,” accompanied by the four disciples referred to. He did not confine Himself, like the Baptist, to any particular place, where the people flocked to Him; but He Himself, the heavenly Physician, who came to save what was lost, went about in quest of those who needed Him.

“All Galilee,” which we learn from Josephus (Lib. iii. de Bel. c. 2), was very populous.

“Teaching in their synagogues,” out of the sacred books, the doctrines of salvation, and the meaning of their sacred oracles, so as to prepare them for the Gospel, and also “preaching the Gospel of the kingdom” i.e., proposing to them the joyous tidings regarding the near approach of the kingdom of Heaven (see 3:1). The word “Synagogue,” according to etymology, like the word “Church,” means assembly or congregation; and generally, as here, the word, denotes the place, where the Jews were wont to assemble on Sabbath and festival days for religious purposes, prayer, reading the Holy Scriptures, explanation of the Law and the Prophets, &c. The use of synagogues is supposed by many to take its origin from the Babylonish Captivity, when the Jews, far away from the Temple, assembled together for religious purposes, especially in the houses of the Prophets, or of some other holy men, to hear religious instruction, or the reading of the sacred books (Ezek 14:1; 20:1; Dan. 6:1). After their return from captivity, they had similar places specially set apart for religious purposes, for reading and explaining the law, and for prayer. They had only one place for sacrifice, viz., the Temple of Jerusalem. But, they had several synagogues. According to Josephus, the erection of synagogues was more ancient in other countries than in Palestine, where they appear, for the first time, under the Asmoncan Princes. At the time of our Lord, wherever a congregation of Jews could be found, there was a synagogue. They were to be found in every town, and more than one in large towns or cities. It is said that, in the time of our Lord, Jerusalem alone contained 480 synagogues. Although, by law, the right of teaching belonged to the Priests and Levites; and by custom, to the Scribes; still, any one learned in the law might be invited and allowed to teach there (Acts 13:15). Hence, our Lord, although He belonged to neither class of Priests or Scribes, taught in the synagogues, as most suitable for propounding His doctrine, which He did not choose to preach in a corner, but in places most frequented, where it might reach all. He also preached outside the synagogues, wherever an opportunity of addressing large multitudes presented itself.

“And healing all manner of sickness,” i.e., inveterate habitual bodily distempers of every kind, whether curable by the healing art or not, “and every infirmity,” i.e., the languor and debility which precede inveterate confirmed bodily diseases.

Mat 4:24  And his fame went throughout all Syria, and they presented to him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and such as were possessed by devils, and lunatics, and those that had the palsy, and he cured them:

“Fame,” the rumour of His doctrine and wonderful miracles. “All Syria,” a very extensive district, bounded by Cilicia, on the north; Egypt, on the south; the Mediterranean, on the west; and the Euphrates, on the east. In a word, it comprised all the countries between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates. It embraced Idumea, Palestine, Syro-Phœnicia, Syria of Damascus, Arabia, Judæa, Pærea, Galilee, and Samaria.

“And they presented to Him,” owing to the fame of His miracles, all kinds “of sick people, that were taken with divers diseases, and torments,” i.e., persons whose limbs were contracted from excruciating, torturing pains similar to those caused by being distended on the rack, “and such as were possessed by devils,” whom the devils bodily possessed and tortured. Of these demoniacs, we have several instances in the Gospel. The fact of their corporal possession is shown from the preternatural acts they performed, and the language they indulged in, and the mode in which our Redeemer employed, on more than one occasion, for expelling them, and the effects of such expulsion. “Lunatics” and epileptics were, in some cases, considered to be under demoniac influences; but, here “lunatics” are distinguished from demoniacs. The signs which showed the working of demons are mentioned in several cases in the Gospel. Our Redeemer recognises the operations of the evil spirit, whom He rebukes and chastises. Hence, the fact of demoniac possession did not rest on a mere popular persuasion. “Lunatics,” who suffered from changes of the moon, such as epileptics afflicted with the fallen sickness; “those that had the palsy,” paralytics, who suffered from paralysis of the limbs.

“And He cured them all.” He confirmed His doctrine by miracles wrought to alleviate the miseries of the people, and bring comfort to the miserable and afflicted.

Mat 4:25  And much people followed him from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

“From Galilee,” which had tracts of land each side of the Jordan.

“Followed Him,” in His missionary excursions among the people, attracted by the fame of His miracles.

“Decapolis,” the district of the ten small cities on the east of the Upper Jordan, and the Sea of Tiberias, including also a portion of Southern Galilee, around Scythopolis. Authors are not agreed in numbering them. The principal of them is called by Josephus (de Bel. Jud., c. x.), Scythopolis, or Bethsan.

“Judea,” strictly speaking, comprised Juda and Benjamin, the southern part of Palestine, between Samaria and Idumea.

“Beyond the Jordan,” the districts of Ruben, Gad, and half tribe of Manasses, and the country east of the Jordan.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 4:12-25

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 25, 2014

This section (Mt 4:12-25) contains first an account of the immediate preparation for the public life, consisting in the choice of a place adapted for this purpose and (verses 12-13), at the same time, agreeing with the predictions of the prophets (verses 14-16). Then it gives an outline of our Lord’s work in his capacity as founder of a kingdom (17-22), as teacher, and as wonder-worker (23); finally, the effects of our Lord’s ministry are outlined in a general way (24-25).

Mat 4:12  And when Jesus had heard that John was delivered up, he retired into Galilee:

1. Choice of place. a. General mark of time. According to the first gospel, this happened after John had been imprisoned, so that the gap between the temptation and the retirement to Galilee must be filled up from the fourth gospel. Hence, the following events are omitted by St. Matthew: the Baptist’s declaration to the messengers from Jerusalem [Jn. 1:19–28], his testimony to Jesus [Jn 1:29–34], our Lord’s meeting with John, Andrew, and Peter [Jn 1:35–42], with Philip and Nathaniel [Jn 1:43–51], the change of water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana [Jn 2:1–11], a passing visit at Capharnaum [Jn 2:2:12], a visit to Jerusalem and the first cleansing of the temple [Jn. 2:13–25], our Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus by night [Jn 3:1–21], his ministry in Judea, during which his disciples baptize [Jn 3:22–24], dispute among the Baptist’s disciples and John’s testimony to Jesus [Jn 3:25–36], Jesus’ return to Galilee through Samaria [Jn 4:1–4], his conversation with the woman at Jacob’s well [Jn 4:5–42], his arrival and reception in Galilee together with his second miracle in Cana, the healing of the ruler’s son [Jn 4:43–54], his preaching in the synagogue and his rejection by the people of Nazareth [Lk. 4:16–30]. The synoptists omit all this, both because it belongs mostly to the Judean ministry of Jesus, and because it precedes the end of John’s ministry, during which the person of our Lord appeared to the public of secondary importance. When John was taken prisoner, Jesus rose to prominence, and it is on this account that Matthew begins the history of the public life of our Lord with the captivity of the Baptist. This event itself he relates more fully in Mt 14:4 f. in connection with John’s martyrdom; here it is only a mark of time.

b. Definite mark of time. The gospel of St. John furnishes the data for determining the time more accurately. The Judean ministry follows the paschal feast during which Jesus was in Jerusalem. Again, at Jacob’s well, when returning to Galilee, our Lord addresses his disciples [Jn. 4:35]: “Do not you say, there are yet four months, and then the harvest cometh?” If this expression is not a mere proverb, as some suppose, the journey through Samaria must have taken place in December or early in January [Tisch. Calm. Menoch. Tir. patr. etc.], so that the Judean ministry occupied a space of about eight months, and the Galilean ministry begins with the second year of our Lord’s public life.

c. Why Galilee? But how can Jesus “retire” [the Greek verb implies an escape from danger] into Galilee, the main part of Antipas’ tetrarchy, though Antipas himself had taken John prisoner? The fourth gospel [4:1 f.] suggests a solution of this difficulty: “when Jesus therefore understood that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus maketh more disciples and baptizeth more than John [though Jesus himself did not baptize, but his disciples], he left Judea.” The Baptist then had been taken prisoner at the instigation of the Pharisees who were so boldly criticised by the penitential preacher of the Judean desert; to avoid their opposition, Jesus withdrew to that part of Palestine where they exercised a less powerful influence than in Judea.

Mat 4:13  And leaving the city Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capharnaum on the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and of Nephthalim;

d. Why not Nazareth? The first gospel merely states, “and leaving the city Nazareth”; this may imply either that Jesus left the city of his own accord, finding it not suited for his public life, which demanded a more accessible place, or it may refer to the event narrated in the third gospel [Lk. 4:16–30], which cannot have been unknown to St. Matthew. It cannot be said that the first gospel transfers this occurrence to another place [Mt. 13:54–58], for we shall see that the rejection of Jesus by his fellow citizens of Nazareth told in this passage and in Mk. 6:1–6 is distinct from that told in the third gospel. Jesus therefore leaves Nazareth when his own townsmen make an onslaught on his life, so that he literally “came into his own, and his own received him not.”

He came and dwelt in Capharnaum (Capernuam). e. Why in Capharnaum? The evangelist suggests three reasons for this choice: α. The first is implied in the character of Capharnaum itself, which was a flourishing town of commerce, much frequented by strangers, situate near the great road that led from the Mediterranean to Damascus; the Romans kept here a regular garrison and a custom-house. It was on account of the free intercourse with Gentiles that the city had acquired a bad name among the Rabbis, who used to call it a heretical and free-thinking city. β. The second reason for the choice of Capharnaum is contained in the words of the gospel, “on the sea coast.” Our Lord could easily make excursions from the city to all surrounding parts. It is stated by Josephus that as many as two hundred boats used to ply on the Sea of Galilee so that there was constant facility of visiting the whole country around the lake. γ. The third reason for the choice of Capharnaum is contained in the words “on the borders of Zabulon and of Nephtalim.” This reason is further developed in the following verses.

Before leaving this subject, a word must be said about the name and the site of Capharnaum. (1) The name. The Greek name Καφαρναούμ [א B D Z Lachm Tisch Treg.] or Καπερναούμ [C E K L M Δ etc.] is the equivalent of the Hebrew כְּפַר נִהוּם, not of כ״נָעִיר, or “villa pulcherrima,” “ager pinguedinis,” “villa consolationis” [Jer. Bed.]. But the foregoing Hebrew word has been interpreted as χωρίον παρακλήσεως [Or. Hesych.], or place of consolation; this is rejected by Gesen. [ed. 7, s. v. Nahum], who maintains that כַחוּם is a proper name, so that we must render, “the town of Nahum.” (2) The site. Concerning the site of Capharnaum we may confine our discussion to three opinions: [a] Capharnaum lay in the plain Genesar. This view has been proposed by Tristram [The Land of Israel, p. 446 f.], and accepted by Grimm [ii. 521 f.]. Reasons: [α] According to 6:17 the disciples went over to Capharnaum after the miraculous increase of the loaves; now according to Mt. 14:34 and Mk. 6:45–53 the disciples came into the land of Genesareth, or the country of Genesar, after this event. Capharnaum, therefore, must have been situated in the country of Genesareth or Genesar. [β] According to Josephus [B. J. III. x. 8] there was a fountain named Capharnaum which irrigated the plain Genesareth, and which contained a fish, κοράκινος, found otherwise only in the Nile. Now Tristram found this fish only in Ain el Mudawwera, a round fountain in the plain Genesareth, the water of which passes through a small opening on the east side of its enclosing wall, and runs to the sea in a deep bed, receiving on its way many little tributaries. [γ] It must be added that Tristram himself has given up his opinion; that there are no ruins of a former town near the foregoing fountain; that the fish is found in other waters, though not seen by Tristram; and that the gospel references may be explained by the fact that the fourth gospel particularizes the place to which Jesus and his disciples came after the multiplication of the loaves, while the two synoptists describe the place in general.

[b] Capharnaum lay on the site of the present Khan Minieh. This is the opinion of Quaresmius, Robinson, Gregor, Porter, Sepp, Kitchener, Merril, etc. Reasons: [α] According to the gospel notices of Capharnaum, it must have been situated on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. [β] Josephus relates that he was carried to Capharnaum after a fall from his horse near the mouth of the Jordan, north of the lake Genesareth. This might have occurred at Khan Minieh [Vit. 72], [γ] Not far from Khan Minieh we find the fountain mentioned by Josephus, containing the κοράκινος or the “Chromis niloticus,” and watering the plain Genesar; the fountain is now called “Ain-et-Tabigah.” [δ] The very name Khan Minieh may be connected with the fact stated above, that Capharnaum was regarded by the Rabbis as a heretical city; for Khan Minieh [Minai] means city of the heretics.

[c] The third opinion identifies the site of Capharnaum with the present Tell Hum. This view is defended by Pococke, Burkhardt, Raumer, Ritter, Wilson, Thomson, Dixon, Renan, Schegg, Stanley, Furrer, Socin, Schaff, and may be called the traditional view of all the pilgrims from the fourth century. Reasons: [α] The gospels favor Tell Hum more than Khan Minieh; for though both are situated at the northwestern shore of the lake, Mk. 6:33 states that the people from Capharnaum reached the opposite shore of Genesareth sooner on foot than Jesus did in a boat; this can hardly be understood, if they had to come from Khan Minieh, but may have easily happened if they started from Tell Hum, which is nearer to the northern extremity of the lake. [β] The account of Josephus favors Tell Hum more than its rival; for after falling from his horse, at the north end of the lake, near the mouth of the Jordan, he would naturally be carried to the next town, which he himself calls Capharnaum. But the next town was Tell Hum, not Khan Minieh. Nor can it be said that the other statement of Josephus concerning the fountain excludes Tell Hum; for the fountain mentioned in the previous paragraph lies only 1 ¾ miles south of Tell Hum. [γ] The very name Tell Hum points to the former name Capharnaum, for Tell is the common designation of a heap of ruins, and Hum may well be regarded as the abbreviated Nahum; Jewish and Arabic tradition places in Tell Hum the graves of the prophet Nahum and of Rabbi Tanchuma. [δ] Besides, in Tell Hum there are among other considerable ruins distinct remnants of a large synagogue, which may have been the building spoken of in the third gospel [Lk. 7:4]. [ε] It is plain that all the arguments advanced in favor of Khan Minieh, excepting that from the fountain and the name, rather point to Tell Hum. But we have seen that what Josephus says concerning the fountain does not exclude Tell Hum; and the name “city of heretics” may have been derived from an early settlement of Christians in the place, and may have no connection with the Rabbinic view of Capharnaum. Kitchener [Quarterly Statement, July, 1877, p. 122] identifies Capharnaum with Khurbet Minyeh, which is distinct from Khan Minieh, and only ¾ of a mile distant from the fountain. But in spite of all said to the contrary, Tell Hum still remains the more probable site of Capharnaum.

Mat 4:14  That it might be fulfilled which was said by Isaias the prophet:
Mat 4:15  Land of Zabulon and land of Nephthalim, the way of the sea beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:
Mat 4:16  The people that sat in darkness, hath seen great light: and to them that sat in the region of the shadow of death, light is sprung up.

In these verses the evangelist develops the last reason he has given for the choice of Capharnaum. We shall first consider the quotation itself, and then its meaning. a. The quotation itself is taken from Is. 8:23–9:1 [9:1, 2 Vg.], following the Hebrew instead of the lxx. text. Since the verb קָלַל has the double meaning “to make light” [i. e. to relieve of a burden] and “to make light of” [i. e. to despise, afflict], we obtain the following rendering of the Hebrew: “As in the foretime he [God] afflicted [this is more probable than “relieved”] the land of Zabulon and the land of Nephtalim, so in the time to come he shall make glorious the way by the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people that walked in darkness shall see a great light; on them that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, a great light shall arise.” The evangelist omits all reference to the past in his quotation, taking the object of the protasis and adding it in the apodosis by way of opposition to the subject of which the future is foretold. b. Meaning of the prophecy. The simplest way of determining the meaning is to determine first its subject, and then its predicate, both of which are expressed by parallel terms. α. The subject is determined by four different expressions:—

[a] Land of Zabulon and land of Nephtalim is the territory occupied by the two tribes, or upper and lower Galilee [cf. Jos. 19:10 f. 27, 34].

[b] This territory is more closely determined by the three expressions: the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. We call them three expressions rather than two, because we do not agree with Tisch. Winer, etc. who interpret “the way of the sea beyond the Jordan,” as if there had been a public road of commerce along the east side of the Jordan [cf. Keim, i. 597; Jans. Schanz]. (1) “The way” is in the Greek text in the accusative, and must therefore be taken adverbially like the Hebrew דֶּרֶךְ [cf. 1 Kings 8:48; 2 Chron 6:38; Winer, xxxii. 6, p. 216], meaning “on the way to”; since the sea must be the lake Genesareth, the expression “the way of the sea” limits the foregoing two to the lake country. (2) “Beyond the Jordan” most commonly signifies the country east of the Jordan [Schanz, Knab. Rosenm.]; but during the captivity the expression came to mean also “west of the Jordan,” which meaning is excluded in the present case, because Isaias wrote before the exiles. Again the Hebrew preposition עבר at times means “on,” “over,” so that “beyond the Jordan” may be explained as “the country on the Jordan.” (3) The third expression, “Galilee of the Gentiles,” means first a region thickly populated with Gentiles, but even the lxx. render it by Galilee, though this term did not embrace the whole of the province of Galilee. It was applied principally to upper Galilee, as is evident from Joseph. [B. J. III. iii. 1], Strabo [xvi. p. 760], 1 Mach. 5:15. Matthew may denote the whole northern portion of Palestine and Peræa by this term [Schanz].

[c] After defining the subject of the prophecy by its territory, the evangelist adds the inhabitants: “the people that sat in darkness” these northern districts had been from the first exposed to the greatest political difficulties. The Chanaanites, the Syrians and Assyrians [1 Kings 15:20; 2 Kings 15:29] were their formidable adversaries, and Teglathphalasar led a great part of the more influential citizens into captivity [1 Chron 5:26]. Later on, the influence of the Greeks was for these territories the more dangerous the farther they were removed from their theocratic centre. The darkness therefore means proximately political misfortune; but since this was in the case of Israel connected with religious and moral depravity, these people are also described as sunk in vice and idolatry. The hopelessness of these sinners is increased by their contentment in their wretched state, implied by the word “sitting.”

[d] The subjects of the prophecy are indicated by the expression “that sat in the region of the shadow of death.” We have already noted the reading “that sat in the region and in the shadow of death,” which seems to be stronger than the simple hendiadys. In Job 10:21 the expression sets forth a place of extreme misery; the figure is taken from those on the point of death, who, though living, are already in the shadow of death. Other writers prefer another source of the figure: since the shadow is a picture of its object, the land of the shadow of death is the land in which death itself finds its image, a land, therefore, that contains all the horrors of death [Cajetan cf. Knabenbauer]. Jerome seems to prefer the former explanation; “they who have passed out of this life,” he says, “with the guilt of sin on their souls are said to be in death, but they who still have the breath of life, and can repent, are in the shadow of death.” In the passage now under discussion it means, therefore, the densest darkness of religious ignorance and of sin [Lapide].

The predicate of the promise is also expressed in parallel phrases: [a] “Hath seen a great light”; we need not say that the perfect tense is of prophetic or future meaning. The “great light” is commonly said of the sun; but the Messias, too, was promised under this figure: cf. Is. 42:6; 49:6; 60:1–3; John 1:9; 8:12; etc. The Rabbis also compare the Messias with the sun, and apply to him the foregoing passages of the prophets [cf. Schöttgen, ii. p. 160]. [b] “Light is sprung up” continues the figure of its parallel term, but represents the Messianic light as belonging to those wretched dwellers in darkness. The evangelist is about to show how this light did spring up in the territory and among the people he has previously described.

Mat 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say: Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

 2. Outlines of the Messianic work. a. Jesus as teacher. We have already seen that the first gospel connects the formal beginning of the teaching of Jesus with the captivity of John the Baptist [v. 12], and with the settlement of Jesus in Capharnanm [13]. The doctrine of Jesus is in the beginning identical with that of John [cf. 3:2]; in this way he shows that John has been his forerunner [Euthymius], that it was he himself who spoke in the voice of John [Glossa Ordinaria, Paschasius], that he approved of John’s ministry, and that we must not be ashamed to continue the good that others have begun in a humble way [Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan], finally that he preferred a humble beginning to the proud show to which the devil had tempted him [Schanz]. We have seen, besides, that in these words the nature of the Messianic kingdom and the condition of entering it are described [cf. 3:2]. The further teaching of Jesus certainly develops these two points, but the doctrine itself does not change. In this respect both de Wette and Stranss have seriously erred: the former, because he admits a change in the doctrine of Jesus, resulting from a development of his ideas; the latter, because he thinks our Lord did not yet know that he was to fulfil the Messianic office, acquiring this consciousness only later on in his public life.

Mat 4:18  And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishers).

b. Jesus the founder of a kingdom. α. Concordance of the gospels. Andrew and Peter ware called before the time of which we now speak [Jn. 1:39, 40], but not to the apostleship; they were then invited to a more familiar acquaintance with our Lord. Again, all the apostles were definitely called to the apostleship. after the time we now speak of, before the Sermon on the Mount [Mk. 2:13–19]; but besides these points of harmony concerning which there can be no doubt, we have three other passages in which the gospels record the call of the four disciples Peter and Andrew, James and John. Of these, two evidently refer to the same occasion: Mt. 4:18–22 [the passage which we now discuss] and Mk. 1:16–20; but Lk. 5:1–11 has given rise to the following views:—

[a] The third gospel relates a call distinct from that contained in the first and second, so that the foregoing four disciples were called four times, Jn. 1:39 f.; Mt. 4:18–22 [Mk. 1:16–20]; Lk. 5:1–11; and Mk. 2:13–19. This opinion is defended by Augustine, Rabanus, Alb. Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan, Maldonado, Sylveira, Men. Kilb. Calmet, Patrizi, Coleridge, Lohmann, Arnoldi, Schanz, Keil, etc. The reason for distinguishing between the event related in the third and that told in the first and second gospel is the difference between the passage of Luke and that of Matthew. According to the former there are two ships, the fishermen wash their nets, Jesus steps into the boat of Peter, he teaches the people, then they start off from the land, the miraculous draught of fish follows, Jesus addresses Simon alone: “from henceforth thou shalt catch men;” Simon’s companions are James and John; there is nothing said of Andrew; after landing, they leave all and follow Jesus. Compare with this the account of Matthew: Jesus walks by the seashore, while Simon and Andrew throw their nets into the water; they are called; going thence, they find two other fishermen mending their nets in the ship with their father; both follow Jesus, leaving their nets, not leaving all. But the foregoing authors are not unanimous when they are asked whether Matthew or Luke relates the second call of the four. Augustine, Maldonado, Sylveira Men. Arnoldi, etc. assign the second place to the call related in the third gospel, while others prefer the inverse order.

[b] The call related by Lk. 5:1 ff. is identical with that contained in Mt. 4:18 ff. and Mk. 1:16 ff. This opinion is defended by Zacharias chrysopolit. Tostatus, Jansenius, Barradas, Lapide, Tir. Lam. Reischl, Grimm, Cornely, Fillion, Meschler, etc. Reasons: [1] The accounts of Matthew and Luke resemble each other so much that they must treat of the same occurrence. “Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him” [Lk.]. “Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men; and they immediately leaving their nets followed him” [Mt.]. [2] It is not probable that the four should have apostatized, as it were, after they had once left all for Jesus. [3] The accounts of the three synoptists may be thus harmonized: our Lord first called the four, as is related by Matthew and Mark; meanwhile the other fishermen had come on shore, and were washing their nets. When the multitudes arrived, Jesus went into the ship of Peter, and then took place what is told by St. Luke [Jansenius, Barradas].

The place of the call. The Sea of Galilee is also called Sea of Tiberias [cf. Jn. 21:1; 6:1], Lake Gennesaret [Lk. 5:1], Sea of Kinnereth [Num. 34:11; Jos. 13:27], Sea of Kinneroth [Jos. 12:3], Water of Gennesar [1 Macc 11:67], Gennesara waters [Josephus, Antiq. XIII. v. 7], lake of Gennesar [Joseph. B. J. III. x. 7], Gennesarite lake [Joseph. Antiq. XVIII. ii. 1; Vit. 65], Genesar [cf. Targum.], Bahr Tabariyeh [modern name]. The derivation of most of these names is certain beyond doubt; Galilee was the province adjacent to the lake; Tiberias was a flourishing city on the southwest shore of the same; Gennesar [the garden of princes] was a most fertile plain on the west side of the lake; Kinnereth was a city in the vicinity of the sea [cf. Deut. 3:17]. Others, however, derive this name from the Hebrew word Kinnor, meaning harp; because, they say, the form of the lake resembles that of a harp. All travellers agree in describing the lake as an irregular ellipse, whose width is about one half or one third of its length. But when they come to give the exact measurements, they differ from one another and from the statement of Josephns: 140 stadia X 40 [Joseph.]; 5 h. 55 m. X 2 h. 57 m. [Robinson]; 5 h. X 1 h. 40 m. [Schubert]; 4 h. X 2 h. [Joliffe]; 6 h. X 2 h. [Troilo]; 4 h. X 1 h. 30 m. [Seetzen]; 20 kilom. X 10 kilom. [Vigouroux]; 15 miles X 8 [various authors]. Situated 600 feet [636 feet according to Petermann] below the Mediterranean, the lake-country enjoys a tropical climate, and bears all the tropical fruits. The eastern banks of the Sea of Galilee are almost precipitous to the height of a thousand feet, while the western shore is less steep, but more picturesque. On the east there is only one break, opposite Tiberias; on the northwest lies the small bay between Chorazin and Bethsaida, with its crescent-shaped plain, about two miles in length by three quarters of a mile in width, at the southern extremity of which stood the promontory of Capharnaum. Rounding this, we come upon the rich tropical plain of Genesar, the garden of princes, teeming with rich vegetation, and hedged to the water’s brink with oleanders, and the nubk thorn, filled with myriads of sparrows [Lk. 12:6]. This plain sweeps into an amphitheatre of hills, having a width of about one mile in its broadest part, and a length of about three miles from horn to horn.

Persons called. (1) First of all, the persons called were not strangers, but had been familiarized with Jesus and his doctrine, so that we may compare them to catechumens. After the present call they may be considered as Christians, or followers of Christ, so as to prepare themselves to be formally numbered among the apostles before the sermon on the mount. (2) Again, the evangelist names Simon who is called Peter; at the time of the call, Simon was not yet known as Peter or Cephas. Though this name had been promised him when he first met Jesus [Jn. 1:42], it was not formally conferred on him till later [Mt. 16:18]. (3) Thirdly, the evangelist adds that Simon and Andrew, James and John, were brothers; Christians must be governed as brothers, and must cherish fraternal charity towards each other [Euthymius, St Bruno]. (4) Then, the evangelist adds that Simon and Andrew were “casting a net into the sea,” and that James and John were “mending their nets”; the apostolic life required men accustomed and willing to work [Henr. Scott]. (5) In the fifth place, all those called were “fishers,” so that Jesus shows his preference for humility, and manifests his intention to establish his kingdom, not by human means, but by the power of God [Jerome, Jansenius].

Mat 4:19  And he saith to them: Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men.

Manner of the call. (1) On the part of Jesus the call is expressed in the following phrases: [a] “Come ye after me”; the disciples of the Rabbis constantly accompanied their masters [Schöttgen, hor. ad 1; Keim, ii. p. 204]. The disciples understood, therefore, the meaning of these words [cf. 1 Kings. 11:5; 2 Kings 6:19]. [b] “I will make you to be fishers of men”; the circumstances suggested this figure which is even now used to express the winning over of men’s hearts and minds. This may be all the disciples understood at that time; that they did not fully understand the words is seen in Mt. 19:20–26. Much less did they understand the mystical meaning of the words derived from the word ἰχθυς [fish] as applied to our Lord, or from the fact that they were to gain souls for Jesus through the water of baptism, or from the tempestuous sea of the world [cf. Hilary]. David had been called in a similar manner from the condition of shepherd to be king of Israel [cf. Ps. 78:7]. There is no difficulty in the circumstance that the disciples did not fully understand their calling; it proves only that Jesus gives more than we expect from his promises.

Mat 4:20  And they immediately leaving their nets, followed him.
Mat 4:21  And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets: and he called them.
Mat 4:22  And they forthwith left their nets and father, and followed him.

(2) On the part of the disciples, we must note the following points in the manner of their call: [a] Their compliance with the invitation is “immediate,” though they were engaged in a work not easily broken off. [b] They leave all that has been mentioned in connection with them: Peter and Andrew their nets, James and John their nets and their father. [c] They follow Jesus as they have been invited to do [Alb. cf. Chrysostom, Bede, Rabanus, Thomas Aquinas, etc.]. It may he owing to this perfect obedience that three of the four, Peter, James, and John, became the most intimate disciples of our Lord [cf. Mt. 17:1; 26:37; Mk. 5:37; 13:3; Lk. 8:51; etc.]. When it is said [Jn. 21:3] that these same disciples went fishing after our Lord’s resurrection, we are not to understand that they returned to their former manner of life; they merely wished at a moment of great trial to occupy themselves by this exercise. Perhaps Andrew did not rise to such prominence in the apostolic college, because his sacrifice in following Jesus was not so great as that of his three companions: James and John left their father besides their nets; Peter left his family, for the gospel mentions his mother-in-law.

Mat 4:23  And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom: and healing all manner of sickness and every infirmity, among the people.

3. Jesus as the wonder-worker. In order to show the significance of the miracles, the gospel joins them with our Lord’s doctrine and mission which they were intended to confirm. St. Matthew shows this by three concentric statements: Jesus went about all Galilee [general exercise of his mission]—teaching in their synagogues [general description of his office]—preaching the gospel of the kingdom [particular mission of Jesus].

These three must therefore be briefly explained before we come to the miracles. [a] “All Galilee” embraces the ancient territory of the tribes Aser, Nephtali, Zabulon, and Issachar, i. e. the whole north of Palestine. Its northern limits coincide, therefore, with those of the Promised Land; on the east it was bounded by the Jordan, the lake Merom, and the Sea of Galilee; on the south by Carmel and the northern mountains of Samaria; on the west by the Mediterranean and the boundaries of Phenicia. At the time of our Lord it was a rich country, thickly populated, well cultivated, filled with towns and villages which were peopled by a strong and independent race. The eastern and southern boundaries changed at times, but when they were as given above they included a space of about 1600 square miles. From Jenin, on the southern border, to the Leontes in the north, is about 50 miles, and it is about one half that distance across from the east to the west. Josephus says there existed about 204 cities in Galilee, at the time of our Lord, each numbering above 15,000 inhabitants [Vit. 45]. It was not until the time of the Machabees that the name Galilee came to denote the whole northern region; this may account for the fact that the Greek article is used in nearly every case [excepting two in the New Testament] before Galilee. We have already seen that the whole district was divided into upper and lower Galilee [cf. Joseph. B. J. III. iii. 1].

Lower Galilee may be conceived as forming a rectangular triangle, the Hypothennse of which stretches from the Kishon along Carmel, down to Jenin, measuring in all about 20 miles; the northern boundary runs along the mountains of Nazareth, from the Kishon to the hill beyond Shunem, a length of about 12 miles; on the east side, the line stretches from Shunem to Jenin, measuring about 15 miles. In the northwestern corner, the plain—for we need not say that we are describing the plain of Esdraelon—broke through the surrounding mountains, to allow the Kishon a passage into the plain of Accho. On the eastern side the plain had three openings: [1] The narrow plain of Megiddo continues through the valley between the Little Hermon on the south and Mount Thabor on the north, and opens towards the north into the plain where lie the horns of Hattin. Here occurred the encounter between Barak and Sisera [Judg. 5:12–22], the Israelites occupying Thabor, and the hosts of Sisera being encamped in the country around Megiddo; here, too, Pharao Nechao slew Josias [2 Kings. 23:29], the pious king of Juda. [2] The second opening is formed by the plain of Esreel, which passes between the Little Hermon on the north and the mountain of Gilboa on the south, continuing down to the banks of the Jordan. Here took place the battle between Gedeon and the Madianites; the latter occupied the plain, and the Israelites Mount Gilboa, where their leader tried them at the well of Harod [Judg. 6:3 ff.]; in the same plain occurred the conflict between Saul and the Philistines [1 Sam 31:2 ff.], the enemy being encamped in the valley of Esreel, and Saul with his hosts occupying Mount Gilboa; the night before the battle, Saul went across the valley, to consult the witch at Endor, and after the defeat on the following day his and Jonathan’s bodies were exposed on the walls of Bethsan. Besides, Endor, Shunem, and Naim are situated at the foot of the Little Hermon, while the celebrated vineyard of Naboth the Jezrahelite lies at the foot of Gilboa. [3] The third opening on the eastern side of Esdraelon is the plain of Jenin, forming a “cul de sac” rather than a real opening. If we call this district the plain of Jenin, we may say that it passes between the mount of Gilboa on the north and the northern mountain ranges of Samaria on the south. It was to this place that Ochozias fled from Jehu [2 Kings 9:27]; near Jenin, too, was the camp of Holofernes; further to the northwest, near Carmel, were the camps of the Roman armies. And if we change our view to Christian times, at the foot of the hill, beyond Shunem, the crusaders had their stronghold, and the French routed the Turks nearly in the same place. Through the plain of Esreel the Bedouin swarm up even to-day, and they thus become a terror throughout the plain of Esdraelon. And it may be owing to this warlike history of the country that St. John [Apoc. 16:16] places in it the gathering together of the hosts against God. In general, the plain Esdraelon is the only full break of the mountain range that runs from the north to the south of Palestine; and it was here that Israel had to defend itself against the attacks of its mighty enemies, while in wars of attack it preferred the mountains to the plain.

Passing now to the upper Galilee, we notice at once that there is a clear line of division in the mountain district itself. Drawing a line across the map, from the upper end of the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean, the mountains north of the line average a height of 4000 feet, while those south of this division are mostly below 2000 feet. Though the scene of upper Galilee is most imposing on account of this conformation, it does not present the stern, forbidding character of Judea. According to Josephus the land then invited by its productiveness even those that had the least inclination for agriculture. Besides, there were two great roads passing across Galilee: one ran from Damascus across the Jordan to the plateau on the western side of the lake, and crossed to Accho by Cana and Sepphoris; the other passed around Thabor, crossed the plain, and then went southwest to Gaza and Egypt. Over these great highways merchants were passing and repassing, soldiers were dispatched, officials journeyed. It is hardly possible that these roads passed so near Nazareth without influencing its inhabitants. Nazareth was only six hours from Ptolemais on the coast, the Roman port of traffic, two hours from Thabor, Nain, and Endor, one and a half from Cana and Sepphoris, so that Jesus may have visited all of these neighboring towns during his hidden life. The gospels mention only Cana, the present Kefr Kenna, besides Nazareth.

Teaching in their synagogues. [b] Synagogues were the houses of religious assemblies, of prayer and instruction, erected after the time of the exile. They were to be found in every town; in Jerusalem there were synagogues not only for the Hellenic Jews, but also for the Jews coming from the various provinces [Acts. 6:9]. At first, meetings were held only on the Sabbath and on feast-days; but later on, they were called also on Monday and Thursday. Ten individuals were required to form a regular assembly for public worship. The chief parts of the service were the following: [1] The recitation of the Shema, so called from its first word. This was rather a profession of faith than a prayer proper [cf. Schürer, History of the Jewish People, II. ii. 77, 83 ff.]. [2] The Shema was followed by the first three and last three benedictions of the Shemoneh Esreh, at least at Sabbath and festival worship [cf. Schürer, ibid.]. [3] In the third place followed the Scripture lessons: first from the Pentateuch and then from the prophets [the Parascha and Haphthara]; both were accompanied by a running translation from Hebrew into the language of the people [ibid. pp. 79 ff.]. [4] The reading of the Scriptures was followed by an edifying lecture or sermon in which the previous lesson was explained. The preacher used to sit on an elevated place while delivering the lecture [ibid. p. 82]. [5] The last part of the service consisted of the blessing which was given by any member of a priestly family that might happen to be present; if no such priestly member was present, a prayer was said by the presiding officer [ibid, pp. 82 f.]. It is in this manner that Jesus taught in the synagogue services; for the president of the meeting often invited the strangers that happened to be present to address their brethren in a few edifying words, or to deliver the instructions on the Scripture lesson.

Preaching the gospel of the kingdom. [c] Unless our attention is called to the difference between this and the preceding expression, we are liable to regard them as synonymous. In point of fact, Jesus did not differ from any ordinary Israelite by teaching in the synagogue; but “the preaching” [κηρύσσειν] or heralding the kingdom of God was peculiar to himself and his apostles. The former expression disappears more and more in the gospels; in the later writings of the New Testament the apostolic office is always described by the term κηρύσσειν [to herald] except in Acts 4:18 and 5:28, where the Jewish authorities apply the word “teaching” to the ministry of the apostles, and Rom. 12:7; 1 Tim. 2:12, where there is question of the teaching in the community.

And healing all manner of sickness. β. After emphasizing the triple outward character of the teaching of Jesus [its variation in place, its ordinary exercise in the synagogue, its extraordinary exercise in public], the evangelist adds the divine seal of all, consisting in the miraculous cure of all manner of diseases. The miracles occupy, therefore, a secondary place, because they are of themselves only the means of confirming the doctrine; besides, in the case of the Jews, they might have confirmed their wrong ideas of a glorious Messias, had the evangelist given more prominence to their history. The various classes healed by Jesus are enumerated thus: In v. 23 the evangelist distinguishes between “all manner of sickness” and “every infirmity” or weakness implying and resulting from sickness. In v. 24 “all sick people” are divided into those “taken with divers diseases” or painless infirmities, “and torments” or acute afflictions, “and such as were possessed by devils,” “and lunatics” or men whose state of sickness appeared to depend on the moon [that epileptics are meant follows from 17:15; Lk. 9:39; Mk. 9:17], “and those that had the palsy,” i. e. those afflicted with morbid relaxation of the nerves, as happens in paralysis and apoplexy. It may not be out of place to direct the reader’s attention to the distinction made in the gospels between the evil spirits who possess their victims and the infirmity which often accompanies such possession. They may be violent, or dumb, or deaf, or blind, or epileptic; but in all cases, the demons are represented as personal beings. These persons are characterized by their intimate knowledge of the power of Jesus, which surpasses even that of the apostles; and it is owing to this very knowledge that they do not appear as hostile to Jesus, but commonly implore his mercy. It is true that in the Old Testament the mention of such possession is rare; still it is not wholly unknown: cf. Tob. 6:8, 14, 17. The power of Satan was at that time exercised by means of the idolatrous practices then generally prevalent [cf. Deut. 32:17; Ps. 107:27]. That the fourth gospel does not mention the miraculous exorcisms of Jesus is owing to the peculiar scope of St. John. Since he writes against heretics who deny the divinity of Jesus, he must prove this dogma by arguments not open to exceptions; the exorcisms of Jesus might have been impugned by John’s readers because they were performed also by members of the synagogue [cf. Mt. 12:27; Mk. 9:38; Lk. 9:49; Josephus Antiq. VIII. ii. 5; Justin Martyr, c. Tr. 85]. Besides, it is always hard to determine the reality of demoniacal possession in any given case, so that even in our days the church has reserved to herself the ultimate judgment of this. The manner of possession is described in Kirchenl. i. p. 8G5 f. We may remark here that possession must be distinguished from mere inhabitation, such as is mentioned in Jn. 13:2.

Mat 4:24  And his fame went throughout all Syria, and they presented to him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and such as were possessed by devils, and lunatics, and those that had the palsy, and he cured them:
Mat 4:25  And much people followed him from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

4. Effects of our Lord’s Ministry. The evangelist mentions two general effects: in v. 24 he describes the spread of the fame of Jesus; and in v. 25 he delineates the followers of our Lord. a. “His fame went throughout all Syria,” i. e. Syria as understood by the Romans; the Roman province of that name embraced Palestine itself. b. The followers of Jesus came from Galilee, from Judea and its capital Jerusalem, from beyond the Jordan or Peræa [which stretched along the eastern bank of the Jordan, from the Arnon to the Antilibanon, or in a more restricted sense from the Arnon to the Hieromax], and from Decapolis or the district of the ten allied cities. Since various authors enumerate various cities as belonging to this confederacy, we may assume that different towns belonged to the alliance at different times, and that the number ten was not always strictly adhered to. According to Pliny [v. 18] the following cities were allied: Scythopolis, Hippos, Gadara, Pella, Philadelphia, Gerasa, Dion, Canatha, Damascus, and Rappana. Josephus [B. J. III. ix. 7] states that Scythopolis was the greatest of the cities belonging to the confederacy; this could hardly be true if Damascus had been of the number. Lightfoot [vol. ii. Ultraiecti, 1699, p. 417] objects to having Damascus, and Philadelphia placed on the same footing with Gadara and Hippos; on p. 419 the same author adds Caphartsemach, Bethgubrin, and Capharkanaim to Decapolis, claiming the Talmudists as his source. But he neither dares nor is able to enumerate all the cities belonging to the confederacy. On the other hand he strongly objects to the catalogue of Borchardus, because it identifies the cities of Decapolis with the best known towns of Galilee: Tiberias, Sephet, Kedesch-Nephtali, Hazor, Capharnaum, Cæsarea Philippi, Jetopata, Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Scythopolis [cf. Josephus Vit. 9; B. J. I. vii. 7; viii. 4; II. vi. 3; III. ix. 7; Antiq. XIV. iv. 4; XVII. xi. 4; Schürer, II. i. 57 ff.].

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 25, 2014

This post begins with Fr. MacEvilly’s analysis of chapter 1, followed by his notes on the reading. I’ve included (in purple text) his paraphrase of the text he is commenting on.

Analysis of chapter 1~The Apostle commences the Epistle with the usual form of Apostolical salutation (1 Cor 1:1-3).  In the next place, he congratulates the Corinthians upon the manifold spiritual blessings conferred on them, the glory of which is to be referred to God, their bountiful dispenser, who will also bring these gifts to a happy issue (1 Cor 1:4-9).  He implores them to heal the schism, of the existence of which amongst them he had been informed (1 Cor 1:10-12).  He shows the consequences of the notions from which these divisions sprang-divisions to which he himself had given no occasion whatever (1 Cor 1:13-16).  He afterwards traces this schism to its very source, viz.: the undue value set by some of them on the eloquence of their respective teachers; and he justifies, from the very economy and plan of human redemption, the simplicity of his own style of preaching.  He wished, by this simple style of preaching, to preserve for the cross of Christ its full efficacy; for, whatever unbelievers might think of it, the faithful know that this cross is the power of God (1 Cor 1:17-18).  He shows, by a reference to the prophet Isaiah, that human wisdom was to be excluded in the work of redemption (1 Cor 1:19); and he points out the actual fulfilment of this prophecy, by referring to their own experience (1 Cor 1:20).  He shows the congruity of this adorable economy of God, in excluding human wisdom (1 Cor 1:21).

Another reason why the style of preaching should be simple is, that it should be accommodated to the subject; and this subject propounded by the divinely commissioned Apostles, being no other than Christ crucified, though a scandal to the Jews, and folly to the Gentiles, is to the believer, the wisdom and power of God (1 Cor 1:22-25).

Resuming the argument from experience referred to (1 Cor 1:22), he points out to them, in the next place, the description of persons whom God first called to the faith, or made instrumental in its propagation.  They were devoid of all earthly recommendations (1 Cor 1:26).  But this economy God fixed upon, to remove all grounds on the part of men for glorying in themselves, and to have all the glory of this great masterpiece of his power and wisdom referred, as was meet, to himself alone (1 Cor 1:27-31).

1Co 1:10  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no schisms among you: but that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment.

 I beseech you, then, brethren, in the name of Jesus Christ to whom you are indebted for the blessings now enumerated, to have the same sentiments on matters of religion, and to have no divisions amongst you; but to become of one mind, and one determination of acting in concert and harmony.

After having gained their good will by his conciliatory preface, in which he congratulates them on their manifold spiritual advantages, the Apostle enters on the first object of the Epistle, which is, the correction of abuses. The first abuse was, the existence of divisions and schisms amongst them. He implores of them to have the same sentiments, “speak the same thing,” ἱνα το αυτο λεγητε, which is the same as το αυτο or το ἑν φρονητε, i.e., have perfect concord and unanimity; “be perfect in the same mind,” i.e., in the same opinions, and “in the same judgments,” i.e., in the determination to act in concert together. The Greek for “perfect,” κατηρτισμενοι, conveys a metaphorical allusion to the repairing a broken vessel, or a rent garment; or, according to others, to the setting of a fractured limb, which was very applicable to the schism of the Corinthians, who were, members, of Christ’s mystic body.

1Co 1:11  For it hath been signified unto me, my brethren, of you, by them that are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

 It is not without reason that I urge this request; for, it has been intimated to me by the domestics of Chloe, that there are contentions amongst you.

“Chloe” was probably, some pious and respectable Christian female, whose domestics informed the Apostle of the divisions existing among the Corinthians.

1Co 1:12  Now this I say, that every one of you saith: I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

The contentions to which I refer, are owing to this: that some amongst you select Paul for their teacher; others, Apollo; others, Cephas; while others, acting with greater wisdom, attach themselves to Christ.

The Apostle, in this verse, explains the nature of the contentions to which he refers. It does not appear that these divisions affected the integrity of their faith they were, however, opposed to charity, and they had a tendency to terminate, and might actually terminate, unless seasonably corrected, in a shipwreck of the faith of the Corinthians. “This I say,” what I mean is this: “I am of Paul, and I of Apollo.” The reason for following these is obvious; the one planted the faith amongst them, the other was distinguished for his eloquence. “And I am of Cephas.” This refers to St. Peter. The class who selected St. Peter as head may have been the Judaizantes, who preferred him in consequence of having specially exercised his apostleship among the Jews. According to others, these words refer to a class who, unwilling to join in the particular preference of any party, said—that they would associate themselves only to the visible head of the Church. It is more probable, however, that they refer to a contentious class. “And I of Christ.” This last class are commended for their religious ideas and conduct. They had no connexion with the other parties, but proclaimed themselves as followers of Christ, of whom the different preachers were only the servants and ministers.

1Co 1:13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul then crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Is Christ, therefore, divided? Are there to be many Christs to serve as heads for each of the contending parties? Was it Paul, or any of the others, that was crucified to redeem and save you? Or, was it into the name of Paul (or any of the others) that you have been baptized?

The Apostle points out the monstrously blasphemous consequences that would flow from their line of conduct. Their mode of acting would imply a division in Christ; for, as the different parties require him—each for head—there should be many Christs to serve as heads for so many parties. “Was Paul, then, crucified?” They ought to follow him alone who ransomed and redeemed them; which, of course, neither Paul, nor any of the others, to whom they attached themselves as leaders, could have done. “Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” In Greek, εἰς το ὀνομα, &c., “into the name,” &c.; which may either mean, by the authority of Paul, or, more probably (as in Paraphrase), into the name of Paul; so that, instead of being called Christian, from your baptism, you would be called Paulinians, Apollonians, &c., as would be implied in your saying, “I am of Paul,” &c. Of course, the questions here proposed, regarding Paul, equally apply to the leaders of the other parties, so that he could say, “Has Peter been crucified for you, or Apollo?” &c. He speaks of himself, however, because it was not complimentary.

1Co 1:17  For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.

(This I do not say to depreciate the ministry of baptism, or charge myself with neglect); for, the principal end of my mission from God, was not the ministry of baptism, but of preaching the word, and that, in a simple and plain style, devoid of human eloquence and philosophic reasoning—a style such as was alone fitted to manifest the full power and due efficacy of the cross in the great work of man’s redemption.

The Apostle now traces the divisions, of which he has been treating, to their proper source. The real cause of these divisions was an undue value attached by the Corinthian converts to the eloquence and reasoning powers displayed by some of their teachers, while preaching the humility of the cross. Upon this important point, the Apostle dwells at full length in this and the following chapters; and he says here, that in discharging the ministry of preaching the gospel, for which he was principally sent by God, he avoided setting forth the truths of redemption in a high-flowing strain of human eloquence, or in the abstruse and profound reasonings of philosophy. “Not in the wisdom of speech,” because such a mode of preaching would only have the effect of stripping the cross of all its power; for, then, men would be apt to attribute their faith to human agencies, to the eloquence of the orator, or to the reasoning of the philosopher, rather than to its true cause, viz., the all-powerful grace of God purchased on the cross; and it was through the instrumentality of the cross that God wishes to convert our souls; for, it was by the same that they were redeemed.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 50

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 19, 2014


IN fire and storm the Lord comes forth to chide and instruct the people of His Covenant. He does not find fault with any neglect of sacrificial worship on their part, since their holocausts are ever before Him: but He declares to them that animal sacrifices have, of themselves, no value for Him. The sacrifice which He delights in is the sacrifice of thanks and prayer. In verse 16 the chiding of God is addressed harshly to the hypocrites among His people, who have His Law always on their lips, but reject it in their conduct. These may have thought that their professions could deceive the Lord : now He shows them their error. They also must know, that only by sacrifices of genuine praise can they honour the Lord, and secure His help.

A Temple was still standing at the time the poem was composed, and, most likely, that Temple was the Temple of Solomon. The sacrificial ritual was still apparently, more perfect than it is known to have been in the second temple. The fundamental thought of the poem, that praise and prayer are better than the blood of animal offerings, is familiar in the period of the oldest literary prophecy. Cf. Hosea 6:6; Isa 1:11 ff; Micah 6:6 ff. We are, therefore, fully justified in regarding this psalm as pre-exilic.

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This Week’s Commentaries: Sunday, January 19-Sunday, January 26, 2014

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 18, 2014




Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Haydock Commentary on 1 Samuel 15:16-23.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 50.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 50.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 50.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 2:18-22.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 2:18-22.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Haydock Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:1-13.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 89.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 89.

My Notes on Today’s Responsorial Psalm (89:20, 21-22, 27-28). Verses used today.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 2:23-28.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 2:23-28.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Haydock Commentary on 1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51.

Pending: Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 144.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 144.

Pseudo-St Albert the Great on Psalm 144.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 144.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 3:1-6.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 3:1-6.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Haydock Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:6-9, 19:1-7.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 56.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 56.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 3:7-12.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 3:7-12.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Haydock Commentary on 1 Samuel 24:3-21.

Pending: Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 57.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 57.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 57.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 3:13-19.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 3:13-19.


Today’s Mass Readings. Note that an alternate 1st reading is available.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 22:3-16.

Pending: Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 3:3-16.

Alternate 1st Reading: Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 9:1-22.

Alternate 1st Reading: St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Acts 9:1-22.

Pending: Alternate 1st Reading: Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on  Acts 9:1-22.

Alternate 1st Reading: Navarre Bible Commentary on Acts 9:1-22.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 117.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 117.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 117.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary Psalm 117.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 16:15-18.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 16:15-18.

Free Online Resources for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. I posted this last year so some of the links may no longer be available, still some very good resources can be had here.



Next Week’s Posts.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 44

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 15, 2014

1. This Psalm is addressed “to the sons of Korah,” as its title shows. Now Korah is equivalent to the word baldness;17 and we find in the Gospel that our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified in “the place of a skull.”18 It is clear then that this Psalm is sung to the “sons of His ‘Passion.’ ” Now we have on this point a most certain and most evident testimony from the Apostle Paul; because that at the time when the Church was suffering under the persecutions of the Gentiles, he quoted from hence a verse, to insert by way of consolation, and encouragement to patience. For that which he inserted in his Epistle, is said here: “For Thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”19 Let us then hear in this Psalm the voice of the Martyrs; and see how good is the cause which the voice of the Martyrs pleads, saying, “For Thy sake”, etc.…

2. The title then is not simply “To the sons of Korah,” but, “For understanding, to the sons of Korah.” This is the case also with that Psalm, the first verse of which the Lord Himself uttered on the Cross: “My God, My God, look upon Me; why hast Thou forsaken Me?”1 For “transferring us in a figure”2 to what He was saying, and to His own Body (for we are also “His Body,” and He is our “Head”), He uttered from the Cross not His own cry, but ours. For God never “forsook” Him: nor did He Himself ever depart from the Father; but it was in behalf of us that He spake this: “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” For there follows, “Far from My health are the words of My offences:” and it shows in whose person He said this; for sin could not be found in Him.…

3. “O God, we have heard with our ears; our fathers have told us the work that Thou didst in their days, and in the days of old” (ver. 1). Wondering wherefore, in these days, He has seemingly forsaken those whom it was His will to exercise in sufferings, they recall the past events which they have heard of from their fathers; as if they said, It is not of these things that we suffer, that our fathers told us! For in that other Psalm also, He said this, “Our fathers trusted in Thee; they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them. But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and the outcast of the people.”3 They trusted, and Thou didst deliver them; have I then hoped, and hast Thou forsaken me? And have I believed upon Thee in vain? And is it in vain that my name has been written in Thy Book,4 and Thy name has been inscribed on me? What our fathers told us was this:

“Thy hand destroyed the nations; and Thou plantedst them: Thou didst weaken the peoples, and cast them out” (ver. 2). That is to say: “Thou didst drive out ‘the peoples’ from their own land, that Thou mightest bring ‘them’ in, and plant them; and mightest by Thy mercy stablish their kingdom.” These are the things that we heard from our fathers. But perhaps it was because they were brave, were men of battle, were invincible, were well disciplined, and warlike, that they could do these things. Far from it. This is not what our fathers told us; this is not what is contained in Scripture. But what does it say, but what follows?

“For they gat not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance” (ver. 3). Thy “right hand” is Thy Power: Thine “arm” is Thy Son Himself.5 And “the light of Thy countenance.” What means this, but that Thou wert present with them, in miracles of such a sort that Thy presence was perceived. For when God’s presence with us appears by any miracle, do we see His face with our own eyes? No. It is by the effect of the miracle He intimates to man His presence. In fact, what do all persons say, who express wonder at facts of this description? “I saw God present.” “But Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance; because Thou pleasedst in them:”6 i.e. didst so deal with them, that Thou wert well-pleasing in them: that whoso considered how they were being dealt with, might say, that “God is with them of a truth;” and it is God that moves7 them.

4. “What? Was He then other than now He is?” Away with the supposition. For what follows?

“Thou art Thyself8 my King and my God.” (ver. 4). “Thou art THYSELF;” for Thou art not changed. I see that the times are changed; but the Creator of times is unchanged. “Thou art Thyself my King and my God.” Thou art wont to guide me: to govern me, to save me. “Thou who commandest salvation unto Jacob.” What is, “Thou who commandest”? Even though in Thine own proper Substance and Nature, in which Thou art whatsoever Thou art, Thou wast hid from them; and though Thou didst not converse with the fathers in that which Thou art in Thyself, so that they could see Thee “face to face,” yet by any created being whatsoever “Thou commandest salvation unto Israel.” For that sight of Thee “face to face” is reserved for those set free in the Resurrection. And the very “fathers” of the New Testament too, although they saw Thy mysteries revealed, although they preached the secret things so revealed to them, nevertheless said that they themselves saw but “in a glass, darkly,” but that “seeing face to face”9 is reserved to a future time, when what the Apostle himself speaks of shall have come. “When Christ our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.”10 It is against that time then that vision “face to face” is reserved for you, of which John also speaks: “Beloved, we are now the sons of God: and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”11 Although then at that time our fathers saw Thee not as Thou art, “face to face,” although that vision is reserved against the resurrection, yet, even though they were Angels who presented themselves, it is Thou, “Who commandest salvation unto Jacob.” Thou art not only present by Thine own Self; but by whatsoever created being Thou didst appear, it is Thou that dost “command” by them, that which Thou doest by Thine own Self in order to the salvation of Thy servants: but that which they do whom Thou “commandest” it, is done to procure the salvation of Thy servants. Since then Thou art Thyself “my King and my God, and Thou commandest salvation unto Jacob,” wherefore are we suffering these things?

5. But perhaps it is only what is past that has been described to us: but nothing of the kind is to be hoped for by us for the future. Nay indeed, it is still to be hoped for. “Through Thee will we winnow away1 our enemies” (ver. 5). Our fathers then have declared to us a work that Thou didst “in their days, and in the days of old,” that Thy hand destroyed the Gentiles: that Thou “didst cast out the peoples; and didst plant them.” Such was the past; but what is to be hereafter? “Through Thee we shall winnow away our enemies.” A time will come, when all the enemies of Christians will be winnowed away like chaff, be blown like dust, and be cast off from the earth.… Thus much of the future. “I will not trust in my bow,” even as our fathers did not in “their sword. Neither shall my sword help me” (ver. 6).

6. “For Thou hast saved us from our enemies” (ver. 7). This too is spoken of the future under the figure of the past. But this is the reason that it is spoken of as if it were past, that it is as certain as if it were past. Give heed, wherefore many things are expressed by the Prophets as if they were past; whereas it is things future, not past facts that are the subject of prophecy. For the future Passion of our Lord Himself was foretold:2 and yet it says, “They pierced My hands and My feet. They told all My bones;” not, “They shall pierce,” and “shall tell.” “They looked and stared upon Me;” not “They shall look and stare upon Me.” “They parted My garments among them.” It does not say, “They shall part” them. All these things are expressed as if they were past, although they were yet to come: because to God things to come also are as certain as if they were past.… It is for this reason, in consequence of their certainty, that those things which are yet future, are spoken of as if past. This it is then that we hope. For it is, “Thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.”

7. “In God will we boast3 all the day long” (ver. 8). Observe how he intermingles words expressive of a future time, that you may perceive that what was spoken of before as in past time was foretold of future times. “In God will we boast all day long; and in Thy name will we confess for ever.”4 What is, “We shall boast”? What, “We shall confess”? That Thou hast “saved us from our enemies;” that Thou art to give us an everlasting kingdom: that in us are to be fulfilled the words, “Blessed are they that dwell in Thine house: they will be always praising Thee.”5

8. Since then we have the certainty that these things are to be hereafter, and since we have heard from our fathers that those we spoke of were in time past, what is our state at present? “But now Thou hast cast us off, and put us to shame” (ver. 9). Thou hast “put us to shame” not before our own consciences, but in the sight of men. For there was a time when Christians were persecuted; when in every place they were outcasts, when in every place it used to be said, “He is a Christian!” as if it conveyed an insult and reproach. Where then is He, “our God, our King,” who “commands salvation unto Jacob”? Where is He who did all those works, which “our fathers have told us”? Where is He who is hereafter to do all those things which He revealed unto us by His Spirit? Is He changed? No. These things are done in order to “understanding, for the sons of Korah.” For we ought to “understand” something of the reason, why He has willed we should suffer all these things in the mean time. What “all things”? “But now Thou hast cast us off and put us to shame: and goest not forth, O God, in our powers.”6 We go forth to meet our enemies, and Thou goest not forth with us. We see them: they are very strong, and we are without strength. Where is that might of Thine? Where Thy “right hand,” and Thy power?7 Where the sea dried up, and the Egyptian pursuers overwhelmed with the waves? Where Amalek’s resistance subdued by the sign of the Cross?8 “And Thou, O God, goest not forth in our powers.”

9. “Thou hast turned us away backward in presence of our enemies” (ver. 10), so that they are, as it were, before; we, behind; they are counted as conquerors, we as conquered. “And they which hate us spoiled for themselves.” What did they “spoil” but ourselves?

10. “Thou has given us like sheep appointed for meat, and hast scattered us among the nations” (ver. 11). We have been “devoured” by “the nations.” Those persons are meant, who, through their sufferings, have by process of assimilation, becomes part of the “body” of the Gentile world. For the Church mourns over them, as over members of her body, that have been devoured.1

11. “Thou hast sold Thy people for no price” (ver. 12). For we see whom Thou hast made over; what Thou hast received, we have not seen. “And there was no multitude in their jubilees.”2 For when the Christians were flying before the pursuit of enemies, who were idolaters, were there then held any congregations and “jubilees” to the honour of God? Were those Hymns chanted in concert from the Churches of God, that are wont to be sung in concert in time of peace, and to be sounded in a sweet accord of the brotherhood in the ears of God?

12. “Thou madest us a reproach to our neighbours; a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us” (ver. 13). “Thou madest us a similitude3 among the heathen” (ver. 14). What is meant by a “similitude”? It is when men in imprecating a curse make a “similitude” of his name whom they detest. “So mayest thou die;” “So mayest thou be punished!” What a number of such reproaches were then uttered! “So mayest thou be crucified!” Even in the present day there are not wanting enemies of Christ (those very Jews themselves), against whom whensoever we defend Christ, they say unto us, “So mayest thou die as He did.” For they would not have inflicted that kind of death had they not an intense horror of dying by such a death: or had they been able to comprehend what mystery was contained in it. When the ointment is applied to the eyes of the blind man, he does not see the eye-salve in the physician’s hand. For the very Cross was made for the benefit even of the persecutors themselves. Hereby they were healed afterwards; and they believed in Him whom they themselves had slain. “Thou madest us a similitude among the heathen; a shaking of the head among the peoples,” a “shaking of the head” by way of insult. “They spake with their lips, they shook the head.”4 This they did to the Lord: this to all His Saints also, whom they were able to pursue, to lay hold of, to mock, to betray, to afflict, and to slay.

13. “My shame is continually before me; and the confusion of my face has covered me” (ver. 15). “For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth” (ver. 16): that is to say, from the voice of them that insult over me, and who make it a charge against me that I worship Thee, that I confess Thee! and who make it a charge against me that I bear that name by which all charges against me shall be blotted out. “For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth,” that is, of him that speaketh against me. “By reason of the enemy and the persecutor.” And what is the “understanding” conveyed here? Those things which are told us of the time past, will not be done in our case:5 those which are hoped for, as to be hereafter, are not as yet manifest. Those which are past, as the leading out of Thy people with great glory from Egypt; its deliverance from its persecutors; the guiding of it through the nations, the placing of it in the kingdom, whence the nations had been expelled. What are those to be hereafter? The leading of the people out of this Egypt of the world, when Christ, our “leader” shall appear in His glory: the placing of the Saints at His right hand; of the wicked at His left; the condemnation of the wicked with the devil to eternal punishment; the receiving of a kingdom from Christ with the Saints to last for ever.6 These are the things that are yet to be: the former are what are past. In the interval, what is to be our lot? Tribulations! “Why so?” That it may be seen with respect to the soul that worships God, to what extent it worships God; that it may be seen whether it worships Him “freely” from whom it received salvation “freely.” … What hast thou given unto God? Thou wert wicked, and thou wert redeemed! What hast thou given unto God? What is there that thou hast not “received” from Him “freely”? With reason is it named “grace,” because it is bestowed (gratis, i.e.) freely.7 What is required of thee then is this, “that thou too shouldest worship “Him freely;” not because He gives thee things temporal, but because He holds out to thee things eternal.…

14. “All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten Thee” (ver. 17). What is meant by, “have not forgotten Thee”? “Neither have we behaved ourselves frowardly in Thy covenant.”

“Our heart has not turned back; and Thou hast turned aside our goings out of Thy way” (ver. 18). See here is “understanding,” in that “our heart has not gone back;” that we have not “forgotten Thee, have not behaved frowardly in Thy covenant;” placed as we are in great tribulations, and persecutions of the Gentiles. “Thou hast turned aside our goings out of Thy way.” Our “goings” were in the pleasures of the world; our “goings” were in the midst of temporal prosperities. Thou hast taken “our goings out of Thy way;” and hast shown us1 how “strait and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life.”2 What is meant by, “hast turned aside our goings out of Thy way”? It is as if He said, “Ye are placed in the midst of tribulation; ye are suffering many things; ye have already lost many things that ye loved in this life: but I have not abandoned you on the way, the narrow way that I am teaching you. Ye were seeking “broad ways.” What do I tell you? This is the way we go to everlasting life; by the way ye wish to walk, ye are going to death. How “broad and wide is the road that leads to destruction: and” how “many there be that find it! How strait and narrow the way that leadeth unto life, and” how “few there be” that walk therein!3 Who are the few? They who patiently endure tribulations, patiently endure temptations; who in all these troubles do not “fall away:” who do not rejoice in the word “for a season” only; and in the time of tribulation fade away, as on the sun’s arising; but who have the “root” of “love,” according to what we have lately heard read in the Gospel.4 …

15. “For Thou hast brought us low in the place of infirmity”5 (ver. 18): therefore Thou wilt exalt us in the place of strength. “And the shadow of death has covered us” (ver. 19). For this mortality of ours is but the “shadow” of death. The true death is condemnation with the devil.

16. “If we have forgotten the Name of our God.” Here is the “understanding” of the “sons of Korah.” “And stretched out our hands to a strange God” (ver. 20). “Shall not God search this out? For He knoweth the secrets of the heart” (ver. 21). He “knows,” and yet He “searches them out”? If He knows the secrets of the heart, what do the words, “Shall not God search it out,” do there? He “knows” it in Himself; He “searches it out” for our sakes. For it is for this reason God sometimes “searches a thing out;” and speaks of that becoming known to Himself, which He is Himself making known to thee. He is speaking of His own work, not of His knowledge. We commonly say, “A gladsome day,” when it is fine. Yet is it the day itself that experiences delight? No: we speak of the day as gladsome, because it fills us with delight. And we speak of a “sullen sky.” Not that there is any such feeling in the clouds, but because men are affected with sullenness at the sight of such an appearance of the skies, it is called sullen for this reason, that it makes us sullen. So also God is said to “know” when He causes us to know. God says to Abraham, “Now I know that thou fearest God.”6 Did He then not know it before then? But Abraham did not know himself till then: for it was in that very trial he came to know himself.… And God is said to “know” that which He had caused him to know. Did Peter know himself, when he said to the Physician, “I will be with Thee even unto death?”7 The Physician had felt his pulse,8 and knew what was going on within His patient’s soul: the patient knew it not. The crisis9 of trial came; and the Physician approved the correctness of His opinion: the sick man gave up his presumption. Thus God at once “knows” it and “searches it out.” “He knows it already. Why does He ‘search it out’?” For thy sake: that thou mayest come to know thine own self, and mayest return thanks to Him that made thee. “Shall not God search it out?”

17. “For, for Thy sake we are killed all the day long: we are counted as sheep for the slaughter” (ver. 22). For you may see a man being put to death; you do not know why he is being put to death. God knoweth this. The thing in itself is hid. But some one will say to me, “See, he is detained in prison for the name of Christ, he is a confessor for the name of Christ.” Why do not10 heretics also confess the name of Christ, and yet they do not die for His sake? Nay more; let me say it, in the Catholic Church itself, do you think there either are, or have been wanting persons such as would suffer for the sake of glory among men? Were there no such persons, the Apostle would not say, “Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”11 He knew therefore that there might be some persons, who did this not from “charity,” but out of vain-glory. It is therefore hid from us; God alone sees this; we cannot see it. He alone can judge of this, who “knoweth the secrets of the heart.” “For,” for Thy sake “are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” I have already mentioned that from hence the Apostle Paul had borrowed a text12 for the encouragement of the Martyrs: that they might not “faint in the tribulations” undergone by them for the name of Christ.13

18. “Awake; why sleepest Thou, O Lord?” (ver. 23). Who is addressed, and who is the speaker? Would not he be more correctly said to sleep and slumber,14 who speaks such words as these? He replies to you, I know what I am saying: I know that “He that keepeth Israel doth not sleep:”1 but yet the Martyrs cry, “Awake; why sleepest Thou, O Lord?” O Lord Jesus, Thou wast slain; Thou didst “sleep” in Thy Passion; to us Thou hast now “awaked” from sleep. For “we” know that Thou hast now “awaked” again. To what purpose hast Thou awaked and risen again? The Gentiles that persecute us, think Thee to be dead; do not believe Thee to have risen again. “Arise Thou” then to them also! “Why sleepest Thou,” though not to us, yet to them? For if they already believed Thee to have risen again, could they persecute us who believe in Thee? But why do they persecute? “Destroy, slay so and so, whoever have believed in Thee, such an one, who died an ill death!” As yet to them “Thou sleepest;” arise to them, that they may perceive that Thou hast “awaked” again; and may be at rest. Lastly, it has come to pass, while the Martyrs die, and say these things; while they sleep, and “awaken” Christ, truly dead in their sleepings, Christ has, in a certain sense, risen again in the Gentiles; i.e. it becomes believed, that He has risen again; so by degrees they themselves, becoming converted to Christ by believing, collected a numerous body: such as the persecutors dreaded; and the persecutions have come to an end. Why? Because Christ, who before was asleep to them, as not believing, bath risen in the Gentiles. “Arise, and cast us not off for ever!”

19. “Wherefore hidest Thou Thy face:” as if Thou wert not present; as if thou hadst forgotten us? “And forgettest our misery and trouble?” (ver. 24).

20. “For our soul is bowed down to the dust” (ver. 25). Where is it bowed down? “To the dust:” i.e. dust persecutes us. They persecute us, of whom Thou hast said, “The ungodly are not so; but are like the dust, which the wind driveth away from the face of the earth.”2 “Our belly hath cleaved to the earth.” He seems to me to have expressed the punishment of the extreme of humiliation, in which, when any one prostrates himself, “his belly cleaveth to the earth.” For whosoever is humbled so as to be on his knees, has yet a lower degree of humiliation to which he can come: but he who is so humbled, that his “belly cleaveth to the ground,” there is no farther humiliation for him. Should one wish to do still farther, it will, after that point, be not bowing him down, but crushing him. Perhaps then he may have meant this: We are “bowed down very low” in this dust; there is no farther point to which humiliation can go. Humiliation has now reached its highest point: let mercy then come also.…

21. “Arise, O Lord, help us” (ver. 26). And indeed, dearly beloved, He has arisen and helped us. For when he awaked (i.e. when He arose again, and became known to the Gentiles) on the cessation of persecutions, even those who had cleaved to the earth were raised up from the earth, and on performing penance,3 have been restored to Christ’s body, feeble and imperfect though they were: so that in them was fulfilled the text, “Thine eyes did see my substance yet being imperfect; and in Thy book shall they all be written.”4

“Arise, O Lord, help us, and redeem us for Thy Name’s sake;” that is to say, freely; for Thy Name’s sake, not for the sake of my merits: because Thou hast vouchsafed to do it, not because I am worthy that Thou shouldest do it unto me. For this very thing, that “we have not forgotten Thee;” that “our heart hath not gone back;” that we “have not stretched out our hands to any strange god;” how should we have been able to achieve, except with Thy help? How should we have strength for it, except through Thy appealing to us within, exhorting us, and not forsaking us? Whether then we suffer in tribulations, or rejoice in prosperities, redeem Thou us, not for our merits, but for Thy Name’s sake.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 44

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 15, 2014


THIS is a national poem composed at a time when the Hebrews had been defeated in battle, and were somehow enslaved politically by their foes. For the psalmist the shame of his nation is unworthy of its glorious history; and unworthy, too, of the God who fought its victorious battles long ago. It was God s power, and not the strength of Israel s arm, that vanquished the heathen peoples of Palestine in the time of the Conquest. Has He forgotten the people He used to love?–Even now the psalmist will trust in the help of the Lord even now, when Israel, that crushed the heathen in the great days of old, is in bondage to the heathens of the present: and with bitterness, the singer adds: “It is the Lord who has sold us into bondage, and poor is the price He has received.” Yet why has the Lord abandoned us? We have not turned aside from His Covenant, nor chosen other gods. It is indeed for the very name and sake of the Lord that Israel has been brought to defeat and disgrace. “Arise, then, O Lord,” pleads the psalmist passionately; awake from this sleep of forgetfulness. Thine own honour is at stake. Turn Thy face on us, for we are humbled to the dust!

An ancient theory assigned this psalm to the Maccabean period, and this is the theory now most widely accepted. The poem emphasises the absence of all idolatry from among the people, and describes the sufferings of the nation as a veritable martyrdom as endured for the sake of the Lord and His covenant.

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