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 September, 2014

Commentaries for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2014


Today’s Mass Readings. Use in the USA.

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

Today’s Divine Office.

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


My Notes on Isaiah 5:1-7.

Word-Sunday Notes on Isaiah 5:1-7.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Isaiah 5:1-7.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 80.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 80.

My Notes on Psalm 80.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 80.


Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Philippians 4:6-9.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 4:6-9. On 4-9.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Philippians 4:6-9.

Word-Sunday Notes on Philippians 4:6-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Philippians 4:6-9.

Homilist’s Catechism on Philippians 4:6-9.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 21:33-43.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 21:33-43.

Word-Sunday Notes on Matthew 21:33-43.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 21:33-43.

Homilist’s Catechism on Matthew 21:33-43.


Sacred Page Blog: Are We a Faithful Vineyard? Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma looks at all three readings and the responsorial Psalm.

Sacred Page Blog: The Stone Rejected by the Builders. Catholic biblical scholar Dr. Michael Barber’s omments and reflections on all the readings.


Parish Bible Study. Pdf document. Notes on the readings used for a bible study.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological overview of the readings. Can be copied and used for bulletin insert.

Dr. Scott Hahn’s Podcast. Brief audio (test also available). Does good job of highlighting the major theme(s) of the writings.

(1) Fr. Robert Barron’s Homily Podcast: The Vineyard. Father Barron is a respected speaker and theologian.
(2) Fr. Robert Barron; peace Beyond Understanding.
(3) Fr. Robert Barron: Parable of the Tenants.
(4) Fr. Robert Barron: Lessons from the Vineyard.

Thoughts From the Early Church. Brief commentary on the Gospel reading by St Basil the Great.

Scripture in Depth. Succinct comments on all the readings.


Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Philippians 4:6-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2014

This post begins with a brief analysis of Philippians 4 followed by comments on verses 6-9. Text in purple represent MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.


In this chapter, the Apostle exhorts the Philippians to persevere in Christian virtue (1), to practise concord and charity (2, 3); to rejoice always, notwithstanding their afflictions (4); to display a mild evenness of conduct, free from all extremes of passion (5); in every occurrence, to exercise acts of petition to God for future blessings, and thanksgiving for the past (6). He wishes them an increase of interior peace and joy (8). He sums up all his moral precepts, and exhorts them to the practice of everything good and praiseworthy (8–10). He commends their past and present liberality towards himself, and this he values not so much on account of being placed thereby beyond the reach of want, as on account of the charity manifested on their part; for, as to himself, he was enabled by God’s grace, to accommodate himself to every turn of fortune, as well in enduring want and privation, as in enjoying abundance (11–17). He concludes with the usual salutation, wishing them the full enjoyment of all spiritual blessings.

Phil 4:6 Be nothing solicitous: but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.

Therefore, be not over anxious for the concerns of this world, but in every occurrence, by fervent supplications and entreaties for future blessings, as well as by acts of thanksgiving for the past, let your petitions be offered up in such a way as to please God, and cause him to lend an ear to them.

Since the Lord is shortly to come from heaven to judge us, and to crown our patience, we should betray no excessive solicitude as regards the sufferings of this life, The words of this verse are a consequence of the words of the preceding verse: “the Lord is nigh,” as he is soon to come to judge us, we should show no excessive anxiety for the things of this life.

Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

And may the interior tranquility and consolation of God’s spirit, consequent on the performance of good actions, which surpasses all understanding, guard your wills, your intellects and entire hearts, against all fears and anxieties whatever, that might lead you astray from virtue and the service of Christ Jesus.

MacEvilly offers no comment on this verse beyond what is provided in the paraphrase.

Phil 4:8 For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline: think on these things.

To bring to a conclusion, and sum up in a word all my moral precepts, whatever things are true—either as opposed to falsehood in language or dissimulation in action—whatever things are brave, becoming, and honourable in conduct; whatever things tend to establish and preserve the relations of justice towards our neighbour; whatever things are chaste and pure from all carnal defilement; whatever things tend to beget the love and well-grounded esteem of others: whatever things are calculated to insure a good reputation; if there be anything that is regarded as virtuous and good; any mode of living that is praiseworthy; make these things the subject of your consideration, so that you may know how to practise them, with the greatest advantage, in proper time and circumstances.

He sums up all his precepts in this one, which is a most comprehensive precept of morality. “Whatsoever modest.” In Greek, σεμνα (semna), grave, or venerable. “Whatsoever holy.” In Greek, ἁγνα (hagna), the meaning of which is, chaste. For it, probably αγια (hagia), “holy,” might have been inserted., “Of good fame.” The first of earthy goods is a good reputation, “habe curam de bono nomine.”—Sirach 41:13

Phil 4:9 The things which you have both learned and received and heard and seen in me, these do ye: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Whatever things you have learned from me when instructing you, or received from me by writing, or heard of me when absent, or seen done by me when present; do these things, and the God of peace will be always with you—imparting and communicating his blessings to you.

The things that I have preached, written, spoken, and exemplified in my conduct, these things do.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Notes on Philippians, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentaries for the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time, Year II

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 27, 2014


Commentaries for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 1:6-12.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians 1:6-12.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Galatians 1:6-12.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Galatians 1:6-12.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 111.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 111.

Pending: St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 111.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 10:25-37.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 10:25-37.

St Bede the Venerable’s Homily on Luke 10:25-37. On 23-37.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 10:25-37. On 23-37.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Homily Notes on Luke 10:25-37.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 10:25-37.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians 1:13-24.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 1:13-24. On 11-24.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Galatians 1:13-24.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Galatians 1:13-24.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 139. Entire psalm.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 139. Entire psalm.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 139. Entire psalm.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 10:38-42.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Luke 10:38-42.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 10:38-42.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 10:38-42.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 10:38-42.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Galatians 2:1-2, 8-14.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 117.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 117. Entire psalm.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 117. Entire psalm.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 117. Entire psalm.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 11:1-4.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 11:1-4.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 11:1-4.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 3:1-5.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Galatians 3:1-5.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Responsorial (Zechariah’s Canticle). on Luke 1:67-79.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Zechariah’s Canticle). On Luke 1:67-79.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Zechariah’s Canticle). On Luke 1:67-79.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 11:5-13.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Luke 11:5-13.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 11:5-13.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 3:7-14. On 6-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Galatians 3:7-14.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 111.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 111.

Pending: St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 111.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 11:15-26.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Luke 11:15-26. On 14-26.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 11:15-26.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 3:22-29.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Galatians 3:22-29.

Fr. Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 105.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 105.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 11:27-28.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 11:27-28.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Luke 11:27-28.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 11:27-28.


Commentaries for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Next Week’s Posts.




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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 11:14-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 27, 2014

This post contains to homiletic commentaries; the first on Luke 11:14-18 and the second on Luke 11:19-26.

11:14-18. And He was casting out a dumb devil: and it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spoke. And the multitudes wondered: but some of them said, He casts out devils through Beelzebub, the prince of the devils: and others tempting, sought of Him a sign from heaven. But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them; Every kingdom divided against itself is laid desolate: and a house against a house falls. And if Satan also be divided against himself how shall his kingdom stand? Because you say that 1 cast out devils through Beelzebub.

“I HAVE been very jealous for the Lord,” as Scripture says; and I too would say, fixing an accurate attention upon the lessons from the Gospel set before us, that the frantic tongue of Israel was bold and unbridled in insult, tyrannized over by harsh and unrestrainable wrath, and vanquished by unappeasable envy. For consider how, so to speak, they were even gnashing their teeth at Christ, the Saviour of all, because He made the multitudes wonder by His many divine and astonishing miracles; and because the very devils cried out at His ineffable and godlike power and authority. And this, I suppose, was what was celebrated by David when thus addressing Him: “Through the greatness of your power shall Your enemies be found liars to You.”

But the reason for which those who warred against His glory thus acted, this lesson plainly teaches us. “There was brought to Him one who was possessed with a dumb devil.” Now dumb devils are, so to speak, difficult for any one whatsoever of the saints to rebuke; and are more obstinate than any other kind, and excessively audacious. But there was nothing difficult to the all-powerful will of Christ, the Saviour of us all. For He immediately set the man who was brought to Him tree from the wicked and impure devil; and he whose tongue had before been closed by door and lock, once again |363 poured forth his customary speech. For we say that he is called dumb in this passage as being without tongue, that is, without speech. And upon the accomplishment of this wonderful act, the multitude extolled Him with praises, and hastened to crown the worker of the miracle with godlike honour. But certain of them, it says, being Scribes and Pharisees, with hearts intoxicated with pride and envy, found in the miracle fuel for their malady; and not only did they not praise Him, but betook themselves to the very opposite. For having stripped Him of the godlike deeds He had wrought, they assigned to the Devil almighty power, and made Beelzebub the source of Christ’s might. “For by him, they said, He casts out devils,” And others being afflicted, so to speak, with a kindred wickedness, and running without discernment into a disgraceful forwardness of speech, and being stung by the like goadings of envy, required, it says, to see of Him a sign from heaven; calling out, as it were, and saying, ‘Even if You have expelled from a man a bitter and malicious demon, that as yet

is no such great matter, nor worthy of admiration. What as yet is done is no proof of divine ability. We see nothing as yet equal to the miracles of old. Show us some deed of which there is no doubt of its being wrought by power from above. Moses made the people pass over, having caused the sea that was between to become capable of being walked upon: the waters were piled up like a wall. He smote the rock with his rod, and made it the mother of rivers, so that fountains burst forth from the flinty stone. Likewise also Jeshua, his successor, made the sun stand still in Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Arnon. He laid bonds on the streams of Jordan. But You show no such deed as these. You cast out a devil: this authority the prince of the devils, even Beelzebub, grants to men. Of him You borrow the power of doing those things, |364 which in unlearned and ignorant people beget wonder.’ Such were their froward fault-findings. For the fact of their wishing to ask a sign from heaven proves nothing else than that they entertained such thoughts as these respecting Him.

And what said Christ to these things? First, indeed, He proves Himself to be God, by knowing even that which was secretly whispered among them: for He knew their thoughts. And it is an act that altogether belongs to God, to be able to know what is in the mind and heart, and even what is spoken anywhere by men secretly. To draw them away then from so obdurate a crime, He says, that “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid desolate: and a house against a house falls. And if Satan be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? For He well might have said to those who babbled thus foolishly about Him, You depart from the right way: truly you err, and without doubt are ignorant of My nature. The greatness of My might, and the splendour of My glory, is unperceived by you. Moses was a servant: I am Lord. He was the minister of the law: but I the legislator; for I am by nature God. He was the minister of the signs; but I the doer of them, and the worker of the miracles. I divided the sea: it was the work of My power, that the waters were divided, and the people passed over: I displayed the flint stone as the mother of rivers. I made the sun stand still in Gibeon, and the might of My commands stayed the moon in the valley of Arnon. It was I Who laid bonds on the streams of Jordan. Had He, however, used words such as these, it is perhaps not improbable to imagine that they would have conceived in them a yet more violent flame of envy: for they would at once have said, ‘He exalts Himself above the glory of the saints: He boasts Himself over the illustrious patriarchs, who, He says, were nothing: He appropriates to Himself their glory.’ And they would have added to these other words, which in unlearned persons would have given occasion for wickedness towards Him.

Very wisely therefore, omitting these things, He proceeds to arguments, drawn indeed from common things, but which have the force of truth in them; “For every kingdom,” He says, “divided against itself, becomes desolate; and every house against a house, falls: and if Satan be divided |365 against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?” For that which establishes kingdoms is the fidelity of subjects, and the obedience of those under the royal sceptre: and houses are established when those who belong to them in no way whatsoever thwart one another, but, on the contrary, accord both in will and deed. And so I suppose it would establish the kingdom too of Beelzebub, had he determined to abstain from every thing contrary to himself. How then does Satan cast out Satan? It follows then that devils do not depart from men of their own accord, but retire unwillingly. Satan, He says, does not fight with himself. He does not rebuke his own satellites. He does not permit himself to injure his own armour-bearers. On the contrary, he aids his kingdom. It remains, therefore for you to understand, that I crush Satan by divine power.

So must we be persuaded who believe in Him, and have departed far away from the wickedness of the Jews. For what is at all impossible to that Almighty right hand? Or what is great and difficult to Him, Who can accomplish every thing by His will alone? He Who established the heavens, and founded the earth, Who is the Creator of all, Who is perfect power, how can He be in need of Beelzebub? Oh, thoughts never to be spoken! Oh, wickedness never to be endured! A people foolish and without understanding! Very justly may one say of the Israelites, “They have eyes, and see not: they have ears, and hear not.” For though they were spectators of the wonderful deeds wrought by Christ, and by the holy prophets, and heard of them, and knew them long before, nevertheless they continued obdurate and intractable. Therefore “they eat the fruit of their way,” as Scripture says. But let us be earnest in extolling Christ with endless praises; for thus shall we be heirs of the kingdom of heaven, by the gift of the same Christ: by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.

11:19-26. But if I by Beelzebub cast out the devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out the devils, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When the strong man armed guards his house, his goods are in peace: but when He Who is stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, He takes from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divides his spoils. He that is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathers not with Me, scatters for Me. When the unclean spirit has gone forth from the man, it wanders about in places where there is no water, seeking rest: and not having found it, then it says, I will return to my house, whence I came out. And when it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and garnished. Then it goes, and brings seven other spirits worse than itself, and they enter in and dwell there. And the last state of that man is made worse than the first.

THE God of all, blaming the haughtiness of the Jews, and their constant tendency to run into disobedience, thus spoke by the voice of Isaiah; “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken. I have begotten, and brought up sons; and they have rejected Me.” For they rejected God the Father, by setting in manifold ways the Son at nothing, Who, though sprung from Him by nature, yet afterwards was made like unto us for our sakes: and yet He called them unto the grace that is by faith, and would have fulfilled the promise given unto their fathers. For of this the sacred Paul bears witness, where he writes, “For I say that Christ was a minister of the circumcision, to fulfil the promises of the fathers: and that the Gentiles might glorify God for mercy.” The Only-begotten Word of God therefore was made man, that He might fulfil the promise of the blessing granted unto |370 them. And that they might know that it was He Whom the law had prefigured by shadows, and Whom the company also of the holy prophets had foretold, He wrought these godlike deeds, and rebuked the unclean spirits. But they, though it was their duty to have praised Him, as doing wonders, as One Who possessed a power and authority beyond that of nature, and incomparable in degree, on the contrary disparaged His glory, saying, “This man only casts out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” And what doth Christ reply to this? “If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out?”

Now this subject was explained by me to you at length at our last meeting. But inasmuch as it is right that the wickedness of the Jews, in thus idly prating against Him, should still further be rebuked by many and convincing arguments, He adds on this account to what had been already said, an unanswerable consideration. And what this is, I will now mention to you as to my children.

The blessed disciples were Jews, and the children of Jews, according to the flesh; but they had obtained authority from Christ over unclean spirits, and set free those that were possessed by them, by calling over them these words, “In the Name of Jesus Christ.” For Paul also once with apostolic authority commanded an unclean spirit, saying, “I command you, in the Name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her.” When therefore He says, your own children in My Name trample upon Beelzebub, by rebuking his satellites, and expelling them forthwith from those in whom they are, what else is it but manifest blasphemy, joined with great ignorance, to say that I borrow this power from Beelzebub? You are convicted therefore, He says, by the faith of your own children, if, as is the case, they having received of Me authority and power, overthrow Satan, and against his will drive him from those in whom he dwells; while you affirm, that I make use of his agency in working divine miracles. But inasmuch as what you say is not true, but, on the contrary, empty and false, and liable to the charge of calumny, it is plain that I cast out devils by the finger of God. And by the finger of God He means the Holy Ghost. For the Son is called the hand and arm of God the Father; for He does all things by the Son, |371 and the Son in like manner works by the Spirit. For just as the finger is appended to the hand, as something not foreign from it, but belonging to it by nature, so also the Holy Spirit, by reason of His being equal in substance, is joined in oneness to the Son, even though He proceed from God the Father. For, as I said, the Son does every thing by the consubstantial Spirit. Here, however, purposely He says, that by the finger of God He casts out devils, speaking as a man: because the Jews in the infirmity and folly of their mind, would not have endured it, if He had said, “by My own Spirit I cast out devils.” Appeasing therefore their excessive readiness to anger, and the proneness of their mind unto insolence and phrensy, He spake as a man, although He is by nature God, and Himself the Giver of the Spirit from God the Father to those who are worthy, and employs as His own that power which is from Him. For He is consubstantial with Him, and whatsoever is said to be done by God the Father, this necessarily is by the Son in the Spirit. If therefore, He says, I, being a man, and having become like unto you, cast out devils in the Spirit of God, human nature has in Me first attained to a godlike kingdom. For it has become glorious by breaking the power of Satan, and rebuking the impure and abominable spirits: for such is the meaning of the words, that “the kingdom of God has come upon you.” But the Jews did not understand the mystery of the dispensation of the Only-begotten in the flesh: and yet how ought they not rather to have reflected, that by the Only-begotten Word of God having become man, without ceasing to be that which He was, He glorified the nature of man, in that He did not disdain to take upon Him its meanness, in order that He might bestow upon it His own riches.

And inasmuch as it was necessary, as I showed, that the argument upon this subject should travel through many considerations, He makes use of a most plain and evident comparison, by means of which those who will may see, that He has conquered the ruler of this world, and having, so to speak, hamstrung him, and stripped him of the power which he possessed, has given him over for a prey unto His followers. “For when, He says, the strong man being armed guards his house, all his goods are in peace: but when One That is |372 stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, He takes away all his armour wherein he trusted, and divides his spoil,” This is, as I said, a plain demonstration, and type of the matter depicted after the manner of human affairs. For as long as a strong man retains the superiority, and guards his own property, he is in no danger of being plundered. But when one who is stronger than he, and more powerful, comes upon him, and prevails against him, then forthwith he is spoiled. And such has been the fate of our common enemy, the wicked Satan, that many headed serpent, the inventor of sin. For before the coining of the Saviour, he was in great power, driving and shutting up, so to speak, in his own stall flocks not his own, but belonging to God over all, like some rapacious and most insolent robber. But inasmuch as the Word of God Who is above all, the Giver of all might, and Lord of powers assailed Him, having become man, all his goods have been plundered, and his spoil divided. For those who of old had been ensnared by him into ungodliness and error have been called by the holy apostles to the acknowledgment of the truth, and been brought near unto God the Father by faith in His Son.

Would you like to hear and learn another convincing argument besides these? “He that is not with Me,” He says, “is against Me: and he that gathers not with Me, scatters for Me.” For I, He says, have come to save every man from the hands of the devil; to deliver from his guile those whom he had ensnared; to set the prisoners free; to give light to those in darkness; to raise up them that had fallen; to heal the broken-spirited: and to gather together the children of God who were scattered abroad. Such was the object of My coming. But Satan is not with Me; on the contrary he is against Me. For he ventures to scatter those whom I have gathered and saved. How then can he, who wars against Me, and sets his wickedness in array against My purposes, give Me power against himself? How is it not foolish even barely to imagine the possibility of such a thing as this?

The cause however which made the Jewish multitudes fall into such thoughts concerning Christ He Himself makes plain, by saying; “When the wicked spirit has gone forth from the man, it returns with seven other spirits more bitter |373 than itself; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” For as long as they were in bondage in Egypt, and lived according to the customs and laws of the Egyptians, which were full of all impurity, they led polluted lives; an evil spirit dwelt in them: for it dwells in the hearts of the wicked. But when in the mercy of God they had been delivered by Moses, and received the law as a schoolmaster, calling them to the light of the true knowledge of God, the impure and polluted spirit was driven out. But because they did not believe in Christ, but rejected the Saviour, the impure spirit again attacked them: for he found their heart empty, and devoid of all fear of God, and, swept as it were, and took up his abode in them. For just as the Holy Spirit, when He sees any one’s heart free from all impurity, and clean, dwells and abides there, and rests therein; so also the impure spirit is wont to dwell in the souls of the wicked. For they are devoid, as I said, of all virtue: and thero is in them no fear of God. The last state therefore of the Israelites has become worse than the first. For as the disciple of the Saviour said; “It had been better for them not to have known the way of truth, than that when they have known it, they should turn back again from the holy commandment that was delivered unto them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb; The dog that returned to its vomit; and the washed sow to wallow in the mire.” Let us flee therefore from being like the Jews; let Christ Who works miracles, be extolled by us: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |374 (source)

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, fathers of the church, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 11:5-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 27, 2014

This post consists of two homiletic commentaries; the first on Lk 11:5-10 and the second on Lk 11:11-13.

11:5-10. And He said to them, Who of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves: for my friend has come to me from the way, and I have nothing to set before him. And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: lo! the door is shut, and the children are with me in bed: I cannot rise and give you. I say to you, that though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend; because of his urgency he will rise and give him as much as he needs. And I also say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds: and whosoever knocks, it shall be opened to him.

THE language of the divinely inspired Scripture is constantly, so to speak, profound; nor will it bend itself for those to be able to understand it who merely wish to do so, but only for those who know how to search it well, and are enriched with the divine light in their mind, by means of which they attain to the meaning of hidden truths. Let us therefore ask for the understanding which comes from above, from God, and the illumination of the Holy Ghost, that we may attain to a correct and unerring method, whereby we may be enabled to see the truth contained in the passage set before us.

We have heard then what the Saviour said in the parable now read to us, which if we understand we shall find to be laden with benefits. And the order of the ideas is very wonderful. For the Saviour of all had taught at the request of the holy apostles, in what way we ought to pray. But it was possible that those who had obtained from Him this precious and saving lesson, might sometimes make indeed their supplications according to the pattern given them, but would do so wearily and lazily. And so, when not heard at their first or |355 second prayer, would desist from their supplications, as being unavailing to their benefit. In order therefore that we may not experience this, nor suffer the injury that would result from such littleness of mind, He teaches us that we must diligently continue the practice, and in the form of a parable plainly shows that weariness in prayer is to our loss, while patience therein is greatly to our profit: for it is our duty to persevere, without giving way to indolence. And this He teaches us by saying, that “though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, because of his importunity he will rise and give him as much as he needs.”

And now come, and let us transfer to the truth what was shown in the form of a parable. Be urgent in prayer; draw near to God Who loves to be kind; and that very constantly. And if you see that the gift of grace is delayed, yield not to weariness: despair not of the expected blessing: abandon not the hope set before you; nor further foolishly say within yourself, ‘I have drawn near frequently; I have gained absolutely nothing; I have wept, and received not; I have supplicated, but not been accepted: for of all I asked, nothing has been accomplished.’ Rather think thus within yourself, that He Who is the universal treasure house better knows our state than we do, in that He weighs to every man what is due and suitable to him. You ask sometimes what is beyond your measure; you wish to receive those things of which you are not yet worthy. The Giver Himself knows the time suitable for His gifts. Earthly fathers do not immediately and without discretion fulfil the desire of their sons: but often delay in spite of their asking, and that not because they have a grudging hand, nor again because they regard (merely) what is pleasant to the petitioners, but as considering what is useful and necessary for their good conduct. And how will that rich and bounteous Giver neglect the duo accomplishment for men of what they pray for, unless of course, and without all doubt, He knows that it would not be for their benefit to receive what they ask? We must therefore offer our prayers to God with knowledge, as well as with assiduity: and even though there be some delay in your requests, continue patiently with the vineyard workers, as being well assured that what is gained without toil, and readily won, is usually despised: |356 whereas that which is gathered with labour is a more pleasant and abiding possession.

But perchance to this you say; ‘I draw near frequently, making requests; but the vintage therefrom has wandered far away. I am not slothful in supplications, but persevering and very importunate: who will assure me that I shall receive? who is my security that I shall not labour in vain?’ “Therefore I also say to you;” and it is the Bestower of divine gifts Who Himself enters, and speaks;—-“I also say to you, Seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: for every one that asks receives; and he who seeks finds: and whosoever knocks, it shall be opened to him.” In those words, “I say to you” has the full force of an oath: not that God is false, even though the promise be not accompanied with an oath; but to show that the littleness of their faith was groundless, He sometimes confirms His hearers by an oath. For the Saviour is also found in many places prefacing His words by saying, “Verily, truly, I say to you.” As therefore He makes this very promise on oath, it is not a thing free from guilt to disbelieve it.

In telling us therefore to seek, He bids us labour: for by labour, that which is needed is always, so to say, found; especially when it is something fit for us to possess. He who knocks, not once merely, but again and again, rattles the door with his hand, it may be, or with a stone, so that the master of the house, unable to endure the annoyance of the knocks, will open it even against his will. Learn therefore, even from what happens among us, the way to gain that which is to your profit. Knock, be urgent, ask. So must all act who ask any thing of God: for wise Paul writes, “Pray without ceasing.” We are in need of urgent prayer, because many are the turmoils of worldly matters which encircle us around: for that many headed serpent greatly distresses us, involving us sometimes in unexpected difficulties, that he may humble us to baseness and manifold sin: and, besides this, there is also the inbred law of voluptuousness lurking in our fleshly members, and warring, as Scripture says, “against the law of our mind:” and lastly, the enemies of the doctrines of truth, even the impure and polluted gangs of heretics, oppose those who wish to hold correct opinions. Constant and earnest prayer therefore is necessary. |357 For arms and the implements of warfare are needed for soldiers, that they may be able to overcome those who are drawn up against them: and for us prayer, “for our weapons,” as Scripture says “are not carnal, but mighty to God.”

And this too we ought to add, as being in my opinion amply sufficient to quicken us to prayer. The Saviour and Lord of all is seen again and again passing the night in prayer. And when too He was about to undergo His saving passion upon the precious cross, He knelt down and prayed, saying; “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” Was this because Life was afraid of death? Was it because there was no escape for Him from the net, no deliverance from the snare, in that the hand of the Jews was mightier than His power? And how is it not altogether abominable to think or speak thus? He was by nature God, and the Lord of powers, even though He was in form like to us. Of His own will He took upon Him the suffering upon the cross, because He was the helper of us all. What need was there then of prayer? It was that we might learn that supplication is becoming and full of benefits, and that we must be constant in it whenever temptation befal, and the cruelty of enemies press upon us like a wave.

And to put it in one more light; for man to converse with God is a very great honour to human nature. And this we do in prayer, being commanded to address the Lord as Father; for we say, Our Father. But if He be a Father, necessarily He both loves and generously cherishes His sons, and honours them of course, and counts them worthy of indulgence. Draw near therefore in faith with perseverance, as being well assured that to those who ask urgently Christ bows His ear: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |358

11:11-13. And which of you that shall ask his father bread, will he offer him a stone? or if he ask of him a fish, will he for a fish offer him a serpent? If he ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you therefore, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more shall the heavenly Father give a good spirit to them that ask Him?

TO love instruction and be fond of hearing becomes saints: but those who are thus minded must, I say, keep in remembrance, and store up in the treasure-house of their heart, whatsoever has been spoken by those who are skilful in teaching right doctrine, and whose study it is ably to initiate men in the truth. For this is both profitable to themselves for their spiritual improvement; and besides, it rejoices the teacher, just, for instance, as the seed also gladdens the husbandman when it springs up, as having been well covered in the furrow, and escaped being the food of birds. You therefore remember that at our last meeting we addressed you on the duty of praying without ceasing, and making supplication continually in offering our requests to God: and that we must not give way to any littleness of soul, nor at all grow weary, even though He somewhat delay His gift, considering that He knows whatsoever is to our benefit, and that the fitting season for His bounties is not forgotten by Him.

And in to-day’s lesson from the gospel, the Saviour again teaches another point most useful for our edification. And what this is, come, that we may declare it as to sons. We sometimes draw near to our bounteous God, offering Him petitions for various objects, according to each one’s pleasure: but occasionally without discernment, or any careful examination what truly is to our advantage, and if granted by God would prove a blessing; and what would be to our injury if we received it. Rather, by the inconsiderate impulse of our fancy, we fall into desires replete with ruin, and which thrust the souls of those that entertain them into the snare of death and the meshes of hell. When therefore we ask of God ought of |359 this kind, we shall by no means receive it: on the contrary, we offer a petition fit only for ridicule. And why shall we not receive it? Is the God of all weary of bestowing gifts upon us? By no means. Why then, some one forsooth may say, will He not give, since He is bounteous in giving? Let us learn of Him; or rather, you have already heard Him here saying, What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Understand, he says, by an image or plain example taken from what happens among you, the meaning of what I say; You are the father of children; you have in you the sharp spur of natural affection towards them; in every way you wish to benefit them: when therefore, He says, one asks of you bread, without delay and with pleasure you give it, as knowing well that he seeks of you wholesome food. But when, from want of understanding, a little child that knows not yet how to distinguish what it sees, nor moreover what is the service and use of the various objects that fall in our way, asks for stones to eat, do you, He says, give them, or rather do you not make him desist from any such desire as would be to his injury?

And the same reasoning holds good of the serpent and fish, and the egg and scorpion. If he ask a fish, you will grant it: but if he see a serpent, and wish to seize it, you will hold back the child’s hand. If he want an egg, you will offer it at once, and encourage his desire after things of this sort, that the infant may advance to riper age: but if he see a scorpion creeping about, and run after it, imagining it to be something pretty, and as being ignorant of the harm it can do, you will, I suppose, of course stop him, and not let him be injured by the noxious animal. When therefore He says, “You who |360 are evil;” by which He means, you whose mind is capable of being influenced by evil, and not uniformly inclined to good like the God of all; “you know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give a good spirit to them that ask Him? And by “a good spirit’1 He means spiritual grace: for this in every way is good, and if a man receive it, he will become most blessed, and worthy of admiration.

Most ready therefore is our heavenly Father to bestow gifts upon us: so that whosoever is denied what he asks, is himself the cause of it: for he asks, as I said, what God will not give. For God wishes us to be holy and blameless, and to advance uprightly and boldly in every good work; walking apart from every thing that defiles, and from the love of fleshly pleasure, and rejecting the anxieties of worldly pursuits; not involving ourselves in worldly business; not living profligately and carelessly; not delighting in unruly pleasures; nor moreover practising a dissolute mode of life; but desiring to live well and wisely, and in accordance with God’s commands, making tho law which He gave us the regulator of our conduct, and earnest in tho pursuit of whatever tends chiefly to our edification. If therefore you wish to receive ought of this kind, draw near with joy: for our Father Who is in heaven, because He loves virtue, will readily incline His car.

Examine therefore your prayer: for if you ask ought by receiving which you will become a lover of God, God, as I said, will grant it: but if it be any thing unreasonable, or that is able to do you an injury, He will withhold His hand: He will not bestow the wished-for object; in order that neither He may give nothing of an injurious nature,—-for this is completely alien from Him,—-nor let you harm yourself by receiving it. And let me explain how: for which purpose I shall bring forward examples. When you ask for wealth, you will not receive it of God: and why? Because it separates the heart of man from Him. Wealth begets pride, voluptuousness, and the love of pleasure, and brings men down to the pitfalls of worldly lusts. And so one of the disciples of our Lord has taught us, saying; “Whence are there wars, and whence quarrels among you? Is it not hence; from your lusts, that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you seek, and |361 find not: you ask, and receive not, because you ask wickedly, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” When you ask worldly power, God will turn away His face: for He knows that it is a most injurious thing to those who possess it. For constantly, so to speak, charges of oppression attach themselves to those who possess worldly power: and those are for the most part proud, and unbridled, and boastful, who are set in temporal dignities. When you ask for any to perish, or be exposed to inevitable tortures, because they have annoyed or molested you in any way, God will not grant it. For He wills us to be long-suffering in mind: and not to requite any one with evil for evil, but to pray for those who spoil us: to do good to those who injure us, and be imitators of His kindness. For this reason Solomon was praised; for when offering up prayers to God, he said: “And you shall give Your servant a heart to hear, and to judge Your people righteously.” And it pleased the Lord that Solomon asked this thing. And what did God, Who loves virtue, say to him? “Because you have not asked for you many days: nor have asked the lives of your enemies; but have asked for you understanding, and to hear judgment: see! I have done what you said: see! I have given you a heart prudent and wise.”

You, therefore, should ask the bestowal without stint of spiritual gifts. Ask strength, that you may be able manfully to resist every fleshly lust. Ask of God an uncovetous disposition; long suffering; gentleness; and the mother and nurse of all good, I mean, patience. Ask calmness of temper; continence; a pure heart; and further, ask also the wisdom that comes from Him. These things He will give readily: these save the soul: these work in it that better beauty, and imprint in it God’s image. This is the spiritual wealth; the riches that has never to be abandoned: these prepare for us the lot of the saints, and make us members of the company of the holy angels; these perfect us in piety, and rapidly load us onward to the hope of eternal life, and make us heirs of the kingdom of heaven, by the aid of Christ, the Saviour of us all; by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.  |362

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 27, 2014

This post opens with MacEvilly’s brief analysis of Galatians 2 followed by his commentary on today’s reading. Text in purple represents his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.


Gal 2:1 THEN, after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me.

Then, after an interval of fourteen years, during which I preached the Gospel to the Gentiles, I went up again to Jerusalem, accompanied by Barnabas, and we took Titus also with us.

“Then after fourteen years.” The more probable opinion is, that these fourteen years are to be computed, not from his going up to Jerusalem the first time (chap. 1 verse 18), as St. Jerome maintains, but from his conversion, which is the opinion of St. Thomas and. Baronius. From the Acts it appears, that St. Paul went up five different times to Jerusalem. The present refers to his third visit, when he assisted at the Council of Jerusalem, the occasion of which is referred to (Acts, chap. 15). With no other visit could the matter referred to here correspond. “I went up to Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was built on hilly ground; hence, our Lord says in the Gospel—“Behold we go up to Jerusalem.”

Gal 2:2 And I went up according to revelation and communicated to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles: but apart to them who seemed to be some thing: lest perhaps I should run or had run in vain.

But I went up, after having been admonished by a Divine revelation; and, in public, I conferred with the faithful of Jerusalem, respecting the Gospel which I preached among the Gentiles. But, in private conferences, I communicated with the principal Apostles, not from any feeling of doubt I had of the truth of my doctrine, but in order to insure the success of my past and future labours, by avoiding even the shadow of difference between the principal Apostles and myself.

“According to revelation.” Is it not said (Acts, 15), that he was delegated by the people of Antioch to confer with the Apostles referring the necessity of imposing the observance of the legal ceremonies on the converted Gentiles? Both assertions are perfectly reconcilable, inasmuch as the revelation from God may have tended to the same object with the delegation on the part of the people of Antioch and would only confirm St. Paul in his resolve to carry it out.

“And conferred with them”—that is, the brethren at Jerusalem. Others understand “them” to have the same meaning as the following words: “but apart with them who seemed,” &c. It is better, however, with Estius and others, to understand the word as in the Paraphrase; for, there seems to be a manifest difference between this word and the following words, “who seemed to be something.” Probably, the subject about which he conferred in private with the principal Apostles, regarded the propriety of exempting not only the Gentiles from the legal ceremonies, which was publicly discussed and authoritatively decided, but the Jews also. Regarding this latter point of doctrine, it was not deemed prudent to hold discussions in public. “I conferred.” The Greek word, ανεθεμην (anethemen), does not imply any doubt on his part (as in Paraphrase). “Who seemed to be something.” “Something,” is not in the Greek, which simply is, τοῖς δοκοῦσιν (tois doukousin), but the Vulgate expresses the meaning, viz., who were of consideration or repute. “Run in vain,” by giving any grounds for believing that his labours were either without fruit or his mission not duly accredited.

Gal 2:7 But contrariwise, when they had seen that to me was committed the gospel of the uncircumcision, as to Peter was that of the circumcision.
Gal 2:8 (For he who wrought in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision wrought in me also among the Gentiles.)

7 But on the contrary, far from making any change in my doctrine, when they saw that the commission of preaching the Gospel among the Gentiles was confided to me, as that of preaching among the Jews was to Peter:
8 (For, the same God who manifested his power in Peter for the conversion of the Jews, by the wonderful success that attended his preaching among them, manifested the same power in me for converting the Gentiles, by the abundant success of my preaching among the latter)

By the abundant success which attended the preaching of St. Paul among the Gentiles, and the preaching of St. Peter among the Jews, together with the miracles and other gifts of the Holy Ghost, with which they were favoured, God showed that the Apostleship of St. Paul was to be chiefly exercised among the Gentiles, and that of St. Peter among the Jews.

Gal 2:9 And when they had known the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship: that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision:

And when, from undoubted evidence, they became convinced of the special grace of Apostleship, among the Gentiles, which was confided to me, James, Peter, and John, the three Apostles who were in most repute, extended to myself and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship in the apostleship, which we were to exercise among the Gentiles, and they among the Jews.

From the miraculous success with which the labours of St. Paul were blessed among the Gentiles, the Apostles became convinced of the special grace of apostleship among the Gentiles, which was confided to him. They admitted him, therefore, into fellowship, and parcelled out the Gentile world, as the theatre of his future labours. This passage does not furnish even the shadow of an argument against the Primacy over the entire Church, “lambs and sheep,” i.e., pastors and people, divinely accorded to St. Peter. For, the latter did preach among the Gentiles also, in fulfilment of the command, “kill and eat.”—(Acts, 10). And St. Paul was a vessel of election to carry the name of Christ not only “before the Gentiles” but also “before the children of Israel”—(Acts, 9:15).

Gal 2:10 Only that we should be mindful of the poor: which same thing also I was careful to do.

With this sole injunction, that we would be mindful of the poor of Jerusalem, who, by voluntary cession, or by confiscation of their property, were reduced to want—a duty, which we discharged with the utmost solicitude.

The poor referred to here, are the faithful of Jerusalem, of whom some voluntarily surrendered their goods to be enjoyed in common; others were unjustly deprived of them, and were, in consequence, in great want. The care of the poor specially devolves on the minister of religion—they are the dearest portion of His flock, who is, “the father of orphans and the judge of widows.” Woe to him, who, through either pusillanimity, or a cowardly fear of the countenance of the mighty, or a feeling of selfish complaisance, with a view of gaining the favour, and of becoming the accepted minister at the tables of their oppressors, shall sacrifice the interests, or neglect the defence, of the afflicted poor of Jesus Christ! And this holds particularly true, if the unjust persecution of the poor be traceable, as it generally is, in this unhappy country, to religious rancour and hatred of their faith. If the poor of this unhappy country professed any other than the true faith—nay, if they were Pagans or Mahommedans—they would not be treated with the inhuman and heart-rending cruelty, which is daily exercised in their regard. Woe, eternal woe, to the pastor and ecclesiastic who turns a deaf ear to their cries, and from motives of selfishness, or worldly prudence, or love of self-ease, neglects to adopt all peaceful and constitutional means to ameliorate their unhappy condition! If they were of any other religion they would not put up with the treatment they are enduring, nor would their oppressors dare to treat them so. But they are taught to look forward for other possessions in store for “the meek,” and for those who “possess their souls in patience.”

Gal 2:11 But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
Gal 2:12 For before that some came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of the circumcision.

11 But when, after the close of the Council of Jerusalem, Peter came to Antioch, whither I had returned (Acts, 16); I publicly and openly resisted him, because he was deserving of reprehension.
12For, before the arrival of certain Jews from Jerusalem, where James presided as bishop, Peter had eaten with the Gentiles without any distinction of meats: but when the Jews arrived, he withdrew and separated himself from the company of the Gentiles, fearing to offend or scandalize the Jews.

St. Peter silently submitted to the rebuke here dealt out to him; which was another proof that St. Paul was correct in his views on the subject of the legal ceremonies—the question at issue. St. Peter did at first, by his mode of acting, acknowledge the abolition of the legal ceremonies (verse 12). But, afterwards, by an act of inconsiderateness, which rendered him really reprehensible, he abstained from the society of the Gentiles—with whom he partook of all kinds of meats without distinction—for fear of giving offence to certain Jews, who came down from Jerusalem. This mode of acting was calculated to leave the Gentiles under an erroneous impression. Hence, the rebuke dealt out to him by St. Paul.

“Because he was blameable.” The Greek is, ὅτι κατεγνωσμενος ἦν (hoti kategnosmenos en), because he was blamed or reprehended, which is employed for “reprehensible” or “blameable,” by a Hebrew idiom, according to which the passive participle is used for the verbal adjective. The Hebrews, we are told by St. Jerome, have no verbal adjective ending in bilis.

Gal 2:13 And to his dissimulation the rest of the Jews consented: so that Barnabas also was led by them into that dissimulation.

And the other Jews dissembled along with him; and so great was the force of their example, that even Barnabas, the partner of my journeys and labours, was led to join in the same course of dissimulation.

“And to his dissimulation the rest of the Jews consented.” The Greek word, συνυπεκριθησαν (synypekrithesan), means, dissembled together with him.

Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly unto the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all: If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles and not as the Jews do, how dost thou compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

But when I saw, that, by this mode of acting, they were not conforming to the truth of the Gospel, I said publicly in the hearing of all to Peter: If you, although a Jew, and of Jewish extraction, avail yourself of the Gospel liberty of using all kinds of meat without distinction, why invite and force the Gentiles by your example to embrace and live up to the forms of the Mosaic law, which by our own former conduct you have pronounced unnecessary, even for the Jews themselves?

Their mode of acting was not walking directly or strictly in conformity with the truth of the gospel, it was rather staggering between the Gospel and the Old Law; and so, it elicited this strong reproof from St. Paul.

It was a matter of grave dispute between St. Jerome and St. Augustine, whether the Apostle really reprehended St. Peter, or only affected to do so, as the result of a preconcerted arrangement between them, in order that by a public apparent reproof of this kind, the Jews might be taught the inutility of the Mosaic ceremonies. St. Augustine, whose opinion St. Jerome appears to have afterwards adopted, maintained, that St. Peter, by such conduct, committed a sin, not of heresy, but of inconsiderateness, which was, of its own nature, venial, and that so, he was really censured by St. Paul. The words of this verse favour the opinion of St. Augustine, who holds that it was real and not pretended reproof: and although it is maintained by many that the Apostles were confirmed in grace, this still does not exclude the possibility of their falling into venial sins.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Luke 10:38-42

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 27, 2014

10:38-42. And it came to pass as they journeyed, that he entered into a certain village, and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at our Lord’s feet, and heard His word: but Martha was distracted with much service. And standing before Him, she said, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her help me. But our Lord answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and busied about many things: but few things are required, or one: and Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

You who love the virtues which adorn piety, and carefully practice every art which become the saints, again come and listen to the sacred doctrine, and let not the method of hospitality be unknown to you. For it is a great and valuable quality, as the wise Paul testifies, where he writes, “Forget not hospitality: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Let us learn therefore of Christ, the Saviour of all, this also, as well as all other things. For it would be a disgrace to us, that while those who desire worldly wisdom, and gather written learning, select the best teachers for their instructors; we who are encouraged to pay earnest heed to doctrines of such surpassing value, and may have as our instructor and teacher Christ the Giver of all wisdom, do not imitate this woman in her love of learning, even Mary, who sat at the Saviour’s feet, and filled her heart with the doctrines He taught, feeling as if she could never have enough of what so profited her.

For the Saviour lodged with the holy women, but Mary, it |318 says, listened to Him as He taught; while the other, Martha, was distracted with much service. She therefore besought Him that her sister might share her carefulness with her. But Christ consented not, saying, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and busied about many things: only few things are required, or but one.” And He further praised Mary, that “she had chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” For the acquisition of spiritual blessings is never lost.

The first thing however which we must examine is the manner in which the Saviour again benefits His disciples, by setting Himself before them as an example, in order that they may know how and in what manner to behave in the houses of such as receive them. For they must not immediately on entering indulge themselves in relaxation, or suppose that this is the reason why they lodge with men, but rather that they may fill them with every blessing, and the divine and sacred doctrines. So somewhere the blessed Paul also sends a message to certain: “For I desire to see you, that I may give you some spiritual gift, that you may be confirmed.” Observe therefore, that our Lord Jesus Christ, on entering to lodge with these holy women, did not cease from giving instruction, but still grants them, without stint, the sober doctrines of salvation. And one of these women was steadfast in her love of hearing: but Martha was distracted with much service. Does any one then blame her for being occupied with careful service? By no means. For neither does the Saviour chide her for having proposed to herself the discharge of this duty; but rather He blamed her, as one who was labouring in vain, by wishing to procure more than was necessary. And this He did for our benefit, that He might fix a limit to hospitality. For far better is that other part, of earnestly desiring the divine doctrine.

We do not then say that the wish to entertain strangers, when it does not aim at anything excessive, is to be despised, and is no service. The saints especially are bound to be content with little, and when they eat, and are prevailed upon to draw near to the table, they do so, rather to appease the infirmity of the body, in accordance with the laws of nature, than as caring about pleasure and relaxation. When |319 therefore we lodge with the brethren, in wishing to reap their corporeal things, let us first sow for them things spiritual; and imitating therein careful husbandmen, let us lay bare their hearts, lest some root of bitterness spring up and injure them: lest the worm of human innovation attack them, and work in them secret decay. And if anything like this has happened, then thrusting forthwith into their minds the saving word of instruction, like the teeth of the mattock, let us eradicate the root of ungodliness; let us pluck up the heretical darnel from the very bottom; let us implant the knowledge of the truth: thus we may reap the corporeal things of those who have a superfluity, receiving them as a matter of debt: for the workman, He says, is worthy of his hire. And the law of Moses, hinting at the same truth, says somewhere in like manner, “You shall not muzzle the trampling ox.” And as Paul said, “Does God care about oxen? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes?” You therefore will give things more valuable than those you receive from men: for things temporal. You will give things eternal: for earthly things things heavenly: for the things of sense, things intellectual: for the things that perish, things that endure. And thus much of those who receive hospitality.

But let those who open to them their house, meet them cheerfully, and with alacrity, and as their fellows: and not so much as those who give, but as those who receive: as those who gain, and not as those who expend. And the more so as they profit doubly; for in the first place they enjoy the instruction of those whom they hospitably entertain: and secondly, they also win the reward of hospitality. Every way therefore they are profited. When however they receive the brethren into their house, let them not be distracted with much service. Let them not seek any thing beyond their means, or more than sufficient. For every where and in every thing excess is injurious. For often it produces hesitation in those who otherwise would be glad to receive strangers, and causes but few [houses] to be found fit for the purpose: while it proves a cause of annoyance to those who are entertained. For the rich in this world delight in costly banquets; and in many kinds of viands, prepared curiously often with sauces and flavours; a mere sufficiency is utterly scorned, while that |320 which is extravagant is praised, and a profusion beyond all satiety is admired, and crowned with words of flattery. The drinkings and revellings are excessive; and the draining of cups, and courses of wines, the means of intoxication and gluttony. But when holy men are assembled at the house of one who fears God, let the table be plain and temperate, the viands simple, and free from superfluities: but little to eat, and that meagre and scant: and a limited sufficiency of drink. In every thing a small supply of such necessaries as will allay the bodily appetite with simple fare. So must men receive strangers. So too Abraham by the oak at Mamre, received those three men, and won as the reward of his carefulness, the promise of his beloved son Isaac. So Lot in Sodom honoured the angels, and for so doing, was not destroyed by fire with the rest; nor became the prey of the inextinguishable flame.

Very great therefore is the virtue of hospitality, and especially worthy of the saints: let us therefore also practise it, for so will the heavenly Teacher lodge and rest in our hearts, even Christ; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |321

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 88

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2014

1. The Title of this Psalm contains a fresh subject for enquiry: the words occurring here, “for Melech to respond,” being nowhere else found. We have already given our opinion on the meaning of the titles Psalmus Cantici and Canticum Psalmi (in the comments on Ps 44): and the words, “sons of Core,” are constantly repeated, and have often been explained: so also “to the end;” but what comes next in this title is peculiar. For “Melech” (Maheleth) we may translate into Latin “for the chorus,” for chorus is the sense of the Hebrew word Melech (Maheleth). … The Passion of our Lord is here prophesied. Now the Apostle Peter saith, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow His steps” (1 Pet 2:21); this is the meaning of “to respond.” The Apostle John also saith, “As Christ laid down His life for us, so ought we also to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 Jn 3:16); this also is to respond. But the choir signifies concord, which consists in charity: whoever therefore in imitation of our Lord’s Passion gives up his body to be burnt, if he have not charity, does not answer in the choir, and therefore it profiteth him nothing (1 Cor 13:3). Further, as in Latin the terms Precentor and Succentor are used to denote in music the performer who sings the first part, and him who takes it up; just so in this song of the Passion, Christ going before is followed by the choir of martyrs unto the end of gaining crowns in Heaven. This is sung by “the sons of Core,” that is, the imitators of Christ’s Passion: as Christ was crucified in Calvary, which is the interpretation of the Hebrew word Core (Mt 27:33). This also is “the understanding of Æman the Israelite:”7 words occurring at the end of this title (the Vulgate has “Ezrahitæ”). Æman is said to mean, “his brother:” for Christ deigns to make those His brethren, who understand the mystery of His Cross, and not only are not ashamed of it, but faithfully glory in it, not praising themselves for their own merits, but grateful for His grace: so that it may be said to each of them, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile” (Jn 1:47), just as holy Scripture says of Israel himself, that he was without guile (Gen 25:27).

2. “O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before Thee” (ver. 1). Let us therefore now hear the voice of Christ singing before us in prophecy, to whom His own choir should respond either in imitation, or in thanksgiving.

“O let my prayer enter into Thy presence, incline Thine ear unto my calling” (ver. 2). For even our Lord prayed, not in the form of God, but in the form of a servant; for in this He also suffered. He prayed both in prosperous times, that is, by “day,” and in calamity, which I imagine is meant by “night.” The entrance of prayer into God’s presence is its acceptance: the inclination of His ear is His compassionate listening to it: for God has not such bodily members as we have. The passage is however, as usual, a repetition.

3. “For my soul is filled with evils, and my life draweth nigh unto hell” (ver. 3). Dare we speak of the Soul of Christ as “filled with evils,” when the passion had strength as far as it had any, only over the body?… The soul therefore may feel pain without the body: but without the soul the body cannot. Why therefore should we not say that the Soul of Christ was full of the evils of humanity, though not of human sins? Another Prophet says of Him, that He grieved for us (Isa 53:4): and the Evangelist says, “And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy:” and our Lord Himself saith unto them of Himself, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Mt 26:37-38). The Prophet who composed this Psalm, foreseeing that this would happen, introduces Him saying, “My soul is full of evils, and My life draweth nigh unto hell.” For the very same sense is here expressed in other words, as when He said, “My soul is sorrowful, even unto death.” The words, “My soul is sorrowful,” are like these, “My soul is full of evils:” and what follows, “even unto death,” like, “my life draweth nigh unto hell.” These feelings of human infirmity our Lord took upon Him, as He did the flesh of human infirmity, and the death of human flesh, not by the necessity of His condition, but by the free will of His mercy, that He might transfigure into Himself His own body, which is the Church (the head of which He deigned to be), that is, His members in His holy and faithful disciples: that if amid human temptations any one among them happened to be in sorrow and pain, he might not therefore think that he was separated from His favour: that the body, like the chorus following its leader, might learn from its Head, that these sorrows were not sin, but proofs of human weakness. We read of the Apostle Paul, a chief member in this body, and we hear him confessing that his soul was full of such evils, when he says, that he feels “great heaviness and continual sorrow in heart for his brethren according to the flesh, who are Israelites” (Rom 9:2, 4). And if we say that our Lord was sorrowful for them also at the approach of His Passion, in which they would incur the most atrocious guilt, I think we shall not speak amiss. Lastly, the very thing said by our Saviour on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34), is expressed in this Psalm below, “I am counted as one of them that go down into the pit” (ver. 4): by them who knew not what they were doing, when they imagined that He died like other men, subjected to necessity, and overcome by it. The word “pit” is used for the depth of woe or of Hell. “I have been as a man that hath no help.”

4. “Free among the dead” (ver. 5). In these words our Lord’s Person is most clearly shown: for who else is free among the dead but He who though in the likeness of sinful flesh is alone among sinners without sin? (Rom 8:3) … He therefore, “free among the dead,” who had it in His power to lay down His life, and again to take it; from whom no one could take it, but He laid it down of His own free will; who could revive His own flesh, as a temple destroyed by them, at His will; who, when all had forsaken Him on the eve of His Passion, remained not alone, because, as He testifies, His Father forsook Him not (Jn 8:29); was nevertheless by His enemies, for whom He prayed, who knew not what they did.… counted “as one who hath no help; like unto them that are wounded, and lie in the grave.” But he adds, “Whom thou dost not yet remember:” and in these words there is to be remarked a distinction between Christ and the rest of the dead. For though He was wounded, and when dead laid in the tomb (Mt 27:50, 60), yet they who knew not what they were doing, or who He was, regarded Him as like others who had perished from their wounds, and who slept in the tomb, who are as yet out of remembrance of God, that is, whose hour of resurrection has not yet arrived. For thus the Scripture speaks of the dead as sleeping, because it wishes them to be regarded as destined to awake, that is, to rise again. But He, wounded and asleep in the tomb, awoke on the third day, and became “like a sparrow that sitteth alone on the housetop” (Ps 102:7), that is, on the right hand of His Father in Heaven: and now “dieth no more, death shall no more have dominion over Him” (Rom 6:9). Hence He differs widely from those whom God hath not yet remembered to cause their resurrection after this manner: for what was to go before in the Head, was kept for the Body in the end. God is then said to remember, when He does an act: then to forget, when He does it not: for neither can God forget, as He never changes, nor remember, as He can never forget. “I am counted” then, by those who know not what they do, “as a man that hath no help:” while I am “free among the dead,” I am held by these men “like unto them that are wounded, and lie in the grave.” Yet those very men, who account thus of Me, are further said to be “cut away from Thy hand,” that is, when I was made so by them, “they were cut away from Thy hand;” they who believed Me destitute of help, are deprived of the help of Thy hand: for they, as he saith in another Psalm (57:7), have digged a pit before me, and are fallen into the midst of it themselves. I prefer this interpretation to that which refers the words, “they are cut away from Thy hand,” to those who sleep in the tomb, whom God hath not yet remembered: since the righteous are among the latter, of whom, even though God hath not yet called them to the resurrection, it is said, that their “souls are in the hands of God” (Wis 3:1), that is, that “they dwell under the defence of the Most High; and shall abide under the shadow of the God of Heaven” (Ps 91:1). But it is those who are cut away from the hand of God, who believed that Christ was cut off from His hand, and thus accounting Him among the wicked, dared to slay Him.

5. “They laid Me in the lowest pit” (ver. 6), that is, the deepest pit. For so it is in the Greek. But what is the lowest pit, but the deepest woe, than which there is none more deep? Whence in another Psalm it is said, “Thou broughtest me out also of the pit of misery” (Ps 40:3). “In a place of darkness, and in the shadow of death,” whiles they knew not what they did, they laid Him there, thus deeming of Him; they knew not Him “whom none of the princes of this world knew” (1 Cor 2:8). By the “shadow of death,” I know not whether the death of the body is to be understood, or that of which it is written, “That they walked in darkness and in the land of the shadow of death, a light is risen on them” (Isa 9:2), because by belief they were brought from out of the darkness and death of sin into light and life. Such an one those who knew not what they did thought our Lord, and in their ignorance accounted Him among those whom He came to help, that they might not be such themselves.

6. “Thy indignation lieth hard upon Me” (ver. 7), or, as other copies have it, “Thy anger;” or, as others, “Thy fury:” the Greek word θυμὸς having undergone different interpretations. For where the Greek copies have ὀργὴ, no translator hesitated to express it by the Latin ira; but where the word is θυμὸς, most object to rendering it by ira, although many of the authors of the best Latin style, in their translations from Greek philosophy, have thus rendered the word in Latin. But I shall not discuss this matter further: only if I also were to suggest another term, I should think “indignation” more tolerable than “fury,” this word in Latin not being applied to persons in their senses. What then does this mean, “Thy indignation lieth hard upon Me,” except the belief of those, who knew not the Lord of Glory? (1 Cor 2:8) who imagined that the anger of God was not merely roused, but lay hard upon Him, whom they dared to bring to death, and not only death, but that kind, which they regarded as the most execrable of all, namely, the death of the Cross: whence saith the Apostle, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree” (Gal 3:13). On this account, wishing to praise His obedience which He carried to the extreme of humility, he says, “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death;” and as this seemed little, he added, “even the death of the Cross” (Phil 2:8); and with the same view as far as I can see, he says in this Psalm, “And all thy suspensions,” or, as some translate “waves,” others “tossings,” “Thou hast brought over Me.” We also find in another Psalm, “All thy suspensions and waves are come in upon Me” (Ps 42:7), or, as some have translated better, “have passed over Me:” for it is διῆλθον in Greek, not εἰσῆλθον: and where both expressions are employed, “waves” and “suspensions,” one cannot be used as equivalent to the other. In that passage we explained “suspensions” as threatenings, “waves” as the actual sufferings: both inflicted by God’s judgment: but in that place it is said, “All have passed over Me,” here, “Thou hast brought all upon Me.” In the other case, that is, although some evils took place, yet, he said, all those which are here mentioned passed over; but in this case, “Thou hast brought them upon Me.” Evils pass over when they do not touch a man, as things which hang over him, or when they do touch him, as waves. But when he uses the word “suspensions,” he does not say they passed over, but, “Thou hast brought them upon Me,” meaning that all which impended had come to pass. All things which were predicted of His Passion impended, as long as they remained in the prophecies for future fulfilment.

7. “Thou hast put Mine acquaintance far from Me” (ver. 8). If we understand by acquaintance those whom He knew, it will be all men; for whom knew He not? But He calls those acquaintance, to whom He was Himself known, as far as they could know Him at that season: at least so far forth as they knew Him to be innocent, although they considered Him only as a man, not as likewise God. Although He might call the righteous whom He approved, acquaintance, as He calls the wicked unknown, to whom He was to say at the end, “I know you not” (Mt 7:23) In what follows, “and they have set Me for an abhorrence to themselves;” those whom He called before “acquaintance,” may be meant, as even they felt horror at the mode of that death: but it is better referred to those of whom He was speaking above as His persecutors. “I was delivered up, and did not get forth.” Is this because His disciples were without, while He was being tried within? (Mt 26:56) Or are we to give a deeper meaning to the words, “I cannot get forth” as signifying, “I remained hidden in My secret counsels, I showed not who I was, I did not reveal Myself, was not made manifest”? And so it follows,—

“My eyes became weak from want” (ver. 9). For what eyes are we to understand? If the eyes of the flesh in which He suffered, we do not read that His eyes became weak from want, that is, from hunger, in His Passion, as is often the case; as He was betrayed after His Supper, and crucified on the same day: if the inner eyes, how were they weakened from want, in which there was a light that could never fail? But He meant by His eyes those members in the body, of which He was Himself the head, which, as brighter and more eminent and chief above the rest, He loved. It was of this body that the Apostle was speaking, when he wrote, taking his metaphor from our own body, “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?” etc. (1 Cor 12:17-21). What he wished understood by these words, he has expressed more clearly, by adding, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Cor 12:27). Wherefore as those eyes, that is, the holy Apostles, to whom not flesh and blood, but the Father which is in Heaven had revealed Him, so that Peter said, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Mt 16:16), when they saw Him betrayed, and suffering such evils, saw Him not such as they wished, as He did not come forth, did not manifest Himself in His virtue and power, but still hidden in His secrecy, endured everything as a man overcome and enfeebled, they became weak for want, as if their food, their Light, had been withdrawn from them.

8. He continues, “And I have called upon Thee.” This indeed He did most clearly, when upon the Cross. But what follows? “All the day I have stretched forth My hands unto Thee,” must be examined how it must be taken. For if in this expression we understand the tree of the Cross, how can we reconcile it with the “whole day”? Can He be said to have hung upon the Cross during the whole day, as the night is considered a part of the day? But if day, as opposed to night, was meant by this expression, even of this day, the first and no small portion had passed by at the time of His crucifixion. But if we take “day” in the same sense of time (especially as the word is used in the feminine, a gender which is restricted to that sense in Latin, although not so in Greek, as it is always used in the feminine, which I suppose to be the reason for its translation in the same gender in our own version), the knot of the question will be drawn tighter: for how can it mean for the whole space of time, if He did not even for one day stretch forth His hands on the Cross? Further, should we take the whole for a part, as Scripture sometimes uses this expression, I do not remember an instance in which the whole is taken for a part, when the word “whole” is expressly added. For in the passage of the Gospel where the Lord saith, “The Son of Man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mt 12:40), it is no extraordinary licence to take the whole for the part, the expression not being for three “whole” days and three whole nights: since the one intermediate day was a whole one, the other two were parts, the last being part of the first day, the first part of the last. But if the Cross is not meant here, but the prayer, which we find in the Gospel that He poured forth in the form of a servant to God the Father, where He is said to have prayed long before His Passion, and on the eve of His Passion, and also when on the Cross, we do not read anywhere that He did so throughout the whole day. Therefore by the stretched-out hands throughout the whole day, we may understand the continuation of good works in which He never ceased from exertion.

9. But as His good works profited only the predestined to eternal salvation, and not all men, nor even all those among whom they were done, he adds, “Dost thou show wonders among the dead?” (ver. 10). If we suppose this relates to those whose flesh life has left, great wonders have been wrought among the dead, inasmuch as some of them have revived (Mt 27:52): and in our Lord’s descent into Hell, and His ascent as the conqueror of death, a great wonder was wrought among the dead. He refers then in these words, “Dost Thou show wonders among the dead?” to men so dead in heart, that such great works of Christ could not rouse them to the life of faith: for he does not say that wonders are not shown to them because they see them not, but because they do not profit them. For, as he says in this passage, “the whole day have I stretched forth My hands to Thee:” because He ever refers all His works to the will of His Father, constantly declaring that He came to fulfil His Father’s will (Jn 6:38) so also, as an unbelieving people saw the same works, another Prophet saith, “I have spread out my hands all day unto a rebellious people, that believes not, but contradicts” (Isa 65:2). Those then are dead, to whom wonders have not been shown, not because they saw them not, but since they lived not again through them. The following verse, “Shall physicians revive them, and shall they praise Thee?” means, that the dead shall not be revived by such means, that they may praise Thee. In the Hebrew there is said to be a different expression: giants being used where physicians are here: but the Septuagint translators, whose authority is such that they may deservedly be said to have interpreted by the inspiration of the Spirit of God owing to their wonderful agreement, conclude, not by mistake, but taking occasion from the resemblance in sound between the Hebrew words expressing these two senses, that the use of the word is an indication of the sense in which the word giants is meant to be taken. For if you suppose the proud meant by giants, of whom the Apostle saith, “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?” (1 Cor 1:20) there is no incongruity in calling them physicians, as if by their own unaided skill they promised the salvation of souls: against whom it is said, “Of the Lord is safety” (Ps 4:8). But if we take the word giant in a good sense, as it is said of our Lord, “He rejoiceth as a giant to run his course” (Ps 19:5); that is Giant of giants, chief among the greatest and strongest, who in His Church excel in spiritual strength. Just as He is the Mountain of mountains; as it is written, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be manifested in the top of the mountains” (Isa 2:2): and the Saint of saints: there is no absurdity in styling these same great and mighty men physicians. Whence saith the Apostle, “if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Rom 11:14). But even such physicians, even though they cure not by their own power (as not even of their own do those of the body), yet so far forth as by faithful ministry they assist towards salvation, can cure the living, but not raise the dead: of whom it is said, “Dost Thou show wonders among the dead?” For the grace of God, by which men’s minds in a certain manner are brought to live a fresh life, so as to be able to hear the lessons of salvation from any of its ministers whatever, is most hidden and mysterious. This grace is thus spoken of in the Gospel. “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (Jn 6:44); … in order to show, that the very faith by which the soul believes, and springs into fresh life from the death of its former affections, is given us by God. Whatever exertions, then, the best preachers of the word, and persuaders of the truth through miracles, may make with men, just like great physicians: yet if they are dead, and through Thy grace have not a second life, “Dost Thou show wonders among the dead, or shall physicians raise them? and shall they” whom they raise “praise Thee”? For this confession declares that they live: not, as it is written elsewhere, “Thanksgiving perisheth from the dead, as from one that is not” (Sir 17:26).

10. “Shall one show Thy loving-kindness in the grave, or Thy faithfulness in destruction?” (ver. 11). The word “show” is of course understood as if repeated, Shall any show Thy faithfulness in destruction? Scripture loves to connect loving-kindness and faithfulness, especially in the Psalms. “Destruction” also is a repetition of “the grave,” and signifies them who are in the grave, styled above “the dead,” in the verse, “Dost thou show wonders among the dead?” for the body is the grave of the dead soul; whence our Lord’s words in the Gospel, “Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but within are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Mt 23:27-28).

11. “Shall thy wondrous works be known in the dark, and thy righteousness in the land where all things are forgotten?” (ver. 12), the dark answers to the land of forgetfulness: for the unbelieving are meant by the dark, as the Apostle saith, “For ye were sometimes darkness” (Eph 5:8); and the land where all things are forgotten, is the man who has forgotten God; for the unbelieving soul can arrive at darkness so intense, “that the fool saith in his heart, There is no God” (Ps 14:1). Thus the meaning of the whole passage may thus be drawn out in its connection: “Lord, I have called upon Thee,” amid My sufferings; “all day I have stretched forth my hands unto Thee” (ver. 13). I have never ceased to stretch forth My works to glorify Thee. Why then do the wicked rage against Me, unless because “Thou showest not wonders among the dead”? because those wonders move them not to faith, nor can physicians restore them to life that they may praise Thee, because Thy hidden grace works not in them to draw them unto believing: because no man cometh unto Me, but whom Thou hast drawn. Shall then “Thy loving-kindness be showed in the grave”? that is, the grave of the dead soul, which lies dead beneath the body’s weight: “or Thy faithfulness in destruction”? that is, in such a death as cannot believe or feel any of these things. “For how then in the darkness” of this death, that is, in the man who in forgetting Thee has lost the light of his life, “shall Thy wondrous works and Thy righteousness be known.” …

12. But that those prayers, the blessings of which surpass all words, may be more fervent and more constant, the gift that shall last unto eternity is deferred, while transitory evils are allowed to thicken. And so it follows: “Lord, why hast Thou cast off my prayer?” (ver. 14), which may be compared with another Psalm (22:1); “My God, My God, look upon me; why hast Thou forsaken me?” The reason is made matter of question, not as if the wisdom of God were blamed as doing so without a cause; and so here. “Lord, why hast Thou cast off my prayer?” But if this cause be attended to carefully, it will be found indicated above; for it is with the view that the prayers of the Saints are, as it were, repelled by the delay of so great a blessing, and by the adversity they encounter in the troubles of life, that the flame, thus fanned, may burst into a brighter blaze.

For this purpose he briefly sketches in what follows the troubles of Christ’s body. For it is not in the Head alone that they took place, since it is said to Saul too, “Why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:4 and Paul himself, as if placed as an elect member in the same body, saith, “That I may fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh” (Col 1:24). “Why then, Lord, hast Thou cast off my soul? why hidest Thou Thy face from me?”

“I am poor, and in toils from my youth up: and when lifted up, I was thrown down, and troubled” (ver. 15).

“Thy wraths went over me: Thy terrors disturbed me” (ver. 16).

“They came round about me all day like water: they compassed me about together” (ver. 17).

“A friend Thou hast put far from me: and mine acquaintance from my misery” (ver. 18). All these evils have taken place, and are happening in the limbs of Christ’s body, and God turns away His face from their prayers, by not hearing as to what they wish for, since they know not that the fulfilment of their wishes would not be good for them. The Church is “poor,” as she hungers and thirsts in her wanderings for that food with which she shall be filled in her own country: she is “in toils from her youth up,” as the very Body of Christ saith in another Psalm, “Many a time have they overcome me from my youth” (Ps 129:1). And for this reason some of her members are lifted up even in this world, that in them may be the greater lowliness. Over that Body, which constitutes the unity of the Saints and the faithful, whose Head is Christ, go the wraths of God: yet abide not: since it is of the unbelieving only that it is written, that “the wrath of God abideth upon him” (Jn 3:36). The terrors of God disturb the weakness of the faithful, because all that can happen, even though it actually happen not, it is prudent to fear; and sometimes these terrors so agitate the reflecting soul with the evils impending around, that they seem to flow around us on every side like water, and to encircle us in our fears. And as the Church while on pilgrimage is never free from these evils, happening as they do at one moment in one of her limbs, at another in another, he adds, “all day,” signifying the continuation in time, to the end of this world. Often too, friends and acquaintances, their worldly interests at stake, in their terror forsake the Saints; of which saith the Apostle, “all men forsook me: may it not be laid to their charge” (2 Tim 4:16). But to what purpose is all this, but that early in the morning, that is, after the night of unbelief, the prayers of this holy Body may in the light of faith prevent God, until the coming of that salvation, which we are at present saved by hoping for, not by having, while we await it with patience and faithfulness. Then the Lord will not repel our prayers, as there will no longer be anything to be sought for, but everything that has been rightly asked, will be obtained: nor will He turn His face away from us, since we shall see Him as He is (1 Jn 3:2): nor shall we be poor, because God will be our abundance, all in all (1 Cor 15:28): nor shall we suffer, as there will be no more weakness: nor after exaltation shall we meet with humiliation and confusion, as there will be no adversity there: nor bear even the transient wrath of God, as we shall abide in His abiding love: nor will His terrors agitate us, because His promises realized will bless us: nor will our friend and acquaintance, being terrified, be far from us, where there will be no foe to dread.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 144

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2014


THIS psalm consists of two parts—verses 1-11, and verses 12-15. The first part is largely an imitation of the great Davidic Psalm 18, with an admixture of extracts from Psalms 8, 21, 37, 102. The second part is a prayer for the fulness of Messianic blessing. The first part is a song of war and victory; the second contains a picture of the idyllic peace which Israel is to enjoy, under the rule of her Messianic King. It is possible, perhaps, to take the psalm, as a whole, as a liturgical prayer for the deliverance of Israel from foreign oppression and for the speedy coming of her Messianic greatness.

The dependence of this psalm on Ps. 18 gives it a claim to be styled a ‘ Davidic Psalm.’ The title, Adversus Goliath (to which nothing corresponds in the Hebrew), suggests the possibility that the particular Jewish community which introduced this psalm into its liturgy, felt itself to be overshadowed by its opponents, as David was by Goliath, but hoped, nevertheless, for a victory over its adversaries no less complete than David’s over Goliath. Such a victory would be, as it were, the inauguration of the Messianic age.

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Commentaries of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 21, 2014


Commentaries for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A.

Last Week’s Commentaries.


Today’s Mass Readings. Note that the first reading has two alternatives to chose from.

1st Alternative: St Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14. On 1-14.

1st Alternative: Navarre Bible Commentary on Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14.

2nd Alternative: St Bede the Venerable’s Commentary on Revelation 12:7-12.

2nd Alternative: Navarre Bible Commentary on Revelation 12:7-12.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 138.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 138.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 138.

Father Ronald Knox’s Meditation on Psalm 138.

Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on John 1:47-51. On 45-51 actually.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 1:47-51. On 45-51.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 1:47-51. On 45-51.

St Augustine’s Tractate on John 1:47-51. On 34-51 but scroll down to #15 and following for the pertinent notes on today’s reading.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 1:47-51.

My Notes on John 1:47-51. On 45-51 actually.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23. Not available.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 88.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 88.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10.

Aquinas Catena Aurea on Matthew 18:1-5, 10.

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

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Job 9:1-12, 14-16.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 88.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 88.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 9:57-62.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 9:57-62.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Job 19:21-27.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 27.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 27.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 27.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 27.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10.

Aquinas Catena Aurea on Matthew 18:1-5, 10.

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

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Job 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5. Readings followed  by commentary.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm139.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 139.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 139.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 10:13-16.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 10:13-16.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Job 42:1-2, 5-6, 12-17.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to 119.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Catechesis on Psalm 119.

Pending: Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 119:66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 10:17-24.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 10:17-24.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Luke 10:17-24.


Commentaries for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A.

Next Week’s Commentaries.

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