The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for the ‘Catholic lectionary’ Category

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentaries on Hebrews 1:3-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 9, 2018

This post St John Chrysostom’s second and third homilies on Hebrews. The first on Heb 1:3-5; the second is on Heb 1:6-8.

HOMILY II

Hebrews 1:3.

“Who being the brightness of His Glory and the express Image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins.”

[1.] Everywhere indeed a reverential mind is requisite, but especially when we say or hear anything of God: Since neither can tongue speak nor thought1 hear anything suitable to our God. And why speak I of tongue or thought?2 For not even the understanding3 which far excels these, will be able to comprehend anything accurately, when we desire to utter aught concerning God. For if “the peace of God surpasseth all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), and “the things which are prepared for them that love Him have not entered into the heart of man” (1 Cor. 2:9); much more He Himself, the God of peace, the Creator of all things, doth by a wide measure exceed our reasoning. We ought therefore to receive all things with faith and reverence, and when our discourse4 fails through weakness, and is not able to set forth accurately the things which are spoken, then especially to glorify God, for that we have such a God, surpassing both our thought and our conception.5 For many of our conceptions6 about God, we are unable to express, as also many things we express, but have not strength to conceive of them. As for instance:—That God is everywhere, we know; but how, we no longer understand.7 That there is a certain incorporeal power the cause of all our good things, we know: but how it is, or what it is, we know not. Lo! we speak, and do not understand. I said, That He is everywhere, but I do not understand it. I said, That He is without beginning, but I do not understand it. I said, That He begat from Himself, and again I know not how I shall understand it. And some things there are which we may not even speak—as for instance, thought conceives8 but cannot utter.

And to show thee that even Paul is weak and doth not put out his illustrations with exactness; and to make thee tremble and refrain from searching too far, hear what he says, having called Him Son and named Him Creator, “Who being the brightness of His Glory, and the express image of His person.”

This we must receive with reverence and clear of all incongruities. “The brightness of His glory,” saith he. But observe in what reference he understands this, and so do thou receive it:—that He is of Him:9 without passion: that He is neither greater, nor less; since there are some, who derive certain strange things from the illustration. For, say they, “the brightness” is not substantial,10 but hath its being in another. Now do not thou, O man, so receive it, neither be thou sick of the disease of Marcellus11 and Photinus.12 For he hath a remedy for thee close at hand, that thou fall not into that imagination, nor doth he leave thee to be hurried down into that fatal malady. And what saith he? “And the express image of His person” [or “subsistence”13 ]: that is, just as He [the Father] is personally subsisting, being in need of nothing,14 so also the Son. For he saith this here, showing the undeviating similitude15 and the peculiar image of the Prototype, that He [the Son] is in subsistence by Himself.

For he who said above, that “by Him He made all things” here assigns to Him absolute authority. For what doth he add? “And upholding all things by the word of His power”; that we might hence infer not merely His being the express image of His Person, but also His governing all things with absolute authority.

See then, how he applies to the Son that which is proper to the Father. For on this account he did not say simply, “and upholding all things,” nor did he say, “by His power,” but, “by the word of His power.” For much as just now we saw him gradually ascend and descend; so also now, as by steps, he goes up on high, then again descends, and saith, “by whom also He made the worlds.”

Behold how here also he goes on two paths, by the one leading us away from Sabellius, by the other from Arius, yea and on another, that He [Christ] should not be accounted un-originated, 1 which he does also throughout, nor yet alien from God. For if, even after so much, there are some who assert that He is alien, and assign to Him another father, and say that He is at variance with Him;—had [Paul] not declared these things, what would they not have uttered?

How then does he this? When he is compelled to heal, then is he compelled also to utter lowly things: as for instance, “He appointed Him” (saith he) “heir of all things,” and “by Him He made the worlds.” (Supra, ver. 2.) But that He might not be in another way dishonored, he brings Him up again to absolute authority and declares Him to be of equal honor with the Father, yea, so equal, that many thought Him to be the Father.

And observe thou his great wisdom. First he lays down the former point and makes it sure accurately. And when this is shown, that He is the Son of God, and not alien from Him, he thereafter speaks out safely all the high sayings, as many as he will. Since any high speech concerning Him, led many into the notion just mentioned, he first sets down what is humiliating and then safely mounts up as high as he pleases. And having said, “whom He appointed heir of all things,” and that “by Him He made the worlds,” he then adds, “and upholding all things by the word of His power.” For He that by a word only governs all things, could not be in need of any one, for the producing all things.

[2.] And to prove this, mark how again going forward, and laying aside the “by whom,” he assigns to Him absolute power. For after he had effected what he wished by the use of it, thenceforward leaving it, what saith he? “Thou Lord in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thine hands.” (Infra, ver. 10.) Nowhere is there the saying “by whom,” or that “by Him He made the worlds.” What then? Were they not made by Him? Yes, but not, as thou sayest or imaginest, “as by an instrument”: nor as though He would not have made them unless the Father had reached out a hand to Him. For as He “judgeth no man” (John 5:22), and is said to judge by the Son, in that He begat Him a judge; so also, to create by Him, in that He begat Him a Creator. And if the Father be the original cause of Him, in that He is Father, much more of the things which have been made by Him. When therefore he would show that He is of Him, he speaks of necessity lowly things. But when he would utter high things, Marcellus takes a handle, and Sabellius; avoiding however the excess of both, he holds a middle [way]. For neither does he dwell on the humiliation, lest Paul of Samosata should obtain a standing place, nor yet does he for ever abide in the high sayings; but shows on the contrary His abundant nearness, lest Sabellius rush in upon him. He names Him “Son,” and immediately Paul of Samosata comes on him, saying that He is a son, as the many are. But he gives him a fatal wound, calling Him “Heir.” But yet, with Arius, he is shameless. For the saying, “He appointed Him heir,” they both hold: the former one saying, it comes of weakness; the other still presses objections, endeavoring to support himself by the clause which follows. For by saying, “by whom also He made the worlds,” he strikes backwards the impudent Samosatene: while Arius still seems to be strong. Nevertheless see how he smites him likewise, saying again, “who being the brightness of His glory.” But behold! Sabellius again springs on us, with Marcellus, and Photinus: but on all these also he inflicts one blow, saying, “and the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power.” Here again he wounds Marcion too;2 not very severely, but however he doth wound him. For through the whole of this Epistle he is fighting against them.

But the very thing which he said, “the brightness of the glory,” hear also Christ Himself saying, “I am the Light of the world.” (John 8:12.) Therefore he [the Apostle] uses the word “brightness,” showing that this was said in the sense of “Light of Light.” Nor is it this alone which he shows, but also that He hath enlightened our souls; and He hath Himself manifested the Father, and by “the brightness” he has indicated the nearness of the Being [of the Father and the Son3 ]. Observe the subtlety of his expressions. He hath taken one essence and subsistence to indicate two subsistences. Which he also doth in regard to the knowledge of the Spirit4; for as he saith that the knowledge of the Father is one with that of the Spirit, as being indeed one, and in nought varying from itself (1 Cor. 2:10–12): so also here he hath taken hold of one certain [thing] whereby to express the subsistence of the Two.5

And he adds that He is “the express Image.” For the “express Image” is something other1 than its Prototype: yet not Another in all respects, but as to having real subsistence. Since here also the term, “express image,” indicates there is no variation from that whereof it is the “express image”: its similarity in all respects. When therefore he calls Him both Form,2 and express Image, what can they say? “Yea,” saith he, “man is also called an Image of God.”3 What then! is he so [an image of Him] as the Son is? No (saith he) but because the term, image, doth not show resemblance. And yet, in that man is called an Image, it showeth resemblance, as in man. For what God is in Heaven, that man is on earth, I mean as to dominion. And as he hath power over all things on earth, so also hath God power over all things which are in heaven and which are on earth. But otherwise, man is not called “Express image,” he is not called Form: which phrase declares the substance, or rather both substance and similarity in substance. Therefore just as “the form of a slave” (Phil. 2:6, 7) expresses no other thing than a man without variation4 [from human nature], so also “the form of God” expresses no other thing than God.

“Who being” (saith he) “the brightness of His glory.” See what Paul is doing. Having said, “Who being the brightness of His glory,” he added again, “He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty”: what names he hath used, nowhere finding a name for the Substance. For neither “the Majesty,” nor “the Glory” setteth forth the Name, which he wishes to say, but is not able to find a name. For this is what I said at the beginning, that oftentimes we think something, and are not able to express [it]: since not even the word God is a name of substance, nor is it at all possible to find a name of that Substance.

And what marvel, if it be so in respect of God, since not even in respect of an Angel, could one find a name expressive of his substance? Perhaps too, neither in respect of the soul. For this name [soul] doth not seem to me to be significative of the substance thereof, but of breathing. For one may see that the same [thing] is called both Soul and Heart and Mind: for, saith he, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Ps. 51:10), and one may often see that it [the soul] is called spirit.

“And upholding all things by the word of His power.” Tell me, “God said” (it is written), “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3): “the Father, saith one,5 commanded, and the Son obeyed”? But behold here He also [the Son] acts by word. For (saith he), “And upholding all things”—that is, governing; He holds together what would fall to pieces; For, to hold the world together, is no less than to make it, but even greater (if one must say a strange thing). For the one is to bring forward something out of things which are not: but the other, when things which have been made are about to fall back into non-existence, to hold and fasten them together, utterly at variance as they are with each other: this is indeed great and wonderful, and a certain proof of exceeding power.

Then showing the easiness, he said, “upholding”: (he did not say, governing,6 from the figure of those who simply with their finger move anything, and cause it to go round.) Here he shows both the mass of the creation to be great, and that this greatness is nothing to Him. Then again he shows the freedom from the labor, saying, “By the word of His power.” Well said he, “By the word.” For since, with us, a word is accounted to be a bare thing, he shows that it is not bare with God. But, how “He upholdeth by the word,” he hath not further added: for neither is it possible to know. Then he added concerning His majesty: for thus John also did: having said that “He is God” (John 1:1), he brought in the handiwork of the Creation. For the same thing which the one indirectly expressed, saying, “In the beginning was the Word,” and “All things were made by Him” (John 1:3), this did the other also openly declare by “the Word,” and by saying “by whom also He made the worlds.” For thus he shows Him to be both a Creator, and before all ages. What then? when the prophet saith, concerning the Father, “Thou art from everlasting and to everlasting” (Ps. 90:2), and concerning the Son, that He is before all ages, and the maker of all things—what can they say? Nay rather, when the very thing which was spoken of the Father,—“He which was before the worlds,”—this one may see spoken of the Son also? And that which one saith, “He was life” (John 1:4), pointing out the preservation of the creation, that Himself is the Life of all things,—so also saith this other, “and upholding all things by the word of His power”: not as the Greeks who defraud Him, as much as in them lies, both of Creation itself, and of Providence, shutting up His power, to reach only as far as to the Moon.

“By Himself” (saith he) “having purged our sins.” Having spoken concerning those marvelous and great matters, which are most above us, he proceeds to speak also afterwards concerning His care for men. For indeed the former expression, “and upholding all things,” also was universal: nevertheless this is far greater, for it also is universal: for, for His part, “all” men believed.1 As John also, having said, “He was life,” and so pointed out His providence, saith again, and “He was light.”

“By Himself,” saith he, “having purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” He here setteth down two very great proofs of His care: first the “purifying us from our sins,” then the doing it “by Himself.” And in many places, thou seest him making very much of this,—not only of our reconciliation with God, but also of this being accomplished through the Son. For the gift being truly great, was made even greater by the fact that it was through the Son.

For2 in saying, “He sat on the right hand,” and, “having by Himself purged our sins,”—though he had put us in mind of the Cross, he quickly added the mention of the resurrection and ascension. And see his unspeakable wisdom: he said not, “He was commanded to sit down,” but “He sat down.” Then again, lest thou shouldest think that He standeth, he subjoins, “For to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit thou on My right hand.”

“He sat” (saith he) “on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” What is this “on high”? Doth he enclose God in place? Away with such a thought! but just as, when he saith, “on the right hand,” he did not describe Him as having figure, but showed His equal dignity with the Father; so, in saying “on high,” he did not enclose Him there, but expressed the being higher than all things, and having ascended up above all things. That is, He attained even unto the very throne of the Father: as therefore the Father is on high, so also is He. For the “sitting together” implies nothing else than equal dignity. But if they say, that He said, “Sit Thou,” we may ask them, What then? did He speak to Him standing? Moreover, he said not that He commanded, not that He enjoined, but that “He said”: for no other reason, than that thou mightest not think Him without origin and without cause. For that this is why he said it, is evident from the place of His sitting. For had he intended to signify inferiority, he would not have said, “on the right hand,” but on the left hand.

Ver. 4. “Being made,” saith he, “so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” The “being made,” here, is instead of “being shown forth,” as one may say. Then also from what does he reason confidently? From the Name. Seest thou that the name Son is wont to declare true relationship? And indeed if He were not a true Son (and “true” is nothing else than “of Him”), how does he reason confidently from this? For if He be Son only by grace, He not only is not “more excellent than the angels,” but is even less than they. How? Because righteous men too were called sons; and the name son, if it be not a genuine son, doth not avail to show the “excellency.” When too he would point out that there is a certain difference between creatures and their maker, hear what he saith:

Ver. 5. “For to which of the Angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”? For these things indeed are spoken with reference also to the flesh: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”—while this,3 “Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee,” expresses nothing else than “from [the time] that God is.” For as He is said to be,4 from the time present (for this befits Him more than any other), so also the [word] “To-day” seems to me to be spoken here with reference to the flesh. For when He hath taken hold of it, thenceforth he speaks out all boldly. For indeed the flesh partakes of the high things, just as the Godhead of the lowly. For He who disdained not to become man, and did not decline the reality, how should He have declined the expressions?

Seeing then that we know these things, let us be ashamed of nothing, nor have any high thoughts. For if He Himself being God and Lord and Son of God, did not decline to take the form of a slave, much more ought we to do all things, though they be lowly. For tell me, O man, whence hast thou high thoughts? from things of this life? but these or ever they appear, run by. Or, from things spiritual? nay, this is itself one spiritual excellency,—to have no high thoughts.

Wherefore then dost thou cherish high thoughts? because thou goest on aright? hear Christ saying, “When ye have done all things, say, we are unprofitable servants, for we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10.)

Or because of thy wealth hast thou high thoughts? Dost thou not see those before thee, how they departed naked and desolate? did we not come naked into life, and naked also shall depart? who hath high thoughts on having what is another’s? for they who will use it to their own enjoyment alone, are deprived of it however unwillingly, often before death, and at death certainly. But (saith one) while we live we use them as we will. First of all, one doth not lightly see any man using what he hath as he will. Next, if a man do even use things as he will, neither is this a great matter: for the present time is short compared with the ages without end. Art thou high-minded, O man, because thou art rich? on what account? for what cause? for this befalleth also robbers, and thieves, and man-slayers, and effeminate, and whoremongers, and all sorts of wicked men. Wherefore then art thou high-minded? Since if thou hast made meet use of it, thou must not be high-minded, lest thou profane the commandment: but if unmeet, by this indeed [it has come to pass that] thou art become a slave of money, and goods, and art overcome by them. For tell me, if any man sick of a fever should drink much water, which for a short space indeed quencheth his thirst, but afterwards kindleth the flame, ought he to be high-minded? And what, if any man have many cares without cause, ought he therefore to be high-minded? tell me, wherefore? because thou hast many masters? because thou hast ten thousand cares? because many will flatter thee? [Surely not.] For thou art even their slave. And to prove that to thee, hear plainly. The other affections which are within us, are in some cases useful. For instance, Anger is often useful. For (saith he) “unjust wrath shall not be innocent” (Ecclus. 1:22): wherefore it is possible for one to be justly in wrath. And again, “He that is angry with his brother without cause,1 shall be in danger of hell.” (Matt. 5:22.) Again for instance, emulation, desire, [are useful]: the one when it hath reference to the procreation of children, the other when he directs his emulation to excellent things. As Paul also saith, “It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing” (Gal. 4:18) and, “Covet earnestly the best gifts.” (1 Cor. 12:31.) Both therefore are useful: but an insolent spirit is in no case good, but is always unprofitable and hurtful.

However, if a man must be proud, [let it be] for poverty, not for wealth. Wherefore? Because he who can live upon a little, is far greater and better than he who cannot. For tell me, supposing certain persons called to the Imperial City, if some of them should need neither beasts, nor slaves, nor umbrellas, nor lodging-places, nor sandals, nor vessels, but it should suffice them to have bread, and to take water from the wells,—while others of them should say, “unless ye give us conveyances, and a soft bed, we cannot come; unless also we have many followers, unless we may be allowed continually to rest ourselves, we cannot come, nor unless we have the use of beasts, unless too we may travel but a small portion of the day—and we have need of many other things also”: whom should we admire? those or these? plainly, these who require nothing. So also here: some need many things for the journey through this life; others, nothing. So that it would be more fitting to be proud, for poverty if it were fitting at all.

“But the poor man,” they say, “is contemptible.” Not he, but those who despise him. For why do not I despise those who know not how to admire what they ought? Why, if a person be a painter, he will laugh to scorn all who jeer at him, so long as they are uninstructed; nor cloth he regard the things which they say, but is content with his own testimony. And shall we depend on the opinion of the many? Therefore, we are worthy of contempt when men despise us for our poverty, and we do not despise them nor call them miserable.

And I say not how many sins are produced by wealth, and how many good things by poverty. But rather, neither wealth nor poverty is excellent in itself, but through those who use it. The Christian shines out in poverty rather than in riches. How? He will be less arrogant, more sober-minded, graver, more equitable, more considerate: but he that is in wealth, hath many impediments to these things. Let us see then what the rich man does, or rather, he who useth his wealth amiss. Such an one practiceth rapine, fraud, violence. Men’s unseemly loves, unholy unions, witchcrafts, poisonings, all their other horrors,—wilt thou not find them produced by wealth? Seest thou, that in poverty rather than in wealth the pursuit of virtue is less laborious? For do not, I beseech thee, think that because rich men do not suffer punishment here, neither do they sin. Since if it were easy for a rich man to suffer punishment, thou wouldest surely have found the prisons filled with them. But among its other evils, wealth hath this also, that he who possesseth it, transgressing in evil with impunity, will never be stayed from doing so, but will receive wounds without remedies, and no man will put a bridle on him.

And if a man choose, he will find that poverty affords us more resources even for pleasure. How? Because it is freed from cares, hatred, fighting, contention, strife, from evils out of number.

Therefore let us not follow after wealth, nor be forever envying those who possess much. But let those of us who have wealth, use it aright; and those who have not, let us not grieve for this, but give thanks for all things unto God, because He enableth us to receive with little labor the same reward with the rich, or even (if we will) a greater: and from small means we shall have great gains. For so he that brought the two talents, was admired and honored equally with him who brought the five. Now why? Because he was entrusted with [but] two talents, yet he accomplished all that in him lay, and brought in what was entrusted to him, doubled. Why then are we eager to have much entrusted to us, when we may by a little reap the same fruits, or even greater? when the labor indeed is less, but the reward much more? For more easily will a poor man part with his own, than a rich man who hath many and great possessions. What, know ye not, that the more things a man hath, the more he setteth his love upon? Therefore, lest this befall us, let us not seek after wealth, nor let us be impatient of poverty, nor make haste to be rich: and let those of us who have [riches] so use them as Paul commanded. (“They that have,” saith he, “as though they had not, and they that use this world as not abusing it”—1 Cor. 7:29, 31): that we may obtain the good things promised. And may it be granted to us all to obtain them, by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now, and for ever, and world without end. Amen.

HOMILY III

Hebrews 1:6–8.

“And again when He bringeth in the First-Begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him. And of the Angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.”

[1.] Our Lord Jesus Christ calls His coming in the flesh an exodus [or going out]: as when He saith, “The sower went out to sow.” (Matt. 13:3.) And again, “I went out from the Father, and am come.” (John 16:28.) And in many places one may see this. But Paul calls it an [eisodus or] coming in, saying, “And when again He bringeth in the First-Begotten into the world,” meaning by this Bringing in, His taking on Him flesh.

Now why has he so used the expression? The things signified [thereby] are manifest, and in what respect it is [thus] said. For Christ indeed calls it a Going out, justly; for we were out from God. For as in royal palaces, prisoners and those who have offended the king, stand without, and he who desires to reconcile them, does not bring them in, but himself going out discourses with them, until having made them meet for the king’s presence, he may bring them in, so also Christ hath done. Having gone out to us, that is, having taken flesh, and having discoursed to us of the King’s matters, so He brought us in, having purged the sins, and made reconciliation. Therefore he calls it a Going out.

But Paul names it a Coming in, from the metaphor of those who come to an inheritance and receive any portion or possession. For the saying, “and when again He bringeth in the First-Begotten into the world,” means this, “when he putteth the world into His hand.” For when He was made known, then also He obtained possession of the whole thereof, He saith not these things concerning God The Word, but concerning that which is according to the flesh. For if according to John, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him” (John 1:10): how is He “brought in,” otherwise than in the flesh?

“And,” saith he, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” Whereas he is about to say something great and lofty, he prepares it before hand, and makes it acceptable, in that he represents the Father as “bringing in” the Son. He had said above, that “He spake to us not by prophets but by His Son”; that the Son is superior to angels; yea and he establishes this from the name [Son]. And here, in what follows, from another fact also. What then may this be? From worship. And he shows how much greater He is, as much as a Master is than a slave; just as any one introducing another into a house straightway commands those having the care thereof to do him reverence; [so] saying in regard to the Flesh, “And let all the Angels of God worship Him.”

Is it then Angels only? No; for hear what follows: “And of His Angels He saith, Which maketh His Angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire: but unto the Son, Thy Throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” Behold, the greatest difference! that they are created, but He uncreated. While of His angels He saith, who “maketh”; wherefore of the Son did He not say “Who maketh”? Although he might have expressed the difference as follows: “Of His Angels He saith, Who maketh His Angels spirits, but of the Son, ‘The Lord created Me’: ‘God hath made Him Lord and Christ.’ ” (Prov. 8:22; Acts 2:36.) But neither was the one spoken concerning the Son, nor the other concerning God The Word, but concerning the flesh. For when he desired to express the true difference, he no longer included angels only, but the whole ministering power above. Seest thou how he distinguishes, and with how great clearness, between creatures and Creator, ministers and Lord, the Heir and true Son, and slaves?

[2.] “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” Behold a symbol of Kingly Office. “A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy kingdom.” Behold again another symbol of Royalty.

Then again with respect to the flesh (ver. 9) “Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee.”

What is, “Thy God”? Why, after that he hath uttered a great word, he again qualifieth it. Here he hits both Jews, and the followers of Paul of Samosata, and the Arians, and Marcellus, and Sabellius, and Marcion. How? The Jews, by his indicating two Persons, both God and Man;1 the other Jews,2 I mean the followers of Paul of Samosata, by thus discoursing concerning His eternal existence, and uncreated essence: for by way of distinction, against the word, “He made,” he put, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” Against the Arians there is both this same again, and also that He is not a slave; but if a creature, He is a slave. And against Marcellus and the others, that these are two Persons, distinguished in reference to their subsistence.3 And against the Marcionites, that the Godhead is not anointed, but the Manhood.

Next he saith, “Above Thy fellows.” But who are these His “fellows” other than men? that is Christ received “not the Spirit by measure.” (John 3:34.) Seest thou how with the doctrine concerning His uncreated nature he always joins also that of the “Economy”? what can be clearer than this? Didst thou see how what is created and what is begotten are not the same? For otherwise he would not have made the distinction, nor in contrast to the word, “He made” [&c.], have added, “But unto the Son He said, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” Nor would he have called the name, “Son, a more excellent Name,” if it is a sign of the same thing. For what is the excellence? For if that which is created, and that which is begotten be the same, and they [the Angels] were made, what is there [in Him] “more excellent”? Lo! again ὁ Θεὸς, “God,” with the Article.4

[3.] And again he saith (ver. 10–12): “Thou Lord in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thine hands. They shall perish, but Thou remainest, and they shall all wax old as a garment, and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same and Thy years shall not fail.”

Lest hearing the words, “and when He bringeth in the First-Begotten into the world”; thou shouldest think it as it were a Gift afterwards super-added to Him; above, he both corrected this beforehand, and again further corrects, saying, “in the beginning”: not now, but from the first. See again he strikes both Paul of Samosata and also Arius a mortal blow, applying to the Son the things which relate to the Father. And withal he has also intimated another thing by the way, greater even than this. For surely he hath incidentally pointed out also the transfiguration of the world, saying, “they shall wax old as a garment, and as a vesture Thou shalt fold them up, and they shall be changed.” Which also he saith in the Epistle to the Romans, that he shall transfigure the world. (See Rom. 8:21.) And showing the facility thereof, he adds, as if a man should fold up a garment so shall He both fold up and change it. But if He with so much ease works the transfiguration and the creation to what is better and more perfect, needed He another for the inferior creation? How far doth your shamelessness go? At the same time too this is a very great consolation, to know that things will not be as they are, but they all shall receive change, and all shall be altered, but He Himself remaineth ever existing, and living without end: “and Thy years,” he saith, “shall not fail.”

[4.] Ver. 13. “But to which of the Angels said He at any time, Sit thou on My right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” Behold, again he encourages them, inasmuch as their enemies were to be worsted, and their enemies are the same also with Christ’s.

This again belongs to Sovereignty, to Equal Dignity, to Honor and not weakness, that the Father should be angry for the things done to the Son. This belongs to His great Love and honor towards the Son, as of a father towards a son. For He that is angry in His behalf how is He a stranger to Him? Which also he saith in the second Psalm, “He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn, and the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure.” (Ps. 2:4, 5.) And again He Himself saith, “Those that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither before Me, and slay them.” (Luke 19:27.) For that they are His own words, hear also what He saith in another place, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left desolate.” (Luke 13:34, 35.) And again, “The kingdom shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matt. 21:43.) And again, “He that falleth upon that stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever It shall fall, It will grind him to powder.” (Matt. 21:44.) And besides, He who is to be their Judge in that world, much more did He Himself repay them in this. So that the words “Till I make thine enemies thy footstool” are expressive of honor only towards the Son.

Ver. 14. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” What marvel (saith he) if they minister to the Son, when they minister even to our salvation? See how he lifts up their minds, and shows the great honor which God has for us, since He has assigned to Angels who are above us this ministration on our behalf. As if one should say, for this purpose (saith he) He employs them; this is the office of Angels, to minister to God for our salvation. So that it is an angelical work, to do all for the salvation of the brethren: or rather it is the work of Christ Himself, for He indeed saves as Lord, but they as servants. And we, though servants, are yet Angels’ fellow-servants. Why gaze ye so earnestly on the Angels (saith he)? They are servants of the Son of God, and are sent many ways for our sakes, and minister to our salvation. And so they are partners in service with us.

Consider ye how he ascribes no great difference to the kinds of creatures. And yet the space between angels and men is great; nevertheless he brings them down near to us, all but saying, For us they labor, for our sake they run to and fro: on us, as one might say, they wait. This is their ministry, for our sake to be sent every way.

And of these examples both the Old [Testament] is full, and the New. For when Angels bring glad tidings to the shepherds, or to Mary, or to Joseph; when they sit at the sepulcher, when they are sent to say to the disciples, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” (Acts 1:11), when they release Peter out of the prison, when they discourse with Philip, consider how great the honor is; when God sends His Angels for ministers as to friends; when to Cornelius [an Angel] appears, when [an Angel] brings forth all the apostles from the prison, and says, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people the words of this life” (Acts 5:20); and to Paul himself also an Angel appears. Dost thou see that they minister to us on God’s behalf, and that they minister to us in the greatest matters? wherefore Paul saith, “All things are yours, whether life or death, or the world, or things present, or things to come.” (1 Cor. 3:22.)

Well then the Son also was sent, but not as a servant, nor as a minister, but as a Son, and Only-Begotten, and desiring the same things with the Father. Rather indeed, He was not “sent”: for He did not pass from place to place, but took on Him flesh: whereas these change their places, and leaving those in which they were before, so come to others in which they were not.

And by this again he incidentally encourages them, saying, What fear ye? Angels are ministering to us.

[5.] And having spoken concerning the Son, both what related to the Economy, and what related to the Creation, and to His sovereignty, and having shown His co-equal dignity, and that as absolute Master He ruleth not men only but also the powers above, he next exhorts them, having made out his argument, that we ought to give heed to the things which have been heard. (c. 2:1.) “Wherefore we ought to give more earnest heed” (saith he) “to the things which we have heard.” Why “more earnest”? Here he meant “more earnest” than to the Law: but he suppressed the actual expression of it, and yet makes it plain in the course of reasoning, not in the way of counsel, nor of exhortation. For so it was better.

Ver. 2, 3. “For if the word spoken by Angels” (saith he) “was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken to us by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him?”

Why ought we to “give more earnest heed to the things which we have heard”? were not those former things of God, as well as these? Either then he meaneth “more earnest” than [to] the Law, or “very earnest”; not making comparison, God forbid. For since, on account of the long space of time, they had a great opinion of the Old Covenant, but these things had been despised as vet new, he proves (more than his argument required) that we ought rather to give heed to these. How? By saying in effect, Both these and those are of God, but not in a like manner. And this he shows us afterwards: but for the present he treats it somewhat superficially, but afterwards more clearly, saying; “For if that first covenant had been faultless” (c. 8:7), and many other such things: “for that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” (c. 8:13.) But as yet he ventures not to say any such thing in the beginning of his discourse, nor until he shall have first occupied and possessed his hearer by his fuller [arguments].

Why then ought we “to give more earnest heed”? “Lest at any time,” saith he, “we should let them slip”—that is, lest at any time we should perish, lest we should fall away. And here he shows the grievousness of this falling away, in that it is a difficult thing for that which hath fallen away to return again, inasmuch as it hath happened through wilful negligence. And he took this form of speech from the Proverbs. For, saith he, “my son [take heed] lest thou fall away” (Prov. 3:21, LXX.), showing both the easiness of the fall, and the grievousness of the ruin. That is, our disobedience is not without danger. And while by his mode of reasoning he shows that the chastisement is greater, yet again he leaves it in the form of a question, and not in the conclusion. For indeed this is to make one’s discourse inoffensive, when one does not in every case of one’s self infer the judgment, but leaves it in the power of the hearer himself to give sentence: and this would render them more open to conviction. And both the prophet Nathan doth the same in the Old [Testament], and in Matthew Christ, saying, “What will He do to the husbandmen” (Matt. 21:40) of that vineyard? so compelling them to give sentence themselves: for this is the greatest victory.

Next, when he had said, “For if the word which was spoken by Angels was steadfast”—he did not add, much more that by Christ: but letting this pass, he said what is less, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” And see how he makes the comparison. “For if the word which was spoken by Angels,” saith he. There, “by Angels,” here, “by the Lord”—and there “a word,” but here, “salvation.”

Then lest any man should say, Thy sayings, O Paul, are they Christ’s? he proves their trustworthiness both from his having heard these things of Him, and from their being now spoken by God; since not merely a voice is wafted, as in the case of Moses, but signs are done, and facts bear witness.

[6.] But what is this, “For if the word spoken by Angels was steadfast”? For in the Epistle to the Galatians also he saith to this effect, “Being ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator.” (Gal. 3:19.) And again, “Ye received a law by the disposition of Angels, and have not kept it.” (Acts 7:53.) And everywhere he saith it was given by angels. Some indeed say that Moses is signified; but without reason. For here he says Angels in the plural: and the Angels too which he here speaks of, are those in Heaven. What then is it? Either he means the Decalogue only (for there Moses spake, and God answered him—Ex. 19:19),—or that angels were present, God disposing them in order,—or that he speaks thus in regard of all things said and done in the old Covenant, as if Angels had part in them. But how is it said in another place, “The Law was given by Moses” (John 1:17), and here “by Angels”? For it is said, “And God came down in thick darkness.”1 (Ex. 19:16, 20.)

“For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast.” What is “was steadfast”? True, as one may say; and faithful in its proper season; and all the things which had been spoken came to pass. Either this is his meaning, or that they prevailed, and the threatenings were coming to be accomplished. Or by “the word” he means injunctions. For apart from the Law, Angels sent from God enjoined many things: for instance at Bochim, in the Judges, in [the history of] Samson. (Judg. 2:1; 13:3.) For this is the cause why he said not “the Law” but “the word.” And he seems to me haply rather to mean this, viz., those things which are committed to the management of angels. What shall we say then? The angels who were entrusted with the charge of the nation were then present, and they themselves made the trumpets, and the other things, the fire, the thick darkness. (Ex. 19:16.)

“And every transgression and disobedience,” saith he. Not this one and that one, but “every” one. Nothing, he saith, remained unavenged, but “received a just recompense of reward,” instead of [saying] punishment. Why now spake he thus? Such is the manner of Paul, not to make much account of his phrases, but indifferently to put down words of evil sound, even in matters of good meaning. As also in another place he saith, “Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”2 (2 Cor. 10:5.) And again he hath put “the recompense” for punishment,3 as here he calleth punishment “reward.” “If it be a righteous thing,” he saith, “with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you, and to you who are troubled rest.” (2 Thess. 1:6, 7.) That is, justice was not violated, but God went forth against them, and caused the penalty to come round on the sinners, though not all their sins are made manifest, but only where the express ordinances were transgressed.

“How then shall we,” he saith, “escape if we neglect so great salvation?” Hereby he signified, that that other salvation was no great thing. Well too did he add the “So great.” For not from wars (he saith) will He now rescue us, nor bestow on us the earth and the good things that are in the earth, but it will be the dissolution of death, the destruction of the devil, the kingdom of Heaven, everlasting life. For all these things he hath briefly expressed, by saying, “if we neglect so great salvation.”

[7.] Then he subjoins what makes this worthy of belief. “Which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord”: that is, had its beginning from the fountain itself. It was not a man who brought it over1 into the earth, nor any created power, but the Only-Begotten Himself.

“And was confirmed unto us by them that heard [Him].” What is “confirmed”? It was believed,2 or, it came to pass. For (he saith) we have the earnest;3 that is, it hath not been extinguished, it hath not ceased, but it is strong and prevaileth. And the cause is, the Divine power works therein. It means they who heard from the Lord, themselves confirmed us. This is a great thing and trustworthy: which also Luke saith in the beginning of his Gospel, “As they delivered unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word.” (Luke 1:2.)

How then was it confirmed? What if those that heard were forgers? saith some one. This objection then he overthrows, and shows that the grace was not human. If they had gone astray, God would not have borne witness to them; for he subjoined (ver. 4), “God also bearing witness with them.” Both they indeed bear witness, and God beareth witness too. How doth He bear witness? not by word or by voice, (though this also would have been worthy of belief): but how? “By signs, and wonders, and divers miracles.” (Well said he, “divers miracles,” declaring the abundance of the gifts: which was not so in the former dispensation, neither so great signs and so various.) That is, we did not believe them simply, but through signs and wonders: wherefore we believe not them, but God Himself.

“And by gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will.”

What then, if wizards also do signs, and the Jews said that He “cast out devils through Beelzebub”? (Luke 11:15.) But they do not such kind of signs: therefore said he “divers miracles”: for those others were not miracles, [or powers,4] but weakness and fancy, and things altogether vain. Wherefore he said, “by gifts of the Holy Ghost according to His own will.”

[8.] Here he seems to me to intimate something further. For it is not likely there were many there who had gifts, but that these had failed, upon their becoming more slothful. In order then that even in this he might comfort them, and not leave them to fall away, he referred all to the will of God. He knows (he says) what is expedient, and for whom, and apportions His grace accordingly. Which also he [Paul] does in the Epistle to the Corinthians, saying, “God hath set every one of us, as it pleased Him.” (1 Cor. 12:18.) And again, “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1 Cor. 12:7.)

“According to His will.” He shows that the gift is according to the will of the Father. But oftentimes on account of their unclean and slothful life many have not received a gift, and sometimes also those whose life is good and pure have not received one. Why, I pray you? Lest they might be made haughty, that they might not be puffed up, that they might not grow more negligent, that they might not be more excited. For if even without a gift, the mere consciousness of a pure life be sufficient to lift a man up, much more when the grace is added also. Wherefore to the humble, to the simple, it was rather given, and especially to the simple: for it is said, “in singleness and gladness of heart.” (Acts 2:46.) Yea, and hereby also he rather urged them on, and if they were growing negligent gave them a spur. For the humble, and he who imagines no great things concerning himself, becomes more earnest when he has received a gift, in that he has obtained what is beyond his deserts, and thinks that he is not worthy thereof. But he who thinks he hath done well, reckoning it to be his due, is puffed up. Wherefore God dispenseth this profitably: which one may see taking place also in the Church: for one hath the word of teaching, another hath not power to open his mouth. Let not this man (he says) be grieved because of this. For “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1 Cor. 12:7.) For if a man that is an householder knoweth to whom he should entrust anything, much more God, who understands the mind of men, “who knoweth all things or ever they come into being.”1 One thing only is worthy of grief, Sin: there is nothing else.

Say not, Wherefore have I not riches? or, If I had, I would give to the poor. Thou knowest not, if thou hadst them, whether thou wouldest not the rather be covetous. For now indeed thou sayest these things, but being put to the trial thou wouldest be different. Since also when we are satisfied, we think that we are able to fast; but when we have gone without a little space, other thoughts come into us. Again, when we are out of the way of strong drink, we think ourselves able to master our appetite, but no longer so, when we are caught by it.

Say not, Wherefore had I not the gift of teaching? or, If I had had it, I should have edified innumerable souls. Thou knowest not, if thou hadst it, whether it would not be to thy condemnation,—whether envy, whether sloth, would not have disposed thee to hide thy talent. Now, indeed, thou art now free from all these, and though thou give not “the portion of meat” (Luke 12:42), thou art not called to account: but then, thou wouldest have been responsible for many.

[9.] And besides, neither now art thou without the gift. Show in the little, what thou wouldst have been, if thou hadst had the other. “For if” (he says) “ye are not faithful in that which is little, how shalt any one give you that which is great?” (Luke 16:11.) Give such proof as did the widow; she had two farthings,2 and she cast in all, whatsoever she possessed.

Dost thou seek riches? Prove that thou thinkest lightly of the few things, that I may trust thee also concerning the many things. But if thou dost not think lightly even of these, much less wilt thou do so of the other.

Again, in speech, prove that thou canst use fitly exhortation and counsel. Hast thou not external eloquence? hast thou not store of thoughts? But nevertheless thou knowest these common things. Thou hast a child, thou hast a neighbor, thou hast a friend, thou hast a brother, thou hast kinsmen. And though publicly before the Church, thou art not able to draw out a long discourse, these thou canst exhort in private. Here, there is no need of rhetoric, nor of elaborate discourse: prove in these, that if thou hadst skill of speech, thou wouldest not have neglected it. But if in the small matter thou art not in earnest, how shall I trust thee concerning the great?

For, that every man can do this, hear what Paul saith, how he charged even lay people; “Edify,” he says, “one another, as also ye do.” (1 Thess. 5:11.) And, “Comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thess. 4:18.) God knoweth how He should distribute to every man. Art thou better than Moses? hear how he shrinks from the hardship. “Am I,” saith he, “able to bear them? for Thou saidst to me, Bear them up, as a nursing-father would bear up the sucking-child.” (Num. 11:12.) What then did God? He took of his spirit and gave unto the others, showing that neither when he bare them was the gift his own, but of the Spirit. If thou hadst had the gift, thou wouldst perchance3 have been lifted up, perchance wouldst thou have been turned out of the way. Thou knowest not thyself as God knoweth thee. Let us not say, To what end is that? on what account is this? When God dispenseth, let us not demand an account of Him: for this [is] of the uttermost impiety and folly. We are slaves, and slaves far apart from our Master, knowing not even the things which are before us.

[10.] Let us not then busy ourselves about the counsel of God, but whatsoever He hath given, this let us guard, though it be small, though it be the lowest, and we shall be altogether approved. Or rather, none of the gifts of God is small: art thou grieved because thou hast not the gift of teaching? Then tell me, which seems to you the greater, to have the gift of teaching, or the gift of driving away diseases? Doubtless the latter. But what? Tell me; doth it not seem to thee greater to give eyes to the blind than even to drive away diseases? But what? Tell me; doth it not seem to thee greater to raise the dead than to give eyes to the blind? What again, tell me; doth it not seem to thee greater to do this by shadows and napkins, than by a word? Tell me then, which wouldst thou? Raise the dead with shadows and napkins, or have the gift of teaching? Doubtless thou wilt say the former, to raise the dead with shadows and napkins. If then I should show to thee, that there is another gift far greater than this, and that thou dost not receive it when it is in thy power to receive it, art not thou justly deprived of those others? And this gift not one or two, but all may have. I know that ye open wide your mouths and are amazed, at being to hear that it is in your power to have a greater gift than raising the dead, and giving eyes to the blind, doing the same things which were done in the time of the Apostles. And it seems to you past belief.

What then is this gift? charity. Nay, believe me; for the word is not mine, but Christ’s, speaking by Paul. For what saith he? “Covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.” (1 Cor. 12:31.) What is this, “yet more excellent”? What he means is this. The Corinthians were proud over their gifts, and those having tongues, the least gift, were puffed up against the rest. He saith therefore, Do ye by all means desire gifts? I show unto you a way of gifts not merely excelling but far more excellent. Then he saith, “Though I speak with the tongues of Angels, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I have faith so as to remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:1, 2.)

Hast thou seen the gift? Covet earnestly this gift. This is greater than raising the dead. This is far better than all the rest. And that it is so, hear what Christ Himself saith, discoursing with His disciples, “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples.” (John 13:35.) And showing how, He mentioned not the miracles, but what? “If ye have love one with another.” And again He saith to the Father, “Hereby shall they know that Thou hast sent Me, if they be one.” (John 17:21.) And He said to His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that ye love one another.” (John 13:34.) Such an one therefore is more venerable and glorious than those who raise the dead; with reason. For that indeed is wholly of God’s grace, but this, of thine own earnestness also. This is of one who is a Christian indeed: this shows the disciple of Christ, the crucified, the man that hath nothing common with earth. Without this, not even martyrdom can profit.

And as a proof, see this plainly. The blessed Paul took two of the highest virtues, or rather three; namely, those which consist in miracles, in knowledge, in life. And without this the others, he said, are nothing. And I will say how these are nothing. “Though I give my goods to feed the poor,” he says, “and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:3.) For it is possible not to be charitable even when one feeds the poor and exhausts one’s means.

[11.] And indeed these things have been sufficiently declared by us, in the place concerning Charity:1 and thither we refer the readers. Meanwhile, as I was saying, let us covet earnestly the Gift, let us love one another; and we shall need nothing else for the perfect acquisition of virtue, but all will be easy to us without toils and we shall do all perfectly with much diligence.

But see, even now, it is said, we love one another. For one man hath two friends, and another three. But this is not to love for God’s sake, but for the sake of being beloved. But to love for God’s sake hath not this as its principle of Love; but such an one will be disposed towards all men as towards brethren; loving those that are of the same faith as being true brothers; heretics and Heathen and Jews, brothers indeed by nature, but vile and unprofitable,—pitying and wearing himself out and weeping for them. Herein we shall be like God if we love all men, even our enemies; not, if we work miracles. For we regard even God with admiration when He worketh wonders, yet much more, when He showeth love towards man, when He is long-suffering. If then even in God this is worthy of much admiration, much more in men is it evident that this rendereth us admirable.

This then let us zealously seek after: and we shall be no way inferior to Paul and Peter and those who have raised innumerable dead, though we may not be able to drive away a fever. But without this [Love], though we should work greater miracles even than the Apostles themselves, though we should expose ourselves to innumerable dangers for the faith: there will be to us no profit from any. And these things it is not I that say, but he, the very nourisher of Charity, knoweth these things. To him then let us be obedient; for thus we shall be able to attain to the good things promised, of which may we all be made partakers, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father with the Holy Ghost, be the glory, now and for ever and world without end. Amen.

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

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Hebrews 1:1-2

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 9, 2018

HOMILY I

Hebrews 1:1, 2.

“God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath at the end of the days1 spoken unto us by His Son: whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.”

[1.] Truly, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Rom. 5:20.) This at least the blessed Paul intimates here also, in the very beginning of his Epistle to the Hebrews. For since as it was likely that afflicted, worn out by evils, and judging of things thereby, they would think themselves worse off than all other men,—he shows that herein they had rather been made partakers of greater, even very exceeding, grace; arousing the hearer at the very opening of his discourse. Wherefore he says, “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath at the end of the days spoken unto us by His Son.”

Why did he [Paul] not oppose “himself” to “the prophets”? Certainly, he was much greater than they, inasmuch as a greater trust was committed to him. Yet he doth not so. Why? First, to avoid speaking great things concerning himself. Secondly, because his hearers were not yet perfect. And thirdly, because he rather wished to exalt them, and to show that their superiority was great. As if he had said, What so great matter is it that He sent prophets to our fathers? For to us [He has sent] His own only-begotten Son Himself.

And well did he begin thus, “At sundry times and in divers manners,” for he points out that not even the prophets themselves saw God; nevertheless, the Son saw Him. For the expressions, “at sundry times and in divers manners” are the same as “in different ways.” “For I” (saith He) “have multiplied visions, and used similitudes by the ministry of the Prophets.” (Hos. 12:10.) Wherefore the excellency consists not in this alone, that to them indeed prophets were sent, but to us the Son; but that none of them saw God, but the Only-begotten Son saw Him. He doth not indeed at once assert this, but by what he says afterwards he establishes it, when he speaks concerning His human nature; “For to which of the Angels said He, Thou art My Son,” (ver. 5), and, “Sit thou on My right hand”? (Ver. 13.)

And look on his great wisdom. First he shows the superiority from the prophets. Then having established this as acknowledged, he declares that to them indeed He spake by the prophets, but to us by the Only-begotten. Then [He spake] to them by Angels, and this again he establishes, with good reason (for angels also held converse with the Jews): yet even herein we have the superiority, inasmuch as the Master [spake] to us, but to them servants, and prophets, fellow-servants.

[2.] Well also said he, “at the end of the days,” for by this he both stirs them up and encourages them desponding of the future. For as he says also in another place, “The Lord is at hand, be careful for nothing” (Phil. 4:5, 6), and again, “For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11): so also here. What then is it which he says? That whoever is spent in the conflict, when he hears of the end thereof, recovers his breath a little, knowing that it is the end indeed of his labors, but the beginning of his rest.

“Hath in the end of the days spoken unto us in [His] Son.” Behold again he uses the saying, “in [His] Son,”2 for “through the Son,”3 against those who assert that this phrase is proper to the Spirit.4 Dost thou see that the [word] “in” is “through”?5

And the expression, “In times past,” and this, “In the end of the days,” shadows forth some other meaning:—that when a long time had intervened, when we were on the edge of punishment, when the Gifts had failed, when there was no expectation of deliverance, when we were expecting to have less than all—then we have had more.

And see how considerately he hath spoken it. For he said not, “Christ spake” (albeit it was He who did speak), but inasmuch as their souls were weak, and they were not yet able to hear the things concerning Christ, he says, “God hath spoken by Him.” What meanest thou? did God speak through the Son? Yes. What then? Is it thus thou showest the superiority? for here thou hast but pointed out that both the New and the Old [Covenants] are of One and the same: and that this superiority is not great. Wherefore he henceforth follows on upon this argument, saying, “He spake unto us by [His] Son.”

(Note, how Paul makes common cause, and puts himself on a level with the disciples, saying, He spake “to us”: and yet He did not speak to him, but to the Apostles, and through them to the many. But he lifts them [the Hebrews] up, and declares that He spake also to them. And as yet he doth not at all reflect on the Jews. For almost all to whom the prophets spake, were a kind of evil and polluted persons. But as yet the discourse is not of these: but hitherto of the gifts derived from God.)

“Whom He appointed,” saith he, “heir of all.” What is “whom He appointed heir of all”? He speaks here of the flesh [the human nature]. As He also says in the second Psalm, “Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance.” (Ps. 2:8.) For no longer is “Jacob the portion of the Lord” nor “Israel His inheritance” (Deut. 32:9), but all men: that is to say, He hath made Him Lord of all: which Peter also said in the Acts, “God hath made Him both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36.) But he has used the name “Heir,” declaring two things: His proper sonship1 and His indefeasible sovereignty. “Heir of all,” that is, of all the world.

[3.] Then again he brings back his discourse to its former point. “By whom also He made the worlds [the ages].”2 Where are those who say, There was [a time] when He was not?

Then, using degrees of ascent, he uttered that which is far greater than all this, saying,

Ver. 3, 4. “Who, (being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power,) when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made3 so much better than the Angels as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”

O! the wisdom of the Apostle! or rather, not the wisdom of Paul, but the grace of the Spirit is the thing to wonder at. For surely he uttered not these things of his own mind, nor in that way did he find his wisdom. (For whence could it be? From the knife, and the skins, or the workshop?) But it was from the working of God. For his own understanding did not give birth to these thoughts, which was then so mean and slender as in nowise to surpass the baser sort; (for how could it, seeing it spent itself wholly on bargains and skins?) but the grace of the Spirit shows forth its strength by whomsoever it will.

For just as one, wishing to lead up a little child to some lofty place, reaching up even to the top of Heaven, does this gently and by degrees, leading him upwards by the steps from below,—then when he has set him on high, and bidden him to gaze downwards, and sees him turning giddy and confused, and dizzy, taking hold of him, he leads him down to the lower stand, allowing him to take breath; then when he hath recovered it, leads him up again, and again brings him down;—just so did the blessed Paul likewise, both with the Hebrews and everywhere, having learnt it from his Master. For even He also did so; sometimes He led His hearers up on high, and sometimes He brought them down, not allowing them to remain very long.

See him, then, even here—by how many steps he led them up, and placed them near the very summit of religion, and then or ever they grow giddy, and are seized with dizziness, how he leads them again lower down, and allowing them to take breath, says, “He spake unto us by [His] Son,” “whom He appointed Heir of all things.”4 For the name of Son is so far common. For where a true5 [Son] it is understood of, He is above all: but however that may be, for the present he proves that He is from above.

And see how he says it: “Whom He appointed,” saith he, “heir of all things.” The phrase, “He appointed Heir,” is humble. Then he placed them on the higher step, adding, “by whom also He made the worlds.” Then on a higher still, and after which there is no other, “who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.” Truly he has led them to unapproachable light, to the very brightness itself. And before they are blinded see how he gently leads them down again, saying, “and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty.” He does not simply say, “He sat down,” but “after the purifying, He sat town,” for he hath touched on the Incarnation, and his utterance is again lowly.

Then again having said a little by the way (for he says, “on the right hand of the Majesty on high”), [he turns] again to what is lowly; “being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Henceforward then he treats here of that which is according to the flesh, since the phrase “being made better” doth not express His essence according to the Spirit,1 (for that was not “made” but “begotten,”) but according to the flesh: for this was “made.” Nevertheless the discourse here is not about being called into2 existence. But just as John says, “He that cometh after me, is preferred before me” (John 1:15, 30), that is, higher in honor and esteem; so also here, “being made so much better than the angels”—that is, higher in esteem and better and more glorious, “by how much He hath obtained by inheritance a more excellent name than they.” Seest thou that he is speaking of that which is according to the flesh? For this Name,3 God the Word ever had; He did not afterwards “obtain it by inheritance”; nor did He afterwards become “better than the Angels, when He had purged our sins”; but He was always “better,” and better without all comparison.4 For this is spoken of Him according to the flesh.

So truly it is our way also, when we talk of man, to speak things both high and low. Thus, when we say, “Man is nothing,” “Man is earth,” “Man is ashes,” we call the whole by the worse part. But when we say, “Man is an immortal animal,” and “Man is rational, and of kin to those on high,” we call again the whole by the better part. So also, in the case of Christ, sometimes Paul discourseth from the less and sometimes from the better; wishing both to establish the economy, and also to teach about the incorruptible nature.

[4.] Since then “He hath purged our sins,” let us continue pure; and let us receive no stain, but preserve the beauty which He hath implanted in us, and His comeliness undefiled and pure, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” (Eph. 5:27.) Even little sins are “a spot and a wrinkle,” such a thing, I mean, as Reproach, Insult, Falsehood.

Nay, rather not even are these small, but on the contrary very great: yea so great as to deprive a man even of the kingdom of Heaven. How, and in what manner? “He that calleth his brother fool, is in danger” (He saith) “of hell-fire.” (Matt. 5:22.) But if it be so with him who calls a man “fool,” which seems to be the slightest of all things, and rather mere children’s talk; what sentence of punishment will not he incur, who calleth him malignant and crafty and envious, and casteth at him ten thousand other reproaches? What more fearful than this?

Now suffer, I beseech you, the word [of exhortation].5 For if he that “doeth” [aught] to “one of the least, doeth it to Him” (Matt. 25:40), and he that “doeth it not to one of the least doeth it not to Him” (Matt. 25:45), how is it not the same also in the matter of good or evil speaking? He that reviles his brother, reviles God: and he that honors his brother, honors God. Let us train therefore our tongue to speak good words. For “refrain,” it is said, “thy tongue from evil.” (Ps. 34:13.) For God gave it not that we should speak evil, that we should revile, that we should calumniate one another; but to sing hymns to God withal, to speak those things which “give grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29), things for edification, things for profit.

Hast thou spoken evil of a man? What is thy gain, entangling thyself in mischief together with him? For thou hast obtained the reputation of a slanderer. For there is not any, no not any evil, which stops at him that suffers it, but it includes the doer also. As for instance, the envious person seems indeed to plot against another, but himself first reaps the fruit of his sin, wasting and wearing himself away, and being hated of all men. The cheat deprives another of his money; yea and himself too of men’s good will: and causes himself to be evil spoken of by all men. Now reputation is much better than money, for the one it is not easy to wash out, whereas it is easy to gain possession of the other. Or rather, the absence of the one doth no hurt to him that wanteth it; but the absence of the other makes you reproached and ridiculed, and an object of enmity and warfare to all.

The passionate man again first punishes and tears himself in pieces, and then him with whom he is angry.

Just so the evil speaker disgraces first himself and then him who is evil-spoken of: or, it may be, even this hath proved beyond his power, and while he departs with the credit of a foul and detestable kind of person, he causes the other to be loved the more. For when a man hearing a bad name given him, doth not requite the giver in the same kind, but praises and admires, he doth not praise the other, but himself. For I before observed that, as calumnies against our neighbors first touch those who devise the mischief, so also good works done towards our neighbors, gladden first those who do them. The parent either of good, or evil, justly reaps the fruit of it first himself. And just as water, whether it be brackish or sweet, fills the vessels of those who resort to it, but lessens not the fountain which sends it forth; so surely also, both wickedness and virtue, from whatever person they proceed, prove either his joy or his ruin.

So far as to the things of this world; but what speech may recount the things of that world, either the goods or the evils? There is none. For as to the blessings, they surpass all thought, not speech only; for their opposites are expressed indeed in terms familiar to us. For fire, it is said, is there, and darkness, and bonds, and a worm that never dieth. But this represents not only the things which are spoken of, but others more intolerable. And to convince thee, consider at once this first: if it be fire, how is it also darkness? Seest thou how that fire is more intolerable than this? For it hath no light. If it be fire, how is it forever burning? Seest thou how something more intolerable than this happens? For it is not quenched. Yea, therefore it is called unquenchable. Let us then consider how great a misery it must be, to be forever burning, and to be in darkness, and to utter unnumbered groanings, and to gnash the teeth, and not even to be heard. For if here any one of those ingeniously brought up, should he be cast into prison, speaks of the mere ill savor, and the being laid in darkness, and the being bound with murderers, as more intolerable than any death: think what it is when we are burning with the murderers of the whole world, neither seeing nor being seen, but in so vast a multitude thinking that we are alone. For the darkness and gloom doth not allow our distinguishing those who are near to us, but each will burn as if he were thus suffering alone. Moreover, if darkness of itself afflicteth and terrifieth our souls, how then will it be when together with the darkness there are likewise so great pains and burnings?

Wherefore I entreat you to be ever revolving these things with yourselves, and to submit to the pain of the words, that we may not undergo the punishment of the things. For assuredly, all these things shall be, and those whose doings have deserved those chambers of torture no man shall rescue, not father, nor mother, nor brother. “For a brother redeemeth not,” He saith; “shall a man redeem?” (Ps. 49:7, LXX.), though he have much confidence, though he have great power with God. For it is He Himself who rewards every one according to his works, and upon these depends our salvation or punishment.

Let us make then to ourselves “friends of the mammon of unrighteousness” (Luke 16:9), that is: Let us give alms; let us exhaust our possessions upon them, that so we may exhaust that fire: that we may quench it, that we may have boldness there. For there also it is not they who receive us, but our own work: for that it is not simply their being our friends which can save us, learn from what is added. For why did He not say, “Make to yourselves friends, that they may receive you into their everlasting habitations,” but added also the manner? For saying, “of the mammon of unrighteousness,” He points out that we must make friends of them by means of our possessions, showing that mere friendship will not protect us, unless we have good works, unless we spend righteously the wealth unrighteously gathered.

Moreover, this our discourse, of Almsgiving I mean, fits not only the rich, but also the needy. Yea even if there be any person who supporteth himself by begging, even for him is this word. For there is no one, so poverty-stricken, however exceeding poor he may be, as not to be able to provide “two mites.” (Luke 21:2.) It is therefore possible that a person giving a small sum from small means, should surpass those who have large possessions and give more; as that widow did. For not by the measure of what is given, but by the means and willingness of the givers is the extent of the alms-deed estimated. In all cases the will is needed, in all, a right disposition; in all, love towards God. If with this we do all things, though having little we give little, God will not turn away His face, but will receive it as great and admirable: for He regards the will, not the gifts: and if He see that to be great, He assigneth His decrees and judges accordingly, and maketh them partakers of His everlasting benefits.

Which may God grant us all to obtain, by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.

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

A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture [Mark 2:1–12. Mat. 9:1–8. Luke 5:17–26]

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 8, 2018

The Cure of the Paralytic, and Forgiveness of Sin
[Mark 2:1–12. Mat. 9:1–8. Luke 5:17–26]

JESUS returned to Capharnaum, and, as He was teaching in a private house, a great multitude of people, coming to hear Him, filled the house and crowded round it. But behold, four men brought a paralytic1 on a bed, and as they could not get near to Jesus on account of the throng2, they went up on the roof3 of the house, and making an opening4, let down the paralytic in his bed.

Jesus, seeing their faith5, said: “Son, be of good heart, thy sins6 are forgiven thee.”

Now there were among the crowd some Scribes and Pharisees7, who, hearing these words, thought within themselves: “He blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus, seeing their thoughts, said to them: “Why do you think evil in your hearts? Which is easier8, to say: ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee?’ or to say: ‘Rise up, take thy bed and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, I say to thee: ‘Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house.’ ” Immediately the man arose, took up his bed9 and went forth in the sight of all. And all the people wondered and glorified God10, saying: “We never saw the like!”

Note:

1. A paralytic. i. e. one who was wholly paralysed, so that he could use none of his limbs, but had to be carried about.

2. The throng. The people being packed together as tightly as they could be in the passages and rooms, passing through was quite an impossibility.

3. On the roof. A staircase on the outside of the house led directly to the roof.

4. An opening. By removing a part of the roof, which was at the same time the ceiling of the room below.

5. Their faith. The extraordinary amount of trouble they had taken to convey the sick man to Jesus as speedily as possible, proved both their faith and their desire for help.

6. Thy sins. As the lame man lay before Jesus and raised his eyes to Him, he trembled before the Holy One of God, and, contrite and abashed, cast down his eyes. But Jesus beheld his contrition, and tenderly, addressing him as “Son”, comforted him and forgave him his sins

7. Scribes and Pharisees. Our Lord’s miracles and increasing fame in Galilee had stirred up the Pharisees and Scribes throughout the whole land. They came to Capharnaum not only from Galilee, but also from Judæa and Jerusalem to watch Jesus (Luke 5:17).

8. Which is easier? It is easy enough to say the first, for nobody can look into a man’s soul, and see whether he be really cleansed from sin or not. Any deceiver or false prophet could say such words without his deception being proved; but to say to a lame man “Rise up and walk” is a very much harder thing, for it can be proved on the spot whether his words have any power or no.

9. Took up his bed. Our Lord, by His word, cured the man so instantaneously that he was able to take up and carry off his bed without help. This should have proved to the Pharisees that our Lord’s former words: “Thy sins are forgiven thee,” had been equally powerful, and had remitted the man’s sins. Jesus had proved that He was no blasphemer; and as his enemies could not deny His power, they remained silent.

10. Glorified God. The people were seized with a holy awe, for they felt that only a divine power could have worked such a miracle: and the Gospel says that “they glorified God who gave such power to men”. For as Jesus, the Son of Man, stood before them in a lowly human form, they did not perceive that He was God, and had worked this miracle by His own power, but believed that God had given the power to Him, a man.

Commentary

Proofs of our Lord’s Divinity. 1. He saw the contrition, faith and hope which were in the soul of the paralysed man, in the same manner as He read the secret thoughts of the Pharisees: therefore He was Omniscient. God alone is Omniscient: therefore Jesus is God. 2. Jesus is Omnipotent; for by His will and word He instantaneously cured the lame man. Even as at the creation He said: “Let things be,” so now He said to the palsied man: “Arise!” 3. Jesus, by His own power, absolved the lame man of his sins. This, as the Pharisees very rightly judged, is the prerogative of God, who is offended by sins, and who knows the heart of the sinner: therefore Jesus is God. Had He not been God, He would have been assuming to Himself a divine right and power, and would have been a deceiver and a blasphemer.

Blasphemy. It was the Pharisees who were blasphemers, because, in spite of His miracles and holiness, they despised Jesus and accused Him of blasphemy. Their reason must have told them that God would not be with a blasphemer, and that therefore no blasphemer could work such mighty miracles. But their evil wills and evil hearts obscured their reason, and made them obstinate and defiant. Their unbelief was without excuse.

The dignity of the soul. Jesus first healed the palsied man’s soul, and then his body. He desired to teach us by this that He came to cure and save souls, that the soul is worth more than the body, and that the health of the body can only avail those whose soul is healthy. Our love of ourselves ought therefore to be bestowed first of all on our souls.

The necessity of contrition. The sick man possessed real contrition. His sins oppressed and tormented him more than his bodily infirmity; and with one beseeching glance he prayed to Jesus for forgiveness. Jesus saw that the state of his soul pained him more than that of his body, and that what he most craved for was pardon and peace; and therefore He said to him: “Son, be of good heart, thy sins are for given.” If the sick man had no contrition, he would not have obtained pardon.

The Compassion of Jesus on repentant sinners. He lovingly addressed the sick man as “son”, and consoled him.

The object of sufferings. The severe malady of the lame man was perhaps a consequence or a punishment of his sins. God allowed this terrible infirmity to overtake this sinner and torment his body, so that he might learn to repent of his sins, and thus save his soul from everlasting perdition.

Sins of thought. The Pharisees sinned grievously by thought.

The forgiveness of sins by priests. You have just heard that God alone can forgive sins. But does not a priest forgive sins in the Sacrament of Penance? Yes, but he does so not in his own name and by his own authority as Jesus did, but in the name and by the authority received from God—our Lord having left to the apostles and their successors the office of forgiving sins. By the Sacrament of Penance our Lord gave to his Church a really divine power, for the comfort and salvation of sinful men. Let us too, then, “glorify God who has given such power to men”.

Indulgences. The palsied man receives first the forgiveness of his sins, then his temporal punishment (the palsy) is removed. This is exactly what is done by indulgences, which are granted for the purpose of removing temporal punishment. Only he who is cleansed from mortal sin and is in a state of grace, can gain an indulgence.

Application. Do you suppress all bad thoughts—such as envy, pride, impurity, unkindness—as quickly as possible? God sees into your heart. If a bad thought occurs to you, say at once: “Begone!” and turn your thoughts to something that is holy.

Do you make a good act of thanksgiving after you have been to confession?

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

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 17

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 9, 2018

PSALM 17
A JUST MAN’S PRAYER IN TRIBULATION AGAINST THE MALICE OF HIS ENEMIES

1 The prayer of David.  HEAR, O Lord, my justice: attend to my supplication. Give ear unto my prayer, which proceedeth not from deceitful lips.

He first prays that his just cause may be heard, for with a just judge, the cause is more regarded than the person; he asks then that his prayer may be attended to; for God not only loves justice, but also the just; and, as St. James has it, “The prayer of the just availeth much.” He finally unites both justice and prayer, when he says, “Give ear unto my prayer which proceedeth not from deceitful lips;” that is, my prayer that does not proceed from deceitful lips, but is based on justice. The meaning then is, Lord, may justice move thee; may prayer, the prayer of the just, move thee.

2 Let my judgment come forth from thy countenance: let thy eyes behold the things that are equitable.

Another argument from the justice of God, as if he said: To you, O God, I appeal; by you, as being the most just of judges, I wished to be judged. “From thy countenance;” that is, from thy mouth let judgment proceed—my sentence be pronounced. “Let thy eyes behold the things that are equitable.” Close not thy eyes, and cloak not the calumnies of the wicked, but open them and see what justice demands.

3 Thou hast proved my heart, and visited it by night, thou hast tried me by fire: and iniquity hath not been found in me.

A reason assigned for wishing to be judged by God, for he alone searches the hearts, and thoroughly knows the innocence of his servants. “Thou hast proved my heart;” you have tried me where no one else can, interiorly; you have proved my sincerity, and he tells how “Thou hast visited it by night.” On two occasions one’s interior may be seen; when an opportunity offers for sinning in private, and in the time of tribulation: for there are many wicked persons, to all appearance with a fair exterior, when they have an opportunity of committing sin in private, without any fear of detection, then only show what they are made of. So in the time of prosperity, the bad cannot be distinguished from the good, but apply the fire of persecution, and the gold shines out, the stubble burns. The first is expressed by the words, “Visited it by night;” that is, in secret, when an opportunity for committing sin presented itself; the second comes under the words, “Thou hast tried me by fire;” that is, with grievous tribulations; and yet thou hast found no iniquity in me.

4 That my mouth may not speak the works of men: for the sake of the words of thy lips, I have kept hard ways.

He shows how it happened that “There was no iniquity found in him,” from the fact of his having kept to “The hard ways” of justice; not for any earthly hope or reason, but because such was agreeable to God’s commands. For those who observe God’s commandments from human motives do so exteriorly, when they are likely to be observed, and thus the latent iniquity is detected in them; but they who observe the commandments, in order to please God, keep them externally and internally, and thus no iniquity is detected in such persons. He therefore says: “I have kept hard ways;” that is, I have kept to the road of justice, however rough and rugged, nor has tribulation of any sort caused me to go out of it. “For the sake of the words of thy lips,” influenced thereto by your commandments, your threats, and your promises, “That my mouth may not speak the works of men:” that I may not be obliged to ask the help of man; that I may not put my hope in man; “Nor speak (meaning praise) the works of men.”

5 Perfect thou my goings in thy paths: that my footsteps be not moved.

Acknowledging that it was not by his own strength, but by the grace of God, that he remained in the narrow path of justice, he asks God to confirm the favor. “Perfect thou my goings in thy paths: that my footsteps be not moved:” strengthen and make sure my footsteps in this your path, for fear, if deprived of thy help, I may stray from it.

6 I have cried to thee, for thou, O God, hast heard me: O incline thy ear unto me, and hear my words.

Having explained the arguments derived from his own innocence, and from the justice of God, he again repeats the prayer in the beginning of the Psalm. Lord, to thee “I have cried, for thou hast heard me.” I have cried with confidence to thee, for on all occasions you have heard me, and now too, with your usual benignity, “Incline your ear to me, and hear my words.”

7 Shew forth thy wonderful mercies; thou who savest them that trust in thee.

A third argument derived from God’s mercy. I have proved my innocence; have appealed to your justice. I now invoke your mercy, for, however innocent I may consider myself of the crimes for which I am suffering, I may have many other sins for which I may be justly punished. “Show forth thy wonderful mercies” then. Astonish every one at the extent of them in delivering me, for to you it belongs to deliver all who put their trust in thee.

8 From them that resist thy right hand keep me, as the apple of thy eye. Protect me under the shadow of thy wings.

Protect me, as you would “The apple of your eye,” with the greatest care, from those “that resist thy right hand:” in injuring those whom you protect, or who refuse to walk where you lead. This does not contradict the passage in the book of Esther, “There is no one who can resist thy will.” For the will spoken of there, is the will of his good pleasure which is always carried out; but here is meant the will of his expression, which is not always carried out, for God permits the wicked to do many things opposed to his expressed will; that is, against his law, and afterwards punishes them according to their merits. “The apple of your eye,” a most delicate, though valuable article, requiring the greatest care, and, therefore, provided by nature with various coverings, as well as with brows and eye lashes; such are we, frail and delicate, and such is the care we stand in need of. “Protect me under the shadow of thy wings.” The same petition, under another figure. As the chickens are covered by the wings of the hen, are hidden, and lie securely under them, so that the birds of prey cannot hurt them; the just man prays to be so protected from his persecutors.

9 From the face of the wicked who have afflicted me. My enemies have surrounded my soul:

“The face of the wicked,” signifies the sight of the wicked; as the wings of the hen cover the chickens, and prevent their being seen by the birds of prey; or it may mean the bite or the anger of the wicked, for their teeth, as well as their anger, are displayed in the faces. “Who have afflicted me,” means that the just man, having been so often and so severely bitten by the wicked, appeals to God’s protection, for fear of being entirely destroyed under the repeated biting. Such similes are of frequent occurrence in the Holy Scripture. “I will rejoice under the cover of thy wings,” Psalm 62; “He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust,” Psalm 89; and the Lord himself, in Mt. 23, “How often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and thou would not.” “My enemies have surrounded my soul.” The last argument drawn from the malice of his enemies. They have surrounded, pressed in upon me on every side.

10 They have shut up their fat: their mouth hath spoken proudly.

That is, they have no mercy, though they see me reduced to the last extremities. “Shut up their fat” is synonymous with, “Closing his bowels;” that is, having no mercy, according to 1 Jn. 3, “He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him?” As fat increases, the bowels generally close; and the prophet chose the former expression, that he may not only declare the fact, but the cause of the bowels being closed, namely, the increase of the fat, which means, the wealth of this world, which causes man to be proud, to despise his neighbor, and thus spiritually “Shut up his bowels.”

11 They have cast me forth, and now they have surrounded me: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth.

In order to show the malice of his enemies, he goes on to show how they assail him, now in one way, presently in quite a different manner, yet always in a destructive manner. One time “They cast me forth;” Now “they surround me:” those who just banished me from sharing or enjoying anything with them now seek me, surround me that they may overwhelm me with injuries; and the reason is, because “they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth;” meaning they have firmly resolved not to look up to God, who is in heaven, nor to fear him; but to look down on the earth alone and seek for the things that belong to it.

12 They have taken me, as a lion prepared for the prey; and as a young lion dwelling in secret places.

They have not only surrounded me, but treated me with the greatest cruelty; with the same cruelty and avidity that a lion pounces on its prey, “and as a young lion dwelling in secret places;” the same idea repeated.

13 Arise, O Lord, disappoint him and supplant him; deliver my soul from the wicked one; thy sword

Having explained the malice of his enemies, he asks of God, who alone can do it, to come and free him. “Arise, O Lord;” do not defer your help any longer, “disappoint him;” that wicked man, who like a lion laid hold on me to devour me, disappoint his teeth, that he may not fasten them in me and kill me. And, in fact, it is God alone that can “disappoint” the action of any one or thing, however violent; as he disappointed the teeth of the lions from hurting; Daniel, and the fury of the fire from consuming the three thrown into the furnace; a source of consolation to the just, who know God’s power to be equal to protect them from either the teeth of the lion or the flames of the furnace. “Supplant him.” Deceive him; make him, by thy wonderful providence, suppose that when he is fastening his teeth in his own flesh, he is fastening them in the flesh of the just. “Deliver my soul from the wicked.” Do not allow me to be killed by the wicked, raging like a roaring lion; but save me, protect me. “Thy sword;” some connect it with the preceding; others make it the beginning of the next sentence. If we adopt the reading of the Vulgate, the meaning is, deliver my soul from the wicked; to do which you must take “thy sword” from your enemies; meaning their power of harm.

14 From the enemies of thy hand. O Lord, divide them from the few of the earth in their life: their belly is filled from thy hidden stores. They are full of children: and they have left to their little ones the rest of their substance.

A prophetic imprecation, in which is predicted separation of the wicked from the just, the former obtaining the goods of this world, the latter those of the world to come. “divide them from the few;” separate the crowd of the wicked from “your little flock,” “in their life,” not only in the world to come, which is sure to them, but even in the present, which may be properly called “their life,” which alone they love and seek, separating themselves from the just, who are dead to the world. The separation consists herein, that “their belly is filled from thy hidden stores;” that is, they fill their belly with the fruits and good things of the earth, supplied by God’s bounty, from his hidden treasures every succeeding year, and say it is their own portion. “They are full of children: and they have left to their little ones the rest of their substance.” They abound in children, to whom they leave the residue of what themselves cannot consume, for the children of this world look upon it as supreme happiness to abound in riches, and to be blessed with heirs to enjoy them.

15 But as for me, I will appear before thy sight in justice: I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear.

The difference herein consists, they covet an abundance of the good things of this world. “But I,” as well as the rest of the just, will “hunger after justice” here, to have satiety of glory and happiness hereafter; and, as I study to live in justice, in thy sight here, your glory will appear to me hereafter; and then will I be truly satisfied, having no more to seek or to desire.

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

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 14

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 9, 2018

PSALM 14
THE GENERAL CORRUPTION OF MAN BEFORE OUR REDEMPTION BY CHRIST

1 Unto the end, a psalm for David. THE fool hath said in his heart: There is no God. They are corrupt, and are become abominable in their ways: there is none that doth good, no not one.

To such a pitch of folly has human nature, corrupted in our first parent, arrived, that one can be found, without daring to express it, yet to “say in his heart there is no God.” David does not convey here, that one particular person said so, but that men in general, through the corruption of their intellect, had come to such a pitch of blindness, as to become entirely regardless of their last end, and to think there was no God who regarded mankind, or to whom they would be accountable. “The fool,” that is, the man bereft of all sense, “said in his heart, There is no God;” that is, began to think God had no existence, and not only was the mind become corrupt and foolish, but also, so was the will; so that men, in general, leaned to sin, never to good; for the avoiding of sin, and the doing good, are very different things, when we speak of an act absolutely and perfectly good. For men without faith or grace, acting on the strength of corrupt nature alone, generally fall into sin; yet sometimes produce certain moral good works, which cannot be called sin; yet are not perfectly and absolutely good, when they do not bring man to the chief good. David, therefore, says, “They are corrupt and become abominable in their ways;” that is, in their desires or affections: hence themselves are corrupted and abominable. “There is none that doeth good; no not one.” Mankind is so corrupted in desire and in iniquity, but still not so generally that all their desires and actions should be considered corrupt and unjust. For surely when an infidel, moved by compassion, has mercy on the poor or cares their children, he doeth no evil. But nobody depending on the strength of corrupt nature alone, can perfectly and absolutely produce a good action. Hence, we see, that this passage, when properly understood, proves nothing for the heretics who abuse it, to prove that all the acts of a sinner, or of a nonregenerated, are sins.

2 The Lord hath looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there be any that understand and seek God.
3 They are all gone aside, they are become unprofitable together: there is none that doth good: no not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they acted deceitfully: the poison of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and unhappiness in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.

Having said that human nature was corrupt in mind and in will, he shows now whence he had such knowledge: namely, from revelation. For God, who knows everything, saw it, and revealed it to his prophets. He describes God looking down from heaven, as if he were a mortal from his lofty look out, to see “If there be any that understood;” that is, not corrupted in his mind; “Or seeking God;” that is, not corrupted in his will, who could understand and love, and thus seek God, who is the supreme good. What God knew, that is, made us know, he explains in those words: “They are all gone aside;” that is, he saw they had all become useless to God, inasmuch as they neither serve, worship, nor render him any tribute of praise; and, finally, that he saw none to do a work perfectly and absolutely good. “Their throat is an open sepulchre.” The remainder of this verse is not in the Hebrew, nor in the Septuagint, nor in the Latin edition of Psalm 52, where the same passage occurs; but, whereas St. Paul, in Romans 3, quotes all these expressions consecutively, as if they belonged to one Psalm, we may consider they did originally belong to it, and were accidentally lost or omitted from it. These verses give us an idea of the malice of the wicked, who by word and deed do harm to their neighbor. “Their throat is an open sepulchre.” For, as the stench of the putrid corpse exhales from an opened tomb, so from their mouth issues filthy language, the exhalation of their corrupted heart. “With their tongues they acted deceitfully:” that is, by making use, not only of filthy but deceitful language. “The poison of asps is under their lips;” which words are not only filthy and deceitful, but, furthermore, poisonous, and deadly, and leading to sin. “Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood.” Those abandoned characters not only rail and fiercely contend in language; but are involved in evil action, and injure every one. For they whose mouths are full of maledictions and railing, are always ready to run swiftly to slaughter and bloodshed. “Destruction and unhappiness in their ways and the way of peace they have not known:” that is, all their thoughts turn upon destruction, devastation, and affliction, of the neighbor, because “The way of peace they have not known;” that is, what belongs to peace. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” The root of all the aforesaid evils; because they clearly cast overboard all fear of God, saying in their hearts, “There is no God.”

4 Shall not all they know that work iniquity, who devour my people as they eat bread?

Here we can justly infer, that this universal corruption of human nature is to be understood of human nature in itself and depending on its own natural strength alone. For, through the grace of God, men become truly just and pious, and they are designated here as “My people” who are despised and persecuted by the wicked. “Shall all they know that work iniquity;” addressed to the wicked, by way of reproof, as if he said, will they be always insensible, will they ever open their eyes, will they ever begin to learn? “Who devour my people as they eat bread;” which means, that the wicked may, from such evils, be warned of their iniquity. For as bread, though eaten daily, is always relished; So the wicked take pleasure in daily harassing the poor, and never tire of it.

5 They have not called upon the Lord: there have they trembled for fear, where there was no fear.

A reason assigned for such wickedness, namely: “They have not called upon the Lord:” they put their trust not in God, but in things created; and, therefore, “There have they trembled for fear, where there was no fear;” and, therefore, not knowing in whom to hope, or whom to fear, they trembled at encountering adversity, or going back in their prosperity; things of small moment, and transitory, which should have been above their consideration: whereas, had they put their trust in God, “And sought the kingdom of God and his justice, all these things shall be added unto you.”

6 For the Lord is in the just generation: you have confounded the counsel of the poor man; but the Lord is his hope.

Another reason for the wicked being seized with fear, when there is no ground for fear, “For the Lord is in the just generation;” which means, as the wicked neither invoked nor trusted in God, he deserts them, and takes up with “The just generation:” and once deserted by God, the true light, truth itself they walk in darkness, and therefore fear when they have no cause for fear. He then appeals to the wicked themselves. “You have confounded the counsel of the poor man, but the Lord is his hope.” Are you so blind as not only to abandon God yourselves, but even to mock those who have not? For you “Have confounded;” that is, derided, made the poor man blush, for doing what you call a foolish thing, the putting his hope in God, whereas he entirely depends on him. For to the worldly it seems a foolish thing to put our trust in God whom we don’t see; and not to trust in the riches of this world and other things we do see.

7 Who shall give out of Sion the salvation of Israel? when the Lord shall have turned away the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

This last verse is a prayer to God for the speedy coming of the Savior, to deliver mankind from that captivity of the devil, in which all the wicked and perverse, whose sins and enormities he had just described, were bound. “Who shall give out of Sion the salvation of Israel?” That is, would that salvation to Israel should quickly come from Sion; “For salvation is from the Jews;” as the Lord said to the Samaritan woman, John 4; and not only from the Jews, that is, from the tribe of Juda, but from the family of David, whose city was named Sion. Salvation, therefore, or the promised Savior, was promised and expected from Sion, the city of David; that is, from the stock of David, who was to save Israel; that is, his people. Christ is called “Savior of Israel his people;” because, though in reality he came to save the whole world, he did not actually save beyond a certain number, who are called the people of God and spiritual Israel. “When the Lord shall have turned away the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.” As much as to say, I beseech and pray for “salvation from Sion;” and, therefore, for the Savior “to free us from captivity;” because, when that shall be effected, then truly and perfectly, “Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad;” that is, the people of God, who are spiritually called Jacob and Israel, for both names belong to one person. And that such promises, and similar ones, belong not exclusively to the carnal Jews, but to God’s people, composed of Jews and gentiles, is clearly established by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans.

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

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 10

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 9, 2018

PSALM 10

1 Why, O Lord, hast thou retired afar off? why dost thou slight us in our wants, in the time of trouble?

This verse, according to the Hebrew version, is the first of Psalm 10, but not recognized as such by the Septuagint; and it is most likely that such division of the Psalm was made in later times, by those who considered that the matter of the latter part of the Psalm was quite different from the first part; because, in the first part, hitherto the Church was exulting in the victory of God over his and her own enemies; and in the succeeding part she mourns over the success of the same enemies over the Church. The whole difference, though, consists, not in the matter, but in the times of which David prophesies. In the beginning of the Psalm, David exulted in spirit on account of the secret mysteries of the Son of God, who by his death subdued the evil spirits and paganism, and destroyed their idols; and then in the end of the said part, and the beginning of this part, foretells the persecutions that will be raised by the gentiles, and by the evil minded persons, assuming betimes such a magnitude that it would appear God had entirely forgotten the people he had delivered with such glory to himself; and as he said previously, “The Lord is become a refuge for the poor; a helper in due time in tribulation:” having before him another time, namely, that in which God permitted the poor to be oppressed by the more powerful, he says, “Why, O Lord, hast thou retired afar off?” that is to say, permitted such a raid of the unjust on the just, as if you were not present, and had “retired afar off. Why dost thou slight us in our wants, in the time of trouble?” Why not help us when we need help; and that is most in the time of trouble?

2 Whilst the wicked man is proud, the poor is set on fire: they are caught in the counsels which they devise.

Rather a difficult verse, but the sense would seem to be, “Whilst the wicked man is proud,” that is, while in his prosperity he appears full of vain boasting, “the poor is set on fire;” that means, is scandalized, and lights internally with anger: “They are caught in the counsels which they devise;” that is, both one and the other are caught; the impious man, by attributing all his happiness to himself, and thus deceiving himself; and the just man, seeing such prosperity, and not understanding it, equally deceives and involves himself. The expression, “The counsels which they devise,” is a Graecism, and has been translated literally, and merely signifies their thoughts. This verse would seem to supply a reason for the preceding one, showing that the prophet had implored of God “not to slight their wants in the time of trouble,” because the prosperity of the wicked is equally hurtful to the sinner and to the just, contributing, as it does, to the pride of the former, and the scandal of the latter.

3 For the sinner is praised in the desires of his soul: and the unjust man is blessed.

The reason assigned why prosperity makes “the wicked man proud,” and “the poor is set on fire;” because, when the sinner doeth evil, and by reason of his being in power, and having riches, he is praised by many, as if he were doing right; and his desires, however sinful and unjust, are applauded; and hence it comes that “The unjust man is blessed,” when he rather deserved to be cursed and reviled.

4 The sinner hath provoked the Lord, according to the multitude of his wrath, he will not seek him:

He goes on to explain the malice of the proud sinner: “He hath provoked the Lord,” at a time that he should have, with all his might, sought for a reconciliation with him; but, “According to the multitude of his wrath he will not seek him;” that is, his extravagant anger towards the afflicted poor will not let him seek God to be reconciled to him. For his mind has been so blinded by arrogance, that he never reflects how great an evil it is to provoke Almighty God.

5 God is not before his eyes: his ways are filthy at all times. Thy judgments are removed from his sight: he shall rule over all his enemies.

The blind sinner thinks not of God. The Hebrew puts it more expressively, “God is not in all his thoughts,” meaning in none of his thoughts, however numerous they may be, he never turns on God. “His ways are filthy at all times,” a consequence of the preceding; for, when he never thinks of God, never directs his steps to God, or to ought but gratifying his carnal desires, all his ways, therefore, that is, all his actions are filthy with the mire of concupiscence. “Thy judgments are removed from his sight.” The only thing that could turn him from his evil ways, the dreadful reflection on thy judgments, is far from his heart; and he, therefore, fearless of God, “Rules over all his enemies;” that is, tyrannically oppresses all he considers as such.

6 For he hath said in his heart: I shall not be moved from generation to generation, and shall be without evil.

The vain confidence of the wicked man! who thinks that nothing can harm him. “He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved;” nobody can disturb me, or bring me down from my station, forever and ever; I shall meet no evil.

7 His mouth is full of cursing, and of bitterness, and of deceit: under his tongue are labour and sorrow.

Having described the heart of the wicked man that never thinks on God, or his judgments, nor fears anything from them, he now describes his mouth, and afterwards his actions. Under the head of malediction, “or cursing,” may be classed blasphemies against God, and railing against men; under “bitterness” come detraction, contention, murmuring, and such like, indicative of hatred and rancor; finally, “to deceit” belong calumnious lies, and perjuries. The expression, “under his tongue are labor and sorrow,” explains the effect of the evils so enumerated; for the effect of all the evil words of the impious “is labor and sorrow, under his tongue;” that is, the labor and sorrow of wretched mortals, and the matter on which his tongue is constantly exercised.

8 He sitteth in ambush with the rich, in private places, that he may kill the innocent.

He comes now to describe the evil works, the oppression of the poor, making use of a metaphorical expression, taken from those who, when they meditate assassination, conceal themselves in a house for the purpose of observing the ingress and egress of those whose lives they are bent upon; and the meaning is, that those wicked and powerful people enter into a conspiracy with other rich and powerful people, to circumvent the poor by various arts and stratagems, and so destroy them entirely.

9 His eyes are upon the poor man: he lieth in wait, in secret, like a lion in his den. He lieth in ambush, that he may catch the poor man: so catch the poor, whilst he draweth him to him.
10 In his net he will bring him down, he will crouch and fall, when he shall have power over the poor.

The metaphor used in the twenty eighth verse is here explained by different metaphors. In that verse he compared the oppressor of the poor, to one man lying in ambush for another. In verse twenty nine he compares him to a lion, lying in wait for the weaker beasts; and finally, to a man laying snares for wild beasts, and catching them. “He lieth in wait to catch the poor,” which he does by enticing him, when off his guard, and draws him to himself. “In his net he will bring him down;” that is, will oppress and trample on him; will fall down, and rush upon him. “When he shall have power over the poor;” when he shall have made himself entirely their master. These verses contain a beautiful allusion to the wicked man’s intention, who then dreadfully comes into the slavery of the devil, when he seems to have made poor people slaves to himself.

11 For he hath said in his heart: God hath forgotten, he hath turned away his face, not to see to the end.

The cause of all the impiety being the wicked man’s thinking within himself, that God was, and ever would be, indifferent to human affairs.

12 Arise, O Lord God, let thy hand be exalted: forget not the poor.

A prayer to God to curb the wicked. “Arise,” as if from sleep, “and let thy hand be exalted,” to strike; for the hands of a passive man, or of one asleep, are either hanging down, or folded.

13 Therefore hath the wicked provoked God? for he hath said in his heart: He will not require it.

He again repeats the cause of the wicked man’s offending God: namely, thinking that God will not punish him.

14 Thou seest it, for thou considerest labour and sorrow: that thou mayst deliver them into thy hands. To thee is the poor man left: thou wilt be a helper to the orphan.

He contradicts the above by saying: you “do see it,” and you “will require it,” O God, because, “Thou considered the labor and sorrow” of the poor, and in due time you will “deliver into thy hands” the wicked to be punished; and justly, because to you, the Father of all, belongs the special care “of the poor man and the orphan.”

15 Break thou the arm of the sinner and of the malignant: his sin shall be sought, and shall not be found.

“Break thou the arm;” that is, the power and strength of the sinner, that so humbled, he may repent and sin no more; so that afterwards “his sin shall be sought, and shall not be found:” as Isaias has it, 28, “Vexation alone shall make you understand what you hear;” and in Ps. 83, “Fill their faces with shame, and they will seek thy name.”

16 The Lord shall reign to eternity, yea, for ever and ever: ye Gentiles shall perish from his land.

He predicts the fulfillment of his prayer. “The Lord shall reign;” that is, always will reign in spite of his enemies; nay, his enemies even shall “Perish from his land;” that is, shall be exterminated from this world, for the world is God’s land, as we read in Ps. 24, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”

17 The Lord hath heard the desire of the poor: thy ear hath heard the preparation of their heart.

He uses the past for the future tense, on account of the certainty of the thing being done; and the word “Desire,” instead of prayer, to show how sure and quickly they would be heard; as if he said, God, the searcher of hearts, will not wait for their prayers, but will even hear their desires, that usually precede prayer. “Desire” and “Preparation of their heart” are the same, desire being a preliminary to prayer.

18 To judge for the fatherless and for the humble, that man may no more presume to magnify himself upon earth.

“The Lord hath heard the desire of the poor,”—“to judge for the fatherless and for the humble;” that is, to protect the fatherless and the humble against their oppressors, in order that man, who is upon earth, a creature, should not “Presume to magnify himself” against God, who is in heaven, and man’s Creator. All these denunciations of the oppressors of the poor are considered, by a figure, to apply to Antichrist. So St. Jerome and St. Augustine say: but if they are applied, as I consider they ought, in the literal sense, to the oppressors of the poor in general, they prove how great is the sin of such oppression, when the Holy Spirit denounces it at such length, and in such expressive language.

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

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 9

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 9, 2018

PSALM 9
THE CHURCH PRAISETH GOD FOR HIS PROTECTION AGAINST HER ENEMIES

1 Unto the end, for the hidden things of the Son. A psalm for David.

2 I will give praise to thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: I will relate all thy wonders.

The matter of the Psalm is here proposed, viz., the praise of God for his wonderful works. The words, “With my whole heart,” signify the subject to be praised is one of the highest importance, and, therefore, to be done with all his might and affections. The words, “All thy wonders” imply that the subject of his praise is so expansive as to comprehend in one view all the wonderful works of God. Such, in reality, was the redemption of man; a work of infinite mercy, in which are comprehended all the beneficent acts of God, as the apostle has it, Ephesians 1, “To establish all things in Christ;” that is, to comprehend, to reduce everything into one sum through him.

3 I will be glad, and rejoice in thee: I will sing to thy name, O thou most high.

The same sentiment, in different language, or, perhaps, rather an explanation; as if he said, with exultation and joy will I confess to thee, with joy in my heart and exultation in my exterior, thus confessing with all my affections. Playing on the harp before thee, O Most High, will I relate all thy wonders, chanting them to thy glory.

4 When my enemy shall be turned back: they shall be weakened, and perish before thy face.

He begins to narrate the victory of Christ over the devil and his satellites, and speaks in the person of the entire Church. “When my enemy shall be turned back,” that means, when my enemy, the devil, flying from your face, shall begin to turn back, then all his soldiers “Shall be weakened, and perish;” that is to say, the moment they see their leader to fly, they will become unnerved, will fly, scatter as if they had been actually destroyed. Of such flight the Lord himself speaks in the gospel, Jn. 12, “Now is the judgment of the world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”

5 For thou hast maintained my judgment and my cause: thou hast sat on the throne, who judgest justice.

A reason assigned for the devil’s flight and the scattering of his forces; for you, my Lord, the Son of God, “hast maintained my judgment and my cause;” that is, you have put an end to the litigation, the struggle, and the contest between mankind, or the Church and the devil. For the devil maintained that mankind was justly held in bondage by him, and therefore harassed it in a most tyrannical manner, until Christ, by his sufferings on the cross, thereby atoning for man, put an end to the struggle; hence the expression, “Thou hast sat on the throne, who judgest justice,” meaning the cross, as St. Leo has it, in his eighth Sermon on the Passion of our Lord: “O unspeakable glory of the passion, in which are united the judgment seat of God, the judgment of the world, and the power of the crucified;” and these are in reality the occult things of the Son, which by some are prefixed as a title to this Psalm. For he who, to all appearance, seemed to be guilty and was suffering punishment in the greatest ignominy, at that very moment was sitting on his throne, “judged justice,” that is, judged most justly, inasmuch as now that the price had been paid, man was delivered, and the devil despoiled of his dominion over him, and actually, as the apostle has it, Col. 2, “Blotting out the handwriting of the decree which was against us, which was contrary to us, and the same he took out of the way, fastening it to the cross.”

6 Thou hast rebuked the Gentiles, and the wicked one hath perished; thou hast blotted out their name for ever and ever.

The devil having been subdued through the cross, Christ our Lord, through his apostles, “rebuked the gentiles,” “convicting the world of sin, of justice, and of judgment,” as the Lord himself foretold: and in such manner “The wicked one hath perished;” that is the wickedness of idolatry perished, and man from impiety was brought to love God. Which was effected not only among the impious of that time, but Christ so entirely destroyed idolatry and the religion of the gentiles forever, that it can never appear again, having been plucked out from the roots. A thing we see already fulfilled, the Jews themselves, who were most prone to idolatry, having never attempted to return to it. “Forever and ever,” to signify true, real eternity, having no end, for fear any one should suppose that a very long time, but still a definite one, was intended.

7 The swords of the enemy have failed unto the end: and their cities thou hast destroyed. Their memory hath perished with a noise:

A reason assigned for idolatry not being likely to return, inasmuch as the power of the devil and his strongholds had disappeared, and he has no means of carrying on an offensive or a defensive warfare, “His swords having failed”—“unto the end;” that is, thoroughly, without a single exception—not one remaining. By “the swords of the enemy” we may also understand the temptations, or suggestions, which may be looked upon as the words of the devil, in the same sense that the apostle calls the word of God, “The sword of the Spirit.” The same apostle calls the temptations of the devil, “weapons of fire;” and such weapons are said “to have failed,” because they cannot injure those armed in the faith of Jesus Christ. In which sense, St. Anthony, in his life of St. Athanasius, quoted this very passage, proving therefrom that the temptations of the devil are most easily repulsed by the sign of the cross. By “their cities” may be understood all infidels, in whom the devil dwells without disturbance; these were destroyed by Christ when he put down idolatry. Our Lord himself seems to have this in view when he says, in Lk. 11, “When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things which he possessed are in peace. But if a stronger than he come upon him, and overcome him, he will take away all his armor, wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils.” When the devil held possession, everything he possessed was in peace; because, while man is in a state of infidelity, he is always in the power of the devil, however morally good his life may have been, as has been the case with many pagan philosophers. But Christ, having got possession, by the extirpation of infidelity and the introduction of the knowledge of the true God, the devil lost his all. “Their memory has perished with a noise;” that is to say, the memory of idolatry, idolaters, and of the whole kingdom of Satan has perished amidst much noise and confusion. For the whole world resisted Christ; the most powerful kings and emperors sought to stand up for and defend their idols; but the more the world raged, the more idolatry tottered, and the remembrance of it was being blotted out; and, finally, the cessation of persecution was succeeded by a total destruction of idolatry.

8 But the Lord remaineth for ever. He hath prepared his throne in judgment:

Christ’s memory, on the contrary, will never fade after his death and resurrection. “All power in heaven and on earth was given to him,” which David alludes to here; as if he said, after such contest with the devil, the Lord “Hath prepared,” or, as the Hebrew has it, established “His throne in judgment;” that is, for the purpose of judging; and he, the Prince of the kings of the earth, “Shall judge the world;” meaning the people of the whole world, “In equity and justice,” two words used synonymously. Christ is said to sit in judgment on the world, though there may be many wicked and infidel princes in the world in rebellion against him, but who can, however, devise nothing—do nothing against his will and permission.

9 And he shall judge the world in equity, he shall judge the people in justice.
10 And the Lord is become a refuge for the poor: a helper in due time in tribulation.

From the fact of Christ’s being the future ruler, to govern with supreme justice, he infers the poor, who are usually oppressed by the great, will have great consolation. Let the poor fear no longer, for the Lord, sitting in heaven, “Is become a refuge” to them; and, furthermore, “A helper in due time in tribulation;” that is, when necessity may require it. For the divine help never comes so opportunely, as when we are overwhelmed in trouble, with no human being to console us; and this promise will be most surely fulfilled to all who truly seek and fear God; and therefore, he adds:

11 And let them trust in thee who know thy name: for thou hast not forsaken them that seek thee, O Lord.

The prophet speaks now in the third, instead of the first person, a thing he often does, from some new inspiration. With great justice can all “Who know your name;” that is to say, not only by the sound of it, but in reality; and fully understand the significance of it, and thence know the power and the mercy of God, put their confidence in you in all their difficulties. Much more so can your friends, “Since thou hast not forsaken;” that is, you never have forsaken “Those that seek thee.” By those “That seek him” he means those that covet his grace, and with all their heart seek to please him.

12 Sing ye to the Lord, who dwelleth in Sion: declare his ways among the Gentiles:

After a fervent appeal to God, he makes one to man in the same spirit; exhorting them too, to praise God, and to bring others to do so. The Lord is said “To dwell in Sion,” for there was the “Ark of the testament,” and “The place of prayer;” and this is put in here by way of apposition, that the true God may be distinguished from the false, who dwell in caves and the shrines of the gentiles. The word “ways” comprehends the thoughts, counsels, plans, inventions, the wonderful works of God, that are so resplendent in the redemption of man. Thus the meaning of the whole verse is: Sing to God a hymn of praise; announce to the gentiles his wonderful designs, his wonderful wisdom; and, in consequence, his wonderful works, that all nations, when they hear them, may unite in his praise.

13 For requiring their blood, he hath remembered them: he hath not forgotten the cry of the poor.

The prophet returns to what he previously asserted: namely, that the Lord was a “Just Judge,” the “Refuge of the poor in tribulation;” and takes up an objection that may be possibly raised, to wit, the fact of our seeing the poor, however pious, persecuted by the wealthy, sometimes even unto death. The answer is, “Praise God,” says he, “for though he sometimes seems to forget his poor,” such is not the case. “For requiring;” that is to say, inquiring into their daily actions, and examining them severally. “Their blood he hath remembered, he hath not forgotten the cry of the poor,” who, in their persecutions, had appealed to him; which recollection of their sufferings will appear in its own time, when the punishment of the oppressors and the glory of the oppressed shall be declared.

14 Have mercy on me, O Lord: see my humiliation which I suffer from my enemies.

Having thanked God for past favors, he now asks his assistance, in present and future difficulties. The prayer of the Church against her visible and invisible enemies. “Have mercy on me, O Lord, see my humiliation,” that is, my total prostration, caused by my enemies.

15 Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death, that I may declare all thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Sion.

The first part of this verse has a connection with the verse preceding. The meaning is, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, see my humiliation;” you, O Lord, “That liftest me up from the gates of death,” meaning you that keep me far removed from the gates of death. Those gates are supposed to be very deep; for the prophet does not allude to the death of the body, but to the death of the soul by sin, or everlasting death; and, therefore, he makes use of the word “Exalt,” to be far removed from the said gates. By the “Gates of death,” or of hell, the multitude of our infernal enemies would seem to be implied. The great body of the Jewish people were wont to assemble at the gates, whether for matters of justice or any other public business, and thus the word “Gates” got to signify a large assemblage of the people. Hence, we have in Matthew, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against her;” and in the last chapter of Ecclesiasticus, “From the gates of tribulation that have encompassed me.” And here we may note the beauty of the contrast between the gates of death, and the gates of the daughter of Sion or Jerusalem; the former are in the lowest bottom; the latter, on a high mountain: in the former are assembled the evil spirits; in the latter the people of God: from the gates of the former come forth nothing but temptations and war, that lead to death; the gates of the latter “Are built on peace;” for Jerusalem “Has put peace as its boundary;” and it is named as “The vision of peace.” The Church, then, “Is lifted up from the gates of death,” to announce God’s praise, “In the gates of the daughter of Sion;” which means being delivered from all temptations that may lead her to eternal death; to acknowledge the great grace conferred on her by her liberator, and to praise him with the Angels of God, who are in the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem.

16 I will rejoice in thy salvation: the Gentiles have stuck fast in the destruction which they prepared. Their foot hath been taken in the very snare which they hid.

Having been liberated from the “gates of death,” “I will rejoice in thy salvation;” that is, in the salvation you bestowed on me; since “the gentiles who laid a snare for me” have been caught in the very snare they laid, as they would in the deepest mud, from whence they cannot extricate themselves; in other words, their persecution did much harm to them, none to me; and the same may be said not only of their open and avowed persecution, but also of their private persecution, which, “like a snare, they laid for me.” May be too, that the avowed persecutions of Diocletian and others of the Roman emperors, and the disguised persecutions of Julian the Apostate, and other heretical emperors, are here intended.

17 The Lord shall be known when he executeth judgments: the sinner hath been caught in the works of his own hands.

From this wonderful dispensation of Providence, who turns the arms and the wiles of the wicked on themselves, David gathers that God will come to be known. “The Lord shall be known when he executeth judgment;” that is, his judgments will be so admired that he will be known to be the true and supreme God; and mainly, through his providence in causing the sinner “to be caught in the works of his own hands:” namely, when he falls into “the destruction he had prepared for others,” and “the snare which he had hid for them.”

18 The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget God.

To be taken as a prophecy, not as an imprecation. “Shall be turned,” means in the Hebrew, “shall return;” which is applied to sinners, inasmuch as the devil, when he seduced them, made them his slaves; and, therefore, they will return to him. For God created man in innocence: the devil made him a sinner. As our Savior, in Jn. 8, says, “You are from your father, the devil.” The latter part of the verse, “all the nations that forget God,” declares who the sinners are that “will return to hell:” namely, all those “who forget God.” For the forgetting of God is the root of all sin; for he who sins turns away from God unto the creature.

19 For the poor man shall not be forgotten to the end: the patience of the poor shall not perish for ever.

Sinners, therefore, who are in the habit of oppressing the poor will be cast into hell; for God, sooner or later, will avenge their wrongs; for, though he may seem to forget them for a time, “he does not forget them to the end,” but will one time remember them; and, therefore, “the patience of the poor shall not perish forever.” When the patience of the poor is said not to perish, it does not mean that their patience in itself will be everlasting; but that it will in its effects, inasmuch as its reward will be everlasting.

20 Arise, O Lord, let not man be strengthened: let the Gentiles be judged in thy sight.

Having predicted the final ruin of the wicked, he now asks for their coercion. “Arise, O Lord, let not man be strengthened;” that is, let not man, a handful of dust, prevail against God, his Creator. “Let the gentiles be judged in thy sight;” meaning, let judgment issue against them, as we have in another Psalm, “Judge them, O God.”

21 Appoint, O Lord, a lawgiver over them: that the Gentiles may know themselves to be but men.

The judgment that issued against the gentiles, who persecuted the Church, was quite manifest when they became subject to a Christian prince. They then plainly saw they were weak mortals, and could not prevail against Christ. That the prophet predicts, but in the shape of a prayer. The word “lawgiver,” in the Hebrew, means a teacher, or a terrible character. And as the prophet spoke of a terrible teacher, who was to teach and to command with authority, the Septuagint, most properly, used the word legislator. By the legislator, many have said Christ is meant; many more say, Antichrist is alluded to. Let every one have their own opinion. Mine is, that he alludes to Jovinianus, Valentinian, Theodosius, and such characters.

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

St Robert Bellarmine’s Psalm 33

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 8, 2018

PSALM 33
AN EXHORTATION TO PRAISE GOD, AND TO TRUST IN HIM

1 REJOICE in the Lord, O ye just: praise becometh the upright.

The rejoicing asked for here, includes the praising of God in joy; that is, praise him in rejoicing, not against your will, or in a sad or negligent manner, but with great affection, rejoicing and exulting in your hearts; and praise him not only internally but externally; because, “praise becometh the upright;” in other words, I specially invite you, ye just, to praise God, because it is the special duty of the just, who are called here the upright, as naturally they are; and with whom God, as being all righteousness, is always pleased. God is never pleased with the crooked or distorted; because his judgments and his actions are always straight and direct, and by no means square with the crookedness of the wicked; and hence, instead of freely praising God, they rather offend and blaspheme him.

2 Give praise to the Lord on the harp; sing to him with the psaltery, the instrument of ten strings.

He again exhorts the just to give God his tribute of praise, not only with their voice, but also with the musical instruments then used by the Jews; in which there is a mystical meaning, that we should praise God, not only by our words, but by our conduct; and, especially by the strict observance of the decalogue, signified by the instrument of ten strings; “That men, seeing our good works, may glorify our father who is in heaven.” Mt. 6.

3 Sing to him a new canticle, sing well unto him with a loud noise.

By way of epilogue he joins the substance of the two preceding verses in this one. He had said that we should praise him with our voice, and sing to him with our instruments, and reminded us that we should do everything accurately and carefully. “Sing to him a new canticle;” that is a repetition of “rejoice in the Lord, O ye just;” and we are ordered to sing to him, not in one of the old chants, but in “a new canticle;” composed expressly for the occasion. “Sing well unto him with a loud noise,” is a repetition of “Give praise to the Lord on the harp;” and he orders it to be done, not in the ordinary way, not carelessly, or coldly, but with great music and effect, to show the importance of the occasion; thus, the word, loud voice, does not refer to the human voice, but to the noise of the instrument. The holy fathers justly direct our attention to the difference between the old and the new chant of praise. The old canticle was the one sung by the old man, “who born of the flesh, is flesh,” has a taste for things of the world, and is delighted with them; he praises God when fortune smiles on him; but the new man, who, renewed in the spirit of his mind, longs after the things of the other world, and takes pleasure in those things alone that appertain to heaven; he, too, praises God, praises him always, even in his persecutions, knowing as he does that they tend to his good. We are also warned by the words, “Sing well to him with a loud voice,” that when we do sing to him, we must do it with great care, attentively, devoutly, and with great affection, and interior joy. St. Benedict, in his Rule, lays down that Psalmody is a divine work, and should be preferred to any other work. St. Bernard has:—“My dearly beloved, I advise you to assist at the Divine Office, with a pure intention and an active mind; I say active, because I wish you to be active, as well as reverent; neither lazy, nor drowsy, nor nodding; nor sparing your voice, or clipping the words, not skipping sentences, nor in a weak and tremulous voice, full of sloth and effeminacy, but in an open and manly tone, vigorous, as well as affectionate, give out the language of the Holy Spirit.

4 For the word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done with faithfulness.

He now assigns the reasons why God should be praised with so much affection, taken from his goodness, his power, and his wisdom. Of his goodness he says, “For the word of the Lord is right;” that is, both words and acts of the Lord are most just, most faithful, and most holy, as he expresses in different language, in Psalm 144, “The Lord is faithful in all his words; and holy in all his works.” By the “word of the Lord,” is meant what he commands, prohibits, promises, or threatens; and all these are most “right and done with faithfulness.” For, he commands nothing but what is good, prohibits nothing but what is bad; and, whatever he promises or threatens, he will most faithfully carry out. Therefore, “The word of the Lord is right,” and he is “faithful in all his words.” And his acts agree with his words; and, therefore, are said to be done in faithfulness; that is, they are faithful, just, and holy; and God is said to be holy in all his works.

5 He loveth mercy and judgment; the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord.

The sanctity of the Lord in respect of words and actions, arises from his sanctity of will or of purpose, for “He loveth mercy and judgment; that means, he wishes first to give us the gifts of his grace, and then, according to the use we have made of them, to reward, or to punish us; and thus, all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth. In the first part of this verse we are informed of the goodness of God, arising from his mercy and justice; in the second, we are told that his mercy exceeds his justice, and is, as we have it in Psalm 117, “above all his works;” for to his mercy belongs the removal of every defeat and misery; and, as there are no created things that do not suffer some defect, there is nothing that does not need the mercy of God. Corruptible things of this world, however, suffer more and greater defects than the incorruptible things, that do not belong to this world; so that, when compared to them, they seem to have no defects; therefore, the prophet says, “The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord;” for by the earth he means, all corruptible things, for the earth is the dwelling place, not only of all mankind, all animals and plants, but also of birds and fishes; for though the former fly through the air, and the latter “perambulate the paths of the sea,” yet, both one and the other, rest on the earth. Now all corruptible things need the manifold mercy of God, to create, uphold, move, nourish, and repair them; but man, in addition, needs his mercy to go before him, to accompany him, to follow him, to forgive his sins, to arm, direct, and protect him, against the devil; and, therefore, he most justly says, “The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord.” We are to consider here also, that the perfect mercy that can remove all defects, belongs to God alone, for no one, having any defect whatever, can remove those of others, and thus, God is a pure, everlasting, all powerful, impersonation of infinite perfection; with justice, then, doth the Church sing, “O God whose province it is to have mercy.”

6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth:

From praising his goodness, he comes now to praise his power, the principal and most conspicuous effect of which is the creation of heaven; the magnitude of which is increased by the reflection of its having been made by God without labor; in no time, without men or machinery, by his single word, and forever. He evidently alludes to the creation of the world, in Genesis 1, where “God said: let the firmament, be, and the firmament was made, and He called the firmament heaven.” The second part of the verse, “and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth,” would seem to be a mere repetition of the first part. For “the word,” and “the spirit of his mouth,” would seem to be much the same. By “The power of them,” is meant the stars, which, like a heavenly host, or celestial army, ornament the heavens to a wonderful degree, and shed their influence on things below. And though, by the “Word of the Lord,” and “the spirit of his mouth,” God’s orders are clearly understood, such is the meaning of both; there is no doubt but the Holy Ghost meant to glance at the mystery of the Holy Trinity to be revealed in the New Testament. We are not to notice the objection, that the prophet attributes the creation of heaven to the Word, and the creation of the stars to the Holy Ghost, as if God the Father made the heavens through the Son, and the stars through the Holy Ghost; because the acts of the Trinity cannot be separated, by reason of the unity of essence, which is the working power: and, therefore, when God the Father is said to have made the heavens through the Son, the Holy Ghost is not excluded; and when the power, or the celestial host, is said to have proceeded from the spirit of the mouth of the Lord, they are understood also to have proceeded from the Word, who proceeded from the mouth of the same Father, and from which Word the Spirit himself proceeded.

7 Gathering together the waters of the sea, as in a vessel; laying up the depths in storehouses.

He goes on explaining God’s power, who not only created the heavens and the stars by one word, but collected all the waters that, at the creation, covered the whole globe, and shut them up in the deepest caverns and recesses of the earth; just as easy as one would fill a vessel with water, or shut up his money in a chest. “Laying up the depths in storehouses.” Shutting up the immense depths of waters that were on the earth and reached to the very heavens, with as much ease as one would shut up a sum of money in a safe. That the “depths” mean the mass of water that covered the earth is clear from Genesis 1, where it is said, “Darkness was over the depths.” By “treasures” is sometimes meant an abundance of gold, silver, or precious stones, as, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.” Sometimes it means the place in which such things are kept, as, “Every learned scribe produces from his treasure the new and the old;” and we read of the Magi, that “They opened their treasures, and offered unto him gold, frankincense, and myrrh,” in which latter sense the word “treasure” is to be understood here.

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord, and let all the inhabitants of the world be in awe of him.

From what he has said of God’s power, he takes the occasion of exhorting all men to fear him, and have a horror of breaking his commandments.

9 For he spoke and they were made: he commanded and they were created.

The very best reason that could be offered for fearing God alone; because anything but God cannot harm us without God’s permission; and, on the other hand, there is nothing outside God that can defend us from his anger; because all things depend upon him for existence, God made everything by one word; for this reason, that his word is all powerful, full of authority, and cannot be resisted; and he, therefore, adds, “He commanded, and they were created.”

10 The Lord bringeth to nought the counsels of nations; and he rejecteth the devices of people, and casteth away the counsels of princes.

The prophet now comes to wisdom, to show that God deserves our praise in every respect. “He brings to naught the counsels of nations.” The wisdom of God is so far beyond and above, the wisdom of mankind that God, in one moment, blasts, blights, renders null and void all the plans and plots of men, however wisely and deliberately they may seem to have been laid. He repeats that in the words, “He rejecteth the devices of people;” he rejects all their devices as if they were so many fools, and deals in like manner with their princes, whose counsels, however wise they may seem to be, and framed by counselors abounding in wisdom and learning, are still “cast away” as of no value or importance. Truly wonderful is the wisdom of God, that catches the wise in their own cunning, and by some inexplicable dealing, so infatuates them, that what they judge will be of the highest importance and value to them, turns out to be the readiest road to their injury and destruction.

11 But the counsel of the Lord standeth for ever: the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

By an inscrutable wisdom, God mars the counsels of man, and does not allow them to accomplish what they purpose. Whereas, on the contrary, the wisdom of man is quite powerless against that of God; for, once he has decreed anything it is fixed to eternity. “Every counsel of mine will stand, and every will of mine shall be done, saith the Lord,” Isaias 43. Now, by “counsel,” as regards God, we are not to understand a consultation previous to election, for God has not to think a matter over, but, by one most simple act of his will, he decreed from eternity all he should ever do or carry out. The Scripture merely accommodates itself to our weakness and our usual manner of speaking, when it says, “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever;” that means, that what God in his wisdom has once decreed, cannot be disturbed nor be prevented being put into execution. He repeats that, when he says, “The thoughts of his heart to all generations;” that means, that whatever God once thought of doing can never be prevented, but will certainly be carried out, and in the way he intended. The Scripture, however, does not go so far in accommodating itself to our weakness as to exclude truth altogether, for, though there is no counsel with God previous to election, there is in his counsel what is most perfect, that is, the knowledge of all the means necessary to accomplish the most useful end; and though there may be in God one only, and that a most simple thought, that one, however, is equivalent to numberless ones.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord: the people whom he hath chosen for his inheritance.

From what he had said of the power, wisdom, and goodness of God, the prophet concludes that blessed must the people be, whose God is not an empty idol, but a Lord, most powerful, most wise, and most benevolent, on whose praises he had just been descanting; and then are we truly and perfectly happy, and blessed, when we have that great Lord for our God, and he has us for His peculiar people; the prophet then unites both when he says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord;” that is, blessed are they who acknowledge no God but the one Lord, “by whose word the heavens were established;” and in like manner, “blessed are the people whom he hath chosen for his inheritance;” that means, blessed are they whom the same great Lord hath chosen to be his own peculiar people, and as it were his own property and inheritance. These two things are so united that they cannot be separated, for they alone have the true God for their God, who worship him through faith, hope, and charity; and they only, whom he has chosen for his inheritance, whom he has preordained by his grace, called, and justified, and who worship him through faith, hope, and charity, and his people: a thing we should never lose sight of, for, whatever man may have, even though he may gain the entire world, he is still poor and wretched if he want God, who alone can fill up the bosom of his soul; and, on the other hand, he who possesses God, however poor he may be, is still happy and rich because, with God he has everything. Besides, man is God’s image; now, the beauty and great perfection of an image is to be like the original as possible; and then he will be really like to God, and therefore most happy, “when we shall see him as he is,” Jn. 3; for God’s happiness consists in seeing himself as he is; and thus, those who will never see him will be always most unlike him, and, therefore, truly miserable. Finally, anything beneath God is either meaner than man, as all corporal things, or equal to man, as the Angels are, for in the resurrection we will be equal to them. Now, nothing can make us more perfect, blessed, or happy, but something better and more perfect than ourselves; they, then, alone who cling to God, who become one spirit with him, are the only really happy; that is, they who love God, and are loved by him; who are happy here in hope, and are, in point of fact, happy when they cling to God by so happy a tie that can never be broken.

13 The Lord hath looked from heaven: he hath beheld all the sons of men.
14 From his habitation which he hath prepared, he hath looked upon all that dwell on the earth.

He proves what he said, namely, that, blessed is that people that have for their God the Lord, who made the heavens; because when God, looking down from heaven, as he would from an observatory, and seeing man, and knowing that no man, however brave or powerful he may appear to be, could be saved by his own merits; he looks upon his own people with the eye of a father, helps him and saves him, so that the just were deservedly called upon in the beginning of the Psalm to “Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just.” He, therefore, says, “The Lord hath looked down from heaven; he hath beheld all the sons of men;” that means, the Lord in heaven, from whom nothing can be concealed, sees not only his own people, but all mankind, and their various capabilities. The following verse has the same meaning.

15 He who hath made the hearts of every one of them: who understandeth all their works.

He tells us now, that when God saw the “sons of men” from heaven, it was not in the dim, confused, and uncertain way that we see objects placed at a great distance, but that he saw most distinctly and minutely all their actions; that is, what they were doing, or might do, in mind or body; and thus, he saw all the thoughts, desires, words, acts, past, present, and future, of all men in general, and of each in particular; and he proves God’s power to see them thus, because “he made the heart of every one of them;” that is, he created their souls, and, therefore, their hearts; that is, their minds and will, from which all human actions spring; for he that could make the heart, could certainly search it. “Of every one of them;” that is, of every one of them separately, and, therefore he ought to understand all their works.

16 The king is not saved by a great army: nor shall the giant be saved by his own great strength.

He explains what the all seeing eye really saw, and that was, that no one, by his own merits or exertions, could be delivered from the evils that surround us on all sides; and that we all need the mercy of God. He gives as an instance, that of the one most likely to boast of and confide in his own strength, the king. God saw that “the king is not saved by a great army;” great power, a great army, a great deal of money will not save or protect the king. “Nor shall the giant be saved by his own great strength;” his own strength will be as unserviceable to the strong, brave man, as is the great army to the king.

17 Vain is the horse for safety: neither shall he be saved by the abundance of his strength.

There are three things to rescue one from imminent danger; the strength of others, such as guards of soldiers; one’s own strength; a swift horse; the two former to meet the danger, the latter to fly from it. The psalmist had already said that the two former were insufficient, he says now that the third is equally so; and we have examples of all in the Book of Kings. An immense military force was unable to protect Saul; Goliath, the great giant, was slain by the youth David; Joram, the son of Achab, flying away in a swift chariot, was killed by a swifter arrow. “Vain is the horse for safety.” The man who depends on the velocity of his horses is greatly deceived; because such velocity may he impeded or overcome in a variety of ways, and is, therefore, very deceitful. “Neither shall he be saved by the abundance of His strength.” The horse, whose power is principally in his swiftness, will not save himself and his rider by means of it.

18 Behold the eyes of the Lord are on them that fear him: and on them that hope in his mercy.
19 To deliver their souls from death; and feed them in famine.

The conclusion of the argument, whereby the prophet undertook to prove the happiness of the nation who had God for their Lord. For God sees all men, and sees what little they can do of themselves, without his assistance. He has, however, peculiar regard to the just, to help them, to deliver them from the danger of death, and to find fair support for them in this world. “Behold, the eyes of the Lord are on them that fear him.” The truly just and the friends of God are beautifully described, as those who fear him and trust in him. For fear, without hope, is servile fear; hope, without fear, is presumption. Fear, combined with hope, is the mark of real love; that is, the generous love whereby God is loved, as a friend, a father, a spouse; such love, while it greatly fears doing anything that may possibly offend the beloved, still securely hopes and trusts that the mercy of the beloved will never be wanting. “To deliver their souls from death, and feed them in famine.” God’s reason for regarding with the eye of a father those who so fear him, while they trust in him, is to confer those two blessings on them, viz., to free them from the fear of death, and to support them while they live. As the just are afraid to offend God, he delivers them from the fear of being offended, that is, of their lives being endangered, which is a great blessing. To those who trust in his mercy, he shows perpetual mercy, “while he feeds them in famine;” and those two blessings can be understood of our corporal and temporal salvation, as well as of our spiritual and everlasting happiness. “He delivers their souls from death.” Our corporal salvation is looked after, since God, by a singular providence, delivers us from the various dangers of death, we could never escape of ourselves, or through any human agency. And after thus delivering us, he provides us with all the necessaries of life, especially in time of famine, when so many others are in extremes. In a spiritual sense, he “delivers their souls from death,” when he either prevents their falling into sin, which is a spiritual death, or, if they have sinned, brings them back by wholesome penance to grace, which is the spiritual life of the soul; and thus, in both ways, he delivers their souls from everlasting death. And those who are living to God, by means of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, “he feeds in famine;” while, in this desert, “a desert barren and without water,” on our journey to the land of promise, he feeds us with manna raining from heaven, and with water bursting from the rock; that is, while he supports and refreshes us by his heavenly consolations, he feeds, without satiating; he cools, without quenching our thirst; because the one and the other are reserved for the day when the glory of the Lord shall appear, when “we shall be inebriated with the plenty of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure.”

20 Our soul waiteth for the Lord: for he is our helper and protector.

Hitherto he had addressed the just, the servants of God, exhorting them to “exult in the Lord,” and to praise God as a most indulgent and most merciful father. He now gives the reply of the just, who say, “Our soul waiteth for the Lord.” The just understand what the Holy Spirit wants when he invites them to exult and praise; that he wants them to do so, that they may thereby be encouraged to persevere in justice; to cling to God Almighty, not to turn from him through any amount of persecution; and, finally, to praise God more through their actions, than with their lips; and they reply that, marked as they have been by so many of God’s signal favors, they will most steadily remain in his fear and his love. “Our soul (say they) waiteth for the Lord.” Whatever may happen, it will not separate us from the love of God, nor will we look for any other to console us; but will patiently expect consolation from heaven, knowing it has been written, Habac. 2, “If it make any delay, wait for it: for it shall surely come, and it shall not be slack.” The soul is said to wait, by a Hebraism, by which the soul is used for the entire man, especially in spiritual matters. Thus, in Isaias 26, “Thy name and thy remembrance are the desire of the soul. My soul hath desired thee in the night;” and, Lamentation 3, “The Lord is good to them that hope in him, to the soul that seeketh him;” and the most Blessed Virgin says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” The just herein assign a reason for their having determined to wait for the Lord so long; because they know, from experience, that he always helped them in their prosperity, and protected them most faithfully and effectually in their adversity.

21 For in him our heart shall rejoice: and in his holy name we have trusted.

The just having responded to the first desire of the Holy Spirit, they now respond to the second, viz., that they should “rejoice in the Lord,” as has been explained in the first verse of the Psalm. They say they will do so most willingly. “In him our heart shall rejoice;” having hoped in the Lord, they have been assisted and protected by him, and, therefore, having learned from experience, how good and how powerful he is, they “rejoice in him,” and “trusting his name.”

22 Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have hoped in thee.

The Psalm, as is frequently the case, concludes with a prayer, one quite apposite to the last verses, and to the entire Psalm, because it having been repeated that God has mercy on those that confide in him, and the just assert they did confide in him, and by reason of continuous danger, always need continuous mercy, they therefore conclude by, “Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us;” let it not cease, but continue; nay, even let new mercies be poured upon us, “as we have hoped in thee,” as your goodness led us to expect, and we promised to ourselves.

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

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 71

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 8, 2018

PSALM 71
A PRAYER FOR PERSEVERANCE

1 IN thee, O Lord, I have hoped, let me never be put to confusion:
2 Deliver me in thy justice, and rescue me. Incline thy ear unto me, and save me.

The holy prophet, mindful of God’s promises to those who put their trust in him, and not presuming on his own strength, exclaims, “In thee, O Lord,” and not in myself nor in any other creature, “I have hoped,” certain, therefore, that I will “never be put to confusion.” I fly to you in my present trouble, and ask of you “to deliver and rescue me” from the hands of my persecutors; “in thy justice,” with that justice that prompts you to punish the wicked, and free the innocent. And, for effect, he repeats the prayer, saying, “Incline thy ear unto me, and save me;” hear my humble voice, save me in the present danger.

3 Be thou unto me a God, a protector, and a place of strength: that thou mayst make me safe. For thou art my firmament and my refuge.

He now explains more clearly what he wants from God, and that is, that God should protect him like a city strongly fortified, and incapable of being penetrated by the enemy. The Hebrew implies that this fortified place was on a lofty rock and, in truth, there is no easier way of overcoming all troubles than the knowing how to ascend in spirit to God, and there to contemplate the everlasting happiness; and there one will at once despise everything human; thus, the tribulations, which otherwise would be counted severe and heavy, St. Paul calls “momentary and light.” “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.” 2 Cor. 4. “For thou art my firmament and my refuge.” Be my protector, for you alone “are my firmament;” my firm and well built house, built of stone, as the Hebrew implies, to which I can fly; and “my refuge.”

Everything else, the favors of man, my own industry and exertions, are houses of mud or of straw, built on the sand; for what are all the goods of this world but frail, perishable things, in which fools alone confide? Happy they who understand so much; happier they who put them into practice.

4 Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the sinner, and out of the hand of the transgressor of the law and of the unjust.

He now descends to particulars, and asks to be delivered out of “the hand,” that is, from the power of the sinner, “the transgressor of the law, and of the unjust;” all of which literally apply to Absalom, Achitophel, and their servants, for this Psalm altogether corresponds with Psalm 31, which, by general consent, treats of Absalom’s persecution. “The hand of the sinner,” then, seems to be intended for Absalom, a perverse, wicked man; “the transgressors of the law” are the people who rise up in arms against their lawful king, and the “unjust” alludes to Achitophel, who in private, had fraudulently sought to injure David. Looking at the passage in a spiritual sense, the sinner may mean the devil, the unjust may mean heretics, and the transgressors of the law, tyrants and persecutors. The just man, however, desires to be freed not only from corporal trouble, but much more so from any danger to his soul, for fear he may, through fear of persecution, consent to sin, and run the risk of eternal death.

5 For thou art my patience, O Lord: my hope, O Lord, from my youth.
6 By thee have I been confirmed from the womb: from my mother’s womb thou art my protector. Of thee I shall continually sing:

The Hebrew for patience here implies patience in hope, rather than in endurance, as we have it in Rom. 8, “We wait for it with patience;” and in James 5, “Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, patiently bearing till he receive the early and the later rain. Be you, therefore, also patient, and strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth near.” “For thou art my patience,” then, means, for it is from thee I am patiently expecting help. “My hope, O Lord, from my youth;” because I began to hope in you from the time that I first knew you, nay more, long before I was capable of knowing you, in your mercy you were my protector; because, “By thee have I been confirmed from the womb;” scarce had I come into the world, when I was in a most infirm state, incapable of invoking you, you extended your protection to me. Such favors God is wont to confer on all men, especially when they are of an age when they cannot help themselves; while very few are they who acknowledge such favors, or thank God sufficiently for them; and the prophet, therefore, who, by the light of the Holy Ghost, knew such to be the case, with great devotion exclaims, “By thee I have been confirmed from the womb; from my mother’s womb thou art my protector;” as much as to say, I know and confess, O Lord, that you cared me from my very infancy, which makes me now confidently hope that you will be my protector when I shall call upon you. “Of thee shall I continuously sing.” For such reasons, for such favors, I will always chant thy praises, in prosperity and adversity, in this world, and in the next.

7 I am become unto many as a wonder, but thou art a strong helper.

Banished from my kingdom by my own son, a wretched fugitive instead of a glorious conqueror, I am the wonder of every one, especially when I seem to be so deserted by you whom I always worshipped, in whom I always trusted; but, however, you are a “strong helper,” and a steady one; and though, for a time, in your wisdom, you may appear to have deserted me, and allowed my enemies to get the better of me, still, when the proper time comes, you will be a “strong helper.” St. Augustine, taking a spiritual view of this passage, says, that he who despises the things of this world, patiently submits to injury, and thus goes in a contrary direction to that of mankind, may be called a wonder and a prodigy. Such was John the Baptist, Christ himself, Peter, Paul, and the other Apostles; such were all the martyrs and confessors, and others, who were looked upon by the wise ones of the world as fools, yet could truly say, I am become as a wonder to many, yet you are a strong helper, to carry me through the narrow gate, and to offer violence to the kingdom of heaven, when it will appear whether I was a fool or a wise man.

8 Let my mouth be filled with praise, that I may sing thy glory; thy greatness all the day long.

Whatever men may think or say of me, I therefore, wish that “my mouth may be filled with praise,” that nothing else may please me, may delight me, but to love thee and praise thy glory; and “the whole day,” that is, at all times, “to sing thy greatness and thy glory.” All they, and they alone, are like this holy king and prophet, who think, and feel, and deeply consider that there is nothing great, nothing worthy our admiration but God alone.

9 Cast me not off in the time of old age: when my strength shall fail, do not thou forsake me.

David was an old man when he was persecuted by Absalom; and, therefore, calling to mind the victories of his youth, nay, even of his boyhood, he says, “Cast me not off in the time of old age;” do not desert him you always stood by, now at the last moment. “When my strength shall fail;” when I am become weak and feeble, “do not thou forsake me;” when I want your help more than ever I did before.

10 For my enemies have spoken against me; and they that watched my soul have consulted together,
11 Saying: God hath forsaken him: pursue and take him, for there is none to deliver him.

Such was literally true of David, against whom his people, with Absalom at their head, and Achitophel as his counselor, rebelled; a thing they did under the impression that he was now grown old and weak, and abandoned by God. “And they that watched my soul,” my former counselors and guards, “have consulted together;” took counsel how they may destroy me, saying, as “God hath forsaken him, pursue and take him;” the very advice that Achitophel gave, which, however, had no effect, as God did not suffer it to be carried out. See 2 Sam 17.

12 O God, be not thou far from me: O my God, make haste to my help.
13 Let them be confounded and come to nothing that detract my soul; let them be covered with confusion and blame that seek my hurt.

While they were taking measures against David, he had recourse to God, who, without any trouble, could mar them all, as he really did. “O God, be not thou far from me,” as they boast you are, but rather “make haste to my help,” to save me from them. “Let them be confounded and come to nothing that detract my soul,” by your hastening to help me, let Absalom’s counselors be confounded, their plots fail, disappear, and vanish; and let those “that detract my soul,” that calumniate me, be rendered senseless. “Let them be covered with confusion and shame that seek my hurt;” a repetition of the foregoing.

14 But I will always hope; and will add to all thy praise.
15 My mouth shall shew forth thy justice; thy salvation all the day long. Because I have not known learning,

Let them be confounded and come to nothing; “But I will always hope;” will confide more and more in you, having learned by experience the efficacy of your assistance, and will always “add to all thy praise;” singing new hymns to you for your new and repeated favors. “My mouth shall show forth thy justice,” with which you punish the wicked; and “thy salvation,” through which you free and save the innocent, “all day long;” that is, constantly. “Because I have not known learning.” How could David say this of himself, when he says, in Psalm 117, “I have understood more than all my teachers;” and the Psalms prove him to have been well up in both human and divine knowledge; for, though he was a shepherd and a soldier, he may not have been so entirely devoted to caring his flocks, or waging war, as not to be able to devote some time to literature and study? By the word “learning,” then, I take it that David means that human craft and cunning in which Achitophel, who had given counsel against him, abounded; and, by the words, “I have not known,” that he does not simply mean knowledge, but approbation and use; as we commonly say, “I don’t know you;” and, as St. Paul says, “that he knows nothing but Christ, and him crucified.” The meaning, then, is, “I have not known learning.” I know not the wisdom of this world; I confide not in the counsels of man; I approve not of human craft and cunning; but,

16 I will enter into the powers of the Lord: O Lord, I will be mindful of thy justice alone.

I will cling entirely to God’s omnipotence; in it will I confide, and will hide myself in it as I would in an impregnable fortress; and thus, “I will be mindful of thy justice alone;” I will lose sight completely of human counsel, of my own strength, or of my friends; but I will remember and bear in mind “thy justice alone,” by virtue of which you keep your promises and through which you punish the wicked, and crown the pious.

17 Thou hast taught me, O God, from my youth: and till now I will declare thy wonderful works.

You taught me to despise human literature, and to trust in your power; and it was in consequence, that I, an unarmed youth, fought with a bear and a lion, and conquered both them and the giant Goliath. “And till now I will declare thy wonderful works;” while I live, to the last day of my life, I will record “the wonderful works” you enabled me to do in my youth.

18 And unto old age and grey hairs: O God, forsake me not, Until I shew forth thy arm to all the generation that is to come: Thy power,

And I ask, at the same time, that “unto old age you forsake me not,” but that you always may come to my aid, “until I show forth,” until I shall have finished the book of Psalms, through which I will show forth “thy arm,” thy strength, to all posterity. How David could say that he would announce God’s power to all posterity we have already explained, for he foresaw that the Psalms composed by him would be chanted all over the world to the end of time. “Thy power.” He explains what arm he is to announce, when he says, “thy power.”

19 And thy justice, O God, even to the highest great things thou hast done: O God, who is like to thee?

He explains the meaning of the showing forth thy arm to the generation that is to come, and says, “thy power and thy justice;” that is to say, I will announce thy arm, which signifies your power united with your justice. God is all powerful, but he is still most just; he can do what he wills, but he wills nothing unjust. Now, such power and justice reaches even “to the highest great things” among God’s creatures, for God created by his power, not only the earth, and the sea, and all their inhabitants, but he also created the heavens, and the heavens of heavens, and the countless millions of Angels that dwell therein. Thus the arm of God’s power reaches even those highest great things. God’s justice also has not only punished sinful man, who is but dust and ashes, but he has also punished the most exalted among the Angels, who, for their pride, he hurled from heaven into the abyss. The arm of divine justice, then, has reached “the highest things,” so that one may well exclaim, “O God, who is like to thee?” Nor does this contradict the Scripture that says, “God made man to his likeness;” and 1 John 3, “We know that when he shall appear we shall be like to him; because we shall see him as he is.” For when David says here, “Who is like to thee?” he means, is equal to thee, equally wise, powerful, depending on no one, while all depend on him.

20 How great troubles hast thou shewn me, many and grievous: and turning thou hast brought me to life, and hast brought me back again from the depths of the earth:
21 Thou hast multiplied thy magnificence; and turning to me thou hast comforted me.

David consoles himself in his present calamity, by the fact of having escaped, through God’s assistance, from other calamities. “How many troubles hast thou shown me, many and grievous;” great in their variety and bitterness, borne by me in Saul’s persecution, “and turning, thou hast brought me to life,” when I was all but in the jaws of death, “and hast brought me back again from the depths of the earth;” deliver me from the height of misery, that nearly drove me to the other world. For “thou hast multiplied thy magnificence,” in accordance with the extent of my troubles, “and turning to me,” in mercy, while you chastised me, as a father you have wonderfully “comforted me,” when from a wretched exile you made me a prosperous king.

22 For I will also confess to thee thy truth with the instruments of psaltery: O God, I will sing to thee with the harp, thou holy one of Israel.
23 My lips shall greatly rejoice, when I shall sing to thee; and my soul which thou hast redeemed.
24 Yea and my tongue shall meditate on thy justice all the day; when they shall be confounded and put to shame that seek evils to me.

The prophet now predicts his delivery from the power of Absalom, and promises all manner of thanks in his heart, with his lips, and with all sorts of musical instruments. “For I will also,” when I shall have obtained the victory, “confess thy truth to thee;” will praise your justice and your fidelity, “with the instruments of psaltery,” with the musical instrument called the psaltery. And I will use the harp too, “thou Holy One of Israel;” a name applied to God, whom the people of Israel were bound to sanctify by public worship and due honor, for which he in return sanctified them by the sanctity of his grace. And I will not only thank and praise you with the harp and psaltery, but “my lips shall greatly rejoice,” my mouth shall send forth its notes, “when I shall sing to thee;” “and my soul,” my life, “which thou hast redeemed,” shall also praise thee. And it is not once or twice that “my tongue shall meditate on thy justice,” but “all the day,” at all times “it shall meditate,” exercise itself in chanting the praises of thy justice, “when they shall be confounded and put to shame that seek evils to me.”

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

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 67

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 8, 2018

PSALM 66
A PRAYER FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE CHURCH

2 MAY God have mercy on us, and bless us: may he cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us.

With desire and earnestness David exclaims, “May God have mercy on us,” according to the great mercy that prompts him to send a Savior to us; and may he in such mercy “bless us,” which blessing we pray may not be confined to the things of this world, but “may he cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us,” which may be variously interpreted. First, God is said to make “the light of his countenance shine upon us,” when, having removed the clouds of his anger and indignation, he regards us with a look of benignity, as children, as friends, as restored to grace. Again, he is said to “cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us,” when, by the infusion of wisdom and love, he enlightens and warms us, as the sun is wont to do when no cloud intervenes. Finally, he is said to cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us when it pleases him to let us see him to a certain extent; which he did through the mystery of the Incarnation, when “He was seen upon earth, and conversed with men,” Baruch 3. And such seems to be the prayer of the prophet here, that God should show his countenance, if not in the form of God, at least in the form of man. He puts up the same petition in Psalm 79, where he says, “Thou that sittest upon the Cherubim shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasses.” And this being the mercy he originally asked, he, therefore, repeats, “and may he have mercy on us;” that means, may he, by such light, have mercy on us.

3 That we may know thy way upon earth: thy salvation in all nations.

The reason why he so ardently longs for the light of God’s countenance is, that through that divine light we may, in this land of darkness know the way to God, to our country from which we have been so long exiled in darkness and the shade of death; which way most undoubtedly is Christ himself, who says, “I am the way;” and not only the way, but the light through which it is to be known, of which Isaias, chap. 9, says, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death light is risen.”—“Thy salvation in all nations” explains the first part of the verse, that the Savior may be known among all nations.

4 Let people confess to thee, O God: let all people give praise to thee.

The prophet’s desires being in accordance with true charity, he wished that Christ should come upon earth; first, for the glory of God, then, for the benefit of mankind; and in this verse, therefore, he prays that all manner of people should praise, thank, and glorify him for so great and so universal a favor; that all worship and veneration of false gods should cease, and the one true God alone be acknowledged by all.

5 Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for thou judgest the people with justice, and directest the nations upon earth.

Next to the glory of God, let the benefit of mankind be acknowledged; and, therefore, “let the nations be glad and rejoice;” let all manner of people rejoice; “for thou,” through Christ, “judgest the people with justice;” you have destroyed the power of the tyrannical prince of darkness, and established the just authority of the Church in its stead. “And directest the nations upon earth;” governing and guiding them, by your most wholesome laws, to the harbor of life everlasting.

6 Let the people, O God, confess to thee: let all the people give praise to thee:
7 The earth hath yielded her fruit. May God, our God bless us,

He again exhorts the people to praise God, assigning as an additional reason, that “the earth hath yielded her fruit;” that means, that the earth had at length yielded that fruit, to yield which she was created, namely, Christ in the flesh. For this is the fruit of which Isaias speaks when he says, “In that day the bud of the Lord shall be in magnificence and glory, and the fruit of the earth shall be high;” and in Psalm 84, “Our earth hath yielded its fruit;” fruit of such value, that, when compared to it, the earth seems never before to have yielded anything but thorns and briars.

8 May God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear him.

Henceforth will come the agreeable change, that God will open his hands, and replenish us with all manner of blessings, spiritual ones especially; and, on the other hand, all men, in the utmost quarters of the globe, will fear the true God with a holy fear, and will pay him the tribute of obedience and praise. The name of God, three times repeated here, while it shows the strong affections of the prophet, would also seem to foreshadow the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, which was so clearly preached by Christ and his Apostles.

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

 
%d bloggers like this: