The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for February, 2019

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Titus 2:11-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

This post includes Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing (in purple text) of the verses he is commenting upon.

A Summary of Chapter 2~In this chapter, the Apostle, after exhorting Titus to teach sound doctrine, points out to him what instructions he should deliver to persons of different ages and conditions in life (6). He admonishes him to show himself as a model in the practice of every virtue (7-10), He proposes the example of Christ, our Saviour, who appeared visibly in order to instruct all classes of men, both by word and example, as a motive to stimulate him to teach the same, with greater zeal. He shows what it is that Christ has taught us (12, 13). He points out the end and object of Christ’s death (14). He, finally, wishes that Titus should authoritatively teach all these things (15).

Tit 2:11  For the grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men:

For the salutary beneficence of God’s redemption has been made manifest to all classes of men without exception.

By “the grace of our Saviour,” or (as in the Greek,  η χαρις  η σωτηριος) the salutary grace, some understand, as in Paraphrase, the salutary benevolence of God displayed in the work of redemption (see 2 Cor 6:1); others, Christ himself, the fountain of grace, the divine essential grace. This shows that as the benefit of redemption was displayed to all classes, men, women, slaves, &c.; so, Titus should instruct every class, not excepting slaves.

Tit 2:12  Instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly and justly and godly in this world,

Instructing us to renounce impiety, and worldly corrupt desires, and to lead in this world a life of wisdom and temperance in regard to ourselves, of justice and equity towards the neighbor, and of piety and religion towards God.

“Impiety,” i.e., unbelief, “worldly desires,” the corrupt passions of ambition, avarice, lusts, &c.—”we should live soberly, justly, and piously,” by fasting, alms, deeds, and prayer; these good works are specially recommended to all, specially opposed to the three enemies of salvation—the world, the flesh, and the devil; and to the three great leading maxims of the world—”the concupiscence of the flesh, of the eyes, and the pride of life.”—(1 John 2:16).

Tit 2:13  Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Expecting eternal happiness, the object of our hope, and the glorious coming of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

“The blessed hope;” “hope” means the thing hoped for, the object of hope.

“The great God.” The article in the Greek shows that by this is meant, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Besides, it is our Saviour alone that “the glorious coming” is attributed in Sacred Scripture. Hence, an argument for the Divinity of Christ.

“The blessed hope,” regards the beautitude of our souls at death—”the coming,” &c., the glorification of our bodies.

Tit 2:14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works.

Who has delivered himself up to death for us, to redeem and purify us from all iniquity and from the stains of sin, and after thus cleansing us by his blood, to claim us as his peculiar people, his precious distinguished possession, a people exceedingly zealous for good works.

He not only was born for us, and appeared to us, and instructed us, but he also died for us. “A people acceptable.” St. Jerome has translated it, “an especial, eminent people.” It is allusive to the passage in Exodus 19:5, when God says of the Jews, “you shall be my peculiar possession,” &c. The Hebrew for “peculiar possession,” Segullah, according to St. Jerome, signifies “a most precious treasure.” St. Paul here followed the Septuagint version, which means, “acceptable people,” an excellent possession, &c.

Tit 2:15  These things speak and exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. 

Teach all these things to the ignorant, and exhort all those who already know them, to reduce them to practice. But rebuke the refractory and disobedient with full power, as minister of God, and by acting thus, no one will dare to contemn thee.

So act in the exercise of authority, that no one will despise thee.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Epistle of Titus, Extraordinary Form, Notes on the Lectionary, Notes on Titus, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Hebrews 13:7-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

This post opens with fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of all of chapter 13, followed by his commentary on the reading. Text in purple indicates his paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on.


In this concluding chapter, the Apostle inculcates certain duties of morality, and exhorts the Hebrews to the practice of several virtues, both as regards their neighbour and themselves. With regard to the virtues to be exercised towards their neighbour, the Apostle exhorts them to persevere in fraternal charity, to exercise hospitality, and manifest a practical sympathy for those who were suffering for the faith (1–3). He exhorts them to guard strictly conjugal chastity, and shunning avarice, to exhibit their confidence in God (4–6).

He exhorts them to be mindful of their deceased prelates, the consideration of whose edifying lives and holy death should be an encouragement to persevere in the same faith which they professed—a faith as unchangeable as Jesus Christ himself (7, 8). Hence, they should not be led away by fluctuating and contrary doctrines, particularly in reference to the useless distinction of food, and the legal victims. The Christians, although deprived of Jewish victims, have a still more excellent one, whereof those cannot partake who adhere to Judaism; for, in order to be able to partake of it, they must relinquish the synagogue, and the profession of the Jewish religion (9–13).

He recommends liberality towards the poor, and obedience to their prelates (16, 17). He begs the assistance of their prayers (18-19), and finally concludes with a prayer and salutation (20-25).


Heb 13:7  Remember your prelates who have spoken the word of God to you: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation,

7. Remember your former deceased prelates, who preached to you the word of God, and confirmed you in the faith; looking to their edifying lives and holy death, imitate their faith—the source of their sanctity in life, and happiness in death.

“The end of their conversation” means their death, in justice and sanctity. The words of this verse clearly show that the Apostle refers to their deceased prelates and religious guides, viz., James, Stephen, &c., who trampled under foot, and undervalued all earthly things: the example of these they should follow, and to their faith they should firmly adhere; for, this faith was the source of their sanctity in life, and of their happiness in death.

From this passage we can clearly perceive the advantage of perusing the lives of the saints, who have gone before us. Their lives are to us a practical illustration of the gospel; they point out the means, and serve as an incentive, to labour for heaven, Nonne potes tu, quod isti et istæ.—St. Augustine. It is to the pious reading of the lives of the saints, that the Church is, to a certain degree, indebted for the illustrious Society of Jesus, whose equals the world has never seen; the first, whom the enemies of God and man are sure to assail, as being the leading and the most powerful defenders of religion and social order; their persecution, in any particular country, as the annals of modern rebellions against the altar and the throne too clearly attest, is a sure sign of national reprobation; the certain forerunner of terrible religious and social disasters.

Heb 13:8  Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today: and the same for ever. 

8. (Their faith and yours must be the same), since Jesus Christ—the principal object of their faith and yours—is the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever.

As Jesus Christ—the principal object of faith—is always the same; therefore, the faith in him must always be the same; and hence, the faith of the Hebrews, and of their predecessors in the faith, must be identical. These words, most probably, refer to Jesus Christ, as God-man. “Yesterday” refers to the time of his Incarnation. This verse connects the preceding with the following verses. The words, “the same,” are, according to the Greek punctuation, joined to “to-day.”

Heb 13:9  Be not led away with various and strange doctrines. For it is best that the heart be established with grace, not with meats: which have not profited those that walk in them. 

9. Be not carried about by the varying and strange doctrines (of heretics), an example of which is found in the choice of legal, or, rather, in the effects attributed to, sacrificial meats; it is much better to strengthen your hearts by the grace of the New Law, which faith in Christ brings with it, than trust in the efficacy of the observances referred to, which never had the effect of sanctifying those who followed them, and spent their lives in them.

As faith must be, therefore, always one and indivisible, be not carried about by doctrines “various,” i.e., varying in themselves, and from the truth; “and strange,” foreign to the deposit left by God to his Church. “For, it is best to establish the heart with grace.” He gives a particular instance of the false doctrines, to which he has been referring in a general way, in the words, “various … doctrines.” He, most likely, refers to the doctrine regarding the distinction of meats, some of which were forbidden, and others allowed by the law; or rather to the doctrine regarding the effects of meats offered in sacrifice, to which the Judaizers attributed the power and efficacy of sanctifying men. This latter interpretation is rendered probable by the following verse. The Apostle says, it is better to establish and render the heart firm by the grace of Christianity, than by recurring to the use of such meats, which never conferred true sanctity on the worshippers (9:10).

“To walk in,” is a Hebraism for principles of action followed out in practice.—Kenrick, in hunc locum.

Heb 13:10  We have an altar whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle. 

10. (Let it not, however, be supposed, that by giving up the legal offerings, we are without victims, or sacrifice); for, in Christianity, we have on our altars, a victim, that supplies us with the grace which strengthens the heart, whereof they cannot partake who serve the tabernacle and still adhere to the Jewish religion.

“We have an altar,” &c. This altar, which is understood of the victim offered on it, refers, according to some, to the adorable Eucharist, the first step to obtain which must be, to go forth from the synagogue; and, that in order to partake of it, they must first leave the synagogue, or Jewish religion, he proves (verse 11), from the rite observed in the great sacrifice of expiation, a type of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, of which the Eucharistic sacrifice is a continuation, and a real unbloody commemoration. The word “eat,” greatly serves to confirm this opinion. “Serve” (λατευοντες) has reference directly to the priests; it also embraces, in a general way, all who approach the Jewish altar, as worshippers.

Heb 13:11  For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the holies by the high priest for sin are burned without the camp. 

11. This exclusion of the ministers and followers of the Jewish tabernacle, from a participation of the victim of our “altar,” was typified by the ordinance of the law respecting the great sacrifice of expiation. For, the bodies of the animals, viz., the goat and the heifer, whose blood was carried by the high priest into the sanctum sanctorum, in the great sacrifice of expiation, were burnt outside the camp (wherein dwelt the Jews, at this time, sojourning in the desert).

“Are burned without the camp.” The Jews, at the time of this ordinance dwelt in the desert, in a moveable camp, outside which were burned the bodies of the heifer and the goat, whereof neither the priests nor the people could partake.

Heb 13:12  Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate. 

12. For which cause, Jesus also, the reality typified, in order to fulfil this figure, suffered outside the gate of Jerusalem, sanctifying the people, with his blood.

On this account it was that Jesus, in order to correspond with his type (for, of his sacrifice, the great sacrifice of expiation was a mere type and figure) suffered outside the gates of Jerusalem.

Heb 13:13  Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 

13. We, therefore, and all who wish to be partakers of the Christian sacrifice, must go forth to him, outside the camp of the synagogue. In other words, we must desert the synagogue, and join the Church; bearing the reproach attached to the name of Christian.

Hence, we should go forth to him outside the camp, and leaving the synagogue, submit to the reproach of Christ, before we can be partakers of the victim of the Christian “altar,” that is to say, of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, where he is offered up daily, in an unbloody manner, and partaken of by the faithful. Whether the opinion which refers “altar” to the Eucharist, be true or false, matters but little in regard to the faith of the Church, on the subject of the Eucharist, which is clearly demonstrated from other passages; and such of the Fathers as understand this passage of it, show their faith regarding the Eucharist to have been the same as ours. Others make “altar” refer directly to the altar of the cross; because it was of the sacrifice of the cross that the sacrifice of expiation, to which he alludes (verse 11), was typical. The Hebrews were attaching great importance to the sacrifices of the Mosaic law. Now, he says, it would be far better for them to have recourse to grace (verse 9), which they cannot receive, since it is purchased by a sacrifice wherein they can have no share, without first going forth from the synagogue (verse 10); for, the bodies of the victims, &c., were burned outside the camp (verse 11). Hence, Jesus suffered outside the gate of Jerusalem (verse 12); and hence, to become partakers of the merits of his sacrince, “to eat of the altar,” according to these interpreters, we must go forth from the synagogue, and join the Church, “bearing his reproach;” for, the name of Christian was counted a reproach. Should this passage refer directly to the sacrifice of the cross, in it must be indirectly included the sacrifice of the Eucharist; inasmuch as it is the same sacrifice with that of the cross, from which it differs, only as to the mode of offering.

Some Expositors say, that in this verse is conveyed an exhortation to bear our cross patiently, after the example of Christ. “Bearing his reproach” will then mean: bearing his cross after him, which is a reproach and folly.

Heb 13:14  For, we have not here a lasting city: but we seek one that is to come. 

14. And this voluntary exile, and departure from the synagogue and Jerusalem, should not disturb or frighten us, for we, Christians, have not on this earth any permanent city; as exiles and pilgrims, we are in search of one to come, that is, the heavenly Jerusalem.

In this verse is contained a reason why we should not hesitate to leave the synagogue; because, we are in search of our heavenly Jerusalem; according to others, in it is contained a reason why we should be prepared to suffer for Christ’s sake; because, no matter what may befall us, whether exile, death, &c., it will not deprive us of our country, but rather hasten our approach to it.

Commentators remark that the Apostle explains, in the foregoing passage, the sacrifice of expiation, according to the four-fold sense attached to SS. Scripture—viz., the literal, the allegorical, the tropological (or moral), and the anagogical. (Litera gesta docet; quid credas, Allegoria; Moralis, quid agas; quo tendas, Anagogia). According to the literal sense, the victim in the sacrifice of expiation was carried out of the camp and burned, and the blood was carried by the high priest into the sanctuary, as an expiation for sin—litera gesta docet—verse 11. According to the allegorical sense, this victim was a figure of Christ ignominiously driven outside the city, to suffer death, as an atonement for sin—quid credas, Allegoria—verse 12. According to the tropological or moral sense, those who wish to partake of the sacrifice of Christ, must go outside the precincts of the synagogue, and abandon the Jewish religion; thus bearing their share in the ignominy which he was pleased to undergo—Moralis, quid agas—verse 13. And according to the anagogical meaning of the ceremony, they are not to regret this temporary exile, since neither Jerusalem nor the synagogue is our true country or lasting home; we are in search of our heavenly and everlasting dwelling-place above—quo tendas, anagogia—verse 14. Rutter, in hunc locum.

Heb 13:15  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to his name. 

15. Having, therefore, been united to Christ, let us continually present through him to God a sacrifice of praise, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing his name.

Having given up the legal sacrifices prescribed by law, let us offer up to God, through Christ, to whom we are united, after deserting the synagogue, “a sacrifice of praise,” according to some, the sacrifice of the Eucharist. This is the opinion of those who refer “altar” (verse 10) to the Eucharist. The explanation, however, given by the Apostle himself, of what this sacrifice is, “that is the fruit of lips,” &c., shows that it refers to the spiritual offering of thanksgiving to God, in every shape and form. These acts of thanksgiving are called “the fruit of lips, confessing his name;” because, it is by the lips his praises are sounded, and his benefits deserving thanks, together with his eternal attributes, proclaimed. No doubt, among the most acceptable channels of thanksgiving and praise, the sacrifice of the Eucharist holds the first place; but, it is only in this general respect, as a means of thanksgiving, that the Apostle seems to make any reference to it in this verse.

Heb 13:16  And do not forget to do good and to impart: for by such sacrifices God’s favour is obtained. 

16. And to this piety towards God, neglect not to add charity towards your neighbour. Forget not liberality, nor omit to impart your goods to the poor, by relieving them according to your ability; for, by such sacrifices the favour of God is obtained, with them he is well pleased.

In this verse is prescribed another offering most pleasing to God, the offering of charity and beneficence to our neighbour; “for by such sacrifices,” viz., praise of God, and charity towards our neighbour, “God’s favour is obtained.” The Greek, ευαρεστειται ὀ Θεος, means, God receives delight; or, in them he is well pleased; unlike the sacrifices of the Old Law, which were unpleasing to him.

Heb 13:17  Obey your prelates and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls: that they may do this with joy and not with grief. For this is not expedient for you. 

17. Obey your prelates, and reverence them; for, you are to regard them as watching over your souls (as they are bound to do in virtue of their office), since, in the day of judgment they must render an account of you. Obey them, therefore, from the heart, that they may discharge this responsible duty of watching over you with joy and not with pain. This would not be expedient for you; for, the groans of the pastor would provoke against you the heavy vengeance of God.

To the two-fold sacrifice of praise (verse 15), and of charity (verse 16), he wishes them to add, the sacrifice of their own will, by obedience to their prelates and pastors. “For they watch” (for your souls, ὑπερ τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμων, is added here in the Greek; the Vulgate construction, which places these words not here but after the words “render an account”—rationem pro animabus vestris reddituri—is preferable)—this merely expresses the duty of the pastors; and the light in which the faithful are bound to regard them. What a heavy responsibility, those charged with the care of souls have incurred! they must account for each and every one of them, at God’s judgment-seat; for each and every one, Jesus Christ shed his blood, with the dispensation of which the pastor is charged. Woe to him if it shall have flowed in vain for immortal souls, through any fault of his! “That they may do this,” i.e., watch over your souls, “with joy, and not with grief,” seeing your disobedience, and the absence of progress made by you, “for this is not expedient for you.” The groans of the prelates, whose words you slight, will provoke God’s wrath, which he shall manifest in his own time. He who shall disobey or despise ecclesiastical authority shall be overtaken, sooner or later, by the justice of God, whom he despises.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Extraordinary Form, Latin Mass Notes, Notes on Hebrews, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 5:13-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

Text in red are my additions.

Mat 5:13  You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.

Here in these verse we find the influence the citizens of the Kingdom are to have on the world. (A) they are to preserve men; (B) they are to guide men;  (I’ve here paraphrased and expanded a brief notation by Fr. Maas).

(A) They are to preserve men. In this section must be noted the opposition between the apostolic and the prophetic work; the meaning of “salt” as applied to the apostles; and finally, the uselessness of the salt if it loses its savor.

[1] The opposition between the apostles and prophets consists in the universal character of the apostolic mission as compared with the particular character of the prophetic work. Hence the apostles are the salt of the earth.

[2] The meaning of “salt” in this context is determined by its use in common life: it prevents putrefaction and it seasons; there seems to be no direct reference to its fertilizing property [Schanz]. In the Old Testament, too, salt had been employed for this double purpose: cf. 2 Kings 2:21; Lev. 2:13; Num. 18:19; 2 Chron13:5; Paschasius Radbertus, Maldonado, Chromatius The moral corruption of the world was therefore to be remedied by the apostolic salt of the disciples.

[3] As to the uselessness of the salt after it has lost its savor, many commentators regard the language of our Lord as purely hypothetical, because, according to them, salt cannot really lose its savor. But Schöttgen [Hor. hebr. i. 1.], Thomson [The Land and the Book, p. 381], and others maintain that the salt of Palestine actually does lose its savor when in contact with the ground, or exposed to rain and sun; Dr. Thomson adds that in Sidon he saw “large quantities of it literally thrown into the street, to be trodden under foot of men and beasts.” Even Pliny speaks of “sal iners” [xxxi. 39] and “sal tabescens” [xxxi. 44]. The practical impossibility of salting salt, and reducing it to its proper condition, furnishes an illustration of the dangerous condition of the disciples of Jesus that neglect their call to salt the earth, and preserve their fellow men from moral corruption [cf. Heb. 6:4 f.; Heb 10:26–29; Ezek 15:2–5; Isa 66:24; Dan 12:2; Jerome,  Paschasius Radbertus, Cajetan, Jansenius Maldonado, Lamy, etc.].

[4] It has been supposed in the preceding remarks that Jesus addressed his apostles or his disciples directly in the text thus far explained. This must be understood in such a manner that he addressed them principally, though what he said to them applies truly, though less emphatically, to all Christians [cf. Knabenbauer Paschasius Radbertus, Chromatus]. Neither the direct address nor the comparison with salt and light forces us to admit that our Lord speaks to the disciples alone either from the beginning of v. 11 [Chrysostom, Hilary, Jerome, Rabanus Maurus, Bruno, Zach., Thomas Aquinas,  the Opus Imperfectum, Jansenius Barrada, Arnoldi, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion, Keil, Weiss, etc.] or from the beginning of v. 13 [Glossa Ordinaria, Alb., Dionysius]. For the direct address is also found in the following parts of the discourse addressed to the multitudes; and the comparison with the salt occurs again in Lk. 14:34, where our Lord does not confine himself to his disciples. The comparison of the light is quite common in the language of the New Testament [cf. Phil. 2:15; Eph. 5:8; 1 Thess. 5:5; Prov. 4:18; 1 Pet. 2:9], so that it is not peculiar to the apostles. On the other hand, we do not wholly agree with Aug. and Bed., who regard the passage as equally addressed to the multitudes and the disciples; for though both these classes were present, the subject matter is such that it describes the apostolic trials and labors more clearly than those of common Christians.

Mat 5:14  You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid.
Mat 5:15  Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.
Mat 5:16  So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

(B) They are to Guide Men. You are the light of the world. The world is not only steeped in moral corruption, but also in intellectual darkness; hence our Lord’s salvific influence must remedy the latter as well as the former. The prophets foretold this [Is. 42:6; 49:6; cf. Isa 9:2], and the gospels point to the fulfilment in Jesus Christ [Jn. 1:9; Jn 8:12]. St. Paul, too, repeatedly mentions the apostolic office of enlightening the world [Acts 13:47; Col. 1:24; Phil. 2:15; Eph. 5:8].

A city set on a Mountain cannot be hid. The apostles are not merely to reflect the light of their master, but they are also to occupy such a position in the world that their doctrinal influence is not interfered with by intervening objects (the image of the candle under a bushel, verse 15). It is immaterial whether Jesus in pronouncing this sentence pointed out (the city of) Saphet or the fortification on Mount Tabor as the city that cannot be hid [cf. Guérin, Galilée, ii. 425]; in any case, his language resembles that of Isaias 4:1; Isa 2:2 [cf. Chromatus, Bede, Rabanus Maurus, Chrysostom, Jansenius, Lam., Cajetan]. It follows from these words that the church must be always visible, since she is compared not merely to a city on a mountain, but to a city so placed on the mountain that it cannot be hid.

It is not only the church that must be visible to the world, but each individual Christian, too, must contribute his share in shedding the light of Jesus Christ. (If the city set on a hill cannot be hid, neither can its inhabitants). They are warned that not even the worldly-wise apply things to a purpose opposed to that for which they are destined: they do not light their candle and put it under a bushel, or the ordinary household measure holding about a peck, but on the lamp-stand, fastened in the wall, so that the light may be diffused as far as possible. The lamp was not extinguished during the night, but when its light was not desired for a space of time, it was placed under an inverted hollow cover. In the same manner, our Lord wishes his light burning in the church, to illume the darkness of the world [Bruno, Jansenius, Maldonado].

But our light must not shine before the world indiscriminately: two conditions are needed to render the shining of one’s light advisable. [a] The light of doctrine must be accompanied by good works, because principles without practice will be of little avail. This is confirmed by the fact that St. Paul found it necessary to appeal repeatedly to his good works: 2 Cor. 11:16 ff.; 1 Pet. 2:12 [Bruno,  Chromatus, Jansenius]. [b] Our light must so shine before men that they may glorify our Father who is in heaven. It is not our own glory that must be the object of showing our light before the world. Here again we have St. Paul as our model [cf. Gal. 1:24]. That the glory of God must be the end of all our actions, our Lord emphasizes especially by the name Father, reminding us that we must glorify God as good sons glorify their parents [cf. Cajetan, Augustine]. God is repeatedly called Father in the Old Testament [Is. 63:16; Deut. 32:6; Wisd. 2:16; 14:2; Sirach 23:1; Sirach 51:10; Tob. 13:4]; but the name Father as opposed to the other two persons of the Holy Trinity is peculiar to the New Law. Even the Rabbis hold that God is glorified by the good works of men, and dishonored by their evil deeds [Schöttgen], though they apply these principles only to our private life [cf. R. Bechonya, Bahir f. 5, 3; Soh. Lev. f. 2, 5].

This section (Mt 5:17-48) may be divided into the following paragraphs: 1. The general relation of the New Law to the Old, Mt 5:17–20; 2. its interpretation of the fifth commandment, Mt5:21–26; 3. its view of the sixth commandment, Mt 5:27–32; 4 its obligations springing from the second and the eighth commandment, Mt 5:33–37; 5. its opposition to the “lex talionis,” Mt 5:38–48.

17 Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

1. General relation of the New Law to the Old. Jesus develops this general relation in four propositions: a. The New Law is the fulfilment of the Old (verse 17); b. the Old Law shall not pass till all be fulfilled (verse 18); c. the sanction of the fulfilment or the nonfulfilment of the Law is reward in, or exclusion from, the kingdom of heaven (verse 19); d. the Pharisaic observance of the Law is not sufficient in the New Law (verse 20).

α. The New Law is the fulfilment of the Old. a. The transition from the beatitudes and their application to the discussion on the law is explained in various ways: The beatitudes are the general outlines of Christianity; our Lord must therefore descend to particulars after laying down the general principles [cf. Knabenbauer]. Again, the Sadducees among the hearers of Jesus desired nothing more than an abolition of the law, the Pharisees feared nothing worse, and the disciples were left in doubt by what had been said; hence Jesus must from the start declare his position in this vital question [cf. Fillion, Schanz]. Schöttgen contends [Hor. Heb. et Talm. de Messia, ii. 611; Dresd. 1742] that about the third century the Rabbis expected a Messianic dispensation in which the Law would be wholly abolished; but Weber [Altsynagogale Theol. p. 360] shows that the passages cited by Schöttgen may be otherwise interpreted. While Jesus gains the good will of his Jewish audience by this implied eulogium of the law, he forestalls the future accusations brought against him as a destroyer of the law.

But how did our Lord fulfil the law and the prophets rather than destroy them? Mald, enumerates four ways of fulfilment: Jesus himself observed the law, he perfected it by his interpretation, he brought us the grace needed to observe it in its perfect interpretation, and finally, he fulfilled the promises contained in the types and prophecies of the law and the prophets [cf. Faber Stapulensis, Estius, Lapide, Calmet, Arnoldi, Schegg, Reischl, Coleridge, iii. pp. 66 f., Grimm, iii. p. 75, Schanz, Fillion, Meschler, i. p. 304].

As to the question whether Christians are bound by the decalogue on account of its promulgation by Moses, Bellarmine, Vasquez, Lorin. answer in the affirmative, Suarez in the negative [cf. Suar. de leg. L. ix. 11, 20, 22; L. x. 2, 15], though all are agreed that the matter of the Christian decalogue does not differ from that of the Jewish, and that Jesus has added a new binding force to these natural precepts.

Against the opinion of a few [cf. Keil] who maintain that Jesus speaks in the present passage only of the law and not of the Messianic prophecies, the common consent of interpreters asserts that “the law and the prophets” means the whole inspired canon of the Old Testament. Though our Lord did not appeal to any prophecies in the immediate context, he had recourse to their testimony repeatedly in his public life [Jn. 5:46; Lk. 4:21; 18:31; 24:27, 44; Mt. 22:40].

18 For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled.

b. The permanency of the Old Law. [1] The word “amen” means fidelity, faithfulness; faithful, firm; truly, surely [cf. Lk. 9:27]. The Jews employed the word to confirm their contracts and their oaths [Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15; Neh 5:13], placing it either at the beginning or at the end of their words [cf. 28:6; Gesen. thes. i. 116]. At the end of the doxology it was repeated in Pss. 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; in the New Testament the word occurs as an asseverative particle only in the sayings of Jesus Christ, and in the fourth gospel it is repeated in this meaning [Jn. 1:32; 3:3; 5:19]. The apostles use the word in the doxology [Rom. 1:25; 9:5; Gal. 1:5; 1 Pet. 4:11]; from its use in the synagogues it has passed also into the church services as a responsory [1 Cor. 14:16].

[2] Heaven and earth cannot properly be said to pass away, though they will be changed [Mt. 24:35; 2 Pet. 3:10; 1 Jn. 2:17; 1 Cor. 7:31]. The expression seems to be equivalent to our “never,” as we infer from Pss. 72:5, 7; 89:4; 33:20, 21; etc. In this meaning the expression may be compared to the Rabbinic formulas: “Everything has its end, heaven and earth have their end, except one thing which has no end, and this is the law” [Bereschith R. x. 1]; and “[The law] will remain always, for ever and ever” [Midrasch Cohel. f. 71, 4; etc.].

[3] One jot refers to the smallest Hebrew letter called “yodh.” The “tittle,” according to the Greek text κεραία, means in the language of the Greek grammarians the accents and diacritic signs; but in the language of St. Matthew it seems to refer to the small distinctive characteristic by which ה differs from ח and ב from כ. Hence even the most unimportant points of the law shall have their place in the Messianic dispensation.

[4] “Till all be fulfilled” is not subordinate to what precedes [cf. Meyer, Keil], but coördinate with it; hence we must not interpret, “as long as the world stands shall no precept of the law, however imperfect and easy, pass away till all its injunctions are put into practice,” but rather thus: “till heaven and earth pass, the law shall not pass; till all be fulfilled, the law shall not pass.” The first member, therefore, asserts the mere fact of the permanency of the law, while the second adds the reason for its perpetuity, drawing it from the will of God.

19 He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

c. The sanction. Explanations. [1] Hilgenfeld [Historisch-kritische Einleitung in d. N. T. p. 469] is of opinion that this verse and the following are not in keeping with the general meekness and love of Jesus Christ and must therefore be regarded as interpolated by the opponents of St. Paul. But, on the one hand, the opposition in the early Church between the Pauline and the Petriue Christians is wholly hypothetical; on the other, St. Paul himself is quite emphatic in enforcing the observance of the law [cf. Rom. 3:31 f.; 4:23; 15:4; 1 Cor. 9:9; 10:6; Col. 2:17; Heb. 9:1–9; etc.].

[2] The opinion of interpreters differs considerably concerning the true meaning of the word “to break”: it means “to transgress” or “to violate” according to Chrysostom, Opus Imperfectum, Alb. Dionysius, Cajetan, Estius, Jansenius, Maldonado, Barradas, Sylveira, Arnoldi, Coleridge; “to explain falsely” according to Br. Pasch. Ans. laud.; “to mutilate” according to Chromatius; “to abrogate,” Schegg, Bisping, Schanz, Weiss; “to destroy” Jer.=ome, Zach. Chrysostom, Salmeron; both “to destroy” and “to transgress” according to Lapide, Keil. Since the meaning of the word is determined by the preceding verses, there is no good reason for changing it in this verse.

[3] “These least commandments” are those which Jesus is going to develop in the following discourse, and which he calls “least” through modesty [Chryspstom]; or they are called “least,” because not to kill and not to commit adultery is the least that can be expected of us [Augustine, Bede, Rabanus, Dionysius, Salmeron], or because they are least in the opinion of the Pharisees, or because they are the least of their own kind of mortal sins, as e.g. the sin of impure desire [Maldondado, Estius, Sylveira]; but here again it is preferable to understand by the least commandments those of which Jesus has been speaking in the preceding verse, where there is question of the jot and tittle of the law [Hilary, Jerome, St Bruno, Paschasius, Cajetan, Sa, Arnoldi, Reischl, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion]. St. Paul has diverse illustrations of the importance of even insignificant incidents in the Old Testament [cf. 1 Cor. 9:9; Gal. 4:29, 30].

[4] The clause “shall so teach men” has been understood to mean, whoever transgresses the law himself, but exacts its observance from others; or, whoever teaches men so as I do [Jer. Est. Coleridge]; but most probably the “so” refers to the preceding clause, whoever destroys one jot or tittle of the law, and teaches men according to his view of the law.

[5] The “least in the kingdom of heaven” is not there at all [Thomas Aquinas], or is unworthy of it Glossa Ordinaria, Paschasius], or is condemned to eternal punishment [Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Cajetan, Maldonado, Lapide, Calmet], so that he “shall be called the least” by those “in the kingdom of heaven” [Anselm of Laon, Tostatus]. But Estius well remarks that according to this explanation Satan might be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; and according to Mt. 11:11 our Lord says, “he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” [John the Baptist]. It appears, then, more probable that “the least in the kingdom” is he that occupies the least place in the same, and is therefore far removed from the dignity of doctor whose office he exteriorly fulfils. The case of such a teacher appears to be considered by St. Paul, 1 Cor. 3:11, 15.

[6] Far different is the condition of him “that shall do and teach” even the smaller precepts of the law; for he shall occupy the high place prepared for the doctors in the kingdom of heaven.

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Extraordinary Form: Commentaries for the Sixth Sunday After Pentecost (Dominica VI Post Pentecosten)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

Dominica VI Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis



Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 6:3-11. This post includes commentary on all of chapter 6.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 6:3-11.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 6:3-11.

Aquinas’ Lectures on Romans 6:3-11.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Romans 6:3-11.

Navarre Bible Commentary  on Today’s Lesson (Romans 6:3-11).


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 8:1-9). Previously posted. This post is actually on verses 1-10.

St Augustine on Today’s Gospel (Mark 8:1-9).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Mark 8:1-9). On 1-10.

HOMILY NOTES: The following four homily notes can be used for sermon ideas, points of meditation, further study.

Homily Notes on Baptism. (Epistle theme).

Homily Notes on the Resurrection of the Body. (Epistle theme).

Homily Notes on Providence. (Gospel theme).

Homily Notes on Grounds for Confidence in God. (Gospel theme).


Homily on the Epistle.

Homily on the Gospel.

St Alphonsus Ligouri’s Homily on the Gospel.

Homiletic Sketch on the Epistle: Admonition to Penance.

Homiletic Sketch on the Gospel: The Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes.

Dogmatic Sketch on the Gospel: The Goodness of God.

Liturgical Sketch on the Gospel: Holy Water.

Symbolical Sketch on the Gospel: The Seven Loaves of Bread Symbolize the Seven Sacraments.

Moral Sketch on the Gospel: Intemperance.

Moral Sketch on the Gospel: Prudent Economy.

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Extraordinary Form: Commentaries for the Fifth Sunday After Pentecost (Dominica V Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

Dominica V Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis


Roman Missal. Latin and English text side by side.

Roman Breviary. Latin & English side by side. Be sure correct date is set.

Goffine’s Instruction on the Epistle and Gospel. Famous devotional work in English. Similar to the content in the Missal link but it also includes brief instructions on the readings, moral teachings, etc.


Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Peter 3:8-15.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 3:8-15. On 8-22


Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 5:20-24. On 20-26.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 5:20-24. On 20-26.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 5:20-24. On 20-26.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 5:20-24. On 20-26.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Matthew 5:20-24. On 17-24. Treatment of ver. 20 begins at paragraph 6.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 5:20-24. On 20-26.


Homily on the Epistle.

Homily on the Gospel.

St Augustine’s Homily on Matthew 5:22.

(1) Homily Notes on the Epistle (Christian Unity). Can be used for sermon idea, meditation,  further study, etc.

(2) Homily Notes on the Epistle (Presence of God). Can be used for sermon ideas, meditation, further study, etc.

(3) Homily Notes on the Gospel (Christian Justice). Can be used for sermon ideas, meditation, further study, etc.

(4) Homily Notes on the Gospel (Reconciliation). Can be used for sermon ideas, meditation, further study, etc.

St Alphonsus Ligouri’s Homily on the Gospel.

Homiletic Sketch on the Epistle (St Peter Gives Salutary Lessons).

Homiletic Sketch on the Gospel (False and True Justice).

Symbolical Sketch on the Gospel (Anger, A Burning Fever).

Moral Sketch on the Gospel (We Must Forgive Those Who Offend Us).

Moral Sketch on the Gospel (The Justice of the Scribes and Pharisees).

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Matthew 5:17-24

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets.”

Why, who suspected this? or who accused Him, that He should make a defense against this charge? Since surely from what had gone before1 no such suspicion was generated. For to command men to be meek, and gentle, and merciful, and pure in heart, and to strive for righteousness, indicated no such design, but rather altogether the contrary.

Wherefore then can He have said this? Not at random, nor vainly: but inasmuch as He was proceeding to ordain commandments greater than those of old, saying, “It was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill;2 but I say unto you, Be not even angry;” and to mark out a way for a kind of divine and heavenly conversation;3 in order that the strangeness thereof might not disturb the souls of the hearers, nor dispose them quite to mutiny against what He said, He used this means of setting them right beforehand.

For although they fulfilled not the law, yet nevertheless they were possessed with much conscientious regard to it; and whilst they were annulling it every day by their deeds, the letters thereof they would have remain unmoved, and that no one should add anything more to them. Or rather, they bore with their rulers adding thereto, not however for the better, but for the worse. For so they used to set aside the honor due to our parents by additions of their own, and very many others also of the matters enjoined them, they would free themselves of4 by these unseasonable additions.

Therefore, since Christ in the first place was not of the sacredotal tribe, and next, the things which He was about to introduce were a sort of addition, not however lessening, but enhancing virtue; He knowing beforehand that both these circumstances would trouble them, before He wrote in their mind those wondrous laws, casts out that which was sure to be harboring there. And what was it that was harboring there, and making an obstacle?

2. They thought that He, thus speaking, did so with a view to the abrogation of the ancient institutions. This suspicion therefore He heals; nor here only doth He so, but elsewhere also again. Thus, since they accounted Him no less than an adversary of God, from this sort of reason, namely, His not keeping the sabbath; He, to heal such their suspicion, there also again sets forth His pleas, of which some indeed were proper to Himself; as when He saith, “My Father worketh, and I work;”5 but some had in them much condescension, as when He brings forward the sheep lost on the sabbath day,6 and points out that the law is disturbed for its preservation, and makes mention again of circumcision, as having this same effect.7

Wherefore we see also that He often speaks words somewhat beneath Him, to remove the semblance of His being an adversary of God.

For this cause He who had raised thousands of the dead with a word only, when He was calling Lazarus, added also a prayer; and then, lest this should make Him appear less than Him that begat Him, He, to correct this suspicion, added, “I said these things, because of the people which standeth by, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”8 And neither doth He work all things as one who acted by His own power, that He might thoroughly correct their weakness; nor doth He all things with prayer, lest He should leave matter of evil suspicion to them that should follow, as though He were without strength or power: but He mingles the latter with the former, and those again with these. Neither doth He this indiscriminately, but with His own proper wisdom. For while He doeth the greater works authoritatively, in the less He looks up unto Heaven. Thus, when absolving sins, and revealing His secrets, and opening Paradise, and driving away devils, and cleansing lepers, and bridling death, and raising the dead by thousands, He did all by way of command: but when, what was much less than these, He was causing many loaves to spring forth out of few, then He looked up to Heaven: signifying that not through weakness He doth this. For He who could do the greater with authority, how in the lesser could He need prayer? But as I was saying, He doeth this to silence their shamelessness. The same reckoning, then, I bid thee make of His words also, when thou hearest Him speak lowly things. For many in truth are the causes both for words and for actions of that cast: as, for instance, that He might not be supposed alien from God; His instructing and waiting on all men; His teaching humility; His being encompassed with flesh; the Jews’ inability to hear all at once; His teaching us to utter no high word of ourselves. For this cause many times, having in His own person said much that is lowly of Himself, the great things He leaves to be said by others. Thus He Himself indeed, reasoning with the Jews, said, “Before Abraham was, i am:”1 but His disciple not thus, but, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”2

Again, that He Himself made Heaven, and earth, and sea, and all things visible and invisible, in His own person He nowhere expressly said: but His disciple, speaking plainly out, and suppressing nothing, affirms this once, twice, yea often: writing that “all things were made by Him;” and, “without Him was not one thing made;” and, He was in the world, and the world was made by Him.”3

And why marvel, if others have said greater things of Him than He of Himself; since (what is more) in many cases, what He showed forth by His deeds, by His words He uttered not openly? Thus that it was Himself who made mankind He showed clearly even by that blind man; but when He was speaking of our formation at the beginning, He said not, “I made,” but “He who made them, made them male and female.”4 Again, that He created the world and all things therein, He demonstrated by the fishes, by the wine, by the loaves, by the calm in the sea, by the sunbeam which He averted on the Cross; and by very many things besides: but in words He hath nowhere said this plainly, though His disciples are continually declaring it, both John, and Paul, and Peter.

For if they who night and day hear Him discourse, and see Him work marvels; to whom He explained many things in private, and gave so great power as even to raise the dead; whom He made so perfect, as to forsake all things for Him: if even they, after so great virtue and self-denial, had not strength to bear it all, before the supply of the Spirit; how could the people of the Jews, being both void of understanding, and far behind such excellency, and only by hazard present when He did or said anything, how could they have been persuaded but that He was alien from the God of all, unless he had practised such great condescension throughout?

For on this account we see that even when He was abrogating the sabbath, He did not as of set purpose bring in such His legislation, but He puts together many and various pleas of defense. Now if, when He was about to cause one commandment to cease, He used so much reserve in His language,5 that He might not startle the hearers; much more, when adding to the law, entire as it was, another entire code of laws, did He require much management and attention, not to alarm those who were then hearing Him.

For this same cause, neither do we find Him teaching everywhere clearly concerning His own Godhead. For if His adding to the law was sure to perplex them so greatly, much more His declaring Himself God.

3. Wherefore many things are uttered by Him, far below His proper dignity, and here when He is about to proceed upon His addition to the law, He hath used abundance for correction beforehand. For neither was it once only that He said, “I do not abrogate the law,” but He both repeated it again, and added another and a greater thing; in that, to the words, “Think not that I am come to destroy,” He subjoined, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

Now this not only obstructs the obstinacy of the Jews, but stops also the mouths of those heretics,6 who say that the old covenant is of the devil. For if Christ came to destroy his tyranny, how is this covenant not only not destroyed, but even fulfilled by Him? For He said not only, “I do not destroy it;” though this had been enough; but “I even fulfill it:” which are the words of one so far from opposing himself, as to be even establishing it.

And how, one may ask, did He not destroy it? in what way did He rather fulfill either the law or the prophets? The prophets He fulfilled, inasmuch as He confirmed by His actions all that had been said concerning Him; wherefore also the evangelist used to say in each case, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet.” Both when He was born,1 and when the children sung that wondrous hymn to Him, and when He sat on the ass,2 and in very many more instances He worked this same fulfillment: all which things must have been unfulfilled, if He had not come.

But the law He fulfilled, not in one way only, but in a second and third also. In one way, by transgressing none of the precepts of the law. For that He did fulfill it all, hear what He saith to John, “For thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”3 And to the Jews also He said, “Which of you convinceth me of sin.”4 And to His disciples again, “The prince of this world cometh, and findeth nothing in me.”5 And the prophet too from the first had said that “He did no sin.”6

This then was one sense in which He fulfilled it. Another, that He did the same through us also; for this is the marvel, that He not only Himself fulfilled it, but He granted this to us likewise. Which thing Paul also declaring said, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”7 And he said also, that “He judged sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh.”8 And again, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! yea, we establish the law.”9 For since the law was laboring at this, to make man righteous, but had not power, He came and brought in the way of righteousness by faith, and so established that which the law desired: and what the law could not by letters, this He accomplished by faith. On this account He saith, “I am not come to destroy the law.”

4. But if any one will inquire accurately, he will find also another, a third sense, in which this hath been done. Of what sort is it then? In the sense of that future code of laws, which He was about to deliver to them.

For His sayings were no repeal of the former, but a drawing out, and filling up of them. Thus, “not to kill,” is not annulled by the saying, Be not angry, but rather is filled up and put in greater security: and so of all the others.

Wherefore, you see, as He had before unsuspectedly cast the seeds of this teaching; so at the time when from His comparison of the old and new commandments, He would be more distinctly suspected of placing them in opposition, He used His corrective beforehand. For in a covert way He had indeed already scattered those seeds, by what He had said. Thus, “Blessed are the poor,” is the same as that we are not to be angry; and, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” as not to “look upon a woman for lust;” and the “not laying up treasures on earth,” harmonizes with, “Blessed are the merciful;” and “to mourn” also, “to be persecuted” and “reviled,” coincide with “entering in at the strait gate;” and, “to hunger and thirst after righteousness,” is nothing else than that which He saith afterwards, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them.” And having declared “the peace-maker blessed,” He again almost said the same, when He gave command “to leave the gift,” and hasten to reconciliation with him that was grieved, and about “agreeing with our adversary.”

But there He set down the rewards of them that do right, here rather the punishments of them who neglect practice.10 Wherefore as in that place He said, “The meek shall inherit earth;” so here, “He who calleth his brother fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire;” and there, “The pure in heart shall see God;” here, he is a complete adulterer who looks unchastely. And having there called “the peace-makers, sons of God;” here He alarms us from another quarter, saying, “Lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge.” Thus also, whereas in the former part He blesses them that mourn, and them that are persecuted; in the following, establishing the very same point, He threatens destruction to them that go not that way; for, “They that walk ‘in the broad way,’ saith He, ‘make their end there.’ ” And, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” seems to me the same with, “Blessed are the merciful,” and, “those that hunger after righteousness.”

But as I said, since He is going to say these things more clearly, and not only more clearly, but also to add again more than had been already said (for He no longer merely seeks a merciful man, but bids us give up even our coat; not simply a meek person, but to turn also the other cheek to him that would smite us): therefore He first takes away the apparent contradiction.

On this account, then, as I have already stated, He said this not once only, but once and again; in that to the words, “Think not that I am come to destroy,” He added, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

“For verily I say unto you, Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all come to pass.”1

Now what He saith is like this: it cannot be that it should remain unaccomplished, but the very least thing therein must needs be fulfilled. Which thing He Himself performed, in that He completed2 it with all exactness.

And here He signifies to us obscurely that the fashion of the whole world is also being changed. Nor did He set it down without purpose, but in order to arouse the hearer, and indicate, that He was with just cause introducing another discipline; if at least the very works of the creation are all to be transformed, and mankind is to be called to another country, and to a higher way of practising how to live.3

5. “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of Heaven.”4

Thus, having rid Himself of the evil suspicion, and having stopped the mouths of them who would fain gainsay, then at length He proceeds to alarm, and sets down a heavy, denunciation in support of the enactments He was entering on.

For as to His having said this in behalf not of the ancient laws, but of those which He was proceeding to enact, listen to what follows, “For I say unto you,” saith he, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven.”5

For if He were threatening with regard to the ancient laws, how said He, “except it shall exceed?” since they who did just the same as those ancients, could not exceed them on the score of righteousness.

But of what kind was the required excess? Not to be angry, not even to look upon a woman unchastely.

For what cause then doth He call these commandments “least,” though they were so great and high? Because He Himself was about to introduce the enactment of them; for as He humbled Himself, and speaks of Himself frequently with measure, so likewise of His own enactments, hereby again teaching us to be modest in everything. And besides, since there seemed to be some suspicion of novelty, He ordered His discourse for a while with reserve.6

But when thou hearest, “least in the kingdom of Heaven,” surmise thou nothing but hell and torments. For He was used to mean by “the kingdom,” not merely the enjoyment thereof, but also the time of the resurrection, and that awful coming. And how could it be reasonable, that while he who called his brother fool, and trangressed but one commandment, falls into hell; the breaker of them all, and instigator of others to the same, should be within the kingdom. This therefore is not what He means, but that such a one will be at that time least, that is, cast out, last. And he that is last will surely then fall into hell. For, being God, He foreknew the laxity of the many, He foreknew that some would think these sayings were merely hyperbolical, and would argue about the laws, and say, What, if any one call another a fool, is he punished? If one merely look on a woman, doth he become an adulterer? For this very cause He, destroying such insolence beforehand, hath set down the strongest denunciation against either sort, as well them who transgress, as them who lead on others so to do.

Knowing then His threat as we do, let us neither ourselves transgress, nor discourage such as are disposed to keep these things.

“But whosoever shall do and teach,” saith He, “shall be called great.”

For not to ourselves alone, should we be profitable, but to others also; since neither is the reward as great for him who guides himself aright, as for one who with himself adds also another. For as teaching without doing condemns the teacher (for “thou which teachest another,” it is said, “teachest thou not thyself”7?) so doing but not guiding others, lessens our reward. One ought therefore to be chief in either work, and having first set one’s self right, thus to proceed also to the care of the rest. For on this account He Himself hath set the doing before the teaching; to intimate that so most of all may one be able to teach, but in no other way. For one will be told, “Physician, heal thyself.”8 Since he who cannot teach himself, yet attempts to set others right, will have many to ridicule him. Or rather such a one will have no power to teach at all, his actions uttering their voice against him. But if he be complete in both respects, “he shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.”

6. “For I say unto you, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven.”1

Here by righteousness He means the whole of virtue; even as also discoursing of Job, He said, “He was a blameless man, righteous.”2 According to the same signification of the word, Paul also called that man “righteous” for whom, as he said, no law is even set. “For,” saith he, “a law is not made for a righteous man.”3 And in many other places too one might find this name standing for virtue in general.

But observe, I pray thee, the increase of grace; in that He will have His newly-come disciples better than the teachers in the old covenant. For by “Scribes and Pharisees” here, He meant not merely the lawless, but the well-doers. For, were they not doing well, He would not have said they have a righteousness; neither would He have compared the unreal to the real.

And observe also here, how He commends the old law, by making a comparison between it and the other; which kind of thing implies it to be of the same tribe and kindred. For more and less, is in the same kind. He doth not, you see, find fault with the old law, but will have it made stricter. Whereas, had it been evil,4 He would not have required more of it; He would not have made it more perfect, but would have cast it out.

And how one may say, if it be such, doth it not bring us into the Kingdom? It doth not now bring in them who live after the coming of Christ, favored as they are with more strength, and bound to strive for greater things: since as to its own foster-children, them it doth bring in one and all. Yea, for “many shall come,” saith He, “from east and west, and shall lie down in the bosoms of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”5 And Lazarus also receiving the great prize, is shown dwelling in Abraham’s bosom. And all, as many as have shone forth with excellency in the old dispensation shone by it, every one of them. And Christ Himself, had it been in anything evil or alien from Him, would not have fulfilled it all when He came. For if only to attract the Jews He was doing this, and not in order to prove it akin to the new law, and concurrent therewith; wherefore did He not also fulfill the laws and customs of the Gentiles, that He might attract the Gentiles also?

So that from all considerations it is clear, that not from any badness in itself doth it fail to bring us in, but because it is now the season of higher precepts.

And if it be more imperfect than the new, neither doth this imply it to be evil: since upon this principle the new law itself will be in the very same case. Because in truth our knowledge of this, when compared with that which is to come, is a sort of partial and imperfect thing, and is done away on the coming of that other. “For when,” saith He, “that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away:”6 even as it befell the old law through the new. Yet we are not to blame the new law for this, though that also gives place on our attaining unto the Kingdom: for “then,” saith He, “that which is in part shall be done away:” but for all this we call it great.

Since then both the rewards thereof are greater, and the power given by the Spirit more abundant, in reason it requires our graces to be greater also. For it is no longer “a land that floweth with milk and honey,” nor a comfortable7 old age, nor many children, nor corn and wine, and flocks and herds: but Heaven, and the good things in the Heavens, and adoption and brotherhood with the Only-Begotten, and to partake of the inheritance and to be glorified and to reign with Him, and those unnumbered rewards. And as to our having received more abundant help, hear thou Paul, when he saith, “There is therefore no condemnation now to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit:8 for the law of the Spirit of life hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”9

7. And now after threatening the transgressors, and setting great rewards for them that do right, and signifying that He justly requires of us something beyond the former measures; He from this point begins to legislate, not simply, but by way of comparison with the ancient ordinances, desiring to intimate these two things: first, that not as contending with the former, but rather in great harmony with them, He is making these enactments; next, that it was meet and very seasonable for Him to add thereto these second precepts.

And that this may be made yet clearer, let us hearken to the words of the Legislator.

What then doth He Himself say?

“Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shall not kill.”10

And yet it was Himself who gave those laws also, but so far He states them impersonally. For if on the one hand He had said, “Ye have heard that I said to them of old,” the saying would have been hard to receive, and would have stood in the way of all the hearers. If again, on the other hand, after having said, “Ye have heard that it was said to them of old by my Father,” He had added, “But I say,” He would have seemed to be taking yet more on Himself.

Wherefore He hath simply stated it, making out thereby one point only; the proof that in fitting season He had come saying these things. For by the words, “It was said to them of old,” He pointed out the length of the time, since they received this commandment. And this He did to shame the hearer, shrinking from the advance to the higher class of His commandments; as though a teacher should say to a child that was indolent, “Knowest thou not how long a time thou hast consumed in learning syllables?” This then He also covertly intimates by the expression, “them of old time,” and thus for the future summons them on to the higher order of His instructions: as if He had said, “Ye are learning these lessons long enough, and you must henceforth press on to such as are higher than these.”

And it is well that He doth not disturb the order of the commandments, but begins first with that which comes earlier, with which the law also began. Yea, for this too suits with one showing the harmony between them.

“But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.”1

Seest thou authority in perfection? Seest thou a bearing suited to a legislator? Why, which among prophets ever spake on this wise? which among righteous men? which among patriarchs? None; but, “Thus saith the Lord.” But the Son not so. Because they were publishing their Master’s commands, He His Father’s. And when I say, “His Father’s,” I mean His own. “For mine,” saith He, “are thine, and thine are mine.”2 And they had their fellow-servants to legislate for, He His own servants.

Let us now ask those who reject the law, “is, ‘Be not angry’ contrary to ‘Do no murder’? or is not the one commandment the completion and the development of the other?” Clearly the one is the fulfilling of the other, and that is greater on this very account. Since he who is not stirred up to anger, will much more refrain from murder; and he who bridles wrath will much more keep his hands to himself. For wrath is the root of murder. And you see that He who cuts up the root will much more remove the branches; or rather, will not permit them so much as to shoot out at all. Not therefore to abolish the law did He make these enactments, but for the more complete observation of it. For with what design did the law enjoin these things? Was it not, that no one might slay his neighbor? It follows, that he who was opposing the law would have to enjoin murder. For to murder, were the contrary to doing no murder. But if He doth not suffer one even to be angry, the mind of the law is established by Him more completely. For he that studies to avoid murder will not refrain from it equally with him that hath put away even anger; this latter being further removed from the crime.

8. But that we may convict them in another way also, let us bring forward all their allegations. What then do they affirm? They assert that the God who made the world, who “makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, who sends the rain on the just and on the unjust,” is in some sense an evil being.3 But the more moderate (forsooth) among them, though declining this, yet while they affirm Him to be just, they deprive Him of being good. And some other one, who is not, nor made any of the things that are, they assign for a Father to Christ. And they say that he, who is not good, abides in his own, and preserves what are his own; but that He, that is good, seeks what are another’s, and desires of a sudden to become a Saviour to them whose Creator He was not.4 Seest thou the children of the devil, how they speak out of the fountain of their father, alienating the work of creation from God: while John cries out, “He came unto His own,” and, “The world was made by Him?”1

In the next place, they criticise the law in the old covenant, which bids put out “an eye for an eye,” and “a tooth for a tooth;”2 and straightway they insult and say, “Why, how can He be good who speaks so?”

What then do we say in answer to this? That it is the highest kind of philanthropy. For He made this law, not that we might strike out one another’s eyes, but that fear of suffering by others might restrain us from doing any such thing to them. As therefore He threatened the Ninevites with overthrow, not that He might destroy them. (for had that been His will, He ought to have been silent), but that He might by fear make them better, and so quiet His wrath: so also hath He appointed a punishment for those who wantonly assail the eyes of others, that if good principle dispose them not to refrain from such cruelty, fear may restrain them from injuring their neighbors’ sight.

And if this be cruelty, it is cruelty also for the murderer to be restrained, and the adulterer checked. But these are the sayings of senseless men, and of those that are mad to the extreme of madness. For I, so far from saying that this comes of cruelty, should say, that the contrary to this would be unlawful, according to men’s reckoning. And whereas, thou sayest, “Because He commanded to pluck out “an eye for an eye,” therefore He is cruel;” I say, that if He had not given this commandment, then He would have seemed, in the judgment of most men, to be that which thou sayest He is.

For let us suppose that this law had been altogether done away, and that no one feared the punishment ensuing thereupon, but that license had been given to all the wicked to follow their own disposition in all security, to adulterers, and to murderers,3 to perjured persons, and to parricides; would not all things have been turned upside down? would not cities, market-places, and houses, sea and land, and the whole world, have been filled with unnumbered pollutions and murders? Every one sees it. For if, when there are laws, and fear, and threatening, our evil dispositions are hardly checked; were even this security taken away, what is there to prevent men’s choosing vice? and what degree of mischief would not then come revelling upon the whole of human life?

The rather, since cruelty lies not only in allowing the bad to do what they will, but in another thing too quite as much; to overlook, and leave uncared for, him who hath done no wrong, but who is without cause or reason suffering ill. For tell me; were any one to gather together wicked men from all quarters, and arm them with swords, and bid them go about the whole city, and massacre all that came in their way, could there be anything more like a wild beast than he? And what if some other should bind, and confine with the utmost strictness those whom that man had armed, and should snatch from those lawless hands them, who were on the point of being butchered; could anything be greater humanity than this?

Now then, I bid thee transfer these examples to the law likewise; for He that commands to pluck out “an eye for an eye,” hath laid the fear as a kind of strong chain upon the souls of the bad, and so resembles him, who detains those assassins in prison; whereas he who appoints no punishment for them, doth all but arm them by such security, and acts the part of that other, who was putting the swords in their hands, and letting them loose over the whole city.

Seest thou not, how the commandments, so far from coming of cruelty, come rather of abounding mercy? And if on account of these thou callest the Lawgiver grievous, and hard to bear with; tell me which sort of command is the more toilsome and grievous, “Do no murder,” or, “Be not even angry”? Which is more in extreme, he who exacts a penalty for murder, or for mere anger? He who subjects the adulterer to vengeance after the fact, or he who enjoins a penalty even for the very desire, and that penalty everlasting? See ye not how their reasoning comes round to the very contrary? how the God of the old covenant, whom they call cruel, will be found mild and meek: and He of the new, whom they acknowledged to be good, will be hard and grievous, according to their madness? Whereas we say, that there is but one and the same Legislator of either covenant, who dispensed all meetly, and adapted to the difference of the times the difference between the two systems of law. Therefore neither are the first commandments cruel, nor the second hard and grievous, but all of one and the same providential care.

For that He Himself gave the old covenant also, hear the affirmation of the prophet, or rather (so we must speak), of Him who is both the one and the other: “I will make a covenant with you, not according to the covenant which I made with your fathers.”1

But if he receive not this, who is diseased with the Manichæan doctrines,2 let him hear Paul saying the very same in another place, “For Abraham had two sons, one by the bondmaid, and another by the freewoman; and these are two covenants.”3 As therefore in that case the wives are different, the husband the same; so here too the covenants are two, the Lawgiver one.

And to prove to thee that it was of one and the same mildness; in the one He saith, “An eye for an eye,” but in this other,

“If one smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”4

For as in that case He checks him that doth the wrong with the fear of this suffering, even so also in this. “How so,” it may be said, “when He bids turn to him the other cheek also?” Nay, what of that? Since not to take away his fear did He enjoin this, but as charging yourself to allow him to take his fill entirely. Neither did He say, that the other continues unpunished, but, “do not thou punish;” at once both enhancing the fear of him that smiteth, if he persist, and comforting him who is smitten.

9. But these things we have said, as one might say them incidentally, concerning all the commandments. Now we must go on to that which is before us, and keep to the thread of what had been affirmed. “He that is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:” so He speaks. Thus He hath not altogether taken the thing away: first, because it is not possible, being a man, to be freed from passions: we may indeed get the dominion over them, but to be altogether without them is out of the question.

Next, because this passion is even useful, if we know how to use it at the suitable time.5 See, for instance, what great good was wrought by that anger of Paul, which he felt against the Corinthians, on that well-known occasion; and how, as it delivered them from a grievous pest, so by the same means again he recovered the people of the Galatians likewise, which had fallen aside; and others too beside these.

What then is the proper time for anger? When we are not avenging ourselves, but checking others in their lawless freaks, or forcing them to attend in their negligence.

And what is the unsuitable time? When we do so as avenging ourselves: which Paul also forbidding, said “Avenge not yourselves, dearly beloved, but rather give place unto wrath.”6 When we are contending for riches: yea, for this hath he also taken away, where he saith, “Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?”7 For as this last sort is superfluous, so is the first necessary and profitable. But most men do the contrary; becoming like wild beasts when they are injured themselves, but remiss and cowardly when they see despite done to another: both which are just opposite to the laws of the Gospel.

Being angry then is not a transgression, but being so unseasonably. For this cause the prophet also said, “Be ye angry, and sin not.”8

10. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council.”

By the council in this place He means the tribunal of the Hebrews: and He hath mentioned this now, on purpose that He might not seem everywhere to play the stranger and innovator.

But this word, “Raca,” is not an expression of a great insolence, but rather of some contempt and slight on the part of the speaker. For as we, giving orders either to our servants, or to any very inferior person, say, “Away with thee; you here, tell such an one:”9 so they who make use of the Syrians’ language say, “Raca,” putting that word in stead of “thou.” But God, the lover of man, roots up even the least faults, commanding us to behave to one another in seemly manner, and with due respect; and this with a view of destroying hereby also the greater.

“But whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”10

To many this commandment hath appeared grievous and galling, if for a mere word we are really to pay so great a penalty. And some even say that it was spoken rather hyperbolically. But I fear lest, when we have deceived ourselves with words here, we may in deeds there suffer that extreme punishment.

For wherefore, tell me, doth the commandment seem overburdensome? Knowest thou not that most punishments and most sins have their beginning from words? Yea, for by words are blasphemies, and denials are by words, and revilings, and reproaches, and perjuries, and bearing false witness.1 Regard not then its being a mere word, but whether it have not much danger, this do thou inquire. Art thou ignorant that in the season of enmity, when wrath is inflamed, and the soul kindled, even the least thing appears great, and what is not very reproachful is counted intolerable? And often these little things have given birth even to murder, and overthrown whole cities. For just as where friendship is, even grievous things are light, so where enmity lies beneath, very trifles appear intolerable. And however simply a word be spoken, it is surmised to have been spoken with an evil meaning. And as in fire: if there be but a small spark, though thousands of planks lie by, it doth not easily lay hold of them; but if the flame have waxed strong and high, it readily seizes not planks only, but stones, and all materials that fall in its way; and by what things it is usually quenched, by the same it is kindled the more (for some say that at such a time not only wood and tow, and the other combustibles, but even water darted forth upon it doth but fan its power the more); so is it also with anger; whatever any one may say, becomes food in a moment for this evil conflagration. All which kind of evils Christ checking beforehand, had condemned first him that is angry without a cause to the judgment, (this being the very reason why He said, “He that is angry shall be in danger of the judgment”); then him that saith “Raca,” to the council. But as yet these are no great things; for the punishments are here. Therefore for him who calleth “fool” He hath added the fire of hell, now for the first time mentioning the name of hell. For having before discoursed much of the kingdom, not until then did He mention this; implying, that the former comes of His own love and indulgence towards man, this latter of our negligence.

11. And see how He proceeds by little and little in His punishments, all but excusing Himself unto thee, and signifying that His desire indeed is to threaten nothing of the kind, but that we drag Him on to such denunciations. For observe: “I bade thee,” saith He, “not be angry for nought, because thou art in danger of the judgment. Thou hast despised the former commandment: see what anger hath produced; it hath led thee on straightway to insult, for thou hast called thy brother ‘Raca.’ Again, I set another punishment, ‘the council.’ If thou overlook even this, and proceed to that which is more grievous, I visit thee no longer with these finite punishments, but with the undying penalty of hell, lest after this thou shouldest break forth2 even to murder.” For there is nothing, nothing in the world more intolerable than insolence; it is what hath very great power3 to sting a man’s soul. But when the word too which is spoken is in itself more wounding than the insolence, the blaze becomes twice as great. Think it not then a light thing to call another “fool.” For when of that which separates us from the brutes, and by which especially we are human beings, namely, the mind and the understanding,—when of this thou hast robbed thy brother, thou hast deprived him of all his nobleness.

Let us not then regard the words merely, but realizing the things themselves, and his feeling, let us consider how great a wound is made by this word, and unto how much evil it proceeds. For this cause Paul likewise cast out of the kingdom not only “the adulterous” and “the effeminate,” but “the revilers”4 also. And with great reason: for the insolent man mars all the beauty of charity, and casts upon his neighbor unnumbered ills, and works up lasting enmities, and tears asunder the members of Christ, and is daily driving away that peace which God so desires: giving much vantage ground unto the devil by his injurious ways, and making him the stronger. Therefore Christ Himself, cutting out the sinews of the devil’s power, brought in this law.

For indeed He makes much account of love: this being above all things the mother of every good, and the badge of His disciples, and the bond which holds together our whole condition. With reason therefore doth He remove with great earnestness the roots and the sources of that hatred which utterly spoils it.

Think not therefore that these sayings are in any wise hyperbolical, but consider the good done by them, and admire the mildness of these laws. For there is nothing for which God takes so much pains, as this; that we should be united and knit together one with another. Therefore both in His own person, and by His disciples, as well those in the Old, as in the New Testament, He makes so much account of this commandment; and is a severe avenger and punisher of those who despise the duty. For in truth nothing so effectually gives entrance and root to all wickedness, as the taking away of love. Wherefore He also said, “When iniquity abounds, the love of the many shall wax cold.”1 Thus Cain became his brother’s murderer; thus Esau; thus Joseph’s brethren; thus our unnumbered crimes have come revelling in, this bond being dissevered. You see why He Himself also roots out whatever things injure this, on every side, with great exactness.

12. Neither doth He stop at those precepts only which have been mentioned, but adds also others more than those: whereby He signifies how much account He makes thereof. Namely, having threatened by “the council,” by “the judgment,” and by “hell,” He added other sayings again in harmony with the former, saying thus:

“If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go away;2 first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”3

O goodness! O exceeding love to man! He makes no account of the honor due unto Himself, for the sake of our love towards our neighbor; implying that not at all from any enmity, nor out of any desire to punish, had He uttered those former threatenings, but out of very tender affection. For what can be milder than these sayings? “Let my service,” saith he, “be interrupted, that thy love may continue; since this also is a sacrifice, thy being reconciled to thy brother.” Yea, for this cause He said not, “after the offering,” or “before the offering;” but, while the very gift lies there, and when the sacrifice is already beginning, He sends thee to be reconciled to thy brother; and neither after removing that which lies before us,4 nor before presenting the gift, but while it lies in the midst, He bids thee hasten thither.

With what motive then doth He command so to do, and wherefore? These two ends, as it appears to me, He is hereby shadowing out and providing for. First, as I have said, His will is to point out that He highly values charity,5 and considers it to be the greatest sacrifice: and that without it He doth not receive even that other; next, He is imposing such a necessity of reconciliation; as admits of no excuse. For whoso hath been charged not to offer before he be reconciled, will hasten, if not for love of his neighbor, yet, that this may not lie unconsecrated,6 to run unto him who hath been grieved, and do away the enmity. For this cause He hath also expressed it all most significantly, to alarm and thoroughly to awaken him. Thus, when He had said, “Leave thy gift,” He stayed not at this, but added, “before the altar” (by the very place again causing him to shudder); “and go away.” And He said not merely, “Go away,” but He added, “first, and then come and offer thy gift.” By all these things making it manifest, that this table receives not them that are at enmity with each other.

Let the initiated hear this, as many as draw nigh in enmity: and let the uninitiated hear too: yea, for the saying hath some relation to them also. For they too offer a gift and a sacrifice: prayer, I mean, and alms-giving. For as to this also being a sacrifice, hear what the prophet saith: “A sacrifice of praise will glorify me;”7 and again, “Sacrifice to God a sacrifice of praise;”8 and, “The lifting up of mine hands is an evening sacrifice.”9 So that if it be but a prayer, which thou art offering in such a frame of mind, it were better to leave thy prayer, and become reconciled to thy brother, and then to offer thy prayer.

For to this end were all things done: to this end even God became man, and took order for all those works, that He might set us at one.

And whereas in this place He is sending the wrong doer to the sufferer, in His prayer He leads the sufferer to the wrong doer, and reconciles them. For as there He saith, “Forgive men their debts;” so here, “If he hath ought against thee, go thy way unto him.”

Or rather, even here too He seems to me to be sending the injured person: and for some such reason He said not, “Reconcile thyself to thy brother,” but, “Be thou reconciled.” And while the saying seems to pertain to the aggressor, the whole of it really pertains to him that is aggrieved. Thus, “If thou art reconciled to him,” saith Christ, “through thy love to him thou wilt have me also propitious, and wilt be able to offer thy sacrifice with great confidence. But if thou art still irritated, consider that even I readily command that which is mine to be lightly esteemed, that ye may become friends; and let these thoughts be soothing to thine anger.”

And He said not, “When thou hast suffered any of the greater wrongs, then be reconciled; but, “Though it be some trifle that he hath against thee.” And He added not, “Whether justly or unjustly; but merely, “If he hath ought against thee.” For though it be justly, not even in that case oughtest thou to protract the enmity; since Christ also was justly angered with us, yet nevertheless He gave Himself for us to be slain, “not imputing those trespasses.”1

For this cause Paul also, when urging us in another way to reconciliation, said, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”2 For much as Christ by this argument of the sacrifice, so there Paul by that of the day, is urging us on to the self-same point. Because in truth he fears the night, lest it overtake him that is smitten alone, and make the wound greater. For whereas in the day there are many to distract, and draw him off; in the night, when he is alone, and is thinking it over by himself, the waves swell, and the storm becomes greater. Therefore Paul, you see, to prevent this, would fain commit him to the night already reconciled, that the devil may after that have no opportunity, from his solitude, to rekindle the furnace of his wrath, and make it fiercer. Thus also Christ permits not, though it be ever so little delay, lest, the sacrifice being accomplished, such an one become more remiss, procrastinating from day to day: for He knows that the case requires very speedy treatment. And as a skillful physician exhibits not only the preventives of our diseases, but their correctives also, even so doth He likewise. Thus, to forbid our calling “fool,” is a preventive of enmity; but to command reconciliation is a means of removing the diseases that ensue on the enmity.

And mark how both commands are set forth with earnestness. For as in the former case He threatened hell, so here He receives not the gift before the reconciliation, indicating great displeasure, and by all these methods destroying both the root and the produce.

And first of all He saith, “Be not angry;” and after that, “revile not.” For indeed both these are augmented, the one by the other: from enmity is reviling, from reviling enmity. On this account then He heals now the root, and now the fruit; hindering indeed the evil from ever springing up in the first instance: but if perchance it may have sprouted up and borne its most evil fruit, then by all means He burns it down the more.

13. Therefore, you see, having mentioned, first the judgment, then the council, then hell, and having spoken of His own sacrifice, He adds other topics again, thus speaking:

“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him.”3

That is, that thou mayest not say, “What then, if I am injured;” “what if I am plundered, and dragged too before the tribunal?” even this occasion and excuse He hath taken away: for He commands us not even so to be at enmity. Then, since this injunction was great, He draws His advice from the things present, which are wont to restrain the grosser sort more than the future. “Why, what sayest thou?” saith He. “That thine adversary is stronger, and doeth thee wrong? Of course then he will wrong thee more, if thou do not make it up, but art forced to go into court. For in the former case, by giving up some money, thou wilt keep thy person free; but when thou art come under the sentence of the judge, thou wilt both be bound, and pay the utmost penalty. But if thou avoid the contest there, thou wilt reap two good results: first, not having to suffer anything painful; and secondly, that the good done will be thereafter thine own doing, and no longer the effect of compulsion on his part. But if thou wilt not be ruled by these sayings, thou wrongest not him, so much as thyself.”

And see here also how He hastens him; for having said, “Agree with thine adversary,” He added, “quickly;” and He was not satisfied with this, but even of this quickness He hath required a further increase, saying, “Whilst thou art in the way with him;” pressing and hastening him hereby with great earnestness. For nothing doth so much turn our life upside down, as delay and procrastination in the performance of our good works. Nay, this hath often caused us to lose all. Therefore, as Paul for his part saith, “Before the sun set, do away the enmity;” and as He Himself had said above, “Before the offering is completed, be reconciled;” so He saith in this place also, “Quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him,” before thou art come to the doors of the court; before thou standest at the bar, and art come to be thenceforth under the sway of him that judgeth. Since, before entering in, thou hast all in thine own control; but if thou set thy foot on that threshold, thou wilt not by ever so earnest efforts be able to arrange thy matters at thy will, having come under the constraint of another.

But what is it “to agree?” He means either, consent rather to suffer wrong?” or, “so plead the cause, as if thou wert in the place of the other;” that thou mayest not corrupt justice by self-love, but rather, deliberating on another’s cause as thine own, mayest so proceed to deliver thy vote in this matter. And if this be a great thing, marvel not; since with this view did He set forth all those His blessings, that having beforehand smoothed and prepared the hearer’s soul, he might render it apter to receive all His enactments.

Now some say that He obscurely signifies the devil himself, under the name of the adversary; and bids us have nothing of his, (for this, they say, is to “agree” with him): no compromise being possible after our departure hence, nor anything awaiting us, but that punishment, from which no prayers can deliver. But to me He seems to be speaking of the judges in this world, and of the way to the court of justice, and of this prison.

For after he had abashed men by higher things, and things future, he alarms them also by such as are in this life. Which thing Paul also doth, using both the future and the present to sway his hearer: as when, deterring from wickedness, he points out to him that is inclined to evil, the ruler armed: thus saying, “But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is a minister of God.”1 And again, enjoining us to be subject unto him, he sets forth not the fear of God only, but the threatening also of the other party, and his watchful care. “For ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.”2 Because the more irrational, as I have already said, are wont to be sooner corrected by these things, things which appear and are at hand. Wherefore Christ also made mention, not of hell only, but also of a court of justice, and of being dragged thither, and of the prison, and of all the suffering there; by all these means destroying the roots of murder. For he who neither reviles, nor goes to law, nor prolongs enmity, how will he ever commit murder? So that from hence also it is evident, that in the advantage of our neighbor stands our own advantage. For he that agrees with his adversary, will benefit himself much more; becoming free, by his own act, from courts of law, and prisons, and the wretchedness that is there.

14. Let us then be obedient to His sayings; let us not oppose ourselves, nor be contentious; for first of all, even antecedently to their rewards, these injunctions have their pleasure and profit in themselves. And if to the more part they seem to be burdensome, and the trouble which they cause, great; have it in thy mind that thou art doing it for Christ’s sake, and the pain will be pleasant. For if we maintain this way of reckoning at all times, we shall experience nothing burdensome, but great will be the pleasure we reap from every quarter; for our toil will no longer seem toil, but by how much it is enhanced, so much the sweeter and pleasanter doth it grow.

When therefore the custom of evil things, and the desire of wealth, keep on bewitching thee; do thou war against them with that mode of thinking which tells us, “Great is the reward we shall receive, for despising the pleasure which is but for a season;” and say to thy soul; “Art thou quite dejected because I defraud thee of pleasure? Nay, be of good cheer, for I am introducing thee into Heaven. Thou doest it not for man’s sake, but for God’s. Be patient therefore a little while, and thou shalt see how great is the gain. Endure for the present life, and thou shalt receive an unspeakable confidence.” For if we would thus discourse with our own soul, and not only consider that which is burdensome in virtue, but take account also of the crown that comes thereof, we shall quickly withdraw it from all wickedness.

For if the devil, holding out pleasure for a season, but pain for ever, is yet strong, and prevails; seeing our case is just the reverse in these matters, the labor temporary, the pleasure and profit immortal, what plea shall we have, if we follow not virtue after so great encouragement? Why, the object of our labors is enough to set against all, and our clear persuasion that for God’s sake we are enduring all this. For if one having the king his debtor, thinks he hath sufficient security for all his life; consider how great will he be, who hath made the Gracious and Everlasting God a debtor to himself, for good deeds both small and great. Do not then allege to me labors and sweats; for not by the hope only of the things to come, but in another way also, God hath made virtue easy, assisting us everywhere, and putting His hand to our work. And if thou wilt only contribute a little zeal, everything else follows. For to this end He will have thee too to labor a little, even that the victory may be thine also. And just as a king would have his own son present indeed in the array; he would have him shoot with the bow,1 and show himself, that the trophy may be reckoned his, while he achieves it all Himself: even so doth God in our war against the devil: He requires of thee one thing alone, that thou show forth a sincere hatred against that foe. And if thou contribute this to Him, He by Himself brings all the war to an end. Though thou burn with anger, with desire of riches, with any tyrannical passion whatever; if He see thee only stripping thyself and prepared against it, He comes quickly to thee, and makes all things easy, and sets thee above the flame, as He did those children of old in the Babylonian furnace: for they too carried in with them nought but their good will.

In order then that we also may extinguish all the furnace of disordered pleasure here, and so escape the hell that is there, let these each day be our counsels, our cares, and our practice, drawing towards us the favor of God, both by our full purpose concerning good works, and by our frequent prayers. For thus even those things which appear insupportable now, will be most easy, and light, and lovely. Because, so long as we are in our passions, we think virtue rugged and morose and arduous, vice desirable and most pleasing; but if we would stand off from these but a little, then both vice will appear abominable and unsightly, and virtue easy, mild, and much to be desired. And this you may learn plainly from those who have done well. Hear, for instance, how of those passions Paul is ashamed, even after his deliverance from them, saying, “For what fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed?”2 But virtue, even after his labor, he affirms to be light, calling3 the laboriousness of our affliction momentary and “light,” and rejoicing in his sufferings, and glorying in his tribulations, and taking a pride in the marks wherewith he had been branded for Christ’s sake.

In order then that we too may establish ourselves in this habit, let us order ourselves each day by what hath been said, and “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, let us press on towards the prize of the high calling:”4 unto which God grant that we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture, SERMONS, St John Chrysostom | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Augustine’s Sermon on Matthew 5:22

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019


[I] 1. THE section of the Holy Gospel which we just now heard when it was read, must have sorely alarmed us, if we have faith; but those who have not faith, it alarmed not. And because it does not alarm them, they are minded to continue in their false security, as knowing not how to divide and distinguish the proper times of security and fear. Let him then who is leading now that life which has an end, fear, that in that life which is without end, he may have security. Therefore were we alarmed. For who would not fear Him who speaketh the truth, and saith, “Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”1 Yet “the tongue can no man tame.”2 Man tames the wild beast, yet he tames not his tongue; he tames the lion, yet he bridles not his own speech; he tames all else, yet he tames not himself; he tames what he was afraid of, and what he ought to be afraid of, in order that he may tame himself, that he does not fear. But how is this? It is a true sentence, and came forth from an oracle of truth, “But the tongue can no man tame.”

[II] 2. What shall we do then, my brethren? I see that I am speaking indeed to a large assembly, yet, seeing that we are one in Christ, let us take counsel as it were in secret. No stranger heareth us, we are all one, because we are all united in one.3 What shall we do then? “Whosoever saith to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire: But the tongue can no man tame.” Shall all men go into hell fire? God forbid! “Lord, Thou art our refuge from generation to generation:”4 Thy wrath is just: Thou sendest no man into hell unjustly. “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?”5 and whither shall I flee from Thee, but to Thee? Let us then understand, Dearly beloved, that if no man can tame the tongue, we must have recourse to God, that He may tame it. For if thou shouldest wish to tame it, thou canst not, because thou art a man. “The tongue can no man tame.” Observe a like instance to this in the case of those beasts which we do tame. The horse does not tame himself; the camel does not tame himself; the elephant does not tame himself; the viper does not tame himself; the lion does not tame himself; and so also man does not tame himself. But that the horse, and ox, and camel, and elephant, and lion, and viper, may be tamed, man is sought for. Therefore let God be sought to, that man may be tamed.

[III] 3. Therefore, “O Lord, art Thou become our refuge.” To Thee do we betake ourselves, and with Thy help it will be well with us. For ill is it with us by ourselves. Because we have left Thee, Thou hast left us to ourselves. Be we then found in Thee, for in ourselves were we lost. “Lord, Thou art become our refuge.” Why then, brethren, should we doubt that the Lord will make us gentle, if we give up ourselves to be tamed by him? Thou hast tamed the lion which thou madest not; shall not He tame thee, who made thee? For from whence didst thou get the power to tame such savage beasts? Art thou their equal in bodily strength? By what power then hast thou been able to tame great beasts? The very beasts of burden, as they are called, are by their nature wild. For in their untamed state they are unserviceable. But because custom has never known them except as in the hands and under the bridle and power of men, dost thou imagine that they could have been born in this tame state? But now at all events mark the beasts which are unquestionably of savage kind. “The lion roareth, who doth not fear?”6 And yet wherein is it that thou dost find thyself to be stronger than he? Not in strength of body, but in the interior reason of the mind. Thou art stronger than the lion, in that wherein thou wast made after the image of God. What! Shall the image of God tame a wild beast; and shall not God tame His own image?

[IV] 4. In Him is our hope; let us submit ourselves to Him, and entreat His mercy. In Him let us place our hope, and until we are tamed, and tamed thoroughly, that is, are perfected, let us bear our Tamer. For oftentimes does our Tamer bring forth His scourge too. For if thou dost bring forth the whip to tame thy beasts, shall not God do so to tame His beasts (which we are), who of His beasts will make us His sons? Thou tamest thine horse; and what wilt thou give thy horse, when he shall have begun to carry thee gently, to bear thy discipline, to obey thy rule, to be thy faithful, useful7 beast? How dost thou repay him, who wilt not so much as bury him when he is dead, but cast him forth to be torn by the birds of prey? Whereas when thou art tamed, God reserveth for thee an inheritance, which is God Himself, and though dead for a little time, He will raise thee to life again. He will restore to thee thy body, even to the full number of thy hairs; and will set thee with the Angels for ever, where thou wilt need no more His taming hand, but only to be possessed by His exceeding8 mercy. For God will then be “all in all;”9 neither will there be any unhappiness to exercise us, but happiness alone to feed us. Our God will be Himself our Shepherd; our God will be Himself our Cup;10 our God will be Himself our glory; our God will be Himself our wealth. What multiplicity of things soever thou seekest here, He alone will be Himself all these things to thee.

[V] 5. Unto this hope is man tamed, and shall his Tamer then be deemed intolerable? Unto this hope is man tamed, and shall he murmur against his beneficent Tamer, if He chance to use the scourge? Ye have heard the exhortation of the Apostle, “If ye are without chastening, ye are bastards, and not sons;1 for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Furthermore,” he says, “we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?”2 For what could thy father do for thee, that he corrected and chastised thee, brought out the scourge and beat thee? Could he make thee live for ever? What he could not do for himself, how should he do for thee? For some paltry sum of money which he had gathered together by usury and travail, did he discipline thee by the scourge, that the fruit of his labour when left to thee might not be squandered by thy evil living. Yes, he beats his son, as fearing lest his labours should be lost; forasmuch as he left to thee what he could neither retain here, nor carry away. For he did not leave thee anything here which could be his own; he went off, that so thou mightest come on. But thy God, thy Redeemer, thy Tamer, thy Chastiser, thy Father, instructeth thee. To what end? That thou mayest receive an inheritance, when thou shalt not have to carry thy father to his grave, but shall have thy Father Himself for thine inheritance. Unto this hope art thou instructed, and dost thou murmur? and if any sad chance befall thee, dost thou (it may be) blaspheme? Whither wilt thou go from His Spirit? But now He letteth thee alone, and doth not scourge thee; or He abandoneth thee in thy blaspheming; shalt thou not experience His judgment? Is it not better that He should scourge thee and receive thee, than that He should spare thee and abandon thee?

[VI] 6. Let us say then to the Lord our God, “Lord, Thou art become our refuge from generation to generation.” In the first and second generations Thou art become our refuge. Thou wast our refuge, that we might be born, who before were not. Thou wast our refuge, that we might be born anew, who were evil. Thou wast a refuge to feed those that forsake Thee. Thou art a refuge to raise up and direct Thy children. “Thou art become our refuge.” We will not go back from Thee, when Thou hast delivered us from all our evils, and filled us with Thine own good things. Thou givest good things now, Thou3 dealest softly with us, that we be not wearied in the way; Thou dost correct, and chastise, and smite, and direct us, that we may not wander from the way. Whether therefore Thou dealest softly with us, that we be not wearied in the way, or chastisest us, that we wander not from the way, “Thou art become our refuge, O Lord.”

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Extraordinary Form: Commentaries for the Ninth Sunday After Pentecost ()

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

Dominica IX Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis






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Extraordinary Form: Commentaries for the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost (Dominica IV Post Pentecosten)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

Dominica IV Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis





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Extraordinary Form: Third Sunday After Pentecost (Dominica III Post Pentecosten)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

Dominica III Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis





  • Homily Notes on Luke 15:4. On the Human Soul. Can be used for sermon preparation, meditation points, or points to further study.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Extraordinary Form, Latin Mass Notes, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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