The Divine Lamp

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

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St John Chrysostom’s Homily on John 2:13-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 26, 2014

Ver. 13. “He went up to Jerusalem.”

He received baptism then a few days before the passover. But on going up to Jerusalem, what did He, a deed full of high authority; for He cast out of the Temple those dealers and money changers, and those who sold doves, and oxen, and sheep, and who passed their time there for this purpose.

Another Evangelist writes, that as He cast them out, He said, Make not my Father’s house6 “a den of thieves,” but this one,

Ver. 16. (“Make not My Father’s house) an house of merchandise.”

They do not in this contradict each other, but show that he did this a second time, and that both these expressions were not used on the same occasion, but that He acted thus once at the beginning of His ministry, and again when He had come to the very time of His Passion. Therefore, (on the latter occasion,) employing more strong expressions, He spoke of it as7 (being made) “a den of thieves,” but here at the commencement of His miracles He does not so, but uses a more gentle rebuke; from which it is probable that this took place1 a second time.

“And wherefore,” says one, “did Christ do this same, and use such severity against these men, a thing which He is nowhere else seen to do, even when insulted and reviled, and called by them ‘Samaritan’ and ‘demoniac’? for He was not even satisfied with words only, but took a scourge, and so cast them out.” Yes, but it was when others were receiving benefit, that the Jews accused and raged against Him; when it was probable that they would have been made savage by His rebukes, they showed no such disposition towards Him, for they neither accused nor reviled Him. What say they?

Ver. 18. “What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things?”

Seest thou their excessive malice, and how the benefits done to others incensed them more (than reproofs)?

At one time then He said, that the Temple was made by them “a den of thieves,” showing that what they sold was gotten by theft, and rapine, and covetousness, and that they were rich through other men’s calamities; at another, “a house of merchandise,” pointing to their shameless traffickings. “But wherefore did He this?” Since he was about to heal on the Sabbath day, and to do many such things which were thought by them transgressions of the Law in order that He might not seem to do this as though He had come to be some rival God2 and opponent of His Father, He takes occasion hence to correct any such suspicion of theirs. For One who had exhibited so much zeal for the House was not likely to oppose Him who was Lord of the House, and who was worshiped in it. No doubt even the former years during which He lived according to the Law, were sufficient to show His reverence for the Legislator, and that He came not to give contrary laws; yet since it was likely that those years were forgotten through lapse of time, as not having been known to all because He was brought up in a poor and mean dwelling, He afterwards does this in the presence of all, (for many were present because the feast was nigh at hand,) and at great risk. For he did not merely “cast them out,” but also “overturned the tables,” and “poured out the money,” giving them by this to understand, that He who threw Himself into danger for the good order of the House could never despise his Master. Had He acted as He did from hypocrisy, He should only have advised them; but to place Himself in danger was very daring. For it was no light thing to offer Himself to the anger of so many market-folk,3 to excite against Himself a most brutal mob of petty dealers by His reproaches and His blows, this was not the action of a pretender, but of one choosing to suffer everything for the order of the House.

And therefore not by His actions only, but by His words, He shows his agreement with the Father;4 for He saith not “the Holy House,” but “My Father’s House.” See, He even calls Him, “Father,” and they are not wroth; they thought He spoke in a general way:5 but when He went on and spoke more plainly, so as to set before them the idea of His Equality, then they become angry.

And what say they? “What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things?” Alas for their utter madness! Was there need of a sign before they could cease their evil doings, and free the house of God from such dishonor? and was it not the greatest sign of His Excellence that He had gotten such zeal for that House? In fact, the well-disposed6 were distinguished by this very thing, for “They,” His disciples, it says,

Ver. 17. “Remembered that it is written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”

But the Jews did not remember the Prophecy, and said, “What sign showest Thou unto us?” (Ps. 69:9), both grieving that their shameful traffic was cut off, and expecting by these means to stop Him, and also desiring to challenge Him to a miracle, and to find fault with what He was doing. Wherefore He will not give them a sign; and before, when they came and asked Him, He made them the same answer, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” (Matt. 16:4.) Only then the answer was clear, now it is more ambiguous. This He doth on account of their extreme insensibility; for He who prevented7 them without their asking, and gave them signs, would never when they asked have turned away from them, had He not seen that their minds were wicked and false, and their intention treacherous.8 Think how full of wickedness the question itself was at the outset. When they ought to have applauded Him for His earnestness and zeal, when they ought to have been astonished that He cared so greatly for the House, they reproach Him, saying, that it was lawful to traffic, and unlawful for any to stop their traffic, except he should show them a sign. What saith Christ?

Ver. 19. “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Many such sayings He utters which were not intelligible to His immediate hearers, but which were to be so to those that should come after. And wherefore doth He this? In order that when the accomplishment of His prediction should have come to pass, He might be seen to have foreknown from the beginning what was to follow; which indeed was the case with this prophecy. For, saith the Evangelist,

Ver. 22. “When He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.”

But at the time when this was spoken, the Jews were perplexed as to what it might mean, and cast about to discover, saying,

Ver. 20. “Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?”

“Forty and six years,” they said, referring to the latter building, for the former was finished in twenty years’ time. (Ezra 6:15.)

Wherefore then did He not resolve the difficulty and say, “I speak not of that Temple, but of My flesh”? Why does the Evangelist, writing the Gospel at a later period, interpret the saying, and Jesus keep silence at the time? Why did He so keep silence? Because they would not have received His word; for if not even the disciples were able to understand the saying, much less were the multitudes. “When,” saith the Evangelist, “He was risen from the dead, then they remembered, and believed the Scripture and His word.” There were two things that hindered1 them for the time, one the fact of the Resurrection, the other, the greater question whether He was God2 that dwelt within; of both which things He spake darkly when He said, “Destroy this Temple, and I will rear it up in three days.” And this St. Paul declares to be no small proof of His Godhead, when he writes, “Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead.” (Rom. 1:4.).

But why doth He both there, and here, and everywhere, give this for a sign, at one time saying,3 “When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then ye shall know that I Am” (c. 8:28); at another, “There shall no sign be given you4 but the sign of the prophet Jonas” (Matt. 12:39); and again in this place, “In three days I will raise it up”? Because what especially showed that He was not a mere man, was His being able to set up a trophy of victory over death, and so quickly to abolish His long enduring tyranny, and conclude that difficult war. Wherefore He saith, “Then ye shall know.” “Then.” When? When after My Resurrection I shall draw (all) the world to Me, then ye shall know that I did these things as God, and Very Son of God, avenging the insult offered to My Father.

“Why then, instead of saying, ‘What need is there of “signs” to check evil deeds?’ did He promise that He would give them a sign?” Because by so doing He would have the more exasperated them; but in this way He rather astonished them. Still they made no answer to this, for He seemed to them to say what was incredible, so that they did not stay even to question Him upon it, but passed it by as impossible. Yet had they been wise, though it seemed to them at the time incredible, still when He wrought His many miracles they would then have come and questioned Him, would then have intreated that the difficulty might be resolved to them; but because they were foolish, they gave no heed at all to part of what was said, and part they heard with evil frame of mind. And therefore Christ spoke to them in an enigmatical way.

The question still remains, “How was it that the disciples did not know that He must rise from the dead?” It was, because they had not been vouchsafed the gift of the Spirit; and therefore, though they constantly heard His discourses concerning the Resurrection, they understood them not, but reasoned with themselves what this might be. For very strange and paradoxical was the assertion that one could raise himself, and would raise himself in such wise. And so Peter was rebuked, when, knowing nothing about the Resurrection, he said, “Be it far from Thee.” (Matt. 16:22.) And Christ did not reveal it clearly to them before the event, that they might not be offended at the very outset, being led to distrust His words on account of the great improbability of the thing, and because they did not yet clearly know Him, who He was. For no one could help believing what was proclaimed aloud by facts, while some would probably disbelieve what was told to them in words. Therefore He at first allowed the meaning of His words to be concealed; but when by their experience He had verified His sayings, He after that gave them understanding of His words, and such gifts of the Spirit that they received them all at once. “He,” saith Jesus, “shall bring all things to your remembrance.” (c. 14:26.) For they who in a single night cast off all respect for Him, and fled from and denied that they even knew Him, would scarcely have remembered what He had done and said during the whole time, unless they had enjoyed much grace of the Spirit.

“But,” says one, “if they were to hear from the Spirit, why needed they to accompany Christ when they would not retain His words?” Because the Spirit taught them not, but called to their mind what Christ had said before; and it contributes not a little to the glory of Christ, that they were referred to the remembrance of the words He had spoken to them. At the first then it was of the gift of God that the grace of the Spirit lighted upon them so largely and abundantly; but after that, it was of their own virtue that they retained the Gift. For they displayed a shining life, and much wisdom, and great labors, and despised this present life, and thought nothing of earthly things, but were above them all; and like a sort of light-winged eagle, soaring high by their works; reached1 to heaven itself, and by these possessed the unspeakable grace of the Spirit.

Let us then imitate them, and not quench our lamps, but keep them bright by alms-doing, for so is the light of this fire preserved. Let us collect the oil into our vessels whilst we are here, for we cannot buy it when we have departed to that other place, nor can we procure it elsewhere, save only at the hands of the poor. Let us therefore collect it thence very abundantly, if, at least, we desire to enter in with the Bridegroom. But if we do not this, we must remain without the bridechamber, for it is impossible, it is impossible, though we perform ten thousand other good deeds, to enter the portals of the Kingdom without alms-doing. Let us then show forth this very abundantly, that we may enjoy those ineffable blessings; which may it come to pass that we all attain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 11:5-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 27, 2014

This post consists of two homiletic commentaries; the first on Lk 11:5-10 and the second on Lk 11:11-13.

11:5-10. And He said to them, Who of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves: for my friend has come to me from the way, and I have nothing to set before him. And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: lo! the door is shut, and the children are with me in bed: I cannot rise and give you. I say to you, that though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend; because of his urgency he will rise and give him as much as he needs. And I also say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds: and whosoever knocks, it shall be opened to him.

THE language of the divinely inspired Scripture is constantly, so to speak, profound; nor will it bend itself for those to be able to understand it who merely wish to do so, but only for those who know how to search it well, and are enriched with the divine light in their mind, by means of which they attain to the meaning of hidden truths. Let us therefore ask for the understanding which comes from above, from God, and the illumination of the Holy Ghost, that we may attain to a correct and unerring method, whereby we may be enabled to see the truth contained in the passage set before us.

We have heard then what the Saviour said in the parable now read to us, which if we understand we shall find to be laden with benefits. And the order of the ideas is very wonderful. For the Saviour of all had taught at the request of the holy apostles, in what way we ought to pray. But it was possible that those who had obtained from Him this precious and saving lesson, might sometimes make indeed their supplications according to the pattern given them, but would do so wearily and lazily. And so, when not heard at their first or |355 second prayer, would desist from their supplications, as being unavailing to their benefit. In order therefore that we may not experience this, nor suffer the injury that would result from such littleness of mind, He teaches us that we must diligently continue the practice, and in the form of a parable plainly shows that weariness in prayer is to our loss, while patience therein is greatly to our profit: for it is our duty to persevere, without giving way to indolence. And this He teaches us by saying, that “though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, because of his importunity he will rise and give him as much as he needs.”

And now come, and let us transfer to the truth what was shown in the form of a parable. Be urgent in prayer; draw near to God Who loves to be kind; and that very constantly. And if you see that the gift of grace is delayed, yield not to weariness: despair not of the expected blessing: abandon not the hope set before you; nor further foolishly say within yourself, ‘I have drawn near frequently; I have gained absolutely nothing; I have wept, and received not; I have supplicated, but not been accepted: for of all I asked, nothing has been accomplished.’ Rather think thus within yourself, that He Who is the universal treasure house better knows our state than we do, in that He weighs to every man what is due and suitable to him. You ask sometimes what is beyond your measure; you wish to receive those things of which you are not yet worthy. The Giver Himself knows the time suitable for His gifts. Earthly fathers do not immediately and without discretion fulfil the desire of their sons: but often delay in spite of their asking, and that not because they have a grudging hand, nor again because they regard (merely) what is pleasant to the petitioners, but as considering what is useful and necessary for their good conduct. And how will that rich and bounteous Giver neglect the duo accomplishment for men of what they pray for, unless of course, and without all doubt, He knows that it would not be for their benefit to receive what they ask? We must therefore offer our prayers to God with knowledge, as well as with assiduity: and even though there be some delay in your requests, continue patiently with the vineyard workers, as being well assured that what is gained without toil, and readily won, is usually despised: |356 whereas that which is gathered with labour is a more pleasant and abiding possession.

But perchance to this you say; ‘I draw near frequently, making requests; but the vintage therefrom has wandered far away. I am not slothful in supplications, but persevering and very importunate: who will assure me that I shall receive? who is my security that I shall not labour in vain?’ “Therefore I also say to you;” and it is the Bestower of divine gifts Who Himself enters, and speaks;—-“I also say to you, Seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: for every one that asks receives; and he who seeks finds: and whosoever knocks, it shall be opened to him.” In those words, “I say to you” has the full force of an oath: not that God is false, even though the promise be not accompanied with an oath; but to show that the littleness of their faith was groundless, He sometimes confirms His hearers by an oath. For the Saviour is also found in many places prefacing His words by saying, “Verily, truly, I say to you.” As therefore He makes this very promise on oath, it is not a thing free from guilt to disbelieve it.

In telling us therefore to seek, He bids us labour: for by labour, that which is needed is always, so to say, found; especially when it is something fit for us to possess. He who knocks, not once merely, but again and again, rattles the door with his hand, it may be, or with a stone, so that the master of the house, unable to endure the annoyance of the knocks, will open it even against his will. Learn therefore, even from what happens among us, the way to gain that which is to your profit. Knock, be urgent, ask. So must all act who ask any thing of God: for wise Paul writes, “Pray without ceasing.” We are in need of urgent prayer, because many are the turmoils of worldly matters which encircle us around: for that many headed serpent greatly distresses us, involving us sometimes in unexpected difficulties, that he may humble us to baseness and manifold sin: and, besides this, there is also the inbred law of voluptuousness lurking in our fleshly members, and warring, as Scripture says, “against the law of our mind:” and lastly, the enemies of the doctrines of truth, even the impure and polluted gangs of heretics, oppose those who wish to hold correct opinions. Constant and earnest prayer therefore is necessary. |357 For arms and the implements of warfare are needed for soldiers, that they may be able to overcome those who are drawn up against them: and for us prayer, “for our weapons,” as Scripture says “are not carnal, but mighty to God.”

And this too we ought to add, as being in my opinion amply sufficient to quicken us to prayer. The Saviour and Lord of all is seen again and again passing the night in prayer. And when too He was about to undergo His saving passion upon the precious cross, He knelt down and prayed, saying; “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” Was this because Life was afraid of death? Was it because there was no escape for Him from the net, no deliverance from the snare, in that the hand of the Jews was mightier than His power? And how is it not altogether abominable to think or speak thus? He was by nature God, and the Lord of powers, even though He was in form like to us. Of His own will He took upon Him the suffering upon the cross, because He was the helper of us all. What need was there then of prayer? It was that we might learn that supplication is becoming and full of benefits, and that we must be constant in it whenever temptation befal, and the cruelty of enemies press upon us like a wave.

And to put it in one more light; for man to converse with God is a very great honour to human nature. And this we do in prayer, being commanded to address the Lord as Father; for we say, Our Father. But if He be a Father, necessarily He both loves and generously cherishes His sons, and honours them of course, and counts them worthy of indulgence. Draw near therefore in faith with perseverance, as being well assured that to those who ask urgently Christ bows His ear: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. |358

11:11-13. And which of you that shall ask his father bread, will he offer him a stone? or if he ask of him a fish, will he for a fish offer him a serpent? If he ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you therefore, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more shall the heavenly Father give a good spirit to them that ask Him?

TO love instruction and be fond of hearing becomes saints: but those who are thus minded must, I say, keep in remembrance, and store up in the treasure-house of their heart, whatsoever has been spoken by those who are skilful in teaching right doctrine, and whose study it is ably to initiate men in the truth. For this is both profitable to themselves for their spiritual improvement; and besides, it rejoices the teacher, just, for instance, as the seed also gladdens the husbandman when it springs up, as having been well covered in the furrow, and escaped being the food of birds. You therefore remember that at our last meeting we addressed you on the duty of praying without ceasing, and making supplication continually in offering our requests to God: and that we must not give way to any littleness of soul, nor at all grow weary, even though He somewhat delay His gift, considering that He knows whatsoever is to our benefit, and that the fitting season for His bounties is not forgotten by Him.

And in to-day’s lesson from the gospel, the Saviour again teaches another point most useful for our edification. And what this is, come, that we may declare it as to sons. We sometimes draw near to our bounteous God, offering Him petitions for various objects, according to each one’s pleasure: but occasionally without discernment, or any careful examination what truly is to our advantage, and if granted by God would prove a blessing; and what would be to our injury if we received it. Rather, by the inconsiderate impulse of our fancy, we fall into desires replete with ruin, and which thrust the souls of those that entertain them into the snare of death and the meshes of hell. When therefore we ask of God ought of |359 this kind, we shall by no means receive it: on the contrary, we offer a petition fit only for ridicule. And why shall we not receive it? Is the God of all weary of bestowing gifts upon us? By no means. Why then, some one forsooth may say, will He not give, since He is bounteous in giving? Let us learn of Him; or rather, you have already heard Him here saying, What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Understand, he says, by an image or plain example taken from what happens among you, the meaning of what I say; You are the father of children; you have in you the sharp spur of natural affection towards them; in every way you wish to benefit them: when therefore, He says, one asks of you bread, without delay and with pleasure you give it, as knowing well that he seeks of you wholesome food. But when, from want of understanding, a little child that knows not yet how to distinguish what it sees, nor moreover what is the service and use of the various objects that fall in our way, asks for stones to eat, do you, He says, give them, or rather do you not make him desist from any such desire as would be to his injury?

And the same reasoning holds good of the serpent and fish, and the egg and scorpion. If he ask a fish, you will grant it: but if he see a serpent, and wish to seize it, you will hold back the child’s hand. If he want an egg, you will offer it at once, and encourage his desire after things of this sort, that the infant may advance to riper age: but if he see a scorpion creeping about, and run after it, imagining it to be something pretty, and as being ignorant of the harm it can do, you will, I suppose, of course stop him, and not let him be injured by the noxious animal. When therefore He says, “You who |360 are evil;” by which He means, you whose mind is capable of being influenced by evil, and not uniformly inclined to good like the God of all; “you know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give a good spirit to them that ask Him? And by “a good spirit’1 He means spiritual grace: for this in every way is good, and if a man receive it, he will become most blessed, and worthy of admiration.

Most ready therefore is our heavenly Father to bestow gifts upon us: so that whosoever is denied what he asks, is himself the cause of it: for he asks, as I said, what God will not give. For God wishes us to be holy and blameless, and to advance uprightly and boldly in every good work; walking apart from every thing that defiles, and from the love of fleshly pleasure, and rejecting the anxieties of worldly pursuits; not involving ourselves in worldly business; not living profligately and carelessly; not delighting in unruly pleasures; nor moreover practising a dissolute mode of life; but desiring to live well and wisely, and in accordance with God’s commands, making tho law which He gave us the regulator of our conduct, and earnest in tho pursuit of whatever tends chiefly to our edification. If therefore you wish to receive ought of this kind, draw near with joy: for our Father Who is in heaven, because He loves virtue, will readily incline His car.

Examine therefore your prayer: for if you ask ought by receiving which you will become a lover of God, God, as I said, will grant it: but if it be any thing unreasonable, or that is able to do you an injury, He will withhold His hand: He will not bestow the wished-for object; in order that neither He may give nothing of an injurious nature,—-for this is completely alien from Him,—-nor let you harm yourself by receiving it. And let me explain how: for which purpose I shall bring forward examples. When you ask for wealth, you will not receive it of God: and why? Because it separates the heart of man from Him. Wealth begets pride, voluptuousness, and the love of pleasure, and brings men down to the pitfalls of worldly lusts. And so one of the disciples of our Lord has taught us, saying; “Whence are there wars, and whence quarrels among you? Is it not hence; from your lusts, that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you seek, and |361 find not: you ask, and receive not, because you ask wickedly, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” When you ask worldly power, God will turn away His face: for He knows that it is a most injurious thing to those who possess it. For constantly, so to speak, charges of oppression attach themselves to those who possess worldly power: and those are for the most part proud, and unbridled, and boastful, who are set in temporal dignities. When you ask for any to perish, or be exposed to inevitable tortures, because they have annoyed or molested you in any way, God will not grant it. For He wills us to be long-suffering in mind: and not to requite any one with evil for evil, but to pray for those who spoil us: to do good to those who injure us, and be imitators of His kindness. For this reason Solomon was praised; for when offering up prayers to God, he said: “And you shall give Your servant a heart to hear, and to judge Your people righteously.” And it pleased the Lord that Solomon asked this thing. And what did God, Who loves virtue, say to him? “Because you have not asked for you many days: nor have asked the lives of your enemies; but have asked for you understanding, and to hear judgment: see! I have done what you said: see! I have given you a heart prudent and wise.”

You, therefore, should ask the bestowal without stint of spiritual gifts. Ask strength, that you may be able manfully to resist every fleshly lust. Ask of God an uncovetous disposition; long suffering; gentleness; and the mother and nurse of all good, I mean, patience. Ask calmness of temper; continence; a pure heart; and further, ask also the wisdom that comes from Him. These things He will give readily: these save the soul: these work in it that better beauty, and imprint in it God’s image. This is the spiritual wealth; the riches that has never to be abandoned: these prepare for us the lot of the saints, and make us members of the company of the holy angels; these perfect us in piety, and rapidly load us onward to the hope of eternal life, and make us heirs of the kingdom of heaven, by the aid of Christ, the Saviour of us all; by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.  |362

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 23:27-32

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 26, 2014

Ver 27. “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.28. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”

Origen: As above they are said to be “full of extortion and excess,” so here they are “full of hypocrisy and iniquity,” and are likened to dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Justly are the bodies of the righteous said to be temples, because in the body of the righteous the soul has dominion, as God in His temple; or because God Himself dwells in righteous bodies. But the bodies of sinners are called sepulchres of the dead, because the sinner’s soul is dead in his body; for that cannot be deemed to be alive, which does no spiritual or living act.

Jerome: Sepulchres are whitened with lime without, and decorated with marble painted in gold and various colours, but within are full of dead men’s bones. Thus crooked teachers who teach one thing and do another, affect purity in their dress, and humility in their speech, but within are full of all uncleanness, covetousness, and lust.

Origen: For all feigned righteousness is dead, forasmuch as it is not done for God’s sake; yea, rather it is no righteousness at all, any more than a dead man is a man, or an actor who represents any character is the man whom he represents. There is therefore within them so much of bones and uncleanness as are the good things that they wickedly pretend to. And they seem righteous outwardly, not in the eyes of such as the Scripture calls “Gods,” but of such only as “die like men.” [Psa_82:6]

Greg., Mor., xxvi, 32: But before their strict Judge they cannot have the plea of ignorance, for by assuming in the eyes of men every form of sanctity, they witness against themselves that they are not ignorant how to live well.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But say, hypocrite, if it be good to be wicked, why do you not desire to seem that which you desire to be? For what it is shameful to seem, that it is more shameful to be; and what to seem is fair, that it is fairer to be. Either therefore be what you seem, or seem what you are.

Ver 29. “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,30. And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.31. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.”

Jerome: By a most subtle syllogism He proves them to be the sons of murderers, while to gain good character and reputation with the people, they build the sepulchres of the Prophets whom their fathers put to death.

Origen: Without just cause He seems to utter denunciations against those who build the sepulchres of the Prophets; for so far what they did was praiseworthy; how then do they deserve this “woe”?

Chrys., Hom. lxxiv: He does not blame them for building the sepulchres, but discovers the design with which they built them; which was not to honour the slain, but to erect to themselves a triumphal monument of the murder, as fearing that in process of time the memory of this their audacious wickedness should perish.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, they said within themselves, If we do good to the poor not many see it, and then but for a moment; were it not better to raise buildings which all may see, not only now, but in all time to come; O foolish man, what boots this posthumous memory, if, where you are, you are tortured, and where you are not there you are praised?

While He corrects the Jews, He instructs the Christians; for had these things been spoken to the former only, they would have been spoken, but not written; but now they were spoken on their account, and written on ours. When one, besides other good deeds, raises sacred buildings, it is an addition to his good works; but if without any other good works, it is a passion for worldly renown.

The martyrs joy not to be honoured with money which has caused the poor to weep. The Jews, moreover, have ever been adorers of saints of former times, and contemners, yea persecutors, of the living. Because they could not endure the reproaches of their own Prophets, they persecuted and killed them; but afterwards the succeeding generation perceived the error of their fathers, and thus in grief at the death of innocent Prophets, they built up monuments of them. But they themselves in like manner persecuted and put to death the Prophets of their own time, when they rebuked them for their sins. This is what is meant, And ye say, “If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the Prophets.”

Jerome: Though they speak not this in words, they proclaim it by their actions, in ambitious and magnificent structures to their memory.

Pseudo-Chrys.: What they thought in their hearts, that they spoke by their deeds. Christ lays bare here the natural habit of all wicked men; each readily apprehends the other’s fault, but none his own; for in another’s case each man has an unprejudiced heart, but in his own case it is distorted. Therefore in the cause of others we can all easily be righteous judges. He only is the truly righteous and wise who is able to judge himself.

It follows, “Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that you are the children of them which killed the Prophets.”

Chrys.: What kind of accusation is this, to call one the son of a murderer, who partakes not in his father’s disposition? Clearly there is no guilt in being so; wherefore this must be said in proof of their resemblance in wickedness.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The character of the parents is a witness to the sons; if the father be good and the mother bad, or the reverse, the children may follow sometimes one, sometimes the other. But when both are the same, it very rarely happens that bad sons spring of good parents, or the reverse, though it be so sometimes. This is as a man is sometimes born out of the rule of nature, having six fingers or no eyes.

Origen: And in the prophetic writings, the historical sense is the body, the spiritual meaning is the soul; the sepulchres are the letter and books themselves of Scripture. They then who attend only to the historical meaning, honour the bodies of the Prophets, and set in the letter as in a sepulchre; and are called Pharisees, i.e. ‘cut off’ as it were cutting off the soul of the Prophets from their body.

32. “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

Chrys.: He had said against the Scribes and Pharisees, that they were the children of those who killed the Prophets; now therefore He shews that they were like them in wickedness, and that was false that they said, “If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the Prophets.”

Wherefore He now says, “Fill ye up the measure of your fathers.” This is not a command, but a prophecy of what is to be.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He foretels, that as their fathers killed the Prophets, so they also should kill Christ, and the Apostles, and other holy men. As suppose you had a quarrel with some one, you might say to your adversary, Do to me what you are about to do; but you do not therein bid him do it, but shew him that you are aware of his manoeuvres. And in fact they went beyond the measure of their fathers; for they put to death only men, these crucified God.

But because He stooped to death of His own free choice, He does not lay on them the sin of His death, but only the death of the Apostles and other holy men. Whence also He said, “Fill up,” and not “Fill over;” for a just and merciful Judge overlooks his own wrongs, and only punishes those done to others.

Origen: They fill up the measure of their fathers’ sins by their not believing in Christ. And the cause of their unbelief was, that they looked only to the letter and the body, and would understand nothing spiritual in them.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 67

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 12, 2014

A HARVEST SONG

HIS psalm is based on the Priestly Blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 the blessing with which the priests were wont to bless the people gathered for worship in the Temple. The Aaronic Blessing in Numbers 6. runs thus:

May Yahweh bless thee and keep thee!May Yahweh make His face to shine upon thee!May Yahweh lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace!

It wishes to Israel, and to each individual Israelite, the care and protecting presence of God, and the sense of peace which comes from friendship with God. In many ways Yahweh could reveal His love for His people, and His protecting presence in their midst ; but no revelation of His love and presence could be more obvious to the popular mind than that contained in the blessings of a bounteous harvest. The psalm is a song of thanksgiving for harvest joys. At a harvest festival whether Pasch (Passover), Pentecost or Tabernacles the words of the Aaronic Blessing are thought of as echoed by the multitude, and expanded into a song such as we have here. The Lord has, indeed, been gracious, and therein lies a token that He will be gracious again. The blessing which Yahweh has granted to Israel is a blessing for the heathens also. They will learn thereby what a mighty and what a loving God Yahweh is, and thus, they, too, will be led to know and praise Him. Thus, in the psalm, the natural blessings of harvest are typical of the greater blessings which the Gentiles will enjoy in common with Israel in the Messianic time.

There is no clear indication of date in the Hebrew text of the psalm. The superscription in the Vulgate (following the Greek) ascribes it, in the usual way, to David. It is clear that the psalm is liturgical in character. It is not connected, as far as can be seen, with any definite occasion, and it was, no doubt, used, in a purely formal way, at all kinds of harvest festivals. Modern criticism regards it as postexilic chiefly because of its universalism.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 26, 2014

Mat 9:35  And Jesus went about all the cities and towns, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease, and every infirmity.

Our Lord, regardless of the calumnies with which He was assailed, went about all the towns and villages of Galilee, of which Capharnaum, where He fixed His abode, was the metropolis, “teaching in their synagogues,” which were established in all the cities and populous towns of Judea—nay, in large cities, there were more than one synagogue, “and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom,” the glad tidings regarding the near approach of redemption, which was to throw open the gates of heaven, so long closed against the human race, and, confirming his teaching, by curing all their ailments, whether inveterate and confirmed “disease” (νοσος), or, in an incipient stage, “infirmity” (μαλακιαν). The one form of expression (νοσος), disease, denotes a more advanced step of illness than infirmity (μαλαχιαν). The former signifies, a confirmed, inveterate disorder; the latter, incipient, temporary infirmity. Thus, our Blessed Lord cured, not only their minds, but their bodies also. (See c. 4:23, where, in the Vulgate and Greek, the words are the same as here.)

Mat 10:1  And having called his twelve disciples together, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of diseases, and all manner of infirmities.

“And having called His twelve disciples together.” This is connected with (c. 9:37, 38), and has immediate reference to the subject there treated of. Our Redeemer Himself, does by anticipation, what He told His disciples to pray for, viz., He of Himself sends labourers to gather in the harvest, “His twelve disciples,” afterwards called “Apostles” (v. 2), thus showing, that He Himself was “Lord of the harvest.” The other Evangelists (Mark 3:13; Luke 6:13), inform us, that our Lord had chosen His twelve Apostles before He delivered the Sermon on the Mount, in order that they might be constantly in His society, as witnesses of His doctrine and miracles, to be sent in due time to preach, vested with miraculous powers and authority required for the efficacious discharge of their exalted functions. St. Matthew, in recording the Sermon on the Mount (c. 5, &c.), omits all allusion to the election of the twelve Apostles from among His disciples, or, the circumstances of the time and place in which this first occurred, as is circumstantially narrated by St. Luke. (6:13, &c.) He merely briefly alludes to it here immediately in connexion with the first public mission on which they were sent as Apostles, with miraculous powers to confirm their teaching. The mission referred to here is recorded (Mark 6:7; Luke 9:2).

Most likely, the account of this mission should be inserted between chapters 13 and 14 of St. Matthew. For, St. Mark interposes the account of the mission recorded here, between the history of our Lord’s arrival in Nazareth, and that of the Baptist’s death; and both Mark (6) and Luke (9) relate, that the Apostles returned to our Lord to render an account of their mission, after Herod had expressed his belief that John had been resuscitated in the person of our Lord, and, that then, our Lord and the Apostles retired into a desert place. The order, then, in which things occurred, is this: The Apostles are sent to teach the Jews; John is beheaded; Herod hearing of Jesus, is perplexed who He is; the Apostles return from their mission; our Redeemer retires with them beyond the lake to a desert place; He satiates, with five loaves and two fishes, the vast multitude, who, on the near approach of the Pasch, flocked around Him, &c.

“He gave them power over unclean spirits.” The devils, or evil spirits, are called “unclean,” because, they delight in unclean, sinful acts, and impel men to the commission of such acts. Before the coming of Christ, the devil had greater power over the world than he has at present. His power, which he so much abused, was crippled by the death of Christ (Heb. 2:14), and by the benign influence and spread of the Gospel. The power given to the Apostles over devils, was, “to cast them out,” and expel them from the bodies of the possessed.

“All manner of diseases,” i.e., of a chronic description; “and infirmities,” of an incipient, less aggravated kind (see c. 9:35; c. 4:23). These miraculous powers were to be the seal of their Divine mission, “the fruits by which they were to be known” and they were to be acknowledged as vested with such. (c. 7) He gives these powers, lest the Scribes and Pharisees should be preferred to them. Moreover, as Messiah sending His legates, it was but fitting He should give them the credentials of their authorized commission. Our Redeemer shows how far He surpassed the Prophets of old. These possessed and themselves exercised miraculous powers in several instances, but in no case could they (nor indeed did they ever attempt it), communicate them permanently, as is done here, to others.

Mat 10:5  These twelve Jesus sent: commanding them, saying: Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into the city of the Samaritans enter ye not.
Mat 10:6  But go ye rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

“These twelve Jesus sent,” as His legates, vested with His power; probably “two and two” (Mark 6:7), in the order in which they are joined together here, by St. Matthew and Mark (3:16), for mutual consolation and support, and to show the blessing of fraternal concord. “A brother that is helped by a brother is like a strong city.” Proverbs (18:19).

“Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles,” for the purpose of preaching. This is our Lord’s first precept to them, which was only of a temporary nature, to cease after His death, which broke down the middle wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles, and made them one fold under one shepherd. “The way of the Gentiles,” a Hebrew form of expression, denoting “among the Gentiles,” like the phrase, “What hast thou to do IN THE WAY OF EGYPT?” (Jer. 2:18), i.e., what brings thee into Egypt?

“And into the cities of the Samaritans enter ye not,” i.e., into any of their cities to preach the Gospel. In order to know who these Samaritans were, it is to be borne in mind, that after the ten tribes of Israel seceded from Juda and Benjamin, under Jeroboam, Amri, one of Jeroboam’s successors, built Samaria, which was to be the capital of the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 16:24). Salmanasar, king of Assyria, carried the ten tribes captive into Assyria (2 Kings 17), and sent in their place, to colonize the country, people from Babylon and Cutha, &c. On the arrival of these latter, who carried with them their idolatrous worship, Samaria was infested with lions, which destroyed the country, and killed its inhabitants. This scourge was attributed to their neglect of the worship of the Deity of the land. Hence, in order to appease him, the king of Assyria had one of the captive priests sent back from Babylon, to instruct the new colonists in the ordinances and worship of the God of Israel.

After this, they united the worship of God with that of idols. (2 Kings 17) In this state did the Samaritans live under the kings of Assyria, having little or no intercourse with the Jews. When the Jews were permitted to rebuild the city and temple of Jerusalem, the Samaritans offered to assist them in their undertaking (Ezra 4:2). The rejection of this offer by the Jews, sowed the seeds of the undying hostility which ever after existed between both peoples. The breach was rendered irreparable, when, after the return of the Jews from captivity, and the rebuilding of the temple, the Samaritans had a rival temple built on Mount Garazim, near Samaria, where victims were offered up, as at Jerusalem, and served as a place also of resort for some malcontent Jews. From this period, the Samaritans, forgetful of their Pagan origin, wished to be considered as true Israelites, who preserved in all its purity the observance of the law, with an unbroken succession of high priests, who now ministered on Mount Garazim, the seat of their religion. For a long period, before the time of our Redeemer, they gave up the worship of idols; otherwise, they could have no pretensions to be considered true Israelites, rivals of the Jews, in regard to the observance of the law, and the purity of Divine worship.

The temple of Garazim and city of Samaria were demolished by John Hyrcanus, 120 years before the time of our Redeemer. Lest the Apostles might suppose that the Samaritans, who held a sort of intermediate place between the Jews and Gentiles, were to be confounded with the Jews, our Lord specially mentions them in connexion with the Gentiles. His object in prohibiting the Apostles from preaching to the Gentiles on this first mission was, to take away all excuse from the Jews, who might justify their incredulity and resistance on the ground, that, according to the ordination of God, and His promises through the predictions of the Prophets, the message of salvation was first promised to the Jews, “the children of the kingdom,” “the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” to whom these promises were specially made (Acts 13:46). To the Jews the Gospel was given, according to promise and mercy; to the Gentiles, out of pure mercy, without a promise. (Rom. 15)

“Lost sheep.” The Jews were “the sheep of His pasture.” (Psa. 73) They belonged specially to His fold; the objects of His special care and predilection. They were spiritually “lost,” having gone astray from God. (Rom. 3) Hence, compared, in the preceding chapter, to “sheep without a shepherd.” This first precept was to be observed only during our Redeemer’s mortal life. For, after His glorious resurrection, He gave the Apostles an unlimited, universal commission. “Euntes docete OMNES gentes.” (Matthew 28) “Eritis mihi testes … usque ad ultimum terræ” (Acts 1:8).

Mat 10:7  And going, preach, saying: The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

(The second Precept.) “The kingdom of heaven” (see c. 3:2), i.e., the Church of Christ is shortly to be established, which is the threshold or entrance into the kingdom of God’s glory. This kingdom of bliss, so long closed against mankind, is soon to be thrown open by the blood of Christ. Prepare, by penance, faith, and good works, to obtain admission into it. The theme of the preaching of the Apostles was the same as His own (Matt. 4:17); of the Baptist (3:2). It is clear, the preaching of penance, was also included and inculcated in the commission given the Apostles. For, the Apostles preached penance (Mark 6:12). Notice the close association here between the Church and the Kingdom. Lumen Gentium, art. 3: To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. By His obedience He brought about redemption. The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God [Catholic Church. (2011). Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium. Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana].

The form, “kingdom of heaven,” is peculiar to St. Matthew. The other Evangelists for it use the form, “the kingdom of God,” “heavenly kingdom,” “the kingdom of Christ.” The words, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” is a summary of the things preached; and convey an exhortation to perform the good works that may lead to it, and avoid the evils, that may prove an obstacle to our admittance, into that kingdom of everlasting bliss; in a word, “to avoid evil and do good.” St. Luke informs us (10:9), that this precept of “preaching the kingdom of God,” was given to the seventy-two disciples. He insinuates that it was also given to the twelve Apostles (9:2).

Mat 10:8  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give.

(The third Precept). “Heal the sick,” &c. The operation of mighty and stupendous miracles was to form the credentials of their Divine mission, necessary to beget belief in a new and unheard of doctrine; otherwise, the proud and haughty would pay no attention to the teaching of ignorant, illiterate fishermen, “these weak and foolish things of the world,” whom God employed “to confound the wise and the strong.” (1 Cor. 1) He gave the like power to Moses, so that the opposing magicians exclaimed, “Digitus Dei est hic” (Exod. 8:19). The miracles they were to perform were works of beneficence, calculated to win the people to embrace the faith. Doubtless, this power was not allowed to be idle or inoperative, although we have hardly any record of its exercise left us in the Gospels.

(Fourth Precept.) “Freely have you received,” i.e., these powers they received without labour, and irrespective of merit, solely from God’s gratuitous concession. This represses every feeling of pride, and begets humility. All they have is “received.” “Freely give,” gratuitously, and generously bestow it on the people, without price or payment; since, it is priceless. Thus is repressed every feeling of simony and sordid avarice. This may refer to the two preceding powers—of preaching (v. 7), and of working miracles (v. 8); or, rather, to the one immediately preceding, viz., the working of cures, &c. The injunction is put in so general a form, that it will apply to the selling of all kinds of spiritual gifts, which, being far beyond all price, would be undervalued, were they sold for money. What is given gratuitously by God, should not be made the subject of traffic, but be made subservient to God’s glory alone. Moreover, they are not the masters of them; but only the dispensers. There are three reasons generally assigned why spiritual things cannot be sold—1st. Because a spiritual thing is above all earthly price. It is “more precious than all riches” (Prov. 3:15). St. Peter tells Simon Magus, “thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” (Acts 8:20). 2ndly. Because no one is master of such gifts; but only the dispenser (1 Cor. 3). 3rdly. Because, as they come gratuitously from God, one acts irreverently towards God, whenever he exacts a price for what God wishes to be dispensed gratuitously. These two latter reasons are involved in the words, “freely, or gratis, give.” A. Lapide observes here, that the reason why spiritual gifts cannot be sold, is not precisely because they are gratuitously given by God; for, God may bestow a gratuitous gift, as He bestowed science and all knowledge of art on Beseleel, the builder of the Tabernacle (Exodus 31); and this he could sell and teach others for price, like any other master of an art—but, because, spiritual gifts are so exalted and sublime, so incomparably exceeding all human skill and exertions, that to self them for money, would be treating the Author of them, God, with indignity, and would constitute the crime of sacrilege and simony.

 

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 13:44-52

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 20, 2014

Mat 13:44  The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field. Which a man having found, hid it, and for joy thereof goeth, and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure. The treasure, α. As the preceding parables illustrate the efficient force of the kingdom, so do the two following describe its moral power or its desirability [Cajetan]; but there is this difference between them. that in one parable the kingdom is sought, while in the other it is found as if by accident [Cajetan, Jansenius, Sylveira, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion Knabenbauer]; in the one we see its beauty, in the other its many advantages [Chrysostom, Thomas Aquinas].

The “kingdom” is like a treasure, because it incloses countless and numberless goods, as the treasure implies countless and numberless riches [cf. Ps. 19:11; 119:127; Prov. 8:11; Job 28:15–19; Wisd. 7:9]. It is like a “hidden” treasure because its value is not recognized by a soul not illumined by supernatural grace [cf. Acts 9:6; St Bruno]. The finder “hid it,” and thus in the supernatural order the finder must make a careful use of grace [Maldonado]. “For joy thereof” [Vulgate, Chrysostom, Euthymius, Fillion] rather emphasizes “his” joy according to the analogy of “his” fear [cf. Mt. 14:26; Lk. 24:41; Acts 12:14; recent commentators], than the joy over the treasure. But while the treasure and the joy it causes are expressions of the excellency of the kingdom, the sacrifices it demands are indicated by the fact that the finder “selleth all that he hath.” Though according to Rabbinic law [Surenhus. leg. mischn. iv. p. 113] the treasure belongs to the buyer of the field, Jesus does not pronounce his judgment on the manner in which the finder of the treasure acted, just as he employed the parable of the unjust steward without approving of his proceedings [cf. Lk. 16:8].

“The kingdom of heaven” in this parable and the following is Christ himself as the head of the Church [Hilary, Jerome, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Salmeron], or the canon of Sacred Scriptures [Jerome, Origen, Paschasius, Alb.], or the revealed truths of faith in general [Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius], or the desire after heavenly things [Gregory], or charity, or the state of the evangelical counsels [Salmeron, Sylveira Barradas, Lapide, Schegg, etc.]. 

Mat 13:45  Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls.
Mat 13:46  Who when he had found one pearl of great price, went his way, and sold all that he had, and bought it. 

Again the kingdom of heaven. The pearl. The seeking after the pearl presupposes a general knowledge of its excellency together with an ignorance of the individual object; thus should all men endowed with ordinary intellectual faculties appreciate in general the worth of truth and goodness, though they may doubt, for a time, about what is really true and good. The parable insists on the necessity of being a prudent merchant, of investing all one’s goods in the purchase of the precious pearl [cf. St Bruno, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Gregory hom. xi. in evang.], which is according to the evangelist the “one pearl of great price,” and therefore worthy of notice even among the pearl-kind. The relation of this parable to the foregoing, and the various meanings of “the kingdom” have been considered in the last section.

Mat 13:47 Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kinds of fishes.  ‎
Mat 13:48 Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth.  ‎
Mat 13:49 So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just.  ‎
Mat 13:50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  ‎

Again the kingdom of heaven. The net. This parable refers principally to the state of the Messianic kingdom “at the end of the world” [cf. v. 49], and shows that preaching on the part of the ministers and faith on the part of the hearers are not sufficient for salvation [cf. Chrysostom, Jansenius, Barradas]. The “net” is a drag, or draw-net, which sweeps the bottom of the water and permits nothing to escape it; it represents the teaching and believing Church [Origen, Hilary, Chrysostom], and may be conceived as being woven of the apostolic doctrine, the testimony of miracles, and the predictions of the prophets [Theophylact, Jerome]. The fishermen implied in the parable are the apostles and their successors in the ministry [cf. Mt. 4:19; Mk. 1:17; Lk. 5:10]. “The sea” is the world with its storms, its instability, and its many bitternesses [cf. Jansenius, Chrysologus, serm. 47], and in particular the waters of baptism may be regarded as the waters in which the fish are caught [St Bruno]. The net was “cast into the sea” when our Lord gave his disciples the commission to teach all nations [St Bruno]; it is a “gathering together of all kinds of fishes” because there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, Greek and barbarian, rich and poor. The net will be “filled,” when after the fulness of the Gentiles has entered, all Israel shall be saved [cf. Rom. 11:25-26], when the gospel shall have been preached to all nations Mt. 24:14]. The gospel does not say that all fish, or men, shall be caught, but that the net shall be full. Then follows the process of separation in the Church as well as in the fisherman’s trade: “they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad [i. e. the putrid and maimed] they cast forth”; there is this difference, however, that in the Church the separation is effected by “the angels” [verse 50], not by the fishermen, and again that the wicked are not merely rejected from the kingdom, but “cast into the furnace of fire, [where] there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The torment and despair indicated by this expression have been pointed out above; we may add here that Jesus repeats this threat of eternal punishment with a frightful frequency [cf. Mt. 5:20 ff.; 8:12; 10:28; 12:32; 13:42, 50], so that these words must be feared rather than explained [Gregory].

Mat 13:51 Have ye understood all these things? They say to him: Yes.  ‎52 He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old. 
Mat 13:52 He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old.

Have ye understood. Conclusion of the Sermon. As if to show that for the present there is no need of further parables, the evangelist records here our Lord’s question concerning the disciples’ understanding of what has been said, and the disciples’ affirmative answer which is true of their limited knowledge before the coming of the Holy Ghost. Jesus then continues, and draws a practical conclusion regarding the use the apostles must make of their knowledge. “Therefore” is not merely an asseverative particle in the Greek original [cf. Euthymius]; nor does it connect with the parable of the treasure-trove, as if the apostles had to be like the householder because the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure [cf. Augustine, qu. in evang. Mt. 16; Maldonado]; but it connects with the affirmative answer of the apostles [Chrysostom, Jansenius, Sylveira, Barradas, Arnoldi, Schanz, Fillion, Knabenbauer]. “Every scribe” is not every scribe in the Jewish sense, but the scribe “instructed in the kingdom of heaven,” or better “enrolled as a disciple for the kingdom of heaven.” Concerning the Greek word here rendered “instructed,” cf. Mt. 27:57; 28:19; Acts 14:21; in the Greek text the kingdom is construed personally as if it were the teacher of the apostles, so that Euthymius explains it as “the king of heaven.” The “new things and old” represent the revelation of the New and Old Testament [cf. Origen, Hilary, Jerome, Chrysostom, Cyril, Euthymius, Paschasius, Faber Stapulensis, Dionysius the Carthusian, Salmeron, Cajetan, Maldonado], or the teaching of the New Testament confirmed by the authority of the Old [Theophylact], or the Old Testament in the light of the revelations of the New [Thomas], or the truths referring to the old and the new man, i. e. to the unregenerate and the regenerate [Alb. Paschasius, Salmeron], or the truths concerning the horrors of punishment and those referring to the happiness of the kingdom [Gregory], or truths already known and truths as yet unknown, but explained by means of the known [Barradas, Sylveira], or truths in plenty and abundance of all kinds [cf. Jansenius, Maldonado, Barradas, Lapide, Calmet, Lam. Arnoldi, Fillion, Knabenbauer; Cant. 7:13]. According to this last view the expression is proverbial [cf. Maldonado]. The order “new things and old” is either owing to the proverbial character of the expression, or to the importance of the subject [Augustine, civ. dei, xx. 4], or to the order to be observed in teaching, or even to that followed in learning [cf. Knabenbauer].

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 8:28-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 20, 2014

This post opens with an Analysis of Romans chapter 8 followed by the notes on verses 28-30. Text in purple indicates a paraphrasing of the biblical text being commented on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

ANALYSIS OF ROMANS CHAPTER 8
In this chapter, after inferring from the foregoing that the baptized have nothing deserving of damnation, except so far as they consent to the motions of concupiscence (Rom 8: 1), the Apostle tells us that we are rescued from the dominion of concupiscence by the grace of the Gospel (Rom 8:2-4.) He shows the different motions and effects of the flesh and of the spirit (Rom 8:4–9). He exhorts us to live according to the spirit, and points out the spiritual and eternal life of both soul and body, resulting from such a course (Rom 8:9–11). He next exhorts us to follow the dictates of the spirit, and to mortify the deeds of the flesh, in order to escape death and obtain life (Rom 8:12-13)—to act up to our calling as sons of God, and to conform to the spirit of charity and love, which we received, unlike to that of the Jews of old, and by thus acting as sons of God, to secure the Heavenly inheritance, which we shall certainly obtain, on condition, however, of suffering (Rom 8:13–17). Lest this condition should dishearten them, he points out the greatness of God’s inheritance,—so great indeed is it, that he personifies inanimate creatures, and represents them as groaning for this glorious consummation. The very Christians themselves, although in the infancy of the Church, they received the sweet pledge of future glory in the choice gifts of the Holy Ghost, were sighing for it (Rom 8:17–24). The Holy Ghost, besides the assurance he gave them of being sons of God, was also relieving their necessities and prompting them to pray with ineffable ardour of spirit (Rom 8:26-27). The Apostle encourages them to patient suffering by pointing out to them that they were predestined for these sufferings as the means of their sanctification and future glorification (Rom 8:28–30), and, finally, he excites them to confidence in God (Rom 8:31–38).

Rom 8:28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together unto good: to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.

 But although out infirmity be so great as not to know what to pray for, or how to pray as we ought; still we should not be disheartened under crosses and sufferings. For, we know that by the disposition of an all-wise Providence, all things work together unto the good of those who love God; of those, I say, who have been, by his gratuitous decree, called by him to the profession and practice of sanctity, and obey his call.

“To such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.” The word “saints” is not in the Greek: “called,” as appears from the Greek, τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν, is not a participle, but a noun.

This passage is intended by the Apostle to stimulate the Romans to the patient endurance of the crosses of this life; for we know that all things, whether prosperity or adversity, nay, even their very sins (as is added by some of the Commentators), which serve the purpose of humiliation, work together unto the good of those who love God. And to show that this love regarded the faithful among the Romans, the Apostle explains it, by saying, “such as according to his purpose,” πρόθεσιν, i.e., his gratuitous decree, “are called to be saints.”

Commentators are greatly divided as to the object of this “purpose” or decree in question. Some assert that it regards the decree of giving glory; and even these are divided on this subject; one class of them says, that the decree of giving glory is prior to, and quite independent of, the good works of man. Those hold predestination to glory to be, ante prævisa merita (see note below). On the other hand, a second class maintain that the prevision of man’s future merits is prior, in the divine mind, to the decree of giving glory. These are the advocates of Predestination to glory, post prævisa merita (see note below). Others assert, that this decree in question regards not glory directly, but grace and sanctity (Father MacEvilly will treat of this position in the next paragraph, following my note). The advocates of the former opinion ground their interpretation: 1st, On the words “all things work together,” &c. Now, it is only of those called to glory, this could be true. 2ndly, They say, the word “purpose,” in Greek, πρόθεσιν, signifies a decree or infallible efficacy. 3rdly, The words, “called according to his purpose,” (for the words “to be saints,” are not in the Greek), are restrictive of the preceding. 4thly, The word “glorifies,” (verse 30), shows glory to be the term of the decree. Those who think the decree refers to grace and sanctity have a response to these four points. This response is given in the second paragraph below my note.

NOTE: The two Latin phrases, ante prævisa merita, and post prævisa merita, relate to the question “whether God’s eternal resolve of Predestination has been taken with (post) or without (ante) consideration (praevisa) of the merits (merita) of the man” [Ott, L. (1957). Fundamentals of Catholic dogma. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Company.Text within parentheses are my additions].

The advocates of the interpretation, which makes the decree refer to grace and sanctity, ground it: 1st, On the words, “called to be saints,” which is the term of the decree, and the words mean, called to state and profession of sanctity—the meaning in which the same words are taken in the different introductory salutations in the Epistle of St. Paul, 2ndly, The very object of the Apostle introducing the concurrence of all things towards their good, as a motive to induce them to bear patiently the crosses of this life, would prove the same; since all whom he addresses were called to grace and sanctity, but they could not all regard themselves as called to glory. Finally, the general objects of the Apostle in this Epistle, which regards the gratuitous call to grace of the Romans (for it was regarding this alone there was any controversy), makes it probable that here, too, he refers to the same.

In reply to the arguments of the preceding interpretation (that the decree concerns glory), they say: 1st, That “all things,” may be restricted by the subject matter to mean, all sufferings; and that the words, “work together,” do not necessarily imply actual working together, but only that these sufferings are intended, according to the antecedent will of God, for their sanctification. And even though all sufferings may not work together for the good of such as fall away from justice; still the Apostle, in the fervour of his charity, abstracts from the possible chance of their not persevering, and to draw a line of distinction between those called to glory and those rejected from it, would only injure the object he has in view, by throwing some into despondency. 2ndly, They say the word “purpose,” does not involve absolute infallible efficacy (v.g. Acts, 11:23); and morever, even though it did, no inconvenience would result; because, the grace and sanctity, which, in their opinion, it regards, are infallibly conferred. 3rdly. These words are explanatory, not restrictive. 4thly, Glory is only the reward of justice, and are we to wonder if the great charity of the Apostle made him abstract from the possibility of their not persevering, who were called, and represent all those whom God predestined to sanctity, as receiving the crown of glory which is decreed only for those who persevere? The latter opinion seems far the more probable. Hence, we have nothing to do here with the relative probability or improbability of the opinions regarding the decrees of glory, ante prævisa merita, or post prævisa merita. No doubt, the latter opinion appears far more in accordance with the doctrine of the Apostles, asserting that “God wishes all men to be saved,” and “none to perish;” more in accordance with our ideas of the goodnesss of God manifested in the death of Christ for all, and his tears and labours for the conversion of sinners during his mortal life. It is still free for any Theologian to hold either opinion. It is, however, to be observed, that although we can hold, that in predestinating men to glory, God is actuated by the prevision of the good works of those whom he predestines—post prævisa merita—and this is even, as has been just stated, the more probable opinion; still, no one could hold, without falling into the semi-Pelagian heresy, that in predestining men to grace, God is actuated by the prevision of their correspondence with this grace, as the motive of his conferring it. And although we may hold, negative reprobation, or, the non-predestinating, and selecting men out of the mass of perdition, to be, ante prævisa demerita—no doubt a very improbable opinion—still, no one, without falling into the shocking heresy of Calvin, could hold positive reprobation, or the decree of devoting anyone to eternal punishment, to be, ante prævisa demerita. The reason is, that Predestination ante prævisa merita, being a free gratuitous act of goodness of the part of God, he could exercise it as he pleased; but it would be unjust to inflict a punishment without some fault. Hence, God would be cruel and unjust in marking out men for punishment without some fault, i.e., in reprobating them positively, ante prævisa demerita. Of all the errors of Calvin, this is, perhaps, the most shocking and blasphemous. Concerning the subject matter dealt with in the preceding paragraphs see here.

Rom 8:29 For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son: that he might be the Firstborn amongst many brethren.

Because these are they whom he foreknew, nay, even predestined to a conformity in patience with the model presented by his Son in patient suffering; in order that he who, in his Divine nature, is the only begotten Son of God, would, as Man, be the first begotten among many adopted brethren.

In this verse, the Apostle explains why all things work together unto the good of those “called according to the purpose,” or gratuitous decree of God. The construction of the verse, adopted by the generality of Commentators, is this, “for whom he foreknew (those) he also predestinated.” Such of them as make the passage refer to predestination to glory, by “foreknew,” understand “those whom he foreknew by a knowledge of love and predilection,” i.e., whom he loved from eternity, those he predestined. The others say the words mean, “those whom he foreknew would be conformable to the image of his Son, he predestined to be such.” A’Lapide, whose interpretation has been adopted in the Paraphrase, says that the Apostle in this verse enters on an explanation of the nature of predestination referred to here, and then resumes the word “predestinated,” in next verse (Rom 8:30) in which the sentence suspended is completed. This construction perfectly accords with the style of the Apostle, who, carried away by some idea that occurs to him, sometimes, defers, for a long time, the completion of a sentence (v.g. Rom 5:12; chap. 3. Epistle to the Ephesians). According to this construction, the words of our English version: “For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated,” should be rendered from the Vulgate, quos præscivit et prædestinavit, “whom he foreknew and predestinated;” and, then, a marked difference is clearly perceptible in the text, between the mode in which the words, “he foreknew,” and “predestinated,” in this verse are connected, and the connexion which exists between any of the verbs in next verse. He says here, “whom he foreknew and predestinated.” In the next verse, “whom he predestinated, them he also called—whom he called, them he also justified,” &c. And this interpretation of A’Lapide requires the introduction of no other word in the sentence. Hence, his interpretation is adopted in the Paraphrase, in preference to any other. He connects Rom 8:29 with Rom 8:28, thus: “all things work together, &c.” (verse 28). Because these are they whom God foreknew, and predestinated to be conformable to the image of his Son, or to the model which his Son presents (v. 29). This conformity is to exist in suffering and justice; no doubt, it will extend to glory also. According to A’Lapide, “also” or “and” has the meaning of “because,” “nay even,” as if to say, “he foreknew, because he predestined them to be conformable to the image of his Son,” in justice and suffering. “That he might be the first-born,” &c. This predestination redounds to the glory of Christ, who, as God, is the only begotten, and as Man, is the natural Son of God, and first-born among the others who are only his adopted sons.

Rom 8:30 And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Those (I say), whom he predestined to a conformity in suffering with his Son, he called to these sufferings; and whom he called, he has justified by these sufferings; and whom he justified, he has glorified.

“And whom he predestinated.” Resuming the sentence suspended last verse, he says, “those (I say) whom he predestinated” to a conformity with the Son in suffering, he called to the same; “whom he called, he justified” by these sufferings, “and whom he justified, he glorified” by the same. The Apostle uses the past tense, though some of the events are future in regard to many, to show the certainty of the future events marked out in God’s decrees. We are not to suppose each of the terms which express the order in which the decrees of God are executed to be equally extensive, so that all are glorified, who are called. The words only mean, that out of the “called” are the “justified,” and out of the “justified” the “glorified.”

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 13:24-43

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 13, 2014

Mat 13:24 Another parable he proposed to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his field.

In the foregoing parable (of the Sower, Mt 13:1-8, 18-23), our Lord conveys, that the Gospel seed does not always produce fruit in the hearers; that three-fourths of the seed produced no fruit at all, on account of the soil on which it fell. Only a fourth part, that fell on good soil, was productive. He now proposes another parable, closely connected with the subject of the foregoing. In this parable of “the cockle” He wishes to inform us, that even on the good soil—God’s Church—not all are good or virtuous. The good are sometimes mixed with hypocrites and wicked men; that the good seed which produced such abundant fruit, referred to, in the preceding verse, is not always free from weeds, which are sometimes mixed up with it.

“The kingdom of heaven,” viz., the Church of Christ, “is likened to a man that sowed good seed,” &c. The kingdom of heaven is not precisely like the man who sows seed. The meaning of this and similar forms of expression is: Something happens in regard to the kingdom of heaven, similar to what follows, &c.; and in reference to the present example, this is clearly expressed by St. Mark 4:26, “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the earth.” In the application of parables to the principal subject, which they are intended to illustrate, it is neither necessary, nor, sometimes, expedient, to apply all the parts of the parable to the parts of the subject of illustration; but, only the whole subject, or, rather, the principal parts, of the parable, to the whole subject to be illustrated; since, there are several parts of the parable that have no signification or force whatever in the mind of the speaker, and are introduced for ornament’s sake, and for the purpose of rendering the narrative in the parable complete, consistent, and true to nature throughout, in regard to the, literal and original texture of the parable itself. The parts of the parable to be applied can be easily seen from the scope of those who employ it, and from the context. Thus, we see that in the explanation and application of this parable of the cockle, by our Blessed Lord (v. 37), at the earnest prayer of His Apostles, He says nothing whatever of the servants, who wished to pluck up the cockle, and gather it up, nor of the sleep of the husbandman, during which the enemy sowed the cockle, &c.; because, probably, these parts had nothing to do with the main object He had in view in introducing the parable.

Mat 13:25 But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat and went his way.

“But while men were asleep,” simply means, during the darkness of the night, when the world is at rest. Others understand it, of the indolent neglect of the pastors of the Church. “His enemy came.” The sower of the good seed was the first to sow the seed in his field, and this in the light of day; the enemy came furtively in the night, to sow cockle over it, where the good seed had been previously sown.

Mat 13:26 And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle.

When the good seed was on the point of maturity, the cockle appeared.

Mat 13:27 And the servants of the good man of the house coming said to him. Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? Whence then hath it cockle?

Who “the servants” are, our Redeemer does not say, in His exposition of the parable; probably, because this did not fall within the general scope of the parable, but was introduced merely to fill up the parabolical narrative.

By “servants,” some understand, the angels (St. Jerome). Others, with St. Augustine, understand by them, good men, zealous in the cause of justice.

Mat 13:28 And he said to them: An enemy hath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up?

“Wilt thou?” &c., shows the zeal of the servants of God, who would have no wicked men in the world, nor cockle in the field of the Lord.

Mat 13:29 And he said: No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it.

Our Lord restrains their zeal, lest, in the indiscriminate destruction of the wicked, the good also should suffer. From the words of this verse, it by no means follows, that the disseminators of false doctrines, or of wicked principles, should be permitted, whenever there is power to restrain them, to circulate their false and wicked principles, without hindrance or punishment. All that follows from this passage is, that no persons are warranted, of their own private authority, to punish such men, any more than they are permitted to punish evil-doers, in other respects, of their own authority. But those vested with public authority are not prohibited, for the general good, to visit transgressors, whether against faith or morals, with due punishment. The laws of all civilized and Christian states punish gross violations of the moral law. Moreover, we are not to apply to the subject all the parts of a parable. But, even supposing this part were applied, all that would follow is, that, in general, the wicked of all classes, are to be tolerated and permitted to live among the good. Besides, so far as the reason assigned here, by the father of the family, is concerned, the toleration towards them holds only when there is any doubt about them, and they are not manifestly guilty, and distinguishable from the good; but whenever their guilt is so manifest, that such people have no defenders, and there can be no fear of evil consequences, then, so far as the reason assigned here is concerned, there is nothing against extirpating and punishing the incorrigible and perverse enemies of religion and society; and this particularly holds when the punishment of miscreants, who scatter broadcast principles subversive of all order, of civil society, as well as of religion, is necessary for the preservation of the good seed.

Mat 13:30 Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.

Verse 30 is fully explained by our Lord Himself, (vv. 39, 40, &c.) He explains the parable of the cockle (vv. 37–43).

Mat 13:31 Another parable he proposed unto them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field.

This is the fourth parable, which in St. Mark (4:30), is thus introduced: “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? or to what parable shall we compare it?”
The spread of the Church, and the Gospel doctrine—the meaning of, “kingdom of heaven”—is, “like to a grain of mustard seed,” &c.

Mat 13:32 Which is the least indeed of all seeds; but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come, and dwell in the branches thereof.

“Which is indeed the least of all seeds.” There are some smaller seeds. The words mean, it is one of the least of all seeds. It is quite a common form of expression, when speaking of something small, to speak of it in the superlative, and to say of it, it is the least, or, a very small, thing. “But when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs.” In hot countries, the mustard seed grows into a small tree, exceeding in height the human stature (Lucas Brugensis), “so that the birds of the air come and dwell,” that is, perch, “in the branches thereof.” The Greek word, κατασκηνοῦν, would convey the idea, of nestling, or fixing their abode. But the word, “dwell,” may mean, to rest, or perch, on the branches.

The parable of the mustard seed, exhibits the great virtue and active efficacy of the Gospel doctrine. It was a proverbial kind of saying among the Jews, when they spoke of anything very small, to compare it to a mustard seed. The parable of the mustard seed is not explained by our Divine Redeemer. We are left to explain it ourselves. The holy Fathers understand it, of the spread of the faith and of the Gospel. It exhibits to us also the great virtue and active efficacy of the Gospel doctrine. This doctrine of the Gospel, whereby the Church was founded, and gathered together, was, from a human point of view, the meanest and most contemptible of all other doctrines, whether we regard the subjects it propounded—the mysterious doctrines of original sin, and the other mysteries impervious to human reason—its maxims so opposed to flesh and blood; or, its original Founder, a crucified Man, the preaching of whose Divinity scandalized the Jews, and made the Gentiles cry, “folly;” or, the instruments employed in its propagation—a few illiterate, ignorant fishermen, without knowledge, station, or influence, who were to combat the wisdom of the philosopher, and the eloquence of the rhetorician; and yet, notwithstanding these obstacles, humanly speaking, insuperable, this small grain of mustard seed, after being some time buried in the earth, extended itself far and wide, encircling the habitable globe, covering, with its ample shade, the great ones of the world; those elevated above their fellows in learning, such as the philosophers; in power and station, such as kings and princes. Or, “birds,” may rather signify those elevated souls, whose aspirations tended aloft towards the happiness of heaven. This Gospel doctrine, after extending itself to the entire earth, produced numberless saints, out of all conditions of life, who exhibited the most striking examples of heroic virtue; so that the Church, propagated by this doctrine, far exceeds, in point of extent, permanency, and splendour, every sect existing in this world (Mauduit).

This parable represents the increase of the Church, by means of the Gospel doctrine. For, the Church—“the kingdom of heaven”—like to a grain of mustard, the least of seeds, which grows into a tree, was first very small when planted by Christ on earth; but, glowing with charity, it became a great tree, like that described by Daniel (4:7).

Mat 13:33 Another parable he spoke to them: The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.

This parable has the same scope and object as the preceding. It shows the great and active efficacy of the Gospel doctrine, and the wonderful spread of the Church, from very small beginnings. The word, “leaven,” is often taken in a bad sense in Scripture. (Mark 8; Gal. 5; 1 Cor. 5) On account of its different properties of infecting the thing with which it is mixed up, it is susceptible of a good or bad signification. Hence, it is taken sometimes, as here, in a good signification.

“Which a woman took and hid.” It was the women that baked bread among the Jews (Lev. 26:26)

“In three measures”—“in tribus satis.” What quantity each of these measures in question contained, we cannot precisely know, as we have no corresponding measures. It was the seah of the Jews, the third part of an epha, containing, probably, about ten pints, the ordinary quantity baked at a time (Gen. 18:6).

The scope of the parable is to convey, that as the leaven, however small in quantity, affects the entire mass of the flour with which it is mixed, and fermenting the dough by its activity, makes it rise and become more savoury, so as to become wholesome nutriment for man; so, in like manner, the Gospel doctrine, however humble in its accompaniments, preached by a few fishermen, and embraced at first by only the lowly and the humble, shall, by its occult power, change and ferment the entire world, or whole human race, and, imbuing them with its own nature, and filling them with the love of God, shall make them fit subjects for heaven. As the preceding parable denoted the external and visible effects of the Gospel on the hearts of men; so does this, most probably, denote its internal and invisible effects, its fermentation and the active love of God, which it produces in the heart of man.

By the “woman,” referred to here, St. Jerome understands, the Church gathered from all nations. St. Augustine (Lib. 1, quest. Evan.), the power and wisdom of God.

Mat 13:34 All these things Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes: and without parables he did not speak to them.

“Spoke in parables,” to which Mark adds (4:33), “according as they were able to hear,” which, by some, is understood to mean, according as they were worthy of instruction. For, as the Scribes and Pharisees listened solely with the view of catching Him in His words; He, therefore, on account of their unworthiness, spoke to them in an obscure way; otherwise, they would have derived detriment, rather than profit, from His words, and would have treated them disrespectfully. This is in accordance with verse 12.

Others give the words a favourable interpretation. He accommodates Himself to the capacity of the simple people, by proposing, under the images of things with which they were conversant in their daily course of life, His abstruse doctrines, which they could not otherwise comprehend; and this form of conveying ideas in parables would stimulate the people to seek, from competent persons, the meaning of what they heard. According to this interpretation, another reason is assigned for the use of parables, quite different from that assigned verse 12.

“And without parables He did not speak to them,” may mean, that, generally speaking, parabolic language was mixed up with all the addresses of our Redeemer to the multitude; or the words may mean, that, on that occasion, at that time, He did not speak to them except in parables. For, on many other occasions, He discoursed to them in the simplest literal language. St. Mark says, “but apart He explained all things to His disciples,” as if to show, that all things our Redeemer then spoke to the multitude were in parables, requiring explanation, which was given to the disciples. In truth, parabolic language was not the mode of instruction ordinarily employed by our Redeemer.

Mat 13:35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.

The result of our Redeemer’s addressing the people in parables was: that He fulfilled, and verified what was spoken by the Prophet mystically in his sacred Person. The Prophet, while primarily referring to the events recorded in the Psalm, represented Christ, and spoke, in His Person, in a mystical and still more recondite sense—the sense principally intended by the Holy Ghost—of the great blessings bestowed on the human race by the Gospel and the great work of Redemption.

“I will open my mouth,” a Hebrew form, for, “I will speak,” denoting, at the same time, some obscure and important subject, “in parables.” “I will utter things hidden from the foundation,” &c. The Septuagint of Psalm 78, to which reference is made, runs thus: “I shall utter PROBLEMS from the beginning.” The Hebrew has, “I shall utter enigmata (chidoth) from of old.” The words, problems and enigmata, which the Vulgate renders “propositiones,” have their meaning well conveyed in our version, “things hidden;” for, both problems and enigmata, and parables, agree in this: that they contain and suggest some obscure and latent meaning besides what the words literally express; and, then, “from the beginning,” is well expressed in the words, “from the foundation of the world.” These mysteries of grace and glory, revealed by Christ to His Church, were known to but few from creation. This is well expressed by the Apostle (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:1).

The 78th Psalm, whoever was its author, whether spoken, in the first instance, in the person of David himself, or in that of Asaph, in its primary and literal sense, commemorated the benefits of God bestowed on the Hebrew people, “from the beginning,” from the first time He set them apart as His chosen inheritance, and from their egress out of Egypt—which is specially mentioned in this Psalm (vv. 12, 13)—to the time of David himself. This was done with the view of inspiring them with feelings of love and gratitude to God. But, in their mystical and more recondite sense—the sense principally intended by the Holy Ghost—the Psalm referred to the great benefits conferred by our Blessed Lord—of whom the Prophet exhibited a type—in the New Law, and to the chief features of His providential dealings with the human race. Indeed, it may be said, that, as “all things happened”—that ancient people—“in figure” (1 Cor. 10:6), the events recorded in Psalm 78 and the blessings there commemorated, from their egress out of Egypt, to the days of David, were so many types of the blessings conferred on the spiritual Israel of the New Law; and in recording these, the Prophet or Psalmist announced parables, in the general acceptation of the term.

Mat 13:36 Then having sent away the multitudes, he came into the house, and his disciples came to him, saying: Expound to us the parable of the cockle of the field.

He returned to His house at Capharnaum, which He left that day for the purpose of proceeding to the sea side. “The parable of the cockle in the field,” was the most abstruse, and contained the heaviest menaces. Hence, this is mentioned in particular.

Mat 13:37 Who made answer and said to them: He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man.

The sower is our Redeemer Himself, who, while on earth, preached the Word, and now employs the ministry of His servants for the same end.

Mat 13:38 And the field is the world. And the good seed are the children of the kingdom. And the cockle are the children of the wicked one.
Mat 13:39 And the enemy that sowed them, is the devil. But the harvest is the end of the world. And the reapers are the angels.

“The field is the world,” by which some understand, the Church, extended all over the earth; but, as “the children of the wicked one,” most probably include heretics, who are not in the Church, hence, it may be better to understand the word in its strict literal signification, unless it might be said in reply, that it only includes private heretics who are not distinguishable from the true believers.

“The good seed, the children of the kingdom,” viz., those who are destined for eternal life—those who observe the law of faith and morals. “The cockle, the children of the wicked one”—the devil, those who do his works, wicked works whether against faith or morals. Some understand, by “the children of the kingdom,” all believers, whether elect or not;—thus it is said of “the children of the kingdom” elsewhere, that they shall be cast “into outer darkness”—and, by “the children of the wicked one,” heretics.

Mat 13:40 Even as cockle therefore is gathered up, and burnt with fire: so shall it be at the end of the world.

As the cockle is gathered up, so the wicked shall be “bound in bundles”—the heretics with heretics, the unjust with unjust, the unclean with the unclean, &c., and cast into hell fire.

Mat 13:41 The Son of man shall send his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity.

“All scandals,” i.e., scandalous sinners, and those who commit every other species of iniquity. The application of the parable is briefly this: The Son of man has, both by Himself and His servants, placed in this world, as in His field, men pre-ordained for eternal life. But, the devil—the sworn enemy of the human race—has sown in their midst, and shall continue to do so, wicked men, placing them in the midst of the just, who, although unworthy of the society of the just, are still to be tolerated, until God, at the end of the world, shall cause the final separation, devoting the one class to eternal misery, rewarding the other with eternal glory.

Mat 13:42 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“Weeping and gnashing of teeth,” is explained by some, of the extremes of heat and cold, as if this “gnashing of teeth” were caused by sudden transitions from one extreme to the other. The words are commonly understood to refer to hell. The words may be regarded as expressive of extreme torture of any kind. “Gnashing of teeth,” expressive of rage. Thus (Acts 7:54), the rage of the Jews is expressed in the words, “they gnashed with their teeth at Him.”

Mat 13:43 Then shall the just shine as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The incomparable happiness and glory of the Elect is clearly signified by the brightness of the sun. This glory, however, shall vary with the diversity of merits (1 Cor. 15:39–41). Our Redeemer had, probably, in view the words of the Prophet Daniel 12:3, “they that instruct many unto justice, shall shine as stars,” &c.

“He that hath ears,” &c. Our Redeemer employs this form of words to convey, that the subject treated of intimately concerns His hearers.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentaries for the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2014

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Deuteronomy 11:18,26-28, 32.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18, 26-28, 32.

Word-Sunday Notes on Deuteronomy 11:18, 26-28, 32.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 31.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 31.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 31.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 31.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Romans 3:21-25, 28.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 3:21-25, 28.

Bernardin de Piconio on Romans 3:21-25, 28. Actually, this post is on verses 21-31.

Fr Callan on Romans 3:21-25, 28. Actually, this post is on verses 21-31.

Aquinas’ Lectures on Romans 3: 21-31. This is a PDF document and the lecture begins on page 152. Simply type the page number into the box next to the blue arrows and hit the enter key on your keyboard, this will take you to the exact page.

Word-Sunday Notes on Romans 3:21-25, 28.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 3:21-25, 28.

COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL READING: Matthew 7:21-27.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 7:21-27.

Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27.

Word-Sunday Notes on Matthew 7:21-27.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27.

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

St Augustine’s Tractate on John 10:1-10 (Tractate 45)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2014

1. OUR Lord’s discourse to the Jews began in connection with the man who was born blind and was restored to sight. Your Charity therefore ought to know and be advised that to-day’s lesson is interwoven with that one. For when the Lord had said, “For judgment I am come into this world; that they who see not might see, and they who see might be made blind,”—which, on the occasion of its reading, we expounded according to our ability,—some of the Pharisees said, “Are we blind also?” To whom He replied. “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; [therefore] your sin remaineth.”1 To these words He added what we have been hearing today when the lesson was read.

2. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” For they declared that they were not blind; yet could they see only by being the sheep of Christ. Whence claimed they possession of the light, who were acting as thieves against the day? Because, then, of their vain and proud and incurable arrogance, did the Lord Jesus subjoin these words, wherein He has given us also salutary lessons, if we lay them to heart. For there are many who, according to a custom of this life, are called good people,—good men, good women, innocent, and observers as it were of what is commanded in the law; paying respect to their parents, abstaining from adultery, doing no murder, committing no theft, giving no false witness against any one, and observing all else that the law requires—yet are not Christians; and for the most part ask boastfully, like these men. “Are we blind also?” But just because all these things that they do, and know not to what end they should have reference, they do to no purpose, the Lord has set forth in to-day’s lesson the similitude of His own flock, and of the door that leads into the sheepfold. Pagans may say, then, We live well. If they enter not by the door, what good will that do them, whereof they boast? For to this end ought good living to benefit every one, that it may be given him to live for ever: for to whomsoever eternal life is not given, of what benefit is the living well? For they ought not to be spoken of as even living well, who either from blindness know not the end of a right life, or in their pride despise it. But no one has the true and certain hope of living always, unless he know the life, that it is Christ; and enter by the gate into the sheepfold.

3. Such, accordingly, for the most part seek to persuade men to live well, and yet not to be Christians. By another way they wish to climb up, to steal and to kill, not as the shepherd, to preserve and to save. And thus there have been certain philosophers, holding many subtle discussions about the virtues and the vices, dividing, defining, drawing out to their close the most acute processes of reasoning, filling books, brandishing their wisdom with rattling jaws; who would even dare to say to people, Follow us, keep to our sect, if you would live happily. But they had not entered by the door: they wished to destroy, to slay, and to murder.

4. What shall I say of such? Look, the Pharisees themselves were in the habit of reading, and in what they read, their voices re-echoed the Christ, they hoped He would come, and recognized Him not when present; they boasted, even they, of being amongst those who saw, that is, among the wise, and they disowned the Christ, and entered not in by the door. Therefore would such also, if they chanced to seduce any, seduce them to be slaughtered and murdered, not to be brought into liberty. Let us leave these also to themselves, and look at those who glory in the name of Christ Himself, and see whether even they perchance are entering in by the door.

5. For there are countless numbers who not only boast that they see, but would have it appear that they are enlightened by Christ; yet are they heretics. Have even they somehow entered by the gate Surely not. Sabellius says, He who is the Son is Himself the Father; but if the Son, then is there no Father. He enters not by the door, who asserts that the Son is the Father. Arius says, The Father is one thing, the Son is. He would say rightly if he said, Another person; but not another thing.2 For when he says, Another thing, he contradicts Him who says in his hearing, “I and my Father are One.”3 Neither does he therefore enter by the door; for he preaches a Christ such as he fabricates for himself, not such as the truth declares Him. Thou hast the name, thou hast not the reality. Christ is the name of something; keep hold of the thing itself, if thou wouldst benefit by the name. Another, I know not from whence, says with Photinus,4 Christ is mere man; He is not God. He enters not in by the door, for Christ is both man and God. But why need I make many references, and enumerate the many vanities of heretics? Keep hold of this, that Christ’s sheepfold is the Catholic Church. Whoever would enter the sheepfold, let him enter by the door, let him preach the true Christ. Not only let him preach the true Christ, but seek Christ’s glory, not his own; for many, by seeking their own glory, have scattered Christ’s sheep, instead of gathering them. For Christ the Lord is a low gateway: he who enters by this gateway must humble himself, that he may be able to enter with head unharmed. But he that humbleth not, but exalteth himself, wishes to climb over the wall; and he that climbeth over the wall, is exalted only to fall.

6. Thus far, however, the Lord Jesus speaks in covert language; not as yet is He understood. He names the door, He names the sheepfold, He names the sheep: all this He sets forth, but does not yet explain. Let us read on then, for He is coming to those words, wherein He may think proper to give us some explanation of what He has said; from the explanation of which He will perhaps enable us to understand also what He has not explained. For He gives us what is plain, for food; what is obscure, for exercise. “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way.” Woe to the wretch, for he is sure to fall! Let him then be humble, let him enter by the door: let him walk on the level ground, and he shall not stumble. “The same,” He says, “is a thief and a robber.” The sheep of another he desires to call his own sheep,—his own, that is, as carried off by stealth, for the purpose, not of saving, but of slaying them. Therefore is he a thief, because what is another’s he calls his own; a robber, because what he has stolen he also kills. “But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep: to him the porter openeth.” Concerning this porter we shall make inquiry, when we have heard of the Lord Himself what is the door and who is the shepherd. “And the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name.” For He has their names written in the book of life. “He calleth his own sheep by name.” Hence, says the apostle, “The Lord knoweth them that are His.”1 “And he leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger do they not follow, but do flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” These are veiled words, full of topics of inquiry, pregnant with sacramental signs. Let us follow then, and listen to the Master as He makes some opening into these obscurities; and perhaps by the opening He makes, He will cause us to enter.

7. “This parable spake Jesus unto them; but they understood not what He spake unto them.” Nor we also, perhaps. What, then, is the difference between them and us, before even we can understand these words? This, that we on our part knock, that it may be opened unto us; while they, by disowning Christ, refused to enter for salvation, and preferred remaining outside to be destroyed. In as far, then, as we listen to these words with a pious mind, in as far as, before we understand them, we believe them to be true and divine, we stand at a great distance from these men. For when two persons are listening to the words of the gospel, the one impious, the other pious, and some of these are such as neither perhaps understands, the one says, It has said nothing; the other says, It has said the truth, and what it has said is good, but we do not understand it. This latter, because he believes, now knocks, that he may be worthy to have it opened up to him, if he continue knocking; but the other still hears the words, “If ye believe not, ye shall not understand.”2 Why do I draw your attention to this? Even for this reason, that when I have explained as I can these obscure words, or, because of their great abstruseness, I have either myself failed to arrive at an understanding of them, or wanted the faculty of explaining what I do understand, or every one has been so dull as not to follow me, even when I give the explanation, yet should he not despair of himself; but continue in faith, walk on in the way, and hear the apostle saying, “And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless whereto we have already attained, let us walk therein.”3

8. Let us begin, then, with hearing His exposition of what we have heard Him propounding. “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.” See, He has opened the very door which was shut in His former description. He Himself is the door. We have come to know it; let us enter, or rejoice that we are already within. “All that ever came are thieves and robbers.” What is this, Lord, “All that ever came”? How so? hast Thou not come? But understand; I said, “All that ever came,” meaning, of course, exclusive of myself.4 Let us recollect then. Before His coming came the prophets: were they thieves and robbers? God forbid. They did not come apart from Him, for they came with Him. When about to come, He sent heralds, but retained possession of the hearts of His messengers. Do you wish to know that they came with Him, who is Himself ever existent? Certainly He assumed human flesh at the time appointed. But what means that “ever”? “In the beginning was the Word.”1 With Him, therefore, came those who came with the word of God. “I am,” said He, “the way, and the truth, and the life.”2 If He is the truth, with Him came those who were truthful. As many, therefore, as were apart from Him, were “thieves and robbers,” that is, had come to steal and to destroy.

9. “But the sheep did not hear them.” This is a more important point, “the sheep did not hear them.” Before the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He came in humility in the flesh, righteous men preceded, believing in the same way in Him who was to come, as we believe in Him who has come. Times vary, but not faith. For verbs themselves also vary with the tense, when they are variously declined. He is to come, has one sound; He has come, has another: there is a change in the sound between He is to come, and He has come:3 yet the same faith unites both,—both those who believed that He would come, and those who have believed that He is come. At different times, indeed, but by the one doorway of faith, that is, by Christ, do we see that both have entered. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin, that He came in the flesh, suffered, rose again, ascended into heaven: all this, just as you hear verbs of the past tense, we believe to be already fulfilled. In that faith a partnership is also held with us by those fathers who believed that He would be born of the Virgin, would suffer, would rise again, would ascend into heaven; for to such the apostle pointed when he said, “But we having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.”4 The prophet said, “I believed, therefore have I spoken:”5 the apostle says, “We also believe, and therefore speak.” But to let you know that their faith is one, listen to him saying, “Having the same spirit of faith, we also believe.” So also in another place, “For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea: and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink.” The Red Sea signifies baptism; Moses, their leader through the Red Sea, signifies Christ; the people, who passed through, signify believers; the death of the Egyptians signifies the abolition of sins. Under different signs there is the same faith. It is with different signs as with different words [verbs]; for verbs change their sounds through the tenses, and verbs are indeed nothing else than signs. For they are words because of what they signify: take away the meaning from a word,6 and it becomes a senseless sound. All, therefore, have become signs. Was not the same faith theirs by whom these signs were employed, and by whom were foretold in prophecy the very things which we believe? Certainly it was: but they believed that they were yet to come, and we, that they have come. In like manner does he also say, “They all drank the same spiritual drink;” “the same spiritual,” for it was not the same material [drink]. For what was it they drank? “For they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ.”7 See, then, how that while the faith remained, the signs were varied. There the rock was Christ; to us that is Christ which is placed on the altar of God. And they, as a great sacramental sign of the same Christ, drank the water flowing from the rock: what we drink is known to believers. If one’s thoughts turn to the visible form, the thing is different; if to the meaning that addresses the understanding, they drank the same spiritual drink. As many, then, at that time as believed, whether Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, or Moses, or the other patriarchs or prophets who foretold of Christ, were sheep, and heard Christ. His voice, and not another’s, did they hear. The Judge was present in the person of the Crier. For even when the judge speaks through the crier, the clerk8 does not make it, The crier said; but the judge said. But others there are whom the sheep did not hear, in whom Christ’s voice had no place,—wanderers, uttering falsehoods, prating inanities, fabricating vanities, misleading the miserable.

10. Why is it, then, that I have said, This is a more important point? What is there about it obscure and difficult to understand? Listen, I beseech you. See, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself came and preached. Much more surely was that the Shepherd’s voice which was uttered by the very mouth of the Shepherd. For if the Shepherd’s voice came through the prophets, how much more did the Shepherd’s own tongue give utterance to the Shepherd’s voice? Yet all did not hear Him. But what are we to think? Those who did hear, were they sheep? Lo? Judas heard, and was a wolf: he followed, but, clad in sheep-skin, he was laying snares for the Shepherd. Some, again, of those who crucified Christ did not hear, and yet were sheep; for such He saw in the crowd when He said, “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He.”1 Now, how is this question to be solved? They that are not sheep do hear, and they that are sheep do not hear. Some, who are wolves, follow the Shepherd’s voice; and some, that are sheep, contradict it. Last of all, the sheep slay the Shepherd. The point is solved; for some one in reply says. But when they did not hear, as yet they were not sheep, they were then wolves: the voice, when it was heard, changed them, and out of wolves transformed them into sheep; and so, when they became sheep, they heard, and found the Shepherd, and followed Him. They built their hopes on the Shepherd’s promises, because they obeyed His precepts.

11. That question has been solved in a way, and perhaps satisfies every one. But I have still a subject of concern, and what concerns me I shall impart to you, that, in some sort inquiring together, I may through His revelation be found worthy with you to attain the solution. Hear, then, what it is that moves me. By the Prophet Ezekiel the Lord rebukes the shepherds, and among other things says of the sheep, “The wandering sheep have ye not recalled.”2 He both declares it a wanderer, and calls it a sheep. If, while wandering, it was a sheep, whose voice was it hearing to lead it astray? For doubtless it would not be straying were it hearing the shepherd’s voice: but it strayed just because it heard another’s voice; it heard the voice of the thief and the robber. Surely the sheep do not hear the voice of robbers. “Those that came,” He said,—and we are to understand, apart from me,—that is, “those that came apart from me are thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not hear them.” Lord, if the sheep did not hear them, how can the sheep wander? If the sheep hear only Thee, and Thou art the truth, whoever heareth the truth cannot certainly fall into error. But they err, and are called sheep. For if, in the very midst of their wandering, they were not called sheep, it would not be said by Ezekiel, “The wandering sheep have ye not recalled.” How is it at the same time a wanderer and a sheep? Has it heard the voice of another? Surely “the sheep did not hear them.” Accordingly many are just now being gathered into Christ’s fold, and from being heretics are becoming catholics. They are rescued from the thieves, and restored to the shepherds: and sometimes they murmur, and become wearied of Him that calls them back, and have no true knowledge of him that would murder them; nevertheless also, when, after a struggle, those have come who are sheep, they recognize the Shepherd’s voice, and are glad they have come, and are ashamed of their wandering. When, then, they were glorying in that state of error as in the truth, and were certainly not hearing the Shepherd’s voice, but were following another, were they sheep, or were they not? If they were sheep, how can it be the case that the sheep do not listen to aliens? If they were not sheep, wherefore the rebuke addressed to those to whom it is said, “The wandering sheep have ye not recalled”? In the case also of those already become catholic Christians, and believers of good promise, evils sometimes occur: they are seduced into error, and after their error are restored. When they were thus seduced, and were rebaptized, or after the companionship of the Lord’s fold were turned back again into their former error, were they sheep, or were they not? Certainly they were catholics. If they were faithful catholics, they were sheep. If they were sheep, how was it that they could listen to the voice of a stranger when the Lord saith, “The sheep did not hear them”?

12. You hear, brethren, the great importance of the question. I say then, “The Lord knoweth them that are His.”3 He knoweth those who were foreknown, He knoweth those who were predestinated; because it is said of Him, “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified. If God be for us, who can be against us?” Add to this: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not with Him also freely given us all things?” But what “us”? Those who are foreknown, predestinated, justified, glorified; regarding whom there follows, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?”1 Therefore “the Lord knoweth them that are His;” they are the sheep. Such sometimes do not know themselves, but the Shepherd knoweth them, according to this predestination, this foreknowledge of God, according to the election of the sheep before the foundation of the world: for so saith also the apostle, “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.”2 According, then, to this divine foreknowledge and predestination, how many sheep are outside, how many wolves within! and how many sheep are inside, how many wolves without! How many are now living in wantonness who will yet be chaste! how many are blaspheming Christ who will yet believe in Him! how many are giving themselves to drunkenness who will yet be sober! how many are preying on other people’s property who will yet freely give of their own! Nevertheless at present they are hearing the voice of another, they are following strangers. In like manner, how many are praising within who will yet blaspheme; are chaste who will yet be fornicators; are sober who will wallow hereafter in drink; are standing who will by and by fall! These are not the sheep. (For we speak of those who were predestinated,—of those whom the Lord knoweth that they are His.) And yet these, so long as they keep right, listen to the voice of Christ. Yea, these hear, the others do not; and yet, according to predestination, these are not sheep, while the others are.

13. There remains still the question, which I now think may meanwhile thus be solved. There is a voice of some kind,—there is, I say, a certain kind of voice of the Shepherd, in respect of which the sheep hear not strangers, and in respect of which those who are not sheep do not hear Christ. What a word is this! “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”3 No one of His own is indifferent to such a voice, a stranger does not hear it: for this reason also does He announce it to the former, that he may abide perseveringly with Himself to the end; but by one who is wanting in such persevering continuance with Him, such a word remain unheard. One has come to Christ, and has heard word after word of one kind and another, all of them true, all of them salutary; and among all the rest is also this utterance, “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” He who has heard this is one of the sheep. But there was, perhaps, some one listening to it, who treated it with dislike, with coldness, and heard it as that of a stranger. If he was predestinated, he strayed for the time, but he was not lost for ever: he returns to hear what he has neglected, to do what he has heard. For if he is one of those who are predestinated, then both his very wandering and his future conversion have been foreknown by God: if he has strayed away, he will return to hear that voice of the Shepherd, and to follow Him who saith, “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” A good voice, brethren, it is; true and shepherd-like, the very voice of salvation in the tabernacles of the righteous.4 For it is easy to hear Christ, easy to praise the gospel, easy to applaud the preacher: but to endure unto the end, is peculiar to the sheep who hear the Shepherd’s voice. A temptation befalls thee, endure thou to the end, for the temptation will not endure to the end. And what is that end to which thou shalt endure? Even till thou reachest the end of thy pathway. For as long as thou hearest not Christ, He is thine adversary in the pathway, that is, in this mortal life. And what doth He say? “Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him.”5 Thou hast heard, hast believed, hast agreed. If thou hast been at enmity, agree. If thou hast got the opportunity of coming to an agreement, keep not up the quarrel longer. For thou knowest not when thy way will be ended, and it is known to Him. If thou art a sheep, and if thou endurest to the end, thou shalt be saved: and therefore it is that His own despise not that voice, and strangers hear it not. According to my ability, as He gave me the power, I have either explained to you or gone over with you a subject of great profundity. If any have failed fully to understand, let him retain his piety, and the truth will be revealed: and let not those who have understood vaunt themselves as swifter at the expense of the slower, lest in their vaunting they turn out of the track, and the slower more easily attain the goal. But let all of us be guided by Him to whom we say, “Lead me, O Lord, in Thy way, and I will walk in Thy truth.”6

14. By this, then, which the Lord hath explained, that He Himself is the door, let us find entrance to what He has set forth, but not explained. And indeed who it is that is the Shepherd, although He hath not told us in the lesson we have read to-day, yet in that which follows He very plainly tells us: “I am the good Shepherd.” And although He had not said so, whom else but Himself ought we to have understood in those words where He saith, “He that entereth in by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. To Him the porter openeth: and the sheep hear His voice: and He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice”? For who else calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them hence unto eternal life, but He who knoweth the names of those that are fore-ordained? Hence He said to His disciples, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven;”1 for from this it is that He calleth them by name. And who else putteth them forth, save He who putteth away their sins, that, freed from their grievous fetters, they may be able to follow Him? And who hath gone before them to the place whither they are to follow Him, but He who, rising from the dead, dieth no more; and death shall have no more dominion over Him;2 and who, when He was manifest here in the flesh, said, “Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given me be with me where I am”?3 Hence it is that He saith, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” In this He clearly shows that not only the Shepherd, but the sheep also enter in by the door.

15. But what is this, “He shall go in and out, and find pasture”? To enter indeed into the Church by Christ the door, is eminently good; but to go out of the Church, as this same John the evangelist saith in his epistle, “They went out from us, but they were not of us,”4 is certainly otherwise than good. Such a going out could not then be commended by the good Shepherd, when He said, “And he shall go in and out, and find pasture.” There is therefore not only some sort of entrance, but some outgoing also that is good, by the good door, which is Christ. But what is that praiseworthy and blessed outgoing? I might say, indeed, that we enter when we engage in some inward exercise of thought; and go out, when we take to some active work without: and since, as the apostle saith, Christ dwelleth in our hearts by faith,5 to enter by Christ is to give ourselves to thought in accordance with that faith; but to go out by Christ is, in accordance also with that same faith, to take to outside works, that is to say, in the presence of others. Hence, also, we read in a psalm, “Man goeth forth to his work;”6 and the Lord Himself saith, “Let your works shine before men.”7 But I am better pleased that the Truth Himself, like a good Shepherd, and therefore a good Teacher, hath in a certain measure reminded us how we ought to understand His words, “He shall go in and out, and find pasture,” when He added in the sequel, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” For He seems to me to have meant, That they may have life in coming in, and have it more abundantly at their departure. For no one can pass out by the door—that is, by Christ—to that eternal life which shall be open to the sight, unless by the same door—that is, by the same Christ—he has entered His church, which is His fold, to the temporal life, which is lived in faith. Therefore, He saith, “I am come that they may have life,” that is, faith, which worketh by love;8 by which faith they enter the fold that they may live, for the just liveth by faith:9 “and that they may have it more abundantly,” who, enduring unto the end, pass out by this same door, that is, by the faith of Christ; for as true believers they die, and will have life more abundantly when they come whither the Shepherd hath preceded them, where they shall die no more. Although, therefore, there is no want of pasture even here in the fold,—for we may understand the words “and shall find pasture” as referring to both, that is, both to their going in and their going out,—yet there only will they find the true pasture where they shall be filled who hunger and thirst after righteousness,10—such pasture as was found by him to whom it was said, “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”11 But how He Himself is the door, and Himself the Shepherd, so that He also may in a certain respect be understood as going in and out by Himself, and who is the porter, it would be too long to inquire to-day, and, according to the grace given us by Himself, to unfold in the way of dissertation.

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