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

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 21:28-32

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 7, 2018

28 But what think you? A certain man had two sons: and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29 And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went.
30 And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering said: I go, Sir. And he went not.
31 Which of the two did the father’s will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came to you in the way of justice: and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him.

Affecting ignorance of what they knew well, as to whether John’s baptism was from Heaven or not, the Pharisees would not answer our Redeemer’s question. He, then, before dismissing the allusion to John the Baptist, takes occasion, from their evasive answer, to propose a parable, the application of which was quite evident, and while He supposed the Divine mission of John, clearly proved them guilty of incredulity, the imputation of which they were anxious to avoid. He wishes to humble their pride, who were inflated with a sense of their own dignity, and the affectation of superior knowledge, and false science. This He does in a most telling way, by proposing a case, or a question, in the form of a parable, the answer to which, as well as its application to themselves, was quite clear. Out of their own mouth, He condemns them, and shows that “the publicans and harlots shall precede them in the kingdom of God.” The parable, in its literal meaning, is quite clear. Its application is equally so. The man in question refers to Almighty God, the common Father of all. The two sons refer to the Pharisees, on the one hand, and the public sinners among the Jews, as is clear from verse 31, “the publicans and harlots,” &c. The son who refused to obey his father’s injunctions, in the first instance, but afterwards obeyed in act, refers to the “publicans and harlots,” the public sinners of either sex among the Jews, who, by their sins, disobeyed God, refused to observe His law, rejected His call to cultivate, by penance, the spiritual vineyard of their souls, but afterwards were converted to penance, and embraced God’s holy law. The son who promised obedience, in the first instance, but afterwards disobeyed, in act, represented the Pharisees, who had always on their lips the law of God, made an external profession of piety, but were destitute of its spirit, failed in its practices, disobeyed God’s law preached to them by John the Baptist, despised his baptism, and refused to believe in Christ, to whom he bore testimony.

(verse 31) “Jesus said to them, Amen I say to you,” &c. Without dwelling on the meaning of the parable, which clearly applied to the Pharisees, our Redeemer at once announced the conclusion to be derived from their own admission. The man who did, in act, what His Father commanded, obeyed; while the other, who promised obedience in word, but did not carry it out in act, disobeyed. Hence, “the publicans and harlots”—the public sinners of either sex among the Jews—“shall go into the kingdom of God before you,” that is, shall be admitted into the enjoyment of God’s bliss, before you, who, having refused the way of penance, preached by John the Baptist, shall be altogether excluded from that kingdom of bliss, to which penance conducts. The same is conveyed in the parable of the two sons, in the Gospel of St. Luke (15:11), where the younger son represented the public sinners. The same are represented here by the first-born, because such sinners, on doing penance, are first before God, and precede those who seem to themselves just. Thus, “the last shall be first,” &c. The Greek for, “Go before you,” is, “shall precede you,” as if conveying, that they go before them in the road to heaven, by penance and faith, and shall be admitted there before them. For, they shall be utterly excluded.

The parable may also, in a secondary sense, regard the Gentile and Jewish peoples; the former, represented by those among the Jews, who were converted from their sins, and did not promise to obey God’s word, but did so, in act; the latter, by those who remained obstinate, after having promised to Moses (Exod. 19:8), “all whatsoever, the Lord shall speak to us, we shall do,” still continued obstinate in their incredulity, and resistance to God’s law. Theirs was only lip service, without obedience in act, depending solely on the justice of the law, and not on faith. Hence, they arrived not at the law of justice, but stumbled against the rock of offence (Rom. 9:30), &c.

(Verse 32) “John came to you,” in preference to all other peoples, “in the way of justice,” exhibiting true justice, by a holy, irreproachable life, exemplifying in his conduct, the lessons of penance and humility which he taught, thus showing himself what all, except the haughty Pharisees, believed him to be, viz., a Prophet, truly sent from God.

You did not believe him,” either by obeying the precepts of penance, which he announced, or by receiving the Messiah, to whom he bore testimony.

But the publicans and harlots believed him,” which adds to the condemnation of the Pharisees, who, not only were unmoved by the holy life and teaching of John, but still remained obstinate, and refused to enter on a life of penance, even after the example of these sinful men and women was placed before them, to stimulate them.

You … did not even afterwards repent,” that is, you did not follow their example, whom you should precede, in doing penance, “that”—under the influence of holy penance—“you might believe him,” and thus follow his precepts, and admit his testimony regarding the Son of God.

Our Redeemer censures two things in the Pharisees—their incredulity in regard to the testimony of John, and their contumacious obstinacy in that incredulity, even after the example of the greatest sinners, who became converted, had been placed before them.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 21:28-32

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 7, 2018

Final Encounter with the Pharisees and their Rejection, 21:23–23:39

In this section we have first the history preparatory to the last contest with the scribes and Pharisees, 21:23–22:14; secondly, the formal contest, 21:15–46; thirdly, the formal rejection of the scribes and Pharisees, 13:1–39.

1. Events preparatory to the last contest [21:23–22:14] are first the Pharisees’ question after our Lord’s authority, 21:23–27; secondly, the parable of the two sons, 21:28–32; thirdly, the parable of the wicked husbandmen, 21:33–46; fourthly, the parable of the marriage feast, 22:1–14. Throughout this part the position of Jesus in regard to the scribes and Pharisees grows clearer.

28 But what think you? A certain man had two sons: and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29 And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went.
30 And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering said: I go, Sir. And he went not.
31 Which of the two did the father’s will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came to you in the way of justice: and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him.

Parable of two sons. In the first case the evangelist marks the contrast between the kind address, “son,” of the father, and the rude answer, “I will not,” of the son. The “sir” of the second son illustrates his hypocritical reverence for his father. Before making the application of the parable, Jesus tasks the Pharisees themselves to give their judgment concerning the sons. Instead of “the first” some codd. read “the last”; if this reading be adhered to, in spite of its being wrong, the Pharisees must be said to have intentionally given the wrong answer, in order to frustrate the effect of the parable. The two sons do not signify the Pharisees who despised the preaching of John and were converted later on, and the publicans and sinners who first listened to the Baptist but did not enter the kingdom [cf. Hil.]; nor do they represent the Gentiles who first refused to obey the natural law, but then entered the kingdom, and the Jews who first promised obedience [Ex. 19:6], and then refused to enter the kingdom [Orig. Chrys. Jer. Theoph. Euth. Bed. Rab. op. imp. etc.]; but they represent the publicans and sinners, on the one hand, and the scribes and Pharisees, on the other [Theoph. in cat. Br. Caj. Jans. Mald. Lap. Lam. Arn. Bisp. Schegg, Schanz, Fil. Knab. etc.]. That this is the true meaning is clear from the words of Jesus, “The publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom before you”; a converted publican was among the twelve, and Lk. 7:50 tells of the true conversion of a harlot. The manner in which the sinners precede the Pharisees is described by the words: “For John came to you in the way of justice,” not merely living according to the just prescriptions of the Mosaic law, and according to the highest principles of the inner life [cf. Chrys. Theoph. Euth. Mald.; 2 Pet. 2:21], but also teaching you the way of justice [cf. Lk. 3:12 ff.] and of inward sanctity [cf. Mt. 3:8]; “and you did not believe him,” though his teaching was confirmed by his example, while the “publicans and the harlots believed him.” By way of moral application, the meaning of this parable may be extended to Gentiles and Jews; to priests and laymen; to religious and seculars [cf. Orig. Theoph. Jans. Lap. Salm. tom. vii. tract. 35]. The words “shall go into the kingdom of God before you” show that there is hope left for the persons Jesus addresses [cf. Chrys. Theoph.], and admit even that the Jews will enter after the fulness of the Gentiles, but they do not expressly state this doctrine [cf. Orig. Alb.].

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 80

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 6, 2018

Note: verse numbers may be one behind some modern translations due to the fact that some of these assign a verse number to the psalm titles. The psalm titles (or superscriptions) given by the psalmist are not treated by St Robert. He dealt with the titles in his  individual introductions to the psalms (not reproduced here).

An invitation to a solemn praising of God

1 Rejoice to God our helper: sing aloud to the God of Jacob.

The prophet exhorts us, when we praise God, that we should do it with great interior joy; “for God loveth a cheerful giver;” and if he loves the one who gives cheerfully, much more does he love him who praises cheerfully. Cheerfulness comes from love and from desire; and, therefore, he who sings moodily, and who looks upon the divine office as an intolerable burden, rather than a sweet canticle, gives to understand that he has very little affection for him whose praises he chants. “Rejoice to God our helper.” Praise God in great exultation, for it is he who can help us on all occasions. “Sing aloud to the God of Jacob;” give your mind to it, and sing his praises with a loud voice.

2 Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel: the pleasant psaltery with the harp.
3 Blow up the trumpet on the new moon, on the noted day of your solemnity.

He tells them when they are especially to sing their hymns of praise, at the time of new moon; for then the Jews began the month, and held their festivals. “On the noted day of your solemnity,” which some will have to be the new moon of September, the most solemn feast of the Jews, while others will have it to be the first of each month; but it matters little which, as the sense is the same.

4 For it is a commandment in Israel, and a judgment to the God of Jacob.
5 He ordained it for a testimony in Joseph, when he came out of the land of Egypt: he heard a tongue which he knew not.

He assigns a reason for singing with such joy, and bringing in the aid of musical instruments, and that is, because God himself commanded it, when he brought the people out of Egypt. For God, who needs nothing, still wishes for such tribute of praise, and that we should keep up the memory of his benefits. “For it is a command in Israel.” We must sing and play on musical instruments, as a mark of joy and thanksgiving, because it has been commanded by God, and the commandment is kept in Israel by God’s people, who are so called from their parent Israel. “And a judgment to the God of Jacob;” a repetition of the same idea, for judgment and commandment, and Israel and Jacob, are frequently used in the Scriptures, to express the same idea. He ordained it for a testimony in Joseph, “when he came out of the land of Egypt;” another repetition, testimony, commandment, and judgment, signifying the same thing, as is also the case with Israel, Jacob, and Joseph. “He heard a tongue which he knew not;” for, up to the delivery of the commandments on mount Sinai, the people never heard the voice of God speaking to them.

6 He removed his back from the burdens: his hands had served in baskets.

Another favor conferred by God on the Jews in their departure from Egypt. They had been compelled by the Egyptians to the severest labor, in making and burning brick; that was “removed from their backs,” they were no longer obliged to bear the heavy loads they had been subjected to in brick making. “His hands had served in baskets,” fetching the clay, from which slavery God delivered them.

7 Thou calledst upon me in affliction, and I delivered thee: I heard thee in the secret place of tempest: I proved thee at the waters of contradiction.

From this verse to the end, God alternately puts before them his own kindness and their ingratitude. “Thou callest upon me in affliction; and I delivered thee;” when you were laboring under most grievous persecutions in Egypt you called upon me, and I heard you, and I delivered you from such slavery, and brought you out of the country. “I heard thee in the secret place of tempest.” I heard you, not only when you dreaded Pharao’s anger; but also when you dreaded the tempests and plagues you saw inflicted on the Egyptians, for then I put you in a secret place, and protected you, so that the plagues did not harm you. Others will apply it to the invisible protection afforded by God in their passage through the Red Sea, and afterwards in the desert. “I proved thee at the waters of contradiction.” After such great favors I tried you, in order to prove your patience and fidelity, by depriving you of water, and I found you impatient and unfaithful, see Num. 17 and 20, where God deprived them of water for a short time, and, when they murmured and became seditious, brought an abundance of it from the rock for them. The place was called “The waters of contradiction,” the people having rebelled against Moses, and contradicted him there.

8 Hear, O my people, and I will testify to thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken to me,
9 there shall be no new god in thee: neither shalt thou adore a strange god.
10 For I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

The prophet, speaking in the person of God, relates what fair conditions he offered, and what ample promises he made his people, if they would adhere to their promises, from which we can judge of the unspeakable goodness of God. “Hear,” you Jews, who are “my people,” and I will tell you plainly, “I will testify to thee” what I require of you, and what I will give you in return. This much I require of you, and beyond and above all things command, “There shall be no new god in thee,” no god who was not worshipped by your fathers. “Neither shalt thou adore a strange god;” a repetition of the same thing. “For I am the Lord God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt.” No better reason could be assigned for the Jewish people not worshipping strange gods, for it was he who redeemed them from captivity, and transferred them from the bondage of Pharao, to be his own servants. A consideration that should weigh much more powerfully with Christians and attach them to that God who delivered them from the slavery of the devil, and brought them into the kingdom of his beloved Son. “Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.” A most ample promise, on the part of God, to those who serve him. “Open your mouth” as wide as you can, and the jaws of your desires, and I will satisfy the cravings of your hunger with most delicious food. God alone could make such promise, for nothing created can satisfy the cravings of man’s heart. The sight and enjoyment of God, who is the infinite good, and comprehends all good, can thoroughly satisfy us.

11 But my people heard not my voice: and Israel hearkened not to me.

God now complains of the ingratitude of his people, in not accepting such favorable offers. And how truly wonderful is it not, that slaves in this world will fawn to such an extent upon their masters, and think it great condescension on his part to speak to them, or even to look upon them; and yet, Israel, dust and ashes, will not condescend to hear or to attend to the Lord of Lords? How truly, then, he said, in Lk. 16, “For the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.”

12 So I let them go according to the desires of their heart: they shall walk in their own inventions.

A dreadful, but most just, scourge is here held out by God, to those who despise him; and that is, that sin shall be the punishment of sin to them; that means, they will be suffered continually to lapse into greater sins, until they shall have, at length, come to the lowest depths of misery, of which the Apostle thus speaks, Rom. 1, “Wherefore, God gave them up to the desires of their hearts;” and immediately after he adds, “For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections;” and again, “God delivered them up to a reprobate sense to do those things which are not convenient.” This is the hardness of heart, of which Eccli. chap. 7, speaks, “Consider the works of God, that no man can correct whom he hath despised.” “So I let them go according to the desires of their own hearts.” I let them walk and work, in accordance with their own concupiscence; gave them no discipline, as I would to a child; but, as strangers, I allowed them to tumble down the precipice and be destroyed. “They shall walk in their own inventions.” They will not follow the paths of their fathers, nor the straight ways of my law, but they will follow whatever their own inventions or human curiosity may suggest, in the worship of false gods, and will thus fall into all the vices that disgrace human nature, when they are not directed by God’s light, supported by his hand, or assisted by his efficacious grace.

13 If my people had heard me: if Israel had walked in my ways:
14 I should soon have humbled their enemies, and laid my hand on them that troubled them.

To show the abundance of the innate mercy of God, he returns now to the promises he made them, which, in the Hebrew, are accompanied by a wish, as if he said, Oh, that my people had heard me; for truly God is “the Father of mercies, and the God of all consolation.” Had they heard me, I would have humbled and cast down all those that now afflict her, in such a way that they would never be able to raise their heads again.

15 The enemies of the Lord have lied to him: and their time shall be for ever.

The prophet speaks here, and confirms what God had asserted, “But my people heard not my voice.” By his enemies he means the Jews, who from children became enemies, especially when they denied, in presence of Pilate, that Christ was their king; on which Daniel distinctly says, chap. 9, “And the people that shall deny him shall not be his.”—“The enemies of the Lord (the rebellious, incredulous Jews) have lied to him;” for they promised, at the foot of mount Sinai, that they would carry out all his commands; for “the people answered with one voice: We will do all the words of the Lord, which he hath spoken,” Exod. 24; and yet they did not do one of them; “and their time shall be;” their punishment will be everlasting, for the fire of hell will never be extinguished.

16 And he fed them with the fat of wheat, and filled them with honey out of the rock.

Behold the great ingratitude of the Jews, who had received so many favors from God, and still “have lied to him.” These words may have reference, to the manna that rained down to them in the desert, and the water that gushed from the rock; for that food might have been properly called “the fat of wheat;” because it was the bread of Angels, as it is called in Psalm 78; and it had, as we read in Wisdom 16, “The sweetness of every taste;” the honey out of the rock may have been the water; which, to the thirsty Hebrews, was then sweeter than any honey. The whole verse may refer to the land of promise, which, though rocky and mountainous, abounded in wheat, wine, and oil; so Moses writes, Deut. 32, “He sat him upon the high land, that he might eat the fruits of the fields, that he might suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the hardest stone.” The fat of wheat and the honey out of the rock are, however, in much more esteem with Christians, who have, under the appearance of bread, the body of the Redeemer, and the honey of heavenly wisdom from the rock, no other than the same Christ; and yet, how many, after renouncing the devil, his works, and his pomps in baptism, prove false to God, by returning to those very things they renounced; and, after partaking of bread from heaven, and honey from the rock, returns like unclean dogs, to their vomit. They ought to fear the eternity of the punishment in store for them, of the fire that will never be extinguished, of the worm that will never die.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 145

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 6, 2018

A psalm of praise, to the infinite majesty of God

1 I will extol thee, O God my king: and I will bless thy name for ever; yea, for ever and ever.
2 Every day will I bless thee: and I will praise thy name for ever; yea, for ever and ever.

The two first verses contain a preface, in which the prophet tells us what he proposes singing of in this Psalm, and he does so in a poetical manner by addressing himself directly to God. “I will extol thee;” I will celebrate thee in these my verses, in order that, supreme as you are, you may be looked upon and considered as the most supreme by men. He styles God “his King,” either to show that, king as he was himself, he still had God as a King, who rules all, and is ruled by none over him, or because he was about to praise God for the works and attributes that pertained to him as King and Governor of mankind and of all created things. “And I will bless thy name,” which is no more than a repetition of the previous sentence; and he adds, “forever, yea, forever and ever,” to give us to understand that his praise would be everlasting, commencing with himself and continued by the succeeding generations, who were to chant his Psalms to the end of the world, and after that without end in the country above, as he says in Psalm 84, “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord; they shall praise thee forever and ever.” This is more clearly repeated and explained in verse 2, where he says, “Every day will I bless thee;” I will praise thee forever, whether in prosperity or in adversity, while I am here below, and hereafter in heaven. “I will praise thy name forever and ever.”

3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: and of his greatness there is no end.

Greatness consists in breadth, length, height, and depth, which, to a certain extent, exist in God, according to the Apostle, “That you may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth, and height, and depth,” etc. The prophet then commences by praising God by reason of his greatness, and if we apply it to his divine essence, he is great therein in breadth, because it is immense; in length, because it is everlasting; in height, because it is most sublime; and in depth, because it is incomprehensible. Or if you will have the prophet call him great by reason of his sovereign power, he is great as to breadth or extent, inasmuch as all created things, from the highest Angel to the crawling insect, are subject to him; as to length, because his kingdom is to last forever; as to height, because he rules everything with supreme and absolute power; and as to depth, because he not only rules our bodies, but also our hearts with its most intimate and secret thoughts and affections; and, finally, there is nothing so secret or so hidden, that the scepter of his kingdom does not reach. Therefore, “great is the Lord,” and on that account, “greatly to be praised,”—“and of his greatness there is no end.” Whether as to length, breadth, height, or depth. God’s greatness, then, is infinite, and therefore, quite incapable of being investigated by us, who are finite beings; which does not imply that we are thoroughly ignorant of God’s greatness, for we know him to be great, and that there is no end of his greatness, though we cannot take it in or comprehend it. This infinite greatness of God admonishes us, that as well as his greatness has no end, so our praises should have no end. It also reminds us that we should not be satisfied with moving in the narrow limits in which we are placed here below, but that we should daily endeavor to increase in that real greatness that arises from virtue, as Psalm 84, has it. “In his heart he hath disposed to ascend by steps in the vale of tears; they shall go from virtue to virtue,” for they who seek to increase in riches and in power, that they may get above others, they, instead of being great, are only swollen; instead of being full of juice, they are only distended with wind, for pride and magnanimity are two very different things.

4 Generation and generation shall praise thy works: and they shall declare thy power.
5 They shall speak of the magnificence of the glory of thy holiness: and shall tell thy wondrous works.

He passes now from the essence of the great king, which is inscrutable, to his wonderful works, that convey some idea of his power; and he does not say, I will praise thy works, but, “generation and generation shall praise thy works.” I, of myself, am inadequate to praise your works, but generations unborn will praise them, for there never will be wanting souls to reflect on them, admire them, and praise them, “and they shall declare thy power.” The unborn generations who shall study your works, will constantly proclaim the power that shines forth in them.

6 And they shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and shall declare thy greatness.

Having spoken, in general, of the wonderful works of God, he now distinguishes three sorts of his works, some of them glorious and beautiful, and therefore, wonderful, by reason of their surpassing beauty and splendor; some of them terrible, and therefore, very wonderful, by reason of the great terror inspired by them; and some of them most lovely, and from their being the channels of conveying God’s kindness to us, no less wonderful than the others. In this verse, then, the works that are wonderful, by reason of their splendor and beauty, are praised, such as the heavens, than which nothing more beautiful can be imagined, and speaking of which he says in another Psalm, “The heavens show forth the glory of God,” as also the sun, moon, and the other heavenly bodies, whose number, variety, splendor, and perpetual motion, without fatigue or labor, are truly wonderful. “They shall speak of the magnificence of the glory of thy holiness.” All future generations shall speak in praise of the excellence of the glorious works of your magnificence, and in thus praising them, “shall tell thy wondrous works,” that appear so numerous and so conspicuous therein.

7 They shall publish the memory of the abundance of thy sweetness: and shall rejoice in thy justice.

This is the second sort of God’s works, in which the fear of the divine majesty, in punishing the wicked, is shown, “And they shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts,” they shall be talking of the dreadful and severe scourges with which you chastised the wicked, such as the deluge, the destruction of whole cities by fire from heaven, the plagues of Egypt and of Pharao, the opening of the earth to swallow Dathan and Abiron alive; and finally, the earthquakes, plagues, thunderbolts, inundations, and storms, which frequently express God’s anger to man.

8 The Lord is gracious and merciful: patient and plenteous in mercy.

Here is the third sort of God’s works that appertain to mercy, which is expressed at greater length, and more redolent of gratitude, as all God’s faithful servants should be. “They shall publish the memory of the abundance of thy sweetness;” that is to say, all generations having been filled with the abundance of the sweetness and the kindness of thy mercy, for “the earth is full of God’s mercy,” such abundance will cause them to publish the memory of the sweetness that so abounds, or in other words, they will hand down to posterity the record of so many and so great favors conferred on them; and they will not confine themselves to so publishing the memory of these favors, but they will, themselves, “rejoice in thy justice,” by reason of your having so faithfully carried out what you promised. To this class of favors belong the innumerable gifts of providence bestowed so bountifully on man, such as the alternations of night and day, the rains of heaven, the fruitfulness of the earth, the countless multitude of cattle, birds, and fish, designed for the use and behoof of man, the verdant groves and beautiful gardens, the seas and the rivers, that serve for transport, and many other blessings beside. And all those, nothing, positively nothing, as compared with the gifts of grace; for instance, the Incarnation of the Divine Word, the passion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the sending of the Holy Ghost, the calling of the gentiles, the preaching, the promise, and the publication of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone devoutly meditate on these points, and it will be truly wonderful, if in his fullness he will not “publish the memory of the abundance of the sweetness” of God.

9 The Lord is sweet to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
10 Let all thy works, O lord, praise thee: and let thy saints bless thee.

Not content with having said that such was the abundance of God’s sweetness that all generations would publish the memory of it, he comes out the first to publish and to proclaim it, saying, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, patient, and plenteous in mercy.” He is the Lord because he removes all troubles, by forgiveness, by justification, by glorification; and he is not only “gracious,” but he is “merciful,” as merciful as a father; and, furthermore, he is “patient,” which means that his mercy is continuous; for no matter how often we may provoke him, he will not turn to anger at once, but rather waits to see would we do penance; and finally, such mercy is not small, confined, or illiberal, but on the contrary, “most plenteous.” That is most fully explained in the next verse, where he says, “The Lord is sweet to all;” and so he is to those who can appreciate his sweetness; and he is not only sweet and kind to all, and merciful too, but “his tender mercies, are over all his works;” for there is no one of his works, however insignificant, to which he does not extend his mercy. The expression, “The Lord is sweet to all,” is absolutely true, because God “maketh his sun to rise upon the good and the bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust;” and in Psalm 86, we read, “For thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild, and plenteous in mercy, to all that call upon thee;” and again, in Psalm 103, “For according to the height of the heaven above the earth, he hath strengthened his mercy to those that fear him. As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him. But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity and unto eternity upon them that fear him;” which the blessed Virgin also expressed, when she said, “And his mercy is from generation to generation to them that fear him.”

11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom: and shall tell of thy power:
12 To make thy might known to the sons of men: and the glory of the magnificence of thy kingdom.
13 Thy kingdom is a kingdom of all ages: and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. The Lord is faithful in all his words: and holy in all his works.

Having hitherto sung of the glorious, terrible, and lovely works of God, he now comes to describe his kingdom, and then the virtues peculiar to the King himself. “Let all thy works, O Lord, praise thee.” Let all the works for which I have been hitherto praising you, now unite with me in praising you; for the productions of an artist, when they are beautiful, redound to his praise and glory, and God’s works are such as to admit of no improvement, either by adding or taking from them. “And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good;” and in Psalm 111, “Great are the works of the Lord sought out according to all his wills.” These words may be considered as a conclusion to the first part of the chapter, as he now enters on a different subject with the words, “and let thy saints bless thee;” that is to say, generations unborn will praise thee by reason of the works that are visible to all, but it is the saints alone, through the revelation of the Holy Ghost, that are aware of the nature of your kingdom I am now about to speak of; and, therefore, “let thy saints,” to whom it has been revealed by the Holy Ghost, “bless thee,” which means praise thee; and he tells for what, when he adds, “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and shall tell of thy power.” The glory of a kingdom is synonymous with its power. The power of a kingdom consists in the number of its subjects, and the sufficiency of its revenue, to maintain them. Now, the glory, or the power of God’s kingdom, may be inferred from the difference between it and that of man. There are four points of difference. First, the kings of this world have but few subjects, without much wealth; not more than the population and wealth of one kingdom, or one province, while God reigns over all Angels, all men, all demons, and all the wealth on land, in the sea, or in the air, belong to him. There is another difference, that while the kings of this world rule their subjects, they are still ruled by them, they are dependent on them, can do nothing without them; and, however, abundant their revenues may be, they are generally in want, nay even in debt, and, consequently, always calling for fresh tributes and taxes; but God, while he governs all, is subject to none, because he needs nobody’s help or assistance; instead of being in want, he abounds in everything, because he could, in one moment, bring from nothing much more than he now beholds or enjoys. The third difference is a consequence of the second, while the kings of this world seem so to enjoy their honors and dignities, they are, at the same time, suffering acutely from interior fears, doubts, and cares, which have sometimes been so burdensome, as to cause them to abdicate altogether. God never suffers such pressure, is subject to no fear, no misgivings, but reigns absolutely in perfect tranquillity. The fourth difference, an essential one, is, that the kings of this world reign but for a time; but God reigneth forever. Now, the first difference is touched upon in the verse, “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and shall tell of thy power;” your saints will proclaim the power and the glory of your kingdom, which consists in the number of your subjects, and the inexhaustible abundance of your wealth. The second and third are included in the words, “To make thy might known to the sons of men, and the glory of the magnificence of thy kingdom,” which indicate an immense difference between the kingdom of God and any human kingdom, for he says, “To make known to the sons of men,” to make them understand that their kingdoms are a mere nothing as compared with that of God, and not content with having said, “To make thy might known,” he adds, “and thy glory;” and not content with that even, he adds again, “of the magnificence of thy kingdom,” or the glory of your most magnificent kingdom. The fourth difference is apparent in the verse, “thy kingdom,” etc. “The Lord is faithful in all his words, and holy in all his works.” He now enters on the virtues that belong to a king, that are so conspicuous in God, and in Christ, as man, and which all kings, and all in power, should constantly look to and seek to imitate. The first virtue that should distinguish a king is uprightness, with a strict adherence to truth, for the king’s example is all powerful, and of Christ, the King, we read, “Who did no sin, neither was guilt found in his mouth,” nearly word for word with what the prophet says here, “The Lord is faithful in all his words;” that is to say, truthful, no liar, no deceiver, observing all his promises most faithfully; “and holy in all his works;” or in other words, “Innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,” and immaculate in all his actions.

14 The Lord lifteth up all that fall: and setteth up all that are cast down.

Here is the second virtue that should adorn a king and a pastor, for both should rule in such a manner that their subjects may not fall; and if they chance to fall, that they should be prompt in raising them. That virtue is called mercy, and one essential to all in power. The expression “lifteth up,” in the Hebrew, conveys the idea not only of lifting up, but enabling the person so lifted to keep up, as we read in another Psalm, “Being pushed I was overturned, that I might fall, but the Lord supported me.” But is it true that God lifts up all that fall, when we daily see many falling without being lifted, either as regards soul or body? God is said to lift up all that fall, inasmuch as those who fall not when tempted, keep up, through God’s grace; and they who rise after falling, are set up by God’s grace; while they who fall, or do not rise after falling, must blame themselves for it, and not God, which Osee expresses in different language, when he says, “Destruction is thy own, O Israel, thy help is only in me.” That David did not mean to say absolutely that all, without any exception, that may chance to fall would be raised, is clear from the following expression, where he says, “And setteth up all that are cast down.” For if God were to support all that were about to fall, he would have no occasion to set up anyone, or nobody would fall; how, then, is it true that he “setteth up all that are cast down”? These words are to be taken in a spiritual sense. As to the actual falling of anyone, it remains to be said that God is naturally inclined to raise and to set up all; and if he does not do so by all, nay, more, if he sometimes precipitates and brings them down, he does so either with a view to prove them and to crown them, as he does to the just, in which case it proves a raising up rather than a taking down, or he does so in order to punish and chastise, and that when the sins of the parties themselves call for it, and thus the very first root of the evil springs from ourselves, and thus what Osee said, “Destruction is thy own, O Israel, thy help is only in me,” will always be true.

15 The eyes of all hope in thee, O Lord: and thou givest them meat in due season.
16 Thou openest thy hand, and fillest with blessing every living creature.

Liberality is the third virtue that should adorn a king. Kings should not fleece their subjects, and seek to squeeze money out of them under various pretences, and thus, perhaps, reduce them to poverty; on the contrary, they should deal liberally with them, supporting them, as if they were their own children; but, yet, taking care not to allow them to eat to excess, or spend whole days in feasting. “The eyes of all hope in thee, O Lord.” The eyes of all living things look to thee, expecting food from thee, that they may be supported by it, and keep up their life, “and thou givest them meat;” and you, through the agency of the creatures subject to you, the earth, the sun, and the rain, produce fruits in abundance, as meat for all living creatures, and that “in due season,” when they have need of it, for they should not be always eating; and thus, they who eat to excess, have not their meat from God, but from their own gluttony. “In due season” also implies when hunger calls for it, when it is useful or necessary; and therefore, they who accumulate and hoard up their superfluities, steal so much from the community; and it cannot be a matter of surprise to find so many in dire necessity. He also gives it “in due season,” when it is right to give it, because sometimes it is better to withhold it, because man’s sins deserve it, as the physician will sometimes prescribe total abstinence from food and strong drink; and hence God, not infrequently, visits sinners with dearth and famine, in punishment of their sins. “In due season” also expresses the variety of food that God provides for us in the various seasons. That we may carry with us the fact of God’s liberality, being the primary source of all our blessings, he next adds, “Thou openest thy hand, and fillest with blessing every living creature,” every word of which is expressive of profuse liberality. “Thou openest thy hand.” It is not with a closed but an open hand that you give to your creatures; it is with extreme liberality; “and fillest,” satisfy to the fullest extent of their desires, “every living creature,” not only man, but all living things; “with blessing,” in the most abundant manner; such is the sense in which St. Paul uses the word blessing, when he writes to the Corinthians to have the alms collected, “to be ready, so as a blessing, not as covetousness;” that is, that their alms should be liberal. But if God fills every living thing so abundantly, whence have we so many beggars, so many poor, hungry, thirsty? We have already observed that a good deal of it arises from the injustice of the rich, who either hoard up, or sinfully squander, what they should share with the poor; and we added, that such often arises from the just punishment of God, that is called for by the sins of the parties themselves; and finally, we may add, that the very poor in question are often themselves the cause of it, either because they depend more on their scheming than they do on God, or because they cannot content themselves with the food and raiment befitting their station in life, or because they will often spend in one day’s debauch what they may have been earning for an entire week.

17 The Lord is just in all his ways: and holy in all his works.

Justice is the fourth virtue befitting a sovereign, and one of absolute necessity, in order to ensure peace and tranquillity among the people. “The Lord is just in all his ways.” The Lord displays extreme justice in his external acts, by which alone we can form an idea of his justice; for he renders to all what is due to them, and he repeats the same in the next sentence when he says, “and holy in all his works.”

18 The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him: to all that call upon him in truth.

The fifth virtue becoming a king consists in his being easy of access to all who come to him looking for assistance. This God does to a wonderful extent, for “he is nigh unto all them that call upon him;” no matter how high above the heavens he may be, he comes nigh at once to all that call upon him, never refusing an audience to anyone. Hence, Moses boasts in Deuteronomy, “Neither is there any other nation so great, that hath gods so nigh them, as our God is present to all our petitions;” and he tells us how we are to understand the expression, “to all that call upon him,” when he repeats it with the addition of “in truth,” for that expression comprehends all the conditions that are necessary for prayer. He that prays without faith does not pray “in truth,” because, instead of calling on God, he calls on the idol of his own brain. He that prays without hope does not pray “in truth,” because, he cannot be serious in praying to anyone by whom he does not hope to be heard. And he who prays without charity, or, at least, without inchoate love, does not invoke God “in truth,” because nobody will seriously pray to one whom he hates, and who, he has reason to think, hates him. They, too, who pray without affection and desire, such as those who recite the Psalms or any other prayers, without any desire of obtaining what they ask, though they appear to do so, “do not invoke God in truth.” They also who pray without attention, without knowing what they are saying, pray merely with their lips, and they also “do not call upon him in truth,” because, instead of calling on him, they only show an empty appearance of calling on him.

19 He will do the will of them that fear him: and he will hear their prayer, and save them.

Benignity, or kindness, is the sixth royal attribute, by virtue of which the king not only admits his subjects to an audience, but graciously grants all their petitions, provided it be right for him to grant them. “He will do the will of them that fear him;” on having heard their prayer, he will do what they want, but he qualifies it by adding, “of them that fear him,” for it is but fair that God should do the will of those only that do his will; and those who have a holy horror of offending God, and would lose the whole world rather than his grace, are the people that do his will. That, as usual, he repeats, when he says, “and he will hear their prayer.” He finally adds, “and save them,” to give us to understand how God always hears the prayers of those that fear him. God frequently appears not to hear the prayers of such people, as when he would not deliver St. Paul from “the sting of his flesh,” though he had prayed three times to be delivered from it; and still he really hears the principal desire of such people, which consists in a desire of eternal salvation. For, as the Lord ordered to “seek first the kingdom of God and his justice,” or in other words, his glory and his grace; thus all they who fear God with the holy fear becoming him, will first and principally, in every prayer of theirs, ask for inchoate salvation or grace; and then for perfect salvation which is glory. God, then, always hears those that fear him, for “he will save them;” that is to say, he hears them in the time and the mode most conducive to their salvation.

20 The Lord keepeth all them that love him; but all the wicked he will destroy.

The last but most necessary virtue for a king is that of providence, by virtue of which he protects the just from oppression on the part of the wicked, and prevents the wicked, if not from injuring the just, at least from injuring them to the extent of their wishes. For though he sometimes allows the just to suffer much from sinners, still he so protects them, that such suffering cannot harm them; nay more, that it turns to their advantage. God suffered the holy martyrs to be flogged and to be slain, but he “kept them,” by the gift of constancy, in their faith, and patience in their sufferings, with a view to securing glory to their souls, and a glorious and immortal body, and thereby realizing the truth of the promise, “A hair from your head shall not be lost.” As to the sentence, “but all the wicked he will destroy;” the truth of that will appear either because the wicked will be converted, and will then not be there, as wicked, for destruction; or because they persevere in final wickedness, and will then be scattered by being consigned to hell, so that they can never again come near the just.

21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name forever; yea, for ever and ever.

He now concludes the Psalm by uniting the first and last verses, as if he said, In consequence of all I have stated regarding the greatness of God, of his works, of the perpetuity of his kingdom, of his royal qualities that are so numerous and so perfect in him, “My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord” forever. And I not only mean to do so myself, but I earnestly desire that “all flesh,” that every human being, everything that lives and breathes, should praise the name of the Lord forever.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 85

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 6, 2018

The coming of Christ to bring peace and salvation to man

1 Lord, thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.

The prophet, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, discloses the eternal decree of God regarding the future salvation of man, in the beginning of the Psalm, telling us the first cause and ultimate effect of such salvation. Love was the first cause—that love through which God loved mankind. For no reason can be assigned why “God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son,” John 3, through whom we may be redeemed, “and blessed with all spiritual blessings,” Ephes. 1, but the will of God alone, or, rather, his good pleasure and mercy. The ultimate effect of such salvation will consist in complete delivery from captivity, which will be thoroughly accomplished in the resurrection only, when we shall arrive at the liberty of the glory of the children of God. We are at present only partially free; but we are in expectation of the redemption of our bodies that is to set us free from all corruption and necessity. He, therefore, begins by saying, “Lord, thou hast blessed thy land;” you cursed the land you created and gave to man to inhabit, on account of the sin of the first man; but I know, from revelation, that you also, in your own mind, by your own decree, “blessed thy land;” decreed in your own good pleasure to visit and bless it with all manner of blessings and graces, by sending your only begotten, “full of grace and truth,” into that land which you created. “Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.” In the same eternal decree, having been appeased by the death of your Son, which you foresaw, thou hast turned away, or put an end to the captivity of Jacob, your people, so that they may thenceforth enjoy the liberty of the glory of the children of God. By Jacob the prophet means, not only the people of Israel, but the whole human race, “who are, like the branches of the wild olive tree, engrafted into the good olive tree;” and, like “living stones, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets.”

2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people: thou hast covered all their sins.

He now explains the manner in which God, by his blessing the land, put an end to the captivity of Jacob, and says it was by remitting the sins of his people. For, as sin was the cause of their being held in bondage, the remission of the sin procured their liberty. “Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people.” In your own mind, and by your own decree, thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, for which iniquity you had given them up to the devil, as you would to the minister of justice. “Thou hast covered all their sins;” the same idea repeated; “thou hast covered;” hidden them, wrapt them up, so that you may not see and punish them: but, as nothing can be hid or concealed from God, when he, therefore, forgives sin, he extinguishes it altogether; so that it has no longer any existence whatever; and when God is said to cover sin, he does so, not as one would cover a sore with a plaster, thereby merely hiding it only; but he covers it with a plaster that effectually cures and removes it altogether. “All their sins;” to show it was not one sin, such as original sin, common to all, that was forgiven, but that the personal and peculiar sins of each individual were included

3 Thou hast mitigated all thy anger: thou hast turned away from the wrath of thy indignation.

He now assigns a reason for God’s having forgiven the iniquity of his people, and says it arose from his having been appeased, and having laid aside his anger. For, as it was anger that prompted God thus to revenge himself, so, when he was appeased, he was led to forgive us; and that was effected “by the lamb that was slain from the beginning of the world;” and that immaculate Lamb was given to us through the good pleasure and mercy of him “who so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son for it.” Here, then, is the order of our redemption. The benediction, or the good pleasure of God, gave us his Son as a Savior; the son, by his death, appeased God’s anger, and made satisfaction to his justice for the sins of the whole world; God, having been thus appeased, forgave the sins, and the remission of the sins put an end to the captivity; and the Holy Ghost revealed the whole of this mystery, so concealed in the mind of God, to his prophet; and he describes it to us in those three verses. The expression, “all thy anger,” signifies that the redemption effected by our Savior was all sufficient and most effectual, and it also conveys that the liberty we shall enjoy hereafter will be most full, complete, and entire, leaving not a trace of punishment or misery, for such proceed from God’s anger. “Thou hast turned away from the wrath of thy indignation,” is a repetition of the same idea.

4 Convert us, O God our saviour: and turn off thy anger from us.

The prophet, speaking in the person of God’s people, begins now to pray for the execution and completion of the divine decree, and first begs of God to mitigate his anger; the first effect of which would be the beginning of our salvation; that is to say, his divine assistance, through which our conversion to God commences; for we cannot be converted to God, unless his grace go before us, and by calling, enlightening, assisting, and moving, convert us. He, therefore, says, “Convert us, O God our Savior.” O God our Savior, begin the work of our salvation, by inspiring us with the holy desire of conversion. And that, in your mercy, you may commence it, “turn off thy anger from us.” Be reconciled to us, and forget the offences that have estranged us from you.

5 Wilt thou be angry with us for ever: or wilt thou extend thy wrath from generation to generation?

He perseveres in the petition, saying, we have borne your anger long enough; do not defer the gift of your mercy, and the restoration of your peace. “Wilt thou be angry with us?” Will your enmity to the human race be everlasting? “or wilt thou extend thy wrath from generation to generation?” a thing that does not accord with your infinite clemency.

6 Thou wilt turn, O God, and bring us to life: and thy people shall rejoice in thee.

He tells us the effects that will follow from being reconciled with God; to man will come life, to God praise. “Thou wilt turn, O God;” by laying aside your anger, and on being reconciled, will “bring us to life;” for “the wages of sin is death; but the grace of God everlasting life, in Christ Jesus our Lord;” “and thy people,” come to life and strength through so great a favor, “shall rejoice in thee,” and joyously chant your praise.

7 Shew us, O Lord, thy mercy; and grant us thy salvation.

Having asked that the divine wrath may be mitigated; and having asked for that reconciliation and regeneration that always accompanies remission of sin, he now asks for the coming of the Savior, through whom we were brought clearly to see and to behold God’s kindness and mercy to us, of which the Apostle says, “The grace of God hath appeared to all men;” and again, “the goodness and kindness of our Savior God appeared.” For who can for a moment doubt of the care that God has for mankind, and the extent of his warmest love, when he sent his only begotten Son to redeem us by his precious blood from the captivity of the devil? “Show us, O Lord, thy mercy;” make us plainly see and feel by experience, that mercy through which you determined in your mind, from eternity, to bless thy land; “and grant us thy salvation.” Send us your Son for a Savior, for then you will clearly show unto all the extent of your mercy, goodness, and grace. St. Augustine, taking a moral view of this passage, says that God shows us his mercy when he persuades us, and makes us see and understand that we are nothing, and can do nothing, of ourselves; but that it is through his mercy we exist at all, or can do anything we go through; we thus are neither proud nor puffed up, but are humble in our own eyes; and it is to such people the Savior gives his grace.

8 I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me: for he will speak peace unto his people: And unto his saints: and unto them that are converted to the heart.

To convince us of the truth of what he now means to express, the prophet here reminds us that he speaks not from himself, but what has been revealed to him, and that he is only announcing what he has heard from the Lord. “I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me;” that is, I will tell whatever I shall hear; and, therefore, having laid my petition before him, I will hear his answer to make it known to others. “What he will speak in me;” to give us to understand that when God speaks to the prophet, he does it interiorly, and spiritually. For the Holy Ghost, who abides in the prophets, speaks to them through their heart, and then, through their tongues, to the ears of mankind. The expression, “I will hear,” besides attention, signifies a desire to hear as it were, to say, I will most willingly and attentively hear; for God usually says nothing but what is good and useful; “for he will speak peace unto his people.” The reason I have for hearing him with pleasure and with attention is, because I know he will speak peace to his people. The summary, then, of God’s message to his people is the announcement and promise of peace through the coming of the Messias, for which the prophet asked when he said, “Show us, O Lord, thy mercy, and grant us thy salvation.” God, then, will grant a Savior, and through him, will announce and establish a most perfect peace; hence he is styled “the Prince of Peace;” and, as the Apostle says, “making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in heaven.” Now peace comprehends all God’s favors; and we shall never be in perfect possession of it until we shall have arrived at the heavenly Jerusalem, which is interpreted the vision of peace. Peace is opposed to war, in which we shall be mixed up, until “death is swallowed up in victory, and this mortal shall have put on immortality.” Then there will be an end to that war with our vices and concupiscences, with the princes of darkness, with all our difficulties and necessities. For, while we live here below, “the life of man is a warfare upon earth,” however we may desire, as far as in ourselves lies, to be at peace with all men. “And unto his saints, and unto them that are converted to the heart. He now explains the expression, “to his people;” God promised peace to his people, but not to the whole of them; for they are composed of good and bad, and the bad can have no peace. For, “much peace have they that love thy law;” while, “the wicked have no peace, saith the Lord;” and, when he says, “unto them that are converted to the heart,” he tells us who the saints are to whom peace is promised. For sanctity, and consequently peace, then begins when man turns from exterior to interior matters; and, therefore, Isaias says, “Return ye transgressors to the heart;” and of the prodigal son is said, “and returning to himself, he said.” Man begins to return to himself, or to return, if you will, to his heart, when he begins to reflect within himself on the vanity of all things here below, and how trifling and how short lived is the pleasure to be derived from sin; and on the contrary, how noble virtue is, and of what value are the goods of eternity. In a little while man begins to advance by degrees, when he comes to consider and judge of externals, not by the aid of his own sense, or the discourses of the children of the world; but, “returning to his heart,” he consults sound reason on everything, consults the faith that has been divinely inspired, consults the truth itself, which is God. Finally, that man is truly converted to the heart, and begins to taste that peace “that surpasses all understanding,” who raises a tabernacle in his heart to God, and, on the wings of contemplation, rises from the image, the soul of man, to the reality, God himself; and there, beholding the infinite beauty of his Creator, is so inflamed and carried away by his love as to despise the whole world beside, and unite himself to God exclusively in the bonds of love, totally indifferent to, and forgetful of, the whole world. No pressure from abroad can disturb one so disposed.

9 Surely his salvation is near to them that fear him:that glory may dwell in our land.

On the coming of the Messias peace will be preached, but the establishment will be delayed for some time. However, salvation, which means the power of healing and of performing other miracles, will be always at hand, and available to those who believe in him, and have a pious and reverential fear of him. Hence, great glory will accrue to God, for all who see his wonderful works will praise and magnify him; many proofs of which can be read in the Gospels; and it is to it the prophet alludes when he says, “Surely his salvation is near to them that fear him;” that is to say, the salvation of God, or Christ himself, the Savior, will be at hand to save, through his power, all that fear him; all that worship him with a holy fear; “that glory may dwell in our land;” those numerous miracles will be performed with a view to make God’s glory known, and to dwell in that land of promise to which the Savior will be sent specially. And if the salvation of the body be near to them that fear him, and God’s glory be thereby greatly augmented, with much more reason will the salvation of the soul be near to those that fear him. “For to those who will receive him, he will give power to become sons of God,” 1 John; and thence his glory will be made manifest, “as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

10 Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed.

He now reveals another mystery that will be accomplished on the coming of the Messias; that is, the union of mercy and justice, which seem so opposed to each other; the one prompting to punish, the other to forgive; for Christ’s passion and suffering was meant to deliver the human race in mercy, while it made the fullest satisfaction to the divine justice. “Mercy and truth have met each other.” They met in the time of the Messias, whereas at other times they seemed to move in contrary directions. “Justice and peace have kissed;” the justice that inflicts punishment, previously called truth and peace, which then was called mercy, will be joined in the bonds of the strictest friendship; and, as it were, kissed each other.

11 Truth is sprung out of the earth: and justice hath looked down from heaven.

He now touches on the mystery of the Incarnation, making use of the past for the future tense, as is usual with the prophets. “Truth is sprung out of the earth.” Christ, who is the truth, will be born of the Virgin Mary, “and justice hath looked down from heaven.” Then also justice from heaven will be made manifest, because, on the birth of Christ, true justice began to come down from heaven, and man began to be justified by faith in Christ; as also, because by the coming of Christ, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all impiety and injustice,” for the extent of God’s anger and hatred of sin would never have been thoroughly known, had not God decreed that it should be expiated by the death of his only Son; and, even, we should never have known the extent of God’s anger to the sinner on the day of judgment, had we not seen the amount and the extent of Christ’s sufferings in atoning for the sins of others, “For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?” says our Lord, Luke 23.

12 For the Lord will give goodness: and our earth shall yield her fruit.

He still treats of the mystery of the Incarnation, showing that truth could spring out of the earth; not in the manner of the seed that we sow and cultivate, but in the manner of the natural flowers that grow spontaneously, with no other culture than the beams of the sun, and the rains of heaven. “For the Lord will give goodness,” he will send his Holy Spirit from heaven, who will overshadow a virgin, and thus our land, which was never ploughed nor sown, and was altogether an untouched virgin, will yield her fruit. Hence, he says, in the canticle of canticles, “I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys.”

13 Justice shall walk before him: and,shall set his steps in the way.

The prophet concludes by showing that Christ would be so replete with justice and sanctity, that the rays of his justice would go before him, and by their light shed the way to complete progress in this gloomy valley of our mortality. “Justice shall walk before him.” Christ, the sun and true light of the world, will send the rays of his justice and wisdom before him, as it is in Psalm 89, “Mercy and truth shall go before thy face;” and in Isaias 58, “And thy justice shall go before thy face;” and thus “shall set his steps in the way,” shall enter on his pilgrimage to bring many pilgrims back to their country.

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June 11 Commentaries for the Memorial of St Barnabas, Apostle

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 29, 2018

Today’s Mass Readings.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 11:21b-26, 13:1-3.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Acts 11:21b-26, 13:1-3.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 11:21b-26, 13:1-3.

Father Boylan’s introduction to Psalm 98.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 98.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 98.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 98.

Pope John Paul IIs Commentary on  Psalm 98.

Psalm 98 and the Catholic Encyclopedia. Greek, English, Latin text of Ps. 98 hyperlinked to the CE.

Father MacEvily’s Commentary on Matthew 5:13-16.

Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 5:13-16.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 5:13-16.

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Commentaries for the Ascension of the Lord, Year C

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 29, 2018

NOTE: In some Diocese of the United States the Ascension is celebrated on the Following Sunday


READINGS AND OFFICE: Note that the second reading allows three possible options.

Today’s Mass Readings. Please note that the second reading allows for alternatives.

Today’s Divine Office.


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

St John Chrysostom’s Exegetical Homily on Acts 1:1-5.

St John Chrysostom’s Exegetical Homily on Acts 1:6.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Acts 1:1-11.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 47.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 47.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 47.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 47.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 47.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Ephesians 1:17-23 (Alt Heb 9:24-28; 10:19-23).

Father Wilberforce’s Commentary on Ephesians 1:17-23. This commentary actually begins with verse 15. It is a pdf document.

Father Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Ephesians 1:17-23. This commentary actully begins with verse 15.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Ephesians 1:17-23.

Alt 2nd Reading Aquinas’ Lecture on Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23.

  • On Heb. 9:23-28.
  • On Heb 10:19-23.  Link is broke, scroll down from above link

Alt 2nd Reading Navarre Bible Commentary on Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 24:46-53.

Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 24:46-53.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 24:46-53.

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Commentaries for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 23, 2018



NABRE. Used in the USA.

NJB. Used in most other English speaking countries.

Divine Office.


Pending: Navarre Bible Commentary on Sirach 27:4-7.

Word-Sunday Notes on Sirach 27:4-7.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 92.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 92.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 92.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 92.


Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.

Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.

Pending: Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.

Word-Sunday Notes on 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:39-45.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 6:39-45. On 39-42.

Word-Sunday Notes on Luke 6:39-45.


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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:39-45

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 23, 2018

39. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
40. The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
41. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
42. Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. The Lord added to what had gone before a very necessary parable, as it is said, And he spake a parable to them, for His disciples were the future teachers of the world, and it therefore became them to know the way of a virtuous life, having their minds illuminated as it were by a divine brightness, that they should not be blind leaders of the blind. And then he adds, Can the blind lead the blind? But if any should chance to attain unto an equal degree of virtue with their teachers, let them stand in the measure of their teachers, and follow their footsteps. Hence it follows, The disciple is not above his master. Hence also Paul says, Be ye also followers of me, as I am of Christ (1 Cor. 1:11.). Since Christ therefore judged not, why judgest thou? for He came not to judge the world, but to shew mercy.

THEOPHYLACT. Or else, If thou judgest another, and in the very same way sinnest thyself, art not thou like to the blind leading the blind? For how canst thou lead him to good when thou also thyself committest sin? For the disciple is not above his master. If therefore thou sinnest, who thinkest thyself a master and guide, where will he be who is taught and led by thee? For he will be the perfect disciple who is as his master.

BEDE. Or the sense of this sentence depends upon the former, in which we are enjoined to give alms, and forgive injuries. If, says He, anger has blinded thee against the violent, and avarice against the grasping, how canst thou with thy corrupt heart cure his corruption? If even thy Master Christ, who as God might revenge His injuries, chose rather by patience to render His persecutors more merciful, it is surely binding on His disciples, who are but men, to follow the same rule of perfection.

AUGUSTINE. (de Qu. Ev. l. ii. q. 9.) Or, He has added the words, Can the blind, lead the blind, in order that they might not expect to receive from the Levites that measure of which He says, They shall give into thy bosom, because they gave tithes to them. And these He calls blind, because they received not the Gospel, that the people might the rather now begin to hope for that reward through the disciples of the Lord, whom wishing to point out as His imitators, He added, The disciple is not above his master.

THEOPHYLACT. But the Lord introduces another parable taken from the same figure, as follows, But why seest thou the mote (that is, the slight fault) which is in thy brother’s eye, but the beam which is in thine own eye (that is, thy great sin) thou regardest not?

BEDE. Now this has reference to the previous parable, in which He forewarned them that the blind cannot be led by the blind, that is, the sinner corrected by the sinner. Hence it is said, Or, how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother let me cast out the mote that is in thine eye, if thou seest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. As if He said, How can he who is guilty of grievous sins, (which He calls the beam,) condemn him who has sinned only slightly, or even in some cases not at all? For this the mote signifies.

THEOPHYLACT. But these words are applicable to all, and especially to teachers, who while they punish the least sins of those who are put under them, leave their own unpunished. Wherefore the Lord calls them hypocrites, because to this end judge they the sins of others, that they themselves might seem just. Hence it follows, Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye, &c.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. That is to say, first shew thyself clean from great sins, and then afterwards shalt thou give counsel to thy neighbour, who is guilty only of slight sins.

BASIL. (Hom. 9, in Hexameron.) In truth, self knowledge seems the most important of all. For not only the eye, looking at outward things, fails to exercise its sight upon itself, but our understanding also, though very quick in apprehending the sin of another, is slow to perceive its own defects.

Ver 43. For a good tree brings not forth corrupt fruit; neither does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

THEOPHYL; Our Lord continues the words which He had begun against the hypocrites, saying, For a good tree brings not forth corrupt fruit; i.e. as if He says, If you would have a true and unfeigned righteousness, what you set forth in words make up also in works, for the hypocrite though he pretends to be good is not good, who does evil works; and the innocent though he be blamed, is not therefore evil, who does good works.

TITUS BOS. But take not these words to thyself as an encouragement to idleness, for the tree is moved conformably to its nature but you have the exercise of free will; and every barren tree has been ordained for some good, but you were created to the good work of virtue.

ISIDORE PELEUS; He does not then exclude repentance, but a continuance in evil, which as long as it is evil cannot bring forth good fruit, but being converted to virtue, will yield abundance. But what nature is to the tree, our affections are to us. If then a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, how shall a corrupt heart?

CHRYS. But although the fruit is caused by the tree, yet, it brings to us the knowledge of the tree, because the distinctive nature of the tree is made evident by the fruit, as it follows, For every tree is know by its fruit.

CYRIL; Each man’s life also will be a criterion of his character. For not by extrinsic ornaments and pretended humility is the beauty of true happiness discovered, but by those things which a man does; of which he gives an illustration, adding, For of thorns men do not gather figs.

AMBROSE; On the thorns of this world the fig cannot be found, which as being better in its second fruit, is well fitted to be a similitude of the resurrection. Either because, as you read, The fig trees have put forth their green figs, that is, the unripe and worthless fruit came first in the Synagogue. Or because our life is imperfect in the flesh, perfect in the resurrection, and therefore we ought to cast far from us worldly cares, which eat into the mind and scorch up the soul, that by diligent culture we may obtain the perfect fruits. This therefore has reference to the world and the resurrection, the next to the soul and the body, as it follows, Nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. Either because no one living in sin obtains fruit to his soul, which like the grape nearest the ground is rotten, on the higher branches becomes ripe. Or because no one can escape the condemnations of the flesh, but he whom Christ has redeemed, Who as a grape hung on the tree.

THEOPHYL; Or, I think the thorns and bramble are the cares of the world and the prickings of sin, but the figs and the grapes are the sweetness of a new life and the warmth of love, but the fig is not gathered from the thorns nor the grape from the bramble, because the mind still debased by the habits of the old man may pretend to, but cannot bring forth the fruits of the new man. But we must know, that as the fruitful palm tree is enclosed and supported by a hedge, and the thorn bearing fruit not its own, preserves it for the use of man, so the words and acts of the wicked wherein they serve the good are not done by the wicked themselves, but by the wisdom of God working upon them.

CYRIL; But having shown that the good and the bad man may be discerned by their works as a tree by its fruits, he now sets forth the same thing by another figure, saying, A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth that which is evil.

THEOPHYL; The treasure of the heart is the same as the root of the tree. He therefore who has in his heart the treasure of patience and perfect love, brings forth the best fruits, loving his enemy, and doing the other things which have been taught above. But he who keeps a bad treasure in his heart does the contrary to this.

BASIL; The quality of the words shows the heart from which they proceed, plainly manifesting the inclination of our thoughts. Hence it follows, For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

CHRYS. For it is a natural consequence when wickedness abounds within, that wicked words are breathed as far as the mouth; and therefore when you hear of a man uttering abominable things, do not suppose that there lies only so much wickedness in him as is expressed in his words, but believe the fountain to be more copious than the stream.

THEOPHYL; By the speaking of the mouth the Lord signifies all things, which by word, or deed, or thought, we bring forth from the heart. For it is the manner of the Scripture to put words for deeds.

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Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 8:14-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 25, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

14. For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
15. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear: but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, in which we cry, Abba (Father)

14. Those who have the Spirit of God dwelling within then are acted on, guided, led, and directed, by that Spirit. Christ was led by the Spirit into the desert, and the devil asked him if he was the Son of God (Matt 4:1, 3). The Ethiopic version reads: Whoever do those things which belong to the Spirit of God: that is, as in the last verse, mortify the deeds of the flesh . These are truly and really sons of God, having a heavenly nature. On a certain day the sons of God came to stand before the Lord, Job 1:6. We cannot, says Saint Chrysostom, dispose of our own lives, but should give ourselves up, soul and body, to the guidance of the Spirit of God, our helmsman, and our charioteer. But this control and guidance of the Spirit of God is not coercive or forcible. It implies the motion and, in a passive sense, inclination of our will, such as does not exclude freedom of action. To be led by the Spirit of God is to consent to his leading, and give it our voluntary obedience, confident that it must lead us to increase of grace and justice, and to life eternal.

15. You have not received the spirit of bondage again. Again, because the spirit of the law of Moses was a spirit of servitude and fear. Holy men under the old law were sons of God only in an imperfect manner, and in a lesser degree, like slaves, differing in nothing from servants, Gal 4:1. What you have received is the spirit of sonship or adoption, entitling you to say with Christ, and with all confidence, Our Father. As the divine Word gave himself to Christ, the Man, so that the Man named Christ, is the Son of God: so in proportion the Holy Spirit is given us in Baptism in such way as to make us Sons of God. Cornel, a Lap. in loc.

The Apostle contrasts the spirit of bondage not with the spirit of freedom, but the spirit of adoption; not merely free, but free as sons.

He does not say, we say Abba, but we cry; boldly, loudly, confidently, publicly. Instructed by holy precepts, and formed by divine institution, we venture to say, OurFather. Abba is the Hebrew or Syriac word for father, and to it he joins the Greek word with the same meaning, to signify that Jews and Gentiles are together called to the adoption of the sons of God. Saint Augustine, lib. de Spiritu et litcra, 32 de Cons. Evan. 4.

It is also possible that Saint Paul refers to the prayer of our Lord in the garden, Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; as an encouragement to address him by the same title, with the same confidence in his affection, under similar circumstances of trouble or despondency.

Before the coming of Christ the people of God were undoubtedly entitled in a certain sense to speak of God as their father, but only in a metaphorical sense, and on the ground of creation. “Now, Lord, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our Maker” (Isa 64:8. In some translations, 64:7). This is clearly applicable to all the race of men. And on the ground of providence: “Thy Providence, Father, governs the world” (Wis 14:3). But not on the ground and by right of adoption, an honour reserved for those who are sons of God in Christ, and which is expressed in the formula of the Apostle, Abba, Father.

16. For the Spirit itself gives testimony to our spirit, that we are sons of God.
17. And if sons, also heirs: heirs indeed of God, and co-heirs with Christ: if we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him

16. The Spirit himself gives testimony. The cry of our hearts, inasmuch as it proceeds from the Spirit of God, is a testimony of our divine adoption. The giving to us the Spirit, is itself a testimony of this; for he is the Spirit of the Son, and God gives the Spirit of his Son to those only whom he would have for sons. The Apostle may possibly also include a reference in his mind to exterior testimonies, as in miracle or prophecy, more frequent in his days than in ours. Horror of sin, love of God, readiness to obey his commands, and to follow the motions of the Holy Spirit, peace and tranquility of conscience, troubled by no grave and conscious sin, are interior testimonies of the Spirit of God, with our spirit, that we are sons of God. We should not, however, with the heretics, come to regard this interior testimony as certain with the certitude of faith. Such testimony, in so far as it proceeds from the Holy Spirit, is certain and infallible in itself, but as presented to our consciousness it is certain only conjecturally and morally, because we are not sure whether it proceeds from the Holy Spirit, or from an evil spirit, transfiguring himself into an angel of light.

17. If sons, also heirs. God does not die, and his inheritance is not a succession. He is himself the inheritance. Heirs of God. The Lord is the portion of my inheritance, Ps 15:5. To the enjoyment of this inheritance, his adopted sons are admitted, in the Beatific Vision. An inheritance not diminished by the number of the sons, or reduced by division among many claimants, says St. Anselm.

Co-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with him. We are heirs of a living God, co-heirs with a man who died. Sharing his death, on our own cross, we shall be glorified with him in his inheritance. Without participation of the cross, there is no participation of glory; but the expectation of the promised beatitude is sure and certain, where there is participation in the Passion of the Lord. St. Leo, Serm., 9 de Quad.

18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not to be compared with the future glory, which shall be revealed in us.
19. For the expectation of creation looks for the revelation of the sons of God.
20. For the creation was subjected to vanity not willingly, but on account of him who has made it subject in hope.
21. Because the creation itself also shall be set free from the servitude of corruption, into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God

The consideration just mentioned, of sharing the sufferings of Christ, need not alarm any who would share his glory. All the sufferings of this life are not worthy of comparison for a moment, are a feather in the balance, compared with the immensity of the inheritance of glory, which shall be revealed to us at the last day. Even the irrational, and the inanimate creation longs in expectation for the revelation of the sons of God. This creation is subject to death and decay, corruption and change, not for its own sake, but on account of man, whose needs it subserves; but this is not for ever. At the resurrection it shall be delivered from this condition of perpetual change, corruption, and renewal, and have its part, according to its measure and degree, in the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.

18. Revealed in us. The Greek text has to us. Revealed from heaven, in our sight. But the worthless glory of this world is wholly external, a lightning flash, a breath of fame. The glory of God will be inherent in us, in soul and body, coexistent and superexistent. In us, but not from us, or of us, but of God.

19. By a personification the Apostle figures the inferior creation as longing earnestly for the day of the revelation of the sons of God. The Greek word αποκαραδοκια (apokaradokia)  signifies the attitude of a listener in earnest expectation. This statement must be considered in some degree poetical and figurative, at least as regards the inanimate creation.

It is not now always apparent who are the sons of God. Many appear so, who are not so in reality; others are so, but are not known to be. That day shall be the revelation of the sons of God.

Why should the Christian fear that for which all creation ardently longs?

21. The creature itself also shall be set free. Change, generation, corruption, the movements of the heavenly bodies, will all cease. The elements will be endowed with new qualities and powers. There will be new heavens, a new earth. As the nurse of a young king participate in the regal splendour at the coronation; or as slaves are magnificently arrayed for their master’s glory.
Saint Chrysostom.

22. For we know that all creation groans and labours as in travail until now.
23. And not only these things, but we ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves, looking out for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body

22. Heaven and earth, all the elements and all the creatures, from the beginning of the world till now, groan and cry, as if in the pains of labour, earnestly longing for the reign of their Creator, and the redemption into freedom of the sons of God, for whose service they were made. And yet we, those very sons of God, love our own slavery, fear the coming of our liberator, tremble at his approach, recoil in terror from the thought of that
kingdom, for the coming of which we daily pray.

Be not lowered below the level of the inferior creation. Do not acquiesce in, and be satisfied with things present:but longing for the kingdom of God, groan for the delay of our departure from this world. Saint Chrysostom.

23. Not the lower creation only, but we also, the Apostles, the first believers, who have received first and most abundantly the gifts of the Holy Spirit, faith, hope, charity, all Christian graces and supernatural gifts, and the miraculous powers then frequent in the early church, yet weighed down by the body of this death, groan within ourselves, panting for the full completion of our adoption, when, by the immortality of the body, we shall be set free from mortality, concupiscence, and all the ills and miseries of life. Not satisfied with what we have received, but rather allured to the desire of a more perfect promise. The gifts given us in this life are first fruits, the beginnings of complete redemption, urging the Saints of God to look forward to the full harvest.

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