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 February, 2015

Commentaries for the Second Week of Lent (March 1-8, 2015)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 28, 2015


Year A: Commentaries and Resources for the Second Sunday of Lent.

Year B: Commentaries and Resources for the Second Sunday of Lent.

Year C: Commentaries and Resources for the Second Sunday of Lent.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Daniel 9:4b-10.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Daniel 9:4b-10.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 79.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 79.

My Notes on Psalm 79:8, 9, 11, 13. Includes background to the entire psalm and a suggested reading list.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:36-38.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Isaiah 1:10, 16-20.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Isaiah 1:10, 16-20.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 50.

St Augustine on Notes on Psalm 50.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 50.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 23:1-12.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 23:1-12.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 23:1-12.

Pending: Father Maas, Commentary on Matthew 23:1-12.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 23:1-12.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 18:18-20.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 31.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 31. On entire Psalm.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 20:17-28.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 20:17-28.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Jermiah 17:5-10.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 17:5-10.

Father Boylan’s Commentary on Psalm 1.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 1.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 1. On the entire Psalm.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 1.

A Lectio Divina Reading of Psalm 1.

My Notes on Psalm 1.

St Hilary’s Commentary on Psalm 1.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Two Homiletic Commentaries on Luke 16:19-31.

St John Chrysostom’s First Discourse on Luke 16:19-31.

St John Chrysostom’s Second Discourse on Luke 16:19-31.

St John Chrysostom’s Third Discourse on Luke 16:19-31.

St John Chrysostom’s Fourth Discourse on Luke 16:19-31.

Asterius of Amasea’s First Discourse on Luke 16:19-31.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 16:19-31.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 16:19-31.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Genesis 37:3-4, 13a, 17b-28.

Haydock Bible Commentary on Genesis 37:3-4, 13a, 17b-28.

Seeds Of Abraham: Joseph. EWTN podcast, listen to episodes 10-14 which focus on Joseph in Genesis.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm.

Haydock Bible Commentary on Today’s Responsorial Psalm 105. Please note this Commentary follows the Psalm numbering of the Vulgate and Septuagint in which Ps 104 corresponds to 105.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46.

Father Maas’ Commentary Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46.

Haydock Bible Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46).

St Irenaeus Podcast: Matthew’s Eschatology (20:20-22:14). Podcast study which includes today’s Gospel reading.

St William of York’s Pontifical Bible Study on Matthew (21:18-46). Includes study of today’s reading.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Micah 7:14-15, 18-20. Readings from the RSVCE and the Jerusalem Bible followed by the commentary.

Haydock Bible Commentary on Micah 7:14-15, 18-20.

Pending (maybe): My Notes on Micah 7:14-15, 18-20.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 103.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 103.

A Practical Commentary on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.

Father Leopold Fonck’s Commentary on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32. Actually, this post is on verses 1-32 inclusively.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32. Actually, this post is on verses 1-32.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.


Commentaries and Resources for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year B.

Next Week’s Posts.


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

Commentaries for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year B

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 28, 2015


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

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

Today’s Divine Office.

Anglican Use 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. The official text of the Anglican Use Daily Office is published in The Book of Divine Worship; this internet site is based on that text.


Navarre Bible Commentary on Exodus 20:1-17.

Haydock Bible Commentary on Exodus 20:1-17. Note on entire chapter.

Catechism Links on Exodus 20:1-17.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 19.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 19.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 19. Psalm 18 according to the Vulgate numbering.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 19.

Haydock Bible Commentary on Psalm 19. Psalm 18 in this version which follows the Vulgate and Septuagint numbering.


Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:22-25. This post is actually on verses 18-25.

Father Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:22-25. This brief commentary is actually on verses 18-31.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:22-25.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:22-25. On 18-25.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:22-25.

Haydock Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:22-25. On entire chapter.

Confraternity Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:22-25. On entire chapter

Catechism Links on 1 Corinthians 1:22-25. Appears in popup window you can enlarge.


Father MacRory’s Commentary on John 2:13-25.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 2:13-25.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 2:13-25.

Haydock Bible Commentary on John 2:13-25. On entire chapter.

Confraternity Commentary on John 2:13-25. On entire chapter.

St Augustine’s Tractates on John 2:13-25. On 2:12-3:5.

Catechism Links on John 2:13-25. Appears in popup window which you can enlarge.

OTHER RESOURCES: Podcasts, Videos, Blog Posts, etc.

Sacred Page Blog: Jesus and the Law of God. Catholic biblical scholar John Kincaid comments and reflects upon the readins.

Living Spaces. Comments on the second and gospel readings.

Franciscan Sister’s Bible Study Podcast. Current episode will probably be available by Thursday. Usually looks at all the readings in some detail.

St Martha’s Podcast Study of the Readings. Usually looks at all the readings in some detail.

Adventures in Exodus. EWTN series by Dr. Tim Gray. Listen to episode 7.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast on 1 Corinthians 1. Begins with a digression on “mission” but eventually gets to today’s verses.

In the Footsteps of St Paul. By Fr Mitch Pacwa of EWTN. Listen to episode 1.

Video: Sunday Gospel Scripture Study. On the Gospel reading. Excellent presentation.

The Gospel of John. EWTN series by Dr Tim Gray. Listen to episode 2.

Sunday Bible Reflections. By Dr. Scott Hahn. Very brief audio which does good job of highlighting the major theme(s) of the readings. Text available.

Father Barron’s Homily Podcast. A noted theologian and speaker.

Jesus, The Law of God. On the readings by Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma.


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

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 79

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 28, 2015

1. Over the title of this Psalm, being so short and so simple, I think we need not tarry. But the prophecy which here we read sent before, we know to be evidently fulfilled. For when these things were being sung in the times of King David, nothing of such sort, by the hostility of the Gentiles, as yet had befallen the city Jerusalem, nor the Temple of God, which as yet was not even builded. For that after the death of David his son Salomon made a temple to God, who is ignorant? That is spoken of therefore as though past, which in the Spirit was seen to be future.

“O God, the Gentiles have come into Thine inheritance” (ver. 1). Under which form of expression other things which were to come to pass, are spoken of as having been done. Nor must this be wondered at, that these words are being spoken to God. For they are not being represented to Him not knowing, by whose revelation they are foreknown; but the soul is speaking with God with that affection of godliness, of which God knoweth.5 For even the things which Angels proclaim to men, they proclaim to them that know them not; but the things which they proclaim to God, they proclaim to Him knowing, when they offer our prayers, and in ineffable manner consult the eternal Truth respecting their actions, as an immutable law. And therefore this man of God is saying to God that which he is to learn of God, like a scholar to a master, not ignorant but judging; and so either approving what he hath taught, or censuring what he hath not taught: especially because under the appearance of one praying, the Prophet is transforming into himself those who should be at the time when these things were to come to pass.6 But in praying it is customary to declare those things to God which He hath done in taking vengeance, and for a petition to be added, that henceforth He should pity and spare. In this way here also by him the judgments are spoken of by whom they are foretold, as if they were being spoken of by those whom they befell, and the very lamentation and prayer is a prophecy.

2. “They have defiled Thy holy Temple, they have made Jerusalem for a keeping of apples.” “They have made the dead bodies of Thy servants morsels for the fowls of heaven, the fleshes of Thy saints for the beasts of the earth” (ver. 2). “They have poured forth their blood like water in the circuit of Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them” (ver. 3). If in this prophecy any one of us shall have thought that there must be understood that laying waste of Jerusalem, which was made by Titus the Roman Emperor, when already the Lord Jesus Christ, after His Resurrection and Ascension, was being preached among the Gentiles, it doth not occur to me how that people could now have been called the inheritance of God, as not holding to Christ, whom having rejected and slain, that people became reprobate, which not even after His Resurrection would believe in Him, and even killed His Martyrs. For out of that people Israel whosoever have believed in Christ; to whom the offer of Christ was made, and in a manner the healthful and fruitful fulfilment of the promise; concerning whom even the Lord Himself saith, “I am not sent but to the sheep which have been lost of the house of Israel,”1 the same are they that out of them are the sons of promise; the same are counted for a seed;2 the same do belong to the inheritance of God. From hence are Joseph that just man, and the Virgin Mary who bore Christ:3 hence John Baptist the friend of the Bridegroom, and his parents Zacharias and Elisabeth:4 hence Symeon the old,5 and Anna the widow, who heard not Christ speaking by the sense of the body; but while yet an infant not speaking, by the Spirit perceived Him: hence the blessed Apostles: hence Nathanael, in whom guile was not:6 hence the other Joseph, who himself too looked for the kingdom of God:7 hence that so great multitude who went before and followed after His beast, saying, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord:”8 among whom was also that company of children, in whom He declared to have been fulfilled, “Out of the mouth of infants and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise.”9 Hence also were those after His resurrection, of whom on one day three and on another five thousand were baptized,10 welded into one soul and one heart by the fire of love; of whom no one spoke of anything as his own, but to them all things were common.11 Hence the holy deacons, of whom Stephen was crowned with martyrdom before the Apostles.12 Hence so many Churches of Judaea, which were in Christ, unto whom Paul was unknown by face,13 but known for an infamous ferocity, and more known for Christ’s most merciful grace. Hence even he, according to the prophecy sent before concerning him, “a wolf ravening, in the morning carrying off, and in the evening dividing morsels;”14 that is, first as persecutor carrying off unto death, afterwards as a preacher feeding unto life. These are they that are out of that people the inheritance of God.… So then even at this time a remnant through election of Grace have been saved. This remnant out of that nation doth belong to the inheritance15 of God: not those concerning whom a little below he saith, “But the rest have been blinded.” For thus he saith. “What then? That which Israel sought, this he hath not obtained: but the election hath obtained it: but the rest have been blinded.”16 This election then, this remnant, that people of God, which God hath not cast off, is called His inheritance. But in that Israel, which hath not obtained this, in the rest that were blinded, there was no longer an inheritance of God, in reference to whom it is possible that there should be spoken, after the glorification of Christ in the Heavens, in the time of Titus the Emperor, “O God, there have come the Gentiles unto Thine inheritance,” and the other things which in this Psalm seem to have been foretold concerning the destruction of both the temple and city belonging to that people.

3. Furthermore herein we ought either to perceive those things which were done by other enemies, before Christ had come in the flesh: at that time when there were even the holy prophets, when the carrying away into Babylon took place,17 and that nation was grievously afflicted, and at the time when under Antiochus also the Maccabees, having endured horrible sufferings, were most gloriously crowned.18 Or certainly if after the Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord the inheritance of God must be understood to be here spoken of; such things must be understood herein, as at the hands of worshippers of idols, and enemies of the name of Christ, His Church, in such a multitude of endured martyrs.… This Church then, this inheritance of God, out of circumcision and uncircumcision hath been congregated, that is, out of the people of Israel, and out of the rest of the nations, by means of the Stone which the builders rejected, and which hath become for the Head of the corner,19 in which corner as it were two walls coming from different quarters were united. “For Himself is our peace, who hath made both one, that He might build two into Himself, making peace, and might unite together20 both in one Body unto God:21 in which Body we are sons of God, “crying, Abba Father.”22 Abba, on account of their language; Father, on account of ours. For Abba is the same as Father.…

4. But now in that which followeth, “they have made Jerusalem for a keeping of apples;” even the Church herself is rightly understood under this name, even the free Jerusalem our mother,23 concerning whom hath been written, “many more are the sons of the forsaken, than of her that hath the husband.”1 The expression, “for a keeping of apples,” I think must be understood of the desertion which the wasting of persecution hath effected: that is, like a keeping of apples; for the keeping of apples is abandoned, when the apples have passed away. And certes when through the persecuting Gentiles the Church seemed to be forsaken, unto the celestial table, like as it were many and exceeding sweet apples from the garden of the Lord, the spirits of the martyrs did pass away.

5. “They have made,” he saith, “the dead bodies of Thy servants morsels for the fowls of heaven, the fleshes of Thy saints for the beasts of the earth” (ver. 2). The expression, “dead bodies,” hath been repeated in “fleshes:” and the expression, “of Thy servants,” hath been repeated in, “of Thy saints.” This only hath been varied, “to the fowls of heaven, and to the beasts of the earth.” Better have they interpreted who have written “dead,” than as some have it, “mortal.” For “dead” is only said of those that have died; but mortal is a term applied even to living bodies. When then, as I have said, to their Husbandman the spirits of martyrs like apples had passed away, their dead bodies and their fleshes they set before the fowls of heaven and the beasts of the earth: as if any part of them could be lost to the resurrection, whereas out of the hidden recesses of the natural world He will renew the whole, by whom even our hairs have been numbered.2

6. “They have poured forth their blood like water,” that is, abundantly and wantonly, “in the circuit of Jerusalem” (ver. 3). If we herein understand the earthly city Jerusalem, we perceive the shedding of their blood in the circuit thereof, whom the enemy could find outside the walls. But if we understand it of that Jerusalem, concerning whom hath been said, “many more are the sons of her that was forsaken, than of her that hath the husband,”3 the circuit thereof is throughout the universal earth. For in that lesson of the Prophet, wherein is written, “many more are the sons of her that was forsaken, than of her that hath the husband:” a little after unto the same is said, “and He that hath delivered thee, shall be called the God of Israel of the universal earth.”4 The circuit then of this Jerusalem in this Psalm must be understood as followeth: so far as at that time the Church had been expanded, bearing fruit, and growing in the universal world, when in every part thereof persecution was raging, and was making havoc of the Martyrs, whose blood was being shed like water, to the great gain of the celestial treasuries. But as to that which hath been added, “and there was no one to bury:” it either ought not to seem to be an incredible thing that there should have been so great a panic in some places, that not any buriers at all of holy bodies came forward: or certes that unburied corpses in many places might lie long time, until being by the religious in a manner stolen5 they were buried.

7. “We have become,” he saith, “a reproach to our neighbours” (ver. 4). Therefore precious not in the sight of men, from whom this reproach was, but “precious6 in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”7 “A scoffing and derision:” or, as some have interpreted it, “a mockery to them that are in our circuit.” It is a repetition of the former sentence. For that which above hath been called, “a reproach,” the same hath been repeated in, “a scoffing and derision:” and that which above hath been said in, “to our neighbours,” the same hath been repeated in, “to them that are in our circuit.” Moreover, in reference to the earthly Jerusalem, the neighbours, and those in the circuit of that nation, are certainly understood to be other nations. But in reference to the free Jerusalem our mother,8 there are neighbours even in the circuit of her, among whom, being her enemies, the Church dwelleth in the circuit of the round world.

8. In the second place now giving utterance to an evident prayer, whence it may be perceived that the calling to remembrance of former affliction is not by way of information but prayer; “How long,” he saith, “O Lord, wilt Thou be angry, unto the end? shall Thy jealousy burn like fire?” (ver. 5). He is evidently asking God not to be angry unto the end, that is, that this so great oppression and tribulation and devastation may not continue even unto the end; but that He moderate His chastening, according to that which is said in another Psalm, “Thou shalt feed us with the bread of tears, and Thou shalt give us to drink of tears in measure.”9 For the, “how long, O Lord, wilt Thou be angry, unto the end?” hath been spoken in the same sense as if it had been said, Be not, O Lord, angry unto the end. And in that which followeth, “shall Thy jealousy burn like fire?” both words must be understood, both, “how long,” and, “unto the end:” just as if there had been said, how long shall there burn like fire Thy jealousy unto the end? For these two words must be understood in the same manner as that word which was used a little higher up, namely, “they-have made.” For while the former sentence hath, “they have made the dead bodies of Thy servants morsels for the fowls of heaven:”10 this word the latter sentence hath not, wherein is said, “the fleshes of Thy saints for the beasts of the earth;” but there is surely understood what the former hath, namely, “they have made.”

Moreover, the anger and jealousy of God1 are not emotions of God; as some do charge upon the Scriptures which they do not understand:2 but under the name of anger is to be understood the avenging of iniquity; under the name of jealousy, the exaction of chastity; that the soul may not despise the law of her Lord, and perish by departing in fornication from the Lord. These then in their actual operation in men’s affliction are violent; but in the disposal of God they are calm, unto whom hath been said, “But Thou, O Lord of virtues, with calmness dost judge.”3 But it is clearly enough shown by these words, that for sins these tribulations do befall men, though they be faithful: although hence may bloom the Martyrs’ glory by occasion of their patience, and the yoke of discipline godly endured as the scourge of the Lord. Of this the Maccabees amid sharp tortures,4 of this the three men amid flames innocuous,5 of this the holy Prophets in captivity, do testify. For although paternal correction most bravely and most godly they endure, yet they do not hide the fact, that these things have befallen them for the deservings of their sins.6 …

9. But that which he addeth, “Pour forth Thine anger upon the nations which have not known Thee, and upon the kingdoms which have not called upon Thy name” (ver. 6); this too is a prophecy, not a wish. Not in the imprecation of malevolence are these words spoken, but foreseen by the Spirit they are predicted: just as in the case of Judas the traitor, the evil things which were to befall him have been so prophesied as if they were wished. For in like manner as the prophet doth not command Christ, though in the imperative mood he giveth utterance to what he saith, “Gird Thou Thy sword about Thy thigh, O Most Mighty: in Thy beauty and in Thy goodliness, both go on, and prosperously proceed, and reign:”7 so he doth not wish, but doth prophesy, who saith, “Pour forth Thine anger upon the nations which have not known Thee.” Which in his usual way he repeateth, saying, “And upon the kingdoms which have not called upon Thy name.” For nations have been repeated in kingdoms: and that they have not known Him, hath been repeated in this, that they have not called upon His name. How then must be understood, what the Lord saith in the Gospel8 concerning stripes, “the many and the few”? if greater the anger of God is against the nations, which have not known the Lord? For in this which he saith, “Pour forth Thine anger,” with this word he hath clearly enough pointed out, how great anger he hath willed that there should be understood. Whence afterwards he saith, “Render to our neighbours seven times as much.”9 Is it not that there is a great difference between servants, who, though they know not the will of their Lord, do yet call upon His name, and those that are aliens from the family of so great a Master, who are so ignorant of God, as that they do not even call upon God? For in place of Him they call upon either idols or demons, or any creature they choose; not the Creator, who is blessed for ever. For those persons, concerning whom he is prophesying this, he doth not even intimate to be so ignorant of the will of their God, as that still they fear the Lord Himself; but so ignorant of the Lord Himself, that they do not even call upon Him, and that they stand forth as enemies of His name. There is a great difference then between servants not knowing the will of their God, and yet living in His family and in His house, and enemies not only setting the will against knowing the Lord Himself, but also not calling upon His name, and even in His servants fighting against it.

10. Lastly, there followeth, “For they have eaten up Jacob, and his place they have made desolate” (ver. 7).… How we should view” the place” of Jacob, must be understood. For rather the place of Jacob may be supposed to be that city, wherein was also the Temple, whither-unto the whole of that nation for the purpose of sacrifice and worship, and to celebrate the Passover, the Lord had commanded to assemble. For if the assemblies of Christians, letted and suppressed by persecutors, has been what the Prophet would have to be understood, it would seem that he should have said, places made desolate, not place. Still we may take the singular number as put for the plural number; as dress for clothes, soldiery for soldiers, cattle for beasts: for many words are usually spoken in this manner, and not only in the mouths of vulgar speakers, but even in the eloquence of the most approved authorities. Nor to divine Scripture herself is this form of speech foreign. For even she hath put frog for frogs, locust for locusts,10 and countless expressions of the like kind. But that which hath been said, “They have eaten up Jacob,” the same is well understood, in that many men into their own evil-minded body, that is, into their own society, they have constrained to pass.

11. … He subjoineth, “Remember not our iniquities of old” (ver. 8). He saith not bygone, which might have even been recent; but “of old,” that is, coming from parents. For to such iniquities judgment, not correction, is1 owing. “Speedily let Thy mercies anticipate us.” Anticipate, that is, at Thy judgment. For “mercy exalteth above in judgment.”2 Now there is “judgment without mercy,” but to him that hath not showed mercy. But whereas he addeth, “for we have become exceeding poor:” unto this end he willeth that the mercies of God should be understood to anticipate us; that our own poverty, that is, weakness, by Him having mercy, should be aided to do His commandments, that we may not come to His judgment to be condemned.

12. Therefore there followeth, “Help us, O God, our healing3 One” (ver. 9). By this word Which he saith, “our healing One,” he doth sufficiently explain what sort of poverty he hath willed to be understood, in that which he had said, “for we have become exceeding poor.” For it is that very sickness, to which a healer is necessary. But while he would have us to be aided, he is neither ungrateful to grace, nor doth he take away free-will. For he that is aided, doth also of himself something. He hath added also, “for the glory of Thy Name, O Lord, deliver us:” in order that he who glorieth, not in himself, but in the Lord may glory.4 “And merciful be Thou,” he saith, “to our sins for Thy Name’s sake:” not for our sake. For what else do our sins deserve, but due and condign punishments? But “merciful be Thou to our sins, for Thy Name’s sake.” Thus then Thou dost deliver us, that is, dost rescue us from evil things, while Thou dost both aid us to do justice, and art merciful to our sins, without which in this life we are not. For “in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.”5 But sin is iniquity6. And “if Thou shalt have marked iniquities, who shall stand?”7

13. But that which he addeth, “lest at any time they should say among the Gentiles, Where is their God?” (ver. 10) must be taken as rather for the Gentiles themselves. For to a bad end they come that have despaired of the true God, thinking that either He is not, or doth not help His own, and is not merciful to them. But this which followeth, “and that there may be known among the nations before our eyes the vengeance of the blood of Thy servants which hath been shed:” is either to be understood as of the time, when they believe in the true God that used to persecute His inheritance; because even that is vengeance, whereby is slain the fierce iniquity of them by the sword of the Word of God, concerning which hath been said, “Gird Thou Thy sword:”8 or when obstinate enemies at the last are punished. For the corporal ills which they suffer in this world, they may have in common with good men. There is also another kind of vengeance; that wherein the Church’s enlargement and fruitfulness in this world after so great persecutions, wherein they supposed she would utterly perish, the sinner and unbeliever and enemy seeth, and is angry; “with his teeth he shall gnash, and shall pine away.”9 For who would dare to deny that even this is a most heavy punishment? But I know not whether that which he saith, “before our eyes,” is taken with sufficient elegance, if by this sort of punishment we understand that which is done in the inmost recesses of the heart, and doth torment even those who blandly smile at us, while by us there cannot be seen what they suffer in the inner man. But the fact, that whether in them believing their iniquity is slain, or whether the last punishment is rendered to them persevering in their naughtiness, without difficulty of doubtfulness is understood in the saying, “that there may be known before our eyes vengeance among the nations.”

14. And this indeed, as we have said, is a prophecy, not a wish.… And the Lord in the Gospel10 hath set before us the widow for an example, who longing to be avenged, did intercede with the unjust judge, who at length heard her, not as being guided by justice, but overcome with weariness: but this the Lord hath set before us, to show that much more the just God will speedily make the judgment of His elect, who cry unto Him day and night. Thence is also that cry of the Martyrs under the altar of God,11 that they may be avenged in the judgment of God. Where then is the, “Love your enemies, do good unto them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute you”?12 Where is also the, “Not rendering evil for evil, nor cursing for cursing:”13 and, “unto no man rendering evil for evil”14 … For when the Lord was exhorting us to love enemies, He set before us the example of our Father, who is in Heaven, “who maketh His sun to rise upon good men and evil men, and raineth upon just men and unjust men:”15 cloth He yet therefore not chasten even by temporal correction, or not condemn at the last the obstinately hardened? Let therefore an enemy be so loved as that the Lord’s justice whereby he is punished displease us not, and let the justice whereby he is punished so please us, as that the joy is not at his evil but at the good Judge. But a malevolent soul is sorrowful, if his enemy by being corrected shall have escaped punishment: and when he seeth him punished, he is so glad that he is avenged, that he is not delighted with the justice of God, whom he loveth not, but with the misery of that man whom he hateth: and when he leaveth judgment to God, he hopeth that God will hurt more than he could hurt: and when he giveth food to his hungering enemy, and drink to him thirsty, he hath an evil-minded sense of that which is written, “For thus doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.”1 … In such sort then under the appearance of one asking in this Psalm, future vengeance on the ungodly is prophesied of, as that we are to understand that holy men of God have loved their enemies, and have wished no one anything but good, which is godliness in this world, everlasting life in that to come; but in the punishments of evil men, they have taken pleasure not in the ills of them, but in God’s good judgments; and wheresoever in the holy Scriptures we read of their hatreds against men, they were the hatreds of vices, which every man must needs hate in himself, if he loveth himself.

15. But now in that which followeth, “Let there come in before Thy sight,” or, as some copies have it, “In Thy sight, the groans of the fettered:” not easily doth any one discover that the Saints were thrown into fetters by persecutors; and if this doth happen amid so great and manifold a variety of punishments, so rarely it doth happen, that it must not be believed that the prophet had chosen to allude to this especially in this verse. But, in fact, the fetters are the infirmity and the corruptibleness of the body, which do weigh down the soul. For by means of the frailty thereof, as a kind of material for certain pains and troubles, the persecutor might constrain her unto ungodliness. From these fetters the Apostle was longing to be unbound, and to be with Christ;2 but to abide in the flesh was necessary for their sakes unto whom he was ministering the Gospel. Until then this corruptible put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality,3 like as it were with fetters, the weak flesh doth let the willing spirit.4 These fetters then not any do feel, but they that in themselves do groan being burthened, desiring to be clothed upon with the tabernacle which is from Heaven;5 because both death is a terror, and mortal life is sorrow. In behalf of these men groaning the Prophet doth redouble his groaning, that their groaning may “come in in the sight of the Lord.” They also may be understood to be fettered, who are enchained with the precepts of wisdom, the which being patiently supported are turned into ornaments: whence it hath been written, “Put thy feet into her fetters.”6 “According to the greatness,” he saith, “of Thy arm, receive Thou unto adoption the sons of them that are put to death:”7 or, as is read in some copies, “Possess Thou sons by the death of the punished.”8 Wherein the Scripture seemeth to me to have sufficiently shown, what hath been the groan of the fettered, who for the name of Christ endured most grievous persecutions, which in this Psalm are most clearly prophesied. For being beset with divers sufferings, they used to pray for the Church, that their blood might not be without fruit to posterity; in order that the Lord’s harvest might more abundantly flourish by the very means whereby enemies thought that she would perish. For “sons of them that were put to death” he hath called them who were not only not terrified by the sufferings of those that went before, but in Him for whose name they knew them to have suffered, being inflamed with their glory which did inspire them to the like, in most ample hosts they believed. Therefore he hath said, “According to the greatness of Thine arm.” For so great a wonder followed in the case of Christian peoples, as they, who thought they would prevail aught by persecuting her, no wise believed would follow.

16. “Render,” he saith, “to our neighbours seven times so much into their bosoms” (ver. 12). Not any evil things he is wishing, but things just he is foretelling and prophesying as to come. But in the number seven, that is, in sevenfold retribution, he would have the completeness of the punishment to be perceived, for with this number fulness is wont to be signified. Whence also there is this saying for the good, “He shall receive in this world seven times as much:”9 which hath been put for all. “As if having nothing, and possessing all things.”10 Of neighbours he is speaking, because amongst them dwelleth the Church even unto the day of severing: for not now is made the corporal separation. “Into their bosoms,” he saith, as being now in secret, so that the vengeance which is now being executed in secret in this life, hereafter may be known among the nations before our eyes. For when a man is given over to a reprobate mind, in his inward bosom he is receiving what he deserveth of future punishments. “Their reproach wherewith they have reproached Thee, O Lord.” This do Thou render to them sevenfold into their bosoms, that is, in return for this reproach, most fully do Thou rebuke them in their secret places. For in this they have reproached Thy Name, thinking to efface Thee from the earth in Thy servants.

17. “But we Thy people” (ver. 13), must be taken generally of all the race of godly and true Christians. “We,” then, whom they thought they had power to destroy, “Thy people, and the sheep of thy flock:” in order that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord,1 “will confess to Thee for an age.” But some copies have it, “will confess to Thee for everlasting.” Out of a Greek ambiguity this diversity hath arisen. For that which the Greek hath, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, may be interpreted both by “for everlasting,” and “for an age;” but according to the context we must understand which is the better interpretation. The sense then of this passage seemeth to me to show, that we ought to say “for an age,” that is, even unto the end of time. But the following verse after the manner of the Scriptures, and especially of the Psalms, is a repetition of the former with the order changed, putting that before which in the former case was after, and that after which in the former case was before. For whereas in the former case there had been said, “we will confess to Thee,” instead of the same herein hath been said, “We will proclaim Thy praise.” And so whereas in the former case there had been said, “for an age,” instead of the same herein hath been said, “for generation and generation.” For this repetition of generation doth signify perpetuity: or, as some understand it, it is because there are two generations, an old and a new.… But in many places of holy Scriptures we have already made known to you that confession is also put for praise: as in this passage it is, “These words ye shall say in confession, ‘That the works of the Lord are very good.’ ”2 And especially that which the Saviour Himself saith, who had not any sin at all, which by repentance to confess: “I confess to Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes.”3 I have said this, in order that it may be more clearly perceived how in the expression, “We will proclaim Thy praise,” the same hath been repeated as had been said higher up, “We will confess to Thee.”

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Commentaries and Resources for the Second Sunday of Lent, Year B

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 21, 2015


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

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

Today’s Divine Office.

Anglican Use Office. ”Briefly, it is a provision for an “Anglican style” liturgy similar to the Book of Common Prayer as an ecc

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18.

Haydock Bible Commentary on Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18. Links to all the notes on Gen 22.

Word-Sunday Notes on Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18.

Homilist’s Catechism on Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18.

Our Father Abraham. A Bible Study Lesson from the St Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 116.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 116.

Haydock Commentary on Psalm 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19. On verses 10-19 inclusively. This commentary follows the numbering of the Septuagint/Vulgate and so is labeled Psalm 115:10-19.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19. On verses 10-19 inclusively.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 116.

Pending (maybe): My Notes on Today’s Responsorial Psalm (116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19).


Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 8:31b-34. Actually, this post is on verses 28-39.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 8:31b-34.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 8:31b-34. On 31-39.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 8:31b-34.

Haydock’s Bible Commentary on Romans 8:31b-34. Notes on entire chapter.

Confraternity Commentary on Romans 8:31b-34. Notes on entire chapter.

Homilist’s Catechism on Romans 8:31b-34.


Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 9:2-10.

Haydock Bible Commentary on Mark 9:2-10. Notes on entire chapter.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 9:2-10.

Confraternity Commentary on Mark 9:2-10. Notes on entire chapter.

Word-Sunday Notes on Mark 9:2-10.

Daily Gospel on Mark 9:2-10. Brief Commentary by St Anastasius of Sinai.

Homilist’s Catechism on Mark 9:2-10.

OTHER RESOURCES: Blogs, Podcasts, etc.

Liturgical Bible Study. A power point presentation includes scripture text, helpful comments, connections between the readings, homily suggestions and reflections.

(1) Sacred Page Bog: Premonitions of Calvary. Catholic Biblical Scholar Dr. John Bergsma’s comments and reflections on the readings.

(2) Sacred Page Blog: The Beloved Son and the Freedom of the Glory of the of the Children of God.Catholic Biblical scholar John Kincaid’s comments and reflections.

(1) St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast Study of Genesis 22. Begins at Gen 19:30 with Lot leaving Zoar. Click on POD button or direct download link to listen.

(2) St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast Study of Romans 8. On the theme of hope in Romans 8. Click on POD button or direct download link to listen.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological overview of the readings. Can be printed out, copied and used as a bulletin insert.

Lector Works. One Lector’s advice on how to read the text of the readings.

Doctrinal Homily Outline. Gives the themes of the readings, their doctrinal message, and a pastoral application.

Thoughts From the Early Church. Excerpt from a sermon on the Transfiguration by St Ephrem the Syrian.

Scripture in Depth.

Catholic Matters. The readings followed by brief notes.

St Charles Borromeo Parish Bible Study Notes. Notes used during a weekly study of the Sunday readings.

One Bread, One Body: brief meditations.


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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 119:1-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 18, 2015

1. From its commencement, dearly beloved, doth this great Psalm exhort us unto bliss, which there is no one who desireth not.… And therefore this is the lesson which he teacheth, who saith, “Blessed are those that are undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord” (ver. 1). As much as to say, I know what thou wishest, thou art seeking bliss: if then thou wouldest be blessed, be undefiled. For the former all desire, the latter fear: yet without it what all wish cannot be attained. But where will any one be undefiled, save in the way? In what way, save in the law of the Lord?…

2. Listen now to what he addeth: “Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and seek Him with their whole heart” (ver. 2). No other class of the blessed seemeth to me to be mentioned in these words, than that which has been already spoken of. For to examine into the testimonies of the Lord, and to seek Him with all the heart, this is to be undefiled in the way, this is to Walk in the law of the Lord. He then goeth on to say, “For they who do wickedness, shall not walk in His ways” (ver. 3). And yet we know that the workers of wickedness do search the testimonies of the Lord for this reason, that they prefer being learned to being righteous: we know that others also search the testimonies of the Lord, not because they are already living well, but that they may know how they ought to live. Such then do not as yet walk undefiled in the law of the Lord, and for this reason are not as yet blessed.…

3. It is written, and is read, and is true, in this Psalm, that “They who do wickedness, walk not in His ways” (ver. 3). But we must endeavour, with the help of God, “in” whose “hand are both we and our words,”3 that what is rightly said, by not being rightly understood, may not confuse the reader or hearer. For we must beware, lest all the Saints, whose words these are, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us;”4 may either not be thought to walk in the ways of the Lord, since sin is wickedness, and “they who do wickedness, walk not in His ways;” or, because it is not doubtful that they walk in the ways of the Lord, may be thought to have no sin, which is beyond doubt false. For it is not said merely for the sake of avoiding arrogance and pride. Otherwise it would not be added, “And the truth is not in us;” but it would be said, Humility is not in us: especially because the following words throw a clearer light on the meaning, and remove all the causes of doubt. For when the blessed John had said this, he added, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”5 …

4. What meaneth, “Thou hast charged that we shall keep Thy commandments too much”? (ver. 4). Is it, “Thou hast charged too much”? or, “to keep too much”? Whichever of these we understand, the sense seems contrary to that memorable and noble sentiment which the Greeks praise in their wise men, and which the Latins agree in praising. “Do nothing too much.”6 … But the Latin language sometimes uses the word nimis in such a sense, that we find it in the holy Scripture, and employ it in our discourses, as signifying, very much. In this passage, “Thou hast charged that we keep Thy commandments too much,” we simply understand very much, if we understand rightly; and if we say to any very dear friend, I love you too much, we do not wish to be understood to mean more than is fitting, but very much.

5. “O that,” he saith, “my ways were made so direct, that I might keep Thy statutes” (ver. 5). Thou indeed hast charged: O that I could realize what thou hast charged. When thou hearest, “O that,” recognise the words of one wishing; and having recognised the expression of a wish, lay aside the pride of presumption. For who saith that he desireth what he hath in such a manner in his power, that without need of any help he can do it? Therefore if man desireth what God chargeth, God must be prayed to grant Himself what He enjoineth.…

6. “So shall I not be confounded, while I have respect unto all Thy commandments” (ver. 6). We ought to look upon the commandments of God, whether when they are read, or when they are recalled to memory, as a looking-glass, as the Apostle James saith1. This man wisheth himself to be such, that he may regard as in a mirror the commandments of God, and may not be confounded; because he chooses not merely to be a hearer of them, but a doer. On this account he desireth that his ways may be made direct to keep the statutes of God. How to be made direct, save by the grace of God? Otherwise he will find in the law of God not a source of rejoicing, but of confusion, if he hath chosen to look into commandments, which he doth not.

7. “I will confess unto Thee,” he saith, “O Lord, in the directing of my heart; in that I shall have learned the judgments of Thy righteousness” (ver. 7). This is not the confession of sins, but of praise; as He also saith in whom there was no sin, “I will confess unto Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth;”2 and as it is written in the Book of Ecclesiasticus, “Thus shalt thou say in confession, of all the works of God, that they are very good.”3, “I will confess unto Thee,” he saith, “in the directing of my heart.” Indeed, if my ways are made straight, I will confess unto Thee, since Thou hast done it, and this is Thy praise, and not mine.…

8. Next he addeth: “I will keep Thy ordinances” (ver. 8).… But what is it that followeth? “O forsake me not even exceedingly!” or, as some copies have it, “even too much,” instead of, “even exceedingly.”4 But since God had left the world to the desert of sins, He would have forsaken it “even exceedingly,” if so powerful a cure had not supported it, that is, the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ; but now, according to this prayer of the body of Christ, He forsook it not “even exceedingly;” for, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.”5 …

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 5:43-48

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 18, 2015

43 You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy.

You have heard. The love of one’s enemies. This section first states the law of the Old Testament, then it gives that of the New, and thirdly, it adds the motives for conforming to the latter, [a] The first part of the Old Law is taken from Lev. 19:18, where there is question of loving a fellow Israelite. It is true that the word “neighbor,” especially its Hebrew equivalent, may have the extensive Christian meaning [Lk. 10:25–37; Mt. 19:19; 22:39; Mk. 12:31, 33], but in opposition to “enemy,” as it stands in the present passage, it has the more limited meaning of “friend” [Job 2:11; 19:21; Cant. 5:16]. The second part of the Old Law, “and hate thy enemy,” is not expressly stated anywhere in the inspired writing. Still, it is not necessarily a legal corruption of the Pharisees, since it may be more or less legitimately deduced from the law. For the latter expressly imposed only the love of a fellow Israelite, so that its silence with regard to others was apt to be interpreted negatively; moreover, the hatred of the foreigner was represented in Scripture as something sacred and pleasing to God [Pss. 5:11; 9:19, Ps 22; 27:4, 5; etc.] since it tended to make the Jews more tenacious of their own law and religious doctrine. We need not admit with Hilary, Augustine, Paschasius, Anselm of Laon, Salmeron, etc. the permission of a personal hatred of one’s enemy [cf. Thomas Aquinas. 2a 2ae, q. 25, 8, 9]. This accounts also for the narrow sympathies of the Jews, vestiges of which are found in profane writers [Tacit, hist. v. 5; Josephus Antiq. XI. vi. 5; Cicero, pro Flacco 28; Juvenal, xiv. 103 ff.; cf. 1 Thess. 2:15; Keim, 2. 260].

44 But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: ‎

But I say to you. The New Law. First, we are bound in general to love all men, even our enemies; then the enemies are specified as those that harm us by their hand, or by their tongue, or in their heart. These we are bidden to benefit in three ways: by loving them, by assisting them with temporal goods, and by praying for them [cf. Salmeron Anselm of Laon]. Since this obligation is hard to accomplish, Jesus considers it necessary to add special motives for its fulfilment.

45 That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. ‎
46 For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? ‎
47 And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this? ‎
48 Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.

That you may be the children of your Father. Motives. The motives Jesus gives for fulfilling the law of loving our enemies may be reduced to three: the sonship of God, the hope of reward, the similarity to God. The sonship of God to be acquired by loving one’s enemies is hardly the supernatural sonship of adoption, though v. 8 alludes to it; the context determines this sonship as consisting in similarity of action, since it appeals to the benefits God bestows alike on the good and the bad. As God loves his enemies for his own sake, so we must love our enemies for God’s sake, thus becoming like unto God in our behavior. This high excellence of the love of one’s enemies was recognized even by the pagans: Seneca de benef iv. 6; cf. de ira, ii. 34; de clem. ii. 6; ep. 81. The second motive for loving one’s enemies is the promise of reward; Christ’s hearers are supposed to expect a higher reward than the publicans and the heathens will receive, since these were excluded from the Messianic blessings. It may then be inferred that the special reward of loving one’s enemies will consist in sharing in the Messianic blessings. The third motive for loving our enemies is again the perfection with which God loves both friends and enemies, a perfection which we are to emulate. That the admonition to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect refers primarily and directly to the love of our enemies is plain from the context, from the parallel passage in the third gospel [Lk. 6:36], from the almost unanimous consent of commentators [Euthymius, Augustine, Paschasius, Bede, Glossa Ordinaria, Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan, Maldonado, Jansenius, Sylveria, Barradas Arnoldi, Schanz, Fillion etc.], and from the nature of the case, since the highest perfection consists in the highest love. Chrysostom gives the steps by which we may reach this height: not to inflict an injury, not to avenge an injury received, not to have recourse to the “lex talionis,” to offer one’s self to suffer injustice, to give more than is unjustly asked of us, not to hate the one that has injured us, to love our enemy, to return good for evil. These several degrees are also contained in the words of our Lord explained in this section.


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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 5:20-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 18, 2015

Mat 5:20  For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

d. Insufficiency of Pharisaic justice. In the preceding verse Jesus has spoken about those that shall be great in the kingdom of heaven, and about the least in the same; now he mentions those that shall not enter at all, drawing from this class another proof for the statement that he did not come to destroy the law but to perfect it. He has proved this first from the perpetuity of the law in itself; secondly, from the sanction of the law in the New Testament; now he proves the same from the superiority of the law in the Messianic dispensation. The “for” may therefore be explained as connecting this verse with v. 17 [Schegg, de Wette, Hilgenfeld]; but there is a closer connection with vv. 18, 19, in which our Lord alludes to great and small precepts, to the letter and the spirit; hence he rejects in the present verse the Pharisaic distinction between great and small precepts [cf. Mt. 22:35–40; 23:23], and declares their obedience to the letter as insufficient. “Justice” has here the meaning it had in v. 6; the Fathers of the Church are therefore right in defending, on the one hand, the holiness of the Old Testament against the Manicheans and other heretics, and, on the other, in extolling the superiority of the New. For the Christian dispensation is no correction of the Jewish [Socinians], nor is it a mere explanation of the same [many Protestant theologians], but it is its fulfilment and perfection.

Mat 5:21  You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment.

The fifth commandment. This section contains first the Christian statement of the fifth commandment [vv. 21, 22], and then it gives two special additions well calculated to enforce the exact observance of the Christian law [vv. 23, 24; 25, 26]. a. Christ’s statement of the fifth commandment. [1] “You have heard that it was said to them of old” recalls to the mind of our Lord’s hearers what they had heard in the synagogues. Similar expression we find in Jn. 12:34; Acts 15:21; Rom. 2:13. But then it is asked: who are they “of old”? All agree that they are the Israelites of former times; but their relation to what was said is viewed in different ways:—

[a] Many render the passage, “said by them of old”; though this rendering is grammatically possible, it is in the present case inadmissible. In the New Testament ἐῤῥέθη with the dative of person signifies the person addressed [cf. Rom. 9:12; Rev6:11; 9:4; Gal. 3:16], while the speaker is indicated by ὑπό or διά with the genitive [cf. Mt. 1:22; 4:14; 13:35; etc.]. Moreover, the contrast between “it was said to them of old” and “but I say to you” requires that “they of old” should be the hearers and not the speakers, as “you” is the dative of the persons addressed. Again, this rendering is more in accordance with the traditional teaching of the Fathers [cf. Schanz].

[b] Others contend that “said to them of old” may refer to what had been said to the Israelites by their religious teachers from the time of Moses downward [cf. Holtzman]. But this interpretation is not probable, because Jesus quotes the words of the law [Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17; Lev. 24:17; Ex. 21:12], and therefore not the exposition of the scribes.

[c] We infer, therefore, that “said to them of old” refers both to the promulgation of the law on Sinai and to its repetition to the people by its religious teachers. What follows is therefore opposed not only to the law of the Old Testament, nor only to the teaching of the Pharisees and scribes, but to both. a. That the following teaching was not opposed to the law alone is clear from the passages quoted as said to the ancients, that are not contained in the law. Where does the law say, e.g. that we should “hate our enemies” [v. 43]? There are many passages, on the contrary, in which the law of universal charity is at least implicitly inculcated: cf. Lev. 19:17, 18, 33, 34; Ex. 33:4, 9; Prov. 24:17; 25:21; Rom. 12:20. We grant that the hatred of God’s enemies as such was enjoined in the Old Law, but we deny that hatred of strangers, of men, of brethren, as such was not forbidden. This distinction gives the clue to the divine command of destroying the seven nations [Ex. 23:24; Deut. 7:2; 23:6; 25:19] who on account of their idolatry and their inveterate hostility to the Jews were extremely dangerous to the people.) β. That Jesus does not wish to oppose only the false interpretations of the scribes and Pharisees in the sermon on the mount is plain from those passages in which he opposes his precepts to the Mosaic law itself: cf. vv. 31, 38; again, from those precepts in which he gives counsels of Christian perfection rather than commands: v. 39; finally, from the fact that our Lord was to fufil and perfect the law, so that his doctrine differs from that of the law as the perfect differs from the imperfect [cf. Knabenbauer, Schanz, Fillion, Lapide, Maldonado, Paschasius Radbertus, Jansenius Barradus]. Such an imperfect law is not unworthy of God; the rudeness of the Hebrew people was not yet trained to bear a more perfect moral code, so that its state would have been rather deteriorated than improved by demanding a high moral perfection of it.

—Thou shalt not kill. The Old Law. Our Lord quotes first the Old Law according to Ex. 20:13, and to this he adds the sanction, which is neither a mere Rabbinio gloss [cf. Meyer], nor foreign to the Old Testament legislation, but has its equivalents in Ex. 21:12; Lev. 24:17; Numb. 35:16; cf. Gen. 9:6 [Paschasius, Jansenius, Barradus, Lapide,. Bruno, Schanz, Knabenbauer etc.]. It was customary at the time of our Lord to add in Scripture explanations the sanction to the law, or at least to add the positive to the negative precepts. “Judgment” stands here instead of the “punishment” inflicted by the judgment. Our Lord appears to refer to the local court which had power to inflict penalties up to the simple capital punishment [cf. Deut. 16:18; 2 Par. 19:5]. The more complicated and difficult cases were decided by an upper court which had its seat in the sanctuary [Deut. 17:8; 19:16 ff.]. According to Josephus [Antiq. IV. viii. 14; B. J. II. xx. 5] the local court consisted of seven members, but Sanhr. i. 6 shows that in the larger towns there were courts consisting of 23 members. We need not mention the opinion of Lightfoot and Schöttgen, who contend that the “judgment” refers to the divine judgment, since capital cases had become so frequent that the Sanhedrin did not dare to condemn all the murderers.

Mat 5:22  But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

But I say to you. Christ’s statement of the law. Jesus distinctly forbids three violations of fraternal charity not included in the Old Law: [a] Though the Old Testament contains warnings against the sin of anger [Ps. 37:7-88; Sirach 27:33; 28:1–5], and though its spirit may be said to forbid anger, still its letter nowhere expressly prohibits this passion. The clause “without cause” following “angry” in Syr. It. Irenaues, Chrysostom, Augustine, Opus Imperfectum, is probably a late addition in order to remove the impression that all anger is sinful; the same addition is found in 1 Jn. 3:15, but probably for the same reason. Ephes. 4:26 shows that there is a justifiable anger [cf. Rom. 13:4; Col. 2:18; Ps. 4:5]. Though anger may under circumstances be laudable, and though even inordinate anger may be only a venial sin, Jesus supposes in the present passage that inordinate anger is “genere suo” mortal [cf. Thom. 2a, 2ae, 158, 2, 3]. This we infer from his sanction of the law. “Brother” properly means one having the same father as one’s self, hence tribes-man, or, among the early Christians, fellow believer [cf. v. 47]; but it is not necessarily coextensive with neighbor [cf. Lk. 10:29; Ignatius Epistle to the Trallians, viii. 2]. The perfection of the Christian law consists, therefore, in prohibiting under the same penalty the inordinate impulse leading to murder, under which the Old Testament forbids murder itself.

[b] The second member prohibits the manifestation of inordinate anger by means of offensive words. The word “Raca” means “vain,” “empty” [Lightfoot, Buxtorf, Wünsche.], and employed as an opprobrious term it signifies “empty of head,” i. e. a man that is stupid, or has no common sense [a dunce, dullard]; cf. James 2:20; Sibyll. iii. p. 418; Jerome, Opus Imperfectum, Bede, Hilary, etc.

[c] The third member prohibits the manifestation of inordinate anger by means of highly insulting terms. “Fool” must probably be understood in the sense it has in Ps 14:1; Ps 53:2 [heb.]; Deut 32:6; 2 Sam 13:13; Is. 32:6; Ezek 13:3. In all these cases the folly consists rather in a perversity of will than in a defect of intellect, so that the “fool” is wanting in moral rectitude and uprightness.

[d] Jesus threatens a triple punishment for the triple sin, and expresses the same respectively by “judgment,” “council,” and “hell-fire.” Though Chrysostom believes that the judgment and the council signify temporal courts, it is commonly admitted that they denote spiritual punishments. Aug. distinguishes the three courts by their relation to the punishment: In the judgment there is still room for self-defence, so that the sentence may be a favorable one; in the council the guilt is certain, but the greatness of the punishment is deliberated upon; in “hell-fire” both sentence and punishment are irrevocably determined. Though this gradation is clear and ingenious, we cannot infer from it that the present passage distinguishes between venial and mortal sin [cf. Bellarmine de amission. grat. 1. i. c. 9; t. 4 de controv. fidei; Grimm, iii. p. 85]. Since “judgment” denotes the court before which, according to the Old Law, murder was tried, we cannot admit that in the New Testament venial sin should be “guilty of the judgment.” We believe, therefore, with most commentators, that in each of three cases there is question of mortal sin [Dionysius, Maldonado, Barradas]. “Judgment,” “council,” and “hell-fire” express, therefore, three different degrees of eternal punishment, the third of which exceeds the first two so far that it cannot he represented by any earthly evil. Schanz sees in the three degrees an allusion to the three ways in which the Jews inflicted capital punishment: simple execution, execution by means of stoning or hanging, and execution with a surrender of the sinner to hell. “Hell-fire” has parallel expressions in Is. 66:24; Mk. 9:43, 48; Lk. 16:24; it is, therefore, not a mere allusion to the “valley of Hinnom” [gehenna] with its perpetual fire consuming the carcasses of dead animals and the offal of the city, which Josias [2 Kings 23:10; 7:32] had ordered to be thrown there in order to abolish the existing idolatry of Moloch, and its cruel sacrifices of innocent children in the fire of the idol [1 Kings 11:7, 33; 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Chron 28:3; etc.].

Mat 5:23  If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee;
Mat 5:24  Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.

Practical conclusion. The guilt of sinful anger is so great that one polluted by it cannot perform even an act otherwise most pleasing to God. Theophylact, Euthymius, Faber,Schegg, etc. contend that our Lord’s precept extends to any case of discord, whether it be culpable on the part of the offerer or not. But the words of the text imply that the discord is occasioned by the fault of the offerer; otherwise, the latter would be wholly at the mercy of his brother’s imagination. This is also the common interpretation of the Fathers: Augustine, Jerome, Opus Imperfectum, Bede, Glossa Ordinaria,  Cajetan, Salmeron Barradas, Sylveira, Maldonado, Lapide, Arnoldi, Grimm, Schanz, etc. Chrysostom appears, at first, to favor the opposite view; but on comparing the context he is found to agree with the majority of the commentators. “Offer thy gift at the altar” alludes to Lev. 2:1; that the priests alone could lay the sacrifice on the altar follows from Lev. 1:3; 4:4; 17:1–6. The Greek word expressing gift in the passage is so general in meaning that it embraces any kind of offering [Mt. 8:4; 15:5; 23:18; Heb. 5:1; 8:3]; the lxx. use the word in all meanings. The illustration is taken from the Hebrew sacrifice in order to render it intelligible to the hearers. As the precept cannot be restricted to the Hebrew ceremonial, which was not to last, so it cannot be limited to sacrifice in the strict meaning of the word, but applies to all good actions, especially to prayer. It may not be possible to go in body in order to effect the reconciliation, but it is always possible to do so in spirit, by an act of contrition and a thorough change of heart. This is the opinion of Augustine, Glossa Ordinaria, and Paschasius Radbertus, while Chrysostom sees in the words a special reference to the Eucharist.

25 Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.

Second conclusion. Chrysostom, Euthymius, Theophylact refer the passage to this life; but such teaching of worldly prudence is wholly out of keeping with the context of the discourse. Weiss’ explanation as an “argumentum ad hominem” weakens the meaning of the words. Nearly all the other commentators understand the passage as referring to the reconciliation with our brother who will otherwise accuse us before the judgment-seat of God. The illustration is taken either from the Jewish law [Deut. 21:18 f.; 15:1] according to which the accuser and the accused had to appear together before the judge, or from the Roman code which allowed the accuser to bring the accused by physical force to the judge. When once the judicial proceedings were begun, there was no reconciliation possible; all compromises had to take place on the way. The “way” signifies our time of life; the prison symbolizes either eternal and temporal punishment, to be inflicted according to the condition of the subject [Alb. Faber Stapulensis, Cajetan, Sylveira, Lapide, Tir. Salmeron, Reischl, Coleridge, Grimm, etc.], or always eternal punishment [most Latin Fathers and commentators: Chromatius, Opus Imperfectum, Paschasius, Bede, Rabanus, Zach. Chrysostom, St Bruno, Dionysius, Maldonado, Jansenius, Barradas, Arnoldi, Schegg, Schanz, Augustine etc]. The words of the passage do not imply a possible release from the prison, but merely state that freedom cannot be obtained till all has been paid [cf. Lk. 12:58 f.]. It follows that we cannot base a solid argument for the existence of purgatory on this passage [Jansenius]. The adversary in question is the person we offend [Cajetan], or the law and word of God [St Bruno], or the Holy Spirit [Chromatius], or God himself [Augustine], or the devil and the flesh [cf. Jerome], or several of the foregoing together [Coleridge, Knabenbauer]. The “officer” is the angel of torments [Chromatius], or the angel who gathers the cockle [Glossa Ordinaria; cf. Mt. 13:41, 42], or the angels that are to come with Jesus to judgment [Augustine, Pasch. Arnoldi, Schanz], or the bad angel [Zach. chrys. Maldonado].

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 5:20-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 18, 2015

20 For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

“For I tell you,” &c. Here is contained an illustration and particular application of the preceding verse. “Least in the kingdom of heaven,” means exclusion from it. “For, I tell you … shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

“Your justice.” The observance of the moral law is called “justice,” because it is by keeping the law, we are justified. “Factores legis justificabuntur” (Rom. 2); “Si vis ingredi vitam serva mandata” (Matt. 19:17). “Scribes” (see 2:4); “Pharisees” (see 3:7). Our Lord here introduces “the justice” or observance of the law by the Scribes, &c., because they were regarded as the most observant among the Jews, and still it was defective. Their observance of the law was confined to external acts; they regarded of no consequence interior acts of the will, and taught others the same. Hence, they shall be “least;” in other words, “shall never enter the kingdom of heaven.” What our Redeemer condemns, is not their observance of the law, apart from the motive and false teaching, as far as it went; but, He condemns it as defective, not going far enough. Hence, He says, “unless it abound more,” exceeds theirs, be fuller, more perfect, either as regards teaching or practical observance, it will not do.

This verse may be connected with the preceding, of which it is an application and clearer illustration; or, with verse 17, thus proving, He came not to destroy the law, since He requires a more perfect observance of it than was ever practised or exhibited by even the most observant among the Jews, who were the teachers and guides of the people, viz., “Scribes and Pharisees.” The more perfect observance required, as is inferred from the following, consists—1st. Not only in external observances merely, but in the regulation of the internal thoughts and feelings. “Whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her,” &c. 2ndly. In avoiding what the law merely tolerated from necessity, v.g., bill of divorce, usury, vengeance, &c. 3dly. In observing the law, not merely according to the letter, as explained by the Scribes, &c., of whose exposition we have an example in the words, “odio habebis inimicum,” but according to its spirit and the intention of the Divine legislator.

Mat 5:21  You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment.

Our Redeemer now proceeds to fulfil the law (v. 17), so far as regards the moral or chief portion of the law is concerned. In the first place, He clears away the false glosses and interpretations put upon the precepts of the moral law by the Scribes and Pharisees, whose justice He condemns, inasmuch as they not only themselves violated certain important precepts of the law, which they regarded as of little value—those “least commandments” (v. 19); but also taught “men” (to do) “so,” i.e., do the same, by their false interpretations of the law. In the next place, it seems most likely that in the following discourse, wherein as legislator, He promulgates the New Law, He even, in a certain sense, corrects the Old Law itself, not by destroying it, as containing anything bad, or anything opposed to the New Law—for, in itself the law was “holy, spiritual” (Rom. 7:12–14), and every one of its precepts is “holy, just, and good”—(Rom. 7:12), but, as imperfect; for, “it brought nothing to perfection” (Heb. 7:11). He supplies its defects, and perfects it, by more clearly evolving the precepts of the natural law which it contained, by superadding evangelical counsels, and certain points of explicit faith. He opposes Himself and the law He promulgates to Moses and his law as the more perfect to the less perfect, as the covenant of a better hope, containing and fulfilling better and more exalted promises, imperfect testament, which was only intended as an introduction to His (Heb. 7:19). This shall be more clearly seen in the interpretation of each passage.

“You have heard,” when the books of Moses were read for you, as usually happens each Sabbath in your synagogues (Acts 13:14, 15), “that it was said to them of old,” i.e., it was enjoined by the law of Moses, on your fathers, to whom it was first promulgated in the desert of Mount Sinai. He omits the name of Moses, lest the mention of it might be any way invidious, as He is about perfecting His law and more fully developing it; and although the law given by Moses was the law of God, still we find Moses introduced as its promulgator. “Lex per Moysem data et.” (“The Law was given through Moses,” John 1:17)

“Thou shalt not kill,” by which is prohibited the taking away our neighbour’s life out of revenge or on our own personal, private authority; or, without some justifying cause, arising out of the just exercise of the commands of public authority, or necessary self-defence.

“And whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment,” i.e., liable to capital punishment, or death, as a homicide, such being the punishment awarded by the law to homicides when brought before the tribunal called, “the Judgment.” These latter words are not found in the law, but they are there in substance. The terms expressive of the punishment of such a crime in the law are, “dying, let him die” (Lev. 24:17); or, as our Lord is quoting the words, according as they “heard” them from the Scribes and Pharisees, who gave the substance of the penalty contained in the law, the word, “judgment,” may mean, liable to be brought before the tribunal appointed to investigate into the cause of murder, as to whether it was justifiable or not, which is but an epitome of the several enactments on the subject (Exod. 21; Deut. 19), and in case it was wilful, death was the consequence.

Cardinal Baronius (Tom. 1. Annal.) relates, from the Talmudists, that there were three tribunals among the Jews. The first, consisting of three judges, who took cognizance of trivial cases, such as cases of theft, rapine, &c.; the second, composed of twenty-three judges. This tribunal, called “the Judgment,” referred to here, took cognizance of causes of grievous moment, and was armed with the power of life and death. The third, called the Sanhedrim—a term of Greek origin—composed of seventy-two judges, had jurisdiction in matters of the greatest moment, involving the public interests of religion and the State. It is a matter of doubt whether this had anything in common with the Council of Seventy Elders appointed by Moses to assist him in the government of the people (Num. 11:16, 17, 24). This latter tribunal (Sanhedrim) existed at Jerusalem only, and exercised judgment there only. The other tribunals, of three and of twenty-three judges, were appointed in the several cities and tribes (Deut. 16:18). It is recorded (2 Chron 19), that a similar arrangement was made by king Josaphat.

Mat 5:22  But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

“But I say to you.” Here our Redeemer fulfils the law by more fully explaining it, and correcting the false interpretations of the Scribes and Pharisees, who confined the prohibition of the precept to mere external acts, as is implied in the foregoing, and by the extension of the prohibition in this verse, in accordance with the natural law, to internal acts of consent, as entailing grievous moral guilt, and the heaviest punishment. “But I say to you.” “I,” the legislator of the New Law, the teacher sent down from heaven, the Prophet like unto Moses, raised up by God for you (Deut. 18:18). “I say to you,” that not only he who commits homicide, but, “whosoever is angry with his brother” (to which the Greek adds, εικη, without cause, but rejected by St. Jerome as spurious and as introduced by copyists).

“Angry” conveys the state of strong, passionate resentment and excitement, desiring (as is implied by the subject matter) and tending to deprive our neighbour of life, or inflict on him grievous bodily harm—just displeasure and indignation at the conduct of others, if moderated by reason, is not prohibited here as sinful—“shall be in danger of judgment;” that is to say, shall sin mortally and incur eternal death, just as in verse 28, the internal desire of adultery, though punishable by no earthly tribunal, entails grievous moral guilt.

“Raca.” This supposes the internal feelings of grievous anger referred to in the preceding, to proceed to reproachful language. “Raca,” a vile, contemptible, brainless wretch. This involves a greater amount of guilt and a heavier mortal sin than the mere internal feelings of anger, similar to that of which the Council of Seventy-two took cognizance among the Jews, and shall entail a heavier punishment in hell.

“Fool,” a still more reproachful term, probably involving a charge of impiety and irreligion; since, among the Jews, impiety was regarded as folly of the greatest kind. The use of such a reproachful term involves a degree of guilt so great, that there is no analogous tribunal among the Jews to take cognizance of it, and it deserves a punishment more grievous than that inflicted by the Sanhedrim, such as the sword or stoning; it deserves, that one would burn in the unceasing fire of Gehenna, an emblem of hell.

“Hell fire.” No doubt, hell fire is the punishment reserved for the preceding sins also, according to the interpretation now given, which supposes them to be mortal; but, to express the heinousness of this latter sin, which involves the most grievous insult and contumely, aggravated by the manner and circumstances of its utterance, relative to cause and persons, and their relation to each other, our Redeemer, who speaks in accommodation to the notions of His hearers regarding the guilt of sin, as seen from the tribunals before which it is brought, wishes to convey, that there was no tribunal on earth to award punishment analogous to that entailed by the sin of grievous contumely and insult, expressed by the word, “fool.” Others understand the passage thus: they say, that in the two preceding kinds of sin there may be some grounds for doubting their heinousness; and hence, they should form the subject of investigation. But, as regards this latter one, there can be no doubt whatever. It is clearly mortal, and, without further investigation, deserving of eternal punishment. However, looking to the kinds of crime adjudicated on and punished by the tribunals, “Judgment” and “Council,” with which our Redeemer compares internal anger and the uttering of the contumelious word, “Raca,” the former interpretation seems the more probable. The sin in each case is supposed to be mortal, of course, if deliberately indulged, but differing in degree, and the intensity of the eternal punishment it entails. Similar are the degrees of mortal sin described by St. James (1:15), “when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; but sin, when it is completed, begetteth death.”

“Hell fire.” In Greek, the Gehenna of fire. This Gehenna, or Valley of Ennom, so called from the man who possessed it, called also “the Valley of the children of Ennom,” was a delightful valley near Jerusalem, at the foot of Mount Moria, irrigated by the waters of Siloe, as we are informed by St. Jerome, also Josue (15:8; 18:16). In this valley, the Israelites, imitating the impiety of the Chanaanites, erected an altar and burnt their children as victims to Moloch, the god or idol of the Ammonites, called by others, Saturn; and as they were wont to drown the cries of the children by the beating of drums or cymbals, the place was called on this account, Topheth (Jer. 7; 2 Kings 16:13; 21:20; Isa. 30:33), from Toph, a cymbal or drum.—Others derive Topheth from Toph, a cymbal, owing to the music practised there as being a place of joy and merriment.—In this valley, the Israelites sacrificed their children (Psa. 106:37-38). This valley the pious king Josias afterwards rendered abominable by casting into it the bones of the dead (2 Kings 23:10) The Lord, moreover, menaced the Jews (Jer. 7:32) that the valley would no longer be called Topheth, nor the Valley of the son of Ennom; but the valley of slaughter, that they should bury their dead in Topheth, and that the carcases of this people should be meat for the fowls of the air (Jer 19:12), and that He would make it the receptacle of all the abominations of Jerusalem. After their return from the Babylonish captivity, the Israelites so abominated this place, that, following the example of the pious king Josias (2 Kings 23:10), they cast the carcases of the dead and all the filth of the city into it; and as perpetual fire was needed to consume all this offal, it was termed the Gehenna of fire. Hence, on account of its abominable destination, and the impious rites performed in it at the sacrifices offered to Moloch, it was a fit emblem of the receptacle of the damned, and most likely it was really regarded as an emblem of hell, although it is used in SS. Scripture, for the first time by our Divine Redeemer, in this sense.

“Of fire,” to show the everlasting burning which continues there. It means, Gehenna, ever on fire, a fit emblem of hell.

Beelen holds, that hell fire is not directly referred to here; that the words only mean, that such a man is deserving of a punishment more grievous than that awarded by even “the Council,” which was stoning or the sword. He deserves to be cast into the Valley of Ennom, ever on fire, and to be burnt there. This is, no doubt, a fit emblem of hell fire, and was regarded by the Jews, as such.

Mat 5:23  If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee;

“Therefore,” is expressive of a plain inference from the foregoing, as if He said: Such being the obligation of avoiding a grievous violation of fraternal charity, no less in thought or word, as explained by me, than in action; and such being the grievous punishment which every such violation shall entail, should you recollect, in the discharge of the most meritorious duty, such as the offering of sacrifice—an act most agreeable and pleasing to God—that you gave “your brother,” i.e., any fellow-creature, just cause of offence, by calling him “raca,” or “fool,” &c., you should at once interrupt that work, should it be practicable to do so, and become reconciled, by making due reparation to the offended party, or at least form the resolution of doing so when practicable, and as soon as circumstances shall permit; otherwise, your work shall be displeasing to God, who prefers fraternal concord and the necessary duty of charity to any gifts whatsoever. “Offer thy gift,” i.e., sacrifice, a work most pleasing to God. This has reference to Jewish sacrifices. But it refers still more so to the sacrifice of love and concord, so far as it concerns us, viz., the Blessed Eucharist—“unum corpus multi sumus,” &c. (“We are one body though many,” 1 Cor. 10:17)

The allusion to sacrifice may also arise from this, that, probably the Scribes taught, that all violations of the precept, “thou shalt not kill,” might be expiated by sacrifice. Our Redeemer here teaches the contrary; and shows how our justice must exceed theirs in preferring the duty of charity to sacrifice. The necessary duty of charity and just reparation must be first fulfilled, if we wish that God would be pleased with any act of religion, be it ever so exalted. If this be true of sacrifice, how much more so, when less exalted and less meritorious works are in question.

“Thy brother hath any thing,” &c. This supposes that he is the offended, we the offending party; he the party to whom reparation is due from us. Should we be the offended party, and “have any thing against him,” all required of us, as a matter of duty, is to pardon him from our hearts for the personal offence, as, in that case, he is the party to seek reconciliation and make due reparation. I say, as a matter of duty, for, high Christian perfection might suggest more; also there is question of personal offence; for, a man is not bound to forego injury in property; and he should, moreover, on public grounds, uphold, by the prosecution of evil-doers, the well-being of society.

Mat 5:24  Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.

“And go first to be reconciled,” &c. The mode of doing this must depend, in a great measure, on circumstances. We must go actually and seek the necessary reconciliation, unless circumstances and motives of prudence should point out an opposite line of conduct, as the most conducive to the permanence of charitable relations in future; and in this latter case, it is preceptive to go in spirit and in will. Indeed, like all affirmative precepts, this is to be a good deal modified by circumstances and considerations of prudence.

25 Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

A continuation of the subject of reconciliation with our offended neighbour, and a new motive for doing so. In the preceding verses, is urged its necessity, in order that our other actions would be pleasing to God. In this verse, it is urged, in order to avoid the punishment which the neglect or voluntary omission to make due reparation would entail upon us.

“Thy adversary” (αντιδικος), an antagonist in a law suit; thy offended or injured fellow-creature. The words of this verse are, in their literal sense, allusive to the case of litigants on their way to a court of law, where the offending party wisely arranges matters, settles the case with his “adversary,” to avoid the penalty which the judge would award, perhaps the disgrace of imprisonment which might ensue. But, in their spiritual sense and application to the subject in hand, which is chiefly intended by our Redeemer under the guise of legal and forensic terms, all of which need not be applied to the chief subject of illustration, they are meant to convey, that we should be reconciled with our offended brother, “the adversary,” “who has something against us” (v. 23), while “in the way,” i.e., in this life, journeying to eternity and approaching nearer and nearer to the judgment seat of Jesus Christ, before which we must all “appear” (2 Cor. 5:10). “Lest perhaps, the adversary deliver thee to the judge,” by remitting the matter to God, who will take cognizance of it in His own time, or, lest his just cause and the injury unatoned for should plead with the judge against thee.

“The officer,” the devil and his angels. It is not, however, necessary to apply every word and part of a parable to the subject illustrated. The whole idea is, lest neglecting to discharge the duty of just reconciliation and reparation, you die in your sins, and be condemned by the just judgment of God, to everlasting and unchangeable punishment in the gloomy prison of hell, out of which there is no escape or ransom. It is not necessary, as regards the chief subject, to inquire into the application of the word, “officer,” or “last farthing,” &c. These terms are merely used to perfect the parable; and, probably, not intended to be applied to the chief subject.

26 Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.

In this is conveyed the rigour with which the sentence of the Eternal Judge shall be carried into execution in the life to come. If there be question of condemnation for mortal guilt, and of hell’s prison, whereas, full satisfaction—“the last farthing”—can never be made, the culprit shall not leave it for eternity. Some writers, from the particle, “until,” regard it as possible that reparation would be made in the case, and the accused party would leave his prison; and hence, they derive an argument in favour of the doctrine of Purgatory. But this does not necessarily follow from the text. It can be understood, and, most likely, ought, of never-ending punishment, as St. Augustine says, “donec pœnas œternas luent,” i.e., always paying eternal punishment. The meaning would be, “you must remain there, till you pay the last farthing, and if unable to pay it, then you shall never leave it.” If there were question of venial sin, then, the interpretation would be different. But it serves no purpose to be adducing weak or dubious arguments in proof of a doctrine clearly established from other undoubted sources. It only does mischief. And the enemies of the faith will be sure to enlarge upon the weak arguments, as if no better were forthcoming, leaving the undoubted arguments unheeded. (See comment. on 2 Peter 1:15).

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 7:7-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 18, 2015

7 Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. ‎

“Ask,” &c. These words are connected by some commentators (Maldonatus, &c.) with the Lord’s Prayer (6:9–15), as if our Lord was pointing out the mode in which we should pray for the petitions contained in the Lord’s Prayer, and they are so connected by St. Luke (11:9). Others connect them with the foregoing, thus: Our Lord’s precepts were very hard of accomplishment; the duties He imposes, beyond human strength, beyond the power of human nature, weakened by sin. He, therefore, points out both the source whence the necessary strength is to come, viz., from heaven, whence every good gift descends from the Father of lights, as also the infallible means of obtaining this necessary strength; and that is, prayer, offered up with the proper conditions and dispositions. Let them beg it of God, and He will give them grace and strength. “Ask,” “seek,” “knock.” These words are differently interpreted; but they, most likely, denote the different leading qualities of prayer. “Ask,” with confidence; “seek,” with diligence; “knock,” with unceasing perseverance. Of course, the words of this and the following verse being affirmative propositions, imply that we shall obtain the fruit of our petitions, all the other necessary conditions being observed; that is to say, provided we pray with the proper dispositions, both as regards the mode of praying and our own state of soul. For, we pray and receive not, “because we ask amiss” (James 4); and if we are determined to persevere in sin, or if we entertain feelings of vengeance, God will not hear us (Prov. 28:9; John 3:21; Prov. 21; Matt. 6:15). Also, the object of our petitions should be good, and conducive to our salvation, and sought for in a spirit of conformity to God’s holy will. Indeed, in every good prayer relating to temporal blessings, and immunity from temporal evils and sufferings, the condition, that God sees that they would serve our eternal salvation, is always implied (see 1 John 5:14, commentary on).

8 For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. ‎

“For, every one that asketh,” provided he does so as he ought, both in regard to conditions and matter of prayer, and his own personal dispositions, “receiveth,” &c. In this general proposition, the last is repeated in a still more emphatic form. No one can allege his own weakness in excuse. To all, without exception, is given the grace of prayer, the expedite means of obtaining the necessary grace and strength from God. This is not confined to any particular person or class. “Every one,” be he saint or sinner, has the assurance of the Son of God Himself—infallible truth—that, if he pray as he ought, he shall be heard. From these words, it is inferred, that prayer is a necessary means of grace; that grace is given on condition that we pray for it. “Ask, and it shall be given to you.” Therefore, if we ask not, it shall not be given, is implied. This is particularly true of that great gift—that crowning grace—of final perseverance (Concil. Trid. §§ vi. Can. xvi.), which, if we obtain, we are saved; if we fail to obtain, we are lost. (Con. Trid. §§ vi. Can. xxii.) This is of faith (Concil. Trid. §§ vi. Can. xxii;) and although it is not of faith, it is still quite certain that there is only one means of securing this all-necessary grace. That one only means is prayer. It cannot be merited, but it can be infallibly obtained, by persevering prayer. “Suppliciter emereri potest” (St. Augustine).

9 Or what man is there among you, of whom if his son shall ask bread, will he reach him a stone? ‎
10 Or if he shall ask him a fish, will he reach him a serpent? ‎
11 If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more will your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him? ‎

“Bread,” though in nature and substance quite different from “a stone,” in form and colour, resembles it. The same is true of “a fish” and “a serpent.” Man is said to be “evil,” either compared with God, whose nature is Infinite goodness, “who in His angels found wickedness” (Job 4:18), “and the stars are not pure in His sight” (Job 25:5), or, rather, on account of his proneness to evil from his youth (Gen. 6:5; 8:21), not to speak of his own voluntary and sinful transgressions. The connexion seems to be this: If an earthly father, who is evil, as explained, will not refuse his son the necessaries of life, will our heavenly Father, whose nature is goodness; who, “although a woman should forget the fruit of her womb, will not forget us,” refuse His children the necessary good gifts they earnestly ask of Him? And again, if an earthly father will not give his children what they ask for, when he knows the objects of their petition to be either useless, as a stone in place of bread, or noxious as a serpent, in place of a fish, although they may earnestly seek for them, thinking them to be good, while they are really evil, how much more determinedly will our heavenly, benevolent Father withhold from us these objects of petition which He knows would be ultimately injurious to our eternal welfare? In the above reference to our Heavenly Father, and the comparison instituted, two things are conveyed. 1. That He will give us what He knows to be for our good, when we ask them as we ought. 2. That His goodness will prevent Him from lending an ear to our petitions, when He sees, that granting them would injure us, viz., when we ask for what we imagine to be “bread,” but, which He sees to be a worthless stone, He, then, will not grant it; or when we think we ask for a “fish,” which He knows to be in reality noxious, “a serpent,” He will, then, withhold it.

The connexion may also be this: “Ask, and you shall receive,” provided you ask for what is necessary and expedient. For, if you ask for what He sees to be injurious; if you ask for a fish, which He knows to be a “serpent,” this good, heavenly Father will withhold these noxious gifts, and give you something better instead, v.g., if He refuse to remove temporal evils, the removal of which might injure your salvation, He will grant the greater gifts of perfect patience and sweet conformity to His holy and adorable will.

“Know how to give good gifts to your children.” The word, “know,” expresses custom or habit of doing a thing. Thus, it is said, “the sun knoweth his going down” (Psa. 104:19). The words of this verse (11), which are a sort of conclusion, clearly indicate the object of our Lord in introducing the example of the earthly father in the preceding verses to be—1st. That, as the earthly father gives gifts to his children, so will the heavenly Father give good things to them that ask Him; and 2ndly, as the earthly father would not give noxious gifts, even when urgently sought to do so, so, neither will our heavenly Father. “He will give (not bad, but) good things;” or, as St. Luke has it, “He will give the good spirit to them that ask it” (Luke 11:13).

12 All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets.

“Therefore,” may be inductive or inferential, as if He said: All that I have said in the foregoing regarding the love of our neighbour, including our enemies, regarding alms-deeds, forgiveness of injuries, &c. may be briefly summed up in this great principle of the natural law, this leading maxim of moral philosophy, “all things whatsoever you would” rationally desire, by a truly Christian wish (it does not, of course, embrace corrupt, sensual wishes) “that men would do to you,” &c. The connexion of this verse is traced by Maldonatus to c. 5:42. Besides being easily connected and aptly fitted together in sense, St. Luke, who probably observed the order and connexion in which our Redeemer spoke, connects them immediately (Lk 6:31).

“For this is the law,” &c. By “law,” is meant the Pentateuch. By “the prophets,” all the other books of the Old Testament, whether prophetical or not. The Hebrews were wont to call the Books of Kings, the Psalms, &c., prophetical, (Mt 11:13; 22:40, &c.) The words, then, mean: This first principle of the natural law is the compendium of all that Moses and the other inspired writers have written on the subject of fraternal charity; or, if we understand by the love of the neighbour, the love of him for God’s sake—and this alone is the true Christian idea of the love of our neighbour—then, the words will mean, that this great principle is a compendium of the entire law, new and old, since in this sense, the love of God, too, is included. The whole law is summed up in this: the love of God for His own sake, and of our neighbour for the love of God (see commentary, Rom. 13:8). Some commentators connect this verse with v. 1, making the intervening verses parenthetical illustrations or examples. In this verse, our Redeemer inculcates brotherly love. The fulfilling of the precept of brotherly love adequately, including the love of God, as above explained, is the compendium of the entire law.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 7:7-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 18, 2015

7 Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. ‎
8 For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. ‎
9 Or what man is there among you, of whom if his son shall ask bread, will he reach him a stone? ‎
10 Or if he shall ask him a fish, will he reach him a serpent? ‎
11 If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more will your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him? ‎
12 All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets.

Ask, and it shall be given you. Efficacy of prayer. Maldonado, Lapide, Meyer, Coleridge are of opinion that no connection binds this to the preceding passage; Maldonado, adds that probably the present instruction must be joined with the Our Father [cf. Lk. 11:9], since it shows how we ought to pray; Augustine regards these words as indicating how the hearers of our Lord could obtain the “holy” and the “pearls” mentioned in the last verse; Weiss sees here a suggestion as to the manner in which we may always assist our neighbor, though we should be unable to make use of fraternal correction; Opus Imperfectum. connects the passage with our Lord’s precept of leniency in judging others, so that those who observe the latter law will obtain any favor they may ask for; Salmeron finds here the indication of the means by which we shall be enabled to abstain from rash judgments and to act with Christian prudence; Chrysostom, Opus Imperfectum, Euthymius, Theophylact, Tostatus, Dionysius the Carthusian, Jansenius, Barradas, Lam. Arnoldi, Schanz, Fillion, Knabenbauer see in the passage both an instruction as to how we can observe all the Lord’s commandments contained in the sermon on the mount, and an exhortation to make use of the means here suggested. The instruction is contained in vv. 7, 8; the exhortation in vv. 9–11.

Instruction concerning prayer (7:7-8).  The words “ask,” “seek,” and “knock,” have been variously interpreted.

[1] Some writers regard them as expressing our prayer for three different kinds of objects: by prayer we obtain mercy, by seeking, progress, by knocking, entrance [Jerome]; by prayer we obtain grace, by seeking, the knowledge of natural truths, by knocking, the understanding of supernatural truth [Euthymius]; by prayer we find the way, by seeking, the truth, by knocking, the life [Paschasius]; by prayer we acquire health and strength of soul, by seeking, knowledge of the truth, by knocking, entrance into life eternal [Augustine].

[2] Other writers find in the words “ask,” “seek,” “knock,” expressions for three different manners of prayer: we pray by our desires, we seek by our vocal prayer, we knock by our uprightness of life [Dionysius the Carthusian]; we ask, after the manner of a beggar, we seek, as if looking for something, we knock, as if desiring admission [Schanz, cf. Schegg].

[3] Finally, there are authors who find in the three expressions three different degrees of intensity of prayer: we ask with earnestness, we seek with constancy and perseverance, we knock with importunity [Chrysostom, Opus Imperfectum, Thomas Aquins, Salmeron, Jansenius, Barradas, Lapide, Grimm, Arnoldi, Fillion, Knabenbauer; cf. Augustine Retract, i. 19].

But whether the expressions signify prayer for three different objects, or three different manners of prayer, or again three different degrees of prayer, in any case our Lord promises certain hearing. This promise must, of course, be subject to those conditions which even human reason recognizes as binding: the object must not be bad, or desired for a bad purpose [James 4:3], or be really harmful to us; we ourselves must pray with confidence [James 1:5–7] and not as formal sinners [cf. Jn. 9:31]. If we do not obtain what we ask for, we surely obtain something better; sometimes God only delays the hearing of our prayer in order to try our constancy or to increase our earnestness [Lk. 11:8 ff.; 18:3 ff.].

Exhortation (7:9-11). Our Lord exhorts his hearers to have recourse to prayer by proving “a minori ad maius” that God cannot refuse to hear them. If a human father cannot refuse the prayers of his child, God cannot leave the prayers of his children unanswered. Jesus connects in his illustration the “stone” with “bread,” and the “serpent” with “fish,” because both the stone and the serpent are very much like and also most unlike bread and fish respectively. In these illustrations our Lord implies that God will not grant us anything that may appear to be good, but in reality is either useless or even harmful. The force of the argument is rendered clearer by the comparison of a human father with God. Our Lord says “you being evil,” either because all created goodness is so far below that of God that it almost appears to be evil [Chrysostom, Euthymius, Theophylact, Opus Imperfectum, Jerome, Bede, Paschasius, Arnoldi], or because all men are in some degree evil by being infected with original sin, by being inclined to evil, and by being guilty of personal sins [Augustine, Bede, Rabanus, Dionysius the Carthusian, Cajetan, Salmeron, Maldonado, Jansenius, Lapide, Schanz, Knabenbauer, etc.]. This point of the argument is not merely “a minori ad maius”; for we should naturally expect that evil parents would grant only evil to their children.

All things therefore whatsoever. Divine rule of morality (7:12). Chrysostom, Bruno, Dionysius the Carthusian, Salmeron Coleridge connect the “therefore “with our Lord’s instruction on prayer, either because v. 12 contains a condition on which alone we can expect to be heard, or because God’s readiness to comply with our requests ought to be an example to us in our conduct towards our neighbor. Maldonado, connects the inference with 7:1, or the warning against rash judgments; “Weiss extends the connection to vv. 1–5; Keil to vv. 1–11; Chrysostom, Hilary, Euthymius, Jansenius, Lam. Fillion, find here a summary of the whole sermon on the mount. This agrees best with our Lord’s own declaration that “this is the law and the prophets.” Mt. 22:40, where the substance of the law is reduced to the double law of charity, does not essentially differ from the present passage, since true charity for our neighbor does not differ from the love of God. The principle expressed in v. 12 is rightly regarded as characteristic of Christianity; for though a similar principle was expressed before Christ, and even by pagan philosophers [cf. Tobit 4:16; Seneca De benef. ii. 1; Lampridius in A. Sever. 51], it was either proposed in a negative form or in a limited meaning; at any rate, it was never enforced by an efficient example such as Jesus Christ gave to his disciples.



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