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 December, 2015

Commentaries for the Feast of the Holy Family, Year C

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 26, 2015

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH

READINGS AND OFFICE:

Today’s Mass Readings. PLEASE NOTE  that the 1st and 2nd readings, and the responsorial allow for different texts. Not all sites listed here provide resources for all the possible choices.

Mass Readings in the NJB Translation. Scroll down. Used in most English speaking countries. For some reason the site has the Gospel reading before the second reading.

Divine Office.

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

REMEMBER THAT (except for the Gospel) THERE ARE SEVERAL DIFFERENT READINGS TO CHOOSE FROM.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING:

1st Reading, Choice 1: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14.

1st Reading, Choice 2: 1 Sam 1:20-22, 24-28.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Sam 1:20-22, 24-28.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL:

Responsorial, Choice 1: Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 128. Entire psalm.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 184. Entire psalm.

Responsorial, Choice 2: Ps 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 84. Entire psalm.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 84. Entire psalm.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING:

2nd Reading, Choice 1: Colossians 3:12-21.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-21.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-21.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Colossians 3:12-21.

Pending: Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-21.

2nd Reading, Choice 2: Colossians 3:12-17.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17. On 12-21.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17. On 12-21.

2nd Reading, Choice 3: 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24.

St Augustine on 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Luke 2:41-52

St Augustine on Luke 2:41-52.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 2:41-52. on 42-52.

Word-Sunday Notes on Luke 2:41-52.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 2:41-52.

GENERAL RESOURCES: sites that usually deal with the readings as a whole.

Word Sunday. The readings in both and literal translation, notes on the text, podcast, children’s reading. be sure to choose the “C” links since we are in Lectionary Cycle C.

Sacerdos.  Gives the theme of the readings, the doctrinal message, and pastoral application.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background on the readings. Can be printed out, copied, and used as bulletin insert.

Scripture Speaks. I’ve linked to the archive. This Sunday’s post not yet available.

The Wednesday Word.  It’s about the Sunday readings, but the document is posted on Wednesday, hence the name. Designed for prayer and reflection, the pdf document ends with Father Dom Henry Wansbrough’s reflections on the first and second readings. Fr. Wansbrough is General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible and contributed commentaries on Matt, Mark, and the Pastorals in A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture.

St Charles Borromeo Parish’s Bible Study Notes. Notes on all the readings, usually with some background info as well.

Sacred Page Blog: The Joy and Challenge of Family Life.  Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma reflects on the readings.

Scripture In Depth.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 80

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 20, 2015

1. … If perchance things obscure demand the office of an interpreter, those things which are evident ought to require of me the office of a reader. The song here is of the Advent of the Lord and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His vineyard. But the singer of the song is that Asaph, as far as doth appear, enlightened and converted, by whose name ye know the synagogue to be signified. Lastly, the title of the Psalm is: “For the end in behalf of them that shall be changed;” that is, for the better. For Christ, the end of the Law,Rom. 10:4.

“>5 hath come on purpose that He should change men for the better. And he addeth, “a testimony to Asaph himself.” A good testimony of truth. Lastly, this testimony doth confess both Christ and the vineyard; that is, Head and Body, King and people, Shepherd and flock, and the entire mystery of all Scriptures, Christ and the Church. But the title of the Psalm doth conclude with, “for the Assyrians.” The Assyrians are interpreted, “men guiding.” Therefore it is no longer a generation which hath not guided the heartPs. 78:8, p. 369, supra.

“>6 thereof, but now a generation guiding. Therefore hear we what he saith in this testimony.

2. What is, “Thou that feedest Israel, hearken, Thou that conducteth Joseph like sheep”? (ver. 1). He is being invoked to come, He is being expected until He come, He is being yearned for until He come. Therefore may He find “men guiding:” “Thou that conductest,” he saith, “Joseph like sheep:” Joseph himself like sheep. Joseph himself are the sheep, and Joseph himself is a sheep. Observe Joseph; for although even the interpretation of his name doth aid us much, for it signifieth increase; and He came indeed in order that the grain given to deathMortificatum.

“>7 might arise manifold;John 12:24.

“>8 that is, that the people of God might be increased.… “Thou that sittest upon the Cherubin.” Cherubin is the seat of the glory of God, and is interpreted the fulness of knowledge. There God sitteth in the fulness of knowledge. Though we understand the Cherubin to be the exalted powers and virtues of the heavens: yet, if thou wilt, thou wilt be Cherubin.See St. Macarius, Hom. 1.

“>9 For if Cherubin is the seat of God, hear what saith the Scripture: “The soul of a just man is the seat of wisdom.” How, thou sayest, shall I be the fulness of knowledge? Who shall fulfil this? Thou hast the means of fulfilling it: “The fulness of the Law is love.”Rom. 13:10.

“>10 Do not run after many things, and strain thyself. The amplitude of the branches doth terrify thee: hold by the root, and of the greatness of the tree think not. Be there in thee love, and the fulness of knowledge must needs follow. For what doth he not know that knoweth love? Inasmuch as it hath been said, “God is love.”1 John 4:8.

“>11 “Appear.” For we went astray because Thou didst not appear. “Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasse” (ver. 2). Appear, I say, before the nation of the Jews, before the people of Israel. For there is Ephraim, there Manasses, there Benjamin. But to the interpretation let us look: Ephraim is fruit-bearing, Benjamin son of right hand, Manasses one forgetful. Appear Thou then before one made fruitful, before a son of the right hand: appear Thou before one forgetful, in order that he may be no longer forgetful, but Thou mayest come into his mind that hast delivered him.… For weak Thou wast when it was being said, “If Son of God He is, let Him come down from the Cross.”Matt. 27:40.

“>1 Thou wast seeming to have no power: the persecutor had power over Thee: and Thou didst show this aforetime, for Jacob too himself prevailed in wrestling, a man with an angel. Would he at any time, except the angel had been willing? And man prevailed, and the angel was conquered: and victorious man holdeth the angel, and saith, “I will not let thee go, except thou shalt have blessed me.”Gen. 32:26.

“>2 A great sacrament! He both standeth conquered, and blesseth the conqueror. Conquered, because he willed it; in flesh weak, in majesty strong.… Having been crucified of weakness, rise Thou in power:2 Cor. 13:4.

“>3 “Stir up Thy power, and come Thou, to save us.”

3. “O God, convert us.” For averse we have been from Thee, and except Thou convert us, we shall not be converted. “And illumine Thy face, and we shall be saved” (ver. 3). Hath He anywise a darkened face? He hath not a darkened face, but He placed before it a cloud of flesh, and as it were a veil of weakness; and when He hung on the tree, He was not thought the Same as He was after to be acknowledged when He was sitting in Heaven. For thus it hath come to pass. Christ present on the earth, and doing miracles, Asaph knew not; but when He had died, after that He rose again, and ascended into Heaven, he knew Him. He was pricked to the heart, and he may have spokenOxf. mss. “he spoke.”

“>4 also of Him this testimony which now we acknowledge in this Psalm. Thou didst cover Thy face, and we were sick: illumine Thou the same, and we shall be whole.

4. “O Lord God of virtues, how long wilt Thou be angry with the prayer of Thy servant?” (ver. 4). Now Thy servant. Thou wast angry at the prayer of Thy enemy, wilt Thou still be angry with the prayer of Thy servant? Thou hast converted us, we know Thee, and wilt Thou still be angry with the prayer of Thy servant? Thou wilt evidently be angry, in fact, as a father correcting, not as a judge condemning. In such manner evidently Thou wilt be angry, because it hath been written, “My son, drawing near unto the service of God, stand thou in righteousness and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation.”Ecclus. 2:1.

“>5 Think not that now the wrath of GodSo Oxf. mss.; Ben. “it.”

“>6 hath passed away, because thou hast been converted. The wrath of God hath passed away from thee, but only so that it condemn not for everlasting. But He scourgeth, He spareth not: because He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.Heb. 12:6.

“>7 If thou refusest to be scourged, why dost thou desire to be received? He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. He who did not spare even His only Son, scourgeth every one. But nevertheless, “How long wilt Thou be angry with the prayer of Thy servant?” No longer thine enemy: but, “Thou wilt be angry with the prayer of Thy servant,” how long? There followeth: “Thou wilt feed us with the bread of tears, and wilt give us to drink with tears in measure” (ver. 5). What is, “in measure”? Hear the Apostle: “Faithful is God, who doth not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able to bear.”1 Cor. 10:13.

“>8 The measure is, according to your powers: the measure is, that thou be instructed, not that thou be crushed.

5. “Thou hast set us for a contradiction to our neighbours” (ver. 6). Evidently this did come to pass: for out of Asaph were chosen they that should go to the Gentiles and preach Christ, and should have it said to them, “Who is this proclaimer of new demons?”Acts 17:18. E. V. “strange gods.”

“>9 “Thou hast set us for a contradiction to our neighbours.” For they were preaching Him who was the subject of the contradiction. Whom did they preach? That after He was dead, Christ rose again. Who would hear this? Who would know this? It is a new thing. But signs did follow, and to an incredible thing miracles gave credibility. He was contradicted, but the contradictor was conquered, and from being a contradictor was made a believer. There, however, was a great flame: there the martyrs fed with the bread of tears, and given to drink in tears, but in measure, not more than they are able to bear; in order that after the measure of tears there should follow a crown of joys. “And our enemies have sneered at us.” And where are they that sneered? For a long while it was said, Who are they that worship the Dead One, that adore the Crucified? For a long while so it was said. Where is the nose of them that sneered? Now do not they that censure flee into caves, that they may not be seen? But ye see what followeth: “O Lord God of virtues, convert us, and show Thy face, and we shall be whole” (ver. 7). “A vineyard out of Egypt Thou hast brought over, Thou hast cast out the nations, and hast planted her” (ver. 8). It was done, we know. How many nations were cast out? Amorites, Cethites, Jebusites, Gergesites, and Evites: after whose expulsion and overthrow, there was led in the people delivered out of Egypt, into the land of promise. Whence the vineyard was cast out, and where she was planted, we have heard. Let us see what next was done, how she believed, how much she grew, what ground she covered.

6. “A way Thou hast made in the sight of her, and hast planted the roots of her, and she hath filled the land” (ver. 9). Would she have filled the land, unless a way had been made in the sight of her? What was the way which was made in the sight of her? “I am,” He saith, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”John 14:6.

“>1 With reason she hath filled the land. That hath now been said of this vineyard, which hath been accomplished at the last. But in the mean time what? “She hath covered the mountains with her shadow, and with her branch the cedars of God” (ver. 10). “Thou hast stretched out her boughs even unto the sea, and even unto the river her shoots” (ver. 11). This requireth the office of an expositor, that of a reader and praiserOne ms. “hearer.”

“>2 doth not suffice: aid me with attention; for the mention of this vineyard in this Psalm is wont to overcloud with darkness the inattentive.… But nevertheless the first Jewish nation was this vine. But the Jewish nation reigned as far as the sea and as far as the river. As far as the sea; it appeareth in ScriptureNumb. 34:5.

“>3 that the sea was in the vicinity thereof. And as far as the river Jordan. For on the other side of Jordan some part of the Jews was established, but within Jordan was the whole nation. Therefore, “even unto the sea and even unto the river,” is the kingdom of the Jews, the kingdom of Israel: but not “from sea even unto sea, and from the river even unto the ends of the round world;”Ps. 72:8.

“>4 this is the future perfection of the vineyard, concerning which in this place he hath foretold. When, I say, he had foretold to thee the perfection, he returneth to the beginning, out of which the perfection was made. Of the beginning wilt thou hear? “Even unto the river.” Of the end wilt thou hear? “He shall have dominion from sea even unto sea:”Ps. 72:8.

“>5 that is, “she hath filled the earth.” Let us look then to the testimony of Asaph, as to what was done to the first vineyard, and what must be expected for the second vineyard, nay to the same vineyard.… What then, the vineyard before the sight whereof a way was made, that she should fill the earth, at first was where? “Her shadow covered the mountains.” Who are the mountains? The Prophets. Why did her shadow cover them? Because darkly they spake the things which were foretold as to come. Thou hearest from the Prophets, Keep the Sabbath-day, on the eighth day circumcise a child, offer sacrifice of ram, of calf, of he-goat. Be not troubled, her shadow doth cover the mountains of God; there will come after the shadow a manifestation. “And her shrubs the cedars of God,” that is, she hath covered the cedars of God; very lofty, but of God. For the cedars are types of the proud, that must needs be overthrown. The “cedars of Lebanon,” the heights of the world, this vineyard did cover in growing, and the mountains of God, all the holy Prophets and Patriarchs.

7. Then what? “Wherefore hast Thou thrown down her enclosure?” (ver. 12). Now ye see the overthrow of that nation of the Jews: already out of another Psalm ye have heard, “with axe and hammerFractorio.

“>6 they have thrown her down.”Ps. 74:6.

“>7 When could this have been done, except her enclosure had been thrown down. What is her enclosure? Her defence. For she bore herself proudly against her planter. The servants that were sent to her and demanded a recompense, the husbandmen they scourged, beat, slew: there came also the Only Son, they said, “This is the Heir; come, let us kill Him, and our own the inheritance will be:” they killed Him, and out of the vineyard they cast Him forth.Matt. 21:35, etc.

“>8 When cast forth, He did more perfectly possess the place whence He was cast forth. For thus He threatens her through Isaiah, “I will throw down her enclosure.” Wherefore? “For I looked that she should bring forth grapes, but she brought forth thorns.”Isa. 5:2.

“>9 I looked for fruit from thence, and I found sin. Why then dost thou ask, O Asaph, “Why hast Thou thrown down her enclosure?” For knowest thou not why? I looked that she should do judgment, and she did iniquity. Must not her enclosure needs be thrown down? And there came the Gentiles when the enclosure was thrown down, the vineyard was assailed, and the kingdom of the Jews effaced. This at first he is lamenting, but not without hope. For of directing the heart he is now speaking, that is, for the “Assyrians,” for “men directing,” the Psalm is. “Wherefore hast Thou thrown down her enclosure: and there pluck off her grapes all men passing along the way.” What is “men passing along the way?” Men having dominion for a time.

8. “There hath laid her waste the boar from the wood” (ver. 13). In the boar from the wood what do we understand? To the Jews a swine is an abomination, and in a swine they imagine as it were the uncleanness of the Gentiles. But by the Gentiles was overthrown the nation of the Jews: but that king who overthrew, was not only an unclean swine, but was also a boar. For what is a boar but a savage swine, a furious swine? “A boar from the wood hath laid her waste.” “From the wood,” from the Gentiles. For she was a vineyard, but the Gentiles were woods. But when the Gentiles believed, there was said what? “Then there shall exult all the trees of the woods.”Ps. 96:12.

“>1 “The boar from the wood hath laid her waste; and a singular wild beast hath devoured her.” “A singular wild beast” is what? The very boar that laid her waste is the singular wild beast. Singular, because proud. For thus saith every proud one, It is I, it is I, and no other.

9. But with what profit is this? “O God of virtues turn Thou nevertheless” (ver. 14). Although these things have been done, “Turn Thou nevertheless.” “Look from heaven and see, and visit this vineyard.” “And perfect Thou her whom Thy right hand hath planted” (ver. 15). No other plant Thou, but this make Thou perfect. For she is the very seed of Abraham, she is the very seed in whom all nations shall be blessed:Gen. 22:18.

“>2 there is the root where is borne the graffed wild olive. “Perfect Thou this vineyard which Thy right hand hath planted.” But wherein doth He perfect? “And upon the Son of man, whom Thou hast strengthened to Thyself.” What can be more evident? Why do ye still expect, that we should still explain to you in discourse, and should we not rather cry out with you in admiration, “Perfect Thou this vineyard which Thy right hand hath planted, and upon the Son of man” perfect her? What Son of man? Him “whom Thou hast strengthened to Thyself.” A mighty stronghold: build as much as thou art able. “For other foundation no one is able to lay, except that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.”1 Cor. 3:11.

“>3

10. “Things burned with fire, and dug up, by the rebuke of Thy countenance shall perish” (ver. 16). What are the things burned with fire and dug up which shall perish from the rebuke of His countenance? Let us see and perceive what are the things burned with fire and dug up. Christ hath rebuked what? Sins: by the rebuke of His countenance sins have perished. Why then are sins burned with fire and dug up? Of all sins, two things are the cause in man, desire and fear.All sins are either of desire or of fear.

“>4 Think, examine, question your hearts, sift your consciences, see whether there can be sins, except they be either of desire, or of fear. There is set before thee a reward to induce thee to sin, that is, a thing which delighteth thee; thou doest it, because thou desirest it. But perchance thou wilt not be allured by bribes; thou art terrified with menaces, thou doest it because thou fearest. A man would bribe thee, for example, to bear false witness. Countless cases there are, but I am setting before you the plainer cases, whereby ye may imagine the rest. Hast thou hearkened unto God, and hast thou said in thy heart, “What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but of his own soul suffer loss?”Matt. 16:26.

“>5 I am not allured by a bribe to lose my soulOr, “life.”

“>6 to gain money. He turneth himself to stir up fear within thee, he who was not able to corrupt thee with a bribe, beginneth to threaten loss, banishment, massacres, perchance, and death. Therein now, if desire prevailed not, perchance fear will prevail to make thee sin.… What had evil fear done? It had dug up, as it were. For love doth inflame, fear doth humble: therefore, sins of evil love, with fire were lighted: sins of evil fear were dug up. On the one hand, evil fear doth humble, and good love doth light; but in different ways respectively. For even the husbandman interceding for the tree, that it should not be cut down, saith, “I will dig about it, and will apply a basket of dung.”Luke 13:8.

“>7 The dug trench doth signify the godly humility of one fearing, and the basket of dung the profitable squalid state of one repenting. But concerning the fire of good love the Lord saith, “Fire I have come to send into the world.”Luke 12:49.

“>8 With which fire may the fervent in spirit burn, and they too that are inflamed with the love of God and their neighbour. And thus, as all good works are wrought by good fear and good love, so by evil fear and evil love all sins are committed. Therefore, “Things set alight with fire and dug up,” to wit, all sins, “by the rebuke of Thy countenance shall perish.”

11. “Let Thy hand be upon the Man of Thy right hand, and upon the Son of Man whom Thou hast strengthened Thyself” (ver. 17). “And we depart not from Thee.… Thou wilt quicken us, and Thy Name we will invoke” (ver. 18). Thou shalt be sweet to us, “Thou wilt quicken us.” For aforetime we did love earth, not Thee: but Thou hast mortified our members which are upon the earth.Col. 3:5.

“>9 For the Old Testament, having earthly promises, seemeth to exhort that God should not be loved for nought, but that He should be loved because He giveth something on earth. What dost thou love, so as not to love God? Tell me. Love, if thou canst, anything which He hath not made. Look round upon the whole creation, see whether in any place thou art held with the birdlime of desire, and hindered from loving the Creator, except it be by that very thing which He hath Himself created, whom thou despisest. But why dost thou love those things, except because they are beautiful? Can they be as beautiful as He by whom they were made? Thou admirest these things, because thou seest not Him: but through those things which thou admirest, love Him whom thou seest not. Examine the creation; if of itself it is, stay therein: but if it is of Him, for no other reason is it prejudicial to a lover, than because it is preferred to the Creator. Why have I said this? With reference to this verse, brethren. Dead, I say, were they that did worship God that it might be well with them after the flesh: “For to be wise after the flesh is death:”Rom. 8:6.

“>1 and dead are they that do not worship God gratis, that is, because of Himself He is good, not because He giveth such and such good things, which He giveth even to men not good. Money wilt thou have of God? Even a robber hath it. Wife, abundance of children, soundness of body, the world’s dignity, observe how many evil men have. Is this all for the sake of which thou dost worship Him? Thy feet will totter,Ps. 73:2.

“>2 thou wilt suppose thyself to worship without cause, when thou seest those things to be with them who do not worship Him. All these things, I say, He giveth even to evil men, Himself alone He reserveth for good men. “Thou wilt quicken us;” for dead we were, when to earthly things we did cleave; dead we were, when of the earthly man we did bear the image. “Thou wilt quicken us;” Thou wilt renew us, the life of the inward man Thou wilt give us. “And Thy Name we will invoke;” that is, Thee we will love. Thou to us wilt be the sweet forgiver of our sins, Thou wilt be the entire reward of the justified. “O Lord God of virtues, convert us, and show Thy face, and we shall be whole” (ver. 19).

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St Bernard’s Advent Homily on Isaiah 7:10-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 12, 2015

“And the Lord spoke again to Achaz, saying: Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God, either unto the depth of hell, or unto the height above. And Achaz said: I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord.”4

WE have heard Isaiah persuading King Achaz to ask for a sign from the Lord, either in the depth of hell, or in the height above. We have heard the King’s answer, having the semblance of piety, but not its reality. On this account he deserved to be rejected by Him Who sees the heart, and to Whom the thoughts of men confess. “I will not ask,” he says, “and I will not tempt the Lord.” Achaz was puffed up with the pomp of the regal throne, and skilled in the cunning words of human wisdom. Isaias has therefore heard the words: “Go, tell that fox to ask for himself a sign from the Lord unto the depths of hell.” For the fox had a hole, but it was in hell, where, if he descended, he would find One Who would catch the wise in his cunning. Again: “Go,” says the Lord, “to that bird, and let him ask for a sign in the heights above,” for the bird hath his high nest; but though he ascend to heaven, he will there find Him Who “resisteth the proud,” and trampleth with might on the necks of the lofty and high-minded. Achaz refused to ask a sign of that sovereign power, or that incomprehensible depth. Wherefore the Lord Himself promised to the house of David a sign of goodness and charity, that those whom the exhibition of His power could not terrify, nor the manifestations of His wisdom subdue, might be allured by His exceeding love. In the words “depth of hell” may be not unfitly portrayed the charity “greater than which no man hath,” that Christ should at death descend even unto hell “for His friends.” And in this God would teach Achaz either to dread the majesty of Him Who reigns in the highest, or to embrace the charity of Him Who descends to the lowest. Grievous, therefore, alike to God and man is he who will neither think on majesty with fear nor meditate on charity with love. “Wherefore,” the Prophet says, “the Lord himself shall give you a sign.”1—a sign resplendent alike with majesty and love. “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel, which is interpreted, ‘God with us.’ ” O Adam! flee not away, for God is with us! Fear not, O man, nor be afraid to hear His name; it is “God with us.” With us in the likeness of our nature; with us for our service and for our profit. For us He is come as one of us, passible like unto us.

It is said, “He will eat butter and honey”; as if to say, He shall be a little one, fed with infant’s food. “That he may know how to reject evil and choose good.” As in the case of the forbidden tree, the tree of transgression, so now we hear of an option between good and evil. But the choice of the second Adam is better than that of the first. Choosing the good, He refused the evil; not as He Who loved cursing, and it came upon Him; and He would not have blessing, and it was far from Him.2 In the prophecy that He would eat butter and honey you may notice the choice of this little one. But may His grace support us, that what He grants us the power to understand He may likewise enable us to explain!

From milk we obtain two substances, butter and cheese. Butter is oily and moist; cheese, on the contrary, is hard. Our little one knew well how to choose when, eating the butter, He did not taste the cheese. Behold, therefore, how He chose the best; He assumed our nature free from all corruption of sin. Of sinners we read that their heart is curdled as milk; the purity of their nature is corrupted by the fermentation of malice and iniquity.

And now let us turn to the honey. Our bee feeds among lilies, and dwells in the flowery country of the angels. This bee flew to the city of Nazareth, which is, interpreted, a flower; He came to the sweet-smelling flower of perpetual virginity; He settled upon it, He clove to it. But bees, besides their sweet honey, have likewise their sharp sting. The Prophet that sang of the mercy and judgment of the Lord, knew that this bee had a sting as well as honey.1 Nevertheless, when He descended to us He brought honey only—that is, mercy, not judgment—so that to the disciples who wished to call down fire from heaven on the cities that would not receive Him, He answered: “The Son of Man is not come to judge the world, but to save it.”2 Our bee had no sting in His mortal life; amid the extremity of insult He showed mercy, not judgment. Christ, then, may be symbolized both as a bee and as the flower springing from the rod. And, as we know, the rod is the Virgin Mother of God.

This flower, the Son of the Virgin, is “white and ruddy, chosen out of thousands.”3 It is the flower on which the angels desire to look, the flower whose perfume shall revive the dead, the flower, as He Himself declares, of the field, not of the garden. This flower grew and flourished in the field independent of all human culture; unsown by the hand of man, unfilled by the spade, or fattened by moisture. So did the womb of Mary blossom. As a rich pasture it brought forth the flower of eternal beauty, whose freshness shall never fade nor see corruption, whose glory is to everlasting. O sublime virgin rod, that raisest thy holy head aloft, even to Him Who sitteth on the throne, even to the Lord of Majesty! And this is not wonderful, for thou hast planted thy roots deeply in the soil of humility. O truly celestial plant, than which none more precious, none more holy! O true tree of life, alone deemed worthy to bear the fruit of salvation! Thou art caught, O wicked serpent, caught in thy own cunning; thy falsity is laid bare. Two evils thou hadst imputed to thy Creator; thou hadst defamed Him by envy and by lying, but in both imputations thou art convicted a liar. He to whom thou hadst promised that he should not die did die, “and the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.”1 And now answer, if thou canst, what tree God could forbid man, seeing He denied him not this chosen rod, this sublime fruit? For “he that spared not his own Son, how hath he not with him given us all things?”2

It is now surely clear how the Virgin is the royal way by which the Saviour has drawn near to us, coming forth from her womb as a Bridegroom from His bridal chamber. Holding on, therefore, to this way, let us endeavour to ascend to Him by her, through Whom He descended to us; let us seek His grace through her by whom He came to succour our need.

O blessed finder of grace! Mother of life! Mother of salvation! may we through thee have access to thy Son, that through thee we may be received by Him Who through thee was given to us. May thy integrity and purity excuse before Him the stain of our corruption; may thy humility, so pleasing to God, obtain from Him the pardon of our vanity. May thy abundant charity cover the multitude of our iniquity, and thy glorious fruitfulness supply our indigence of merits. Our Lady, our Mediatrix, our Advocate, reconcile us to thy Son, commend us to thy Son, present us to thy Son. By the grace thou hast found, by the prerogative thou didst merit, by the mercy thou didst bring forth, obtain, O blessed one, that He Who vouchsafed to become partaker of our infirmity and misery, may, through thy intercession, make us partakers of His blessedness and glory, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, Who is God blessed above all for evermore. Amen.

II

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St Bernard~On the Advent of the Lord and its Six Circumstances

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 6, 2015

SERMONS OF ST BERNARD
SERMON ONE
ON THE ADVENT OF OUR LORD AND ITS SIX CIRCUMSTANCES

To-day we celebrate the beginning of Advent.

The name of this great annual commemoration is sufficiently familiar to us; its meaning may not be so well known.

When the unhappy children of Eve had abandoned the pursuit of things true and salutary, they gave themselves up to the search for those that are fleeting and perishable. To whom shall we liken the men of this generation, or to what shall we compare them, seeing they are unable to tear themselves from earthly and carnal consolations, or disentangle their minds from such trammels? They resemble the shipwrecked who are in danger of being overwhelmed by the waters, and who may be seen catching eagerly at whatever they first grasp, how frail soever it may be. And if anyone strive to rescue them, they are wont to seize and drag him down with them, so that not infrequently the rescuer is involved with them in one common destruction. Thus the children of the world perish miserably while following after transitory things and neglecting those which are solid and enduring, cleaving to which, they might save their souls. Of truth, not of vanity, it is said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”St. John 8:32.”>1

Do you, therefore, to whom as to little ones God has revealed things hidden from the wise and prudent, turn your thoughts with earnestness to those that are truly desirable, and diligently meditate on this coming of our Lord.St. Matt. 11:25.”>2 Consider Who He is that comes, whence He comes, to whom He comes, for what end He comes, when He comes, and in what manner He comes. This is undoubtedly a most useful and praiseworthy curiosity, for the Church would not so devoutly celebrate the season of Advent if there were not some great mystery hidden therein.

Wherefore, in the first place, let us with the Apostle consider in astonishment and admiration how great He is Who comes. According to the testimony of Gabriel, He is the Son of the Most High, and consequently a coequal with Him. Nor is it lawful to think that the Son of God is other than coequal with His Father. He is coequal in majesty; He is coequal in dignity. Who will deny that the sons of princes are princes, and the sons of kings kings?

But how is it that of the Three Persons Whom we believe, and confess, and adore in the Most High Trinity, it was not the Father, nor the Holy Ghost, but the Son that became Man? I imagine this was not without cause. But “who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?”Rom. 11:34. “>3

 Not without some most deep counsel of the Blessed Trinity was it decreed that the Son should become Incarnate. If we consider the cause of our exile, we may perchance be able to comprehend in some degree how fitting it was that our deliverance should be chiefly accomplished by the Son.

Lucifer, who rose brightly as the morning star, because he attempted to usurp a similitude with the Most High, and “it was thought robbery in him to equal himself with God,” an equality which was the Son’s by right, was cast down from heaven and ruined; for the Father was zealous for the glory of the Son, and seemed by this act to say: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And instantly “I saw Satan as lightning falling from heaven.”St. Luke 10:18. “>1

Dust and ashes, why art thou proud? If God spared not pride in His angels, how much less will He tolerate it in thee, innate corruption? Satan had committed no overt act, he had but consented to a thought of pride, yet in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, he was irreparably rejected because, as the Evangelist says, “he stood not in the truth.”St. John 8:44. “>2

Fly pride, my brethren, I most earnestly beseech you. “Pride is the beginning of all sin,”Ecclus. 10:15. “>3 and how quickly did it darken and overshadow with eternal obscurity Lucifer, the most bright and beautiful of the heavenly spirits, and, from not only an angel, but the first of angels, transform him into a hideous devil! Wherefore, envying man’s happiness, he brought forth in him the evil which he had conceived in himself by persuading man that if he should eat of the forbidden tree he would become as God, having a knowledge of good and evil. Wretch! what dost thou promise, when thou knowest that the Son of God has the key of knowledge—yea, and is Himself the “key of David, that shutteth and no man openeth”;Apoc. 3:7. “>1 that “in him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God”?Col. 2:3. “>2

 Wouldst thou, then, wickedly steal them away to give them to men? You see, my brethren, how true is the sentence of our Lord, “The devil is a liar and the father of lies.”St. John 8:44. “>3 He was a liar in saying, “I will be like unto the Most High,”Isa. 14:14. “>4 and he was the father of lies when he breathed his spirit of falsity into man. “You will be as gods.”Gen. 3:5. “>5 And wilt thou, O man, “seeing the thief, run with him”?Ps. 49:18. “>6 You have heard, my brethren, what has been read this night from Isaiah. The Prophet says to the Lord, “Thy princes are faithless, companions of thieves,” or, as another version has it, “disobedient companions of thieves.”Isa. 1:23. “>7 In truth, Adam and Eve were disobedient companions of thieves, for, by the counsel of the serpent, or, rather, of the devil in the serpent, they tried to seize upon what belonged by birthright to the Son of God. Nor did the Father overlook the injury, for the Father loveth the Son. He immediately took revenge on that same man, and let His hand fall heavily on us all, “for in Adam all have sinned,” and in his sentence of condemnation we have shared.

What, then, did the Son do, seeing His Father so zealous for His glory, and for His sake sparing none of His creatures? “Behold,” He says, “on My account My Father has ruined His creatures: the first of the angels aspired to My throne of sovereignty, and had followers who believed in him; and instantly My Father’s zeal was heavily revenged on him, striking him and all his adherents with an incurable plague, with a dire chastisement. Man, too, attempted to steal from Me the knowledge which belongs to Me alone, and neither doth My Father show him mercy, nor doth His eye spare him. He had made two noble orders sharing His reason, capable of participating in His beatitude, angels and men; but behold, on My account He hath ruined a multitude of His angels and the entire race of men. Therefore, that they may know that I love My Father, He shall receive back through Me what in a certain way He seems to have lost through Me. ‘It is on my account this storm has arisen; take me and cast me into the sea.’Jonas 1:12. “>1 All are envious of Me; behold I come, and will exhibit Myself to them in such a guise as that whosoever shall wish may become like to Me; whatsoever I shall do they may imitate, so that their envy shall be made good and profitable to them.”

The angels, we know, sinned through malice, not through ignorance and frailty; wherefore, as they were unwilling to repent, they must of necessity perish, for the love of the Father and the honour of the King demand judgment. For this cause He created men from the beginning, that they might fill those lost places, and repair the ruins of the heavenly Jerusalem. For He knew “the pride of Moab, that he is exceedingly proud,”Isa. 16:6. “>1 and that his pride would never seek the remedy of repentance, nor, consequently, of pardon. After man’s fall, however, He created no other creature in his place, thus intimating that man should yet be redeemed, and that he who had been supplanted by another’s malice might still by another’s charity be redeemed.

Be it so, dear Lord, I beseech Thee. Be pleased to deliver me, for I am weak. Like Joseph of old, I was stolen away from my country, and here without any fault was cast into a dungeon. Yet I am not wholly innocent, but innocent compared with him who seduced me. He deceived me with a lie: let the truth come, that falsehood may be discovered, and that I may know the truth, and that the truth may make me free. But to gain the freedom I must renounce the falsehood when discovered, and adhere to the known truth; otherwise the temptation would not be human, nor the sin a human sin, but diabolical obstinacy. To persevere in evil is the act of the devil, and those who persevere in evil after his example deservedly perish with him.

Behold, you have heard Who He is that comes; consider now whence and to whom He comes. He comes from the heart of God the Father to the womb of a virgin mother; He comes from the highest heaven to this low earth, that we whose conversation is now on earth may have Him for our most desirable companion. For where can it be well with us without Him, and where ill if He be present? “What have I in heaven, and besides Thee what do I desire upon earth? Thou art the God of my heart and the God that is my portion for ever”;Ps. 72:25, 26. “>1 and “though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” if only “thou art with me.”Ps. 22:4. “>2

But here I see that our Lord descends not only to earth, but even to hell; not as one bound, but as free among the dead; as light that shines in the darkness, “and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Wherefore His soul was not left in hell, nor did His holy body on earth see corruption. For Christ “that descended is the same also that ascended … that he might fill all things”;Eph. 4:10. “>3 “who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by the devil.”Acts 10:38. “>4 And elsewhere we read, He “hath exalted as a giant to run his way … His going forth is from the highest heavens, and his circuit even to the end thereof.”Ps. 18:7. “>5 Well might St. Paul cry out: “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.”Col. 3:1. “>6 In vain would the Apostle labour to raise our hearts upwards if he did not teach us that the Author of our salvation is sitting in heaven.

But what follows? The matter here is indeed abundant in the extreme; but our limited time does not admit of a lengthened development. By considering Who He is that comes, we see His supreme and ineffable majesty, and by contemplating whence He comes, we behold the great highway clearly laid out to us. The Prophet Isaias says: “Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from afar.”Isa. 30:27. “>1 By reflecting whither He comes, we see His inestimable and inconceivable condescension in His descending from highest heavens to abide with us in this miserable prison-house. Who can doubt that there was some grand cause powerful enough to move so sovereign a Majesty to come “from afar,” and condescend to enter a place so unworthy of Him as this world of ours. The cause was in truth great. It was His immense mercy, His multiplied compassion, His abundant charity.

For what end must we believe that He came? This question is the next in order to be examined; nor will the search demand much labour, for the end and purpose of His coming is proclaimed by His words and His works. To seek after the one sheep of the hundred that had strayed He hastened from the mountains. For our sake He came down from heaven, that His mercies and His wonders might be openly proclaimed to the children of men. O wonderful condescension of God in this search! O wonderful dignity of man who is thus sought! If he should wish to glory in this dignity, it would not be imputed to him as folly. Not that he need think anything of himself, but let him rejoice that He Who made him should set so high a value on him. For all the riches and glory of the world, all that is desirable therein, is far below this glory—nay, can bear no comparison with it. “Lord, what is man that thou should magnify him? and why settest thou thy heart upon him?”Job 7:17. “>1

I still further desire to know why He should come to us, and not we rather go to Him, for the need was on our side, and it is not usual for the rich to go to the poor, though otherwise willing to assist them. It was indeed our place to go forward to Him, but there stood a twofold impediment in the way; for our eyes were heavy, and He “dwelt in light inaccessible.” We lay as paralytics on our beds, and could not raise ourselves to the Divine elevation. Wherefore this most benign Saviour and Physician of souls descended to us from His lofty throne, and tempered His brightness to the weakness of our sight. He clothed Himself with His most glorious and spotless body as with the shade of a lantern, thus attempering to us His splendour. This is that bright and shining cloud upon which the Lord was to descend upon Egypt, as the Prophet Isaiah foretold.Isa. 19:1. “>2

It is now fitting that we should consider the time of our Lord’s coming.

He came, as you know, not in the beginning, nor in the midst of time, but in the end of it. This was no unsuitable choice, but a truly wise dispensation of His infinite wisdom, that He might afford help when He saw it was most needed. Truly, “it was evening, and the day was far spent”;St. Luke 24:29. “>3 the sun of justice had wellnigh set, and but a faint ray of his light and heat remained on earth. The light of Divine knowledge was very small, and as iniquity abounded, the fervour of charity had grown cold. No angel appeared, no prophet spoke. The angelic vision and the prophetic spirit alike had passed away, both hopelessly baffled by the exceeding obduracy and obstinacy of mankind. Then it was that the Son of God said: “Behold, I come.”Heb. 10:7. “>1 And “while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, the almighty word leaped down from heaven from thy royal throne.”Wisd. 18:14, 15. “>2 Of this coming the Apostle speaks: “When the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son.”Gal. 4:4 “>3 The plenitude and affluence of things temporal had brought on the oblivion and penury of things eternal. Fitly, therefore, did the Eternal God come when things of time were reigning supreme. To pass over other points, such was the temporal peace at the birth of Christ that by the edict of one man the whole world was enrolled.

You have now heard Who He is that comes, whence, whither, and to whom He comes; the cause, likewise, and the time of His coming are known to you. One point is yet to be considered—namely, the way by which He came. This must be diligently examined, that we may, as is fitting, go forth to meet Him. As He once came visibly in the body to work our salvation in the midst of the earth, so does He come daily invisibly and in spirit to work the salvation of each individual soul; as it is written: “The Spirit before our face, Christ the Lord.” And that we might know this spiritual advent to be hidden, it is said: “Under his shadow we shall live among the Gentiles.”Lam. 4:20. “>1 Wherefore, if the infirm cannot go far to meet this great Physician, it is at least becoming they should endeavour to raise their heads and lift themselves a little to greet their Saviour. For this, O man, you are not required to cross the sea, to penetrate the clouds, to scale the mountain-tops. No lofty way is set before you. Turn within thyself to meet thy God, for the Word is nigh in thy mouth and in thy heart. Meet Him by compunction of heart and by confession of mouth, or, at least, go forth from the corruption of a sinful conscience, for it is not becoming that the Author of purity should enter there.

It is delightful to contemplate the manner of His visible coming, for His “ways are beautiful, and all his paths are peace.”Prov. 3:17. “>2 “Behold,” says the Spouse of the Canticles, “he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.”Cant. 2:8. “>3 You see Him coming, O beautiful one, but His previous lying down you could not see, for you said: “Shew me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou liest.”Cant. 1:6. “>4 He lay feeding His angels in His endless eternity with the vision of His glorious, unchanging beauty. But know, O beautiful one, that that vision is become wonderful to thee; it is high, and thou canst not reach it. Nevertheless, behold He hath gone forth from His holy place, and He that had lain feeding His angels hath undertaken to heal us. We shall see Him coming as our food, Whom we were not able to behold while He was feeding His angels in His repose. “Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.” The mountains and hills we may consider to be the Patriarchs and the Prophets, and we may see His leaping and skipping in the book of His genealogy. “Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob,”St. Matt. 1:2. “>1 etc. From the mountains came forth the root of Jesse, as you will find from the Prophet Isaias: “There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root, and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.”Isa. 11:1, 2. “>2 The same prophet speaks yet more plainly: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel, which is interpreted, ‘God with us.’ ”Isa. 7:14. “>3 He Who is first styled a flower is afterwards called Emmanuel, and in the rod is named the virgin. But we must reserve for another day further consideration of this sublime mystery, as there is ample material for another sermon, especially as to-day’s has been rather long.

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Commentaries for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 5, 2015

READINGS AND OFFICE:

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

Mass Readings in the NJB Translation. Scroll down. Used in most English speaking countries. For some reason the site has the Gospel reading before the second reading.

Divine Office.

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

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Micah 5:1-4a.

My Background Notes on Micah 5:1-4a. Summarizing the historical background and main theological concerns. I may add notes on the reading.

Word-Sunday Notes on Micah 5:1-4a.

Navarre Biblical Commentary on Micah 5:1-4a. Follows the verse numbering of the RSV which is 5:2-5a, so don’t get confused.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 80.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 80.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 80.

My Notes on Psalm 80.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 80.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 80.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Hebrews 10:5-10.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Hebrews 10:5-10. On 4-11.

Father Boylan’s Commentary on Hebrews 10:5-10. On 4-11.

Word-Sunday Notes on Hebrews 10:5-10.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Hebrews 10:5-10.

Homilist’s Catechism on Hebrews 10:5-10.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Luke 1:39-45.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:39-45.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 1:39-45.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:39-45.

Word-Sunday Notes on Luke 1:39-45.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:39-45.

Homilist’s Catechism on Luke 1:39-45.

Thoughts From the Early Church. Excerpt from a sermon on the Gospel by Gueric of Igny.

GENERAL RESOURCES: sites that usually deal with the readings as a whole.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background on the readings. Can be printed out, copied, and used as bulletin insert.

The Bible Workshop. Links to several relevant articles, contains a reading guide to the gospel text, a comparison of the readings, suggestions for a lesson (i.e., homily).

The Wednesday Word.  It’s about the Sunday readings, but the document is posted on Wednesday, hence the name. Designed for prayer and reflection, the pdf document ends with Father Dom Henry Wansbrough’s reflections on the first and second readings. Fr. Wansbrough is General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible and contributed commentaries on Matt, Mark, and the Pastorals in A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture.

St Charles Borromeo Parish’s Bible Study Notes. Notes on all the readings, usually with some background info as well.

Sacred Page Blog: Mary Queen Mother of the Crown Prince.  Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma reflects on the readings.

Scripture In Depth.

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My Notes on Psalm 1

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 5, 2015

PSALM 1: TEXT AND NOTES (The text of Psalm 1 is my own translation. You are urged to consult a recognised translation such as the RSV or the NAB)

Vs 1 Happy the man who walks not according to the direction of the wicked, stands not on the path with sinners, sits not in the assembly of scorners.

Happiness in the bible has little to do with the emotional state we often associate the word with. The happy man is one who enjoys God’s blessing here, and looks forward to its fullness in the future. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for happy, asre, is derived from a Semitic stem which in its verb form means “walk” or “go forward”; and in its noun form means “a footstep”. Our life then is conceived of as a pilgrimage, a religious journey towards God and full happiness. This accounts for the journey motif which dominates this Psalm.

The present state of the happy man, which will reach its fullness only in the future, is described first by using a three-fold negation:

1) The happy man is one who walks not according to the directions of the wicked. In the bible, the word walk, along with the word path and its synonyms (way, road) are used as metaphors for ones moral actions and life. In keeping with the journey motif I have translated the Hebrew word etsah (ay-tsaw) as direction rather than the commonly used “counsel” or “advice”.

2) The happy man stands not on the road with sinners. As already noted, the word road or path is a metaphor for ones moral activity. The Hebrew word chattaw (khat-taw) is derived from a root word which, among other things, can mean “to miss a target,” but also can mean “to go errant from a course, road or direction.

3) The happy man sits not in the assembly of scorners. The word sits translates the Hebrew mosab. The word has the sense of keeping formal company. The scorner is one who mocks the will of God and its manifestation in true religion (see Psalm 119:51)

The three negations of verse 1 appear to increase in their designation of evil situations. Taking directions from the unrighteous is foolish enough, but accompanying them on a journey is even more foolish; worse still is it to gather formally with them and share in their deliberations which scorn God’s law and those who follow it.

Vs 2 But in the law of the Lord is his delight, upon this law he ponders day and night.

Verse 2 begins to describe the just man in positive terms. He is now described according to that which shows him to be just. The word but is emphatic, highlighting the different approach to the subject and emphasising the utter contrast between the truly just one and those who live in accord with the negations of verse 1.

Rather than listening to the directions of sinners and finding a false kind of happiness in the company of such people, the truly happy man delights in the law of the Lord. Delight is a translation of the word chaphets (khaw-fates). One could translate the verse to read “his inclination is towards the law of the Lord, upon this law he ponders…” One moves towards what one delights in and desires. The sense of the Hebrew chaphets
then could have a connection to the journey motif.

Law here would be better translated as instruction. The Hebrew word torah can mean either law or instruction; with the second meaning being the more common meaning for not all instructions are laws, but all laws are, in some sense, instructive. Remember that the Law of Moses consists of the first five books of the OT, but Genesis and the first several chapters of Exodus, along with various parts of other books, contain few laws but much narrative.

Not only does the happy man delight in the law, but he also ponders it continuously. This word ponder (Hebrew hagah) originally referred to the cooing of a dove and is usually translated as “meditates”. When the Jews meditated on the law they would recite it in low tones, much as we do with the Our Father or the Psalms. The word then refers to thoughtful, reflective prayer. This stands in marked contrast to the scorners mentioned in verse 1. the Hebrew word for scorn originally referred to the talk of people of foreign tongues. It came to be applied to those who childishly mimic people. (see Isaiah 28:9-11 and the corresponding footnotes of the NAB)

Vs 3 He is like a tree well-planted by steams of water, which gives forth its fruit in its season; its leaves do not wither. Whatsoever he does, he prospers.

A good bit of the Holy Land is quite dry, and therefore treeless. Also, during a certain time of the year the Sirriocco winds begin to blow in from the desert and wither much of the foliage. A tree which has been well-planted by flowing water however, would do well. The word I have translated as well-planted implies that the tree in the image has in fact been transplanted beside the water. This perhaps suggests the idea that the just man is taken care of by God, who is sometimes described in the bible as a husbandman (grower of trees, vines, ect. See Isaiah 5:1-7; Luke 13:6-9).

In the prophet Jeremiah the wise man is described as a tree near water while the fool is described as a desert shrub:

5: Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6: He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. 8: He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (RSV Jer 17) See alos Rev 22:1-3

In keeping with the wisdom motif of the Psalm, it should be noted that the word wither in its Hebrew form, can also be applied to foolish men or things as in Prov 30:32. The word can also be applied to the act of treating something with contempt, as in Micah 7:6.

Vs 4 But not so are the wicked! They are like chaff driven on by the wind.

This verse begins with the Hebrew word loken which is translated above as but. This word highlights in an emphatic way the contrast between what was said in verse 3 concerning the just, and what is said in verse 4 concerning the wicked.

In stark contrast to verse 3 the wicked are here described as useless chaff. Chaff refers to the outer shell or husks from which grain was taken. Light, dry, sterile, it was utterly useless. It was fit only to burn, but even in this it was useless, since it burned so quickly it wasn’t even adequate for use as kindling. Most people simply left it on the ground to be driven away by the wind. It is hard to imagine an image of rootlessness and bareness more fitting than this. (see the prayer against enemies in Psalm 35:5) The winnowing of chaff is used, throughout the Bible, as a image of God’s judgement (see Hosea 13:2-3 and Matt 3:12).

Wind is also used as an image of God’s punishment (see Psalm 18:42; Psalm 48:7; Hosea 13:15)

Vs 5 For this reason the wicked will not withstand the judgement, nor sinners stand in the assembly of the righteous.

The wicked will not stand in the judgement because the are like chaff. As chaff has no root in the ground these people have not root in God or his torah. In the judgement they will not stand with God and his holy people but will be removed from their presence.

The reference to sinners standing and the term assembly reminds us of the negations of verse 1. A man who stands not on the road with sinners, sits not in the assembly of scorners shows that he is already on the way to God and the fullness of happiness to come. A happiness which consist in withstanding God’s judgement and being present with the just.

Vs 6 The Lord whatches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked perishes.

As a farmer who has transplanted a tree or vine keeps careful watch over it and cares for it, so God keeps careful watch over the righteous as they live out their life. The barren way of the wicked can only end in destruction.

(NOTE:The Psalm has a very interesting feature. The first word of the text (happy) begins with the first letter of the Hebrew Bible. The last word (perish) begins with the last letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. As far removed A is Z- that’s how far removed from the righteous sinners are)

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Extraordinary Form~Commentaries for the Second Sunday of Advent

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 3, 2015

This post probably needs some updating. I’ll try to do that latter today.

MISSAL AND BREVIARY:

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: Romans 15:4-13.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Matthew 11:2-10.

HOMILIES AND HOMILY NOTES:

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