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 ‘Christ’ Category

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is not in the Greek.

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

In the Vulgate Jesu should be omitted.

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

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

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

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

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

The tam of the Vulgate should be omitted.

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:17-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

No commentary is offered in this verse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 21, 2017

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

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

If, then, it be a matter preached by all the Apostles, and confirmed by your faith, that Christ has risen; how comes it that some amongst you say, that there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead, the necessary consequence of the Resurrection of Christ?

The fact of Christ’s Resurrection, proves the possibility of such a thing taking place; and hence, destroys the argument against the general resurrection of all, on the ground of its impossibility.

QUERITUR.—How does the resurrection of all follow, in the mind of the Apostle, as a necessary consequence from the Resurrection of Christ, in such a way, that if you deny the consequent, therefore the dead will arise, you destroy the antecedent—viz., Christ has arisen. The same reason would not appear to hold for Christ and the other dead. He had greater power, neither did he see corruption, and the corruption of the dead bodies was the great difficulty in the minds of the philosophers against the doctrine of the resurrection.

RESP.—The reasoning of the Apostle, deducing from the Resurrection of Christ, the general resurrection of all mankind, is founded on the end and object of Christ’s Resurrection. The object of his Resurrection was to obtain a signal victory over death, and entirely to overcome death introduced by sin into the human race. It was only after securing this happy consummation, he could sing the song of triumph over prostrate death, referred to in verse 55, of this chapter. Now, he would not have overcome death in this perfect way, unless all mankind arose again. For, in what does death consist? How had it effected a triumph over the human race? Was it not in the separation of the soul from the body? So must, therefore, the victory over death consist in their reunion. Now, this is the Resurrection. Hence, unless all mankind were to arise again, Christ would not have secured the end of his own glorious Resurrection.

1Co 15:16  For if the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again.
For if they will not arise, neither has Christ arisen.
1Co 15:17  And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain: for you are yet in your sins.
And, if Christ be not risen, your faith is vain in the remission of your sins; for your sins are still unremitted.

The consequence of Christ not having arisen would be, that their faith, as regards the remission of their past sins, would be in vain, or of no benefit, since they are still in their sins: for, Christ rose for our justification. Hence, if he did not arise, we are not justified, nor are our sins remitted. The Greek reading of this verse omits the causal particle “for,” which, in our reading, assigns the following words:—“You are yet in your sins,” as a reason why “their faith is vain.” According to the Greek reading, these latter words only express an inference drawn from the words, “your faith is vain;” and hence, you are still in your sins, since faith is necessary for justification.

1Co 15:18  Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
Another inconvenient consequence flowing from a denial of Christ’s Resurrection would be, that those who have died professing the Christian religion, are lost eternally, since they died professing a false faith, and, without faith, it is impossible to please God.
1Co 15:19  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
And if our hopes in Christ are to be confined to the present life, we are the most miserable of men, having been debarred by our religion from certain pleasures, in which others, less observant of religious ordinances, freely indulge.

“We are the most miserable of all men,” since, from a false and delusive hope of a resurrection never to take place, unless Christ has arisen, we submit to the greatest corporal austerities and self-denial.

Objection.—What, if the dead will never arise? Is not the soul immortal? May not this more noble part of man, which is capable of felicity, as appears from the examples of the saints now reigning in glory without their bodies, enjoy supreme felicity—enjoy the promises of Christ, even though the body never arise? How, then, are the conclusions of the Apostle warranted?

Resp.—Some say the Apostle is here combatting such persons (viz., those of the Sadducean persuasion), as denied the immortality of the soul, and the existence of spirits; and hence, he takes the resurrection of the dead in an extended sense, to comprise the resurrection or immortality of the soul, as in Matthew, 22:31. It may, however, be given as a general answer, that the Apostle considers not the immortality, but merely the happiness of the soul, which can never be obtained by persons dying in a false faith, such as ours would be if Christ had not risen. The heretics, whom the Apostle here combats, did not deny the divinity of the Christian religion; and hence it is, that he grounds his arguments in favour of the resurrection, on the inconvenience which the denial of this fundamental article would cause to the Christian religion. It may be also said, in reply to the objection from the immortality of the soul, that the Apostle considers the present order of things, consequent on the decree of God—that the merits of Christ should prove of no avail to us, unless he arose and overcame death in us. If, then, Christ had not arisen, and if we were not to rise again, the merits of Christ would be of no avail to us, nor would our souls be happy, since a reunion with our bodies was decreed by God, as a condition of their eternal happiness.

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

(Such, then, being the absurd consequences of the denial of Christ’s Resurrection), we must firmly believe that Christ has arisen, as the first-fruits among the dead, both in time and dignity, and thus consecrating, by his Resurrection, the general resurrection of all.

“The first-fruits of them that sleep.” The common Greek has, απαρχη εγενετο, became the first-fruits, &c. The word, became, is cancelled by the best critics on the authority of the chief MSS. The fact of his being “the first-fruits” supposes, that others will follow, whose resurrection is consecrated by his—as “the first-fruits” among the Jews consecrated the rest of the harvest.

QUESTION—Did not the dead, who arose at Christ’s death, arise before him?

RESPONSE—The common opinion is, that St. Matthew, in recounting the several phenomena that occurred at Christ’s death, mentions by anticipation, that “the bodies of the saints arose … and appeared to many.”—(Matt. 27 verses 52, 53). It is commonly held that there is an inversion of the order of time in the account left us by St. Matthew, and that the dead arose, only at Christ’s Resurrection.

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

And that our resurrection should be consecrated in his merits, is quite congruous; for, as by one man came death; so by one man, the destruction of death, which is effected by the resurrection.

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

And, as in Adam, all die; so also in Christ, shall all who are vivified, be vivified.

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

But each man shall rise in the class to which his merits during life will have entitled him; a greater degree of glory shall fall to the lot of certain saints beyond others. Christ shall be first; next, those who are of Christ, who have believed in his visible coming to judge mankind—a truth intimately connected with the resurrection.

The Apostle does not treat of the resurrection of the wicked, which is unto eternal misery, and is rather a curse than a blessing. It was sufficient for his purpose to prove the resurrection of the just. Besides, all the inconvenient consequences resulting in the mind of the Apostle from a denial of the Resurrection of Christ, regard the good. The words, “who have believed,” are not in the Greek, which runs thus: ἔπειτα οί τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν τῇ παρουσία αὐτοῦ.

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

Afterwards, the end of all things, when, after having triumphed over the different orders of devils, he will present to God the Father, the whole assemblage of his elect, and refer to him all the glory of his triumphs.

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

But in the mean time, even while his enemies are not perfectly subdued, he shall reign until God the Father shall have placed his enemies under his feet, that is, until the end of the world.

The Apostle adds this, lest it might be imagined for an instant, that Christ would not reign in the interim; for, that he would afterwards reign, there could be no doubt whatever.

In this verse is adduced a new argument in proof of the resurrection, grounded on the supreme dominion of Christ, and the absolute subjection of all things to him; hence, death is subject to him; it shall, therefore, be vanquished as one of his enemies, and its power destroyed by the resuscitation of all men, with their souls and bodies reunited.

1Co 15:26  And the enemy, death, shall be destroyed last: For he hath put all things under his feet. And whereas he saith:

And the last enemy whom he shall vanquish is death. For, that death shall be vanquished is clear from the Psalmist:—He hath put all things under his feet, which words mystically refer to the total subjection of all things to Christ.

“He hath put all things,” &c. The 8th Psalm, from which these words are taken, literally refers to the benefits conferred on Adam and his posterity, and to the dominion which man enjoys over all terrestrial creatures. In its mystic signification—which is employed here—it refers to the total subjection of all things to Christ, which subjection shall be perfected in the General Resurrection.—(See, also, Hebrews, 2:8).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:12-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 21, 2017

Text in red are my additions. At the end of the post I’ve included a list of suggested resources relating to this letter.

THE NECESSITY OF BELIEVING IN THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
A Summary of 1 Corinthians 15:12-20a

Before coming to the main theme of the present chapter, which is the resurrection of the just, and of all the dead, St. Paul wishes still further to strengthen and enlighten the belief of the Corinthians in Christ’s glorious Resurrection, for it is upon this latter that he will base his great argument for the truth of the former. Therefore, after having cited in the preceding section what he considers to be the best witnesses for our Saviour’s corporal Resurrection, he proceeds now to show the dire consequences that would necessarily follow if Christ were not truly risen. In such an event both the preaching of the Apostles and the faith of Christians would be without foundation. Wherefore, he concludes, we must accept the Resurrection of Christ.

12. Now if Christ be preached, that he arose again from the dead, how do some among you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13. But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again.

These verses show that some among the Corinthians denied the resurrection of the dead, but they imply that those same sceptics believed that Christ was truly risen; otherwise St. Paul’s argument here would avail nothing against those who thought corporal resurrection was absurd and impossible (against MacR.). If they admitted, as seems evident, that Christ was risen, then it is possible for others to rise; and since the faithful form one mystical body of which Christ is the head (1 Cor 6:15; 12:27), their resurrection must naturally follow upon His. It is unseemly that the head should live without the body. Moreover, Christians, by reason of their union and fellowship with Christ, have become the adopted children of God, having a right to share in Christ’s inheritance and in the glory and honor, of body as well as soul, which is His. Thus the admitted Resurrection of Christ makes necessary the further admission that His members will also rise.

If it be objected that this argument proves only the resurrection of the just, of Christians who are united with Christ, we may reply with St. Chrysostom and St. Thomas that St. Paul was writing to, and arguing against those among the faithful of Corinth who denied the resurrection, but who did not consider that they thereby ceased to be Christians, united to Christ.

14. And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God: because we have given testimony against God, that he hath raised up Christ; whom he hath not raised up if the dead rise not again.

Terrible consequences would follow, if Christ were not risen again, (a) Both the preaching of the Apostles and the faith of their converts would be vain, i.e., without foundation, because Christ pointed to His Resurrection as the supreme proof of His Divinity and Messiahship (Matt 12:38 ff.; John 2:18 ff.); and if He be not truly risen, then we must conclude that He was a false prophet and has deceived both preachers and believers, and that there is no reason for either the Gospel or faith. The Apostles always proved the divine origin and authority of their preaching by appealing to the Resurrection of Jesus, holding that God would not have raised Him from the dead had He not been all He claimed to be, and had His doctrine not been true (Acts 1:22; 2:24, 32; 3:15, 21; 4:10, 33; 5:30; 10:37; 17:31 ; Rom 1:4; 4:24, etc.).

(b) The Apostles would be false witnesses of God, because they have attributed to Him something He never did, namely, the raising of Christ from the grave. And if it is an evil thing falsely to attribute something of grave moment to another human being, what a serious offence it would be to bear similar false witness to God!

Again, both in verse 14 and in verse 15 should be omitted, as not represented in the Greek.

16. For if the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again.

For if the dead, etc., a solemn repetition of the conclusion stated above, in verse 13, from which still further evils would result.

Again in this and in the following verse should also be taken out.

17. And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain, for you are yet in your sins.
18. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished.

Your faith is vain, i.e., useless to you, for you could not be redeemed and freed from your sins by an impostor who claimed to be the true Messiah and Saviour of the world.

Then they also, etc. In the event that Christ is not truly risen, then those that died believing in Him and hoping for the remission of their sins through His redeeming merits, have died with their sins still upon them and are lost forever.

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

If Christ is not risen from the dead, faith in Him is not only useless for the living and the dead, but it is also a great detriment to Christians. If all our faith in Christ does for us is to give us in the present life a groundless hope of something false, causing us to deny ourselves many things which unbelievers enjoy, and bringing upon us numberless persecutions, then indeed we are of all men more to be pitied (ελεεινοτεροι, translated above as “most miserable”) than others.

20a. But now Christ is risen from the dead.

But all these terrible consequences that have just been described are false, because Christ is truly risen from the dead, and neither our preaching nor your faith is vain.

Christ’s resurrection includes the resurrection of all men
A Summary of 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

The Resurrection of Christ is connected with that of others as the first-fruits are connected with those that follow, which they precede in order of time and dignity (St. Thomas). As the spiritual death of Adam involved the physical and spiritual death of all his descendants, so the corporal Resurrection of our Lord involves the corporal resurrection of all the just. After He shall have conquered all the enemies of God and man, Christ, the representative man, will assume for Himself and for all the faithful the position which befits Him as man, that God may be all in all.

20a. But now Christ is risen from the dead.

But all these terrible consequences that have just been described (in verses 14-19) are false, because Christ is truly risen from the dead, and neither our preaching nor your faith is vain.

20b.  the first-fruits of them that sleep:

The first-fruits, etc. Christ was the first man to rise from the dead, but He is only the “first-fruits,” which shows there will be other fruits of the same kind. He is the model and pattern according to which all the just will rise. As the first-fruits of the harvest suppose the harvest, so the Resurrection of Jesus implies the harvest of the general resurrection of all the saved. The earth is the vast field in which our bodies like seed are planted, and since the first-fruits have already appeared, we can hope that soon the harvest will come.

Others, like Lazarus, who were called back to life before the Resurrection of Christ, were not raised to immortal life. Even those whom St. Matthew (Matt 27:52 ff.) speaks of as having come forth from their graves at the time of the crucifixion did not rise till after Christ had risen, and it is not certain that they did not die again.

21. For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead.
22. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.

These verses show how Christ is the first-fruits of the dead. There exists the same relation between our Lord’s Resurrection and that of the just, as between the death of Adam and that of his descendants. As Adam was the father of fallen humanity, so Christ is the Father of regenerated humanity. By one man human nature was corrupted and despoiled of its gift of immortality, and so it was becoming that by one other man human nature should be restored, in the resurrection of the body, to its primitive state and dignity. Therefore, as all those who are born of Adam are condemned to death, so all they who are reborn in Christ shall be regenerated unto immortal life for body as well as soul.

So also in Christ, etc. Most modern interpreters, like Cornely, Le Camus, Bisping, etc., understand these words to refer only to the just, because there is question, they say, only of a glorious and immortal resurrection like that of Christ’s. Others, however, hold with St. Thomas that the Apostle is speaking of the resurrection of all,—of the good to a life of glory, of the bad to an existence of misery and shame (John 5:28 ff.; Dan 12:2).

Came of verse 21 is not represented in the Greek, although it is to be understood.

23. But every one in his own order: the first-fruits Christ, then they that are of Christ, who have believed in his coming.

All shall rise again, but each in his own order of time and according to his dignity. Christ has risen first, preceding all others in time and dignity, and becoming the model of the resurrection of all the saved. Then they that are of Christ, i.e., the just, shall rise at His second coming (1 Thess 4:15).

Who have believed (Vulg., qui crediderunt) should be omitted, as wanting in all the best MSS. and in the early editions of the Vulg.

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

Afterwards the end, i.e., after the resurrection shall come the end of the present world, the present order of things (Matt 24:14; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9), which shall be replaced by “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1).

When he, i.e., when Christ, the Redeemer, shall have delivered up, better, “shall hand over” (παραδιδω, pres. subj., according to the best MSS., instead of παραδω, the aorist subj.), the kingdom, i.e., the Messianic Kingdom of the Church Militant, to God the Father, who as Creator is Lord of all creatures. Although as God Christ is also Creator and equal to the Father, as man He is in a particular way the Lord of the Messianic Kingdom, the Church, which He has purchased with His blood. It is the militant part of this Messianic Kingdom which Christ as man is here said to hand over to His Father at the end of the world, as a conqueror hands over to his sovereign the fruits of the victory he has won. Obviously Christ as God will not cease to reign equally with the Father and the Holy Ghost after the victory is won. But He will not surrender to His Father the Church Militant, until it is in peace, that is, until He has vanquished and brought to nothing all the enemies of God, demons and evil men, who have opposed and persecuted His Church.

The present subjunctive, the better reading, emphasize Christ’s action

Principality . . . power . . . virtue, i.e., all rule, authority and power that is opposed to God and Christ’s Kingdom, the Church.

25. For he must reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet.

For he must reign, etc., i.e., according to the decrees of God, Christ must govern and guide His Church, combat His enemies, and help the faithful, until He has triumphed over all the adversaries of His Kingdom, as was foretold in Psalm 110:1. In the Psalm it is God the Father who is represented as saying to Christ: “Sit at my right hand, until,” etc., but the Apostle is here plainly alluding to this Psalm and applying it to Christ, whose rule over the Church Militant will cease when the struggle finally gives way to victory. Of Christ’s eternal reign with the Father and the Holy Ghost in the Church Triumphant (Luke 1:32, 33; Dan 7:1414) there is no question here.

26. And the enemy death shall be destroyed last: For he hath put all things under his feet. And whereas he saith,
27. All things are put under him ; undoubtedly, he is excepted, who put all things under him.

Now St. Paul alludes to Psalm 8:8 to show that in the resurrection death will be the last enemy to be destroyed. Literally the Psalm refers to man in the state of innocence, who was lord over visible creation; but in a mystical sense it points to the perfect man, Jesus Christ, the head of the human race.

Death is called the last enemy because, by retaining the bodies of mankind in the dust of the earth, it does an injury to the elect and keeps back their complete happiness after all other enemies have been rendered powerless. Christ, by His Resurrection, has thus conquered death in His own case, but the victory over this dread enemy will not be complete until the bodies of all the dead shall have been reclaimed in the general resurrection.

The resurrection of all the dead, good and bad, is argued from this verse, because if the triumph over death is to be complete, the bodies of all the dead must rise again.

And whereas he saith. These words should be connected with verse 27, as in the Greek. A better translation would be: “When he shall have said” (οταν δε ειπη) , i.e., when God the Father shall say at the end of the world that all things have been subjected to the Son, we must not understand the Father Himself to be included among the things subjected. Some interpreters supply αὐτός (autos = Him) from the last sentence, and understand Christ to be announcing the subjugation of all things to Him to whom it is owing (Lias).

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

And when all things, etc., i.e., when all the enemies of the Church Militant shall have been conquered by Christ and the general resurrection takes place, then the Son, etc., i.e., then Christ also, as man, shall subject Himself, together with His redeemed Kingdom, the multitude of the elect, to His Father, without, however, forfeiting His own Kingship over His adoring subjects.

As man Christ has always, from the first moment of the Incarnation, been subject to and less than the Father, His humanity has been less than His Divinity, and less than the Holy Ghost; but in the resurrection when, together with the elect, His victorious army, He gives Himself over to the Father, His subjection will be greater in its extension and fulness (cf. Rickaby.).

That God may be all in all. The purpose of this final and universal subjection of Christ and His elect to the Father is that in the Church Triumphant God the Father may be recognized and glorified as the Lord of all, and as the author and primal source of all the blessings conferred upon Christ Himself, and through Christ upon the Church and the body of the elect; and that thus He may be all in all, i.e., may reign perfectly over all, rendering all perfectly and consummately happy.

Suggested Readings and Resources on First Corinthians: Should not be construed as an endorsement of everything one might find in them. Resources marked !!! are free, most are for purchase.

!!! In the Footsteps of St Paul. 13 part, (one-half hour each) online audio presentation by Fr. Mitch Pacwa of EWTN.

!!! St Irenaeus Ministries Study on 1 Corinthians. 18 part online audio series (parts vary in length). Scroll down to find. The site contains many other full and partial studies of various books of the Bible, including Second Corinthians, Hebrews, Romans, Matthew, Luke.

!!! The Gospel According to St Paul. Six part online audio study of 1 Corinthians by Dr. Scott Hahn. Some parts are hard to hear and may require headphones or an earpiece.

!!! St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures on First Corinthians. Online text, but the commentary on 7:1`5-10:33 is missing.

Father Kenneth Baker’s Sermons on St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. Downloadable audio for purchase.

First Corinthians (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture Series). By Fr. George Montague. The CCSS is a new, fine series of commentaries on the New Testament from a Catholic perspective. You can view the preface for the entire series here.

First Corinthians (Sacra Pagina Series). By Fr. Raymond F. Collins. In depth, scholarly, not for the average person in the pew.

First Corinthians (Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries Series). By Father Joseph Fitzmyer. Scholarly, technical. You can search inside this book by placing your browser on the photo, then click “surprise me”.

Seven Pauline Letters. By Peter F. Ellis. Text and commentary on seven of St Paul’s letters, including First Corinthians. Succinct commentaries, very readable.

St Paul to the Corinthians (Ignatius Catholic Bible Study Series). By Dr. Scott Hahn and Mitch Curtis. A good place for the beginner to begin his study of the two letters to Corinth. The Ignatius Catholic Bible Study on the NT is now available in a single volume. The first volume in the OT series is now available (Genesis).

St Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians (Navarre Bible Commentary Series). Extremely popular and well written. This series was the brain child of St Jose Marie Escriva.

Invitation to the New Testament Epistles (Doubleday New Testament Commentary Series). By Fr. Eugene LaVerdierre. Based upon the Jerusalem Bible Translation. A basic commentary written in popular style. This volume is on 1 & 2 Thessalonians; 1 & 2, Corinthians; Philippians; Philemon.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentaries for the Feast of the Holy Family (Sunday in the Octave of Christmas)

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 23, 2017

READINGS: alternate readings are allowed for the 1st and 2nd readings and the responsorial. Shorter forms of the second and gospel readings are also allowed.

NABRE. Used in the USA.

New Jerusalem Bible. Used in most English speaking countries.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14, or Gen 15:1-6, 21:1-3.

Word-Sunday Notes on Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14.

Alternate First Reading. Navarre Bible Commentary on Genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-3.

COMMENTARIES OF THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, or Ps 105:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 128.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 128.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 128.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 128.

Alternate Responsorial: Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 105.

Alternate Responsorial: St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 105.

Alternate Responsorial: St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 105.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Colossians 3:12-21. Shorter reading 3:12-17. Alternate reading Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-18.

Bernardin de Piconio on Colossians 3:12-21. Shorter reading 12-17.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-21. Shorter reading 12-17

Navarre Bible Commentary on Colossians 3:12-21. Shorter reading 12-17

Shorter reading: Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17.

Shorter reading: Word-Sunday Notes on Colossians 3:12-17.

Alternate Second Reading: Father Callan’s Commentary on Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-18. On 8-19.

Alternate Second Reading: Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-18. On 8-18.

Alternate Second Reading: Navarre Bible Commentary on Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-18.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL READING: Luke 2:22-40, or Lk 2:22, 39-40.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 2:22-40.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 2:22-40.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 2:22-40.

 

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 2:41-52

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 23, 2017

41 And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch.

And His parents went every year,” &c. The men were commanded by the law of Moses (Exodus 23:14–17; 34:23; Deut. 16:16) to go to the Temple three times in the year, viz., at the solemn festivals of the Pasch, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. It was not enjoined on the women; the Blessed Virgin, however, out of devotion, accompanied her husband. Whether Joseph himself went up on these three occasions, or, only at the Pasch—the greatest solemnity of all—and whether Mary accompanied him on these three occasions, with the child Jesus, is disputed. Some hold, Joseph went up only at the Pasch, from which there was no dispensation; and that, on account of the great distance of Jerusalem from Nazareth, he was dispensed from going to the two other feasts. It is, however, more commonly held, that Joseph attended on all three occasions each year; and that his holy Virgin spouse accompanied him on these several occasions; and, as it is most unlikely, they left their heavenly charge behind them; it is, therefore, commonly held that our Lord always accompanied them. Moreover, in this, they would give a lesson to parents as to the practical early teaching of children in the duties of religion. But, St. Luke refers only to their annual attendance at the Pasch, as it was only at the Pasch, the following wonderful occurrence, in the Temple, where our Lord showed He was “full of wisdom,” took place. He does not deny it regarding other occasions. And, although the cruel Archelaus still reigned in Jerusalem, the dread of whose cruelty caused Joseph to give up all idea of dwelling in Judea (Matt. 2); still, the parents of the child naturally expected He would pass unnoticed in the crowd that flocked to Jerusalem on these solemn festivals. Besides, they had great trust in Providence, for whose honour and service they underwent this risk, and they dreaded offending God, by neglect, more than the danger they incurred from Archelaus, which was diminished by their immediate return home on each occasion. Some hold, that our Redeemer did not go to the Temple till he was twelve years old, when, according to them, Archelaus, in the tenth year of his reign, was banished by Augustus, and sent into exile. Hence, no danger from him.

42 And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast,

To the end of this verse should be added, in order to complete the sense, the words, “the child also went up with them.”

43 And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem. And his parents knew it not.

They religiously remained till the Octave day, although not bound to remain, at Jerusalem; and then, returned home, while “the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem.” Some say, He rendered Himself invisible on this, as He did on subsequent occasions (Origen in Luc., Hom. 19). He assigns Himself the reason of His remaining (v. 49).

And His parents knew it not.” Some Greek copies have, “Joseph and His mother knew it not.” Very likely, He concealed His design from His parents, lest if He asked their permission, which they probably might refuse, He would seem guilty of disobedience by remaining; and He also may have in view to show, He had a more exalted Parent in heaven, whose glory and business He should promote, independently of all earthly relations and considerations. He wished, by remaining, to give a glimpse of the glory concealed within Him, and to prepare men for its manifestation in due time, marked out in the decrees of His Eternal Father. He “remained,” not by accident, but, by the all-ruling designs of Providence. The parents may be freed from the charge of negligence regarding Him, if it be borne in mind, that those of the same neighbourhood and kindred returned in companies: those of one household being mixed up with those of another, till, at evening, they were to be recognised at the place of public entertainment. Probably, the men formed one company apart; and the women, another. Thus, Joseph might have supposed that the Divine Infant was with His mother’s company; and, His mother, that he was with Joseph. This is held by St. Bernard (Serm. infra Octav. Epiph.), by Ven. Bede, St. Bonaventure, &c. However, the Evangelist seems to favour the former supposition, viz., that the persons of the same neighbourhood used to travel in companies without minding the distinction of families, or household, on their journey, till they halted at evening. For, he says, His parents thought, “He was in the company,” among whom they searched for Him in the evening.

44 And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day’s journey and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance.

They came a day’s journey.” Nazareth was three days’ journey from Jerusalem. “And sought Him,” when they reached the term of their day’s journey, at the place of common resort. The Evangelist would seem to exculpate Mary and Joseph, as the practice of allowing children to travel with the members of the same company was probably quite common, and it may be, that our Lord did so on former occasions when He went up, in company with them, to attend the festival celebrations at Jerusalem.

45 And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him.

They returned to Jerusalem,” as they got no tidings from any one regarding His having been seen leaving it. “Seeking Him,” inquiring regarding Him on their way thither.

46 And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions.

After three days,” or on the third day after they left. It is quite common in Sacred Scriptures to say that a thing occurred after a day on which it took place (v. 21; also Mark 8:31). One day was spent on their way home; a second, on their return to Jerusalem. On the third, they found Him. “They found Him in the Temple,” engaged in His Father’s business, in His Father’s house, and not in places of public diversion or entertainment. Probably, the “Temple” here means, a court of it, in which the doctors sat for the purpose of public instruction.

Sitting in the midst of the doctors,” not that the child took His place among them. This His own modesty would forbid, and the pride of these learned teachers would not submit to it. It only means, that He was sitting in their presence, as a hearer, listening to them treating of the Divine law.

Hearing them and asking them questions.” He so managed His questions, which He proposed modestly, not by way of disputation, as to convey knowledge; and, in turn, elicited from them questions, to which He replied with marvellous wisdom and knowledge. It was wonderful to see this child of twelve, answering and proposing questions connected with the Law of God to these learned doctors, which elicited the admiration of all. It is very likely, He managed to turn their attention to the great question of the coming of their Messiah, and to the fulfilment of all the prophecies that had reference to Him, viz., the passing away of the sceptre from Judah—the seventy weeks of Daniel, &c. Very likely, He proved the Messiah must now have come. His personal appearance showed His human nature; the maturity of His judgment and knowledge, and wisdom, at that age, showed He was something more than man. He thus early gave a passing proof of what He was. He darted forth a ray of His Divinity in order to prepare men for a fuller manifestation of it, when He would, at no distant day, enter on His public mission, and the instruction of the world.

47 And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers.

His wisdom and His answers,” that is, the wisdom of His answers.

48 And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

His parents “seeing Him, wondered.” Not that it caused them surprise to see Him, whom they knew to be the Eternal Son of God, display such knowledge. But as He never before publicly acted thus—very likely in private, He might have given proofs of His latent Divinity—they were surprised at His doing so now, for the first time, the more so, as it was these very doctors who had been consulted formerly by Herod the Great as to the place of His birth (Matthew 2:4), and this wonderful display, on the part of so young a child might make them suspect, He was the very Messiah referred to.

His mother said to Him,” not in a spirit of rebuke or reproach, but, from a feeling of sorrow that had hitherto overwhelmed her and her blessed spouse, she lovingly addresses Him—“Son,” specially confided to my care by your Heavenly Father, “why hast Thou done so to us?”—to leave us without knowing it, and thus overwhelm us with unspeakable sorrow at your loss and absence, and the fear lest through any fault of ours, we should have the unspeakable misfortune of losing you for ever. Joseph, who knew he had no claim of paternity, save that he was His reputed father, the husband of her who gave Him birth, observes a guarded and respectful silence, though, he also was oppressed with grief at the loss of the child.

Behold Thy father,” commonly reputed such by men, “and I have sought Thee sorrowing,” fearing lest we might be guilty of any neglect, or have merited the punishment of losing you. It is likely, the Virgin thus spoke to Him apart, after they left the meeting of the doctors in the Temple, and she lovingly gives Joseph a share in their common sorrow and anxiety concerning Him. St. Augustine here notes the singular modesty and humility of the Virgin, in putting Joseph before herself, “Thy father and I,” thus giving an example of the respect wives should never fail to show their husbands.

49 And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business?

How is it that you sought Me?” as if He said, It is a wonder you, who knew who I am, viz., the Eternal Son of God, did not reflect, that My departure and absence for a time, was not the result of mere accident; that it was arranged by the all—ruling providence of My Eternal Father. In this, He by no means censures or blames them, since they did only what it was right and natural for them to do. They were guilty of no fault, and therefore gave no cause for blame or censure. It was great natural affection, and a laudable pious solicitude and fear for the safety of their heavenly charge, that prompted them in what they had done.

Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” The Virgin mother had speken of His putative father on earth; He refers to His true and Eternal Father in heaven. This Father sent Him to earth to redeem mankind. It was to this all His thoughts and actions were to be referred; it was to this, His appearing on this occasion in the Temple was to be attributed. These are the words recorded in the Gospel as the first spoken by our Lord, and they convey to us the most important of all lessons, viz., that we should be always engaged in the business of our Heavenly Father, and the advancement of His glory. In them, He also conveys, that while subject in all His merely human actions, to His earthly parents, still, when aims and objects of a higher order interfered, He ceased to be subject to them, or to be influenced by any human feelings or affections whatever. In regard to His mission, He was to be guided, solely by the good-will and pleasure of His Eternal Father in heaven, to have no dependence on flesh or blood; to know neither father nor mother on earth. These words, though apparently reproachful, convey not a reproof, because such was undeserved; but only instruction to His parents regarding His relations towards them, His utter independence of them, whenever the work of God was to be done, and His Father’s precept urgent; and consolation also, by intimating that it was solely on account of the loftier duties that devolved upon Him, He was forced as it were, to ignore them, and cause them the sorrow and pain they lately endured.

Whenever in the Gospel, there is mention of any interference on the part of friends in what was peculiarly the business of His Eternal Father, and the action of His Divine nature, our Lord employs language apparently reproachful, (though really not so, because unmerited, as in this case) for the instruction of children in all ages, as to how they are to act whenever their parents, or feelings of natural affection, would interfere with what is clearly their duty towards God; as for instance, should parents unreasonably oppose their children’s entrance into religion, when clearly called to that state by God. In such a case, ordinarily speaking, the higher call of duty to God is to be preferred.

50 And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them.

And they understood not,” &c. Although the parents of our Redeemer, especially the Holy Virgin, knew our Lord to be the Eternal Son of the Father, and that He was sent into this world to save mankind, and promote His Father’s glory; still, they did not fully comprehend the meaning of His words. They did not see what connexion His withdrawal from them, His appearing at that age in the Temple and disputation with the doctors had with this general object. No doubt, the Blessed Virgin was at this time perfect in charity; but, we need not suppose her perfect in the gift of knowledge. God gradually developed the fulness of this gift in her, and left her nescient of several details connected with her Son, which she knew in course of time. Although Mary and Joseph did not fully understand our Lord’s words, they devoutly and reverently acquiesced in all He said without asking further questions, without entertaining or expressing any doubts regarding them, fully resigning themselves to the Divine will, perfectly satisfied with having found and received Him back again.

51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.

And was subject to them.” Having for a moment displayed His Divinity, and after showing in what things children are not subject to their parents, He now returns to His usual occupations, and gives an example of obedience to His earthly parents in their home at Nazareth, which all children are strictly bound to follow, under pain of being deprived of the special reward promised to dutiful children, and of being excluded from the inheritance, or land which the Lord God is to give them. The Evangelist, probably, adds this to let us see, that the passing manifestation of His Divine origin did not exempt Him from the duty of obedience, which, as man, He felt to be due to His parents in human and domestic affairs. It is likely, He laboured as a carpenter, and assisted Joseph in his workshop. Hence, called “a carpenter” (Mark 6:3), as well as “the carpenter’s Son” (Matthew 13:55). From these words we see the great merit of obedience, the entire private life of our Lord, from the age of twelve to thirty, being briefly summed up in these words, “et crat subditus illis.” This is the abridgment of Christian duty. The spirit of religion is a spirit of submission; its practice is the practice of obedience. On these words, St. Bernard (Sermo 1, super missus est), cries out, Who was subject? God. To whom? To men. He, whom the powers of heaven obey, was subject to Mary, and not to Mary only; but to Joseph. On both sides, an astounding wonder. On both sides, a miracle. That God would obey a woman, is an instance of unexampled humility. That a woman should rule a God, of unequalled sublimity. Blush, proud ashes, a God humbles Himself; and dost thou exalt thyself? A God subjects Himself to man, and dost thou anxiously wish to prefer thyself to the Author of thy being? Learn therefore, man, to obey; learn, O earth, to be subject; and thou, O dust, to submit.

His mother kept all these words in her heart.” She constantly meditated on all the words and acts and events connected with her Son, whom she knew to be God, thus nourishing her piety, acquiring a more certain knowledge of all the mysteries of His life, which she might be enabled to communicate with undoubting certainty to the Apostles and Evangelists, who were, at the appointed time, to announce them throughout the world. It is likely, it was from her, St. Luke obtained the information he here gives regarding the Incarnation, birth and infancy of our Redeemer.

We have no further mention of Joseph in the Gospel. It is likely he passed to his reward, before our Lord entered on His public mission. No doubt, with Jesus and Mary presiding at his death bed, the approach of death only revealed to him, by anticipation, the unspeakable joys in store for him. We find no mention of him even at the first public manifestation of our Saviour at the marriage feast of Cana in Galilee. (John 2, &c.)

52 And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men.

And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age,” &c. Hitherto the Evangelist called Him “the child,” παιδιον; but, henceforth, after His having displayed so much wisdom, he calls Him “Jesus.” Nothing more is recorded of Him, than that He was subject to His parents, probably toiling in His workshop with His reputed father (Mark 6:3), and discharging faithfully all the other offices of a dutiful son. “And He advanced in wisdom and age.” The word “age,” may mean stature, ἡλκία, as it is rendered (Luke 12:25). How it is He “advanced in wisdom,” in whom, from His Incarnation, from the moment of the hypostatic union, when the Holy Ghost anointed Him with “the oil of gladness beyond His fellows,” were “hid all the treasures of knowledge and of wisdom” (Col. 2:2); “who was full of grace and of truth” (John 1:14), has caused a difference of opinion among Commentators. The usual modes of explaining this point are—First, He advanced in the external manifestation of hidden wisdom, by words and acts proportioned to His advancing age, which, before men, were indications of greater wisdom; from wise words and acts, progressing to acts and words wiser still; the interior habit, however, or fund of infused wisdom which was perfect from the Incarnation in a finite degree, of which alone the soul of Christ was capable, received no real increase; just as the sun, according to its position above the horizon, increases not in itself, as it is always the same; but, in its effects, in its light and greater brilliancy in regard to us. In SS. Scripture, words and external acts emanating from wisdom, are called “wisdom.” Thus, “The queen of the south came to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (Luke 11:31; Matthew 12:42). Thus it is said, “we speak the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 2:7). Secondly, He increased in wisdom, as to a new mode of acquiring it, viz., experimentally, He advanced in acquired experimental knowledge, which He had not before, and which could result from experience only, just as is said of Him, “And whereas, indeed, He was the Son of God, He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8).

And grace with God and man.” As regards men, all His acts, His entire demeanour procured Him greater favour and acceptability with them, conciliated more and more the esteem and love of all. This has reference to His private hidden life. In His public missionary life, many, for whose ruin He was set, were found to find fault with Him, owing to their own perversity.

In regard to God, He increased in grace, inasmuch as its external manifestation before men was genuine, and not affected, but real in the sight of God, who felt complacency in this external manifestation of it before men. While His body grew in stature, His soul grew in wisdom and grace, not as to the internal habit, but, as to its external manifestation in acts before men, which was not affected but real, emanating from the internal habit, as seen by God and pleasing in His sight.

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Commentaries on the Mass Readings for December 17-24

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 23, 2017

NOTE: When a Sunday falls on one of these dates the Sunday readings are used.

DECEMBER 17

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Genesis 49:2, 8-10. On 8-12.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Genesis 49:2, 8-10.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 72.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 72.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 72.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 72.

Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 1:1-17.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 1:1-17.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 1:1-17.

Thephylact’s Commentary on Matthew 1:1-17. Non-Catholic. Late 11th century. Considered a saint by some Orthodox churches.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 1:1-17.

DECEMBER 18

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Jeremiah 23:5-8. On 23:1-8, and 33:14-26.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 23:5-8.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 72.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 72.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 72.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 72.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 1:18-25.

Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 1:18-25.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 1:18-25.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 1:18-25.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 1:18-25.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 1:18-25.

DECEMBER 19

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Pending (maybe): My Notes on Judges 13:2-7, 24-25.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Judges 13:2-7, 24-25.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 71.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 71.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 71.

My Notes on Psalm 71. Just on today’s verses.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:5-25.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:5-25.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:5-25.

DECEMBER 20

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Isaiah 7:10-14. On 1-17.

St Bernard’s Homily on Isaiah 7:10-14.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 24.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 24:1-6. Covers today’s verses.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 24.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 24.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 24.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:26-38.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.

DECEMBER 21

Today’s Mass Readings. Note: an alternate 1st reading is allowed.

Today’s Divine Office.

Pending (maybe): St Bernard on Song of Songs 2:8-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on the Song of Songs 2:8-14.

Alt First Reading: My Notes on Zephaniah 3:14-18.

Alt. First Reading: Navarre Bible Commentary on Zephaniah 3:14-18.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 33.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 33.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 33.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 33.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 33.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:39-45.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 1:39-45.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:39-45.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:39-45.

DECEMBER 22

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Samuel 1:24-28.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (1 Samuel 2:1, 4-8). On 1-10.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 1:46-56.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Luke 1:46-56.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:46-56.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:46-56.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:46-56.

DECEMBER 23

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 25.

Father Berry’s Introduction to Psalm 25.

St Augustine on Psalm 25.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 25.

Lectio Divina Notes on Psalm 25.

Some Rambling on Psalm 25. “Off the top of my head” reflections on St John the Baptist in relation to today’s first reading (the Baptist is the focal point of both the first and Gospel readings today).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:57-66.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:57-66.

DECEMBER 24

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

St Augustine on 2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16 and Psalm 89.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 89.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 89.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 89.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 89.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:67-79.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Luke 1:67-79.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:67-79.

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