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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 12, 2017

ST. PAUL THANKS GOD BY WHOM HE IS APPROVED AS A SINCERE APOSTLE AND MINISTER OF CHRIST
2 Cor 2:12-17.

Speaking in verse 4 of his great sorrow and anguish of heart the Apostle was led to digress (verses 5-11) into speaking about the cause of his pain; but now he returns to the thought of the first part of the chapter. It was his great charity for the Corinthians that caused him to defer his visit and change his plan to go to them. After writing to them he sent Titus to Corinth, hoping to meet him later at Troas and receive his report of Corinthian conditions. Titus finally returned and the two met in Macedonia. St. Paul was delighted at the good news, and thanked God, who throughout his ministry had been so faithful to him, giving his labors everywhere divine assistance and approval.

2 Cor 2:12. And when I was come to Troas for the gospel of Christ, and a door was opened unto me in the Lord,
2 Cor 2:13. I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother; but bidding them farewell, I went into Macedonia.

To Troas. Troas was the name of a district and of a town on the northwest coast of Asia Minor. The town is referred to here. St. Paul had arranged to meet Titus returning from Corinth at Troas, but having been himself obliged to leave Ephesus earlier than was expected (Acts 19:23), he arrived at Troas before the appointed time and did not find his ambassador there. So anxious was the Apostle about the effect of his letter and the mission of Titus to Corinth that, though he found an excellent opening for preaching the Gospel at Troas, he pressed on across the Aegean Sea into Macedonia, in order to meet Titus sooner.

For the gospel of Christ, i.e., for preaching the Gospel. On a previous occasion St. Paul had preached at Troas (Acts xvi. 8).

No rest in my spirit. Better, “No relief for my spirit.” The Apostle’s mind was in a state of extreme anxiety and tension, and so he could not tarry at Troas. The opportunity here was not so pressing as the crisis at Corinth. There was danger in delay.

My brother, i.e., my fellow-worker in preaching the Gospel. Titus was afterwards made Bishop of Crete (Titus i. 5), and St. Paul addressed one of his last Epistles to him.

2 Cor 2:14. Now thanks be to God, who always maketh us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and manifesteth the odour of his knowledge by us in every place.

Now thanks be to God, etc. The Greek is much stronger and marks the transition more emphatically; Τῷ δὲ Θεῷ χάρις (to de Theo charis). So relieved and exhilarated was St. Paul by the news learned through Titus that he burst out into thanksgiving for God’s great mercies to him in preaching the Gospel, which have caused his labors and those of his companions to issue in triumph everywhere.

Maketh us to triumph. This is the sense commonly given to θριαμβεύοντι (thriambeuonti) here, but in the only other passage of the New Testament where it occurs (Col. 2:15) and in classical Greek it means “to lead in triumph.”

In Christ Jesus, i.e., by means of Christ’s help.

Jesus is not in the Greek.

The odour of his knowledge, i.e., the knowledge of God in Christ, diffused by the Apostles and their followers in every part of the world. God is revealed in Christ, and this revelation was preached everywhere by the Apostles. The preaching of the Apostles and their co-workers is represented as a sweet perfume ascending from earth to heaven.

In the Vulgate Jesu should be omitted.

2 Cor 2:15. For we are the good odour of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.

We are the good odour, etc., i.e., the Apostles were the sweet fragrance of Christ unto God at all times. They were this also to those among men who were ready to welcome the revelation of Christ, namely, to those that are saved, i.e., to those that are in the way of salvation (Luke 13:23; Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 1:18) ; and to them that perish, i.e., to those who are in the way of perdition (2 Cor 4:3; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Thess. 2:10).

2 Cor 2:16. To the one indeed the odour of death unto death : but to the others the odour of life unto life. And for these things who is so sufficient?

Of death … of life. The best MSS. Read: The preaching of the Apostles is a source of spiritual life to those who are willing to receive it and put it into practice; but to those who refuse it, or fail to conform their lives to its requirements, it occasions spiritual ruin. The true preachers of the Gospel are, like their divine Master, “set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel” (Luke 2:34).

Who is so sufficient? “So” should be omitted. If the preaching of the Apostles is so tremendous, being an occasion of life to some and of death to others, who of himself and with his own strength is capable of undertaking it. St. Paul is emphasizing the responsibility of the Apostolate preparatory to an inquiry into his own Apostolic office and a vindication of his own conduct.

The tam of the Vulgate should be omitted.

2 Cor 2:17. For we are not as many, adulterating the word of God; but with sincerity, but as from God, before God, in Christ we speak.

Unlike certain teachers, as in Corinth, who mixed false doctrines with the Gospel teaching, or degraded that teaching by seeking money through it, St. Paul and his companions preached with sincerity, as sent and inspired by God, and as laboring in God’s presence and with His approval through the grace given them as members and ministers of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Rom. 16:10).

Many cannot mean the majority here, at least as regards the Church at large. The reference is doubtless to the ludaizers who were scattered about in Corinth and other places.

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Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 12

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 11, 2017

Psalm 12

Title. To the chief musician upon Sheminith: a Psalm of David.

Argument

Arg. Thomas. That Christ rose for our miseries and necessities. Spoken by Christ concerning the Passion of His Saints.

Eusebius. The insurrection of the ungodly, and the expectation of Christ.

Ven. Bede: To the end: for the eighth. The eighth pertains to eternal rest; for there is no eighth day in the week of this world, but when the seventh is over, the first comes round again. The prophet, therefore, asks that the iniquity of this world may be destroyed, and that the reality of good things to come may be made manifest. Rightly, therefore, is this Psalm appropriated to the eighth day, since it speaks of leaving the evil customs of this, and of aspiring to the innocence of the next, world. In the first part, the Prophet makes supplication that he may be delivered from the perversity of this world, since the crafty and the proud denied the power of the Lord by their wicked speeches. In the second, he foretells that the promise of the Father is to be accomplished by the Omnipotent Son, briefly praising the words of God, as he had before rebuked the words of the wicked.

Eusebius of Cæsarea. An accusation of the wicked, and a prophecy concerning the Advent of Christ.

Arabic Psalter. Concerning the end of the world, which will happen in the Eighth Age, and a prophecy of the Advent of Christ.

S. Jerome. This Psalm is sung concerning the Passion of Christ.

1 Help me, Lord, for there is not one godly man left: for the faithful are minished from among the children of men.

There is not one godly man left. Rather, The righteous hath failed. He, the only Righteous, hath failed,—not in making good His promises, not in loving His own to the end, not in humbling Himself for us unto death, even the death of the Cross; but hath failed in the weakness of death; those blessed Hands, nailed to the Cross, and no more able to cast out devils, (G.) to heal the sick, to raise the dead: those dear Feet, in like manner fastened to the same tree, now no more able to go forth on their missions of love. The faithful are minished. They are indeed. Of the twelve that had so vehemently said, “Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee,”* but one only, and he at a distance, remains faithful: one betrays, and one denies with an oath. And well may the Church, therefore, pray, Help, Lord. “We trusted, that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.”* The Prince of Life dying the death of a malefactor: the King of Ages suffering the punishment of a slave: the One Star of a dark night, as S. Chrysostom beautifully says, blotted out by the wintry clouds. Help, Lord: for human help is here indeed vain. “If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? Out of the barn floor, or out of the wine-press?”*

[The faithful. The LXX. and Vulgate render the Hebrew literally, truths. The Uncreated Truth is One, but created truth is threefold,* that of life, of doctrine, and of righteousness, and may be minished by error, which makes light darkness, and sweet to be bitter. It is true also of heretics, explaining away one Christian tenet after another, and thus minishing the truths of the Creed.]

2 They talk of vanity every one with his neighbour: they do but flatter with their lips, and dissemble in their double heart.

So they talked on that first Easter Eve. “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, After three days will I rise again.”* “Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.” Miserable flattery indeed, whereby they brought themselves to think that the Omnipotent God could be “made sure” by a little wax; (Ay.) that the four soldiers could avail against the mission, if need were, of more than twelve legions of Angels! And dissemble in their double heart. And well they fulfilled this prophecy, when they gave large money to the soldiers, and sent them forth with the tale that that precious Body had been stolen while they slept. And the wise man may well say, “Woe be to the sinner that goeth two ways:”* the Apostle may well teach us, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”* For it follows,

3 The Lord shall root out all deceitful lips: and the tongue that speaketh proud things.

All deceitful lips. And oh, how many they were! that spake concerning the Passion, “I am innocent of the blood of this Just Person;”* and the Catholic Creed replies, from one end of the world to the other, (Ay.)—replies by the baptismal font, in the village school, in the assembly of the faithful, by the bed of the dying, “Suffered under Pontius Pilate:”* “Himself He cannot save:” “I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of death and hell.”* Yes: Pilate, Herod, Pharisees, Elders, Scribes, people, deceitful lips have they all; and of all of them long since has it been said,* “So let all Thine enemies perish, O Lord.” “Let the Jews say,” exclaims the exulting office of the Oriental Easter, “let the Jews say how the soldiers lost the King Whom they were appointed to guard. Either let them exhibit the Body that was interred, or worship the Monarch that has arisen.”1 And the tongue that speaketh proud things. For what prouder saying than that spoken in the hall of most unrighteous judgment, “Knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and have power to release Thee?”* What more arrogant decree than that, the dogmatic decree of the whole Jewish Sanhedrim, “Give God the praise, we know that this man is a sinner!”* Truly they have been rooted out. Disperdet: that is, as Cardinal Hugo, with a mediæval play upon words, observes, Bis perdet: with the double destruction of body and soul.

4 Which have said, With our tongue will we prevail: we are they that ought to speak; who is lord over us?

So it was: twelve poor and unlearned men on the one side, all the eloquence of Greece and Rome arrayed on the other. From the time of Tertullus to that of Julian the Apostate, every species of oratory, learning, wit, lavished against the Church of God: and the result like the well-known story of that dispute between the Christian peasant and the heathen philosopher, when the latter, having challenged the assembled Fathers of a synod to silence him, was put to shame by the simple faith of the former, “In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be dumb.” Who is lord over us? “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?”* “What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him?”* “Who is that God that shall deliver you?”*

5a (5) Now for the comfortless troubles’ sake of the needy: and because of the deep sighing of the poor,

5b (6) I will up, saith the Lord: and will help every one from him that swelleth against him, and will set him at rest.

Comfortless! Yes, they were indeed comfortless, those poor trembling ones, when they were waiting for the departure of that long, weary Sabbath; when their one poor longing was to anoint for its burial the Body that they had fondly hoped to see exalted upon the throne of Israel. Comfortless indeed, when Peter was despairing of pardon; (Ay.) when James had bound himself by a great oath that he would neither eat nor drink till he had seen the Lord; when, go which way they might, everywhere was there the exultation of the Pharisees over their fallen enemy, everywhere taunts and jeers at “that Deceiver!” Deep sighing: for they dared not openly to lament; the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews. And poor they were, if ever any one could be called poor. They had lost Him That was altogether lovely: (G.) they had lost that one Pearl of countless value; and what had they left but the faint remembrance of His Words, and the shaken and shattered faith, that was yet not wholly destroyed?

And therefore, I will up, saith the Lord. “Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”* Easter has come at last: “destruction,” as the Eastern Church joyfully exclaims, “has been exiled, immortality has blossomed forth: the long galling chain has been broken in sunder: let the heavens rejoice: let the earth and the things under the earth be glad: for Christ hath arisen, and death is spoiled.”1 From him that swelleth against him. For as the serpent had no sooner triumphed over the woman than the promise of salvation was given to the human race; so Satan no sooner seemed to have completed his victory, (C.) on the Cross, than his power was crushed for ever, and they over whom he had tyrannized set at rest, by the sure and certain support of a Risen Lord in this world, and the hope of a perfect and unending rest in the next. Notice that the reading of the Vulgate gives quite a different sense: I will place him in My salvation, I will act faithfully (or as the Septuagint has it, παῤῥησιάσομαι) in him. And set in God’s salvation we are, when, as doves, we take refuge in the “Great Rock:” faithfully He has dealt with us in accomplishing all the promises, all the types, all the sayings “that He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began.”*

6 (7) The words of the Lord are pure words: even as the silver, which from the earth is tried, and purified seven times in the fire.

Pure. They fail not to remind us that they are pure in three ways: (L.) as cleansing us from impurity, properly so called, from pride, from avarice. And no sooner had the Lord risen from the tomb, than His words were spoken and written by His servants for the support of the Church to the end of time: no sooner had this true Naphtali, this stricken and persecuted Hind, been “let loose” from the chains of death, than He gave goodly words to His Apostles and Evangelists. And notice how in this very first sermon, His words were emphatically pure words, when He proclaimed the blessedness of the pure in heart, and restored marriage to its first and original purity. Well says S. Ambrose,* “Let us beware not to mingle anything earthly, anything secular, anything corporeal, anything light and mutable, in these celestial sentences. For the words of the Lord are chaste words: that in these, the immaculate and modest sincerity of celestial mysteries may shine forth by a spiritual interpretation. Let us not mingle earthly with Divine things, and injure that inviolable Sacrament of the prophetic vision, or the everlasting oracles by the false estimation of our nature. Therefore he adds, Even as silver, &c., to the end that we, like good money-changers, may examine the coin of prophetic writings, separating the Lord’s money, and purging it from every earthly pollution.” Seven times. As infusing in us the sevenfold graces of the Spirit; set forth both in the words of Isaiah, and in those of the Sermon on the Mount.

[From the earth. Because all the prophecies and types of the Old Testament are now purged from the earthly and carnal surroundings of the ceremonial Law, (P.) and set in their true light and beauty. Modern critics agree in turning the words thus,* in the earth; that is, in a crucible or furnace of clay;* not very dissimilarly from S. Chrysostom, who explains it of running the molten ore into clay moulds.* And then we are reminded, taking the words still of Holy Writ, of that passage, “Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.”* The oracles of God, prophecy fulfilled and unfulfilled, evidence of our ransom, that we may be our Master’s “purchased possession,”* confided first to the Jews and then to the Church Militant, were indeed in a vessel of earth. And as regards each of us, the Apostle warns us that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels,”* so that we must undergo stern probation that “the Word of God may have free course”* within our hearts, which it cannot till the fire of Divine love frees it from all dross. Seven times in the fire. So, in the Beatitudes, after seven blessings have been pronounced on the poor, the mournful, the meek, the righteous, the merciful, the pure, and the peacemakers, the eighth, summing up all these into one, pronounces a blessing on those who are persecuted, and have thus reached the final stage of purification from things of the earth, (A.) because the eighth Beatitude, as the octave of eternal life, does but repeat the first note in a higher interval.]

7 (8) Thou shalt keep them, O Lord: thou shalt preserve him from this generation for ever.

Keep them: that is, not as the passage is generally taken, (Ay.) Keep or guard Thy people, but Thou shalt keep, or make good, Thy words: and by so doing, shalt preserve him—him, the needy, him, the poor—from this generation. Thou shalt keep Thy word,*—“Cast Thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall nourish thee;” Thy word,—“I will inform thee, and teach thee in the way wherein thou shalt go;”* Thy word,—“Fear not, little flock; it is My Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom;”* and so, preserving him from this generation, shall hereafter give him a portion with that happier generation, the general assembly of the First-born which are written in heaven.

8 (9) The ungodly walk on every side: when they are exalted, the children of men are put to rebuke.

And we are reminded of the Lord’s own words, “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves;”* and of the Apostle’s warning, “That ye may be blameless and harmless in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.”* But starting from the literal sense of the Vulgate, The ungodly walk in a circuit, it is a favourite idea of S. Bernard’s to contrast their crooked ways with the straight-going path of the servant of God; their turning aside from the right straight road, with the “I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed”* of the follower of Christ.1 Walk on every side. Compare it with S. Peter’s warning, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour;”* and say with S. Cyril, in his extreme peril before the Council of Ephesus, “That wicked one, the sleepless beast, walketh about, plotting against the glory of Christ; from whom He only can deliver us, from whom we know that He will deliver us.” When they are exalted. The ten persecutions may witness to the truth of this saying. When the children of men, fearing man rather than God; dreading them that killed the body, rather than Him that hath power to destroy the soul; fell away from the faith, and denied the Lord that bought them: while the children of God, standing firm against seductions and threats, obtained the glory of martyrs as their reward. Notice that here again the Vulgate widely differs from our translation,—According to Thy loftiness, Thou hast multiplied the sons of men: or as it is better in the LXX.,—Thou hast made much of the children of men. And they remind us how the human race has been indeed made much of, in that it has been exalted in the Person of our Lord, to a height far above all height, and to a participation in the very Throne of God.

[The sons of men were minished,* observes Arnobius, when the Lord descended to the grave, for His disciples forsook Him and fled, but they were multiplied by His Ascension, because He sent down the Holy Spirit, through Whom three thousand souls were in a moment added to the Church.]

And therefore:

Glory be to the Father, Who is our help when godly men fail; and to the Son, of Whom it is written, “I will up, saith the Lord;” and to the Holy Ghost, Whose words are pure words.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Various Uses

Gregorian. Sunday: I. Nocturn.

Monastic. Wednesday: Prime.

Parisian. Thursday: Compline.

Lyons. Tuesday: Prime.

Ambrosian. Monday in the First Week: II. Nocturn.

Quignon. Friday: Prime.

Antiphons

Gregorian. Thou shalt keep * us, O Lord, Thou shalt preserve us.

Parisian. Help me, Lord, * for the faithful are minished from among the children of men.

Mozarabic. For the comfortless troubles of the needy, and because of the deep sighing of the poor, I will up, saith the Lord.

Collects

Have mercy,* most holy Father, on our infirmity, and grant to us to receive and to hold fast Thy words in a pure heart, that we may be able to turn away from the guileful speeches of Thine enemies. Through (1.)

Deliver us,* O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue, Thou, Who wast Thyself weighed on the balance of the Cross; and grant that neither the accuser may have any inlet to our accusation, nor Thy people acquiesce in the deceit of his words. Overthrow him that lies in ambush against us by Thine Almighty spear, and rise up for the comfortless troubles’ sake of the needy, and because of the deep sighing of the poor. (11.)

[O Lord, Keeper of the faithful, ever preserve and keep us from the generation of the ungodly, (D. C.) and unite us to the generation of the righteous who keep Thy pure words, that we may alway abide in Thy love, and by the help of Thine aid, rejoice in everlasting salvation. Through (1.)]

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 12

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 11, 2017

2 Save me, O Lord, for there is now no saint: truths are decayed from among the children of men.

Save me, O Lord, from all dangers, for there is nobody else in whom I can confide; “For there is now no saint;” for there is scarce in the world to be found any one truly “Pious and merciful,” (for such is the real meaning of the Hebrew word,) and not merciful only, but truthful. For “truths are decayed among the children of men;” that is, scarce one can be found to speak the simple truth.

3 They have spoken vain things, every one to his neighbour: with deceitful lips, and with a double heart have they spoken.

He proves that “there is now no saint;” that is, “No pious and merciful man;” since men in general, instead of speaking in a good and useful manner to their neighbor, “Speak vain things” only; things that cannot rescue them from dangers, whence they speak in vain.

He also proves that truth has failed since “deceitful lips,” that is, the lips of man, “Have spoken with a double heart,” saying one thing, and doing another; and thus seeking to deceive.

4 May the Lord destroy all deceitful lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things.

An imprecation, but in the spirit of prophecy. By way of imprecation, he predicts that it will come to pass, that all who seek to deceive, will be deceived themselves; and while they imagine they are profiting much by their dishonesty, will lose everything, and themselves along with it, for all eternity. “The tongue that speaketh proud things;” he that boasts of his frauds and deceits, as appears from the following verse.

5 Who have said: We will magnify our tongue: our lips are our own: who is Lord over us?

He explains the connection, “The tongue that speaketh proud things,” and “the deceitful lips:” inasmuch as all deceitful people confide mostly in their tongue, so as to imagine they want nothing else, nor should they be subject in any way to the Lord. “We will magnify our tongue;” when we make it boast of all its frauds in procuring for us the happiness we enjoy: “Our lips are our own,” a very ambiguous phrase in the Latin text, but very clear in the Hebrew and Greek; and the meaning is, our lips are with us; that is, prove for us, stand up for us. The prophet proceeds to explain the confidence the wicked place in their lips, as if they were the most powerful weapon they could use against others; and, therefore, he makes them add, “Who is Lord over us?” As if they said, we acknowledge no superior, when through our tongue we hold all in subjection.

6 By reason of the misery of the needy, and the groans of the poor, now will I arise, saith the Lord. I will set him in safety: I will deal confidently in his regard.

Having taught that confidence was not to be put in man, he now teaches that confidence is to be placed in God, whose promises are most faithful; by a figure of speech, making God himself speak and promise his assistance to the humble, and to the afflicted. “By reason of the misery of the needy,” who groan under the deceits and the oppressions of the wicked, I will not defer helping them, but “now will I arise,” as if from sleep, and will stand by them. “I will set him in safety: I will deal confidently in his regard.” He explains what he will do upon rising: “I will set him in safety;” I will place them in safety, I will so establish them in safety, that they must forever be safe. “I will deal confidently in his regard,” that is, no one shall prevent, I will act boldly and freely in the matter. The Greek word implies confidence, freedom, and boldness.

7 The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried by the fire, purged from the earth, refined seven times.

The prophet now teaches that the foregoing promises are not like the promises of deceitful man, but most certain and true. “The words of the Lord are pure words;” that is, pure, chaste, and, as the Hebrew implies, not dyed, or counterfeit, but sincere and trustworthy, as “Silver tried by the fire;” that is, like the purest silver in sound, weight, and color, such as “Silver tried in the fire,” and not only in the fire, “But purged from the earth;” that is, approved of by the most versed in the trade of gold and silver; and finally, not once, “But seven times refined.” In the Hebrew, the expression, “Purged from the earth,” is very obscure.

8 Thou, O Lord, wilt preserve us: and keep us from this generation for ever.

He infers from the preceding, that God will fulfill his promises. You, our Redeemer and Lord, will guard us, for the Greek, as well as the Hebrew word, implies, not only salvation, but, furthermore, an extension of it in guarding and preserving.

9 The wicked walk round about: according to thy highness, thou hast multiplied the children of men.

As if one asked, what will become of the wicked, while you protect us? He replies, “The wicked will walk round about,” (while we are quietly reposing under your wings,) constantly running after the things of this world, yet never coming at the enjoyment of their desires; and they will be forever thus “Walking round about,” while the world lasts, because, “According to thy highness, thou hast multiplied the children of men,” and “the number of fools is infinite,” and in such a multitude there must be forever an immense number of those “Walking round about,” straying from God.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on James 2:14-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 11, 2017

To help provide context this post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief summary analysis of James chapter 2, followed by his commentary on verses 14-26. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture.

14 What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him?

But of what avail will it be for a man, my brethren to have faith, and to place reliance on his faith, if he have not works corresponding with it? Will his faith, without works, be sufficient for salvation? By no means.

The Apostle now enters on one of the principal subjects of this Epistle, viz., the refutation of the errors of the followers of Simon Magus, regarding the sufficiency of faith alone for justification. As this erroneous doctrine, so ably and clearly refuted here by St. James, is one of the fundamental errors revived by modern Reformers, it may not be amiss to explain, in a few words, the doctrine of the Catholic Church on this subject; this doctrine has been so clearly laid down by the Council of Trent (SS. vi., de justificatione).

Every Catholic admits the absolute, indispensable necessity of faith for justification. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews, 11); without it, no man was ever justified, sine qua (fide) nulli unquam contigit justificatio (Council of Trent, SS. vi., 7). Although, not absolutely the first grace (the proposition, fides est prima gratia, put forward in the Schismatical Council of Pistoia, was condemned in the Bull, Auctorem fidei); still, it is the first grace in the order of justification, of which it is “the root and foundation,” in the language of the Council of Trent (SS. vi., 8). But every Catholic denies the sufficiency of this faith, for justification or salvation. It is necessary, not sufficient. Besides faith, Catholics require other dispositions, viz., hope, fear, penance, initial charity. All these are required, as previous dispositions, before God infuses the grace of justification. These may all exist in the soul; but they do not, by any means, constitute this grace, nor do they establish any claim to it, that either on the grounds of justice or fidelity, God might not refuse. It is quite certain, however, that whenever they exist in the soul, God will, of his own goodness, gratuitously infuse the grace of justification, which is a grace inhering in the soul—this is a point of faith—and it is theologically certain, that it inheres, permanently, by way of habit. It cleanses the soul from the stains of sin whereby it is defiled, in a manner analogous to the defilement caused the body by leprosy; and according as this grace is increased, the soul becomes brighter and fairer in the sight of God; in the language of the Psalmist, “whiter than snow.” This grace of justification is accompanied with the virtues of faith, hope, and charity, and the several gilts of the Holy Ghost. The same good works, the same acts, which, performed under the influence of divine grace and faith by a sinner before he is justified, serve only as dispositions for justification, will, when performed by the same man, after he is justified, and in a state of sanctifying grace, give him a claim, and a strict right, grounded on God’s gratuituous and liberal promise, to an increase of sanctifying grace, to eternal life, and its attainment, if he die in grace, and to an increase of glory. This is what Catholics call merit, grounded, however, on God’s grace, and his gratuitous promise, through the merits of Christ (Council of Trent, SS., ver.; Can. xxxii.)

Modern sectaries, on the other hand, maintain, that in order to be justified and saved, faith alone is sufficient; this justifying faith, according to them, consists in a firm and undoubted confidence, which each one has, that, although in sin, God does not impute to him his sins, in consideration of the merits of Christ. As for good works, they deny them a share in justifying man, they require them merely as the fruits of faith, signs of its presence; since without them, true faith, according to their notions, cannot exist.

Now, that their idea of justifying faith is wholly erroneous, will appear quite evident to any person who reads the 11th chapter of St. Paul to the Hebrews, wherein he describes this justifying faith to be the “evidence of things that appear not,” and in applying it to the several examples, he always supposes it to consist in a firm belief in the truth of God’s revelation.

Again, that, besides faith, good works are required for justification and salvation, is so evident from the following part of this chapter, that it only requires to be read over attentively, to be convinced of it. In truth, the words bear no other meaning, and on this account it was, that some of the early Reformers rejected the Epistle altogether. Finally, that true faith may exist without good works or charity, is clear from several passages of Sacred Scripture. St. John says (chap. 12:42), “many of the chief men believed in him, … but did not confess him, for they loved the glory of man more than of God,” The word, “believe” here has reference to real, true faith, as is evident from the use of the word, in the entire chapter. St. Paul tells us, that “if he had faith strong enough to remove mountains, &c.,” and had not charity, it would profit him nothing (1 Cor. 13), and that this faith can be separated from charity, is clear from chapter 7 of St. Matthew, wherein, we are told, that many will say, “Lord have we not performed many wonders in thy name,” and shall receive tor answer—“I never knew you.”

Objection.—St. James does not deny the sufficiency of real faith, because he is referring to mere putative faith, “if a man say, he has faith.”

Answer.—He speaks of real faith; for, he adds, “shall faith be able to save him?” He therefore, supposes the person in question to have real, genuine faith.

15 And if a brother or sister be naked and want daily food:

Suppose a Christian of either sex to be naked or hungry, and in want of the common necessaries of life,

The Apostle illustrates the inutility of faith and the knowledge it gives us, unless accompanied with good works, by an example of the inutility, to a distressed neighbour, of our knowledge of his wants, and of our sterile sympathy, unless it be accompanied by acts of benevolence administering to his wants. “If a brother or sister,” i.e., a Christian of either sex, “be naked,” &c., i.e., in want of the common necessaries of life.

16 And one of you say to them: Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit?

And that any of you, aware of this want, dismiss them with the cold expression of your sympathy and good wishes for their relief, without, at the same time administering to their wants, of what avail will your knowledge of their wants be to them?

“And one of you,” without relieving them, merely wishes them well, “be you warmed,” &c., “what will it profit?” which is equivalent to saying—it shall be of no profit whatever to them.

17 So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.

As, then, fine professions of regard will nowise profit the distressed, with whose wants we are acquainted, unless we administer relief; so neither will the knowledge we have from faith avail us without works, without complying with what it points out. Unaccompanied with works, it is dead in itself; for, it is destitute of the vivifying principle of sanctifying grace, whereby, we are perfectly connected with the head of which we are members, and his grace and mercy communicated to us.

“So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.” In the Greek, καθʼ ἑαυτην, by itself. This is the application of the foregoing example. As kind words, and the professions of regard, even accompanied by good wishes, will prove of no avail to the distressed; so, neither will faith profit the believer; “it is dead in itself;” because, the person who only has faith, although he be a member, is still but a dead member of the body of Christ; his faith is altogether dead, as to justification. The Apostle explains this more fully in verse 26, “as the body without the spirit is dead,” &c.

From this, it by no means follows, that faith without good works is not real faith. St. James looks upon faith in this verse, as destitute of the vivifying principle of charity, or good works, by which it is enlivened or roused to action (Gal. 5:6); he compares it to a human body, destitute of the soul that animates it, which, although dead, is still a real body. So, charity is the soul or form of faith, which, although proceeding from the principle of divine grace, is, still, dead as to justification without charity, which alone perfectly unites us with Christ, our head. “Faith,” says the Council of Trent (SS. vi. c. 7), “unless hope and charity be added to it, does not perfectly unite one with Christ, nor render him a living member of his body.” Faith, even without charity, really subsists in its subject, viz., the soul of man; in its object, God and eternal glory; in its motive, revelation; but, it is dead as to justification. From this very example, it is clear, that faith can be without good works; because, as we can have a knowledge of our neighbour’s wants without actually relieving them; so, also, can we have the knowledge imparted by faith, without acting up to it by good works.

18 But some man will say: Thou hast faith, and I have works. Shew me thy faith without works; and I will shew thee, by works, my faith.

(Another argument of the inutility of faith without works, grounded on the impossibility of externally professing our faith otherwise than by good works). Suppose two Christians, one having works and faith, the other having no works; and that the former calls upon the latter to profess his faith, can he do this? By no means. Since it is by works alone it can be manifested; whereas, the other can, from his works, give a proof of his faith, from which his works have emanated.

This is a new argument of the inutility of faith alone, without good works.—Faith cannot be manifested without them; now, this external profession is obligatory on all, both for the sake of example, and for holding that communion of saints, in which we all believe.

Query.—How can a man show his faith from his works, since an unbeliever can perform many good works?

Answer.—St. James, in the present instance, supposes both the persons in question to have faith, and that the man having works, recurs to them as a proof and manifestation of his faith. Hence, he does not infer faith from works; for, he supposes faith to have existed previously. Moreover, from works we can infer the existence of faith; because, there are certain good works, or a continued performance of them, which only a person having faith could accomplish. For, although an unbeliever may, aided by actual divine grace, perform certain good works; still, he could not persevere in performing a continued series of good works, without sin; and there are certain heroic deeds of virtue, which he could not perform at all.

19 Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble.

You may say that you have other means of manifesting your faith besides works, viz., the symbols and external profession of faith, the first article of which is the faith in one God, in which, you say, you believe; no doubt, in doing so, you act well, but, of what avail will this be to you? Do not the devils, forced by the conviction of evidence, assent to the same truths, and express this belief by trembling; and still, this faith is of no avail to them.

These may be the words of the Christian having faith and works, in continuation of his appeal to the other, whom he is supposed to be addressing in the preceding verse; you may, possibly, say; you have the symbols of faith, as a means of externally professing your faith, the first article of which is to believe “that there is one God,” which is also a distinguishing point of true faith from the false belief of Paganism; or, they may be the words of St. James, adducing a new argument of the inutility of faith unaccompanied by good works, since it resembles the faith of demons, who, compelled by evidence in favour of our creed, viz., miracles, prophecies, &c., are constrained to believe the same things which we believe, and by their “trembling,” externally profess this interior conviction, without any advantage. “Thou believest there is one God.” This article being the first and most important distinguishing feature of true faith, is probably put for all the points of faith. “Thou dost well;” this act of faith is a good act, but it does not, alone, suffice as a disposition for justification, or for obtaining salvation. “The devils also believe and tremble.” The word, “tremble” is used metaphorically to express the dread, horror, and despair, with which the devils are inspired, in considering their eternal punishment and the just judgment of God.

Objection.—From this verse is it not evident that St. James looks upon faith without works, or as Catholics term it, fides informis, as no faith at all; since he compares it with the faith of demons, who surely cannot elicit an act of the theological virtue of faith; for, they are not susceptible of grace, without which faith cannot exist?

Answer.—St. James, by no means, intends to compare the faith of devils, and that of wicked Christians, in every respect. He only compares them as to the utter inutility of both for salvation; his object in introducing the comparison does not warrant us in urging it further; and the only criterion by which we are to be guided, in judging of the extent to which a comparison can be urged, is, the scope and object of him who introduces it. There is another point, in which the faith of both is compared; viz., in their objects. The same thing is believed by the demons involuntarily, and forced by the conviction of evidence, which the sinner believes voluntarily, and freely, aided by divine grace. So tar the comparison is made, and no further; no comparison can be urged, as they say, ad vivum.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

But, O vain man, who dost foolishly glory in thy faith without works, dost thou wish for a convincing argument to see that faith, without works is dead and useless for justification?

St. James now introduces a new argument, and undertakes to prove, from the example of Abraham, whose justification is the model of ours, the necessity of good works for justification. This argument is the more convincing, and better suited for the refutation of the error he is combating, as it was on the very same example, urged at full length by the Apostle, in his Epistle to the Romans, (chap. 4), and erroneously interpreted, the Simonians grounded their doctrine of the sufficiency of faith alone for justification. “O vain man!” i.e., foolish man, who art blind in a matter of such evidence.

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, offering up Isaac his son upon the altar?

Was it not by works that Abraham our father, and the father of all the faithful, whose justification is the model of ours (Rom. 4:23), was justified, having in heart and will offered up his son Isaac, in sacrifice, from the consummation of which, he was arrested by the hand of the Angel?

“Offering up.” In Greek, ανενεγκας, having offered. The determined resolution to offer up Isaac, from the execution of which the voice of the angel from heaven prevented him, was accepted by God as a perfect offering.

22 Seest thou that faith did cooperate with his works and by works faith was made perfect?

You see, then, that faith is co-operated with the works of Abraham, it being the principle from which they emanated, and by which they were directed and regulated; while, on the other hand, his works perfected his faith, by bringing it to its destined end of justification, and by animating and increasing it in the soul

“Faith did co-operate with his works.” This shows that the faith of Abraham was not an idle, inoperative faith, a mere act of belief, unaccompanied by works; that it was an active, operative faith; it was the principle of the works which Abraham performed, and it was it that regulated, how they were to be performed: and hence, in saying that Abraham was justified by works, St. James refers to works grounded on, and accompanied by faith. The words, “and by works faith was made perfect,” show that it was works which brought faith to its destined end of justification. Both one and the other mutually concurred in Abraham’s justification.

23 And the scripture was fulfilled, saying: Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him to justice, and he was called the friend of God.

And the words of Scripture, Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice (Gen. 15:6), and he was called the friend of God, were fully completed, in the full enumeration of all the causes of justification.

And he was called the friend of God.” These words are not found in Genesis (15:6), from which the preceding words of Scripture are quoted. They are the words of St. James himself.

Query.—How can St. James say, “the Scripture was fulfilled, saying. Abraham believed,” &c. (Genesis, 15:6), since we find no prophecy contained in these words to be afterwards fulfilled? All that is recorded of Moses in this passage is simply historical. Again, had not these words, “Abraham believed, &c.,” reference to his believing in God’s promise regarding his son Isaac (Genesis, 15); which was prior to his sacrifice, (Genesis, 22), the matter in question here? How then say, a Scripture was now “fulfilled,” which was long before accomplished?

Answer.—The Scripture is said, by St. James, to be fulfilled in this sense, that when Moses (Genesis, 15:6), said,Abraham believed, and it was reputed to him unto justice,” he omitted all mention of another ingredient and disposition for justification, viz., works. These are referred to here by St. James; all the disposition for justification are therefore enumerated, and the cause of the justification referred to (Genesis, 15), fully expressed; and so, the Scripture account of the causes of justification is “fulfilled” or complete—which is more clearly expressed in the Vulgate version, “Et scriptura suppleta est,” scilicet, quoad enumerationem dispositionum justificationis. Secondly, Although the words of Genesis, “Abraham believed,” &c., were referred by Moses to an occasion prior to that of which St. James now speaks; still, we may apply them to every subsequent act by which Abraham afterwards was justified; and hence, they were verified in the present instance also.

24 Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?

From this you see that faith is not the only ingredient in man’s justificatication, that he is justified no less by works than by faith.

Can there be a clearer refutation of the doctrine of modern innovators on the subject of justification by faith only? St. James expressly states, that faith is not the only disposition or cause of justification; that in whatever way faith produces or concurs in justification, works concur in the same way, “a man is justified by works and not by faith only.” The word, by—(εξ)—shows that faith and works concur in the same way.

Objection.—Does not St. Paul (Rom. 3, 4), say, that works have no share in justification? How, then are the two Apostles reconciled?

Answer.—There is no contradiction whatever between them; there is question of different works in both cases. What description of works does St. Paul exclude from a share in justification? The works performed by the sole aid of our natural faculties, or of the law of Moses, without grace or faith. These, alone, are the works which the scope of the Apostle, in his Epistle to the Romans, required of him to exclude. These, alone, are the works on which the Jews and Gentile converts respectively grounded their claims to the gospel, viz., the works they performed, before they received the gospel, or embraced the faith.

Does St. James here assert the necessity of the same works? By no means. He speaks of works performed, after they received the gospel, under the influence of grace and faith. For, he addresses men who had embraced the faith, but denied the necessity of works performed in this state. And it was to refute their error that St. James, as well as St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude, wrote their Catholic Epistles, as we are assured by St. Augustine (Libro de Fide et Operibus, c. 14) If the doctrine of St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, be joined to that delivered by St. James in this, we have a full and perfect account of all the causes and dispositions of justification, viz., faith and works conjointly. No other interpretation, save that warranted by Catholic doctrine, can reconcile the apparent discrepancy that exists between both Apostles. In the Catholic interpretation, there is no difficulty whatever; although the same example of Abraham would seem to be employed for opposite conclusions. The matter is thus explained. Abraham was justified even before, Moses said of him, that “he believed,” &c. (Genesis, 15:6), as is clear from chapter 11 verse 8, of Epistle to the Hebrews, where it is stated, that he was justified by faith going forth from his native country—an event which took place long before the promise of a son was made to him. The words, therefore, “it was reputed to him unto justice,” must be understood of second justification, or increase of justice; and St. Paul (Rom. 4), adduces the mode in which Abraham’s second justification, or increase in justice took place, viz., by faith, as an argument a fortiori to prove, that to faith, independently of the works which he performed without the influence of grace or faith, his first justification, or, his translation from a state of sin to that of grace was owing (vide Rom. 4); whereas St. James employs the same example to prove the necessity of good works done in faith, for preserving, and progressing in the justification once acquired; and, of course, it is implied that they are still more necessary for acquiring first justification. Were St. Paul, in the passage referred to, to insist on the necessity of good works also, and describe all the concurring dispositions for justification, it would only embarass him, and more or less obscure his arguments against the Romans, and render them less forcible; for they might imagine, that he coincided with them in their error, respecting the efficacy of works performed before faith, for obtaining justification. St. James supplies what St. Paul, for good reasons, omitted, and removes any misconception to which the words of the latter might have given occasion. There is no other mode of reconciling the two Apostles, save that furnished by the Catholic doctrine, as above.

25 And in like manner also Rahab the harlot, was not she justified by works, receiving the messengers and sending them out another way?

In like manner, was it not by works that Rahab the harlot, was justified, by the exercise of humanity in saving the messengers sent by Josue to explore the land of Chanaan and city of Jericho?—(Josue, 2).

“In like manner also,” i.e., by faith, which works consummated, and by works, which co-operated with faith, as in the case of Abraham. “Rahab, the harlot;” her history is given (Josue, 2) Some persons understand this to refer to second justification. They suppose that Rahab had, already, before the arrival of the spies, conceived divine faith, and having believed in the God of the Hebrews (of whose power she already had heard, Josue, 2:11), had been justified; and that, by the act of humanity in concealing the spies, she obtained second, that is to say, merited an increase of justification. Others maintain, that although Rahab may have had faith before the arrival of the spies—in which they had, probably, more fully instructed her—still, she had been in sin; for, she is called “a harlot,” and that this act of humanity only disposed her for first justification. It might be said in reply to this reason, that Rahab was called “a harlot,” even after she ceased to commit acts of sin; because she had been previously such, and that her former appellation had been retained; just as Simon is called “the leper,” and Matthew “the publican.” To this it might also be added, that the Hebrew word for “harlot” also signifies a hostess. The former signification is, however, the more probable meaning. In this latter interpretation, we will have the necessity of works both in first and second justification; in the one case, as dispositions; in the other, as concurring and meritorious causes. It is worthy of remark, that all through, St. James supposes that, without works, no man can be justified; for, in all the examples adduced, he leaves us to infer, that if the just man did not perform good works, he would lose justice, and the sinner could not otherwise acquire it.

26 For even as the body without the spirit is dead: so also faith without works is dead.

For, as the body without the soul to animate it is dead and devoid of all motion, incapable of any action good or evil; so, faith also, unaccompanied by good works, is dead.

Objection.—Does not this verse show that dead faith, or, as Catholics term it, fides informis, is no faith at all, as a dead man, properly speaking, is no man?

Answer.—Faith is compared not with a dead man, but with a dead body, which, although dead, and not animated by the soul, is still a real body. Hence, dead faith is real, genuine faith, in the sense already given in this chapter.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on James 2:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 11, 2017

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of James, chapter 2, followed by his comments on verses 1-9. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

St. James commences this chapter, by exhorting the Christian converts to avoid the crime ofrespect of persons,” of which he adduces an example (1, 2). The example in question, although, apparently at first sight, not quite in point, however, as explained in the Commentary, will be seen to be perfectly so (3, 4). As it had reference to the undue preference shown the rich before the poor, St. James points out how unbecoming such conduct is, being opposed to the economy of God, in reference to the poor (5), and unmerited on the part of the rich, whose vices he enumerates (6, 7). This, however, should not interfere with the respect, which the order of charity inculcates in regard to the rich, and those to whom respect and honour are due, (8). But this honour should not be carried to the extent ofrespect of persons,” which the law of God condemns (9), and which, like every grievous violation of any other single precept, involves us, to a certain extent, in the guilt of violating the entire Law (10, 11).

As a remedy against all sin, he proposes the constant consideration of future judgment (12). He inculcates the necessity of showing mercy to all those, who may be involved in miseries of any kind (13).

In the next place, he treats of the principal subject of the Epistle, viz., the necessity of good works, for justification and salvation (14), and the inutility of faith alone, which he shows—firstly, by the example of the inutility of a mere speculative knowledge of our neighbour’s want, without actually relieving it (15–17); secondly, by showing the necessity of good works, for the discharge of the duty of externally professing and manifesting our faith (18); thirdly, by comparing dead faith, in a certain sense, with the faith of demons (19); fourthly, by the example of Abraham, justified through works (20–24); fifthly, by the example of Rahab (25); finally, he compares dead faith to a dead body (26).

1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory, with respect of persons.

My brethren, do not, while professing the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Lord of glory, be guilty of the crime of exception of persons; that is to say, do not attempt to unite two things which are incompatible, and which mutually exclude each other, viz., the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and the crime of exception of persons.

“Have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory.” The word “glory” is, by some Commentators, connected with “faith,” i.e., the glorious faith of our Lord, &c. the connexion in the Paraphrase joining it with “our Lord,” is the more probable. Our Lord Jesus Christ is called “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2). “With respect of persons,” i.e., do not attempt to unite two things so incompatible. “Respect, or exception, of persons” takes place, whenever an unjust preference is shown to one party beyond another; (v.g.) a judge would incur the guilt of “respect of persons,” by pronouncing sentence, on account of the appearance and external circumstances of a person, without any regard to the merits of the case. Others, among whom is A’Lapide, interpret the words thus: do not believe that the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ consists in an exception of persons, so that he is honoured when to your Agapes and meetings you admit the rich only and the noble, to the exclusion and contempt of the poor and squalid, as if the glory of Christianity consisted in external pomp and show.

2 For if there shall come into your assembly a man having a golden ring, in fine apparel; and there shall come in also a poor man in mean attire:

In illustration of the crime to which I refer; suppose two men come into your place of public worship, one of them a rich man, in showy apparel, and wearing on his finger a gold ring; the other, a poor man, in mean and squalid dress,

He illustrates by an example, what this “respect of persons” is, against which he has been cautioning them. Suppose “there shall come into your assembly,” in Greek, συναγωγην, synagogue, which, most probably, refers to their place of public assemblage for religious worship, like the Jewish synagogue; or, perhaps, to one of the old synagogues, converted into a place of worship tor the converted Jews; “a man having a gold ring,” which, as appears from the Greek, χρυσοδακτυλιος, was worn on his finger, a thing generally done by the rich; “in fine apparel;” in Greek, εσθητι λαμπρα, shining apparel. “Your assembly” is understood by some to refer to judicial assemblies, such having been, as they say, according to Jewish custom, held in places of worship.

3 And you have respect to him that is clothed with the fine apparel and shall say to him: Sit thou here well: but say to the poor man: Stand thou there, or: Sit under my footstool:

And that you assign to the rich man some commodious honourable seat, while the poor man is contemptuously made either to stand up, or sit down in some lowly place.

And you assign an honourable commodious seat to the rich man, on account of his riches, while the poor man, because he is poor, is treated contemptuously, and made either to stand up or sit down in some humble, lowly place.

4 Do you not judge within yourselves, and are become judges of unjust thoughts?

Do you not, by treatment so different in both cases, come to a very unfair and partial decision, and do you not found your judgment, on false estimates and erroneous reasonings.

“Do not judge within yourselves.” In Greek, διεκριθητε εν εαυτοις, are you not judged within yourselves, your conscience reproaching you, and stinging you with remorse for your unjust conduct. The Vulgate reading is the more probable, as appears from the following words, “and are become judges,” &c., which are explanatory of the former. In some Greek copies, και is prefixed to this verse, “and, do you not judge,” &c., but it is omitted in the chief MSS. “And are become judges of unjust thoughts.” In the Greek, διαλογισμων, reasonings, i.e., unjustly reasoning, and concluding from false estimates, that the rich man, as such, is to be preferred before the poor. It is not easy to see what St. James means by this example. Hence it is, that Commentators are perplexed about the meaning of the passage. They cannot discover anything like great guilt, in the preference shown to the rich man in the case alluded to, nor do they see any reason for ranking it with the crime of “respect to persons,” which (verse 6) is called, “dishonouring the poor;” since, there is no great dishonour shown a poor man in having a rich man accommodated with a seat in any assembly, whether sacred or profane, before him: or of classing it (verse 11) with adultery or murder. It is on account of this difficulty, that St. Augustine and others assign to the example in question an enigmatical meaning; and say, that, it is not so much the giving of a place of honour to the rich man and refusing it to the poor, St. James here condemns, as the crime signified by this preference, viz., the preference given to the rich on account of their worldly connexions in ecclesiastical dignities and offices, before the poor, who may be better qualified for such dignities. “Quis cnim ferat eligi, divitem ad sedem honoris Ecclesiæ, contempto paupere instructiore ac sanctiore?”—St. Augustine (Ep. 29), referring to this passage. The same interpretation is adopted by Mauduit. Hence, according to them, St. James is treating of the odious crime of simony. This interpretation derives probability from verse, 5, where the Apostle would appear to allude to the selection, which God made of poor fishermen, preferably to the great ones of the earth, for exercising the exalted and sublime functions of the Apostleship. Others understand the example of the preference shown to the rich before the poor in courts of justice, which unjust sentence is signified by the preference in seats alluded to. Others understand it to refer to the crime denounced by St. Paul in the first Epistle to Cor., chap. 11, viz., the contempt shown to the poor in the Agapes or love feasts, which in the infancy of the Church were celebrated immediately before receiving the Holy Eucharist (vide 1 Cor. 11). The neglect shown the poor, on such occasions, was highly scandalous and injurious to religion, on which account, St. Paul denounces it in the strongest language. This opinion has this advantage, that it solves the difficulty without departing from the literal meaning of the text. If we understand the passage to refer to the ordinary meetings in the church, we must suppose the neglect, referred to by St. James, to be greatly aggravated by the contempt with which the poor must have been treated. This, in the infancy of the Church, must have proved very detrimental to religion.

5 Hearken, my dearest brethren: Hath not God chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him?

See, my dearest brethren, how different from your conduct is the example set us by Almighty God in his treatment of the poor. Has he not given them a preference and selected them before the rich and powerful according to the world, to enrich them with the gift of faith and other spiritual blessings, and make them heirs of his heavenly kingdom, which he has promised to such as love him, and evince this love by their actions.

He shows how opposed their conduct is to the example set us by God himself in the work of man’s redemption; “the poor in this world,” whether we regard the preachers of the Gospel, or those to whom it was first preached (vide 1 Cor. 1:26); “rich in faith,” i.e., to be rich in faith, this being the end for which he had chosen them; for, before their call, they were not rich in faith; “and heirs,” to inherit his heavenly kingdom. “That love him,” shows, that an idle, merely speculative faith, is of no avail.

6 But you have dishonoured the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you by might? And do not they draw you before the judgment seats?

And those very persons, whom God himself has thus honoured and preferred, you dishonour. Moreover, do not the rich, by committing crimes against you never perpetrated by the poor, forfeit all claim to peculiar respect? Do they not violently oppress you and drag you before the tribunals of unbelieving judges?

You have dishonoured the poor, to whom God has shown such preference. From this verse, it is clear, that the example adduced cannot be understood of a mere preference in seats in any assembly, since a poor man could not look upon himself as dishonoured by such a preference, unless there were great contempt accompanying it. The example may, besides the meaning already assigned (4), be understood of a preference shown the rich before the poor in the administration of the sacraments of the Church, the souls of the poor being as valuable in the sight of their common Father, as those of the rich and powerful. “Do they not draw you before the judgment seats” of infidels?—a vice denounced in the strongest language by St. Paul (1 Cor. 6).

7 Do not they blaspheme the good name that is invoked upon you?

Do they not, by their wicked conduct and perverse morals, bring odium on, and cause to be blasphemed, the sacred name of Christ, from which you are termed Christians?

“Do they not blaspheme?” or cause to be blasphemed by the infidels (for they are themselves supposed to be Christians), the sacred name of Christ, which you bear, from him being called Christians.

8 If then you fulfil the royal law, according to the scriptures: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; you do well.

If, however, in the preference shown to the rich and powerful before the poor and humble man, you follow and depart not from the order prescribed by that most excellent of precepts, in which is summed up all the rest, laid down in the sacred Scriptures, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;” you do well.

Lest it might be inferred, from the charges which are alleged by St. James, against the rich, that he was encouraging the poor to entertain positive hatred for them, he, with a view of removing any such misconception, inculcates the virtue of fraternal charity towards all; and says, that if their preference for the rich man does not exceed the limits which the precept of fraternal charity sanctions, they sin not. In other words, if their respect for the rich be only such as they would reasonably expect to be paid themselves in like circumstances, giving honour to whom honour is due, and paying that respect which the order of charity marks out, as due to each one, according to his rank and station, they commit no sin—they act well. By others, the connexion of this verse with the preceding is made thus:—If in the distribution of ecclesiastical places of dignity and importance, you select a man who has equal qualifications and merit with a poor man, you in such a case commit no sin in preferring him.

9 But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin, being reproved by the law as transgressors.

But if this preference be of such a nature as to constitute the crime of exception of persons; then, you commit sin, being reproved as transgressors, by the law, which, in a general way, prohibits every act of injustice.

But, if their preference be so unjust and unfair, as to constitute the crime of “respect of persons,” that is, treating the rich man with marked distinction and preference where he has no right, and treating others with contempt and injustice; then, they “commit sin,” and are “reproved by the law,” the law of God in general, or the law of charity, to which belongs the precept just referred to. If, in the preceding, St. James were referring to the exception of persons in courts of justice, then, “the law” would refer to special prohibition contained in Leviticus (19:15), and Deuteronomy (10:17), “respect not the person of the poor, nor honour the countenance of the mighty, but judge thy neighbour according to justice.”

 

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 119:67-76

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 11, 2017

67 Before I was humbled I offended; therefore have I kept thy word.
68 Thou art good; and in thy goodness teach me thy justifications.

He explains the necessity of the three gifts aforesaid, stating he had good reason for asking for them, inasmuch as it was through the want of them he transgressed, and for his transgressions was humbled by God in his justice. “Before I was humbled,” by being visited with tribulations, “I offended,” through ignorance; “therefore have I kept thy word,” the promise I made of thenceforward observing your law more attentively; but do “thou who art good,” that is, sweet and kind, “in thy goodness,” in conformity with your mildness, “teach me thy justifications,” that I may sin no more.

69 The iniquity of the proud hath been multiplied over me: but I will seek thy commandments with my whole heart.
70 Their heart is curdled like milk: but I have meditated on thy law.

He now explains the necessity of the second gift, discipline, or prudence. “The iniquity of the proud hath been multiplied;” proud sinners told me lies without end, to try and make me break your law; hence the necessity for prudence, through which “I will seek thy commandments with my whole heart.” “Their heart is curdled like milk;” those proud sinners have a heart hard as cheese formed of curdled milk, and I, therefore, dismissed them, and “have meditated on thy law.”

71 It is good for me that thou hast humbled me, that I may learn thy justifications.
72 The law of thy mouth is good to me, above thousands of gold and silver.

From the abundance of the first gift that had been conferred on him, he now declares, “It is good for me that thou hast humbled me,” no one but one truly meek and humble of heart, and thus truly good, and who from experience could form an opinion of what is good, could give expression to such a sentiment. For he that is truly good looks upon any humiliation, arising from tribulation, as a great good, inasmuch as it leads to a better observance of God’s law, the value of which he expresses, when he says, “The law of thy mouth is good to me above thousands of gold and silver,” and so it is, because through the observance of the law we acquire life everlasting, to which no treasures can be compared.

73 Thy hands have made me and formed me: give me understanding, and I will learn thy commandments.

In the next eight verses he assigns many reasons for asking the grace to observe the law; and first, from the fact of his being one of God’s creatures, and, therefore, owing him implicit obedience. “Thy hands have made me and formed me.” Thy power and wisdom, like a pair of hands, “made me,” when I had no existence, “and formed me,” by working, out of the shapeless mass, my members and my senses, or made me as to my soul, and formed me as to my body. Being thus entirely yours, and owing you the most profound obedience, I ask you “to give me understanding and I will learn thy commandments,” that I may not only know them but practice them.

74 They that fear thee shall see me, and shall be glad:because I have greatly hoped in thy words.

The second reason, derived from the edification of the neighbor, “they that fear thee shall see me” keeping your commandments, “and shall be glad,” because they shall see that I have “greatly hoped in thy words,” in the promises contained in your law.

75 I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are equity: and in thy truth thou hast humbled me.

Reason the third, his having confessed his faults. “I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are equity,” that your judgments are essentially just, and if “you have humbled me,” by depriving me of your grace, I know you have done so “in truth,” because I deserved it, I therefore complain not of your justice, but I throw myself on your mercy, saying—

76 O! let thy mercy be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.

The comfort he asks for is grace to observe the law; for he who grieves for his humiliation, by reason of having been deprived of grace, and thus having fallen into sin, will get great consolation, if a profusion of grace will enable him to observe God’s laws perfectly and thoroughly.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Matthew 25:1-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 4, 2017

These parables are like the former parable of the faithful servant, and of him that was ungrateful and devoured his Lord’s goods. For there are four in all, in different ways admonishing us about the same things, I mean about diligence in almsgiving, and about helping our neighbor by all means which we are able to use, since it is not possible to be saved in another way. But there He speaks more generally of all assistance which should he rendered to one’s neighbor; but as to the virgins, he speaketh particularly of mercifulness in alms, and more strongly than in the former parable. For there He punishes him that beats, and is drunken, and scatters and wastes his lord’s goods, but here even him that doth not help, nor spends abundantly his goods upon the needy. For they had oil indeed, but not in abundance, wherefore also they are punished.

But wherefore doth He set forth this parable in the person of the virgins, and doth not merely suppose any person whatever? Great things had He spoken of virginity, saying, “There are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven’s sake;” and, “He that is able to receive, let him receive it.”1 He knew also that the generality of men would have a great opinion of it. For indeed the work is by nature great, and is shown so by this, that neither under the old dispensation was it fulfilled by these ancient and holy men, nor under the new was it brought under the compulsion of the law. For He did not command this, but left it to the choice of his hearers. Wherefore Paul also said “Now, concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord.”2 “For though I praise him that attains thereto, yet I constrain not him that is not willing, neither do I make the thing an injunction.” Since then the thing is both great in itself and hath great honor with the multitude, lest any one attaining to this should feel as though he had attained to all, and should be careless about the rest, He putteth forth this parable sufficient to persuade them, that virginity, though it should have everything else, if destitute of the good things arising out of almsgiving, is cast out with the harlots, and He sets the inhuman and merciless with them. And most reasonably, for the one was overcome by the love of carnal pleasure, but these3 of money. But the Jove of carnal pleasure and of money are not equal, but that of carnal pleasure is far keener and more tyrannical. And the weaker the antagonist, the less excusable are these4 that are overcome thereby. Therefore also He calls them foolish, for that having undergone the greater labor, they have betrayed all for want of the less. But by lamps here, He meaneth the gift itself of virginity, the purity of holiness; and by oil, humanity, almsgiving, succor to them that are in need.

“Then, while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” He shows that the time intervening will not be short, leading His disciples away from the expectation that His kingdom was quite immediately to appear. For this indeed they hoped, therefore He is continually holding them back from this hope. And at the same time He intimates this too, that death is a sleep. For they slept, He saith.

“And about midnight there was a cry made.” Either He was continuing the parable, or again He shows that the resurrection will be at night. But the cry Paul also indicates, saying, “With a shout, with a voice of an archangel, with the last trump, He shall come down from Heaven.”5 And what mean the trumpets, and what saith the cry? “The bridegroom cometh.” When therefore they had trimmed their lamps, the foolish say unto the wise, “Give us of your oil.” Again He calls them foolish, showing that nothing can be more foolish than they who are wealthy here, and depart naked thither, where most of all we have need of humanity, where we want much oil. But not in this respect only were they foolish, but also because they looked to receive it there, and sought it out of season; and yet nothing could be more humane than those virgins, who for this especially were approved. Neither do they seek for it all, for, “Give us,” they say, “of your oil;” and the urgency of their need is indicated; “for our lamps,” they say, “are going out.” But even so they failed, and neither the humanity of those whom they asked, nor the easiness of their request, nor their necessity and want, made them obtain.

But what now do we learn from hence? That no man can protect us there, if we are betrayed by our works, not because he will not, but because he cannot. For these too take refuge in the impossibility. This the blessed Abraham also indicated, saying, “Between us and you there is a great gulf,”1 so that not even when willing is it permitted them to pass it.

“But go to them that sell, and buy.” And who are they that sell? The poor. And where are these? Here, and then should they have sought them, not at that time.

2. Seest thou what great profit arises to us from the poor? shouldest thou take them away, thou wouldest take away the great hope of our salvation. Wherefore here must we get together the oil, that it may be useful to us there, when the time calls us. For that is not the time of collecting it, but this. Spend not then your goods for nought in luxury and vainglory. For thou wilt have need of much oil there.

Having heard these things, those virgins went their way; but they profiled nothing. And this He saith, either pursuing the parable, and working it up; or also by these things showing, that though we should become humane after our departure, we shall gain nothing from thence towards our escape. Therefore neither did their forwardness avail these virgins, because they went to them that sell not here, but there; nor the rich man, when he became so charitable, as even to be anxious about his relations. For he that was passing by him that was laid at the gate, is eager to rescue from perils and from hell them whom he did not so much as see, and entreats that some be sent to tell them these things. But nevertheless, he derived no benefit from thence, as neither did these virgins. For when they having heard these things went their way, the bridegroom came, and they that were ready went in with Him, but the others were shut out. After their many labors, after their innumerable toils, and that intolerable fight, and those trophies which they had set up over the madness of natural appetite, disgraced, and with their lamps gone out, they withdrew, bending down their faces to the earth. For nothing is more sullied than virginity not having mercy; so that even the multitude are wont to call the unmerciful dark. Where then was the profit of virginity, when they saw not the bridegroom? and not even when they had knocked did they obtain, but they heard that fearful saying, “Depart, I know you not.”2 And when He hath said this, nothing else but hell is left, and that intolerable punishment; or rather, this word is more grievous even than hell. This word He speaks to them also that work iniquity.3

“Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour.”4 Seest thou how continually He adds this, showing how awful our ignorance concerning our departure hence? Where now are they, who throughout all their life are remiss, but when they are blamed by us, are saying, At the time of my death, I shall leave money to the poor. Let them listen to these words, and be amended. For indeed at that time many have failed of this, having been snatched away at once, and not permitted so much as to give charge to their relations touching what they wished to be done.

This parable was spoken with respect to mercy in alms; but the one that comes after this, to them that neither in money, nor in word, nor in protection, nor in any other things whatever, are willing to assist their neighbors, but withhold all.

And wherefore can it be that this parable brings forward a king, but that a bridegroom? That thou mightest learn how close Christ is joined unto the virgins that strip themselves of their possessions; for this indeed is virginity. Wherefore Paul also makes this as a definition of the thing. “The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord;”5 such are his words: and, “For that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. These things we advise,” he saith.

And if in Luke the parable of the talents is otherwise put, this is to be said, that the one is really different from the other. For in that, from the one capital different degrees of increase were made, for from one pound one brought five, another ten; wherefore neither did they obtain the same recompense; but here, it is the contrary, and the crown is accordingly equal. For he that received two gave two, and he that had received the five again in like manner; but there since from the same beginning one made the greater, one the less, increase; as might be expected, in the rewards also, they do not enjoy the same.

But see Him everywhere, not requiring it again immediately. For in the case of the vineyard, He let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country; and here He committed to them the talents, and took His journey, that thou mightest learn His long-suffering. And to me He seems to say these things, to intimate the resurrection. But here it is no more a vineyard and husbandmen, but all servants. For not to rulers only, nor to Jews, but to all, doth He address His discourse. And they who bring a return unto Him confess frankly, both what is their own, and what their Master’s. And the one saith, Lord, “Thou gavest me five talents;” and the other saith, “two,” indicating that from Him they received the source of their gain, and they are very thankful, and reckon all to Him.

What then saith the Master? “Well done, thou good” (for this is goodness to look to one’s neighbor) “and faithful servant; thou wast faithful over few things, I will set thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord,”1 meaning by this expression all blessedness.

But not so that other one, but how? “I knew that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou sowedst not, and gathering where thou strawedst not: and I was afraid, and hid thy talent: lo, there thou hast that is thine.”2 What then the Master? “Thou oughtest to have put my money to the exchangers,”3 that is, “that oughtest to have spoken, to have admonished, to have advised.” But are they disobedient? Yet this is nought to thee.

What could be more gentle than this? For men indeed do not so, but him that hath put out the money at usury, even him do they make also responsible to require it again. But He not so; but, Thou oughtest, He saith, to have put it out, and to have committed the requiring of it again to me. And I should have required it with increase; by increase upon the hearing, meaning the showing forth of the works. Thou oughtest to have done that which is easier, and to have left to me what is more difficult. Forasmuch then as he did not this, “Take,” saith He, “the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents?4 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”5 What then is this? He that hath a gift of word and teaching to profit thereby, and useth it not, will lose the gift also; but he that giveth diligence, will gain to himself the gift in more abundance; even as the other loseth what he had received. But not to this is the penalty limited for him that is slothful, but even intolerable is the punishment, and with the punishment the sentence, which is full of a heavy accusation. For “cast ye,” saith He, “the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”6 Seest thou how not only the spoiler, and the covetous, nor only the doer of evil things, but also he that doeth not good things, is punished with extreme punishment.

Let us hearken then to these words. As we have opportunity, let us help on our salvation, let us get oil for our lamps, let us labor to add to our talent. For if we be backward, and spend our time in sloth here, no one will pity us any more hereafter, though we should wail ten thousand times. He also that had on the filthy garments condemned himself, and profited nothing. He also that had the one talent restored that which was committed to his charge, and yet was condemned. The virgins again entreated, and came unto Him and knocked, and all in vain, and without effect.

Knowing then these things, let us contribute alike wealth, and diligence, and protection,7 and all things for our neighbor’s advantage. For the talents here are each person’s ability, whether in the way of protection, or in money, or in teaching, or in what thing soever of the kind. Let no man say, I have but one talent, and can do nothing; for thou canal even by one approve thyself. For thou art not poorer than that widow; thou art not more uninstructed than Peter and John, who were both “unlearned and ignorant men;”8 but nevertheless, since they showed forth a zeal, and did all things for the common good, they attained to Heaven. For nothing is so pleasing to God, as to live for the common advantage.

For this end God gave us speech, and hands, and feet, and strength of body, and mind, and understanding, that we might use all these things, both for our own salvation, and for our neighbor’s advantage. For not for hymns only and thanksgivings is our speech serviceable to us, but it is profitable also for instruction and admonition. And if indeed we used it to this end, we should be imitating our Master; but if for the opposite ends, the devil. Since Peter also, when he confessed the Christ, was blessed, as having spoken the words of the Father; but when he refused the cross, and dissuaded it, he was severely reproved, as savoring the things of the devil. But if where the saying was of ignorance, so heavy is the blame, when we of our own will commit many sins, what favor shall we have?

Such things then let us speak, that of themselves they may be evidently the words of Christ. For not only if I should say, “Arise, and walk;”1 neither if I should say, “Tabitha, arise,”2 then only do I speak Christ’s words, but much more if being reviled I bless, if being despitefully used I pray for him that doeth despite to me. Lately indeed I said, that our tongue is a hand laying hold on the feet of God; but now much more do I say, that our tongue is a tongue imitating the tongue of Christ, if it show forth the strictness that becometh us, if we speak those things which He wills. But what are the things which He wills us to speak? Words full of gentleness and meekness, even as also He Himself used to speak, saying to them that were insulting Him, “I have not a devil;”3 and again, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil.”4 If thou also speak in this way; if thou speak for thy neighbor’s amendment, thou wilt obtain a tongue like that tongue. And these things God Himself saith; “For he that bringeth out the precious from the vile, shall be as my mouth;”5 such are His words.

When therefore thy tongue is as Christ’s tongue, and thy mouth is become the mouth of the Father, and thou art a temple of the Holy Ghost, then what kind of honor could be equal to this? For not even if thy mouth were made of gold, no nor even of precious stones, would it shine like as now, when lit up with the ornament of meekness. For what is more lovely than a mouth that knoweth not how to insult, but is used to bless and give good words? But if thou canst not bear to bless him that curses thee, hold thy peace, and accomplish but this for the time; and proceeding in order, and striving as thou oughtest, thou wilt attain to that other point also, and wilt acquire such a mouth, as we have spoken of.

4. And do not account the saying to be rash. For the Lord is loving to man, and the gift cometh of His goodness. It is rash to have a mouth like the devil, to have a tongue resembling that of an evil demon, especially for him that partakes of such mysteries, and communicates of the very flesh of the Lord. Reflecting then on these things, become like Him, to the utmost of thy power. No longer then will the devil be able so much as to look thee in the face, when thou art become such a one as this. For indeed he recognizes the image of the King, he knows the weapons of Christ, whereby he was worsted. And what are these? Gentleness and meekness. For when on the mountain Christ overthrew and laid low the devil who was assaulting him, it was not by making it known that He was Christ, but He entrapped him by these sayings, He took him by gentleness, he turned him to flight by meekness. Thou also must do this; shouldest thou see a man become a devil, and coming against thee, even so do thou likewise overcome. Christ gave thee also power to become like Him, so far as thy ability extends. Be not afraid at hearing this. The fear is not to be like Him. Speak then after His manner, and thou art become in this respect such as He, so far as it is possible for one who is a man to become so.

Wherefore greater is he that thus speaks, than he that prophecies. For this is entirely a gift, but in the other is also thy labor and toil. Teach thy soul to frame thee a mouth like to Christ’s mouth. For it can create such things, if it will; it knows the art, if it be not remiss. And how is such a mouth made? one may ask. By what kind of colorings? by what kind of material? By no colorings, indeed, or material; but by virtue only, and meekness, and humility.

Let us see also how a devil’s mouth is made; that we may never frame that. How then is it made? By curses, by insults, by envy, by perjury. For when any one speaks his words, he takes his tongue. What kind of excuse then shall we have; or rather, what manner of punishment shall we not undergo; when this our tongue, wherewith we are allowed to taste of the Lord’s flesh, when this, I say, we overlook, speaking the devil’s words?

Let us not overlook it, but let us use all diligence, in order to train it to imitate its Lord. For if we train it to this, it will place us with great confidence at Christ’s judgment seat. Unless any one know how to speak thus, the judge will not so much as hear him. For like as when the judge chances to be a Roman, he will not hear the defense of one who knows not how to speak thus; so likewise Christ, unless thou speak after His fashion, will not hear thee, nor give heed.

Let us learn therefore to speak in such wise as our Judge is wont to hear; let it be our endeavor to imitate that tongue. And shouldest thou fall into grief, take heed lest the tyranny of despondency pervert thy tongue, but that thou speak like Christ. For He too mourned for Lazarus and Judas. Shouldest thou fall into fear, seek again to speak even as He. For He Himself fell into fear for thy sake, with regard to His manhood.1 Do thou also say, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”2

And if thou shouldest lament, weep calmly as He. Shouldest thou fall into plots and sorrows, treat these too as Christ. For indeed He had plots laid against Him, and was in sorrow, and saith, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.”3 And all the examples He presented to thee, in order that thou shouldest continually observe the same measures, and not destroy the rules that have been given thee. So shalt thou be able to have a mouth like His mouth, so while treading on the earth, thou wilt show forth a tongue like to that of Him who sits on high; thou wilt maintain the limits He observed in despondency, in anger, in suffering, in agony.

How many are they of you that desire to see His form? Behold, it is possible, not to see Him only, but also to become like Him; if we are in earnest.

Let us not delay then. He doth not so readily accept prophets’ lips, as those of meek and forbearing men. “For many will say unto me,” He saith, “Have we not prophesied in Thy name? And I will say unto them, I know you not.”4

But the lips of Moses, because he was exceeding gentle and meek (“for Moses,” it is said, “was a meek man above all the men which were upon the face of the earth”5), He so accepted and loved, as to say, “Face to face, mouth to mouth, did He speak, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”6

Thou wilt not command devils now, but thou shalt then command the fire of hell, if thou keep thy mouth like to Christ’s mouth. Thou shalt command the abyss of fire, and shalt say unto it, “Peace, be still,”7 and with great confidence shalt set foot in the Heavens, and enjoy the kingdom; unto which God grant all of us to attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, be unto the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, glory, might, honor, now and always, and world without end. Amen.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 6:17, 20-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 21, 2017

The following has been compiled from sermons by St Cyril. They are somewhat fragmented and contain nothing on verses 25 & 26.

6:17. He stood upon level ground, and a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of the people.

But observe, I pray, the manner of the election. For the most wise Evangelist says that it was not done in a corner and secretly, but rather when many disciples were gathered together, and a vast crowd from all the country of the Jews, and from the sea-coast of Tyre and Sidon. These latter were |100 idolaters, lame in the hollow of both knees,26 in part observing the customs of the Jews, but yet not altogether abandoning their idolatrous practices. The election, therefore, was held in the presence of all these spectators, and teachers appointed for all beneath the heaven: and this duty they also fulfilled, summoning the Jews from their legal worship, and those who served demons, from Grecian 27 error to the acknowledgment of the truth.

And when He had appointed the holy Apostles, He performed very many wonderful miracles, rebuking demons, delivering from incurable diseases whosoever drew near unto Him, and displaying His own most godlike power: that both the Jews, who had run together unto Him, and those from the country of the Greeks, might know, that Christ, by Whom they were honoured with the dignity of the Apostolate, was not some ordinary man of those in our degree, but, on the contrary, God, as being the Word That was made man, but retained, nevertheless, His own glory. For “power went forth from Him, and healed all.” For Christ did not borrow strength from some other person, but being Himself God by nature, even though He had become flesh, He healed them all, by the putting forth of power over the sick.

If further you wish to learn the interpretation of the Apostles’ names, know that Peter is explained as meaning “loosing,” or “knowing:” Andrew as “comely strength,” or “answering:” James as “one who takes labour by the heel:” John, “the grace of the Lord:” Matthew, “given:” Philip, “the opening of the hands,” or “the mouth of a lamp:” Bartholomew, “the son suspending water:” Thomas, an “abyss,” or “a twin:” James, the son of Alphaeus, “the supplanting |101 “of the passage of life:” Judas, “thanksgiving:” and Simon, “obedience.” 28

6:20. Blessed are ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

[From the Syriac] Those are the Saviour’s words, when directing His disciples into the newness of the Gospel life after their appointment to the apostolate. But we must see of what poor it is that He speaks such great things: for in the Gospel according to Matthew it is written, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven:” wishing us to understand by the poor in spirit the man who entertains lowly thoughts of himself, and whoso mind, so to speak, is closely reefed, and hi3 heart gentle, and ready to yield, and entirely free from the guilt of pride.

[From Mai.] Such a one is worthy of admiration, and the friend of God; yea, He even said by one of the holy prophets; “Upon whom will I look but upon the humble and peaceable, and that trembleth at my words?” And the prophet David also said, that “a contrite and humbled heart God will not set at nought.” Moreover, the Saviour Himself also says, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble in heart.” In the lessons, however, now set before us, He says, that the poor shall be blessed, without the addition of its being in spirit. But the Evangelists so speak, not as contradicting one another, but as dividing oftentimes the narrative among them: and at one time they recapitulate the same particulars, and at another that which has been omitted by one, another includes in his narrative, that nothing essential for their benefit may be hidden from those who believe on Christ.—-[From the Syriac.] It seems likely, therefore, that He here means by the poor, whom He pronounces blessed, such as care not for wealth, and are superior to covetousness, and despisers of base gifts, and of a disposition free from the love of money, and who set no value upon the ostentatious display of riches. |103

And so the most wise Paul manifestly guides us into the best doctrines, where he says, “Let your disposition be free from the love of money, being contented with what it has:” and to this he has added, that “having nourishment and the means of shelter, we will be therewith content.” For it was necessary, absolutely necessary, for those whose business it would be to proclaim the saving message of the Gospel to have a mind careless about wealth, and occupied solely with the desire of better things. The argument, however, does not affect all whose means are abundant, but those only whose desire is set upon riches: and who are these? All to whom our Saviour’s words apply: “Store not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth.”

6:21. Blessed are ye that hunger now; for ye shall be filled.

In Matthew, however, again He says; “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled:” but here He simply says, that “those that hunger shall be filled.” We say, therefore, that it is a great and noble thing to hunger and thirst after righteousness: that is, habitually to take part in earnest endeavours after piety:—-for such is the meaning of righteousness:—-as if it were our meat and drink. And inasmuch as we ought to give to this passage also a meaning, in accordance with the foregoing explanations, we say again as follows: The Saviour pronounced those blessed who love a voluntary poverty, to enable them honourably, and without distraction, to practise the apostolic course of life. For it is in plain keeping with the having neither gold nor silver in their purses, nor two coats, to endure also very great hardness in their way of life, and scarcely obtain food for their need. But this is a burdensome thing for those who are suffering poverty and persecutions, and therefore He That knoweth hearts, very suitably does not permit us to be dispirited because of the results of poverty: for He says, that those who hunger now for their piety’s sake towards Him shall be filled: that is, they shall enjoy the intellectual and spiritual blessings that are in store. |104

6:21. Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh.

[From the Syriac.] He pronounces them that weep blessed, and says that they shall laugh. But by those who weep, we say that those are not meant who simply shed tears from their eyes: for this is a thing common to all without exception, whether believers or unbelievers, if ought happen of a painful nature; but those rather who shun a life of merriment and vanity, and carnal pleasures. —-[From Mai.] For of the one we say, that they live in enjoyment and laughter; whereas believers abandoning luxury and the careless life of carnal pleasures, and all but weeping because of their abhorrence of worldly things, are, our Saviour declares, blessed; and for this reason, as having commanded us to choose poverty, He also crowns with honours the things which necessarily accompany poverty: such, for instance, as the want of things necessary for enjoyment, and the lowness of spirits caused by privation: for it is written, that “many are the privations of the just, and the Lord shall deliver them out of them all.”

6:22. Blessed are ye when men shall hate you.

Already did the Lord mention persecution, even before the Apostles had been sent on their mission. The Gospel anticipated what would happen. For it was altogether to be expected that those who proclaimed the Gospel message, and made the Jews abandon their legal mode of worship to learn the Gospel way of virtuous living, while too they won over idolaters to the acknowledgment of the truth, would come in contact with many impious and unholy men. For such are they who, in their enmity against piety, excite wars and persecutions against those who preach Jesus. To prevent them, therefore, from falling into unreasonable distress whenever the time should arrive at which such events were sure to befal them from some quarter or other, He forewarns them for their benefit, that even the assault of things grievous to bear will bring its reward and advantage to them. For they shall reproach you, He says, as deceivers, and as trying to mislead: they shall separate you from them, even from their friendship and society: but let none of these things trouble you, He says: |105 for what harm will their intemperate tongue do a well-established mind? For the patient suffering of these things, will not be without fruit. He says, to those who know how to endure 1 piously, but is the pledge of the highest happiness. And besides, He points out to them for their benefit, that nothing strange will happen unto them, even when suffering these things: but that, on the contrary, they will resemble those who before their time were the bearers to the Israelites of the words that came from God above. They were persecuted, they were sawn asunder, they perished slain by the sword, they endured reproaches unjustly cast upon them. He would therefore have them also understand that they shall be partakers with those whose deeds they have imitated; nor shall they fail in winning the prophet’s crown, after having travelled by the same road. |106

(6:24) [From the Syriac. 2 MS.14,551.] *         *          *          *          *          *          *          *          receive those things that will lead you unto life eternal. For it is written, that “man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that goeth forth from the mouth of God.” All Scripture, indeed, is inspired of God; but this is especially true of the proclamations in the Gospels: for He Who in old time delivered unto the Israelites by the ministry of Moses the law that consisted in types and shadows, the very same having become man spake unto us, as the wise Paul testifies, writing; “God, Who in divers manners spake in old time to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son:” and “we are taught of God:” for Christ is in truth God and the Son of God. Let us therefore fix our careful attention upon what He says: and scrupulously examine the very depth of His meaning. For “Woe, He says, unto you rich, in that ye have received your consolation.”

Very fitly is this added to His previous discourse: for having already shewn that poverty for God’s sake is the mother of every blessing, and said that the hungering and weeping of the saints would not be without a reward, He proceeds to speak of the opposite class of things, and says of them, that they are productive of grief and condemnation. For He blames indeed the rich, and those who indulge immoderately in pleasures, and are ever in merriment, in order that He may leave no means untried of benefitting those who draw near unto Him, and chief of all the holy Apostles. For if the endurance of poverty for God’s sake, together with hunger and tears:—-by which is meant the being exposed to pain and afflictions in the cause of piety:—-be profitable before God, and He pronounce a threefold 3 blessedness on those who embrace them; as a necessary consequence, those are liable to the utmost blame, |107 who have prized the vices, that are the opposites of these virtues.

In order therefore that men may be won by the desire of the crowns of reward unto willingness to labour, and voluntary poverty for God’s sake; and, on the other hand, by fear of the threatened punishment, may flee from riches, and from living in luxury and merriment, that is to say, in worldly amusements, He says that the one are heirs of the kingdom of heaven, but that the others will be involved in the utmost misery: “for ye have received, He says, your consolation.”

And this truth we are permitted to behold beautifully delineated in the Gospel parables like as in a painting. For we have heard read that there was a rich man decked in purple and fine linen 4, at whose gate Lazarus was cast, racked with poverty and pain; and the rich man felt no pity for him.—-But Lazarus, it says, was carried to Abraham’s bosom; while he was in torments and in flame. And when he saw Lazarus at rest and in happiness in Abraham’s bosom, he besought saying, “Father Abraham have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger 5 in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” But what was blessed Abraham’s reply? “Son, thou hast received thy good things in thy life, and Lazarus evil things; but now he is here in happiness, and thou art tormented.” True therefore is what is here said by Christ of those who live in wealth and luxury and merriment, that “ye have received your consolation:” and of those who now are full, that they shall |108 hunger, and that those who laugh now shall weep and lament.

But come and let us examine the matter among ourselves. Our Saviour in His parables has thus spoken: “Two men went up unto the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. And the Pharisee forsooth prayed saying, God I thank Thee that I am not as the rest of mankind, extortioners, unjust, adulterers; or like this publican. I fast twice in the week: and I pay tithes of all that I possess. But the publican, He says, did not venture to lift up his eyes unto heaven, but stood smiting his breast and saying, God be merciful to me, a sinner. Verily I say unto you, that this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.” For the proud Pharisee was boasting over the publican, and indecently assuming the rank of a lawgiver, would have condemned one, on whom it was rather his duty to have shewn pity: but the other was the accuser of his own infirmity, and thereby aided in his own justification; for it is written, “Declare thou thy sins first, that thou mayest be justified.” Let us therefore unloose, that is, set free those who are suffering sicknesses from having been condemned by us, in order that God may also unloose us from our faults: for He condemneth not, but rather sheweth mercy.

Closely neighbouring, so to speak, upon the virtues which we have just mentioned is compassion, of which He next makes mention. For it is a most excelling thing, and very pleasing to God, and in the highest degree becoming to pious souls: and concerning which it may suffice for us to imprint upon our mind that it is an attribute of the divine nature. “For be ye, He says, merciful, as also your heavenly Father is merciful.” But that we shall be recompensed with bountiful hand by God, Who giveth all things abundantly to them that love Him, He has given us full assurance by saying, that “good measure, and squeezed down, and running over shall they give into your bosom:” adding this too, “for with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you.” There is however an apparent incompatibility between the two declarations: for if we are to receive “good measure, and squeezed down, and running over,” how “shall we be paid back the same measure wherewith we mete?” for this implies an equal recompense, and not one of |109 far-surpassing abundance. What say we then? The all wise Paul frees us from our difficulties, by bringing us the solution of the matters in question. For he says, that “he that soweth sparingly, meaning thereby, that he who distributeth the necessaries of life to those who are in penury and affliction moderately, and so to speak, with contracted hand, and not plentifully and largely,” shall also reap sparingly: and he “that soweth in blessings, in blessings shall also reap.” By which is meant, he who bountifully * * * * * [From Mai] So that if anyone hath not, he has not sinned by not giving it; for a man is acceptable according to that which he hath, and not according to that which he hath not. [From the Syriac.] And this the law of the very wise Moses has taught us in type: for those that were under the law brought sacrifices to God according to what they severally possessed, and were able to afford: some for instance bullocks, and some rams, or sheep, or doves, or pigeons, or meal mingled with oil, but even he who offered this * *, because he had no calf to offer, though so little and to be procured so cheaply, was equal to the other as regards his intention.

6:24. Woe unto you rich; For ye have received your consolation.

This too we must discuss among ourselves: For is it the case, that every one who is rich, and possesses abundant wealth, |110 is determinately cut off from the expectation of God’s grace? Is he entirely shut out from the hope of the saints? Has he neither inheritance nor part with them that are crowned? Not so, we say, hut rather on the contrary, that the rich man might have shewn mercy on Lazarus, and so have been made partaker of his consolation. For the Saviour pointed out a way of salvation to those who possess earthly wealth, saying, “Make unto yourselves friends of the unrighteous mammon, that when ye depart this life they may receive you into their tents.” (source)

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:17-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 21, 2017

Ver 17. And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judea, and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases,18. And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.19. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.

CYRIL; When the ordination of the Apostles was accomplished, and great numbers were collected together from the country of Judea, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, (who were idolaters,) he gave the Apostles their commission to be the teachers of the whole world, that they might recall the Jews from the bondage of the law, but the worshipers of devils from their Gentile errors to the knowledge of the truth. Hence it is said, And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and a great multitude from Judea, and the sea coast, &c.

THEOPHYL; By the sea coast he does not refer to the neighboring sea of Galilee, because this would not be accounted wonderful, but it is so called from the great sea, and therein also Tyre and Sidon may be comprehended, of which it follows, Both of Tyre and Sidon. And these states being Gentile, are purposely named here, to indicate how great was the fame and power of the Savior which had brought even the citizens of the coast to receive His healing and teaching. Hence it follows, Which came to hear him.

THEOPHYL. That is, for the cure of their souls; and that they might be healed of their diseases, that is, for the cure of their bodies.

CYRIL; But after that the High Priest had made publicly known His choice of Apostles, He did many and great miracles, that the Jews and Gentiles who had assembled might know that these were ere invested by Christ with the dignity of the Apostleship, and that He Himself was not as another man, but rather was God, as being the Incarnate Word. Hence it follows , And, the whole multitude sought to touch him, for there went virtue out of him. For Christ did not receive virtue from others, but since He was as by nature God oaf, sending out His own virtue upon the sick, He healed them all.

AMBROSE; But observe all things carefully, how He both ascends with His Apostles and descends to the multitude; for how could the multitude see Christ but in a lowly place. It follows him not to the lofty places, it ascends not the heights. Lastly, when He descends, He finds the sick, for in the high places there can be no sick.

THEOPHYL; You will scarcely find any where that the multitudes follow our Lord to the higher places, or that a sick person is healed on a mountain; but having quenched the fever of lust and lit the torch of knowledge each man approaches by degrees to the height of the virtues. But the multitudes which were able to touch the Lord are healed by the virtue of that touch, as formerly the leper is cleansed when our Lord touched him. The touch of the Savior then is the work of salvation, whom to touch is to believe on Him, to be touched is to be healed by His precious gifts.

Ver 20. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be you poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.21. Blessed are you that hunger now: for you shall be filled. Blessed are you that weep now: for you shall laugh.22. Blessed are you, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.23. Rejoice you in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers to the prophets.

CYRIL; After the ordination of the Apostles, the Savior directed His disciples to the newness of the evangelical life.

AMBROSE; But being about to utter His divine oracles, He begins to rise higher; although He stood in a low place, yet as it is said, He lifted up his eyes. What is lifting up the eyes, but to disclose a more hidden light?

THEOPHYL; And although He speaks in a general way to all, yet more especially He lifts up His eyes on His disciples; for it follows, on his disciples, that to those who receive the word listening attentively with the heart, He might reveal more fully the light of its deep meaning.

AMBROSE; Now Luke mentions only four blessings, but Matthew eight; but in those eight are contained these four, and in these four those eight. For the one has embraced as it were the four cardinal virtues, the other has revealed in those eight the mystical number. For as the eighth is the accomplishment of our hope, so is the eighth also the completion of the virtues. But each Evangelist has placed the blessings of poverty first, for it is the first in order, and the purest, as it were, of the virtues; for he who has despised the world shall reap an eternal reward. Now can any one obtain the reward of the heavenly kingdom who, overcome by the desires of the world, has no power of escape from them? Hence it follows, He said, Blessed are the poor.

CYRIL; In the Gospel according to St. Matthew it is said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, that we should understand the poor in spirit to be one of a modest and somewhat depressed mind. Hence our Savior says, Learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart. But Luke says, Blessed are the poor, without the addition of spirit, calling those poor who despise riches. For it became those who were to preach the doctrines of the saving Gospel to have no covetousness, but their affections set upon higher things.

BASIL; But not every one oppressed with poverty is blessed, but he who has preferred the commandment of Christ to worldly riches. For many are poor in their possessions, yet most covetous in their disposition; these poverty does not save, but their affections condemn. For nothing involuntary deserves a blessing, because all virtue is characterized by the freedom of the will. Blessed then is the poor man as being the disciple of Christ, Who endured poverty for us. For the Lord Himself has fulfilled every work which leads to happiness, leaving Himself an example for us to follow.

EUSEB. But when the celestial kingdom is considered in the many gradations of its blessings, the first step in the scale belongs to those who by divine instinct embrace poverty. Such did He make those who first became His disciples; therefore He says in their person, For yours is the kingdom of heaven, as pointedly addressing Himself to those present, upon whom also He lifted up His eyes.

CYRIL; After having commanded them to embrace poverty, He then crowns with honor those things which follow from poverty. It is the lot of those who embrace poverty to be in want of the necessaries of life, and scarcely to be able to get food. He does not then permit His disciples to be fainthearted on this account, but says, Blessed are you who hunger now.

THEOPHYL; That is, blessed are you who chasten your body and subject it to bondage, who in hunger and thirst give heed to the word, for then shall you receive the fullness of heavenly joys.

GREG. NAZ. But in a deeper sense, as they who partake of bodily food vary their appetites according to the nature of the things to be eaten; so also in the food of the soul, by some indeed that is desired which depends upon the opinion of men, by others, that which is essentially and of its own nature good. Hence, according to Matthew, men are blessed who account righteousness in the place of food and drink; by righteousness I mean not a particular but an universal virtue, which he who hungers after is said to be blessed.

THEOPHYL; Plainly instructing us, that we ought never to account ourselves sufficiently righteous, but always desire a daily increase in righteousness, to the perfect fullness of which the Psalmist shows us that we can not arrive in this world, but in the world to come. I shall be satisfied when your glory shall be made manifest. Hence it follows, For you shall be filled.

GREG. NYSS. For to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness He promises abundance of the things they desire. For none of the pleasures which are sought in this life can satisfy those who pursue them. But the pursuit of virtue alone is followed by that reward, which implants a joy in the soul that never fails.

CYRIL; But poverty is followed not only by a want of those things which bring delight, but also by a dejected look, because of sorrow. Hence it follows, Blessed are you that weep. He blesses those who weep, not those who merely drop tears from their eyes, (for this is common to the believing and unbelieving, when sorrow befalls them,) but rather He calls those blessed, who shun a careless life, mixed up with sin, and devoted to carnal pleasures, and refuse enjoyments almost weeping from their hatred of all worldly things.

CHRYS. But godly sorrow is a great thing, and it works repentance to salvation. Hence St. Paul when he had no failings of his own to weep for, mourned for those of others. Such grief is the source of gladness, as it follows, For you shall laugh. For if we do no good to those for whom we weep, we do good to ourselves. For he who thus weeps for the sins of others, will not let his own go unwept for; but the rather he will not easily fall into sin. Let us not be ever relaxing ourselves in this short life, lest we sigh in that which is eternal. Let us not seek delights from which flow lamentation, and much sorrow, but let us be saddened with sorrow which brings forth pardon. We often find the Lord sorrowing, never laughing.

BASIL; But He promises laughing to those who weep; not indeed the noise of laughter from the mouth, but a gladness pure and unmixed with aught of sorrow.

THEOPHYL; He then who on account of the riches of the inheritance of Christ, for the bread of eternal life, for the hope of heavenly joys, desires to suffer weeping, hunger, and poverty, is blessed. But much more blessed is he who does not shrink to maintain these virtues in adversity. Hence it follows, Blessed are you when men shall hate you. For although men hate, with their wicked hearts they can not injure the heart that is beloved by Christ, It follows, And when they shall separate you. Let them separate and expel you from the synagogue. Christ finds you out, and strengthens you. It follows; And shall reproach you. Let them reproach the name of the Crucified, He Himself raises together with Him those that have died with Him, and makes them sit in heavenly places. It follows, And cast out your name as evil. Here he means the name of Christian, which by Jews and Gentiles as far as they were able was frequently erased from the memory, and cast out by men, when there was as no cause for hatred, but the Son of man; for in truth they who believed on the name of Christ, wished to be called after His name. Therefore He teaches that they are to be persecuted by men, but are to be blessed beyond men.

As it follows, Rejoice you in that day, and weep for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven.

CHRYS. Great and little are measured by the dignity of the speaker. Let us inquire then who promised the great reward. If indeed a prophet or an apostle, little had been in his estimation great; but now it is the Lord in whose hands are eternal treasures and riches surpassing man’s conception, who has promised great reward.

BASIL; Again, great has sometimes a positive signification, as the heaven is great, and the earth is great; but sometimes it has relation to something else, as a great ox or great horse, on comparing two things of like nature. I think then that great reward will be laid up for those who suffer reproach for Christ’s sake, not as in comparison with those things in our power, but as being in itself great because given by God.

DAMASC. Those things which may be measured or numbered are used definitely, but that which from a certain excellence surpasses all measure and number we call great and much indefinitely; as when we say that great is the long suffering of God.

EUSEB. He then fortifies His disciples against the attacks of their adversaries, which they were about to suffer as they preached through the whole world; adding, For in like manner did their fathers to the prophets.

AMBROSE; For the Jews persecuted the prophets even to death.

THEOPHYL; They who speak the truth commonly suffer persecution, yet the ancient prophets did not therefore from fear of persecution turn away from preaching the truth.

AMBROSE; In that He says, Blessed are the poor, you have temperance; which abstains from sin, tramples upon the world, seeks not vain delights. In Blessed are they that hunger you have righteousness; for he who hungers suffers together with the hungry, and by suffering together with him gives to him, by giving becomes righteous, and his righteousness abides for ever. In Blessed are they that weep now, you have prudence; which is to weep for the things of time, and to seek those which are eternal. In Blessed are you when men hate you, you have fortitude; not that which deserves hatred for crime, but which suffers persecution for faith. For so you wilt attain to the crown of suffering if you slightest the favor of men, and seek that which is from God.

Temperance therefore brings with it a pure heart; righteousness, mercy; prudence, peace; fortitude, meekness. The virtues are so joined and linked to one another, that he who has one seems to have many; and the Saints have each one especial virtue, but the more abundant virtue has the richer reward. What hospitality in Abraham, what hat humility, but because he excelled in faith, he gained the preeminence above all others. To every one there are many rewards because many incentives to virtue, but that which is most abundant in a good action, has the most exceeding reward.

Ver 24. But woe to you that are rich! for you have received your consolation.25. Woe to you that are full! for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now! for you shall mourn and weep.26. Woe to you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

CYRIL; Having said before that poverty for God’s sake is the cause of every good thing, and that hunger and weeping will not be without the reward of the saints, he goes on to denounce the opposite to these as the source of condemnation and punishment. But woe to you rich, for you have your consolation.

CHRYS. For this expression, woe, is always said in the Scriptures to those who cannot escape from future punishment.

AMBROSE; But although in the abundance of wealth many are the allurements to crime, yet many also are the incitements to virtue. Although virtue requires no support, and the offering of the poor man is more commendable than the liberality of the rich, still it is not those who possess riches, but those who know not how to use them, that are condemned by the authority of the heavenly sentence. For as that poor man is more praiseworthy who gives without grudging, so is the rich man more guilty, who ought to return thanks for what he has received, and not to hide without using it the sum which was given him for the common good. It is not therefore the money, but the heart of the possessor which is in fault. And though there be no heavier punishment than to be preserving with anxious fear what is to serve for the advantage of successors, yet since the covetous desires are fed by a certain pleasure of amassing, they who have had their consolation in the present life, have lost an eternal reward. We may here however understand by the rich man the Jewish people, or the heretics, or at least the Pharisees, who, rejoicing in an abundance of words, and a kind of hereditary pride of eloquence, have overstepped the simplicity of true faith, and gained to themselves useless treasures.

THEOPHYL; Woe to you that are full, for you shall be hungry. That rich man clothed in purple was full, feasting sumptuously every day, but endured in hunger that dreadful “woe,” when from the finger of Lazarus, whom he had despised, he begged a drop of water.

BASIL; Now it is plain that the rule of abstinence is necessary, because the Apostle mentions it among the fruits of the Spirit. For the subjection of the body is by nothing so obtained as by abstinence, whereby, as it were a bridle, it becomes us to keep in check the fervor of youth. Abstinence then is the putting to death of sin, the extirpation of passions, the beginning of the spiritual life, blunting in itself the sting of temptations. But lest there should be any agreement with the enemies of God, we must accept every thing as the occasion requires, to show, that to the pure all things are pure, by coming indeed to the necessaries of life, but abstaining altogether from those which conduce to pleasure. But since it is not possible that all should keep the same hours, or the same manner, or the same proportion, still let there be one purpose, never to wait to be filled, for fullness of stomach makes the body itself also unfit for its proper functions, sleepy, and inclined to what is hurtful.

THEOPHYL; In another way. If those are happy who always hunger after the works of righteousness, they on the other hand are counted to be unhappy, who, pleasing themselves in their own desires, suffer no hunger after the true good. It follows, Woe to you who laugh, &c.

BASIL; Whereas the Lord reproves those who laugh now, it is plain that there will never be a house of laughter to the faithful, especially since there is so great a multitude of those who die in sin for whom we must mourn. Excessive laughter is a sign of want of moderation, and the motion of an unrestrained spirit; but ever to express the feelings of our heart with a pleasantness of countenance is not unseemly.

CHRYS. But tell me, why are you distracting and wasting yourself away with pleasures, who must stand before the awful judgment, and give account of all things done here?

THEOPHYL; But because flattery being the very nurse of sin, like oil to the flames, is wont to minister fuel to those who are on fire with sin, he adds, Woe to you when all men shall speak well of you.

CHRYS. What is said here is not opposed to what our Lord says elsewhere, Let your light shine before men; that is, that we should be eager to do good for the glory of God, not our own. For vain-glory is a baneful thing, and from hence springs iniquity, and despair, and avarice, the mother of evil. But if you seek to turn away from this, ever raise your eyes to God, and be content with that glory which is from Him. For if in all things we must choose the more learned for judges, how do you trust to the many the decision of virtue, and not rather to Him, who before all others know it, and can give and reward it, whose glory therefore if you desire, avoid the praise of men. For no one more excites our admiration than he who rejects glory. And if we do this, much more does the God of all. Be mindful then, that the glory of men quickly fails, seeing in the course of time it is past into oblivion. It follows, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.

THEOPHYL; By the false prophets are meant those, who to gain the favor of the multitude attempt to predict future events. The Lord on the mountain pronounces only the blessings of the good, but on the plain he describes also the “woe” of the wicked, because the yet uninstructed hearers must first be brought by terrors to good works, but the perfect need but be invited by rewards.

AMBROSE; And mark, that Matthew by rewards called the people to virtue and faith, but Luke also frightened them from their sins and iniquities by the denunciation of future punishment.

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Fr. Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 21, 2017

1Co 15:12  Now if Christ be preached, that he arose again from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 

How do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? Cerinthus with his followers are meant here. He was the first heresiarch after Simon Magus to deny, in S. Paul’s time, the resurrection. See Eusebius (Hist. lib. vii. c. 23, and lib. iii. c. 28) and Epiphanius (Hæres. 28). Cerinthus was a champion of Judaism, and, founding his opinions on Jewish traditions, he referred all the prophecies about the Church and the Gospel law to an earthly kingdom, and to riches, and to bodily pleasures. In the same way he afterwards perverted the meaning of Rev. xx. 4, and became the parent of the Chiliasts, or the Millennarian heretics. Some think from this that he was the author of the Apocalypse, and that it should therefore be rejected.

S. Ignatius, in his epistle to the Churches of Smyrna and Tralles, censures this error and its author. Hymenæus and Philetus (2 Tim 2:17) also denied the resurrection.

1Co 15:16  For if the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again.

No commentary is offered in this verse.

1Co 15:17  And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain: for you are yet in your sins.

It rightly follows that, if Christ has not risen (verse 16), we are still in our sins; for 1. if Christ has not risen, therefore faith in a risen Christ, which is the basis of justification, is false; but a false faith cannot be the beginning and foundation of remission of sins and of true sanctification. 2. If Christ remained in death, He was overcome by it, and His death was ineffectual for the remission of sins; for if by His resurrection He could not overcome death, then He could not overcome sin, for it is more difficult and a heavier task to overcome this than to overcome death. If this be so, sin is not fully abolished, if its penalty death is not. 3. The resurrection of Christ is the cause of our justification. (Rom 4:25). Now the cause being removed, the effect is removed. If, then, the resurrection of Christ is not a fact, neither is our justification from sins, and consequently we are still in our former sins.

1Co 15:18  Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished, i.e., who have died in faith, hope, and charity. If the body is not to rise again, but perishes outright at death, the soul too will perish: it cannot exist for ever without the body, for its nature is the “form” of the body. Unless, then, God take away by violence from the soul its nature and natural condition, He must restore to it its body.

1Co 15:19  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 

If in this life only we have hope in Christ. 1. The word “hope” here signifies, not the act of hope, for this exists in this life only, but the object of hope or the thing hoped for. If our only hope in Christ is for the goods of this life, then are we the most miserable of men; we are the most foolish also, because we rely on an empty hope of the resurrection, which is never to happen, and suffer fastings, mortifications, persecutions, and other hardships, and we resign the pleasure of the world and the flesh which others indulge in. Although, then, we are more happy than they, because of the good that is the fruit of the virtue of abstinence, of charity, and of an unclouded conscience, yet we are more miserable than they, so far as our hope in Christ is concerned, nay, we are fools for relying on a baseless hope. So Anselm and Chrysostom. The Apostle does not say “we are worse,” but “miserable;” for it is a miserable thing to afflict ourselves for virtue’s sake, and yet not obtain the prize; but the prize of Christian virtue is the resurrection.

It may be said that the soul can have its reward and be blessed without its body rising again. My answer to this is: God might have so arranged things that the soul alone should be rewarded with the Beatific Vision, but He did not so will it. As a matter of fact He willed that if the soul be beatified, so shall the body; if the body is not, neither will the soul; otherwise Christ would not have completely overcome sin, which reigns by death over soul and body alike.

2. It was the opinion of men at that time that if the immortality of the soul be proved, the resurrection of the body must be at once admitted, because of the close connection between them. The soul has a natural longing after the body, and cannot exist without it unless by violence. Therefore the resurrection, so far as concerns the essence and the needs of human nature, is a natural process, though its mode of execution be supernatural. Nor can the soul when once separated be again united to the body by any created force, but only by the supernatural power of God. Paul, then, from the denial of the resurrection and happiness of the body, rightly infers, according to the common opinion of men, as well as the nature and truth of things, the denial of the immortality and bliss of the soul; and so it is no wonder if Christians are not to rise again, that they should be of all men most miserable.

1Co 15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep:

But now is Christ risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that slept. (1.) Christ was and is the first of those that rise again, both in order of dignity and of merit. (2.) He was first in the Divine will and intention. (3.) First causally, for by Him we shall all rise again. (4.) Temporally, for Christ was the first in time to rise to everlasting life; for though some before Him were raised to life by Elijah and Elisha, yet they rose to this mortal life only, and again died; but Christ was the first to rise to the eternal life of bliss and glory. So Chrysostom, Anselm, Ambrose, Theophylact, Theodoret, and others. The word for firstfruits properly signifies this, and implies others to follow. So is Christ called the “first-begotten of the dead,” i.e., rising before all others, and, as it were, being born again from the dead.

It seems from this to be a point de fide that no one rose before Christ to everlasting life. Those, therefore, who at the death of Christ are said to have arisen (S. Mat_27:52), rose after Him in the way of nature, if not of time, for their resurrection depended on Christ’s as its cause. Francis Suarez points out this (p. 3. qu. 53, art. 3).

The earliest fruit of the earth, which under the Old Law was to be offered to God, was called the “firstfruits;” so Christ, after His resurrection, was offered to God as the firstfruits of the earth, into which He had been cast as a corn of wheat, and from which He sprang forth again in the new birth of the resurrection.

1Co 15:21 For by a man came death: and by a man the resurrection of the dead.

For by a man cameth death. Adam brought death on all men, Christ resurrection. The word since gives the reason why Christ is called the firstfruits of them that rise, viz., because by Christ, as a leader of the first rank of God’s army and the subduer of death, the resurrection of the dead was brought into the world.

1Co 15:22 And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.

The question may be asked whether even the wicked are to rise again and be endowed with life through Christ and His merits. S. Augustine (Ep. 28) says no, because their resurrection, being to condemnation, is better called death than life.  S. Thomas also says that Christ is the efficient cause of resurrection to all men, but the meritorious cause to the good alone.

But my answer is that Christ is the cause of the resurrection of all, even of the wicked:

1. Because Christ wished by His resurrection to abolish the power of death over the whole human race entirely, and therefore the wicked are included, not as wicked, but as men, abstracting their wickedness. See S. Ambrose (de Resurr. c. 21), and still more clearly S. Cyril (in Joann. lib. iv. c. 12).

2. Christ merited resurrection for the wicked, even as wicked, that He might inflict just punishment on His enemies, that His glory might be increased by the eternal punishment of His enemies. But these meanings are beside the scope of the passage. The Apostle is treating of the blessed resurrection of the saints, not of the resurrection of the wicked to misery.

We may here recapitulate the six methods by which the Apostle has proved that Christ rose again, that so he might prove that we too should rise.

1. From the testimony of those who saw Him alive after He rose, viz., Peter, Paul, James, the other Apostles, and the five hundred brethren (ver. 5).

2. If Christ is not risen, then the preaching of the Apostles and the faith of Christians are alike vain (ver. 14).

3. If Christ is not risen, we are still in our sins. This is proved by the fact that faith that justifies and expiates our sins is the same by which we believe that Christ died and rose again for us (ver. 17).

4. If Christ is not risen, then have ill perished who have fallen asleep in Christ, and have been destroyed both in body and soul; for the soul cannot live for ever without the body (ver. 18).

5. If we serve Christ only in this short life, and under His law have no hope of resurrection, then are we of all men most miserable (ver. 19).

6. By Adam all die, therefore through Christ shall all rise again, and be quickened. For Christ has done us as much good as Adam did harm: He came, not only that He might repair all the falls and loss of Adam and his descendants, but that He might lift us up to a higher state.(ver. 21).

1Co 15:23 But every one in his own order: the firstfruits, Christ: then they that are of Christ, who have believed in his coming.

But everyone in his own order. 1. According to Chrysostom, Theodoret and Theophylact this is the just among the blessed, the wicked among the reprobate.

2. According to the commentary ascribed to S. Jerome, this means that each shall rise higher and more blessed as he has been more holy here.

3. Œcumenius and Primasius explain it in this way. All who are to be quickened in Christ shall rise again in this order—Christ the first in time and dignity; secondly, the just shall rise; thirdly shall come the end of the world. This is the Apostle’s meaning, as appears from the next words. Cf. 1Th_4:16.

1Co 15:24 Afterwards the end: when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father: when he shall have brought to nought all principality and power and virtue.

afterwards the end. The end of the whole dispensation of Christ for the salvation of the human race, and it will consequently be the end of the age then existing, of time, of all generations, and all corruptions, and of the universe. So Anselm. For Christ is the end of the whole universe, and when those that He has chosen out of it are completed, then the universe will be ended also.

2. “The end” may, with Theodoret, be rendered “consummation,” i.e., the general resurrection of all, even of the wicked, when all things will come to an end.

When he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father. The kingdom is the Church of the faithful and congregation of the elect; not as though God did not now reign over it, for Christ says: “The kingdom of God is within you” (S. Luk_17:21), but because sin has somewhat of power over it, because the devil, death, and cares that attack mortals are found in it. In other words, Then cometh the end when Christ shall have presented, and as it were restored to His Father, the Church of the elect, which had been intrusted to His care and governance during the struggle of this life, that He might gloriously reign over it for ever. The Son shall as it were present it to His Father with the words: “Father, Thou didst send Me into the world, and after I ascended to heaven to be with Thee I have ruled these continuously, and protected them from the power and assaults of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Lo, these that I bring are Thine. They are My possession, given Me by Thee; they are the fruit of My labour, won by My sweat and blood. This is Thy kingdom as it is Mine, and is now free and pure from every sin, temptation, and trouble, that Thou mayst reign gloriously over it for ever.” Cf. S. Ambrose and S. Augustine (de Trinitate, lib. i. c. 8 and 10).

To God, and the Father is a hendiadys, to signify that Christ as man will present His faithful ones to God, as Son to His Father.

When he shall have brought to nought all principality and power and virtue. When He shall have destroyed the power and dominion of the devils, so that they shall no longer be able to attack the Church, which is the kingdom of God. Cf. Eph_6:12, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Ambrose, Œcumenius.

Principalities, Powers, and Virtues are names of three angelic choirs (cf. Eph 1:21). It hence appears that some of them fell and became devils, and kept the same names, just as each kept the same nature, the same order, rank, and power, especially in their attacks on the Church.  S. Paul says then that, when Christ shall have destroyed all the rule of the devils, who are and are called Principalities and Dominions, so that they might no longer attack the Church, He will then hand over the Kingdom to His Father, and will be the end and consummation of all things.

S. Augustine (de Trinitate, lib. i.. c. 8) explains this passage of the good angels, and then the meaning will be. There will be no longer any necessity for the assistance of the angelic Principalities, Powers, and Dominions, and therefore their dispensation and guidance will be done away with in the Church. But the former meaning is truer, because the Apostle is speaking of the enemies of Christ, as is clear from the next verse.

1Co 15:25 For he must reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet.

Christ must rule the Church till God the Father puts all the devils and the wicked under Him. Till does not denote an end of His reign, for there is no doubt that when His enemies shall have been overcome Christ will reign more truly and for ever, though in another way and with other glory than now. Cf. S. Chrysostom. It signifies what may have been done before a certain event, not what was done afterwards. So Joseph (S. Matt 1:25) is said not to have known Mary his wife till she brought forth her Son, not as though he knew her afterwards, as the impure Helvidius insinuates, but that he did not know her before she conceived and gave birth; for S. Matthew merely wished to record a wonderful event that was naturally incredible, viz., the conception and birth of Christ from a virgin without a father. So Paul says here that even now, while the Church is struggling with her enemies, Christ reigns over her. Moreover, it follows from this that Christ will reign after the struggle and triumph, for S. Paul implies but does not state what is evident to all. S. Augustine (Sentences, n. 169) well says: “As long as we are struggling against sins there is no perfect peace; for those that oppose us are crushed in dangerous fight, and those have been overcome are not yet triumphed over in peaceful land where care cannot come, but are still kept down by a power that must ever be on its guard.”

1Co 15:26 And the enemy, death, shall be destroyed last:

That death which still reigns over the bodies of the saints will be altogether destroyed at the resurrection. The first enemy of Christ and His followers is the devil, who was conquered by Christ on the Cross. The second is sin, which, through the grace of Christ, is being conquered by Christians in this life. The third is death, which will be the last to be overcome, and that will he in the resurrection.

1Co 15:27 For he hath put all things under his feet. And whereas he saith: All things are put under him; undoubtedly, he is excepted, who put all things under him.

He hath put all things under His feet. God will in the resurrection put all men and angels, good and bad, under Christ. He speaks of the future as past, after the manner of the prophets.

And whereas he saith: All things are put under him (Jesus); undoubtedly, he (the Father) is excepted, who put all things under him (Jesus). S. Paul adds this lest any one should suppose that the Father has given everything to the Son in such a way as to deprive Himself of authority over them, for so the Father would be less than the Son and subject to Him. Sometimes among men, when fathers are getting old, they make a gift of their goods and offices to their sons, but not so God.

1Co 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then the Son also himself shall be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Then the Son also himself shall be subject unto him. Some understand this of His Godhead, as though Christ as God will show Himself to have received everything, and His very Godhead, from His Father, and will so declare Himself to His Father. But this is too bold a statement; for the Son is not, subject to the Father, because He has all that He has from the Father, but He is equal to Him in majesty and honour. Hence others often take this passage of Christ according to His human nature. (1.) With Chrysostom, He will show His subjection, and so all will see how perfect were the obedience and subjection of Christ here. (2.) Better, with Anselm, Christ will be subject as man, i.e., He will subject Himself and will offer Himself with His elect to the eternal praise of God, and to a participation in the Divine goodness, dominion, and glory. For this subjection of Christ is the same as is alluded to in ver. 24, where it is said that Christ shall hand over the kingdom to God the Father, that He may fully and gloriously reign over Him and His elect. This subjection of Christ and the saints to God is not mean and servile, but blessed and glorious. For God holds them in heaven who are subject to Him as sons, He rules over them, and blesses them, and makes them happy with the utmost height of glory. Well, then, is such subjection and service called reigning, and such service is much to be longed for with David (Ps. lxi. 1, Vulg.): “Shall not my soul be subject to God? for of Him cometh my salvation.” On the other hand the wicked, who will not submit themselves to God, will be by this very fact His enemies, and the most unhappy of all men. In this very word subject there seems to lurk a double application; and so Gregory of Nyssa says, in his sermon on these words: “Subjection to God is a separation from evil that is perfect and absolute on every side. Christ shall be subject to His Father in the resurrection, because in it all the elect and faithful members of Christ will be clear from all evil, and will receive a chief part of what is good, and will be most closely united with Deity, and with its eternity, power, and bliss; and then will God be all in all, since there will be no evil in those things that remain; for God cannot be in what is evil, but must be in all that is good. Christ then will be subject to His Father when His Church shall be, and shall be so set free from all evil; for the subjection of the Church is called the subjection of Christ.” (3.) The words shall be may be understood to denote merely a continued action. In other words, Christ shall persevere for ever in the subjection which He now is under to His Father. Hilary wrote on this sentence of the Apostle’s against the Arians (de Trin. lib. ii.), S. Jerome (Ep. to Principia). S. Augustine (de Trin. lib. i. c. 8), where he says: “Christ, in so far as He is God with the Father, has us as His subjects; in so far as He is a priest, He is subject even as we to His Father.”

That God may be all in all. Viz., as Anselm says, that God may have all power over all things and may show that as God He is everything to His elect, or in place of everything else; that He is our life, salvation, power, plenty, glory, honour, peace, and all things, and the end and satisfaction of our desires. So God will rule over all in all things, and will subject all things to Himself and His glory.

S. Augustine (de Civ. Dei. lib. xxii. c. 9) argues from this verse that the saints in heaven know our prayers and our state.

S. Jerome (Ep. ad Amandum) appropriately says: “What the Apostle means by saying that God shall be all in all is this: our Lord and Saviour is at present not all in all, but a part in each one, e.g., He is wisdom in Solomon, goodness in David, patience in Job, knowledge of the future in Daniel, faith in Peter, zeal in Phinehas and Paul, purity in John, and other things in other men. But when the end of all things comes, then He will be all in all, that each one of the saints may have all virtues, and Christ may be wholly in each one and in all.” From this passage S. Augustine says (de Trin. lib. i. c. 8) that some Christians thought that the humanity of Christ would reign till the day of judgment, but would then be changed into His Godhead, and they thought that this change is the subjection to the Father, of which S. Paul here speaks. This is both foolish and impossible, according to the faith and to nature.

Some who had given themselves up to the contemplative life, and who aimed at an impossible closeness of union with God, and fanatics, have argued from this and similar passages of Scripture, that at the resurrection all men and all created things will return to their Divine archetype as it existed in eternity in God, and so would have to be changed into God; that is to say, that then every creature will have to disappear into the depths of the uncreated being, i.e., into the Godhead. Gerson attacks this error at length, and accuses Ruisbrochius of holding it; but the latter clears himself from it, and attacks it in his turn (de Verâ Contempl. c. 19, and ad Samuel, i. 4).

But this passage of the Apostle’s lends no countenance to this error, but on the contrary opposes it. For if in the resurrection God will be all in all, all created things will be in existence still. Otherwise God would not be all in all, but only all in none, or in nothing. Moreover, we can explain by similitudes how God will be all in all to the blessed. (1.) As a few drops of water poured into a large cask of very strong wine are at once swallowed up by the wine and incorporated with it, so the blessed, through love and the beatific vision, will as it were lose themselves in God, and seem swallowed up and incorporated by God as their greatest good, loved above all things. (2.) As the light of the sun fills all the air, so that it seems no longer to be air but light, in the same way God will so fill the blessed with the light of His glory that they will seem to be, not so much men as gods. (3.) As iron seems to be ignited by fire and to be changed into fire, so will the blessed be so kindled by their love and enjoyment of God, that they will seem transformed into God. (4.) As a large vessel of sugar or honey, when poured into a little porridge, makes it not only sweet as honey, but as if it were sugar or honey, so does God by His sweetness so inebriate and fill with sweetness the blessed that they seem to be very sweetness; for God is a sea of sweetness and an ocean of joy and consolation. (5.) As most sweet strains of music fill the ears of all who hear them and ravish their minds, or as a diamond, ruby, or emerald fills and dazzles the eyes of all who look upon it, so does God ravish, delight, and fill the minds of all the blessed. (6.) As a mirror exhibits, represents, and contains the faces and appearance of everything placed before it, so that they all seem to exist, live, and move in the mirror, so do all the blessed live, move, and have their being in God; for God is a most bright and glowing mirror of everything.

Lastly, S. Bernard (Serm. xi. in Cant.) devoutly and beautifully says: “Who can understand how great sweetness is contained in the one short saying, ‘God shall be all in all?’ To say nothing of the body, I see in the soul three things—reason, will, and memory, and these three are the soul. How much of its integrity and perfection is lacking to each of these in this present life is known to every one who walks in the Spirit. Why is this, except that God is not yet all in all? Hence is it that the reason is so often deceived in its judgments, and the will weakened by a fourfold disturbing cause, and the memory clouded over by manifold causes of forgetfulness. To this threefold vanity a noble creature has beech made subject, not willingly, but in hope. For He that filleth the desire of the soul with good things will Himself be to the reason fulness of light, to the will a multitude of peace, to the memory eternal continuity. 0 Truth! 0 Love! 0 Eternity! 0 Trinity, blessed and blessing, to thee does my miserable trinity, after a wonderful fashion, aspire, since it is a miserable exile apart from Thee. . . . Put thy trust in God, for I will yet praise Him, when my reason knows no error, my will no grief, and my memory no fear; and when we enjoy that wondrous calm, that perfect sweetness, that eternal security which we hope for, God, as Truth, will give the first, as Charity the second, as Power the third, that He may be all in all, when the reason receives unclouded light, when the will obtains unbroken peace, and the memory drinks for ever of an inexhaustible Fountain. May you see all this, and rightly attribute it, first to the Son, then to the Spirit, and lastly to the Father.”

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