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Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 92

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 12, 2018

TITLE
A Psalm or Song for the Sabbath Day.
Chaldee Targum: A Praise and Song which the first man spake for the Sabbath Day.

ARGUEMENT

Arg. Thomas. That Christ hath caused the conquerors to flourish as though with the gift of the heavenly palm. The Voice of the Church. The Voice of the Church to God concerning her enemies. The Doctrine of Confession, and concerning the glory of the righteous in the world to come.

Ven. Bede. A Psalm denotes spiritual works, which tend upwards towards the Lord; in these all ought always to sing, that is, give thanks to the Lord our Helper. The Sabbath Day is interpreted Rest, whereby we are warned to cease from every evil deed, and likewise to hope with most sure devotion for the rest to come. Arnobius saith thus: On the Sabbath Day the Lord’s enemies perish, that on the Sunday the Lord’s friends may be glad; for on the Sabbath Day the Lord lieth dead in the grave, and on the Sunday is worshipped living among the Angels. In this matter His thoughts are very deep, which an unwise man doth not well consider. At the first outset, the Church speaks, declaring that it is a good thing to utter praises to the Lord; which it asserts to be a thing whereof the unwise and ungodly are ignorant. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord. In the second part she asserts that sinners will perish quickly like the grass. When the ungodly are green, &c. Thirdly; she saith that the righteous flourish like a palm-tree, and spread abroad like a cedar in Libanus; to the end that fear may correct the obstinate, and the blessed promise sustain the devout. The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree.

Syriac Psalter. Anonymous; Concerning the ministry of the Priests, and their Morning Sacrifices. It also foretells rest in the Lord.

Eusebius of Cæsarea. Concerning that rest which is according unto God.

COMMENTARY

1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord: and to sing praises unto thy Name, O most Highest;

A good thing for these reasons: (Bellarmine) because it is just, and due from us to God our King; it is useful, as being one of those works which are profitable to the soul; it is delightful, for it is pleasant for one that loves, to praise the object of his affection; it is ennobling, giving man a share in the office of the heavenly spirits. (Cassiodorus) The LXX. and Vulgate, according to their wont, put the term confess instead of give thanks, and the commentators note that such confession, to be adequate, (Euthymius Zigabenus) must be two-fold; acknowledgment of our own weakness and guilt, as the first step, on the one hand, and of God’s might and holiness on the other, after we have fitted ourselves, by this preliminary cleansing of the heart, to celebrate His praises. Unto Thy Name. (Honorius): They tell us that this title especially applies to Christ, the Only-Begotten Son, by Whom God is fully revealed to us, so that we know Him, while the name Lord denotes the Holy Spirit, and Most Highest the Father Himself. The word here translated sing is by LXX. and Vulgate rendered play (ψάλλειν, psallere), (Cassiodorus) and is mystically explained as the activity of devotion in good works, whereby the notes of our souls, as of a psaltery when struck, ascend to the ears of God. And we may fitly apply here the old Leonine saw as to the recitation of the Divine office:

Rite canis horas, si Biblia evolvis et oras,
Tuneque placent horæ, cum corde canuntur et ore.

Thou singest the Hours aright, if in Scripture and prayer thou delight,
The Hours are accepted when sung by the heart in accord with the tongue.

2 To tell of thy loving-kindness early in the morning: and of thy truth in the night-season.

There is a singular Rabbinical legend that this Psalm was the song of praise uttered by Adam as the first Sabbath dawned upon the world (Genebrardus), and that it descended by tradition as the special hymn for that day (Talmud). More consonant with actual history is the fact that it was sung in the Temple on the Sabbath at the offering of the first lamb in the morning (Kiddushim) when the wine was poured out (Num 28:4, 7), and continues still in use as a Sabbatical psalm in the rites of the Synagogue, and that the Roman Church, amongst other tokens of the powerful Jewish influence which affected its earliest days, retains it as part of the Saturday Lauds in the Breviary. Further, there is a distinct reference in this second verse to the morning and evening sacrifice (Rabbi Shelomo); while more than one Rabbi is careful to point out that the happy Sabbath of which the Psalmist sings is not one of the present time (Rabbi Ataia), but belongs to the future revelation of Messiah in His glory (Cardinal Hugo). Observe, then, how fitly it succeeds Psalm 91, wherein we hear of the victory over temptation, (Remegius of St Germainus) now followed by restful peace of mind, figured by the Lord’s repose in the grave when He, as at the beginning of creation, rested from all His work that He had done; and figuring in its turn the Sabbath of eternity (Augustine). And as the clear morning denotes the sunshine of prosperity, we thank God, while it lasts, for His mercy and bountifulness towards us. But we do not on that account charge Him with harshness and cruelty when the night-season of adversity arrives; rather we praise His truth, that is, the justice with which He weighs our faults and metes out His fatherly chastisements. And as the night always precedes the morning (Pseudo-Jerome) so it is not till we have been tried by suffering and darkened by sin and trouble, that we thoroughly realize and can fittingly praise the mercy of God in that glad morning when the Sun of Righteousness begins to arise in our hearts. We tell of His truth in the night-season, because our eyes are unable to bear the dazzling glory of His full revelation, for it is written, “He made darkness His secret place” (Ps 18:11). Therefore the Law was given amidst clouds and darkness on Mount Sinai, therefore the Prophets spake in enigmas, therefore too the Lord Himself hid the mysteries of His kingdom in parables, therefore we too, here in the night-time of the world, “see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face” (1 Cor 13:12); then, in the morning of the everlasting Sabbath, when all secrets shall be revealed:

For when the Sole-Begotten
Shall render up once more
The kingdom to the Father,
Whose own it was before,—
Then glory yet unheard of
Shall shed abroad its ray,
Resolving all enigmas,
An endless Sabbath Day.

3 Upon an instrument of ten strings (decachord), and upon the lute: upon a loud instrument, and upon the harp.

There is some variation of opinion as to whether we have two, three, or four musical instruments named in this verse. The first is the view taken by the Syriac and Arabic versions, which make the lute to be the decachord, and the harp the mere accompaniment to a song. The second view is that of the Chaldee, LXX., Vulgate, and A. V.; as well as of most modern critics, who are divided as to the precise mode of rendering the second clause, some taking it to be “a song to the harp,” and others, “a loud (or a solemn) strain upon the harp” itself. The third opinion, which makes the word Higgaion, here occurring, that of a separate musical instrument, is supported by Aben-Ezra, and does, no doubt, preserve more fully the balance of parallelism in the two strophes of the verse. As to the mystical meaning of the decachord, it is only necessary to add a little to what has been already said under Psalm 33:2, namely, that one ancient Father (St Clement of Alexandria) tells us that it means the Lord Jesus Himself, seemingly because the initial letter of that holy Name stands for the number ten both in Hebrew and Greek, (Lorinus) while, as the Latin X marks the Cross, and is also the Egyptian sign of life to come, it may well denote Him too. Nay more, our modern way of writing it, with the figure 1 followed by a cipher, itself nothing, tells of the One sole sufficient godhead united by the Incarnation to the nothingness of man. Again, the decachord’s ten strings denote the ten precepts of the moral law; by compliance with which our lives make music to God (St Bruno the Carthusian), while they take the song and harp (Vulg.) to be the cheerful acceptance of bodily mortification, and the readiness of almsgiving. And that because, as was noted before, a mystical distinction is always drawn between the psaltery, whose strings are struck from above, and which is therefore taken to denote divine contemplation, and the harp, played from below, and therefore typical of humility, (Augustine) and the active service of the body. And S. Augustine here observes: Our business here is not merely to carry the psaltery but to sing to it. Even the Jews have the Law; they carry it, but they do not play upon it. Who then do play? They who put it into action. That is not enough. They who act with dejection are not yet playing. Who are they that play? They who do well with cheerfulness. For there is cheerfulness in playing. And what saith the Apostle? “God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). And the same Apostle, in counting up the afflictions of mind and body which habitually befell himself in the course of his ministry (1 Cor 4:11-13), puts another decachord of suffering into our hands, wherewith we, by striking its strings boldly and cheerfully (St Clement of Alexandria), can make melody well-pleasing to the Lord. For, as one has well said, God speaks to man, saying, Thou art My harp, and flute, and temple; a harp, by reason of harmony; a flute, because of breath; a temple, because of the Word. (Note: the decachord of suffering mentioned in reference to 1 Cor 4:11-13 is a reference to the ten (deca) types of affliction mentioned there).

4 For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy works: and I will rejoice in giving praise for the operations of thy hands.
5 O Lord, how glorious are thy works: thy thoughts are very deep!

These verses appear to have suggested the Rabbinical legend already cited; that this was Adam’s morning hymn on the day after his creation (St Robert Bellarmine). And we may observe that the phrase in the first verse does not run, Thy works have made me glad, for if there be no more than that, then the beauties and marvels of creation are snares to draw us from the thought of God. But here it runs Thou hast made me glad, and that through Thy works as an instrument to declare Thy love and power. And thus John Milton, in Paradise Lost, in the hymn he puts into Adam’s mouth in Eden writes:

These are Thy glorious works, Parent of good,
Almighty, Thine this universal frame,
Thus wondrous fair; Thyself how wondrous then!
Unspeakable, Who sittest above these heavens,
To us invisible, or dimly seen
In these Thy lowest works, yet these declare
Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.

And that because, as the Apostle says, “the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead” (Rom 1:20). Wherefore S. Basil the Great aptly calls creation the “school and lecture-room of souls.” But there are some marvels which lessen by experience and knowledge, and therefore the Psalmist adds here that such is not the case with God’s works, because their wonderful character, in greatest and least alike, and the whole mystery of creation is very deep, lying far below the longest plummet with which man would fain sound the abysses. But if the creation of nature be wonderful, far exceeding it in beauty and marvels is the creation of grace; and they tell us truly that the way God made us most glad through the work of His hands was when He stretched forth those hands upon the Cross, there to work out our redemption, when His thoughts were very deep, looking forward to the whole constitution and history of His Church, and the coming of the nations into the fold.

6 An unwise man doth not well consider this: and a fool doth not understand it.

They give several explanations of the distinction between the two classes of persons here named (St Bruno the Carthusian), some telling us that the first denotes unbelievers, who know nothing of the wisdom of God, and the second evil Christians, who, knowing the outer facts of His truth, are unable to comprehend them by reason of perversity. Others see, not dissimilarly, the man who is incurious of heavenly things (Cardinal Hugo), and him who is eager about earthly matters. Or again, the Jew who rejects, and the Gentile who has never learnt the Gospel. Once more, it is explained to denote the man endowed with worldly wisdom, but who is destitute of spiritual knowledge (Haymo) and the man who has neither wisdom of this world nor of the next. But the most satisfactory account seems to be that by the first are meant simply those who are deficient in understanding, and dull in observation (Pieter Titelman), as a mere mental deficiency; and by the second those who have blunted all their powers by perversity and wickedness. And we may draw one lesson from this verse, that the so-called “sacrifice of intellect” is not an oblation well-pleasing to God, for it stunts our faculty of admiration for His glory, and folds in a napkin of specious purity of intention the talent He gives us to put out at interest for Him. Wherefore Lactantius says very well: “Religion cannot be separated from Wisdom, nor Wisdom from Religion, for it is one and the same God Who ought to be understood, which is Wisdom, and honoured, which is Religion.

7 When the ungodly are green as the grass., and when all the workers of wickedness do flourish: then shall they he destroyed for ever; 8 but thou, Lord, art the most Highest for evermore.
9 (8) For lo, thine enemies, O Lord, lo, thine enemies shall perish: and all the workers of wickedness shall he destroyed.

This is one of the deep thoughts of God which are not considered nor understood by the unwise and foolish (Agellius, Michael Ayguan), namely, that there is no Sabbath rest of mind or of future happiness awaiting the wicked. It is the consolation given to the servants of God, that their enemies, who are His enemies too, will fade and disappear in the very moment of their apparent strength and triumph; while He, Who is His people’s stay, is untouched by any change, is not as the grass of the field, lying low or rank, but Most Highest, (Cassiodorus) is not one that can perish, but is for evermore. And thus, though His enemies counted Him a mere man, who could be slain, and His memory blotted out, yet His very death itself was the overthrow of both His ghostly and human foes. They give several explanations of the repetition of the words Thine enemies; (Dionysius the Carthusian) for the most part taking it as denoting some special emphasis, either as increasing the terror of the threat (St Bruno the Carthusian), or fixing the certainty of retribution; (Remigius of St Germainus) but others prefer to see a reference to the great variety of sinners (Cardinal Hugo), and one will have it that two classes of offenders are here distinguished, those who break the positive law, specially enjoined by God, and those who transgress the natural law, familiar even to heathens. Shall be destroyed. Rather, with LXX., Vulgate, and A. V., scattered. And so the Chaldee takes it, shall be separated from the congregation of the righteous; a meaning which most of the Christian expositors transfer to the division between the sheep and goats at the Day of Judgment (Haymo, St Bruno the Carthusian). There is, however, a gentler reading of the verses, which deserves citation. The sinners, observes a Greek Father (Dorotheus Abbas), who spring up like the grass, are impure thoughts, for grass is a weak and frail thing, possessing no vigour. When the evil thoughts arise in the mind, then all the workers of wickedness appear (LXX.) which mean actual sins, that they may perish for ever. For when sins appear before warriors and athletes, they are at once slain by them. Note then the order of the language; first evil thoughts spring up; then sins appear, thereupon all of them perish. All this has to do with athletes. We, who carry sin into action, and always fulfil our vices, are unable to know when bad thoughts spring up, or when sins appear, but we are still in Lower Egypt, making bricks under Pharaoh.

10 (9) But mine horn shall be exalted like the horn of an unicorn: for I am anointed with fresh oil.

Whether Christ be here the speaker, or one of His members, the horn is the same, that mighty horn of salvation raised up in the House of David, the Lord strong in His own power, or His disciple strong in His co-operation. He is a horn (Lorinus), for springing from flesh, He hath nothing of the passions of flesh, but grows out beyond the carnal nature from which He derives Himself, (Euthymius Zigabenas), and rises up on high, in strength and honour, a terror to all His foes, specially in the Judgment. He is anointed, with fresh oil, not with that old traditional oil of the decrepit Mosaic dispensation, wherewith the Aaronic Priesthood was set apart, wherewith in former days kings and prophets had been consecrated. His unction was fresh, a new thing in creation, the direct anointing of the Holy Ghost Himself, of which that elder rite was but a faint symbol, fresh, as knowing no corruption, as ever new and young, though eternal before and after all worlds; a new anointing which He sent on the Apostles in the fiery tongues of Pentecost. (Augustine) Of an unicorn (see note below). Those who take this whole speech to be that of the Church (Cassiodorus), see here in the unicorn the type of Catholic unity (St Basil, Theodoret, Jansenius, Gandolph) or as the Greek Fathers take it, the worship of One God; while a third view is that the singleness of future glory, in which no foreign elements can mingle, is denoted (Remigius of St Germainus); and a fourth sees here those who rejoice in the one hope of reaching that one glory.

Note: Of an unicorn. This rendering follows the LXX. μονοκέρως. But there is nothing to suggest the idea of one horn in the Hebrew רְאֵים, which is probably the now extinct Aurochs, urus, or wild bull.

In the latter strophe of the verse, the LXX. and Vulgate read, (Augustine) And my old age in rich mercy And this they take of the old age of the Church, (Cassiodorus) in the late evening of the world, when her beauty will be as snowy as the hair of an aged man: or again, of the future life itself (St Bruno the Carthusian), an old age in the sense of its late arrival and its tranquillity, although in itself a perpetual youth; or yet again, the gravity and calmness of life and demeanour to be observed in Saints, even in their early years, all which are blessed with the rich mercy of God. And the Carmelite, citing Aristotle, (Michael Ayguan) urges that there are five good qualities of old men which make them apt types of the Church in the time of wisdom, as of individual Saints also; namely, that their passions have cooled, they have more pity for suffering than the young, they are not given to such strong assertion of doubtful matters, and they are discreet and temperate in action.

11 (10) Mine eye also shall see his lust of mine enemies: and mine ear shall hear his desire of the wicked that rise up against me.

They take it in a threefold sense (Parez), first, of the victory of the Church, by no physical act of her own, over the Jews and the Pagans who oppressed her in the earliest days of Christianity; next, (Dionysius the Carthusian) of the inner eye of the soul beholding the victory of faith over temptation; and lastly, of the final overthrow of sinners in the Judgment.

12 (11) The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree: and shall spread abroad like a cedar in Libanus.

Here is the forcible contrast to the lowly and fading grass of a previous verse, taken from the stateliest and most valuable trees of Palestine. There are many reasons given for the comparison of a Saint to a palm-tree, which have no lack of aptness. The palm grows in a barren soil, as the Saint in this world’s desert, and yet needs constant moisture, as he needs the fountains of the Word. It grows to a great height, and perfectly straight, denoting aspiration to heavenly things and uprightness of life; it grows as long as it lives, is an evergreen, and always fruitful, denoting spiritual improvement and continuous vitality of holiness; its leaves spread out above as high as possible from the ground, and its fruit is amongst those leaves, denoting loftiness of aim and action; it is slender and without bark, denoting the absence of all grossness of habit, or superfluity of possessions; it has wonderful elasticity of fibre, rising up from under heavy weights, a type of that buoyancy of confidence in God which makes His Saints cheerfully cast off troubles, and every part of it is good for some purpose, showing that in a holy life no faculty, talent, or opportunity is suffered to go to waste; and in its symbolical use, both amongst Jews and Pagans, because it never bends before the storm, it is the emblem of victory. The cedar, again, in its mountainous abode, in its vast spreading bulk and majesty, in its deep roots, its sweet perfume, its incorruptible wood, and its great longevity, serves as a type of other endowments of the Saints. They are cedars of Libanus, the “white” mountain, because washed clean from their sins in the waters of Baptism (Cardinal Hugo, Balthazar Corderius), and the precious Blood of Christ, and they also denote the Gentile Martyrs, because Lebanon was outside the actual limits of the Holy Land.

13 (12) Such as are planted in the house of the Lord: shall flourish in the courts of the house of our God.

As the cedar and palm both played their part in Solomon’s temple (Pseudo-Jerome) the one in actual timbers and beams, the other carved everywhere as an ornament; so the Saints of God, likened to these trees, can flourish only when planted within His Church, not merely inside its visible limits, but rooted in its doctrine. St Robert Bellarmine: They have been transplanted thither out of Jewish unbelief, out of Gentile idolatry, out of worldly carelessness, by the agency of God’s servants, for it is written, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God giveth the increase” (1 Cor 3:6). Only there, and only so, can they flourish, for it is written, “Every plant which My Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up (Mt 13:15, Cardinal Hugo). We may take this house and courts of the Lord to be either the Church Militant (St Albert the Great), especially in the Religious Life, or the Church Triumphant after the Resurrection, in both of which the righteous flourish, though in different fashion. And one who prefers the former interpretation remarks that the courts are in front of the house (Hugo of St Victor), and outside it, and that they denote in this place renunciation of secular things, so that he who gives up the world, plants his palm in the courts of God’s house. It is curious to find it said that they who are planted in the house shall flourish in the courts; (Michael Ayguan), but it is well answered that the righteous are planted by their inner faith in heaven itself, while the outward token of that holy rooting in love is visible in the Church below by their good works and devout conversation, or, as another tells us, (Dionysius the Carthusian) their own hearts are those outer courts of God’s house which are blooming with the trees and flowers of His inner dwelling (Roman Breviary) This verse is in use as a . and . in the Breviary Office for Martyrs.

14 (13) They also shall bring forth more fruit in their age: and shall be fat and well-liking.

Here reference is made to that distinguishing property of the palm-tree, already mentioned, that it never ceases to bear fruit, however old it may be, till its actual death, nay, that its produce is more abundant in its latter years; while the cedar, though not a fruit-bearing tree, continues to spread in bulk and foliage to a vast age (Agellius), thus signifying the undying vitality and productiveness of the Church Universal and of the holy soul to the end of their earthly time (Dionysius the Carthusian). And so the Wise Man, after telling us how “the multiplying brood of the ungodly shall not thrive, nor take deep rooting,” adds that “honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that which is measured by number of years; but wisdom is the grey hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age” (Wis 4:3, 8; St Bruno of Aste). The Vulgate reading in the latter clause is, They shall be right patient; that is, not merely holding out sternly against suffering, as criminals often do when being punished, but with that patience which is born of love and faith (Michael Ayguan), the endurance of the Martyrs; right patient, because while they preach of heavenly things they bear adversity bravely and cheerfully (Pope St Gregory the Great), that by such endurance they may obtain yet more blessings for their souls. And this notion brings us back to the well-liking, for Tertullian says of patience, that it is “beautiful in every sex and every age.”

15 (14) That they may show how true the Lord my strength is: and that there is no unrighteousness in him.

That is (Honorius), that here in all troubles, and especially when the persecution of Antichrist falls upon the Church, they may continue steadfastly to profess their unshaken faith in the justice and promises of God, their belief that He causes them to suffer only that patience may bring forth her perfect work, and increase the glory of that crown which He, the righteous Judge, our firm Rock, hath promised to bestow upon them, when He brings them into the Sabbath which remaineth for the people of God (St Bruno the Carthusian, Euthymius Zigabenus. See Heb 4:9).

Wherefore: Glory be to the Father, the Most Highest; glory be to the Son, the Lord our Rock; glory be to the Holy Ghost, the fresh Anointing of the Lord. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

VARIOUS USES

Gregorian. Saturday: Lauds.

Monastic. Friday: Lauds. [Comm. of One Martyr: II. Nocturn.]

Ambrosian. Thursday of Second Week: I. Nocturn.

Parisian. Monday: Lauds.

Lyons. Saturday: Lauds.

Quignon. Thursday: Terce.

Eastern Church. Mesorion of Prime.

ANTIPHONS

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.

Monastic. [Comm. of One Martyr: The righteous shall flourish as a palm-tree, and spread abroad like a cedar in Libanus.]

COLLECTS

Ludolphus of Saxony: O God, the eternal rejoicing of the Saints, Who makest the righteous, strengthened with divers gifts of good things, to flourish unfadingly in the palm-bearing courts; we beseech Thee, that putting away the weight of our sins, Thou mayest vouchsafe to bestow upon us fellowship with them. (Note: If the Collect be addressed to God the Father, the proper ending is: Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen).

Mozabaric Liturgy: It is a good thing for us to give thanks unto Thee, O Lord: and to sing unto Thy most high Name; that our confession may deliver us from peril, and our zeal in singing make us more acceptable in Thy sight. (Note: The Mozarabic ending is—at the conclusion of the prayer, without any other termination: Amen. Through Thy mercy, O our God, Who art blessed, and livest and governest all things, to ages of ages. Amen.)

Mozabaric Liturgy for the Memorial of St Juliian: Thy Saints, O Lord, flourish as a palm-tree in Thy sight, and stand planted and rooted in Thy holy courts, who, when set in the conflict of martyrdom, won from their torture the palm of victory, and for death everlasting glory in Thine house. We therefore beseech Thee, O glorious God, that for their great merits Thou mayest grant us pardon for the wickedness of our sins. (see previous note)

Pseudo-Jerome: We beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may fulfil in deed that which we have heard, and turn our words into works, that we who are planted here in Thy house may flourish in the court of Christ. (Note: If the prayer be addressed to God the Son: Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.)

Dionysius the Carthusian: Plant us in Thine house, O Lord, with virtues, and make us as good seed bear fruit in all loveliness of religion, that growing up like a palm-tree in the flower of righteousness, and perfected therein by Thee, we may flourish in joy in Thy sight for evermore. (Note: If the Collect be addressed to God the Father, the proper ending is: Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen.)

 

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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.

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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.

Theodoret of Cyrus on Romans 3:21-25, 28. On all of chapter 3. Scroll down to find. Theodoret was a respected commentator on Scripture, however, some of his writings on christology were condemned as heretical.

Aquinas’ Lectures on Romans 3: 21-25, 28. On all of chapter 3

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.

Theopylact’s Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27. He was an Eastern Orthodox.

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 »

 
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