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Commentaries for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 17, 2018


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.


Navarre Bible Commentary on Genesis 3:9-15. Includes verse 20.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 130.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 130.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 130.

Pending: St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 130.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 130.


Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 3:20-35. On 19-35.



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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 3:19-35

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 17, 2018

19. —— And they went into an house.

20. And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.

21. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

22. And the Scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.

Bede. (ubi sup.) The Lord leads the Apostles, when they were elected, into a house, as if admonishing them, that after having received the Apostleship, they should retire to look on their own consciences. Wherefore it is said, And they came into a house, and the multitude came together again, so that they could not eat bread.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Ungrateful indeed were the multitudes of princes, whom their pride hinders from knowledge, but the grateful multitude of the people came to Jesus.

Bede. (ubi sup.) And blessed indeed the concourse of the crowd, flocking together, whose anxiety to obtain salvation was so great, that they left not the Author of salvation even an hour free to take food. But Him, whom a crowd of strangers loves to follow, his relations hold in little esteem: for it goes on: And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold upon him. For since they could not take in the depth of wisdom, which they heard, they thought that He was speaking in a senseless way, wherefore it continues, for they said, He is beside himself.

Theophylact. That is, He has a devil and is mad, and therefore they wished to lay hold upon Him, that they might shut Him up as one who had a devil. And even His friends wished to do this, that is, His relations, perchance His countrymen, or His brethren.1But it was a silly insanity in them, to conceive that the Worker of such great miracles of Divine Wisdom had become mad.

Bede. (ubi sup.) Now there is a great difference between those who do not understand the word of God from slowness of intellect, such as those, who are here spoken of, and those who purposely blaspheme, of whom it is added, And the Scribes which came down from Jerusalem, &c. For what they could not deny, they endeavour to pervert by a malicious interpretation, as if they were not the works of God, but of a most unclean spirit, that is, of Beelzebub, who was the God of Ekron. For ‘Beel’ means Baal himself, and ‘zebub’ a fly; the meaning of Beelzebub therefore is the man of flies, on account of the filth of the blood which was offered, from which most unclean rite, they call him prince of the devils, adding, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.

Pseudo-Jerome. But mystically, the house to which they came, is the early Church. The crowds which prevent their eating bread are sins and vices; for he who eateth unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself. (1 Cor. 11:29)

Bede. (ubi sup.) The Scribes also coming down from Jerusalem blaspheme. But the multitude from Jerusalem, and from other regions of Judæa, or of the Gentiles, followed the Lord, because so it was to be at the time of His Passion, that a crowd of the people of the Jews should lead Him to Jerusalem with palms and praises, and the Gentiles should desire to see Him; but the Scribes and Pharisees should plot together for His death.

23. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

24. And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

25. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

26. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

27. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

28. Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

29. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:

30. Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) The blasphemy of the Scribes having been detailed, our Lord shews that what they said was impossible, confirming His proof by an example. Wherefore it says, And having called them together unto him, he said unto them in parables. How can Satan cast out Satan? As if He had said, A kingdom divided against itself by civil war must be desolated, which is exemplified both in a house and in a city. Wherefore also if Satan’s kingdom be divided against itself, so that Satan expels Satan from men, the desolation of the kingdom of the devils is at hand. But their kingdom consists in keeping men under their dominion. If therefore they are driven away from men, it amounts to nothing less than the dissolution of their kingdom. But if they still hold their power over men, it is manifest that the kingdom of evil is still standing, and Satan is not divided against himself.

Gloss. (non occ.) And because He has already shewn by an example that a devil cannot cast out a devil, He shews how he can be expelled, saying, No man can enter into a strong man’s house, &c.

Theophylact. The meaning of the example is this: The devil is the strong man; his goods are the men into whom he is received; unless therefore a man first conquers the devil, how can he deprive him of his goods, that is, of the men whom he has possessed? So also I who spoil his goods, that is, free men from suffering by his possession, first spoil the devils and vanquish them, and am their enemy. How then can ye say that I have Beelzebub, and that being the friend of the devils, I cast them out?

Bede. (in Marc. i. 17) The Lord has also bound the strong man, that is, the devil: which means, He has restrained him from seducing the elect, and entering into his house, the world; He has spoiled his house, and his goods, that is men, because He has snatched them from the snares of the devil, and has united them to His Church. Or, He has spoiled his house, because the four parts of the world, over which the old enemy had sway, He has distributed to the Apostles and their successors, that they may convert the people to the way of life. But the Lord shews that they committed a great sin, in crying out that that which they knew to be of God, was of the devil, when He subjoins, Verily I say unto you, All sins are forgiven, &c. All sins and blasphemies are not indeed remitted to all men, but to those who have gone through a repentance in this life sufficient for their sins; thus neither is Novatusm right, who denied that any pardon should be granted to penitents, who had lapsed in time of martyrdom; nor Origen, who asserts that after the general judgment, after the revolution of ages, all sinners will receive pardon for their sins, which error the following words of the Lord condemn, when He adds, But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, &c.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) He says indeed, that blasphemy concerning Himself was pardonable, because He then seemed to be a man despised and of the most lowly birth, but, that contumely against God has no remission. Now blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is against God, for the operation of the Holy Ghost is the kingdom of God; and for this reason, He says, that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost cannot be remitted. Instead, however, of what is here added, But will be in danger of eternal damnation, another Evangelist says, Neither in this world, nor in the world to come. By which is understood, the judgment which is according to the law, and that which is to come. For the law orders one who blasphemes God to be slain, and in the judgment of the second law he has no remission.nHowever, he who is baptized is taken out of this world; but the Jews were ignorant of the remission which takes place in baptism. He therefore who refers to the devil miracles, and the casting out of devils which belong to the Holy Ghost alone, has no room left him for remission of his blasphemy. Neither does it appear that such a blasphemy as this is remitted, since it is against the Holy Ghost. Wherefore he adds, explaining it, Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

Theophylact. We must however understand, that they will not obtain pardon unless they repent. But since it was at the flesh of Christ that they were offended, even though they did not repent, some excuse was allowed them, and they obtained some remission.

Pseudo-Jerome. Or this is meant; that he will not deserve to work out repentance, so as to be accepted, who, understanding who Christ was, declared that He was the prince of the devils.

Bede. (ubi sup.) Neither however are those, who do not believe the Holy Spirit to be God, guilty of an unpardonable blasphemy, because they were persuaded to do this by human ignorance, not by devilish malice.

Augustine. (Serm. 71, 12, 21) Or else impenitence itself is the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost which hath no remission. For either in his thought or by his tongue, he speaks a word against the Holy Ghost the forgiver of sins, who treasures up for himself an impenitent heart. But he subjoins, Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit, that he might shew that His reason for saying it, was their declaring that He cast out a devil by Beelzebub, not because there is a blasphemy, which cannot be remitted since even this might be remitted through a right repentance: but the cause why this sentence was put forth by the Lord, after mentioning the unclean spirit, (who as our Lord shews was divided against himself,) was, that the Holy Ghost even makes those whom He brings together undivided, by His remitting those sins, which divided them from Himself, which gift of remission is resisted by no one, but him who has the hardness of an impenitent heart. For in another place, the Jews said of the Lord, that He had a devil, (John 7:20.) without however His saying any thing there about the blasphemy against the Spirit; and the reason is, that they did not there cast in His teeth the unclean spirit, in such a way, that that spirit could by their own words be shewn to be divided against Himself, as Beelzebub was here shewn to be, by their saying, that it might be he who cast out devilso.

31. There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

32. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.

33. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

34. And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

35. For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

Theophylact. Because the relations of the Lord had come to seize upon Him, as if beside Himself, His mother, urged by the sympathy of her love, came to Him; wherefore it is said, And there came unto him his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

Chrysostom. (non occ.) From this it is manifest that His brethren and His mother were not always with Him; but because He was beloved by them, they come from reverence and affection, waiting without. Wherefore it goes on, And the multitude sat about him, &c.

Bede. (ubi sup.) The brothers of the Lord must not be thought to be the sons of the ever-virgin Mary, as Helvidius sayp, nor the sons of Joseph by a former marriage, as some think, but rather they must be understood to be His relations.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) But another Evangelist says, that His brethren did not believe on Him. With which this agrees, which says, that they sought Him, waiting without, and with this meaning the Lord does not mention them as relations. Wherefore it follows, And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother or my brethren? (John 7:5) But He does not here mention His mother and His brethren altogether with reproof, but to shew that a man must honour his own soul above all earthly kindred; wherefore this is fitly said to those who called Him to speak with His mother and relations, as if it were a more useful task than the teaching of salvation.

Bede. (Ambr in Luc. 6, 36. Bede ubi sup.) Being asked therefore by a message to go out, He declines, not as though He refused the dutiful service of His mother, but to shew that He owes more to His Father’s mysteries than to His mother’s feelings. Nor does He rudely despise His brothers, but, preferring His spiritual work to fleshly relationship, He teaches us that religion is the bond of the heart rather than that of the body. Wherefore it goes on, And looking round about on them which sat about him, he said, Behold my mother and my brethren.

Chrysostom. (non occ.) By this, the Lord shews that we should honour those who are relations by faith rather than those who are relations by blood. A man indeed is made the mother of Jesus by preaching Himq; for He, as it were, brings forth the Lord, when he pours Him into the heart of his hearers.

Pseudo-Jerome. But let us be assured that we are His brethren and His sisters, if we do the will of the Father; that we may be joint-heirs with Him, for He discerns us not by sex but by our deeds. Wherefore it goes on: Whosoever shall do the will of God, &c.

Theophylact. He does not therefore say this, as denying His mother, but as shewing that He is worthy of honour, not only because she bore Christ, but on account of her possessing every other virtue.

Bede. (ubi sup.) But mystically, the mother and brother of Jesus means the synagogue, (from which according to the flesh He sprung,) and the Jewish people who, while the Saviour is teaching within, come to Him, and are not able to enter, because they cannot understand spiritual things. But the crowd eagerly enter, because when the Jews delayed, the Gentiles flocked to Christ; but His kindred, who stand without wishing to see the Lord, are the Jews who obstinately remained without, guarding the letter, and would rather compel the Lord to go forth to them to teach carnal things, than consent to enter in to learn spiritual things of Him. (Ambr in Luc. 6, 37.). If therefore not even His parents when standing without are acknowledged, how shall we be acknowledged, if we stand without? For the word is within and the light within.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 17, 2018

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

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

But having, in the midst of dangers and death, the same faith proceeding from the Holy Ghost, that David had of old, when, as it is written of him, he said in the midst of trials and dangers: I have believed, and still believe firmly in the divine promises, and therefore, in consequence of this unhesitating faith in God’s promises, I have proclaimed, and still proclaim it aloud; so we also Apostles firmly believe in the promises, and, therefore, openly proclaim and profess this our faith.

He assigns a reason why the Apostles, in the midst of dangers, preach intrepidly it is because they really and firmly believe, unlike the false teachers, who, in dangerous circumstances, are become like “dumb dogs not able to bark.”—(Isaias, 56:10), “Having the same spirit of faith,” which David had, proceeding from the Holy Ghost, when in Psalm 115 he says, in the midst of the dangers which menaced his life: “I believed” (the perfect tense is put, by a Hebrew idiom, for the present, “I believe:” or, it may mean, I have believed and still continue to believe, in the promises of God made to me by Samuel, that one day I should ascend the throne; for, it is to this he refers in the 115th Psalm), and, therefore, on account of the firmness of this faith, “I have spoken” I have proclaimed, and do proclaim it aloud, knowing that God will preserve me. Some interpreters understand the word thus: having the same faith, with you, emanating from the Holy Ghost, we too believe, and, therefore, as did he of whom it was written, “I believed,” &c. It is better, however, to understand it of the same faith, with David. Hence, the faith of the saints of old is the same with ours. The mode of believing may be different; for they believed implicitly, what we believe explicitly; but “the same spirit” was the author of their faith and ours. Those, therefore, who believe firmly in their hearts, shall not be afraid or ashamed to profess this interior faith openly, when its external profession becomes a matter of duty.

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

Firmly impressed with the belief, that he who raised Jesus from the dead, will so raise us, and bestow on us a like glory with Jesus, and give us a place with you in his heavenly kingdom.

“Raised up Jesus.” In the common Greek, raised up the Lord Jesus. (The Codex Vaticanus has not the word Lord). “With Jesus.” (In the common Greek, δια Ιησου, through Jesus). The Codex Vaticanus has, συν ιησου, the Vulgate reading retained by St. Jerome. This firm belief in their future resurrection animates the Apostles to proclaim it aloud and preach the gospel intrepidly amid the most appalling dangers. “And place us with you.” He uses this form rather than place you with us, to show the great value he attaches to them, so as to prefer them to himself in glory, since he is only to come in for a share of glory of which they will be in possession.

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

I said, give us a place with you, for all our ministrations are ordained for your salvation, that the grace of the gospel, being diffused amongst many, whilst many are returning thanks for it, may redound to the glory of God.

It is not without cause that he placed them first; for they, or rather their salvation, is the end for which all his labours are designed. From making them sharers in his own glory this good shall result, viz., that the benefits of the gospel being more widely diffused and more extensively communicated, may redound to the glory of God, whilst the many on whom they are conferred will join in returning God thanks for them. Acts of thanksgiving, therefore, contribute much to God’s glory. The Greek, την ευχαριστιαν περισευσση εἰς την δοξαν τοῦ θεοῦ, admits the construction of Erasmus, viz., that the grace abounding through many may abound with thanksgiving unto the glory of God, in which the verb “abound” has a transitive signification, as in chapter 11, verse 8.

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

Propped up by this hope of future glory (verse 14), we faint not in adversity. For, although our bodies, the exterior portion of our persons, be attenuated by the sufferings we undergo for Christ, and tending to dissolution; still, our interior part, the soul, is daily becoming more and more vigorous and renovated.

It is the hope of future glory in heaven that animates the just in the midst of sufferings and persecutions. By the “outward man,” is meant the outward and sensible portion of man, viz., his frail and corruptible body. This is attenuated and worn by sufferings. But the “inward man,” the invisible soul, from these same sufferings receives vigour, and is renovated from the oldness of sin to the newness of truth and justice.

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

For the fleeting and light afflictions of the body, which we endure at present, shall beget and insure for us hereafter an eternal weight of glory, which ineffably and incomparably exceeds the light and passing afflictions of the present life.

The Greek reading runs thus:—τὸ γὰρ παραυτικα ελαφρὸν τῆς θλιψεως καθʼ ὑπερβολην εἰς ὑπερβολην κατεργαζεται, for the present lightness of affliction from excess to excess worketh, &c. From excess to excess, or, as we have it, “above measure exceedingly,” means that this weight of eternal glory, which our present light and passing afflictions merit for us, is also ineffable, superlatively immense. This form of expression is common with the Hebrews to express what is ineffably great in its kind; or, the words may mean, that this glory inexpressibly exceeds the sufferings undergone here to gain it. The lightness of our sufferings, and their momentary continuance, are contrasted with the weight and eternal duration of the glory, that shall one day be exchanged for them. “O! our tribulation:” “our” is not in the Codex Vaticanus, as in the above quotation.

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

Whilst we keep steadily in view, not the goods of the present life, viz., honours, riches, &c., which fill beneath the senses—but the good of the life to come, which are not seen, but only believed. For, the things of this life, which are seen, are fleeting and temporary, while the invisible things of the life to come are eternal and never-ending.

“While we look not at the things which are seen.” The Greek word for “look,” σκοπουντων means keeping steadily in view. Oh! were we, with the eyes of the understanding, and in the light of faith, to consider the nothingness of earthly enjoyments and pleasures, in duration exceedingly brief, and even this very brief enjoyment alloyed with bitterness and remorse and disappointments of all sorts; and on the other hand, were we to contemplate the things of the invisible world, their never-ending duration, their intensity exceeding all human comprehension; were we but to “consider in the heart,” on the awful import of these words, “ever,” “never;” ever to continue, never to end; what a stimulus to walk in the way of virtue, and keeping God always in view, to look to the remuneration he has in store for us; what a consolation under the crosses and afflictions with which this loving Father may visit us, in order to chasten us with the rod of discipline, and wean us from the nothingness of earthly pleasures. O God! increase in us a spirit of lively faith, so as to view temporal and eternal things, the fleeting affairs of this visible world, and the never-ending concerns of the invisible world, as they are; ever to bear in mind that there are two worlds, the visible and invisible—the one to pass away, as regards us, very soon, nay, sooner than we may imagine; the other never to end, to continue as long as God shall be God—and be influenced in our conduct, with reference to them, according to their relative importance.

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

For, we assuredly know by faith, that when this body of earth, in which the soul dwells for a time, as in a temporary abode or tabernacle, is dissolved by death, we shall have a lasting dwelling from God, viz., a spiritual body given us in the resurrection, unlike the works of art made to last but for a time, this body is not made by human hands, but by the power of God himself.

“For,” connects the following with the foregoing. The Apostle assigns a reason why he and his colleagues undervalue temporal things, and regard not passing and momentary tribulations. He wishes to point out the future glory that awaits us, both as regards body and soul.

“Of this habitation.” In Greek, τοῦ σκηνους, of this tabernacle, implying that as a tabernacle is only a temporary abode, so the body, in its mortal state, is to be the tenement of the soul only for a time. “A building of God,” in Greek, εκ θεοῦ, Vulgate, ex Deo, “from God,” by which is commonly understood, the body in its glorified state after the resurrection; for it is by the hopes of the glory of the resurrection, the Apostles were encouraged to labour manfully in the work of the gospel, and to it he refers (verse 14) of preceding chapter. This interpretation derives great probability from (verse 3), where the same idea is more fully developed.



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

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 12, 2017

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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Commentaries for the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 11, 2017

Note: We are in Year B.

Year A: Commentaries for the Sixth Sunday.

Year B: Commentaries for the Sixth Sunday.

Year C: Commentaries for the Sixth Sunday.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on James 1:1-11.

My Notes on James 1:1-11.

Navarre Bible Commentary on James 1:1-11.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 119.

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

Pending: My Notes on Psalm 119:67, 68, 71, 72, 75, 76. Today’s verses.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 8:11-13.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 8:11-13.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on James 1:12-18.

Pending: My Notes on James 1:12-18.

Navarre Bible Commentary on James 1:12-18.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 94.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 94.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 8:14-21.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 8:14-21.

In 2018 Lent begin on this day. For commentaries on the Ash Wednesday readings and the rest of Lenten season readings go here.

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on James 1:19-27.

My Notes on James 1:19-27. On 17-27.

Pending: Navarre Bible Commentary on James 1:19-27.

Aquinas’ Homily Notes on James 1:19-27 in Two Parts.

Part One: Homily Notes on James 1:19-21. On 17-21.
Part Two: Homily Notes on James 1:22-27.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 15.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 15.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 15.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on Psalm 15.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 15.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 8:22-26.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 8:22-26.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Pending: Navarre Bible Commentary on James 2:1-9.

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

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 34.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 34.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 34.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 8:27-33.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 8:27-33.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on James 2:14-24, 26.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on James 2:14-24, 26. On 14-26.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 112.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 112.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 112.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 112.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 8:34-9:1.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 8:34-9:1.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Divine Office.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on James 3:1-10.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 12.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 12.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 12.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 12.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 12.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 9:2-13.

Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 9:2-13.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 9:2-13.

We are in Year B.

Year A: Commentaries for the Seventh Sunday.

Year B: Commentaries for the Seventh Sunday.

Year C: Commentaries for the Seventh Sunday.

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

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.


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.


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.


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.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture, St Robert Bellarmine | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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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Commentaries for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 21, 2017


NABRE. Pending. Used in the USA.

NJB. Pending. Used in most English speaking countries.

NRSV. Non-Catholic edition.

Divine Office.


Word-Sunday Notes on Jeremiah 17:5-8.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 17:5-8.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 1.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 1.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 1.

St Hillary’s Sermon on Psalm 1.

St Basil the Great’s Homily on Psalm 1.

Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 1.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 1.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 1.

My Notes on Psalm 1.

Lectio Divina on Psalm 1.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20.

Fr. de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20. On 12-34.

Fr. Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20. On 12-28.

Fr. MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20. On 12, 16-26.

Fr. Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:12, 20-26. on 12, 16-26.

Word-Sunday Notes on 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20.


My Notes on Luke 6:17, 20-26.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:17, 20-26. On 17-26.

Word-Sunday Notes on Luke 6:17, 20-26.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 6:17, 20-26. Fragmented, covers 17, 20-24.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 6:17, 20-26.




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