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 May 6th, 2017

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 6, 2017

AGAIN ASSERTING HIS HOPE OF A GLORIOUS RESURRECTION ST. PAUL SAYS HE SEEKS ONLY TO PLEASE CHRIST, HIS FUTURE JUDGE

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 5:1-10~The closing subject of the last chapter is continued through this section. These verses are, in reality, a part of the previous chapter and would better be joined to it. St. Paul has just been saying that the unhesitating hope of a future glorious resurrection is the stay of the Apostles in their sufferings and tribulations. This he again asserts and confirms by the certitude of the glorious transmutation of those whom Christ at His coming will find still living. Neither do the Apostles refuse death, since that will bring their souls home to Christ. Hence St. Paul and his companions, in the discharge of their Apostolic functions, strive only to please Christ, their judge, who will reward everyone according to his merits.

2 Cor 5:1. For we know, if our earthly house of this habitation (tent) be dissolved, that we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in heaven.

For (γαρ) shows the close connection with what precedes.

We know, etc., i.e., the Apostles and all Christians (verse 4) were confident, through faith, that the dissolution of their mortal bodies meant only a passing to a higher state of existence.

House of this habitation. Literally “Tent-dwelling” (οικια του σκηνους), i.e., a dwelling that has only a transitory existence. “The camp-life of the Israelites in the wilderness, as commemorated by the annual feast of Tabernacles, was a ready and appropriate symbol of man’s transitory life on earth” (Lightfoot).

We have. The present tense indicates the certainty of the fact, and also that the just, already by faith, are in possession of their glorified state.

A building of God, etc., i.e., a spiritual habitation from God of unending duration. The reference is to the glorified body, to which the soul will be joined at the end of the world, and which, together with the soul, will not dwell on earth, but in heaven.

2 Cor 5:2. For in this also we groan, desiring to be clothed upon with our habitation
that is from heaven.

St. Paul now confirms the certainty of the future resurrection by the desire which the Apostles and all the just have of
clothing themselves with their glorified bodies without passing through death. Such an eager longing God will not permit to be in every way vain (verse 5).

In this (ἐν τούτῳ = en touto) may mean “for this reason” ; or, more likely, “in this tent,” in which we now live, we groan (Rom. 8:19 ff.), desiring to take on the resurrection body over our natural body, and so escape death. This shows that the glorified body will be essentially the same as our present body, although endowed with surpassing gifts.

Habitation (τὸ οἰκητήριον = ho oiketerion) here is a permanent dwelling-place, unlike the transitory habitation (σκήνους = skenous = tent) of verse 1.

From heaven, i.e., heavenly, spiritual (1 Cor. 15:49).

2 Cor 5:3. Yet so, that we be found clothed, not naked.

This verse is an explanation of the latter half of verse 2. It is intended to make clear what will be required in order that we be clothed upon, i.e., that we be able to put on our glorified bodies over our mortal ones, without losing the latter. For this it will be necessary that we be clothed (γυμνοὶ = gymnoi), not naked, i.e., that we be still alive, with our mortal bodies, at the Second Coming of Christ. The dead who shall have lost their bodies at the Second Advent shall be clothed anew, but it cannot be said that they shall be “clothed upon.” This is the most probable explanation of a very difficult verse. For various other, but less likely, explanations see Comely, h. 1. ; MacR., h. 1.

Yet so. Better, “If only,” or “if indeed” (εἴ γε = ei ge with א C K L P, or εἴγε [= eige] with B D F G; the two terms are sometimes interchanged in meaning), i.e., we can “be clothed upon,” if indeed we shall be still living with our present bodies.  Note: ei ge represents two word (yet so); eige is a singe word which can be variously translated (if indeed; seeing that, unless, etc.).

2 Cor 5:4. For we also, who are in this tabernacle, do groan, being burthened; because we would not be unclothed, but clothed upon, that that which is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

After the parenthetical explanation given in verse 3, the Apostle returns to the thought of verse 2.

We also, etc., i.e., we Christians, living in our material dwellings, do groan, i.e., long to be free from our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:23) ; and yet we are burthened, i.e., oppressed with the fear of death, because we do not want to pass through death to resurrection, but rather from this present life to a higher, immortal existence, so that our bodies may not go into corruption, but be transformed from a perishable into an imperishable state (2 Cor 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:54).

2 Cor 5:5. Now he that maketh us for this very thing, is God, who hath given us the pledge of the Spirit.

Now. Better, “But” (δὲ = de), which implies the introduction of a surprising truth, namely, the realization of the wish in verse 4, which shall be fulfilled in those who are alive at the Second Coming; or, perhaps, the possession of a glorified body by all the just (verse 1).

This very thing refers to what is mortal being absorbed by life (verse 4), or to the glorification of the body (verse 1). As an earnest of the realization of these blessings God has given the faithful at their conversion His Holy Spirit and special gifts (cf. Rom. 8:15-17, 23; Eph. 1:14; 4:30).

2 Cor 5:6. Therefore having always confidence, knowing that, while we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord.

The thought begun here, and broken by the parenthesis of verse 7, is completed in verse 8: Having always confidence (6) . . . we are confident (8), etc.

The Apostle now begins to sum up the results of faith in future glorification of both body and soul. Confident of the glory that awaits them hereafter, and knowing that presence in the body is an impediment to the realization of their glorious union with Christ, St. Paul and his companions are willing to suffer death, much as they loathe it (verse 4), if this be necessary “to be present with the Lord” (verse 8), that is, if Christ does not come during their life-time and transform their mortal bodies without death.

2 Cor 5:7. (For we walk by faith, and not by sight.)

It might be objected against the Apostle that the just are already united to Christ by faith. Wherefore he observes that in this world we have, through faith, only an indirect and imperfect knowledge of God, whereas we long for direct vision and complete union with Him (1 Cor 13:12).

2 Cor 5:8. But we are confident, and have a good will to be absent rather from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

See above, on verse 6. The Apostles were hoping that Christ might come during their mortal lives, and thus they would be glorified without passing through the portals of death. But if Christ was not to come, then welcome death, so that they might be at home with the Lord. This verse affords a clear proof that purified souls immediately after death are admitted to the vision of God (St. Thomas, h. 1. ; Denz. Ench. 11th ed., no. 693).

2 Cor 5:9. And therefore we labour, whether absent or present, to please him.

The one supreme aim of the Apostle’s life and labors was to please Christ and have the divine approval. This secured, it made little difference after all whether the day of judgment found him present, i.e., still living in the body, or absent, i.e., separated from his body by death. It is clear from this verse that St. Paul had no revelation regarding the time of the Second Advent.

2 Cor 5:10. For we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil.

The importance of striving above all things and at all times to please Christ is seen in this that, whether living or dead at the time of the Second Coming, all men must appear before the tribunal of Christ to be judged according to what they have done while in the body.

We must all, etc., i.e., all men, even children who die before the use of reason, must appear in the General Judgment. Sinless children will be present then, “not to be judged, but to see the glory of the Judge, in order that both the mercy and justice of God may be manifested in their case” (St. Thomas).

The proper things, etc., should be: “The things done in the body,” according to the Greek.

According as he hath done. This shows that we are to be judged hereafter according to our works, and not alone according to our faith, as some teach.

In the Vulgate propria corporis should be ea quae per corpus (gessit).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 6, 2017

THE APOSTLES WERE COMFORTED IN THEIR TRIBULATIONS BY THE HOPE OF A GLORIOUS RESURRECTION

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 4:13-18~Having explained the purpose of God in permitting the sufferings of the Apostles, St. Paul now speaks of the end the Apostles themselves had in view in the exercise of their difficult ministry. In spite of the constant menace of death they ceased not to preach the Gospel, knowing that a glorious resurrection awaited them and their converts, that God’s glory was promoted by their labors, and that an eternal reward would be given in exchange for their transitory sufferings.

2 Cor 4:13. But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken ; we also believe, for which cause we speak also:

The Apostle wishes to say that the same trust and confidence in God sustains him and his companions in their tribulations which sustained the Psalmist in his desolation and sorrow. As the Psalmist spoke in consequence of his faith in the divine promises, so the Apostles fearlessly preach because of the same faith. St. Paul quotes the LXX of Psalm 116:10, which in form only differs from the Hebrew: “I believed, for I must speak.” The Psalmist believed that God would deliver him from the death, tears, and dangers spoken of in Ps 116:1-9, and therefore he spoke the thanksgiving part of Psalm 116, of which the first verse (10) is given here. The Apostles believed that God would never forsake them, and therefore they spoke the Gospel truths.

2 Cor 4:14. Knowing that he who raised up Jesus, will raise us up also with Jesus, and place us with you.

Who raised up Jesus. Better, “Who raised up the Lord Jesus” (with manuscripts C D F G K L P). In their sufferings the Apostles are encouraged by the hope that as God raised Jesus, their Head, from the grave, so He will one day raise them from the dead and unite them and their converts with their divine Chieftain.

With Jesus, rather than “through Jesus,” according to the best MSS. The preposition “with” indicates not time, but the unity of all the faithful in and with Christ.

And place us, etc., i.e., will place us Apostles with you alive in the kingdom of God. For this same use of παραστησει, see Acts 1:3; Acts 9:41.

The Apostle here, as in 5:1-8, speaks as if he did not expect to be alive at the Second Coming of Christ; whereas in 1 Cor 15:51-52, he spoke as though he might live to see that event. This shows that he had no revelation in the matter: he knew “not the day nor the hour” (Matt 25:13).

Jesus (Vulg., Jesum) in the first part of the verse should be preceded by “Lord” (Dominum), as in the best MSS.

2 Cor 4:15. For all things are for your sakes; that the grace abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.

For (γαρ) looks back to the last words of the preceding verse. The prominence given the faithful there, with whom he hoped to be associated in heaven, reminds the Apostles here that all his labors, sufferings, trials, etc., as well as his deliverances, have been for their sakes, that they may have life (verse 12), and that the grace, i.e., the divine help, granted to him in answer to their prayers, may call forth their thanksgiving, thus giving glory to God. The glory of God was, therefore, the ultimate end of all the labors and sufferings of the Apostles.

2 Cor 4:16. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

For which cause, etc., i.e., since all their trials and labors are for the good of the faithful and the glory of God, the Apostles faint not (verse 1), i.e., never lose courage. And although their bodies, again and again rescued from destruction and death, are gradually wasting away, their souls and spiritual faculties grow stronger every day in view of the rewards awaiting them hereafter (verse 17).

2 Cor 4:17. For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory.

For that which is at present momentary, etc. Better “For our present light affliction,” etc. “Our” before “present” is omitted by B and St. Chrysostom.

Present is contrasted with eternal, light with weight, tribulation with glory.

Momentary (Vulg., momentaneum) is not in the best MSS.

Above measure exceedingly shows how far the reward surpasses what is performed. God punishes less than we deserve, and rewards more than we merit (St. Thomas).

This verse is a proof that the good works of the just are meritorious of eternal life (Conc. Trid., Sess. VI. cap. 16).

2 Cor 4:18. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal.

The Apostles hope to have part in the rewards just described because they do not seek the passing things of this world, such as riches, pleasure, glory and the like, but the lasting goods of the world above that is not seen with bodily eyes.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 6, 2017

THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE SUBLIMITY OF THE APOSTLES’ MINISTRY
AND THE INFIRMITY OF THEIR LIVES

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 4:7-12~St. Paul has described very clearly the excellence of the Apostolic ministry. This is now understood. But how reconcile the discharge of such exalted functions as fall to the lot of Christian ministers with the weakness and abject misery of the lives of the Apostles? Looking at the lowly condition of St. Paul and his companions, their adversaries could easily make a case against them by telling their converts not to believe them and not to follow them, seeing that they were abandoned and rejected of God. The Apostle, therefore, anticipates this objection by showing that God chose weak instruments (a) to make it plain that the power of the Gospel was not from men, but from Himself; and (b) to render the Apostles more like to Christ whose death and Resurrection they exemplified and preached for the life and salvation of the faithful.

2 Cor 4:7. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us.

This treasure, i.e., the exalted office of the Christian ministry.

In earthen vessels, i.e., in fragile vessels made of clay. The allusion is not only to man’s body, but especially to his weak human nature, as is clear from verse 8. God chose weak instruments to spread His Gospel, in order to make it plain that the efficacy of their preaching and the excellence of their message were due to Him, and not to themselves.

2 Cor 4:8. In all things we suffer tribulation, but are not distressed; we are straitened, but are not destitute:

Five illustrations of the contrast between the “treasure” and the “earthen vessels” now follow (verses 8-1 1).

In all things we suffer, etc. More literally, “Pressed on every side, but not crushed”; “perplexed, but not unto despairing.” The participles in Greek look back to Εχομεν (=echomen)  we have, of verse 7.

2 Cor 4:9. We suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we perish not:

We suffer persecution, etc. Better, “Pursued, but not deserted,” by God so as to be captured by enemies; “struck down (as in battle), but not destroyed.”

2 Cor 4:10. Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the
life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.

The divine purpose of the Apostles’ suffering is now explained. By their continual tortures and exposure to death the
Apostles represented and, in a sense, repeated the sufferings of Christ, in order that their many deliverances might be a proof of the life of the risen Jesus whose rescuing power was thus manifested in them. Like Christ’s Resurrection, the Apostles were witnesses to the truth of the Gospel, for they showed that Jesus is still alive and able to save (Plum.).

The mortification of Jesus means the dying, or putting to death of Jesus, although νέκρωσιν (=nekrosis) is used elsewhere in the New Testament only once (Rom. 4:19), and then to describe the “deadness” of Sara’s womb.

2 Cor 4:11. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake; that
the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

The thought of the preceding verse is brought out more clearly.

We who live, etc., i.e., we the living, are constantly exposed to death, although constantly rescued by the living Christ. God wishes the lives of the Apostles to be such in order that now, while on earth, they may manifest in their mortal bodies the life, i.e., the triumph of Jesus who died and is risen again for us.

2 Cor 4:12. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

The Apostles were continually exposed to death for their preaching, but they were sustained by the living Jesus to work for the spiritual life and salvation of the faithful. “The Corinthian Church enjoyed the fruit of supernatural life, gathered for it by the Apostles’ perils” (Rick.).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 6, 2017

THE APOSTLE HAS EXERCISED HIS MINISTRY WITH SINCERITY AND
FRANKNESS BECAUSE OF ITS EXALTED CHARACTER

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 4:1-6~The subject of the preceding chapter is continued in this section, which might well have been made a part of that chapter. What the Apostle has already said about the sublimity of the Gospel ministry and the confidence with which its preachers speak is more than sufficient to refute the calumny that he spoke with arrogance. Consequently he terminates this subject by repeating that he has preached the Gospel clearly, openly, and without timidity; and if some think his preaching is obscure, it is because their minds are blinded by Satan. As for himself, he is the servant of Christ and is trying to spread the light which has been divinely bestowed on him.

2 Cor 4:1. Therefore, seeing we have this ministration, according as we have obtained mercy, we faint not;

Since, as just said in the preceding chapter, the Christian ministration, i.e., the preaching of the Gospel, is of such an exalted character, we, i.e., St. Paul and his companions, in obedience to a gracious and gratuitous call from God, preach without fear or hesitation.

As we have obtained mercy should be connected with what precedes.

2 Cor 4:2. But we renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the word of God; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience, in the sight of God.

Of dishonesty, i.e., of shame (αἰσχύνης = aischune) . The Apostle is referring to everything in conduct and preaching that shame would naturally hide, and also to the policy of concealing the Gospel truth through shame of the folly of the cross (1 Cor. 1:18, 21; Rom. 1:16).

Craftiness means unscrupulous conduct and underhand practices, which were made use of by the false teachers in order to win over the Corinthians.

Nor adulterating, etc., i.e., not corrupting the Gospel with erroneous teachings. From all things of this kind the Apostles kept aloof; manifesting, on the contrary, the truths of the Gospel in such a way that they commended themselves to every man of conscience, and this in the sight of God.

2 Cor 4:3. And if our gospel be also hid, it is hid to them that are lost,
2 Cor 4:4. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them.

A difficulty occurs here. If the Gospel is so openly preached, how does it continue veiled to so many? There are two reasons for this: (a) The perversity of the will of those who, of their own choice, shut their eyes to the light of the Gospel (2 Cor 3:13), preferring to go the way of perdition (1 Cor. 1:18); and (b) the devil, who blinds the minds and hardens the hearts of his votaries, turning their eyes to earthly things.

The god of this world, i.e., of this age (αἰών = aion) , namely, Satan whom our Lord called “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), and whom St. Paul elsewhere designates as “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). Satan is called the god of this wicked age, in so far as it lives according to his maxims, obeys and serves him; and he, in turn, blinds the minds of his unbelieving followers, leading them away from the faith by his evil suggestions, so that the light of the Gospel, whose object is the glory of Christ, does not shine unto them.

Christ is the image of God, (a) on account of the identity of nature between Himself and the Father; (b) because He is generated by the Father; (c) because He is equal to the Father (St. Thomas). Cf. Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3.

The glory of Christ is, then, the glory of God, which, being contemplated in the Gospel, has the power of transforming souls into its own likeness (2 Cor 3:18). God, therefore, is the supreme source of the Gospel; the Gospel is the revelation of the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Son in turn is the revelation of the Father (John 14:7 ff.).

In the Vulgate Deus should be written with a small d.

2 Cor 4:5. For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord; and ourselves your servants through Jesus.

This verse is closely connected with the preceding one. The Apostles do not seek their own advantage in their preaching; they preach Jesus Christ as Lord, i.e., as the Saviour and Master of all men, regarding themselves only as servants of the faithful for Christ’s sake.

We may read Jesus Christ with א A C D, Old Lat., Goth.; or “Christ Jesus” with B H K L, Copt., Arm.

Through Jesus. Better, “For Jesus’ sake” (with B D F G).

Our (Vulg., nostrum) should be omitted.

2 Cor 4:6. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.

The best supported reading here is: “For God who said, ‘Out of darkness light shall shine,’ is he that hath shone in our hearts for the illumination of the knowledge,” etc. The radical reason why the Apostles preach Jesus Christ, and not themselves, is because such is the will of God, who in the beginning of the world made light shine out of darkness, and who through Christ has made the light of faith shine in the hearts of the Apostles in order that, through their preaching, they might enlighten the world with a knowledge of the glory of God, as it was revealed in the person of Christ, i.e., in His Divinity, His actions, His doctrine, etc.

In the face of Christ is doubtless an allusion to the “face of Moses” (2 Cor 3:7), with which Christ’s face is contrasted; but the meaning seems to point rather to the person of Christ, who was the revelation of the glory of the Father.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 6, 2017

2 Cor 3:12-18 THE SUPERIORITY OF THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION GIVES ITS MINISTERS RIGHT TO SPEAK WITH BOLDNESS AND AUTHORITY

A Summary of 2 Cor 3:12-18~The hope of greater glory which belongs to the New Testament ministry, and which, though already come, is to continue and develop, gives the Apostles confidence and assurance in announcing the Gospel clearly and openly. To explain and enforce this St. Paul contrasts the Jews who, not recognizing Christ, do not grasp the meaning of their own Old Testament, with the Christians who plainly understand Christ and are trans formed into His glorious image.

2 Cor 3:12. Having therefore such hope, we use much confidence:

Such hope of one day enjoying the fulness of the glory which belongs to the New Testament ministry. “Christianity was young and undeveloped when this was written: we have seen its maturity and the fulfillment of the Apostle’s hope” (Rick.).

Confidence. Better, “Boldness of speech” (παρρησίᾳ = parresia from πᾶς [pas] and ῥέω [rheo]). “We preach everywhere, hiding nothing, but speaking plainly, nor are we afraid of wounding your eyes, as Moses dazzled the eyes of the Jews” (St. Chrys.). The Apostle is hinting at the comparative silences of the Old Testament, e.g., as to the resurrection and eternal life (Plum.).

2 Cor 3:13. And not as Moses put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel might not steadfastly look on the face of that which is made void.

And not as Moses put a veil, etc. The meaning is that the Apostles do not cover their faces as Moses did. From the Hebrew and the Septuagint of Ex 34:29 ff. it appears that Moses when communicating with God had no covering on his face, and that when he came forth and spoke to the people his face was likewise unveiled until he had finished speaking to them; then he again covered his face so that the Israelites might not see the fading of the brightness from his countenance. The passing of the splendor from the face of Moses was a symbol of the transitory nature of the Old Covenant (Ex 34:33), and God did not wish to reveal this feature of the Law to the Jews of the time. “There was an excuse, then, for their not seeing that the Old Covenant was transient; it was different now after God had revealed the fact through the Prophets and declared it openly through the Apostles” (MacR.).

Look on the face should be “look on the end,” namely, the fading away of the brightness of Moses’ face. All the Greek MSS., except A, and all the Greek and Latin Fathers read “end” (τέλος = telos) here in place of “face.”

Of that which is made void, i.e., the fading away of the brightness from Moses’ face, which was a symbol of the transient character of the Old Testament.

The in faciem of the Vulgate should be in finem.

2 Cor 3:14. But their senses were made dull. For, until this present day, the selfsame veil, in the reading of the old testament, remaineth not taken away (because in Christ it is made void).

Although the Apostles wear no veil, but speak openly and plainly of Christ, the Jews do not understand, because their senses, i.e., their minds, are blinded through their own fault. Little by little, through the Prophets, God lifted the veil which hung over the face of the Law, so that the Jews could have perceived the nature of the Old Dispensation, which was intended to lead them to Christ (Gal. 3:24); but, influenced by
the devil (2 Cor 4:4), they willingly closed their eyes and their hearts to the light and warmth of the Gospel (Isa. 6:8 ff.; Acts 28:25 ff.).

Until this present day the Old Testament continues to be a veiled book to the Jews, because just as they could not perceive the vanishing glory of the face of Moses, so now, of their own choice, are they unable to understand the transitory nature of the Scriptures which they read.

The selfsame veil means that the symbolism of the veil is the same, namely, the inability to see that which was passing. The Jews read their Scriptures, but the veil hangs over what they read because they will not believe in Christ through whom alone their darkness can be lifted: in Christ it (the veil) is made void, i.e., is done away with.

2 Cor 3:15. But even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.

When Moses is read. The meaning is that even when St. Paul wrote this letter a veil hung over the hearts of the Jews, as a people, while they heard read every Sabbath in their synagogues the Old Testament Scriptures. The Jews remained insensible to the truth, because they kept their powers of perceiving truth covered.

Moses here stands for the entire Old Testament, because the Prophets were read every Sabbath, as well as the Law.

2 Cor 3:16. But when they shall be converted to the Lord, the veil shall be taken
away.

But when they shall be converted, etc. According to the Greek MSS. and Fathers, and the older Latin editions this verse should read: “But when he turneth to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” The Apostle is alluding to Ex 34:34, where it is said that Moses removed his veil, when he turned to converse with the Lord. The action of Moses is allegorically applied to the Jews who shall be enlightened, when they shall have turned to the Lord.

The auferetur of the Vulgate should be aufertur.

2 Cor 3:17. Now the Lord is a Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there
is liberty.

The first clause here reads as follows in Greek : “Now the Lord is the Spirit,” i.e., the Holy Ghost is the Lord, a Divine Person (St. Chrys., Theod., etc.); or Christ (verse 16), to whom the Jews, typified by Moses, are to turn, is the Spirit, i.e., is the Holy Ghost mentioned above, in verses 6, 8, the life and principle of the New Law, inasmuch as the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ, or, inasmuch as Christ and the Holy Ghost have the same divine nature (Bisping, Maier, etc.); or the Lord here does not mean Christ, but God, the quickening Spirit of the New Covenant (verse 6), in contradistinction to the letter of the Old (Comely). But it is difficult to see how Κύριος (= Kyrios = Lord) here can mean Yahweh, to whom the Jews as a people had always turned. There seems rather to be question of Christ to whom they refused to turn. When, therefore, the Jews shall have turned from the letter of the Law which killeth to the Spirit of the Gospel which quickeneth, the blindness of their minds shall disappear, and they shall be freed from the servitude which now enslaves them.

There is liberty, i.e., from the bondage of the Law, from its ceremonial precepts. The Spirit makes us children of God (Rom. 8:14 ff.) and free “by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free” (Gal. 4:31).

This verse is a proof of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, as all the Greek Fathers argue.

2 Cor 3:18. But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.

We are beholding, etc., i.e., unlike the Jews whose faces are veiled, all we Christians through our faith reflect, with uncovered countenance as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord resplendent in Holy Scripture, and especially in the Gospel, and are continually being transformed into the divine image we behold, because through faith and charity we receive a new form which renders us sons of God and brothers of Christ, and therefore conformable to the image of the Son of God (Rom. 8:29).

From glory to glory, i.e., the process of transformation is gradual, from one stage to another, from lesser to greater glory (cf. Rom. 1:17).

As by the Spirit of the Lord. The Greek here may be rendered in many ways. Perhaps one of the best is: “As by the Spirit who is the Lord”; and the meaning is that by the influence of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, Christians are step by step made similar to the glorified image of Christ, and consequently of God (2 Cor 4:4).

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Commentaries for the Extended Vigil Mass of Pentecost

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 6, 2017

READINGS: Note: in the extended form of the vigil all the readings and responsorials are read, as in the Easter Vigil.

Vigil Mass Readings from the NABRE. Used in the USA.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Please be aware that for the Vigil Mass there are 4 possible OT reading to choose from.

First Old Testament Reading: Genesis 11:1-9.

First Responsorial: Psalm 33:10-11, 12-13, 14-15.

Second Old Testament Reading: Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20b. An alternate responsorial can be used with this reading (see “Alt” below).

Second Responsorial: Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56.

Alt. Second Responsorial: Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11.

Third Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14.

Third Responsorial: Psalm 107:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9.

Fourth Old Testament Reading: Joel 3:1-5.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 104:1-2, 24, 25, 27-28, 29, 30.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 104.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 104. On entire psalm.

Lectio Divina Notes on Psalm 104.On entire psalm.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Romans 8:22-27.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 8:22-27. Commentary actually begins with verse 18 in this post.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 8:22-27.

Pending: Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 8:22-27.

Homilist’s Catechism on Romans 8:22-27.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 8:22-27.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: John 7:37-39.

Father’s Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on John 7:37-39.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 7:37-39.

St Augustine’s Tractate on John 7:37-39. On 32-39.

Homilist’s Catechism on John 7:37-39.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 107

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 6, 2017

All are invited to give thanks to God for his perpetual providence over men

1 GIVE glory to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Let them say so that have been redeemed by the Lord, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy: and gathered out of the countries.
3 From the rising and from the setting of the sun, from the north and from the sea.

This is the preface of the Psalm, in which David exhorts all who have experienced the mercies of the Lord to declare his praise, and especially to give glory to the Lord himself; because he is truly good and merciful, and his mercy never fails. He specially invites the faithful, redeemed by the blood of his only begotten from the bondage of a most powerful enemy, the prince of darkness, who held them in bonds at his own discretion, whom he afterwards collected and gathered together to be one people, one Church, one kingdom, children of his delight, not from Egypt or Babylon, as formerly were the Jews, but “from the rising and the setting of the sun, from the north and from the sea;” that is, from the four quarters of the world, as we read in Jn. 10. “And other sheep I have that are not of the fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd;” and in chap. 11, “For Jesus should die for the nation, and not only for the nation but to gather together into one the children of God that were dispersed.” Though all the faithful, whether Jew or gentile, are specially invited, still the invitation applies in general to all men who may have been at any time, or in any place whatever, delivered by the Lord from any manner of trouble; for redemption is frequently used in the Scripture for any manner of delivery or salvation, without any price having been paid for it. It also applies to those who may have been delivered from the hand—that is, from the power of any enemy; and, finally, to those who may have been delivered from any exile or dispersion in any extremity of the world, and brought back to their country and reunited to their people. The whole world is included in the verse, “from the rising and from the setting of the sun, from the north and from the sea;” in other words, from east to west, from north to south.

4 They wandered in a wilderness, in a place without water: they found not the way of a city for their habitation.
5 They were hungry and thirsty: their soul fainted in them.
6 And they cried to the Lord in their tribulation: and he delivered them out of their distresses.
7 And he led them into the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
8 Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him: and his wonderful works to the children of men.
9 For he hath satisfied the empty soul, and hath filled the hungry soul with good things.

This is the first part of the Psalm, containing an explanation of the first affliction. There are four afflictions of the body common to all, and there are also four spiritual afflictions. The corporeal afflictions are hunger and thirst, caused by the infecundity of the earth, or by want of rain; that is to say, from some natural cause extrinsic to the sufferers; secondly, captivity, caused by the violence of others, that is, from some voluntary, extrinsic source; thirdly, disease or sickness, which arises from some intrinsic source, from bad constitution; and fourthly, the danger of shipwreck, caused by an external, natural cause, as also by an internal and voluntary cause, namely, man’s curiosity, which, not content with the solidity of the earth, must needs make trial of the liquid deep. There are also four spiritual afflictions, called by theologians natural wounds, wounds left in us through original sin; they are ignorance, concupiscence, bad temper, and malice; to which are opposed prudence, temperance, patience, and justice, which are called the four cardinal virtues. In this first division of the Psalm, then, the prophet sings of God’s mercy in delivering us from the first of these afflictions, including both corporal and spiritual; and though he appears to allude barely to the hunger and thirst the Jews suffered in the desert, still, the principles laid down by him are universal, and are applicable to all; and thus, he says, “They wandered in a wilderness, in a place without water.” Many, in quest of their country, have wandered through a pathless country, and one without water, as occurred to the Jews for forty years. “They found not the way of a city for their habitation,” after straying for a long time, and in all directions, they found no way leading to a city where they may safely rest and dwell. “They were hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.” In their wanderings they met with neither meat nor drink, and they in consequence, all but gave up the ghost. “And they cried to the Lord in their tribulation;” when all human aid failed them they appealed to God, “and he delivered them out of their distresses.” He was not found wanting when they appealed to him, but with that mercy that characterizes him, he delivered them. And he led them into the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation;” the mode he chose for delivering them was to show them the shortest possible way to the city where he dwelt himself. “Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him.” It is, therefore, only right and just that such benefits conferred on man by God in his mercy, should be praised and acknowledged by all, as true favors from God; “and his wonderful works to the children of men;” the wonderful things he did for the liberation of mankind should also be duly praised and acknowledged. “For he hath satisfied the empty soul.” Because he provided the most extraordinary food, prepared by the hands of the Angels, for a lot of hungry people in the desert, nigh exhausted for want of food. This, as we have already said, is most applicable to the food provided for the Jews; but there can be no doubt but the prophet meant, by this example, to teach all those who have been rescued from ignorance and from the misery of thirst and hunger, that they owe their deliverance to God, and that they should, therefore, thank his mercy. And there can be no doubt but the prophet had specially before his mind that ignorance of the way of salvation, under which so many labor, and who stray about, as it were in a desert, hungering and thirsting for the knowledge of truth, the source of wisdom and of prudence. We naturally look for happiness. There is no one that does not look for it, and, therefore, for the way that leads to it; however, many, preoccupied by the thoughts and the desires of passing good, look for happiness where it is not to be found; nay, even look upon that to be happiness which is anything but happiness; and when they know not in what it consists, naturally know not the way that leads to it. Thus, in their strayings and wanderings, they never find, though they are always hungering and thirsting for the city of their true habitation; because the longings of an immortal soul, capable of appreciating supreme happiness, can never be content with the things of this world, miserable and transitory as they are; while those whom God “hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy,” and “gathered out of the countries,” beginning to feel their own blindness, through the great gift of God’s mercy, “they cry to the Lord,” and are heard by him; they are “led into the right way, that leads to the city;” they know that the kingdom of God is their ultimate end, and that justice is the means of acquiring it; “hungering and thirsting,” then, for justice, they run to the fountain of grace, and, refreshed from that fountain, they arrive at the heavenly city, where they are filled and satisfied with all manner of good things, so that they never hunger or thirst again for all eternity.

10 Such as sat in darkness and in the shadow of death: bound in want and in iron.
11 Because they had exasperated the words of God: and provoked the counsel of the most High:
12 And their heart was humbled with labours: they were weakened, and there was none to help them.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their affliction: and he delivered them out of their distresses.
14 And he brought them out of darkness, and the shadow of death; and broke their bonds in sunder.
15 Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him, and his wonderful works to the children of men.

This is the second part of the Psalm, in which he reviews the deliverance from the second affliction, corporal as well as spiritual. The second corporal affliction consists in captivity, through which poor creatures are shut up in dark prisons, bound with chains, and loaded with manacles. He seems to allude to the captivity of the Jews, under various persecutors, in the time of the judges, or perhaps under Pharao; for David does not seem to have taken much trouble in relating matters chronologically; the more so as what he states here is applicable to all captives, to all in chains and fetters, who may at any time have been liberated through the mercy of the Lord. “Such as sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in want and in iron;” that is to say, I have known others who were taken by the enemy and were shut up in loathsome prisons and dense darkness, and were loaded with chains and reduced to beggary, “because they had exasperated the words of God, and provoked the counsel of the Most High.” These were justly afflicted and punished in that manner, because they disregarded God’s precepts and despised his advice. “Exasperating God’s words” means provoking him to anger when he speaks or commands, which is done by those who do not keep his commandments. They, too, may be said to “exasperate God’s words” who provoke his very commandments to anger; for, as the commandments of God crown those that observe them, so they punish those that transgress them; and in this manner they who transgress the commandments provoke them against themselves. There is a certain amount of figurative language in the whole; for “God’s words” mean God, in his discourse or his commands; and the word “exasperating” means God’s punishment being as grievous as if he were capable of being exasperated. A similar figure of speech appears in the following sentence: “and provoked the counsel of the Most High;” for the “counsel of the Most High” must be understood as applying to God in his goodness, with the best intentions, irritated by those who opposed them; or “provoked” may be rendered as condemning or despising, for those who do either provoke, that is, excite to anger. “And their heart was humbled with labor;” their pride was brought down by captivity, chains, and fetters. They are just the things to do it. “They were weakened, and there was none to help them.” They were not able to resist their enemies; and thus, having no one to help them, were led off in captivity. “Then they cried to the Lord” etc.; then they began to implore the divine assistance, to free them as well from their dark prisons as from their chains and fetters; and, to show the extent of their obligations to him, he adds, “he broke gates of brass and burst iron bars,” to show how firmly secured they bad been, and what power is required to liberate them; and thus, on the whole, they are proved to have been delivered from a most severe and wretched captivity. Now, the second spiritual affliction consists in the concupiscence of this world—such as its goods, its wealth, its pleasure, which, like so many chains and fetters, so tie a man down that, though he is fully aware of true happiness existing in God alone, and that, while he remains here below, he must mortify his members, still he remains a captive, without being able to stir, if the grace of God will not set him free. The beginning of his freedom must have its source in his own humility. He must feel that he is a captive, that he has no strength in him, that his heart has been humbled in his labors, and, satisfied of there being no one able to help him but the one heavenly Father, he must, with a contrite and humble heart, with much interior sorrow, exclaim, Lord, I suffer violence; look on me, and have mercy on me. “Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” The mercy of the Father will most surely be at hand to bring the captive from his prison, to burst his fetters, so that, on gaining his liberty, he can with joy exclaim, “Lord, thou hast broken my bonds, I will sacrifice to thee the sacrifice of praise.”

16 Because he hath broken gates of brass, and burst iron bars.
17 He took them out of the way of their iniquity: for they were brought low for their injustices.
18 Their soul abhorred all manner of meat: and they drew nigh even to the gates of death.
19 And they cried to the Lord in their affliction: and he delivered them out of their distresses.
20 He sent his word, and healed them: and delivered them from their destructions.
21 Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him: and his wonderful works to the children of men.
22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifice of praise: and declare his works with joy.

The third part of the Psalm, treating of the third corporeal affliction, which is a most severe disease and languor, such as that of the children of Israel, when God afflicted them with a great plague, through the fiery serpents, so that numbers of them were constantly dying; but no sooner did they cry out to God than they were delivered; and, in like manner, no matter how anyone, or to what extent they may be struck down by sickness or disease, if they will seriously, from the bottom of their heart, in firm faith, and with the other requisites, invoke the Almighty, they will most assuredly be delivered. To enter into particulars, especially as regards expressions not explained before. “He took them out of the way of their iniquity; for they were brought low for their injustices.” We must, of necessity, supply something here; for instance, God saw some of them lying prostrate, “and took them,” that is, raised them up, “out of the way of their iniquity,” in which they were miserably plunged; “for they were brought low for their injustices,” even to the very earth; “their soul abhorred all manner of meat; and they drew nigh even to the gates of death.” The disease must have been very severe when they refused the food necessary to support life, so that death must have, in consequence, been actually at their doors. “He sent his word, and healed them.” And he explains how, by the will or by the command of God alone, without the brazen serpent, or any other created thing; not that things created, such as drugs and medicines, are of no use, but that they have their virtue and efficacy from God, and without his cooperation they are of no value; but God, of himself, without their intervention or application, by his sole word and command, can heal and cure all manner of diseases; in which sense we are to understand that passage in Wisdom, “For it was neither herb nor mollifying plaster that healed them, but thy word, O Lord, which healeth all things;” and, in a few verses before, speaking of those who had been bitten by the fiery serpents, and were cured by looking on the brazen one, he says, “For he that turned to it was not healed by that which he saw, but by the Savior of all.” David speaks figuratively when he says, “He sent his word, and healed them;” as if his word were a messenger or an ambassador on the occasion; unless, perhaps, he alludes to the mission of the Word incarnate, through whom many were healed of their corporeal diseases, and without whom nobody could be healed of their spiritual diseases. “For there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.” The third spiritual affliction consists in the infirmity or weakness and frailty of human nature, corrupted by sin. There are many who understand thoroughly what they ought to do, and are anxious to do it; but they either have no strength, or have not sufficient strength to do it, until they get it from on high. They are also, not infrequently, so affected by a sort of languor or listlessness, that their soul loathes all manner of food; not that they are led into any error, or seduced by any evil concupiscence, but they take no delight in God’s word, they know not what it is to feel any heavenly aspirations, and they run the risk of suffering from hunger, not for want of wherewith to satisfy themselves, but from sheer fastidiousness; and such temptations are neither trifling nor uncommon. They have great need of “crying to the Lord,” to rectify their bad taste, and bring them to have a desire for the milk of divine consolation; and when they shall have begun to relish the things that are from above, and to taste how sweet is the Lord, let them not take the merit of it to themselves; but “Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him; let them sacrifice the sacrifice of praise, and declare his works with joy;” for it clearly is the work of God, and not of man, to make man, accustomed to nothing but the things of this earth, and to what he sees, to have an ardent desire for and feel a sweet relish in the things of the other world, that are hidden from him.

23 They that go down to the sea in ships, doing business in the great waters:
24 These have seen the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
25 He said the word, and there arose a storm of wind: and the waves thereof were lifted up.
26 They mount up to the heavens, and they go down to the depths: their soul pined away with evils.
27 They were troubled, and reeled like a drunken man; and all their wisdom was swallowed up.
28 And they cried to the Lord in their affliction: and he brought them out of their distresses.
29 And he turned the storm into a breeze: and its waves were still.
30 And they rejoiced because they were still: and he brought them to the haven which they wished for.
31 Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him, and his wonderful works to the children of men.
32 And let them exalt him in the church of the people: and praise him in the chair of the ancients.

This is the fourth part of the Psalm, in which God is praised for his care of those that are in danger at sea. No example of such danger, previous to David’s time, occurs in the Scriptures, but subsequent to David, we have that of Jonas, of the Apostles, and of St. Paul. “They that go down to the sea in ships.” They who cross the deep, and are engaged either in rowing, reefing, or setting the sails, know from experience many wonderful works of God, that many know nothing whatever of, or if they do, have it only from hearsay; for instance, the fury of the storm, the raging and roaring of the waves, the immense extent and depth of the sea, the constant and imminent danger that surrounds them, and the fear that will so lay hold on them betimes, as to make the hearts of the bravest quail. “He said the word and there arose a storm of wind;” God spoke, and the storm, in obedience to its Creator, at once arose, sprung up, and, in consequence, “the waves were lifted up;” so that they seemed almost to touch the skies; and, ultimately, to expose the lowest depths of the sea; “their soul pined away with evils;” fear so laid hold on them, that they became incapable of any manner of exertion; nay more, “They were troubled and reeled like a drunken man and all their wisdom was swallowed up;” a most natural description of the state of those in danger from shipwreck; they lose all presence of mind, can adopt no fixed counsel, and, consequently, cannot act upon any; “and all their wisdom,” in steering and righting a ship, if ever they had any, seems to have entirely taken leave of them. “And they cried to the Lord in their affliction.” This verse, occurring now for the fourth time, has been already explained, and the other verses do not seem to need any.—Now, the fourth spiritual affliction is that malice of the will, which principally consists in pride, that is the queen of vice. And, in fact, when the blasts of pride begin to play upon the sea of the human heart then the billows of its desires are raised up even to the very heavens. We are all acquainted with the language of the prince of the sons of pride, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” It was by him the giants of old were inspired to set about building the tower of Babel, that was to have reached the sky. The descendants of those people are they who seek to add kingdoms to kingdoms, and empires to empires; and to whose ambition there is no bounds; whereas, if they would enter into themselves and carefully consider the fearful storms of reflection, suspicion, fear, desires, presumption and despair, that continually harass them, and must, finally, overwhelm them, they would undoubtedly have cried to God, who would in his pity and mercy have delivered them from such a mass of evils; for he would have infused the spirit of his Son into their hearts, to teach them meekness and humility, that the raging billows of their desires, being thus composed, they may find rest for their souls, and be brought into the harbor of his good will; into that harbor of peace and tranquillity that is naturally coveted by all mankind. And this being the greatest favor of God’s mercy, they would naturally chant, “Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him, and his wonderful works to the children of men.”

33 He hath turned rivers into a wilderness: and the sources of waters into dry ground:
34 A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.

This is the second part of the Psalm. After having sung of the mercy of God in warding off the four afflictions, he now praises him for the omnipotence and providence through which he sometimes changes the nature of things, proving himself thereby to be their Maker and Ruler. He first says that God sometimes “turned rivers into a wilderness, and the sources of waters into dry ground,” that is, that when it pleased him, he dried up entire rivers, and caused the places inundated by them to become perfectly dry; “a fruitful land into barrenness,” which is intelligible enough, “for the wickedness of them that dwell therein,” as a punishment for the wickedness of its inhabitants; an example of which we have in Genesis, where we read, “And Lot lifting up his eyes saw all the country about the Jordan, which was watered throughout, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, as the paradise of the Lord,” and yet this beautiful and fertile country, a paradise in itself, was dried up by sulphur and fire from heaven, and condemned to everlasting sterility.

35 He hath turned a wilderness into pools of waters, and a dry land into water springs.
36 And hath placed there the hungry; and they made a city for their habitation.
37 Anti they sowed fields, and planted vineyards: and they yielded fruit of birth.
38 And he blessed them, and they were multiplied exceedingly: and their cattle he suffered not to decrease.

On the other hand, God, when he chose, “turned a wilderness into pools of waters;” caused rivers to flow in desert lands, where they were unknown, and made streams of pure water to run where they never ran before. That made the land habitable; men began to build there, to till the land, and to reap its fruits; and thus man and beast began to multiply thereon. It is not easy to determine what land the prophet alludes to; for, though God brought water from the rock for his people, they did not tarry nor settle there, nor build houses there; and when he brought them into the land of promise, there were rivers, cities, houses, and fields all ready for them. I am, therefore, of opinion that the prophet refers to some early colonization subsequent to the deluge; for, as well as he turned the fertile plains of Sodom and Gomorrah into a wilderness, so he also caused rivers to run, and cities to spring up in places that were previously waste and desolate. Isaias seems to have this passage in view when he says, “I will turn the desert into pools of waters and the impassable land into streams of waters;” and St. Jerome says that he therein alludes to the condition of the gentiles, who were at one time desert and uncultivated, without faith, without the law, without the prophets or the priesthood; but were afterwards to be highly nourished, through Christ, with the gifts of the Holy Ghost; and, therefore, St. Augustine very properly applies this passage to the synagogue, as contrasted with the Church. The synagogue, that one timed abounded in the waters of the word of God, and like a fertile soil, produced its prophets and priests, had its altars, sacrifices, miracles, and visions, now desert and barren, is turned into dry ground, with not one of those things; while, on the other hand, the Church of the gentiles, from having been dry and barren, is turned into pools of water, is become most fertile, replete with the choicest fruit, and has come to be the people of the Lord, the Church of the living God, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, where alone is to be found the true sacrifice, true priests, true miracles, true holiness, true wisdom, and, finally, all the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

39 Then they were brought to be few: and they were afflicted through the trouble of evils and sorrow.
40 Contempt was poured forth upon their princes: and he caused them to wander where there was no passing, and out of the way.
41 And he helped the poor out of poverty: and made him families like a flock of sheep.
42 The just shall see, and shall rejoice, and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.
43 Who is wise, and will keep these things; and will understand the mercies of the Lord?

The prophet now teaches us that there is nothing on earth stable or permanent, for they who have been at one time blessed by God, and multiplied through his blessing, in a little time after have been, by reason of their sins, cut away and reduced to nothing; and they who abound in all the good things of this world have, for the same reason, been driven to the direst extremities; and such has proved to be the case, not only with ordinary mortals, but even with princes whose sins have caused God to bring them to be condemned, by his having deprived them of wisdom and prudence, and thus, in consequence, making many and grievous mistakes in all their affairs. However, at the same time, men of honor and virtue were to be found, raised up by God from poverty, and fed and nourished by him as his own sheep. Hence, ultimately, divine providence caused the just to rejoice, and the wicked to be confounded. What has been said, in general, regarding God’s providence towards mankind, applies also to his special providence in regard of the Church, which grew up in a short time; and soon after was lessened, harassed, and afflicted by heresy and schisms; “her princes,” that is, her bishops and priests, were held in contempt, for numbers of them fell back from the path of their predecessors, who had set such an example of holiness and piety to the people over whom they had been placed. However, the Church was not abandoned to such an extent altogether as not to leave a considerable number of princes, and bishops, and priests, and holy laics, whom God enriched with spiritual favors, and whom, as being his own sheep, he led to the choicest pastures, and made them increase and multiply. To come now to the text. “Then they were brought to be few,” after increasing to such an extent, their numbers began to be reduced “and they were afflicted with the troubles of evil and sorrow;” after having had such a flow of prosperity they began to feel sad reverses. “Contempt was poured forth upon their princes.” One of the greatest misfortunes that could befall any people is to have their rulers, whether secular or ecclesiastical, objects of contempt. “And he caused them to wander where there was no passing, and out of the way.” The reason why they were despised was, because the princes aforesaid, having been deserted by the light of grace, in consequence of their own sins, as well as those of their people, did not walk in the right way; that is to say they led a bad and immoral life, scandalized the people by their bad example, and made bad laws in favor of the wicked, and against the just. Observe, that when God is said to procure those things, he does not do it directly: he does it indirectly, by withdrawing the light of his grace. “And he helped the poor out of poverty.” As well as he suffered the proud and haughty princes to fall, and rendered them objects of contempt, so, on the contrary, he raised up the poor and the humble, “and made him families like a flock of sheep;” multiplied his posterity, blessed and protected them as a shepherd would his own sheep. “The just shall see and shall rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.” The consequence of this providence of God will be, that the just will rejoice and express their joy in praising and glorifying God; and “all iniquity,” all the malicious and the wicked will be struck dumb, and will not presume to offer the slightest opposition. This we sometimes see in partial instances; but it will be fully developed and made apparent only on the day of general judgment.

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